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Today is the birthday of Edouard Roche, born October 17, 1848 in Montpellier, France (one of my favorite cities), for whom the Roche limit or Roche Radius is named.  

The Roche limit is the distance within which a celestial body, held together only by its own gravity, will disintegrate due to the tidal forces exhibited by a second  body, the second body’s forces exceeding the first body’s gravitational self-attraction.  Inside the Roche radius, orbiting material is spread around and forms rings whereas outside the limit material tends to coalesce and reform.  Roche was the first astronomer to note that just as the moon attracts the Earth’s water, the gravitational pulls of multiple objects in space could be large enough to pull a body apart.  The rings of Saturn are a great example.

Image of Edouard Roche in the Public Domain.  Image of Saturn courtesy NASA.






Dark Ages, Schmark Ages. The De-Textbook cuts through that and so much more fake-fact bullshit.

cloudy with a chance of witch burning

your periodic reminder that a good chunk of Europe basically shat the bed for a few centuries while everyone else kinda did their thing.

I am sorry I’m going to be that person.

This map is extremely inaccurate.

1) China was not going through business as usual China was going through the TANG DYNASTY i.e. the Golden Age of Chinese culture, which would lay down legal and social and poetic norms for the rest of Chinese history. The Tang is so influential that a lot of languages call Chinese people 唐人 (People from Tang.) (We call Chinese people “people from Qin” so.)

2) Japan is _first becoming literate_ during this time period (due to the influence of the Tang they adopt Chinese script), which is a BFD for poetry, religion, politics, society. Japanese court culture develops, which near the end of this period (11th century, around the time Europe enters “high middle ages”) will produce The Tale of Genji (by a totally awesome woman named Murasaki),widely regarded as the world’s first novel because of it’s deft use of irony and social commentary.

3) The southern part of Korea is experiencing the emergence of Unified Silla, a state that will last the entire period and will see the importation of Chinese and Indian buddhism, the construction of the first Confucian college in Korea, and so on.

4) In Mesoamerica, the Mayans are inventing astronomy, writing (the third and final independent invention of writing in human history), and a whole crapload of other stuff. This is the triumph of their culture.

5) The Umayyads in Spain are a massive center of technology, learning, and (comparative) religious toleration.

6) The Eastern Roman Empire, which spans both the green and yellow portions of your map, isn’t doing too badly either, bouncing back after losing territory to the Caliphate.

7) The Polynesians are colonizing the ENTIRE PACIFIC using amazing advanced navigation technology not rivaled until the INVENTION OF GPS.

8) I am not equipped to talk about Sub-Saharan Africa in detail (cue rant about how we never learn about subsaharan africa in the western educational system) but you can bet there are some major, amazing developments going on there too. I’d be shocked if there weren’t.



11) THEY WEREN’T BURNING WITCHES IN EUROPE DURING THE MIGRATION PERIOD (dark ages). Witch burning took off in the EARLY MODERN PERIOD, nearly 1000 years after this. Europe was going through some tough shit, which would leave them backwards compared to the rest of the world for 1000 years, but also there were some amazing things happening there, at least have the decency to be like “angry dudes with swords stabbing people” not WITCH BURNINGS FFS.

12) And ABSOLUTELY Islamic Caliphate was a totally amazing flowering of intellectual, artistic, and spiritual culture, a mixing pot between a thousand cultures and languages, and totally amazing. Don’t in any way want to diminish that in any way.






Perk up your Monday with a memo about coffee.

Staff Secretary Jim Connor’s note on this memo from Deputy Chief of Staff Dick Cheney from October 20, 1975, succinctly sums up why the coffee bill for Donald Rumsfeld’s office was over $100: "They are drinking too much coffee and have too many people drinking it!"

The Mess records showed that the bill covered 200 pots of coffee, meaning that the Chief of Staff and his eight staff members would have consumed about 10 pots per day during a five-day work week.

Too much coffee: do you agree or disagree?

I don’t know, from what I understand from the comics and Tumblr, this is probably the equivalent amount of coffee required to sustain the kellysue and mattfractionblog household. Maybe a little less.


Y’know that’s $449.03 in 1975 dollars.

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