Civilization Is Built on Code – Facts So Romantic

Code is at once a force, or a means, of liberation and constraint.Photograph by Donnie Ray Jones / Flickr

How did we humans manage to build a global civilization on the cusp of colonizing other planets? It seems like such an unlikely outcome. After all, we were prone to cycles of war and famine for millennia, and have a meager capacity for society-wide planning and coordination—among other problems.

Maybe it’s our unique capacity for complex language and story-telling, which allow us to learn in groups; or our ability to extend our capabilities through technology; or political and religious institutions we have created. However, perhaps the most significant answer is something else entirely: code. Humanity has survived, and thrived, by developing productive activities that … Read the rest

Lovely Ladies in Lace at the Paris Races

Lovely Ladies in Lace at the Paris Races

I‘m just a little bit mesmerised by these photographs of Parisian ladies showing off their best French lace at the races. The Hippodrome de Lonchamps was the place to be seen in the 19th and early 20th century, a pre-Paris Fashion Week catwalk of sorts in the spring. The very latest modes were on parade, as modelled by these statuesque racegoers in proud possession of some of the most luxurious and intricate lace designs I’ve ever seen. I know what I’ll be digging for this weekend at the antiques market…  

 … Read the rest

The Transgender French Spy History Forgot

The Transgender French Spy History Forgot

The Chevalier d’Eon knew how to turn heads. She was charming to boot, and an unmatched swordfighter; an impeccable spy for the French government, and capable of dazzling the Empress of Russia. Above all, she found the courage to publically affirm her identity as a transgender woman ­— an especially intimidating task in 18th century.

Note:Read the rest

This Famous Aging Researcher Doesn’t Want Us to Live Forever – Facts So Romantic

The potential for undying tyrants or tyrannical bodies is one reason Leonard Hayflick, one of the world’s preeminent experts on aging (he was a founder of the Council of the National Institute on Aging), is against slowing down or eliminating the aging process.Photograph by dirkmvp41 / Flickr

In the Netflix anime series Knights of Sidonia, humankind is marooned in a spaceship 500,000-strong, refugees constantly on the run from shapeshifting aliens who destroyed Earth over 1,000 years ago. Both the patriarchy and poverty have been smashed. Advances in genetic engineering have allowed androgynous individuals to proliferate and asexual reproduction to become commonplace. Everybody (except the protagonist, a clone of his grandfather) can photosynthesize, drastically reducing the need to eat.

A plot twist near the end … Read the rest