Cool History

Uncovering history through curiosity

Liked Personism, Communism, and Feminism by Siderea (

It all started when I decided I wanted to know the origin of the expression “male chauvinist”.

I appreciate her dedication to following a thread of curiosity down multiple avenues of research!

Chauvinism is the unreasonable belief in the superiority or dominance of one’s own group or people, who are seen as strong and virtuous, while others are considered weak, unworthy, or inferior.

But why “male chauvinism”?

Somehow, somewhere along the line, a term for nationalism became used to express an idea about sexism, and that is not an obvious thing to do.

Her hypothesis and research traces its origins back to communism, before the House Un-American Activities Committee drove it underground:

Communism sees human affairs as organized by what communism terms classes, which mostly lump out to workers and bosses; communism seeks to elevate the status of workers by getting workers to realize that they are workers before all else, and that it is only by banding together in solidarity with other workers that they can have the power to improve their lives. Thus all other identities are seen as threats to the communist project, at least when those other identities are not subordinated to one’s identity as a worker…

“Chauvinism”, thus, is an excellent term for what communists reviled: it doesn’t just neutrally designate a preference for identifying with one’s nation and taking pride in it, but ridicules having absurd, self-sabotaging levels of loyalty and devotion to a nation that will never appreciate or reciprocate it.

Cool Technology

Parrots making Zoom friends

Liked Birds of a Feather Video-Flock Together (ACM Conferences)

Design and Evaluation of an Agency-Based Parrot-to-Parrot Video-Calling System for Interspecies Ethical Enrichment. | Proceedings of the 2023 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

This feels both sweet and appalling that social creatures are kept as solitary pets 🫤🦜

Cool Science

Dragonfly biology is awesome

Watched The Insane Biology of: The Dragonfly from YouTube

I had no idea the little colored bit on their wings acts as a counterweight 😍 It keeps the wingtips from fluttering and lets the dragonfly fly 10-20% faster than they’d be able to otherwise.

They also have direct flight muscles that allow them to control all four wings individually so they can fly all directions and maneuver super fast. They have different patterns and rhythms of movement for different flight patterns, which reminds me of how land animals have different paces that you can see in their track patterns.

Apparently there are two main types of aerial hunting techniques: tracking and intercepting. Interception is when the predator predicts where the prey will travel and flies there instead of merely chasing, which relies on greater speed and uses more energy.

Cool Science

Paint without pigment

Liked This Is the Lightest Paint in the World by Max G. Levy (WIRED)

An energy-saving coating needs no pigments, and it keeps the surface beneath it 30 degrees cooler.

Some of nature’s most vivid looks—the kind worn by peacocksbeetles, and butterflies—do their thing without pigment.

Those colors come from topography. Submicroscopic landscapes on the outer surfaces of peacock feathers, beetle shells, and butterfly wings diffract light to produce what’s known as structural color.

See also: Life in Color: Seeing in Color

Cool Nature Science

Watched The Secret Life of Brine Pools


There is water at the bottom of the ocean 🌊

Cool Culture History

The origin of knitting

Liked Who invented knitting? The plot thickens (Eukaryote Writes Blog)

The Egyptian knit socks I outlined in the last post sure do seem to be the first known knit garments, like, a piece of clothing that is meant to cover your body. They’re certainly the first known ones that take advantage of knitting’s unique properties: of being stretchy, of being manufacturable in arbitrary shapes. The earliest knitting is… weirder.

This is a delightful dive into the history of knitting.

Those ancient Egyptian socks look like you could have picked them up at REI. Astonishing that our taste in patterns is consistent a thousand years later. (That museum listing is dishearteningly deficient for the curious. How did this sock survive 700-1000 years? Whose was it? Why does it say origin: Egypt/India? What is its story???) Also, how long after inventing knitting does it take to develop patterns? This sock has multiple patterns. Same generation as developing knitting, or multiple? Maybe people want decoration immediately?

Elizabeth Wayland Barber says this isn’t just knitting – she points to the spinning jenny and the power loom, both innovations in yarn production in general, that were invented recently by men despite thousands of previous years of women producing yarn. In Women’s Work: The First 20,000 Years, she writes:

“Women of all but the top social and economic classes were so busy just trying to get through what had to be done each day that they didn’t have excess time or materials to experiment with new ways of doing things.”

This speculates a kind of different mechanism of invention – sure, you need a reason to come up with or at least follow up on a discovery, but you also need the space to play. 90% of everything is crap, you need to be really sure that you can throw away (or unravel, or afford the time to re-make) 900 crappy garments before you hit upon the sock.

Emphasis mine.

Art and Design Cool Nature

Abstract bubbles beneath ice

Liked iceformation by Ryota Kajita / 梶田亮太 - PhotographerRyota Kajita / 梶田亮太 – Photographer (

His photography series of “Ice Formation” is featured in the magazine “Photo Technique” (November/December 2012), “”(May 2015), ““ (August 2015), “城市画報 -CITY ZINE-“ (January/Februray 2016), National Geographic Magazine (March 2020) and is represented by Susan Spiritus Gallery in Newport Beach, California and Fotofilmic in Vancouver, Canada.

bubbles beneath ice covered in spiky frostI love the spiky ice atop the frozen surface, the rounded bubbles at center contrasted against the dark depths. A warm fur cloak cocooning a precious cluster of eggs.

white bubbles in a splat of black surrounded by thinning iceI like that the thinning window of ice is at once dendritic, parasitic, the expansion of decay and darkness. And within that hazy-edged darkness, brilliant sharp crystalline bursts of white.

Art and Design Cool Culture Travel

An artistic virtual journey through Venice

Bookmarked Ca’ Rezzonico – A journey into 18th-Century Venice (Google Arts & Culture)

Suggestions for an artistic itinerary through collections and masterpieces

Cool Technology The Internet Websites

A website devoted to NYC internet infrastructure

Liked Seeing Networks in New York City by Ingrid Burrington (

New York’s network infrastructure is a lot like the city itself: messy, sprawling, and at times near-incomprehensible. However, the city’s tendency toward flux is a strange blessing for the infrastructure sightseer: markings and remnants of the network are almost everywhere, once you know how to look for them.

And book!

It’s fun to stumble on dedicated little web projects like this. It’s such a niche project that only someone who really cared would bother making it.

Makes me think of a tweet I saw recently that the world is basically made of people’s random passion projects.

Cool Music

Vintage streaming online

Bookmarked Vintage Obscura Radio (Vintage Obscura Radio)

Internet radio station playing the top tracks from the /r/vintageobscura sub-reddit.