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On Emptiness So Heavy It Hurts

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Cataloged in Life

On Emptiness So Heavy It Hurts

There is no more fingernails left to bite and no one around to fuck.

Stepping into the shower, I turn the dial to an unholy temperature.

A normal person would flinch. A normal person would turn off the water.

In bed, I draw lines on my skin with a ballpoint pen, close my eyes, and imagine I can see red. I pull out the vicious little rectangle of metal just to look at it, put it back, and shut my nightstand.

Violently, I masturbate.

That night, I dream of a dark and deserted alley. A lamppost flickering in front of me. Moths dancing into the light, wings drunk with uncertainty, bodies welcoming death. Me leaning against a brick wall and choking on a cigarette. A hooded visage. Heavy footsteps making their way toward me. A thick hand wrapped around something intended to split my flesh.

The hairs should be standing up on the back of my neck. My brain should be registering a predator. Me, the prey, should feel inclined to fight or take flight. I should aim at him like a feral cat—claw, kick, show teeth. I should scream toward the street. I put my weight on my other foot and take a drag instead.

He wants a peek at my blood, wants my wallet, wants any number of things, and do you still want to hear the rest if what I want is the blade?

Isn’t there a theory about dreams being an evolutionary adaptation to rehearse our responses to threatening situations, so why did I just stand there?

Four nights ago I wrote in my journal: The greatest lie ever told is that there’s room in this world for a body like the one I own. Good things come to die here. Things grow here only to rot like peaches. Have you ever seen what a fruit looks like after maggots are done with it? Imagine that’s what you’d see if you looked at my insides and stared at my heart. Imagine deadwood on breathing lungs.

Sometimes this body just feels like a space for all the emptiness inserting itself like cancer into my bones. I imagine it growing at an alarming rate, multiplying itself like malignant cells under a microscope, swallowing me and everything I am whole.

I can’t remember the person I was before the person I am now. I don’t know who that was, but if I think about it enough, I am certain there was somebody different here before the catastrophe that is this being. A part of her left, and the part that remained alone in this place misses her and wonders if she’ll ever come back.

It’s a vacancy that makes me forget myself. It’s a sort of dissociation. It’s an obliteration.

It’s a kind of death to watch other people living life the way you can’t, to look at the world spread out in front of you like a painting you could jump into any second, but can’t, and feeling a disconnect.

There are these things I do and I don’t know whether they hurt or make me feel good, all I know is they make me feel real.

At the bar, I find the impetus my body has long forgotten.

I find it in lipstick. I find it in music. I find it in fleeting moments of laughter. I find it in the tequila going down my throat.

I find it wasted.

I find it titillated by the cologne on a man’s shirt.

I find it and lose it again. Down the sink with all the contents in my stomach. Bleeding out with my soul on mattresses that only leave me feeling cold.

The warmth dissipates with the sweat and I am numb again.

Some Saturdays, I spin in circles in bed, the way I did once in the backyard as a little girl in a fluffy dress, counting clouds and wearing her mother’s pearls, only now with an absence of hope.

I am dizzy with ennui. Suffocated by the languorous air. I lay still and track the sun with the movement of shadows in my bedroom.

I come to it by contemplating bad ideas.

I am tempted by things I know can only end badly.

I think about texting him and telling him how much I miss him, knowing damn well he’ll never choose me. Let him fuck me up one more time, I think. I’ve been clean for a long time now, but fuck it, I’ll tear myself apart and spend another two years collecting the pieces just for the bender.

I think about it, but I don’t. Continuing to love him is catastrophic decision enough, but that’s another tragic story for a different time.

I light candles, crush the tip of the match with my fingertips. Sometimes I stare at the flame and let it burn as far as it can before it reaches the end I’m holding.

I convince myself if I spend another weekend in town, it might be the thing to make me want to end it all. Then I book a flight for three days in Portland. I spend it alone. I spend it pretending I’m someone else. I spend it missing him. I spend it in the sheets of a stranger, who provides me with sustenance for the night in the form of his hands and his mouth. I exchange sexts with said stranger and send him pictures that would never allow me to be a politician’s wife after coming home, every few times I’m bored for the next year.

