Two Almost Physicists With Almost Something To Say

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Possibly the Best Part of the Middle Ages

And you don't even need an icepick to read it.

We post the articles the Onion won’t.

Starvation, disease, persecution, outdoor toilets. There wasn’t a ton of upside to medieval Europe. Other than absurd names for stuff, of course. I’m just going to put this here, and let you worry about it. And presumably, never forget it.

Via Wikipedia, Source of All Eternal Truth:

Gropecunt Lane was a street name found in English towns and cities during the Middle Ages, believed to be a reference to the prostitution centred on those areas; it was normal practice for a medieval street name to reflect the street’s function or the economic activity taking place within it. Gropecunt, the earliest known use of which is in about 1230, appears to have been derived as a compound of the words grope and cunt. Streets with that name were often in the busiest parts of medieval towns and cities, and at least one appears to have been an important thoroughfare.

Although the name was once common throughout England, changes in attitude resulted in its replacement by more innocuous versions such as Grape Lane. Gropecunt was last recorded as a street name in 1561.

Variations include Gropecunte, Gropecountelane, Gropecontelane, Groppecountelane and Gropekuntelane. There were once many such street names in England, but all have now been bowdlerised.[1] In the city of York, for instance, Grapcunt Lane—grāp is the Old English word for grope[2]—was renamed as the more acceptable Grape Lane. […]

During the Middle Ages the word may often have been considered merely vulgar, having been in common use in its anatomical sense since at least the 13th century.[…] Gradually though the word became used more as the obscenity it is generally considered to be today. In John Garfield’s Wandring Whore II (1660) the word is applied to a woman, specifically a whore—”this is none of your pittiful Sneakesbyes and Raskalls that will offer a sturdy C— but eighteen pence or two shillings, and repent of the business afterwards”.[11][12] Francis Grose‘s A Classical Dictionary of The Vulgar Tongue (1785) lists the word as “C**t. The chonnos of the Greek, and the cunnus of the Latin dictionaries; a nasty name for a nasty thing: un con Miege.”[13]

Although some medieval street names such as Addle Street (stinking urine, or other liquid filth; mire[15]) and Fetter Lane (once Fewterer, meaning “idle and disorderly person”) have survived, others have been changed in deference to contemporary attitudes. Sherborne Lane in London was in 1272–73 known as Shitteborwelane, later Shite-burn lane and Shite-buruelane (possibly due to nearby cesspits).[16][17] Pissing Alley, one of several identically named streets whose names survived the Great Fire of London,[18] was called Little Friday Street in 1848, before being absorbed into Cannon Street in 1853–54.[19] Petticoat Lane, the meaning of which is sometimes misinterpreted as related to prostitution, was in 1830 renamed as Middlesex Street, following complaints about the street being named after an item of underwear.[20]

See also: Tickle Cock Bridge


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“Movie” Review: 2012: Supernova

This poster is the most well-produced aspect of this film

This poster is the most well-produced aspect of the film

Two colons in the subject line? The review isn’t even underway and it’s already ruined. 2012: Supernova is another sanity-testing straight-to-DVD film-like-product by the Asylum Studios geniuses who have previously brought us such works as Boa vs. Python, HyperMoth vs. SuperLamp, and ExoFrog & EnormoToad. (Or whatever). It came out in 2009 to capitalize on the John Cusack 2012. The title of the movie has absolutely no bearing on anything that happens, the year is completely arbitrary. Asylum’s basic strategy is to make movies with titles similar enough to big-budget films that people doing searches in Netflix confuse the two, and when that’s your approach to filmmaking, the results are never far from miraculous. As such, they are sort of ‘facades’ of real movies, where they have titles and the characters in them look a lot like actors, and you have to assume that living people were actually hired to make the special effects, but you can tell that the paycheck these people get for it is essentially the only thing keeping them from borrowing their parent’s money in order to buy scratch cards for a living.

I was actually interested in this because the description sounds exactly like an idea I had for one of the only astronomical disaster scenarios to be unused in an action film: radiation from a nearby supernova threatens Earth. (And no, not in the idiotic way used in  JJ Abrams’ Star Trek that makes no sense). Problematically though, in real life, if we were hit by, say, a gamma-ray burst from a very nearby supernova, we’d get a neutrino signal a few hours in advance, the sky would get very bright, and then half the planet would just get blasted with deadly gamma rays for a minute or so, and then those people would die. Everyone on the other side of the planet would survive to gradually starve to death due to the mass extinction, or suffer fatal radiation exposure due to the depleted ozone layer. Sort of like The Road but more uplifting. And not a great situation for a movie, since there is almost no warning, and there isn’t really anything we could do about it before everyone was already dead. [Dara O’Briain’s breakdown of 2012’s apocalypse scenario is here, by the way, and it’s hilarious]

The first sign of a supernova apocalypse: meteors

The first sign of a supernova: meteors

For the purposes of a narrative, 2012: Supernova imagines that this supernova explosion is happening gradually and predictably, so our hero can have something to do. All the effects from astronomy’s only sudden and violent event occur gradually and take on completely inexplicable forms. The movie opens with a satellite in Earth orbit EXPLODING because an enormous bubble that expands out of nowhere destroys it. We then go down to Earth where an astrophysicist, Kelvin, waking up in his cavernous undecorated house. There are no photos or personal belongings anywhere— presumably this allows them to rent it out as a porn set on weekends. NASA has summoned him, the big scary thing is happening now, ahead of schedule, he needs to get to the base! And because there is impending disaster, he rounds up his wife and daughter, (who both appear to be roughly the same age), and packs them into his giant black science-SUV. They protest strongly despite the fact that there are now unexplained fireballs reigning down from the sky. Nonetheless, he refuses to tell them why it they’re leaving or what’s going on. Trust him, ladies, he’s an astrophysicist, OK? That is more than enough explanation for why you need to rush somewhere mysterious at a moment’s notice.

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