THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 109

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 109

…A modicum of equality will have to do for now…

CHAPTER TEN

Snail’s Pace

 

Promises are meant to be kept.

Some are deferred.

Skaldic the Null willingly added his Null-ness to the Gifted, with the promise of parity for his people. Ekcello had done his level best to bridge the gap between the Gifted and the Null. However he has not the final word in the matter.

For cycles immemorial, never the tween did meet. The Null had their tower and that was that. Their needs were met more than adequately. And life was good – just happens to be better for the Gifted majority. As in most societies, the majority rules and the majority of Eridanian Gifted believe elevating Skaldic to Gifted status is quite enough. An extra portion of special grog is appropriated for everyone else. Certainly that will do.

Skaldic does not partake in grog, just as he has resisted the temptation of hookah. His judgement is sound and his commitment to his people is as clear as his new robes are white. You can lavish the emperor with new clothes, but you cannot water down what is underneath.

As a small concession, the Null are allowed to roam the planet at certain times in a cycle, not that there is anything fantastic to do outside their tower, but they are allowed to mingle and observe the Gifted way; an unwritten code of conduct unenforced at Null Tower. Little things, like bowing out of common courtesy, not worship and not speaking in the Olde Language, especially not out of tune, are expected behaviors.

In exchange, the Gifted have been instructed to respect the Null and aid them in the indoctrination. Most family units actually have ancestors among the Null population. The difference between the two cultures is esoteric.

A modicum of equality will have to do for now. The Towers were not built in a day.

Just as some riddles are meant to be solved. Some are not.

 


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 109


page 108

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 107

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 107

…Either we bring down the veil of the Gifted or the Null are lifted to Gifted status…

A segment of Eridanian society had seized the opportunity to lift & separate from the rest of the population; to be Gifted, with all the privileges that they built into it.

The Null had been intentionally stunted, the details of which may never be admitted.

“Holy donkey dung!” back to Sam’s brass tacks. “”I bet you need the “Null inside you” to make TSF work, am I correct?”

“The Null possess the spirit of ingenuity. In order to repress the urge for exploration, the Gifted have lost their way. “

“But you guys can do that transmigration thing.”

“Hyperphysical transmigration is all in the mind. It is not rooted in the tangible physics required to be anything other than an apparition.”

“But you went to Earth and fixed the Stellar Explorer. That molecular stabilizer took hands-on doing…”

“That work was done outside the timestem. We cannot exist in real-time while utilizing our minds.” The nuts & bolts of space-time are complicated. “There are two possible solutions to TSF problem. It is apparent that I cannot be the final judge of which will come to pass. Either we bring down the veil of the Gifted or the Null are lifted to Gifted status.”

“I have a perfect solution, a lucky silver coin that my granddad gave me, an 1873 Liberty dollar,” he produces it from the pocket where it is always kept. “I can flip it; Heads the Null win. Tails you lose.”

“Intriguing concept, but this is an Eridanus issue. It will be settled between respective leaders. What say you Skaldic?”

Skaldic is a practical individual. Deep down, he has regretted spurning his Giftedness, not for any good reason other than a longing for fairness. Now that he has been around Gifted-land and is witness to its failings, he is not sure who is truly better off. Just as, in the case of his stance on Null access to hookah, he must make the proper decision for the people he represents. They trust him.

Likened to the transcendent state that is derived from the hookah, he comes to the best conclusion.

“I will join the ranks of the Gifted on one condition; that the status of the Null will not be set aside, as it has been conveniently ignored for too long.”

“It seems we lack the life-force that only you can provide. Should you agree, the NULL will become part of us. The path of Eridanus will be made whole once again.”

“Geez, Skaldy, bite the bullet and join the party. If you can breathe life into Defender then do it!”

“Time is a wasting, right Sammy Mac?” Skaldic picks up on the spirit of this moment.

“Now we’re cooking with gas Ekcello!” Sam’s idioms have that old-fashioned feel to them. For those not of Earth, well…..

The compromising Eridanian eldest of all elders will never fully understand Sampson-speak/lingo; yet another skill only Skaldic has mastered. —


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 107


page 107

Middle Ages Handbook – WABAC Into Ancient History

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 Forgotten Peoples

of the Early

Middle Ages

The further back we look through history, the more diverse the people are. This isn’t surprising, given the fact that many nations today are basically tribes that found their way to today’s world. And each of these “tribes” is as diverse as the places they hailed from. Europe is no different.

During the Early Middle Ages (5th to 10th century AD), Europe was in a period of transition. The Roman Empire had recently fallen, and barbaric tribes were on the move, pushed forward by the invading Huns. The Arabic Moors were settling in the Iberian Peninsula, the Viking Age was just beginning, and the Byzantine Empire was carrying on Rome’s legacy in the east.

Well, here are some peoples who were also calling parts of Europe their home during those times. Most people today have all but forgotten about them, but their legacy still remains here and there.

waybac-machine

10. The Hutsuls – Ukraine

The Hutsuls are a group of Ukrainian pastoral highlanders inhabiting the Carpathian Mountains in present day West Ukraine. Their origins are shrouded in mystery. Scholars today can’t even agree on where their name comes from. Some say that the name was originally kochul (nomad), which became kotsul, and then hotsul. This referred to the Kievan Rus, who fled for the mountains during the Mongol Invasion of the 13th century. Others believe that the name derives from a sub-tribe of Cumans or Pechenegs, the Uzians, or from a tribe allied with the Ostrogoths – the Hutsians. More recent theories say that the name Hutsul comes from the Romanian word for brigand.

Whatever the case, these people have been living in the region for a long time, at least from the 9th century AD, and are still there today. They have a long lasting tradition in forestry, logging, and sheep herding. They’ve even been credited for having created the breed of horse known as the Hucul pony. Farming in this region was virtually nonexistent during those times, with the main focus being on animal husbandry. Today, roughly 25,000 Hutsuls live in the region. Most are in Ukraine, while the other 4,000 live in present day Romania.

9. The Principality of Hum – Bosnia and Herzegovina

Hum, more commonly known to the locals as Zachlumia or Zahumlje, was a Principality during the Early Middle Ages of what are now Bosnia and Herzegovina, and parts of Croatia. Zachlumia is a derivative of Hum, from Vlach (Vulgar Latin) culme, meaning “hill.” Zahumlje is named after the mountain of Hum. The name Herzegovina comes from the term Hum.

The inhabitants of the region were Slavic migrants who colonized the area during the 6th century. They mixed with the Romanized people already living there. The House of Viševi, which is Hum’s hereditary dynasty, probably descended from the Slavic Litziki tribe populating the upper streams of the Vistula River.

During the second half of the 7th century, the Avars occupied the whole region of Dalmatia and sacked the towns, enslaving and displacing the local population. The principality of Hum was among these places. Some of these Avars might have permanently settled the area. Nevertheless, they attacked Constantinople in 626, but were defeated by the Byzantines and stopped being an influential force in the region. Shortly after, in 630, the Serbs settled Hum under the protection of the Byzantine Emperor.

8. The Vascones – Spain

Located in the Northern part of the Iberian Peninsula, the Vascones were an Indo-European tribe. They’re considered by many to be one of the oldest on the continent. Not very much is known about them before Roman colonization, but what is known is that they are the ancestors of present-day Basques, who live there today. Their languages seem to have similarities, but to date the Vascone language hasn’t been successfully translated.

Before and during Roman rule, the territories of what is now Basque country were shared by the Vascones with three other smaller tribes: the Varduli, Caristii and Autrigones. What happened to them is a matter of debate, but they were more than likely assimilated by the Vascones during the following period. Later, they extended their reach northwards, across the Pyrenees into French Aquitaine. This region became to be known as Gascony, which derives its name from the Vascones.

In the 5th century AD, the Vascones began to see a period of constant strife with the advancing Vandals, Alans, and Suevi tribes, as well as the Visigoths, who were given the province of Aquitaine by the Romans. Later, further conflicts erupted between the Vascones and the Franks, as well as the Goths and Visigoths.

