A Cook


‘I snapped. ‘Do you want to know what I had for lunch?’
He sensed that I was upset, but still couldn’t quite see why.
‘Um… do you want to tell me?’ he asked.
I smiled unpleasantly. ‘Yes,’ I snapped. ‘Nothing.’
‘Are you dieting Prime Minister?’

I explained succinctly that I was not dieting. I expressed my total astonishment that there are facilities at Number Ten for feeding Bernard, and all the private secretaries, the whole of the Cabinet office, the press office, the garden-room girls[1], the messengers… but not me. And I bloody live here!
Bernard asked if Mrs Hacker could cook for me. I reminded him that she has her own job. Then he offered to get me a cook. It looked a good offer – until closer examination revealed that I would have to pay for it. And, according to Bernard, the cost of a full-time cook would be between eight and ten thousands a year. I can’t afford that. Trying to get himself off the hook, he suggested that I talk to the Cabinet Secretary – obviously he didn’t want to get involved in a discussion when it wasn’t in his power to change the system. But I was very irritated. Still am, come to that. I turned back to the window and fumed silently.

Bernard cleared his throat. ‘I think the Cabinet Secretary’s due here in a few moments anyway. So shall we get on with the affairs of the nation?’
‘Stuff the affairs of the nation,’ I replied. ‘I want a cook.’

[1] The name given to the very high-class ladies of the registry and typing pool at Number Ten, who worked in a basement room that leads out on the garden.’

– Lynn J., Jay A. 1986. The Complete Yes Prime Minister London, Great Britain: BBC Books (1989) p. 72

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Britain’s Last Hangman


“The fruit of my experience has this bitter after-taste. Capital punishment, in my view, achieved nothing except revenge.”

– Albert Pierrepoint

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife


Tentacle erotica. The genre is quite popular in Japanese erotica, and is even the subject of much parody. For Western audiences, tentacle erotica often summarises and symbolizes hentai—Japanese cartoon pornography—as a phenomenon.

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife

However, it is not just a relatively new concept invented for the pornographic market. The idea is for the most part traceable to a particular Japanese work of art.

Namely; The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife. It is an erotic woodcut of the ukiyo-e genre by the Japanese artist Hokusai. The depiction was first printed in the book Kinoe no Komatsu, a three-volume collection of shunga—Japanese erotic art—prints first published in 1814, and is the most famous shunga Hokusai ever produced. Playing with themes popular in contemporary Japanese art, it depicts a young ama—a shell diver—diver entwined sexually with a pair of octopuses.

The image, Hokusai’s most famous shunga, depicts a woman, evidently an ama enveloped in the arms of two octopuses. The larger of the two mollusks performs cunnilingus on her, while the smaller one, perhaps his son, assists on the right by fondling her mouth and nipple. In the text above the image the woman and the creatures express their mutual sexual pleasure from the encounter.

The Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife is often cited as an early forerunner of tentacle erotica, a motif that has been common in modern Japanese animation since the late 20th century.

A number of scholars have argued that although western audiences have often interpreted Hokusai’s famous design as rape, Japanese audiences of the Edo period would have associated it with consensual sex. Edo audiences would recognize the print as depicting the legend of the female abalone diver Tamatori. In the story, Tamatori steals a jewel from the Dragon King. However, during her egress, the Dragon King and his sea-life minions—mainly octopuses—pursue her. Furthermore, within the dialogue in the illustration itself, the diver and two octopi express mutual enjoyment.

In 1990, Toshio Maeda created what might be called the modern paradigm of tentacle porn, in which the elements of sexual assault are emphasized. Maeda explained that he invented the practice to get around strict Japanese censorship regulations, which prohibit the depiction of the penis but apparently do not prohibit showing sexual penetration by a tentacle or similar appendage.

Who would have thought that such an odd and fetish-like subject within contemporary Japanese erotica was based on an artistic ground instead of just a borderline female-degrading fantasy.

The Vulgate


The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin version of the Bible, and largely the result of the labours of St Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations. By the 13th century this revision had come to be called the versio vulgata, that is, the so-called commonly used translation, and ultimately it became the definitive and officially promulgated Latin version of the Bible in the Roman Catholic Church.

St. Jerome

Jerome did not embark on the work with the intention of creating a new version of the whole Bible, but the changing nature of his program can be tracked in his voluminous correspondence. He had been commissioned by Pope Damasus in 382 to revise the Old Latin text of the four Gospels from the best Greek texts, and by the time of Damasus’ death in 384 he had thoroughly completed this task, together with a more cursory revision from the Greek Septuagint of the Old Latin text of the Psalms. How much of the rest of the New Testament he then revised is difficult to judge today, but little of his work survived in the Vulgate text.

In 385 Jerome was forced out of Rome, and eventually settled in Bethlehem, where he produced a new version of the Psalms, translated from the Hexaplar revision of the Septuagint. He also appears to have undertaken further new translations of other Septuagint books into Latin; but these are not found in the Vulgate text. But from 390 to 405, Jerome translated anew all 39 books in the Hebrew Bible, including a further, third, version of the Psalms, which survives in a very few Vulgate manuscripts. This new translation of the Psalms was labelled by him as Iuxta Hebraeos or ‘close to the Hebrews’, ‘immediately following the Hebrews’, but it was not ultimately used in the Vulgate. The translations of the other 38 books were used, however, and so the Vulgate is usually credited to have been the first translation of the Old Testament into Latin directly from the Hebrew Tanakh, rather than the Greek Septuagint.

