Saturday, October 10, 2009

Books Banned at One Time or Another in the United States

Books Banned in the United States

A Public Service Report from Adler & Robin Books

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FAQ on Book Publishing

An all too common pastime in the United States is banning books. Sad, frightening -- and far too frequent. Who bans books? Libraries, schools, entire towns, and sometimes, in the past, the United States government.

Banning books isn't something that was done centuries or decades ago. It happens nearly every week somewhere in the United States. Often people take notice of banned books, protest, and the proscription is lifted. Sometimes nobody notices and the banned book stays lost to a school or country.

Naturally, everyone expects that a literary agency would be opposed to censorship and banning books. And that's absolutely true -- as a profession. literary agents are appalled by censorship. (Although there's nothing quite like banning or threatening to ban a book to increase that book's sales.) Censorship in all forms must be opposed.

Censorship in the United States is an old pastime and new hobby of the feebleminded. In January 1997 a Minneapolis, Minnesota parent inspired an investigation of whether R.L. Stine's Goosebumps should be banned in the school library because it is too scary for children. Never mind that there are 180 million copies of Goosebumps in print --not a hard book for a child to obtain-- this library's nine copies might be dangerous.

James Joyce's Ulysses was prohibited from the United States, and the U.S. Postal Service actually seized copies between 1918 and 1930. The U.S. Postal and Customs Departments have been actively involved in seizing and banning numerous books including Voltaire's Candide, Aristophanes's Lysistrata, Jean-Jacque Rousseau's Confessions, and Chaucer's Canterbury's Tales. Locally, schools and school districts have banned Shakespeare's Twelfth Night and The Merchant of Venice, and Little Red Riding Hood. States have been vigorous censorship advocates, as well: Anyone familiar with the history of banning books knows about Tennessee's efforts to bar the teaching of Darwin's Origin of the Species.

The following list of books banned in the United States is by no means comprehensive. If you have any additions, please let us know by dropping us an email.

Books Banned at One Time or Another in the United States

A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L'Engle
Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner
Blubber by Judy Blume
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Canterbury Tales by Chaucer
Carrie by Stephen King
Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
Christine by Stephen King
Confessions by Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Cujo by Stephen King
Curses, Hexes, and Spells by Daniel Cohen
Daddy's Roommate by Michael Willhoite
Day No Pigs Would Die by Robert Peck
Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller
Decameron by Boccaccio
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
Fallen Angels by Walter Myers
Fanny Hill (Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure) by John Cleland
Flowers For Algernon by Daniel Keyes
Forever by Judy Blume
Grendel by John Champlin Gardner
Halloween ABC by Eve Merriam
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
Have to Go by Robert Munsch
Heather Has Two Mommies by Leslea Newman
How to Eat Fried Worms by Thomas Rockwell
Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
Impressions edited by Jack Booth
In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak
It's Okay if You Don't Love Me by Norma Klein
James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Little Red Riding Hood by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm
Lord of the Flies by William Golding
Love is One of the Choices by Norma Klein
Lysistrata by Aristophanes
More Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
My Brother Sam Is Dead by James Lincoln Collier and Christopher Collier
My House by Nikki Giovanni
My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara
Night Chills by Dean Koontz
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
On My Honor by Marion Dane Bauer
One Day in The Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn
One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest by Ken Kesey
One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
Ordinary People by Judith Guest
Our Bodies, Ourselves by Boston Women's Health Collective
Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy
Revolting Rhymes by Roald Dahl
Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones by Alvin Schwartz
Scary Stories in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
Separate Peace by John Knowles
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
The Bastard by John Jakes
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier
The Color Purple by Alice Walker
The Devil's Alternative by Frederick Forsyth
The Figure in the Shadows by John Bellairs
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Snyder
The Learning Tree by Gordon Parks
The Living Bible by William C. Bower
The Merchant of Venice by William Shakespeare
The New Teenage Body Book by Kathy McCoy and Charles Wibbelsman
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
The Seduction of Peter S. by Lawrence Sanders
The Shining by Stephen King
The Witches by Roald Dahl
The Witches of Worm by Zilpha Snyder
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary by the Merriam-Webster Editorial Staff
Witches, Pumpkins, and Grinning Ghosts: The Story of the Halloween Symbols by Edna Barth

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Tiny nuclear battery unveiled by researchers

Researchers at the University of Missouri have unveiled tiny nuclear batteries that produce power from the decay of radioisotopes. Although such batteries are currently used in devices such as pacemakers and satellites, they are costly, large and heavy - something which these new penny-sized batteries are not.

Developed by a research team led by Dr Jae Wan Kwon, assistant professor of electrical and computer engineering at Missouri University, the team's innovation in creating the battery is not only its size, but its semi-conductor, which is liquid instead of solid.

"The critical part of using a radioactive battery is that when you harvest the energy, part of the radiation energy can damage the lattice structure of the solid semiconductor," Dr Jae explained. "By using a liquid semiconductor, we believe we can minimize that problem."

So what about the risk of nuclear meltdown? There is none. Although nuclear batteries generate electricity from atomic energy, there is no chain reaction involved, instead using the emissions from a radioactive isotope.

"People hear the word 'nuclear' and think of something very dangerous," said Dr Jae. "However, nuclear power sources have already been safely powering a variety of devices, such as pacemakers, space satellites and underwater systems."

The team now hopes to increase the power of the battery, as well as decrease the size of it further - it could be made thinner than a human hair.

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Shoot the Moon: A Playlist for Today's Lunar Bombing

Shoot the Moon: A Playlist for Today's Lunar Bombing

In case you were asleep this morning when it happened, we bombed the moon. Twice!
Our unprovoked attack upon our unsuspecting orbital neighbor was ostensibly for purposes of locating water particles in the dust cloud kicked up by the impact, but really, we're pretty sure it's the end result of some kind of "What's the most awesome thing we can get the taxpayers to pay for?" brainstorming session. Unfortunately, the bombing was a bit of a letdown, with the impact not even visible on the zoomed-in, heat-register cameras of NASA TV. We won't even link to the boring-ass seven-minute video they've posted. Instead, we'll link to some songs perfect for raining hell into the Sea of Tranquility. Because you know we're going to have to try again, right? Oh yeah, bigger and better. We're thinking Daisy cutters, at the very least. The moon has been turning Earth's citizens into werewolves for far too long, and now that smug fucker is going to pay.

Ann Coulter on Larry King "We seem to fight unwinnable wars when dems are Presidents"

Ann Coulter on Larry King "To say health care is a right, it ends up being like public schools"

In a Guinea Seized by Violence, Women Are Prey

In a Guinea Seized by Violence, Women Are Prey

Published: October 5, 2009

CONAKRY, Guinea — Cellphone snapshots, ugly and hard to refute, are circulating here and feeding rage: they show that women were the particular targets of the Guinean soldiers who suppressed a political demonstration at a stadium here last week, with victims and witnesses describing rapes, beatings and acts of intentional humiliation.

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In a cellphone photograph given to The New York Times, soldiers surrounded a woman on the ground on Sept. 28 in Conakry, Guinea. Several images appear to show attacks on women.


Times Topics: Guinea

“I can’t sleep at night, after what I saw,” said one middle-aged woman from an established family here, who said she had been beaten and sexually molested. “And I am afraid. I saw lots of women raped, and lots of dead.”

One photograph shows a naked woman lying on muddy ground, her legs up in the air, a man in military fatigues in front of her. In a second picture a soldier in a red beret is pulling the clothes off a distraught-looking woman half-lying, half-sitting on muddy ground. In a third a mostly nude woman lying on the ground is pulling on her trousers.

The cellphone pictures are circulating anonymously, but multiple witnesses corroborated the events depicted.

The attacks were part of a violent outburst on Sept. 28 in which soldiers shot and killed dozens of unarmed demonstrators at the main stadium here, where perhaps 50,000 had assembled. Local human rights organizations say at least 157 were killed; the government puts the figure at 56.

But even more than the shootings, the attacks on women — horrific anywhere, but viewed with particular revulsion in Muslim countries like this one — appear to have traumatized the citizenry and hardened the opposition’s determination to force out the leader of the military junta, Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara.

Diplomats said the violence had irreversibly undermined Mr. Camara’s standing with other countries.

