Sunday, April 16, 2017

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Shopping for Groceries in 1836

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Looking over the page from Roswell C. Smith’s 1836 Practical and Mental Arithmetic on a New Plan, you can get a rough idea of what prices were like in the early 1800's. Coffee, 35 cents per pound. A self-sharpening plough, $3.50. A whip, a buck fourteen. And a gallon of gin, 60 cents, which was “about two-thirds of a day’s wages for the average non-farm white male worker.” (View the prices in a larger format here.)

There's also some items that could’ve warmed you on those long, cold frontier nights… Some gin, perhaps…or wine? Rum? Brandy?

Smith’s shopkeeper would’ve been well provisioned, laying the stuff in by the barrel, hogshead, and pipe-full.

As for that “bladder” of snuff, a post on the Snuffhouse forum suggests that it wasn’t a euphemism, but the actual bladder of a hog, paced with 4 pounds of snortin’ tobacco.

Of course, Smith’s shopkeeper would’ve also carried a healthy assortment of wholesome goods- hymnals, children’s shoes, calico, satin, silk, whips…

Friday, March 24, 2017

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Evolution of the Military Kit

Battle kits of British soldiers over the years.

Collection from the Battle of Hastings in 1066.
1244 mounted knight, Siege of Jerusalem.
Battle of Agincourt in 1415
Battle of Bosworth 1485

See the full article here.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Japanese Designers May Have Created the Most Accurate Map of Our World

This is from over on OpenCulture
Instead of abstracting the globe into a cylinder, then a plane, as the Mercator Projection did, the AuthaGraph turns the earth into a tetrahedron, which then unfolds in any number of ways, as you can see further up, and “can be tessellated just like an MC Escher painting… much in the same way that we can traverse the planet without ever coming to an end.” Rather than one focal point—the North Atlantic in Mercator’s case—nearly any place around the earth can be at the center. Versions of the map are already being used in Japanese textbooks.
The video above from Ponder explains the AuthaGraph design, which is not—and could never be—100% mathematically accurate, but can, Narukawa writes, with “a further step” in its subdivisions “be officially called an equal-area map.” The concept was important to him because of the urgent relevance of globalist thinking. As he points out, writes Japanese design blog Spoon & Tamago, “A large bulk of the 20th century was dominated by an emphasis on East and West relations. But with issues like climate change, melting glaciers in Greenland and territorial sea claims, it’s time we establish a new view of the world.” Those in the centers of Eastern and Western power ignore the rest of the world at everyone’s peril. It may help to have a much more equitable way to visualize our shared planet.

See full article here.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Map of the Hometown of Characters in the Illiad

Since some people might not get this in their feed, and I'm not sure I saw this in one of the game related posts yet. This article is lifted straight from OpenCulture.

Click here to see a larger version of the map.
You’ve adjusted to the strangeness of names like Ascalaphus and Phidippus. You’ve more or less figured out who’s on which side in the ancient war between Greece and Troy. But as literary epics will do—from the ancient Greeks and Indians to the 19th century Russians—Homer’s Iliad also presents you with several logistical puzzles you must either ignore or spend countless hours trying to solve: you are given the names of major and minor characters’ hometowns, ranging all over the Adriatic, Ionian, Cretan, and Aegean Seas. Doubtless you have no idea where most of these places were.

Again and again, place names occur in rapid succession, and you’re told not only who hails from where, but who commands and conquers which city. Just a smattering of examples from Book II (in Samuel Butler’s translation):
Ulysses led the brave Cephallenians, who held Ithaca, Neritum with its forests, Crocylea, rugged Aegilips, Samos and Zacynthus, with the mainland also that was over against the islands.

Thoas, son of Andraemon, commanded the Aetolians, who dwelt in Pleuron, Olenus, Pylene, Chalcis by the sea, and rocky Calydon,

And those that held Pherae by the Boebean lake, with Boebe, Glaphyrae, and the populous city of Iolcus
“Huh,” you say, “Okay, Homer, I’ll take your word for it.” Questions of historicity aside, we can at least say that the hundreds of cities and towns mentioned in this culturally formative text did exist, or continue to do so, though it’s debatable, as Jason Kottke writes, whether “that level of mobility was accurate for the time [somewhere in the 11th or 12th century BC] or if Homer simply populated his poem with folks from all over Greece as a way of making listeners from many areas feel connected to the story.”

