Charles Brian Orner


Interested readers will discover additional details here in a wide variety of areas, including the arts, astronomy, business, culture, environment, gaming, geography, language, history, literature, music, mythology, philosophy, politics, religion, and science. Spend a little time with the notes; it'll pique your interest. Then buy the book. Most notes have been taken from public sources such as Wikipedia. The remainder are given attribution.

Chapter 21

1    A military backpack, also called a MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment, pronounced like the name “Molly”), is designed to adjust the amount of equipment a soldier carries. The contents of a MOLLE are similar to what a backpacker would carry but differ depending on the location of the soldier, the length of the assignment and the soldier’s mission.
“Battle Rattle” is military slang for combat gear.
2    Charley Bates is a supporting character in the Charles Dickens novel Oliver Twist. He is a young boy and member of Fagin’s gang of pickpockets, and sidekick to the Artful Dodger. Charley, along with The Artful Dodger, steal Mr. Brownlow’s handkerchief, a crime Oliver is blamed for. Later in the novel, Bates delivers bad news to Fagin that when the Artful Dodger was arrested for stealing a silver snuff box and positively identified by the owner, that it is a sure bet he will be convicted in court, and that it is too bad he “did not go out in a blaze of glory by stealing something of great value instead of a half penny snuffbox.
       A 1922 edition of The New York Times warns about a pickpocket subtype called the “lush worker”: “The lush worker patrols the streets late at night and when he sees a drunk ‘tails’ him. If convenient and if his proposed victim is intoxicated enough, he makes friends with him. Perhaps he helps him across a crowded street, and takes his watch in pay for the service.”
3    Deep time is the concept of geologic time. John McPhee discussed “deep time” at length in his 1981 book, Basin and Range, parts of which originally appeared in The New Yorker magazine. One of the metaphors McPhee used in explaining the concept of deep time was cited in Time’s Arrow, Time’s Cycle by Gould: “Consider the Earth’s history as the old measure of the English yard, the distance from the King’s nose to the tip of his outstretched hand. One stroke of a nail file on his middle finger erases human history.”
       An indiction is a period of time equal to fifteen years.
4    In the 1920s, white linen sheets were de rigueur. That all changed when Madeleine Porthault convinced her husband, Daniel, to offer a home couture collection through his small Parisian lingerie boutique. Their business thrived and many others followed suit, but the D. Porthault name still carries weight among the wealthy and their bath towels are the most expensive towels in the world.
5    Citing its dark, deep and “vibrant” flavors, Wine Spectator in 2001 lauded Inglenook’s 1941 Cabernet Sauvignon, a batch considered by many the best ever produced in Napa Valley. About $24,000 per bottle.
6    In Greek mythology, Adrasteia was a nymph who was charged by Rhea with nurturing the infant Zeus, in secret in the Dictaean cave, to protect him from his father Cronus (Krónos). She is known from inscriptions in Greece from around 400 BC as a deity who defends the righteous.
       Dionysus was the god of the grape harvest, winemaking and wine, of ritual madness and ecstasy in Greek mythology.
7    “Sixteen Tons” is a song about the life of a coal miner, first recorded in 1946 by American country singer Merle Travis and released on his box set album Folk Songs of the Hills the following year.
8    Stop Making Sense (1984) is a concert movie featuring Talking Heads live on stage. Directed by Jonathan Demme, it was shot over the course of three nights at Hollywood’s Pantages Theater in December 1983, as the group was touring to promote their new album Speaking in Tongues. The movie is notable for being the first made entirely using digital audio techniques. The band raised the budget of $1.2 million themselves. The film has been hailed by Leonard Maltin as “one of the greatest rock movies ever made,” and Pauline Kael of The New Yorker described it as “...close to perfection.” The movie is also notable for Davin Byrne’s “big suit,” an absurdly oversized business suit he dons late in the concert for the song “Girlfriend is Better” (featuring lyrics from which the film takes its title).
9    “Psycho Killer” is a song written by David Byrne, Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth and first played by their band The Artistic in 1974, and as new wave band Talking Heads in 1975, with a later version recorded for their 1977 album Talking Heads: 77. The band’s “signature debut hit” features lyrics which seem to represent the thoughts of a serial killer. Originally written and performed as a ballad, “Psycho Killer” became what Allmusic calls a “deceptively funky new wave/no wave song (...) [with] an insistent rhythm, and one of the most memorable, driving bass lines in rock & roll.”
10    From Christian Schubart’s Ideen zu einer Aesthetik der Tonkunst (1806): Shubart identifies the key of D minor as “the key in which the humours brood.”
Humorism, or humoralism, is a now discredited theory of the makeup and workings of the human body, adopted by Ancient Greek and Roman physicians and philosophers, positing that an excess or deficiency of any of four distinct bodily fluids known as humors in a person directly influences their temperament and health. From Hippocrates onward, the humoral theory was adopted by Greek, Roman and Persian physicians, and became the most commonly held view of the human body among European physicians until the advent of modern medical research in the nineteenth century. The four humors of Hippocratic medicine are black bile (Gk. melan chole), yellow bile (Gk. chole), phlegm (Gk. phlegma), and blood (Gk. haima), and each corresponds to one of the traditional four temperaments. A humor is also referred to as a cambium (pl. cambia or cambiums).
11    Bedtime for Bonzo is a 1951 comedy film directed by Frederick de Cordova, starring then-future U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Diana Lynn. It revolves around the attempts of the central character, Psychology Professor Peter Boyd (Ronald Reagan), to teach human morals to a chimpanzee, hoping to solve the “nature versus nurture” question. He hires a woman (Diana Lynn) to pose as the chimp’s mother while he plays father to it, and uses 1950s-era child rearing techniques.
12    Chimpanzees use a distinctive “pant-hoot” call when arriving into a group.
13    Original mine railways used wax-impregnated wooden rails attached to wooden sleepers, on which drams were dragged by men, children or animals. This was later replaced by L-shaped iron rails, which were attached to the mine floor, meaning that no sleepers were required and hence leaving easy access for the feet of children or animals to propel more drams.

Brian Orner