Back on January 6 in our Gregorian calendar Epiphany post we promised to return with Russian Orthodox Epiphany photos. Many Orthodox churches, including those in Russia, Serbia, and the Ukraine, remain on the Julian calendar, thus celebrating Epiphany on January 19.
It's hard to beat the January 6 pictures of Nicolas Sarkozy eating a frangipane cake or a porcelain model of Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Nevertheless, the Julian calendar celebrations do exactly that, proving once and for all that the Badass Christianity Prize probably belongs in Eastern Europe, despite the strong showing of the Catholic Church with its papal smoke signals.
Epiphany celebrations in these lands are characterized in part by a series of traditions that put college "polar bear plunges" to shame. In one, an Orthodox priest hurls a wooden cross into the river. Men dive after it and struggle to retrieve the cross. The one who gets the cross is supposedly blessed with good health in the coming year. A ritual in Russia recalls Jesus' baptism in the river Jordan by John the Baptist by having believers plunge into freezing water on the eve of Epiphany on January 18, the water having been blessed by an Orthodox priest. In some villages, ice holes are used for the rite, workers cutting through the ice of a frozen lake or river to form a pool in the shape of a cross. Below are some pictures of January 18-19 Epiphany celebrations in the past few years.
Men jump into the Nisava river to retrieve the wooden cross in Nis, south-eastern Serbia in the Epiphany celebrations of January 19, 2012. (Stoyan Nenov/Reuters)
Winner Vladimir Stojanovic, January 19, 2012. (Stoyan Nenov/Reuters).
This photo depicts an Epiphany celebration in 2012 taking place in the Moraca river in Podgorica, Montenegro. The priest, Metropolitan Amfilohije Radovic, is preparing to throw the cross. (Stevo Vasiljevic/Reuters)
A ceremony on the Buzim Lake, roughly 70 km north of the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk. Temperature: -20.2 degrees Fahrenheit. (Ilya Naymushin/Reuters)Epiphany in the Dnepr river in Ukraine in 2010. The men in blue and orange are rescue workers. The rescue workers are not pulling people out. They are clearing away ice to let more people in. (Vasily Fedosenko/Reuters) The really hard core rituals involve a hole cut into the ice in the shape of a cross. This is a worker preparing a cross-shaped hole in the frozen Mana river near the village of Ust-Mana, in -25-degree weather. (Ilya Naymushin/Reuters)Note the cross and altar that have been fashioned out of ice, standing on either side of the water hole. This ritual is taking place outside the Kirillo-Belozersky monastery about 500 km north of Moscow. Let's not re-litigate the Protestant Reformation -- which involved, among other things, a rejection of the (western) Catholic Church's own ornate rituals -- but there is an old-school beauty to these photos that makes Sunday in the Boston pews feel a little drab. (Mikhail Voskresenskiy/Reuters) A man bathing in a ritual in the village of Velikoye. (Sergei Karpukhim/Reuters)Beautiful, otherworldly shot of a woman's reflection as she descends into the ice hole in Razliv Lake in Sestroretsk, 30km northwest of St. Petersburg. (Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters)Love the illuminated water. The Tsnyanskoye reservoir in Minsk, January 2012. (Vladimir Nikolsky/Reuters) Rostov, 2010. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)A beautiful photo. Photographer Sergei Karpukhin seems to find all the most evocative Epiphany scenes. Both this and the image above it are from the town of Rostov. This one is from 2011. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)Happy Epiphany! A Cossack in traditional dress as part of Epiphany celebrations in 2011. (Vladimir Konstantinov/Reuters)
For some, abandoning expensive urban centers would be a huge financial relief.
Neal Gabler has been a formative writer for me: His Winchell: Gossip, Power, and the Culture of Celebrity was one of the books that led me to think about leaving scholarship behind and write nonfiction instead, and Walt Disney: The Triumph of the American Imagination was the first book I reviewed as a freelance writer. To me, he exemplifies the best mix of intensive archival research and narrative kick.
So reading his recent essay, "The Secret Shame of Middle-Class Americans," was a gut punch: First, I learned about a role model of mine whose talent, in my opinion, should preclude him from financial woes. And, then, I was socked by narcissistic outrage: I, too, struggle with money! I, too, am a failing middle-class American! I, too, am a writer of nonfiction who should be better compensated!
Nearly half of Americans would have trouble finding $400 to pay for an emergency. I’m one of them.
Since 2013,the Federal Reserve Board has conducted a survey to “monitor the financial and economic status of American consumers.” Most of the data in the latest survey, frankly, are less than earth-shattering: 49 percent of part-time workers would prefer to work more hours at their current wage; 29 percent of Americans expect to earn a higher income in the coming year; 43 percent of homeowners who have owned their home for at least a year believe its value has increased. But the answer to one question was astonishing. The Fed asked respondents how they would pay for a $400 emergency. The answer: 47 percent of respondents said that either they would cover the expense by borrowing or selling something, or they would not be able to come up with the $400 at all. Four hundred dollars! Who knew?
The team, which had 5,000-to-1 odds of winning the English Premier League, has pulled off the biggest upset in sports history.
Much to everyone’s disbelief, the Leicester City soccer club was crowned the champion of the English Premier League Monday.
