The first mention of either the Lady of the Lake or Ninian (Niniane, Vivian, etc.) is to be found in the late work Prose Merlin. Her character remains much the same through to Sir Thomas Malory, who simply makes the story more complex. In all the stories that name her Ninian is a fully developed character. She is the original owner of Arthur’s second sword and later becomes Merlin’s pupil.
However, as with many aspects of the Arthurian literary world, there are serious gaps in reasoning with her story, and these gaps suggest a very different origin for her. For instance, Merlin somehow knows she will betray him, but teaches her anyway. The romances explain that he does so because he loves her, but that sounds like more of a rationalization of something not understood than an historical fact that is.
The end of her story is that Niniane does trap Merlin in a cave the moment her studies are over. He is left there, alive (again, no serious explanation). It certainly is not out of malice for Arthur. Ninian takes over as his counselor for the remainder of his reign and does her best to help him. She is also one of the four women who takes him to Avalon. That is the extent of Ninian’s literary career. Clearly her original character and the transformation have been hidden by chance and misunderstandings.
Uinniau was a prominent ecclesiastic of sixth century Britain who may have been Columba’s teacher. He was known as Ninian in Welsh saints’ lives or Nynia by Bede. However, much of Scotland has place-names derived from his proper name of Uinniau. This Uinniau was known for three things mainly. First, he was one of the most knowledgeable persons of his age. Second, he was a great teacher who made his monastery of Whithorn was a primary center of learning in Britain. Finally, it is known that he would occasionally go on a retreat to a nearby cave, known as St. Ninian’s Cave, which was several miles away from his monastery.
Ninian would eventually became the form by which Uinniau was exclusively known. In fact, the process must have been an early one. Bede, writing in 725, knew him only by that name. It was an unfortunate circumstance that Ninian was a Celtic name, and the romance writers who would treat Arthur on the continent spoke Germanic and Latin languages. The unfamiliarity with Celtic would lead to confusion over his gender, and he became a she there.
Arthur was an attractive figure in the literature of the Middle Ages, gravitating all manner of figures, motifs, and stories to him. In previous blogs I have mentioned the attraction of the Myrddin (Merlin) legend and the figure of Urien. The same sort of fate awaited Uinniau. Long before Arthur had become a figure of romance, Uinniau’s dominant name-form had become to Ninian. For the Celtic speaker that was still a male name, but for continentals it was female.
That change from male to female, from independent ecclesiastic to intelligent layperson was where Uinniau became a different literary figure. Once Uinniau was a part of the Arthurian universe, his reputation for intelligence would have drawn him to the already established Merlin; in an irony of history a lunatic (Myrddin) became the teacher of one of the best-read people of the age (Uinniau). Once that transformation was accomplished, the latent aspects of Uinniau’s memory easily made their way into Arthurian the tales, and Merlin was trapped in the cave Uinnau had used as a refuge.
I won’t pretend to know how Ninian became the Lady of the Lake. However, she would not have begun her Arthurian career that way. She would have started off as Merlin’s pupil and successor with the qualities of her historical precursor intact. She was associated with a lake only by Robert de Boron, an author that I have discovered in my research was not one to stick with his traditional sources. It is possible he knew of some Celtic tale which he used to enhance Uinniau’s mythology. It is equally possible he used something more contemporary. That part of the history of the Lady of the Lake we may never know.
Last night, I appeared again (here and here) on the PBS Newshour to discuss President Barack Obama's comments about the Zimmerman trial. While I usually do not intrude on our weekend guest bloggers, I have received a few emails about a comment that I made about the Stand Your Ground law. I was commenting on the President's statement that we need to reexamine the Stand Your Ground law and noted that the law was not in play at the trial.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
This is a thoughtful commentary. Obama's remarks (a full transcript) are included and worth reading. There are more sides to this story than I can count. All contain some truth, valid points. It isn't nearly as we would all like it to be. Few things in our world are black and white, including this. The area of gray is huge and very complicated.
Comedian Jay Leno periodically devotes a few minutes of his TV show to “jaywalking” segments, where he and his camera crew take to the streets and quiz passersby about basic historical facts. Most interviewees embarrass themselves by not knowing, for example, the name of the first U.S. president.
Leno’s comical surveys hint at a real problem: The gaping hole in average U.S. history knowledge. The Pioneer Institute, a Boston-based think tank, recently published a paper, “Shortchanging the Future: The Crisis of History and Civics in American Schools,” addressing this issue and where it starts—schools.
Many Americans know U.S. students’ test scores on subjects like math and reading are low. In civics, however, they’re appalling. On the National Assessment of Educational Progress, a respected, voluntary nationwide test, 22 percent of students test proficient in civics, and only 18 percent rate proficient in U.S. history.
“American citizenship depends on its citizens sharing some body of knowledge together about the political structure that governs their daily lives,” said report coauthor Sandra Stotsky, who led Massachusetts in developing some of the country’s best education standards in the 1990s.
Reasons for the Decline
Historical knowledge is declining in American schools, according to the paper’s authors, for several reasons. First, schools are devoting less time to history. One reason for this is that students aren’t tested as frequently or widely in civics and history as in other subjects, said Cheryl Miller, manager of the American Enterprise Institute’s (AEI’s) citizenship program.
There is also confusion about what American history is. Over the past half-century, the history curriculum trend has been to devote just as much time to “social history,” race, gender, and the achievements of non-Western societies as to Western society and politics, Stotsky said.
“There’s not a lot of consensus about what civic education should be. That’s true of teachers; it’s true of the general public,” Miller said.
AEI recently polled 1,000 teachers on what is most important to teach in history and civics classes. Only 64 percent said high schools should teach students “to understand such concepts as federalism, separation of powers, and checks and balances.”
“That [number] is not bad,” Miller said, “but when you think about it, these are social studies teachers: If they’re not teaching it, who is?”
In that poll, only 56 percent of teachers agreed that “By graduation, virtually all students in my high school have carefully read the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.”
