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Healing the Itch

Natural Remedies
In many parts of the world, summer means outdoor activities and biting insects. Thirsty little bloodsuckers include mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies, lice, bedbugs, and fleas. Mosquitoes belong to the Culicidae family and are found on every continent except Antarctica. Black flies, horse flies, and deer flies range from five millimeters in length to 25 millimeters. They deliver painful bites. Body lice, head lice, and crab lice latch on for a lifetime, dining on their host’s blood. Of lice varieties, only the body louse transmits disease. Bedbugs lurk in mattress seams, electrical outlets, cracks in flooring, shoes, upholstered furniture, carpets and can survive for months without feeding. When they do find a host, they gorge themselves. Fleas move from animals to humans with equal enthusiasm and carry disease, most notably bubonic plague. Chiggers, deer and dog ticks, mange mites, and other biting bugs burrow under the skin to suck their hosts’ blood. Ticks transmit Lyme disease and Rock Mountain spotted fever.

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Social Seduction

Ballroom Dancing
In centuries past, the delicate act of social introduction for the upper echelons of society occurred in the ballroom. Closely chaperoned, eligible bachelors and unmarried ladies became acquainted, conversed, and developed relationships all with a trifold purpose of exercise, social networking, and finding a spouse in these civilized settings. In glittering ballrooms and dressed in their finest clothes, Europe’s gentry and North America’s moneyed class hunted for wealth and status.

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Prince (Not So) Charming

Merriam-Webster defines Prince Charming as the wonderful man who fulfills the dreams of his beloved. By any standard, every fairytale hero deserves the appellation. The ultimate goal of fairytale heroines, of course, is marriage, preferably to a wealthy (if not aristocratic) gentleman. Before one begins to fume at this traditional pigeonholing of feminine ambition, one must remember from whence these ancient tales arose.

Prince Charming as a standard character appears in our favorite fairy tales: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and Rapunzel. The earliest acknowledged use of the appellation “Prince Charming” (or “King Charming”) appears in The Blue Fairy Book (1889) by Andrew Lang, in which the hero’s name is “Charming.” In The Green Fairy Book (1906), Lang calls the hero “King Charming.” The trope continues in The Red Fairy Book by Lang.
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The Celebrity Chefs of Yesteryear

The airwaves abound with cooking shows, some featuring the cuisine of famous chefs and others contests judged by famous chefs. Cable TV even has an entire network devoted to food and its preparation. However, if asked to name the top chefs in the world, most people might automatically include Julia Child, whose culinary expertise first aired on television in 1963 with The French Chef. Child remains a recognized name after her death in 2004; however, other chefs gained relative fame and relative fortune long before mass media took the world by storm.

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Poetry and Truth

The Slant
According to Wallace Stevens, poetry is truth. He wrote, “For a poem to be true, it must come from an ever.” But what might “ever” be? That constant, the eternal, what is simultaneously everything and nothing … there are words we toss around for it, but the “ever” is inherently indescribable. Such it is for truth, which is perhaps why poetry is best suited as its companion. 

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Revisionist History and the Lives of Quotes

Henry David Thoreau
The 21st century birthed a handful of revisionist and reconstructionist history. The likes of Malcolm Gladwell to Howard Zinn have worked towards reinterpreting orthodox views in light of new or previously overlooked evidence. American literary and independence hero Henry David Thoreau, born July 12, 1817, is one such re-examined person.

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Korean War

Peace Tension
Like almost every geopolitical change in the modern world, the split of North and South Korea and the subsequent the Korean War, resulted from the Cold War and World War II.

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Manga Origins

From Humble Scrolls to World Domination
Japanese comics called "manga" has birthed countless anime shows and movies (which have become a media giant in their own right), cosplay fests around the world, and is now a pivotal part of Japanese cultural identity. Manga is absolutely contemporary, but its roots reach far back into Japanese art history.

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Cowboys

The World's Most Elegant Workmen
Film, music, and literature depict ruddy-faced men effortless herding and tending livestock on the open plains in cowboy lore, a sentimentalization of ranch workers and their prospective duties. At times those men are heroes defending the ideals of the cowboy: hardworking, honest, fearless. In other instances, they are anti-heroes: gunslingers and stagecoach robbers whose lives brewed a reckless lawlessness (both revered and feared) associated with a brand of self-defined freedom. Names like Billy the Kid, Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody, Nat Love (a former slave who found work as a cowboy following the American Civil War), and Annie Oakley (a teenaged sharpshooter who toured with Buffalo Bill) are among the most lauded cowboys and cowgirls. But they originated from a different faction of cowboys.

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Reggae

A Music for All Spirits
The stereotypes concerning the culture of reggae have become synonymous with the music itself. The genre culturally reappropriates and stylizes natty dreadlocks, counterrevolution, and cannabis consumption as facets of the Jamaican-borne music. The history of reggae music, however, includes more comprehensive interpretations.  It offers more than Bob Marley swinging his hair and smoking marijuana joints.

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Gymnastics

A Practice in Perfection
At the 1976 Summer Olympics, 14-year-old Nadia Comaneci’s gracefully executed routine on the asymmetric bar left international viewers stunned.  Judges awarded her an unprecedented first of four perfect scores, a ten of ten. At such an early age, her focus and dedication were clearly demonstrated. Gymnastics is a complex sport involving many disciplines that promote self-confidence, physical strength, alertness, and daring. It is a tool used to sharpen one's mental and physical capabilities.

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Poseidon's Pets

Documented Sea Monsters
Dragons, mermaids, and kraken, oh my! Forget the circus and head for water to find the world’s most frightening and unusual creatures. Sightings of sea monsters go back as far as men have sailed, span cultures around the globe, and persist even today.

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Puss in Boots

One of the most beloved of anthropomorphic characters in children’s literature isn’t man’s best friend: it’s a cat. Unlike most fairy tales, neither the Brothers Grimm nor Hans Christian Andersen popularized this one. The earliest known record of the delightfully sly and deceitful feline hero known as Puss in Boots comes from The Facetious Nights of Straparola (1550-53) by Italian author Giovanni Francesco Straparola. History credits Straparola with inventing the tale. Giambattista Basile published the story again under the title Cagliuso (1634), followed by French author Charles Perrault around 1697 in his collection of eight fairy tales, Histoires ou countes du temps passé

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Lost at Sea

The Bermuda Triangle
Quite possibly the most maligned stretch of ocean in the Western Hemisphere, popular culture attributes extraterrestrials, magic, and other occult powers to one of the world’s busiest intersections of shipping: the Bermuda Triangle. Although not officially recognized by any U.S. governmental agency, the area roughly covers a triangle of ocean from Miami, Florida to San Juan, Puerto Rico to the island of Bermuda. This loose definition of territory varies, with the total square miles covered ranging from 500,000 to 1.5 million.

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Chocolate

Food of the Gods
Chocolate originated in the Western Hemisphere and is native to Central and South America. History credits the ancient Olmecs of what is now southern Mexico as the first civilization to harvest the bitter fruit of the cacao tree and figure out how to consume them. Scholars believe that the Olmecs drank the bitter product of dried and roasted cacao beans and/or pods in religious ceremonies. However, the Olmecs left no written records, so knowledge of their use of cocoa is largely hypothetical. Academics agree that the Olmecs passed on that knowledge to the Mayans, who revered it and did leave written records.

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Semper Fi

Highlights from the History of the US Marines
The U.S. Marines Corps are an elite group who defend America on land, at sea, and via the air. Renowned for their fighting spirit, their motto Semper Fidelis (Semper Fi) means “Always Faithful” in Latin.

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Saying Farewell

Funeral Traditions Across Cultures
Some cultures perceive death as a celebration of the life a person once lived, not a somber occasion. Rather than getting decked out in black and donning dark sunglasses, some cultures play more upbeat music and engage in dancing. They embrace the light, leaving the darkness behind.

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War Propaganda by Notable Artists

It takes more than military might, a keen strategy, and an arsenal of weapons to lead a country to victory during wartime. The psyche also plays a vital role in boosting the morale of soldiers and civilians during wartime. 

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Captivating Landscape Design

Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr.
Sprawling green lawns and picturesque gardens offer an ideal respite from the frenetic pace of city life. In the middle of Manhattan, Central Park serves as an oasis, inviting city dwellers and visitors to relax and unwind on the grass or  stroll through the gardens.

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Myth of a Nomad

Romani Nation
Names are as important as the histories embedded within them. They imbue the power of both insidious implication and outright reference, revealing ignorance and tolerance. Incorrectly naming anything or anyone is the first step towards a host of other problems. One such name is “gypsy.”

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