22 September 2021
This interesting book by Carol Zaleski, professor of world religions at Smith College, examines modern reports of "near-death experiences" experienced in hospitalized patients, trauma victims, suicide survivors etc, and compares them to historical accounts of traveling outside the body (ecstatic states, travel to the underworld or heaven), as portrayed in religious epics, dramas, and myths.
"[In medieval times] bridges had a supernatural import. G. A. Frank Knight attributes the mystique of bridges to a widespread primitive belief that bridge-building encroaches on the domain of the river spirit who, deprived of drowning victims, must be appeased through sacrifice. There is evidence that ancient Roman bridge-builders placated the divinity of the Tiber by casting humans or effigies into the river. In European folklore, as Knight points out, the tutelary river deities are Christianized into demons, every bit as hungry for human victims as were their pagan counterparts. Hints of bridge-sacrifice are preserved in popular folktales in which the devil claims the fist soul to cross a new bridge, and also in the children's game called "London Bridge."In Christian Europe as in ancient Rome, bridge-building was seen as a sacred as well as dangerous undertaking, and the upkeep of bridges was entrusted to clergy. Symbolically, the supreme clerical bridge builder of Western Christendom was the pope, who became "Pontifex Maximus" in place of the Roman and Christian emperors who had inherited this title from the official charged with conserving the Pons Sublicius...The literary history of Western eschatological bridge symbolism takes us back again to ancient Persia, to the pre-Zoroastrian tradition that souls must cross a perilous bridge in the other world..."
Often interpreted as a compound originally meaning “bridge-maker”, from Proto-Italic *pontifaks, equivalent to pōns (“bridge”) + -fex (“suffix representing a maker or producer”), either metaphorically “one who negotiates between gods and men” or literally if at some point the social class which supplied the priests was more or less identical with engineers that were responsible for building bridges.
21 September 2021
19 September 2021
"This ballistics study examines whether saline breast implants can decrease tissue penetration in firearm injuries. We hypothesize that the fluid column within a saline breast implant can alter bullet velocity and/or bullet pattern of mushrooming. The two experimental groups included saline implants with 7.4 cm projection and a no implant group. The experimental design allowed the bullet to pass-through an implant and into ballistics gel (n = 10) or into ballistics gel without passage through an implant (n = 11). Shots that passed through an implant had 20.6% decreased penetration distance when compared to shots that did not pass-through an implant; this difference was statistically significant (31.9 cm vs. 40.2 cm, p < 0.001). Implant group bullets mushroomed prior to gel entry, but the no implant group mushroomed within the gel. Bullet passage through a saline breast implant results in direct bullet velocity reduction and earlier bullet mushrooming; this causes significantly decreased ballistics gel penetration."
"Every year, Barilla, the world’s biggest pasta company, hosts a competition to create innovative new pastas for their 3D pasta printer. This year they received 1,300 design proposals, and are still in the midst of testing them out. But consider this past winner, Lune, a hollow moon-like sphere with crater-shaped holes for sauce to peek through...Here’s how it works: First you download your 3D model into the printer (it’s the size of a small fridge), then load printer cartridges with semolina dough. And then you press print. The printer builds the pasta layer by layer, with a nozzle that moves along the X, Y and Z axes, spitting out the dough in a steady stream. It takes two to three minutes for the printer to make nine pieces of pasta...Pasta is just one application for 3D printers and food. The first 3D restaurant in the world, Food Ink, is serving printed fine dining dishes like lobster-shaped pastries filled with lobster."
"A coconut that was placed inside a coffin "sent fear" through staff at a crematorium when it exploded. Bolton Council has urged mourners to abide by crematorium rules and not "slip" items into coffins. Donna Ball, Assistant Director of Community Services, said a "hell of an explosion can sometimes occur".Other items of concern include mobile phones, TV remotes, e-cigarettes and bottles of alcohol... electrical items with batteries also push crematorium emissions up to "unacceptable levels".The funeral director said on one occasion she was even asked if an extra set of underwear could be placed with the deceased.Ms Walch-Grognet said it was her procedure to "look under the lining of the coffin" after the service due to mourners trying to sneak items in."
