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Giorgione's Sleeping Venus

Giorgione's Sleeping Venus

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Oprah’s Childhood Expert May Have Committed Suicide Over Pedophilia Charges

Dr. Melvin Levine apparently committed suicide on Friday, the same day that a class-action suit was brought against him by Carmen Durso. Durso, some may remember, was the lawyer who became famous for bringing the first suit by Boston-area victims of pedophilia against the Catholic Church. That story, first reported in the Boston Globe, ultimately influenced victims around the world to come forward.

“Word of Levine’s death came one day after about 40 of his former patients filed a medical malpractice and sexual abuse suit against him,” reported The New York Times. While a doctor at Children’s Hospital Boston from 1966 to 1985, Levine allegedly “stroked, massaged, and manipulated the genitals of his patients in a manner which was not medically necessary.” The former patients, all now adults, were between the ages of 4 and 17 when abused, according to the lawsuit, which seeks class-action status and unspecified damages for pain and suffering.

Dr. Levine was Professor of Pediatrics at the University of North Carolina Medical School in Chapel Hill and the Director of the University’s Clinical Center for the Study of Development and Learning. He’s also the co-founder of All Kinds of Minds, a nonprofit Institute for the study of differences in learning; and co-chairs the Institute’s Board of Directors with Charles R. Schwab. He is the author of A Mind at a Time, The Myth of Laziness, and Ready or Not, Here Life Comes.

Charges of pedophilia initially emerged in 2008, but Dr. Levine and his organizations, including Children’s Hospital in Boston, denied all wrongdoing.

We asked a source—one of the very first victims to step forward in the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal, who prefers to remain anonymous—what he thought about the timing of Dr. Levine’s death and the class-action suit. “Pedophiles rarely commit suicide for the same reason they don’t respond well to therapy,” he told us. “They don’t think they did anything wrong.”

“I always tell people that from the moment a kid gets up in the morning until he goes to sleep at night, the central mission of the day is to avoid humiliation at all costs,” Dr. Levine.

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Buried alive

To those whose delicate sensitivities were likely to be upset at the sight of spouting blood or severed limbs, this method of execution proved to be ideal. At best the victim, while dying, was completely hidden from view; at worst, where the victim was buried up to the neck, at least only the head was visible, death being apparent when finally the eyes closed and silence reigned.

Although in Saxon times some barons disposed of their criminals by forcing them into a crucet house, a short, narrow chest, the spikes with which it was lined bringing about a slow and agonising death, burying alive never really caught on in England, only one case being reported in the ancient annals. That occurred in 1222:

A similar device to the Saxon crucet house was employed in France, and was known as the chambre á crucer. This was a chest, also studded with spikes or containing sharp stones, into which the victim was crammed and then buried alive.

Sometimes the chest was dispensed with, as in 1460 when a Frenchwoman, condemned for theft, was sentenced to be buried alive before the gallows. And the Duc de Soissons, on discovering that a manservant of his had had the temerity to tarry one of the maids without first obtaining the ducal permission, had them both buried alive in the grounds of his estate.

Earlier, in the thirteenth century, during the war against the Albigenses, the sister of the governor of Le Voeur was lowered into a pit, which was then filled up with boulders.

In Germany duels, with clubs as weapons, took place between men and women, much thought having first been given to equalise the obvious discrepancies between the sexes, the man, one hand tied behind his back, was armed with three clubs but had to stand up to his waist in a large hole in the arena. The woman, at liberty to move where she wished, had three stones, each swathed in cloths.

The rules of the contest were listed in a book written by H.C. Lea in 1892: each of the adversaries would proceed to strike the other as opportunity presented itself, but should the man, either in order to maintain his balance or to recover from a blow, touch the ground with his hand or arm, he would forfeit a club. Should the woman hit him with a stone after he had lost all his clubs, she would lose one of her stones. If, during the combat, she managed to render the man unconscious, he would be executed. But should he, despite her elusiveness, be able to club her into insensibility, she would be declared the loser, and would be buried alive.

