Tuesday, December 20th, 2022

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18th Century Firemen didn't let uninsured homes burn down (

Pulling from the video transcript, here are (in my opinion) the most salient segments. And here is the link to the full research document they which is referenced below.

But. About a month ago, I got an email that was like, you know that source you used, the London Fire Brigade Museum's page? It doesn't say that.

And it doesn't. The page has been changed, and it now says: "There is little real evidence to suggest that this was the case."

So: I hired an experienced, professional archives research consultant. My brief was simple: is the story true? Answering that took the consultant two weeks of work. Not two weeks of undergrad-slacking-off-time, I mean two solid weeks of eight-hour work days, including visiting the British Library to check documents that haven't been digitized yet. He's put together a thoroughly-referenced report, I've linked it down in the description.

And now I'm going to summarize his summary in about 60 seconds. Here we go: Through the 18th century, fire marks were an indicator of whether a building was insured, but the general policy of London insurance companies was that their firefighters did try to fight all fires, whether insured or not. Three reasons why:

One: A fire in an un-insured building can easily spread to an insured property, or dozens of insured properties. Economically, it made sense to cut the problem off as early as possible.

Two: It is really good advertising to have smartly dressed firefighters rushing in to save the day.

And three: it was the right thing to do.

There are good references from the time to back all that up. But. By 1721, there were eight fire insurance offices in London. We don't know how many actual fire brigades there were, but there were enough for there to be rivalries between them.

And there was also a law that gave reward money to the first, second, and third brigades to attend a fire.

That's one of the reasons they raced to fires so fast, they got paid more if they did. So sometimes, too many firefighters would turn up. They couldn't all help, and there might not be enough fire-fighting water for all of them.

Many of those firefighters were recruited from being watermen on the River Thames, rough-and-ready ferry workers. So if they weren't quick enough, and they missed out on the reward, and it wasn't a building insured by their company anyway, they might just stand back, jeer a bit, or worst case, maybe even interfere with the folks who were going to get the reward money instead of them.

That is, in the researcher's view, the most probable place that the story came from. There are so many more subtleties than that, this is not certain, history is fractal and you can always, always find more detail if you keep looking.

12/20/2022 12:37 am | |
Tags: history, fire department

Believe cover by Okay Kaya (

Watching Industry on HBO Max and heard this lovely cover. Had to share here.

12/20/2022 7:13 am | |
Tags: music

The Dream

I can't help but think that the missing key to the streaming service wars is the one they'll never accept. Imagine: a centralized service with an Apple-level UX across platforms and a rock solid backend to drive it all. They don't want to be in the software business but they have to be, much to their chagrin. Just imagine. Someone brokers the deal to unite the streaming offerings into a single service, but you subscribe a la carte.

12/20/2022 9:15 am | |
Tags: streaming

Toilet spray captured by scientists (

In 2006 there was a TV show called American Inventor, it ran for two seasons. In season one, the finals came down to a couple who were selling a filter toilet seat lid exactly focused on what this (and others) have been talking about lately.

The judges rejected the invention due to lack of rigorous scientific support in the study they did for the finals. To me, both of the inventions from the final had major flaws. The winning invention was a baby seat which put the baby in a partial orb such that in a car crash the idea was that the force of the impact would cause the baby to swing in the seat rather than have the forward force applied to them.

Other than this memory being stirred by the stories in magazines recently regarding the toilet droplets in the air, the show is wholly forgettable.

12/20/2022 10:29 am | |
Tags: bathrooms, toilets, science

1927 enters public domain on Jan. 1, 2023 (

The linked page gives an overview of some of the notable pieces which will enter the public domain on January 1st.

12/20/2022 3:09 pm | |
Tags: copyright, public domain

Happiness is having a friend over and helping as you decorate for Christmas, enjoying music, and laughing your asses off.

12/20/2022 7:03 pm | | Tweeted |
Tags: christmas, life

Microsoft reportedly interested in buying Netflix (

I can't say I love the idea as we continue to see bigger and bigger monolithic corporations.

12/20/2022 8:05 pm | |
Tags: microsoft, netflix, business

Mastodon Favs for December, 20th 2022

12/20/2022 10:45 pm | |
Tags: mastodon, social media, automated

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