Kepi


The kepi is a cap with a flat circular top and a visor or peak. The kepi was formerly the most common headgear in the French Army and has a unique image in the world of armies and policing.

Etymologically, the word is a borrowing of the French képi, itself a respelling of the Alemannic Käppi: a diminutive form of Kappe, meaning cap.

English: French képi

A French Kepi

By 1900 the kepi had become the standard headdress of most French army units and a symbol of the French soldier. It appeared in full dress – with inner stiffening and ornamental plume or ball ornament – and service versions.

Officers’ ranks were shown by gold or silver braiding on the kepi. The different branches were distinguished by the colours of the cap. General officers wore, and continue to wear, kepis with gold oak leaves embroidered around the band.

In 1914 most French soldiers wore their kepis to war. The highly visible colours were hidden by a blue grey cover, following the example of the Foreign Legion and other North African units who had long worn their kepis with white or khaki covers in the field. With the adoption of sky-blue uniforms and steel Adrian helmets in 1915 to replace the conspicuous peace time uniforms worn during the early months of the First World War, the kepi was generally replaced by folding forage caps. Officers, however, still wore kepis behind the lines.

Following the war the kepi was gradually reintroduced in the peacetime French army. The Foreign Legion resumed wearing it during the 1920s; initially in red and blue and then in 1939 with white covers on all occasions. The bulk of the French army readopted the kepi in the various traditional branch colours for off-duty wear during the 1930s. It had now become a straight sided and higher headdress than the traditional soft cap. This made it unsuitable for war time wear, and after 1940 it was seldom worn except by officers. An exception to this was the Foreign Legion who were previously just one of many units that wore the kepi, now adopted it as a symbol.

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How Does Our Language Shape The Way We Think? (Part I)


‘Humans communicate with one another using a dazzling array of languages, each differing from the next in innumerable ways. Do the languages we speak shape the way we see the world, the way we think, and the way we live our lives? Do people who speak different languages think differently simply because they speak different languages? Does learning new languages change the way you think? Do polyglots think differently when speaking different languages?

These questions touch on nearly all of the major controversies in the study of mind. They have engaged scores of philosophers, anthropologists, linguists, and psychologists, and they have important implications for politics, law, and religion. Yet despite nearly constant attention and debate, very little empirical work was done on these questions until recently.

For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought was considered at best untestable and more often simply wrong. Research in my labs at Stanford University and at MIT has helped reopen this question. We have collected data around the world: from China, Greece, Chile, Indonesia, Russia, and Aboriginal Australia. What we have learned is that people who speak different languages do indeed think differently and that even flukes of grammar can profoundly affect how we see the world. Language is a uniquely human gift, central to our experience of being human. Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us one step closer to understanding the very nature of humanity.’

[…]

– Boroditsky. L. (2009, June 11). How Does Our Language Shape The Way We Think? Edge.org

The Speed of Languages


It is an almost universal truth that any language you don’t understand sounds like they are being spoken at 200 miles per hour — a storm of alien syllables almost impossible to tease apart.

That, we tell ourselves, is simply because the words make no sense to us. Surely our spoken English sounds just as fast to a native speaker of Urdu. And yet it’s equally true that some languages seem to zip by faster than others. Spanish sounds a lot faster than French; Japanese leaves German far behind — or at least that’s how they sound.

Spectrograms of the syllables

Spectograms of syllables

Is this really true, and if so, how could that be? To investigate this puzzle, researchers from the University of Lyon recruited 59 male and female volunteers who were native speakers of one of seven common languages — English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin and Spanish — and one not so common one: Vietnamese. All of them were instructed to read 20 different texts into a recorder. All of the volunteers read all 20 passages in their native languages. Any silences that lasted longer than 150 milliseconds were edited out, but the recordings were left otherwise untouched.

The investigators counted all of the syllables in each of the recordings and further analysed how much meaning was packed into each of those syllables. A single-syllable word like bliss, for example, is rich with meaning — signifying not ordinary happiness but a particularly serene and rapturous kind. The single-syllable word to is less information-dense. And a single syllable like the short i sound, as in the word jubilee, has no independent meaning at all.

