Things I learned this week #28

  • This collective noun: If I was to make a list of small-talk and first date conversation topics it would go something like this: food, the tube, podcasts or books, and then collective nouns for animals. How many times have I been told the words "a parliament of owls" in my life? I don't know, but I love re-remembering every time. This week I learned a new collective noun, and I'm sorry if you heard this one already: a scurry of squirrels. Of also a "dray" of squirrels. But I think "Scurry" is cuter and definitely deserves the headline. (source)
  • This early gay selfie: This week I came a picture of some early gay rights activist. Two handsome Victorian looking gentlemen holding a sign which read "Not married but willing to be". Which is beautiful in sentiment and heartbreaking in reality. I think it popped up on one of my social feeds, and I hunted it down. It looks like the photo re-surfaced last year when Hugh Nini and Neal Treadwell published Loving : A Photographic History of Men in Love 1850s-1950s (buy it on Hive (UK)). The Guardian took some of the photos from this piece and published them with some nice art direction on their website. The two un-named gentlemen I saw were photographed circa 1900s in Provenance, USA. Also of note is a very early selfie, entitled "In the mirror" - it's a photograph of two men taken in a mirror with a simply darling 1900s camera on the table between them. In a time when they couldn't have photos taken or developed by anyone (what with homosexuality being illegal), it makes a lot of sense. (source)
  • This colour: The browser has some default colours, like black or blue. Some of them are a little odd, like indianred or mediumquamarine, but they're there. You can use whatever colour you want in the browser (and people do), but you have to define them with computer-readable code like #BD1A0F or rgb(15,189,126). So being a human-readable colour name isn't the usual or standard approach. CSS comes with rebeccapurple. This colour, which was the colour used in the original branding for Twitch, the online streaming platform, is named in memory of Rebecca Alison Meyer, the six year old daughter of Eric Meyer. Eric is one of the pioneers in standardising CSS, one of the three truly foundational and essential web technologies. This particular shade of purple was Rebecca's colour. After Rebecca passed away from brain cancer, this colour was added to the CSS standard, and so comes with every browser, as a beautiful little reminder and honorary to Rebecca. (source)
  • This French translation: You know pie charts? The worst form of data visualisation (@ me you cowards). In French these can be translated to diagramme circulaire (formal) or camembert (informal). Yeah, it's a funny joke: ha ha the French love cheese they saw a graph and saw cheese *twiddles moustache*. But we looked at exactly the same thing and saw pie. What does that say about us? Would you rather have a pie or some fresh bread with a baked camembert and garlic? Learning this fact made me happy, and then made me sad that my culture just doesn't love camembert like the French do. (source)
  • This health advice from Leondardo: One of the most famous figures of the Italian renaissance, Leonardo was one cool guy. He had a pretty varied mental diet: anatomy, fluid dynamics, natural science, art (obviously), inventing underwater breathing gear, optics, engineering, and so on. In one of his notes he detailed a mixture of mental and physical advice for staying healthy. Go and read it. The advice is surprisingly modern, reasonable, and holistic. He advises to remain standing after eating, which is good advice for weight loss. "Beware anger and avoid stuffy air", the latter of these points is something with a surprisingly detailed history. Similarly he advocates to "rest your head and keep your mind cheerful". Leonardo understood well that our physical and mental health, our sleep, food, and physical activity all contribute to making us happier. That's not to say it's all good advice: he calls medicine "ill advised", says exercise shouldn't be "too strenuous" so as with everything, take it with a punch of salt. (source)

What I've had on Rotation

  • Something New: Dark Days by Yard Act (2021, Indie Rock). This is a four track EP from a new-ish band from Leeds, UK. It's punk, and genuinely quite funny, painting a really rich portraits of characters in sometimes-singing-sometimes-talking tones. It reminds me a little bit of The Streets in the lyric/narrative blurred line. I am really excited to see the band drop an LP! (links)
  • Something Old: Bits of Naaz by Naaz (2018, Pop). This fresh, clean pop sound sounds like happier times to me. It's lovely songwriting and and pleasing melodies. I'm always a fan when someone contrasts obviously drum-machine beats over more organic samples and Naaz does that nicely throughout this album. (links)