A bamboo wife is a long, hollow and handwoven bolster that is often comparable to the human body in size. True to its name, it’s almost always made out of thinly cut bamboo strands. If not, it’s usually another material that’s easy to weave, like rattan.There are several bamboo wife variants, ranging in length and circumference. Why? Sleepers come in all sizes! It is supposed to be roughly the same size as the person using it, so children and adults will have different needs...Typically it is embraced in a side sleeping position. The open wooden structure helps regulate body temperature and eases usual aches and pains from side sleeping without a bolster.Because bedrooms are now cooler due to modern technology, it follows that modern alternatives to the bamboo wife would be more popular. Body pillows in particular accomplish the same goal.
17 September 2021
"For example, if I know that in America the cheese is dead, which means is pasteurized, which means legally dead and scientifically dead, and we don’t want any cheese that is alive, then I have to put that up front. I have to say this cheese is safe, is pasteurized, is wrapped up in plastic. I know that plastic is a body bag. You can put it in the fridge. I know the fridge is the morgue; that’s where you put the dead bodies. And so once you know that, this is the way you market cheese in America."
16 September 2021
15 September 2021
Oak polypore fungi and stag beetle larvae feast on the dead heartwood, adult stag beetles sup the sugary liquid from the "sap runs", the living layers of wood which transport water and minerals throughout the tree. Hover flies lay eggs in water-filled rot holes, rat-tailed maggots devour leaf litter and violet click beetles eat up wood mould that is rich with faeces and other remains, accumulating over a century. Knothole moss and pox lichen cling to the bark in rainwater channels. Barbastelle bats hibernate in crevices and under loose bark. Woodpeckers and nuthatch enlarge holes for nesting, while owls, kestrels, marsh tit and tree-creeper move in to ready-made cavities...The ancients of our forests provide essential food and shelter for more than 2,000 of the UK's invertebrates species. In Savernake Forest alone, these trees are home to nearly 120 species of lichen, more than 500 species of fungi, and other important wildlife such as the elusive white-letter hairstreak butterflies.We face losing these micro-worlds as, one by one, the ancient trees of today are dying and there are not enough ready to replace them.
It can take up to 300 years before heart-rot, the decay at the centre of an ageing tree, is established enough that insects can start moving in and laying their larvae, says Rutter. "It becomes a complex ecosystem. The ancient trees that we have today, ones that are 300-900 years old – perhaps older – support an incredibly wide range of species."..Veteranisation is the practice of damaging younger trees in order to initiate decay sooner than it would occur naturally. The hope is that habitats usually seen in older trees will begin to develop much earlier. Veteranisation is not new, explains Rutter, but it is not well documented. Only recently has research been initiated to monitor the success of veteranisation techniques.An international trial, started in 2012 and set over 20 sites in Sweden, England and Norway, is in the process of evaluating the veteranisation of almost 1,000 oak trees. The methods applied include creating woodpecker-like holes, breaking or ringbarking lower branches or the trunk to mimic damage from animals such as deer or horses, and creating nest boxes for birds and bats. The project is planned to take 25 years, until 2037, so the results have yet to be fully analysed..."Heart-rot species are key," says Rutter. "These fungi are able to break down the lignin, the very hard part of the wood which is normally incredibly indigestible. Many heart-rot fungi happily eat the central dead wood without harming the living tissue on the outside – and can co-exist with a tree for 600 or 700 years. We want a tree to live a long time so the habitats can continue for as long as possible."To try and mimic this process in younger trees, Ancients of the Future is growing heart-rot fungi on blocks of wood in the lab, inserting the blocks into holes cut in young trees and recovering them with bark. They are left that way for a few years, then the blocks are removed to see if the fungi have taken hold inside the tree...She explains that the hollowing of ancient trees by fungal decay, previously seen as detrimental, is a natural part of the ageing process and can even prolong the lives of trees, feeding them nutrients from the inside..."We need to think beyond our own lifetimes and look after the trees we’ve got now, to give them a chance to grow into ancients," says Rutter. "Trees are fragile, complex chemical factories and major hubs for biodiversity. Without them, many species won’t survive."