With this raw data in hand, the investigators crunched the numbers together to arrive at two critical values for each language:

  • the average information density for each of its syllables;
  • and the average number of syllables spoken per second in ordinary speech. Vietnamese was used as a reference language for the other seven, with its syllables (which are considered by linguists to be very information-dense) given an arbitrary value of 1.

For all of the other languages, the researchers discovered, the more data-dense the average syllable were, the fewer of those syllables had to be spoken per second — and thus the slower the speech.

  • English, with a high information density of .91, was spoken at an average rate of 6.19 syllables per second.
  • Mandarin, which topped the density list at .94, but was slowest at 5.18 syllables per second.
  • Spanish, with a low-density .63, ripped along at a syllable-per-second velocity of 7.82.
  • However, the speediest language in terms of syllable speed was Japanese, which edged past Spanish at 7.84, thanks to its low density of .49.

Despite those differences, at the end of a minute of speech, all of the languages would have conveyed more or less identical amounts of information.

“A trade-off is operating between a syllable-based average information density and the rate of transmission of syllables,” the researchers at Lyon wrote. “A dense language will make use of fewer speech chunks than a sparser language for a given amount of semantic information.”

In other words, your ears aren’t deceiving you: Spaniards really do sprint and Chinese really do stroll, but they will tell you the same story in the same span of time.

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Androgyny


Androgyny is a term referring to the combination of masculine and feminine characteristics. This may be as in fashion, sexual identity, or sexual lifestyle, or it may refer to biologically inter-sexed physicality, especially with regards to plant and human sexuality.

18thcenturylesbian

An 18th century image of lesbianism

For humans, an androgyne in terms of gender identity, is a person who does not fit cleanly into the typical masculine and feminine gender roles of their society. They may also use the term ambigender to describe themselves. Many androgynes identify as being mentally ‘between’ woman and man, or as entirely genderless.

  • The androgynous person is simply a female or male who has a high degree of both feminine (expressive) and masculine (instrumental) traits.
  • A feminine individual is high on feminine (expressive) traits and low on masculine (instrumental) traits.
  • A masculine individual is high on instrumental traits and low on expressive traits.
  • An undifferentiated person is low on both feminine and masculine traits.

Lesbians who do not define themselves as butch or femme may identify with various other labels including androgynous or andro for short. A few other examples include lipstick lesbian, tomboy, and tom suay which is Thai for ‘beautiful butch’.

An androgyne may be attracted to people of any sex or gender, though many identify as pansexual or asexual. Terms such as bisexual, heterosexual, and homosexual have less meaning for androgynes who do not identify as men or women to begin with. Infrequently the words gynephilia and androphilia are used, which refer to the gender of the person someone is attracted to, and do not imply any particular gender on the part of the person who is feeling the attraction.

Prince Philip Movement


The Prince Philip Movement is a religious sect followed by the Yaohnanen tribe on the southern island of Tanna in Vanuatu.

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, Duke of ...

Prince Philip with Queen Elizabeth II of England

The Yaohnanen believe that Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, the consort to Queen Elizabeth II, is a divine being; the pale-skinned son of a mountain spirit and brother of John Frum.

According to ancient tales the son travelled over the seas to a distant land, married a powerful lady and would in time return. The villagers had observed the respect accorded to Queen Elizabeth II by colonial officials and came to the conclusion that her husband, Prince Philip, must be the son from their legends.

When the cult formed is unclear, but it is likely that it was sometime in the 1950s or 1960s. Their beliefs were strengthened by the royal couple’s official visit to Vanuatu in 1974, when a few villagers had the opportunity to observe the Prince from afar.

At the time the Prince was not aware of the cult, but the matter was eventually brought to his attention by John Champion, the British Resident Commissioner in Vanuatu between 1975 and 1978.

The Resident Commissioner suggested that the Prince send them a portrait of himself. A signed official photograph was duly dispatched. The villagers responded by sending a traditional nal-nal club. As requested the Prince in return sent them a photograph of himself posing with the weapon. Another photograph was sent in 2000. All three photographs were kept by Chief Jack Naiva until he died in 2009.

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Banquet of Chestnuts


The Banquet of Chestnuts, known more properly as the Ballet of Chestnuts, refers to a fête in Rome, and particularly to a supper held in the Papal Palace by Don Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI on October 30, 1501.

An account of the banquet is preserved in a Latin diary by Protonotary Apostolic and Master of Ceremonies Johann Burchard entitled Liber Notarum.

Portrait of Pope Alexander VI. Painting locate...

Pope Alexander VI

The banquet was given in Cesare’s apartments in the Palazzo Apostolico. Fifty prostitutes or courtesans were in attendance for the entertainment of the banquet guests.

After the food was eaten, lamp stands holding lighted candles were placed on the floor and chestnuts strewn about. The clothes of the courtesans were auctioned; then the prostitutes and the guests crawled naked among the lamp stands to pick up the chestnuts. Immediately following the spectacle, members of the clergy and other party guests together engaged in sexual activity with the prostitutes. According to Burchard:

“Prizes were offered – silken doublets, pairs of shoes, hats and other garments – for those men who were most successful with the prostitutes.”

And according to chronicler William Manchester:

“Servants kept score of each man’s orgasms, for the pope greatly admired virility and measured a man’s machismo by his ejaculative capacity.”

Manchester also refers to the use of several sex toys. Burchard, however, makes no reference to this in his account of the banquet.

Vatican researcher Right Reverend Monsignor Peter de Roo strongly rejects the story of the fifty courtesans as described in Louis Thuasne’s edition of Burchard’s diary. While granting that Cesare Borgia may have indeed given a feast at the Vatican, de Roo attempts, through exhaustive research, to refute the notion that the Borgias – certainly not the pope – could have possibly participated in ‘a scene truly bestial’ such as Burchard describes, on grounds that it would be inconsistent with:

  • Alexander VI’s essentially decent but much maligned character;
  • Burchard’s otherwise decent ways of writing;
  • The majority consensus of modern writers, who either question the story, or reject it as outright falsehood.

Monsignor de Roo believes that a more credible explanation for the alleged orgy is a later interpolation of events by those hostile to Alexander:

“To support the interpolated story, the enemies of pope Alexander VI bring forth of late other writers of the time. So does Thuasne produce Matarazzo, or the Chronicle ascribed to him. But Matarazzo essentially alters the tale, taking away its greatest odium, when he replaces Burchard’s courtesans and valets with ladies and gentlemen of the court.

Thuasne also quotes Francis Pepi, who writes that it was Cesar de Borgia, not the Pontiff, who invited low harlots, and who cuts away the most abominable details, by saying that they passed the night in dancing and laughing, and by leaving out the presence of Lucretia de Borgia.

The anonymous letter to Silvio Savelli is also mentioned to prop up the report of Burchard’s diary. This letter, however, states only that the courtesans were invited to eat at the palace and offered a most shocking sight. It notices no further particulars nor the presence of any of the Borgias.”

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Thealogy


Thealogy, the study of religion from a feminist viewpoint, is a neologism coined by Isaac Bonewits in 1974 as a discourse that reflects upon the meaning of a Goddess being and Her relationship to life forms.

Goddess Maat

Egyptian Goddess Maat

It is a discourse that critically engages the beliefs, wisdom, practices, questions, and values of the Goddess community, both past and present. The term suggests a feminist approach to theism and the context of God and gender within Neopaganism. Thealogy asks fundamental questions such as ‘why should God be a man?’

Thealogy could be described as religiously pluralistic, as thealogians come from various religious backgrounds that are often hybrid in nature. In addition to Neopagans, they are also Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Muslim, Quakers, etcetera, or define themselves as Spiritual Feminists.

As such, the term thealogy has also been used by feminists within mainstream monotheistic religions describe in more detail the feminine aspect of a monotheistic deity or trinity, such as Goddess Herself, or the Heavenly Mother of the Latter Day Saint movement.