I binge everything in sight one night. I feel nothing at all, not even hunger, and live only on black coffee for the next three days.

I’m reckless. I’m careless. I often tempt fate.

I frequently forget to fasten my seatbelt and, after realizing it, sometimes I don’t make the effort to.

On nights the silence is deafening, I take two, three, four Xanaxs, though my prescription says take one tablet twice daily as needed. On special occasions, I ignore the warning not to mix with alcohol.

I text that guy who never bothered to learn my last name and who squeezes my throat a little too hard simply because I need to feel something taking up space inside of me.

I celebrate my 30th birthday. I toast with champagne. I smile like I am not seeing my body mimicking John Everett Millais’ Ophelia in my head.

For months, I convince myself I am falling for someone I’ve met; I even write about them. I begin to think that there is something left yet. But I wake up one day and don’t feel a goddamn thing for them.

I realize now that I was just bored.

I buy another lipstick and I cut my hair short.

I don’t know whether to call this sadness, call it sickness, or call it nothing at all—sometimes that’s what I feel. All I know is that it keeps coming back like a stray cat out in the yard. It keeps biting me like a mosquito I thought I had gotten rid of but is still inside the house. It’s a gray hair that keeps growing back no matter how many times I pull it out.

There are days when I feel like an empty plastic bag, like the lightest of winds could take me miles away from here. On those days, I don’t want to be here at all.

I fantasize about about death, sometimes more than I do about other things. There are times I find that thoughts of it bring me more comfort than thoughts of the future do.

I realize there’s something about this that goes against nature. Something twisted. Something I shouldn’t be admitting. But this is me at my lowest. This is who I am in my darkest moments.

These are the realities of people like me that are seldom spoken.

I realize I could reach out for help if I wanted to, or even just for someone I could be honest with. I like to blame things like my inability to open up on my being Scorpio, but the truth is that I’m afraid to let anyone in because I’m too afraid to face myself.

Maybe writing these things no one knows, which physically pain me to be admitting and that some would be uncomfortable hearing, is a step in the right direction.

I don’t want to live life beneath a faux moon’s glow. What I’m saying is that I’m exhausted of eviscerating myself.

I am tired of dying just by hiding what’s inside.

I am not the image portrayed by the two-dimensional character featured on Instagram’s news feed—smile wide, always sporting a sultry shade of lipstick, tits out, mischievous look in the eye, having fun, surrounded by friends, hair done, clinking glasses. No. I’m messy, reckless, fucked the fuck up, lonely, lost, shattered, exhausted, full of regrets, all the while hanging on to zero apologies and basking in impenitence. My heart beats surrounded by an electric fence on all fronts. I’m a real third-dimensional human made up of secrets just like everyone else. I am completely relatable to some and downright incomprehensible to their neighbors.

My truth is that it hurts to be here some nights. I am pulverized by the weight of such heavy hollow on some days. And still, I’ve got this burning hunger for things I miss and for things I’ve yet to know.

I am hurting here still.

It hurts, and I’m still here, even so.

Image Credit: God & Man

is cataloged in ,

Natalia Vela

poet and bruja. still checking books out from your local library.

Read more: https://thoughtcatalog.com/natalia-vela/2019/02/on-emptiness-so-heavy-it-hurts

I Drew A Story Of A Little Monster Who Just Started Living Under A Girls Bed After Parents Kicked Him Out (23 Comics)

When I was a kid, one of my dream jobs was becoming a newspaper cartoonist. I was a big fan of Garfield and Peanuts, then later Calvin & Hobbes and The Far Side. I went to college to become an illustrator. I was supposed to be drawing things for advertisements in magazines and stuff like that. All along though I would draw comics to entertain my friends. I would make photocopied books and pass them out to whoever would take them. By the time I finished college newspapers were dying and my dream job was dying along with them.

