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Friday, October 20, 2017

Friday links

This short 1901 film has some rather impressive special effects: The Fat and the Lean Wrestling Match.

The Mathematics Of Measuring Cups.

The Krakatoa volcanic eruption in 1883 was so loud it ruptured eardrums of people 40 miles away, traveled around the world four times, and was clearly heard 3,000 miles away.

Flowers Have Secret Blue Halos That Bumblebees Can See.

10 Fun Fashion Facts from the Middle Ages.

How The Princess Bride Built Film’s Most Beloved Sword Fight. Here's the fight scene.

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include how Martian laws will differ from Earth laws, a set of 1860s photos of the five stages of inebriation, eating the world's spiciest chip, and, for Rita Hayworth's birthday, a compilation of her dancing.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Tuesday links

Happy Birthday, Rita Hayworth: here's an excellent compilation of her dancing, set to Stayin' Alive.

John Quincy Adams' Obsession with Weights and Measures.

How Will Martian Laws Differ From Earth's Laws?

Here's A Giant Drunk Puppet Roaming The Streets Of An Irish City. Related, an 1860s series of photos illustrating the '5 stages of inebriation'.

Nathan Straus and the Milk Stations That Saved the Lives of New York City Kids.

We ate the world's spiciest chip, cried for 45 minutes, then wrote this article about it.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the anniversary of the 1066 Battle of Hastings, a part-time monarch who's also a full-time auto mechanic, White House leaks from Abe Lincoln's presidency, and a joyful rock version of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy".

Monday, October 16, 2017

Happy Birthday, Rita Hayworth: here's an excellent compilation of her dancing, set to Stayin' Alive

October 17th is the anniversary of the birth of superstar American movie actress and dancer Rita Hayworth (1918-1987) in Brooklyn. Born Margarita Carmen Cansino to two professional dancers, Hayworth started dance lessons at an early age and in 1927 moved with her family to Hollywood, where her father had hoped to land dancing parts in the movies. Finding minimal success, he formed a dance act with his daughter, and since she was too young to appear in night clubs in California, they performed across the border in Tijuana. 

This 1941 photograph of Rita Hayworth
became one of the most popular
pin-ups among U.S. servicemen during
 World War II. Life magazine, however,
 decided it was too risque to put
on their cover
Hayworth's career really took off in the early 1940s, and by 1944, when she appeared with Gene Kelly in Cover Girl, she was one of the hottest stars in Hollywood, and in Charles Vidor's erotic film noir, Gilda (1946), she established herself as a leading femme fatale. 

She was married and divorced five times, and counted among her husbands Orson Welles, Prince Aly Khan* (by whom she had two daughters), and Dick Haymes. Late in life, she suffered from alcoholism and died of Alzheimer's disease in New York City in 1987.

She was quoted in 1977 as saying, 

"Men fell in love with Gilda, but they wake up with me."

Dancing in Tijuana when I was 13 - that was my "summer camp." How else could I keep up with Fred Astaire when I was 19?

~ Rita Hayworth (New York Times, 25 October 1970)

This has been around for a while, and will make you feel like dancing all day.  Watch full screen:



Clips:
"Down to Earth": 0:00 / 1:03 / 2:46 / 4:20
"You'll Never Get Rich": 0:14 / 0:24 / 0:28 / 0:46 / 2:35 / 3:16 / 3:49
"Tonight and Every Night":  0:20 / 1:11 / 1:22 / 1:36 / 1:54 / 1:55
"Cover Girl": 0:34 / 0:38 / 1:13 / 1:48 / 2:13 / 3:07 / 3:29 / 3:31 / 3:54 / 4:06 / 4:31
"You Were Never Lovelier": 0:50 / 2:20 / 2:42 / 3:00 / 4:10 / 4:38
"Gilda":  1:17 / 2:04
"Miss Sadie Thompson": 1:38 / 1:46 / 4:28
"My Gal Sal": 1:42 / 3:23 / 3:35 
"Pal Joey": 2:00 / 3:20 / 3:41
"Affair in Trinidad": 2:05 / 2:52 / 3:04 
* N.B. A son of Aga Khan III, the head of the Ismaili Muslims, Aly Kahn (1911-1960) was a fabulously wealthy international socialite and playboy, who later served as Pakistan's representative to the United Nations. He was married to Rita Hayworth between 1949 and 1953).

