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Todd Bernhardt has posted 946 annotations/comments since 8 January 2003.


First Reading

About Thursday 5 January 1659/60

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

More on the Little Ice Age and its causes:

I just read an interesting article over at the NASA Web site that blames sunspots for such climactic events as the Little Ice Age.

You can find the article here:

Surprisingly (and, to me anyway, counterintuitively), during the periods of the Sun's cycles when there are fewer sunspots, the atmosphere of the Earth turns colder, while periods of more sunspots mean a hotter climate. Here's a quote from the article:
"For example, between 1645 and 1715 (a period astronomers call the 'Maunder Minimum') the sunspot cycle stopped; the face of the Sun was nearly blank for 70 years. At the same time Europe was hit by an extraordinary cold spell: the Thames River in London froze, glaciers advanced in the Alps, and northern sea ice increased. An earlier centuries-long surge in solar activity (inferred from studies of tree rings) had the opposite effect: Vikings were able to settle the thawed-out coast of Greenland in the 980s, and even grow enough wheat there to export the surplus to Scandinavia."

Oddly, though multiple sunspots are an indication of increased solar activity, which raises temperatures on Earth, single sunspots can have the opposite effect ... presumably because they darken a portion of the Sun's surface and allow less energy to reach Earth.

Looking at one of the graphics in the article referenced above, you can see that the number of sunspots decreased in the early 19th century (though that period has not been classified as a "minimum" event), which may help explain the "year with no summer" that JonTom talks about above.

About Monday 9 January 1659/60

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

I think the confusion stems from its lack of use in American English.

Not to worry, Viv, a glimpse at the lyrics of Elvis Costello's "Wednesday Week" will show that you're not alone... :^)

About Should entries display the weekday?

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Perhaps the first annotation of each entry could note the day of the week? Alternatively -- keeping in mind David's suggestion re: simplicity and Phil's desire not to create a new version of the diary -- maybe Phil could put the day of the week in the footnote section, or perhaps somewhere else in [brackets], but followed by his initials, to set his editorial notations apart from the other editors'. (FWIW, so far this issue hasn't been much of a problem for me, since each Sunday has been noted, making it easy to figure out the day of the week of other entries.)

About Wednesday 11 January 1659/60

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

"Poor Mrs. Jem!" spoiler:

I wonder if perhaps people like myself, who've not read the diary, might not want to know the fate of characters and events before they actually occur in the diary? I realize that, this being part of history, it will be almost impossible to *not* reveal things about the "future" (and I'm certainly not chastising Nicholas for letting us know the happy news about Mrs. Jem), but maybe people can put "Spoiler" or something similar in the header of their annotations, giving those who want to want to skip such revelations the opportunity to do so? Just a thought...

About Saturday 7 January 1659/60

Todd Bernhardt  •  Link

Re: Wooden Rivet's note about the consumption of meat and sack, I wonder if possibly vegetables simply didn't merit mention in Pepys' recollection of the day's events? Meat was certainly the centerpiece of each meal, and fruit was probably in short supply, it being winter. Also, does anyone know if the meat pies mentioned are like the meat pies today -- that is, a mixture of meat and vegetables in some sort of sauce, enclosed in a crust? If so, that would account for *some* vegetables in the diet.

BTW, I love the diary and appreciate the effort that everyone is putting into it. Thanks for providing this opportunity to step out of the madness of modernity for a moment each day.