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Negative Capablity

John Keats
Poet John Keats coined the enduring theory “negative capability” in a short shrug of a letter to his brothers: 

… it struck me what quality went to form a Man of Achievement, especially in Literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously I mean Negative Capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. Coleridge, for instance, would let go by a fine isolated verisimilitude caught from the Penetralium of mystery, from being incapable of remaining content with half-knowledge. This pursued through volumes would perhaps take us no further than this, that with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration. (The Complete Poetical Works and Letters of John Keats, p. 277)
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Awake All Night in the Rocking Chair

Sleep and Insomnia
The average human who sleeps for eight hours a day, sleeps 25 years in a 75-year life span. While we still don’t have hard biological reasoning for why we spend so much of our short lives sleeping, theories of physical and mental exhaustion are good enough for the lay. Speculation as to why some won’t or can’t sleep is more compelling. 

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A Buddhist Without a History

To an outsider, Buddhism might appear too old and convoluted to tap into. Under its three main schools of thought, Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana there are many subsets according to the different cultures and times that adopted it throughout its 2500-plus years of existence. Some argue for comprehensive studies, building an entire framework for Buddhism by tracing its history. Lama Anagarika Govinda writes in his essay “From Theravada to Zen,” "In order to understand the sacred scriptures of Buddhism, we must ... be familiar with the living stream of tradition, as it has come down to us from the days of the Buddha, in an unbroken continuity."

Even so, there remain accessible keys to unlocking the door of Buddhism. 

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Portrait of a Death March

Bataan
Picture this: You and your comrades are forced on a 65-mile march over the course of six days. You are under the blistering hot sun with no coverage, subjected to what is called sun treatment. The first few days you are not fed a crumb. Your canteens of water are confiscated and either thrown to the ground or given to the horses. If you fall behind the main group you are stabbed, shot, or run over by trucks. Then you are stuffed into train cars so tightly everyone has to stand. If you make it to the end of the march, you face further deterioration by dysentery, disease, malnutrition, and other physical mistreatment.

The question is, how long do you think you could survive?

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Never a Straight Line

Curling
If you’ve ever stumbled across a curling match and realized that you understood virtually nothing about the rules of play or the game’s terminology, you may have convinced yourself, “Yeah, I can do that.” Don’t let the curling brooms and sliding shoes fool you, this ancient Scottish game evolved over the past four millenia in regions across the globe. Its participants include world-class athletes whose exquisite precision, unfaltering focus, and strategic prowess won them world championships and the esteem of fellow players.

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Jazz

Music of Inclusion
Across the world jazz music is characterized by a sense of liberty catalyzed by musical expression. Seldom do artists appear cooler, more dignified, or freer than when onstage, improvised sounds that connect performers’ feelings, ideas, and passions to the audience’s own introspection.
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History by Design

Here to Stay
Many iconic buildings and monuments, such as the London Eye and the Parthenon in Nashville were originally planned for temporary use, but have endured. These structures still stand years after their planned demolition dates.

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Skin Deep

Male Beauty Ri0tuals
When we think about beauty rituals, primping, and preening, we generally don’t think of men. The last few decades have witnessed a rise in awareness and social acceptance for male grooming and pampering. Many men have routines that include spa visits, waxing, manicures and pedicures, and even male cosmetics.

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Pandemics-Wiping Out Populations Worldwide

With the introduction of vaccines, antibiotics, and public health measures, many diseases have been eradicated. For reasons unknown, others have vanished.

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Billionaires Club

Countless book, movie, and song titles include the word “billionaire,” which ushers in a sense of prestige, power, and glamour. From the literary world, there’s The Billionaire by Maxim Corky and innumerable romance novel titles. In film, there’s Billionaire Ransom and The Billionaire & the Movie Star, and from the music industry, there’s Travie McCoy’s catchy “Billionaire” song.

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Fixing Language

An Early History of Dictionaries
Language evolves. No one disputes that. However, words carry meaning and common understanding requires that meaning be commonly agreed upon.

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Speed and Thunder

Famous Horses
Humankind thrills in speed and loves nothing better than to harness that speed for a brief immersion in adrenaline-pumping excitement characterized by pounding hearts and the rush of wind. Hence we still found ourselves screaming with delight on rollercoasters, cheering for our favorite drivers in motorized races, and gaping in awe when fighter jets whiz overhead at blinding speed.

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Spring Harvest

With winter stores consumed, spring traditionally served as a time of hunger. In pre-industrial societies that didn’t enjoy tropical weather and year-round harvests, spring brought both hope and hardship. People planted and hoped and ate the young, tender meat of newly born livestock until summer’s harvest yielded much-needed vegetables.

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Making the Horrific Palatable

Children Story Classics
Set to  music by Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1892, the adaptation of an adaptation of a children’s story written in 1816 by Prussian author Ernst Theodor Amadeus Hoffmann has become a perennial Christmastime classic.

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Games Our Parents Played:

An Odyssey of Names
Decades after our births, when we introduce ourselves to strangers or unconsciously doodle nicknames in the margins of notebooks, our names and how we represent them take hold. They can be austere and religious or playful and delicate, but names, and the associations we have with our names, shape our identities.

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Money-Dancing and Broom-Jumping

It’s a Wedding!
Eternal bliss and merriment, sanctity and partnership, familial and personal love: they’re all represented when newlyweds speak their vows. Brides wear beautiful gowns, rings are exchanged, and a kiss seals forever the bond between husband and wife.

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The Blues

From Margins to Stardom
While the United States of America is relatively new nation (there are hundreds of societies that have enjoyed artistic, linguistic, and musical accomplishment centuries before America was established), the proliferation of American music across the globe is clear in the style, attitude, and culture seen and heard in international news, radio, and television.

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Scouting Across the Pond

Girl scouts and Boyscouts
American politicians, international dignitaries, celebrities, artists, and world-renowned athletes share a common distinction: they acknowledge that their successes are in part due to the transformative youth groups of which they were once, and always, members. More than tying knots, pitching tents, selling cookies, and rowing kayaks, The Boy Scouts of America and The Girl Scouts of the United States provide millions of children with the necessary tools and practicality to become world leaders.

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Basketball

From Passing the Time to an International Pastime
The season of March Madness is starting in the U.S.. One can already hear the drumming of leather against wooden floors, the squeaking of sneakers stopping on a dime, the heartbreaking rattle of missed shots as the clock winds down. Brackets are filled and refilled, buzzers sound, and millions of students, fans, and general spectators watch and cheer college and university teams.

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A Quick Fix

Vintage Cocktails
When ordering a cocktail, the bartender may ask you to “pick your poison.” Ironically, the origins of many alcoholic beverages are rooted in medicine rather than toxic substances.

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