"Many a long dispute among divines may be thus abridged: It is so; it is not so; it is so; it is not so."

Benjamin Franklin, who apparently did not think highly of religious disagreements.

Apartheid Was Ridiculous -- And Terrible

During Apartheid in South Africa, a bus driver was fired for refusing to pick up a Japanese man  -- who was legally considered a "white" person at the time. The bus driver was reinstated after he stated he could not tell the difference between a Japanese person  -- legally "white" -- and a Chinese person -- legally "not white."

Why Did New Guinea Warriors Prefer Daggers Made With Human Bone?

The indigenous people of Papua New Guinea did not develop metalworking before modern contact. Instead, they fought with sharpened bone daggers. Here there was a choice: fight with daggers crafted from human thighbones or daggers crafted from cassowary thighbones -- giant, flightless, dinosaur-like birds. The preferred weapon in Papua New Guinea was human bone daggers.     And a new study suggests why: the dagger fashioned from human bone is stronger than the giant bird's thighbone, largely because of the way the warriors of New Guinea carved the weapons. The human bone daggers retained more of the natural curves of the bone, making them stronger than the flatter, less curved cassowary bone daggers. Given that cassowary daggers are easier to replace than human-bone daggers, it makes sense that the human daggers were carved with greater care to make them stronger.

Taino Woman's DNA Yields Clues About Modern Caribbean Peoples

Researchers mapped the genome of an ancient Taino woman using DNA from one of her teeth. She was buried 1,000 years ago at a site called Preacher’s Cave on the island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas. She is most closely related to present-day Arawakan speakers in northern South America, where her ancestors likely originated. But the study revealed that she is also partly related to some modern Puerto Ricans. The findings support some continuity in the western Caribbean between the modern population and their pre-Columbus ancestors.

The world’s first telegraph line was set up between Washington, DC, and Baltimore, MD. It worked by transmitting electrical signals over a wire laid between the stations. The first message was sent by inventor Samuel F.B. Morse on May 24, 1844, from DC to Baltimore. It said: "What hath God wrought?" in -- what else -- morse code. Since the line could only transmit electrical signals, manipulating that signal was the only way to communicate.

Morse code became a standard method of communication for the next hundred years. It was still in use by all sides during World War II!

What Did Vietnam Look Like In The Late 1800s?

This undated manuscript is a lovely example of traditional Chinese and Vietnamese cartography, with some western influences. Named “Comprehensive map of Vietnam’s provinces” (Việt Nam toàn tỉnh dư đồ) it appears to have been painted around 1890.     Most of the map is in traditional Vietnamese and Chinese style. The map does not have a precise scale. It shows Vietnamese provincial organization loosely, with province names enclosed in red in the right places, but with no attempt at provincial borders. Almost every river mouth and estuary is named, reflecting a traditional Vietnamese view of their land, Non Nước (Mountains and Water). It also has a lovely and traditional pictorial style, with mountains and rivers and even a “gate” at the border between Vietnam and China.     The map’s western elements are scant: the shapes of the Vietnamese coastline is fairly accurate, as is the Mekong River and the lake of Tonle Sap in Cambodia.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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