Aromatic

Hyssop is a genus of herbaceous plants native from the east Mediterranean to central Asia. They are aromatic, with branched stems up to 20 inches. The small blue flowers are borne on the upper part of the branches during summer. By far the best known species is the herb Hyssop officinalis, widely cultivated outside its native area in the Mediterranean.

It has uses in the garden, it is said to be a good companion plant to cabbage, partly because it will lure away the Cabbage White butterfly. It has also been found to improve the yield from grapevines if planted along the rows, particularly if the terrain is rocky or sandy, and the soil is not as easy to work as it might be. Hyssop is said to be antagonistic to radishes, and they should not be grown together. Hyssop also attracts bees, hoverflies and butterflies, thus has a place in the wild garden as well as being useful in controlling pests and encouraging pollination without the use of unnatural methods.

Hyssop is used as an ingredient in eau de Cologne and the liqueur Chartreuse. It is also used to color the liquor Absinthe, along with Melissa and Roman wormwood. Hyssop is also used in combination with other herbs such as liquorice in herbal remedies, especially for lung conditions.

The name can be traced back almost unchanged through the Greek hyssopos and Hebrew ezov. In the New Testament, a sponge soaked in sour wine or vinegar was stuck on a branch of hyssop and offered to Jesus of Nazareth on the cross just before he died. The Book of Exodus records that the blood of the sacrifices was applied to the doorposts using hyssop on the night of Passover. Its purgative properties are also mentioned in the Book of Psalms.

Hyssop is often used to fill the Catholic ceremonial sprinkling stick, which the priest dips into a bowl of holy water, and sprinkles onto the congregation to bless them. Hyssop leaves have a slightly bitter minty flavour and can be added to soups, salads or meats, although should be used sparingly as the flavour is very strong.

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Forecasting

Futurology is the science, art and practice of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them. It seeks to understand what is likely to continue, what is likely to change, and what is novel. Part of the discipline thus seeks a systematic and pattern based understanding of past and present, and to determine the likelihood of future events and trends.

While future studies remains a relatively new academic tradition, numerous institutions around the world teach it. These vary from small programs, or universities with just one or two classes, to programs that incorporate futurology into other degrees such as planning, business, environmental studies, economics, development studies, science and technology studies. Various formal Masters level programs exist on six continents. Doctoral dissertations around the world have incorporated futurology. A recent survey documented approximately 50 cases of futures studies at the tertiary level.

Several authors have become recognized as futurists. They research trends and write accounts of their observations, conclusions, and predictions. In earlier eras, many of the futurists were attached to academic institutions. For example John McHale, the futurist who wrote the book The Future of the Future, and published a Futures Directory, directed his own Centre For Integrative Studies which was a Think Tank within the university setting. Other early era futurists followed a cycle of publishing their conclusions and then beginning research on the next book. More recently they have started consulting groups or earn money as speakers. Alvin Toffler, John Naisbitt and Patrick Dixon exemplify this class.

Some futurists share features in common with the writers of science fiction, and indeed some science fiction writers, such as Arthur C. Clarke, have acquired a certain reputation as futurists. Some writers, though, show less interest in technological or social developments and use the future only as a backdrop to their stories. For example, in the introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness, Ursula K. Le Guin wrote of prediction as the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurists, not of writers.

Fashion is one area of trend forecasting. The industry typically works 18 months ahead of the current selling season. Large retailers look at the obvious impact of everything from the weather forecast to runway fashion for consumer tastes. Consumer behavior and statistics from companies such as Datamonitor for a long range forecast are also important.

Artists and conceptual designers, by contrast, may feel that consumer trends are a barrier to creativity. Many of these artists start micro trends but do not follow trends themselves.

Participation

Fruitlands was a Utopian agrarian commune established in Harvard, Massachusetts by Amos Bronson Alcott and Charles Lane in the 1840s, based on Transcendentalist principles. An account of its less than successful activities can be found in Alcott’s daughter Louisa May Alcott’s Transcendental Wild Oats.

