3 Epic Historical Parties

With New Year’s Eve just around the corner, our brains are already bracing for the massive abuse they will endure at the New Year’s Party. And the After-Party. And the Second Day After New Year’s Party.

Yet, despite the initial reflex of impending biological doom, there’s also the after-taste of excitement. Because let’s face it, New Year is the time when the best parties are thrown. Everybody’s free from work and expecting to get loose and wild before the coming year plunges everyone back into routine and new work.

So, if a New Year party’s done right, it will be memorable. For good or for worse.

In order to put things into perspective, in the lines below you’ll get to read about 3 epic historical parties that left such a lasting impression they are still known today.

Feel free to gawk at the level of craziness their protagonists took it back in the day, just don’t get inspired to organize something like this or emulate it yourself. Remember that most of these events were given their momentum by out-of-this-world personalities, huge celebrities or leaders of the time. With the resources to match. And in all cases there were dark sides and negative aspects to the wild partying too.

And I’m not just talking about the next day embarrassment for your deeds immortalized on social media, because they didn’t have the technology then. But we do nowadays! So you have that added worry to take into account!

1. The Saving Punch

3 epic historical parties - Andrew Jackson's Inauguration Party depicted in this drawing.

When Andrew Jackson got elected President for the first time in 1829, crowds went wild.

He was a war hero and his political platform relied a lot on populism. That is, the political ideology that in theory means the adopter believes in the rights of the common people and is “on their side”. Frequently though, history has proven that some politicians blur the line between populism and demagogy (read keep ’em happy with the measures you take, regardless of consequences, or keep ’em happy with false promises altogether).

No matter the category in which Andrew Jackson fits, the point is that the people adored him. And he knew how to keep on being liked too. As evidenced, among many other things, by the fact that he was the first President to invite the American public at large to attend his inauguration at the White House.

So when he got to there to be invested, 21,000 supporters were waiting as well. On the lawn. Because they had by-passed the measly measures designed to hold them out.

He threw a party which got so out of control that eventually, when the White House was full of out of control commoners smashing things, he had to climb out of a window to get free and distract the attention of the crowds with big tubs of punch placed on the lawn for their consideration.

2. Hippie Get-Together

One of the 3 epic historical parties is Woodstock 1969, photographed here.

Woodstock 1969. The coolest concert in recent history. Everybody has heard about it. Even those who have nothing to do with the hippie culture or rock in general.

Probably because of the 500,000 people that gathered there and partied for three days. The kicker? All that make love not war, peace and hippie tolerance really worked, apparently, because there were no violent incidents, no riots, no intervention by police or riot troops.

Which is impressive for 500,000 people compacted in a ~1 square mile area (Max Yasgur’s dairy farm, where the concert was held, near White Lake, Bethel, NY).

Of course, there was rampant drug use, unprotected sex (read venereal diseases roulette fiesta), babies conceived without a clear indication of the father, starvation and dehydration as well as appalling hygiene. The latter three because it was practically impossible to move through the throngs to get water food or go to the toilet.

3. Game Time

The list of 3 epic historical parties includes the Inauguration of the Colosseum, depicted here.

When most people hear “Game Time!” they imagine entertainment based on some form of competitive sports.

This definition holds true for the ancient Romans too.

If “entertainment based on some form of competitive sports” also includes people hacking at each other to death with various implements of destruction at the mercy of the ruler and for the amusement of the crowds.

Yup, gladiators. The pro-athletes that quite possibly had the shortest career span in history and that make any modern extreme sports athlete look like a Frisbee player by comparison.

But if gladiator games in general are thought of as extreme, the Roman Emperor Titus took it to a whole ‘nother level.

He completed the building of the Colosseum (the biggest gladiatorial stadium ever) and inaugurated it in the year 80 AD. He had the good sense to throw an appropriate party for the occasion too, which is, by far, the biggest party that took place so far.

It lasted for three months (100 days) during which the whole of Rome celebrated. It featured orgies, drinking, more drinking, 9,000 animals slaughtered in combat with gladiators, some more drinking, human to human gladiatorial fights between 2 competitors or groups, and two mock naval battles (called “naumachia”) to top it off.

