Russians Have Mastered the Art of Embalming the Dead

V. I. Lenin, 1920 {{PD-US}}

V. I. Lenin, 1920 {{PD-US}}

An article from BBC a few years ago outlines the art of the long-term embalming of the dead. The Russians have mastered this in an effort to keep Lenin’s body pristinely preserved. Once a day they must soak Lenin’s hands and face in a special solution and wash his entire body in the solution once a week. Am I the only one who thinks this is just a tad creepy?

via BBC:

Ilya Zbarsky, who was a member of Lenin’s embalming maintenance team at the Research Institute for Biological Structures in Moscow, told the BBC in an interview in 1999: “Twice a week, we would soak the face and the hands with a special solution. We could also improve some minor defects. Once a year the mausoleum was closed and the body was immersed in a bath with this solution.”

Such was the reputation of the Russians in the field of body preservation that Vietnam’s former leader Ho’s body was said to have been flown to experts in Moscow every year for a refresh.

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Thoughts of a Homeless Man

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

Homeless Veteran on the streets of Boston, MA

A fictional reflection on the realities of homelessness.

Meng-hu writes at hermit’s thatch:

Fictional, but based on an actual conversation, with the interlocutor here speaking.

I’ve been homeless for ten years. I made some mistakes and I paid for them, but I lost all my friends, and my family refused to ever see me again. Jobs are scarce; I have no skills of value to anyone. But like Siddhartha in the Hesse novel, I can think, I can wait, I can fast. Many days I go hungry. But I have infinite patience. And I can think, but usually think myself into a self-righteous and ethical stalemate.

I decided to give up trying to make it, you know, to give up trying to be a square peg — or is it round? It was just too hard: trying to pay rent or a mortgage, trying to pay insurance and debts, trying to guess what pleases people.

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Torture Okayed Through Pop Culture

Diverse torture instruments.

Diverse torture instruments.

Noah Berlatsky analyzes how pop culture (movies, comic books, television) makes torture “ok.” He writes that “Torture, pop culture says, is effective, fun, and even funny.”

Noah Berlatsky writes at Splice Today:

In Frank Miller’s influential 1986 series The Dark Knight Returns, Batman drags an unconscious perpetrator up to a rooftop, and hangs him upside down with his eyes covered. When the bad guy wakes up, Batman begins to question him, and then uncovers the guy’s eyes. Hundreds of feet above the city, the bad guy starts to scream in terror, prompting our hero to ruminate smugly about how much fun he’s having.

Last year, in the film Olympus Has Fallen, the American agent played by Gerard Butler stabbed a North Korean bad guy in the knee to get him to talk. The audience at the preview I attended cheered enthusiastically.

Last weekend at the annual meeting of the National Rifle Association, Sarah Palin declared to an enthusiastic audience that the current administration is too nice to jihadists.

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Environmental Sustainable Living in Portugal

In this video Luke Rudkowski talks to Eco Designer João Tomaz in Lisbon, Portugal. João realized good environmental design must have a stronger role in today’s society. His work is studying and developing eco design objects and structures for the last 10 years and was soon recognized as a unique eye when it came to the new and the innovative. He is currently inventing a platform to combine his love for eco design, sustainability and Mother Earth!

To find out more about João check out http://joaotomaz.com/about.

Via We Are Change.

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Examining the Growth of the ‘Spiritual But Not Religious’

Lillian Daniel

Lillian Daniel

Are you SBNR? Why does that threaten some people? Mark Oppenheimer explores the fast-growing non-religion, Spiritual But Not Religious, for the New York Times:

“Spiritual but not religious.” So many Americans describe their belief system this way that pollsters now give the phrase its own category on questionnaires. In the 2012 survey by the Pew Religion and Public Life Project, nearly a fifth of those polled said that they were not religiously affiliated — and nearly 37 percent of that group said they were “spiritual” but not “religious.” It was 7 percent of all Americans, a bigger group than atheists, and way bigger than Jews, Muslims or Episcopalians.

Unsurprisingly, the S.B.N.R.s, as this growing group is often called, are attracting a lot of attention. Four recent books offer perspectives on these Americans who seem to want some connection to the divine, but who don’t feel affiliated with traditional religion.

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Early Predator Brain Was Simpler Than the Brain of Its Prey

Laggania cambria, Anomalocarididae; Model in life size (about 60 cm) based on fossils from Burgess Shale (middle Cambrian), Canada; Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, Germany.

Laggania cambria, Anomalocarididae; Model in life size (about 60 cm) based on fossils from Burgess Shale (middle Cambrian), Canada; Staatliches Museum für Naturkunde Karlsruhe, Germany.

Methinks there are contemporary cases of this being true.

Via ScienceDaily:

An international team of paleontologists has identified the exquisitely preserved brain in the fossil of one of the world’s first known predators that lived in the Lower Cambrian, about 520 million years ago. The discovery revealed a brain that is surprisingly simple and less complex than those known from fossils of some of the animal’s prey.

The find for the first time identifies the fossilized brain of what are considered the top predators of their time, a group of animals known as anomalocaridids, which translates to “abnormal shrimp.” Long extinct, these fierce-looking arthropods were first discovered as fossils in the late 19th century but not properly identified until the early 1980s. They still have scientists arguing over where they belong in the tree of life.

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A Saga of Shrooms and Nude Modeling

Psilocybin

Psilocybin (Photo credit: Spencer Mann) (CC)

I must give it to this guy, I know from experience that tripping in public is a brave move. I can’t say I have experienced nude modeling though.

via Medium

The great thing about drugs is that they’re an instant cure for boredom. And I’ve been pretty bored lately. Rather than do something constructive, I decided to entertain myself by picking up a half ounce of shrooms and doing some nude modeling at an art studio. I figured it would be an interesting story to tell at the bar afterward with some friends. Maybe have a few drinks, a few laughs, and forget about the whole thing the next day.

 Wrong.

 It’s this kind of impulsive naivete’ that resulted in one of the more horrific and sexually confusing episodes of my life.

 I’m not entirely sure how legal this whole thing is, so I wont get into specifics, but what I can tell you is that the studio I decided on was actually a large theatre in a decent area of town that doubled as both a visual arts center as well as a ritzy cinema.

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Climate Change Denying Physicist Compares Carbon Dioxide to Jews

ball-and-stick model of CO2: carbon dioxide

ball-and-stick model of CO2: carbon dioxide (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (PD)

What? I don’t even… Where do they find these people?

via io9

During an appearance on CNBC, Physicist William Happer was asked about his view that human beings are not causing climate change. His response: “The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler. Carbon dioxide is actually a benefit to the world, and so were the Jews.”

Happer, a professor at Princeton University who specializes in atomic physics and optics (but not climate), has been a longtime crusader against the oppression of carbon dioxide. In 2009, he testified before the U.S. Senate:

I keep hearing about the “pollutant CO2,” or about “poisoning the atmosphere” with CO2, or about minimizing our “carbon footprint.” This brings to mind another Orwellian pronouncement that is worth pondering: “But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.” CO2 is not a pollutant and it is not a poison and we should not corrupt the English language by depriving “pollutant” and “poison” of their original meaning….CO2 is absolutely essential for life on earth.

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The shameful secret behind the popularity of spy movies

It seems that some tend to attribute too much credit to the goings on of shadowy operations. No wonder when we consider the longevity of the spy fiction genre.

via The Week

Shape of Walther PPK

Shape of Walther PPK (Photo credit: Wikipedia) (GNU)

Moviegoers love spies. James Bond is probably the most successful franchise in history. And when you consider all the spinoffs, descendants, books, television shows, and media-spanning imitators, it’s probably fair to say that spying is one of the top two or three subjects of popular media in America, along with superheroes and light sabers.

Most spy fiction portrays spies as noble and almost superhumanly skilled, both physically and intellectually. James Bond is always a master at whatever the screenwriters can dream up, up to and including sword-fighting with a half-dozen different kinds of blades. Jason Bourne speaks a dozen languages, fights like an MMA specialist, drives like a rally car champion, and can break into CIA headquarters without even breathing hard.

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