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Today In History: St. Valentine’s Day – The Washington Herald, February 14th, 1910
|| 2/14/2010 || 10:28 am || + Render A Comment || ||

Scan of the newspaper article Today In History from the Washington Herald, 100 years ago

St. Valentine’s Day has degenerated somewhat in recent years, and is now generally observed by the sending of jocular pictures with suitable verses attached, or an equally ridiculous sentimental picture card. Formerly the proper ceremony of the day was the drawing of a kind of lottery, followed by ceremonies not much unlike what is generally called the game of forfeits.

In Pepy’s Diary we find some notable illustrations of this old custom. It appears that married and single were then alike liable to be chosen as a valentine, and that a present was invariably necessarily given to the choosing party. “Noticing the jewels of the celebrated Miss Stuart, who became Duchess of Richmond,” he records, “the Duke of York, being once her valentine, did give her a jewel of about £800; and my Lord Mandeville, her valentine this year, a ring of about £300. These presents were undoubtedly given in roder to relieve the obligations under which the being drawn as valentines places the donors.”

Notwithstanding the practice of “relieving,” there seems to have been a disposition to believe that the person drawn as a valentine had some considerable likelihood of becoming the associate of the party in wedlock.

It was supposed, for instance, that the first unmarried person of the other sex whom you met on St. Valentine’s morning in walking abroad was a destined wife or a destined husband. Thus Gay makes a rural dame remark:

“Last Valentine, the when birds of kind,
Their paramours with mutual chirpings find,
I early rose just at the break of day,
Before the sun had chased the stars away;
A-field I went, amid the morning dew,
To milk my kine (for so should housewives do).
Thet first I spied- and the first swain we see.
In spite of fortune shall our true love be.”

St. Valentine’s Day is alluded to by Shakespeare and by Chaucer, and also by the poet Lydgate, who died in 1440. One of the earliest known writers of valentines, or poetical amative address for this day, was Charles, Duke of Orleans, who was taken at the battle of Agencourt.

The origin of these peculiar observances of St. Valentine’s Day is a subject of some obscurity. The saint himself, who was a priest of Rome, martyred in the third century, seems to have had nothing to do with the matter beyond the accident of this day being used for the purpose.

Just why St. Valentine was chosen the patron of love seems a little obscure. Wheatly says: “He was a man of admirable parts and so famous for his love and charity that the custom of choosing valentines upon his festival, which is still practiced, too rise from thence.” While Dr. Butler, in his “Lives of the Saints,” says: “To abolish the heathens’ lewd custom of boys drawing the names of girls in honor of their goddess, Februata Juno, on the fourteenth of this month, several zealous pastors substituted the names of saints on the billets that were drawn.” and thus in the mutation of time the custom has grown which now takes the form of “valentines.”


February 14 is the date which Gray and Bell each received a patent for the first telephone in 1876; it is the birthday of Gen. Winfield Scott Hancock (1824); Charles L. Sholes, father of the typewriter (1819); Samuel Osgood, the first Postmaster General (1748); the day on which the United States flag was first seen in foreign lands and saluted in 1778, and upon which the battle of St. Vincent, in 1797.


This newspaper article was transcribed from the scan of the February 14th, 1910 edition of the Washington Herald from the Chronicling America newspaper collection and is in the public domain.



YouTube Video From Rethink Afghanistan: What Does the Easter Bunny Know About Rethinking Afghanistan?
|| 8/31/2009 || 8:55 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Watch Video on YouTube

Today I read the New York Times article American Antiwar Movement Plans an Autumn Campaign Against Policies on Afghanistan and noticed that Rethink Afghanistan was mentioned. Earlier this year, during Easter weekend, I was solicited by a friend who works with the organization to voluntarily dress up like the easter bunny and hand out easter eggs around Chinatown and the White House. The video above is the result of two days of volunteering and while I was saving the video for a blog entry next Easter*, I felt compelled to share it today.

…..4 months after this video was filmed……

  • There are more soldiers going to Afghanistan today —-not less
  • 51 percent of Americans now feel the war in Afghanistan is not worth fighting
  • August 2009 was the bloodiest month since the war began
  • Afghanistan is the graveyard of Empires

Obama campaigned on bringing the troops home, but he hasn’t done so, and I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

Imagine all the money that could be spent on free healthcare for all Americans that is currently being spent fighting unwinnable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


* I also have about a dozen pictures of this action and another video of me trying not to get arrested by police officer in Chinatown. I plan on posting them in a future entry…



Timelapse YouTube Video of the 4th of July Fireworks in Washington, DC
|| 7/5/2009 || 7:11 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

Every 4th of July for the last 5 years I’ve watched the massive firework display on the National Mall from a rooftop in the Washington, DC area. This year I finally decided to see the display from my rooftop and make a video of it. The music is the Washington Post March by John Philip Sousa and performed by the United States Marine Band. One of my favorite aspects of being on a rooftop in DC on the 4th of July is watching everyone shoot their own fireworks. You can see them exploding in every direction!

