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Monthly Links

Apologies that due to an incursion of lurgy this month’s collection of links is somewhat late. Anyway here goes …

Science & Medicine

Unlike most other animals, roughly 90% of humans are right-handed. But why?

Another peculiarity of humans is that we are one of only a handful of species which has an appendix. Again, why?

Evidence is emerging that women with severe PMS, called premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), really do have an aberrant cellular response to their hormones.

How do doctors measure pain? Answer: inconsistently. And they’re trying to understand this better. [Long read]

I suspect most people don’t notice the pigeons around them, but there are three which are common in the UK: the feral pigeon (rock dove), wood pigeon, and collared dove. The first two are genuine natives, but the collard dove is a recent arrival from Asia which set out to conquer Europe.

Sexuality

Ten things you probably didn’t know about the clitoris.
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The here and there of (female) pubic hair through the ages.

On attitudes to masturbation in a relationship.

The BFI now has an archive of erotic films covering the late nineteenth century to around 1960s.

History

And bridging seamlessly into the really historical, it seems the Ancient Chinese were into sex toys, just as much as modern generations.

Researchers are getting really quite good at dating ancient objects and events. An ancient volcanic eruption has now been firmly dated using fossilised tree rings.

The myth of Medieval Small Beer — no, everyone didn’t drink beer, rather than water, in olden days.

Someone has found what is alleged to be the long-lost skirt from one of Queen Elizabeth I’s dresses being used as a church alter cloth.

A research student has been able to uncover the movements and exploits of a Renaissance spy, who successfully masqueraded as a garden designer to the rich and powerful.

London

Each year IanVisits provides a calendar of the gun salutes in London for the year.
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Crossrail have unearthed yet more archaeology in an unexpected place: jammed and pickled under the old Astoria nightclub.

There’s a section of tunnel under the Thames on the Northern line tube which was bombed and flooded in 1940. And it is still sealed shut.

To go with the previous item, here are a few vintage pictures of London tube stations.

And, just in time for your next pub quiz, here are a few things you may not know about London buses.

Lifestyle

Some thoughts on how to talk meaningfully with children. And not just children, I suggest.

Even the most macho bloke has his bit of feminine. Here are some on the feminine things men would do if they thought they wouldn’t be judged for it.

Unless you’re doing a really dirty job (like down a coal mine) it’s likely you’re showering much too often for the good of your skin.

And finally … Just what did those prudish Victorians have to hide?

More next month.

Your Monthly Links

We’re starting the New Year with our monthly collection of links to articles which have caught our eye over the last month. Science-y stuff first — it’s not hard, but it is downhill from there.

Science & Medicine

Scientists have been hard at work over the last couple of years reconstructing the evolutionary history of elves and elf-like creatures. Here’s a summary and here’s the original work. I note, however that they have not included the Common Garden Gnome!

Synaesthesia is a strange affliction where people see words as colours, or hear sounds as smells. Just to make things even more bizarre, here’s a story about a woman who sees the calendar as a hula-hoop.

It has long been supposed that women who live together synchronise their menstrual cycles. Kate Clancy lifts the lid on a total lack of convincing evidence.

Meanwhile at the other end of lady things, it seems that pregnancy causes long-term changes to brain structure. Which could explain a lot!

Sexuality

Some students at Bristol University have made a (very short) film to get girls talking about pubic hair and why the do (or don’t) remove it.

Why do we have orgasms? Apart from the obvious need in men, it is being suggested that orgasm is like a sexual currency — reward, payment and cementing the contract.

Environment

Deep in the woods there are still pagans living in Europe, and they’ve been there a looooong time!

Art & Literature

A rare painting of Henry VIII’s Nonsuch Palace has been acquired by the V&A for the nation and saved from export.

The Madras Literary Society Library is a 200-year-old circulating and contains unknown treasures which are decaying through neglect. Now a group of volunteer members are working on the task of conserving as much of the material as possible.

History

Anyone who has delved into their family history will no doubt have noticed more than a few Christmas Day weddings. Findmypast explains why this was so popular.