Social studies certification does not guarantee a teacher will be prepared to teach history or civics, since the term “social studies” encompasses so much, the report says.
More specific requirements for teachers are the most important way to improve civic education, said Charles Quigley, executive director of the Center for Civic Education. The center has worked with schools and state boards of education across the country and in more than 80 other countries to improve civics education.
“What’s needed is knowledgeable, skilled, and dedicated teachers who have adequate background in the subject,” he said.
Losing Schools’ Original Purpose
Many Americans have forgotten we have public schools so students can become educated citizens capable of self-government, said study coauthor Robert Pondiscio.
“If you ask people, ‘Why do we send kids to school?’ they’ll say, ‘Well, it’s so kids can get good jobs,’” he said.
Pondiscio finds that troubling. That’s why he recently moved to a new nonprofit called Citizenship First. It aims at “reviving the public purpose of education as citizenship.”
Like Democracy Prep charter schools in Harlem, where Citizenship First will soon operate, some charter schools are developing curricula to address students’ widespread lack of civic knowledge.
The Pioneer Institute study authors are leery of national history standards, but do propose that states devise “highly rated” standards in history and social science, as in South Carolina, California, and Massachusetts. They also suggest states consider requiring students to pass the U.S. Citizenship Test or a similar assessment to graduate from high school or get into college.
A classic of classics, like baseball, hotdogs, apple pie and Chevrolet...that's the all-American diner! Often epitomized with an exterior of stainless steel, the diner is unique in its architecture. Then, of course, there is the interior: a casual atmosphere, a counter, stools and service area along a back wall.
The Rosebud Diner, top right photo, is a restored 1941 Worcester Lunch Car #773, as it appeared in 2012. Somerville, MA
The Bendix Diner, lower right photo, in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, is an example of Art Deco style and neon signage.
But, how did it all get started and by whom?
Embrace the Past... How did diners begin?
Walter Scott, a part-time pressman and type compositor in Providence, Rhode Island,founded the first diner. It all started around 1858 with Scott supplementing his income by selling sandwiches and coffee from a basket. Newspaper night workers welcomedthe services and by 1872, he had developed a very lucrative business. So much so, he quit his printing work and sold food at night from a horse-drawn covered express wagon parked outside the Providence Journal newspaper office. Walter Scott unknowingly inspired the birth oif what would become one of America's most recognized icons -- the diner.
Empower the Present... Are diners still around today?
The interest in the American Diner continues today. Just ask Guy Fieri of Drive-ins, Diners and Dives! A significant number of vintage diners have been rescued from demolition and relocated to new sites in the United States and Europe. Manufacturers of diner structures are experiencing new orders or remodeling projects in a retro style.
Photo credit: Marilyn Armstrong, author of The 12-Foot TeepeeYou can visit Marilyn at her blog, Serendipity, where you will be enlightened by herwriting, nature, photography, history, arts, nostalgia, humor and so much more!
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Diners are uniquely American, our culture incarnate.
Will Morgan finally get closure on his painful past on Criminal Minds?
Shemar Moore thought he did six seasons ago when the BAU's resident tough guy revealed that he had been sexually abused by his mentor Carl Buford (Julius Tennon) as a pre-teen and confronted Buford to in a successful attempt to arrest him. But then came a pitch earlier this season from writers and producers.
"They came to me and said, 'We have a follow-up that we'd like to do. Would you be willing to go there again?'" Moore tells TVGuide.com. "Honestly, I expected it to be a one-time thing. [Season 2's] 'Profiler, Profiled' was a really good episode. I'm proud of it and I think it can still stand on its own, but I was definitely interested in exploring it again. I was like, 'Really? As long as we do it right.' Then I heard the pitch and I realized, of course, we needed to do it. And I think — I hope — we did it right."
Wednesday's episode (9/8c, CBS) will bring Morgan and the BAU back to his Chicago hometown on a seemingly routine case in which an unsub is targeting middle-aged men. But the killer's M.O. links him back to Buford, leading the team to surmise that the unsub was another one of Buford's victims and Morgan to reopen old wounds.
"What I like about it is that they took a sensitive topic, but they didn't retell it; they took it to the next place," Moore says. "Sexual abuse and molestation are huge issues that are happening every day, everywhere. This happens. And it's not over when you catch the guy. There are scars. Morgan reiterates something he said in the first one: If he really thought he was the only one, he's wrong. There's never just one. Before, you saw the 'good' outcome, I guess you can say, in Morgan, who became an FBI agent. Now you see the other outcome."
Even more determined to solve the case, Morgan voluntarily offers to interrogate Buford in prison — a far cry from his reluctance to reveal his abuse to Hotch (Thomas Gibson) in "Profiler, Profiled." Morgan's eagerness is not just for himself, but for all abuse victims, Moore believes. "Because of his position in the FBI, I think Morgan needed to confront him and to show how far along he's come from the abuse," he says. "He had a choice to make as far as letting it die or taking the next step to help other people who don't have a voice, like [the unsub], get closure. But you see afterward how difficult it really was for him to talk to Buford. I loved it because you get to see layers to the character of Morgan and you got to understand him and that he's not just a guy who kicks down doors and says 'baby girl' to Garcia.
While six years might seem like a long time to have a "sequel" of sorts, when it comes to closure on sexual abuse, there is no timetable, Moore says. That's what he's learned from Criminal Mindsconsultant and former FBI profiler Jim Clemente, who co-wrote the episode and on whom Morgan's abuse is based. "It's very close to Jim's heart," the actor says. "He was victimized when he was young. He's talked about it on Oprah and a bunch of places over the years, but it's not something you can talk about right away either. It takes time.
"I'm just honored they chose me through which to tell this story," Moore continues. "I was honored the first time and I am again now. As an African-American — I'm half-black, half-white — it was also important because molestation is usually something you take to the grave in the black community. ... But it's not a black story; it's a universal story. I knew this wasn't about me having a good episode to show that I can act; it's about the message. There are people out there who have gone through this, who have been victimized through molestation, and we want to do them justice."
