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Miscellany

From the Royal Collection Trust: “From an early age, [Maria Sibylla Merian] was fascinated by insects and their life cycles, and undertook research into the phenomenon of metamorphosis, which was then only partially understood. She published her findings in a series of books, illustrated with beautifully-composed plates in which each insect life-cycle was illustrated on the appropriate food plant.”

You can view a collection of Merian’s watercolors here, where you’ll also learn important things like how pineapple is “the most outstanding of all edible fruits.” Hard to disagree with that assessment, though whether it belongs on the most outstanding of all edible foods—pizza—is another question entirely.

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Today I learned that the pointy part of a speech bubble—you know, the way comic books and the like indicate speech—is called a tail. Given that a large chunk of my formative years was spent reading MAD magazine, you’d think this wouldn’t be new to me.

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Was 2020 the worst year ever? Not by a long shot, according to Michael McCormick, Francis Goelet Professor of Medieval History at Harvard University. No, that title goes to 536 A.D., “the precursor year to one of the worst periods of human history.” It apparently started with a volcanic eruption, which led to eighteen months of darkness, the coldest decade in 2,300 years, crop devastation and worldwide famine, bubonic plague, and the fall of the Roman Empire.

Meanwhile, the worst thing I’ve had to deal with over the last year is waiting in line to get in to Trader Joe’s.

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Sign of the end times: Citizen Kane is “certified fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, scoring 99 percent on the site’s vaunted “tomatometer.” Which means it’s not as good as Paddington 2.

“And I looked, and behold, a pale horse! And its rider’s name was Death, and Hades followed him.



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