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 Development of Modern Institutionalized Psychological Torture as a Means of Interrogation

interrogation

In the 1950’s, Scottish psychiatrist Ewen Cameron started experimenting upon his own patients which ushered in the modern age of the psychological techniques leveraged by governments to extract information from high value targets and low level targets alike. In 1951, the U.S., the U.K., and Canada began developing the Survival Evasion Resistance Escape program, abbreviated as “SERE” (pronounced “sear”) designed for when domestic soldiers became captured by enemy forces (e.g. aircraft shot down over enemy lines) as well as techniques which could be used against captured Soviets. This research became dominant within Canadian universities for almost a decade, with researchers beginning similar psychiatric experiments within psychiatric hospitals in the U.K. In the U.S. The U.S. Central Intelligence Agency dominated most research and had over 160 secret projects within 80 institutions, comprising a total of $25,000,000 ($25 million) allocated for human experimentation. This project was code named “MK Ultra”. In 1963, many of Cameron’s psychological experiments were codified for the first time and compiled within the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation hand guide, a book which is now declassified and freely available online. The term “kubark” is a cryptonym, the name for the Central Intelligence Agency itself. This content became the foundation for the method of psychological interrogation and psychological torture which the Central Intelligence Agency disseminated across the U.S. intelligence community and worldwide among allies for 30 years after its initial release. Since the 1950’s, confirmed cases backed by evidence and testimony of these techniques of torture being used have been recognized or admitted to by governments in 28 nation states including Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, Borneo, Brazil, British Guyana, British Cameroon, Canada, Chile, Cuba, the UK, Guatemala, Honduras, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lithuania, Morocco, Northern Ireland, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Thailand, Turkey, Uruguay, Vienna, and Yemen

Whilst I rarely if ever will submit an opinion upon this blog, I feel that it is important to state that the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation hand guide is now declassified and been made public. To educate yourself so that these techniques cannot be used against you, click here to read the Kubark Counterintelligence Interrogation hand guide

Photographic Evidence of Lewis Carroll’s Alleged Pedaphilia Involving Alice Liddell, the Protagonist of Alice In Wonderland

Alice-LiddellA photograph linked to Lewis Carroll was found in the Musée Cantini, a French museum in Marseille, France, which depicts what appears to be a pubescent aged Lorina Liddell who was the younger sister of Alice Liddell, the person whom the fictional character of Alice in Alice In Wonderland was based upon. The photograph is problematic as it displays Liddell, fully nude, from a frontal angle. It’s unclear if the photograph was taken by Carroll or only linked to him, and it’s not completely clear as to whether or not the girl in the photograph is actually Liddell. The image isn’t permitted to leave France, so any study upon the subject must be conducted within the borders of the country. In 1993, Carroll expert Edward Wakeling deemed the photo to be not of Liddell after repeated examination and comparison to other images of Liddell. Nicholas Burnett, a picture conservationist with specialized knowledge in 19th century photography technology has stated that he believes the inscription upon the photograph which states “Lorina Liddell, Carroll, Col, MC” is actually a dealers notation which states what the photograph is of, where it came from, and denotes that it’s part of a collection, hence the abbreviation “col”. It’s unclear what “MC” stands for as the Musée Cantini does not use this abbreviation, but it could possibly stand for “Musée Cantini”. Carroll photographed the Liddell girls during the 1860’s which is crucial because the photograph in question has a slow growth mold which is difficult to reproduce fraudulently, beneath a thin layer of egg white albumin used as an outer coating. This photograph is known to have been cropped as the negative is larger than the print which is impossible to achieve unless the photograph itself was cut down. Carrol favored using an Ottawa Walls folding camera which is the same kind of camera which created the photograph in question. Finally, the print was made from a wet collodion negative which is a printing technique which Carroll is known to have used. If the photograph was from a later date, it would have used a paper negative which would have caused it to appear less crisp and clear. The evidence seems to suggest that Carroll did indeed take and develop the photograph. Forensic comparative analysis using modern scientific methods of comparing one photograph to another were used to examine the photograph and experts concluded that the girl in the photograph, is indeed Lorina as the eyes, specifically the epicanthic fold of the eyes, matches that of photographs of Lorina when she is in her adult years, as well as her elder years. The nose provides another example of evidence as the width of the nose at the nasion, meaning the point between the eyes and the bridge of the nose, the width of the alae (pronounced “ail-ee”) which is the spongy part of the side of the nose, and the nostrils are all broadly consistent with later photographs of Lorina. The lips provide further evidence, and perhaps the most interesting of all the compiled evidence as the lips definitively show a Cupid’s bow upon the upper lip, but also a lower lip which is prominent and protruding upon the right side, but not the left. These features forensically demonstrate that there is moderate likelihood that the photograph of the pubescent girl is indeed Lorina. The leader of the forensics team which evaluated the evidence at hand has gone on record to state that because no court case involved, it can confidently be stated that the photograph in question is in fact Lorina, however it should be noted that if a court case were pursuant, the evidence presented may not be enough to garner a conviction as its lacking solid, definitive proof, beyond and to the exclusion of reasonable doubt