But at the same time the newspapers were fading, the internet was growing. I kept drawing comics but instead of just showing my friends, I put them on the internet for anyone to see. As the internet grew, so did my readers. A few years later I was able to quit my day job and live off of just my cartooning income. I stopped chasing my dream job but it came back and found me.

I’ve previously shared my best comics on Bored Panda. I’m using this new comic series to explore my memories of childhood mixed with the perspective of now being a parent.

1k+views

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/funny-comics-monster-under-bed-pebble-and-wren-chris-hallbeck/

The cake behind de Valera’s prison break

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Eamon de Valera was a leading figure in Ireland’s fight for independence

Eamon de Valera went on to become one of Ireland’s most influential statesmen. But his politics were not the only thing that earned him a place in the history books – exactly 100 years ago, he was also the mastermind of an audacious prison break involving cake, candles and a cartoon on a postcard.

The future president of Ireland was exercising in the yard at Lincoln Prison when he spotted his path to freedom – a door, which led to the outside.

In that moment he hatched the simplest of plans: get a key and get out.

Eamon de Valera had already served time for his involvement in the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin – a series of violent clashes between Irish rebels and British forces over independence, which resulted in the deaths of 450 people, 250 of them civilians.

The passionate republican had been spared the death sentence, unlike 15 of his fellow rebellion leaders, and on his release the following year, he became the leader of Sinn Féin and MP for East Clare.

But in May 1918, as the British sought to discredit de Valera’s party and its military arm, the Irish Republican Army (IRA), the politician and 72 other leading Irish nationalists were arrested on allegations of conspiring with Germany.

Some were sent to jail in Usk in Monmouthshire, while others, including de Valera, were packed off to Lincoln.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Eamon de Valera was born in New York in 1882 to an Irish mother and Spanish father, but moved to Ireland aged two
Image copyright Erik Grigg
Image caption Since it opened in 1872 only de Valera and his associates Sean McGarry and Sean Milroy have ever escaped

Lincoln Prison, an imposing building to the east of the city centre, opened in 1872 and in its 46-year history, there had not been a single escape.

Fearing a delegation to the US was about to tell the Americans that Ireland would be satisfied to remain partly under British control, de Valera was desperate to break out.

What followed was a plot so bold de Valera’s grandson Eamon O Cuiv described it as akin to Andy Dufresne’s escape in the 1994 film the Shawshank Redemption – “only it really happened”.

Image copyright Castle Rock Entertainment/Getty Images
Image caption In the film adaptation of Steven King’s novella, Andy Dufresne, played by Tim Robbins, spent 19 years tunnelling through his cell wall

Having spotted the door in the exercise yard, de Valera’s next step was to find a key.

His Catholic background had led him to act as server in the prison chapel, where he spotted the chaplain’s set of keys. Waiting until his back was turned, the prisoner made an impression of this crucial piece of equipment using a wedge of wax he had collected from the chapel candles.

The next problem de Valera and his fellow revolutionaries faced was how to get it to the IRA. With their letters scrutinised by prison guards, they came up with a ploy to send the dimensions on a postcard.

Fellow prisoner Sean Milroy was put to the task and drew a cartoon of a drunk man trying to fit a large key into a tiny keyhole on what appeared to be a harmless Christmas card. The proofreaders were duped: the image sent to their associates was, in fact, a copy of the impression taken by de Valera.

Image copyright UCD Archives De Valera Papers, reproduced by kind
Image caption A replica of the key was disguised in a Christmas card sent from the jail

On the outside, a key was cut to the dimensions on the card and smuggled into the prison inside a cake. According to a statement given 30 years later by conspirator Liam McMahon, it was taken to the jail by a man called Fintan Murphy.

McMahon said in the statement: “He said he was a commercial traveller, and somebody in Manchester had asked him to bring this cake. He was taken inside [and] the head warder was called, who brought a very thin knife, and started prodding the cake.

