Daily Archives: November 18, 2011

Kvick Tänkare

When I was a child I once (it only takes once) gorged myself on Twinkies. For years afterwards I’d get nauseous even looking at them.  Even today, despite an incredible sweet tooth I never even contemplate eating the things.  Here’s the evolutionary reason why.  (h/t Mrs. TwShiloh)

Months ago YT recommended a Chinese film called Red Cliff.  I’m finally getting around to watching it (it clocks in at around 5 hours) and it’s great. From the Pedia of Wiki:

…a Chinese epic war film based on the Battle of Red Cliffs (208-209 AD) and events during the end of the Han Dynasty and immediately prior to the Three Kingdoms period in ancient China.

It’s got amazing effects and battle scenes and while you can see some traditional action movie tropes here there are many, many places where you see Chinese influences that simply never would make it into a Hollywood movie (and thanks to my multicultural literature class, circa 1991, for helping me clue in on some of those).  The movie obviously doesn’t strive for historical accuracy and I almost got the feeling it was a bit like ‘Troy’ should have been with heroic types.  Great film that has definite ‘rewatch’ potential.

Scandinavia isn’t exactly known for bright, sunny skies all the time.  So how the heck did the vikings navigate around foggy old England and get to Iceland and Vinland?  Well, researchers have an idea:

It was, in fact, a transparent calcite crystal known as Iceland spar. It’s found all over its namesake country, and Vikings could have used it to depolarize light, which means the crystal is able to split light along different axes.

That optical effect, amazingly enough, was all ancient navigators needed to locate the Sun, even when it was completely hidden from view.

I just started listening to The British History podcast by Jaime Jeffers.   and the TwShiloh team recommends it highly.  Jaime puts the history of Britain in an easily accessible, fun style.  I’m not totally convinced all the analysis and commentary meets a highly rigorous standard (but I might be saying that because I’m also listening to the most excellent History of Rome podcast which delves into much greater detail about the imperial period and I see some simplifications or small discrepancies between the two when they cover the same issues).  Still, Jaime delivers his product in a great style and it’s a very entertaining podcast.  Also interesting is how Jaime is ‘monetizing’ his work.  The core podcast is free and you’re free to donate (as is the case for most podcasts).  He does provide for a ‘subscription’, however, where (for as little at 2.99 a month) he provides ‘exclusive’ content.  Essentially bonus episodes that only subscribers get.  Really great idea…