Woman Suffrage

woman suffrage. Article #44 Vol 12, pg 733.

It’s always a bit amazing how long it takes to convince society to grant a basic human right that was previously being withheld.  Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony began working together in 1852 to fight for woman suffrage, which is simply the right for adult women to vote in local and national elections.

The fight for woman suffrage in the United States took 68 years.  It was only after World War I, when women in a variety of jobs proved that they could do nearly everything that men could do, did the nation decide that maybe women could be trusted with electing public officials.

0044_WomanSuffrageMost surprising are the arguments of the anti-suffrage movement.  They argued that in states where women were in the majority, the state would be placed under “petticoat” rule.  As you might imagine, that scared the crap out of the manly men of the late 19th century.

“woman suffrage.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 12, pgs 733-734.

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Zuid-Holland. Article #43 Vol 12, pg 940.

Zuid-Holland (South Holland) can effectively argue for my attention in a number of different ways.  It’s home to the 4th largest port in the world (Rotterdam).  It includes some of the famous “flower fields“, home to acres of beautiful tulips.  Finally, it was the location of part of the famous Delta Works project, the goal of which was no less than to dam up a good portion of the Dutch coastline, putting an ends to centuries of devastating flooding.

0043-Gouda-SmThese are all amazing facts, any one of which may be enough to convince me to come for a visit.  But what really makes me sit up and take notice is that  Zuid-Holland is home to the city of Gouda, itself home to that most delectable of all cheeses–Gouda cheese.

How can I resist?  I’m slicing a piece immediately and looking into air fares.

“Zuid-Holland.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 12, pg 940.

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orchil. Article #42 Vol 8, pg 985.

What’s more exciting than a purple dye that you somehow extract from a boring brown lichen?

0042-OrchilBritannica tells us that “orchil” can refer to the dye extracted from the lichen, or to the lichen itself.  The ability to create a purple dye from this lichen dates back at least to the ancient Romans.  Purple was, of course, a prized color, given its association with royalty.

The resulting dye was valuable enough that the method used to extract the orchil dye from the lichen was kept secret for many years by a Florentine family who held a monopoly on all things purple.

“orchil.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 8, pg 985.

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Great Mogul Diamond

Great Mogul Diamond. Article #41 Vol 5, pg 446.

0041-GreatMogulDiamondThe Great Mogul Diamond was the largest diamond ever discovered in India.  Discovered in 1650, it was estimated at  780 carats as a rough stone and then very badly cut by a Venetian, who managed to whittle the stone down to a paltry 280 carats.  Still, a 280 carat diamond is nothing to sneeze at.  If it hadn’t disappeared, it would be the 6th largest cut diamond in the world today.

Unfortunately, the Great Mogul did disappear.  The Shah of Iran nabbed it when he invaded India in 1738, but the diamond somehow couldn’t be found after he was assassinated in 1747.

“Great Mogul Diamond.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 5, pg 546.

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Carbet Mountains

Carbet Mountains. Article #40 Vol 2, pg 846.

There are a handful of things that we need to know before understanding exactly where (and what) the Carbet Mountains are.

0040-CarbetMountainsFor starters, we need to find the Caribbean Sea. (Hint–it’s near Florida). Next, we find the island chain known as the Lesser Antilles, located in the southeast part of the Caribbean, just above Venezuela. Finally, within the Antilles, we hunt down the island of Martinique. It’s located in the middle of the island chain, between Dominica and Saint Lucia.

Now we’re ready to learn that the Carbet Mountains are a small chain of mountains that runs down the length of the island. Technically, they’re a volcanic massif–which is just a fancy way of saying they all sit on the same little chunk of the earth’s crust and slide around together as a single unit.

“Carbet Mountains.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 2, pg 846.

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Sports Medicine

sports medicine. Article #39 Vol 11, pg 177.

Here’s the basic idea of sports medicine (the four steps that comprise sports medicine today).

0039-sports-medicinePreparation of the athlete.  Focus on conditioning and training. Break it to the athlete that he’s going to suffer a horribly painful injury before his career is over.  (The horrible injury will actually be the reason that his career is over).

Prevention of illness or injury.  Have the athlete do some stretching and wear a good helmet. Admit to him that the helmet won’t do much to stop a charging lineman.

