Archive for January 4th, 2011

January 4, 2011


ganguro girl

Ganguro (‘Black Face’) is an alternative fashion trend of blonde or orange hair and tanned skin among young Japanese women that  appeared in the early 1990s and peaked in popularity around the year 2000. The Shibuya and Ikebukuro districts of Tokyo were the centers of the trend. Ganguro falls into the larger subculture of ‘gyaru’ (from English ‘gal’), a slang term used for various groups of young women, usually referring to overly childish or rebellious girls.

In ganguro fashion, a deep tan is combined with hair dyed in shades of orange to blonde, or a silver grey known as ‘high bleached.’ Black ink is used as eyeliner and white concealer is used as lipstick and eyeshadow. False eyelashes, plastic facial gems, and pearl powder are often added. Platform shoes and brightly-colored outfits complete the look. Also typical of ganguro fashion are tie-dyed sarongs, miniskirts, stickers on the face, and many bracelets, rings, and necklaces.

January 4, 2011



Harajuku is the common name for the area around Harajuku Station in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Japan. It is a fashion capital of the world, renowned for its unique street fashion. Every Sunday, young people dressed in a variety of styles including gothic lolita, visual kei, and decora, as well as cosplayers spend the day in Harajuku socializing. The term ‘Harajuku Girls’ has been used by English-language media to describe teenagers dressed in any fashion style who are in the area of Harajuku.

January 4, 2011



The Skoptsy [skopt-see] were a secret sect in imperial Russia best known for practicing castration of men and the mastectomy of women in accordance with their teachings against sexual lust. They were persecuted by the imperial government and later by the Soviet Union, but enjoyed substantial growth before fading into obscurity by the mid-twentieth century. The name ‘Skoptsy’ is a plural of ‘skopets,’ an archaic word meaning ‘castrated one’ in the Russian language.

As their title indicates, the main feature of the sect was castration. They believed that after the expulsion from the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve had the halves of the forbidden fruit grafted onto their bodies forming testicles and breasts. Thus, the removal of these sexual organs restored the Skoptsy to the pristine state before the Original Sin. Men who had underwent the ‘greater seal’ (removal of the penis and testicles) used a cow-horn when urinating.

January 4, 2011



Aerogel is a material with the lowest density of any known solid. It is derived from a gel in which the liquid component of the material has been replaced with a gas. It has notable effectiveness as a thermal insulator. It is nicknamed ‘frozen smoke’ due to its translucent nature and the way light scatters in the material; however, it feels like expanded polystyrene (styrofoam) to the touch. Aerogel was invented by Samuel Stephens Kistler in 1931, as a result of a bet with Charles Learned over who could replace the liquid in ‘jellies’ with gas without causing shrinkage. Kistler’s first aerogels were produced from silica gels (his later work was based on alumina, chromia and tin oxide).

Despite their name, aerogels are rigid, dry materials and do not resemble a gel in their physical properties. Pressing softly on an aerogel typically does not leave a mark; pressing more firmly will leave a permanent depression; further pressure will cause it to shatter. Due to its hygroscopic nature, aerogel feels dry and acts as a strong desiccant. Persons handling aerogel for extended periods should wear gloves to prevent the appearance of dry brittle spots on their skin.

January 4, 2011

Derby’s Dose

black question

Derby’s dose was a form of torture used in Jamaica to punish slaves who attempted to escape. The runaway would be beaten, and salt pickle, lime juice, and bird pepper would be rubbed into his or her open wounds. Another slave would defecate into the mouth of the miscreant, who would then be gagged for four to five hours. The punishment was invented by Thomas Thistlewood, a plantation owner, and named for the slave, Derby, who was made to defecate on the victim.

January 4, 2011



Abu l-Hasan (789–857), nicknamed Ziryab, was a Persian or Kurdish polymath: a poet, musician, courtesan, astronomer, botanist and geographer born in Baghdad and active in Córdoba, Spain. According to some sources, he was a former slave, possibly of East African descent. The name ‘Ziryab’ (Blackbird) was given to him for his dark complexion, eloquence, and melodious voice.

Ziryab introduced musical instruments to Iberia, notably the Persian lute that became the Spanish guitar, as well as passionate songs and dances of Persia and Mesopotamia that later, mixed with Gypsy influence, evolved into the famed Spanish flamenco. He is also credited with inventing and popularizing an early form of toothpaste.

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