Monthly Archive: December 2014

The Factual Basis For The Story Of The Amazons

The Amazon women of Greek mythology were long thought to be just that—mythology. Now, though, archaeologists have uncovered the graves of female warriors whose bodies show the ravages of combat and a lifetime in the saddle. Buried alongside their weapons, these nomadic women rode alongside their husbands between the sixth and fourth centuries B.C., giving life to the myth of the Amazon warriors, and a likely real-life source for the stories.

The Ancient Copyright Dispute That Cost 3,000 Lives

Around A.D. 560, the earliest recorded copyright dispute in history erupted in Ireland. At stake was the ownership of a copy of the Cathach, which today is the oldest surviving manuscript written in Ireland, attributed to St. Columba. Columba refused to acknowledge the ruling of King Diarmait MacCerbhaill that prohibited him from keeping his copy. He instigated an uprising against Diarmait, and the subsequent battle killed at least 3,000 of the king’s troops.

The Difference Between The Spirit And The Soul

Spirit and soul are often used to refer to that non-tangible part of our consciousness that makes us who we are. There’s a difference, though—the soul is what all living things have that make us living, while the spirit is the consciousness that makes us who we are. On the religious side, there’s some overlap throughout the texts of the Bible, but in most cases the soul is with us while we’re alive, and the spirit is with us in life and in death—as long as we believe.

When Eggnog Started A Riot At West Point Academy

Even George Washington had a recipe for eggnog that included brandy, sherry, whiskey and rum, but he probably didn’t intend for it to be used quite like this. In 1826, a group of West Point cadets decided to break one of the school’s cardinal rules and secure some whiskey for their Christmas Eve eggnog. The drunken party soon turned violent, with shots fired, buildings destroyed, and cadets expelled. Leading the pack—but not expelled—was future Confederate president Jefferson Davis.

The Jewish Curator Who Helped Hitler Loot Europe’s Art

In February 2012, Munich police and tax investigators raided the apartment of a quiet hermit named Cornelius Gurlitt and found 1,400 works of art worth up to $1 billion. Many of the works were plundered from Jewish private collections in World War II. They were the legacy of Cornelius’s father, Hildebrand, a one-quarter Jew who helped Hitler steal them. Bending to the public outcry, Cornelius decided to return the plundered works to the families who once owned them.

The Difference Between Colombia’s Many Rebel Groups

For over 50 years, the Colombian state has been locked in a deadly civil war with dozens of different leftist and paramilitary groups. Most prominent among these are the FARC: a terror organization that has repeatedly come close to overthrowing the government. But there are many more acronyms out there—from the AUC to the ELN and M19—all with different goals, agendas, and methods.

Skipping Breakfast Isn’t As Horrible As We’re Told

We’ve all skipped breakfast, and if we do it a lot, we’ve probably been lectured about how it’s a bad idea. But skipping breakfast is now being shown to be not nearly as bad as we’ve been told, with studies showing there’s no difference between groups who eat breakfast and those who go without. In fact, for most of human history, breakfast just hasn’t been a thing.

You Can’t Help But Walk In Circles If You’re Really Lost

It seems unlikely that once external reference points have been removed, we all have no choice but to wander aimlessly in circles, like a child’s wind-up toy from the 1950s. But it’s absolutely true. Researchers aren’t completely sure why we do it, although they do have some theories. What they have proven, though, is that if you remove any external guidance points, we as a species are completely unable to walk in a straight line.

International Justice Might Not Be Blind

Set up in the aftermath of the bloody Yugoslav Wars, the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY) was the world’s first step toward truly international justice. It was followed by the Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR) and, in 2002, the birth of the International Criminal Court (ICC). Since its founding, dozens of war criminals have been tried and convicted there. Yet there are many who claim the tribunal is not independent, but really just playing to deeply vested interests.