Dutch women also suffered similar deaths, not by contests but at the hands of the Spanish, when that nation ruled The Netherlands. One, Ann Ven der Hoor, of the town of Malines, refused to embrace Roman Catholicism and was buried alive, only her head being left exposed. A final choice being given, she refused to abjure her faith, and so the executioner covered her head with earth, then stamped on her until she expired.

Switzerland, too, disposed of some of its unfortunates by burial, preferring, however, to entomb them within walls or cellars of buildings, a method adopted by the Ancient Persians, whose condemned criminals were imprisoned inside the double walls of houses adjoining the main roads in the cities. To increase their torment they were bound hand and foot, thereby making it impossible for them to reach the gifts of food and water pushed through crevices in the walls by sympathetic passers-by.

In India the practice of burying female offenders alive was associated with chastity – or rather the loss of it. Sir Thomas Roe, visiting the court of the Great Mogul in Bengal in 1614, reported that a woman, discovered to be involved in an intrigue with a lover, was placed upright in a hole containing a stake to which her feet were bound. The earth was rammed round her legs and body up to the armpits and she was kept in this position for three days and two nights without food or water. Her head was uncovered, ensuring that she was fully exposed to the heat of the tropical sun. Had she survived the ordeal, a pardon would have been granted, but the privations were too overwhelming, and she died shortly afterwards.

The price of unchastity was also high in the days of the Romans. Vestal Virgins who yielded to temptation and so lost their qualifications and honoured places in the temple were, promulgated in 451 bc in the Decemviri of the Twelve Tables, forthwith entombed in a small cave or buried alive in the ground, wearing only a single garment.

One Virgin was thus buried because, on seeing a wedding, she murmured wistfully: ‘Felices nuptae! Moriar ni nubere dulce est.’ (‘Hail, happy bride! I wish I were dead, or married!’) The former of her wishes was swiftly granted.

Further east, the wind-blown sands all but obliterate the old caravan route which leads from Karakorum, once the capital city of Genghis Khan, traverses the Gobi Desert via the Mongolian towns of Bayan Tumen and Baruun Urta, and ends at Peking (now Beijing). The route is lined with small mounds, each the trial place of those who, in the sixteenth century, sought to ambush and rob the rich merchants of their spices and ivory, their silver and jewels.

Many expeditions were led against the wily raiding parties, but few of their members were captured, and it became obvious that stern deterrents were required. As in London at that time, where the practice of exhibiting the heads of wrongdoers on London Bridge warned of dire retribution, so the authorities in Mongolia bethought themselves of the qualities of the soil of their region which, when mixed with straw and water, solidified into a form of cement.

Accordingly, captured bandits were buried alive at intervals alongside the caravan route, in holes filled with the mixture, their visible heads functioning both as signposts for the merchants and ‘Keep Off’ signs for any would-be marauder.

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People in Hong Kong are moving into 20-square-foot 'coffin homes' to save money

Simon Wong has spent the last 20 years learning the hard way how to live with less. Less clutter, less money, and, most noticeably, less space.

Wong, a 61-year-old Hong Kong resident, is one of a growing number of citizens forced into so-called "coffin homes," 20-square-foot cages that offer just enough space to lie down and hang a few shirts and pairs of pants.

His monthly rent of $226 would be enough to share a roomy one-bedroom apartment in many American towns (though admittedly it would only be enough to rent a closet in big cities like New York City and San Francisco). Instead, his living space measures just 4'x6'.

Hong Kong's housing prices are currently at an all-time high, with the average price per square foot now hovering around $1,380. (In New York City, it's roughly $1,645.) Hong Kong's chief executive, Leung Chun-ying, has called the housing crisis "the gravest potential hazard" to society, as only 7% of the city's land is zoned for housing.

People like Wong are casualties of that affordable-housing scarcity. The government estimates some 200,000 people live in coffin homes, but as a spokesperson for the Society for Community Organization told Reuters, the true number could be much higher.