London

London Underground’s Piccadilly Line has been struggling recently. London Reconnections explains what’s happened.

­Here are 13 things you probably didn’t know about Waterloo Bridge.

So who thought the River Thames was filthy and lifeless? Not so any more as it seems there is a lot move going on under the surface than we think.

Anyone who knows Kensington High Street or Notting Hill Gate areas of London has probably been past The Churchill Arms pub because it is always decked out in cascades of flowers. Here are some other things you didn’t know about the pub. (One day I will stop and have a pint there!)

Lifestyle

This collection wouldn’t be complete without the obligatory piece on nudism, so here’s a piece on improving body confidence by going nude.

Which reminds me … why is it so popularly believed that at Christmas/Winter Solstice/Yule/New Year we should all get naked, drink mead and party like a Pagan?

Here is a collection of life-saving tips which are mostly obvious when you know them!

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally, the great German Christmas pickled cucumber tradition, Weihnachtsgurke. Rapido, where art thou?

More next month!

Your Monthly Links

Here’s this month’s instalment of links to items of interest, or amusement, you may have missed he first time round.

Science & Medicine

Who thought leprosy was only a biblical and medieval affliction? Well it ain’t, ‘cos it seems British red squirrels carry leprosy — only the third known species after humans and nine-banded armadillos.

Who’d be a scientist’s cat? Not content with abuse by Schrödinger, scientists continue to drop cats in aid properly understanding their self-righting mechanism.

Trees do it in secret. Communicate, that is. Ecologist Peter Wohlleben thinks he knows what trees feel and how they communicate. It’s not as far-fetched as it sounds.

The Guardian has a very interesting page which (goes some way) to showing you how visually impaired people see the world.

So why is it that French mothers don’t suffer from bladder incontinence? It sounds deeply dodgy, but it does appear to be a thing.

So there was this contemporary of Isaac Newton who produced the foundations of the current Information Age. Yes, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz.

Sexuality

So here’s yet another article suggesting that women don’t actually know what orgasm is. I had hoped we’d got past all this by now!

Environment

So here are ten things about our cutest invasive species: cats. If they weren’t so cute they’d not get away with half what they do.

There’s an interesting new theory about how the brown rat has conquered every city around the globe.

Language

Oxford University Press have recently published a massive new dictionary. It lists every surname found in the UK (including imported ones like Patel) which is held by 100 or more people. That’s almost 50,000. Not just that, but the OUP and academics have done deep research into all these names to determine their origins, often finding previously unknown documentary evidence. Want a copy? OK, well it’s four volumes and will set you back £400. But they reckon there will be an online accessible version.

Art & Literature

Prepare to be amazed. Artist Charles Young has created a complete animated metropolis from paper.

History

It seems the Romans really were ahead of the game. Researchers have discovered metallic ink used on some of the scrolls from Herculaneum (neighbour of Pompeii). That’s around 500 years earlier than previously thought.

Birth by C-section is rather (too?) common these days. But in days of yore, before modern medicine, C-sections were only performed in order to save a child by sacrificing the mother. It was rare for the mother to survive. But new evidence suggests that Beatrice of Bourbon survived a C-section as early as 1337. The previous record was of a Swiss case in 1500.

London

London blogger IanVisits walks the route London’s Roman Wall.

In which Diamond Geezer considers becoming a London cabbie.

Many pubs have dutiful dogs to look after them, but there are London pubs with characterful cats too.

Lifestyle

Just in case you hadn’t realised, there are actually good scientific reasons why you should always be naked. What’s more I can vouch for this from personal experience.

It seems we have it all wrong about addiction. We need to build “rat heaven” for humans rather than prison cells, as this video explains.

To quote poet Philip Larkin: They fuck you up, your mum and dad / They may not mean to, but they do / They fill you with the faults they had / And add some extra, just for you. So yes, here are 30 ways in which your childhood can affect your success as an adult. Which explains a lot.

I have a dream that one day the medical profession will make up their minds about alcohol consumption. Now some new research suggests a beer a day helps prevent stroke and heart disease.

Not content with London, Diamond Geezer takes an away-day to Lowestoft, Mrs M’s home town.

