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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Samuel Kirkland

Kirkland, Samuel. Article #34. Vol 6, pg 890.

Samuel Kirkland (1741-1808), was an American minister and missionary to the Iroquois before and during the American Revolutionary War.  He was a friend to the Oneida and Tuscarora nations and, working for General Washington, helped to negotiate an alliance with the Oneida and Tuscarora during the war.

0034-KirklandSamuelThe alliance was a big deal, since the other four nations of the Iroquois people (Mohawk, Onondaga, Cayuga and Seneca) were allies of the British and fought against the American colonists.

After the war, the state of New York made several treaties with the Oneida to buy large tracts of their land, despite pledges made to the Oneida that they would be able to keep their land.  Kirkland made out pretty well, personally receiving about 4,000 acres.  On the land, Kirkland built the Hamilton-Oneida Academy, a seminary admitting both white and Oneida students.

“Kirkland, Samuel.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 6, pg 890.

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personality. Article #33. Vol 9, pg 312.

Simply put, a person’s personality is a description of the way that the person thinks, acts and feels.

The science of personality, however, goes far beyond a simple description.  We tend to act in a regular fashion, so people have tried for years to come up with various models that categorize people’s personalities, for the purpose of describing or even predicting behavior.

0033-Personality-smHere are some models that people have used over the years:

  • Ancient Greeks: blood, black bile, yellow bile, phlegm  (combination dictates personality)
  • Freud: id, ego, supergo  (forces driving personality)
  • Jung: extroverted, introverted
  • MMPI: 10 scales (e.g. hypochondriasis, depression, hysteria, paranoia, etc)

Personally, it seems to me a little over the top to get so analytical about something as nuanced as human behavior.  But maybe I’m not enough of a Type A person to really understand it.

“personality.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 9, pg 312.

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espionage. Article #32. Vol 4, pg 561.

You can make anything sound sophisticated just by using a French word for it.  Take the word “espionage”.  When we describe it as “obtaining secret information by means of secret agents or monitoring devices”, it sounds pretty thrilling.  But at its core, espionage is really just “spying on” someone which sounds far less impressive and which we all know to be just plain bad behavior.

0032-EspionageSaid another way, when James Bond does it, it’s espionage.  When your little sister does it, it’s just plain spying.

“espionage.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 4, pg 561.

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quinine. Article #31. Vol 9, pg 862.

Quinine, used to treat Malaria, has the distinction of being the first chemical compound to be successfully used to treat an infectious disease.  Quinine is made from the bark of the Cinchona tree and was first formulated in the 17th century.

0031-QuinineQuinine works by killing off the malarial parasite that lives in the patient’s red blood cells.  Quinine is very successful in fighting malaria, completely alleviating symptoms for most patients.  It was widely used until the 1940s, when other antimalarial drugs were developed that led to a more permanent cure for malaria.

“quinine.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 9, pg 862.

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