“Fintan was in agony over the thing, as to what would happen in the event of the knife touching the key. Anyway, he never contacted the key, and the cake was put in.”

The plot failed, however, as the key did not fit the lock.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Harry Boland and Michael Collins, left and centre, were sent to help free de Valera, right

De Valera, who realised the wax must have shrunk before the drawing was made, later wrote: “As I examined the joy at having got [the key], it was qualified by a feeling that it was too small.”.

A second cartoon was despatched – this time with the key impression disguised at the centre of an ornate Celtic pattern – and a second key was smuggled into the prison inside another cake.

When that failed, yet another was baked – “an oblong fruit cake”, McMahon recalled – this time containing a blank key and a set of files so it could be shaped to fit the lock.

The blank was given to fellow prisoner Peter DeLoughry who had been able to examine a prison lock after managing to take it apart using a contraband screwdriver. With that extra knowledge, it was he who was able to fashion a master key capable of unlocking any door in the jail – and of winning de Valera his freedom.

At about 7.40pm on 3 February 1919, de Valera, Milroy and a third man, Sean McGarry, used the key cut by DeLoughry to open their cell doors and lock them behind them. Slipping out into the dark and misty exercise yard, they made their way to the gate.

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On the other side, top-ranking republicans Michael Collins and Harry Boland were among those waiting for them.

Collins had also had a key cut, but when he tried to open the gate from the outside it snapped in the lock. Fearing their luck might have run out, de Valera slotted his key in from the other side, poked out Collins’ broken key, turned the lock and the three men slipped through.

As the group made their way away from the prison, they encountered some convalescing soldiers loitering with their girlfriends outside a nearby hospital but managed to stroll past without arousing suspicion.

After a short walk, they arrived at the Adam and Eve pub, where a taxi was waiting to whisk the men on to Worksop in Nottinghamshire. By the time their escape was discovered, at about 9.30pm, the men had taken another taxi from Worksop to Sheffield where a car was waiting to take them to a safe house in Manchester.

Recounting the escape later, de Valera said he had been poised to lock the door to the exercise yard gate when he was urged by his comrades to hurry away from the prison. “Had I locked that door, nobody would ever have known how we had escaped,” he said.

Image copyright BMH.WS0274, Military Archives, Ireland
Image caption Liam McMahon’s statement revealed the details of the cake
Image copyright Erik Grigg
Image caption The escaped prisoners were taken by taxi from outside the Adam & Eve pub to Worksop

Mr O Cuiv first heard the tale of his grandfather’s escape when he was a young boy. He said his mother’s birth certificate – she was born in August 1918 – lists her father’s address as Lincoln Prison.

“This was as successful and as neat an escape as you could imagine,” he said. “It was based on a bit of cunning and cleverness.

“As I grow older the more I look at it and think what a neat escape it was: no violence, no nothing – just out of the door and gone.”

Mr O Cuiv said the story was one “people in Ireland love” and according to Lincolnshire County Council historian, Dr Erik Grigg, “lots of Irish people” erroneously visit the city’s old prison, which closed in 1878, hoping to see where de Valera enacted his great escape.

However, the former inmate’s grandson admits the plan was not without its flaws, and that putting Collins, Boland and de Valera in the same place was a big risk.

“It would have been a bit of a disaster [if they had been caught] – you would have lost three of the big players,” he said.

“It’s like saying what if the Germans had managed to bomb Buckingham Palace and kill the king, or kill Churchill?

“It was maybe a bit foolhardy but the idea was to send their best men, their most reliable organisers.”

Image copyright Independent News And Media/Getty Images
Image caption Eamon de Valera was an avid supporter of the Irish language movement and in 1913 joined the Irish Volunteers, a military organisation set up in opposition to the unionist militia the Ulster Volunteers

During his incarceration de Valera’s Sinn Féin party had swept the boards at the 1918 general election, winning 73 of the 105 Irish seats – with de Valera, despite being behind bars, winning both in Clare East and Mayo East.