With the Arab Invasion in 711 and the rise of the Carolingian dynasty, the Vascones/Basques were under new threats. After Charlemagne’s death, his son Louis the Pious provoked a new rebellion in the region, led by Gartzia Semeno. A relative of his, Enecco Arista, took power in Pamplona around 824. This is when the Kingdom of Pamplona was born, later known as the Kingdom of Navarre.

7. The Kvens – Upper Scandinavian Peninsula

Contrary to popular belief, the Vikings never did control the whole of the Scandinavian Peninsula. The lands predominantly belonged to the Kvens and Sami of Kvenland since Neolithic times. Their numbers were bolstered by the coming Finno-Ugric peoples from the east, somewhere around the third millennium BC.Kvenland encompassed most of modern day Finland, part of northwestern Russia, and two thirds of Sweden and Norway. Up until the Medieval Period only the southern most parts of the peninsula in Norway, Sweden, and Finland were under control of the Norse.

The Kvens, together with the Sami, formed the ancestral basis for modern day Finland. To the Swedes, Kvenland was known as Österland, or the ‘eastern land’. Their organization was mostly tribal based, with a possibility of local kingships here and there. When talked about in Norse materials or sagas, these kingships were inflated to a national level.

It is believed that the Yngling royal family, the oldest Scandinavian dynasty, hailed from Kvenland. This is not entirely proven. What is for sure, however, is the Norse religion and folklore, which come from the Kvens. Something absolutely characteristic to shamanism from the Ural and Eurasian regions (from where the Kvens originated) is the cosmogony in the higher/middle/lower worlds division, evident in the nine worlds from Norse myth.

6. The Frisians – The Netherlands and Germany

Originating from a larger family of peoples, the Frisians are closely related to the Jutes, Warns, Angles, and Saxons, and spoke a language similar to English. Their forefathers settled the coastal, clay-districts of present-day Dutch provinces of Friesland and Groningen as early as 700 BC. Much like today, the region encountered periodical flooding, with sea levels rising every few centuries. That’s why the inhabitants mostly lived on man-made mounds, called terps.

Later, they fell under the protectorate of the Roman Empire, having to pay regular taxes in the form of cowhides. With the fall of the Romans, Germanic tribes swept over Western Europe. For the first time, they formed organized states. Groups of Frisians, together with the Chaukians, went on to create a new tribal alliance that became the Franks. Other Frisians, together with the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes, crossed the North Sea and formed present-day England.

They also created their own Frisian Empire, which peaked in the 7th century. Its lands were mostly on the coast, from north Belgium to southern Denmark. The North Sea was even called “Mare Frisicum” during this period. The Frisians controlled trade routes from Friesland to England, France, Scandinavia, and northwest Russia.

Even today, the Frisian language is recognized as official in the Netherlands and taught in schools throughout the province of Friesland. The small village of Hindeloopen, with a population of around 870 people, has its own Frisian dialect. It’s the smallest community in the world to publish its own dictionary.

5. The Picts – Scotland

Known as “Picti” (the painted ones) by the Romans, these people can trace their lineage back to the Celts in terms of language and culture. They inhabited the eastern and northern parts of present day Scotland. Because of the Picts, the Romans were unable to successfully conquer the whole of Britain. They were the main reason for Hadrian’s Wall (Picts’ Wall) being built.

Even though they lived on the outermost fringes of the continent, the Picts were skilled artists and traders. They created some of the most beautifully carved stones and jewelry north of Rome itself. They were even making use of “the Golden Ratio” in their designs. That’s something found only in nature, or a handful of other man-made structures like the Notre Dame Cathedral or the Egyptian Pyramids. Another interesting fact about these people is that they were among the last on the continent to practice a matrilineal succession, meaning that they were tracing their descent through a female, rather than male line.

Since they had no written language of their own, most of what we know about the Picts comes from outside sources. We unfortunately don’t know what they called themselves, or what religion or traditions they were practicing. However, the Picts played an active role in British history throughout the Early Middle Ages. They defeated the Anglo-Saxons on several occasions, creating a clear north-south divide on the island. The Picts played an integral role in the early formation of Scotland.

4. The Krivichi – Belarus

The Krivichi, or Krivichians, were a tribal confederation of different ethnic groups of Slavs who occupied regions of Belarus and western Russia. They’re mentioned in the Kievan Rus’ chronicles, though how they came to the region is still up for debate. Whatever the case, they played an intricate role in developing the area in terms of trade. They connected the towns of Novgorod with the town of Pskov, which gave them easy access to the Baltic Sea. They acted as middle men between the Vikings to the north and the Byzantine Empire to the south.

By the end of the first millennium, the Krivichi had built many agricultural settlements with traces of ironworks, jewelry making, and several other crafts. Archeological digs have uncovered many long burial mounds where the druzhinnik (members of princely retinue, or bodyguards) were interred in a sumptuous manner, alongside their weapons and other riches.

By the middle of the 9th century, the Krivichi went under the suzerainty of the Kievan Rus. They took part in Prince Oleh’s and Prince Ihor’s campaigns against Constantinople in 907 and 941, respectively. Both attacks failed to take the city, but sparked a period of good trade relations between the Vikings and the Byzantines. During this period, however, the Krivichians were broken up into three principalities under the rule of the Vikings. Together with the Drehovichians, they made up the ancestral basis for both the modern Russian and Belorussian people. The modern word Krievs means “Russian” in Latvian.

3. The Pannonian Avars – Hungary

The Avars were a nomadic horse-warrior people, whose origins are not entirely known. They are believed to have come from present day Mongolia. Their departure towards the west was most likely sparked by losing power in the region to the Gokturks.

Once on the European continent, they made contact with Emperor Justinian I of the Byzantines. He hired them to protect the Empire’s borders to the north. After Justinian’s death in 565 AD, the new Emperor, Justin II, canceled their agreement and the Avars started looking for a permanent home. Together with the Lombards, they defeated and removed the Gepids from Pannonia (present-day Hungary).

Now, established on the Pannonian plains, the Avars built their headquarters near Attila’s old capital and fortified it. This place became known as The Ring. From here they began several campaigns of expansion in all directions, enlarging their kingdom. They fought and defeated the Franks in 570, following with a campaign against the Byzantines. After ravaging Moesia, they were finally defeated near Adrianople in 587.

With the death of their ruler, Khan Bayan, around 602 AD, the Avar Khanate went into a slow decline. Just like the Huns, the Avars lacked any real central government capable of managing large numbers of sedentary people. They began to fight among themselves. Emperor Charlemagne of the Franks took advantage by attacking them in 795 AD. One year later, the Avars were ruled by the Franks. Their legacy, besides the iron stirrup (which they introduced in Europe), was the major shift in demographics wherever they raided or settled. The Avars are responsible for uprooting and displacing large numbers of people, who then had to establish their cultures elsewhere.

2. The Sorbs – Germany

During the second half of the 5th century, many Germanic tribes living in areas of present-day East Germany moved toward the Mediterranean. The vacuum left behind was filled by Slavic peoples collectively known as Wends. They assimilated the remaining “Germans,” and by the 7th century most of the region was Slavic speaking. Among these Wends were also the Sorbs, whose territories reached as far North as Berlin.

Their earliest surviving mention was in 631 AD, in Fredegar’s Chronicle, where they were described as Surbi and under the rule of Dervan. Initially subordinates to the Franks, the Sorbs declared their independence after the Frankish defeat of 632, in the face of Samo’s Empire (a political union of Slavic tribes). Over the coming centuries, the Sorbs fought several battles with the Franks and upcoming Germans. In 939, Gero II held a feast where he murdered 30 Sorbian princes, resulting in many Sorbian revolts against German rule.

From this period onward, the region became more and more Germanized. It now forms an integral part of modern day Germany. Around the Bautzen and Cottbus in Lusatia, some Slavic speakers survived and identify themselves as Sorbs even to this day. Their numbers, however, are dwindling. There are only around 60,000 living in the region since the fall of the Soviet bloc. Even if many don’t know how to speak the Sorb language, some still practice the old traditions like the lapanje kokota (rooster plucking), a summer harvesting ritual.

