Talk to the Animals ...

Communicating with animals is almost like a superpower. We can communicate with domestic animals, but when it comes to other species, it seems quite impossible. But Anna Breytenbach is an exception. She is an interspecies communicator and claims that she can relay messages to animals. It seems farfetched, but the following video speaks for itself.

This video shows Anna communicating with a black leopard named Diablo. Diablo was the one cat that refrained from getting out of his enclosure. He snarled at anyone who walked by. After a while with Anna, she reported that he was angry because of his previous bad experiences with humans. After their session, there was a total change in his behavior. His handler was left in tears because of this!



His Holiness Pope Francis on Power and Humility

A single individual is enough for hope to exist, and that individual can be you, says His Holiness Pope Francis in this searing TED Talk delivered directly from Vatican City. In a hopeful message to people of all faiths, to those who have power as well as those who don't, the spiritual leader provides illuminating commentary on the world as we currently find it and calls for equality, solidarity and tenderness to prevail. "Let us help each other, all together, to remember that the 'other' is not a statistic, or a number," he says. "We all need each other." 


I feel you Ambassador Dermer ...

Watch Israel Ambassador Ron Dermer (right) facepalm while President Trump tells a room of Israeli officials in Jerusalem: "We just got back from the Middle East".

video


Source: The Guardians of Democracy

More OWLS [via Nina Reznick]


 
Portrait of a screech owl. View original photo here

 
A Snowy Owl sits in the stubble of a corn field as snow falls near Macy, Indiana, on January 13, 2016. 

A brown owl is displayed for sale at an animal market in Jakarta, Indonesia, on May 22, 2007. 


 
A snowy owl landing on January 25, 2009.

  
Elton the spectacled owl sits on a scale at London Zoo as the zookeepers weigh and measure the animals for their annual weigh-in in London on August 22, 2012


Yiddish Curses for Republican Jews



  • May you sell everything and retire to Florida just as global warming makes it uninhabitable.

  • May you live to a hundred and twenty without Social Security or Medicare.

  • May you make a fortune, and lose it all in one of Sheldon Adelson’s casinos.

  • May you live to a ripe old age, and may the only people who come visit you be Mormon missionaries.

  • May your son be elected President, and may you have no idea what you did with his goddamn birth certificate.

  • May your grandchildren baptize you after you’re dead.

  • May your insurance company decide constipation is a pre-existing condition.

  • May you find yourself insisting to a roomful of skeptics that your great-grandmother was “legitimately” raped by Cossacks.

  • May you feast every day on chopped liver with onions, chicken soup with dumplings, baked carp with horseradish, braised meat with vegetable stew, latkes, and may every bite of it be contaminated with E. Coli, because the government gutted the E.P.A.

  • May you have a rare disease and need an operation that only one surgeon in the world, the winner of the Nobel Prize for Medicine, is able to perform. And may he be unable to perform it because he doesn’t take your insurance. And may that Nobel Laureate be your son.

  • May the state of Arizona expand their definition of “suspected illegal immigrants” to “anyone who doesn’t hunt.”

  • May you be reunited in the world to come with your ancestors, who were all socialist garment workers.


Ramblings and readings of Rabbi Aaron Spiegel



OWLS [via Nina Reznick]


Not Falcons (nor Patriots), these superb owls hail from Europe, Asia, North and South America, captured in photos both recent and more than a century old.
  • A white-faced owl photographed at the Photokina fair on September 21, 2010 in Cologne, Germany.
    EyesWideOpen / Getty

  • A burrowing owl stands on the Olympic Golf Course in Rio de Janeiro during a practice session for the 2016 Summer Olympics on September 8, 2016. 
    Andrew Boyers / Reuters
  • A few snowflakes melt on the face of Cloudy, a snowy owl, during the cold blustery winter day at the Buffalo Zoo in Buffalo, New York, on January 28, 2004. 
    David Duprey / AP

  • A female great horned owl on her nest, photographed in 2009. 
    Dennis Demcheck / U.S.G.S.


An owl in flight. View original photo here
CC BY Geoff Sloan

The Good Ol' Days? The Year was 1955, ONLY 62 YEARS AGO! [via Nina Reznick}


I never thought I'd see the day all our kitchen appliances would be electric. They're even making electric typewriters now. 



The fast food restaurant is convenient for a quick meal, but I seriously doubt they will ever catch on. 

No one can afford to be sick anymore. At  $15.00 a day in the hospital, it's too
rich for my blood. 

 

When I first started driving, who would have thought gas would someday cost 25 cents a gallon?  



Did you hear the post office is thinking about charging 7 cents just to mail a
letter?


       

Un-Civil War between Our Two Americas by Kenneth Atchity


Walls we don’t see are often stronger than walls we see. Election after election, the blue-red map clearly shows these United States of America are united by fable only, and in nearly every other way really are two Americas.

