Monday, October 27, 2014

Witches and Bullies

How much do you know about the Salem Witch Trials?

Do you think it could happen now? What goes on in 2014 that compares to it? It seems to me that it was a case of Ultimate Bullying.

Let's understand that at the time, the village of Salem was in dire straits economically because a lot of refugees were coming their way, both from surrounding areas and as far away as Canada. This caused a lot of friction between the rich and the poor, and strained their limited resources as well: was there enough food for all these newcomers? Where would they live? And just as importantly to them, Did they have the same religious beliefs?

                                       Here's where Salem was/is: Today it's called Danvers.

Add that to the existing extremely rigid concepts of 'right' and 'wrong', 'moral' and 'immoral,' and you have a good breeding ground for suspicion, judgment, blame, plus the fear of eternal damnation.

-Bullying tactic #1: 'Us v. Them: We have the 'right' beliefs and you do not. That gives us the right to condemn you.

At the time, although the concept of freedom of religion prompted settlers to move to America, many religions still held very set standards and were quick to condemn anyone who strayed from their concept of right and wrong. And so, ironically, these settlers were very judgmental towards those who didn't follow the same religions as they did, rather than insisting on religious freedom for all. People depended on their religious leaders to tell them how to behave, much more than town leaders, and if anyone digressed from it, there was going to be trouble.

There was a solid belief not only in God but in the Devil, and that the Devil could control people if they didn't fight it off with prayer and other religious practices.

In the village of Salem, in 1692, the religious leader of Salem Village was named Samuel Parris. He had formerly been working at a mission in the Carribean, and when he moved to America, he brought with him some very defined ideas. He also brought with a slave woman named Tituba; his wife; and daughter Elizabeth (sometimes called 'Betty'). There was no question in his household who was the all-wise leader.

-Bullying tactic #2: You are different, therefore, you are evil.

The records indicate that Betty Parris, who was all of 9 years old, Abigail Williams, and Ann Putnam, both age 11, began to have 'fits,' wherein they would talk wildly, dive under tables, wave their arms about, and otherwise act in a bizarre fashion. Their local doctor-not knowing how to diagnose it- declared them to be possessed by evil.

Wanting to blame someone and avoid getting into trouble, (after all, who would respect a church leader with a possessed daughter?), the girls accused Tituba, the slave; Sarah Good, a beggarwoman; and Sarah Osborne, a poor elderly woman, of casting spells over them. The two Sarahs denied any such thing. Being from the Carribean, Tituba believed in and practiced things like spells, voodoo, and what was considered witchcraft; so when she was accused, she did not deny it.

The fear spread throughout the area to the point where almost everyone suspected everyone else of being witches.

-Bullying tactic #3: Don't look at me, I'm perfect. I'm not sure about you, though.

Imagine wondering of every person you encounter on a daily basis: Are you one? Are you one?

Women, in particular, were accused of being witches left and right. Why? Because they might be poor and/or dirty; they were thought to be promiscuous; they were not attending church; they seemed to have magical healing powers (be careful if you give your child chicken soup, it might make him better); they used foul language; they were pretty and therefore tempting to men; they were too clean; they were from another country and spoke more than one language. They didn't dress like the others---not wearing black? How dare you!? Or, they didn't keep their hair tucked under their hats. Even today, when we think of a witch, it's a woman with long flowing hair, not  having it neatly wound up in a knot. And just imagine a woman who knew how to read and write-she must surely be a witch!

While there were men accused of witchcraft or harboring a witch, most of the accused were women. Why? Because men were keen to keep control of all things-especially 'their' women- and to maintain their superiority.

        It appears that what we think of as witches' clothing is just an exaggeration of typical Puritan fashion of that time. Notice one woman (with a pointy hat, no less) is smoking a pipe, and it seems perfectly acceptable.

Fear of the religious leaders and of the courts kept many silent when they knew it was wrong.

It was during this time that a court could try someone based on "spectral evidence"; this practice was later disallowed. Spectral evidence included thoughts or dreams someone might have in a situation such as this: Someone's daughter died, there was no cause known, but the father had a dream that some man cast a spell over her that caused her death. The man seen in the dream would then be charged with consorting with the Devil and put on trial.

