Te Maari, a crater at the northern end of the Tongariro range, erupted spectacularly 123 years ago, turning a small steam vent into a large crater 100m long and 150m wide. The eruption lasted 40 minutes, sending steam and smoke to a great height. Fine weather allowed onlookers to see the plume from some distance away. A south-westerly wind carried a cloud of red ash towards Ātiamuri, north of Taupō. A party on the slopes of Tongariro made a hasty retreat. The residents of Otukou, a Māori settlement immediately beneath the crater, also evacuated the area. (Via NZHistory)
Being nosey no new thing
Privacy may be endangered in the digital age, but as history shows, everyone has always been poking around in your business. In colonial America, Puritan villages had professional snoopers called tithingmen who would spy through windows to ensure folk weren't doing anything naughty, such as going for a stroll on the Sabbath – a crime that could be punishable by a day in the stocks. Before the postal service existed, letters were left at taverns and coffee houses to be picked up by the recipient – often after they'd been opened by other inquisitive customers. In the old days of the US census, the questions were really nosy. Uncle Sam asked about your mental health, whether you were "crippled, maimed, or deformed," and inquired about the financial status of homes and farms. The results of the early census were also posted in public, ostensibly so you could check them for accuracy, but in reality so that all your neighbours could titter. And let's not forget the impotence trials of pre-revolutionary France — the ultimate invasion of privacy, where a woman could ask to end a marriage on the grounds that her husband failed to consummate a marriage ... but she had to prove it in front of witnesses. The most notorious such trial was in 1659, when a marquis had to attempt sex with his wife in front of a 15-person jury, including doctors. The trial was so public, Frenchmen placed bets on the outcome. (Via Mental Floss)
Stat of the day
Words of wisdom
Julia from Marokopa writes: It was interesting to read the complete saying of "curiosity killed the cat". I have for some years cracked up when I've heard (even on the radio) people say "The proof's in the pudding" instead of "The proof of the pudding is in the eating".