Lane purchased what was known as the Wyman farm and its 90 acres, which also included a dilapidated house and barn. Residents of Fruitlands ate no animal substances, drank only water, bathed in unheated water, and did not use artificial light. Additionally, property was held communally, and no animal labor was used.

The community was short lived and lasted only seven months. It was dependent on farming, which turned out to be too difficult. The original farmhouse, along with other historic buildings from the area, is now a part of Fruitlands Museum.

The biggest challenge at Fruitlands was the farming aspect. The community had arrived at the farm a month behind the planting schedule and only about 11 acres of land were arable. The decision not to use animal labor on the farm proved to be the undoing of the commune, combined with the fact that many of the men of the commune spent their days teaching or philosophizing instead of working in the field. Using only their own hands, the Fruitlands residents were incapable of growing a sufficient amount of food to get them through the winter.

Fruitlands was also hampered by its structure. Alcott and Lane wielded nearly limitless authority and dictated very strict and repressive models for living. “I am prone to indulge in an occasional hilarity”, wrote Alcott’s wife Abby May, “but seem frowned down into still quiet… [and] am almost suffocated in this atmosphere of restriction and form”.

According to Bronson Alcott, the inhabitants left Fruitlands in January 1844. His daughter, Louisa May, wrote that they left in December 1843, which is considered to be the more accurate date. Alcott was deeply dismayed by the failure of Fruitlands and, moving with his family to live with a nearby farmer, refused to eat for several days. Later, Ralph Waldo Emerson helped purchase a home for the family in Concord.

Fruitlands had only a brief opportunity to impact America and the Transcendentalist movement, but it left a legacy of inspired authors, and is a prime example of the mistakes made by American utopian societies.

After Fruitlands ended, the land was bought by one of its former participants, Joseph Palmer, who used the site as a refuge for former reformers for twenty years. The property was later purchased in 1910 by Clara Endicott Sears, who opened the farmhouse to the public in 1914 as a museum. Today, the Fruitlands Museum also includes a museum on Shaker life, an art gallery of nineteenth century paintings, and a museum of Native American art and crafts.

Nuisance

A Pukwudgie is a two or three foot tall troll-like being from the Native American Wampanoag. Their features resemble those of the Native Americans, but with enlarged nose, fingers and ears. Their skin is described as being grey, smooth and at times has been known to glow.

In Native American lore, Pukwudgies can appear and disappear at will, transform into other animals, use poison arrows, and can create fire at will. Pukwudgies control Tei Pai Wankas, which are believed to be the souls of Native Americans they have killed.

Native Americans believed that Puckwudgies were best left alone. When you see a Puckwudgie you are not supposed to mess with them or they will repay you by playing nasty tricks on you, or following you and causing trouble. They were once friendly to humans, but then turned against them. They are known to kidnap humans, push people off of cliffs, attack their victims with short knives and spears and to use sand to blind their victim.

Legends of the Pukwudgie began in connection to Maushop, a creation giant believed by the Wampanoag to have created most of Cape Cod. He was beloved by the people, and the Pukwudgies were jealous of the affection the Natives had for him. They tried to help the Wampanoag, but their efforts always backfired until they eventually decided to torment them instead.

They became mischievous and aggravated the Natives until they asked Quant, Maushop’s wife, for help. Maushop collected as many Pukwudgies as he could. He shook them until they were confused and tossed them around New England. Some died, but others landed, regained their minds and made their way back to Massachusetts.

Satisfied he had done his job and pleased his wife, Maushop went away for a while. In his absence, the Pukwudgies had returned. They again changed their relationship with the Wampanoags. They were no longer a nuisance, but began kidnapping children, burning villages and forcing the Wampanoag deep into the woods and killing them. Quant again stepped in, but Maushop, being very lazy, sent his five sons to fix the problem.

The Pukwudgies lured them into deep grass and shot them with magic arrows. Enraged, Quant and Maushop attacked as many as they could find and crushed them, but many escaped and scattered throughout New England again. The Pukwudgies regrouped and tricked Maushop into the water and shot him with their arrows. Some legends say they killed him while other claim he became discouraged and depressed about the death of his sons.