Eventually, 19 people were put on trial and then put to death for witchcraft. They were generally hanged or burned at the stake. If an accused person did not 'admit' his or her guilt, they were automatically found guilty.

 Trial Transcript, September 10, 1692.  Hard to read,
but notice the words "that diabolicall art of witchcraft"
in the middle of the page.

Bullying Tactic #4: I don't want to call attention to myself, so I will say nothing. Someone else can deal with it.

After the court of witchcraft was dissolved, out of 56 accused, 'only' 3 were convicted. One was executed by having heavy stones piled on him until he was crushed to death. 200 were sent to prison, where more died.
Marker for one of the executed persons

Scientists have since wondered if the girls who originally reported odd behavior, Betty Parris, Abigail Williams, and Ann Putnam, may have eaten foods contaminated with a fungus that caused their behavior, called ergotism. The fungus was common in rye and wheat, and rye was a staple food in that area at the time.

It's possible that one or more of these girls actually had what we would now call a mental illness, which would not have been understood in those days. It's unlikely that they all had exactly the same illness at the same time, however.

Bullying Tactic #5: I am in control. You have no power. I dictate your punishment.

Keep in mind that these strict religions required twice a week attendance at long church services and did not allow music, dancing, toys and especially dolls, no holiday celebrations, and no interaction of children with any adults, certainly not religious leaders (there is an old saying: children should be seen and not heard). We can also imagine three young girls, bored, with nothing else to do, decide to make up a game that had them act like they were crazy, it got out of hand, but they were enjoying the attention...and then they couldn't admit what they had done so they blamed others. The courts and religious leaders ran with the idea to the point where people were put on trial and executed. Think what would have happened to these girls by the time it reached a point of mass hysteria: That woman I accused? Sorry, just kidding. Oops.

Do you see how this instance of bullying resulted in disaster? How have things changed, or do bullies still operate the same now? Why does it matter that we remember and understand the Salem Witch Trials?

                                      It's not easy being green.

Here are sites giving more information about the Salem Witch Trials:


Monday, October 20, 2014

What Do You Know About......London???

What we think of as "London" is actually two cities: Westminster City and the City of London. London is the capitol of the United Kingdom. The population of London, including all 32 boroughs that surround it, is more than 8 million people.

                                   London is in the southeastern corner.

It is about 4,000 miles from Minneapolis to London. Flight time is about 8 to 9 hours. London time is normally 5 hours ahead of Minneapolis, except in the summer when it is 6 hours ahead-they observe Daylight Savings Time like lots of other countries in the world.

London was established in about the year 43 A.D.  It covers an area of  about 600 square miles. Through history, its name has been Londinium, Lundenwich, and Lundenburg, depending on which countries had conquered it at the time.

Notice the tiny oval shape right in the center that says "city"---this is the actual town of London which by itself is quite small, with a population of only about 7,000.

London has the 6th largest economy in the world, after Tokyo, New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Paris.
                                        Hyde Park, London

These men are called the Royal Guards. The hat is called a "bearskin." They guard Buckingham Palace. The guards change every day at 11:30 a.m. They are on duty for two hours and off for four. They need only stand still for 10 minutes at a time, and occasionally then walk around patrolling the area.
                       A full squadron of Royal Guards standing outside Buckingham Palace.

The clock is Big Ben (which weighs 13 tons!), the tower is the St Stephens Tower:

One in three Londoners is from another country. London's population is:

76% White
10% from India, Bangladesh, or Pakistan
5% Black African
5% Black Caribbean
1% Chinese

The climate of London tends to be rainy, but it does not, contrary to common belief, rain every day. The average temperature is 50.8 degrees Fahrenheit-in Europe, they use the metric system, so their temperatures are measured in Celsius. The warmest it usually gets is about 66 degrees F., in July (19 degrees Celsius) and 45 degrees Fahrenheit in winter (7 degrees Celsius). The most rain falls in October, although there is about a 40% chance of rain every day. There is a small amount of snowfall in England in the winter. There are four distinct seasons in London.

The four areas of London have different features: the North of London is more hilly and gives better views of the city; South London includes Greenwich and Wimbledon; the East End includes the docks, heavy industries, and lots of markets. The West end of London includes the most shopping and entertainment venues, as well as the department stores of Selfridges, Marks & Spencer, Covent Gardens, Notting Hill, and Chelsea.