If internal opposition continues to grow, Captain Camara may be forced either to leave power or to tighten his grip with an even more authoritarian government.

Bernard Kouchner, the foreign minister of France, the former colonial power here, said his country could no longer work with Captain Camara, and urged “international intervention.”

The exact number of women who were abused is not known. Because of the shame associated with sexual violence in this West African country, victims are reluctant to speak, and local doctors refuse to do so. Victims who told of the attacks would not provide their names because they were afraid of retribution.

But the witnesses were adamant. “I affirm, in categorical fashion, that women were raped, not just one woman,” said Mamadou Mouctar Diallo, 34, an opposition leader who said he had been severely beaten himself. “I saw many rapes.”

Three women who said they had been attacked described their ordeal in an interview this past weekend. “We didn’t know the soldiers were going to harm us,” said the middle-aged woman who said she could not sleep at night. She spoke slowly in a darkened room, seated on a bed with two other women. They were in a villa in a district at the edge of the capital here.

“We heard gunfire,” she said. “I tried to flee.” With weapons going off, suddenly “it was like a henhouse.”

She ran, but a soldier barred the way.

“He hit me,” she said. “And he tore my clothes off. He ripped my clothes off with his hands.”

Then, she said, “he put his hand inside me.” The soldier hit her on the head with his rifle, requiring stitches, she said. She also had large welts from the beating.

“We are traumatized,” she said slowly, looking down.

Mr. Diallo said he saw at least 10 women raped at the stadium.

Describing one such assault, he said: “I saw a woman who was stripped naked. They ripped off, they tore off her clothes. They surrounded her. They made her lie down. They lifted up her feet, and one of the soldiers advanced. They took turns.”

One woman interviewed at the suburban villa here described how a soldier had ripped her robe off with a knife. She had a large cut on her backside, where a soldier had stabbed her with his knife, and deep bruises on her shoulders.

The third woman said she had been whipped by a soldier. “When I went out, I saw one of the soldiers lying on top of a woman,” she said. “A lot of women were raped.”

Corroboration of the attacks came from at least one foreign aid organization in the Guinean capital. Jerome Basset of the Conakry mission for Doctors Without Borders said his team had treated three rape victims and three other victims of sexual violence in the hours after the demonstration.

Brutal repression of antigovernment demonstrators has occurred in Guinea before, notably in 2007, when security forces shot several hundred people demonstrating against the repressive regime of Lansana Conté, who preceded Captain Camara.

(Page 2 of 2)

Rape is a fairly common tool of military repression in Africa, but large-scale violence against women has not been a previous government tactic here. “This time, a new stage has been reached,” said Sidya Touré, a former prime minister who was also beaten at the stadium and said he had witnessed brutalities there. “Women as battlefield targets. We could never have imagined that.”

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Times Topics: Guinea

“Where could people get the idea to start raping women in broad daylight?” Mr. Touré asked, in an interview at his home here. “It’s so contrary to our culture. To molest women using rifle barrels. ... ”

Captain Camara, asked in his office at the sprawling military camp here last week whether rapes had occurred, responded: “I wasn’t at the stadium. These are things people have told me.” He has repeatedly disclaimed responsibility for the killings at the stadium, blaming opposition figures instead.

He reiterated these disclaimers in an interview broadcast Sunday on Radio France Internationale, even as Mr. Kouchner, the French foreign minister, said in a radio interview that “group massacres aren’t internal matters.”

Opposition figures here said that they were discussing further ways of countering the government, and that they would not be stopped by last week’s bloody repression.

A diplomat here, who declined to be identified because he was not authorized to speak on the subject, said Saturday that “the writing is on the wall for the junta, certainly vis-à-vis the international community, and I hope vis-à-vis the local community.”

Meanwhile, the sexual violence, along with the number of people unaccounted for after last week’s crackdown, continues to trouble many here.

“They especially tore into the women,” said another former prime minister, François Lonsény Fall, who was also at the stadium. “They were seeking to humiliate them.”

“We want a force of intervention to protect us from the ferocity of the Guinean Army,” Mr. Fall said.

Neolithic Revolution

The Neolithic Revolution was the first agricultural revolution—the transition from hunting and gathering communities and bands, to agriculture and settlement (settlement is currently being questioned[citation needed]). Archaeological data indicate that various forms of domestication of plants and animals arose independently in at least 7-8 separate locales worldwide, with the earliest known developments taking place in the Middle East around 9831 BC (BCE) or earlier.[1]

However, the Neolithic Revolution involved far more than the adoption of a limited set of food-producing techniques. During the next millennia it would transform the small, mobile and fairly egalitarian groups of hunter-gatherers that had hitherto dominated human history, into sedentary societies based in built-up villages and towns, which radically modified their natural environment by means of specialized cultivation and storage technologies (e.g. irrigation) that allowed extensive surplus production. These developments provided the basis for high population densities, complex labor diversification, trading economies, the development of non-portable art, architecture, and culture, centralized administrations and political structures, hiearchical ideologies and depersonalized systems of knowledge (e.g. property regimes and writing). The first full-blown manifestation of the entire Neolithic complex is seen in the Middle Eastern Sumerian cities (ca. 5,300 BC), whose emergence also inaugurates the end of the prehistoric Neolithic and the beginning of historical time.

The relationship of the above-mentioned Neolithic characteristics to the onset of agriculture, their sequence of emergence and empirical relation to each other at various Neolithic sites remains the subject of academic debate, and seems to vary from place to place, rather than being the outcome of universal laws of social evolution.[2][3]




Post-Consumerism is the idea that something can have value without having a price tag attached to it. Post-Consumerism revels in the power of the individual: in the belief that a person is not what they buy, own, or consume. Post-Consumerism is a re-awakening of humanism; a fatigue of being pushed to the point of purchasing strictly for vanity. Post-Consumerism says that one cannot purchase identity, individuality, or self and speaks to those who really should know better.

Post-Consumerism espouses the virtues of responsibility and accountability in the commercial world. Post-Consumerism is based on freedom of choice, and as such believes that free-market capitalism is the best way to run an economy. Post-Consumerism, therefore, does not disparage corporate coffee houses merely because they are such, but, instead, believes that the individual has the power, freedom, and responsibility to cast the dollar vote accordingly.

Post-Consumerism, however, claims that far too many dollar votes have been cast in the direction of vanity, with little regard to selflessness. Post-Consumerism suggests that consumerism has become a religion in the Western World. Post-Consumerism proclaims, proudly, that to say the Dollar is not Almighty is Heresy.

The Post-Consumerism campaign has been given a logo which, on one hand, exploits the current mass-branding mentality, and the other hand, juxtaposes an oversized Registration mark next to the words "Post-Consumerism". Imagine: the idea of "Post-Consumerism" as a trademark! (No, it is not trademarked...yet.)

The Great Act of Post-Consumerism will be when an individual builds a viable, lucrative business to a substantial volume, and then discourages consumers from purchasing the product(s)! The Company will wither not through mis-management, but through the message of Post-Consumerism; a commercial entity which destroys itself by market forces influenced by its own message. The idea destroys the means of conveyance. This will be the Jesus of corporations. It will die for the sins of flagrant consumerism.

Chip Morton 2002



Japan is filled with workers who do almost nothing. You probably haven't needed a crossing guard to help you across the street since you were five years old, but you can find crossing guards on quiet streets far away from schools and playgrounds here. Operating an ATM should be the simplest thing in the world, but almost every bank has a "lobby lady" to help you with your transaction and in case you find the task of pushing an elevator button too overwhelming, there are elevator girls in a lot of the big department stores. Flag men do, of course, play an important role in directing traffic around construction sites on busy roads, but do drivers on back streets really need three or four old men to direct them, when there are already 5000 pylons around the site?
The reason for all the useless people is that these jobs are giving retired people with small pensions a way to earn some extra money, and, depending on how you look at it, the dignity of having a job (even if it is a useless one). It also keeps the unemployment rate down.