Pukwudgie encounters have been reported in the Freetown Fall River State Forest in Massachusetts, which includes the 227 acre Watuppa Reservation, which belongs to the Wampanoag Nation. There have been several unexplained suicides at a ledge in the state forest and that has been linked by some to the Pukwudgie lore of pushing people off of cliffs.

Rationalization

Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding two contradictory ideas simultaneously. The theory of cognitive dissonance proposes that people have a motivational drive to reduce dissonance by changing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, or by justifying or rationalizing their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Cognitive dissonance theory is one of the most influential and extensively studied theories in social psychology.

Dissonance normally occurs when a person perceives a logical inconsistency among his or her cognitions. This happens when one idea implies the opposite of another. For example, a belief in animal rights could be interpreted as inconsistent with eating meat or wearing fur. Noticing the contradiction would lead to dissonance, which could be experienced as anxiety, guilt, shame, anger, embarrassment, stress, and other negative emotional states.

A powerful cause of dissonance is when an idea conflicts with a fundamental element of the self, such as “I made the right decision.” The anxiety that comes with the possibility of having made a bad decision can lead to rationalization and a tendency to create additional reasons or justifications to support one’s choices.

A person who just spent too much money on a new car might decide that the new vehicle is much less likely to break down than his or her old car. This belief may or may not be true, but it would likely reduce dissonance and make the person feel better.

In Festinger and Carlsmith’s classic 1959 experiment, students were asked to perform the boring and tedious task of turning pegs a quarter turn over and over again. The task was designed to generate a strong, negative attitude. After an hour of working on the tasks, participants were asked to persuade another subject that the dull, boring task the subject had just completed was actually interesting and engaging. Some participants were paid $20 for the favor, another group was paid $1, and a control group was not asked to perform the favor.

When asked to rate the boring task at the conclusion of the study, those in the $1 group rated it more positively than those in the $20 and control groups. This was explained by Festinger and Carlsmith as evidence for cognitive dissonance. The researchers theorized that people experienced dissonance between the conflicting cognitions, “I told someone that the task was interesting”, and “I actually found it boring.” When paid only $1, students were forced to internalize the attitude they were induced to express, because they had no other justification. Those in the $20 condition, however, had an obvious external justification for their behavior, and thus experienced less dissonance.

In 1969, Elliot Aronson reformulated the basic theory by linking it to the self concept. According to this new interpretation, cognitive dissonance does not arise because people experience dissonance between conflicting cognitions. Instead, it occurs when people see their actions as conflicting with their normally positive view of themselves. Thus, in the original Festinger and Carlsmith study, Aronson stated that the dissonance was between the cognition, “I am an honest person” and the cognition, “I lied to someone about finding the task interesting.” Other psychologists have argued that maintaining cognitive consistency is a way to protect public self image, rather than private self concept.

Satisfaction

Happiness is a state of mind or feeling such as contentment, satisfaction, pleasure, or joy. A variety of philosophical, religious, psychological and biological approaches have been taken to defining happiness and identifying its sources.

Research has identified a number of correlates with happiness. These include religious involvement, parenthood, marital status, age, income and proximity to other happy people. Happiness economics suggests that measures of public happiness should be used to supplement more traditional economic measures when evaluating the success of public policy.

Michael Argyle developed The Oxford Happiness Inventory as a broad measure of psychological well being. This measures happiness as an aggregate of self esteem, sense of purpose, social interest and kindness, sense of humor and aesthetic appreciation. This has been criticized for lacking a theoretical model of happiness and because it is felt that certain aspects overlap.

There is now extensive research suggesting that religious people are happier and less stressed. Surveys by Gallup, the National Opinion Research Center and the Pew Organization conclude that spiritually committed people are twice as likely to report being very happy than the least religiously committed people. An analysis of over 200 social studies contends that high religiousness predicts a lower risk of depression and drug abuse and more reports of satisfaction with life and a sense of well being.

