my favorite part of hamlet is at the beginning when they see the ghost of hamlet sr for the first time
and the guards are like “Horatio, you go talk to it! You went to college!”
and Horatio is like “Yeah! I did go to college! I will go talk to the ghost!”
like. where did horatio go to college. did he go to ghost college
That’s actually a really fascinating illustration of how literary tropes have evolved over time.
Throughout much of Western European history, even exceedingly basic formal education - the sort of thing that you or I would learn in elementary school - was largely restricted to the clergy and the children of the very wealthy. Literacy rates were so low that as much as a third of the population were unable to write their own names. (This is where the trope about signing one’s name with an “X” comes from, incidentally.)
Consequently, being college-educated was a really big deal, and contemporary media reflected this. As late as the 17th Century, Western European theatre and literature would often treat college-educated individuals in much the same way that modern media treats comic book super-scientists: experts at everything, able to master new fields in hours or days, and capable of pulling convenient plot devices out of thin air as the narrative demands.
Thus, narratively speaking, it’s totally reasonable for those guards to expect Horatio to be a ghost expert. He’s a university boy - of course he’s a ghost expert.
The E. Coli Made Me Do It
In May of 2000, heavy rains pummeled Walkerton, Ontario, a town of around five thousand people located a hundred miles northeast of Toronto. Excrement from cattle containing the bacteria E. coli and campylobacter washed into the municipal water supply. An epidemic of bacterial dysentery ensued; nearly half the residents became ill and seven people died.
Two years later, Canadian researchers began surveying the exposed population. One question they asked was: Since the outbreak, have you been told for the first time by a doctor or a health-care professional that you’ve developed depression, anxiety disorder, panic disorder, or post-traumatic-stress disorder? Residents who had diarrhea after being exposed to the contaminated water were more likely to answer yes than those who hadn’t had any gastrointestinal symptoms.
This association could simply represent a natural response to a serious illness. It’s often the case that if you get sick one year, you get depressed the next. Or, maybe, people who suffered gastrointestinal distress were inclined to respond affirmatively about any symptom — particularly given their pending lawsuits against the city. The researchers dealt with this potential bias by inserting a control question on ear-buzzing, for which the rates of the two groups were the same. This allowed the researchers to raise a third possibility: Could the bacteria itself cause depression?
A lot of public and scientific attention has been paid recently to the idea that the microbiome — the collection of bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other microbes that share our bodies, outnumbering our own cells ten to one — can cause diseases widely conceptualized as non-communicable. According to well-designed, peer-reviewed studies on rodents and humans, the microbiome appears to be a major contributor to obesity, diabetes, atherosclerosis, malnutrition, hypertension, asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, colon cancer, ulcers, inflammatory bowel disease, lymphoma, liver cancer, psoriasis, and even ear wax. We are, in many ways, a result of the organisms that live inside us. (Michael Specter wrote a feature on the microbiome in the magazine last year.)
But the link between the microbiome and how we feel and behave seems far more tenuous, if only because diseases of the mind are influenced by so many factors, and often elude clear biological pathways. A number of elegant studies, however, suggest that the microbiome may have as many implications for our brains and behavior as it does for more easily defined diseases.
At a recent National Institutes of Health conference on the topic, Ted Dinan, an avuncular, scholarly psychiatrist from Cork, Ireland, explained one way that bacteria in our gut could alter our behavior. Many organisms are capable of making neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine; nerves need to communicate with each other, and neurotransmitters serve as the key facilitators of this communication. Many people are familiar with the neurotransmitter serotonin, for instance, because it is targeted by widely used antidepressants, like Prozac. What many don’t realize, however, is that gut bacteria are actually the body’s major producer of serotonin.
Beyonce: One day [Solange] told us this little bully, this little guy at school — she was only about nine — was really harassing her. So me and my girls all showed up and we surrounded him. And we’re like, “you been messing with my sister? I’m telling you, you been warned and tell ‘em Destiny’s Child has warned you.” So we were real gangsta!
[captioned for accessibility]
Back in the day, the younger Knowles [Solange] fought off one particular bully by letting him know who she was related to. “I wrote petitions to get this kid named Brandon out of school,” the “Losing You” singer told Angie Martinez of Hot 97 on Thursday, Nov. 14. “He was so obnoxious and was constantly kinda bullying [me].” But even after Brandon apparently called her mother [Tina Knowles] a “bitch” during a class trip, Knowles wasn’t seeing a change. So, who did she call up? Destiny’s Child of course!
"So one day, ‘No, No, No Part 2’ had just come out," she said of Destiny’s Child’s very first hit in 1998. "I [told him] my sister is gonna come here and you’re going to be really surprised who she is. I kept telling my sister and Kelly [Rowland], “You gotta come check this kid.” Of course he wasn’t paying any attention to what I had to say,” she said. “They pulled up and I would never forget the face Brandon made. They were coming to beat him up. It was Destiny’s Child coming to beat him up. I loved it so much.”
Sylvia Robinson, is credited with being the “Mother of Hip Hop.” She was the founder/CEO of Sugar Hill Records and helped produce the first popular rap song, “Rapper’s Delight” by the Sugarhill Gang. She also co-wrote and produced “The Message” by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, the group’s most successful single. [Wikipedia]
Yesteryear’s women in tech, unsung but critical: Hidden in Britain’s super-secret Bletchley Park, the female code-breakers of WWII were the UK counterpart to the women who built the atomic bomb in America’s super-secret Atomic City.
This photo always cheers me up a bit. It’s a front-page article from 1952 about Christine Jorgensen, one of the first women to have sex-reassignment surgery.
Since the text is a bit small and I couldn’t find a larger copy, here’s what the small blurb says:
A World of a Difference
George W. Jorgensen, Jr., son of a Bronx carpenter, served in the Army for two years and was given honorable discharge in 1946. Now George is no more. After six operations, Jorgensen’s sex has been changed and today she is a striking woman, working as a photographer in Denmark. Parents were informed of the big change in a letter Christine (that’s her new name) sent to them recently.
This article is 58 years old, and it’s more respectful of Christine’s pronoun choices and name than some publications are today. It makes me happy to see a newspaper be respectful of a trans person’s choice of name and pronouns like that :3
My favorite genre of music is righteously furious women screaming into the microphone.