Click here for an excellent Time article about the myth of Japanese productivity (,13673,501021209-395413,00.html).
useless1.gif (27719 bytes) CROSSING GUARDS

In the city of Himeji one Sunday afternoon, there were a pair of old men directing traffic at every street corner in the downtown area. I had to wait about two minutes for a car to come by so that I could get an "action shot".
useless2.gif (34541 bytes) CROSSING GUARDS AT TRAFFIC LIGHTS

This guy is directing traffic even though there is a working traffic light right behind him. They actually inconvenience people by preventing them from crossing when there are no cars coming.

useless3.gif (28495 bytes)


Did you know that an elevator girl bows an average of 2500 times a day?
useless4.gif (34224 bytes) ARROW FETCHERS

At a Kyuudo exhibition these women sat patiently behind the male archers, helping them to pull their kimono off their shoulders before they made their shots, and fetching their arrows.
Come on guys. Pick up your own arrows!
artguard.gif (28379 bytes) MUSEUM LADIES

Go to any museum in Japan, and you will see an elegant looking lady sitting in one corner of almost every room. They don't do anything, they don't say anything, and they don't seem to know anything about, or be particularly interested in, the art around them. These human scarecrows just sit their calmly for hours and hours without moving, their laps covered by a little blanket.

election.gif (44783 bytes) ELECTION WAVERS

These useless people are also some of the most annoying in Japan. During elections you are sure to be the victim of an audio assault as campaign vans cruise through the neighbourhoods pumping out political rhetoric at volumes that leave you with ringing ears and the feeling of having been physically attacked. The vans are filled with volunteers who lean out the windows waving at anyone who catches their eye, like bored kids on a long car trip. When they drive by you, cover your ears with your hands and look angry to show them how annoying they are being. Haven't they ever heard of lawn signs?
realesta.gif (42754 bytes) REAL ESTATE AGENTS

The Japanese real estate agent is the king of useless middlemen. If you want to make some easy money, just become a real estate agent and you will be entitled to one month's rent (any where from US$500 to $2000) from your customers for doing nothing more than showing them a few housing plans and then, if you're really on the ball, maybe driving them to take a look at the apartment (but usually just giving them a key and telling them to go look for themselves). It is very difficult to find accomodation in Japan without going through a real estate agency, causing something that should as easy as looking through the classified ads or walking around looking for 'For Rent' signs to become a long, involved, and ridiculously expensive process. Even if you contact a building owner directly, you generally have to pay the real estate agent's fee. If you simply must go through a real estate agent, be careful of the free magazines that you see in all the major shopping districts and near big stations. They are filled with great looking apartments at too-good-to-be-true prices. And they are too good to be true. They are never available when you call, but the agency always has a similar one that's just "a little more expensive". If you are interested in finding alternative, long-term accomodation in Japan, click here.

This is not a useless person, but it was obviously thought up by one.

You always hear about how good the service is in Japan, and in some ways its true. Employees are unfailingly polite, come running when you call, routinely go the extra-mile to help customers, and will give you the deepest, most respectful bows you have ever seen in your life. If however, you define service as being knowledgeable about the products they sell, or as being capable of making sure that a customer goes home with the merchandise that is right for him or her, then you may be disappointed. Electronics store workers in particular are notorious for their lack of knowledge about the products they sell. At the famous discount electronics retailer, Yodobashi Camera, for example, you will find people in the computer department who have never used any of the software they are selling, do not own their own computer, and cannot answer simple questions without calling in two or three other employees who inevitably have no more idea than the first one did and usually end up calling in the manager or telephoning the product's manufacturer.

a close relative to the crossing guards, these guys are a real treat to watch "in action." Construction crews generally leave with their equipment in the morning, and return in the evening. So what exactly does a pensioner wearing a powder blue jumpsuit and fancy multicolored helmet reminiscent of "Buck Rogers" or "Kamen Rider" have to do in the interim? Sit upright in a foldable deck chair placed at the entrance to the storage lot, under the guise of being the guy who directs equipment on and off the road in a full-time capacity. And wait around for 7 and a half hours until the crew comes back at quitting time.--Kindly submitted by Justin Thorne

These are the guys that wave to important school dignitaries, and give directions to the 2 or 3 people a day who ask them. They stay on in the guard shack until the wee hours, presumably just in case the faculty has an unannounced emergency planning meeting at 10:30 PM in the library, and the gate needs to be open.--Kindly Submitted by Justin Thorne

I'm staying with my wife's family in Nagano prefecture and I've been reminded of a perfectly useless job in Japan: door-to-door mop head replacers. Here in the Japan Alps it's pretty inaka (country)... total hick town. They have a cool koi (carp) pond but no flush toilets. I was just using the phone in the genkan and some man came and announced himself. He was giving a mop head replacement to her grandmother who had ordered one. Why hasn't the fact that people can buy these mop heads easily at any store made this useless job a thing of the past? Truly a useless person.--Kindly submitted by Greg Bower

I'd like to nominate th
ose people that drive around every Sunday in their vans, blaring their megaphones, selling laundry poles. How often do people really need to buy a new laundry pole? I think once every 5 years would be sufficient, but these people somehow feel the need to drive by at 8 in the morning EVERY Sunday in my neighbourhood. - Kindly submitted by Michael Louie

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by Ann Coulter

October 7, 2009

(18) America's lower life expectancy compared to countries with socialist health care proves that their medical systems are superior.

President Obama has too much intellectual pride to make such a specious argument, so instead we have to keep hearing it from his half-wit supporters.

These Democrats are all over the map on where precisely Americans place in the life-expectancy rankings. We're 24th, according to Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Barbara Boxer; 42nd, according to Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; 35th, according to Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson; and 47th, according to Rep. Dennis Kucinich. So the U.S. may have less of a "life expectancy" problem than a "Democratic math competency" problem.

But also, as described in last week's column, the citizenry's health is not the same thing as the citizenry's health care system.

Besides America's high rate of infant mortality -- based on biology and lifestyle choices, not medical care -- Americans are also more likely to overeat or smoke than people in other developed nations. And the two biggest killers in the Western world are obesity and smoking.

Liberals shouldn't have to be reminded how fat Americans are, inasmuch as they are always chortling about it. A 2004 New York Times article leeringly quoted a foreign doctor, saying: "We Europeans, whenever we came to America, we always noticed the enormous number of obese people on the streets." I note that these are the same people who openly worship Michael Moore.

Somewhat surprisingly to those of us who have long admired France for its humanitarian smoking laws, until the mid-1980s, Americans had had the highest rate of smoking in the developed world. This makes patriotic Americans like me wonder if there's a way to get Michael Moore to start smoking. (You know, just to keep his weight down or whatever.)

To be fair, the French are still being exposed to large amounts of smoke due to all the cars being set on fire by Muslims.

In 2003, America led the world in smoking-related deaths among women -- followed by Hungary. Simply excluding all smoking-related deaths from the World Health Organization's comparison of life expectancies at age 50 in 20 developed nations would raise U.S. women's life expectancy from 17th to 7th place and lift American men from 14th to 9th place.

Americans are also more likely to die in military combat than the whimpering, pant-wetting cowards our military has spent the past 70 years defending -- I mean, than "our loyal European allies." This is a health risk Europeans have managed to protect themselves against by living in a world that contains the United States military.

These are risk factors that have nothing to do with the health care system. To evaluate the quality of our health care, you have to compare apples to apples by looking at outcomes for specific medical conditions.

Although the United States has a higher incidence of heart disease, cancer and diabetes compared to Europe -- because of lifestyle choices and genetics -- it also has better survival rates across the board for all these medical problems.

The most revealing international comparisons look at cancer survival rates, because of the universally extensive record-keeping for this disease.

A European study found that, compared to 18 European countries, the U.S. had strikingly higher five-year survival rates in all 12 cancers studied, except for one: stomach cancer. Even there, the survival rates were close -- and the difference was attributed to the location of the cancer in the stomach.

For all types of cancers, European men have only a 47.3 percent five-year survival rate, compared to 66.3 percent survival rate for American men. The greatest disparity was in prostate cancer, which American men are 28 percent more likely to survive than European men.

European women are only 55.8 percent likely to live five years after contracting any kind of cancer, compared to 62.9 percent for American women.

In five cancers -- breast, prostate, thyroid, testicular and skin melanoma -- American survival rates are higher than 90 percent. Europeans hit a 90 percent survival rate for only one of those -- testicular cancer.

Most disturbingly, many cancers in Europe are discovered only upon the victim's death -- twice as many as in the U.S. Consequently, the European study simply excluded cancers that were first noted on the death certificate, so as not to give the U.S. too great an advantage.

