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Sobel, Dava. Longitude: The True Story of a Lone Genius Who Solved the Greatest Scientific Problem of His Time. New York: Walker and Co, 1995. (Also available in an Illustrated Edition, which I recommend. The A&E network also made a very good four-hour movie based on the book, which you might be able to find for rent or at a library.)

This lovely little book chronicles the story of John Harrison, the man who finally created the first reliable marine timekeeper, and thus solved the problem of finding longitude at sea. Along the way, Sobel gives a concise yet detailed picture of the "longitude problem" as it stood in the 1700s, managing to convey the enormity of the issue, and the effect it had on the lives of every sailor who braved the seas. Very good for getting a feel for the methods of navigation that weren't possible in the 1720s.

The Cliff Notes Version )
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So, being the committed slasher that I am, one of the first things I did when beginning my Pirates of the Caribbean research was look for books about pirate sexuality. I found and read two that addressed the subject in detail, and thought I'd give some summary/review for the benefit of those attempting to discuss 17th Century pirates and their sexuality.

(Note: I should probably mention that there was no equivalent term for "homosexual" or "gay" in the 17th Century. Not only did the words not exist in their current meaning, there was in fact no actual formal concept of same-sex sexual preference. Same-sex sexual relationships were instead defined in the courtroom by the legal definitions of sodomy, which is why that term is used so frequently in my summaries.)

Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition by B. R. Burg )
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Picked up four books on piracy from the libaray yesterday, just before coming down with this wretched cold. Still, it means I've had time to read. I just finished Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates by David Cordingly, which [ profile] pktheater was kind enough to lend me.

More about Under the Black Flag )

More Pirate Research: Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash )

So far, the research has been fun. I've never known what the heck a sloop or a brigantine or a carrack was before now, and it's really kind of cool. I also found out that the local blacksmith was in charge of custom-making the iron cages that hanged pirates were displayed in, so that's a brand-new little morsel for thought. So many trivial facts, so little time....
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Excuse me while I wax rhapsodic for a few moments about the Nashville Public Library. I know that there are places with niftier and more extensive facilities, but it's only in the last two or three years that I've realized what a godsend it is to have a kick-ass public library system.

It doesn't matter that their actual collection isn't anything as impressive as even a half-decent academic library when I can get on the Athena system, browse the catalogs of darn near every local university for books about pirates and 17th century history, and inter-library loan what I need without even getting out of bed. Much better than driving the forty-five minutes to MTSU or paying $20 a year to Vandy for a max of four visits and no borrowing priviledges (both of them are on Athena anyway :)). Public library cards are free to residents of Davidson County, so it's like getting borrowing rights to every local academic library for free. How cool is that?

(No, I'm not obsessively researching POTC, why do you ask?)
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Going to see Pirates of the Caribbean for the fourth time was definitely a mistake. The fact that I took along a mini notebook and scribbled notes in the dark was merely the symbolic white flag of my surrender to a new #!@$$%! fandom.

So, how long to December 2? )

So, there it is. Shiny new fandom. Curse it.
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I can't believe how sleepy I was all day yesterday. I didn't stay up particularly late the night before, and got to sleep an extra hour, but I was still a walking zombie all day. When Boo had her morning nap, I had one, too, and when she woke up I was still so groggy that I just got her out of her crib, carried her straight into the living room, and laid down on the floor to keep snatching z's while she played. Naturally, since I could barely keep my eyes open, Boo was a playing machine all day. She didn't have an afternoon nap to speak of, and stayed up a good hour and a half past her normal bedtime. Possibly some sort of infant vampirism was involved.

No gaming Saturday night, so instead some of us got together and went to the movies.

The person responsible for the initial Pirates of the Caribbean trailers and promotions should be shot )

September 2012

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