Wednesday 24 November 2021

Received Ideas in Quotes 22

Hypothetically if I was thinking up a medieval fantasy novel where there are retirement communities, what do I need to consider changing from the norm? Like if many people are able to live to retirement age because of magic or whatever does this affect the stability of feudalism? So like there's magic and maybe elves or dragons etc and you're free to do what you want with that. But you can't get around the fact there must be really good health care and a large population of old people and would that affect the social order of a stereotypical fantasy world. (CH. "In the medieval period life expectancy at birth was 40" doesn't mean "Everybody died aged 40". It's an average. And if you made it past five, your life expectancy increased. The Bible explains that the days of a man's life are threescore and ten. There were retirement communities in the Middle Ages - monasteries and convents.)

The New River Co’s East Reservoir at Stoke Newington (now Woodberry Wetlands) is widely reported to be lined with stone from Old London Bridge. (@highamnews)

The keystone of one of the arches in Merstham church is a piece of the old London Bridge, and in the grounds of Merstham House there is a vaulted chamber roofed with the same material by Sir William Jolliffe, of the firm of Jolliffe and Banks, the builders of the new bridge, 1838. (Mr Thomas Fisher, Seaford)

Old London Bridge became so crowded that "in 1722 the Lord Mayor instigated a 'keep left' rule for traffic — often said to be the origin of Britain's left-side driving."

Salisbury Cathedral
As many windows in this church we see
As days within one year there be
As many marble pillars here appear
As hours throughout the fleeting year
As many gates as moons one year does view
Strange tale to tell, yet not more strange than true

The grand boulevards of European cities are instruments of social control, not expressions of freedom. They (Haussman's Paris obviously the prime example) were designed to expedite military movements for when the population got uppity as it often did. In London the Euston Road was a military road of this kind to allow troops to march rapidly west-east. Similarly the Victorians used new roads to quell and disperse what was seen as a potentially revolutionary underclass. Kingsway being an example. They had a phrase for this: 'ventilating the slums'. The real freedom lay in the chaotic, tangled old roads. In there you could fight a guerilla war, and melt away when the troops arrived. (Hugh Pearman. Similar stories are told about brutalist concrete universities – there's a reason the windows look like arrow slits and the library has no windows.)

When people say the  God of the Old Testament is a God of wrath but the God of the New Testament is a God of love, I wonder if they’ve read the book of Revelation. (Dr Bart Ehrman. There is a lot about mercy in the Old Testament, and not much about Hell - that's all in the New.)

William Caxton set up the first English press in 1476... There were no style guides, no copy editors, no dictionaries to consult... Caxton brought typesetters back with him from [Bruges], and some didn’t even speak English all that well. They set type working from manuscripts that already had quite a bit of variation, and the overriding priority was getting them set quickly... Printing houses developed habits for spelling frequent words, often based on what made setting type more efficient... Hadde might be replaced with had... The word ghost, which had been spelled and pronounced gast in Old English, took on the gh spelling under the influence of Flemish-trained compositors. ( Caxton and printers get blamed for a lot.)

I see educational policy is being determined by the popular myth that learning Latin helps you learn modern languages more than learning modern languages helps you learn modern languages. (@SimonBruni)

This may well be an urban myth, but I like it all the same: when a previous initiative like this [teaching Latin] was introduced into inner city schools, the local police had to then send officers on Latin training because it was being used by 'youfs' to communicate in code.

Herodotus’s translators may have mistakenly rendered the term for marmot into one for “giant mountain ants”, because the two words apparently sound almost identical in Persian. (Fake History, Otto English)

The whole nine yards: The length of fabric used to make a kilt, the length of an aircraft machine-gun ammunition belt, or something to do with American football.

Gin was known as “mother’s ruin” because “gin and hot baths” were recommended to induce a miscarriage. (Murder Maps, paraphrase)

A paper published in the British Medical Journal in 1970, and widely reported in the press, set the tone for scientific inquiry across much of the following 50 years. It dismissed outbreaks of ME as either “mass hysteria” or misdiagnosis... Their conclusions were largely based on one observation: that the syndrome affected more women than men. Therefore, they reasoned, it was likely to be psychosomatic. (George Monbiot)

Where I come from some still believe that inhaling sileage vapours helps cure asthma. One friend's mum used to dangle her upside-down over cow pats yelling, in Welsh: 'Breathe, Cynthia, breathe!' (@FeetPetite)

James Pattle eventually drank himself to death and was put in a cask of rum to preserve him during the voyage back to England. (William Dalrymple)

In the original Wizard of Oz book (1900) the slippers were silver and represented currency and the Yellow Brick Road represented the Gold standard. (MrEwanMorrison)

What's in a name?
My great grandad was a Donovan and when he landed on Ellis island they attached an O to his surname to make it sound more Irish.
(@BrandonHodee. Nobody's name was changed at Ellis Island.)

My mother's maiden name of Daniel came about because the natives of the West Country couldn't cope with the ancestral immigrant name of McDonald. (@ffranc)

My mother called me Marlis because she didn’t think the Danes could pronounce Marie-Louise.

Extraordinary efforts to obtain saints’ relics
It was called furta sacra (holy theft). "Scholars contend that many of these tales were exaggerated or even fabricated outright", says JSTOR Daily.

A grete Myracle of a Knyghte callyde Syr Roger Wallysborow. This Knight being in the Holy Land, had a mind to bring-off, privately, a piece of the Holy Cross; accordingly, his Thigh open’d miraculously, and received it. Miraculously he returned to Cornwall his country; and miraculously his Thigh opened again and let it out. A bit of it he gave to that parish-church where this happened, thence forward called Crosse-Parysshe; the resydew he gave to St. Buryan’s College.

Pilgrims queued up to kiss the feet of the preserved body of St Francis Xavier. A keen relic-hunter managed to bite off one of the saint's toes.

Hugh, Bishop of Lincoln, gnawed off splinters of Mary Magdalen’s arm bone (or hand?).

A monk went undercover at the monastery at Agen before seizing an opportunity to steal the skull of St Foy.

More here, and links to the rest. Many more myths and memes in my book, What You Know that Ain't So.

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