Wong says he's applied for public housing, but has received no response indicating whether he's been accepted or denied.

His only luxury may be that he's single. Unlike people living with family members or spouses, he doesn't have to negotiate scarce resources like food or privacy. Some families have no choice but to live in subdivided housing, meaning a father and daughter could live in one room while the mother and son live down the hall.

Wong, meanwhile, is free to watch TV or smoke a cigarette within the confines of his box at all hours of the day.

Hong Kong has announced plans to build more affordable homes over the next decade. By 2027, it plans to add 280,000 public homes and 180,000 private homes.

But in the meantime, many residents have no choice but to move into increasingly smaller homes, even if it means sacrificing every last creature comfort for a roof over their heads.

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Sexual enhancement products confiscated

Wewak Urban LLG acting manageress, Winnie Sagiu, confirmed confiscation of these enhancement products at Tang Mow Department Store.

Sagiu, in an official letter to the store management, police and local and provincial government hierarchy,confirmed the confiscation of six of these illegal products, which are now placed in the care in the care of Customs PNG.

She stated that the products are to stimulate the male sex organs during sexual intercourse.

Sagiu, who is also a Health Extension Officer, said the products increase the risk of getting sexual transmitted infections due to having multiple partners.

The store manager were tight lipped when questioned by authorities.

The store manager said the products were bought from the street sellers and sold in their shop.

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Feminism in Europe makes second-generation male Muslim immigrants suicide bombers. Up to now it's only explosives. But a poison gas attack isn't far away.

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Slow Burn — 11 Terrifying Facts About Mustard Gas

On July 12, German gunners lobbed more than 50,000 artillery shells containing an experimental poison gas into the British and Canadian lines near Ypres. Unlike the widely used chlorine or phosgene agents, which attacked the eyes and lungs, this new terror burned its victims bodies both inside and out. And because of the unmistakable pungent aroma that accompanied its release, soldiers in the trenches began soon began calling the the weapon mustard gas.

At first, those in the path of the unfamiliar and faintly yellow vapour had little idea they were even in danger. But within hours, the gas’ lethal effects would be all too obvious. Shortly after its first use, dressing stations up and down front were overflowing with more than 2,000 victims suffering from excruciating and untreatable blisters on their arms, legs and torsos. Most were blinded; others were slowly suffocating. Nearly 100 of the casualties succumbed to their wounds within a few days. Over the next several weeks, 1 million mustard gas shells would land on the Allied lines near Ypres leaving thousands writhing in agony, disfigured and unfit for duty. More than 500 deaths would be recorded.

By the autumn, mustard gas was in use up and down the Western Front. It would continue to be released right up until the Armistice, eventually becoming one of the most powerful symbols of the horrors of trench warfare. Here are some little-known facts about this terrible weapon of mass destruction.

• Sulphur Mustard or mustard gas was originally called “LOST” in reference to the last names of the German chemists that first engineered it — Wilhelm Lommel and Wilhelm Steinkopf. It was also code named “Yperite” after the Belgian town where it was first used, “Yellow Cross”, “Mustard T” or simply “H”.

• The gas is classified as a “cyotoxic” agent, meaning that it attacks all living cells in comes into contact with. Made of sulphur dichloride and ethylene, the thick, oily, brown liquid gives off a weak garlic, horseradish or mustard odour when released.

• Although introduced to the battlefield in 1917, the nasty effects of sulphur mustard were known as far back as the 1860s. A German chemist named Albert Niemann (the same individual who discovered cocaine in 1859), was among the first to document the poison’s characteristics. In 1913, British and German civilian researchers studying sulphur mustard were accidentally exposed during lab work and had to be hospitalized. The German military obtained the notes about the incident and promptly explored weaponizing sulphur mustard.

• Germany eventually developed an array of delivery systems for mustard gas including artillery shells, mortar rounds, rockets, free fall bombs and even land mines. According to one estimate, the British army alone suffered 20,000 mustard gas casualties in the last year of the war.