1. The Alans – Pretty Much All Over the Place

The Alans were an Iranian steppe people who, from the 4th century BC, settled the area between the Black and Caspian Seas, north of the Caucasus Mountains. They played an important role in shaping Medieval Europe. They were the only non-Germanic people to build important settlements in Western Europe, and dominated the late Roman Empire’s foreign affairs.

With the arrival of the Huns, the Alans broke into two parts. Some remained behind in Alania, while others pushed forward. Among the latter, some settled within the Byzantine Empire, though most went into Western Europe. Together with the Visigoths and Vandals, the Alans passed into Gaul and Spain, reaching as far as North Africa.

The Alans and Romans were able to defeat Attila the Hun in 451 AD, sparing much of Western Europe from the Hunnic onslaught. After Attila’s death, the Alans settled in large numbers along the middle course of the Loire in Gaul under King Sangiban, as well as on the lower Danube with King Candac. In 461 and 464 they also made incursions into Italy. By the 5th century AD, the Alans became fully Christianized and gradually lost their Iranian language.

The Alans are credited for their introduction of mounted warfare tactics into Western Europe, as well as armoring themselves and their horses. The Spanish province of Catalonia is just a slight deformation of Goth-Alania. The name Alan, in all its variations and languages, comes from the tribe. They also left an imprint in Celtic poetry, e.g., the cycle of legends concerning King Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table. They introduced a now-extinct dog breed, the Alaunt. It was used in the still-popular sport of hunting on horseback with hunting dogs. This practice was introduced into Europe by…you guessed it: the Alans.


Middle Ages Handbook

WABAC Into Ancient History

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 104

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 104

…In pursuing “The Curious Case of Collapsar’s Cause”, worse is better…

#It would take a cosmic force to disable TSF# Xat would know.

#We suspect O is responsible#

#We know both O #

The dank cavern surrounds them once again. Xat returns to the world he created for himself.

Ekcello and the Keeper return to the surface. One problem solved while others go unanswered.

#I wonder if Xat could solve the riddle#

#Which riddle Supreme Elder? There are two O#

Chasonn is aware that he needs a fashion makeover to blend into the world he seeks to occupy. Clothing may or may not define the man, but it means different things to different people, while others find it unnecessary. He does cut a fine figure, but if he shows up on Collapsar Axis looking like a Seljuk prince, he will last only as long as he goes undetected.

Someone versed in the ways of the Ÿ€Ð, tells him that he is suffering from the dreaded “2’s”:

  1. 2 clean
  2. 2 comely
  3. 2 thin
  4. 2 modern

…And not barbaric enough.

So in the days leading up to his one-man incursion, he regresses, digresses and most importantly suppresses the Seljukian charm that hangs on him like a badge of honor. In order, he undoes the 2’s:

  1. Bathing is for the weak
  2. Seediness projects strength
  3. Excess in all things
  4. Dress-down for success

In pursuing “The Curious Case of Collapsar’s Cause”, worse is better. As it turns out, the Ÿ€Ð intellectual class is clothed in hooded garments. It makes them look smarter. For Chasonn, it will be a convenient way to wander about.

But the real risk taking begins with his prisoner- tested and prince-approved particle-beam transporter. Hitting the larger target is easy, finding a strategic spot to insert him is critical. If the transporter places him in the wrong area, it would take him days to find what he is looking for – if only he knew what he was looking for.

Goal one is to make sure that Seljuk interests are secure. Goal two is fluid.

“I will return to my landing spot at the appointed time. If I am not there, keep trying. Hopefully I do not attract undue attention,” he tells his transport assistant.–


THE NULL SOLUTION

Undue Attention

Episode 104


page 105

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 58

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 58

…I have a disease that the there is no surefire cure…

“I don’t know, ever since these visions I’ve been having, I seem to get these flashes. Today’s flash must be happy,” Gus describes his state-of-mind to his stepfather.

About that time, his personal device tries to vibrate off his handy-dandy utility belt. It is hard to stay in the present, when your mind may be 40 trillion {unknowingly} miles away. The present is very persistent.

“Would you please respond to that? NASA devices do not exceed one alert, unless it is important, like when you are on the other side of the Sun.”

“It’s from Mindy. I’ve got to get back to the house.”

“I never thought I’d see the day when Gus McKinney is a henpecked husband!”

“You had the whole country henpecked for eight years,” that not-so-obscure reference to Francine Bouchette-Crippen is sufficient to silence the critic.–

— Moving at Earth-speed is so boring… until it isn’t.

“Do you remember our date night, the one after you returned from the Sun?”

“How can I forget? That movie we saw… wasn’t it Notebook: The Cure? Incurable diseases are so yesterday.”

“Well, I have a disease that the there is no surefire legal cure.”

She sounds serious enough for him to take notice. Do Earthmen really roll with the flow?

“We have access to the best doctors in the world Mindy. We can fight this!” which begs the question, “What exactly are we fighting?” His concern deepens.

You cannot be married to a McKinney male without having a sense of humor. “What has 4 limbs grows tall & strong and is destined to bear fruit?”

“A lemon tree?”

“Aren’t you sweet?”

“An apple tree?’

“You’re getting warm Adam.”

“I’m Gus.”

“Do you give up?”

Not in the McKinney dictionary.

Does this riddle have anything to do with his previously contented bliss?

“Does your riddle have anything to do with my good mood, before you turned it into a quiz?”

“Time is up!”

Mindy McDonald-McKinney holds up a doctor’s prescription for prenatal medication.

What do you think the expectant father does first?

“Mindy is pregnant, Dad!” He rings up Roy to share the news. Then he ponders her quiz, “4 limbs blah, blah… bear fruit? Does that mean it’s a girl?”

Parents on this side of Stardate 2031 do not get a choice about getting a surprise or not. Oh sure the pregnancy may be, but not the xx or xy factor.

Over on Eridanus

“You look doubly content, Deke,” Celeste notices.

Long after getting his baby news, something washes over Deke McKinney.

“I don’t know…, but I am feeling happy about something else, can’t explain it.”

Outside the Null Tower

“Are things ever going to change for the Null?” Offingga asks Skaldic.

“They already have.”

The future of the Null is NOT void.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 58


page 61 (end ch. 5)

THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 47

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THE NULL SOLUTION = Episode 47

…Skaldic has chosen his own path, he chooses the Null way…

CHAPTER FIVE

Null Not Void

 In times of doubt, when what she sees does not compute, Deimostra McKinney will pursue it to the point of understanding. Just why the Null are labeled as inferior eludes her. And why do the so-called Gifted have the right to lord over them. As far as she can tell the Null she has met are as pleasant, maybe even more genuine than their counterparts.

It is time for Cerella to finish the subject she hurriedly brushed aside when the Null first met the Space Family McKinney. At the time, O was the topic that dominated any discussion that shed light on the Null and their secluded Tower.

That Deimostra is a societal infant and that she can identify injustice is telling for sure.

“It has always been so Deimostra. It has never been an issue. They are not intuitive of the mind. They are inferior. They are well cared for. They lack for nothing. They are Null.”

“And yet Eridanus’ welfare has been in Skaldic’s capable control until the time we got back,” she takes exception to inferiority.

Skaldic has chosen his own path. He chooses the Null way.

“Then why weren’t we banished to our own tower or the Null Tower when stepped off the NEWFOUNDLANDER? You must have thought us to be less-than-nothing. Stowaways on your precious property… that’s what we were.”

“It was Celeste who convinced us that you were intelligent beings. She communicated in the Olde Language and you were not considered a threat to us.”

“There, don’t you get it Cerella? Why can’t the Null learn what we learned? Or why do they even need to?”

“We have the left old behind and have embraced the new. The Null have no interest in the ways of the Gifted.”

Celeste is near, picks up on her daughter’s argument discussion and adds her perspective. “On Earth, we had people we called slaves. They were savages from the wilds of the continent Africa. They were bought and sold like a commodity… the Null are not slaves.”