Explanations of happiness in mystical traditions are related to full balance of so called inner energy lines. In a balanced state, two main lines (left & right, Ida & Pingala) form a third line, called Shushumna. Full activity of a third or central line is happiness. Left and right lines include all aspects of normal human life: sleep and awake, body and mind, physical and spiritual. To attain the balanced state of these two lines is a main task of life, a result of all activities and endeavours combined with full relaxation or tranquility.

Happiness forms a central theme of Buddhist teachings. Ultimate happiness is only achieved by overcoming craving in all forms. More mundane forms of happiness, such as acquiring wealth and maintaining good friendships, are also recognized as worthy goals for lay people. Buddhism also encourages the generation of loving kindness and compassion, and the desire for the happiness and welfare of all beings.

Mechanism

Zebras are African horses best known for their distinctive white and black stripes. Their stripes come in different patterns unique to each individual. Unlike their closest relatives, horses and donkeys, zebras have never been truly domesticated.

They have been the subject of African folk tales which tell how they got their stripes. According to a Bushmen folk tale of Namibia, the zebra was once all white but got its black stripes after a fight with a baboon over a waterhole. After kicking the baboon so hard the zebra lost his balance and tripped over a fire, the fire sticks left scorch marks all over this white coat.

Some zoologists believe that the stripes act as a camouflage mechanism. This is accomplished in several ways. First, the vertical striping helps the zebra hide in grass. While seeming absurd at first glance, considering that grass is neither white nor black, it is supposed to be effective against the zebra’s main predator the lion, which is color blind. Theoretically, a zebra standing still in tall grass may not be noticed at all by a lion.

Additionally, since zebras are herd animals, the stripes may help to confuse predators. A number of zebras standing or moving close together may appear as one large animal, making it more difficult for a lion to pick out any single zebra to attack. A herd of zebras scattering to avoid a predator will also represent a confused mass of vertical stripes travelling in multiple directions making it difficult for the predator to track an individual visually as it separates from its herdmates.

More recent theories, supported by experiment, posit that the disruptive coloration is also an effective means of confusing the visual system of the tsetse fly. Alternative theories include that the stripes coincide with fat patterning beneath the skin, serving as a thermoregulatory mechanism for the zebra, and that wounds sustained disrupt the striping pattern to clearly indicate the fitness of the animal to potential mates.

Zebras have excellent eyesight. It is believed that they can see in color. Like most ungulates the zebra has its eyes on the sides of its head, giving it a wide field of view. Zebras also have night vision, although not as advanced as that of most of their predators, but their hearing compensates.

They also have great hearing, and tend to have larger, rounder ears than horses. Like horses and other ungulates, zebra can turn their ears in almost any direction. In addition to eyesight and hearing, zebras have an acute sense of smell and taste.

Modern man has had great impact on the zebra population. Zebras were, and still are, hunted mainly for their skins. The Cape mountain zebra was hunted to near extinction with less than 100 individuals by the 1930s. However the population has increased to about 700 due to conservation efforts. Both Mountain zebra subspecies are currently protected in national parks but are still endangered.

Apparitions

Phasmophobia is an abnormal and persistent fear of ghosts, spectres or phantasms. It derives from the greek words phasma meaning apparition and phobos meaning fear. It is often bought about by experiences in early childhood and causes sufferers to experience panic attacks.

It is categorized by a series of symptoms that the sufferer experiences when they think they have seen a ghost, or apparition. The sufferer usually experiences intense feelings of terror or dread and are often prone to panic or have panic attacks, these symptoms in turn result in an increased or rapid heartbeat. Another common symptom, typical of a majority of specific phobia, is attempts by affected individuals to completely avoid a situation in which one may think they are prone to encountering what they perceive as a ghost.

Phasmophobia is similar to other specific phobia in that it is the result of the unconscious mind acting a defence mechanism to try and avoid a certain situation or object and is thus classified as a type of mental health disorder. It is often brought about by a person believing they have had an encounter with a ghost, most often at an early age, but can also be caused by television and films. When brought about by the latter it is often temporary.

Although the actual existence of ghosts is debated, the fear of ghosts only requires a person to believe they have had an encounter. For example, in an attempt to recall certain events pertaining to a possible encounter with a ghost, a hypnotist might use hypnosis to retrieve the lost memories of the event. Research studies have found that these hypnotically refreshed memories typically combine fact with fiction, but would convince a patient of the realness of their encounter.

