Sideswipe: Jobs for registered nurses from 1887

Eddie Wilkie writes: “Given the current situation and certainly to take nothing away from the splendid work they do, I found it quite interesting to see how times have changed and how far things have progressed. My mother was also a nurse and I can remember her saying about the different duties they had to do. What should these stalwarts of old have been paid for the duties they had to perform back then?”

Ancient life-expectancy myth

A lot of times you hear people talk about the life expectancy of ancient people being around 35, so you picture a really young society when you think of the Romans, Egyptians, Mesopotamians, or even hunter-gatherers. This isn’t really the case. The average is 35 because infant mortality and early childhood death was so common. If you just take the life expectancy of people who reach adulthood (16), then the life expectancy is easily in the early 60s. There were plenty of 70 and even 80-year-olds 2000 years ago.

The plagues of fast walkers

Sand stealers

“Your snippet about removing sand from the beaches of Sardinia reminded me of an arcane curiosity,” writes Robert Myers. “In 1999 I mentioned to a neighbour in Washington, DC, that I was just about to do a month-long consultancy in Cairo, Egypt. He stunned me by asking me to bring back a few tablespoons of a mixture of sand from the bases of the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx in Giza. I did as asked – also including in the plastic bag the receipt for the nominal entrance fee. He was extremely grateful and enlightened me about an international group of sand collectors, collectively known as the International Sand Collectors Society Who knew?”


Deano Riddell responds to Marty’s “back in my day” objection to online exams. “Exam questions are designed to reflect the equipment the student has access to. Simple example to demonstrate – using a paper-based exam. Exam Question – draw a straight line exactly 6 inches long without a ruler The exam marker will assess the skills of the student’s non-ruler use – ironically, as with many exam questions, a skill which is probably entirely irrelevant to the subject but is simply designed for exam assessment purposes only. The exam marker can also easily detect if a ruler has been used – ie cheating. Footnote 1 – note I used inches – especially for the Boomer. Footnote 2 – I am also a Boomer.”

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