There are no national registries for heart disease, as there are for cancer, making survival-rate comparisons more difficult. But treatments can be measured and, again, Americans are far more likely to be on medication for heart disease and high cholesterol -- medications that extend the lives of millions, developed by those evil, profit-grubbing American drug companies.

To get to the comparison they like (America is not as good as Sweden!), liberals have to slip in the orange of "life expectancy," and hope no one will mention monster truck races, Krispy Kremes and Virginia Slims. As the old saying goes: Life doesn't last longer in socialist countries; it just feels like it.



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Friday, October 9, 2009

Vikings in Scotland: an archaeological survey

267 Pages

Harald, Giant Viking King

Harald, Giant Viking King
In the year 1066, following the death of Edward the Confessor, Harold Godwinson came to the throne of England, but his brother Tostig contested him. For this struggle Tostig enlisted the help of the giant Viking ruler Harald Sigurdsson, nicknamed Hardraada.
56 Seeing an opportunity to make himself sovereign over a portion, if not all, of England, the seven-foot-plus Norwegian warrior-king sailed for the island nation with a battle fleet of two hundred ships.57 About this time, another Viking, William of Normandy, decided the kingdom should be his alone and launched a fleet of four hundred battle ships and one thousand support vessels.

But Harald and his Vikings reached England first. Sailing down the coast to Northumbria, they swarmed ashore at Riccall, joined forces with Tostig, and then set out to capture York. Harald easily defeated York's outmanned defenders just outside the city. Hoping to avoid useless bloodshed, Tostig persuaded those who remained in the garrison to surrender. During these negotiations, both parties agreed the victorious Vikings would take possession of the castle the next day. Returning to their ships, the Vikings celebrated. On the morrow Harald and his men started out for York to finalize the terms of its surrender. That September day began hot and sunny. So, according to one chronicle, "they left their mailshirts behind and went ashore with shields and helmets and spears and wore their swords and many had bows and arrows. They were very happy, with no thought of any attack, and when they were getting near the town they saw a great cloud of dust and under it bright shields and shining mail."

Tostig advised Harald to retreat to the ships. Harald, who had never been defeated in battle, refused. He deployed his forces at Stamford Bridge and waited for the forces of Harold Godwinson, King of England, to draw up. As the English arranged their battle lines, twenty of their armored knights rode forward. A like number from the Viking side advanced to meet them.

One of the English knights asked: "Where is Tostig in the host?"

"It is not to be concealed that you may find him here," Tostig replied.

The horseman then said: "Harald your brother sends you greeting, and the message that you shall have peace, and get Northumbria, and he will give you one-third of all his realm."

Tostig answered: "Then something else is offered than the enmity and disgrace of last winter; if this had been offered then, many who now are dead would be alive, and the realm of the King of England would stand more firm. Now if I accept these terms, what will my brother Harold offer to the King of Norway for his trouble?"

The smaller horseman carefully appraised the oversized, majestic-looking, auburn-haired, full-bearded, well-muscled Norwegian king, who looked down on him with one eyebrow raised slightly higher than the other. Then he replied: "He has said what he will grant King Harald Sigurdsson: it is a space of seven feet, or as much more as he may be taller than other men."

Tostig responded: "Go and tell my brother, King Harold, to prepare for battle. It shall not be said among Northmen that Tostig jarl left Harald, King of Norway, and went into the host of his foes when he made warfare in England; rather will we all resolve to die with honor, or win England with a victory."

As the English knights returned to their lines, Harald asked Tostig: "Who was that eloquent man?"

"It was my brother, Harold."

The Viking giant then advised Tostig that if he had known this Harold of England would now be a dead man.

"It is true, lord, that he acted incautiously, and I saw that it might have been as you said; but when he came to offer me peace and great power, I should have been his slayer if I had betrayed who he was. I acted thus because I will rather suffer death from my brother, than be his slayer, if I may choose."

After this the two sides joined in battle. With characteristic recklessness, the English charged the wall of Viking shields. Spears and swords on both sides soon reddened with gore. Finally the English were repulsed. The exultant Vikings broke their wall to pursue. Having on no coats of mail, however, the Northmen now became easy targets for the deadly accurate English archers. Seeing so many of his Vikings falling around him, King Harald went berserk. As the English commenced another head-on attack, he charged like an enraged Ajax in advance of his men. Fighting two-handed, he cut with wide sweeps of his sword a path through the English ranks. Inspired by such boldness, his men rallied. Now the English began to fall back. But just then an English arrow whizzed through the air and sank its shaft deep in the giant's unprotected throat.

"The remaining Norwegians," declares the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ' "were put to flight, while the English fiercely assailed their rear until some of them reached their ships; some were drowned, others burnt to death... ."

Harold of England had no time to celebrate his great triumph. On September 28,1066, William of Normandy landed near Pevensey in Sussex with his sixty-five thousand Viking warriors. With his depleted, battle-weary army, Harold rushed to meet him. A few days later, at the famous Battle of Hastings, an arrow struck Harold through his eye. As the blinded king wandered about the battlefield, the Normans hacked him to death.

Isle of Man Giants
Among the many megaliths on the Isle of Man is one called the Cloven Stones, located in the little village of Baldrine a few miles north of Douglas. In the Swarbreck Manuscript, written in 1815 and on exhibit at the museum in Douglas, there appears this statement concerning the Cloven Stones: "Mr Millburne informed us that about seven years since, he with two or three other miners opened the mount to a depth of five feet and discovered a human skull and some thigh bones, which from their uncommon size, must have belonged to a person of Gigantic stature." Also, according to Roy Norvill, the isle was home to the giant Arthur Caley, who grew to a height of eight feet two inches. Born in 1819, Caley and his six-foot-two wife lived for years at the Sulby Glen Hotel in the northern part of the island.

John of Gaunt
A suit of armor worn by seven-footer John of Gaunt, Duke of Lancaster, in the fourteenth century, was displayed many years in the Tower of London's armory, along with his sword and lance, which were also of enormous size.

Joyce, the Mighty Giant
The giant William Joyce was renown for his Herculean strength. On November 15, 1699, King William invited him to Kensington Palace to demonstrate to the court his extraordinary ability at lifting weight. When the king asked him how much he could lift, Joyce replied: "Above a tun weight." So King William ordered some servants to prepare a huge chunk of solid lead about that weight. This chunk, when placed on the scales, weighed fourteen pounds above a ton. As the king and his court gasped in wonder, Joyce lifted it off the ground. The superman then boasted to the king that his strongest horse could not move him. Taking up the challenge, William commanded that a thick rope be brought and tied around the giant's waist and then fastened to the horse. Even under the strokes of a whip the horse failed to budge Joyce. The mighty man then took the thick rope in his hands and broke it in two, "seemingly as easy as another man does a piece of pack-thread."

A few days before his audience with the king, Joyce astonished a large crowd at Hamstead by pulling a tree out of the ground by its roots. The roots measured near a yard and a half in circumference, while the tree itself was "modestly computed to weigh nearly 2,000 weight."

Knipe Twins
The twin Knipe brothers, each rising seven feet two inches in height, arrived in London in April, 1785, and issued the following handbill: "Irish Giants. The most surprising gigantic twin brothers are just arrived in this metropolis, and to be seen at the Silk-dyer's, No. 2 Spring-gardens, Charing Cross. These wonderful Irish giants are but twenty-four years of age, and measure very near eight feet high. These extraordinary young men have had the honour to be seen by the gentlemen of the faculty, Royal Society, and other admirers of natural curiosity, who allowed them to surpass any thing of the same kind ever offered to the public. Their address is singular and pleasing, their persons truly shaped and proportionate to their height, and affords an agreeable surprise: they excel the famous Maximilian Miller, born in 1674, shewn in London in 1733; and the late Swedish giant will scarce admit of a comparison. To enumerate every particular, would be too tedious; let it suffice to say, that they are beyond what is set forth in ancient or modern history. The ingenious and judicious who have honoured them with their company have bestowed on them the most lavish encomiums, and on their departure have express'd their approbation and satisfaction. In short the sight of them is more than the mind can conceive, the tongue express, or pencil delineate, and stands without a parallel in this or any other country."
63 (See York Twins)

Little John
Hector Boetius, in his History of Scotland, reports that the bones of a Scottish giant nicknamed "Little John," who stood fourteen feet high, were still to be seen in his day. (See Graveyards of the Giants)

Longmore, Edward
Edward Longmore, a seven-foot-six-inch giant who was known as the "Herefordshire Colossus" during his exhibition days, died in early February, 1777. To keep his body from falling into the hands of the surgeons, friends of Longmore dug his grave at Hendon fifteen feet deep and kept watch on it for several weeks. But the Morning Post in its March 30, 1777, issue reports that about six weeks after Longmore's interment and shortly after the watch was removed someone opened the grave-in the dead of the night, no doubt-and stole the giant's corpse. (For other examples of giants' bodies being stolen, see Byrne, Charles; McGrath, Cornelius)

MacDonald, James
The Annual Register for 1760 reports that James MacDonald, who attained to a height of seven feet six inches, died at his home near Cork-at the great age of one hundred and seventeen years. Because it confined him too much, MacDonald in his early years abandoned his career as a touring giant for the more active life of a soldier. From 1685 to "the rebellion," he served as a Grenadier. After his return to Ireland in 1716, he worked as a day-laborer until just three years before his death.

