Posts Tagged ‘William Shakespeare’
Recently uncovered evidence suggests that William Shakespeare used marijuana, and now a team of paleontologists want to dig him up to prove it.
Francis Thackeray, an anthropologist and director of the Institute for Human Evolution at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa, has made a formal request to the Church of England to unearth the playwright. “We have incredible techniques,” Thackeray told Fox News. “We don’t intend to move the remains at all.”
After determining the identity of the remains, Thackeray’s team hopes to find out more about Shakespeare’s life and even the cause of his death. “Growth increments in the teeth will reveal if he went through periods of stress or illness — a plague for example, which killed many people in the 1600s,” he said.
Further tests should be able to ascertain if the Bard smoked marijuana. “If we find grooves between the canine and the incisor, that will tell us if he was chewing on a pipe as well as smoking,” Thackeray explained.
Pipes uncovered in the garden of Shakespeare’s home in 2001 showed evidence of cannabis and cocaine. “There were very low concentrations of cannabis, but the signature was there,” according to Inspector Tommy van der Merwe, who tested the pipes at South Africa’s Forensic Science Laboratory.
The evidence of cocaine was also very strong. “The pipes we tested still had dirt in them which preserved the residues inside the stem and bowl,” Van der Merwe said. “The readings we got were the same as if it had tested a modern-day crack pipe.”
Camphor, myristic acid, and quinoline were among other substances detected in the pipes. “Myristic acid, which is found in nutmeg, has hallucinogenic properties, and camphor, perhaps, was used to hide the smell of tobacco or other substances,” Thackeray noted in 2001.
Sonnet 76 of Shakespeare’s poems contains a reference to the “noted weed.”
Via The Raw Story.
As we wonder if perhaps it was actually Francis Bacon or the Earl of Oxford who did the dope, we might recall that it was on this date in 1971 that the first ever National Scrabble Championship was held, when Gyles Brandreth had brought together 100 players in London. Despite this slow start (Scrabble was created by Alfred Mosher Butts in 1938), national tournaments sprang up in other countries over the next several years; and a World Championship was established in 1991.
Gyles Brandreth (source)
From the good folks at (Brooklyn’s) Pop Chart Lab, “The Illustrious Omnibus of Superpowers— A taxonomic tree of over 100 wondrous powers and abilities, with over 200 superheroes and supervillains as examples thereof”:
click the image above, or here, to reach a magnifiable version
[TotH to Fanboy.com]
As we shake out our capes, we might wish a grateful Happy Birthday to the greatest poet and playwright in the English canon, William Shakespeare; he was born (tradition holds, and reason suggests) on this date in 1564. In fact, there is no way to know with certainty the Bard’s birth date. But his baptism was recorded at Stratford-on-Avon on April 26, 1564; and three days was the then-customary wait before baptism.
In any case, we do know with some certainty that Shakespeare died on this date in 1616.
The Chandos Portrait (source)
All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…
– As You Like It
While long-time readers know that the email version of this missive predated the blog by a couple of years, this is (Roughly) Daily’s thousandth “edition.” Many thanks to all who have generously encouraged this indulgence, to all who have enthusiastically contributed items– and to all who’ve lent their kind attention as readers.
If I chance to talk a little wild, forgive me.
– Henry VIII
Order now, and as a special bonus receive:
(TotH to Brainpickings)
As we save up our allowance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1881 that Charles Darwin published The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms-– the work he considered a more important accomplishment than The Origin of Species (1859).
Readers will know that your correspondent is a fan of infographics (c.f., e.g., “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,”Victorian Visualization,” and “I See“). Today’s featured visualization is one that raises as many questions as it answers– but one that merits attention, if for no other reason, for its beautiful weirdness.
Stephan Thiel at the Interface Design program of the University of Applied Sciences Potsdam acted on an unquestionably noble impulse:
…to introduce a new form of reading drama to help understand Shakespeare’s works in new and insightful ways and to address our changed habits of consuming narrative works and knowledge through the capabilities of information visualization.
As a result, and based on data from the WordHoard project of the Northwestern University, an application of computational tools was explored in order to extract and visualize the information found within the text and to reveal its underlying narrative algorithm. The five approaches presented here are the first step towards a discussion of this potentially new form of reading in an attempt to regain interest in the literary and cultural heritage of Shakespeare’s works among a general audience.
The resulting images, captured at Understanding Shakespeare, may or may not help– but they are absolutely fascinating.