Though Moore is thrilled to have revisited the story line again, he says that it is "definitely over" after this episode, and the final moments will serve as a moving and fitting punctuation for the arc. "At the very end ... Morgan is that voice for all the different possibility of choices victims could make. Whether it's good or bad, it doesn't mean it's over for you," he says. "It doesn't mean you don't have a chance. That's why I love the title: 'Restoration.' But it's restoration and evolution. People grow."
So what new story lines would Moore like to tackle next for Morgan? "Well, we need a pickup first!" he quips. Criminal Minds was not one of the 14 shows CBS renewed last week, but Moore expects the procedural to return for Season 9. "Some of the actors are up for renegotiations and some of the writers are up for renegotiations. It's just politics, but I think we'll be back," he says. "Then we can start talking about what's next for Morgan."
Criminal Minds airs Wednesdays at 9/8c on CBS.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Child abuse rears its ugly head as the subject of tonight's new episode of Criminal Minds. Six seasons ago, it was revealed that tough guy Morgan (Shemar Moore) had been sexually abused by his mentor when he was a young teen. It's back. From my perspective as an abused child, I'm glad when the subject is dealt with on any prime time show other than Law & Order: SVU. That show focuses on criminals who don't get away with it.
The thing is, most perpetrators DO get away with it. Presenting the subject in context of one who was abused but has moved on and done well is important. Far from trivalizing the impact, it gives hope to victims of this mostly hidden crime that there's life after abuse. Traumatic though it is, it need not be the single defining event of a life.
Child abuse, as I know from intimate experience, leaves scars, often invisible even to oneself until memories are awakened by something. How we deal with scars and memories are critical to emotional survival. Ashow where a previously-abused child is a hero provides great encouragement. Even better that it's powerful man. Shame is a primary reason sex crimes remains so under-reported.
Do you suppose the children of the early pioneers questioned along the way "Are we there yet?" Every five minutes a repeat of the refrain, "Are we there yet?" An ever nagging, whiny "Are we there yet?", "Are we there yet?",
If you think a long car trip with the family can be trying, imagine a trans continental wagon train with the kids. My questions: would anyone arrive in the West still sane? Maybe this accounts for the violence of the Old West. It was that trip in the wagon train with all those children ...
America was born bankrupt. We won the revolution, but lost everything else. Our economy was dependent on Great Britain. We produced raw material, but Great Britain turned those materials into goods for the world’s markets.
Not merely did we depend on the British to supply us with finished goods we could not produce ourselves, we depended on British banks, British shipping, and British trade routes.
Everything has a price and we had no money. We had hoped we could reach an agreement with England short of war and had there been a less intransigent monarch on the throne at the time, we might have been able to do so. Despite the Massachusetts “Sam Adams faction” who were hellbent for battle, most colonists felt at least some allegiance to England.
We had no “American identity” because there was no America with which to identify. Nor was the yearning to breathe free burning in every heart. What the colonists of North America wanted was simple. They wanted the rights of free Englishmen. We wanted seats in British Parliament. We wanted the right to vote on taxes and other policies that affected colonial life. A deal should have been reached, but George III was not a sensible, reasonable or judicious king.
The result was war, the staggering loss to England of their wealthiestcolonies and birth of a new nation.
That we won the war was astonishing. We had little in the way of arms and no navy. We were sparsely populated. Existing militias were untrained, undisciplined, little better than rabble. That George Washington was able to turn this into an army was no mean feat. No wonder they wanted him to be the first President.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
There's more to the Blackstone Valley than meets the eye. A lot of history happened here ... and its effects are still being felt today.
A horrible twist on yesterday's post about the Aussie DJs and their prank call to Kate's hospital--I heard on this morning's news that the young nurse who took the prank call has killed herself.
What a tragic and unnecessary thing to have happened. The original prank was a harmless bit of fun, no malice intended. It hurt nobody. And I suppose it's understandable that a young nurse might be so flustered at hearing the queen on the other end of the line that she didn't stop to think it might be an imposter. (I heard the tape. The accents are quite wrong for the royals.)
But this just shows the power of the media. It has been blown up into such a big thing that it claimed a life.
The same sort of thing happened this week on the Today show when Willie Geist tapped Matt Lauer on the tush with his script as he walked past him. Apparently that crossed all sorts of boundaries of propriety. If you saw it there was nothing in any way inappropriate about it, just a friendly gesture. But again the media hyped it into something naughty, disrespectful and forbidden.
Come on, everyone--where is your sense of humor? I love jokes and pranks as long as they are not mean-spirited or harmful. I would not feel in any way offended if a friend tapped my rear end with a rolled paper as he walked past. I would see it as a friendly gesture of connection.
And yet we are now a society where it is expected that we all hug each other all the time. Makes no sense to me. How about you? And my sincere condolences to the family of that young nurse. A sad day.
The depth and breadth of ignorance in the U.S. about our own history takes my breath away. Apparently the majority of our citizens haven’t learned anything about the country in which they live since third grade and I’m not sure they fully absorbed those lessons, either.
So let’s discuss a few things about the Revolutionary War. Let’s talk about how come we rebelled against England rather than peaceably settling our differences. The revolution was fought after we exhausted every other peaceable option. Petitions and negotiations failed, but we kept trying anyway until it became obvious that it was hopeless.
The phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” is common in American business and politics. Roughly translated, it means “to blindly follow,” and it usually has a negative connotation: iPhone buyers waiting in line for days have “drank Apple’s Kool-Aid,” so to speak. But where did this phrase come from? And does it even refer to the correct beverage? We’re gonna have to go all the way back to the 1950s to answer this one.
