The Guaranteed Path to Heaven for Muslims and its Relation to Najaf, Iraq and Celebrity Undertaker Ali al-Amiya

Wadi-al-Salam-Najaf-Iraq

Shia Muslims believe that to be buried in Najaf, Iraq, guarantees a path to heaven, with many industries related to death found within the city including the manufacturing and provision of burial plots, caskets, grave stones, and grave digging, ironically with those involved, making a living from death. The largest cemetery in the world is Wadi al-Salam which means the “Valley of Peace” in Arabic, with over 5,000,000 (5 million) gravesites. Ali al-Amiya, the most famous person within this Iraqi industry, works at this cemetery as an undertaker. Traditionally, caskets are white, but al-Amiya started the trend of using black caskets. al-Amiya is famous because of his distinctive tombstone designs, innovative funeral services, and because of the way he digs graves. al-Amiya has over 800,000 followers upon Facebook and has a catchphrase that is known by all Iraqis which is, “who is going to bury you like the Prophet Mohammad? Ali al-Amiya!”. al-Amiya offers heavily discounted or free burials for martyrs and the extremely impoverished. al-Amiya is vehemently disliked by most other undertakers within the industry and has nearly been a victim of multiple sting operations in which prostitutes were sent to solicit him as well as physical threats upon his life and his family’s. Modern, progressive thinking undertakers like al-Amiya face resentment in Iraq but the rise of social media has helped combat this animosity. In 2017, a survey found that 85% of Iraqis use social media, specifically Facebook which has demonstrated instrumental in altering public perceptions of Islamic burial traditions

The 18th Century Gin Craze and it’s Association with Murder

19th-century-London-England-Gin-Craze

Gin was highly consumed in poorer areas of London, England as it was a cheaper alternative to beer. Gin was unregulated during the early 18th century, and was often badly distilled and filled with harmful compounds like oil of vitriol which is similar in construct to modern day turpintine, sulfuric acid, and methylated spirits. By 1750, gin consumption was at its peak, with the city of London consuming 11,000,000 (11 million) gallons per year. In the poorest areas of London, specifically upon the east end, it was not uncommon for everyone in public to be permanently drunk; an analogue to the modern day crack cocaine epidemic of the 1980’s. All members of society consumed gin including men, women, and children, with many cases exhibiting severe addictive traits as was the case with Judith Darfour, who took her child into a heath, murdered them to sell their petticoat clothing and acquire more gin, then attended work later that day as if nothing had occurred. Gin related crime soared and Mothers Ruin which refers to “women who killed their family members to acquire funds for gin” was responsible for the deaths of thousands of men, women, and children. When the death rate climbed higher than the birth rate, the British government was forced to intervene, outlawing small gin distilleries and ending the era referred to as the “Gin Craze”

Timbuktu, Mali and its Cultural and Commercial Traditions

Timbuktu-MaliTimbuktu, Mali is located at the precise point where the Niger River flows northward into the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, which is an incredibly difficult place to reach and is why it is often used in the English language as a representative of a far away place. In Timbuktu, men keep their faces veiled while in the presence of women at all times, not even lowering their veils to eat, instead taking in food from underneath the veil. Women predominantly make familial decisions and hold the position of power within society. Timbuktu is made up of various ethnic tribes including the Kel Tamasheq, Songaï (pronounced “sore-eye”) (sometimes spelled as “Songhai”) and Arabs primarily. Timbuktu was founded by the Tuareg people however their numbers are vastly outweighed by the 3 main tribes of Timbuktu during the modern era. Despite once being a trading hub of both of salt and gold, Timbuktu now primarily trades in salt as the price of gold has made gold inaccessible for the average inhabitant. Timbuktu is slowly being buried in the sands of the Sahara Desert as these sands blow in and slowly but surely bury Timbuktu’s structures a little bit at a time. Fortunately, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has been helping to preserve the city of Timbuktu and its buildings from the elements of sand, wind, and rain which have eroded its structures made from natural materials, mainly adobe and mud brick

The Advent of the Restaurant in Paris, France

L'Art-du-Cuisinier-book

The modern concept of the restaurant is a French idea, with the term “restaurant” being derived from the term “restaurer” which means to ”provide food for” in French, with a more literal translation of “restoration” in that a restaurant is a place to restore, replenish, and refill one’s energy. Chef Antoine Beauvilliers (pronounced “ann-twon boo-vill-ee-yay”) opened the Grande Taverne de Londres Restaurant (pronounced “gran tah-vern de lon”) in Paris, France in 1782. Fine cuisine was served at private tables, to the general public, an experience which until then had only been available within the homes of the nobility. The main idea which caught on was not only the introduction of the serving of food, but that the food being served wasn’t preselected as was customary during dinner banquets for nobility. The ability to choose from a selection of items upon a restaurant’s menu was very popular once made available to the Parisian public. The timing for this invention was absolutely perfect as the abolition of the French monarchy and related nobility during the French Revolution left many extremely talented chefs suddenly without work which lead to a large number of these chefs opening up restaurants of their own

