Ontology [Noun.]


The branch of metaphysics that addresses the nature or essential characteristics of being and of things that exist; that is to say, it the study of being qua being.

It examines what can be asserted about anything that exists just because of its existence and not because of any special qualities it has.

On Nazi Sexism


“In the really good times of German life the German woman had no need to emancipate herself. She possessed exactly what nature had necessarily given her to administer and preserve; just as the man in his good times had no need to fear that he would be ousted from his position in relation to the woman. [...]

If the man’s world is said to be the State, his struggle, his readiness to devote his powers to the service of the community, then it may perhaps be said that the woman’s is a smaller world. For her world is her husband, her family, her children, and her home. [...]

We do not consider it correct for the woman to interfere in the world of the man, in his main sphere. We consider it natural if these two worlds remain distinct.”

- Adolf Hitler (speech to the Women’s League on September 8, 1934)

Harem (iv)


‘Capt. Burton, who travelled extensively in Mohammedan countries in the disguise of a native, and who in the character of a physician saw something of the interior of the harem, says that the oriental is “the only state of society in which jealousy and quarrels about the sex are the exception and not the rule of life.” [...]

The two ladies of W. H. Seward’s party, in his tour around the world, in May, 1871, visited the harem in the palace of the khedive’s mother (the princess valideh) at Cairo. After traversing a succession of saloons superbly furnished with velvet carpets, lace and damask curtains, satin-covered sofas and divans, large French mirrors, and crystal chandeliers, they were presented to the princess, who was surrounded by the ladies of the harem and Circassian slave girls. The princess wife of the khedive wore a green silk dress with lace, hat, gloves, boots, and fan, all from London or Paris, and her light brown hair was dressed in the latest Parisian style.

The ladies of the harem, many of them displaying diamond solitaires of immense size, confessed their partiality for European modes, all of them had ordered outfits from London, with the request that they might be counterparts of the trousseau of the princess Louise. The princess mother said that “since the ladies the harem were allowed to see the European opera and ballet at the theatre in Alexandria, they have become quite disgusted with the native performances of their own country.” She explained the condition of the slave women; they were brought from their native land when quite young, were provided with husbands and dowries, and were “very lucky.”

But the system as a domestic institution is summed up by Mr. Seward as follows: “The Mohammedan provision for woman is a prison in which her sufferings from jealousy are consoled by the indulgence of her vanity. She is allowed the society of her own sex with far less restraint than is ordinarily supposed, and she displays before her visiting friends with pride the wealth and ornaments which lighten her chains.” She goes abroad only in a carriage, and under strict surveillance; “she never reads, and, so far as possible, is required never to think.”’

- Ripley. G., Dana. C.A., Ed. (1879) The American Cyclopædia – A Popular Dictionary Of General Knowledge New York, United States: D. Appleton and Company (Entrance: “Harem” [between "Hare Lip" and "Harfleur"], written by Parke Godwin).

Deception is Truth, Truth Deception


‘The postmodernist critique of Plato was anticipated in classical times in a celebrated story told by the Roman scholar Pliny the Elder (23-79 AD) in his Natural History. Pliny described a competition between the painters Zeuxis and Parrhasios during the 5th century BC. Zeuxis painted a bunch of grapes so lifelike that they attracted the birds.

[Parrhasios]
“But I triumphed over him by painting a veil so deceptive that Zeuxis turned to me and said…”

[Zeuxis]
“Well, and now draw aside the veil and show what you have painted behind it.”

[Pliny the Elder]
“Whereas Zeuxis fooled the birds, Parrhasios deceived his fellow human beings.”

Plato always maintained that truth and falsity are opposed. This idea is perpetuated in confusion arising from Zeuxis’ painting. But Parrhasios contradicts this notion by revealing that deception is the truth, and vice versa. The French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan was particularly fond of this story, and quoted it in his seminars during the 1960s and 70s.’

- Kul-Want. C. (2012) Aesthetics London, United Kingdom: Icon Books p. 15

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Earthworms turn over the earth’s top 6 inches of soil about every 20 years, maintaining the fertile humus that covers most land areas and supports agricultural production.