MacGrath, Cornelius
Like Patrick Cotter O'Brien and Charles Byrne, alias O'Brien, Cornelius MacGrath's giant skeleton ended up as a public attraction.

In July, 1752, when he came to Cork to receive saltwater treatments to alleviate his growing pains, large crowds of curious people pressed around the young man, for he already stood about seven feet tall. While at Cork, some persuaded the lad from the County of Tipperary to show himself for pay. So he came to London to launch his career.

In the January 31, 1753, issue of the Daily Advertiser, his sponsors ran the following notice: "Just arrived in this city, from Ireland, the youth, mentioned lately in the newspapers, as the most extraordinary production in nature. He is allowed by the nobility and gentry, who daily resort to see him, to have the most stupendous and gigantic form (altho' a boy), and is the only representation in the world of the ancient and magnificent giants of that kingdom. He is seven feet three inches in height, without shoes. His wrist measures a quarter of a yard and an inch. He greatly surpasses Cajanus the Swede, in the just proportions of his limbs; and is the truest and best proportioned figure ever seen. He was sixteen years of age the 10th of last March and is to be seen at the Peacock, at Charing Cross, from eight in the morning, till ten at night."

MacGrath afterward traveled to Paris and then spent several years touring Europe's great cities. But in Flanders a deadly fever attacked him and forced him to return, in failing health, to his native Ireland where he soon after died. Though he had befriended the students at nearby Trinity College, where he would playfully pick up a small-sized student named Hare and hold him at arm's length, they on the day of the giant's wake stole his body. After dissecting him, they preserved his skeleton, now seven feet eight inches long, as a college showpiece.' (For other accounts of surgeons or anatomists stealing the bodies of deceased giants, see Byrne, Charles; Longmore, Edward)


Wednesday, October 7, 2009


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"Odin, the Wanderer" (1886) by Georg von Rosen.

Odin (pronounced /ˈoʊdɨn/ from Old Norse Óðinn), is considered the chief god in Norse paganism and the ruler of Asgard. Homologous with the Anglo-Saxon Wōden and the Old High German Wotan, it is descended from Proto-Germanic *Wōđinaz or *Wōđanaz. The name Odin is generally accepted as the modern translation; although, in some cases, older translations of his name may be used or preferred. His name is related to ōðr, meaning "fury, excitation", besides "mind", or "poetry". His role, like many of the Norse gods, is complex. He is considered a principal member of the Aesir (Norse Pantheon) and is associated with wisdom, war, battle, and death, and also magic, poetry, prophecy, victory, and the hunt.



[] Origins

A depiction of Odin entering Valhalla riding on Sleipnir from the Tjängvide image stone.
The 7th century Tängelgarda stone shows Odin leading a troop of warriors all bearing rings. Valknut symbols are drawn beneath his horse, which is depicted with four legs.

Worship of Odin may date to Proto-Germanic paganism. The Roman historian Tacitus may refer to Odin when he talks of Mercury. The reason is that, like Mercury, Odin was regarded as Psychopompos,"the leader of souls."

As Odin is closely connected with a horse and spear, and transformation/shape shifting into animal shapes, an alternative theory of origin contends that Odin, or at least some of his key characteristics, may have arisen just prior to the sixth century as a nightmareish horse god (Echwaz), later signified by the eight-legged Sleipnir. Some support for Odin as a latecomer to the Scandinavian Norse pantheon can be found in the Sagas where, for example, at one time he is thrown out of Asgard by the other gods — a seemingly unlikely tale for a well-established "all father". Scholars who have linked Odin with the "Death God" template include E. A. Ebbinghaus, Jan de Vries and Thor Templin. The later two also link Loki and Odin as being one-and-the-same until the early Norse Period.

Scandinavian Óðinn emerged from Proto-Norse *Wōdin during the Migration period, artwork of this time (on gold bracteates) depicting the earliest scenes that can be aligned with the High Medieval Norse mythological texts. The context of the new elites emerging in this period aligns with Snorri's tale of the indigenous Vanir who were eventually replaced by the Æsir, intruders from the Continent.[1]

Parallels between Odin and Celtic Lugus have often been pointed out: both are intellectual gods, commanding magic and poetry. Both have ravens and a spear as their attributes, and both are one-eyed. Julius Caesar (de bello Gallico, 6.17.1) mentions Mercury as the chief god of Celtic religion. A likely context of the diffusion of elements of Celtic ritual into Germanic culture is that of the Chatti, who lived at the Celtic-Germanic boundary in Hesse during the final centuries before the Common Era. (It should be remembered that many Indo-Europeanists hypothesize that Odin in his Proto-Germanic form was not the chief god, but that he only gradually replaced Týr during the Migration period.)

[] Adam of Bremen

A detail from a rune- and image stone from Gotland, in the Swedish Museum of National Antiquities in Stockholm. The three men are interpreted as Odin, Thor and Freyr.

Written around 1080, one of the oldest written sources on pre-Christian Scandinavian religious practices is Adam of Bremen's Gesta Hammaburgensis ecclesiae pontificum. Adam claimed to have access to first-hand accounts on pagan practices in Sweden. His description of the Temple at Uppsala gives some details on the god.

In hoc templo, quod totum ex auro paratum est, statuas trium deorum veneratur populus, ita ut potentissimus eorum Thor in medio solium habeat triclinio; hinc et inde locum possident Wodan et Fricco. Quorum significationes eiusmodi sunt: 'Thor', inquiunt, 'praesidet in aere, qui tonitrus et fulmina, ventos ymbresque, serena et fruges gubernat. Alter Wodan, id est furor, bella gerit, hominique ministrat virtutem contra inimicos. Tertius est Fricco, pacem voluptatemque largiens mortalibus'. Cuius etiam simulacrum fingunt cum ingenti priapo.

Gesta Hammaburgensis 26, Waitz' edition

In this temple, entirely decked out in gold, the people worship the statues of three gods in such wise that the mightiest of them, Thor, occupies a throne in the middle of the chamber; Wotan and Frikko have places on either side. The significance of these gods is as follows: Thor, they say, presides over the air, which governs the thunder and lightning, the winds and rains, fair weather and crops. The other, Wotan—that is, the Furious—carries on war and imparts to man strength against his enemies. The third is Frikko, who bestows peace and pleasure on mortals. His likeness, too, they fashion with an immense phallus.

Gesta Hammaburgensis 26, Tschan's translation

[] Poetic Edda

"Odin and the Völva" (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.
"Odin Rides to Hel" (1908) by W. G. Collingwood.
The sacrifice of Odin (1895) by Lorenz Frølich.

[] Völuspá

In the poem Völuspá, a völva tells Odin of numerous events reaching into the far past and into the future, including his own doom. The Völva describes creation, recounts the birth of Odin by his father Borr and his mother Bestla and how Odin and his brothers formed Midgard from the sea. She further describes the creation of the first human beings - Ask and Embla - by Hœnir, Lóðurr and Odin.