Greenwich ("grennitch") Observatory. This is where the standard for world time begins. *see Triogenius 10-21-2013 for more about Greenwich Mean Time.

In the West End, you'll find lots of theaters....
                        Globe Theater, traditionally home to Shakespeare's plays

                                              Novello Theater

                                                             Lyceum Theater, Interior

London has more live comedy available than any other city in the world.

To get around London, you can go by taxi, which is the most expensive; the "Tube"-their subway, or a bus.

One way to get to France from England is to travel on the the Eurostar, a subway that goes from St. Pancras, under the English Channel, into Europe. This is called the 'Chunnel.'

                                                           Chunnel cars

Also in the West End is the shopping mecca of Picadilly Circus:

Electricity is a different current and outlets use different prongs than in the U.S.; this is true of most European countries--so bring an adapter if you want to use your coffee machine or hair dryer from home.

When expressing how much someone weighs, it's given in stone. A stone is the same as 14 pounds in the U.S. Thus, if you weigh 10-stone, you weigh 140 pounds. Note that it's considered bad manners to ask someone what he or she weighs. See Triogenius 10-14-13 about manners in other countries.

Remember also that in Europe, dates are given as the day of the month, then the month, then the year. So: December 18 would be 'Eighteenth December, 2014,' or 18-12-14.

Road distances in England are given in miles, but everything else is in metric, such as gasoline (or petrol, as they call it) comes in liters, not gallons. In an emergency, you dial '999.'

Do they still have Tea in the afternoons?  This was an old custom that is still observed by some, but most people are at work in the mid-afternoon, when tea was traditionally served. It began because there was such a time interval between the midday meal and the evening meal, which typically was served at about 8:00 p.m.

Food terms:
Cookie = Biscuit
Potato Chips = Crisps
French Fries = Chips
Dessert = Pudding (although there are meat puddings as well)
Candy = Sweets

If you stop into a pub (public house, bar, similar to a sports bar here) you will see a lot of foods on the menu that are similar to what you would see in the U.S.

Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum features celebrity doubles made of wax. They are super-realistic. Here is Taylor Swift with her alter-ego:

Children go to school from the ages of 5 to 16 (compulsory) and then to age 18. From age 5 to 11, children are considered to be in Primary School. Above age 11, they are considered to be in Secondary School. Some children receive education at home, and some parents choose private school for their children, although these schools are sometimes called 'public'.

There is no school for the month of August in England.

Attending school beyond Primary School means that you attend a 'college,' which tends to be more of a shorter period and gives you training comparable to a technical college or community college in the U.S., or  you might choose to go to 'University,' which is more similar to a four year college here; however, these degrees generally take three years. You can continue and receive a Masters or Doctorate with more schooling.

Cost for attending higher education are capped at £9,000 (pounds), or $15,030. Most schools cost about £6,000 or $10,020. The state pays for the poorest students to attend. 

In England, National Holidays are called "Bank" holidays.

Here is a better explanation of how school works in Great Britain:   

There are close to 50 colleges in the London area, including:

City of Westminster College
College of Northwest London
Croyden College
Kingston College
West Ealing College
Redbridge College
West Thames College

If you are interested in the Arts, check out these schools:  (University of the Arts)    (Royal College of the Arts)

or music : 
University of West London, College of Music

 or drama : 
Mountview Academy 

These are just a few schools in London. You can search online for many more.

London is home to Sothebys, the renowned auction house:  Sotheby's holds auctions of fine art and collectibles. Check out their site to see what's currently up for auction.

and the British Museum:

And the Tate Modern Museum

And the London Eye:

It was built in 1999 and is also called the Millenium Wheel. It's situated on the south bank of the Thames River, and it's 443' tall.
                                    An individual pod on the London Eye. 

There is much more to learn about London, about England, and about Great Britain. You can start here:


Monday, October 13, 2014

Art 101: Do you know these paintings?

See which paintings you know: Title, Artist, Date...

Is this how you feel when you see how much homework you have?

*The Scream, by Edvard Munch, 1893
-Why do you think he used such bright colors in this painting? Does it seem very modern for the time it was painted? What does it mean that there are two people walking behind? Do you think they are on a ship? Is there a story in this painting?


