Did sexual equality fuel the evolution of human cooperation?

27 06 2015

So yesterday, my BBC History magazine arrived. I love reading this publication. Pop science magazines tempt you with the sheer breadth of subjects we are researching, with respect to ways to destroy the planet, or at the very least ourselves. Not on purpose, of course. No – we’re motivated by greed. The whole end of the world thing is just a potential by-product.

Pop history illustrates the ways we’ve already tried and what we learnt along the way. Some things are quite spectacular. Crusades; world war; slavery (black on white as well as the more recent and well known white on black)…

July’s edition bridges the gap and refers to a report in Science magazine that suggests that sexual equality may in fact be a prehistoric concept, and that like so many other things, we broke a perfectly good thing along the way. The article posits that later, with the rise of agriculture and its systems of property and inherited wealth, sexual inequality appeared.

Did sexual equality fuel the evolution of human cooperation? | Science/AAAS | News.

By coincidence, July’s edition also reminds the reader that July 1848 saw the world’s first ever Women’s Rights Convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Men were supposed to be excluded, but early #HeForShe advocates were eventually allowed in – as long as they sat quietly and didn’t take an active part in the meeting. No iPhones in those days either… must have been hard for them!





The Imitation Game

10 01 2015

Back in July I wrote about the up-coming film of Turing’s life, “The Imitation Game”. Tonight I was invited to go and watch said film. I have to admit that there wasn’t really anything new in the film as far as story. It skipped neatly across the now well-known key aspects of Turing’s life. Being gay, being an odd duck, being potentially “on the spectrum” (autistic), being a genius, being sorely abused by a nation that owed him much. There were hints at other parts of his story, but not explicitly told. For example, there were scenes with apples and cyanide, but no mention that the two together were the method of his suicide.

Towards the end of the story, as Turing starts to lose his faculties because of chemical castration (a “treatment” for his homosexuality), I confess to a small tear. A great mind sorely wounded by those he helped so much. “Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of that do the things no one can imagine”. This phrase is used a few times in the film to great emotional effect.

It did however pay a little homage to his place as one of the fathers of modern computing. The US actually had a parental warning for the film because it contained… advanced maths (which it only did by reference)! It did though have a completely unnecessary rendition of “bollocks” at one point. There was even a contrived nod to The Turing Test that he’d developed to help define Artificial Intelligence (remember this is before computers even existed – the man was a true visionary).

Mark Strong plays an excellent part as “the spy guy” from MI6, also bringing a few of the unexpected but well done lighter moments. There’s a nod to the sterling work done to fool the Germans about the source of the intelligence to further obfuscate Colossus and also a faint nod to the “XX” (double cross) system to knowingly let secret agents for foreign powers operate in Britain, so that the the material they sent back could be controlled. It also paid tribute to the heartache of having to let many people die in order to protect the secret that Enigma had been cracked. The secret was so secure that the UK let its firm ally Canada use Enigma for transmitting its secrets after the war, still believing it was unbreakable. Few even in the UK knew. It was “Ultra” secret.

Turing, as I’ve said elsewhere is one of my few heroes. Cumberbatch is an awesome actor and caught the essence of the man well. I must however retract an unkind stance I took back in July’s piece. Keira Knightley actually did a reasonable job in this film. Well done to her. It is definitely one of her better offerings to the world of cinema.

Photo from Guardian: The Imitation Game

Photo from Guardian: The Imitation Game

The UK’s Guardian have a review here if you’d like a more professional review.

By the way, it turns out Cumberbatch is actually related to Turing… very distantly. I thought that was fitting, if accidental. As time goes on it seems he is getting more of the recognition he deserves. Though of questionable motivation, he was posthumously pardoned by QEII (the woman, not the ship) in 2013. It’s questionable because to give a pardon means accepting that the offence was real and needs pardoning. He was gay. That is not a crime, and need not be pardoned.

Alan Turing

Wikipedia: Alan Turing





A thorny case for Sherlock Holmes – UK in USA

7 08 2014

August 1st is Yorkshire Day, but also marks the Battle of Minden in 1759. The 51st Foot (King’s Own Yorkshire Light Infantry), now part of The Rifles took part, and subsequently wore a white rose of Yorkshire in their cap to commemorate the day.

Now, some mysterious person sends 6 roses (to mark all the British regiments taking part) to the British Consulate General in Chicago every 1st August. Nobody knows who…

The game’s afoot!

A thorny case for Sherlock Holmes – UK in USA.

FCO - Minden Day roses received in 2010





Rome: Ancient Supercity Infographic — History.com Interactive Games, Maps and Timelines

8 04 2013

 

What did the Romans ever do for us?

Rome: Ancient Supercity Infographic — History.com Interactive Games, Maps and Timelines.

Er… 1,000,000 people and 144 public toilets?!

Ew!





17 years after world’s last airworthy Mosquito crashed, rebuilt Canadian ‘Wooden Wonder’ flies again

20 03 2013

As a kid, I used to have Airfix models of the WWII vintage de Havilland Mosquito. Such a beautiful shape. Second only to the Spitfire, in my humble opinion. Grace… with teeth. Powered by the distinctive RR Merlins too.  (See how the under-wing engines look like a pair of Spitfire noses?)

http://www.pilotfriend.com/photo_albums/timeline/ww2/de%20Havilland%20Mosquito.htm

Read all about the rebirth of this little piece of Canadian history in the Vancouver Sun.

17 years after world’s last airworthy Mosquito crashed, rebuilt Canadian ‘Wooden Wonder’ flies again.

General background as ever on Wikipedia.





Get out of THAT! This day in history: March 1, 1923

1 03 2013

90 years ago today, Erik Weisz hung upside down, shackled and in a straightjacket from the Vancouver Sun building in er… Vancouver, while crowds stood and stared. Perhaps not so weird when you know he preferred to go by the name Harry Houdini.

Here’s the story from today’s VS:  This day in history: March 1, 1923.

And here’s some photos of the event from Vancouver is Awesome!

This day in history: March 1, 1923





The Great Yorkshire Pudding

5 02 2013

<Beware loud music from muzo.tv when clicking the link below for full story>

Ben Cox of The Star @ Sancton and James Mackenzie of The Pipe And Glass celebrate the great Yorkshire Pudding | This is Hull and East Riding.

Ben Cox of the Star @ Sancton with his prize Yorkshire Puddings

Believe it or not, the UK has “National Yorkshire Pudding Day”. I shit you not! First Sunday in February. Honest – check here, if you (wisely) don’t find it easy to believe what you read on these pages.

It’s hard for me to admit this… but I believe it’s a French invention. Allegedly came over with William the Conqueror. He supposedly beat the English National Conker Team, lead by Harold, in 1066.

One in the eye for him, you might say.

Harold: Ow! I’ve got something in my eye! (Wikipedia)








Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 140 other followers