Laconic [Adj.]


Using as few words as possible; pithy and concise.

From Latin adjective Lacōnicus meaning ‘Spartan, from Ancient Greek Λακωνικός. Laconia was the region inhabited and ruled by the Spartans, who were known for their brevity in speech.

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On Consciousness


“Consciousness is a fascinating but elusive phenomenon: it is impossible to specify what it is, what it does, or why it evolved. Nothing worth reading has been written on it.”

– Stuart Sutherland

Christians, Sex and Misery


‘Consider, for instance, the human papillomavirus (HPV). HPV is now the most common sexually transmitted disease in the United States. The virus infects over half the American population and causes nearly five thousand women to die each year from cervical cancer; the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that more than two hundred thousand die worldwide. We now have a vaccine for HPV that appears to be both safe and effective. The vaccine produced 100 percent immunity in the six thousand women who received it as part of a clinical trial. And yet, Christian conservatives in our government have resisted a vaccination program on the grounds that HPV is a valuable impediment to premarital sex. These pious men and women want to preserve cervical cancer as an incentive toward abstinence, even if it sacrifices the lives of thousands of women each year.

There is nothing wrong with encouraging teens to abstain from having sex. But we know, beyond any doubt, that teaching abstinence alone is not a good way to curb teen pregnancy or the spread of sexually transmitted disease. In fact, kids who are taught abstinence alone are less likely to use contraceptives when they do have sex, as many of them inevitably will. One study found that teen “virginity pledges” postpone intercourse for eighteen months on average—while, in the meantime, these virgin teens were more likely than their peers to engage in oral and anal sex. American teenagers engage in about as much sex as teenagers in the rest of the developed world, but American girls are four to five times more likely to become pregnant, to have a baby, or to get an abortion. Young Americans are also far more likely to be infected by HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The rate of gonorrhea among American teens is seventy times higher than it is among their peers in the Netherlands and France. The fact that 30 percent of our sex-education programs teach abstinence only (at a cost of more than $200 million a year) surely has something to do with this.

The problem is that Christians like yourself are not principally concerned about teen pregnancy and the spread of disease. That is, you are not worried about the suffering caused by sex; you are worried about sex. As if this fact needed further corroboration, Reginald Finger, an Evangelical member of the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices, recently announced that he would consider opposing an HIV vaccine—thereby condemning millions of men and women to die unnecessarily from AIDS each year—because such a vaccine would encourage premarital sex by making it less risky. This is one of many points on which your religious beliefs become genuinely lethal.’

Harris. S. 2006. Letter To A Christian Nation p. 10-11

26/iii mmxv


Anthropologies believe that man has known how to use fire for 500,000 years, but only learned how to make it himself 12,000 years ago.

Prior to 1962, sodomy was illegal in every US State.

The flag of Paraguay is the only current national flag whose obverse and reverse sides are neither identical nor mirrored.

Legendary Cuban Communist revolutionary Che Guevara was born in Argentina.

Until 1857, in the UK, a husband wishing to end an unhappy marriage could sell his wife. The cost was about £3,000 – roughly £223,000 in today’s money.

See other: Quite Interesting Facts

Jackspeak


Ever been caught between the devil and the deep blue sea? Or maybe you have been told to show a leg, been taken aback or have been made to run the gauntlet?

If so, you have been using just a few of the thousands of slang words and phrases coined or adopted by the Royal Navy – the world’s oldest organised fighting service – over the course of more than 400 years.

Over the centuries, the jargon of the Royal Navy, known as Jackspeak, has contributed to the everyday English vocabulary.

Royal Navy personnel feel that part of its charm comes from its exclusivity, because the terminology used is only understood by fellow naval comrades.

Also, it is believed that the humour of nautical slang is an essential coping strategy for people dealing with the multiple uncertainties and dangers of war.

“The world is a navy in an empty ocean.” – Dejan Stojanovic

The range of slang used by the Grey Funnel Line (the navy) is both instructive and amusing. Whether you serve in the Green Death (3rd Commando Brigade, Royal Marines), or are a snotty (midshipman) or a pickle jar officer (a university graduate who can tell you the square root of a pickle-jar lid to three decimal places but cannot get the blooming thing off), there is a special name for everything that matters.

In addition, the whole spectrum of naval life is covered, from a horse’s neck (brandy and dry ginger) to buckets of sunshine (nuclear weapons), the rather charming putting the Queen to bed (affectionate term for the formal lowering of the White Ensign each evening, at sunset), and helioproctosis (a condition where a person, usually a toffee-nosed officer, believes the sun shines from his backside – from the Ancient Greek ἥλιος meaning ‘sun’, and πρωκτός meaning ‘anus’).

“The sea, the snotgreen sea, the scrotumtightening sea.” – James Joyce, Ulysses

And at the end of a Naval career, one receives the Order of the Golden Toecap (redundancy), and swallows the anchor (retired from a career at sea).

Finally, to get out at Fratton is Royal Navy jargon for coitus interruptus. (Fratton is the last railway station before Portsmouth – home of one of Britain’s largest Naval Bases.)