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Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Wednesday links

A day that will live in infamy: It's the anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

How Civil War Soldiers Gave Themselves Syphilis While Trying to Avoid Smallpox.

Microwave Memories - cooking with early microwave ovens

December 6 was the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra, aka Santa Claus.

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include the end of prohibition, why, when facing predators, male monkeys do whatever the females tell them to do, who poisoned the Goebbels children in Hitler's bunker, and lots of awkward Christmas photos.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Monday links

The precursor to the war on drugs: on December 5th, 1933, prohibition in the United States of America came to an end.

Murder in Hitler's Bunker: Who Really Poisoned the Goebbels Children?

The stories behind Fahrenheit and Celsius.

It's that time again - lots of awkward Christmas photos.

11 Real-World Forests That Look Like They're Straight Out Of A Fairytale.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include plant geometry, DIY vaginal steam-cleaning, competitive eating history, the medical dangers of kissing, and the anniversary of the Monroe Doctrine.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

December 6 is the feast day of St. Nicholas of Myra, aka Santa Claus

His eyes - how they twinkled! His dimples: how merry,
His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry;
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the beard of his chin was as white as the snow;

The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth,
And the smoke it encircled his head like a wreath.
He had a broad face, and a little round belly
That shook when he laugh'd, like a bowl full of jelly. 

~Clement C. Moore (1779-1863) ("A Visit from St. Nicholas," excerpt*) 

The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic God's giving, by grace, through faith, and this is not of ourselves.

~ St. Nicholas of Myra (attributed) 

Once again St. Nicholas Day
Has even come to our hideaway;
It won't be quite as fun, I fear,
As the happy day we had last year.
Then we were hopeful, no reason to doubt
That optimism would win the bout,
And by the time this year came round,
We'd all be free, and safe and sound.
Still, let's not forget it's St. Nicholas Day,
Though we've nothing left to give away.
We'll have to find something else to do:
So everyone please look in their shoe!?

~Anne Frank (1929-1945) (The Diary of a Young Girl, 6 December 1944) 

Give all thou canst; high Heaven rejects the lore
Of nicely-calculated less or more.

~William Wordsworth (1770-1850) ("Tax Not the Royal Saint") 

December 6 is the feast day of Saint Nicholas of Myra (270-343) (wiki), perhaps better known in his latter-day guise as Santa Claus. Born to Greek Christian parents in Palmyra in southern Anatolia, Nicholas was renowned for his great piety at an early age and eventually became the bishop of nearby Myra in what is now Turkey.

St. Nicholas saving the three poor girls and their father
He is known to have attended the Emperor Constantine's First Council of Nicea (325), where he took a strong stand against Arianism, but very little else is certain about his life. On the other hand, a rich body of legends has grown up around his name, largely for working many miracles and his life-long propensity for gift-giving.** Most famously, he is said one night to have thrown three small bags of gold through the window of a poor man as doweries for his three daughters, thus saving them from a life of prostitution.***  On another occasion, he abated a fearsome storm at sea, and thus has been adopted as the protector of sailors and fishermen. 

In 1087, half of his remains were purloined from Myra by sailors from southern Italy and enshrined in the basilica of San Nicola in Bari, where they remain today, the object of great veneration. (The other half of his bones somehow found their way to Venice.) Generally portrayed with his bishop's robes and regalia, Saint Nicholas is one of the most popular saints in both the Catholic and Orthodox traditions and is regarded as the protector of sailors, children, merchants, pawnbrokers, and students, particularly in Greece, Russia, and eastern Europe. 

Facial reconstruction
In the 1950s, the bones were removed while the crypt was spruced up. While they were out, the Vatican asked an anatomy professor at the University of Bari to take thousands of minutely detailed measurements and x-rays of the relics. Flash forward to the present day, and another University of Bari expert, forensic pathologist Francesco Introna, decided to commission an expert facial anthropologist, Caroline Wilkinson of the University of Manchester in England, to reconstruct the saint's face and head using the new technology and the earlier measurements.

* There have been some questions raised about the authorship of this poem - this article sums up the controversy.

** N.B. Thus, his re-branding in the European tradition as Santa Claus, a derivation of his name in Dutch: Sinterklaas

*** The three-ball symbol of the pawn shop is said to derive from these three bags of gold. 

Here's a brief biography/documentary:

It's that time again - awkward Christmas photos

There are approximately a billion of these available; I had a really hard time choosing the most awkward and eventually ran out of time/energy to search for them. And if you know someone who likes these so much that you want a related Christmas present, there's also a book full of them called, appropriately enough, Awkward Family Holiday Photos, and a day-to-day calendar version which provides you with, presumably, 365 awkward pictures..

Feel free to link to more in the comments.  

I went looking for a shirt similar to the one above but didn't find it. Amazon has a whole bunch of aprons in a similar vein, though, for women and men:

Friday, December 2, 2016

Friday links

This is (almost) a public service announcement: if you get a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime, you can use the unlimited 2 day shipping (plus streaming of TV shows, movies, and music) all though the holidays, and cancel afterward if you don't want to continue!

December 2, 1823: the Monroe Doctrine, the announcement forbidding countries outside of North and South American to interfere in American affairs.