Amongst various other events, the Völva mentions Odin's involvement in the Æsir-Vanir War, the self-sacrifice of Odin's eye at Mímir's Well, the death of his son Baldr. She describes how Odin is slain by the wolf Fenrir at Ragnarök, the subsequent avenging of Odin and death of Fenrir by his son Víðarr, how the world disappears into flames and, yet, how the earth again rises from the sea. She then relates how the surviving Æsir remember the deeds of Odin.

[] Lokasenna

In the poem Lokasenna, the conversation of Odin and Loki started with Odin trying to defend Gefjun and ended with his wife, Frigg, defending him. In Lokasenna, Loki derides Odin for practicing seid (witchcraft), implying it was women's work. Another example of this may be found in the Ynglinga saga where Snorri opines that men who used seid were ergi or unmanly.

[] Hávamál

In Rúnatal, a section of the Hávamál, Odin is attributed with discovering the runes. He was hung from the world tree, Yggdrasil, while pierced by his own spear for nine days and nights, in order to learn the wisdom that would give him power in the nine worlds. Nine is a significant number in Norse magical practice (there were, for example, nine realms of existence), thereby learning nine (later eighteen) magical songs and eighteen magical runes.

One of Odin's names is Ygg, and the Norse name for the World Ash —Yggdrasil—therefore could mean "Ygg's (Odin's) horse". Another of Odin's names is Hangatýr, the god of the hanged. Sacrifices, human or otherwise, in prehistoric times were commonly hung in or from trees, often transfixed by spears[citation needed].

[] Hárbarðsljóð

In Hárbarðsljóð, Odin, disguised as the ferryman Hárbarðr, engages his son Thor, unaware of the disguise, in a long argument. Thor is attempting to get around a large lake and Hárbarðr refuses to ferry him.

[] Prose Edda

A depiction of Odin riding Sleipnir from an eighteenth century Icelandic manuscript.
Odin with his ravens and weapons (MS SÁM 66, eighteenth century)

Odin had three residences in Asgard. First was Gladsheim, a vast hall where he presided over the twelve Diar or Judges, whom he had appointed to regulate the affairs of Asgard. Second, Valaskjálf, built of solid silver, in which there was an elevated place, Hlidskjalf, from his throne on which he could perceive all that passed throughout the whole earth. Third was Valhalla (the hall of the fallen), where Odin received the souls of the warriors killed in battle, called the Einherjar. The souls of women warriors, and those strong and beautiful women whom Odin favored, became Valkyries, who gather the souls of warriors fallen in battle (the Einherjar), as these would be needed to fight for him in the battle of Ragnarök. They took the souls of the warriors to Valhalla. Valhalla has five hundred and forty gates, and a vast hall of gold, hung around with golden shields, and spears and coats of mail.

Odin has a number of magical artifacts associated with him: the spear Gungnir, which never misses its target; a magical gold ring (Draupnir), from which every ninth night eight new rings appear; and two ravens Huginn and Muninn (Thought and Memory), who fly around Earth daily and report the happenings of the world to Odin in Valhalla at night. He also owned Sleipnir, an octopedal horse, who was given to Odin by Loki, and the severed head of Mímir, which foretold the future. He also commands a pair of wolves named Geri and Freki, to whom he gives his food in Valhalla since he consumes nothing but mead or wine. From his throne, Hlidskjalf (located in Valaskjalf), Odin could see everything that occurred in the universe. The Valknut (slain warrior's knot) is a symbol associated with Odin. It consists of three interlaced triangles.

Odin is an ambivalent deity. Old Norse (Viking Age) connotations of Odin lie with "poetry, inspiration" as well as with "fury, madness and the wanderer." Odin sacrificed his eye (which eye he sacrificed is unclear) at Mímir's spring in order to gain the Wisdom of Ages. Odin gives to worthy poets the mead of inspiration, made by the dwarfs, from the vessel Óð-rœrir.[2]

Odin is associated with the concept of the Wild Hunt, a noisy, bellowing movement across the sky, leading a host of slain warriors.

Consistent with this, Snorri Sturluson's Prose Edda depicts Odin as welcoming the great, dead warriors who have died in battle into his hall, Valhalla, which, when literally interpreted, signifies the hall of the slain. The fallen, the einherjar, are assembled and entertained by Odin in order that they in return might fight for, and support, the gods in the final battle of the end of Earth, Ragnarök. Snorri also wrote that Freyja receives half of the fallen in her hall Folkvang.

He is also a god of war, appearing throughout Norse myth as the bringer of victory.[citation needed] In the Norse sagas, Odin sometimes acts as the instigator of wars, and is said to have been able to start wars by simply throwing down his spear Gungnir, and/or sending his valkyries, to influence the battle toward the end that he desires. The Valkyries are Odin's beautiful battle maidens that went out to the fields of war to select and collect the worthy men who died in battle to come and sit at Odin's table in Valhalla, feasting and battling until they had to fight in the final battle, Ragnarök. Odin would also appear on the battle-field, sitting upon his eight-legged horse Sleipnir, with his two ravens, one on each shoulder, Hugin (Thought) and Munin (Memory), and two wolves (Geri and Freki) on each side of him.

Odin is also associated with trickery, cunning, and deception. Most sagas have tales of Odin using his cunning to overcome adversaries and achieve his goals, such as swindling the blood of Kvasir from the dwarves.

[] Prologue

Snorri Sturluson feels compelled to give a rational account of the Æsir in the prologue of his Prose Edda. In this scenario, Snorri speculates that Odin and his peers were originally refugees from the Anatolian city of Troy, folk etymologizing Æsir as derived from the word Asia. In any case, Snorri's writing (particularly in Heimskringla) tries to maintain an essentially scholastic neutrality. That Snorri was correct was one of the last of Thor Heyerdahl's archeoanthropological theories, forming the basis for his Jakten på Odin. Odin was the first of the Aesir gods in Norse Mythology. (B.K.)

[] Gylfaginning

"Odin's last words to Baldr" (1908) by W.G. Collingwood.

According to the Prose Edda, Odin, the first and most powerful of the Æsir, was a son of Bestla and Borr and brother of Ve and Vili. With these brothers, he cast down the frost giant Ymir and made Earth from Ymir's body. The three brothers are often mentioned together. "Wille" is the German word for "will" (English), "Weh" is the German word (Gothic wai) for "woe" (English: great sorrow, grief, misery) but is more likely related to the archaic German "Wei" meaning 'sacred'.

Odin has fathered numerous children. With his wife, Frigg, he fathered his doomed son Baldr and fathered the blind god Höðr. By the personification of earth, Fjörgyn, Odin was the father of his most famous son, Thor. By the giantess Gríðr, Odin was the father of Vídar, and by Rinda he was father of Váli. Also, many royal families claimed descent from Odin through other sons. For traditions about Odin's offspring, see Sons of Odin.

Odin and his brothers, Vili and Ve, are attributed with slaying Ymir, the Ancient Giant, to form Midgard. From Ymir's flesh, the brothers made the earth, and from his shattered bones and teeth they made the rocks and stones. From Ymir's blood, they made the rivers and lakes. Ymir's skull was made into the sky, secured at four points by four dwarfs named East, West, North, and South. From Ymir's brains, the three Gods shaped the clouds, whereas Ymir's eye-brows became a barrier between Jotunheim (giant's home) and Midgard, the place where men now dwell. Odin and his brothers are also attributed with making humans.

After having made earth from Ymir's flesh, the three brothers came across two logs (or an ash and an elm tree). Odin gave them breath and life; Vili gave them brains and feelings; and Ve gave them hearing and sight. The first man was Ask and the first woman was Embla.

Odin was said to have learned the mysteries of seid from the Vanic goddess and völva Freyja, despite the unwarriorly connotations of using magic.

[] Skáldskaparmál

"Odin with Gunnlöð" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts.

In section 2 of Skáldskaparmál, Odin's quest for wisdom can also be seen in his work as a farmhand for a summer, for Baugi, and his seduction of Gunnlod in order to obtain the Mead of Poetry.

In section 5 of Skáldskaparmál, the origins of some of Odin's possessions are described.

[] Sagas of Icelanders

[] Ynglinga saga

According to the Ynglinga saga:

Odin had two brothers, the one called Ve, the other Vili, and they governed the kingdom when he was absent. It happened once when Odin had gone to a great distance, and had been so long away that the people Of Asia doubted if he would ever return home, that his two brothers took it upon themselves to divide his estate; but both of them took his wife Frigg to themselves. Odin soon after returned home, and took his wife back.

