Scope & Horror: The Entertainers

The Entertainers Highlights from the week of July 22-July 29 Director and actor James Whale (b. July 22, 1888). He made Frankenstein (1931), The Invisible Man (1933), and Bride of Frankenstein (1935) among other classics.  Publicity still of James Whale with the model of Frankenstein’s monster, Copyright Universal Studios, 1935Silent film actress Aileen Pringle (b. July 23, 1895). […]

Scope & Horror

I am trying something new this week, in hopes to eventually move into a weekly post. While I am getting set up and trying to come up with a workable format, I am posting this first one in pieces. For the week of July 22-July 28:   The Artists Artwork by Edward Hopper (b. July […]

On Miasma and Contagia

Physician and anatomist Friedrich Gustav Jakob Henle was born July 9,1809. His essay On Miasma and Contagia survives as an early argument for germ theory. Before bacteria and virus were understood, diseases were thought to be caused by miasma, or “bad air.” The word comes from Greek mythology, where miasma seems to have been a cross […]

The Ghost Forest

    Isaac Newton’s Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia Mathematica was published July 5, 1687. Dolly the sheep, the first mammal cloned from an adult cell, was born July 5, 1996. Astronomer A.E. Douglas was born July 5, 1867. He studied the connection of sunspot cycles and tree growth rings, founding modern dendrochronology. The study of tree growth rings reminds […]

Superstition and the Dog Days of Summer

Illustration of the constellation Sirius, with text circa 820 Sirius rises late in the dark, liquid sky On summer nights, star of stars, Orion’s Dog they call it, brightest Of all, but an evil portent, bringing heat And fevers to suffering humanity. Stanley Lombardo translation of Homer’s Iliad July 3rd is the first of 40 […]

The Middle of Things

Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan disappeared on July 2, 1937, flying over the Pacific Ocean. Her plane took off at 12:00 midnight GMT from Lae Airfield in Papua New Guinea. Her last radio messages were received about 8 and half hours later. Pluto’s fourth and fifth moons, Kerberos and Styx were named on July 2, 2013. Does anyone […]

The Sheep You Asked For Is Inside

  “This is only his box. The sheep you asked for is inside.”                                                     The Little Prince Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste   French writer Antoine Marie Jean-Baptiste was born June 29, 1900. He […]

Seven Sleepers’ Day

It’s Seven Sleepers Day. Known as Siebenschläfertag, it’s basically German groundhog’s day. Folklore says that today’s weather predicts what the weather will be like in July and August. Naturalist Thomas Say was born June 27, 1787. Considered the founder of descriptive entomology, he described at least 1.000 new species of beetles and published  American Entomology: Insects of North […]

Six Degrees of Separation: Smurfs, Zombies, Farrah Fawcett, and the American Auto Industry

Igor Stravinsky’s opera Firebird opera opened in Paris on June 25, 1910. The firebird is a creature from Slavic fairy tale.  The opera is a mix of this and another fairy tale called Koschei the Deathless, about a magician who cannot be killed like a mortal because his soul is separate from his body, inside a needle, hidden inside an egg […]

The End of the Dark

The summer solstice happened this morning. It’s the official start to the summer and the longest day of the year.  June 21st is the birth date of two astronomical instrument makers, John Dolland and James Short, who were born in 1703 and 1710 respectively.  Designed by George Washington Gale Ferris Jr, the Ferris Wheel was introduced at the […]

Elementary Lessons in Electricity and Magnetism

June 19th, also known as Juneteenth, marks the anniversary of the 1862 court ruling that prohibited slavery in the United States. It is also the anniversary of the 1964 approval of the Civil Rights Act.  And then everything was solved forever. German chemist and pharmacist Friedrich Sertürner was born June 19, 1783. He was the first […]

Parasites Affecting Your Bowels and Your Week

Illustrator James Montgomery Flagg was born Jun 18, 1877. Astronomer William Lassell was born June 18, 1799. He discovered many moons of distant planets. Physician Charles Laveran was born June 18, 1845.  By examining blood smears, he discovered parasitic protozoans as the cause of malaria. Youngest daughter of last Russian Czar Nicholas II, Anastasia Nikolaevna was […]

The Gorilla is for Sand Racing

June 14th has a lot about America in the history lists. It’s the birthday of the US Army. est. 1775. Two years later, the Continental Congress approved the Stars & Stripes for the U.S. Flag. So it is also Flag Day. Pennsylvania is the only place to acknowledge it as an official state holiday. In […]

Robots, Empathy, and Entrails

I gave into temptation and ordered my genetic profile from AncestryDNA. What’s more, I downloaded the raw data and ran it through Promethease, a website that will analyze your genome and then give you pages and pages of your genetic traits and mutations matched to current and generally reliable medical evidence on certain health risks […]

Does It Matter What Color Your Parachute Is When You Are Falling Towards the End at Terminal Velocity?

Plus what to serve at your funeral Joseph-Michel and Jacques-Etienne Montgolfier gave the first public demonstration of their hot balloon, called the montgolfière, with great success today in 1783.  Exactly one year later Élisabeth Thible, dressed as the goddess Minerva, became the first woman to fly in an untethered hot air balloon.  Their balloon was named La Gustave in […]

Self Help

If you are still in your twenties, this isn’t for you.  You have your whole life ahead of you.  Keep Instagramming and going to NYU.  For the rest of us struggling, older, non-geniuses: I wasn’t going to write today, because, well remember yesterday, I told you I have two jobs? And not enough hours in […]

Radar Men From the Moon

The Days Before Twitter (does that make me sound really old, or only medium old?) Nineteen-year-old German aviator Mathias Rust landed in Moscow’s Red Square today in  1987. Flying in from Helsinki, Finland with diplomatic intentions, he was detected several times by Soviet air defense systems but was never intercepted.  As you can imagine, his landing […]

Captain Video and His Video Rangers

Cartographer Sebastian Münster died today in 1552. Seriously, his maps are so beautiful. Born on May 26th: Dorthea Lange, John Wayne, Peggy Lee, Miles Davis, Jack Kevorkian, Sally Ride, Helena Bonham Carter, and Lauryn Hill. Also born today author and cartoonist Raina Telgemeier.  I almost didn’t write a post today, but I am so glad I […]

Not Part of Any Club That Would Have Me As a Member, and Other Personal Predictablities

It is National Tap Dance Day, in honor of the 1878 birth of dancer Bill Robinson. The Muppet’s puppeteer Frank Oz was born today in 1944. He voiced Fozzie Bear, Bert, Grover, Cookie Monster, Sam Eagle, Animal, and Miss Piggy. Also Yoda.  Coincidentally, Star Wars was released today in 1977.  Wrestling champion William Muldoon was born today […]

A Taxonomy of Bookworms and Other Musings

  Baquet. Interior view: Drawing room scene with many people sitting and standing around a large table; a man on a crutch has an iron band wrapped around his ankle; others in the group are holding bands similarly; to the left, a man has hypnotized a woman. Born today: physician and astrologer Franz Mesmer.  You know […]

Fads and Fallacies in the Name of Science

An illustration from the American 1918 edition Gray’s Anatomy First and foremost, it is WorldGoth Day. I was trying to find a way for you to celebrate it, but frankly, this guy nailed it. If you must expand on that, you can make your own Book of Shadows. Because nothing says witchcraft more than WikiHow […]

Calcul d’effet des Machines

Remember when the world was going to end on May 21, 2011, and we could all max out our credit cards on jeans, and tell everyone you hate that you hate them to their face? Oh, and um, repent for your misdoings? Let’s all do more of that today, and not worry about tomorrow. Today […]

Remote Control

Today is Josephine Baker Day Full disclosure, I just returned from a five-year-old’s birthday party at a Pump it Up with a nonfunctioning air conditioner, so I am not at the top of my game. The birthday girl got so overheated, she barfed and things only went up from there. Perhaps she worked through yesterday’s […]

Heartbreak at Muscle Beach

Image source Day of the Beefcake According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, May 19th is the best day to plant above ground crops, graft or pollinate, or to begin a diet to gain weight. So, I might have jumped the gun on last weekend’s carbo-loading. Oh well, grab and plate and start over. I have […]

Man vs Mercury

The astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, discoverer of Pluto here shown with his homemade 9-inch telescope. In 2005, we learned that Pluto has two more moons, named Nix and Hydra, when the Hubble Space Telescope confirmed this with a second photo, making a total of five moons. Pluto is, of course, god of the underworld. Nyx is […]

Trading Under the Buttonwood Tree

  A depiction of traders under the buttonwood tree, 1945 The New York Stock Exchange was established today in 1792 under the signing of the Buttonwood Agreement. Whenever I picture the stock exchange as an actual object, I picture that giant wheel on The Price is Right. I mean that’s pretty much how all that Wall […]

The Compulsive Wanderers

In 1796, in the War of the First Coalition, Napoleon triumphantly entered the city of Milan. In 1851 the first Australian gold rush was officially proclaimed. In 1905, 110 acres in Nevada next to the Union Pacific Railroad was auctioned off, and, alas, Las Vegas was born. Did you know that Las Vegas shares a […]

Venice, Lost in One Day

One of the earliest experimenters in photography Thomas Wedgwood was born in 1771. Illustrator Henri Julian was born in 1852; pianist Lance Dosser in 1916; silent film actress Billie Dove in 1921; and lithographer Robert Bechtle in 1932. Lance Dossor (far right), February 1937 Robert Bechtle, ’61 Pontiac, 1968–69. Oil on canvas, 59 3/4 × […]

Communism is Just a Red Herring

The Pajama Game opened on Broadway today in 1953. I am not entirely clear of the plot with my exhaustive 60 second scan, but something about a pajama factory and demands of a seven and a half cent raise. Sounds topical.  There are unions involved, so I can say with 100% certainty my father would not […]

Lazy Mary, You Better Get Up, We Need the Sheets for the Table

  Today is May 11th. Today in 912, Alexander began his 13th month reign as the Emperor of the Byzantine Empire.  In 1833, after just over a month at sea, The Lady of the Lake hit an iceberg 250 miles of the coast of Newfoundland and sank.  Only fifteen of the estimated 275 people aboard survived. This […]

A Guide to the Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar

  Today is May 10th.   London, New York [etc.] Cassell and Company, Limited – https://archive.org/details/dictionaryofphra00brewrich Heat, an Introduction: Ebenezer Cobham Brewer, author of A Guide of Scientific Knowledge of Things Familiar, was born in 1810. God Save the Queen Also born on May 10th: German mathematician Wilhelm Killing in 1847; Actress Mae Murray in 1885; Fred Astaire in 1899, and […]

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