But party members refused to take their seats in Westminster, and, on 21 January 1919, assembled at the Mansion House in Dublin to form an Irish parliament, known as the Dáil Éireann.

Following his escape, de Valera returned to Ireland where, at the April meeting of the Dáil, he was named president. By the time of his death in August 1975, aged 92, he had been elected taoiseach (prime minister) three times and served as president of Ireland from 1959 until 1973.

More than 200,000 people lined the streets of Dublin for his funeral, taking the opportunity to honour the man who helped free them from British rule.

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-lincolnshire-47057379

This Life-Size Crochet Skeleton Is So Intricate, The Stomach Even Has Half-Digested Food In It

If you’re an artist, there are so many mediums to have fun with. So when Shanell Papp from Lethbridge, Canada decided to explore the human body she picked a method that excited her just as much as the theme. Crochet.

Image credits: s.b.papp

“I began crocheting from books,” Papp told Bored Panda. “It was part of my whole fascination with textiles and string. My grandmother ran a junk shop and I was encouraged to take textiles materials and examine old projects. I began to teach myself to sew, knit, crochet, rug hook, macrame, etc. I kinda had a weird set up ask a kid. Spare time and a junk shop to pick through.”

Image credits: Shanell Papp

In total, her project LAB took her about eight months. Four of them to make the skeleton and another four to create the internal organs. “I was curious about the human body and I wanted to make a human body. I was interested in medical history and how we attempt to solve everything, but we are fragile.” To make it as close to the real deal as possible, the artist borrowed a human skeleton from a university and collected anatomical textbooks.

Image credits: Shanell Papp

“I was interested in medicine and applied to become an x-ray technician, but never attended. I stayed in art school, I wanted to continue learning new skills with my hands and I loved talking about art. Otherwise, I still read many books on medical history, death, and crime. I am interested in knowing about all the things that scare me.”

Image credits: Shanell Papp

“[The whole project] was kinda tricky, but I found it interesting to figure out,” Papp said. “I really enjoyed making all the vertebrae, because they were like unique granny squares. Like tiny puzzles.”

Image credits: Shanell Papp

“This project encouraged me to make more textile work,” she added. “I was in art school at the time focusing on photography and made this as an independent studio project. Textiles were my secret skill that never had a celebrated place in contemporary art and art schools. It had no conceptual potential, it was just seen as a craft. I think this piece pushed me to push the medium and seek out other artists who work like me.”

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

Image credits: Shanell Papp

People couldn’t believe the amount of skill an imagination that went into this project

Read more: http://www.boredpanda.com/life-sized-anatomically-correct-crocheted-skeleton-shanell-papp/

We May Finally Know Where Continents Come From

If you can overlook the insignificant lifeforms on its surface, the history of Earth is the slow expansion of its continents. Billions of years ago our planet was largely a water world with a few small islands poking above the surface. Then, as now, the floor of the oceans bore more resemblance to the composition of the other rocky planets than it does to continental rocks. The question of how continents came to cover so much of the planet has puzzled geologists, but a new theory gives the credit to mountain ranges.

The idea is counter-intuitive. After all, if there were no continents, where would the mountains sit? Nevertheless, Dr Ming Tang of Rice University said in a statement: “If our conclusions are correct, every piece of land that we are now sitting on got its start someplace like the Andes or Tibet, with very mountainous surfaces.”

Many of the world’s mountain ranges are eroded continental arcs, located at the margin where a continental plate rode over an oceanic one. Tang proposes these arcs are factories for the distinctive continental rocks.

Tang’s hypothesis, presented in Nature Communications, is based on the distribution of niobium and tantalum in rocks from around the world. Although the two metals’ names sound like they come from science fiction and fantasy books respectively, the elements are so chemically similar they usually turn up in the same places, leaving a very constant ratio.

However, the continental crust has 20 percent less niobium, proportionally, than the rest of the planet. The missing niobium has troubled geologists for decades.

