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The Only Miracle Jesus' Mother Asked For Was Wine

How New World Wine Resurrects Old Religion
I used to be a regular at a wine bar in San Clemente, a beach town in California where my wife and I lived when we were first married. The ‘Tuscan’ decor of the place was a little too vivid for my taste, but the wine was priced right and the owner was a great conversationalist. He would tell us stories from behind the bar about his travels to vineyards in Chile and New Zealand, and he had a charming populist streak. When people got too pretentious about the wine, he would roll his eyes and say: ‘Relax, it’s just a beverage.’ He was wrong about that, of course. Since its invention more than 8,000 years ago, wine has always been more than just a beverage.

posted by the man of twists and turns on Jul 16, 2014 - 11 comments

Superstitious Scots

When the Song Dies
In Scotland, folk songs serve as memories, of places and the dead who once inhabited them. Exploring the theme of change, When the Song Dies seeks to bring the audience under the captive spell of the old ways. Featuring a range of contributors, the film is a poignant reminder that the dead linger on, all around us, in the houses and landscapes we live in, and in the language and music of our culture. Whilst Scottishness is at the heart of the film, this story is as universal as it is specific. It is the story of a culture that is, like so many, in danger of fading from human memory.
A 15-minute film directed by Jamie Chambers.
posted by Lezzles on Feb 4, 2014 - 5 comments

Death of a Skeptic Crusader

Across three decades, his goal was to drive a scientist’s skepticism into the heart of India, a country still teeming with gurus, babas, astrologers, godmen and other mystical entrepreneurs. Dr Narendra Dabholkar, a former physician, was assassinated at age 67 earlier this week in the city of Pune. From Times of India: "Since 1983, he was confronted time and again by many religious and spiritual gurus, and faced several threats and even physical attacks. But he rejected police protection for himself. 'If I have to take police protection in my own country from my own people, then there is something wrong with me,' he used to say. 'I'm fighting within the framework of the Indian constitution and it is not against anyone, but for everyone.'"
posted by storybored on Aug 25, 2013 - 41 comments

Why do you think it's called a "cold"?

An opinion column: Why do Russians hate ice? (SLNYT)
posted by Nomyte on Sep 25, 2012 - 81 comments

A spurious system of natural law as well as a fallacious guide of conduct

A critique of Sir James Frazer's The Golden Bough by Colin Dickey. "For all its erudition and analysis, The Golden Bough has for more than a century helped cement the idea that magic is inappropriate, wrongheaded thought. Yet what separates magic from religion or science is not its methodology—Frazer himself notes that it 'is therefore a truism, almost a tautology, to say that all magic is necessarily false and barren; for were it ever to become true and fruitful, it would no longer be magic but science'—it’s that ordinary people can do it, transforming their lives with the ambitious power of everyday thought." Via Lapham's Quarterly's Magic Shows issue.
posted by Kitty Stardust on Jul 26, 2012 - 62 comments

They should have mailed it to the Marx Brothers

The Ben-Zvi Institute in Jerusalem houses the Aleppo Codex, considered the oldest and most authoritative text of the Hebrew Bible. Written in the 10th century AD and annotated by Maimonides himself, it was safeguarded by the Jewish diaspora and revered for its linguistic precision and its beauty. "The story of how some 200 pages of the codex went missing — and to this day remain the object of searches carried out around the globe by biblical scholars, private investigators, shadowy businessmen and the Mossad, Israel’s intelligence agency — is one of the great mysteries in Jewish history." [more inside]
posted by zarq on Jul 25, 2012 - 36 comments

Thirteen bottles of whisky started the after-dinner drinking, but soon proved an inelegant insufficiency.

Chicago's Anti-Superstition Society throws a Friday the 13th Party, 1940.
posted by griphus on Jan 12, 2012 - 31 comments

The science of baseball's magical necklaces

This is the background needed to begin to understand why tonight, as the World Series begins between the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers, the field will probably be full of men who are wearing what can best be perhaps described as magical necklaces. Or, if you're the geeky type, call them +5 Amulets of Baseball Enhancement.
posted by veedubya on Oct 20, 2011 - 61 comments

Locks of Love

"Love Padlocks" (SFW) - not what you might think they are. [more inside]
posted by HopperFan on Dec 9, 2010 - 38 comments

