Johnny Appleseed, Apple Genetics, and Burnt Orchards

One of the podcasts I listen to quite a bit is Stuff You Missed in History Class. They recently ran a “classic” episode demystifying the life of Johnny Appleseed, as John Chapman has become known.  Now, all I really knew about him was from the Disney cartoon and one volume about the man in the […]

Medicine in the Early 18th Century

From Jennifer Lee Carrell’s The Speckled Monster: A Historical Tale of Battling Smallpox, a brief account of how, in the early Georgian era, … medicine was unabashedly aggressive; in an attempt to be heroic, it was more often horrific. A very few practical men had begun systematically observing their patients and describing symptoms that clustered into specific […]

The Perfect Pitch Karaoke Paradox… and its Probable Resolution

I’m still working my way through the book I mentioned in my last post, Steven Mithen’s The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body, and I seem to have come upon a paradox. The paradox has to do with the geographical distribution of perfect pitch and relative pitch ability in adult humans, as it […]

Verbal Grooming, Social Media Tribalism, and Opiates

So, a follow-up to my earlier post on Social Networks and how we behave on them: Steven Mithen’s The Singing Neanderthals: The Origins of Music, Language, Mind, and Body is a fascinating book, even if sometimes I feel like the short chapters jolt me out of the experience, and even if his use of the word “ape” as non-inclusive […]