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally … it seems that in the Middle Ages witches stole penises and kept them as pets or even grew them on trees as fruit. [The mind boggles over whether the fruit would be sold by the butcher or the greengrocer!]

More next month …

Monthly Interesting Links

You just can’t get the staff these days. This month’s issue of interesting links to items you may have missed is late again. Apologies. And there is a lot in this month, so let’s get going.

Science & Medicine

Our first item is a bit technical, but interesting … It seems that neural networks (models for what makes our brains work) have a deep connection with the nature of the Universe.

And now to some much easier topics …

We all get paper cuts from time to time, but why are they so painful?

Something else we all get from time to time is bags under the eyes. But why?

And in another BBC magazine story here’s something slightly scary … just what does live under our fingernails?

There’s a very odd and rare condition where people’s internal organs are arranged the wrong way round, in mirror image — it’s called situs inversus. This piece is about what it means and what it’s like if you have it.

One of the most demanding, important, and mostly unseen, medical specialisms is being an anaesthetist. No surgery can happen without them and your life really is in their hands. This is what it means to be an anaesthetist.

Sexuality

The clitoris is so often not understood and doesn’t get the attention it should (from its owner as well as from men). This piece talks about why this is important.

After a change in the law, Italy’s Supreme Court has ruled that public masturbation is not a crime as long as it isn’t done in the presence of minors. This could <cough> get interesting.

So why do polyamorous people fear ‘coming out’? Spoiler: mostly misunderstandings.

Lest anyone doubt it, sex workers are ordinary people like the rest of us. This was realised by a New York Times reporter who was investigating whether prostitution should be a crime (in the USA).

Environment

OK, so now for a complete change of tone. Here’s a forester and environmentalist who ​thinks trees talk to each other.

Things have always come in standard sizes, haven’t they? Well no, the concept of standard sizes really only starts with a German architect in the 1920s.

Social Sciences & Business

In case you’ve not caught up with it yet, here’s a piece on the UK’s new £5 note.

London

Did you know that London’s Monument (to the Great Fire on 1666) contains a secret laboratory?

Here are ten secrets about the Thames which you probably didn’t know.

And equally fascinating, just how do London bus routes get their numbers?

OK, so more secrets: here are ten places in London you’ll probably never visit.

Lifestyle

Not all of us see them as a necessity, so why do we bother with clothes? And no, it isn’t all about keeping warm.

Here’s another take on the health benefits of being a nudist.

Food & Drink

I bet we all do this, but here’s why you shouldn’t wrap food in aluminium foil before cooking it. Yes, its the appliance of science!

The Five Second Rule. Myth or not?

Here’s the latest finding: against all expectations it seems that hard-fat cheese is good for us.

Chris Leftwich is the one man in London who knows everything about fish and seafood. Londonist has the story.

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally for this month, here are the winners of this year’s Ig Nobel prizes for research which makes you laugh and then think.

Toodle, pip!

Missing Links

Here’s our monthly round-up of items you may have missed previously. Slightly late again — apologies! There’s a lot here, this month too!

Science & Medicine

Research is showing that magpies possess self-awareness to rival that of primates, dolphins and elephants.

Humans are practically bald and are one of the very few (almost) hairless mammals which may be why we thrived as a species.

Now here is something which looks odd … it seems that women who have had their appendix removed are more fertile. Ditto for tonsillectomy.

So, the age old question … do women’s periods really synchronise when they live together? Spoiler: no.

A pain in the guts? Research is suggesting that the range and quantity of microbes in our guts may have a powerful effect on conditions like depression, MS and obesity.

However eating yoghurt is not enough to keep those gut living microbes in balance. [Long read]

Just like I’ve always known, travel sickness is a glitch between the brain, the ear, the eye and the stomach.

Now here’s one for the lads out there … just how big is a fart? Answer: somewhere between a bottle of nail polish and a can of drink. Maggie Koerth-Baker has the low down.

Your dentist knows — but likely won’t admit — what you have suspected: flossing is a waste of time.

IFLscience looks at the theories as to why time seems to pass more quickly as we get older.

Sexuality

The French (only the French?) have created a 3D model of the clitoris as an aid to their schoolchildren’s sex education.

Environment

So what is it really like to drive a Eurostar train? Andrew English in the Daily Telegraph finds it’s more complex than one might imagine.

Social Sciences & Business

So here’s something else we’ve always known: people who don’t have children benefit our environment more than any campaign. And that should be valued.

Noreen and I have done jury service three times between us. What are your chances of being called more than once.

Here’s our favourite zen master, Brad Warner, on whether “White Buddhism” is cultural appropriation.

History

There is something special on the Parisian road outside La Santé prison … the city’s last vespasienne urinal (below).

When the US Army took control of Japan after WWII they confiscated thousands of secret Japanese military maps, covering much of Asia, shipped them back to the US and dispersed them to libraries across the country for safekeeping. Now they are being brought back together and their historical interest realised.

London

In this new section, we look at items about my home city.

Once upon a time there was a plan to build a ginormous “Pyramid of Death” in London. Luckily it never happened.

Time Out looks at the complete history of Paddington Station.

Meanwhile Londonist takes a look at the history of floods on the Underground.

In another item from IanVisits he looks at the old North London Line which ran from Broad Street to Richmond, and is now part of the Overground.

It always surprises me what people can find by way of historic artefacts washed up on the Thames foreshore.

Londonist (again) looks at the top 10 of London’s “spy sites”.

And finally for London, here are nine places that apparently Londoners never go.

Shock, Horror, Humour

The Atlantic brings us the unbelievable, mysterious and Byzantine story of Jesus’s wife. [Very long read]

I often think that academics and medics, more than most of us, get up to some exceedingly strange things. One Dr Bruce Ragsdale has developed a taxonomy of the Occlupanida — this little plastic clips that are used to close plastic bread wrappers etc. Very odd.

And finally, thanks to the Guardian, Yes Minister explains everything about Brexit.

Phew! More next month …

Your Interesting Links

Here is our monthly selection of links to articles you may have missed the first time around.

Science & Medicine

Honeymooning scientist discovers unknown giant, swimming, venomous centipede by accident in Thailand

Fur. Where did it come from, and why? Is it in any way related to feathers? It isn’t quite as obvious as one might think.

While talking about fur, cats are living much longer and healthier lives than ever before. When we first had cats, some 35 years ago, our vet said that living anything past 12 was a bonus; now it is increasingly normal for them to live into their late teens and even into their early twenties. Of the four cats we’ve lost over the years their ages at death were (in order) 12, 17, 16, 18. Apparently this longevity is in large part due to better nutrition and advances in veterinary medicine.

Although largely reviled, wasps should be valued instead. There are thousands of species, each in its own niche, but all are incredibly useful and efficient predators of other creepy-crawlies. They’re also very useful pollinators. Please cherish your wasps!

Some medics have managed to create a very simple, and very cheap, test for diseases like malaria. And it can be used anywhere, although the “test strip” does need to be mailed back to the lab.

Research from the US is suggesting that older people who use marijuana are actually saving the health services as they use fewer prescription drugs, and that opioid overdose rates are down significantly. Well, you don’t say!

Sexuality

Female athletes all too often have to undergo humiliating sex-testing. Here’s the low-down on an unacceptable practice that would never be tolerated if applied to males. [Long read]

Dr Luisa Dillner in the Guardian takes a look at whether it is more hygienic to remove one’s pubic hair. Conclusion: no it is likely to be less so — but then Fashion!

Social Sciences & Business

Here’s the Guardian‘s simple, nine-point, guide to spotting dodgy statistics and seeing through the obfuscation of politicians (and others).

It may seem incredible, but everyone on this planet is your cousin. What price racism and bigotry now?

Language

We have a perfectly good four-letter word beginning with C— and it’s use is becoming more common. So why is it still taboo? Rachel Braier in the Guardian (again) has some thoughts in its praise.

Art & Literature

We’ve covered miniature carvings from pencil lead before but this miniature landscape with elephants is just stunning!

History

Returning to the topic of marijuana, it seems that our prehistoric ancestors, those founders of western civilisation, were dealing in dope.

Archaeologists are using ‘personal hygiene sticks’ excavated from a 2,000-year-old latrine pit to uncover evidence of the transmission of infectious diseases along the Silk Road.

Over the centuries western civilisation has had some strange beliefs about nudity.

It seems there are a lot of mulberry trees in London and many date from the 17th and 18th centuries. Here’s a history of a few of them.

Charles Dickens was born in 1812, and when he was a teenager London already had horseless buses.

OK, so, Londoners … how much do you really know about Trafalgar Square?

And finally on both History and London … here are a dozen things you maybe didn’t know about St James’s Park — including the pelicans.

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally … in Iceland they have had to divert a road so they don’t disturb the Elves. I’m told the same has happened in Ireland, but I find that much less surprising!

Your Interesting Links

So here’s this month’s collection of pointers to articles you may have missed the first time round. And you’ll be pleased to know there is (almost) no mention of the political omnishambles in the UK.

Science & Medicine

Ooo-eerrr. Did you know you can actually see the evidence for evolution on your body? Goose-bumps. Ear muscles. And more. [Short video]

Why do we have so much trouble with our modern reinforced concrete but ancient unreinforced structure don’t?

Bigfoot — the American version of the Yeti. What if it actually was real?

Sexuality

[Not for the faint-hearted] One man tells what it is like to have 90 degree bend in his penis. Apart from painful, that is.

[NSFW] Girls, have you got a pain in c***? If so it might be vulvodynia. And like bent pricks it can be just as painful and is often curable.

[NSFW] Female Ejaculation. Myth or reality? Here’s some more investigation.

Environment

Given that we should all be concerned to conserve water, mathematicians reckon that we should always pee in the shower.

Beavers. They’re definitely beginning to make a difference to the ecology down in Devon. And it’s all for the good.

Samphire, aka Glasswort. It’s that tiny green, succulent-like plant that is sometimes served with fish. And it is a superb defender, and stabiliser, of our coastlines.

Social Sciences & Business

I promised (almost) nothing about the UK political situation. This is the one exception, and it is really sociology we already knew. There are five lessons which have been brought into sharp focus by the current mess.

I find it surprising that apparently pet ownership is in decline. This article looks at some of the possible reasons.

No apology for returning to one of my regular themes: nudity. Jess Staufenberg in the Independent argues that nudity and naturism is ‘best way to teach sex education’ to children. I agree; and it certainly seems to work for the Dutch.

History

Edward Johnston designed his iconic typeface for London Underground during WWI and, although it has been tweaked over the years, Transport for London have brought it up to date for its centenary. This is the history.

Shock, Horror, Humour

Finally, not so much something shocking or amusing but something philosophical to make you think from zen master, Brad Warner. What if we’re wrong? About everything. And there’s good (if circumstantial) evidence that we might be. And there’s a follow up on life after death.

More next month.

Your Interesting Links

Slightly later than planned, and hence slightly longer than usual, here is my monthly list of articles you might have missed before …

Science & Medicine

Kazakhstan is a treasure trove of naturally wild and flavourful apple varieties.

Welcome the tiny ingestible origami robot which can be used for repairing wounds.

Ocean scientists have been using message in a bottle techniques for over 100 years, and they still are.

One mouse, two mouse, three mouse … Can cats count mice?

And still on felines … can a cat have an existential crisis? Spoiler: yes. [Long read]

Ear wax is very strange and mysterious stuff. [Long read]

Sexuality

OK, girls, so does the ‘G-Spot’ actually exist?

Do humans actually send out airborne aphrodisiac pheromones to attract potential mates? Erm … dunno.

Social Sciences & Business

On the social and design engineering of high heels. [Long read]

How many friends do you have? Are they really your friends?

Alain de Botton on why you will marry the wrong person. And there’s not much you can do about it!

Language

What’s it like learning to talk all over again? Learning Chinese as an adult.

Art & Literature

From mega-libraries down to nano-libraries … here’s the story of London’s smallest library.