Tang studied databases of the elemental composition in rocks, and came to the conclusion the continental average is being dragged down by arclogites, materials that collect at the base of continental arcs. Although often deeply buried, arclogites can be brought to the surface by volcanoes.

Tang had arclogites from the High Sierras tested and confirmed those made of rutile crystals are high in niobium. He thinks these crystals trapped a lot of niobium, but not tantalum, and most of them sunk into the mantle, leaving low niobium crust behind.

Rutile only forms under high pressures, such as is provided at the base of the crust with a mountain range above. While the niobium content provided the clue that allowed Tang to recognize what was happening, the more important aspect of the minerals formed by the continental arcs is that their low iron content makes them lighter, and therefore more buoyant than oceanic basalts.

Where the first continental arc came from is unclear, but once it appeared, it began a self-reproducing cycle. The arc produced continental rock, which rode over any oceanic plates it encountered, producing more continental arcs, and therefore more continents.

Read more: https://www.iflscience.com/environment/we-may-finally-know-where-continents-come-from/

Man ends Booker Prize sponsorship

Image copyright PA
Image caption The Duchess of Cornwall presents the award to 2018’s winner Anna Burns

Britain’s most famous literary award is looking for a new sponsor after hedge fund Man Group said it would end its support after 18 years.

The UK-based financial giant said its annual £1.6m backing of this year’s Man Booker Prize would be its last.

The link between the hedge fund and the literary world has not always been a smooth, with novelist Sebastian Faulks last year calling the firm “the enemy”.

Man Group said in a statement it had been a privilege to sponsor the prize.

But the BBC’s arts editor, Will Gompertz, said relations between Man Group and Booker organisers had been strained for some time, with a company source suggesting they felt underappreciated.

Mr Gompertz said: “The news will come as a disappointment to the Booker Prize Foundation, which is said to be confident of finding a new sponsor at a time when the corporate market is far from buoyant.”

Americans invited

The annual contest for the best book written in English and published in the UK was first awarded in 1969, with prize money of £5,000.

Last year’s winner, Anna Burns, for her book Milkman, received £50,000, with each shortlisted contestant receiving £2,500.

In recent years Man Group’s link with the award has been uneasy. Originally, entries were restricted to British, Irish and Commonwealth authors.

In 2014, the award was opened to other writers, and since then two out of five winners have been American.

Peter Carey, who twice won the award, was critical of the rule change, saying the prize could lose its “cultural flavour”.

And last year, Mr Faulks, whose best-sellers include Birdsong, described the award as “irritating” and called Man Group “the enemy”.

He told a podcast that the hedge fund was “not the sort of people who should be sponsoring literary prizes; they’re the kind of people literary prizes ought to be criticising… I wouldn’t feel happy about accepting money from them”.

Man Group’s chief executive, Luke Ellis, shot back, saying: “His comments… come at a time when the arts are experiencing an unprecedented withdrawal of public funding.

“Literature and the arts need their champions to step in where public money has been pulled out.”

Man Group said it had donated about £25m in support for prizes and charitable activities during its sponsorship.

The Booker Prize Foundation said it is in discussion with a new sponsor, and is “confident that the new funding will be in place for 2020. In the meantime the two prizes [the Man Booker and the Man Booker International] will run as usual this year”.

Image copyright PA

The company’s statement, which made no mention of any criticism, said it would spend the sponsorship money on another project, to “promote and improve diversity and inclusion at the firm and across the financial services and technology industries more broadly”.

Helena Kennedy, chair of the Booker Prize Foundation, said: “We would like to put on record the Foundation’s appreciation of Man Group’s sponsorship.

“However, all good things must come to an end and we look forward to taking the prizes into the next phase with our new supporter.”

Analysis

Will Gompertz, BBC arts editor

The relationship between the Man Group and the Booker Prize organisation has been strained for some time, according to a senior individual connected to the hedge fund.

He said it felt the team behind the annual book award could have communicated more effectively and been more collaborative given the amount of money it was investing in the sponsorship.

