Etymology: contemplate, govern

Romulus and Remus looking at birds
Romulus and Remus looking at birds

The word “contemplate” comes from the Latin contemplari, derived from con- (“with”) and templum (“temple”). A templum was originally an open space used to observe birds in the practice of augury:

Unlike in Greece where oracles played the role of messenger of the Gods, in Rome it was through birds that Jupiter’s will was interpreted.

The word “govern” comes from the Greek κυβέρνηση, meaning “to steer, pilot a ship”. Interestingly, “cybernetics” has the same root. It was originally coined in 1948 by Norbert Wiener to mean “the study of control and communication in the animal and the machine” but was later altered to refer to the study of systems that regulate and produce themselves. Note the lack of any mention of “technology”.

Fascinating aside from Wikipedia: In Norbert Wiener’s PhD dissertation (1912),

he was the first to state publicly that ordered pairs can be defined in terms of elementary set theory. Hence relations can be defined by set theory, thus the theory of relations does not require any axioms or primitive notions distinct from those of set theory.

Robert Frost

Robert Frost sitting on a recently-mended wall.
Robert Frost sitting on a recently-mended wall.

While preparing for a poetry club, I learned the following interesting things related to Robert Frost:

  • Robert Frost was born in 1874, the same year that Athens demolished the Frankish Tower in the Acropolis.
  • Robert Frost never graduated from college, although he attended Dartmouth and Harvard for short spells.
  • Robert Frost recited “The Gift Outright” from memory at the inauguration of John F. Kennedy (1961). He composed another poem, “The Dedication”, as a preface, but he was unable to read the text of it at the podium (even with Nixon offering his top hat to shade the page). I found the relevant part in a video of the inauguration:

Also, I find the following poem, “Not All There”, interesting:

I turned to speak to God
About the world’s despair;
But to make bad matters worse,
I found God wasn’t there.

God turned to speak to me
(Don’t anybody laugh!)
God found I wasn’t there—
At least not over half.

Incarceration in Greenland

The prisoner population per 100000 people for each country country
The prisoner population per 100,000 people for each country

I came across the above map on Wikipedia showing the incarceration rate (number of prisoners per 100,000 people) for each country. Greenland caught my eye since its rate is much higher than Denmark, which it’s part of. It turns out that incarceration in Greenland is quite interesting:

The Greenlandic prison system runs with a uniquely open model. Prisoners must report to prison between 9:30pm and 6:30am each day, but may go to work, visit relatives and complete errands while in the community. They also may hunt with firearms if they are escorted by a prison guard. Prisoners have keys to their own cells, as this is regarded as a form of privacy. A failure to attend prison will result in 7 days in solitary confinement once the escapee returns. […] There are presently 160 places in the Greenlandic prison system.

A tangent: I made a simple plot showing the population of the largest city throughout history. You can hover over points to see the name of the respective city.