Before the fireworks, I attended my friend’s second annual “Jerk Off” BBQ competition in Rock Creek Park. And to continue my other 4th of July tradition, I rode around the city with my Adbusters Corporate flag attached to a large flagpole attached to my backpack. Like in the years past, people would still applaud when they see it, most not knowing there was a subtle protest waving before their eyes. Next to being on rooftop, waving this flag is my second favorite 4th of July tradition…



Happy 4th of July, but remember…
|| 7/4/2009 || 7:00 pm || + Render A Comment || ||

The residents of Washington, DC are still second-class citizens who are denied the same representation in Congress that all other Americans enjoy. Today we celebrate the American independence from British tyranny, but there are still Americans struggling to overcome the tyranny of the 535 members of Congress…. I figured this photograph would ensure you are kept abreast of this continued human rights violation.


Photograph taken on Sunday May 31st, 2009 at the Coolout on the rooftop of the Beacon Hotel in Washington, DC



Gregorius XIII – Pont(ifex) Opt(imus) Maximus / Anno Restituto MDLXXXII
|| 8/12/2008 || 2:27 pm || Comments Off on Gregorius XIII – Pont(ifex) Opt(imus) Maximus / Anno Restituto MDLXXXII || ||

“Pope Gregory XIII / Year of Restitution 1582”
Minted in 1582 to celebrate the creation of the new Roman calendar,
which later became known as the Gregorian Calendar

The other day I was reading about the Gregorian Calendar and stumbled across this coin that was created the year of the calendar reform. It features a portrait of Pope Gregory XIII on the front, and on the back this is dragon eating it’s tail surrounding a ram’s head. The dragon is called an Ouroboros, which I named my recent time lapse video, and as I mentioned before, it represents the cyclicality of time surrounded by the Egyptian Sun God Amun, who’s name means “the one who is hidden.” I find this symbology very interesting because what we consider today to be pagan symbols were used to mark the creation of their perfect calendar— the calendar we use today.

In my opinion, the Ouroboros represents the Milky Way and the Ram represents the sun, and by creating a perfect calendar the sun & the cosmos were finally set in perfect harmony. Except one thing, and in my opinion, the most important part of it all, the perfect calendar removes the importance of natural precession. As in, as the dragon devours its tail, it slowly moves in a circle, and that circle represents the earth’s slow precession backwards through the zodiac. By keeping the months standardized, the natural movement of the Earth is not accounted for in our modern calendar because the Gregorian Calendar standardized the timing of the Paschal Full Moon so all Christians could celebrate Easter on the same day. With that sense of natural drift removed, the understanding behind the Earth’s natural movement around the sun and the origins of why ancients used the Zodiac was diminished.

A good example of this natural drift is the removal of 10 days from October in 1582. Part of this was due to the Julian calendar‘s natural error, but in my opinion, a partial correction in regards to natural drift. In the last 426 years at an average drift of 1 degree every 71.6 years, the earth has precessed approximately 6 degrees since the calendar’s creation. If each sign in the Zodiac is 30 Degrees, then the earth has moved 1/5 of its way through the age since the calendar’s creaction. Interesting stuff! What’s really funny is what I posted here exactly one year ago today.


Related Calendar Entries:

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Happy Nowruz !!
|| 3/20/2008 || 3:25 pm || Comments Off on Happy Nowruz !! || ||

Last night I celebrated Nowruz, the Persian New Year, with some of my close friends for the second year in a row. Like the ancient peoples written in our history books, I am a fan of all celebrations that bring people together, and Nowruz has been bringing people together for over 15,000 years– making it one of mankind’s oldest celebrations.

The previous year I was given the sabzeh, or green wheat sprouts in a small dish, which represents rebirth. This year I saw my first traditional Haft-Seen display (pictured). Each element in the display has a specific meaning for the next year.

Via Wikipedia, some of the Haft-Seen items are:


* sabzeh – wheat, barley or lentil sprouts growing in a dish – symbolizing rebirth
* samanu – a sweet pudding made from wheat germ – symbolizing affluence
* senjed – the dried fruit of the oleaster tree – symbolizing love
* sÄ«r – garlic – symbolizing medicine
* sÄ«b – apples – symbolizing beauty and health
* somaq – sumac berries – symbolizing (the color of) sunrise
* serkeh – vinegar – symbolizing age and patience

Other items on the table may include:

* Sonbol – Hyacinth (flower)
* Sekkeh – Coins – representative of wealth
* traditional Iranian pastries such as baghlava, toot, naan-nokhodchi
* dried nuts, berries and raisins (Aajeel)
* lit candles (enlightenment and happiness)
* a mirror (symbolizing cleanness and honesty)
* decorated eggs, sometimes one for each member of the family (fertility)
* a bowl of water with goldfish (life within life, and the sign of Pisces which the sun is leaving)
* a bowl of water with an orange in it (the earth floating in space)
* rosewater, believed to have magical cleansing powers
* the national colours, for a patriotic touch
* a holy book (e.g., the Qur’an, Avesta, Bible, Torah, or Kitáb-i-Aqdas) and/or a poetry book (almost always either the Shahnama or the Divan of Hafez)

We stayed up to 1:48am to celebrate start of year 1387 (Anno Persico) and shortly after the new day began I poured rose water on my hands, rubbed it on my face, and looked into a small mirror. I am told its a ceremonial way of putting the year behind you— and what a great year 1386 was for me! I expect 1387 to be filled with intrigue, excitement, and fun.


