The Ancestors’ Commandments

I came across these a few days ago in a family history society magazine. I’ve tidied them up a bit.

The Ancestors’ Commandments

  1. Thou shalt use the same forenames for at least one person for every generation, preferably at least once in every family, just to cause confusion.
  2. Thou shalt wait the maximum amount of time before registering births and deaths, or better still somehow forget to get them registered at all.
  3. Thou shalt have two forenames, and use them both separately on official documents, but never together.
  4. Thou shalt change your forename at least once during your lifetime.
  5. Thou shalt use every conceivable spelling for your surname, and make up a few others as well.
  6. Thou shalt never use the same year of birth or birth date and always vary it adding a couple of years here and taking away a couple of years there.
  7. Thou shalt use the house name and country as your place of birth and not the village or town.
  8. Thou shalt completely disappear without trace for at least 15 years of your life and suddenly turn up again.
  9. Thou shalt use at least two different versions of your father’s name.
  10. Thou shalt not use family members as witnesses at your wedding(s).
  11. Thou shalt get married somewhere where neither of you live.
  12. Thou shalt not have all of your children baptised and shalt not always use the same church.
  13. Thou shalt move between counties at least once every ten years.
  14. Thou shalt move hundreds of miles from your home at least once.

Brilliant, aren’t they. And so, so true. I think Noreen and I each have a full house in our family trees.

Quotes

So here we have this month’s collection of quotes …

It’s a crufty pile of ad-hocery, but it works.
[Alex Parker]

The more extremism surrounds me – of any hue, religious, political, right, left – the more I find that I react with an extremism of my own. I am becoming extremely moderate, extremely reasonable, extremely centrist, extremely keen to understand others. If there is such a thing as a fundamentalist moderate, I think I’m turning into one. For what other choice is there, as the world becomes harder and more jagged, than to allow oneself to become softer and more flexible? What other strategy, if faced with an implacable wall, than to seep in through the cracks? What other option, when confronted by inhumanity, than to become more human?
[Alex Andreou on Facebook]

This is an article in support of fairness and inclusivity … I am fully in favour of fairness. I am fully in favour of inclusivity. Fairness and inclusivity are not natural, however. They are artificial human constructs. Nature is not fair and it is not inclusive. Human beings, as a naturally occurring animal species, are not fair or inclusive unless we try very hard to be, unless we go against our natural inclinations.
[Brad Warner at http://hardcorezen.info/monks-depend-on-soldiers/5308]

Ripping down … public protections means freedom for billionaires and corporations from the constraints of democracy. This is what Brexit – and Donald Trump – are all about. The freedom we were promised is the freedom of the very rich to exploit us.
[George Monbiot at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/04/ripping-up-protections-brexit-trump-freedom]

If the government agrees to a “bonfire of red tape”, we would win bent bananas and newt-squashing prerogatives. On the other hand, we could lose our rights to fair employment, an enduring living world, clean air, clean water, public safety, consumer protection, functioning public services, and the other distinguishing features of civilisation. Tough choice, isn’t it?
[George Monbiot at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/04/ripping-up-protections-brexit-trump-freedom]

Whenever we hear the word freedom, we should ask ourselves, “Freedom for whom, at whose expense?”
[George Monbiot at https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/apr/04/ripping-up-protections-brexit-trump-freedom]

At last a use for children. Accessible food orderers for those wanting chips and chicken nuggets instead of posh grub.
[John Hein]

One of the ways of avoiding being beaten by the system is to laugh at it.
[Peter Cook]

If a man is born ignorant, to parents that are ignorant, in a society that is ignorant, lives a life of ignorance and eventually dies in ignorance … ignorance is a norm. So indoctrination can be called education, hypnotism can be called entertainment, criminals can be called leaders, and lies can be called truth, because his mind was never truly his own.
[unknown]

To all appearances he is a fool. His steps leave no trace.
[Chuang-tzu, The Perfect Man]

Being an arsehole is an equal opportunities business.
[Someone I didn’t note on Facebook]

Ten Things

This month we have an historical Ten Things

Ten Interesting Historical Figures

  1. Samuel Pepys (1633-1703)
  2. William Byrd (c.1540-1623)
  3. Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)
  4. Lewis Carroll, aka. Charles Dodgson (1832-1898)
  5. Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790)
  6. Christopher Marlowe (1564–1593)
  7. Sir Francis Walsingham (1532–1590) (shown right)
  8. Galileo Galilei (1564-1642)
  9. John Aubrey (1626-1697)
  10. Dr John Dee (1527-c.1608)

Sprunging

Suddenly it’s Spring. Everything in our garden is growing, and green, and flowering. From the bright shocking pink of our “Ballerina” crab apple tree to …

… our small pendant ornamental crab apple …

Apple Blossom

… the cherry tree …

Cherry Blossom

… and the tulips.

Tulips

Our edible apple tree is just beginning to break into flower, so it should be full out in the next couple of days, and the lilac won’t be very far behind.

