Saturday, February 21, 2009
Monday, February 16, 2009
Sunday, February 15, 2009
Deas' book, The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe, contains this more troubling image of the master, taken the year before his untimely death (click HERE to enlarge).
Here Poe's oddly bifurcated face appears simultaneously arrogant and afraid, giving hint to the deep divisions of his soul. Poe was a famously haunted writer, obsessed with the paradox of beauty and death.
He married his 13-year-old cousin, Virginia Clemm, and for six years watched her slowly die of consumption. Peter Ackroyd, in Poe, A Life Cut Short, writes that "All his life he liked to wander through cemeteries. Death and beauty were, in his imagination, inextricably and perpetually associated. 'No more' was his favorite phrase. The secret chambers and the mouldering mansions, in which his fictions loved to dwell, are to be construed as those of the mind or of the grave."
His own strange death is worthy of an Edgar Allan Poe story. Here's how his demise is described in Wikipedia:
We may be com-memorating his birth this year, but Poe might have preferred that we commemorate his death--the moment when the poet was, finally, 'no more.'
On October 3, 1849, Poe was found on the streets of Baltimore delirious, "in great distress, and... in need of immediate assistance", according to the man who found him, Joseph W. Walker. He was taken to the Washington College Hospital, where he died on Sunday, October 7, 1849, at 5:00 in the morning. Poe was never coherent long enough to explain how he came to be in his dire condition, and, oddly, was wearing clothes that were not his own. Poe is said to have repeatedly called out the name "Reynolds" on the night before his death, though it is unclear to whom he was referring. Some sources say Poe's final words were "Lord help my poor soul." All medical records, including his death certificate, have been lost. Newspapers at the time reported Poe's death as "congestion of the brain" or "cerebral inflammation", common euphemisms for deaths from disreputable causes such as alcoholism. However, the actual cause of death remains a mystery...
Thursday, February 5, 2009
In 2005, Americans gave $260.28 billion to scores of religious, environmental, and health organizations—$15 billion more than in 2004.
In 2006, Americans gave nearly $300 billion to charitable causes, setting a record and besting the 2005 total that had been boosted by a surge in aid to victims of hurricanes Katrina, Rita and Wilma and the Asian tsunami.
Warren Buffet pledged to donate $37 billion to charity.
About 65 percent of households with incomes lower than $100,000 give to charity.
The U.S. government gave about $20 billion in foreign aid in 2004, while Americans privately gave $24.2 billion.
Americans per capita individually give about three and a half times more money per year, than the French per capita. They also give seven times more than the Germans and 14 times more than the Italians.
Sunday, February 1, 2009
Desert locusts are normally solitary individuals who eke out a meager subsistence while avoiding others of their species. But when food sources become abundant, such as after a rain, they transform into ravening packs of billions of insects that can strip a landscape bare.The key to the transformation, researchers said Friday, is the brain chemical serotonin, the chemical that in humans modulates anger, aggression, mood, appetite, sexuality and a host of other behaviors.
Serotonin at Work: On left, a locust is ready to swarm and devastate crops. On right, one is in loner mode. The locusts swarm when contact with one another triples their serotonin levels, British and Australian researchers reported in the journal Science.