Lena Horne (1917-2010), the highest paid African American actor of her time, signed a contract guaranteeing she didn’t have to play cooks, maids, or other stereotypes.

One in four Canadians ate fast food in the past 24 hours.

Caribou make a clicking sound when they walk. This is caused by tendons slipping over bones in their feet.

Designed for efficiency of construction, the Empire State Building was erected in just 11 months from the setting of the first steel columns on April 7, 1930 to the fully enclosed structure on March 31, 1931. At the peak of construction the tower rose at the rate of a storey a day.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Wojtek The Bear


In the spring of 1942, a new Polish Army was being formed in the Middle East under the command of the British and on their way to the organization area, a group of Polish soldiers came across a little bear in the mountainous region of Persia.

The cub was an orphan following the death of his mother at the hands of hunters and he was traded to the soldiers by a shepherd boy who kept the bear in a sack.

Wojtek The Bear

Wojtek with a Polish soldier

Eventually, the bear was taken to the 22nd Transport Company, Artillery Division, Polish 2nd Corp where the men would become his companions for the next few years. He was given the name Wojtek.

In Palestine, Wojtek became a hero one night by capturing a thief who had broken into an ammunition compound where the bear was sleeping. The Arab was shocked to find himself confronted by the animal and the commotion that ensued resulted in his arrest. Wojtek was rewarded with a bottle of beer.

As the Polish Army prepared to enter the war zone in Italy during 1943,  the problem confronting the Polish soldiers was the question of Wojtek’s status. Animals were not permitted to accompany the army during the fighting. By giving the bear his own paybook, rank and serial number there would be no question that he was now officially a soldier.

In Italy, the Polish 2nd Corps prepared to break through the German defences at Monte Cassino where it successfully captured the stronghold after much bitter fighting.

Wojtek as mascot of the Polish 22nd Transport Company

During the conflict, Wojtek found himself at the artillery firing line where he was seen to move crates of ammunition close to a truck where he was chained. Always inquisitive and willing to copy what the soldiers were doing, he began picking up the crates and moving towards the cannons.

After the battle, the official badge of the 22nd Transport Company became a likeness of Wojtek holding a shell. This symbol appeared on vehicles, pennants and on the uniforms of the soldiers.

Wojtek survived the war and after the demobilisation process he found a home at Edinburgh Zoo.

Wojtek the bear died at Edinburgh in 1963. His death was mourned by many; numerous newspapers published an obituary to the beloved mascot. Today, statues of Wojtek have been erected both in Edinburgh, Scotland and Kraków, Poland.

“The assumption that animals are without rights and the illusion that our treatment of them has no moral significance is a positively outrageous example of Western crudity and barbarity. Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality.” – Arthur Schopenhauer, The Basis of Morality

Palamedes and the Alphabet?


The date attributed to the writing down of the Homeric epics is connected to the earliest evidence for the existence of Greek script in the 8th Century BC.

The Greeks knew that their alphabet (later borrowed by the Romans to become the western alphabet) was adapted from that of the Phoenicians, a near-eastern nation whose letter-sequence began “aleph bet”.

The fact that the adaptation was uniform throughout Greece has suggested that there was a single adapter rather than many. Greek tradition named the adapter Palamedes, which may just mean “clever man of old”. Palamedes was also said to have invented counting, currency, and board games.

The Greek letter-shapes came to differ visually from their Phoenician progenitors – with the current geometrical letter-shapes credited to the 6th Century mathematician Pythagoras.

See other: Which Greek Legends Were Really True?