In Ynglinga saga, Odin is considered the 2nd Mythological king of Sweden, succeeding Gylfi and was succeeded by Njörðr.

Further, in Ynglinga saga, Odin is described as venturing to Mímir's Well, near Jötunheimr, the land of the giants; not as Odin, but as Vegtam the Wanderer, clothed in a dark blue cloak and carrying a traveler's staff. To drink from the Well of Wisdom, Odin had to sacrifice his eye (which eye he sacrificed is unclear), symbolizing his willingness to gain the knowledge of the past, present and future. As he drank, he saw all the sorrows and troubles that would fall upon men and the gods. He also saw why the sorrow and troubles had to come to men.

Mímir accepted Odin's eye and it sits today at the bottom of the Well of Wisdom as a sign that the father of the gods had paid the price for wisdom.

[] Other Sagas

"Odhin" (1901) by Johannes Gehrts.

According to Njáls saga: Hjalti Skeggiason, an Icelander newly converted to Christianity, wished to express his contempt for the native gods, so he sang:

"Ever will I Gods blaspheme
Freyja methinks a dog does seem,
Freyja a dog? Aye! Let them be
Both dogs together Odin and she!"[3]

Hjalti was found guilty of blasphemy for his infamous verse and he ran to Norway with his father-in-law, Gizur the White. Later, with Olaf Tryggvason's support, Gizur and Hjalti came back to Iceland to invite those assembled at the Althing to convert to Christianity (which happened in 999).[4][5]

The Saga of King Olaf Tryggvason, composed around 1300, describes that following King Olaf Tryggvason's orders, to prove their piety, people must insult and ridicule major heathen deities when they are newly converted into Christianity. Hallfreðr vandræðaskáld, who was reluctantly converted from paganism to Christianity by Olaf, also had to make a poem to forsake pagan deities. Below is an example:

The whole race of men to win
Odin's grace has wrought poems
(I recall the exquisite
works of my forebears);
but with sorrow, for well did
Viðrir's [Odin's] power please the poet,
do I conceive hate for the first husband of
Frigg [Odin], now I serve Christ. (Lausavísur 10, Whaley's translation)

[] Flateyjarbók

Odin (1825-1827) by H. E. Freund.

Sörla þáttr is a short narrative from a later and extended version of the Saga of Olaf Tryggvason[6] found in the Flateyjarbók manuscript, which was written and compiled by two Christian priests, Jon Thordson and Magnus Thorhalson, from the late 14th[7] to the 15th century.[8]

"Freyja was a human in Asia and was the favorite concubine of Odin, King of Asialand. When this woman wanted to buy a golden necklace (no name given) forged by four dwarves (named Dvalinn, Alfrik, Berling, and Grer), she offered them gold and silver but they replied that they would only sell it to her if she would lie a night by each of them. She came home afterward with the necklace and kept silent as if nothing happened. But a man called Loki somehow knew it, and came to tell Odin. King Odin commanded Loki to steal the necklace, so Loki turned into a fly to sneak into Freyja's bower and stole it. When Freyja found her necklace missing, she came to ask king Odin. In exchange for it, Odin ordered her to make two kings, each served by twenty kings, fight forever unless some christened men so brave would dare to enter the battle and slay them. She said yes, and got that necklace back. Under the spell, king Högni and king Heðinn battled for one hundred and forty-three years, as soon as they fell down they had to stand up again and fight on. But in the end, the great Christian lord Olaf Tryggvason arrived with his brave christened men, and whoever slain by a Christian would stay dead. Thus the pagan curse was finally dissolved by the arrival of Christianity. After that, the noble man, king Olaf, went back to his realm."[9]

[] Gesta Danorum

Lee Lawrie, Odin (1939). Library of Congress John Adams Building, Washington, D.C.

In the 13th century, Saxo Grammaticus, in the service of Archbishop Absalon in Denmark, presented in his Latin language work Gesta Danorum euhemerized accounts of Thor and Odin as cunning sorcerers that, Saxo states, had fooled the people of Norway, Sweden and Denmark into their recognition as gods:

"There were of old certain men versed in sorcery, Thor, namely, and Odin, and many others, who were cunning in contriving marvellous sleights; and they, winning the minds of the simple, began to claim the rank of gods. For, in particular, they ensnared Norway, Sweden and Denmark in the vainest credulity, and by prompting these lands to worship them, infected them with their imposture. The effects of their deceit spread so far, that all other men adored a sort of divine power in them, and, thinking them either gods or in league with gods, offered up solemn prayers to these inventors of sorceries, and gave to blasphemous error the honour due to religion. Some say that the gods, whom our countrymen worshipped, shared only the title with those honoured by Greece or Latium, but that, being in a manner nearly equal to them in dignity, they borrowed from them the worship as well as the name. This must be sufficient discourse upon the deities of Danish antiquity. I have expounded this briefly for the general profit, that my readers may know clearly to what worship in its heathen superstition our country has bowed the knee." (Gesta Danorum, Book I)[10]

Saxo also wrote a story about how Odin's wife, Frigg, slept with a servant to obtain a device to steal Odin's gold.

"At this time there was one Odin, who was credited over all Europe with the honour, which was false, of godhead, but used more continually to sojourn at Upsala; and in this spot, either from the sloth of the inhabitants or from its own pleasantness, he vouchsafed to dwell with somewhat especial constancy.

The kings of the North, desiring more zealously to worship his deity, embounded his likeness in a golden image; and this statue, which betokened their homage, they transmitted with much show of worship to Byzantium, fettering even the effigied arms with a serried mass of bracelets. Odin was overjoyed at such notoriety, and greeted warmly the devotion of the senders. But his queen Frigg, desiring to go forth more beautified, called smiths, and had the gold stripped from the statue.

Odin hanged them, and mounted the statue upon a pedestal, which by the marvellous skill of his art he made to speak when a mortal touched it. But still Frigg preferred the splendour of her own apparel to the divine honours of her husband, and submitted herself to the embraces of one of her servants; and it was by this man's device she broke down the image, and turned to the service of her private wantonness that gold which had been devoted to public idolatry. Little thought she of practicing unchastity, that she might the easier satisfy her greed, this woman so unworthy to be the consort of a god; but what should I here add, save that such a godhead was worthy of such a wife? So great was the error that of old befooled the minds of men.

Thus Odin, wounded by the double trespass of his wife, resented the outrage to his image as keenly as that to his bed; and, ruffled by these two stinging dishonours, took to an exile overflowing with noble shame, imagining so to wipe off the slur of his ignominy. At home, Frigg went with a certain Mith-Othin and took over Odin's properties, until Odin came back and drove them away. Frigg's death later cleared Odin's name and he regained his reputation." (Gesta Danorum, Book I)[10]

There's also an account about how Odin was exiled by the Latin gods at Byzantium:

But the gods, whose chief seat was then at Byzantium, (Asgard), seeing that Odin had tarnished the fair name of godhead by divers injuries to its majesty, thought that he ought to be removed from their society. And they had him not only ousted from the headship, but outlawed and stripped of all worship and honour at home...[11]

[] Blót

"Odin and Sleipnir" (1911) by John Bauer.

It is attested in primary sources that sacrifices were made to Odin during blóts. Adam of Bremen relates that every ninth year, people assembled from all over Sweden to sacrifice at the Temple at Uppsala. Male slaves and males of each species were sacrificed and hung from the branches of the trees.

As the Swedes had the right not only to elect their king but also to depose him, the sagas relate that both King Domalde and King Olof Trätälja were sacrificed to Odin after years of famine. It has been argued that the killing of a combatant in battle was to give a sacrificial offering to Odin. The fickleness of Odin in war was well-documented; in Lokasenna, Loki taunts Odin for his inconsistency.

Sometimes sacrifices were made to Odin to bring about changes in circumstance. A notable example is the sacrifice of King Víkar that is detailed in Gautrek's Saga and in Saxo Grammaticus' account of the same event. Sailors in a fleet being blown off course drew lots to sacrifice to Odin that he might abate the winds. The king himself drew the lot and was hanged.

