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Written by Friday, 12 July 2013 10:07

Surveillance: The empired strike back


Whistleblower Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US National Security Agency’s surveillance empire—sensational as they were— achieved very little in terms of institutional change. But it seems to be triggering public initiatives that are interesting, if not effective. Online magazine Motherboard has launched a terrorism spam generator dubbed Hello, NSA. This handy app allows you to easily generate tweets, messages, and status updates packed with NSA-alert-raising keywords, the idea being to overwhelm surveillance filters with false positives.


Designer Sang Mun has come up with ZXX, which he calls a “disruptive typeface” for its ability to elude character-recognition software used by intelligence agencies to filter the massive amounts of online traffic for certain ‘keywords.’ And here’s the fun part: Mun used to be a special intelligence guy for the NSA, where he learned first-hand how to extract information from defence targets! A third example comes from the Dutch city of Utrecht, where artists Thomas voor’t Hekke and Bas van Oerle adorned the surveillance cameras in their city in adorable party hats on the birthday of George Orwell, the writer who described a nightmarish and dictatorial surveillance state in his classic novel 1984. Three cheers, we say.

‘A party game for horrible people’


It’s not what we’re saying about this party game, but the proud claim its makers make for themselves. In their own words, ‘Unlike most of the party games you’ve played before, Cards Against Humanity is as despicable and awkward as you and your friends. The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a Black Card, and everyone else answers with their funniest White Card.’ An example is given alongside, but having spent an unhealthy amount of time on their website, we can tell you it gets a lot worse than that (or better, if you happen to be one of the horrible people it’s intended for).


Those (sponsored) voices in your head


If you thought those annoying text messages by marketers are invasive, wait till you hear this. If Sky Deutschland, a German subsidiary of the Rupert Murdoch-controlled (who else) News Corp, has its way, tired metro commuters who happen to lean their heads against the train’s window will ‘hear” adverts coming from inside their own heads, urging them to use Sky’s services.


The campaign uses something called bone conduction technology, used in hearing aids, headphones and Google’s Glass headset, to pass sound to the inner ear via vibrations through the skull. The voice would come from a transmitter that is attached to the train window. In other words, you would hear voices in your head just like paranoid schizophrenics would, and you’d be equally helpless to do anything about it. We like to keep an eye on what old Rupert is up to, but this one seems too creepy an idea even for someone who’s attained Bond villain status.


Written by Friday, 05 July 2013 08:58

The future of food and the end of the toilet

qqRob Rhinehart, a 24-year-old US techie, is the brain behind a substance that he says could end world hunger, replace food as we know it altogether, and make toilets unnecessary. His idea is simple: source all the basic nutrients the body needs to survive (plus a little extras known to be beneficial) in their chemical form, and put them together in an easily consumable concoction.


The result is a thick, odourless, beige liquid he’s dubbed Soylent. He claims to have survived on it for 30 days without any hitch. He’s now crowd-sourcing his project online, and has already raised about Rs 5 crore in a matter of weeks. Is it a hoax, or just another loony business idea? What creeps us out is the fact that it reminded us of a cult scifi movie from the 1970s. It’s set in a dystopian future, where an overcrowded planet survives on rations of a mass-manufactured processed food called... Soylent Green. The twist comes when the hero, played by Charlton Heston, discovers that the stuff is made from, well, human remains. Soylent, a sign of the times? We wonder.


The man who predicted the social networked life

aaThe late British author JG Ballard, an astute social observer, foresaw the coming of social media and its impact way before the Internet was born. Here’s an excerpt from his 1977 Vogue article, dug up by Luke Lewis at All this, of course, will be mere electronic wallpaper, the background to the main programme in which each of us will be both star and supporting player.


Every one of our actions during the day, across the entire spectrum of life, will be instantly recorded on video-tape. In the evening, we will sit back and scan the rushes, selected by a computer trained to pick out only our best profiles, our wittiest dialogue, our most affecting expressions filmed through the kindest filters, and stitch these together into a heightened re-enactment of the day. Regardless of our place in the family pecking order, each of us within the privacy of our own rooms will be the star in a continually unfolding domestic saga, with parents, husbands, wives and children demoted to an appropriate supporting role . Right on the money, we thought.