• According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, the first sign of mustard gas poisoning is a mild skin irritation that appears several hours after exposure. Affected areas gradually turn yellow and eventually agonizing blisters form on the skin. Eyes become red, sore and runny — extreme pain and blindness follows. Other symptoms include nasal congestion, sinus pain, hoarseness, coughing and in extreme cases respiratory failure. Sustained exposure can produce nausea, diarrhea and abdominal pain. Fatalities typically occur within a few days, but it can take weeks, even months for survivors to fully recover. And some never do; permanent blindness, scars, long-term respiratory damage and heightened risk of cancer are just some of the long-term effects of mustard gas poisoning. To this day, there is no antidote for mustard gas. The CDC reports that treatment options are limited to “supportive care.”

• Amazingly, mustard gas wasn’t the deadliest poison gas to be used in the First World War. Only between 1 and 5 percent of those exposed to the agent died as a result. [4] Nevertheless, it terrified soldiers because unlike other chemical weapons, victims were often unaware they were being poisoned. What’s more, gas masks and respirators only protected the lungs from the toxin; everything else burned, even skin beneath clothing. Once discharged On the battlefield, sulphur mustard could take days to dissipate. Since it was heavier than air, vapours would settle into shell-holes, craters and trenches and taint the water that collected in No Man’s Land. According to veterans, men frequently tracked contaminated mud back into their dugouts before turning in and unknowingly poisoned themselves and their comrades while they slept.

• Despite the outrage that followed Germany’s use of mustard gas in 1917, the Allies immediately engineered their own stockpiles of the stuff. By November, the British were dropping sulphur mustard onto German trenches at Cambrai. In fact, the breakout through the Hindenburg Line in 1918 was aided by a massive Allied mustard gas attack. America’s Dow Chemical manufactured the poison during the last year of the war.

• Although the use of mustard gas was universally condemned after the war and later banned by the Geneva Protocol of 1925, armies the world over continued to use it long after 1918. British forces participating in the intervention in Russia used sulfur mustard shells against the Bolsheviks. Both the Spanish and French air corps dropped the agent from planes onto Rif insurgents in Morocco during the 1920s. Italians used mustard gas against Abyssinian guerrillas while the Japanese gassed Chinese armies and civilians alike in Manchuria during the 1930s.

• During World War Two, the Allies stockpiled millions of tons of mustard gas and other chemical weapons just behind the frontlines in the event of an Axis gas attack. In December of 1943, an American supply ship laden with 2,000 mustard gas shells was damaged in an air raid off Bari, Italy. Much of the deadly cargo seeped into the waters. More than 600 American personnel were exposed to the gas and 60 died. An unknown number of Italian civilians also perished. Allied commanders suppressed the whole story for fear the Germans might resort to chemical weapons in response.

• Mustard gas was used in anger during the 1960s in the North Yemen civil war. Twenty years later, Saddam Hussein outraged the world by dropping it on both the Iranian army and Iraq’s own Kurdish population. More than 5,000 civilians died in a mustard gas attack on the city of Halabja in 1988.

• Mustard gas continues to do harm to this day. Abandoned stockpiles of the agent are frequently discovered and often injure those who stumble across it. In 2002, archeologists unearthed a lost consignment of mustard gas while performing an excavation at the Presidio in San Francisco. In 2010, a fishing trawler inadvertently dredged up some vintage gas shells from the bottom of the Atlantic off New York. Several of the crew were burned by the toxin and hospitalized.

• Despite it’s fearsome reputation as a weapon, mustard gas has also saved lives. After World War Two, medical researchers who were aware of sulfur mustard’s cell-destroying properties fashioned the first cancer-fighting chemotherapy treatments from mustard gas. Yet, these limited benefits hardly outweigh the weapon’s legacy of horror.