Want your hoo-ha steam-cleaned but don't have a spa nearby? Here are the do-it-yourself instructions.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include Winston Churchill's birthday, the effectiveness of polygraph tests, the obscure British comedy sketch that's the most-repeated TV program, and the Museum of Bad Art.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

December 2, 1823: the Monroe Doctrine

The occasion has been judged proper for asserting, as a principle in which the rights and interests of the United States are involved, that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered subjects for future colonization by any European powers. 

~ President James Monroe (1758-1831) (7th State of the Union address, 2 December 1823 - the "Monroe Doctrine" (wiki)) 

President James Monroe
We owe it, therefore, to candor and to the amicable relations existing between the United States and those powers to declare that we should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety. With the existing colonies or dependencies of any European power we have not interfered and shall not interfere. But with the Governments who have declared their independence and maintained it, and whose independence we have, on great consideration and on just principles, acknowledged, we could not view any interposition for the purpose of oppressing them, or controlling in any other manner their destiny, by any European power in any other light than as the manifestation of an unfriendly disposition toward the United States.

~ Ibid. (a more formal statement of the Doctrine)

The Monroe Doctrine means what it has meant since President Monroe and John Quincy Adams enunciated it, and that is that we would oppose a foreign power extending its power to the Western Hemisphere, and that is why we oppose what is happening in Cuba today. That is why we have cut off our trade. This is why we worked in the OAS and in other ways to isolate the Communist menace in Cuba. This is why we continue to give a good deal of our effort and attention to it. 

~ President John F. Kennedy (wiki) (1917-1963) (news conference, 29 August 1962)*

There is one safeguard known generally to the wise, which is an advantage and security to all, but especially to democracies as against despots. What is it? Distrust. 

~ Demosthenes (wiki) (ca. 384-322 B.C.) (Second Philippic, sec. 24)

John Quincy Adams,
 author of the Monroe Doctrine
Today is the anniversary of the proclamation of the "Monroe Doctrine" (wiki) in the Seventh State of the Union address of U.S. President James Monroe (wiki) (served 1817-1825) in 1823. Formulated largely my Monroe's secretary of state, John Quincy Adams  (wiki) (1767-1848),** the Doctrine stated that the American continents were no longer open to European colonization and that the United States would view with displeasure any further European intervention in the Americas.

The Monroe Doctrine consisted of four main points:

1. The United States would remain neutral in European affairs and not get involved in European conflicts.

2. The United States would not interfere with current European colonies in the Western Hemisphere.

3. No European nation would be allowed to establish a new colony in the Western Hemisphere.

4. If a European nation would try to interfere with a nation in the Western Hemisphere, the United States would view that as a hostile act and respond accordingly.

Although never formally recognized in international law, the Doctrine has been successfully invoked regularly times and became a key principle of American foreign policy.*** As imperialistic tendencies grew, however, the Monroe Doctrine was viewed with suspicion by Latin-American countries, who associated it with the possible extension of U.S. hegemony - and it has been used a half-dozen times to justify U.S. intervention in Latin American affairs. 

* N.B. The Cuban Missile Crisis (wiki) followed about a month and a half later.

** Adams succeeded Monroe as the 6th President of the United States in 1825.

*** Perhaps the most flagrant "violation" of the Monroe Doctrine took place in 1862, when France invaded Mexico and installed a puppet government under the emperor Maximilian. President Lincoln was powerless to intervene because of the ongoing U.S. Civil War. Maximilian was deposed and executed in 1867.

Here's a brief video explanation:

The above is based on Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email. If you'd like to be added to his distribution list, leave your email address in the comments.

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Wednesday links

This is (almost) a public service announcement: if you get a free 30 day trial of Amazon Prime, you can use the unlimited 2 day shipping (plus streaming of TV shows, movies, and music) all though the holidays, and cancel afterward if you don't want to continue!

Winston Churchill was born on November 30, 1874: here he is on Islam, and here's the story of his "Iron Curtain" speech.

How Alchemy Has Been Depicted in Art Through the Ages.

A video tour of the (excellent) Museum of Bad Art.

How An Obscure British Comedy Sketch Became The World’s Most Repeated TV Program.

Do Polygraph Tests Actually Work?

ICYMI, Monday's links are here, and include World War 1 man-lifting kites (for aerial reconnaissance), nickname origins, how to modify your baseball bat into a zombie-killing weapon, and an airplane crash supercut.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Vegan Free-Range Christmas Trees

From a few years ago in Portlandia (the place, not the show), apparently, which makes this a great marketing play.

Monday links

Six ways to modify your baseball bat into a zombie-killing weapon: real versions and an infographic.

Back When Your Thanksgiving Dinner Walked Hundreds of Miles to Market: The forgotten history of turkey drives.

What not to watch just before flying: this airplane crash supercut.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the history of mirrors, a video compilation of every gadget from every James Bond film, in chronological order, why eating boogers may be good for your health, and kids re-enacting the first Black Friday.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Airplane Crash Supercut

What not to watch just before flying: this airplane crash supercut. The movies included here are listed below the video.

Watch full screen!

World War Z
Fight Club
Final Destination
Planes, Trains, & Automobiles
The Grey
Almost Famous
Final Destination 5
Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus
Donnie Darko
Snakes on a Plane
Air Force One
Iron Man 3
Passenger 57
Home Alone
Twilight Zone, The Movie
Breaking Bad
Superman Returns
Executive Decision
Cast Away
Wayne's World
Die Hard 2
Con Air

And just in time for Christmas, 30 day free trials of Amazon Prime: