Archive for September, 2008

The 10 Richest People Ever

John D. Rockefeller, worth a staggering $318.3 billion

John D. Rockefeller, worth a staggering $318.3 billion

From the mentalfloss.com article:
You always hear about how rich Bill Gates is, how rich Oprah is, how rich J.K. Rowling is. But none of them even make the top 10 richest people of all time. Compiled by Forbes magazine, this a list of the wealthiest people ever (EVAR!). They ranked these bazillionaires (my term, not theirs) according to the total GDP of the nation they lived in and adjusted their net worths to account for inflation as of 2007.

Read the article here.

Viking Age Triggered by Shortage of Wives?

The Oseberg ship

The Oseberg ship

From the discovery.com article:
During the Viking Age from the late eighth to the mid-eleventh centuries, Scandinavians tore across Europe attacking, robbing and terrorizing locals. According to a new study, the young warriors were driven to seek their fortunes to better their chances of finding wives.

The odd twist to the story, said researcher James Barrett, is that it was the selective killing of female newborns that led to a shortage of Scandinavian women in the first place, resulting later in intense competition over eligible women.

“Selective female infanticide was recorded as part of pagan Scandinavian practice in later medieval sources, such as the Icelandic sagas,” Barrett, who is deputy director of Cambridge University’s McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, told Discovery News.

Although it’s believed many cultures throughout world history have practiced female infanticide, said Barrett, he admits that “it is difficult to identify in the archaeological record,” so the claim “must remain a hypothesis.”

To strengthen the argument, however, Barrett has reviewed and dismissed several other proposed causes for the Viking Age.

Read the article here.

New Mozart piece of music found in French library

From the yahoo.com article:
A French museum has found a previously unknown piece of music handwritten by Mozart, a researcher said Thursday. The 18th century melody sketch is missing the harmony and instrumentation but was described as an important find.

Ulrich Leisinger, head of research at the International Mozarteum Foundation in Salzburg, Austria, said there is no doubt that the single sheet was written by the composer.

“This is absolutely new,” Leisinger said in a telephone interview. “We have new music here.”

“His handwriting is absolutely clearly identifiable,” he added. “There’s no doubt that this is an original piece handwritten by Mozart.”

The work, described as the preliminary draft of a musical composition, was found by a library in Nantes in western France as staff were going through its archives. Leisinger says the library contacted his foundation for help authenticating the work.

“It’s a melody sketch so what’s missing is the harmony and the instrumentation but you can make sense out of it,” he said. “The tune is complete. It’s only one part and not the whole score with eight or twelve parts.”

Read the article here.

Weird Geniuses

Edgar Allan Poe

Edgar Allan Poe

I have always wondered about the men who take things to the next level. Whether in the Sciences or the arts how do these great thinkers differ in their way of thinking and could their abilities be related to what today would be considered mental disorder. When thinking on this issue I have also wondered how many people today might have come up with some great thing but were disconnected from that special part of their mind by modern drugs so that they might appear normal.

Society demands its citizens act normal, a certain way of doing things that allows people to function in relative harmony.  So is a modern drug that helps a person think and act more normal a good thing? If a high percentage of the population were non-conforming eccentric thinkers Society would probably fall apart. You need normal people to have a society, you need that relative harmony.

So who can be weird and who needs to be normal. Have we snuffed out glorious possibilities so that some weird kid somewhere would sit still in school? If you think about this issue and look at all the possibilities is gets pretty interesting.

On that note here is an interesting article that gets to the heart of the issue, the weird geniuses.
John Nash
Edgar Allan Poe
Ludwig van Beethoven
Isaac Newton

8 Fairy Tales And Their Not-So-Happy Endings

The Fairy Tale, James Sant (1820 - 1916)

The Fairy Tale, James Sant (1820 - 1916)

From the mentalfloss.com article:
You might have noticed from an earlier post that I’m a bit of a Disney buff. This is kind of out of character for me, to be honest, because I’m not a huge fan of happily ever after. I like movie endings that are unexpected. After doing a little research, though, I realized that maybe fairy tales and I are a perfect match: those Disney endings where the prince and the princess end up blissfully married don’t really happen in the original stories. To make sure kids go home happy, not horrified, Disney usually has to alter the endings. Read on for the original endings to a couple of Disney classics (and some more obscure tales).

Read the article here.


Western Paradigm

Categories