One of these battles might have been staged within the Colosseum, which was flooded with water for the purpose and real ships were brought in for the fighters.

How many people, you ask? Well, at least 55,000 which was the capacity of the Colosseum. To make a comparison, the biggest stadium in the world at the time of this writing is the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium in North Korea, which can hold 150,000 spectators, followed on a distant second place by the Michigan Stadium with 107,600.

55,000 in 80 AD would be at least the equivalent of Woodstock in modern times. Especially since there were far less people in the world at the time, so proportionately it is beyond impressive.

So yeah, a bloody, violent Woodstock is the most memorable party ever. Who’d have thought?

Image source: 1, 2, 3.

3 Random Major Scientific Falsehoods Thought Facts

Knowledge keeps accumulating for the human race. And as it does, what was hard fact yesterday becomes questionable tomorrow or it becomes downright false. Such is the way of incremental progress.

Add to that the effect of popular, opinion altering influences like popular media or authoritative sources and the problem becomes even more complicated.

 This has happened in all ages of history, so it doesn’t have anything to do with how technologically advanced, modern, or “civilized” a population is, much to our inflated modern egos.

In fact, it can be argued that the Age of Speed, coupled with the boost in information, has in fact brought about the Age of Information Overload and consequently, much more false information flying around from “respectable” sources than it used to.

So in the interest of pointing out a few such instances, here’s 3 random major scientific falsehoods thought facts, in some cases even today.

1. Humans Pop In Vacuum

3 random major scientific falsehoods thought facts - eyes pop out in vacuum, like depicted in this scene from Total Recall.

A common myth, probably popularized by the in-its-time very popular movie “Total Recall”, is that if humans are exposed to a very low pressure atmosphere, or the vacuum or space, their eyes will pop out of their skulls in the matter of seconds.

In other sci-fi depictions, the whole human explodes due to differences in pressure or some such.

In reality, as confirmed by very brief accidental exposure of astronauts to the vacuum of space and by scientific analyses on the subject, you can survive for 15 seconds without any side-effects at all. After that, for the next 5 seconds, you become confused. After 20 seconds you become unconscious due to lack of oxygen. Over 80 seconds, you will certainly die, due to the loss of oxygen and other gases from your body, as well as the outer layers of cells that have collapsed and died.

But you won’t go pop.

2. Lightning Never Strikes Twice…

Sketch of a lightning rod system.

…in the same place. That’s what immediately came to your mind when you saw the first part, right?

Because this belief had become so ingrained into the collective consciousness, that cultures all over the world held it to be a true fact. So much so that it became a proverb.

Which is weird. Considering… you know, ummm lightning rods? Which are designed to attract lighting so that it doesn’t hit other things that you might care about? Like your barn or some high tech alien searching satellite dish you have installed.

So, this one’s easy. If the lightning does strike a lightning rod more than once during the same storm, it must mean that there are certain principles that govern where lightning strikes (hint: it loves metal). So, you can not only expect it to strike twice in the same place, you can even direct it (sort of) to where you want it to strike repeatedly. Nifty, huh?

Oh, and of course, the end-all argument is that even Iron Maiden had doubts about this. As they kept repeating on the chorus of “Lightning Strikes Twice” (hint in the title here too): “Maybe lightning strikes twice/ Maybe lightning strikes twice/ Maybe lightning strikes twice … etc.”

3. Sunflowers Follow The Sun

One of the 3 random major scientific falsehoods thought facts - sunflowers follow the sun - is contradicted by this picture of sunflowers facing east, away from the sun.

That’s why they’re called sunflowers!

Yes, but unfortunately it’s another case of a misconception that stuck.

Heliotropic plants are plants that orient their flowers or their seeds to aim at the sun as it progresses across the sky. Sadly, despite their names, sunflowers are not heliotropic plants.

As can be seen in many time-lapse videos of a sunflower field from sunrise to sunset. And also confirmed by many botanists who somehow can’t manage to eliminate this belief.