Rejiggering the Electoral College won’t alleviate the situation because (a) the Electors actually serve an important purpose, as long as the country is configured the way it currently is; and (b) neither Party can achieve the reconfiguration: the Party in power will not allow it, and the opposing Party won’t have the votes to make it happen. Anyway it won’t solve the deep schizophrenia manifest in the concept of a single America, one perhaps so endemic that the founding fathers were also struggling with it.

Conservative America

Today the walls are pretty well-defined. “Conservative America” is by far the bulk of the American land mass. It extends from Florida north to North Carolina and west to the border of California (with the quirky up jutting of New Mexico and Colorado). It includes the entire South and Midwest, and Alaska.

Conservative America is the land of apple pie, of lawn and porch flags, picnics in the park, Christian churches disseminating not only platitudes but also attitudes that hold society together focused firmly on the past and therefore worshiping old-fashioned conservative values, homogeneity —and fierce nostalgia for the way things were and are supposed to remain. Hospitality yes, tolerance not so much. Feminism is viewed with alarm, and the “right to life” outweighs a woman’s right to choose and control her body and her future. Though diversity has made fiscal inroads in nearly every state of Conservative America, it has not found a permanent place in the minds and hearts of the folks, mostly white, in control. Conservative America is the birthplace and habitat of the Tea Party and of the right to bear arms at all times.

I was born in one Conservative American state, Louisiana, and raised through high school in another, Missouri. The population of the thirty states that comprise Conservative America is around 100,000,000, or 1/3 of the whole. Conservative America, because it occupies more States, has more Electors.

Progressive America

Since I drove away to college at Georgetown in D.C. at the age of seventeen I’ve lived in Progressive America ever since: Connecticut, California, and New York. Progressive America occupies the entire Pacific coast from California, with Hawaii by extension—to Washington, and the blue islands of Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico surrounded by the red sea; on the northern border, Illinois and Minnesota; and, on the Atlantic, north from Virginia to Maine and west through Pennsylvania. You might argue that Progressive American is synonymous with urban America, and Conservative America with rural America. But it’s not quite that simple.

If Conservative America is the land of hard-headed practicality, Progressive America welcomes dreamers, many of them immigrants from Conservative America, and many of whose dreams seem to come true—and shape the world’s future. It’s La La Land vs. Hell or High Water.

Progressive America salutes the American flag and truly loves the idea of America; but it can also applaud turning that flag into panties, bras, and protest banners. The Progressive idea of America embraces the future, which it honors with hope and belief in the genius of the individual; diversity. It’s the land of civil rights most widely defined; of gun control; of visionary education, its leading universities including UCLA, Berkeley, and Stanford, Northwestern not to mention Harvard, Yale, Columbia, and Princeton; and of people who worry about global warming and try to do something about it.

Progressive America isn’t afraid of the word socialism because it’s understood to mean people showing their gratitude for abundance and their respect for others by making sure all citizens have an acceptable and meaningful life. While Conservative America fears immigration as a threat to its conservatism, Progressive America embraces immigrants as the defining reality of its concept of America, “land of immigrants.” The statue of liberty guards its coast and its citizens still adhere to Emma Lazarus’ verse:

…From her beacon-hand

Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command

The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”


Roughly two-thirds of the United States’ population, around 200 million people, live within Progressive America—2/3 of the whole.

The Dangers of Division

In each America live citizens whose hearts yearn, secretly or not, for the other America. Their exile is allowed, if they can bear it. If they can’t, they’re still free to cross from one America to the other.

Loquacious citizens of both Americas have hearts and minds that feel and think their views are superior to those of the other America. But most would agree there’s room on the continent for both Americas. Each is free to visit the other, as though we were the American Common Market.

Should we formalize the reality we all recognize and restructure things a bit so that Californians and New Yorkers, the leading states of Progressive America, can elect their own President to push their liberal, even socialist, agendas? Elections held in Conservative America would allow their President to maintain the conservative standard. Between the two Americas, trade would be arranged to advance the fraternal needs of both citizenries. Respect and civility would grow from the integrity of each America, to replace the hatred now streaming between them because of the deeply-held and media-reinforced belief on both parts that the “other America” is either evil or insane—or both. We could talk to each other instead of imitating the shouting mode of

I, for one, love both Americas, and would hate to lose either, or see violence between them extend from words to bullets.

Ken Atchity's Door to Door



An Eclectic Omnivorous Newsletter!


The Swastika dates back over 11,000 years [Nina Reznick]

It’s older than popular history has sometimes reported.



Researchers maintain that the ancient symbol of the Swastika arrived from India to the Americas and other parts of the world. Researchers have concluded that the symbol of the swastika is older than the Aryans and even the Indus Valley Civilization.

Unlike popular belief, the swastika is a symbol of peace and continuity.