Are you a cognac aficionado?

aaaaWell, it is nothing to get all puffed up about. In fact, you’re at the lowest rung of cognac drinkers, going by this menu card from The Leela Palace, Bangalore, linked by Madhu Menon on Twitter. In the hotel’s estimate, your cherished aficionadoness is not worth more than 15 ml of their prized Louis XIII (see pic), priced at Rs 6,500. If you’re a ‘connoisseur,’ however, you’re slightly better off, and are eligible for a 30 ml swig that costs twice as much. To sip a whole peg of it, you have to be a ‘genius’ (like the one who thought this up, we presume). But to have an entire bottle of the rarefied stuff (tag: Rs 2.4 lakh) you need to be a full-blown ‘maharaja’ (read mining magnate, real estate baron, IPL bookie...). Picture this: as you, Good Taste personified, get escorted outside after your 15 ml shot, blabbering incoherently about those “lovely notes of plum”, Money will still be talking.


Written by Friday, 28 June 2013 11:15

Now, isn’t she a doll?



She is, in fact. Her name is Tasha James, she’s made of foam rubber, and costs nearly Rs 3.8 lakh. You can buy her online, with each of her body parts customised to your taste and budget. You can even opt for tattooes, tan lines and piercings (there’s more, but of the unprintable variety).


The man behind ‘Tasha’ is Los Angeles-based Matt Krivicke, the founder of Sinthetics, which claims to make the most realistic sex dolls in the world. Now, Krivicke doesn’t want you to think of him as another sleazy sexentrepreneur from California. From what we could make out, he sees himself as some sort of artist.


“Sinthetics will never become a mass-manufacturer,” he told a reporter recently. In fact, he won’t even let you call his creations (not products, mind you) ‘sex dolls’, or even ‘love dolls’. He prefers the term ‘manikins.’ As he put it, “We view our products as usable art, and our clients as art collectors. It is our experience that the term ‘doll’ can give a limiting context to these pieces of art...” Just in case you’re wondering, Krivicke himself is not made of foam rubber, spongy quotes apart.

The Chinese super-sexy pervert-proof stockings


It’s common for people to diss the Chinese as drudges and plagiarists only capable of replicating other peoples’ inventions for cheap. The complaint is that they don’t come up with anything original of their own (not counting gunpowder, but that was a long time ago). In fact, the stereotype is so wellentrenched that some Indians also jump on to the bandwagon, blissfully ignorant that we are not exactly bursting with innovation (not counting the zero, but that was a long time ago, too). That debate is now over.


The Chinese have given a fitting answer to their critics by unveiling the cleverest device invented till date to help women keep unwanted males at bay. These “super sexy, anti-pervert full-leg-of-hair stockings” are just the thing for young girls venturing out for a night at a Beijing disco, and promises to protect them from even the most aggressive of gropers. Take that, Silicon Valley!


Heterosexuals of the world it’s time to come out of the closet



July is Heterosexual Awareness Month (HAM), which seeks to highlight the plight of this marginalised majority and sensitise society and governments to the many subtle ways in which heterosexuals are discriminated against and ridiculed in an era of queer hegemony. Founded in America, to “give heterosexuals a voice in the face of growing pressure and indoctrination from the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender) community,” they hope the movement will now spread to every corner of the world where heterosexuality is under threat.


They have declared July 22 as Straight Pride Day (it also coincides with International Day Against Heterophobia) where supporters of the movement wear black to demonstrate solidarity with the cause. They find inspiration in such figures as Yahyah Jammeh, the Gambian President who said in a recent speech, “I have never seen homosexual chicken, or turkey.” Just in case you’re wondering, it’s not all tonguein- cheek either, as you’ll find by visiting their website: www.hetero


Written by Friday, 21 June 2013 07:11



All they wanna have is… celebrity bling



Starting in late 2008, a bunch of teenagers—four girls and a boy—went about stealing stuff worth more than 3 million dollars (approx Rs 1.75 crore) from the Hollywood homes of celebrities such as Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Entry was often easy—for eg, they found Hilton’s key under the doormat.


Once inside, they would try on the celebrities’ perfume, footwear and clothes, and leave with however much they could carry. Having too much of the stuff, the celebs didn’t notice the loss, but after the gang posted photos of themselves wearing the loot, they eventually got the attention of the local police. Ultimately, it was not even about the thrill of theft, but all about possessing their favourite celebs’ stuff.


Sofia Coppola’s new film Bling Ring (in pic) is based on their story, and takes its title from the name given to them by the local press. As one reviewer put it, theirs is “a new kind of narcissism, where you only get to feel fully realised, successful and self-loving when you look at your reflection in the pool and see your idol.” Sounds right. Shrinks, please take note.


