Mediterranea and Africa–East of the Sun

This week we’re visiting a very interesting part of the world. You know it as the home of olives and pasta, and maybe the beginnings of civilization. It’s the Mediterranean Sea, with all of it’s surrounding countries. Let me list off some of the important ones for you.

April 9th, 1860 – The Oldest Voice Recording

The phonautograph is the earliest known device for recording sound. Previously, tracings had been obtained of the sound-producing vibratory motions of tuning forks and other objects by physical contact with them, but not of actual sound waves as they propagated through air or other media. Invented by Frenchman Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, it was patented […]

Medicine Macabre – The Music of Surgery

Who can choose when or where the Muses descend and sow their creative seeds, and significantly, who can decide what form that creativity takes? For example: to some, my work is an abomination. To me, it is art. Suffice it to say, the Muse assigned to Monsieur Maraise was having a particularly bad day when it proffered upon him […]

January 10th, 1810 – The Divorce of Joséphine

Joséphine de Beauharnais’s marriage to Napoleon I was her second; her first husband Alexandre de Beauharnais was guillotined during the Reign of Terror, and she herself was imprisoned in the Carmes prison until five days after Alexandre’s execution. Her two children by Alexandre became significant to royal lineage. Through her daughter, Hortense, she was the maternal grandmother […]

December 24th, 1914 – The Christmas Truce

The Christmas truce (German: Weihnachtsfrieden; French: Trêve de Noël) was a series of widespread but unofficial ceasefires along the Western Front around Christmas 1914 that began on December 24th, 1914. In the week leading up to the holiday, German and British soldiers crossed trenches to exchange seasonal greetings and talk. In areas, men from both […]

December 10th, 1799 – France Goes Metric

The humble metre (spelt meter in the USA) was originally defined in 1793 as one ten-millionth of the distance from the equator to the North Pole. In 1889, it was redefined in terms of a prototype metre bar (the actual bar used was subsequently changed twice). In 1960, the metre was redefined in terms of […]

Medicine Macabre – Two Million Corpses

I often hear about young people who enjoy taking romantic sojourns to a nearby cemetery, proving the eternal and inextricable bond between fervent sexual ardor and the grim inevitability of death.   A trip to the cemetery you say? How adorable. Why, the last time I visited a graveyard I also had a grand old time. I […]

December 9th, 1897 – La Fronde and Suffragettes

It was on December 9th, 1897, that activist Marguerite Durand founded the feminist daily newspaper La Fronde in Paris.

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