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It is the secret dream of every Swedish or German woman to marry a black men, or at least have sex with a black man. Every smart young African man should migrate to Europe. Free money, nice house, good sex!

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One Thousand Cuts… Terrifying Ancient Chinese Torture and Execution Methods

While today we use boring methods of execution so as to preserve the humanity of both the executioner and the executed, back in the day they really didn’t give a shit about the people they punished. In fact, humiliation and suffering were important aspects of torture and execution, and no one did this better than the ancient Chinese. They were highly creative and seriously sadistic in their methods, and liked to do things slow and steady, often prolonging death for days. Below are some of the methods used in ancient China to torture and execute prisoners:

Also known as “slow slicing” or “death by a thousand cuts,” Lingchi involved the removal by knife of flesh from the body in small pieces and small, non-deadly cuts to limbs and torso. After chunks of flesh had been removed from all of the limbs, they were amputated from the living torso. The executioner made sure not to bleed the victim too much in order to prolong death until the final cuts to the throat or heart were made. Lingchi was brutal and slow, and a punishment that carried on into the afterlife, where it was said that a person killed by lingchi would not be whole after death. According to Sir Henry Norman in his book The People and Politics of the Far East, the executioner sliced off pieces by “grasping handfuls from the fleshy parts of the body, such as the thighs and the breasts…then the limbs are cut off piecemeal at the wrists and the ankles, the elbows and knees, the shoulders and hip. Finally the victim is stabbed in the heart and his head cut off.” Lingchi was one of those brutal torture methods that were photographed in the 1800s with the advent of the camera, so there are a lot of scary photos of this one!

Flaying

Flaying, or the removal of skin from the face or body of a person, was practiced all over the ancient world, but the Chinese were very fond of it. Customarily, it was done with a sharp knife, carefully slicing into the dermis and removing the skin of the face in one piece. Many Chinese emperors and empresses loved flaying their detractors, The Hongwu Emperor in particular – he ordered the flaying of 5000 women in 1396. The skins were either stuffed with straw or nailed to a wall to show off to any potential enemies of the state. I also found a particularly gruesome story about flaying with mercury, whereby the victim would be buried upright to the neck, and have two cuts made in the scalp and mercury poured into them. The weight of the mercury would cause the skin to separate from the flesh, and when the victim writhed in pain they would slip from their skin like a banana from the peel. I couldn’t find anything to back this up, but it sounds awesomely fucking sadistic!!!

Bamboo

Bamboo grows at an insane rate, sometimes feet per day, so the Chinese took advantage of this by using it to slowly kill prisoners in an excruciatingly painful way. The prisoner would be suspended above shoots of living bamboo that had been sharpened to a point. As the bamboo grew, it would slowly pierce the victim’s flesh and grow into their bodies to pierce their organs. Nobody had to get their hands dirty, the bamboo did all the work. I can’t imagine the terrifying feeling of the bamboo pressing into my flesh, knowing that it would inevitably enter my body.

The Wooden Horse

According to the Chinese historical documents known as the Twenty-Four Histories, a woman who was convicted of conspiring to kill her husband with her lover was often punished with a device known as a wooden horse. This was basically just a sharpened wooden stake that she was hung above, with the tip in her vagina, and then she was cut down, allowing the stake to enter her body and pierce through it until it came out the top. Holy fucking hell that is disgusting!!!

The Nine Familial Exterminations

As well as creative torture and execution methods, some Chinese emperors were especially brutal when it came to whom suffered at their hands. The Nine Familial Exterminations is a good example – when a person was condemned for crimes like treason, the emperor may also choose to punish eight other levels of their family, which meant their children, parents, grandparents, siblings, siblings in-law, parents in-law, aunts and uncles, often by a method like lingchi. In one case, that of Fang Xiaoru, a scholar in the Ming Dynasty who refused to write the inaugural address for the incoming emperor, he asked that ten levels be executed, so the emperor also included his students, and executed a total of 873 people.

