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Myth Box

Werewolves, also known as lycanthropes are mythological or folkloric humans with the ability to shape shift into wolves or anthropomorphic wolf-like creatures, either purposely, by being bitten by another werewolf, or after being placed under a curse. This transformation is often associated with the appearance of the full moon. There are many individuals today who believe they are werewolves, and some of the lycanthropes (people affected by lycanthropy) have been studied and treated by psychologists and psychiatrists.

Some people during middle ages believed that the werewolf was the projection of a demon, which made its victims appear as a wolf in his own eyes and to those around him. For others, the werewolf was a direct manifestation of the Devil. Some said that the Devil could confuse the sleeper's imagination to such an extent that he believes he had really been a wolf and had run about and killed men and beasts. Robert Burton, the clergyman and scholar, considered lycanthrope to be a form of madness as mentioned in his book Anatomy of Melancholy in 1621; he blamed every thing from sorcerers and witches to poor diet, bad air, sleeplessness and even lack of exercise for this. The diet of medieval peasants may have been a source of werewolf delusions. Ergot infection on food grains like wheat and rye was common in Europe during the middle ages. This is actually a fungus, which grows in place of grains in wet seasons after very cold winters. Alkaline parts of this fungus are chemically related to LSD (Lysergic Acid Diethylamide), a strong hallucinogenic psychoactive drug, which produces dreamlike, changes in mood and thought and alters the perception of time and space. It can create lack of self-control, extreme terror and blurring the feeling between the individual and the environment. The victims may have horrible visions of being attacked by tigers and snakes and of turning into beasts. So, what actually is werewolf or lycanthropy? Though many ingenious hypotheses have been suggested as possible explanations, definite conclusion can't be drawn. Some experts have tried to observe it as purely supernatural phenomena while others have relied on scientific observations. Contradictions and debates still persist and will continue till any single theory solves the jigsaw, which seems unlikely considering complexity and diversity of the topic.

By Nishita Aurnab
Sources: Tripod, Encarta and Wikipedia

How January went from no. 11 to no. 1

Everyone knows January is the first month of the year. And in the dim recesses of our brains, we might even recall learningin what was it, fourth grade?that the month is named for Janus (below), the two-headed Roman god. Janus could look backward and forward at the same time, making him the perfect figurehead for a month that ushers in a new year, marks the change from days growing shorter to days growing longer, heralds a farewell to one American president and the inauguration of another, and starts the new season of American Idol, with a supercool fourth judge added to the tiresome old mix!

Only here's what they probably didn't teach you in elementary school: January wasn't always the first month of the year. In Roman days, it used to be the 11th month. Back then, March was the first month of the year. Named for the god of war, March was the time when the Romans planted their fields and went off to battle. “War was very, very important to the Romans,” explains Judith Hallett, professor of classics at the University of Maryland. “The Romans loved war. They benefited from it.” The spoils of war included land and the ever popular plunder.

Meanwhile, January and February brought up the end of the Roman year. “They were two depressing months,” Hallett says. The only bright spots during those times were certain festivals, like Lupercalia, the February bash during which men ran around naked and whipped women to promote fertility. I'm guessing the men enjoyed that festival more than the women did.

But I digress.
So how did January go from No. 11 to No. 1? Blame it on politics!

A couple of hundred years before the reign of Augustus Caesar (31 B.C. to 14 A.D.), the Romans began thinking of a better way to wage politics. Instead of inaugurating their consuls in bellicose March, why not install them in office in January, two months before the country went off to war? To mark this political upheaval, the 11th month of the year thus became the first month.

I know what you're thinking: What an uncanny parallel to American history! Our president used to be inaugurated in March, toountil the 20th Amendment, ratified in 1933, changed the date. Franklin D. Roosevelt was the first to take office on January 20. The reason for the change? To cut back on the long period of lame duckery.

So here's a tip of two hats to Janus, god of gates and doorsand a much better symbol for new presidents than Mars.

By Marc Silver
Via National Geographic.com

Internet Manners

“The Internet is a marvellous thing” is probably the most overused cliché in recent times, right up there with “thank God for the cell phone.” As most of you know, there are some etiquette one has to follow while using the phone, like when coughing, cover the microphone, etc. Well, using the Internet also has its own share of etiquettes, which go under the name “netiquette”. Let's cover some of the basics:

Forwarded e-mail chains are one of the irritating parts of using E-mails. These E-mails contain a variety of messages. Some of them are religious, some of them hold “the love of your life”-type quizzes, etc, with the general threat of a curse: “forward this message or your life will be screwed and you'll die horribly”. Word of advice, when people say send this to all of your friends, DON'T, because it's very annoying.

Never forward a personal e-mail without consent of the original sender. Use the subject field when sending e-mails; it's there for a reason. Also remember, records of e-mails are kept in the servers, even deleted ones. Don't say things that would get you into trouble.

Chatting/forum etiquette
Chat groups and forums are a lot of fun. But the number one rule of using them is, don't give out personal info or your pictures. See the cartoon? You don't know who is on the other side.

There are a few other rules, like not using CAPITAL LETTERS because that means you are shouting. If someone makes a mistake, correct them, but don't gloat. Avoid flame wars. It's also smart not to respond to threats and leaving threads that are uncomfortable to you.

When you are chatting with someone, it is polite to say be right back [brb] before answering a phone or responding to your parents. It is similar to when you say, “hold on a sec” when talking on the phone. It is also polite to say bye before logging out on someone.

Great thing, Facebook. Lets you connect with all your long lost friends, helps you keep easy tabs on people. But there're also some manners and safety involved. Make sure it's only your friends who may view your information. It is better if you get to know the person in real life before you allow him access to copiable pictures that may or may not be used in Photoshop. Don't post unflattering pictures of people without their consent. Don't bug people with friend requests just because they are hot or famous.

These are some of the basic netiquettes. Check out the following sites for more info. Manners reflect your character, both in the virtual and the real world. So try to make a good impression. It'll help you meet good friends.

References: http://www.wisekids.org.uk/ netetiquette.htm
Http://www.the-eggman.com/ writings/etiquitte_1.html

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

Laff lines

The great escape
Two convicts are working on a chain gang. "I heard the warden's daughter up and married a guy down on cellblock D," the first con says to the other. "The warden's mighty upset about it too."
"Why?" asks the second prisoner. "Because she married a con?"
"No. Because they eloped."

All secure
During a bank robbery the police chief told the sergeant to cover all exits so the robbers could not get away.
Later the sergeant reports to the chief. "Sorry Sir, but they got away."
The chief very angry says, "I told you to cover all of the exits!"
"I did," replied the sergeant, "but they got away through the entrance."





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