Archive for September 23rd, 2010

September 23, 2010



Keri is a Hebrew term which literally means ‘happenstance,’ ‘frivolity’ or ‘contrariness’ and has come to mean ‘seminal emission.’ The term is generally used in Jewish law to refer specifically to the regulations and rituals concerning the emission of semen. The biblical regulations of the Priestly Code specify that a man who had experienced an emission of semen would become ritually impure, until the evening came and the man had washed himself in water.

The Talmud adds prohibitions designed to avoid keri in cases that don’t involve sexual intercourse. It was forbidden for a man to investigate himself to determine whether an emission of semen had occurred. The Talmud goes on to address the concern that preventing any contact with the penis would make urination more awkward for males, with some Talmudic rabbis arguing that men should urinate from a high place or above dirt so that they don’t have to touch the penis to avoid making a mess. Deliberate erections were considered by some of the Talmudic writers to be an excommunicable offense, and Talmudic sources even prohibit men from witnessing sexually arousing scenes.

September 23, 2010

Journal of Recreational Mathematics

The Journal of Recreational Mathematics is an American journal dedicated to recreational mathematics, started in 1968. It is published quarterly by the Baywood Publishing Company. The journal contains original articles, book reviews, alphametics (verbal arithmetic), problems, conjectures, and solutions.

September 23, 2010




Hafiz [hah-fiz], literally meaning ‘guardian’, is an honorific used by Muslims in modern days for someone who has completely memorized the Qur’an. The Islamic prophet Muhammad lived in the 7th century CE, in Arabia in a time when many people were not literate. The Arabs preserved their histories, genealogies, and poetry by memory alone. When Muhammad proclaimed the verses later collected as the Qur’an, his followers naturally preserved the words by memorizing them.

Early accounts say that the literate Muslims also wrote down such verses as they heard them. However, the Arabic writing of the time was a scripta defectiva, an incomplete script, that did not include vowel markings or other diacritics needed to distinguish between words. There are numerous traditions of recitation. Most hafiz know only one version, but true experts can recite in several traditions.

September 23, 2010



Ganymede [gan-uh-meed] is a moon of Jupiter and the largest satellite in the Solar System. It has a diameter of 5,268 km (8% larger than Mercury), orbits Jupiter in roughly seven days, and is composed of approximately equal amounts of silicate rock and water ice. A saltwater ocean is believed to exist nearly 200 km below Ganymede’s surface, sandwiched between layers of ice. Ganymede is the only satellite in the Solar System known to possess a magnetosphere, likely created through convection within its liquid iron core. The meager magnetosphere is buried within Jupiter’s much larger magnetic field and connected to it through open field lines. The satellite has a thin oxygen atmosphere that includes O, O2, and possibly O3 (ozone).

Ganymede’s discovery is credited to Galileo Galilei, who was the first to observe it on January 7, 1610. The satellite’s name was soon suggested by astronomer Simon Marius, for the mythological Ganymede, cupbearer of the Greek gods and Zeus’s beloved. A joint NASA/ ESA mission to Jupiter’s icy moons (including Ganymede), the Europa Jupiter System Mission (EJSM), is proposed for a launch in 2020.

September 23, 2010

Facilitated Communication

Facilitated communication (FC) is a process by which a facilitator supports the hand or arm of a communicatively impaired individual while using a keyboard or other devices with the aim of helping the individual to develop pointing skills and to communicate. The procedure is controversial, since a majority of peer reviewed scientific studies conclude that the typed language output attributed to the clients is directed or systematically determined by the therapists who provide facilitated assistance.

Some neurologists and psychologists believe there is a high incidence of dyspraxia, or difficulty with planning and/or executing voluntary movement, among such individuals, and that this is alleviated by a facilitator’s manual support. Proponents of FC suggest that some people with autism and moderate and profound mental retardation may have ‘undisclosed literacy,’ or the capacity for other symbolic communication, consistent with higher intellectual functioning than has been presumed.

September 23, 2010

Ego Death

Ego death is the perceived loss of boundaries between self and environment, often brought on by psychedelic drugs such as LSD, psilocybin, mescaline, or DMT. Many other methods, practices, or experiences may also induce this state, including prayer, sleep deprivation, fasting, meditation practice, or through the use of an isolation tank. It’s often described as, ‘becoming one with the universe.’

It is an experience that purportedly reveals the illusory aspect of the ego,  and is undergone by psychonauts, mystics, shamans, monks, psychologists, and others interested in exploring the depths of the mind. The practice of ego death as a deliberately sought ‘mystical experience’ in some ways overlaps, but is nevertheless distinct from, traditional teachings concerning enlightenment/’Nirvana’ (in Buddhism) or ‘Moksha’ (in Hinduism and Jainism), which might perhaps be better understood as transcendence of the notion that one even has any actual, non-illusory ‘ego’ with which to experience ‘death’ in the first place.