October 17, 2007

Questions From My Wife IX: Ancient Beauty Secrets

Were classic ancient beauties (Cleopatra, Helen of Troy, etc.) really all that hot or did they just have good PR?

Ideals of beauty change over generations, so who's to say if the ancients would find today's supermodels attractive at all. But, in her day, Cleopatra was the rage around the Mediterranean. Cassius Dio, a second century Greek historian, refers to her as "a woman of surpassing beauty, and at that time, when she was in the prime of her youth, she was most striking; she also possessed a most charming voice and a knowledge of how to make herself agreeable to every one." But was she reliant on her looks alone as she sought to diplomatically link to Greece through seducing Julius Caesar and Marc Antony? Plutarch says "[f]or her beauty, as we are told, was in itself not altogether incomparable, nor such as to strike those who saw her; but converse with her had an irresistible charm..." So, maybe she wasn't all that hot. Recently, Roman coins of her likeness have been found, revealing (if this likeness is at all accurate) that she had a small forehead, hooked nose, and a pointed chin. A marble bust possibly sculpted upon her arrival in Rome reveals more soft and rounded features.

Helen of Troy is probably based more in mythology to be considered "accurately beautiful as stated." Though I find it kinda funny that Isaac Asimov defined a measurement of beauty as the ability to launch one ship -- the millihelen.

Why is prostitution called the oldest profession? What were they being paid with? Meat? Fire? Stone wheels? Pterodactyl record player / woolly mammoth shower (think Flintstones)?

Uh, yeah...this one's a doozy. Prostitution, as loosely defined as providing sexual intercourse for some compensation, has probably been around as long as there has been sex and/or compensation. While I couldn't find a good answer to when it was deemed as such, there were brothels in ancient Greek, Aztec, Roman, and Jewish societies. Some theories suggest that prostitution (and adultery) came from the establishment of monogamy as a social norm in humans. Or rather, the conflict between monogamy and the male need to inseminate whatever is possible to pass along the genes. It seems unlikely to me that this would be the "oldest" of all professions. Wasn't Adam a nomenclature zoologist?

October 16, 2007

Keep It Up/Hang It Up - October 2007

Keep It Up!

  • Blue Bell Ice Cream. I signed up for your club and you promptly sent me a coupon for a free half-gallon. Can't beat that. Way to go, Blue Bell Ice Cream.
  • The fall. Leaves are changing, the air is getting crisp, I feel like actually leaving my house. I love the fall.
  • Baseball playoffs. The Yankees are out, the Sox are still in. Colorado may not have been around very long, but they're still pretty fun to watch. The Indians are good, too. Just a great championship round.
  • Site-directed Mutagenesis. You're the only experiment I can do on a consistent level anymore. We've been together from the beginning. Thanks, SDM.
Hang It Up!
  • Sunburns. You hurt my face and are now starting to make my face peel, as if I had a bad day at the sandpaper factory.
  • McDonald's Monopoly Game. Every year you tease me with your promises of free fries and easy money. And now I find out that for the last few years you've been playing me for a fool? Shame on you, McDonald's Monopoly game.
  • Yoga quackitude. Doing the stretches makes me feel great, but why does it have to be tainted with the false science of "releasing toxins" and "toning organs"? Can't we just enjoy the way it eases tension and promotes relaxation without jumping straight to "healing energy" and "chi"? Boo, quackitude. We don't need you.
  • Sports pundits who mispronounce New Orleans. It's "OR-luhnz" not "OR-LEE-uhnz" or "or-LEENS". I'm looking at you Chris Berman and Al Michaels. Plus, the Saints stink this year. Get over it.

October 4, 2007

Wow, Amazon! How'd Ya Know?

I may be a nerd, Amazon. But not this kind of nerd.