Related:


It's Fred Astaire's birthday - here are clips of some of his best dancing

video h/t ‏@GarySinise

Friday, October 13, 2017

Paraskavedekatriaphobia: Why is Friday the 13th Considered Unlucky?

In case you were trying to work it out for yourself, the name of this phobia in Pig Latin is araskavedekatriaphobiapay.

Superstition, bigotry, and prejudice, ghosts though they are, cling tenaciously to life: they are shades armed with tooth and claw. They must be grappled with unceasingly, for it is a fateful part of human destiny that it is condemned to wage perpetual war against ghosts. A shade is not easily taken by the throat and destroyed. 

~Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

Today is Friday, the 13th, which superstition holds is a day for bad luck. According to folklorists, there is no written reference to this belief before the 19th century. The earliest known reference in English occurred in an 1869 biography of composer Gioacchino Rossini, which described the irony of his dying on an "unlucky" Friday, the 13th. 

The basis for the superstition may lie in the fact that 13 has long been held to be an unlucky number and Friday an unlucky day - hence the combination. It has been estimated that something like 20 million people are affected by this belief in the United States, many of them changing their normal routines on this day to avoid "the curse." The Dutch Centre for Insurance Statistics claims that "fewer accidents and reports of fire and theft occur when the 13th of a month falls on a Friday than on other Fridays, because people are preventatively more careful or just stay home." This seems to be confirmed by Dutch auto accident data.

This Nat Geo article discusses the phobia with Donald Dossey, founder of a Stress Management Center and Phobia Institute in North Carolina (and also a folklore historian and author of Holiday Folklore, Phobias and Fun): he says that fear of Friday the 13th is rooted in ancient, separate bad-luck associations with the number 13 and the day Friday. The two unlucky entities ultimately combined to make one super unlucky day.

Dossey traces the fear of 13 to a Norse myth about 12 gods having a dinner party at Valhalla, their heaven. In walked the uninvited 13th guest, the mischievous Loki. Once there, Loki arranged for Hoder, the blind god of darkness, to shoot Balder the Beautiful, the god of joy and gladness, with a mistletoe-tipped arrow.

"Balder died and the whole Earth got dark. The whole Earth mourned. It was a bad, unlucky day," said Dossey. From that moment on, the number 13 has been considered ominous and foreboding.

There is also a biblical reference to the unlucky number 13. Judas, the apostle who betrayed Jesus, was the 13th guest to the Last Supper.

Meanwhile, in ancient Rome, witches reportedly gathered in groups of 12. The 13th was believed to be the devil.

Thomas Fernsler, an associate policy scientist in the Mathematics and Science Education Resource Center at the University of Delaware in Newark, said the number 13 suffers because of its position after 12.

According to Fernsler, numerologists consider 12 a "complete" number. There are 12 months in a year, 12 signs of the zodiac, 12 gods of Olympus, 12 labors of Hercules, 12 tribes of Israel, and 12 apostles of Jesus.

In exceeding 12 by 1, Fernsler said 13's association with bad luck "has to do with just being a little beyond completeness. The number becomes restless or squirmy."

This fear of 13 is strong in today's world. According to Dossey, more than 80 percent of high-rises lack a 13th floor. Many airports skip the 13th gate. Hospitals and hotels regularly have no room number 13.

On streets in Florence, Italy, the house between number 12 and 14 is addressed as 12 and a half. In France socialites known as the quatorziens (fourteeners) once made themselves available as 14th guests to keep a dinner party from an unlucky fate.

As for Friday, it is well known among Christians as the day Jesus was crucified. Some biblical scholars believe Eve tempted Adam with the forbidden fruit on Friday. Perhaps most significant is a belief that Abel was slain by Cain on Friday the 13th.

Related: 13 Reasons People Think the Number 13 is Unlucky

Friday links

This rock version of Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" will make your day.



Tomorrow, October 14, 1066 is the anniversary of the 1066 Battle of Hastings.



ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include the man-sized cages hanging from a medieval German Church steeple, the 732 Battle of Tours, beer that helps menopause symptoms, and wi-fi balloons for Puerto Rico.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

October 14, 1066 was the Battle of Hastings: history, quotes, videos, maps, and links


If the Normans are disciplined under a just and firm rule, they are men of great valor, who... fight resolutely to overcome all enemies. But without such rule they tear each other to pieces and destroy themselves, for they hanker after rebellion, cherish sedition, and are ready for any treachery.

William the Conqueror (wiki(deathbed speech, reported in Orderic Vitalis, Ecclesiastical History) 

A French bastard landing with an armed banditti and establishing himself King of England against the consent of the natives, is, in plain terms, a very paltry rascally original. 

~ Thomas Paine (1737-1809) (on the Norman Conquest, Common Sense

William next invented a system according to which everybody had to belong to somebody else, and everybody else to the king. This was called the Feutile System, and in order to prove that it was true, he wrote a book called the Doomsday Book (wiki), which contained an inventory of all the Possessions of all his subjects; after reading the book through carefully William agreed with it and signed it, indicating to everybody that the Possessions mentioned in it were now his.

~ W. C. Sellar and R. J. Yeatman (1066 and All That, Ch. XI*)

Today is the anniversary of the Battle of Hastings (wiki) in 1066, in which William the Conqueror (wiki) initiated the Norman conquest of England by defeating the forces of the Anglo-Saxon King Harold, who was killed in the conflict (although there's been recent speculation that Harold survived). William, Duke of Normandy, had been promised the English throne by his cousin, Edward the Confessor (reigned 1042-1066), and Harold, earl of Wessex, had sworn agreement to that succession. However, with the death of Edward, Harold crowned himself king, leading William to mount a sea-borne invasion to assert his own right. 

Larger version here.
Landing his army on the south coast of England, he confronted Harold at Hastings, routed the Anglo-Saxon army, declared himself King William I, and ultimately established Norman hegemony over all of England.**

By establishing a network of castles and strong points, including the Tower of London, William brought order to the country and reigned until 1087, when he was succeeded by his son William II. The Norman invasion and the events leading up to it are exquisitely portrayed on the Bayeux Tapestry (actually an embroidery 75 yards long), which was made within a few years of the Conquest, likely in southern England. 
 
On the ceremonial gateway to the World War II British military cemetery for the dead of Normandy at Bayeux, one finds the apposite Latin inscription,

NOS A GULIELMO VICTI VICTORIS PATRIUM LIBERAVIMUS

(We, once conquered by William, have now set free the Conqueror's native land.) 

* N.B. Subtitled, "A Memorable History of England, comprising all the parts you can remember, including 103 Good Things, 5 Bad Kings and 2 Genuine Dates." Still amusing after 80 years. 

** It is not often remembered that just prior to Hastings, Harold and his hard-pressed army had been forced to repel a Norse invasion in the north of England, and it required a forced march to the south for them to meet the Normans. 

For the Last 1,000 Years, the Same Families Have Owned Most of England:
Shortly after the Normans conquered England in 1066, their monarch, William, seized all of the lands, then divvied up control among those soldiers and nobles who helped him defeat the Anglo-Saxons (and keeping a fair bit for himself). However, as dramatic as that was, it is even more shocking that today, most of Britain remains in the hands of the descendants of those early Norman conquerors.
My favorite William bit, though, has to be his body exploding (well, bursting) at his funeral. Here's another account of the events.

Horrible Histories has a "breaking news" program from 1066, in which the news is arriving via (the Bayeaux) tapestry:


This Young Person's Guide to the Battle of Hastings is really quite informative:


This brief BBC Documentary gives all the basics..



This video, also from the BBC, covers a re-enactment which took place on October 15, 2006:


And an animated version of the Bayeaux Tapestry:


This "Eyewitness to History" site has an account of the battle with the events depicted by the individual tapestry scenes.

This rock version of Beethoven's Ode to Joy will make your day

This is from 2011, but I'd never seen it before. 

Croatian cellist Ana Rucner performs the 'Ode To Joy' from the fourth (and final) movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony (wiki). It was based on a poem by the same name by German poet, playwright, and historian Friedrich Schiller (wiki). An English translation of the adaptation used by Beethoven is below the video.