From the Annals of Pointless Research #12


Luddites that some of us are, science and scientists rarely catch our interest. Alcohol, on the other hand, has much to recommend it, though space constraints prevent us from listing it all here. Recently, we were told about a research project that boggled our minds by its sheer obviousness.


Two studies, conducted in the United States and United Kingdom, discovered that smarter people tend to drink “more frequently and in greater quantities” than their duller, drier peers. The studies measured and categorised kids’ intelligence in five groups ranging from “very dull” to “very bright.


” When the participants were assessed later in life, it was revealed that the “brighter” kids were the ones that liked a tipple far more than their counterparts. It has left the researchers thoroughly puzzled.We wonder why. On any list of fun/worthwhile things human beings can do, there would be very few things to beat a night out at the pub, and a PhD in Pointless Research is certainly not one of them. Someone ought to tell the poor sods.


The folks who brought you PRISM, now in Bangalore


The US National Security Agency, their massive PRISM project that snoops on phone and email conversations of ordinary Americans, and Edward Snowden (in pic), the whistleblower who opened the can of worms and splattered it all over the shiny face of ‘liberal’ Obama’s America; by now you’ve heard all about it.


What you didn’t know is that the same shady folks who ran PRISM are now in your neighbourhood, right here in Bangalore. A little birdie tells us that Carlyle Group, the global asset management firm which owns Booz Allen Hamilton, the company which ran PRISM and for whom Bowden worked, is scouting for offices in namma city.


Snooping capabilities on a planetary scale is not the only thing that makes Carlyle worthy of special attention; they also hold the unique distinction of having the extended families of both George W Bush and Osama bin Laden as stakeholders. Now, that’s what we call ‘unity in diversity.’ And it has worked wonders for them; the group now manages assets worth a staggering 170 billion dollars (approx Rs 9.5 lakh crores) worldwide. Move over, Aadhar Nilekani; the big boys are here.


Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 11:00

Japanese get their own submerged glorious ancient city


We have our Dwarka, the Greeks their Atlantis, and now it seems the Japs too are getting in on the ‘submerged glorious ancient city’ business. First discovered in 1986, the Yonaguni monument is a massive underwater rock formation off the coast of Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, and is believed to have existed for more than 10,000 years. Recent studies conducted by marine geologists have discovered carvings, a pyramid, castles, roads, monuments and a stadium scattered amidst the structure.



All of it has added credibility to the theory that the monument is what remains of the Lost Continent of Mu, a place until now considered to be purely mythical. However, whether the formation is completely manmade or merely altered by human hands is still debated. As any die-hard fan of submerged glorious ancient cities could tell you, that debate is merely of academic interest.

Branded marijuana, from the folks who brought you Windows


Ok, we’re kidding, but not entirely. Jamen Shively, a former Microsoft corporate strategy manager, has announced plans to create the first marijuana brand in the US. Shively hopes to legally import the stuff from Mexico, and said he envisions his Seattle-based enterprise becoming the leader in both recreational and medical cannabis—much like Starbucks in coffee. The use, sale and possession of marijuana is illegal in most of the US, but two states in the country have recently legalised recreational marijuana use, while 18 others allow it for medical use.


Former Mexican President Vicente Fox, a longtime acquaintance of Shively and an ardent advocate of decriminalising marijuana use, was present at the press conference to “express support.” Shively’s firm is named Diego Pellicer (that’s him in the pic), after his great grandfather and who was the largest hemp grower in the world in the 19th century. He was killed in 1898 by, ironically, the Americans, in the Spanish- American war over control of the Philippine islands. While we are all for legalising mankind’s favourite relaxant since ancient times, ‘industrial weed’ seems hardly the way to go about it.

The great pizza delivery challenge, solved



Bothered about the pizza you ordered reaching too late in the party? Waking up in cold sweat after seeing nightmares about soggy pizzas with rubbery toppings and rock-like crusts? Worry not, the Age of The Delayed Pizza is about to come to an end, if American pizza chain Domino’s has its way. They have gone all out to meet this defining challenge of our times head on: by pressing into service a UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle, popularly called drones) for delivering pizza.