Jewish Exorcisms

“We got a bit excited because we realized that people have collected lots of dybbuk stories, but our fragment describes a real event, where you see how they come together and pray in order to exorcise the ghost from a widow,” [more inside]
posted by ServSci on Dec 21, 2009 - 11 comments

Bulgarian Days

Happy Bear's Day, a Saint Day on the Bulgarian Festival Calendar. [more inside]
posted by tellurian on Nov 29, 2009 - 7 comments

albino magic

Albinos often face mistrust and discrimination, perhaps because they tend to be portrayed as evil in popular culture. But in Tanzania and Burundi, weird delusions that albinos have magical powers mean that they are actually being hunted down, murdered and dismembered to harvest their supposedly magical body parts. One group of albino kids are trying to spread some sense by forming their own "magic" sports team.
posted by w0mbat on Sep 27, 2009 - 19 comments

Baloney Detection Kit

The Baloney Detection Kit. "With a sea of information coming at us from all directions, how do we sift out the misinformation and bogus claims, and get to the truth? Michael Shermer, Publisher of Skeptic magazine, lays out a 'Baloney Detection Kit' — ten questions we should ask when encountering a claim."
posted by homunculus on Jun 25, 2009 - 52 comments

I will teach you, Walter, why I carry thorns in the moon

In an intriguing blog entry the mysterious jasminembla muses about the man in the moon, and his relationship with thorns, linking finally to a most remarkable collection of sourced and footnoted Victorian Moon Lore authored by a Rev. Timothy Harley, 1885. In the "Man in the Moon" section, we learn that, indeed, the man in the moon has been traditionally linked with thorns, variously being exiled to the moon for stealing a bundle of brambles, strewing brambles on the path to church to hinder the pious, or cutting wood on the Sabbath, among other infractions - and that this folktale has existed since at least 1157, when an English abbot asks, in Latin, "Do you not know what the people call the rustic in the moon who carries the thorns? Whence one vulgarly speaking says, "The Rustic in the moon / Whose burden weighs him down / This changeless truth reveals / He profits not who steals." Furthermore, no less a personage than Shakespeare has mentioned the thorny situation of the poor man in the moon... and most interesting, perhaps, the rather convincing theory that the bramble-burdened man in the moon may very well be an older "Jack" of Jack and Jill fame, who did not steal, but was stolen by the moon, along with his sister. [more inside]
posted by taz on Jun 26, 2008 - 19 comments

Peculiar corpses

Peculiar corpses: "Incorruptibles remaining free of decomposition have baffled scientists to this day. These bodies are discovered in many different environments, including environments that would typically cause an accidental or deliberately preserved corpse to decompose rapidly." The photographed examples seem to all be associated with Christian faith. Hmm. "[At Oratorio di San Lorenzo] in Palermo, however, corpses are treated as characters in a play": The Museum of the Dead, reassuringly less preserved.
posted by nthdegx on May 30, 2008 - 67 comments

Cute but foreboding

Superstitious bloggers explain the recent earthquake in China by suggesting that the official Olympic Mascots of the Beijing Olympics foretold of disaster. [more inside]
posted by NikitaNikita on May 19, 2008 - 26 comments

Gives a whole new meaning to the term 'Bouncing Baby'

The real secret to producing superheroes (bollywood or otherwise) is to start them young, really YOUNG. (Link to single video)
posted by sk381 on Apr 27, 2008 - 48 comments

...robbed us of our souls and minds...

3d renderings of the zodiac signs.
posted by Wolfdog on Apr 14, 2008 - 43 comments

Pre-modern home security

Apotropaios contains much fascinating information about the (here, mainly British and Irish) folk magic practice of concealing objects in buildings for ritual protection purposes. Yes, mummified Ceiling Cat is averting your evil. One aspect of the practice, the deliberate concealment of garments, has provided us with insight into ordinary costume of bygone days.
posted by Abiezer on Jan 27, 2008 - 26 comments

The Pope with the Robotic Head

Gerbert D'Aurillac: mathemetician and engineer, Pope, ghost, and meddler with dark forces. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Nov 1, 2007 - 17 comments

Video Ergo Sum

Virtual Out-of-Body Experience. Using two procedures to deliberately scramble a person's visual and tactile senses, neuroscientists are able to induce "out-of-body" experiences in people. The effect is the same as the 'rubber hand illusion', but extends the effect to the whole body instead of just one limb (you can try the hand illusion for yourself).
posted by homunculus on Aug 24, 2007 - 11 comments

