Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Happy Solstice

From the Telegraph:
Modern-day druids, hippies and revellers who turn up at Stonehenge to celebrate the summer solstice may not be marking an ancient festival as they believe.The latest archaeological findings add weight to growing evidence that our ancestors visited Stonehenge to celebrate the winter solstice.
Analysis of pigs's teeth found at Durrington Walls, a ceremonial site of wooden post circles near Stonehenge on the River Avon, has shown that most pigs were less than a year old when slaughtered.
Dr Umburto Albarella, an animal bone expert at the University of Sheffield's archaeology department, which is studying monuments around Stonehenge, said pigs in the Neolithic period were born in spring and were an early form of domestic pig that farrowed once a year. The existence of large numbers of bones from pigs slaughtered in December or January supports the view that our Neolithic ancestors took part in a winter solstice festival.
An interesting political survivor in Spain:
The future of a Franco-era veteran and Spain's foremost political survivor hung in the balance yesterday as the country waited to see if he had secured a record fifth term as regional president of Galicia.

One seat will save Franco veteran, 82, from hanging up his presidential boots
By Isambard Wilkinson in Santiago de Compostela
(Filed: 21/06/2005)

The future of a Franco-era veteran and Spain's foremost political survivor hung in the balance yesterday as the country waited to see if he had secured a record fifth term as regional president of Galicia.
Manuel Fraga, 82, was himself confident that his centre-right People's Party (PP) would win the one seat it still needs for a majority in the Galician assembly.
If the PP fails to win the last available seat, a coalition of Socialists and Galician nationalists will form the regional government and the career of Spain's most colourful and contrary politician will be at an end.
Mr Fraga himself recently declared that he wanted to die with "las botas puestas" - wearing his boots - as his hero the dictator Francisco Franco did.
Don Manuel, as he is known, has a reputation for falling asleep at meetings, and is sensitive to remarks about his age, even though he recently collapsed while appearing in a live televised broadcast.
Like, Franco, Mr Fraga enjoys shooting and once accidentally shot the dictator's daughter, Nenuca, in the bottom.
What Would Jesus Eat? Incredbibly that's one of the latest diet-books in the States. One of the writers for the Times tries it out:
Dr Colbert is the author of What Would Jesus Eat? the book at the centre of a new dieting craze that is sweeping America (and doing particularly well in states that voted Republican). “We seek to follow Jesus in every area of our lives,” he writes in the introduction. “Why not in our eating habits?” Biblical health has become big business in the USA. Alongside Dr Colbert’s 50-odd books on the subject, other authors have produced The Maker’s Diet, Body by God and the Hallelujah Diet. Not all are about healthy eating (Colbert himself is the author of The Bible Cure for Candida and Yeast Infections), but few other areas have captured public imagination in quite the same way.
To eat as Jesus ate, bluntly speaking, one should follow what we know of today as a Mediterranean diet (fish, grains, fruits, beans and lentils) and observe what Colbert describes as “the law that was given to the Israelites from God through Moses”. This, of course, is the Jewish dietary law of kashrut — what Jews follow in order to keep kosher. Jews and kosher are rarely mentioned in Dr Colbert’s book. To his readership, the idea of eating like Jesus obviously appeals. Eating like a Jew, possibly less so.
Like Jesus I, too, am a Jew. But, as exemplified by the pig, I’m not a very good one. This week I shall be basically learning how to be a better Jew. And Jesus will be helping me.
I have some trouble explaining this to my family.
TODAY starts badly. Habitually, I tend not to eat breakfast. Consequentially, it’s nearly lunchtime before I glance in the book and realise that, according to Dr Colbert, Jesus did.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day,” he writes. (That’s “he”. Not “He”. “He” was reticent on the subject. I think.) “Think of your metabolic rate as a fire in a fireplace. By morning, the fires of metabolism have all but gone out.”
Breakfast should be whole grain bread, unsweetened yoghurt, wholegrain cereal and fruit. This means that, in order to lose weight as Jesus lost weight, I will have to actually eat more than I currently do. Still, far be it from me to question the Word.
A healthy lunch was all very well for Jesus, traipsing around the Holy Land, but I can’t help but think he’d have had a harder time of it in the News International canteen at Wapping. I opt for a slightly grim chicken salad. Jesus was OK with chicken, apparently. Pork is out, obviously, and while red meat is allowed, it shouldn't be considered a daily staple. Jesus only ate red meat at feasts. Jesus also preferred free-range, organic meats. No battery farms for Jesus.
Up until the time of Noah and the flood, writes Dr Colbert, pretty matter of factly, everybody was a vegetarian. This, apparently, could account for the astonishing life-spans of Adam (930 years), Seth (912) and Methuselah (969). Post-Noah, Abraham only managed 175. Somebody should write a book about the Methuselah diet. That would be a winner.
And so on... The article gets a wee bit tiresome to be quite honest.

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