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Not Science Fiction: A Brain In A Box To Let People Live On After Death

Scientists believe it may be possible in the future for human brains to survive death in robotic bodies. but would we want to?

I recently had the unusual experience of seeing three renowned scientists discuss whether it’s possible to remove a human brain from a body, put it in a tank, and give it a robotic body. This wasn’t some bizarre late-night bar discussion: The conversation was a serious talk conducted on stage at a conference at New York’s Lincoln Center. The University of Southern California’s Theodore Berger, Duke University’s Mikhail Lebedev, and Alexander Kaplan of Moscow University, all believe it’s possible for the brain to survive body-death inside a cybernetic shell.

In their panel at the Global Future 2045 conference, the trio discussed a future that sounds like a combination of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, the recent mouse inception, and Krang, the brain-in-a-box villain of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The talk, which took place in a mixture of Russian and English, focused on making it possible in our lifetime to conduct brain transplants, harvesting human parts from the body for cybernetic integration, and making self-aware brains comfortable in their new robot homes. It was just another Saturday afternoon, in other words.

Notably absent from the conversation was what the quality of life would be for human brains harvested into robotic bodies. Although all three researchers come from impeccable neurology backgrounds, the talk centered on mostly whether it would be possible to make the technology work. Whether it would be wise, or what the experience would be like for both patients and loved ones, wasn’t discussed as much.

The three researchers believe brain transplants are possible because the human brain is the last organ in the body to cease function after death. Because the death process includes a short window where the brain functions without support from other organs, Berger, Kaplan, and Lebedev all believe there is precedent to have the human brain functioning indefinitely in a non-human carrier–as long as the appropriate support system is there for the brain. They also stress the fact that nerve cells age slowly compared to other organs.

This brain-in-a-robot would be supported by biological blood substitutes (with “the necessary hormonal-biochemical and energetic substrate”), multi-channel brain-computer interfaces with two-way information exchange, neural prostheses, artificially regrown human organs, and other biotech tools that we can’t even imagine. Because there is no precedent for the human brain surviving and functioning outside of a human body, degrees of consciousness, intelligence, comprehension, and a million other existential quandaries that would or wouldn’t exist in a robo-brain simply aren’t evaluated. The data points aren’t there for us to understand, even if it’s possible to transplant a human brain into a robot, what it’s like to be a human brain transplanted into a robot.

There are even interim holding facilities where living human brains could hypothetically be stored before transplantation.

While their roundtable discussion admittedly sounded like a master’s exercise in strange science, the kicker is that all three are engaged in preliminary efforts to make this happen. Last year, at the resolutely mainstream MIT Media Lab, I saw Dr. Berger speak about hacking the memories of rats. Berger’s lab at USC is actively working on prosthetic brain implants that both falsify memories and stimulate brain function in damaged neurons. The lab’s work recently received media attention when it successfully generated new memories in a rat that had its hippocampus chemically disabled. In literature, Berger emphasizes his technology’s potential for treating Alzheimer’s and dementia through the possibility of “building spare parts for the brain;” on-stage in New York, he said it could also lead in the future to full-on brain transplants.

This would work in tandem with Kaplan’s and Lebedev’s specialties. The two Russian scientists research brain-computer interfaces (BCIs)–plug-in interfaces which meld the human brain and nervous system to computer operating systems. While BCIs are most commonly found in toys that read brainwaves to detect stress or concentration, they have revolutionary potential to change the lives of stroke victims and the disabled.

When combined, brain prosthetics and brain-computer interfaces could lead to brain transplants decades from now. Would you want to spend decades or even a century living inside a robotic body at the mercy of a software interface to navigate the world? We’re just beginning to grasp the ethical, philosophical, and scientific implications. But with the right amount of funding, research, and cooperation, it’s entirely possible.

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We are different. For us, the adherents of Kreutz Religion, sex is sacred. Sexual intercourse is religious service. Flirting is worship. Optimal orgasms build our immortal soul. Our karma depends on sexual success. Evolution has a spiritual dimension.

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