“But until The Gifted fell silent, the Null were not allowed out of their tower, like they have some strange disease. They aren’t slaves, but there is a distinct separation going on here.”

Mother Celeste raises both arms and shrugs, “She has a good point Cerella.”

Defeating centuries of perception is like running into a brick wall; the inexorable force meets the immovable object.

“All but Skaldic and his attendant will be permitted outside the Null Tower.”

And that, is as they say, is that.


THE NULL SOLUTION

Episode 47


page 51

Easy Easter Tidbits – WIF Holidays

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 Easter  is

More Interesting

Than Just

Chocolate

As holidays go, Easter is a strange one. We’re here today to look at Easter’s origins, and how it’s celebrated around the world. Just make sure to keep some chocolate on standby in case of cravings.

10. The Name

easter1

We know that Christmas is a combination of “Christ” and “Mass,” and we also know that Halloween comes from “All hallow-even.” But where does Easter come from?

By far the most prolific explanation comes from the Anglo-Saxon goddess of fertility known as Eostre. The goddess had 10 variants of her name, including Ostara, Eostur and Austron — which made adding her as a contact on your phone a nightmare — but it’s agreed that the root of her name comes from “eastre,” meaning “spring.” This was adopted and used as a Christian celebration. Despite the fact that this is one of the top explanations, there’s a lot of debate over whether Eostre was even an actual goddess worshipped by people. You know, just to confuse you further.

9. The Rabbit

easter2

Out of all the animals to be designated as the one who delivers chocolate eggs, why a rabbit? The tradition definitely has a back story, but which story you get depends on who you ask. There have been several claims for the origin of the iconic rabbit, and they span different religions and traditions.

One theory states that the Easter Bunny originated from our friend Eostre. The story goes that, once upon a time, Eostre stumbled upon a bird dying from the cold in the snow. She turned the bird into a hare, so that its fluffy coat kept it warm and safe. Because it was once a bird, it still laid eggs, so the rabbit decorated them and left them as gifts to Eostre for saving its life. This is also an explanation for the Easter egg hunt — looking for the eggs that the bird-rabbit hid. Although stealing gifts from a goddess is probably not the best idea.

Another story states that the Easter Bunny came about because, once upon a time, people believed that rabbits were hermaphrodites, making them able to give birth without losing their virginity. This has strong ties to the virgin birth of Jesus from Mary, so people began to relate rabbits to them. Some churches even sport a three hare motif, consisting of three hares connected by their ears running in a circle, a potential symbol of the Holy Trinity. However, these have been found all over the world, and their true meaning is unknown.

A third story points a finger to the first record of the Easter Rabbit in De ovis paschalibus, a German book that translates to About the Easter Egg. It states that the tradition had existed in the Christian-dominated Alsace, carried over to America with German immigrants in the 1700s, and sparked the annual chocolate gluttony ever since. There’s been no historic record yet that says people waited a day later to get eggs much cheaper, though.

8. Semana Santa

IMG_3717

Now that we’ve tackled the myths and legends behind Easter, we can look at the events that take place around the world leading up to, and on, the holy day. One is Semana Santa, held within cities across Spain.

Semana Santa means Holy Week, the period leading up to Easter Sunday. In it, all shops and stores except restaurants close, and the entire city is transformed.55 different churches take part in the festival, parading large floats that resemble Jesus in some way. The floats make their way from their church of origin to the cathedral, and then back again. While a sombre celebration, it’s one that draws tourists from all over the world to see its magnificence.

7. The Epitáphios Threnos

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The Epitáphios Threnos is a tradition in Greek Orthodox religions that’s held on Good Friday. It means Lamentation at the Tomb, and is in essence a funeral service to respect the death of Jesus by re-enacting the way he was buried after his crucifixion. The Epitáphios Threnos takes place in churches, where an epitaphios is placed atop something representing the tomb of Christ. The epitaphios is a highly-adorned piece of cloth that represents the shroud Jesus was wrapped in. The tomb is decorated with flower petals and rosewater before hymns are spoken. Interactions with this tomb vary depending on tradition — some will hold it over the church entrance so that believers pass under it, a symbol of entering the grave alongside Christ.

6. Easter Ham

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A prolific theory behind the Easter ham resides in Christianity. The story states that a wicked queen named Ishtar gave birth to a son called Tammuz. This son would become a hunter, but his career was cut short when he was killed by a wild pig. Presumably out of spite, and maybe with a love for bacon mixed in, Ishtar designated a Sunday on which people consumed pig.

Another theory states that, while lamb was usually the go-to dish for its symbolism with Passover, ham would be used because pigs were considered a symbol of good luck. Killing and eating symbols of good luck seems to be a bad idea, but at least it got ham on the table.

Another source gives a more practical approach. Before the invention of refrigeration, pigs were slaughtered in the fall and preserved during winter. Should some of the meat not be consumed during the winter months, it would be cured so it could be eaten during springtime. When did the curing finish?Around Easter, making it an ideal dish for the season. It’s a less exciting origin, but it makes good sense.

5. Maundy Money

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In the United Kingdom, a select few people are given money the day before Good Friday. These coins, known as Maundy Money, have a long history. It began when Jesus gave the command “that ye love one another” after he washed the feet of his disciples, who probably felt they could get used to that sort of treatment. This became a fourth century tradition where the poor have their feet washed and are given clothes. This stopped around the eighteenth century, and was replaced by an allowance to give the poor the chance to buy food and clothing. Thus was born the Maundy Money.

Today, a selection of elders receive a red and white purse. The red one contains legal currency, while the white one contains special symbolic Maundy coins. These people are selected by the amount of Christian service they have performed, so if you see some senior citizens suddenly taking a great interest in the church and goodwill approaching Easter, now you know why.

4. Pysanka Eggs

Mixed Eggs

Painting eggs on Easter is always fun. But it doesn’t have to be child’s play — the Ukrainian Easter tradition of Pysanka eggs are a craft all by themselves. These highly-decorated eggs have been made during Holy Week for generations. Even when Easter is nowhere near, people can’t resist making them. While people once made eggs to ensure fertility and avoid fires and nasty spirits, today they take to the art form for the aesthetic allure.

How do Pysanka eggs differ from regular ones? The preparation, mostly. After designing a pattern on an uncooked or empty egg, it’s then dipped in a colored dye. Between the dyeing stages, the craftsman draws patterns on the egg with wax, so as to seal the color currently on the egg and create the intricate patterns you see on the final product. In short, if the rabbits you paint on Easter eggs end up looking like the one out of Monty Python and the Holy Grail, perhaps consider purchasing Pysanka eggs instead.

3. Haux Omelets

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After a busy Easter, it’s easy to imagine that people are sick to death of anything based around eggs. It would be a good idea for them to stay away from Haux in France, whose Easter traditions are just dying to have egg-based puns written about them. Every year on Easter Monday, the residents create a large omelet. This isn’t the kind of large omelet you get when you drop a box of eggs on the floor — it’s not unheard of for the final result to come in at three yards wide to feed 1,000 people. One year’s omelet saw 5,211 eggs, 21 quarts of oil, and 110 pounds of bacon, onion and garlic, which sure beats what you get at Denny’s. You could even call it eggstreme, if you wanted us to come over there and smack you.

2. Passion Plays

Vilagers take part in an Easter Passion Play re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on Good Friday at Gantang Village near Magelang, in the province of Central Java

One of the longest running traditions of Easter is the Passion Play. Because a lot of people in medieval times couldn’t read, plays were a great way to educate the masses about the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection. There are passion plays held all over the world, but one of the most famous is the Oberammergau Passion Play. Its roots began during the black plague, when the residents of Oberammergau were on high alert to keep the disease out. A farmer coming home from a nearby village brought the plague back with him, which killed one-fifth of the town. With the disease ravaging the town, the elders declared that the church would hold a passion play every 10 years in exchange for God’s blessing and protection (you’d think they’d try every 10 days considering the circumstances, but whatever). The play has been performed every 10 years since 1633, with only a ban in 1770, World War I, and World War II stopping three shows. Thankfully, no outbreaks of plague happened on those years.