Consider one of Stephan’s five approaches, “Visualizing the Dramatic Structure”
The goal of this approach was to provide an overview of the entire play by showing its text through a collection of the most frequently used words for each character. A scene is represented by a block of text and scaled relatively according to its number of words. Characters are ordered by appearance from left to right throughout the play. The major character’s speeches are highlighted to illustrate their amounts of spoken words as compared to the rest of the play.
The Taming of the Shrew (click on image or here to enlarge)
Explore other plays in this way, or check out the other four approaches at Understanding Shakespeare.
* Hamlet, Act 4, scene 4, 40-41
As we reach for our facsimile First Folios, we might recall that in Britain on this date in 1752 absolutely nothing happened. There was no “September 3” (nor September 4-13) in Britain that year, as 1752 was the year that Britain converted from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, which required an adjustment of 11 days. Thus, that year British calendars went from Wednesday, September 2 directly to Thursday, September 14.
Most historians believe that persistent stories of riots in England at the time, demanding “give us our eleven days,” are an urban legend, fueled in part by an over-enthusiastic take on Hogarth’s 1755 painting “An Election Entertainment”:
There are times when Rock-Paper-Scissors just doesn’t have the… well, gravity that one feels is appropriate to the question being decided. Happily, author and blogger Mark Rayner has ridden to the rescue with an altogether apt alternative: Monkey-Pirate-Robot-Ninja-Zombie…
Each thing can beat two other things, and is, in turn beaten by two other things.
The players both count to five (three), though it is obviously better to repeat the name of the game (Monkey! Robot! Pirate! Ninja! Zombie!). Each time you raise your fist and swing it down. On the fifth (third) count, you form your hand into one of the five gestures. (It is recommended that in addition to the hand gesture, you also add an aural component to this — see below for suggested noises.)
So, what beats what, and what are the gestures? What?
* Monkey fools Ninja
* Monkey unplugs Robot
Suggested noise: ee-ee-eek!
* Robot chokes Ninja
* Robot crushes Zombie
Suggested noise: ex-ter-min-ate!
* Pirate drowns Robot
* Pirate skewers Monkey
Suggested noise: arrrrr!
* Ninja karate chops Pirate
* Ninja decapitates Zombie
Suggested noise: keeee-ah!
* Zombie eats Pirate
* Zombie savages Monkey
Suggested noise: braaaaaaaaaainsss!
See the hand gestures illustrated here.
As we approach big decisions with a deeper sense of propriety, we might recall with horror that it was on this date in 1613 that The Globe Theatre, which had been built in 1599 by Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, was destroyed by fire. Shakespeare had retired to Stratford in 1611.
A second Globe was built on the same site; it opened in June, 1614, and closed in 1642.
The ever-illuminating Jason Kottke dips into Statistical Reasoning for Everyday Life (Bennett, Briggs, and Triola; Addison Wesley Longman; Second Edition, 2002) for a measure of Shakespeare’s vocabulary. Using a method recounted here, the authors concluded:
This means that in addition the 31,534 words that Shakespeare knew and used, there were approximately 35,000 words that he knew but didn’t use. Thus, we can estimate that Shakespeare knew approximately 66,534 words.
Linguist Richard Lederer observes (as cited in in this piece) that Shakespeare hadn’t begun to reach the bottom of the barrel: there are currently over 600,000 entries in the Oxford English Dictionary (and in Shakespeare’s time things were especially fluid– as witnessed by the Bard’s own fevered invention of new words and phrases).
Still, Shakespeare’s facility is easier to appreciate in context when we recognize that the average English speaker has a vocabulary of (only) 10,000 to 20,000 words, and, as Lederer observes, actually uses only a fraction of that (the rest being recognition or recall vocabulary).
* Love’s Labour’s Lost I,ii
As we reach for our copies of Word Power, we might wish a glittering birthday to Anita Loos, who was born on this date in 1888. A writer from childhood, she sold a movie idea to D.W Griffiths at Biograph while she was still in her teens– and began a career through which she wrote plays, movies, stories/novels, magazine articles, and finally memoirs.
She’s probably best remembered for her 1925 novel Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. Loos claimed to have written the spoof, which she started on a long train ride, as an entertainment for her friend H. L. Mencken (who reputedly had a fondness for Lorelei Lee-like blonds). In any case, the book was an international bestseller, printed in 14 languages and in over 85 editions. It was a hit on Broadway in 1949, then adapted again into a movie musical in 1953– the Howard Hawks classic in which Marilyn Monroe reminds us that “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend.”