The team’s chances last summer were small, to say the least. Back then, William Hill, a British betting group, put the odds of the Foxes of Leicester City, a fledgling team based two hours north of London, of winning at 5,000-to-1. Essentially, the team had a .0002 percent chance of being the best team in the league of 20. Except for the 25 people who bet a combined total of just $243 on the team through William Hill, no one expected this from Leicester City.
Here’s some perspective: William Hill once put the odds of Elvis being found alive and well at 2,000-to-1 and an acknowledgment by the U.S. government that the first moon landing was faked at 500-to-1.
Don’t expect Hillary Clinton to stay above the fray in the general election—her campaign plans “sustained and brutal attacks” on Donald Trump.
As they look ahead to the general election, some commentators envision a campaign in which Donald Trump attacks viciously and Hillary Clinton makes a virtue of her refusal to stoop to his level. “I think Trump’s method will be to turn on the insult comedy against Hillary Clinton,” declared GOP consultant Mike Murphy earlier this week. “Her big judo move is playing the victim.” Vox’s Ezra Klein speculated earlier this year that “Trump sets up Clinton for a much softer and unifying message than she’d be able to get away with against a candidate like [Marco] Rubio.”
I doubt it will play out that way. Rope-a-dope isn’t Clinton’s style. When facing political threats, her pattern has been to strike first—and with great force.
It’s a paradox: Shouldn’t the most accomplished be well equipped to make choices that maximize life satisfaction?
There are three things, once one’s basic needs are satisfied, that academic literature points to as the ingredients for happiness: having meaningful social relationships, being good at whatever it is one spends one’s days doing, and having the freedom to make life decisions independently.
But research into happiness has also yielded something a little less obvious: Being better educated, richer, or more accomplished doesn’t do much to predict whether someone will be happy. In fact, it might mean someone is less likely to be satisfied with life.
That second finding is the puzzle that Raj Raghunathan, a professor of marketing at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business, tries to make sense of in his recent book, If You’re So Smart, Why Aren’t You Happy?Raghunathan’s writing does fall under the category of self-help (with all of the pep talks and progress worksheets that that entails), but his commitment to scientific research serves as ballast for the genre’s more glib tendencies.
Three Atlantic staffers discuss “Home,” the second episode of the sixth season.
Every week for the sixth season of Game of Thrones, Christopher Orr, Spencer Kornhaber, and Lenika Cruz will be discussing new episodes of the HBO drama. Because no screeners are being made available to critics in advance this year, we'll be posting our thoughts in installments.
A professor of cognitive science argues that the world is nothing like the one we experience through our senses.
As we go about our daily lives, we tend to assume that our perceptions—sights, sounds, textures, tastes—are an accurate portrayal of the real world. Sure, when we stop and think about it—or when we find ourselves fooled by a perceptual illusion—we realize with a jolt that what we perceive is never the world directly, but rather our brain’s best guess at what that world is like, a kind of internal simulation of an external reality. Still, we bank on the fact that our simulation is a reasonably decent one. If it wasn’t, wouldn’t evolution have weeded us out by now? The true reality might be forever beyond our reach, but surely our senses give us at least an inkling of what it’s really like.
Even as the militant group loses ground in Iraq, many Sunnis say they have no hope for peace. One family’s story shows why.
Falah Sabar heard a knock at the door. It was just before midnight in western Baghdad last April and Falah was already in bed, so he sent his son Wissam to answer. Standing in the doorway was a tall young man in jeans who neither shook Wissam’s hand nor offered a greeting. “We don’t want you here,” he said. “Your family should be gone by noon tomorrow.” For weeks, Wissam, who was 23, had been expecting something like this, as he’d noticed a dark mood taking hold of the neighborhood. He went to get his father, but when they returned, the stranger was gone.
Falah is tall and broad-shouldered, with salt-and-pepper hair. At 48, he was the patriarch of a brood of sons, daughters-in-law, and grandchildren. He sat down with Wissam to talk things through. They had been in Baghdad for just three months, but that was long enough for the abiding principle of refugee life to imprint itself on Falah’s psyche: Avoid trouble. When Wissam had managed to find a job at a construction firm, Falah had told him to be courteous, not to mix with strangers, and not to ask too many questions. If providence had granted them a new life in this unfamiliar city, it could snatch that life away just as easily.
The newly discovered worlds are now the most promising targets in the search for life among the stars—and the race to take a closer look at them has begun.
The robot telescope settles on its target, a star that sits closer than all but a tiny fraction of the tens of billions of stellar systems that make up the Milky Way. Its mirror grabs light for 55 seconds, again and again. The robot telescope—called TRAPPIST—will observe the star for 245 hours across sixty-two nights, making 12,295 measurements. Eleven times, it will see the star dim, ever so slightly. This dip in luminosity, called a transit, has a straightforward astronomical explanation: It’s a planet passing in front of the star, blocking just a bit of its light. In this case, the transits tell us that 3 planets orbit the star.
“So what?” you might think.
Astronomers have been spotting planets around distant stars for years now, using the transit method, among others. Not a month goes by without a headline, touting the discovery of new “exoplanets.” But these planets are different, and not only because they’re near. Like the Earth these planets could potentially permit liquid water to persist on their surfaces—which is thought to be a key pre-condition for the emergence of life. Today, when their discovery is published in Nature, they will instantly become the most promising planets yet found in the search for life among the stars.