The Road to Jonestown
Before we get to the Kool-Aid part, let’s recap some horrible American history. Jim Jones was a complex man. Long story short, he was a communist and occasional Methodist minister who founded his own pseudo-church in the late 1950s, the “Peoples Temple Full Gospel Church,” known in short as the “Peoples Temple.” (And yes, the omission of the possessive apostrophe is intentional, as the name apparently refers to peoples of the world.) While Jones called it a church, it was actually his version of a Marxist commune, with a smattering of Christian references thrown into his sermons/diatribes. The Peoples Temple was arguably a cult, demanding serious dedication (and financial support) from its members.
While Jones was a cult leader and ultimately a homicidal madman, there was one bright spot: Jones and his wife Marceline were strongly in favor of racial integration, and they adopted a bunch of kids from different racial backgrounds. In fact, they were the first white family in Indiana to adopt an African American boy. (Other adopted children included three Korean Americans, a Native American, and a handful of white kids. They also had one biological child.) Jones called his adopted retinue the “Rainbow Family,” and he made a name for himself desegregating various institutions in Indiana.
As the Peoples Temple grew throughout the 1960s, Jones lost the plot on the whole Marxism thing, and began to preach about an impending nuclear apocalypse. He even specified a date (July 15, 1967), and suggested that after the apocalypse, a socialist paradise would exist on Earth. And where would that new Eden be? Jones selected the remote town of Redwood Valley, California, and moved the Peoples Temple (and its peoples…) there prior to the deadline.
As you know, that end-of-the-world deadline came and went with no nuclear holocaust. In the following years, Jones abandoned all pretenses of Christianity and revealed himself to be an atheist who had simply used religion as a tool to legitimize his views. Jones said: “Those who remained drugged with the opiate of religion had to be brought to enlightenment — socialism.” Oh, and Jones was a drug addict, preferring literal opiates to metaphorical ones.
As media scrutiny increased and his political profile became more complicated, Jones became concerned that the Peoples Temple’s tax-exempt religious status in the U.S. would eventually be revoked. He was also paranoid about the U.S. intelligence community. So in 1977, Jones again moved the Temple and its peoples, this time to a settlement he had been building since 1974 in the South American nation of Guyana. He named it “Jonestown,” and it was not a nice place. It occupied nearly 4,000 acres, had poor soil and limited fresh water, was dramatically overcrowded, and Temple members were forced to work long hours. Jones figured his people could farm the land in this new utopia. It didn’t hurt that he had amassed a multi-million-dollar fortune prior to arriving in Jonestown, though he did not share (or even use) the wealth. Jones himself lived in a small shared house with few luxuries.
What Happened at Jonestown
Again, let’s make a really long story just a smidge shorter. U.S. Congressman Leo Ryan visited Jonestown in November of 1978, investigating allegations of human rights abuses within the Jonestown community. Ryan was accompanied by NBC News correspondent Don Harris, various other members of the media, and concerned family members of Jonestown residents. While visiting Jonestown, Congressman Ryan met a little over a dozen Temple members who wanted to leave (including a couple who passed a note reading in part, “Please help us get out of Jonestown” to news anchor Harris, mistaking him for Congressman Ryan). That number of defectors was actually quite low, considering the population of Jonestown, which was then over 900.
While processing paperwork to help Temple members return to the U.S., Ryan was attacked by knife-wielding Temple member Don Sly, but the would-be assassin was restrained before he could injure Ryan. Eventually the entire Ryan party plus the group of Jonestown defectors drove to a nearby airstrip and boarded planes, hoping to leave. But Jim Jones had sent armed Temple members (his creepily-named “Red Brigade”) with the group, and the Red Brigade opened fire, killing Ryan, one Temple defector, and three members of the media — and injuring eleven others. Those who survived fled into the jungle.
When the murderers returned to Jonestown and reported their actions, Jones promptly started up what he called a “White Night” meeting, inviting all Temple members. But this wasn’t the first White Night. On various occasions prior to the murders, Jones had hosted White Night meetings in which he suggested that U.S. intelligence agencies would soon attack Jonestown; he had even staged fake attackers around Jonestown to add an air of pseudo-realism to the proceedings (though it’s hard to imagine that such a small community wouldn’t recognize their own people pretending to threaten the Temple). Faced with this hypothetical invasion scenario, Jones offered Temple members these choices: stay and fight the imaginary invaders, head for the USSR, head for the Guyana jungle, or commit “revolutionary suicide” (in other words, mass suicide as an act of political protest). On previous occasions when Temple members mock-voted for suicide, Jones tested them: Temple members were given small cups of liquid purportedly containing poison, and were asked to drink it. They did. After a while, Jones revealed that the liquid didn’t contain poison — but that one day it would. And, by the way, he had been stockpiling cyanide for years (not to mention piles of other drugs).
On the final White Night, Jones was not testing his Temple followers. He was killing them all.
Don’t Drink the Poisonous Fruit-Flavored Beverage
After the airstrip murders outside Jonestown, Jim Jones ordered Temple members to create a fruity mix containing a cocktail of chemicals including cyanide, diazepam (aka Valium — an anti-anxiety medication), promethazine (aka Phenergan — a sedative), chloral hydrate (a sedative/hypnotic sometimes called “knockout drops”), and most interestingly…Flavor Aid — a grape-flavored beverage similar to Kool-Aid. We’ll get back to that last one in a moment.
Jones urged Temple members to commit suicide in order to make a political point. Some discussion ensued — an alternate plan put forth by Temple member Christine Miller involved flying Temple members to the USSR — but Jones prevailed, after repeatedly telling his followers that Congressman Ryan was dead, and that would bring the authorities soon (an audiotape of this meeting exists, and is just as creepy as you’d think). Jones first insisted that mothers squirt poison into the mouths of their children using syringes. As their children died, the mothers were dosed as well, though they were allowed to drink from cups. Temple members wandered out onto the ground, where eventually just over 900 lay dead, including more than 300 children. Only a handful of survivors escaped Jonestown — primarily residents who happened to be away on errands or playing basketball when the mass suicide/massacre took place.
