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Showing posts from October, 2018

Regency ghosts and imposters

It’s almost Halloween – the spookiest time of the year. And while Regency folks didn’t celebrate the holiday as extravagantly as we do now, they did have their share of ghosts and costumed imposters, people pretending to be someone else – though they weren't trick-or-treaters!
Here are a few examples:
A Regency Masquerade
One well-known imposter during the Regency was Princess Caraboo.
This bogus royal figure wandered into Almondsbury, a village near Bristol, in the spring of 1817. A young woman, she appeared dazed and disoriented. She was dressed exotically in a black gown with a black and red shawl, and she spoke no English.
The first person she came across was a cobbler, who took her home. His wife sent her to the local magistrate, Samuel Worrall. Worrall and his American wife Elizabeth noticed that the young stranger seemed to be interested in Asian art, knew the Indonesian term for “pineapple,” and responded to the name “Caraboo.”
Nonetheless, as the local magistrate, Worrall decl…

Brillat-Savarin and the joy of food

"Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are."
These words appeared in a collection of essays by Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) titled The Physiology of Taste, or Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy, published shortly before he died.
Now, Brillat-Savarin was a man of many talents and professions – scholar, lawyer, musician, jurist, government official, to name just a few – but what he’s perhaps most remembered for is his love of food and his rather detailed views on how to make the most of eating it.  
Full of amusing anecdotes, witty reflections and even a few recipes, this book has never been out of print since it was first published in 1825.It’s also been referenced continuously by other food writers over the past two centuries, including New York Times best-selling author Michael Pollan, who's authored several well-reviewed works including The Omnivore’s Dilemma
In his book Cooked, Pollan quotes Brillat-Savarin’s claim that cooking had “don…

Ada Lovelace Day

Tuesday, October 9 is this year’s date to celebrate Ada Lovelace Day
Originating in Britain in 2009, Ada Lovelace Day celebrates the achievements of women across the world in science and mathematics and promotes the education of girls in STEM-related disciplines (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
And it’s fitting that Ada is honored in this way. Born during the Regency and fathered by Lord Byron, one of England’s most celebrated poets, Ada was a pioneer of computer technology - an unknown field during her lifetime. 
A student of advanced mathematics, she became one of the first people to realize the potential of machines to perform intricate calculations, something we take for granted today.
The fact that she was a woman, living in a time when women were not encouraged to pursue studies in science or mathematics, makes her achievements all the more remarkable.
We can thank Ada’s mother, Lady Byron, and her unhappy marriage to Ada’s father for Ada’s education. Fearing th…