The only time in its life at which a sunflower moves is during its growth, when the bud slowly changes its orientation as it grows. However, once it’s figured out that the sun rises from the East and the plant has finished growing, it will remain pointing in that direction for the rest of its life.

Ergo, all sunflower plants do point towards where the sun rises in the morning, but they can’t be bothered to follow it around all day. Imagine all the contortionist skills that would involve.

Image source: 1, 2, 3.

6 Winter Holiday Drinks

Four days away from Christmas, people are already tuning into the Winter Holiday mood. Which is great, because the more jolly people around, the less of the usual drama that takes place during the rest of the year (yes, including during the commute home when traffic brings out the best and most sincere parts of people to the surface…).

So, in order to help this feel good and friendly vibe on its way, I’ve wrapped up a few drinks that are perfect for this time of year. I mean, hey, what’s more guaranteed to make someone jolly, giddy and red in the cheeks than a sip of a good beverage fit for the occasion?

So, without further a due, here’s  6 winter holiday drinks that you should consider for the upcoming get-together and parties with your friends and loved ones.

1. Hot Spiced Mead

6 winter holiday drinks - Hot Spiced Mead as pictured here.

Ah, the traditional warmer of the Northern peoples. And not only, as evidence suggests it was prepared all over the world in ancient times and might even be “the ancestor of all fermented drinks,” according to Maguelonne Toussaint-Samat.

It is indeed a drink that results from the fermentation of honey and water. A great variety of spices can be added according to taste (cinnamon, star anise, cloves, etc.) as well as extra honey. Heat it up and serve it with good companions for a warm reception.

2. Mulled Wine

One of the 6 winter holiday drinks is mulled wine like that in the photo.

Another classic. Just grab some red wine, add spices and sugar and heat it up.

Depending on how sweet or dry the wine is, you’ll have to greatly adjust the quantity of sugar you add to the wine. Taste it from time to time.

As regards the spices, these may vary. Feel free to experiment and find out what you like. However, you can’t go wrong with cinnamon, as it’s a staple of mulled wine. And has been so throughout the ages and cultures.

3. Christmas Brews

The list of 6 winter holiday drinks includes Christmas Brews like those present in the photo.

Near the Winter Holiday, each year, most breweries put out their Christmas Brew. This is usually special in some way. Either because it is based on a recipe which is more “exotic” than the year-long offerings. Or because (oddly enough and in a blatant show of consumer disregard the rest of the time), the quality of the beer is noticeably higher.

Not to mention that there is a limited number of such beers produced each year, so there’s also the element of scarcity that makes them interesting.

There are many offers available. Just look out for the Christmas Brew of your favorite brewery. Chances are, they make one. And if your family members or buddies are also beer drinkers, it will make for a welcome change.

4. Hot Chocolate With Brandy

6 winter holiday drinks - Hot Chocolate With Brandy

Perfect mix. And mega-warm-up-er. Make any kind of white or black hot chocolate (sweet, bitter, your choice), and then give its warmth factor a few extra miles by adding a good dose of brandy.

Now you probably shouldn’t add so much that it becomes brandy with a touch of chocolate. Just enough to make the brandy noticeable and add its pleasant roughness to the chocolate’s sweetness.

5. Hot Pumpkin Buttered Rum Cocktail

One of the 6 winter holiday drinks is hot pumpkin buttered rum cocktail

It takes just about 5-10 minutes to prepare. And you need just brown sugar, pumpkin, pumpkin pie spice, butter,  rum and water.

You mix the first three in a blender. Put the result in a cup, add the butter and rum and then pour hot water on top. Presto! A great beverage to keep you warm with an exquisite and intriguing flavor to boot. Not to mention the creaminess.

6. Whiskey

6 winter holiday drinks - Single Malt Whiskey, like those in the photo.

That’s right. There’s nothing like whiskey to keep you energized (and gasping for air as you deal with its strength). I’m talking of course about the traditional, single malt variety. And of high quality brands with decades of tradition.