I’d like to take a brief moment to expound on how amazing the Persian Calendar is. Technically, it is one of the few astronomical solar calendars that are still used today. Interestingly, it is more precise than the Gregorian calendars that have been in used in Europe (and America) since 1582. Each month is not based on the arbitrary division of months as we have today, rather each month was determined by the transit of the sun into the corresponding zodiac region.

By 1079 (C.E.), the Jalali Calendar, a precursor to the modern Persian Calendar, had the solar year calculated to seven decimal places (365.2421986) and in today’s Gregorian Calendar the days in a year is calculated to only six decimal places (365.242190). Also, since the astronomical observations and predictions used in Jalali Calendar were based on a yearly review of the astronomical ephemeris, the calendar never required a leap years nor were seasons ever off by more than a day. All in all, I am very impressed with their calendar and how its changed over the years to include other cultural influences.

Last year’s research on the zodiac found in Battista Agnese’s portolan from 1544 shows that even as far back as 400+ years ago New Years was celebrated in the spring. I’ve spent quite a bit of time looking at this zodiac and found one important indicator of New Years.

There is only one point on the double concentric circle where there is a line that bisects both the astrological calendar and the Gregorian calendar. This line falls around March 10th (see below), however I have been unable to find out why that specific date was chosen for this specific calendar. I am still trying to reconcile this anomaly, but hope to have a definitive answer sometime in the not-so-distant future.



The Dissected Map …continued
|| 12/5/2007 || 11:57 am || Comments Off on The Dissected Map …continued || ||

I mentioned before that I had scanned the postcard I obtained from the Special Collections Department at the University of South Florida. What I liked best was learning more about Columbia and what she represents. The Columbia wikipedia article does not fully explain her syncretic nature. But what I like best is the contemporary use of the phygian cap. It looks almost exactly like the prevasive Santa caps people wear during the holiday season. It makes historical sense too. Lastly, I have not read or heard any political commentary comparing Columbia to, of all people, Hillary Clinton. I won’t be voting for her (or any democrat or republican for that matter), but the allegorical parallel is there to be exploited.



Happy Saturnalia!
|| 12/25/2005 || 12:01 am || Comments Off on Happy Saturnalia! || ||

Saturnalia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saturnalia
Saturnalia was the feast at which the the Romans commemorated the dedication of the temple of the god Saturn, which took place on 17 December. Over the years, it expanded to a whole week, up to 23 December. In the vagaring Roman calendar the Winter Solstice fell in this period; in imperial times that event was celebrated in honour of Sol Invictus and put on 25 December by emperor Aurelian in 274, so after the Saturnalia.

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Liberté, égalité, fraternité – OSCE
|| 7/2/2005 || 10:13 am || Comments Off on Liberté, égalité, fraternité – OSCE || ||

Image Links to Flash Player:

Video footage from the OSCE Demonstration at Freedom Plaza.

My account of the day:

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Happy Orgasm Day
|| 5/9/2005 || 2:54 pm || Comments Off on Happy Orgasm Day || ||

for real….

Brazilian Town Celebrates Orgasm Day

Sex rarely makes the news in Brazil’s conservative Northeast – until a small town declared an official Orgasm Day today.

Espertantina Mayor Felipe Santolia endorsed the May 9 holiday, which he said was intended to improve relationships between married couples.

“We’re celebrating orgasm in all its senses. There’s even a panel discussion on premature ejaculation. But from what I’ve seen, women have more trouble achieving orgasm than men, especially in marriage,” Santolia said.

Santolia said the remote town of 38,000 people has been unofficially celebrating orgasm day for years, but that the town’s former mayor had vetoed a bill making it an official municipal holiday.

The city council passed a law on Saturday creating the holiday. Santolia, who took office earlier this year, said he would sign the bill later today.

“I’m 32, single and I have an open mind. Beside the theme is very much of the moment,” he said.

Orgasm Day celebrations include a series of panel discussions by sexologists from across Brazil and a presentation of Eve Ensler’s play The Vagina Monologues.

Santolia said the idea of celebrating Orgasm Day at first created a scandal in the poor region, known for its religious fervour. But he said residents gradually residents warmed to the idea.

“I’ve seen scientific studies that show when a woman is unloved, when her husband can bring her to orgasm, it affects all aspects of her life, her relationships with her children, at home, with the city and at work,” Santolia said.

If I am lucky, I will be celebrating in style tonight :-D





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Nikolas Schiller is a second-class American citizen living in America's last colony, Washington, DC. This blog is my on-line repository of what I have created or found on-line since May of 2004. If you have any questions or comments, please contact:

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