Jones, his wife, and various other members of the Temple left wills stating that their assets should go to the Communist Party of the USSR. Jones himself did not drink poison; he died from a gunshot to the head, though it’s not entirely clear whether it was self-inflicted. (Because Jones likely died last or nearly so, he may have chosen suicide by gun rather than by cyanide, because a cyanide death is extremely traumatic — and he would have seen hundreds of people experiencing cyanide death’s effects, including foaming at the mouth and convulsions.) Toxicology reports found high levels of barbiturates (sedatives) in his blood. Jones was reportedly hooked on a variety of substances, possibly explaining his increasingly erratic behavior over the decades.
What Does Kool-Aid Have to Do With Anything?!
In the wake of the tragedy at Jonestown, the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” became a popular term for blind obedience, as the Temple members had apparently accepted cups of fruity poison willingly. What’s strange is that, according to various accounts, the primary beverage used at Jonestown was actually Flavor Aid (sometimes styled “Flav-R-Aid”) — although there is photographic evidence that packets of both Kool-Aid and Flavor Aid were present at the scene. In an early inquest (PDF), coroners referred to “Cool Aid” [sic]. But initial media coverage described the scene differently. One read, in part (emphasis added):
A pair of woman’s eyeglasses, a towel, a pair of shorts, packets of unopened Flavor-Aid lie scattered about waiting for the final cleanup that may one day return Jonestown to the tidy, if overcrowded, little community it once was.
This snippet was from an article printed in the Washington Post on December 17, 1978, written by Charles A. Krause. Less than a month after the deaths, here was major media specifying that the beverage was “Flavor Aid,” but “Kool-Aid” is the term that stuck in Americans’ minds. Why?
The most likely explanation comes in three parts.
The Kool-Aid Brand
First, Kool-Aid was a better known brand than Flavor Aid. Flavor Aid was a Jel Sert product first sold in 1929 and it was a rival of Kool-Aid, which was introduced in 1927 in powdered form. (Trivia note: prior to the Kool-Aid powder, the same beverage was available in liquid form as “Fruit Smack.” Powdering the drink reduced shipping costs.) So when Americans thought about a powdered fruity drink mix (at least one that was not “Tang”), “Kool-Aid” came to mind as the market leader. A major brand builder for Kool-Aid was Kool-Aid Man, the anthropomorphic pitcher of red Kool-Aid who is best known for his 1980s catchphrase “Oh Yeah!” He was already in the media spotlight in the 1970s.
The Merry Pranksters & LSD
Second, and more intriguing, was The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Tom Wolfe’s nonfiction book published in 1968. In the book, Wolfe follows Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters as they travel the country in their party bus, encouraging non-drug users to try LSD in an Acid Test — including a formulation of LSD in Kool-Aid, dubbed “Electric Kool-Aid.” The book includes possibly the first negative instance of the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid,” and it came a decade before the deaths at Jonestown. Wolfe’s book includes this passage, describing a man who had a bad trip (emphasis added):
“… There was one man who became completely withdrawn … I want to say catatonic, because we tried to bring him out of it, and could not make contact at all … he was sort of a friend of mine, and I had some responsibility for getting him back to town … he had a previous history of mental hospitals, lack of contact with reality, etc., and when I realized what had happened, I begged him not to drink the Kool-Aid, but he did … and it was very bad.”
Because of The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, many Americans were familiar with the idea of being urged to drink Kool-Aid containing, um, unusual chemicals — even if they hadn’t themselves participated in an Acid Test. This familiarity perversely boosted the profile of Kool-Aid, especially in this particular (adulterated) circumstance.
Both Beverages Were Onsite
Third, plenty of evidence suggests that both Kool-Aid and Flavor Aid were present at Jonestown — though there was more of the latter. Therefore, in a sense, everybody’s right. It may simply come down to whether the term “Kool-Aid” is catchier than “Flavor Aid,” and history decided — much to the consternation of Kool-Aid’s marketing department.
Today, the phrase “drink the Kool-Aid” is firmly entrenched in popular language, although the evidence suggests that it should more realistically be either “drink the Flavor Aid/Kool Aid mix” or the even less-catchy suggestion by Al Tompkins of Poynter: “[drink the] grape-flavored drink mix laced with poison.” I think this linguistic horse has left the barn, quenching our thirst for metaphors with it. “OH YEAH!”
When the storm began moving into eastern Massachusetts on the afternoon of Feb. 6, thousands of people were freed from their jobs so they could get home safely. But the wind-blown snows began falling at well over an inch an hour, and soon the occupants of some 3,000 cars and 500 trucks became stranded in rapidly-developing snowdrifts along Rt. 128. Fourteen people would die from carbon monoxide poisoning as they huddled in their snow-trapped vehicles.
The remains of a wealthy estate, with a mosaic fountain in its garden, dating to between the late 10th and early 11th centuries have been unearthed in Ramla in central Israel.
The estate was discovered during excavations at a site where a bridge is slated for construction as part of the new Highway 44.
"It seems that a private building belonging to a wealthy family was located there and that the fountain was used for ornamentation," Hagit Torgë, excavation director on behalf of the Israel Antiquities Authority, said in a statement. "This is the first time that a fountain has been discovered outside the known, more affluent quarters of Old Ramla."
Fountains from the Fatimid period were mostly found around the center of the Old City of Ramla called White Mosque, Torgë added.
Researchers found two residential rooms within the estate along with a nearby fountain made of mosaic and covered with plaster and stone slabs; A network of pipes, some made of terra cotta and connected with stone jars, led to the fountain. Next to the estate, archaeologists also founda large cistern and a system of pipes and channels used to transport water.
Other discoveries at the site included oil lamps, parts of dolls made of bones and a baby rattle.
A network of pipes, some made of terra cotta and connected with stone jars, led to the fountain disc …
"This is the first time that the fountain's plumbing was discovered completely intact. The pipes of other fountains did not survive the earthquakes that struck the country in 1033 and 1068 CE," Torgë said in a statement.