And just to top it all, the sun is shining!

Not King Coal

Well who would have guessed it? Well to be fair, I don’t think I would have guessed it, at least not quite in this way … because according to a report in yesterday’s Guardian, coal-fired power stations are more injurious to health than nuclear ones.

In what’s described as a “natural experiment”, researchers followed the switch from nuclear to coal following the 1979 Three Mile Island nuclear accident, where they could compare power generation by nuclear (before) and coal (after) in the same area. They found particulate pollution increased by 27% and average birth weight fell. And that’s without any effect of the particulates on things like asthma.

Your Interesting Links

OK, so here goes with this month’s selection of links to interesting items you might have missed the first time around …

Science & Medicine

Those of you with youngish children … they might like the science magazine Whizz Pop Bang. I wish there had been such a thing when I was young.

Since the 1950s we’ve had the nuclear technology to provide power for perhaps millions of years, without creating humongous, and ever increasing, quantities of radioactive waste. So why aren’t we using it? [VERY LONG READ]

Most of us hate ironing clothes, but you’ll be glad to know that there’s some science which does make it a bit easier.

Changing tack … What is the world’s top predator? Well apart from humans it seems the answer is spiders!

New research suggests that fish evolved in a surprising way before they invaded the land – and it all started with their eyes.

The Thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, has been extinct for almost 100 years – or so we think. But there are some new, and credible sounding, sightings in northern Australia (not Tasmania as one would expect). They are sufficiently credible that researchers are following up on them with camera traps. Watch his space; we might get some exciting news.

Those of us who have close relationships with cats know they have wonderful rasp-like tongues. And it turns out those tongues are indeed rather special. [VIDEO]

In a different study researchers are suggesting that cats sailed with the Vikings to conquer the world. As someone commented, I didn’t even know the Vikings had cats!

Still with cats, scientists are doing DNA sequencing on their faecal output to try to understand their gut microbiome. It turns out it is just as variable as the human microbiome.

It’s very unlikely the Neanderthals had domestic cats, but they did share one thing in common with us: dental plaque. By looking at their dental plaque researchers are working out the Neanderthal diet – and again it is highly variable.

While we’re on diet, it’s well known that eating asparagus makes your pee smelly. But not all of us can smell it, because genetics.

Now here’s another real oddball … it seems there is a connection between synesthesia and having absolute musical pitch.

And finally in this section, two posts about things feminine. Firstly Gillian Anderson and Jennifer Nadel talk about their experiences of going through the menopause.

Secondly, news that scientists have created a “lab on a chip” device which mimics the female menstrual cycle, something which could help enormously with research.

Environment

Here’s a look at the environmental impact of pet food manufacture.

History

I love it when new work changes our assumptions about what we know. Here’s news of the archaeological discovery of a Greek tomb which did just that. [LONG READ]

Archaeologists in Egypt have found an unknown statue of Pharaoh Ramses II in the mud under a Cairo slum. Except they haven’t, because it turned out not to be Ramses II but another Pharaoh altogether.

An academic is suggesting that the writings of mediaeval mystic Margery Kempe contain an early recipe for medicinal sweets to cure her religious mania.

In another case of turning what we think we know upside down it looks likely that late medieval (ie. post Black Death) peasant houses survive much more often than we thought, at least in the English Midlands.

While on housing, here’s a potted history of the British bathroom.

Harry Mount, the newly appointed Editor of The Oldie magazine, writes indignantly in the Spectator about how he sees the National Trust dumbing down and spoiling its treasures.

Meanwhile a Dutch researcher has discovered a wonderful collection of 16th-century drawings and watercolours of animals hidden away in the library of the University of Amsterdam.

London

The Londonist takes a look back at photographs of London in 1907.

400 years ago this month Pocahontas died in Gravesend. Our favourite London cabbie, Robert Lordan, looks at six places in the capital which are associated with her.

And Robert Lordan is one of the people featured in a new book For the Love of London on what makes London great by the people who make it great.

Lifestyle

It has long been known that London cabbies have an expanded area of brain associated with mapping, but now it’s been shown that using a satnav switches off the brain’s mapping ability leaving users unable to navigate without their device.

OK, so it is American, but here are eleven everyday objects with unsuspected uses.

On the importance of public loos, and knowing where they are.

People

London Bridge is falling down. What happens when the Queen dies.

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally, from the School of Shock Horror … enormous insects and where to find avoid them.

Phew, that was a bit of a marathon! More next month.

Word: Inosculation

Inosculation

To unite (as of blood vessels, nerve fibres, or ducts) by small openings.
The opening of two vessels of an animal body, or of a vegetable, into each other.
To unite so as to be continuous; blend.

It is applied anatomically especially to blood vessels and in botany to the growing together of the trunks/branches of separate trees (as shown).

Needless to say the word is derived from In plus the Latin ōsculāre (having a mouth). The first usage is recorded by the OED as being from 1673.