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)
Biology textbooks tell us that lichens are alliances between two organisms—a fungus and an alga. They are wrong.
In 1995, if you had told Toby Spribille that he’d eventually overthrow a scientific idea that’s been the stuff of textbooks for 150 years, he would have laughed at you. Back then, his life seemed constrained to a very different path. He was raised in a Montana trailer park, and home-schooled by what he now describes as a “fundamentalist cult.” At a young age, he fell in love with science, but had no way of feeding that love. He longed to break away from his roots and get a proper education.
At 19, he got a job at a local forestry service. Within a few years, he had earned enough to leave home. His meager savings and non-existent grades meant that no American university would take him, so Spribille looked to Europe.
Many point to unromantic 20-somethings and women’s entry into the workforce, but an overlooked factor is the trouble young men have in finding steady, well-paid jobs.
TOKYO—Japan’s population is shrinking. For the first time since the government started keeping track more than a century ago, there were fewer than 1 million births last year, as the country’s population fell by more than 300,000 people. The blame has long been put on Japan’s young people, who are accused of not having enough sex, and on women, who, the narrative goes, put their careers before thoughts of getting married and having a family.
But there’s another, simpler explanation for the country’s low birth rate, one that has implications for the U.S.: Japan’s birth rate may be falling because there are fewer good opportunities for young people, and especially men, in the country’s economy. In a country where men are still widely expected to be breadwinners and support families, a lack of good jobs may be creating a class of men who don’t marry and have children because they—and their potential partners—know they can’t afford to.
The transcript of the president’s conversation with The New York Times throws his shortcomings into greater relief than ever before.
“Now Donald Trump has finally done it” is a sentence many people have said or written, but which has never yet proven true. As Trump gained momentum during the campaign season, errors that on their own would have stopped or badly damaged previous candidates bounced right off.
These ranged from mocking John McCain as a loser (because “I like people who weren’t captured”), to being stumped by the term “nuclear triad” (the weapons of mass destruction that he as U.S. president now controls), to “when you’re a star ... you can grab ‘em by the pussy” (my onetime employer Jimmy Carter had to spend days in the 1976 campaign explaining away his admission to Playboy that he had sometimes felt “lust in the heart”), to being labelled by an in-party opponent a “pathological liar,” “utterly amoral,” and “a narcissist at a level I don't think this country's ever seen” (the words of his now-supporter Ted Cruz). I kept my list of 152 such moments in the Time Capsule series as the campaign went on.
Amidst the no-shampoo revolution, a look at global hygiene habits
Cleanliness, it turns out, has been one dirty trick. One reason early-20th-century Americans ramped up their weekly baths to daily showers is that marketing companies capitalized on the insecurities of a new class of office drones working in close quarters. As Gizmodo wrote last week, to sell products like "toilet soap" and Listerine to Americans, "the advertising industry had to create pseudoscientific maladies like 'bad breath' and 'body odor.'"
Take, for instance, Gizmodo's description of the philosophy of the Cleanliness Institute, which was founded by the Association of American Soap and Glycerine Producers:
The trade association wanted Americans to wash quite unwittingly after toilet, to wash without thought before eating, to jump into the tub as automatically as one might awake each new day.
On Flower Boy the rapper suggests he’s not straight—and struggles with a stigma he helped propagate.
Tyler, the Creator became famous, in part, for being hateful. When his rap collective Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All (“Odd Future” is fine) caught buzz around 2010, it was because of their delirious energy and Eminem-like love of mayhem. But it was their threats against women and “faggots,” delivered in song and on social media, that elevated them from subculture phenomenon to become essay prompt and political flashpoint. The likes of GLAAD and the band Tegan and Sara declared Tyler poisonous and asked the music industry to stop supporting him. Theresa May, back when she was home secretary of the U.K., took the extraordinary step of banning him from her country because his lyrics “encourage violence and intolerance of homosexuality.”
The president also angrily lashed out at the media and his critics.
President Trump lashed out at the media in a Saturday morning tweetstorm, insisting his authority to issue pardons is “complete” and expressing frustration over stories that revealed Attorney General Jeff Sessions may have lied about his contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign.
“A new INTELLIGENCE LEAK from the Amazon Washington Post, this time against A.G. Jeff Sessions. These illegal leaks, like Comey’s, must stop!” the president tweeted, following up by stating that “While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us. FAKE NEWS.”
The tacit acknowledgement the president has been thinking about his pardon power in relation to the Russia investigation, and the qualification that no crimes but leaks had been revealed “so far” raised eyebrows among media observers.
One story that should not slip underneath the radar, however, is a report that the Trump administration has apparently entrusted a small group at the White House to undermine the Iran nuclear accords over the objections of the Departments of State and Defense.
The news says a lot about two very narrow ways in which the administration sees not only Iran but the greater world. First, some members of the administration have failed to see the admittedly very real challenges presented by Iran outside the binary U.S.-Iranian contest for influence in the Middle East. Second, and most importantly, some members of the administration still do not understand that much of what the United States has been able to accomplish over the past two decades has been achieved through coalitions that could actively resist U.S. efforts to roll back those accomplishments.
Epic yet intimate, the director's new war film is boldly experimental and visually stunning.
What is Dunkirk?
The answer is more complicated than one might imagine. Director Christopher Nolan’s latest is a war film, of course, yet one in which the enemy scarcely makes an appearance. It is a $150 million epic, yet also as lean and spare as a haiku, three brief, almost wordless strands of narrative woven together in a mere 106 minutes of running time. It is classic in its themes—honor, duty, the horror of war—yet simultaneously Nolan’s most radical experiment since Memento. And for all these reasons, it is a masterpiece.
The historical moment captured by the film ascended long ago to the level of martial lore: In May 1940, in the early days of World War II, some 400,000 British and Allied troops were flanked and entrapped by Germany on the beaches of Dunkirk in northern France. Although the Channel was narrow enough that the men could almost see across to England, the waters were too shallow for warships to approach the beaches. So a flotilla of some 700 civilian craft—the “Little Ships of Dunkirk”—made their way from Ramsgate in England to assist in the rescue.
The Senate parliamentarian’s rejection of important provisions of the GOP’s Obamacare repeal bill puts its status in further jeopardy.
On Friday, Senate Democrats released a list of provisions in the Republican health-care bill that the Senate parliamentarian holds can pass via a simple, filibuster-proof majority vote. Among those provisions that didn’t meet her scrutiny are the bill’s plans to defund Planned Parenthood, restrict tax-credit funding for insurance plans that provide abortions, and a six-month “lockout” period from purchasing insurance for people who don’t maintain continuous coverage.
If this preliminary guidance holds, the Better Care Reconciliation Act—which is already in dire straits—seems likely to fail.
The final assessment of the parliamentarian, Elizabeth MacDonough, is a critical step in the GOP’s strategy for passing their bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. Republicans have opted to pass their health-care legislation via the special reconciliation process, under which they can cut debate short in the Senate and thus eliminate indefinite filibusters, which Democrats would certainly use in order to block any attempt to repeal Obamacare. But bills have to follow a certain procedure—called the Byrd Rule—in order to pass by reconciliation.