In any case, you need not despair of ever making sense of Homer’s bewildering geographical lists. The map above (click here to see it in a larger format) handily illustrates the world of the Iliad, showing the places of origins of a few dozen characters, with Greeks in green and Trojans in yellow. Kottke notes in an addendum to his post that “not every character is represented… (particularly the women) and… some of the locations and hometowns are incorrect.” We would welcome corrections—as would Wikipedia—if an enterprising classics scholar has the time and energy to devote to such an effort.

But for the lay reader of Homer’s epic, the map more than suffices as helpful visual context for a very complicated narrative. One defining feature of a war epic well-told, most critics would say, is that the human drama does not get lost in the scale and scope of the action. More than any other form, the epic illustrates what Tolstoy described in War and Peace as the “historical sense” that our conflicts are “bound up with the whole course of history and preordained from all eternity.” But against this kind of determinism, the great poets particularize, making their characters seem not like props in a cosmic drama but like actual people from actual places on earth. Seeing the Iliad mapped above reinforces our sense of the Greek epics as genuine—if fantastical—accounts of meaningful human action in the world.

You can find free versions of the Iliad and the Odyssey in the collection of Free eBooks and Free Audio Books.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

RIP Richard Hatch

Map of Mathematics

via Flikr feed from Dominic Walliman.
For those who love maps and math. Mostly geeks, but I'm sure this applies to some nerds out there too. ;-)
I've met more than a few of each in the gaming community.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

B2 Keep on the Borderlands - # 24 Fortress

I've been done with the B2 - Keep on the Borderlands Module for a little while now when I got a comment and then some followup floorplans for B2. Drew Williams sent me some very detailed plans for the fortress interior, #24 in the module. They were actually very thorough, so I switched them over to the blue format that I have all of the other maps in. These maps are designed to fit the description of the Keep Fortress (#24) on page 11 of the module. So without further ado I present to you maps originally made by Drew Williams.
Keep Fortress Cellar [1 square=5 feet]

Lower level legend:
  1. Guard Room
  2. Torture Chamber
  3. Prison Cells
  4. Cistern
  5. Record Chamber
  6. Scribe
  7. Jailer
  8. Storeroom
  9. Servant's Chamber
  10. Servant's Chamber
  11. Servant's Cahmber

Keep Fortress level 1 [1 square=5 feet]

Fortress Level 1 Legend:
  1. Foyer
  2. Great Hall
  3. West Hall
  4. Kitchen
  5. Buttery
  6. Pantry
  7. Guard Room
  8. Stairs up
  9. Couriers
  10. East Hall
  11. War Room
  12. Armory
  13. Stairs down
Note, side ports have been added for kitchen supply service and direct access to the stables for the cavalry. These ports are reinforced and highly defensible.

Keep Fortress level 2 [1 square=5 feet]

Keep Fortress Level 2 Legend:
  1. Guard Room
  2. West Parapet
  3. East Parapet
  4. Solar
  5. Wardrobe
  6. Chamber
  7. Chamber
  8. Chamber
  9. Privy
  10. Guest
  11. Balcony
  12. Open to area 2 below (Fortress level 1 map)
  13. Armory
  14. Barracks
  15. Barracks
  16. Bath

From an email from Drew;
So this layout is based on determining factors from the module: This is a military HQ. It houses A Castellan (a military position), his staff, servants, and cavalry (Men at Arms) barracked in upper area. It must be useful as a greeting hall and as a space to adjudicate legal and diplomatic matters. And it must include all the specifics listed on page 11. The Great Hall is given the full heights of 30' vaulting, to go with the 30' X 45' length & breadth. The East and West sides are divided by the Great Hall, and are purposed for the Castellan's staff and guests on the West, and the Cavalry on the East end, along with the Armory, and ready access to the Stables. It's also absurd to include only one door. Defensible "Sally Port" doors on each side for logical uses; The kitchen supply access, and the Cavalry access to the stables. I also depicted Seats, tables, and a chest in the Great Hall, as that is how a Castellan and his staff would be arranged when providing audience for all legal matters, and keeping written records of all legal concerns, to later report to the crown as required.