Ever since the Second World War, the symbol of the Swastika was transmuted and became a symbol of discrimination and slaughter, a product of Adolf Hitler’s regime.For Hitler, the Swastika was the symbol of his Aryan supremacy, but for historians and archaeologists around the globe, the Swastika is anything but that.

In fact, the symbol of the true Swastika goes back over 11,000 years and is believed to have originated in the Harappan period and the culture of the Indus Valley Civilization.

“We have found the most mature and geometrically ordered Swastika in the pre-Harappan times in the form of seals. We have also been able to trace the mention of the Swastika in the Vedas around the same time. These are scintillating findings that will help us announce that the Indian civilization is far more ancient than what is written in accepted history books, mostly by Europeans,” said Joy Sen, a faculty member at IIT-Kgp faculty and lead project investigator.

According to experts, the symbol of the Swastika migrated from India –through the Tartar Mongoodi route via Kamchatka to the Americas, the reason why the symbol can be found among the Aztec and Maya civilizations.

It reached other parts of the world through the Western Land route arriving in Finland, Scandinavia, British Highlands and parts of Europe where the symbol is found in a number of different adaptations.

“After dividing the world into nine quadrants into which Swastika moved from India, we retraced its footprints and have been able to graphically prove our claim through ancient seals, inscriptions, imprints, and religious symbolism in these countries. We will reveal it in great detail,” Sen said.

Today, the Swastika is firmly rejected in society because people have absolutely no idea the true meaning of the symbol. It is a hijacked symbol.

It inspired Schopenhauer, Friedrich Nietzsche and their progeny, Adolf Hitler, who started an inverted agenda of anti-Semitism based on a falsified Aryan invasion myth through seven years of war, terror, corruption and extermination,” Sen said.

SALT OF THE EARTH [Via Nina Reznick]

Deep underground in Poland lies something remarkable but little known outside Eastern Europe. For centuries, miners have extracted salt there, but left behind things quite startling and unique. Take a look at the most unusual salt mine in the world.


From the outside, Wieliczka Salt Mine doesn't look extraordinary. It looks extremely well kept for a place that hasn't mined any salt for over ten years but, apart from that, it looks ordinary. However, over two hundred metres below ground it holds an astonishing secret. This is the salt mine that became an art gallery, cathedral and underground lake.



Situated in the Krakow area, Wieliczka is a small town of close to twenty thousand inhabitants. It was founded in the twelfth century by a local duke to mine the rich deposits of salt that lie beneath.



Until 1996, it did just that but the generations of miners did more than just extract. They left behind them a breathtaking record of their time underground in the shape of statues of mythic, historical and religious figures. They even created their own chapels in which to pray Perhaps their most astonishing legacy is the huge underground cathedral they left behind for posterity.


It may feel like you are in the middle of a Jules Verne adventure as you descend into the depths of the world. After a one hundred and fifty metre climb down wooden stairs, the visitor to the salt mine will see some amazing sites. About the most astounding in terms of its sheer size and audacity is the Chapel of Saint Kinga. The Polish people have for many centuries been devout Catholics and this was more than just a long term hobby to relieve the boredom of being underground. This was an act of worship.

 


Amazingly, even the chandeliers in the cathedral are made of salt. It was not simply hewn from the ground and then thrown together; however, the process is rather more painstaking for the lighting. After extraction the rock salt was first of all dissolved. It was then reconstituted with the impurities taken out so that it achieved a glass-like finish. The chandeliers are what many visitors think the rest of the cavernous mine will be like as they have a picture in their minds of salt as they would sprinkle on their meals! However, the rock salt occurs naturally in different shades of grey (something like you would expect granite to look like).

 

Still, that doesn't stop well over one million visitors (mainly from Poland and its eastern European neighbours) from visiting the mine to see, amongst other things, how salt was mined in the past.

 

For safety reasons, less than one percent of the mine is open to visitors, but even that is still almost four kilometres in length ... more than enough to weary the average tourist after an hour or two. The mine was closed for two reasons:
.... the low price of salt on the world market made it too expensive to extract here. Also, the mine was slowly flooding ... another reason why visitors are restricted to certain areas only.

 


The religious carvings are, in reality, what draw many to this mine ... as much for their amazing verisimilitude as for their Christian aesthetics. The above shows Jesus appearing to the apostles after the crucifixion. He shows the doubter, Saint Thomas, the wounds on his wrists.



 
Another remarkable carving, this time a take on The Last Supper. The work and patience that must have gone into the creation of these sculptures is extraordinary. One wonders what the miners would have thought of their work going on general display? They came to be quite used to it, in fact, even during the mine's busiest period in the nineteenth century. The cream of Europe's thinkers visited the site ... you can still see many of their names in the old visitor's books on display.

