Babylonian and Greek Trigonometry: The Land that Impacts Mathematics

  Certainly the very word ‘trigonometry’ might bring up a wince in you. Horrible memories from high school or college with sine, cosine, or secant charts. Or maybe you just avoided it because it just sounded terrible. If you heard of it at all. Let’s make it really easy, though. Trigonometry simply means ‘measuring triangles’ and…

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The Expression of the Clay of Bandana, North Carolina

  Many years ago I was at a lecture about the artistic approach of Leonardo DaVinci and the speaker said that one of the things that Leonardo was passionate about was doing portraits when the sky was overcast and bordering on mist if at all possible. The speaker said that Leonardo wrote that it was…

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The Heartbreaking and Life Affirming Song of the Zebra Finch

  The research on playing music or singing to in utero fetus is wide ranging. The so-called ‘Mozart Effect’ seemed to point to the nearly-born as responding with bodily or tongue movement to classical music but less so with pop music. Anecdotally many tell stories of newborns falling asleep or becoming more easy to handle…

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The Stilt and the Cave: A Long History of Seeing the Animal and the Land in Southwestern France

The earliest examples of art we have in the world are either simple human figures, simple geometric patterns, hand prints, and human/animal hybrid sculptures. Or animals. The oldest painted art we have found in Europe comes from Southwestern France. The famed cave art from Lascaux and other caves are a wonder and about 20,000 years…

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The Hidden Phosphorus of Malawi

Malawi, once part of the Maravi Empire, is now one of the poorest countries in the world. This small nation in sub-Saharan Africa has over 50% of the population considered to be ‘very poor’ and 25% is considered “extremely poor’. How Malawi got poor is a long story and the short answer is colonialism under…

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If You Can Make A Basket, You’ll Never Go Hungry

A few years ago when I was at the Maine Common Ground Fair I was lucky enough to see a demonstration of traditional Passamaquoddy basketmaking by Gabriel Frey, a 14th generation Passamaquoddy basket weaver. I didn’t know it at the time but if you were a member of the Passamaquoddy people in Maine your understanding…

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Vanamuthassi: The Grandmother of the Jungle

Deep in the forest of Kallar in Thiruvananthapuram in Kerala in Southern India lives a 77 year old woman named Lakshmikutty. She estimates that she knows how to make around 500 medicinal treatments from the plants near her hut. She learned most of them from her mother but she also claims that she learned many…

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On The Heart of Pearls

The classic strand of pearls evoke a certain kind of classic lunar beauty. Still. Iridescent. Regal. And yet somehow still redolent of the sea. An unmined gem wrenched from the mouth of an oyster. And surely we know how this works. A piece of grit or sand is placed in a live oyster and to…

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The Life Hidden Beneath Our Lives

Right now there is every evidence that the Earth is in the midst of a sixth major extinction. Whether it is charismatic megafauna like polar bears or orangutan or less known amphibians like the axolotl…important animals are vanishing. And then there is the problem of invasive species – lion fish in the Caribbean or green…

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The Herds Throne

For todays dispatch I am so thrilled to share with you a just short of three minute video of my friend Daniel Stermac-Stein who is a traditional skin tanner and handmade bespoke leather tailor. I am lucky to have a jacket that he made and I treasure this fine piece of clothing. My plea is…

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