Dubbed the ‘DomiCopter,’ the prototype model they have developed can deliver two large pizzas in about ten minutes within a six km radius of the store. Just imagine, the same machine that’s capable of sending even the dreaded Taliban scurrying into their mountain hideouts, will now be greeted by smiling housewives and packs of children whooping with joy. If that isn’t technology with a human face, we don’t know what is. So overwhelmed and excited were we by the invention that we couldn’t help blurting it all out to our resident know-it-all, AS Sahasrabuddhi, and got what we felt was an unjustly cynical response. “I thought pizzas were always delivered by drones,” he mumbled into his filter coffee. For some people, every silver lining comes with a cloud.


Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 10:43

Now, over to our Mars correspondent…


Chilean journalist Lino Solis de Ovando has been selected to be part of The Mars One project, an attempt to seed the first extraterrestrial human civilisation (or ‘protoculture’ as they call it) on the red planet. The brainchild of Dutch entrepreneur Bas Lansdorp, the project will send its first four ‘Marslings’ on a one-way ticket to their destination in 2023. Writing on, Lino says he hasn’t told his family yet, although his boss has found out and tried to explain to him what a one-way mission means.


Others suggested that he may not be, er, okay in the head. But Lino says he’s looking forward to his eight-month rocket journey to become the first news correspondent from Mars. He knows he cannot come back even if he wants to: lower gravity on Mars means you lose bone density and muscle mass and your circulatory systems decrease in capacity, making it nearly impossible to adjust to life on earth later. Bravo Lino, that’s a gutsy choice you made. But why do we get the suspicious feeling that it’s also a really smart one?

A treasure trove of trashy quotes


If such a thing was possible, this would be it. The fearless souls who run this Tumblr page have put together just about every nauseatingly sentimental, smug, or plain wtf piece of inspirational Facebook post for your perusal. Among the usual suspects dishing out spiel to their unsuspecting fans, we spotted our own favourite go-toguru for antiseptic advice: the shaggydude ex-prez APJ Abdul Kalam. More at: vomitinducing. Enter at your own risk.

A fake boomtown, for fake leaders


Heard the one about North Korea’s fake juntaoperated supermarkets purely meant to trick foreign journalists? These are filled with regime stooges posing as ‘shoppers’ every time a delegation of the foreign press passes through Pyongyang, just so that things look a bit, well, lively. In Delhi too, during the last Commonwealth Games, the organisers hid some slums (the ones they couldn’t evict) from the streets by using giant screens, lest they offended a visiting dignitary.


Such stunts were always done by ragged Third World folks to impress rich white people visiting from abroad. But now it seems the latter have taken to it themselves; the difference being that they are trying to fool themselves. Folks at Enniskillen, Northern Ireland, were rather surprised to find local shops, closed long ago, suddenly ‘dressed up’ to look like thriving businesses. The idea behind the makeover, a brainchild of the British Foreign Office, is to get the town to look cheerful enough for depressed world leaders who will arrive here next month for the G8 summit, where they’ll brood over how to fix the broken global economy. Nice touch, fellas. Just the right thing for a bunch of clowns still pretending to be in control of a runaway global economic system in perpetual crisis.


Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 10:27

When animals smoke weed...


...they get bad trips, say ace US veterinarian Dr Andrew Springer Browne, who actually conducted experiments to prove it. The main clinical signs in dogs that have consumed cannabis are low body temperature, dilated pupils, increased sensitivity to noise and movement, unsteady gait, and dribbling urine. They also usually whimper or howl. With really high doses, they collapse, breathe slowly, and are barely responsive. Sounds pretty much like the average human teenager’s response to the stuff. But Dr Browne says it’s nothing like it. In fact, animals are thoroughly distressed by the stuff. And too high a dose can actually kill them. So, the next time you and your friends try feeding hash cakes to your pet cat, remember you are giving the poor thing a hell of a time, quite literally.

 Cockroaches: 1 Humans: 0



There has been a turning point in the centuries-old war between humankind and its oldest enemy, and it’s not in favour of us. Researchers at the North Carolina State University in the US have found that cockroaches have actually evolved their ‘taste hairs’ (similar to our taste buds) to make sweet insecticide taste bitter. Which means they instinctively avoid them, much to the frustration of homeowners. Insects build resistance to insecticides all the time, but scientists have never discovered the actual mechanism of it before.


That cockroaches pulled such a thing off shouldn’t really surprise anyone who has paid attention to them. For one , they have been around way longer than us humans; some 350 million years in all. They can live on almost anything from starch to grease. Why, they are even capable of surviving extreme nuclear radiation. Throw in the possibility of a nuclear war sometime in the future, and it suddenly becomes possible that the cockroach just might inherit the earth, after all.

