show notes

Show Notes: Sewing Machines

In case you missed it: Holly is a hardcore sewer and I know how to sew, so an episode on the machines we hold so dear seemed like a natural choice. I had no idea there was so much fighting and fury in its origins, though. The "Mother Necessity" song on "Schoolhouse Rock" makes it seem like the simple inspiration of Elias Howe, but he's just one of the players (or combatants).

Before the Salem Witch Trials (and in a slightly different region on the U.S.) a woman named Elizabeth Garlick faced trial for witchcraft. In this episode, we tell the story of her accusation and trial. And we talk a little about Terry Pratchett's Discworld books.

Show Notes: The Famous Speech Chief Seattle Never Made

"The earth does not belong to man, man belongs to the earth. All things are connected like the blood that unites us all. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself." It's attributed to Chief Seattle - it's been called part of the most famous speech ever made by a Native American - but Chief Seattle said no such thing. This episode is what he did say ... we think ... there's some doubt on that score, too. We also talk about his life and the role he played in the founding of Seattle. I was the researcher on this one, and here are my links. In particular, the first one is one of the first documents of the misattribution I ever read. It's the thing that made me want to know more back in college (which led to a paper and a semester of independent study full of inter-library loan from Seattle).

Show Notes: Johnny Appleseed

Johnny Appleseed is a figure from American history whose life was so distinctive and unique that he's become almost mythic - the book I read while researching this podcast cited poll in which a hefty portion of Americans weren't sure if he was real or make-believe. But while John Chapman's contributions to American orchards may be a little overinflated, he was definitely a real person, and there was a lot more to his life than bare feet and a sack of seeds.

Show Notes: Voynich Manuscript

It's a hundreds-of-years-old mystery and an xkcd comic: the Voynich Manuscript. (And I forgot about xkcd's take on it until someone reminded us of it on Twitter earlier today). Maybe it's a secret book of knowledge. Maybe it's a cypher text. Maybe it's just gibberish. No one knows.

Medieval mystic Margery Kempe was the author - or perhaps the narrator - of the oldest known autobiography in English. In an era when men held all the official power within the established church, and most women mystics confined themselves to church walls, she traveled extensively. Accompanying her was her husband, with whom she had 14 children before shifting their marriage toward chastity.

The last episode covered Al Swearengen's life from birth until he made his way to Deadwood, where he opened the infamous Gem Theater.

You know a bit about Al Swearengen if you've seen the HBO series "Deadwood," but the show skips his early life and his service in the Civil War (and so do most other accounts of his life). It's a story so long and convoluted (and underhanded) that we needed two episodes to get into it. This installment looks at his life up until he got Deadwood and opened his infamous saloon.