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Remembering the Bombs

Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Is a short and brutal implementation of total warfare preferable to a long, drawn out limited warfare which culminates in more casualties and greater economic strain? The bombings of Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki were the culmination of the Pacific Theater of World War II, which began in 1941 with the bombing of Pearl Harbor. But what if the Americans, or any country for that matter, had atomic bombs at the beginning of WWII? Would they have been justified in using them right off the bat if they knew it would prevent the high price of years of world war to come?

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Prayers for Pele

Volcanoes
In our age of nuclear armaments, one would think a holiday might be set aside for the act of eruptions. Holidays do not, of course, always celebrate joyous occasions. They also inspire solemnity, meditation, and reflection. As we remember this month the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, so we should also remember the even greater forces that have loomed over us from beneath: volcanoes.

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Potatoes

Baked, Boiled, Mashed, Fried
As said by Samwise Gamgee in The Two Towers, the second movie in The Lord of the Rings trilogy based on J. R. R. Tolkien’s famous epic fantasy: “Potatoes, mash ’em, boil ’em, stick ’em in a stew” after Smeagol complains of him ruining their supper of scrawny rabbit with vegetables. Despite its humble place, the potato remains a most versatile and beloved vegetable that occupies an integral part of the human diet as the world’s fifth most important food crop after wheat, corn, rice, and sugarcane.

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The Opioid Crisis

The opioid abuse crisis has been devastating American communities for nearly two decades. Although opioids date back thousands of years, there’s been an upswing in use and abuse, specifically in America and Iran.

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More Light

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The famous young Werther once questioned, “What is a life without romantic love?”

The answer is classicism. It is the level-headed and crafted restraint that comes after the pitfalls of romance. But don’t be fooled; it is not a life of puritanism. It is, to Goethe, love by all other means.
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Beacons of Hope

History of Lighthouses
Lighthouses are used around the world to guide ships sailing in coastal waters. They dot coastlines from the U.S. to Greece, Gibraltar, Iceland, the Ukraine, and beyond.  LighthousePreservation.org defines lighthouses as structures from which light is projected at night or which serve as markers by day to guide ships.

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Knight of the White Elephant of Burmah

Doggerel is generally categorized as poetry with inconsistent or irregular meter, rife with clichés, and inadvertently funny. Or you can just call it bad poetry.

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U.S. Victory over Japan

VJ Day
World War II, which began with Germany’s invasion of Poland in 1939 and ended in 1945, claimed more lives than any other war in history. Upwards of about 60 million people lost their lives during this devastating war. The aerial attack by Germany’s ally Japan on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor military base on December 7, 1941, prompted an immediate declaration of war by the U.S.

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Herbal Impact

Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the caldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.
Cool it with a baboon's blood,
Then the charm is firm and good.

- Scene I, Macbeth by William Shakespeare
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Campfire Stories

An Enduring Oral Tradition
The hot days and warm nights of summer lure adults and children to outdoor adventures. After a day spent hiking, trail riding, boating, or enjoying some other summer sport, people gather around the campfire to roast hotdogs and marshmallows and entertain themselves with improbable campfire stories. Ranging from scary tales to lessons in morality, the tradition of telling stories around a campfire goes back as far as humans have gathered around fire.

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Songs Inspired by Literature

Great songs, ballads in particular, tell stories. Many songs employ poetic devices such as restricted line length, specific meter, and rhymes. However, songwriters, famous and not, find inspiration from literature. Wikipedia and other sites list myriad songs that retell in part or in whole works of literature. The vast list includes:


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The Authentic and Aesthetic

Art, music, and literature experienced a change in emphasis in the late 1700s and peaked in the mid 1800s. Fatigued and disillusioned by decades of war and corrupt politics, European—and especially British—writers adjusted their focus from morality and instruction to entertainment. The movement coincided with the rise of the Industrial Revolution and the growing reliance upon the logic and rationality of science.

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The Moon

Greek Goddess to Green Cheese
Some of Western civilization’s earliest literary references to the moon arise from Greek mythology and its pantheon of bickering, lusty, greedy gods. Phoebe, Selene, Artemis, and Hecate all embodied the mystery of the moon, with Selene being the orb’s personification. The ancient Romans had Luna, from which our English word lunar is derived. The Chinese assigned goddess Chang’e to the moon.

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Zoom Zoom

The Automobile in Literature
Cars in literature can symbolize affluence, puckish determination, and mystery. Try to imagine James Bond stepping from a prosaic Honda Civic instead of a sleek, speedy, gadget-loaded Aston Martin. The mind boggles. Motorheads around the world can find vehicular inspiration in literature. From self-driving cars to alien life forms, the automobile projects a solid presence and often features as its own persona in popular literature and film. 

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Symbols of Liberty

Emma Lazarus
Penned in 1883, the poem "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus reads:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"
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LA FÊTE NATIONALE

Revolution 101
Bastille Day, a French National holiday celebrated July 14th, marks both the storming of the Bastille castle on July 14th, 1789, and the turning point in the French Revolution. The Bastille was a medieval castle that was then used as a prison as well as an armory. It was key that the Revolutionaries stormed the castle not only for the stores of guns and gunpowder, but also to symbolically overthrow the symbol of monarchy the Bastille had embodied for years. The morning after, King Louis XVI was informed by the Duke of La Rochefoucauld, and asked him, “Is it a revolt?” To which the Duke famously replied, “No sire, it’s not a revolt; it’s a revolution.”

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Pablo Neruda

Love and Politics
Born on July 12th, 1904, Pablo Neruda, or Ricardo Eliécer Neftalí Reyes Basoalto, was a Nobel-winning, Chilean poet and diplomat whose staunch support for communism and fierce love of Chile and his Chilean compatriots, intertwined to create a powerhouse of a man. He has been called one of the greatest poets of the 20th century by the likes of Gabriel Garcia Marquez and Harold Bloom, and had the literary respect from writers such as Octavio Paz, Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriela Mistral, and has remained one of the most widely read poets in the world.

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Dystopian Horizons

Concrete uniformity. Brutalism. Doublespeak. Big Brother is watching you. Firemen coming to burn your belongings rather than douse them. For the good of the people, the nation. Propagandize the anthem. Remember, remember the fifth of November, The Gunpowder Treason and Plot!

Speculate on the words above—does it make you squeal? If so, is it with joy or horror? Does it make you dream, or does it suppress your foolishness so you may sleep soundly, night after night? Does it connect you to the overmind? And what may help relegate us to true uniformity?

It may be dystopia.
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Blessings in Bubonic Rags

The Plague and the Printing Press
There’s an old Chinese proverb about a farmer, his son, and their horse. One day the horse ran off, and when the neighbors heard, they came to commiserate. But the farmer rejected their sympathy, saying to them, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” The next day, the horse returned and brought with him a wild horse. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to give their congratulations, but the farmer rejected their congratulations and said, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” Later, when the son was trying to tame the wild horse and was thrown from its back and broke his leg. The neighbors came to the farmer once more saying “How unfortunate! Now your son cannot work on the farm with you!” And once more the farmer said, “Who knows what’s good or bad?” And as it happened, the next day officials arrived in the town to conscript all able-bodied young men to fight in a war, but since the son was injured he was spared.

This paradoxical domino effect can be seen—and in fact, finding these effects is a practice of many historians—when studying the many differing impacts of historical events.  

One paradox can be found during the Black Death
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Making a Difference

Nelson Mandela
Nelson Mandela International Day, which will be held on July 18th 2017, commemorates Nelson Mandela’s dedication and service to South Africa, as well as other people and cultures of the world.

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