These reliefs are perhaps among some of the most iconographic works of Christian folk art in the world and really do deserve to be shown. It comes as little surprise to learn that the mine was placed on the original list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites back in 1978.
 



Not all of the work is relief-based. There are many life-sized statues that must have taken a considerable amount of time ... months, perhaps even years ... to create. Within the confines of the mine, there is also much to be learned about the miners from the machinery and tools that they used ... many of which are on display and are centuries old. A catastrophic flood in 1992 dealt the last blow to commercial salt mining in the area and now the mine functions purely as a tourist attraction. Brine is, however, still extracted from the mine and then evaporated to produce some salt, but hardly on the ancient scale. If this was not done, then the mines would soon become flooded once again. 





Not all of the statues have a religious or symbolic imagery attached to them. The miners had a sense of humour, after all! Here can be seen their own take on the legend of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The intricately carved dwarfs must have seemed to some of the miners a kind of ironic depiction of their own work. Certainly, they may have whistled while they did it but the conditions in the salt mine were far from comfortable and the hours were long ... the fact that it was subterranean could hardly have added to the excitement of going to work each morning.




To cap it all, there is even an underground lake, lit by subdued electricity and candles. This is perhaps where the old legends of lakes to the underworld and Catholic imagery of the saints work together to best leave a lasting impression of the mine. How different a few minutes reflection here must have been to the noise and sweat of everyday working life in the mine.
















494 BCE, Rome: On the History of Protest and Small Triumphs [via Nina Reznick]



Today's selection -- from The Rise of Rome by Anthony Everitt. In 494 BCE, the people of Rome staged one of the most remarkable and imaginative protests in world history. Though this protest brought some reform, it underscored the seemingly never-ending struggle of the plebs against the major landowners and ruling elite:
"It was the strangest spectacle seen since the foundation of Rome. A long stream of families could be observed leaving the city in what looked like a general evacuation. They walked southward and climbed a sparsely populated hill, the Aventine, which stands across a valley from the Palatine, the site of Romulus's first settlement. They were, broadly speaking, the poor and the disadvantaged -- artisans and farmers, peasants and urban workers. They carried with them a few days' worth of food. On arrival they set up camp, building a stockade and a trench. There they stayed quietly, like a weaponless army, offering no provocation or violence. They waited, doing nothing.

"This was a mass protest, one of the most remarkable and imaginative in world history. It was like a modern general strike, but with an added dimension. The workers were not simply withdrawing their labor; they were withdrawing themselves. ...


The Secession of the People to the Mons Sacer, engraving by B. Barloccini, 1849.

"What, then, was their complaint? ... The poor were burdened with debt and arbitrary treatment by those in authority; they sought redress. Many had reached a point where the only thing they owned with which to repay their debts was themselves -- their labor, their bodies. In that case, they were able to enter into a system of debt bondage, known as nexum, literally an interlacing or binding together. In the presence of five witnesses, a lender weighed out the money or copper to be lent. The debtor could now settle what he owed. In return he handed himself over -- his person and his services (although he retained his civic rights). The lender recited a formula: 'For such and such a sum of money you are now nexus, my bondsman.' He then chained the debtor, to dramatize his side of the bargain.

"This brutal arrangement did not in itself attract disapproval, for it did provide a solution, however rough-and-ready, to extreme indebtedness. What really aroused anger was the oppressive or unfair treatment of a bonded slave. The creditor-owner even had the right to put him to death, at least in theory. Livy tells the story of a victim, an old man, who suddenly appeared one day in the Forum. Pale and emaciated, he wore soiled and threadbare clothes. His hair and beard were unkempt. Altogether, he was a pitiable sight. A crowd gathered, and learned that he had once been a soldier who commanded a company and served his country with distinction. How had he come to this pass? He replied:

While I was on service during the Sabine war, my crops were ruined by enemy raids, and my cottage was burnt. Everything I had was taken, including my cattle. Then, when I was least able to do so, I was expected to pay taxes, and the result was I fell into debt. Interest on the borrowed money increased my burden; I lost the land which my father and grandfather had owned before me, and then my other possessions. Ruin spread like an infection through all I had. Even my body wasn't exempt, for I was finally seized by my creditor and reduced to slavery -- no, worse, I was hauled away to prison and the torture chamber ...

"In 326, a scandal led to the reform of debt bondage, the nexum. An attractive youth sold himself into bondage to a creditor of his father. The creditor regarded the youth's charms as an additional bonus to sweeten the loan and tried to seduce his new acquisition. Meeting resistance, he had the boy stripped naked and flogged. Bleeding from the lash, the boy rushed out into the street. An angry crowd gathered and marched on the Senate House for general redress.

"The consuls, taken aback, conceded the point. They won the People's approval of a law limiting the nexum to extreme cases, which, in addition, had to be adjudicated by a court. As a rule, to repay money lent him, a debtor's property could be seized, but not his person."