Things I learned this week #12

  • This high fat diet: Whales, like dolphins but also humans, are mammals. This means they feed their young with milk. As you would expect, the blue whale has the largest mammary glands on Earth – each is about 1.5m long and weighs as much as a baby elephant. Blue whale mothers can produce 200 litres of milk per day, with a fat content of 35-50%. For reference, double cream is about 48% fat. It's no wonder blue whale calves gain about 90kg of weight a day for the first year of their lives.(source)
  • This 100 year old word: "Robotics" is 100 years old this year, although it was first published by Czech writer Karel Čapek in a play, R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), the author credits his brother, Josef Čapek, as the actual inventor of the word. Either way, the word itself derived from the Slavic word robota which means slave or servant, and originally referred to artificially manufactured humans who could be mistaken for real (organically manufactured?) humans, a la Blade Runner's (or Phillip K Dick's) Android.(source)
  • This reason behind a medieval punishment: In the 1500s, Queen Mary, England's first Queen who wasn't just the wife of a king, gained a reputation as "Bloody Mary". Mary was a deeply Catholic woman, which is especially surprising given her father, Henry VIII, formed the Church of England and had a real thing for getting divorced. During her reign, Queen Mary worked hard to stomp out the Protestant faith, electing to burn a lot of its public practitioners. There were numerous, surprisingly socially acceptable, ways to execute someone in Tudor England, but being burnt alive was chosen purposefully. It was supposed to give the victim a taste of the hellfire which was about to overwhelm their soul for all eternity - and a last chance to accept Catholicism and therefore prevent this. (source)
  • This Twitter Holiday:In April 2011, Ed Ball, the now retired British MP, simply tweeted his name. It turns out he was trying to search for articles about him on the site, but instead he just ended up tweeting two words: "Ed Balls". At the time he didn't know it was possible to delete Tweets, but even since learning he could, he's left the Tweet up. Every April 27 some people now celebrate "Ed Balls Day" - which strikes me as as a joyfully silly holiday. Back in 2011 it was slightly more noteworthy for politicians to tweet absurd things. (source)

What I've had on Rotation

  • Something New New Ruins by Indian Wells (Contemporary Electronic). I'm not 100% sure what genre Indian Wells fits in - it's beat-heavy, synth-tactic, melodic, and rhythmic. It's good music to work to, but I also enjoy it if I'm out on a run. This EP, released a few weeks ago, has been really great to put on when I need to focus in on something. (links)
  • Something Old All Eyez On Me by 2Pac (Old School Hip Hop). Man, 2Pac gets a lot of recognition and for good reason. He put this album out in '97, and it's two hours long - two hours of lyrically detailed, flow-heavy, classic gangsta rap that honestly still stands up in its own right over 20 years later. (links)

Cool Articles

  • What if Friendship, not marriage, was the centre of life? by Rhaina Cohen for The Atlantic. I like this article because it's able to point at something we hardly consider, e.g. that the most important and significant relationship in your life will be your romantic one, and ask why that is. I'm not proposing we all try and label someone our platonic soulmate and buy a plot of land in the south of France together (but that would be fun for a bit), but rather ask why we don't have the words or cultural role models to explain this kind of relationship.
  • Quest Sprout: 'The most wholesome thing on the internet' by Michael Baggs for the BBC's Newsbeat. I saw these cartoons popping up on Reddit every now and again, and they lifted my heart. Quest Sprout is the creation of a a New Zealand-based artist and games tester (and all round nerd) who was trying to spread more positivity. Quest Sprout is a tiny, floral character who just loves going on quests but, like the rest of us, is scared sometimes. Quest Sprout is wholesome and reminds us to be kind to ourselves and others. Go and read the article and feel better on the inside.