A Stunning Soviet Map of NYC

The USSR military had extremely accurate maps of almost the entire world. This is their 1982 map of New York City, with Lower Manhattan in the upper right-hand corner, and Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty in the mid-left side. The map even includes the dimensions, and building materials, of the bridges.

The national symbol of the Philippines is the Philippine, or monkey-eating, eagle. It is the largest of all eagles and was declared the national bird of the Philippines in 1995. It was almost too late: the eagle is critically endangered and there may be just 180 to 500 eagles remaining.

Frederick Branch was the first African-American to become an officer in the US Marine Corps. After being drafted in 1943, he applied for Officer Candidate School, but was turned down, even though President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8802 in 1941, which prohibited racial discrimination by any government agency. So Branch served in the Marines in a supply unit in the Pacific, where his performance earned him the recommendation of his commanding officer. Branch then attended officer's training in the Navy V-12 program at Purdue University. He was the only African-American in a class of 250. After graduating he was commissioned as a second lieutenant on November 10, 1945 -- but as the officer for a segregated unit.

The photograph is Branch with his wife.

Whiro, Lord of Darkness

In Maori mythology, Whiro is the embodiment of darkness and evil. He is the son of the sky father and earth mother, and brother and enemy of Tāne, god of the forests and birds. After a long and bitter war between the brothers, Tāne was victorious. Whiro and his followers were forced to go to the underworld where he reigns.

But Whiro is not quietly retired. He is viewed as a relentlessly active god, always trying to harm humans as they are the descendants of Tāne, especially through his Maike brethren, the personified forms of sickness and disease. Many offerings were made to Whiro, unsurprisingly.

Sexism and Lobotomies

Unfortunately, and unsurprisingly, women were disproportionately given lobotomies during the psychiatric procedure's heyday. From the 1940s through the mid-1950s, men slightly outnumbered women as patients in American state hospitals, yet female patients made up about 60 percent of those who underwent lobotomy. Many psychiatrists believed it was easier to return women after operation to a life of domestic duties at home than it was to post-operatively rehabilitate men for a career as a wage earner.

Conservators Concerned About Plastic

But not for reasons you think! Early plastics are beginning to degrade. It is so bad that venues have been having to remove plastic historical items from display because they are visibly deteriorating. Historians have many advanced chemical and biological techniques to preserve artifacts but they are for “traditional” artifacts which are made from natural materials -- wool, wood, iron -- not man-made materials. Now conservators are having to quickly discover new techniques to keep plastic artifacts from deteriorating, techniques that work on materials which have never before had to be conserved. It is apparently a huge challenge!

Aborigines whose language in the Yolŋu Matha linguistic family, in Australia, often practiced exogamy, marrying outside their group. This meant mothers and fathers would speak different languages of Yolŋu Matha -- deliberately -- so the child would grow up speaking at least two languages.

This was actually a good thing, because there are about six languages in the Yolŋu Matha family, some mutually intelligible, divided into about thirty clan varieties and perhaps twelve different dialects, each with its own Yolŋu name. Having groups where members could speak multiple languages presumably helped groups communicate, and survive.

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    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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