The First Mass Produced Items of the Ancient World

Ancient-Egyptian-Aquamarine-Shabti

The first mass produced pieces of artwork were the ancient Egyptians shabtis which were essentially miniature mummies that the ancient Egyptians believed had magical powers and were therefore buried with the dead. Shabtis were comprised of Egyptian faience which is a type of glass ceramic material made from sand. Egyptian faience is referred to as such in order to distinguish it from faience, which is a tin glazed pottery associated with Faenza, Italy. The idea of Egyptian faience was to replicate semiprecious stones like turquoise lapis lazuli from Afghanistan, which at the time was more expensive than gold. The recipe for Egyptian faience is 90% crushed silica, crushed fine natron salt to act as a flux, crushed limestone, and then the coloring with blue being the most popular, a color achieved through the use of pure copper oxide. Water was introduced to turn this composition from a granular mix into a dough like substance. Natron salt which is a type of baking soda, is the key ingredient to this recipe as it rises to the surface when baked and lowers the overall temperature at which sand melts and becomes glass. The statues are left to stand for 24 or more hours as this helps the salt grow on the surface through a chemical reaction process as oxygen within the ambient environment mixes with the ingredients inside the Egyptian faience

The Reason Beer Bottles Are Brown and Green

brown-green-beer-bottlesAlcoholic beverages like beer are brown in color because clear glass allows ultraviolet light to penetrate which can alter the flavor profile. Bottles inevitably became tinted brown to prevent ultraviolet light from achieving full penetration. After World War II, green bottles became popular due to shortages of brown glass

The Bulking Agents Used in the Saffron Spice

saffron-bulking-agentBecause saffron is so expensive it’s often mixed with other plants which are not actually saffron but are closely related to saffron to build up the bulk of the weight of a purchase. Turmeric is a primary example of a plant often used to help bulk up supplies. Distributors also use plastic as it helps add weight and eye appeal whilst actually providing nothing more than visual esthetics. Scientists can perform deoxyribonucleic acid examinations to determine if a sample is actually pure saffron or not. High quality saffron should have a humid scent which indicates that it was picked fresh. If the scent of saffron is slightly rancid, it means that it is old or of low quality

The Lifetime Imprisonment of Typhoid Mary for the Spread of Disease Via Food Preparation

Typhoid-Mary

Mary Mallon was an Irish cook who was imprisoned for life for not washing her hands properly prior to preparing food. Mallon, an immigrant often referred to as “Typhoid Mary” unknowingly spread typhoid as she did not see a need to wash her hands frequently. Everywhere Mallon worked, people got sick or died which eventually lead to her apprehension. In 1882, the German physician Robert Koch had published a paper proving that microorganisms transmit disease. This discovery gave birth to microbiology. In 1907, New York City, United States of America sanitary expert George Soper had tracked the typhoid outbreak down to Mallon. Suspecting Mallon was immune to the disease but still a carrier, Soper pleaded with Mallon to be tested, however Mallon refused, and angrily chasing Soper off with a dining fork. After being visited by the health board of New York City, Mallon found herself under quarantine where she remained for 3 years until she swore an affidavit to never work as a cook again. 5 years afterwards, another outbreak of typhoid occurred, this time traced back to Mary Brown, however Brown was Mallon working under an assumed identity. Mallon was quarantined once again, never being let out and dying from pneumonia while imprisoned

The Reason Why Corporations Continue to Outsource Jobs

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Corporations in the west started to dismantle labor unions in the late 1970’s and were successful in their pursuit as the economy at this time was starting to become globalized which allowed companies to threaten to migrate production overseas when workers threatened to strike or refuse their working conditions. This tactic forced labor unions to dissolve as refusal could and most likely would result in complete job loss for every member of the group. The administration of President Ronald Regan ushered in deregulation alongside multiple income tax cuts for corporations and wealthy individuals, and as a direct result of these policies, corporate shareholders began to exercise more and more influence over the way these companies conducted business. Feeling the pressure and scrutiny of Wall Street, businesses began to view labor as expendable and as an expense which needed to be offloaded from balance sheets, leading to many jobs being outsourced within a relatively short period of time, to more impoverished nations which had weaker labor laws but most importantly to the participating corporations, these states also had and continue to have much lower minimum wages which is the primary driving factor as to why outsourcing continues to occur in virtually all industrialized countries