Wednesday, November 15, 2006

I think I've discovered a universal law...

I am, for some reason, really amused by the Helsinki Complaints Choir, in which the complaints of Helsinki residents are set to choral music. There is also a knock-off of the idea done by singers in Birmingham, England. The universal law I think I've found is this: Complaining sounds a lot better when you don't understand the language.

Here's links to a few other interesting things I've read online recently:

"Let's Stop Stereotyping Evangelicals" -- A short article urging exactly what the title says. The money quote:

"Even the Moral Majority in its most belligerent form amounted to nothing more terrifying than churchgoers flocking peacefully to the polls on Election Day."

"How to Cheat at Art" -- The text of an illustrated speech on art "cheats" such as the camera obscura; it even talks about some contemporary artists thinking that not leaving in preliminary, "feeling your way" lines is a cheat. We can't see the slides that would have accompanied this speech and the speech hasn't been copy-edited quite so well as it might have been, but it has some interesting tidbits.

"Scientists claim computer has solved mystery of Shakespeare's 'missing play'" -- Newspaper article I read a month ago that I still had in my temporary folder. Two professors claim their computer analysis shows conclusively that Arden of Faversham was written by Shakespeare. I have to confess I had never heard of this play, but its Wikipedia entry sounds interesting enough I might check it out someday.

Something About Underwear in an Article About Something Else --Here's the quote:

"Mine is only the second generation of males in my family to wear underpants. I wear them, and my Dad wore them. Neither of my grandfathers did, though. They wore shirts with long tails. Before putting on their pants, they tucked the shirt tails round underneath to establish the desideratum — apparently universal in pants-wearing cultures — of having something between pants and fundament."

I'd just been thinking about something along those lines when I read this. I think I'm the third generation of women in my family to wear both underpants and bra. According to my mother, when she was a small child (she was born during WWII) country women commonly did not wear bras and some of the very old women did not wear underpants. On the underpants question, bear in mind this was not just a poor part of the country, but a very humid climate; not having an additional layer underneath your dress and slip--or even just under a dress and apron--had some advantages, even if it wasn't the fashion to go without in other parts of the country.

As for bras, though, it's amazing to think how recent the modern bra is in human history. Stays may have provided some support in some eras, but Guinevere, Isolde, and Eleanor of Aquitaine never had any "cross your heart", "lift and separate" type support, and whatever Anne Boleyn may have done as a maid, she didn't "do it in her Maidenform bra". History is full of, if you'll pardon the expression, bouncing boobies--not that any of us ever think about that when reading Jane Austen.

And all of this means--I don't know really. I just found it interesting to think how recently my family, among other families, have taken to underwear. Something most of us regard as a necessity can be a relatively recent addition to people's lives. I was surprised the first time I saw a medieval illustration of people warming themselves near a fire, tunics hitched up and genitals showing, but it was apparently a not uncommon sight then, just as women nursing babies was a common sight before we decided that bottlefeeding was more "scientific" and hygienic than breastfeeding. Anyway, like I said, I'm not going anywhere with this, I'm just musing out loud. Also, I thought that shirt-wrapping thing was kind of cool, although it sounds rather awkward.

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