1. The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers

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If you’re discussing what you do on Easter with a friend, and they reveal that what they love most about it is the part where people with blackened faces perform a folk dance down the streets, you may have just met someone from Bacup, England. Every Easter, The Britannia Coco-Nut Dancers, or Nutters, perform a folk dance from one town boundary to the other. What makes these dancers unique is their blackened faces, but no one is sure of their origins. It might be from medieval times to hide the faces of those who participated to stop evil spirits from getting their revenge, or it may have ties to the mining industry. Either way, the custom has come under fire for its potential racist nature, with the Nutters swearing that the blackened faces have no racial aspect whatsoever. Like every dispute around Easter, we hope this one can be solved with chocolate.


Easy Easter Tidbits

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Caveman Digest – WIF Ancient History

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Theories About

Why the

Neanderthals

Died Out

Homo sapiens and Homo neanderthalensis… or, humans and Neanderthals… started to diverge from a common ancestor, Homo erectus, about 700,000 years ago. Then our species completely branched off about 300,000 years ago.

On average, Neanderthals were shorter than humans and they had a stockier build. They also had angled cheekbones, prominent brow ridges, and wide noses. Like humans, they used tools, controlled fire, and buried their dead. Also, while they are often depicted as dumb, savage brutes, researchers believe they were as intelligent as humans.

They lived in Eurasia, from about Spain to western Siberia, and while the date of their extinction is debated, it’s believed that they died out somewhere between 30,000 to 42,000 years ago. Why they went extinct is one of the biggest mysteries in evolutionary science. So why did our ancestral cousins die out?

10. We Were Better Hunters

The Neanderthals went extinct not long after humans migrated out of Africa into Eurasia. Since the Neanderthals ruled Europe for so long before the arrival of humans, and suddenly died off after coming into contact with them, it has led researchers to believe that humans were somehow responsible, at least in part, for the extinction.

One theory as to how humans drove Neanderthals to extinction was because we were better hunters. This became a problem because, with only a limited amount of food, there would have been competition for it. Since we’re here and they aren’t, it would suggest that we were better hunters and got most of the food. This would have caused the Neanderthal population to plummet, while the human population would have gone up.

9. Humans Violently Replaced Them

Throughout history, groups of humans have had a tendency to kill, enslave, or conquer other groups of people who are different from them. Why would prehistoric humans be any different when they came into contact with the Neanderthals?

When humans migrated out of Africa, they may have been more aggressive and more violent than the Neanderthals because that was advantageous to their hunting style. Meanwhile, it’s believed that the Neanderthals were less violent because they didn’t hunt in the same way. Instead of hunting and chasing down big animals, to get their protein they ate insects.

If they were more peaceful by nature, the Neanderthals would have been unable to fight off the growing population of violent human brutes who invaded their territory.

8. Volcanic Eruption

An event that can have profound effects on the Earth is the eruption of a large volcano. When a volcano erupts, millions of cubic tons of ash and debris can be put into the atmosphere and this alters the climate of the Earth by making it cooler, because less sun reaches the Earth.

Well 39,000 years ago, around the same time that the Neanderthals started to go extinct, the Campi Flegrei volcano west of Naples, Italy had a massive eruption. It was the biggest eruption in Europe in 200,000 years and 60 cubic miles of ash was pumped into the atmosphere.

This would have had devastating effects on the Neanderthals. The sun would have been blotted out for months, if not years. This would have cooled temperatures in Europe and it would have brought acid rain. These types of conditions would have made the environment inhospitable to the Neanderthals, causing them to die out. As the ash dispersed and the Neanderthals were dying off, humans would have moved into Europe with little resistance.

7. Humans Hunted With Wolves

Around the time that the Neanderthals went extinct, there were three top predators competing for food in Europe: the Neanderthals, humans, and wolves. According to anthropologist Pat Shipman of Pennsylvania State University an alliance between the wolves and the humans led to the extinction of the Neanderthals. His theory is that humans were able to tame and breed wolves. These wolf-dogs would have been used to get large animals, like mammoths, cornered so humans could finish them off. Cornering the animal was the most dangerous part of the hunt.

Also, when humans would bring down the animals and started to cut it apart, they would had to fight off scavengers, but the wolves would have been able sense scavengers from longer distances and they would have scared them off. Then the humans would feed the wolves and this would have been a win-win situation for the two top predators.

Meanwhile, there is no evidence that the Neanderthals used wolves to hunt. Without their help, prey would have been more dangerous to hunt and they would have to exert more energy while hunting, meaning they needed more food to sustain themselves. This would have made it hard for the Neanderthal population to maintain and grow their population, especially when two of their competitors teamed up to fight for the same resources that they needed.

6. Humans Had More Culture

According to a mathematical model from Stanford University, the reason that humans are still around and the Neanderthals aren’t is that humans had a high level of culture. By having a stronger culture, they would have been able to hunt and gather food over a larger area than the Neanderthals. This culture would have also led to better tool-making skills, which would allow them to make better weapons. For example, an ax would have been an incredibly useful tool and a devastating weapon.

According to their model, a small population of humans with a high level of culture could have overwhelmed a large population of Neanderthals who were less cultured.

5. The Division of Labor

The Neanderthals didn’t have the most complex diet. They were known to hunt big game animals, which was a dangerous task. They also hunted differently than humans. Neanderthal men, women, and juveniles would get involved with the hunt. Humans, on the other hand, developed tasks based on gender and age. This division of labor allowed them to collect a variety of different foods, and then they could process and cook it.

Being able to eat a variety of cooked food would have given humans an evolutionary edge in two ways. The first is that there would been more sources for food. Secondly, the more complex diet of cooked food not only allowed humans to survive, but it also helped in the evolution of the human brain and helped make it what it is today.

4. Neanderthals Had Smaller Frontal Lobes

One of the prevailing misconceptions surrounding the Neanderthals is that we were smarter than them. However, researchers believe their brains were just as big as humans’, but they were built differently. Neanderthal brains were designed to control their large bodies and to track movement. Humans had larger frontal lobes, which is the region of the brain where decision-making, social behavior, creativity, and abstract thought are controlled. In the long run, these qualities probably gave us an evolutionary edge compared the Neanderthals.

For example, by using abstract thought, humans realized that by processing food, like smashing up cooked yams, it would have saved energy during the eating process because you need less energy to chew your food. This is especially important when raising children. Secondly, the frontal lobe would have been helpful in spreading new technology quickly. With a larger frontal lobe it would have been easier for humans to teach each other, and to learn. Also, thanks to the large frontal lobe, early humans saw the benefit in forming large social groups, and these large groups would have made technology easier to spread across the species.

By saving energy on everyday tasks like eating, and utilizing technology, it would have given us an evolutionary edge that allowed us to survive while the Neanderthals went extinct.

3. The Weather Change Changed Their Habitat

An argument against the replacement theory is that humans had nothing to do with the extinction of the Neanderthals. After all, humans first left Africa about 100,000 years ago and moved into the Middle East, and then about 60,000 years ago they made it to Australia. However, humans only migrated into Europe, the Neanderthal’s homeland, 45,000 years ago. The question is, why did humans travel all the way down to Australia before getting to Europe, which is essentially around the corner from the Middle East? This suggests that humans may have only been able to move in when the Neanderthals were already dying off.

So why were they dying off? Well, drastic weather change could have been the culprit. When the Neanderthals went extinct, the last Ice Age was coming to an end and Eurasia was experiencing unstable weather patterns which dramatically changed the landscape. For example, in Italy around the time the Neanderthals went extinct, forests morphed into open plains over the span of 100 years. The Neanderthal body simply couldn’t evolve fast enough to survive in the new landscape.

The problem was that the Neanderthals hunted in the forest. They used the trees as cover and then they clubbed or stabbed prey. Their bodies simply weren’t built to sneak up on fast moving and dangerous game animals in the newly developed open plains.

