You know, there is some cool stuff on the internet, and I come across it kind of often. I was thinking about trying to put up a sort of Top 10 things I come across or learn every week. A blog would probably be a better forum for this but, hey, I think I’ve got a bigger audience here. So here’s the inaugural Week In Review:
1. Philosopher’s Quote
1. Philosopher’s Quote
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire
2. Random Animal Fact Learned This Week
3. Reason to Celebrate Next Friday
Singapore’s Independence Day! On August 9th, 1965, the city ofSingapore was kicked out the country of Malaysia, making it the only country in the world to gain its independence unwillingly. For this occasion, I recommend celebrating with the Singapore Sling.
You might also want to try making a plate of Singapore Noodles, a dish made famous by late British Author Pete McCarthy in his hilarious opus, “McCarthy's Bar: A Journey of Discovery In Ireland”a tale which introduced me to Pete’s Rule of Travel #17: “Never try to score dope from Hassidic Jews because you are under the impression that they are Rastafarians.” It’s a great book. I highly recommend it!
4. The Fact of the Week that I will just accept at face value and not research further:
In addition to Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, there is something called Ninja Scouts that my six-year-old daughter Fairen has, unbeknownst to me, been attending for years in the middle of the night while we are all sleeping. Do not even bother trying to look this up because they are Ninja Scouts for crying out loud! They are so secretive that even the internet can’t find them! Besides, why would you even try to prove me wrong on this point? Do you even WANT to live in a world where there is no such thing as Ninja Scouts?
5. Random Fact About a Foreign Culture
The Sikh religion has taught from the start that all humans are equal, regardless of race, gender or religion and this equality is so enshrined that in 1675, the ninth Sikh guru, Tegh Bahadur, was beheaded for defending the religious freedom not of Sikhs, but of Hindus that were being forced to convert to Islam under the reign of Aurangzeb. This is the only instance in history where the leader of one religion sacrificed his life to protect the adherents of another religion. (http://www.sikhs.org/guru9.htm )
6. An Exotic Food You Probably Have Never Tasted
Chermoula Sauce (http://herbivoracious.com/2010/03/chermoula-delicious-sauce-recipe.html ). A staple seasoning from Morocco to Libya, this paste is one of the cornerstone flavors across North Africa. Though it is typically used for fish among the Berber peoples, the flavor is spectacular on chicken and I have seen it widely used on lamb as well. I am even willing to try it on beef though this is not typical destination for it, though I am not sure if it is because the flavors don’t mesh or if it is because the desert climes of the southern Mediterranean are about as hospitable to raising good cattle as the Pakistani madrassa school system would be towards raising good Israelis.
7. Best Conversation I’ve Had this Week
Colleague: My son is now three months old. All he does now is sleep, eat, drink and fart.
Me: He’ll be right at home at camp then if he ever decides to take up deer hunting.
8. Unexpected Thing I Discovered While Fact Checking
The Story of Texas Ellen.
A Friend of mine posted a Meme about the story behind coins placed on veterans’ tombstones and the meaning behind the various denominations. Having spent 7 years in the military myself, I had never heard of this and suspected it to be a nice story, but like most of these things I see on Facebook, completely bogus. So I started to look into it. For the record, I did not confirm or dispel the coin story so that is inconclusive, but the headstone pictured proved more interesting than the story.
The headstone shown on the post was for an Ellen Wilson, who died in 1855 at the age of 33. Now it would have been unheard of for a woman to be serving in the military in 1855 and as for dying in battle, the United States was not at war in 1855. A closer look at the headstone revealed that she had a nickname “Texas Ellen”. Now women in 1855 did earn themselves nicknames, usually because they worked in prostitution. This caused me to try to look REALLY close at the picture where at the very bottom of the headstone I could barely make out the words “house of ill fame”.
So I looked up Ellen Wilson and found the story behind the tombstone (http://www.weeklypioneer.com/2009/08/ellen-wilson.html ). Anyway, despite her profession, Ellen Wilson was highly regarded in Coloma Texas, mainly because of her efforts to comfort those afflicted by smallpox and cholera during epidemics of 1852 and 1853. After she was killed by a jealous admirer who was a tragically poor marksman (he was gunning for a romantic rival but killed the object of his desire instead), she was afforded an honor not typically given to working girls of the time – she was buried WITHIN the fence of the city cemetery.
This kind of begged another question though. If, as originally said in the article, a penny placed on a soldier’s grave means that it was visited, a nickel means you went to boot camp together and a quarter means you were with the poor soul when he died, what are all the coins on a working girl’s grave supposed to mean?
9. Question to Meditate on for the Next 7 Days
Is there really free will or are our actions simply chemical and electrical responses the human brain makes after formulating conclusions based upon a wide array of sensual stimuli and lending credence to the concept of Fatalism, the belief that our paths are essentially predetermined? And if I have no real free will, can I use that as a reason to excuse random acts of bad behavior? “Sorry honey, the ambient temperature was 76 degrees, the humidity was 68%, I had 7.6 hours of sleep saw three blue jays in a dead oak tree and smelled the distinct scent of burnt matches for no particular reason whatsoever. We all know that whenever this happens in that order, I drink seven beers and a quarter bottle of tequila and then lose my pants in front of someone that can negatively impact your career. It’s not my fault really, my brain is just hard-wired that way and I had no control over it. Seriously, look it up. Baruch Spinoza wrote all about it!”
10. Reasons to keep on Living for the Next 7 Days
Taking the kids canoeing for the first time on the Ausable River, the premiere of the last 8 episodes of Breaking Bad, and experience the hopes and high expectations of yet another year of Detroit Lions football before our dreams of Superbowl stardom are crushed in mid-September. Oh yeah, I almost forgot, “IT’S FREAKIN’ SHARK WEEK PEOPLE!!!!!”