If you haven’t let yourself sip an excellent single malt whiskey by the fireplace, you don’t know what you’re missing. Try buying a 12 year old (or better still an 18 year old!) Glenfiddich, Glenlivet, Glenmorangie, hell pretty much anything that has Glen in it (kidding).

It might sound simple because “it’s just whiskey in a glass”, right? But don’t be deceived. These world class whiskeys have tons of flavor and personality. Featuring varied smell, taste and after taste. To give just one intriguing example, if you buy a Lagavulin, most reviewers agree that you can taste a campfire in it – it’s that smokey.

But I guess you’ll have to decide for yourself. Just don’t, by God, put ice, water or anything else in it. Keep it straight. And you’ll be amazed how complex and satisfying it can be.

Cheers! And a happy Winter Holiday!

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

10 Cartoon Characters Who Would Make Better Presidents

There are a lot of people who are not content at all with the candidates for the next presidential elections in 2016. The whole state of the American politics can be considered as truly ridiculous. Neither Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump managed to convince us that they could lead the United States for the next four years or even more. But there are better options out there which we don’t even think about, such as fictional characters from movies, books or even cartoons. Here are 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents than the current candidates.

1. Johnny Bravo

Johnny Bravo is among the 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents.

You have to admit Johnny Bravo has the charm to convince millions to vote for him. However, he is quite similar to actual candidates, as he isn’t exactly famous for being bright. In today’s society that chooses looks over intelligence, we have to say he would be quite successful.

2. Brian Griffin

Brian Griffin could be the first dog president.

At the opposite pole we have Brian Griffin. Not quite the most beautiful candidate, but still a cute dog, Brian has the smartness necessary for running as president. The White House is in need of more diversity, and maybe a dog president is the change we all need.

3. Samurai Jack

The top 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents includes Samurai Jack.

Discipline and courage, you have them both in the person of Samurai Jack. Who could better lead us than a honorable person who sticks to his goals? Not to mention that he would defend us from all evil threats.

4. Kim Possible

Kim Possible could make anything possible in the U.S.

However, maybe we need someone who is able of doing anything in the world. That would be Kim Possible, the brave teenager who fights against crime. Since our elected officials do not get many things done, perhaps this is the change we need. Who knows what it is like when too many things get done?

5. The Powerpuff Girls

The Powerpuff Girls are included in the top 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents.

Another perfect option would be the Powerpuff girls. No, not Blossom, Buttercup or Bubbles, but all three of them! What one man cannot achieve, maybe three little girls will be able to do. They do have important ideals, as always fighting for evil, so what are we waiting for? We wouldn’t want to end up with a leader who loves evil.

6. Dexter

Dexter would make a fine president with his rare intelligence.

Since we have gone through some various presidents who represented different archetypes, why not continue with a total nerd, who also happens to be a genius? Dexter would surely revolutionize everything, from technology to medicine and science.

7. Elsa

One of the 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents is Elsa from Frozen.

Elsa would be the perfect president who would continuously vouch for freedom and democracy. We can include here the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression, and most of all the freedom of being yourself and not be constrained by society. However, we would probably have to endlessly listen to the “Let It Go” song, so that is a disadvantage.

8. Rick Sanchez

Rick Sanchez would do well as a president, despite being a notorious drunk.

Similar to Dexter, Rick Sanchez would surely make the country a better place. Who can do it better than a guy who has access to all the secrets of the universe? Unless of course he would follow his own selfish interests and ruin it all, as many leaders of the world have done in the past.

9. Bob Belcher

Bob Belcher is one of the 10 cartoon characters who would make better presidents.

Another great option to take into consideration is America’s Dad. If we were to choose one of the many characters voiced by H. Jon Benjamin we would go with Bob Belcher. Bob would surely impress many with his wonderful family and small business of burgers.

10. Lisa Simpson

Lisa Simpson is probably the best option for a president.

Last but not least, Lisa Simpson is probably the best choice. She embodies many valuable traits: she is reasonable, opinionated, smart and educated. While she could be a smaller version of Hillary Clinton, we bet she would do a much better job.

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666 Aleister Crowley Life Facts

Kidding. Clearly, 666 facts about Aleister Crowley will not be presented here, as that would take too much space.

