Chronas is a history project linking Wikipedia and Wikidata that lets you use a time slider at the bottom to see how the world looked any given date during the past 2000 years, watching realms grow and disappear. Video describing how it works. If you click on the countries/regions/empires shown, then it will show you the appropriate Wikipedia entry. [more inside]
The Surprising History Behind Leap Year by Brian Handwerk [National Geographic]
The ancient Egyptians did it, and so do we. Here's how a leap day—which occurs Februrary 29—helps keep our calendars and societies in sync. It's that time again: This Monday, February 29, is a leap day, the calendar oddity that occurs (almost) every four years. For centuries, trying to sync calendars with the length of the natural year caused confusion—until the concept of leap year provided a way to make up for lost time.[more inside]
Politically Incorrect was an American late-night, half-hour political talk show hosted by Bill Maher that ran from 1993 to 2002, first on Comedy Central and then on ABC. Four guests (usually including at least one comedian) would debate topics across the political spectrum in what Maher once described as “The McLaughlin Group on acid.” Of the 1300+ episodes produced, 190 can be viewed on YouTube. [more inside]
A Renaissance in Economics The American President Ronald Reagan once quipped, “The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government and I’m here to help.’” I get the same shivers when someone introduces themselves as an economist.
Here is Coffee: The Greatest Addiction Ever and other neat videos by C.G.P. Grey who explains non-obvious aspects of science, history, geography, elections, and economics in entertaining and clear ways. [more inside]
The Wisdom Of Rats - A personal essay on art and time and everything, by Charles Bowden for Harper's.
These files, I thought, only tracked daylight savings time for all the different timezones & offsets from Greenwich Time. Actually, they have a detailed, fascinating history of timezones scribbled in the margins. (via)
Olaf Stapledon was a man ahead of his time. His epic 'novel' Star Maker (1937) considered the emergence of genetic engineering, the outcome of the many worlds interpretation and delved deeper than any book before or since into the consequences of evolution on the cosmos. His fans have included the likes of Arthur C Clarke, Jorge Luis Borges and Virginia Woolf. Even his greatest detractor, C.S.Lewis, wrote an entire Cosmic Trilogy in response to his imaginings. Yet despite Stapledon's magnetic prose and extraordinary influence on speculative fiction his name remains largely forgotten by the world. Yet his words still resonate with insight: "Did not our life issue daily as more or less firm threads of active living, and mesh itself into the growing web, the intricate, ever-proliferating pattern of mankind?"
Lakota Winter Counts. Lakota and other plains tribes counted time by winters. An appointed recorder would choose one major event to mark the year, depicting that event by name and symbol. Early records dating back to the 10th century were often painted on buffalo skins; more recent winter counts were recorded as text journals. These fascinating records offer insight into natural and historic events for our land that precede accounts of European settlers. - more -
The trade in stolen Asian relics is booming. TIME reports on how cultural sites are being looted and precious artifacts smuggled overseas. Sometimes they're returned, but much of Asia's cultural heritage is being lost.