14 September 2021
Naturalists recently witnessed several species of milkweed butterfly harassing, subduing and subsequently feeding on milkweed caterpillars, presumably to get their fill of toxic alkaloids inside the larvae.This behavior was described in an article published Wednesday in the journal Ecology. The authors of the paper say they are unaware of similar behavior being documented among other butterflies, or any insects for that matter, that are so closely related. Although butterflies had previously been observed feeding on grasshoppers that harbor toxic alkaloids, no one had ever documented adult butterflies stealing such compounds from their own kin.Scientists did not have a word to describe this toxic behavior, so the study’s authors came up with one: kleptopharmacophagy... [steal-drug-eat]Mr. Soong and Mr. Tea spent hours watching seven different species of milkweed butterfly, including Blanchard’s ghost and the ismare tiger butterfly, scratching caterpillars, both dead and alive, so violently with mighty claws on their feet that the caterpillars’ internal juices oozed out... They also observed butterflies doing the same thing to the leaves of plants known to contain toxic alkaloids...Having a steady supply of pyrrolizidine alkaloids is also important for male milkweed butterflies. These alkaloids are an ingredient in mating pheromones and also in nuptial gifts...“Butterflies have a whole repertoire of really gross and nasty behaviors,” Mr. Tea said. One example is pupal rape, a phenomenon in which male butterflies force their way into the chrysalises of female butterflies that haven’t finished metamorphosing and force them to mate, he said.
A magnificent new apartment hotel, one of the outstanding buildings in Minneapolis. Conveniently located at Tenth Street and Fifth Avenue South. The Francis Drake was designed to meet the particular needs of discriminating residents and transients. It represents the utmost in careful planning. good construction, complete equipment and elaborate furnishing...Accommodations of this ultra modern apartment hotel include 108 apartments and 50 transient chambers. Sixty of the apartments have Pullman kitchenettes, 18 are augmented by an additional dinette, and 30 are bachelor apartments. Every room has a private bath. Furnishings include the most magnificent of over-stuffed furniture, made in Minneapolis and purchased through leading Minneapolis retail establishments, and all furnishings chairs, wall beds, draperies, rugs and carpets have been tastefully selected to serve the needs of the rooms for which they were chosen. All furnishings—bedroom furniture, odd decorations are of the richest and finest; the best products of establishments renowned for high grade furnishings. Frigidaire electrical refrigeration is used throughout the Francis Drake, apartments being equipped with the Frigidaire models specially designed for use, thus relieving all guests of the annoyance of an outside ice supply.
A free vacuum cleaning service is available to all tenants. The private laundry is completely equipped, including automatic dryers, and drying space furnished to guests. A water softening system provides soft water at ell times. The building has a vacuum heating system. General features of the Francis Drake include the Lobby and Lounge, with magnificent appointments: the ballroom of Moorish architectural design; a tastefully appointed dining room, the commissary, beauty parlors and barber shop. There is a billiard and amusement room for guests. Twenty-four hour desk and telephone service is maintained...
As historic hotels go, its design wasn’t particularly notable, even in its day. And the modest Renaissance Revival building was dwarfed by the massive Nicollet Hotel, a grand hotel that opened in 1924 on Washington Avenue.The Drake, at 10th Street and 5th Avenue S., wasn’t in a fashionable neighborhood, like the Radisson, the Dyckman and the Andrews — all of which were bigger, fancier and located in the heart of the city...