Still, a lot of facts about him will be presented, because Aleister Crowley (born Edward Alexander Crowley) is one of the most controversial figures in history and the man he inspired the counter-cultural movement of the 1960s. Which should come as no surprise when taking into consideration that Crowley himself claimed to be The Great Beast whose number is 666, described by John in the Book of Revelations.

Of course, as many who have studied his life and commented on its various aspects point out, one should remember that Crowley was an educated and highly intelligent man, with a gift for words and ample wit who reveled in challenging established social norms and value systems, most notably Christianity, so his words should probably never be taken literally.

Instead, one can see his claim as a metaphorical one. Meaning that, by his thoughts and actions, he represented an opposite to the way of doing things taken for granted in the Western World, a challenger of the status quo.

So, in essence, the Crowley demon persona should be interpreted as him being akin to the Great Beast of Revelations, which has the same function of destroying everything (albeit presumably in a literal manner), but not the actual Beast per se. The same being true of the Aleister Crowley satanist image he has acquired after his death, in more recent times.

So, who was he?

1. Background

Aleister Crowley had a patchy relationship with his mother.

Edward Alexander Crowley was an Englishman born in Royal Leamington Spa, Warwickshire, UK on the 12th of October 1875.

His father was a devout Christian and a travelling preacher for Plymouth Brethren, part of the fundamentalist Christian sect the Exclusive Brethren and a major influence on Aleister Crowley in early life, which explains his later fascination with mysticism and the occult as well as possibly his revolt against Christianity.

He didn’t get along with his mother who described him as “the Beast” which he enjoyed greatly and only served to make him misbehave more.

He studied at Cambridge from 1895 to 1898, initially enrolling to study Philosophy, but then changing to English Literature. While here he wrote poems, expertly played chess and continued to cultivate what would become a life-long passion for mountaineering (including performing his first remarkable mountaineering feats around this time).

It is also speculated that he was recruited by the British secret services while at Cambridge and it seems like he was interested in a career in “diplomacy” in Russia, by his own admission. However, he would abandon such plans in 1897 after a brief illness. And so, he would turn his interest to the occult, which would occupy him for the rest of his life, along with continuing to write poetry, go mountaineering, paint and other pursuits.

2. The HOGD

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn is the occult organization Aleister Crowley first took part in.

The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn was the first time that Aleister Crowley was exposed to an organized group of occultists. He got into the organization by the introduction from Julian L. Baker (a chemist interested in alchemy as Crowley was, which he met while in Switzerland) to George Cecil Jones who was a member of Golden Dawn.

However, it was not meant to be a good, long relationship. Because Crowley’s abrasive personality and pugnacious attitude would manage to irritate some elders of the group, among which Arthur Edward Waite and the renowned poet William Butler Yeats.

When he was initiated, Aleister Crowley was given the magical name “Frater Perdurabo”, which is taken to figuratively mean “Brother, I shall endure to the end”, but in a literal translation from Latin it is simply “Brother Vigor”.

Tying in to the speculation about his secret service recruitment, it is also assumed that he was actually set the task of infiltrating the organization in order to keep an eye on it for the British secret service.

3. Sexuality

Aleister Crowley was a very sexual person.

It definitely plays a major role in all of Crowley’s teachings and the whole system of magick that he built, which will be mentioned below.

But it also played a major role in his everyday life too and can be argued that it has shaped his life in its entirety as well as his psychology, even from a biological point of view.

The thing is, Aleister Crowley started his sex life early, losing his virginity at the age of 14 to a family maid. From that point onward, he continued to be very sexually active, indeed a womanizer, and he was perfectly comfortable with being publicly promiscuous during his whole life, including having frequent sex with prostitutes.

This latter practice led to him getting his first sexual disease (gonorrhea) barely three years after losing his virginity. But it would not be the last. As he also contracted syphilis from a prostitute while a student at Cambridge.

Since syphilis is known to affect the brain in its later development, you can see why the mention above regarding his sexual life being a major influence on his life, as well as his psychology, even from a biological perspective, is a valid point.