Houston, you’ve got a problem


By now it’s common knowledge that the American economy isn’t exactly in good shape (to put it mildly). Going by what’s on TV, at least, the sight of people rummaging through dumpsters for food is not all that uncommon on American streets. Since all those poor and homeless folk seem hell bent on denting the image of their mighty country by advertising their hunger so blatantly, officials in Houston decided to do something about it: they made ‘dumpster diving’ a crime. James Kelly, a 44-year-old homeless Navy veteran, was one of those recently arrested on charges of “disturbing the contents of a garbage can.”


No, we didn’t make that up. The officials are relying on a 1942 ordinance that had declared “molesting garbage containers” an illegal act. Of course, it’s a tactic we’re familiar with over here every time they host a big international event—witnessed most recently in Delhi during the Commonwealth Games, when beggars and such other unwanted elements were rounded up and carted off so that the foreign visitors would not be offended by their sight. But for the world’s sole superpower to do it? Chee chee. Something’s stinking in Houston; and it’s not the trash.


Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 09:13

Britain, a nation of secret cannibals


The British have always been seen as an odd lot, even by other Europeans, but they’re odder than most people imagined, it turns out. The results of a poll on cannibalism by British television channel Eden came as a shocker even to the channel when it turned out that 25 per cent of the respondents said that they were "curious" to taste human flesh.


What's more, some 14 per cent were open to the idea of eating a piece of themselves as long as it was done painlessly and hygienically; that is, by a doctor who would take a flesh sample from their bodies. Now we know what’s under those stiff upper lips. To think that one out of every four people you'd pass by on a balmy summer afternoon on a London street would actually like to bite into you... Gulp.

Boycotting Monsanto just became a whole lot easier


It took 26-year-old Los Angeles freelance programmer Ivan Pardo 16 months to create Buycott, a free mobile app that scans grocery items for products by dodgy corporations like Monsanto. All you need to do is scan the barcode on any product and the free app will trace its original all the way to its parent companies, so you’ll know where your money’s going. That’s not all, you can use the app to join usercreated campaigns to boycott companies whose business practices you oppose. No wonder the app’s a runaway hit.


Considering the extent to which many corporations go to hide their tracks, often selling controversial products under the names of subsidiaries, this one’s likely to hit them where it hurts. And in case you’re wondering why Monsanto (aka “the most evil corporation in the universe”), here’s why: they have had a hand in just about every nasty thing ever invented: from the first nuclear bomb to Agent Orange, the chemical weapon the Americans used to scorch Vietnam. In these parts though, they are most notorious for trying to push through stuff like Bt cotton and genetically modified brinjal. A fine example of geek activism, overall.

Why an extraterrestrial war on earth is unlikely


All those living in fear of a war against humankind by aggressive aliens may now breathe easy. According to a recent research paper by Janne Korhonen of Finland’s Aalto University, published in the new edition of Acta Astronautica— journal of the International Academy of Astronautics—such an event is highly unlikely. Titled ‘MAD with Aliens? Interstellar Deterrence and its Implications,’ the paper examines the factors that would motivate and demotivate aliens considering an assault against the earth. The learned scientist concludes aliens won’t come after us because we would be “too hazardous for an attacker.”


For instance, any intelligence gathered before an attack would be outdated—thanks to the limitation on the speed of light— before the offensive party arrives. Also any attack that doesn’t completely wipe out the human race would be futile, because even if 1 per cent of humans survive, we could repopulate the earth to current levels in just 700 years. Speaking for ourselves, that’s a major responsibility off our ever-vigilant shoulders. Of course, all this is assuming the hostile aliens are rational beings— and Korhonen graciously admits as much—and not a bunch of thrill seekers out to have some fun at humankind’s expense. But we’ll worry about that another time.


Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:55

A device that could make booze from sunshine


This is the kind of headline that gives goose bumps to those of us who pray at the Temple of Technology. And it’s true, too; sort of. A group at Panasonic has claimed to have developed a technology that uses sunlight to produce oxygen and organic substances from water and carbon dioxide, just the way plants do.