Sacrifices were probably also made to Odin at the beginning of summer (mid April, actually—summer being reckoned essentially the same as did the Celt, at Beltene, Calan Mai [Welsh], which is Mayday—hence as summer's "herald"), since Ynglinga saga states one of the great festivals of the calendar is at sumri, þat var sigrblót "in summer, for victory"; Odin is consistently referred to throughout the Norse mythos as the bringer of victory. The Ynglinga saga also details the sacrifices made by the Swedish king Aun, to whom it was revealed that he would lengthen his life by sacrificing one of his sons every ten years; nine of his ten sons died this way. When he was about to sacrifice his last son Egil, the Swedes stopped him.

[edit] Persisting beliefs and folklore

Odin continued to hunt in Swedish folklore. Illustration by August Malmström.

The Christianization of Scandinavia was slow, and it worked its way downwards from the nobility. Among commoners, beliefs in Odin lingered and legends would be told until modern times.

The last battle where Scandinavians attributed a victory to Odin was the Battle of Lena in 1208.[12] The former Swedish king Sverker had arrived with a large Danish army, and the Swedes led by their new king Eric were outnumbered. Odin then appeared riding on Sleipnir and he positioned himself in front of the Swedish battle formation. He led the Swedish charge and gave them victory.

The Bagler sagas, written in the thirteenth century concerning events in the first two decades of the thirteenth century, tells a story of a one-eyed rider with a broad-brimmed hat and a blue coat who asks a smith to shoe his horse. The suspicious smith asks where the stranger stayed during the previous night. The stranger mentions places so distant that the smith does not believe him. The stranger says that he has stayed for a long time in the north and taken part in many battles, but now he is going to Sweden. When the horse is shod, the rider mounts his horse and says "I am Odin" to the stunned smith, and rides away. The next day, the battle of Lena took place. The context of this tale in the saga is that a peace-treaty has been signed in Norway, and Odin, a god of war, no longer has a place there.

Hákonar saga Hákonarsonar, written in the 1260s, describes how, at some point in the 1230s, Skule Baardsson has the skald Snorri Sturluson compose a poem comparing one of Skule's enemies to Odin, describing them both as bringers of strife and disagreement. These episodes do not necessarily imply a continued belief in Odin as a god, but show clearly that his name was still widely known at this time.

Scandinavian folklore also maintained a belief in Odin as the leader of the Wild Hunt. His main objective seems to have been to track down and kill a lady who could be the forest dweller huldran or skogsrået. In these accounts, Odin was typically a lone hunter, save for his two dogs.[13]

In late 19th century Danish folklore, an account of Odin as having hid in a cliff of Møen (modern Møn, Denmark) where his residence there is "still pointed out." At this time, he was referred to as the "Jætte (giant) from Uppsala" but "is now called Jön Upsal" and from this latter name comes the expression "Men jötten dog!" as opposed to the expression "Men Jös dog!" ("By Jesus!"). Outside his doorway a green spot is described on the otherwise white cliff; this is where he "goes out on behalf of nature". A man who "now lives in Copenhagen" is described as having once sailed along the cliff, having seen Jön toss out his "dirt" - a big cloud of dust was to be seen outside of his door. Several "still living people" have lost their way in Klinteskoven ("The Cliff Forest") and ended up in Jön Upsal's garden, that is said to be so big and wonderful that it is beyond any description. The garden is also in full bloom in midwinter. If one sets out to find this garden, it is impossible to find.[14]

[edit] Names

"Odin disguised as a Traveller" from 1914.

Odin was referred to by more than 200 names which hint at his various roles. He was Known as Yggr (terror) Sigfodr (father of Victory) and Alfodr (All Father) [15] in the skaldic and Eddic traditions of heiti and kennings, a poetic method of indirect reference, as in a riddle.

Some epithets establish Odin as a father god: Alföðr "all-father", "father of all"; Aldaföðr "father of men (or of the age)"; Herjaföðr "father of hosts"; Sigföðr "father of victory"; Valföðr "father of the slain".

[] Eponymy

Many toponyms in Northern Europe where Germanic Tribes existed contain the name of *Wodanaz (Norse Odin, West Germanic Woden).

Wednesday is named after Woden, the English form of Odin (Old English Wēdnes dæg, "Woden's day"). It is an early Germanic translation of the Latin dies Mercurii ("Mercury's day"),

Odin came to be used as a Norwegian male given name from the 19th century, originally in the context of the Romanticist Viking revival.

[] Modern influence

"Wotan takes leave of Brunhild" (1892) by Konrad Dielitz.

[] Art and literature

Odin appears (as "Wotan") in Richard Wagner's opera cycle, Der Ring des Nibelungen. This has led to many portrayals based on Wagner's interpretation, although some are closer to pre-Wagner models.

In a letter of 1946 J.R.R. Tolkien stated that he thought of Gandalf as an "Odinic wanderer".[16] Other commentators have also compared Gandalf to Odin in his "Wanderer" guise – an old man with one eye, a long white beard, a wide brimmed hat, and a staff.[17]

In Ingmar Bergman’s 1960 film “The Virgin Spring,” where one of the main sources of narrative tension is the opposition between Christian and pagan faiths, several explicit references are made to Odin.

Odin is a major fictional character in Neil Gaiman's novel American Gods

Odin is also a fictional character in Marvel Comics. Odin is the ruler of Asgard. As in Norse mythology, he is the father of Thor; unlike in Norse myths, he is the adoptive father of Loki.

There is a song by the metal band Dethklok called "I Tamper With The Evidence At The Murder Site of Odin" on their second album Dethalbum II.

Cadets at the United States Military Academy at West Point chant loudly to Odin prior to any mandatory campus parades. This is in the whimsical hope that he will intervene with heavy rains thereby causing the parade to be cancelled.

[] Germanic neopaganism

Odin, along with the other Germanic Gods and Goddesses, is recognized by Germanic neopagans. His Norse form is particularly acknowledged in Ásatrú, the "faith in the Æsir", an officially recognized religion in Iceland, Denmark, Norway Sweden and Spain[18]

[] References

  1. ^ Rundkvist, Martin (April 2003). Post festum. Solid gold in the Vendel Period.. Retrieved 2008-07-06.
  2. ^ Skaldskaparmal, in Edda. Anthony Faulkes, Trans., Ed. (London: Everyman, 1996).
  3. ^ Njál's Saga or The Story of Burnt Njal, George W. DaSent transl. (1861).
  4. ^ Craigie, William Alexanger (1914). The Religion Of Ancient Scandinavia.
  5. ^ T. Kendrick, "History of the Vikings" (1930), p.349, 350.
  6. ^ The Younger Edda. Rasmus B. Anderson transl. (1897) Chicago: Scott, Foresman & Co. (1901).
  7. ^ Lindow, John. Norse Mythology: A Guide to the Gods, Heroes, Rituals, and Beliefs, pages 280-281. (2001) Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-515382-0.
  8. ^ Rasmus B. Anderson, Introduction to the The Flatey Book. Norræna Society, London (1908).
  9. ^ This short story is also known as "The Saga of Högni and Hedinn". English translation can be found at Northvegr: Three Northern Love Stories and Other Tales.
  10. ^ a b Elton, Oliver (1905). The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus. New York: Norroena Society.
  11. ^ Elton, Oliver (1905). The Nine Books of the Danish History of Saxo Grammaticus (Book III). New York: Norroena Society.
  12. ^ [1][unreliable source?]
  13. ^ Schön, Ebbe. (2004). Asa-Tors hammare, Gudar och jättar i tro och tradition. Fält & Hässler, Värnamo. ISBN 91-89660-41-2 pp. 201-205.
  14. ^ Kristensen, Evald Tang. (1980) Danske Sagn: Som De Har Lyd I Folkemunde, page 103. Nyt Nordisk Forlag Arnold Busck, Copenhagen. ISBN 87-17-02791-8
  15. ^ Harrison, D. & Svensson, K. (2007). Vikingaliv Fälth & Hässler, Värnamo. ISBN 978-91-27-35725-9 p. 63
  16. ^ Letters, no. 107.
  17. ^ Burns, Marjorie (2005). Perilous Realms: Celtic and Norse in Tolkien's Middle-earth. University of Toronto Press. pp. 97. ISBN 0-8020-3806-9.
  18. ^ Confesiones Minoritarias - MINISTERIO DE JUSTICIA

[] External links


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