There is also the psychological factor of entering a premises in which one already possess prior information that it is suspected as being haunted or is similar to other supposedly haunted places, the psychological impact of this alone can cause the anxiety brought about by phasmophobia.

Due to the nature of the condition, sufferers are not necessarily afraid of ghosts or other apparitions but rather what they perceive to be a ghost, or to enter into a situation in which they feel they are likely to encounter a ghost. For example, a sufferer of cynophobia an abnormal fear of dogs is afraid specifically of canines, rather than a situation in which they could encounter a canine.

The fear itself is also prone to inflame itself, in that due to the onset of panic caused by the phobia, a sufferer is severely impaired in terms of judgment, therefore when a sufferer sees or experiences what they think could be a ghost, their ability of rational thinking is eliminated and so the urge to find the true nature of the experience is lost and instead a fully fledged panic attack is often triggered.

Unification

Harry Partch was an American composer and instrument creator. He was one of the first twentieth century composers to work extensively and systematically with microtonal scales, writing much of his music for custom made instruments that he built himself. Partch is famous for his 43 tone scale, even though he used many different scales in his work and the number of divisions is theoretically infinite.

He began to compose at an early age, using the equal tempered chromatic scale, the tuning system most common in Western music. However, Partch grew frustrated with what he felt were imperfections of the standard system of musical tuning, believing that this system was unsuitable for reflecting the subtle melodic contours of dramatic speech.

Interested in the potential musicality of speech, Partch invented and constructed instruments that could underscore the intoning voice, and he developed musical notations that accurately instructed players as to how to play the instruments.

The compositional apex of Partch’s life came with the completion of Delusion of the Fury, a ritual theater piece that unifies musicians, dancers, and mimes into a corporeal performance. Built upon the timeless theme of life and death, Delusion of the Fury is based on two Japanese noh plays and an African folktale

Partch’s instruments have been housed in the Harry Partch Instrumentarium at Montclair State University in Montclair, New Jersey since 1999. In 2004, the instruments crossed campus into the newly constructed Alexander Kasser Theater, which provides a large studio space in the basement. Concerts by Newband and MSU’s Harry Partch Ensemble may be viewed several times a year in this concert hall.

Utopia

Brook Farm was a utopian experiment in communal living in the United States in the 1840s. It was founded by former Unitarian minister George Ripley and his wife Sophia Ripley at the Ellis Farm in West Roxbury, Massachusetts in 1841 and was inspired in part by the ideals of Transcendentalism, a religious and cultural philosophy based in New England.

The joint stock company promised its participants a portion of the profits from the farm in exchange for performing an equal share of the work. Brook Farmers believed that by sharing the workload, ample time would be available for leisure activities and intellectual pursuits.

Life on Brook Farm was based on balancing labor and leisure while working together for the benefit of the greater community. Each member could choose to do whatever work they found most appealing and all were paid equally, including women.

Revenue for the community came from farming and selling hand made products like clothing as well as through a fee paid by the many visitors to Brook Farm. Primarily, however, the main source of income was the school, which was overseen by Mrs. Ripley. A preschool, primary school, and a college preparatory school attracted children internationally and each child was charged for their education. Adult education was also offered.

The community was never financially stable and had difficulty profiting from their agricultural pursuits. By 1844, the Brook Farmers adopted a societal model based on the socialist concepts of Charles Fourier and began publishing The Harbinger as an unofficial journal promoting Fourierism. Following his vision, the community members began building an ambitious structure called the Phalanstery.

When the uninsured building was destroyed in a fire, the community was financially devastated and never recovered. It was fully closed by 1847. Despite the experimental commune’s failure, many Brook Farmers looked back on their experience positively. Nathaniel Hawthorne was a founding member of Brook Farm, though he was not a strong adherent of the community’s ideals. He later fictionalized his experience in his novel The Blithedale Romance. After its failure, most of the buildings at Brook Farm eventually burned down and today much of the land is a cemetery.