And speaking of societal effects of his sexuality on his life, he also discovered his bisexuality early in his youth, (biographers speculate that during his Cambridge years), which is another reason why he was kicked out of the Golden Dawn.

Because, although other members were bisexual or homosexual too, such practices were illegal at the time and Aleister Crowley was not discreet about it.

4. Books, teachings and works

Aleister Crowley invented a whole system of magic and a new religion.

 Probably the most important and famous Aleister Crowley book is Liber AL vel Legis, or “The Book Of The Law”, because that’s where it all started, as concerns Crowley’s major and lasting influence on modern Western occultism and Wicca.

And it was this book that gave rise to the religion that Crowley founded called Thelema (which the English transliteration of the Greek word “will”), whose main tenet is “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law”.

In short, when he was in Egypt with his wife Rose in 1904, Aleister Crowley claims to have come in contact with his guardian angel named Aiwass who, as the messenger of Horus, told Crowley that a new age of mankind has come under this god’s rule, characterized by the supreme moral tenet mentioned above, in which people must learn to live in harmony with their Will.

As such, Aleister Crowley was to be the prophet of Horus and spread the teachings and commandments he delivered with the help of Aiwass during three whole days to the whole word and translate the book in all languages.

Oddly enough, Crowley himself claims that initially he resented his being chosen and just sent the manuscript to other occultists he knew, then ignored it.

But later Aleister Crowley did develop Thelema in earnest. And the mentions above are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his prolific dedication to writing occult material. Keyword being occult, meaning “only for initiates” or “knowledge of the hidden”, coming from the Latin “hidden, secret”.

Because Crowley’s works are cryptic, allegorical and symbolic, (presumably) requiring magickal instruction from a Thelemite in order to be understood.

One can search on the Internet The Book of Lies Aleister Crowley to see possibly the most cryptic example.

And if the search were The Book of Thoth Aleister Crowley instead, the reader would discover the text that he wrote as accompaniment to the Aleister Crowley tarot cards version that he created.

5. Death and aftermath

The death of Aleister Crowley took place at his home.

Before talking of his real death, it’s worth mentioning his fake death.

In character with his love of mischief and chaos, Crowley meticulously faked his death in 1930 just for laughs. While at the Boca Do Inferno (in Portugal, near Lisbon) he planted a note which talked about him being heart-broken and implied that he had jumped to his death.

With the help of his friend, Portuguese Fernando Pessoa he also managed to fool the newspapers who picked up the story and made it known. The whole thing was revealed as a prank when Crowley made his unannounced appearance in Berlin at an exhibition for some of his paintings.

He did really die though (despite many conspiracy theories and wishful thinking to the contrary) in 1947, December the 1st, due to a combination of conditions, the main one being chronic bronchitis on top of which he also suffered from myocardial degeneration and pleurisy.

Based on his reputation, when one pictures his death, one tends to do so in the form of a spectacular event. More like The Aleister Crowley Death involving great magick at hand and a good show.

Sadly, reality was far more mundane with Crowley dying in his home at Netherwood, like many “average” men and women. Sadly, he also died penniless without ever managing to get rid of his addictions (including heroin and cocaine).

If it seems like an inglorious end for an influential man, worry not. This didn’t stop him from becoming the emblematic occultist that he is today with a continuing influence on many. For better or for worse, it’s up for each person to decide.

If you’re interested about more information about this controversial figure you can look for the Aleister Crowley biography considered by many to be a must read, namely Richard Kaczynski’s “Perdurabo: The Life of Aleister Crowley.

Or the partial autobiography called “The Confessions of Aleister Crowley : An Autohagiography”.

Just remember to keep things grounded in facts and not the sensational, as is often the case with Crowley.

I mean just type Aleister Crowley Jay Z or Barbara Bush Aleister Crowley in a search engine and you’ll know what I mean.

And just in case you were wondering, a simple “research” will help clarify that the whole Barbara Bush descendant of Crowley theory is actually a well-documented and confirmed April’s Fool prank that started on a blog (Cannonfire).

Do what thou wilt. Heh.

Image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.