One of my favourite podcasts is The Futility Closet, source of weird and wonderful historical minutiae. An episode I caught recently put me on the trail of a truly fantastic, if short-lived chapter in the development of long-distance communications: the 19th Century pasilalinic-sympathetic compass, otherwise known as the snail telegraph.
Just a short* post from me today, for the best of reasons – I’m busy writing! I’ve found an anthology to get excited over, which is always a great way to spark ideas – I get a lot of my inspiration from having a topic to brainstorm around. In this case, delightfully, it’s queer werewolves.
Here’s a historical titbit I’ve learned while researching my submission:
Just a quick one this week, as it’s been a very busy week (some of the busyness might be leading to interesting things, but nothing confirmed enough yet to post about).
Some people might choose to celebrate the end of a long week by getting down at the disco. Not really my scene of choice (though I do love a dance!), but here are some party animals who look great under a bit of UV lighting.
This week, I learned about how two of the most prosaic of products have turned out to have entirely unexpected benefits. Find out why scientists and nursing instructors are big fans of prank farts, and how tootsie roll candies may have actually saved lives in the Korean War.
Have you ever stopped and asked yourself, “How do I know the colour I call purple is actually the same colour someone else sees when they look at purple things”?
I’ve long been fascinated by the ways different animals – and different people – live in different sensory worlds. As it turns out, we already know that not everyone sees colour the same way – how do you explain the difference between red and green to someone who’s red-green colourblind? Is the dress blue or white? – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the different sensory worlds we can live in.
At the time, that was the strangest way to make music I had come across. But this week, not one but two other musical groups will vie for the title of Most Unlikely Orchestra. Which one takes the cake (or possibly, in this case, the carrot)? Let me know your pick in the comments.
This week I learned about the website that lets you take a deep dive into the history of Amsterdam, and took a deep dive of my own into the unsettling history of a Japanese island full of bunnies.
Just a short one this week, because once again one of my topics of choice has ballooned out into an entire post of its own (tune in next week). For now: this week I learned about the oldest recorded dodgy businessman, and the baffling hobby of certain otters.
This week I learned about the surprisingly short history of gremlins, how new technology could give your walls eyes, and about what happened when an isolated Papuan tribe met Western society’s fascination with the “primitive”.
This started out as an entertaining tidbit that arose from my recent tour of Versailles (“hee hee, royal sex ed”), which I was originally going to tack on to the end of my last TWIL post. But, as sometimes happens when I try to turn “this cool thing I heard” into “this well-researched and hopefully accurate information I’m willing to share publicly”, the real story turned out to be much more complicated – and, in this case, of much more personal interest – than I had expected.
So today I delve into the historical mystery of: why did it take Louis XVI and his queen Marie-Antoinette seven years to consummate their marriage?
N.B. the following, as well as several of the links included, discusses sex and may be considered NSFW.