It’s a mystery that has intrigued Americans for centuries: What happened to the lost colonists of North Carolina’s Roanoke Island?
The settlers, who arrived in 1587, disappeared in 1590, leaving behind only two clues: the words “Croatoan” carved into a fort’s gatepost and “Cro” etched into a tree.
Theories about the disappearance have ranged from an annihilating disease to a violent rampage by local Native American tribes. Previous digs have turned up some information and artifacts from the original colonists but very little about what happened to them.
Until now. Read more.
Rear Admiral Grace Hopper would have been 107 today, and is being honored with a great Google Doodle. It’s quite literally impossible for us to imagine, as we sit here reading about her on the internet, but people used to use things like paper and pencils and chalk and slide rules to solve (and often not solve) complicated problems. Grace Hopper quite simply helped usher in the modern age, her impact, I think, is no less than the steam engine or the cotton gin.
Some awesome stuff she did: Grace Hopper developed first compiler, allowing computer calculations to move beyond simple arithmetic and into more complex problems. She also developed first standardized computer language, COBOL, which laid the groundwork for all the languages we use today.
One day she found a dead moth disrupting one of the electronic relays in the Mark 1 computer, and upon removing it (and fixing the computer), the term “debugging" was born. Here’s her daily log from that day, with the offending moth taped to the page:
Beyond that, she was a charming scientific communicator, and she possessed a marvelous ability to make people, and mind you this was in a time when almost no one owned their own computer, truly appreciate both the importance and the complexity of computing technology.
She famously carried around a bundle of nanoseconds in her purse for illustrative purposes. Here she is charming the socks off of David Letterman, and giving him a nanosecond of his very own (don’t miss the picosecond joke, either) :
1977: "Beryl Choi, the first woman ordained a priest in Pittsburgh’s episcopal diocese”
The year was 1944 when Beryl Choi, an 18-year-old woman living in Chester, England, told her local Episcopal bishop that she believed she had a vocation to the priesthood.
He replied that church law prohibited the ordination of women but encouraged her to study religious education.
So, the young English woman earned degrees in theology and religious education from the University of London. She taught religion for 10 years at a school for girls in Liverpool and also instructed seminarians. In 1962, she married a Korean nuclear scientist and the couple moved to Philadelphia, settling a few years later in Pittsburgh.
Early in the 1970s, she made history by becoming the first woman ordained a deacon in Pittsburgh’s episcopal diocese. Not everyone was pleased but the Rev. William C. Lewis, Arch deacon of Trinity Cathedral, remarked that, “Anyone who thinks women are inferior has not met Beryl Choi.”
On a Sunday in January of 1977, at age 50, she became the first woman to join the ranks of priests in Pittsburgh’s Episcopal diocese. The Right Rev. Ralph Appleyard officiated at the ordination service in Downtown’s Trinity Cathedral.
Even now, at age 87, the Rev. Beryl Choi recalled in a recent telephone interview “the absolute wonder of it all. I was accompanied in that ordination by several young men” plus a group of young, supportive deacons.
Her peers told her in advance that if anyone spoke against her ordination during the service, “They were going to throw whistles and stamp and shout. That was the support I got from that group. They were wonderful,” she recalled in that perfectly articulated British accent that makes people who hear it secretly wish they had been born in England. (Rev. Choi was born in the same month and year as Queen Elizabeth II.)
The drive to ordain women had gathered momentum three years earlier. On July 29, 1974, Deacon Beryl Choi had watched as three retired Episcopal bishops ordained took the radical step of ordaining eleven women in Philadelphia. But, she waited patiently until church leaders approved the ordination of women at a convention in 1976.
Today, the leader of the Episcopal Church is the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori.
As for the Rev. Beryl Choi, after serving at Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside, she was in ministry in Long Beach, Calif. for two years, then spent a decade in Buffalo, N.Y.
Now retired, she lives in Richmond, Va., near her daughter, Nan.
“Many parishes these days don’t care if it’s a man or a woman as long as it’s someone they like and will do the job,” Rev. Choi said.
The Rev. Leslie Reimer, interim rector at Calvary Episcopal Church in Shadyside, said in a telephone interview that Rev. Choi served as her role model.
“She was very smart and wise and asked challenging questions. She was breaking ground that was very new for everyone.”
The Rev. Choi, “changed people’s minds because they experienced her as someone with a genuine vocation as a priest, as a pastor, as a teacher. When people encounter someone who is authentic and genuine and forgiving, it tends to melt those barriers,” Rev. Reimer said.
On December 9, 1979, the Global Commission for the Certification of Smallpox Eradication signed their names to the statement that “smallpox has been eradicated from the world.”
It was the first time that a disease had been banished from the earth by the planning and action of the world’s public health professionals. And it became a model for later (ongoing) efforts to eradicate polio and several lesser known diseases.
The disease only spread from human to human, so there had been an unbroken chain of infection for more than three millennia. In the 1960s, before the eradication program, more than half a million people died every year from the disease.
But in country after country, vaccination and isolation programs lowered rates of infection until the numbers dwindled to one person who was infected, the last patient.
Read more. [Image: World Health Organization]
- Dated: late 19th–early 20th century
- Geography: Indonesia, Borneo
- Culture: Kenyah or Kayan peoples (Malaysia & Indonesia)
- Medium: steel, brass, wood, antler ,bone, hair, tradecloth, fiber
- Measurements: overall length 31-1/2 inch
GRIP THE RAVEN . The taxidermied raven that inspired the Poe poem of the same name [x]
Perched on a log in the Rare Books department of the Philadelphia Free Library stands a strange piece of history. Dead since 1841, but preserved with arsenic, and frozen inside a shadow box, this bird’s legacy is longer than most people’s. His name is Grip. Grip the Clever, Grip the Wicked, Grip the Knowing. Once Charles Dickens’ pet raven, upon its death Dickens had it professionally taxidermied and mounted. Grip even makes an appearance in Dickens’ lesser-known story "Barnaby Rudge." That book was reviewed by then literary critic Edgar Allan Poe. Poe wrote that “[the raven’s] croaking might have been prophetically heard in the course of the drama.” It wasn’t long after this that Poe published his breakout work “The Raven.” The coincidence didn’t escape notice, and Poe was taunted with the refrain “Here comes Poe with his Raven, like Barnaby Rudge, / Three fifths of him genius, two fifths sheer fudge.”
Despite this, “The Raven” was a smash success and Poe enjoyed performing readings at fancy salon parties. He would turn down all the lights and recite the poem with great drama. Everyone referred to him as “the Raven,” but it would only be four years after publishing “The Raven” and gaining worldwide fame that Poe would be found delirious on the streets of Baltimore, dying shortly thereafter. Today, Grip the Raven, who inspired both Dickens and Poe, can still be seen, proud as ever, in the Free Library of Philadelphia Rare Book Department, along with a great collection of both Poe and Dickens originals and other rare books.