Humans, on the other hand, were used to grasslands and open fields because that was the terrain in Africa where humans evolved and strived. With the Neanderthal population dwindling and the landscape becoming advantageous to humans’ skills, our ancestors simply moved into the area.

2. Disease Wiped Them Out

Why the Neanderthals lived for tens of thousands of years in Eurasia, but died out about 1,000 to 5,000 years after coming into contact with humans, is one of the most debated topics in anthropology. The obvious conclusion is that humans had something to do with the extinction, but no one is sure how or why humans caused it.

One theory is that when the Neanderthals moved out of Africa and settled in Eurasia, their immune system developed to deal with that environment. However, when humans migrated out of Africa, they brought African pathogens with them and these caused diseases like tuberculosis, herpes, tapeworms, and stomach ulcers. The Neanderthals’ immune systems simply couldn’t deal with the diseases and they went extinct. Yes, you read that right. Humans gave the Neanderthals herpes and it killed them.

Evidence to back this up is that this is what happened when Europeans came to the Americas starting in 1492. When they came, they brought diseases like smallpox and malaria, and this was devastating to people in the Americas. Since the Native Americans’ immune systems weren’t developed to combat the diseases, it’s estimated that 20 million Native Americans were killed in the years following contact with the Europeans, which was nearly 95 percent of the population in the Americas.

1. They Assimilated With Humans

One theory surrounding the fate of the Neanderthals is that there was no death blow. They simply assimilated with humans by interbreeding. For any of the reasons listed in the other entries on this list, or quite possibly because of a combination of them, the population of Neanderthals became drastically low. However, instead of all of them dying off, the species was just absorbed by the much bigger human population.

Evidence to back this up is that if you were born outside of Africa, 1.5 to 2.1 percent of your DNA is Neanderthal in origin. However, what’s interesting is that it isn’t the same genes in everyone. For example, if you have 2% Neanderthal DNA and your next door neighbor has 2% Neanderthal DNA, you may not share the same 2%. Researchers think that 20 percent of the Neanderthal genome is still found within humans. So they never exactly went extinct; instead, their DNA just became part of the modern human genome.


Caveman Digest –

WIF Ancient History

Those Wacky Pharaohs – WIF Confidential

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Crazy Things

Done by

Egyptian Pharaohs

Like many rulers from the time before we had running water and microwaves, the pharaohs of Egypt were considered to be only rivaled in power by the gods their people worshiped. Considering the ancient Egyptians worshiped a god with crocodile for a head, they must have thought their pharaohs were pretty boss. So boss in fact that they let them get away with some pretty ridiculous things during their time in power, for example let’s talk about that time…

 10. Pharaoh Psamtik III Let His Army be Defeated… to Save Some Cats

As you may recall from The Mummy movies, cats were kind of a big deal in ancient Egypt. This is mostly due to the animal being closely linked with the cat-headed goddess of warfare and balls of twine, Bastet. In addition, cats were revered for the role they played in protecting food stores and homes from disease by killing pests likes snakes and rats. As a result, it was considered a crime in ancient Egypt to harm or, through inaction, allow a cat to come to harm. Basically, the pharaohs coined the three laws of robotics millennia before Asimov, and used them to protect the thing that poops under your stairs.

Perhaps the greatest example of a pharaoh placing the well-being of cats above that of his own people was when pharaoh Psamtik III literally told his army not to fight because an enemy commander had released hundreds of cats onto the battlefield. That commander was Persian king Cambyses II who, knowing of the Egyptians love of cats, had his men collect as many as they could prior to the battle and ordered them to simply walk up to the front gate of Pelusium (a major Egyptian stronghold) holding them, along with releasing hundreds more into the enemy ranks as they advanced.

The Egyptians, under threat of death from their pharaoh, had no choice but to let Cambyses’ men walk straight into the city unchecked. Cambyses’ men then methodically slaughtered anyone who dared challenge them, using shields with cats drawn on them, because oh yeah, even striking an image of a cat in ancient Egypt was enough to get in trouble.

The end result was a total victory for Cambyses, who celebrated in a dignified, noble fashion. Just kidding. He ordered the defeated Egyptian army to march past him as he threw cats at them while screaming insults at their god. Luckily for Psamtik, this is by no means the most embarrassing thing to happen to a pharaoh, with that honor likely belonging to…

9. Pharaoh Menes, the Legendary Pharaoh Who Was Killed by an Angry Hippo

Pharaoh Menes (sometimes written as Mena, or sometimes simply Min) was reportedly Egypt’s first pharaoh, and his journey to unify all of Egypt under a single ruler is the stuff of legend. Not because it was awesome, but because we know virtually nothing about Menes’ life or rule. He’s just from that long ago.

In fact, historians are only really confident about a few key details from Menes’ life: That he ruled Egypt during a time of relative peace, that he was well-respected by his people, and that he was stomped to death by a hippo after 62 years on the throne. Exactly how Menes met his end at the hands of a hippo isn’t known, because apparently that’s not a detail anyone back then felt was all that interesting to note. All we know for sure is that somehow the first Egyptian pharaoh was mysteriously ambushed while surrounded by guards, by a hippo. Speaking of dead pharaohs, did you know…

8. Pharaoh Rameses Got a Passport, Long After He Was Dead

Ramses II is considered to have been one of ancient Egypt’s greatest rulers, judging by just how many monuments were built in his name and the fact he was alternatively known as Ramses the Great by his subjects. After a 96-year long career as a pharaoh, Ramses was probably looking forward to spending some quality time alone as a corpse in a pimpin’ gold coffin, but the museums of the world had other ideas.

Like many great pharaohs, Ramses’ corpse was exhumed and put on display in a museum, his near-century-long legacy as a man thought of as no less than a god summed up by a single placard in a language his ancient mind couldn’t comprehend. In 1974, after years on display, Ramses’ corpse was showing its age and it was agreed that it should be sent to a Paris laboratory to be prettied up.

Not wanting the memory of one of the greatest pharaoh to be sullied by listing him as luggage, the Egyptian government granted Ramses an official Egyptian passport for his journey. Along with listing his name and age (some 3,000+ years at the time he flew), the passport also listed Ramses occupation as “King” with a small disclaimer adding that he was dead, as if the fact he was 3,000 years old didn’t already give that away.

7. Pharaoh Sesostris and His Big Ol’ Vagina Statues

Pharaoh Sesostris is a Pharaoh who may or may not have existed, with modern historians believing that he may actually be a composite figure with the stories told about him being gleaned from the lives of several pharaohs from across Egypt’s history. These pharaohs include the aforementioned Ramses the Great and Seti the First. As a result, we don’t know exactly who the following story is actually attributed to, but we had to share it, because… well, you’ll see.

The story goes that Sesostris was an incredibly confident military leader who hungered for battle, openly mocking enemies he felt fought poorly and applauding those he felt fought with honor. To this end the pharaoh is said to have taken to erecting statues in the middle of conquered cities he felt didn’t put up much of a fight with a giant vagina carved into it. A symbolic insult suggesting that the conquered city’s army fought like women. Again, we have no idea about the veracity of this tale since it’s main source is the notoriously unreliable scholar of history, Herodotus, but put yourself in our shoes and tell us you wouldn’t at least mention a pharaoh with a penchant for erecting giant vagina statues as an insult?

6. Pharaoh Akhenaten Got Rid of Religion, So Egypt Got Rid of Him

Akhenaten is a Pharaoh notable for two things: attempting to introduce monotheism to ancient Egypt, and the resulting backlash that saw him nearly erased from all of history.

 Basically, Akhenaten attempted to abandon the traditional Egyptian religious beliefs of believing in multiple awesome gods, and instead tried to convince his people to believe in and worship a single, super god called Aten. Perhaps because Aten was a lame disk of light with dozens of arms instead of a cool crocodile man or dog-headed grim reaper, the people of Egypt largely rejected this new religion and mere days after Akhenaten died, every reference to Aten – and by extension Akhenaten (who styled himself as Aten’s representative on Earth like some sort of sun-pope) – was scrubbed from Egypt.

