Hitler rehearsing, 1925

Mashable: Hitler asked his personal photographer Heinrich Hoffmann to take photos of him rehearsing speeches. Hitler would try out various gestures and expressions, then review the pictures to see if his postures looked stunning or stupid.

Though Hitler ordered Hoffmann to destroy the pictures for being “beneath one’s dignity,” the photographer kept them in his studio. He later published the photos in his memoir, Hitler Was My Friend.

See also: Hitler was high during most of World War II

Humans and other animals

Hitler rehearsing

“One of Hitler’s best talents was oration. He first developed his acumen for public speaking in beer halls, where his rants would start out cool and precise, then escalate into hypnotic histrionics as his audience became more engaged (and drunk).”

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Subway map of ancient Roman roads

Roman Roads

Sasha Trubetskoy: It’s finally done. A subway-style diagram of the major Roman roads, based on the Empire of ca. 125 AD.
Creating this required far more research than I had expected—there is not a single consistent source that was particularly good for this. Huge shoutout to: Stanford’s ORBIS model, The Pelagios Project, and the Antonine Itinerary.

I’m not a big fan of the ‘fantasy subway map’ genre, but it’s the research and real data that make this one special. I think I’m going to order the PDF to print my own! (via kottke)

See also

  • Genetic map of the UK shows which invasions created Britain’s DNABritain has a long history of invasions: over the past two millennia, various armies from the Romans to the Anglo-Saxons conquered the bulk of the British Isles. A new genetic analysis of the country has revealed which invading force had the greatest impact on its DNA.
  • Mini Metros — Peter Dovak — a graphic designer and self-confessed ‘lifelong transit nerd’ — has shrunken and simplified 220 metro and light rail maps from around the world to produce this fun poster.
  • Anglo Saxon London, mapped — a map showing the London area in Anglo Saxon times (roughly speaking, 500-1066AD)
Craft and creativity

Subway-style map of Roman roads, c.125 AD

“As a geography and data nerd, I make maps in my free time, inspired by the world around me – whatever happens to be on my mind. Every now and then a map of mine becomes popular and gets publicity; those interested can see my work or get in touch through this website.” — Sasha Trubetskoy

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Hitler was High During Most of World War II Says Norman Ohler

Vice News: There are many things considered to be common knowledge about Hitler. He was vegetarian, partial to the toothbrush mustache, a failed fine artist and a Nazi despot responsible for the reprehensible, systematic murder of six million Jews. What has only recently surfaced is the assertion that Hitler was also high off his face for the entirety of World War II. As was most of the third reich. That’s according to Blitzed by Norman Ohler, the international bestseller that’s been translated into 26 languages.



See also:
How to play Secret Hitler

Shad
Miscellany

How realistic are the fantasy castles from films and games?

Shad M Brooks is a huge, huge fan of swords and castles, amongst other geeky subjects, all of which he enthusiastically explores on his YouTube channel, Shadversity. I’ve been really enjoying his castles playlist.

Skyhold from Dragons Age Inquisition apparently gets quite a lot right…

However, he’s less complimentary about the ‘castles’ of Skyrim, which get some basics right but completely fall apart when you look at the details…

There’s some praise for The Lord of the Rings, but also a lot about the castles that doesn’t make sense…

It’s worth starting at the beginning of the playlist with the first two videos on fantasy vs. reality and the names and terms of a medieval castle parts.

Honor Guard castle

In those videos Shad shows off and explains his own rather cool design for a more realistic fantasy castle he calls ‘Honor Guard’.

See also

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Anglo Saxon London Map

A map by Matt Brown at Londonist: In 2011, we put together a map showing the London area in Anglo Saxon times (roughly speaking, 500-1066AD). It’s pieced together from many resources, showing our guess at the roads, rivers, forests and marshland that characterised the region.

Anglo Saxon London Map

The main purpose was to highlight the many villages, hamlets and farmsteads whose names are still part of modern London. For example, the map shows ‘Wemba Lea’, the land belonging to a local chieftain by the name of Wemba. We know nothing about Mr Wemba, yet his name is familiar to millions, perhaps billions, through its continuation into our own times as Wembley. Similarly, Croydon is a corruption of Crog Dene, which meant something like ‘valley of the crocuses’.

See also

Progression and regression

Anglo Saxon London, mapped

The map comes with a few caveats. We’re attempting to show a period of several hundred years in one map. Some features might not have been present for the whole of that time span, and names changed.

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William Shakespeare
Use your words

To be or not to be… original

The Guardian: The game is up: Shakespeare’s language not as original as dictionaries think

In an article for the University of Melbourne, Dr David McInnis, a Shakespeare lecturer at the institution, accuses the Oxford English Dictionary of “bias” over its citation of Shakespeare as the originator of hundreds of words in English.

“His audiences had to understand at least the gist of what he meant, so his words were mostly in circulation already or were logical combinations of pre-existing concepts.”

McInnis: If something happens “without rhyme or reason”, people are said to be quoting Shakespeare’s As You Like It, when Rosalind asks Orlando whether he is as head-over-heels in love as his rhymes suggest, and Orlando replies “Neither rhyme nor reason can express how much”.

The OED traces the phrase back to the 1400s – centuries before Shakespeare. So why do we think it’s Shakespeare’s coinage?

Probably because, as happens so frequently, Shakespeare isn’t the first to think of something, but he presents it in such a clever or memorable way, that it becomes firmly associated with his version.

McInnis also traces the roots of other famous ‘Shakespearean’ phrases like “it’s greek to me”, “a wild goose chase”, “eaten out of house and home”. It’s not all OED ‘bias’ however; the bard did have a knack for coining and popularising turns of phrase, like “to make an ass of oneself”…

To describe behaving stupidly and embarrassing yourself as “making an ass of yourself” seems like a very contemporary expression, but Shakespeare seems to have genuinely invented both the easy-to-quote phrase and a very memorable situation. In A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Bottom the Weaver is magically turned into an ass. Other characters remark upon Bottom’s transformation, but he thinks they’re just mocking him: “This is to make an ass of me, to fright me, if they could.”

See also: Churchillian drift: How great quotations find their way to famous names

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Great Pyramid of Cholula
Humans and other animals

The Great Pyramid of Cholula

BBC: For an obscure temple no one’s heard of, Cholula holds an impressive array of records: it’s the largest pyramid on the planet, with a base four times larger than the Great Pyramid at Giza and nearly twice the volume.

Great Pyramid of Cholula model

Never mind the largest pyramid – it’s the largest monument ever constructed anywhere, by any civilisation, to this day. To locals it’s aptly known as Tlachihualtepetl (“man-made mountain”). Thanks to the church on top, it’s also the oldest continuously occupied building on the continent.

In fact it’s not one pyramid at all, but a great Russian doll of a construction, consisting of no less than six, one on top of the other. It grew in stages, as successive civilisations improved on what had already been built.

“They made a conscious effort to maintain and in some cases display previous construction episodes. This is pretty novel, and shows deliberate efforts to link to the past.”
David Carballo, archaeologist

See also

  • BBC Future: The giant pyramid hidden inside a mountainThis temple at Cholula dwarfs the Great Pyramid at Giza, yet it went unnoticed by Spanish invaders. Why?
  • Wikipedia: The Great Pyramid of Cholula, also known as Tlachihualtepetl (Nahuatl for “artificial mountain”), is a huge complex located in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico. It is the largest archaeological site of a pyramid (temple) in the New World, as well as the largest pyramid known to exist in the world today.
  • Traditions like Thanksgiving aren’t naturalThey’re invented, and at the time of their invention they called to a past that’s not really there. An imagined past; a constructed authenticity that serves the purposes of the present.
  • Mummy Brown and Other Historical Colors — Korwin Briggs looks at the history of some fascinating colours with this ‘digital approximation of paint-blobs-on-paper’.
  • Primitive Technology: Making a bow and arrowI made a bow and arrows in the wild using only natural materials and primitive tools I’d made previously from scratch (as usual). The tools used were a celt stone hatchet, a stone chisel, various stone blades and fire sticks.
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