Wow! The whole of Samuel Pepys’ Diary is now online.

History

It seems that Ice Age Europe wasn’t populated by who we thought.

The Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge have discovered that one of their Ancient Egyptian coffins holds them youngest known mummified foetus.

Ancient toilets can tell us a lot about the lifestyle of their users, and it seems the flush toilet goes further back than we thought. [Long read]

The colour of monastic habits was much more fraught with controversy than one might suspect.

A plague on all your houses. New research suggests that the Black Death was even more devastating than we thought.

Ianvisits reviews the exhibition of the lost library of the Tudor magician John Dee.

Slowly coming more up to date, here’s a look at the background and organisation of the Gunpowder Plot.

An unsuspected mass grave in Durham is though to hold the remains of prisoners from the Battle of Dunbar.

Investigations into a 1661 document awarding £20 to Major Smith.

Lady Antonia Fraser on the sexy and scandalous truth about Versailles and the new BBC series about the same.

How old is that London house? Is it Georgian Or Victorian?

London was devastated during World War 2. The recently published LCC bomb damage maps reveal all. It’s a magnificent volume!

There have been lots of weird and wonderful proposals for building in London which have come to naught. Here are some, arranged by Underground station.

Food & Drink

How to tell real Parmigiano Reggiano from imposters. Science now has a way.

People

So here are two pieces about the forensic mysteries of identifying unknown bodies.

First the mystery of Saddleworth Moor: who was the man they’ve nicknamed Neil Dovestone?

And in the US, just as here in the UK, the identification of nameless bodies can take years before the mysteries are solved.

Shock, Horror, Humour

So here’s a little quiz to end with … What is London’s longest tunnel? It’s OK, I got it wrong too.

More next month.

Your Interesting Links

Lots of science-y bits again in this months offering …

Science & Medicine

I wonder when humans first started pondering about aliens? Well certainly they were in medieval times.

On the discovery of dinosaurs among us.

So what would you guess is the world’s deadliest poison? Well here are five of the top contenders.

Clean water. We all depend on it, but do you know what happens to it between its source and your tap? Simple explainer from Compound Interest.

Hugs generally feel good. Now researchers are beginning to understand why.

Wow! In what looks a stunning piece of work some neuroscientists have been able to create an atlas showing how words are organised in the brain. The implications could be worrying though.

Next up another stunning piece of research and development … A biotech company has developed a DNA sequencer that fits in a pocket and will go literally anywhere. Of course it is still expensive, but that should change. [Long read]

More new work shows that women get healthier after their husbands die. It must be finally having been able to stop doing childcare.

So really how do female astronauts cope with menstruation? Seems it is currently most down to persona choice.

Sexuality

So here are some of those sex myths debunked.

Here’s the story of a childless young lady who chose to be sterilised in her 20s and 40 years later she hasn’t regretted it, despite the harassment.

Social Sciences & Business

Bodyhackers: people who ave stuff implanted in them, like the microchips we put in our cats and dogs. They’re all around us. And most of them are women.

Language

Speed-reading. Too good to be true? Well that’s what the latest research is telling us.

History

Here’s an interesting piece on the early history of London’s St Paul’s Cathedral.

Archaeological divers found a 400-year-old dress in a shipwreck off the Netherlands. And it seems it sheds light on plot to pawn crown jewels.

The oddities of maritime history … the SS Baychimo, one of the strangest ghost ships on record sailing unmanned for 38 years.

Food & Drink

Well the French may call them pissenlit, but the humble dandelion is an interesting and useful herb. I remember when I was a kid we made both dandelion wine (lots of flowers) and dandelion coffee (from the roots). Love the illustrations too.

Out there are some amazing heirloom breeds: from woolly pigs to deodorant squash. And they’re vanishing, which is a shame as we’re losing some rich variety.

Shock, Horror, Humour

And finally … If you live near the sea what do you do with all the flotsam you find? If you’re artist Stuart Haygarth you sort it all to make interesting collections of weirdness.

More at the end of the month.