Whatever vogue it had upon opening, it slipped into second-tier status after a decade or two. A desultory renovation in the 1960s refreshed the cafe and added an anomalously modern, multicolored plastic archway over one entrance.
10 September 2021
"For the third month in a row, wages for the low-skilled have risen faster than for the high-skilled. In the previous history of the survey, which now goes back almost 25 years, this had only ever happened in two months, in early 2010. Wage growth for the low-skilled is also exceeding that for the high-skilled by the most on record.In terms of the momentous macroeconomic issues of the moment, this is good for growth, as poorer people are more likely to spend their pay rises than richer people. It’s also potentially bad for inflation. Wage growth for the lowest skilled is the fastest since August 2008 (not coincidentally, the month before the Lehman bankruptcy), and that could easily lead to higher prices.More interestingly still, it does suggest a shift in the balance of power between labor and capital. This isn’t as yet a deep-seated or well-established trend, of course. But if it continues it could rattle a lot of assumptions, and alleviate a lot of social tension.And that leads to one final readthrough. Low-skilled workers endured a truly terrible deal from 2011 to 2013, when their wages didn’t even gain 1% per year. Higher-skilled workers did far better. Barack Obama was president at the time. If any one chart helps to explain how Donald Trump was able to disrupt the coalition that elected Obama, this might be it. And if this continues, it could be fantastic political news for Joe Biden, who could do with some at present. It’s worth watching this, very closely. "
"During the night [Fjolnir] went out on the balcony to find a place to relieve himself. He was drowsy with sleep and dead drunk, and on his way back to his lodgings he went along the balcony and to the wrong loft door and through it He missed his footing and fell into the mead vat and drowned.""It was spring, and the sun shone with great warmth; and when they drove over Rykins Inlet - people had watered their cattle there during the winter, and their dung had fallen on the ice, and the sun's warmth had melted the ice there. Now when the king [Halfdan] drove over that stretch, the ice broke under him, and he perished with many of his followers. He had reached his fortieth year then. There had been excellent seasons during his rule... men of influence came and prayed, all of them, to take the body with them to be buried in their lands; for it was thought that he who got possession of it could expect good seasons... the head was laid in a mound at Stein in Hringariki, but each of the others carried away their share and interred them in burial mounds in the homelands, and all are called the mounds of Halfdan.""Sigurth slew Melbrigthi Tooth, a Scottish earl, and fastened his head to his saddle straps. The calf of his leg struck the tusk protruding from the skull, mortification set in, and he died from it.""Afterwards, Earl Einar went up to Halfdan and cut the "blood eagle" on his back, in this fashion that he thrust his sword into his chest by the backbone and severed all the ribs down to the loins, and then pulled out the lungs; and that was Halfdan's death.""He recognized Klerkon there, the man who had killed his foster father, Thorolf Lousebeard.""Thorir said it was the custom of Bjarmaland that when a wealthy man died, [half of his movable property] was to be carried into the woods, sometimes put into grave mounds, an covered with earth... "In this enclosure is a mound, and in it is gold and silver all mixed up with earth. Let us go at it. But inside the yard there stands the god of the Permians [Finns] who is called Jomali. Let no one be so bold as to plunder him." Thereupon they went at the mound and took out of it as much gold and silver as they could and carried it away in their garments. Much earth stuck to it, as might be expected... Karli saw that Thorir had the silver bowl with him. The Karli ran up to Jomali. He saw that he had a thick necklace around his neck. Karli swung his axe and cut in two the thong with which the necklace was fastened in the back of Jomali's neck. That blow was so violent that Jomali's head came off...""He proceeded to the court of King Knut who received him well. It was then seen that Thorir had with him an abundance of valuables and all the money he and Karli had taken in Bjarmaland. In the large barrels there was a false bottom, and the drink in between, and both the barrels were mainly filled with squirrel skins and beaver and sable furs.""Now when they played chess, King Knut and Earl Ulf, the king made a false move, and the earl took a knight from him. The king put his figure back and said he was going to make a different move. The earl became angry, tossed the chess board down, rose, and went away... Next morning, when the king put on his clothes he said to his page, "Go to Earl Ulf and kill him...""It so happened one Sunday that King Olaf sat in his high-seat at table and was so busy with his thoughts that he was not aware of the lapse of time. He had a knife in his hand and cut chips of a piece of wood. A page stood before him, holding a drinking vessel. He saw what the king was doing, and gathered that he was thinking of other matters. He said, "It will be Monday tomorrow, sire." The king looked at him when he heard these words and became aware then of what he had done. Then the king asked that a candle be brought to him. He swept all the savings which he had cut into his hand, then set them on fire and let them burn his palm; from which one could gather that from that time on he would strictly observe the laws and commandments, not do anything but what he knew was right.""... they rowed out into the Golden Horn [the harbor of Byzantium], and when they came to where iron chains were stretched across the entrance of the harbor Harald ordered the men on both vessels to take to their oars; and those who did not row were to run back to the stern, each with his sleeping bag in hand. So they ran the galleys up on the iron chains. And as soon as they were fast and the momentum was spent, Harald ordered them all to run forward. Then the galley on which Harald was, plunged forward and through this teetering slid down from the iron chain; but the other galley hung fast on the chain and broke in two, and many drowned there... In this fashion Harald escaped from Miklagarth and sailed into the Black Sea...""They broke his leg bones and arm bones with the hammers of their axes. Then they stripped him of his clothes and wanted to flay him alive, and did scalp him. But they could not carry out their intention on account of the flow of blood. Then they took whips of walrus-hide and flogged him until his skin was completely off as if he had been flayed. Then they took a pole and broke his backbone. Then they dragged him to a tree and hanged him. They cut off his head and then they dragged his carcass away and buried it in a heap of stones... it took a man of rare strength of mind to stand being tortured in such fashion as not to say a word or to budge; nor did he raise his voice anymore than if he sat drinking..."[an English priest is accused of indecency] "Then Einar took a peg and set it on the eye of the priest. The servant stood over him and struck down with his axe, knocking out the eye so that it dropped into his beard. Then they set the peg on the other eye and said to the servant, "Don't strike quite so hard." He did so. Then the peg glanced off the eyeball and tore loose the eyelid. Then Einar took hold of the eyelid with his hand and held it up and saw that the eyeball still was in place. Then he set the peg outside on the cheek bone, the servant struck, and the eyeball fell down on the cheek bone where it was most prominent. Next they opened his mouth pulled his tongue out, and cut it off. Then they undid his hands and his head. As soon as he regained his senses it occurred to him to lay the eyeballs under the brows in their proper places and to hold them there with both hands the best he could...""Then the healer woman said, "Let me see your wounds and bandage them.".. And when she inspected his wounds she looked closely at the wound he had in his side. She noticed that there was an iron it it, but did not know which path it had taken. She had made a concoction in a stone kettle in which she had mashed leeks and other herbs and boiled them together, and that she gave the wounded men to eat. In that manner she tried to find out if they had wounds in vital parts, because she could smell the leek through a wound which went into the body cavity...""He came to the town, and both then had speech with the king and Alfifa, requesting them to give permission to disinter the body of King Olaf... Now when twelve months and five days had passed after the death of King Olaf, his holy remains were again disinterred. By that time the coffin had again emerged considerably out of the round, and looked span-new as though it were but recently planed... A delicious odor met them. Then the bishop bared the countenance of the king, and its aspect had changed in nowise, and there was a ruddiness on his cheeks as though he had only recently fallen asleep. Those who had seen King Olaf when he fell now saw a great change in that his hair and nails had grown almost as much as they would have if he had been alive all the time since he fell... Then Alfifa said, "Mighty little do bodies decompose when buried in sand. It would not be the case if he had lain in earth..."
08 September 2021
The Madison [Wisconsin] School District is considering whether to remove the word “Karen” from a section of its online student enrollment form where parents can identify their children’s ethnicity, apparently after some expressed concerns about its modern-day connotations.“Karen” in the parlance of current American race relations has come to mean a demanding white woman blind to her own privilege and racism.Think the woman who called police on a Black birdwatcher in New York City’s Central Park last year after he asked her to put her dog on a leash.“Karen,” though, also refers to “a number of ethnic groups with Tibetan-Central Asian origins” who speak 12 related but distinct languages, according to the London-based human rights group Minority Rights Group International. The group estimates there are some 4 million Karen (pronounced “kuh-REN”), mostly in Myanmar. An estimated 215,000 live in the U.S.
07 September 2021
"Then [Eyvind Kinnrifa] was brought to King Olaf. The king bade him to let himself be baptized like others. But Eyvind refused. The king with kind words urged him to accept Christianity, both he and the bishop giving him many reasons for so doing. But Eyvind would not budge. Then the king offered him gifts and great revenues, but Eyvind refused all. Then the king threatened him with torture or death. Still Eyvind would not budge. Thereupon the king had a basin full of live coals brought in and put on Eyvind's belly, and soon his belly burst.
Then Eyvind said: "Take the basin away. I want to say a few words before I die." And that was done.
Then the king asked, "Will you now believe in Christ, Eyvind?""No," he said, "I cannot accept any baptism. I am a spirit brought to life in human shape by the sorcery of Finns, my father and my mother could have no child before." Then Eyvind died. He had been a great sorcerer..
[King Olaf] investigated how Christianity was being kept, and when he considered that there was need of improvement, he taught them the right faith. And he laid such stress on it that if he found anyone who did not want to abandon heathendom, he drove him out of the land. Some he had maimed, having their hands or feet lopped off or their eyes gouged out, others he had hanged or beheaded, but left no one unchastised who refused to serve God... Always he punished both the mighty and the humble."
"Once Olaf was in Ireland on some warlike expedition with his fleet. And when they required to make a raid on the shore for food, some men went on land and drove a great number of cattle down to the shore. Then a farmer ran after them and prayed Olaf to let him have the cows he owned, and Olaf told him he could have his cows if he recognized them, "but don't delay us." The farmer had with him a large cattle dog. He pointed him into the flock, where many hundred cattle were being driven. The dog circled the whole herd and drove away as many cows as the farmer said he owned, and they all bore the same mark, so they believed that the dog had recognized them properly, and they thought the dog marvelously clever. Then Olaf asked the farmer if he would give him the dog."Gladly," said the farmer. Olaf right away gave him a gold ring in return and promised him his friendship. That dog was called Vigi and was a most outstanding dog. Olaf kept him for a long time afterwards."
"A murder so mysterious, and so perplexing in all its particulars, was never before committed in Paris - if indeed a murder has been committed at all. The police are entirely at fault - an unusual occurrence in affairs of this nature There is not, however, the shadow of a clew apparent."
"Let me now advert - not to the whole testimony respecting these voices - but to what was peculiar in that testimony..." (Heed, pay attention)
"Darn", according to H.L. Mencken, is "derived from tarnal, an American contraction of eternal that arose during the eighteenth century and was in wide use as an intensive by the time of the Revolution. Tarnal... quickly gave rise to tarnation as a euphemism for damnation, and... by 1798 it had assimilated the initial d of damnation, and in the course of time tarnal and its derivatives in t dropped out of use, and only darn remained." (The American Language, Knopf, 1863 ed: p. 296)
"The word "belfry," by the way, does not come from the word bell. The Middle English word was berfrey, but by association with bell tower the word changed its spelling and pronunciation in the fifteenth century. Berfrey originally meant a penthouse, then a movable tower used by besiegers, then a tower to protect watchmen, a watchtower, a beacon tower, an alarm-bell tower, and finally a place where a bell is hung. The modern French word is beffroi."