Hint: The title is what it is.

*Water Lilies, Claude Monet, 1919
-How does this make you feel compared to "The Scream"? The edges of the flowers are soft, but do you see them anyway?


Don't even think about saying you don't know this one. But who painted it, and when?

*Mona Lisa, Leonardo DaVinci, 1503 to 1507
-What do you take from this painting? Is she smiling or not? What is she thinking?


Why does this make me think of The Simpsons?

*Weeping Woman, by Pablo Picasso, 1937
-Does the painting match the title? How does it make you feel? Can you think of a story behind this?


Less well known but interesting.....

*Surprise- this is also by Pablo Picasso.  It doesn't have a title, it's just said to be from his "Blue" period, which was 1901-1904 when he used all tones of blue in his work. Which style of his art do you like better, the abstract Weeping Woman, or this? Why?


Hint: the title gives you the artist.

*Whistler's Mother, by James Whistler, 1871
-What do you think of this painting? Why do you think it became so famous? What is interesting about it?


Hint: There was a song written about this.

*Starry Night, Vincent Van Gogh 1889
Is this a happy painting, do you think? Why, or why not? What do you know about Van Gogh? What about his ear?

The song, by Don McLean:
Look up the lyrics!


What they're doing is the title.

*The Luncheon of the Boating Party,  Pierre Auguste Renoir, 1881. What do you think when you see this picture? Can you hear the conversation and laughter as they enjoy their lunch? What do you like about it? Dislike?


This artist is very famous even though his art looks like he was on serious drugs.

*The Persistence of Memory, Salvadore Dali, 1931
-can you see why he gave it that title? What is that lying on the ground? Does it make you think, or is it just odd?


Here's a gimme....but what's the title??

*The Black Eye, by Norman Rockwell, 1953
-What do you like about this? Not like? Is it still art even though it is so realistic? Why? Can you see a story in this painting? What will happen to the girl?


This looks like the end of a serious game of paintball....but it's not.

*Convergence, by Jackson Pollack, 1952
-Is this art? Why? What do you like about it? Dislike?


Is this art? Why or why not?


Any ideas? The title has the girl's name in it.

*Christina's World, by Andrew Wyeth, 1948
-If this is her world, what do you think her story is? Why is she lying on the ground?


                          This guy painted a LOT of ballerinas....

*The Star, Edgar Degas, 1878   Why is it titled that way? What do you see in this painting? Why?


And finally, this. I could not find the artist or date, but it is titled "Flowers." Is it art? Why or why not? If it was created using a computer, is it still art?

Here's something else to ponder: A man with Cerebral Palsy creates art using an old-fashioned typewriter. Look at what he's done----This is art, isn't it?? :

Do you enjoy art? Think about looking at some different pieces sometimes to stretch your imagination. Then start your own masterpiece!

And: This is most definitely a lot of nothing:

Monday, October 6, 2014

Make Your Day

We get up and go about our days without even thinking about how things work. Consider:

You get up, you shower. Here is how soap is made:'s%20Made%20soap&qs=n&form=QBVR&pq=how%20it's%20made%20soap&sc=4-18&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&mid=BC7C2DE239866B9F708DBC7C2DE239866B9F708D

Have a bowl of cereal for breakfast? Here's how cereal is made:'s%20Made%20Cereal&qs=n&form=QBVR&pq=how%20it's%20made%20cereal&sc=2-20&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&mid=B29379920AA203E3E606B29379920AA203E3E606

Throw on a pair of jeans:

And your favorite sneakers: 

OK, to be fair, you probably checked your cell phone before you did any of the above:'s%20Made%20cell%20phone&qs=n&form=QBVR&pq=how%20it's%20made%20cell%20phone&sc=2-24&sp=-1&sk=#view=detail&mid=BB30257F3C5F897FE50EBB30257F3C5F897FE50E

Get to school, take out your books: 

Maybe you use highlighters:

After school, maybe you jam on your guitar: Acoustic....

And then become a rock star and make CDs:

Or maybe you play a little baseball:  


And finally, back to bed.......Mattresses:

                        Pretty sure there's a mattress in here........

Get up and repeat tomorrow?