Everything from the vast temples the pharaoh built to simple cooking pots bearing an image of Aten were destroyed, and Akhenaten himself was branded a traitor, with every mention of his rule being erased from every historical record. So complete was this process that his modern scholars had no idea Akhenaten had even existed until the late 19th century, when some of the items that survived the purge of his new religion were discovered.

5. Many Pharaohs Ceremonially Masturbated Into the Nile

Whacking it (the proper scientific term) played a surprisingly big part in ancient Egyptian culture, with the society’s creation story literally involving one of their many gods masturbating into the cosmos to create life as we know it. As pharaohs were seen as being basically a single step below the various deities of ancient Egypt, it was similarly customary for pharaohs to polish their bone and shoot some baby gravy directly into the Nile every now and again.

The idea behind this bizarre practice was that, like the gods before them, the pharaoh was infusing the river with his holy seed, encouraging life to spring forth from its waters in the form of a good harvest. Of course, not every pharaoh did this, because not every pharaoh had a tallywacker, which didn’t stop them pretending they did. Just ask…

4. Pharaoh Hatshepsut and Her Big Fake Beard

While the image of an ancient Egyptian pharaoh is undeniably that of a rippling, golden skinned man with a crooked staff, a silly hat, and a stupid beard, Egypt did have its fair share of vagina-owning pharaohs. Among them was Hatshepsut, one of Egypt’s most celebrated rulers and a woman credited with one of the longest and most successful reigns of any ruler from history, female or otherwise. Along with establishing major trade routes that helped fill Egyptian coffers full of gold and various spices, Hapshetsut is also credited with inventing that killer eyeliner all the pharaohs wore.

History notes that Hatshepsut’s gender was seldom an issue for her subjects and many statues were built in her honor sporting her delicate features, and oddly enough, a big beard. You see, in ancient Egypt that stupid little beard thing was seen as a symbol of “pharaonic power” and all pharaohs, male and female, were expected to have one during special ceremonies. The problem for Hatshepsut, other female pharaohs, and even male pharaohs who couldn’t grow a half decent beard, is that this obviously wasn’t possible. As such, elaborate fake beards were constructed to be used by the pharaohs who, for whatever reason, didn’t like the idea of actually growing and maintaining a real one.

Hatshepsut went a step further than this, though, and she’s recorded to have ordered that all statues of her were to capture her likeness while also simultaneously depicting her as a man to silence any naysayers who believed she couldn’t rule because of her gender. As a result of this, Hapshetsut’s statues are a curiosity among historians, as they clearly depict her with female facial features, but a buff man’s body and a beard.

3. Pharaoh Cleopatra Once Had Herself Delivered Naked in a Carpet

Cleopatra, like Hapshetsut, (ge·sund·heit) was one of Egypt’s celebrated female rulers. However, unlike Hapshetsut, who went out of her way to appear as a man, Cleopatra was famous for using her womanly wiles to get her own way. This is no better summed up than by the story of how she got Julius Caesar into bed.

The story goes that Cleopatra, who was renowned across the ancient world for being both beautiful and exceptionally cunning, sought to secure Caesar’s assistance in bolstering her political power during a diplomatic visit by the Roman ruler. Seeing as, at the time they met, Caesar was a 52 year old man and she was a nubile 20 year old, Cleopatra realized the best way to do this would probably be with her vagina.

To absolutely ensure that Caesar would have no chance to spurn her advances, she stripped completely naked and had several slaves roll her up in a giant carpet (some sources say bed sheets), which she then asked to be delivered to Caesar as a “gift”. The slaves knocked on Caesar’s door, told him they had a present for him, then unrolled the fabric towards the foot of his bed, revealing a naked Cleopatra, who then invited him to have some sex.

The resulting love affair between Caesar and Cleopatra formed one of the ancient world’s most influential power couples, and it all started with a sex-move straight out of Barney Stinson’s playbook.

2. Pharaoh Pepi II and his Honey Covered Slaves

Pharaoh Pepi II was a fairly unremarkable pharaoh, all things considered. Sure, he ruled Egypt and probably did the five knuckle shuffle into the Nile a few times, but he was mostly content during his rule to gorge himself on food and chill with Ra by bathing shirtless beneath the burning Egyptian sun. Pepi, however, had a particular dislike of flies, in particular when he was trying to eat, which was an issue because Pepi was always stuffing his face.

To counter this problem King Pepi had a designated slave in his sizeable entourage covered in honey every day. This slave would invariably attract the flies, who’d become stuck to the honey and thus be unable to bother Pepi while he ate. This worked so well that Pepi eventually had a honey covered slave stand in every room of his palace so that he’d never be bothered by flies again, proving that even the most minor annoyances can be totally avoided, provided you’re rich and powerful enough, and also have an army of slaves willing to be dipped in honey.

1. Pharaoh Tutankhamun had a Dagger From Space

We’re not going to front by pretending anyone reading this far down on a list of ancient Egyptian pharaohs doesn’t have some sort of an idea about who Tutankhamun is, so we’re just going to get right to it and say he had a knife FROM SPACE.

Specifically, Tutankhamun had a small dagger experts believe was forged from the iron heart of a meteorite. Found in the pharaoh’s tomb in the 1920s, the dagger, despite being thousands of years old, is still sharp enough today that the TSA wouldn’t let you board a plane with it.

 But here’s the thing: nobody is really sure where the dagger came from, because historical evidence suggests that the ancient Egyptians weren’t suitably advanced enough to smelt iron, let alone forge a weapon using space metal. This has led historians to presume that the dagger was a gift from a foreign nation who did possess that technology. While historians are pretty confident that the foreign nation wasn’t the Martians, they haven’t explicitly ruled it out either, so we guess those Ancient Aliens guys might have had a point.

Those Wacky Pharaohs

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Simply Not Simple – WIF Human Mysteries

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Simple Things

We Still

Don’t Understand

Some have said that the human pursuit of knowledge is like awakening naked in a dark forest, and being asked “how did you get here?” Despite the many difficulties and false beliefs, man has undoubtedly made great strides in having a better understanding of our world. However, there are still ideas, behaviors, and concepts that we still fail to understand. Even the most simple concepts, like the world being round, hasn’t necessarily found footing. We’ve decided to investigate 10 simple things that we don’t fully understand, in hopes that we can come to understand that we’re not out of the wilderness yet.

 10. Some People Don’t Need Sleep

We know, we know. You’re thinking, what is sleep doing on this list? We all know the function of sleep and its importance for brain health and overall wellness. It’s widely believed that the brain needs sleep to generate new pathways and connections. Without sleep, the body would be unable to hold onto these connections and it would also struggle to rejuvenate itself, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones.

The curious case of short sleepers, profiled in Ying-Hui Fu’s lab at the University of California-San Francisco, demonstrates that we haven’t come to understand sleep as well as we think. In 2009, a woman entered Fu’s lab and gave a surprising account. No matter what time she went to bed, even if it was late at night, she would still wake up at the crack of dawn. She could never sleep in. Never. And according to the subject, it was the same for several members of her family. Skeptical at first, Fu and her colleagues, decided to compare the genome of different family members. The result was an amazing discovery: a tiny mutation in a gene called DEC2. The mutation was present in family members who identified as short sleepers, but not in members of the family who had normal length sleep, nor in 250 unrelated volunteers.

However, without more conclusive evidence the finding would not be well received. Fu was left with a conundrum: how do we prove that the DEC2 gene is tied to sleep?

In order to test their hypothesis, Fu and her team decided to breed mice to express the same mutation of the “short sleepers.” The results proved that their hypothesis was correct: the mice with the mutation performed just as well as regular mice, in terms of physical and cognitive tasks, while sleeping substantially less.

Fu’s subject would relay that her short sleeping abilities allowed her to finish college in just two and half years and has generally given her ample time to become a more fulfilled person. Imagine, having 60 extra days a year. That’s a reality that future generations will certainly enjoy.