Jerome’s extensive use of exegetical material written in Greek, on the other hand, as well as his use of the Aquiline and Theodotiontic texts of the Hexapla, along with the somewhat paraphrastic style in which he translated makes it difficult to determine exactly how direct the conversion of Hebrew to Latin was.

In his prologues, Jerome described those books or portions of books in the Septuagint that were not found in the Hebrew as being non-canonical: he called them apocrypha, but they are found in all complete manuscripts and editions of the Vulgate.

Septuagint


The Septuagint or simply LXX is the Koine Greek version of the Hebrew Bible, translated in stages between the 3rd and 2nd century BC in Alexandria. It was begun by the 3rd century BC and completed before 132 BC.

Hebrew Bible, Jeremiah 27

It is the oldest of several ancient translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, lingua franca of the eastern Mediterranean Basin from the time of Alexander the Great in the 4th century.

It is the oldest of several translations of the Hebrew Bible into Greek. The Septuagint consists of all of the books of the Old Testament, and it also contains books that Catholics and Orthodox Christians call the Deuterocanon. These books are called Apocrypha by Protestants because according to this doctrine these books are not sacred.

The Septuagint was held in great respect in ancient times; Philo and Josephus ascribed divine inspiration to its authors. Besides the Old Latin versions, the LXX is also the basis for the Slavonic, the Syriac, Old Armenian, Old Georgian and Coptic versions of the Old Testament. Of significance for all Christians and for Bible scholars, the LXX is quoted by the New Testament and by the Apostolic Fathers.

An ancient tradition says that seventy Jewish scholars were each in a different room when they translated the Torah from Hebrew into Greek, yet they all wrote down exactly the same text. It was thought that this was a miracle. The Latin for seventy is septuaginta, and the word Septuagint derives from it.

Insomnia


Denkend aan de dood kan ik niet slapen,
En niet slapend denk ik aan de dood,
En het leven vliedt gelijk het vlood,
En elk zijn is tot niet zijn geschapen.

Hoe onmachtig klinkt het schriel ‘te wapen’,
Waar de levenswil ten strijd mee noodt,
Naast der doodsklaroenen schrille stoot,
Die de grijsaards oproept met de knapen.

Evenals een vrouw, die eens zich gaf,
Baren moet, of ze al dan niet wil baren,
Want het kind is groeiende in haar schoot,

Is elk wezen zwanger van de dood,
En het voorbestemde doel van ‘t paren
Is niet minder dan de wieg het graf.

– Jakobus Cornelis Bloem

Psalms


Psalms is a book of the Hebrew Bible. Taken together, its 150 sacred poems express virtually the full range of Israel’s religious faith.

Psalms of Queen Jadwiga in three Languages

The Book of Psalms in its current, most commonly used forms, consists of 150 songs and prayers referred to individually as psalms and referenced by chapter and verse. They each have a poetic character with frequent use of parallelism. In addition to the title of the collection which translates as song or hymns from both Hebrew and Greek, superscriptions in many of the Psalms provide musical references and some direction, in some cases even references to melodies that would have been well-known by early congregations.

Songs that can be identified as such in the Psalms include songs of thanksgiving, hymns of praise and royal psalms, which may have been used in coronations and weddings. Identification of some psalms as prayers is also seen within the text, for example in the conclusion to Psalm 72.

The largest category of Psalms, though not grouped as such in the text, is that of lament – expressions of complaint and pleas for help from God. There appears to also have been an instructional function of the psalms as seen in their references to the law.

Dating of individual compositions is difficult, and in some cases impossible. Many appear to have been written early in the history of ancient Israel, others after the exile to Babylon. Biblical scholars note the early organization into five collections, paralleling the Torah or Pentateuch – the first five books of the bible. However, other reasons for dividing the book in this way are unclear. Authorship is also uncertain in spite of frequent attributions to David.

Servus Servorum Dei


Servus Servorum Dei is a Latin phrase meaning Servant of the Servants of God. The phrase is one of the titles of the Pope and is used to refer to the Pope in the beginning address of Papal bulls.

Pope St. Gregory I

Pope St. Gregory I was the first pope to use this title to refer to himself as Pope. The adoption of the title stemmed from a dispute with the Archbishop of Constantinople John the Faster who adopted the title ‘Ecumenical Patriarch’: the humble title ‘Servant of the Servants of God’ countervailed the other’s claim of power and eminence against the Bishop of Rome. Some of Pope Gregory’s successors used the phrase off and on for some centuries, but they did so regularly only from the 9th century. At times, some civil rulers also used this title, but after the 12th century it came to be used exclusively by the Pope.

The Second Vatican Council Popes have used the concept of Servus Servorum Dei to help in making their office a simpler and less regal office. Pope Paul VI stopped using the Papal Tiara, and none of his successors have ever worn the tiara. John Paul I, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI dispensed with a coronation, opting instead for a simpler form of installation. Instead of receiving the Papal Tiara, the three men received the pallium during their installation ceremonies. Also, the royal pronoun ‘we’ was dispensed with in speech and writing, and instead the singular ‘I’ has been used by Paul VI’s successors, except in Latin, a language in which, as in ancient Greek, the more impersonal ‘we’ has the opposite effect to that of the royal ‘we’.