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April 23, 2010

A list of common misconceptions (aka the best Wikipedia page ever)

List of common misconceptions - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
History The Americas * Columbus's efforts to obtain support for his voyages were not hampered by a European belief in a flat Earth. In fact, sailors and navigators of the time knew that the Earth is spherical, but (correctly) disagreed with Columbus' estimates of the distance to India. If the Americas did not exist, and had Columbus continued to India (even putting aside the threat of mutiny he was under), he would have run out of supplies before reaching it at the rate he was traveling. The problem here was mainly a navigational one, the impossibility of determining longitude without an accurate clock. This problem remained until inventor John Harrison designed his first marine chronometers. . . . * Contrary to the popular image of the Pilgrim Fathers, the early settlers of the Plymouth Colony in present-day Plymouth, Massachusetts did not dress in black, wear buckles, or wear black steeple hats. According to Plimoth Plantation historian James W. Baker, this image was formed in the nineteenth century when buckles were viewed as a kind of emblem of quaintness. This is also the reason illustrators gave Santa Claus buckles. * George Washington did not have wooden teeth as commonly believed. According to a study of Washington's four known dentures performed by a forensic anthropologist from the University of Pittsburgh (in collaboration with the National Museum of Dentistry, itself associated with the Smithsonian Museum), the dentures were made of gold, hippopotamus ivory, lead, human and animal teeth (including horse and donkey teeth). * A common misconception among Americans is that Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation of January 1863 immediately freed all American slaves. It did not. The Proclamation only pertained to rebelling states. Since those states did not recognize the power of the Federal government, most slaves were not immediately freed as a direct result of the Proclamation. Regions in the South that were under Confederate control when the Proclamation was issued ignored its dictum, so slave ownership persisted until Union troops captured further Southern territory. Immediately affected regions were Tennessee, southern Louisiana, and parts of Virginia. It wasn't until the adoption of the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865 that slavery was officially abolished in all of the United States.
The whole page is a joy.

Candy recipes from the earliest cookbook

Accidental Hedonist - Candy from the earliest Cookbook
As of this moment, I have in my possession a book entitled Annals of the Caliph's Kitchen. It is a fairly remarkable book, as it's a translation of Kitāb al-Ţabīkh, a tenth century Arabic cookbook. From a historical perspective, Kitāb al-Ţabīkh is remarkable as it is the earliest known culinary documentation found from the medieval era. From my perspective, it's the perfect document to provide some insight into what people...err, well-off people, were eating during the mid 900's. I immediately went to the desserts/sweets glossary, and found, not one reference to honey, but thirteen. Honey is defined by its color, texture, and how clear of detritus it may be. It takes into account whether water has been added to the honey, or whether the honey has been boiled. There's even a distinction between honey that has foam retained within it from boiling, and honey that is free from foam. "Yeah, yeah, yeah," I can hear you say. "Their focus on honey is all well and good, but what about their candy?" Good question, and something interesting does come up.

April 21, 2010

Sarah Palin's Speaking Demands

Sarah Palin's Speaking Demands | The Onion - America's Finest News Source
A draft contract containing details about Sarah Palin's speaking fee and requirements was obtained by California State University, Stanislaus, students who claim they found the document in a Dumpster. Here are some of her demands: * Hotel room must have a "moose couture" styling to it * Most recent copy of all newspapers * Children's caretaker must be of Korean ethnicity or higher * 50-gallon aquarium containing a minimum of eight piranhas that haven't been fed in a week and a bucket of ducks * If the name of the speaking venue exceeds four syllables, then it must be temporarily changed to "Thompson Hall" * Book of word searches and package of string cheese for Todd * Extra red clothing just in case something happens to her other red clothing * Audio engineer must ensure speakers are capturing full cuntiness of voice * Dressing-room lighting fixtures must be equipped with non-efficient bulbs * Palin must have "five (5) black pillar candles of 13" in length and 3" in circumference, one (1) stone altar of Baphomet, one (1) obsidian dagger, and one (1) baby delivered to her dressing area no less than two hours prior to her speech"

April 20, 2010

Why you should never *pay* for online dating

Why You Should Never Pay For Online Dating -- OkTrends This is from the nerds at OKCupid, who are a dating site but not a subscription-based one. They run the maths and look at Match.com and eHarmony and show that a) it's in those sites' best interests that you *don't* find a match (since you'll subscribe longer) and b) that 95% of the accounts on their sites are dead, which grossly inflates their subscriber numbers and makes it much, much harder for people to find folks to date.

Holy Creepy Crap!

In response to this post--Poor Mojo's Newswire: I Wonder what...