If you grew up as a Protestant, you'll probably recognize the music from the hymn "Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee" (also known as The Hymn To Joy) by Henry van Dyke. The lyrics were written by Van Dyke with the intention of setting them to this particular music. A performance at the Royal Albert Hall in London is at the bottom of this post.

Watch the whole thing as the tempo and joyful nature of the images increase. Watch full screen, and, if at home, with the volume turned up.


Ode to Joy English lyrics:

O friends, no more these sounds!
Let us sing more cheerful songs,
more full of joy!
Joy, bright spark of divinity,
Daughter of Elysium,
Fire-inspired we tread
Thy sanctuary.

Thy magic power re-unites
All that custom has divided,
All men become brothers
Under the sway of thy gentle wings.

Whoever has created 
An abiding friendship,
Or has won
A true and loving wife,
All who can call at least one soul theirs,
Join in our song of praise;
But any who cannot must creep tearfully
Away from our circle.

All creatures drink of joy
At nature's breast.
Just and unjust
Alike taste of her gift;
She gave us kisses and the fruit of the vine,
A tried friend to the end.

Even the worm can feel contentment,
And the cherub stands before God!
Gladly, like the heavenly bodies
Which He set on their courses
Through the splendor of the firmament;
Thus, brothers, you should run your race,
As a hero going to conquest.

You millions, I embrace you.
This kiss is for all the world!
Brothers, above the starry canopy
There must dwell a loving Father.

Do you fall in worship, you millions?
World, do you know your creator?
Seek him in the heavens;
Above the stars must He dwell.


Hymn of Joy lyrics:

Joyful, joyful, we adore Thee,
God of glory, Lord of love;
Hearts unfold like flow’rs before Thee,
Op’ning to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness;
Drive the dark of doubt away;
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day!

All Thy works with joy surround Thee,
Earth and heav’n reflect Thy rays,
Stars and angels sing around Thee,
Center of unbroken praise.
Field and forest, vale and mountain,
Flow’ry meadow, flashing sea,
Singing bird and flowing fountain
Call us to rejoice in Thee.

Thou art giving and forgiving,
Ever blessing, ever blest,
Wellspring of the joy of living,
Ocean depth of happy rest!
Thou our Father, Christ our Brother,
All who live in love are Thine;
Teach us how to love each other,
Lift us to the joy divine.

Mortals, join the happy chorus,
Which the morning stars began;
Father love is reigning o’er us,
Brother love binds man to man.
Ever singing, march we onward,
Victors in the midst of strife,
Joyful music leads us Sunward
In the triumph song of life.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Here's A Giant Drunk Puppet Roaming The Streets Of An Irish City

Because everyone knows that drinking to excess and being Irish go together like chocolate and peanut butter:

Via eminor.com (warning - autoplay).

In 2011, a giant puppet merrily loitered around the village of Dromore West in Sligo, Ireland, interacting with passers-by in a drunken stupor. Called ‘Arthur’, the character was controlled by a man on stilts, who would have perhaps also been under the influence of alcohol to pull off that convincing drunk walk.

The video was taken at Fleadh Cheoil, an Irish music and arts festival wherein musicians from different counties compete to become All-Ireland champion.

Hitler Learns About Harvey Weinstein

A worthy addition to the genre:



h/t Powerline

Short 1901 film: The Fat and the Lean Wrestling Match

This 2 minute film was directed by French filmmaker Georges Melies (wiki). It starts off with a fat woman and a lean woman wrestling but then they morph into a fat man and a lean man (played by Melies). Obviously the standards of what is considered fat has changed since then.

The special effects are surprisingly good - Melies was a pioneer in the use of stop edits, dissolves, and double exposures in motion pictures. There are a couple of sequences, in which one of the men gets flattened or decapitated/dismembered before being brought back to life, that demonstrate some of these techniques.


Here's one of his most famous films, A Trip to the Moon (Le Voyage dans la lune) from 1902 - it will make more sense if you read Wikipedia's plot summary before watching:


Want more? Here are 193 Georges Melies films in chronological order.