Ramla was founded in the eighth century by the ruler Suleiman Ibn 'Abd al-Malik. Its strategic location on the road from Cairo to Damascus and from Yafo to Jerusalem made Ramla an important economic center.
The entire area seems to have been abandoned in the mid-11th century, likely in the wake of an earthquake, according to the IAA.
Once the excavation is complete, the fountain will be displayed in the city's Pool of Arches compound.
Due to Israel's long history, construction projects often yield archaeological discoveries. For example, a "cultic" temple and traces of a 10,000-year-old house were discovered at Eshtaol west of Jerusalem in preparation for the widening of a road. And during recent expansions of the main road connecting Jerusalem to Tel Aviv, called Highway 1, excavators found a carving of a phallus from the Stone Age, a ritual building from the First Temple era and animal figurines dating back 9,500 years.
Hull greeted the ambassador, who did not know the attack had already taken place, and read documents stating that Japan would no longer negotiations between the two were ending. The Secretary of State exploded with angered while the ambassador quickly left. Hull uttered a few other choice words while realizing that the United States had just entered the World War.
On December 8, Franklin Roosevelt convened a joint meeting of the Senate and the House of Representatives to request a declaration of war against Japan. On that day, he said:
Mr. Vice President, Mr. Speaker, members of the Senate and the House of Representatives:
Yesterday, December 7th, 1941 – a date which will live in infamy – the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.
The United States was at peace with that nation, and, at the solicitation of Japan, was still in conversation with its government and its Emperor looking toward the maintenance of peace in the Pacific.
Indeed, one hour after Japanese air squadrons had commenced bombing in the American island of Oahu, the Japanese Ambassador to the United States and his colleague delivered to our Secretary of State a formal reply to a recent American message. And, while this reply stated that it seemed useless to continue the existing diplomatic negotiations, it contained no threat or hint of war or of armed attack.
It will be recorded that the distance of Hawaii from Japan makes it obvious that the attack was deliberately planned many days or even weeks ago. During the intervening time the Japanese Government has deliberately sought to deceive the United States by false statements and expressions of hope for continued peace.
The attack yesterday on the Hawaiian Islands has caused severe damage to American naval and military forces. I regret to tell you that very many American lives have been lost. In addition, American ships have been reported torpedoed on the high seas between San Francisco and Honolulu.
Yesterday the Japanese Government also launched an attack against Malaya. Last night Japanese forces attacked Hong Kong. Last night Japanese forces attacked Guam. Last night Japanese forces attacked the Philippine Islands. Last night the Japanese attacked Wake Island. And this morning the Japanese attacked Midway Island.
Japan has therefore undertaken a surprise offensive extending throughout the Pacific area. The facts of yesterday and today speak for themselves. The people of the United States have already formed their opinions and well understand the implications to the very life and safety of our nation.
As Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy I have directed that all measures be taken for our defense, that always will our whole nation remember the character of the onslaught against us.
No matter how long it may take us to overcome this premeditated invasion, the American people, in their righteous might, will win through to absolute victory.
I believe that I interpret the will of the Congress and of the people when I assert that we will not only defend ourselves to the uttermost but will make it very certain that this form of treachery shall never again endanger us.
Hostilities exist. There is no blinking at the fact that our people, our territory and our interests are in grave danger.
With confidence in our armed forces, with the unbounding determination of our people, we will gain the inevitable triumph. So help us God.
I ask that the Congress declare that since the unprovoked and dastardly attack by Japan on Sunday, December 7th, 1941, a state of war has existed between the United States and the Japanese Empire.
Now that the joke of aging and retired assassins is behind us, having been successfully played out in “Red”, “Red 2” is able to move beyond its initial concept and allow this mighty talented cast to really flex their comedic muscles in a sequel that just slightly surpasses the original.
When Marvin (John Malkovich) tracks down Frank (Bruce Willis) and his new spouse Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) to alert them they are CIA targets and need to find the location of a long-lost nuclear weapon, the retirees go on the run. Former Black Ops team member Victoria (Helen Mirren) is tasked with targeting and killing Frank and friends, but even she has to beat newcomer and ace assassin Han (Byung-hun Lee) to the kill.
As Frank, Sarah and Marvin traipse across Europe chasing the MacGuffin, they encounter a ragtag team of new and returning characters, including Brian Cox reprising his role as Ivan and newcomer Catherine Zeta-Jones as a seductive Russian operative. Parker’s cattiness compared to Zeta-Jones’ smooth-talking tigress is an enjoyable contrast that heats up some scenes.
Anthony Hopkins is delightful as an insane professor who knows the whereabouts of the lost nuclear device which the CIA is racing Russia to uncover. His zany antics combined with his erudite and genteel British scholarliness gives the thespian a satisfying range to work with. Hopkins makes the role look like a cakewalk for him, which it probably was.
Once again, John Malkovich steals the show. In “Red,” Malkovich created Marvin, a perfect concoction of paranoia, mad scientist and dorky juvenile prankster. With “Red 2,” Malkovich boosts Marvin’s charisma and drollness without sacrificing quality. A character as quirky as Marvin could become stale rather quickly, but Malkovich keeps his craft fresh and vibrant.
Everything from his occasional puppy-dog pouts to his hilarious costumes, like his stereotypical senior citizen jump suits, to his crazy conspiracy theories make Marvin one of Malkovich’s best roles yet. Honestly, there should be a spinoff film just about Marvin and give Malkovich his very own franchise. It’s a win-win for the universe.
Not all the comedy lands. Some of the gags are on the verge of mediocrity; a gentle push in either direction of absurdity would make all the difference. Just when the film starts to feel like it could potentially hit a wall, along comes Anthony Hopkins to breathe comical new life into the second half.