Superstring Backswing

The hucksters behind the QLink Pendant claim that it "utilises Sympathetic Resonance Technology to rebalance the energetic systems of the body". Apparently, some scientists and engineers think £69.99 is a fair price for a necklace consisting of a copper coil and a zero-ohm resistor [neither of which are actually connected to anything]. The inventor claims that the QLink does not use electronics components “in a conventional electronic way” yet it "increases your capacity to function in EMF saturated environments."I guess golfers will buy anything that promises an improved score. It's the perfect accessory for my new Faraday suit.
posted by chuckdarwin on Aug 11, 2007 - 41 comments

Udo Kier has nothing on these

Malaysia takes vampires seriously.
posted by Burhanistan on Aug 1, 2007 - 25 comments

The superstitious man is to the rogue what the slave is to the tyrant

Today seems like a splendid day to talk about superstitions. Not that long ago, there was an Anti-Superstition Society, whose thirteen members once presented a gift to the occupant of the thirteenthth capsule in space. Now defunct, others have taken on the challenge of debunking superstitions. Can't make the next anti-superstition party? Have your own superstition bash.
posted by Terminal Verbosity on Apr 13, 2007 - 8 comments

Rabbit, rabbit

Today is the first day of the month of August!

Did you remember to say "Rabbit, Rabbit" (or, "White Rabbit") upon waking this morning in order to insure yourself good luck for the remainder of the month? There are competing theories as to the origin of this superstition. It was a commonly held superstition in the 1920's in the United Kingdom. Many variations of the custom exist.
posted by ericb on Aug 1, 2006 - 24 comments

Old Superstitions

Old Superstitions.
posted by hama7 on Jun 25, 2004 - 8 comments

Lucky Amulet Archive

The Lucky W Amulet Archive : "A folkloric resource that contains hundreds of interlinked pages describing and illustrating amulets, talismans, lucky charms, and good luck pieces from around the world and all eras".
posted by taz on Jan 28, 2004 - 10 comments

Friday the 13th

Are you Paraskevidekatriaphobic? If you think Friday the 13th is unlucky, then you are. But you might not be wrong. Hospital admissions due to road accidents increase by up to 52% on Friday the 13th. And of course the fear is so universal, it even spawned a series of movies.
posted by Mwongozi on Dec 13, 2002 - 23 comments

Superstition ain't the way.

Superstition ain't the way. A new study confirms that you can actually be scared to death. They found a 13% increase in cardiac related deaths of Chinese and Japanese Americans on the fourth day of each month. In Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese, the pronounciation of the word 'four' (shi) is the same as the word for death. So be careful where you aim those fireworks the next 4th of July.
posted by euphorb on Jan 11, 2002 - 9 comments

587's the Number in NJ's Pick 3 Lottery

587's the Number in NJ's Pick 3 Lottery Saw this in the Star Ledger, now linked...wierd...is anyone else on MeFi shamelessly superstitious? Do you have to spit on a broom if it brushes your foot? Throw salt if spilled? Confess!
posted by adampsyche on Nov 14, 2001 - 28 comments

I need another MeFi posting like I need a...

I need another MeFi posting like I need a... Here's an organization devoted entirely to *intentionally* boring a hole in one's head. Apparently, it helps your brain to "function better". Well, if you're willing to go through with the procedure, you've certainly got room for improvement in that department.
posted by jpoulos on Jan 5, 2001 - 38 comments

The Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hammer),

The Malleus Maleficarum (The Witch Hammer), first published in 1486, is arguably one of the most infamous books ever written, due primarily to its position and regard during the Middle Ages. It served as a guidebook for Inquisitors during the Inquisition, and was designed to aid them in the identification, prosecution, and dispatching of Witches. "Therefore, let us now chiefly consider women; and first, why this kind of perfidy is found more in so fragile a sex than in men. And our inquiry will first be general, as to the general conditions of women; secondly, particular, as to which sort of women are found to be given to superstition and witchcraft; and thirdly, specifically with regard to midwives, who surpass all others in wickedness." link via the always excellent larkfarm
posted by lagado on Dec 8, 2000 - 4 comments

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