Friday, 12 September, 2014
Some honey produced in coastal regions of Turkey, along the Black Sea, can be possessed of a certain hallucinogenic quality, if honey bees are able to pollinate, and gather the nectar of, rhododendron flowers that grow in the area.
While adding a dollop of this so-called “mad honey” to drinks, such as tea I imagine, resulted in a buzz akin to consuming a couple of alcoholic beverages, when ingested in any reasonable quantity it can however induce nausea, blurred vision, and seizures, among other things.
Indeed, the honey, that has been a product of the region for centuries, has not only seen use as a depressant though, it has also been deployed a war weapon in the past:
Indeed, in 67 B.C. Roman soldiers invaded the Black Sea region under General Pompey’s command, and those loyal to the reigning King Mithridates secretly lined the Romans’ path with enticing chunks of mad honeycomb. The unwitting army ate these with gusto, as the story goes. Driven into an intoxicated stupor by the hallucinogenic honey, many of the flailing soldiers became easy prey, and were slain.
Interestingly, I saw a film called Bal, or Honey, a few years ago, that is set in pretty much the same part of Turkey, although I don’t believe hallucinogenic honey was featured.
food, history, Turkey
Thursday, 4 September, 2014
Despite being one the most celebrated English literature authors of the nineteenth century, no one had known what Jane Austen really looked like until Melissa Dring, a freelance forensic artist, set about helping to create an accurate likeness of her for Madame Tussaud’s wax museum.
Dring was similarly unimpressed by Cassandra’s sketch – “It makes her look a little bit as if she’d been sucking lemons and it’s so totally unlike the feeling that you get from reading her books.” – but nevertheless used it as a starting place. She then spent a year consulting the many eyewitness accounts that described Jane; scouring portraits of members of Austen’s family for shared traits; even consulting a graphologist who examined Austen’s tight, cramped hand, and highlighted the writer’s private, secretive nature, her practicality, and her right-handedness. Drawing on all the available information – which, she said, was more than she normally has to go on – Dring created a composite portrait of younger Jane Austen that she felt captured the author’s physical appearance as well as her character.
forensics, history, writers
Tuesday, 26 August, 2014
From small things big things one day come… the rise, peak, fall, and aftermath of the Roman Empire, as set out in forty maps.
I begin to wonder if more people would enjoy high school history courses if maps were used as a basis for teaching it?
history, maps, Roman Empire
Friday, 22 August, 2014
How to describe telegrams when there may be people here reading, who have no idea what they are? A text message that can only be sent in print format, perhaps? In earlier days much of the world’s communication was carried out by way of telegrams, but not any more obviously.
Unless you are in Japan, that is, where the mode is still in use, for a variety of reasons:
Japan is one of the last countries in the world where telegrams are still widely used. A combination of traditional manners, market liberalization and innovation has kept alive this age-old form of messaging, first commercialized in the mid-19th century by Samuel Morse and others.
communication, history, technology, trends
Thursday, 21 August, 2014
Did Bill Gates really utter the words “I don’t believe in the internet” in 1991? Whether or not the Microsoft co-founder said such a thing didn’t stop the company launching its first website just over twenty years ago though.
Maybe Gates said he didn’t believe in easy on the eye web design instead, if the inaugural front page of the Microsoft site, above, is anything to go by. Mind you, he wasn’t alone in that regard, that’s what much of the web at the time looked like.
history, internet, technology, web-design
Tuesday, 19 August, 2014
I was into the knights of old when I was a kid, so this photo series, by Thom Atkinson, of combat outfits worn by British soldiers from 1066 through to today, was absorbing to say the least.
history, photography, war
Friday, 15 August, 2014
The family of an Australian man, Stephen Clarke, who recently moved into a retirement home, are looking for help nailing down the locations of a stack of photos he took while travelling the world in decades past. Maybe you know some of the places that still haven’t been identified?
history, photography, travel
Wednesday, 13 August, 2014
After taking some time to look through the History of Information it seems to me everything on Earth is older than I had previously thought. For instance the first known, so far, industrial complex dates back more than two and a half million years.
We’re sure not talking car manufacturing or the like here though, but organised production activities of some sort.
Earth, history, technology
Wednesday, 30 July, 2014
Not all of the songs that reach the top of the music charts are destined to become classics, or end up even being remembered. In fact some of these tracks may find themselves vying for the title of most obscure of all time…
Surprise. With a few exceptions, songs popular during the adolescence of people still alive today are much more popular than songs and racist comedy routines recorded during the reign of Queen Victoria.
history, music, songs
Monday, 28 July, 2014
Pickpockets may soon be a thing of the past, as changes in fashion, that sees men wearing tighter fitting trousers, and a reduced reliance on cash, that results in people carrying less money generally, says Wilfred Rose, a former New York City wallet lifter, who spent the best part of forty years pilfering the pockets of its residents.
Then there was the time, he claims, that he decided to show off after spotting an off-duty sergeant, a renowned chaser of pickpockets, on his way to Yankee Stadium. Mr. Rose sidled up to him in the crowded train, plucked a roll of $300 from the man’s pocket and slipped $30 or $35 of his own money, in smaller denominations, into the sergeant’s pants. When the sergeant recognized Mr. Rose one stop later, he patted his pocket, reassured to feel money there. (In an interview, the sergeant, now retired, denied ever being bested by Mr. Rose.) But that was a long time ago. These are lean years for pickpockets. People carry more credit cards and less cash; men wear suits less, and tightfitting pants more. The young thieves of today have turned to high-tech methods, like skimming A.T.M.s.
crime, history, law