Johan Henrik Kellgren

Kellgren, Johan Henrik. Article #24. Vol 6, pg 789.

0024-KellgrenJohanJohan Henrik Kellgren (1751-1795) was a young Swedish poet with great hair, who got off to a great start when, at the age of 22, he wrote a series of erotic poems.  The poems, and Kellgren’s hair, were apparently well received because he ended up as the private secretary to King Gustav III.

Kellgren continued to be successful throughout his life, writing a number of poems and dramas.  His plays were based on stories that the king came up with.  This either indicates that Gustav III also had some literary talents or it indicates that Kellgren was too smart to tell the king that his stories weren’t really that good.

“Kellgren, Johan Henrik.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 6, pg 789.

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Real Number

real number. Article #23. Vol 9, pg 973.

The set of real numbers is probably best described as the set of numbers that includes all numbers that most of us will ever care about. Put another way, the real numbers are: all of the numbers present on an infinitely long number line.

0023-RealNumberThis means that the set of real numbers does not include freaky numbers that aren’t on the number line (e.g. √-1) and are therefore incomprehensible to most of us.

One final description of real numbers, to help you identify them in the wild: a real number can always be written out as a series of digits, though the number of digits after the decimal point might be infinite.

The set of real numbers includes the following subsets of numbers:

– Positive and negative integers
– Rational numbers (can be expressed as a fraction)
– Irrational numbers (can’t be expressed as a fraction)

“real number.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 9, pg 973.

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James II (Great Britain)

James II (Great Britain). Article #22. Vol 6, pg 482.

The Stuarts came to power in England when James I took the throne in 1603. He and son Charles I were big on the idea that the king had all the power, parliament not so much. This caught up with them in 1649. Charles was beheaded and England became a republic.

The English people missed having a king, inviting Charles’ son back to England in 1660. Charles II ruled until his death in 1685.

0022-JamesIIEnter James II, younger brother of Charles II. He was also big on the Divine Right of Kings. But even worse, he converted to Catholicism.

James’ daughter and only heir was Protestant, so this might have worked out. But in 1688, James had a son, baptizing him as a Catholic.

This was the last straw for the Catholic-hating English, so they asked James to hit the road. He had ruled for only three years.

“James II (Great Britain).” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 6, pg 482.

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Letter of Barnabas

Barnabas, Letter of. Article #21. Vol 1, pg 903.

The Letter of Barnabas is an early church document, written in Greek.  Despite its name, scholars believe that it was written by some early church writer in the 1st or 2nd century, rather than by the apostle Barnabas.

0021-CodexSinaiticusThe letter didn’t make it into the New Testament, perhaps because the author was a little rough on the Jews.  He argued that the Jews had misinterpreted much of the Old Testament and that it should really just be used as an introduction to the story of the Christians in the New Testament anyway.

The author also did the Jews a favor by reinterpreting portions of the Old Testament.  One example–where the Old Testament says “don’t eat weasel”, what it really means is “don’t engage in oral sex”.  I.e. “My children, I entreat you, don’t eat the weasel”!

“Barnabus, Letter of.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 1, pg 903.

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Cable (engineering)

cable (engineering). Article #20. Vol. 2, pg 705.

A cable, or wire rope, is a rope made of several strands of metal wire, twisted together.

Wire rope was invented in the 1830s by a German miner and used for hauling and hoisting things in the mine.  The Germans quickly realized that this wire rope was much stronger than traditional hemp rope.  This first version was made out of iron, but wire rope is today typically made out of steel.

0020-WireRopeA basic wire rope is made by winding several wires together to make a strand and then wrapping six strands around an inner core to create the final cable.  The strands can be twisted in either the opposite or same direction as the wires that make up a strand.

“cable (engineering).” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol. 2 pg 705.

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Pasig River

Pasig RiverArticle #19. Vol. 9, pg 182.

The Pasig River runs from Laguna de Bay, the largest lake in the Philippines, to Manila Bay, bisecting Manila.  The river isn’t much to write home about, described as shallow and sluggish, although (happily) navigable by small crafts.

0019-PasigRiverHere’s a fun fact.  In the dry season, when the water level in Laguna de Bay is lower, Pasig River can actually flow backwards when the tide is rising.  That’s going to be a little irritating for those guys navigating small crafts.

“Pasig River.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 9, pg 182.

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zakat. Article #18. Vol 12, pg 888.

Along with declaring your faith, praying every day, fasting and heading to Mecca, zakat (almsgiving) is one of the five pillars of Islam.  Zakat, however, appears to be more of a pseudo-obligatory tax than a random donation to the poor.

Zakat is levied on: food grains, fruit, camels, cattle, sheep, goats, gold, silver and all movable goods.  In other words, you pay zakat on basically everything you own, except your house, large hunks of concrete and old Bee Gees record collections.  I.e. Stuff you couldn’t possibly move.

0018-AngryArabYou pay zakat to poor people or “those whose hearts it is necessary to conciliate”.  In other words, you pay zakat to angry people who really want your money.

Depending on how angry they are, though, you could at least try starting with the Bee Gees collection.

“zakat.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 12, pg 888.

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Jean de Muris

Muris, Jean de. Article #17. Vol 8, pg 431.

Jean de Muris (1290-1351) was a French philosopher who was a champion for the new musical style of the 14th century.  He must have really been digging the new scene, because at age 29, he wrote a famous piece entitled “The Art of the New Music”.

0017-Muris-RhinestoneKnightThat’s the historical stuff.  Here’s the speculative.  A list of all of the hip new music of the 14th century has been lost to us, so we can only imagine what sort of tunes Jean and his buddies were into.  Me, I think there were likely some great classics, like “Ruby, Don’t Take Your Love to Chartres”, “Stand By Your Dauphin”, and (of course) “Rhinestone Chevalier”.

“Muris, Jean de.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 8, pg 431.

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Saint Anselm of Canterbury

Anselm of Canterbury, Saint. Article #16. Vol 1, pg 434.

Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109) was born in Italy, but found his way to France, where he eventually became the abbot of the monastery of Bec.  He later became Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1093, but he butted heads with King William II over whether it should be William II or the pope who should invest Anselm with the symbols of his office.

0016-AnselmCanterbury-WithCowAnselm is best known for coming up with the ontological argument for the existence of God, which goes something like this.  Being imperfect beings, we can all imagine the most perfect being in the universe (i.e. God).  Furthermore, this being must exist, based on the fact that the idea exists.

Critics of Anselm weren’t buying it.  Just imagining that something exists doesn’t prove that the thing actually exists, they said.

“Anselm of Canterbury, Saint.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 1, pg 434.

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Hwicce. Article #15. Vol 6, pg 183.

The Hwicce were the inhabitants of one of the sub-kingdoms in Anglo-Saxon England, from around 580 AD to 780 AD.  I guess being just a sub-kingdom explains why Britannica only gives them about an inch.  They were actually their own kingdom until 628 AD, when they got subsumed into Mercia and relegated to a sub-kingdom.


Mercia gets several inches in Britannica, by the way.

“Hwicce.” Encyclopedia Britannica. 15th ed. 2010. Vol 6, pg 183.

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