Your Interesting Links

There’s a lot in this month’s edition, which is a few days late, so let’s get straight in.

Science & Medicine

Scientists have tried to work out the five most addictive substances on Earth and what they do to your brain.
No real surprises though.

Another set of scientists have discovered a mysterious boiling river in the middle of the Amazon rainforest. Well it’s almost boiling and certainly hot enough to lightly poach the unwary.

Talking of boiling water, what temperature does it actually boil? And why can’t you make tea at the top of Everest (even supposing you were stupid enough to want to)?

And to the other end of the scale … Yet more scientists have been and recorded the sounds at the bottom of the ocean. Not just any ocean but deepest part, the Mariana Trench. And they were in for quite a surprise.

From sound to … sound. It seems that parrots are a lot more than just pretty birds. They have their own parrot languages and are also known to make tools.

Back to water and a German scientist has worked out just how Archer Fish are so adept at shooting down insects with a jet of water.

And now to things medical … One in five of us believe we have a serious allergy, but most of it is just belief. Here’s a summary of some key things you should know about allergies and intolerances (which aren’t the same at all!).

“I’ve been told bacon smells lovely.” Just what is it like to live with no sense of smell?

There’s no reason why it should work, but it does. We’ve all experienced the placebo effect but here are five popular placebo myths explained.

[Trigger Warning] It is thought that anything up to a quarter of all pregnancies end in miscarriage, the vast majority in the first 12 weeks, and often there is no obvious reason. However miscarriage remains a taboo and is seldom talked about. But medics are now putting effort into trying to find underlying reasons and to help those women most badly affected and those most at risk. [Long read]

What happens when you have a hole in your ear? Specifically a hole in the canal(s) of your inner ear? It’s rare, but the effect is quite frightening. [Long read]

Seems that attacking people who are overweight (or worse) is counter-productive. You don’t say!

Are you a loner? And a nerd? Yes many of us who do a lot of thinking (it’s often called research, or work) are. So we need some peace and quiet — and a little sympathy.

Sexuality

It is important that we talk openly, frankly and honestly to our children about sex and pleasure. Peggy Orenstein has a new book out on “Girls & Sex”; here‘s a piece about it and a few myths exploded. But don’t forget the boys as well; they have to be taught about sex and pleasure, and often respect for the girls too.

At which point it seems appropriate to ask why the clitoris doesn’t get the attention it deserves? And why does this matter?

It seems there are engineering lessons to be learnt from the design of the penis and the mechanics of erection

Social Sciences & Business

The surprising chances of our lives can seem like they’re hinting at hidden truths. On coincidences and the meaning of life.

History

Apparently a 5000-year-old linen dress is the oldest know woven garment. and it’s on display in London.

There are many mysteries about the lives and deaths of the Egyptian Pharaohs. But it looks as if one may have been solved as CT scans have revealed brutal injuries to Pharaoh Ramesses III.

We’ve all come to know (and love?) the @ sign. But I remember being totally mystified by it as a kid using my father’s typewriter, which isn’t surprising as it appear to have a long and rather convoluted history.

Edward Johnston and the typeface that changed the face of London Underground, and much else besides. with a rather more than walk-on part by Eric Gill.

I love the Museum of London Docklands and they’re opening a new gallery which centres around the museum’s building itself. IanVisits got a sneak preview.

Food & Drink

Are you a devoted breakfast eater? Or are you like me and usually not want breakfast? Breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day, but is it? Spoiler: probably not.

Apparently we don’t have a clue how to shop for vegetables. Dear God, Mr American, tell me something I’ve not known this last 60 years.

Professional chefs on mould, food waste and expiry dates.

The UK has sheep coming out of its ears, so why won’t UK supermarkets stock British lamb? Surely it has to be better than frozen New Zealand lamb that’s been shipped round the world; and because it’s on our doorsteps it really shouldn’t be more expensive. Sorry supermarkets (and butchers) if you aren’t going to sell me fresh British lamb, I’m not buying lamb. Simples.

Shock, Horror, Humour

Finally, for the avoidance of doubt — and the education of the masses — here’s the CPS guidance on nudity in public.