Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yesterday I Learned: Juggernaut

I was at the Decatur Farmer's Market (local organic stuff every Wednesdays at Church and Commerce) yesterday and one of the sellers had on a hat with this symbol on it:

I mentioned that it was interesting, and he started telling me about how it is the symbol of a Hindu god named Jagannath... which is also the word that "juggernaut" is derived from because of this ceremony:

The english word juggernaut means "a force regarded as unstoppable, that will crush all in its path."

Actually the above clip is from Phantom India, which I've linked to before on this blog. I guess it keeps coming up.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Today I Learned: Crows

Heard this story on NPR this morning about crows. It talks about how humans have not evolved brains that would allow us to distinguish one crow from another. Even crow researchers who have studied them many years cannot tell them apart. They have a test on the site which you can take to see if you can tell one from another. Crows, on the other hand, have a special ability to tell one human from another, and it is based on facial recognition. The scientists say that crows have traditionally had to tell humans apart because some humans were mean to crows and would shoot them while others were nice and would feed them, so it became a survival skill.

Yesterday I learned some things about Joan of Arc after watching La passion de Jeanne d'Arc (Dreyer) played in the Acapella parking lot with live backing musicians (Hubcap City). Joan was executed when she was just 19. And she was a key military figure (claiming to recieve directions from God). She led several key French victories in the Hundred Years' War (which lasted 116 years, off and on) and helped Charles V to the throne. The movie itself was amazing, and now that I know the context more, it makes more sense. Most of the dialogue in the movie was taken directly from records of her actual trial and execution.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Today I Learned: "Influenza"

I'm starting a new series of posts, one for every day (until I give up like I do most things)... where I'll post one thing I learned on that day. Hopefully I'll have learned at least one thing a day, though I reserve the right to not learn anything.

I was reading a webpage about the Flu Pandemic of 1918 today (after reading the excellent book Charlotte Sometimes which is partially set in 1918) and I learned that kids used to sing this rhyme while skipping rope:

I had a little bird,
Its name was Enza.
I opened the window,
And in-flu-enza.