9. We Still Don’t Know How Many Species There Are on Earth

Since Noah and his Ark, human beings have attempted to categorize and catalogue the different species that we share the planet with. You’d think we’d be able to have a concrete understanding of the other creatures that roam this planet with us, but we really don’t. In fact, it’s almost embarrassing how far ranging our estimates are. Most taxonomists believe we haven’t even scratched the surface in discovering all the creatures that live on the planet. After nearly 250 years of work,  and the findings of over 15,000 new living beings each year, taxonomists still shy away from coming up with concrete estimates of how many species inhabit the planet Earth.

Scientists have identified nearly 8.7 million species, but that number is constantly challenged by scientists presenting new methods and models for extrapolation. One concept proposed by Richard May, an evolutionary biologist, is that the diversity of land animals increases as they get smaller and, granting that we’d discovered most species of big animals, he used them as a model for smaller species and concluded that there are 10 to 50 million species of land animals.

Many might be asking why it is so difficult to come up with a finite number? One of the biggest reasons is that 99 percent of all living space is under the ocean, and we’ve explored less than 10 percent of it.

8. We Know Dreaming is Important, but We Don’t Know Why

Sigmund Freud believed that dreams are a window into the unconscious mind, which express hidden feelings that are repressed or that we’re simply unaware of. And while that may not be true, it’s just one of the many theories on the nature of dreams that have not resulted in fundamental answers. What we do know for certain is that everyone dreams. The most vivid dreams occur during the REM cycle, when the brain is most active, and while it may not feel like it, but experts claim we dream at least 4 to 6 times per night.

If we’re said to dream 6 times a night, and rarely remember our dreams, what could possibly be the purpose? Why do we remember some dreams and not others? We simply have no answers. What we do know is that dreaming is important to our health and well-being. A study in which researchers woke subjects just as they were drifting off into REM sleep found that those who were not allowed to dream experienced: increased tension, anxiety, depression, difficulty concentrating, lack of coordination, weight gain, and a tendency to hallucinate.

We guess that we’ve found new meaning in the phrase “never stop dreaming.”

7. Laughing: A Universal Language?

Something as universal as laughter would seemingly be easy to explain. It’s not. Like dreams, laughter is a powerful display of our unconscious. Laughter is involuntary, and thus is a window into our sensibilities. Think about it. Laughter changes our facial expressions, elicits noises (some more flattering than others), and is without question contagious. Who hasn’t been a room where everyone breaks out into fits of laughter?

So what triggers it? It’s not as simple as you think.

Studies have shown that laughter is less about humor and more about social interaction and communication. Laughter is first exhibited in a child at three and a half to four months of age, well before speech, and as such laughter, similar to crying, is a way for an infant to interact with the mother. The idea that laughter is another form of communication was studied by researchers who went to local malls and city sidewalks and recorded what happened just before people laughed. Over the course of nearly ten years, and observing more than 2,000 cases of naturally occurring laughter, “[they] found that most laughter does not follow jokes. People laugh after a variety of statements, such as ‘Hey John, where ya been?’ and ‘Here comes Mary.’” It is not a leap to suggest that laughter supplements language to undress situations and to better form relationships or create bonds.

6. Yawning Cools the Brain

Another involuntary action that we’ve been unable to come to terms with is yawning. A behavior that occurs across species still has managed to puzzle scientists. A widely held belief that yawning occurs so oxygen can enter our bloodstream and to wake us up when we’re becoming drowsy has actually been disproven. Steven Platek, a psychology professor at Georgia Gwinnett College, is one of the many scientists who have said there is zero evidence that yawning affects levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, blood pressure, or heart rate.

The pervading theory is that the purpose yawning is to cool down the brain. The importance of scientific inquiry is that while eliminating one hypothesis it can make way for another. Subsequently, with studies showing that yawning does not affect levels of oxygen in the bloodstream, other experiments showed that yawning actually changes the temperature of the brain itself.

A Gallup study that took place in 2007 revealed that holding hot or cold packs to the forehead influenced how often people yawned, in instances where they saw others doing it. Additionally, when subjects held a warm pack to their forehead, “they yawned 41 percent of the time… (and) when they held a cold pack, the incidence of yawning dropped to 9 percent.”

Mechanically speaking, stretching our jaws leads to an increasing rate of blood flow to the skull and by inhaling at the same time, the air changes the temperature of the flow, leading to cooler blood flowing to the brain.

Experiments done on our favorite test subjects, mice, supported the conclusion that “an increase in brain temperature was found to precede yawning. Once the tiny rodents opened wide and inhaled, the temperature decreased.”

5. Mosquitoes Like Some More Than Others

“They like you more.” That’s the common refrain when a night out on the beach leads to one family member being left ravaged by mosquitoes. The truth is that remark has almost been taken as explanatory. In reality, most of us don’t know why some individuals are targeted more than others. Scientists have come to the believe that 20% of population is more attractive to mosquitoes than others.

Scientists have not settled on what exactly distinguishes that 20 percent, but one of the leading theories is blood type. A study found that Type O blood was twice more likely to be bitten than Type A.  The data is less conclusive with Type B with researchers concluding that it falls somewhere in the middle of desirable and undesirable for mosquitoes.

4. Blushing May Have Started as a Social Custom

“Man is the only animal that blushes. Or needs to.” The eternal words of Mark Twain need only to tell us why exactly man “needs to.” It seems to be the most basic of human behaviors. We blush when we’re embarrassed. Being the product of an evolutionary process that eliminates characteristics that lower survival, how did blushing, a response that shows vulnerability, manage to manifest itself in all cultures and peoples?

Darwin remained puzzled until his death, but that did not stop other scientists from attempting to explain this behavior.

Currently, one of the leading theories of the origin of blushing is that it began as an appeasement ritual: to submit to the authority of dominant members of a group. Naturally, submitting to said member would then increase one’s chances of surviving in that group.

Scientists believe that as our social interactions later became more complex, it became intertwined with emotions like guilt, shame, and embarrassment. And as the rearing of family became of the utmost importance in agrarian societies, neuroscientists note that it may have been viewed as socially desirable and attractive for women to blush and therefore reveal honesty to men.

3. What’s the Deal With Pubic Hair?

No longer hairy apes, we’ve evolved and lost most of our thick wool of hair that seemed to represent that earlier period in our evolutionary past. However, a reminder of that history remains in the most unlikely of places: hair in our genital regions. What purpose could pubic hair possibly have? If you’ve been following along, you’ll know the answer is far from straightforward.

One of the most popular theories is that “since thicker hair gathers in regions where we have apocrine (scent) sweat glands as well as eccrine (cooling) ones, it may serve to waft odors that signal sexual maturity.”

Just another example that we’re just one small piece in a long fabric of evolution.

2. Kissing Isn’t Universal

We were surprised to learn that kissing was not a universally practiced show of affection. It turns out just 46% of cultures engage in the locking of lips.

Probably the most likely proposition is that the custom began during child rearing, where the connection between a mother and an infant comes from the “mouth sensations associated with breastfeeding.”

In addition, earlier epochs, probably engaged in mouth-to-mouth feeding of chewed food, is a custom that’s still carried out by the Manus cultures of the Admiralty Islands.  The act of this is used by women to remind children and descendants of their obligations to her.

Lastly, in terms of physiology, our lips are among the most sensitive parts of our bodies, with sensory neurons linked to our brain’s pleasure palaces. The benefits of which has shown that kissing reduces levels of the stress, hormone cortisol and increases the bonding hormone, oxytocin.

1. Consciousness is a Puzzle That’s Ever-Changing

The most complex concept on our list has been puzzling great thinkers for generations. In the 17th century, Descartes, a French philosopher, posited the notion that mind and body were completely separate. That began a philosophical battle that continues to this day. Without any answers, we will ask you to choose what camp you’re in.

Descartes was the earliest proponent of idealism – the idea that the mind and body are entirely separate. On the other hand there are the materialists, like Karl Marx, who believe that nothing exists apart from the material world (i.e. physical matter like the brain); materialist psychologists generally agree that consciousness (the mind) is the function of the brain.


Simply Not Simple

WIF Human Mysteries