The news will come as a disappointment to the Booker Prize Foundation, which is said to be confident of finding a new sponsor at a time when the corporate market is far from buoyant.

It has the advantage of a high media profile maintained by the significant coverage the prize enjoys. But there are problems, too. Sponsors hate negative publicity, which the prize has attracted recently having broadened its scope to include all novels published in English, in the UK.

There is also the issue of brand recognition, which is very important to a sponsor but hard to achieve. It is made that bit more difficult in this instance, as the original sponsor (Booker Group), has become the official name of the prize.

Related Topics

Read more: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-47020374

Overrated Myths (And Underrated Facts) About Ancient Rome

How well do you read Latin? Because if you’re not all that good at reading Latin or other dead languages, good news: you could have still had a job as an 1800s historian. Fun example: there’s a story claiming the Roman emperor Caligula was SO CRAZY, he sent a whole army to a beach to pick up seashells for him. However, the Latin word ‘musculi’ means both “shells” and “military huts”, so he likely actually told his troops to pack up their campsite. Which is normal. That’s a completely different kind of emperor, right? And here’s a fun thing: your pop cultural understanding of the Roman Empire is approximately that far off of the truth, in a lot of fascinating ways.

On this week’s episode of The Cracked Podcast, Alex Schmidt is joined by Siobhan Thompson (CollegeHumor, BBC America) and Patrick Wyman (Tides Of History, ‘Jeopardy!’) for a trip through the inaccurate lies you’ve been fed about the ancient Romans, and also the much more interesting true things you never knew about them. Get your head straight about everything from mighty gladiators to ancient fast food to the stunning economic benefits of living near a former Roman road.

Footnotes:

Siobhan Thompson on Twitter

Patrick Wyman on Twitter

Tides Of History podcast (Wondery)

The Fall Of Rome podcast (Wondery)

The development of Aquae Sulis (BBC Legacies [archived])

The 100 best nonfiction books: No 83 – The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon (The Guardian)

5 Scenes From History That Everyone Pictures Incorrectly (Cracked)

5 Ridiculous Lies You Believe About Ancient Civilizations (Cracked)

7 Modern Conveniences That Are Way Older Than You Think (Cracked)

Where Does the ‘Thumbs-Up’ Gesture Really Come From? (TIME)

Terrell Suggs explains why he wore gladiator helmet in Ravens’ pregame (USA Today FTW)

Gladiator Gatorade? Ancient Athletes Had A Recovery Drink, Too (NPR)

When Did the Barbary Lion Really Go Extinct? (Scientific American)

13 Of Your Favorite Foods (And Their Bizarre Secret Origins) (The Cracked Podcast)

Unearthed near Hadrian’s Wall: lost secrets of first Roman soldiers to fight the barbarians (The Guardian)

Borders of the Roman Empire (Wikipedia)

Why modern mortar crumbles, but Roman concrete lasts millennia (Science)

How the Ancient Romans Made Better Concrete Than We Do Now (io9)

Scientists Match Pollution in Greenland’s Ice Sheet to Events from Ancient Greece and Rome (Gizmodo)

Interview: Historian Kyle Harper on Disease, Climate and the Fall of the Roman Empire (Tides Of History)

Hans Dragendorff (Wikipedia)

Roman Roads to Prosperity: Persistence and Non-Persistence of Public Goods Provision (study from University of Copenhagen)

Mary Beard is right – ‘Romans’ could be from anywhere, from Carlisle to Cairo (The Guardian)

Himmler’s Antiquity (Los Angeles Review Of Books)

The Myth of Whiteness in Classical Sculpture (The New Yorker)

See the first-ever Cracked Podcast LIVE TOUR this spring! Get your tickets now for: Thursday April 11th — Lincoln Hall, Chicago IL and Friday April 12th — Amsterdam Bar and Hall, St. Paul MN.