Though “Red 2” has some uproarious moments, it is still a high-octane actioner with some fantastic “Bourne”-like sequences, which director Dean Parisot (“Galaxy Quest”) skillfully maneuvers between the comedy. Essentially this is a “Bourne” film laced less with intrigue and more with comedy. Some of the fight sequences, especially between Bruce Willis and Byung-hun Lee, are top notch.
The film is at its best when the entire ensemble is together, which surprisingly is a decent portion. While teaming Mirren and Willis was a head-turner in “Red,” teaming Willis and Hopkins here is equally exciting. They all appear to be enjoying their time shooting (and shooting) their away across Europe which is reflected in the final product, making “Red 2” an enjoyable ride.
The “Red” series is based on comics by Warren Ellis and Cully Hamner and screenwriters John and Erich Hoeber have nicely adapted Eliis and Hamner’s world into a Hollywood one, but really it’s the perfect casting that has made the "Red" franchise such a sleeper hit.
Behind the scenes, director of photography Enrique Chediak and editor Don Zimmerman give “Red 2” a Bourne-like sophistication and intensity while composer Alan Silvestri keeps the film moving at breakneck speed with his groovy score.
While “Red 2” is a fairly traditional espionage film with a comedic twist and brilliant cast, the film is ultimately as Hopkins’ character frequently quips: “Jolly good.”
MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 1 hour and 56 minutes.
Garry and I had a great time watching this at the movies last night. It's not only fast moving, it's also very funny. John Malkovich does steal the show, but not by much. Everyone is really good. It's a fantastic ensemble cast, all great performers very obviously having a helluva good time together and letting us, the audience enjoy it too. I've read some negative review (Rotten Tomatoes) and all I can say is ... you guys really ARE snobs. Loosen up. Learn to laugh. Young or old, this movie is great. If you are are age, it's particular satisfying to see the Old Folks killing and blowing things up with the same enthusiasm as the younger folks. And Malkovich really is a peach. As is Hopkins and Willis and Parker and Jones.See. Enjoy. Don't think too much. This is not intended for thinking. It's entertainment. Great entertainment. Hope there's a Red 3 because we saw Red and I agree: the sequel is actually better (but the original ain't bad either!).
Today, July 3, 2013, is the 150th Anniversary of Pickett’s Charge at the Battle of Gettysburg. I’ve already done a long post which describes George R. Stewart’s book about the Charge.
Today, on a lighter note, I’m sending out a new map of the event. Frank Brusca, who’s a noted Stewart Scholar with special expertise in Stewart’s work on the U.S. 40 highway book, has done a tongue-in-cheek version of the battle map.
Here it is, for your enjoyment. Notice the lower left hand corner.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
When we were in Gettysburg, it was very much like this. Amricana!!
Civil Rights champion Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee on this day 45 years ago- April 4th, 1968. Martin Luther King was in Memphis in support of striking sanitation workers. The night before he gave what is now called his “I’ve Been To The Mountaintop” speech. He was staying at the Lorraine Motel. At 6:01 pm King was standing out on the balcony on the second floor when he saw shot. He was rushed to a nearby hospital but nothing could be done. He was declared dead at 7:05pm. One of the terrible events of a terrible decade in America.
An outstanding recent book on the assassination is “Hellhound On His Trail” by Hampton Sides which covers the movement of the assassin James Earl Ray and Dr. King leading up and after the assassination. PBS also had an excellent documentary “The Road To Memphis” a couple years ago which is well worth watching.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
I remember the day as does everyone in my generation. It was a turning point, though not to the extent I would have hoped.
In September 1933, LIFE magazine photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt traveled to Geneva to document a meeting of the League of Nations. One of the political figures at the gathering was Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitlers most devout underlings and a man who became known for his “homicidal anti-Semitism.”
Eisenstaedt was a German-born Jew. Not knowing this at first, Goebbels was initially friendly toward Eisenstaedt, who was able to capture a number of photos showing the Nazi politician in a good and cheerful mood (as in the photograph above).
However, Goebbels soon learned of the Jewish blood flowing through Eisenstaedt’s veins. Subsequently, when Eisenstaedt approached Goebbels for a candid portrait, the politician’s expression was very, very different. Instead of smiling, he scowled for the camera, and the famous photo that resulted shows the man wearing “eyes of hate”:
Garry and I got to know Eisenstadt pretty well in his final years. We talked with him often, especially about this period in his career. The sense of invulnerability that a camera bestows is, unfortunately, illusory ... as many photographers have found out to their eternal regret. But I understand. You forget yourself and are focused entirely on the picture you are taking.
Friends, In case you don't think Googles new image search format is a serious matter, read what Blog owners and Webmasters (and users) are saying: The revised image search is AWFUL. In order to sea...
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Now they've changed it so that we aren't being indexed at all. None of my photos are showing up at all. Google's determination to kill off bloggers is apparently unremitting. What do they expect to gain by this? Obviously something. My question is: what?
The odds are good that you’ll be undergoing a dramatic life change sometime in the next few years, if not even sooner. And while major changes are always a little scary, they don’t have to stress you out.
Marilyn Armstrong's insight:
Who needs a shrink when you can turn to Despair.com?
While a potpourri of information exists concerning the "Little Ice Age," interestingly enough are the effects this age had on wine-making, beer and the master violin, the Stradivarious. Out of this period of gloom and doom extending from the early 14th to the middle of the 19th centuries (approx. 1350 - 1850) came incredible benefits.
The little ice age is one of those periods of time that is exceptionally important historically and culturally, but barely known to anyone who isn't an acual history buff. Starting in the 1300s along with the Plague, it changed the face of Western Civilization, forcing nations to create central government for the first time. It makes fascinating readin!
There's never a good time to get clobbered by an asteroid — something the dinosaurs discovered in the worst way possible. It was 65.5 million years ago when an asteroid measuring 6 miles (10 km) across slammed into the earth just off the coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, blasting out a 110-mile (180 km) crater and sending out a cloud of globe-girdling debris that cooled and darkened the world. That spelled doom for species that had come to like things bright and warm. Before long (in geological terms, at least) the dinos were gone and the mammals arose.
That's how the story has long been told, and it's still the most widely accepted theory. Now, however, a study led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and published in Nature Communications suggests that the asteroid might not have affected all dinosaur species equally. Some, including the well-loved triceratops and duck-billed dinosaurs, might have been on their way out already and were simply hastened to the exit by the asteroid blast. The reason for their weakened state — and the way the investigators discovered it — provides both new insights into the fate of the dinosaurs and new methods with which to study their world.
The asteroid impact — known as the Cretaceous-Tertiary (K-T) extinction — was always thought to have been an equal-opportunity annihilator, and there was good evidence to support that. Tracking the rise and fall of the dinosaurs was always done simply by counting how many species were around at any given moment in history. The more species there were, the better the overall clade was doing; the fewer there were — particularly after the K-T — the closer to extinction all dinosaurs came. But that method was never entirely reliable, mostly because paleontologists do their digging in so many different places.
"Results can be biased by uneven sampling of the fossil record," says Steve Brusatte, a graduate student at Columbia University and one of the participants in the new study. "In places where more rock and fossils were formed, like in America's Great Plains, you'll find more species." Similarly, in places that didn't fossilize remains easily, you'd find far fewer — even if at one time there were just as many animals there.
The Natural History team, led by paleontologist Mark Norell, thus decided to take a different approach — looking at the biodiversity within different groups of dinosaurs. If one group — the carnivores, say — was thriving, it ought to be producing more species than groups that were struggling just to hang on. When the investigators looked at things this way — sampling 150 species across seven major groups — they were able to paint a much different and much-less-uniform picture of how all the dinosaurs were faring before the asteroid arrived.
In general, the number of species in the small herbivore group (the ankylosaurs and pachycephalosaurs) was stable or even increasing. The same was true for the carnivores (the tyrannosaurs and coelurosaurs) as well as for the largest herbivores (the sauropods). Things were not so good for the slightly smaller herbivores known as bulk feeders because of the wide range of vegetation they ate (the hadrosaurs and ceratopsids). They appear to have been in decline for a good 12 million years before the K-T wipeout, with their species head count dwindling steadily over that time.
"People often think of the dinosaurs being monolithic," says Richard Butler of Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, who also participated in the study. "We say, 'The dinosaurs did this, the dinosaurs did that.' But dinosaurs were hugely diverse. Different groups were probably evolving in different ways and the results of our study show that very clearly."
So why were the hadrosaurs and ceratopsids having such a hard time? Geography may explain at least some of the problems. The bulk feeders were especially common in North America, a continent that was then bisected by the Western Interior Seaway, a wide and deep body of water that ran from what is now the Arctic Ocean to what is now the Gulf of Mexico. Changes in the depth, width and temperature of the sea might have reduced the food supply or altered the surrounding ecosystem in other ways that made it hard for the hadrosaurs and ceratopsids to survive. The tectonic collisions, which gave rise to what are now the Rockies and the other mountains of the west, might have had a similar effect.
Whatever the cause of the two groups' decline, it's not certain that their condition was terminal — that they would not have somehow stabilized themselves if the asteroid hadn't come along and rendered the whole question academic. Indeed, throughout the whole of the Mesozoic Era — from 250 million to 65 million years ago — diversity within dinosaur species was known to fluctuate quite a bit. "Small increases or decreases between two or three time intervals may not be noteworthy within the context of the ... history of the [groups]," says Norell.
Of course, the asteroid did come along and did render everything academic. But if all of the dinosaurs left history's stage at more or less the same time and for more or less the same reason, they now appear to have strutted their hour in ways that were more varied — and in some cases more fraught — than we ever appreciated before.
When it comes to self-destruction, humans are remarkably creative. Here's a little list of the top 10 man-made disasters. I wonder what we'll think of next? I'm sure we'll find yet another way to do ourselves in.
Beneath the city streets that travellers walk on each day, dark labyrinths of underground catacombs are passageways to the past, to a time when the ghostly tunnels served as burial grounds for millions of people.
The catacombs of Rome, which date back to the 1st Century and were among the first ever built, were constructed as underground tombs, first by Jewish communities and then by Christian communities. There are only six known Jewish catacombs and around 40 or more Christian catacombs.
In Ancient Rome, it was not permitted for bodies to be buried within the city walls. So while pagans cremated their dead, Christians, who were not legally allowed to practice their religion, turned to underground cemeteries, built beneath land owned by the city’s few rich Christian families. The Jewish population was already implementing this practice when Christians began doing so around the 2nd Century.
The use of catacombs in Rome expanded during the 2nd and 3rd Centuries, as the illegal religion of Christianity grew in popularity. Some areas of the tunnels even became shrines for martyrs buried there. But after Christianity was legalized in 313 AD, funerals moved above ground, and by the 5th Century, the use of catacombs as grave sites dwindled, though they were still revered as sacred sites where pilgrims would come to worship.
The Rome catacombs then fell victim to pillaging by Germanic invaders around the early 9th Century. As a result, relics of Christian martyrs and saints were moved from the catacombs to churches in the city centre. Eventually, the underground burial tunnels were abandoned altogether – only to be rediscovered via excavations in the 1600s.
Today, travellers from all over the world visit Rome to explore its 600km network of catacombs, spread out over five storeys underground near the Park of the Tombs of Via Latina. Dedicated to Christian saints, they are adorned with some of the earliest Christian artwork in the world, dating back to the 2nd Century, featuring paintings on the tunnel walls that depict ancient life. Sacred catacombs open to the public include the Catacombs of Priscilla (Via Salaria, 430), the Catacombs of St Callixtus (Via Appia Antica, 110-126) and the Catacombs of St Agnes (Via Nomentana, 349). The Vatican provides details on how to visit these and other holy burial sites. A few Jewish catacombs, including the catacombs on the Vigna Randanini and those in the Villa Torlonia, are also open to the public -- though some by appointment.