Diagnosis and treatment of illness or injury.  Take the athlete to the hospital. Admit to yourself and to the athlete that the first two steps did nothing to prevent this.

Rehabilitation.  Help the athlete find a new career. Good choices include selling stuff on infomercials, starring in fishing shows, or advising young kids to stay away from professional sports.

“sports medicine.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 11, pg 177.

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Baron Johan August Gripenstedt

Gripenstedt, Johan August, Friherre. Article #38. Vol 5, pg 505.

Baron (Friherre) Johan August Gripenstedt (1813-1874) was a Swedish politician who served as Minister of Finance for ten years (1856-1866) and Member of Parliament for six years (1867-1873).

0038-GripenstedtJohanGripenstedt was a big proponent of free trade.  He orchestrated trade agreements with France, Germany and Prussia, which led in turn to reduced customs for imported goods. He rounded out his list of good deeds in 1863 by convincing King Charles not to get involved in Denmark’s war with Prussia. While Denmark probably didn’t appreciate Sweden’s neutrality, staying out of the war did help the Swedish economy.

Coincidentally, refusing to ally with Denmark also put an end to the political Pan-Scandinavian movement, which was working to turn Denmark, Norway and Sweden into a single country. So we can thank Gripenstedt for being able to visit three different countries today, rather than just heading for “Norswemark”.  (Denwayden)?

“Gripenstedt, Johan August, Friherre.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 5, pg 505.

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Moche. Article #37. Vol 8, pg 212.

The Moche was a civilization that existed between the 1st and 8th century AD, along the north coast of Peru. The Moche culture existed as a series of independently ruled towns and cities in separate river valleys between the Andes mountains and the sea.

The Moche people used the streams flowing down from the Andes to create a series of canals, used for irrigation. They were farmers, growing mostly corn and beans.

0037-Moche-Pot3The Moche are also known for making clay water jars with a distinctive stirrup feature that served as the pot’s spout.

The Moche also built stepped pyramids, or huacas. The “Huaca del Sol” was the largest pre-Columbian structure built in the Americas.

There is evidence that the Moche engaged in the standard litany of pre-Columbian atrocities, including costumed priests standing on pyramids, ritualistic sacrifice of prisoners, and blood-drinking. I smell a future Mel Gibson film.

“Moche.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 8, pg 212.

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chinoiserie. Article #36. Vol 3, pg 241.

Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.  But sometimes imitation goes beyond duplication and leads to the evolution of something entirely new.

0036-chinoiserie-BThat’s the case with the decorative style known as chinoiserie, a French word meaning “in the chinese style”.  In early 17th century France, exotic imports from China exploded in popularity.  Everyone had to have a Chinese porcelain vase or lacquered table.  To meet the great demand, French artisans began creating their own versions of these objects.  The French versions didn’t duplicate Chinese objects, but rather created whimsical new designs, inspired by stories of the exotic Chinese.

Chinoiserie evolved into its own style of interior design.  Every French nobleman worth his salt built a “Chinese room” in his home, filling it with Chinese-inspired objects.  With its asymmetry and fanciful forms, chinoiserie also blended with rococo, which was a reaction against the rigor of the baroque style.

“chinoiserie.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 3, pg 241.

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gruiform. Article #35. Vol 5, pg 522.

The gruiformes are an order belonging to the class of Aves (birds) and consisting of 11 living families, with about 190 species spread across these families. (Kingdom-Phylum-Class-Order = Animalia-Chordata-Aves-Gruiformes)

0035-GruiformThe most well known of the gruiformes are probably cranes.  Cranes are known for their elaborate and graceful courtship dances, which include bowing, head bobbing and throwing twigs into the air in an attempt to impress the mate.

The gruiform order includes the families:

  • Limpkins (Aramidae)
  • Cranes (Gruidae)
  • Trumpeters (Psophiidae)
  • Rails, Gallinules, Coots (Rallidae)
  • Finfoots (Heliornithidae)
  • Cariamas (Cariamidae)
  • Sun Bitterns (Eurypgidae)
  • Mesites (Mesitornithidae)
  • Bustards (Otidae)
  • Otididae family
  • Kagus (Rhynochetidae)

“gruiform.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 5, pg 522.

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