The technology is a bit too complicated for our unscientific minds, but we gathered that it’s done by rigging up electrodes and putting them out in the sun. In the future, they say, advanced versions of the technology will be able to produce stuff like hydrocarbons and even alcohol. Panasonic is now touting it as an ideal solution for both global warming and energy issues. Nice try, fellows. While we are certainly charmed by the idea of a device that can make unlimited booze from pure sunshine, we see this as little more than techno-puffery.

China, the new champion of human rights


The folks that brought you Tiananmen Square are now all set to take human rights to the next level. Yes, the Chinese have taken the first official step toward becoming the world’s new superpower by drawing up a list of human rights abuses in other countries. And here’s the one that’s got tongues wagging: a Chinese report on Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012. Sample these excerpts: “In the US, elections could not fully embody the real will of its citizens.”


“The US has become one of the developed countries with the greatest income gap.” “A huge number of people are homeless in the US.” “The US seriously infringed upon human rights of other nations. In 2012, US military operations in Yemen, Afghanistan and Pakistan caused massive civilian casualties.” No doubt, it’s all true and it’s also rather pleasing to see the Americans getting thrashed with the same stick they have liberally used on the rest of the world all these years. But we can’t help wondering... competitive hypocrisy, is that what superpowerdom is all about?

The hottest conspiracy theorist ever



Over here, we wear the tag “conspiracy theorist” as a badge of honour. Therefore, we were thoroughly delighted to come across Sibel Edmonds. Arguably the hottest thing ever to grace a field overwhelmingly populated either by nutty professor types or unwashed cranks (all male, incidentally), this Turkish- American shares a common history with many star conspiracy theorists: she used to be an insider. A former FBI translator with access to highly classified information, she was fired from her job for blowing the whistle on a colleague who had covered up illicit activity and made serious security breaches.


She then successfully fought a gag order on her in court, and went on to found a Whistleblowers Coalition. She caught our attention with her theory that the Boston bombings accused, the Tsarnaev brothers, were actually CIA double agents who went rogue. (How she gets to it is complicated, but you can find out by watching her interviews on YouTube ). But for once, we admit, we were forced to ignore the theory in favour of the theorist.


Written by Wednesday, 19 June 2013 08:46

Big Brother is recording you


It's confirmed—the US government is recording all phone calls and emails of its citizens. And we have it right from one of their Snoop Dogg's mouths. In a discussion on the Boston bombings, former FBI counterterrorism agent Tim Clemente said this on live-TV: "There’s a way to look at all digital communication from the past. None of it is secure.” That means every telephone call, email and SMS on US soil. And he repeated this on another TV-show the next day.


That ties in neatly with the claims of former AT&T engineer Mark Klein, who revealed that major telecom companies including his employer had built a special network that allowed the US National Security "vacuum up Internet and phone-call data from ordinary Americans." There’s the case of William Binney, an NSA official who resigned from the agency in protest after he learned that it had collected "20 trillion transactions" by US citizens. Lest you think it's an American problem, we'll let you in on a secret: the Indian government could be doing it too. Don’t believe us, o proud citizens of the Surveillance State?

A Marxish Party


Marxists of the world, relax! You have nothing to lose but your ponderousness. That’s what this clever Tumblr blog, featuring none less than the Bearded One himself, seems to be saying. It features lush advice from icons of the Left pantheon like Lenin, Mao, Fidel Castro and even Leonid Brezhnev. As closet revolutionaries, we admit all this is not entirely to our taste (like those blasphemous Che Guevera tees), but we have reconciled ourselves to the fact that in the 21st century, all publicity is good publicity. More at: cosmarxpolitan.

Party like an Egyptian


No, not them folks you saw on Tahrir Square, holding banners and screaming themselves hoarse. We're talking about their ancestors, who could have taught even the wildest of present-day party animals a thing or two about living it up. Archaeologist Betsy Bryan, who is leading the excavation of a temple complex in Luxor, Egypt, says she has found evidence for a ceremony centred on binge drinking, thumping music and orgiastic public sex. Called The Festivals of Drunkenness, the rituals took place in homes, temples and makeshift desert shrines throughout ancient Egypt at least once a year.


Lest we godless moderns think it to be pure debauchery—a sort of ancient Playboy party—she clarifies that it had a religious purpose. Apparently, it was a ritual to propitiate the goddess Hathor—who had a habit of occasionally taking a lion form and a tatse for human blood—to ensure the well-being and protection of the people and the land. And how did they do that? By indulging in the abovementioned activities till they passed out. Wow, we're feeling religious already.

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