Today I Learned…

…that Milk, starring Sean Penn as Harvey Milk — the first openly homosexual elected official in America — is very and incredibly moving.  Penn’s performance as the political leader is fantastic, and he should be a nominee for Best Actor when the Oscars come up before too long, as should Milk for Best Picture.  Currently, my best picture list consists of this and WALL-E, although I’m sure it will grow once I see films like Revolutionary Road and The Wrestler, whose Mickey Rourke should also contend for the Best Actor prize.

Long story short, go see Milk.  Be prepared to cry if you have any gay relatives/friends who were alive at that time.


Today I Learned…

…that the so-called “bailout” will be the most significan outlay in the history of the United States.  Adjusted for inflation, it will cost more than the Marshall Plan, Louisiana Purchase, the race to the moon, the savings and loan crisis of the ’80s and ’90s, the Korean War, the New Deal, the Iraq War, the Vietnam War, and the entire lifetime budget of NASA (EDIT: and possibly the entire cost of World War II).


EDIT: Check out this “new” (several-weeks old now) estimate from Bloomberg and the New York Daily News putting the total outlay at almost seven-and-a-half trillion dollars.

Today I Learned…

…that the final British monarch to also be an emperor was George VI (thanks Spam!)

…that the largest US state capital to not have a franchise in one of the four major American sports leagues (MLB, NFL, NBA, NHL) is Austin, TX.

…that ET used a Speak ‘n’ Spell made by Texas Instruments to “phone home” (nailed the final question!).

…that Team “Mounting Sexual Theoretics” was the final 3rd place team to bring home a prize at Rulloff’s trivia!  $15!

Today I Learned…

…how to properly address a noble within the social customs of Elizabethan England.  (Thanks to for the following)

  • Sir goes only with a man’s given name. To address a knight using only his surname, say Master (see examples below).
  • Lord implies a peerage whether temporal (baron or better) or spiritual (bishops).
  • Not every knight is a lord; not every lord is a knight. It is best not to say My Lord to anyone not so entitled.
  • A territorial title is one which is attached to a particular piece of land, such as a county.
  • Peers sign their names and refer to themselves and each other by their territorial titles, such as “Henry Southampton”, “Francis Bedford”, or “Thomas Rutland”.
  • Every woman married to a knight or better can be called my lady. For unmarried women, see the various examples.
  • The children of a knight, baron, or viscount have no titles at all other than Master and Mistress.
  • All the sons of a marquis or a duke are styled lord.
  • Only the eldest son of an earl is called lord (because he takes his father’s secondary title and is one, by courtesy) though all an earl’s daughters are styled lady. They retain this courtesy even if they marry a commoner.
  • Your Grace belongs properly only to royal blood: the queen, dukes, and visiting princesses. It does not apply to Earls or Countesses in the 16th century. Archbishops share this honor as princes of the church.
  • The style of Honourable or Right Honourable for younger sons and daughters of peers has not yet come into use. Peers, however, often receive dedications in a form such as “the right Honourable the Lord Chandos”.
  • Esquires are the younger sons of peers, the heirs male of knights, esquires of the body, and officials such as judges, sheriffs, and officers of the royal household. Esquire is not actually a title, although it may be used after a gentleman’s surname; as, William More, Esquire.
  • If you are not noble, you may wish to address those above you as Your Worship, Your Honour, or Your Lordship/Ladyship.
  • Children are taught to address their parents as Sir and Madam, or my lord and my lady. A noble child refers to my lady mother and the lord my father.

Today I Learned…

…what really happened to Abraham Lincoln on that fateful night.

Today I Learned…

…something interesting about swords.  I was reading a list of fantasy novel cliches (basically a test to determine whether you were ripping off either J.R.R. Tolkien or his good friend C.S. Lewis), when I came across the following tidbit.  One of the questions was something along the lines of “do you at any point reference the fact that swords can weigh over 40 pounds?”  It then linked to this site, from the Association of Renaissance Martial Arts.

As ARMA puts it on the above-linked site, “Everywhere from television and movies to video games, historical European swords have been depicted as being cumbersome and displayed with wide, exaggerated movements. On a recent national television appearance on The History Channel, one respected academic and expert on medieval military technology even declared with conviction how 14th century swords were “heavy” sometimes weighing as much as “40 pounds” (!).”

However, the best evidence maintains that not only did swords of that era not weigh 40 pounds, they never even got as heavy as 10 or even 15 pounds.  The Wallace Collection Museum in London, according to ARMA, lists a great number of swords, with only a handful weighing in at over 3 pounds.  Even the heavier swords never really got above 4.5 pounds, which would have been a very reasonable weight for someone who had been trained to use a sword since early adolescence or earlier.