Choose Your English (x)


loath / loathe
Loath means to be unwilling or reluctant about something. Loathe, on the other hand, means to strongly dislike someone or something or find it disgusting.

luxuriant / luxurious 
Luxuriant means lush growth; thick and rich. Whereas luxurious means self-indulgent, comfort, elegance, or enjoyment in the extreme.

persecute / prosecute
Persecute means to pursue for the purpose of harming; whereas a prosecution only refers to the pursuit of legal action before a court.

quotation / quote
To quote is to transcribe what someone said or wrote, crediting that person. A quotation is the transcription of what someone said or wrote, crediting that person.

regretfully / regrettably
Regrettably is used when something is a bummer, but it is not necessarily your fault. Regretfully is when you are full of regret, like if you decided to stay home and your friends saw your crush at the dance.

See other: Choose Your English

Medieval Sanctuary


‘But for much of the Middle Ages, sanctuary was a hotly debated subject. In some places the area of sanctuary around a given religious building was enormous – the boundaries being clearly marked by special ‘sanctuary posts’. [...]

Most sanctuaries, however, could only offer a short-term solution to the average criminal’s woes. If he refused to leave at the end of the forty days, he was as good as dead. Any layman who even communicated with him after the forty days were up would be hanged. When he finally emerged, he would be immediately executed on the spot, unless he swore on the Gospels to ‘abjure the realm’. In which case he would be issued with a crude sackcloth garment, without a belt, and a wooden cross to carry and he would have to make for the nearest port. There he would have to take the first ship out of England, and for every day he failed to find a passage, he would have to wade into the sea up to his knees. [...]

The majority of them just threw away their wooden crosses on a lonely stretch of road and melted away into the woods to take up a new identity or join the many bands of outlaws that plagued the country.’

- Jones. T., Ereira. A. 2004. Terry Jones’ Medieval Lives London, Great Britain: BBC Books (2005) p. 79-80

On Children’s Stories


“To write fairy stories for children, to amuse them, to divert restless children, sick children, to keep them out of mischief on rainy days, seems of greater importance than to write grown-up novels. Few of the popular novels last the year out, responding as they do to a certain [...] characteristic of the time whereas, a child’s book is, comparatively speaking, always the same, since children are always the same, [...] with the same needs to be satisfied.”

- Lyman Frank Baum

Harem (iii)


‘Lady Shiel, wife of the British minister to Persia in 1849, who lived four years in that country, says that Persian women of the upper class lead a life of idleness and luxury, and enjoy more liberty than the women of Christendom. They consume their time by going to the bath and by a constant round of visits, and frequently acquire a knowledge of reading and writing, and of the choice poetical works in their native language. Cooking, or at least its superintendence, is a favorite pastime. In populous harems the mortality among children is very great, owing to the neglect, laziness, and ignorance of the mothers and nurses.

An American lady, Mrs. Caroline Paine, who travelled in the Turkish empire, says in her “Tent and Harem” (New York, 1859) that she made the acquaintance of Turkish women who were “wonderful instances of native elegance, refinement, and aptness in the courtesies, ordinary civilities, and prattle of society.” She says: “Turkish women are by no means confined to a life of solitude or imprisonment, and they would be scarcely tempted to exchange the perfect freedom and exemption from the austere duties of life, which is their acme of happiness, for all the advantages that might be gained from intellectual pursuits or a different form of society.”’

- Ripley. G., Dana. C.A., Ed. (1879) The American Cyclopædia – A Popular Dictionary Of General Knowledge New York, United States: D. Appleton and Company (Entrance: “Harem” [between "Hare Lip" and "Harfleur"], written by Parke Godwin).

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In heraldry, a lion with a tail between its legs is called a coward.

In the United States, there are 5 times more fast food restaurants than supermarkets.

The British XXX Corps fought in the Battle of Arnhem; its first two commanders were Lieutenant-Generals Vyvyan Vavasour Pope and Charles Willoughby Moke Norrie.

According to Muslim legend, there are only 10 animals in Heaven including Noah’s dove, Mohammed’s horse and the whale that swallowed Jonah.

A honeybee queen is created at the decision of the worker bees; she has sex with several male partners a day and stores their sperm in a spermatheca (from the Ancient Greek σπέρμα, “seed, semen”; and θήκη, “case, box, receptacle”). Once mated, queens may lay up to 2,000 eggs per day.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts