Today's Antiwar Quiz
Posted 3 Days Ago
No, it's not Icy, sorry.
Here's a quiz for you from the Gheorgheni Institute of Peace Studies.
I just found this information in my reading. (And yes, as I explained to Elektra, my research had started with Lizzie Borden the Massachusetts axe murderess (alleged), so I'm being true to form.)
Tell me when it was written:
'The United States has recently had a test made, at
the Sandy Hook proving station, of four of the big-
gest projectiles ever made by this government. The
first shot went through an obstruction of thirteen and
a half inches of steel armor plate, four feet of solid
oak plank, and thirty-seven feet of sand. These four
shots cost the government -$17,000. '
A helpful hint: The preceding sentence says '...we may well conclude that war will cease because of its utter destructiveness.'
Freebie Reading Tip: Five Minutes and a Tear
Posted 5 Days Ago
...is what it'll cost you.
I stumbled across this little essay while I was pursuing another tip on a completely different topic.
h2g2 writers, note: I clicked to read it because of the title. Titles matter.
This is a perfect little essay: it tells you just what you need to know to appreciate the story. And it stops you dead in your tracks with an observation about life, the universe, and everything. You shed a tear - just one - and then you think, 'How kind of you to share that.'
Now, that's what we want to do.
They must be doing something right with that Creative Writing program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. But then, North Carolina produces good writers. Of course! Clyde Edgerton's on the faculty. And Edgerton is one of the greatest novelists you've never heard of.
He wrote 'Walking Across Egypt', a very funny book which was made into a film. He also wrote 'Killer Diller', which is even funnier. I think that's the one with the would-be Satanist teenagers who sacrifice Vienna sausages... (You have to be Southern, VYE-enna sausages are little tinned frankfurters, and lord knows what the Prince of Darkness would make of them, other than forcefeeding them to evil chefs in the afterlife)...
Read this essay. Then maybe go find some Clyde Edgerton. Anyway, have a good day. And think about writing something similar for Create. Distilling a memory is good mental exercise. It will hone your communications skills. And it's a kind act, as well - who knows who might benefit from your experience?
The Silly Season Starts in Iowa
Posted 5 Days Ago
They had to do this on Groundhog Day.
Stephen Colbert is complaining about how many candidates there still are for the presidential nominations. He demands to know, 'Has somebody been getting them wet or feeding them after midnight?' (If you don't get the reference, ask Awix, I'll bet he remembers that movie.)
The Iowa Caucus has just been held. In case you're not familiar with this 'tradition', Iowa holds its caucus first, then the rest of us get to help choose candidates. A caucus? Er, it's a sort of town meeting way to choose, rather than a properly supervised primary election. Opinions vary on the pros and cons.
Ms Clinton won over Mr Sanders. By .3 percent of a point. As Colbert says, 'His name is Carl.'
It gets worse...
Some local caucuses settled on their choices with a COIN TOSS. It's hard to say which is more likely to make you shudder: the fact that this is allowed procedurally...or that SIX different precincts used this method to choose a candidate to back.
I feel like quoting TS Eliot right now...not with a bang, but a whimper...
Oh, did I mention that I've spent the last two months writing civics lessons? About how democracy works and such?
Why bother? Good grief...no wonder Netflix is offering to show us movies about the end of the world. They're HOPING that asteroid hits us on my birthday, so we don't have to vote in any more silly elections.
PS You want quotes from a front-running candidate? Listen to Colbert on the subject:
No prophet could have predicted this. Not even the Delphic Oracle...
Today's Travelogue: Red Lake near Gheorgheni
Posted 2 Weeks Ago
Travel broadens the mind. Even armchair travel.
When it's written up by non-native English speakers, armchair travel is also good for clearing the tear ducts. I defy you not to laugh heartily at this description of Lacu Rosu (Red Lake) near Gheorgheni, Romania.
For maximum pleasure, read this aloud to a willing participant. Elektra was incredulous when I got to the town of Bicaz. She wants to know if it's near the village of Ouai...
This all started Bicaz, er, because I wanted to learn more about the lake, which was formed in 1837 when a landslide blocked the area, engendering the largest natural lake in the country. Of course, I think the Hungarians owned it at the time...anyway, the lake is red because of all the iron deposits from a tributary called, appropriately enough, Red Creek.
Now, this travel description has us wondering about many things. Not the least of which is this sentence:
'During Ceausescu’s reign, these two wonders were compulsory tourist destinations for the ones who wanted to spend their vacations in the mountains.'
We HAVE to know: how did the Ceausescu government force Romanians to go on vacation at Lacu Rosu? Were the terrible busses part of some draconian punishment for violating Communist law? The mind boggles.
Consumer Warning! Stay Away from Hildegard of Bingen's Cookies
Posted 3 Weeks Ago
One of the perils of research: Horrible, sloppy internet copy-and-paste progragation. It's irritating.
Yes, but is it dangerous? Well, it might be, if you eat too many of Hildegard's cookies. But they're probably not hers, anyway.
It all started when I was researching nutmeg, that powerful spice that in the 16th and 17th centuries was regarded as an aphrodisiac, cure for the plague, and general sign of being cool and rich. ('Oh, this little thing? It's just my portable nutmeg grater. Solid silver.') Nutmegs started wars. It was what the English traded the Dutch for Manhattan. People in Connecticut are called Nutmeggers because people accused them of nutmeg counterfeiting. (Wood. Think wood.) Basically, it's an interesting spice.
I'd kind of hoped to get a quick Guide Entry out of it, but folks, I will NOT put something in PR which I haven't properly researched. Which is why, when I ran across a boatload of references to Hildegard of Bingen's 'joyful cookies', I thought:
1. Whoa! The abbess was an early Alice B Toklas?
2. Where in holy hannah did she get hold of so much nutmeg in the Rhineland in the 12th Century?
Here's the recipe, in English and in German, as passed around the old internet:
[German students: the 'Nelken' in that recipe are not carnations. Look it up.]
Now, I got a bit worried, because, one, I couldn't find the original Latin text anywhere, and two, a medievalist on a message board said HE'd looked up Hildegard's 'Physica', and this recipe wasn't in there. Besides, there was the aforementioned supply issue: nutmeg only came from one island, Banda. It wasn't a common substance in Europe until after 1511, when the Portuguese conquered the place. Do the math... Now, I'm not saying the recipe's NOT in the book, only that we haven't found it, and if it WAS in there, the book is in several different handwritings and MAY have been 'added to' over the years...
Oh, and three, because nutmeg in large quantities will do you a serious mischief. It's not a controlled substance, but jazz musicians used to like it - 'nuff said. An intrepid journalist for 'The Atlantic' tried it. Here's his story, called 'My Nutmeg Bender':
Finally, I found an alarmed Heidelberg neurologist who issued a stern warning about German (and Swiss, and Austrian) overindulgence in spice cookies during the winter holidays. He was particularly outraged by the Bingen biscuits (he counted 200 online recipes, and those were probably all in German), with varying amounts of nutmeg in them, many at toxic levels. (I do notice that some of the recipes recommend eating no more than 3-5 biscuits a day, erm...)
My favourite sentence in this one was, 'Bei esoterischen Rezepten aus dem Internet fehlen bedauerlicherweise regelmäßig entsprechende Hinweise.' Esoteric recipes on the internet, unfortunately, usually lack warning labels.
Nutmeg poisoning can cause hallucinations. Also prostate issues, glaucoma, mental confusion, and-and-and, as the Germans say. There's a reason why that opening in your little spice tin is so small.
So 2legs, we're warning you: stay out of the nutmeg!
And remember: if you can't find the original source of an alleged quote, anecdote, or medieval cure-all, there may be a reason. Caveat lector.
PS Quote of the day from Elektra (Speaking to doglet, who is growling at passersby from the first floor window): Just because you peed on it doesn't mean it belongs to you. Shut up.