Feathery Dinosaur

2016 has been a total shitshow, but at the very least we end the year with one shining bright spot: Dinosaurs were once fuzzy. Day made!

The rare specimen provides new insights into how feathers came to be

Source: This 99-Million-Year-Old Dinosaur Tail Trapped in Amber Hints at Feather Evolution | Smart News | Smithsonian

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

God Save the Free

I’m a British citizen but don’t have much patriotic devotion to the country. Unless, of course, you count its commitment to culture and the arts. The decision to make museums and galleries free was a wonderful one, and much appreciated. Wish more countries would follow suit.

Fifteen years ago today National Museums around the country opened their doors and welcomed visitors in free of charge.

On that day people in London, Manchester, York and many more places could visit the Victoria and Albert, the Museum of Science and Industry and the National Railway Museum without paying a penny.

It was one of Labour’s boldest initiatives and one of its most enduring legacies.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Michael Dean | Turner Prize 2016

He didn’t win the Turner Prize, but all the press around him has been a wonderful way to spend time (virtually) with my friend Michael. So great to see someone who has worked so hard for so long finally get the recognition and the success he’s due.

Source: Michael Dean | Turner Prize 2016 | TateShots | Tate

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

British Humour

I’m a dual citizen, but the only time I ever feel truly British is when I see something like this (the replies, that is – not the hateful bile that inspired them).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Flogsta Scream

File under: Local traditions.

Every evening at approximately 10 p.m., the “Flogsta scream” (Flogstavrålet in Swedish) may be heard, when students individually or collectively let out screams and howls from windows, balconies and roof tops.

According to Uppsala University, the collective screaming acts as “a much needed safety valve” and “a cry of angst” for students stressed by the demands of university life.

Source: Flogsta – Wikipedia

Posted in anthropology | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Trevor Noah on Trump’s victory

We’ve reached a point where the comedians have become sombre. America has some rough seas ahead of it.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Remarkable History Of The Humble Pencil

Someone at NPR has stumbled upon my favourite Wikipedia page: The Pencil. Believe it or not, it’s full of geopolitics, historical significance, hilarious facts, and so many famous names-cum-art-brands that it reads like fan fiction.

The classroom writing implement has roots in exploding stars, the French Revolution, the British crown jewels and Walden Pond.

Source: Trace The Remarkable History Of The Humble Pencil

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Suffragette Sisterhood

This election has been a mess, but I’m hoping against hope that Hillary wins tonight. Stories like this move me to tears, and give me such hope for the future.

For the first time in American history, a woman has been nominated by a major party and stands a real chance of becoming our next president. The moment has huge historical significance for millions of American women, including some over the age of 96 who lived before women even had the right to vote. As a result, many are taking to real and virtual grave sites to thank the suffragettes who made women’s suffrage possible. Stories and images of the long line to place an “I Voted” sticker on Susan B. Anthony’s tombstone have made their way around the Internet, but equally moving are the tributes women are posting on suffragist Ida B. Wells’ virtual grave site.

Source: People Are Leaving Tributes On Ida B. Wells’ Virtual Grave & Thanking Her For All That She Did

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

American Ulysses

There’s a new Grant biography for us all to enjoy. American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant is here reviewed very favourably by the Chicago Tribune. Given the fuss and fury of this year’s election campaign, it might be nice to spend 850 pages immersed in the company of a genuinely nice man. (Though the chapters dealing with corrupt and predatory businessmen might be a jarring reminder of our current situation.)

No presidential biography can avoid serving as a comment on its own time. In this regard, White’s book is an invaluable gift. The Grant he finds is, in every regard, the antithesis of what has come to be viewed as the modern politician — humble, modest, self-made; known as “the quiet man,” he spoke little, but thoughtfully and judiciously (he also wrote his own memoirs, of which Gore Vidal stated, “the author is a man of first-rate intelligence. … His book is a classic.”) He was fair, altruistic, loyal (sometimes to a fault and at his own expense), honest, decent, and deeply honorable. He was magnanimous in victory, concerned for the welfare of his country and his fellow citizens, open-minded, curious about the world and others. He fought against the nascent Ku Klux Klan, and for fair dealing with Native Americans, causing Frederick Douglass to conclude, “To him more than any other man the Negro owes his enfranchisement and the Indian a humane policy. … He was accessible to all men. … The black soldier was welcome in his tent, and the freedman in his house.”

Source: ‘American Ulysses’ tries to set the record straight on the Civil War general – Chicago Tribune

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The New Yorker Endorses Hillary Clinton

The New Yorker sums up in one paragraph why I believe Hillary Clinton is the right choice for America’s future. It’s been hard to be openly supportive of Hillary; propaganda from both left and right make a centrist look unappealing. But she’s “a liberal incrementalist”. She will be able to work with both sides to inch America forward where it has been relatively stagnant after the Congressional stonewalling of Obama.

Hillary Clinton’s vision and temperament are the opposite of her opponent’s. She has been a pioneer throughout her life, and yet her career cannot be easily reduced to one transcendent myth: she has been an idealist and a liberal incrementalist, a glass-ceiling-smashing lawyer and a cautious establishmentarian, a wife and mother, a First Lady, a rough-and-tumble political operator, a senator, a Secretary of State. Her story is about walking through flames and emerging changed, warier and more determined. In her intelligence, in her gimlet-eyed recognition of both the limits and the possibilities of government, she’s a particular kind of inspirational figure, a pragmatist and a Democratic moderate. We wish that Clinton faced a worthy opponent: she deserves a less sullied, more substantive win. But her claim to our support goes far beyond the nihilism of the alternative. I

Source: The New Yorker Endorses Hillary Clinton

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment