On Understanding the World


“Friends, with your help and love you have shown us how to make sense of the world, and when the world hasn’t made any sense at all you told us to sit back and enjoy it; you taught us what’s right, what’s real, what’s beautiful about this planet, and for that we are eternally grateful.”

– Richard Solomon

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Ideal Female Bodies (i)


Ancient Egypt (c. 1292 – 1069 B.C.)

Women in ancient Egypt enjoyed many freedoms that would take thousands of years for women to enjoy again. Ancient Egyptian society was sex-positive, and premarital sex was entirely acceptable. Women could own property independently from their husbands, and could initiate divorce from their husbands without shame. Women could even inherit titles, even become Pharaoh.

Art from this era of ancient Egypt tells us that long, braided hair was an important aspect of female beauty. Braids framed a symmetrical face, and women wore thick black kohl around their eyes. Women are shown as slender, with high waists and slim shoulders.

“No one wants to see curvy women.” – Karl Lagerfeld

Ancient Greece (c. 500 – 300 B.C.)

Aristotle called the female form “a deformed male,” ancient Greece was pretty male-centric. The ancient Greeks were more focused on the ideal male physique than women’s, meaning that it was the men of this time period, rather than the women, who had to live up to high standards of physical perfection. This sounds good, except that this meant women were body-shamed for not looking like men.

Nudity was a common part of ancient Greek society, but sculptures and paintings of nude women were often covered. It is thought that the first important female nude sculpture in classical Greece was Aphrodite of Cnidus, who showed that beauty in ancient Greece meant plump and full-figured bodies.

“Girls are like country roads, the best ones have curves.” – internet meme

Han Dynasty (c. 206 B.C. – 220 A.D.)

Chinese society has been patriarchal since ancient times, which as a result minimized women’s roles and rights in society. During the Han Dynasty period of Chinese history, feminine beauty meant delicate, slim bodies with a radiating inner glow. Women were expected to have pale skin, long black hair, red lips, white teeth, and a graceful walk with small feet. Small feet were an aspect of Chinese beauty that would continue for hundreds of years.

“To love oneself is the beginning of a lifelong romance.” – Oscar Wilde

See other: Ideal Female Body Types Throughout History

Rubik’s Cube


The Rubik’s Cube is a 3D combination puzzle. It is the brainchild of the Hungarian professor of architecture Ernő Rubik, who invented in it 1974. Since then, over 300 million Rubik’s Cubes have been sold worldwide. If they were stacked on top of each other, they would reach the top of Mount Everest, twice.

It is estimated that in the mid-eighties about a fifth of the world’s population had, at some point, handled a Rubik’s Cube. And because of its simple design, people continue to be astounded by its devilish complexity. The percentage of people that has ever solved the Cube, is more somewhat more difficult to ascertain.

Obviously, there is only one solution in which all six sides of the Cube have the same colour; as for all the different unsolved states, the original 3x3x3 Cube has 43252003274489856000 (that is to say, over 43 quintillion) possible Cubes. If there was a Cube for every permutation, they would cover the Earth with 273 layers – a sea of Cubes 15,5 meters (50 foot) deep. If there was a cube scrambled for every permutation and they were laid end to end then they would stretch approximately 261 light years – from Earth to Alpha Columbae.

Because of the vast amount different Cubes, algorithms (a sequence of moves that has a desired effect) are used to solve the Cube. Without algorithms to solve the Cube, it could take ages: if you made a single turn of one of the Cube’s faces every second, it would take you 1371,51 billion years to go through all the possible configurations. The universe is only 13,82 billion years old. If you had started this project during the Big Bang, you still would not be done yet.

Amazingly, the best speed cubers (people who take part in speed cubing – a sport where competitors try and solve the cube as quickly as possible) can solve the cube in under six seconds. At the time of writing, the world record is 4,90 seconds; the record for blindfolded solving (including memorization beforehand) is 21,05 seconds.

Mike: Look I don’t know, ok; it’s like a fucking Rubik’s Cube! I mean, it’s impossible at this point.
Selina: What? Mike, a Rubik’s cube is not impossible to solve.
Gary: Yeah, I saw an Asian kid do it in like ten seconds.
Selina: Ten seconds Mike.
– Veep (2012) Season 1, Episode 3; “Catherine” [No. 3]

Indian Stream


In 1832, a border area between Canadian Vermont and New Hampshire was claimed by both British Canada and the United States.

Even though the United States had secured its independence from Britain through the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the borders were often defined vaguely or based on inaccurate maps.

The treaty established that the border between New Hampshire and Canada would be “the northwesternmost Head of the Connecticut River.” Unfortunately, no-one agreed on which body of water precisely that should be. It was in this geographic confusion that the short-lived nation of the Indian Stream Republic was born.

“I had rather hear my dog bark at a crow, than a man swear he loves me.” ― William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing

In 1832, local settlers converted the disputed lands between Hall’s Stream, Indian Stream and the lakes of the Connecticut River into an independent republic known as Indian Stream. It existed briefly from July 9, 1832 to 1835 when it voluntarily yielded to New Hampshire. American jurisdiction was fully acknowledged in 1836.

See other: Posts on Micronations

Anaesthetics and Conformity in Schools


‘If you think of it the arts, and I don’t say this exclusively, the arts, I think it’s also true of science and of maths, but I say about the arts particularly because they are the victims of this mentality currently – particularly. The arts especially address the idea of aesthetic experience.

And aesthetic experience is one in which your senses are operating at their peak, when you’re present in the current moment, when you’re resonating with the excitement of this thing that you’re experiencing, when you’re fully alive. An anaesthetic is when you shut your senses off and deaden yourself to what’s happening. And a lot of these drugs are that. We’re getting our children through education by anaesthetising them. And I think we should be doing the exact opposite. We shouldn’t be putting them asleep we should be waking them up to what they have inside of themselves.

But the model we have is this. I believe we have a system of education that is modelled on the interests of industrialism and in the image of it. I’ll give you a couple of examples.

Schools are still pretty much organised on factory lines; ringing bells, separate facilities, specialised into separate subjects. We still educate children by batches; we put them through the system by age group – why do we do that? Why is there this assumption that the most important thing kids have in common is how old they are? It’s like the most important thing about them is their date of manufacture. Well I know kids who are much better than other kids at the same age in different disciplines, or at different times of the day, or better in smaller groups than in large groups, or sometimes they want to be on their own. If you’re interested in the model of learning you don’t start from this production line mentality.

It’s essentially about conformity and increasingly it’s about that if you look at the growth of standardised testing and standardised curricula and it’s about standardisation. I believe we’ve got to go in the exact opposite direction. That’s what I mean about changing the paradigm.’

– Robinson, K. (2008, June 16) Ken Robinson: Changing Education Paradigms. Retrieved from Ted.com

Church Marquees in The Simpsons


Listed below is a collection of messages displayed at the marquee of The First Church of Springfield as featured in The Simpsons:

  • Private Wedding, Please Worship Elsewhere [Episode No. 102]
  • No Synagogue Parking [No. 170]
  • Next Sunday: The Miracle Of Shame [No. 175]
  • Today’s Topic: He Knows What You Did Last Summer [No. 213]
  • Today’s Topic: There’s Something About The Virgin Mary [No. 234]
  • Today’s Topic: Life In Hell [No. 237]
  • If You Were A Pastor, You’d Be Home By Now! [No. 290]
  • Welcome Pissed-Off Catholics [No. 298]
  • Now with only nine commandments! [No. 314]
  • We Welcome Other Faiths (Just Kidding) [No. 328]
  • Rapture Threat Level: Orange [No. 343]
  • Today: Bobble-Head Moses Giveaway [No. 355]
  • Quit St3aling Our L3tt3rs [No. 359]
  • Today’s Topic: Jesus Hates You [No. 372]
  • Today: Church Council Meeting Topic: Religion [No. 377]
  • Today: Shadrach, The Other Friend Of Meshach [No. 435]
  • Free Wi-Fi During Sermon [No. 455]
  • We’ve Run Out Of Consoling Phrases [No. 503]
  • Communion in 30 minutes or less or your service is free! [No. 514]
  • Jesus on Twitter: #idiedforyoursins [No. 526]

Christmas and Mithras


Christmas is celebrated on 25 December because it is the birthday of the Roman sun god Mithras, whose stories bear a striking resemblance to the basic mythology of Christianity. Characteristics of the Mithras cult included:

  • Mithras being a saviour sent to Earth to live a mortal whom it was possible for sinners to be reborn into immortal life.
  • He died for human sins but came back the following Sunday.
  • He was born of a virgin on 25 December in a manger (or perhaps a cave), attended by shepherds and became known as the light of the world.
  • He had 12 disciples whom he shared a last meal before dying.
  • His devotees symbolically consume the flesh and blood of him.
  • Because he was a sun god he was worshipped on Sundays.
  • He is often depicted with a halo around his head.
  • Worshippers of Mithras gave each other gifts on 25 December.
  • The leader of the religion was called a “Papa”, and their headquarters was Vatican Hill in Rome.

As for December 25 being Jesus’ birthday, no-one is certain on what date Jesus was born – that is, should he indeed have existed. According to Islam, Jesus was born in the summer, while Jehovah’s Witnesses claim he born on the 1st of October. Speaking of which, according to the Irish comedian Dara Ó Briain, the Jehovah’s Witnesses must be right since presumably they were there.

“Oh look, yet another Christmas TV special! How touching to have the meaning of Christmas brought to us by cola, fast food, and beer…. Who’d have ever guessed that product consumption, popular entertainment, and spirituality would mix so harmoniously? ” ― Bill Watterson, The Essential Calvin and Hobbes

On Tangled Christmas Lights


“I’ve learned that you can tell a lot about a person by the way he/she handles these three things: a rainy day, lost luggage, and tangled Christmas lights.”

– Maya Angelou