Read more: http://www.cracked.com/podcast/overrated-myths-and-underrated-facts-about-ancient-rome

The Witch of Willow Hall by Hester Fox

Readers enamored with the Salem witch trials or novels of women forging their own way against all odds will love the latest offering from Hester Fox. The Witch of Willow Hall is equal parts ghost, love, and coming of age story. Lydia Montrose, the middle sister in a family plagued by scandal, captivates and intrigues as the book unfolds.

Having moved to the countryside after rumors swirled around the Montrose family in Boston, Lydia and her sisters Catherine and Emeline, attempt to adjust to a slower and more dreamlike pace. Catherine is beautiful, impetuous, and dramatic while the youngest, Emeline, is full of wonder and fantasy. It is Lydia who feels the need to keep up appearances, to be the reliable daughter in a house with little parental strength. Their mother is weak, their father often absent, and in the midst of all this, their father’s young business partner, the handsome and enigmatic John Barrett, appears.

The story of Willow Hall, the estate on which the Montrose family lives, is connected to the Barrett family in dark and mysterious ways, and the potential haunting of the place—real or imagined—drives the novel towards its satisfying and surprising conclusion.

Reviewed By: Shannon Carriger

Woman Forced to Remove Dying Tree, Turns It Into Tiny Library Instead

When city workers of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho told Sharalee Armitage Howard they would have to remove a huge 110-year-old tree from her front yard, she was saddened. Determined to preserve whatever she could of the beautiful tree, she decided to turn the tree’s trunk into a free neighbourhood library with the help of the nonprofit organization, Little Free Library.

With over 75,000 ‘Little Free Libraries’ in 88 countries, it’s possible you’ve seen these (though not as elaborate) in your own neighbourhood! According to Sharalee, the old cottonwood tree was starting to drop huge branches onto the sidewalk and street and the tree was simply approaching the end of its remarkably long life.

On Facebook, Howard also added: “This tree won’t look amazing until Spring when I can plant groundcover and cheerful perennials around it, touch up the paint, and fine-tune the trimwork”

Below you can find some additional photos of this amazing little library along with a video from a local news channel.

Sources

Sharalee Armitage Howard on Facebook
Colossal: Little Tree Library
Bored Panda: Woman Turned 110-Year-Old Dead Tree Into A Free Little Library For The Neighborhood

Read more: https://twistedsifter.com/2019/01/woman-forced-to-remove-dying-tree-turns-it-into-tiny-library-instead/

Obama Cuddles His Youngest Fan And It’s Really Adorable

It’s been nearly two years since Barack Obama retired from public office, but it looks like he hasn’t forgotten the skills you pick up on the campaign trail.

Such as kissing babies.

The president was golfing in Hawaii recently when he came across young mother Chelcie Edwards, who was holding her baby daughter Paisley.

Obama took Paisley into his arms and held her like a man who remembers the early days of fatherhood.

Paisley probably won’t remember the experience ― how was your long-term memory at 7 weeks? ― but her mother will likely never forget. Edwards spoke to Because of Them We Can, a site that focuses on the black community.

“To have the First Black President ever to initiate holding our daughter, let alone kissing her on the forehead, has to be one of the most pivotal moments of any [parent’s] life,” Edwards told the website in a post published Monday.

“For our little girl to be in the hands of a man that is so influential, yet still so humble, and allowing her to experience something many will never get to experience is a blessing from God within itself,” she said. “It’s just one of those things that’s just indescribable.”

The former president also shared this piece of wisdom with Paisley’s dad, Joseph Edwards: “You can’t beat having daughters!”

Of course, “baby kissing” has been a time-honored tradition for presidents and presidential hopefuls since the 1830s, when Andrew Jackson was in office ― it even has its own Wikipedia entry.

A story printed in 1888 claims the custom started in 1833 when Jackson took a “dirty-faced infant” from his mother’s arms and declared him “a fine specimen of American childhood.”

Here’s a video of the president with Paisley and ― spoiler alert ― it’s pretty cute.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/barack-obama-baby-kissing_us_5c33af6fe4b09b02cb32dbd0

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