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The Moon

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

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Zoom Zoom

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

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Symbols of Liberty

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

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

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

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Pablo Neruda

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

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Dystopian Horizons

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

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

It may be dystopia.
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Blessings in Bubonic Rags

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

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

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

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

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The Pleasures of Picnicking

During seasonal weather, people yearn to enjoy the great outdoors. Sunny, mild days offer ideal opportunities for hosting picnics in the park. Charming wicker baskets, country-style checkered tablecloths, leisurely pleasures, and delectable food come to mind.

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What Is Cooking in Literature

Beyond nourishing us, food assists us in maintaining our health and can impact our moods. A source of passion and great pleasure, food also has many links with history.

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In the Buff

On Nudity
The subject of nudity is mentioned in the Gutenberg Bible (1462 historic edition), which is the first major book printed using mass-produced movable metal type in Europe. In the Book of Genesis, Adam and Eve are unashamed of their naked bodies until they eat the forbidden fruit and are expelled from paradise.

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Human Trafficking

Human trafficking has been an ongoing atrocity, which occurs in destinations around the globe. Its victims, which include women, children, and men, are subject to a variety of forms of trafficking. These include sex trafficking, forced labor, and domestic servitude. Restore NYC—a nationally recognized leader in identifying and helping trafficked women, estimates that 18,000 foreign nationals are trafficked into the U.S. each year.

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Tune Out & Tune In

With growing efforts and awareness of the peril of our oceans and land, more people are making strides to conserve. Eco-conscious people worldwide are pitching in to save the planet. Efforts encompass recycling to conserving water and energy to reducing carbon footprints, and choosing reusable cloth totes over plastic bags. Many are eager to do their fair share.

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History of Perfume

We’ve all been captivated by the alluring scents of fresh flowers, baking bread, or brewing coffee. Since scent is routed through the olfactory bulb, which is connected to regions of the brain that relate to memory and emotion, it has the capability of triggering emotion.

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Animal Magnetism

Within recent years, pets have managed to climb the ranks to secure coveted spots atop family pedestals. These domestic companions—from the familiar dogs and cats to more exotic parrots, sugar gliders, and iguanas—have captured their owners’ hearts and nudged them to open up their wallets.
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Staying Power

New Lexicography
Every year, lexicographers must decide which popular words and phrases will be added to dictionaries. Tuned into books, politics, business, technology, the arts, and media, these word masters observe which words and phrases are used most frequently, exactly how they’re used, and what they mean.

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Tattoo You

Once considered rebellious and were associated with sailors, criminals, and thugs, over the years tattoos have become mainstream in countries around the globe.

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Agriculture Then and Now

Science records the development of agriculture back more than 10,000 years with Neolithic evidence of crops of wheat, barley, peas, lentils, chick peas, flax, and rice. Following the sowing and harvesting of grains and legumes, early Old World farmers domesticated pigs, then sheep, and then cattle. New World farmers focused on sorghum and potatoes, followed by coca, llamas, alpacas, and guinea pigs. Maize and cotton were latecomers to the agricultural repertoire.

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Paul Bunyan

Hero of the North Woods
Few folk tales from ages past endure in today’s children’s literature. Paul Bunyan is no exception. The folk hero was portrayed as a giant of a man at seven feet tall, renowned for his great strength, powerful voice, massive pipe, and memorable sidekicks, not the least of which was Babe, the blue ox. Tales of his illiteracy recount entertaining errors when ordering supplies.

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Heroic Myth to Little Green Men

Tales of Outer Space
Ancient astronomers discerned patterns of stars, constellations anchored by particularly bright points of light, and named them. The Western world knows these constellations mainly by their Greek names and through Greek myth: Cassiopeia, Orion, Pegasus, etc. Other cultures grouped constellations differently and assigned them different names in accordance to their mythologies and heroic traditions. From Lucian’s second century True History to 10th century Japan’s The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter to the Middle East’s medieval One Thousand and One Arabian Nights and throughout the millennia to the modern age, mankind’s fascination with the “Great Beyond” never ceases.

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