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Frederick The Monk
305465.  Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:45 pm Reply with quote

The human nose can smell danger - according to research from the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, in Chicago published in Science.

Volunteers who could not differentiate between two similar smells found they could do it easily after being given a mild electric shock alongside one. Brain scans confirmed the change in the "smelling" part of the brain.

Researcher Dr Wen Li, of the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, in Chicago, said: "It's evolutionary. This helps us to have a very sensitive ability to detect something that is important to our survival from an ocean of environmental information.

"It warns us that it's dangerous and we have to pay attention to it."


305466.  Fri Mar 28, 2008 12:50 pm Reply with quote

I think we flirted with "can you smell the fear" last year, don't know if it was ever used though.

Frederick The Monk
306016.  Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:15 am Reply with quote

We asked Jo Brand I think?

306028.  Sat Mar 29, 2008 10:33 am Reply with quote

Yes, in the D Series. It was broadcast, too.

Frederick The Monk
306078.  Sat Mar 29, 2008 1:30 pm Reply with quote

Well there's no point in flogging a dead horse then.

Flogging a dead horse is interesting though...

Paying off a debt used to be known as 'working out the dead horse' or 'working off the dead horse'. Hence a debt became known as a dead horse.

The first recored use of 'flogging' in relation to dead horses is:
1872 Globe 1 Aug. 3/1 For..twenty minutes..the Premier..might be said to have rehearsed that..lively operation known as flogging a dead horse.

At first the term, in the sense of a futile pursuit seems interchangeable with 'mounting on a dead horse'.

See futilitarianism.

306221.  Sat Mar 29, 2008 4:40 pm Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
Stay tuned for some more amazing Batman-related factoids Dr Bob; I think they will be making an appearance on this bat-forum soon.

Oh dear ...

307183.  Mon Mar 31, 2008 4:22 am Reply with quote

eggshaped wrote:
One witness said:
“Wonder Woman” was about sadomasochism.


311415.  Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:15 am Reply with quote

In reference to cheese dreams; Pythagoras taught that one should refrain from eating fava beans:

"if one abstains from them, one's stomach will be less noisy, and one's dreams will be less oppressive and calmer"

s: WCC


311452.  Sun Apr 06, 2008 9:18 am Reply with quote

Hannibal Lecter take note!

311689.  Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:45 pm Reply with quote

Where's that quote from, eggshaped? The classical source, I mean (what with the lad himself having inconveniently not written anything himself); it's inconveniently not in my Pythagoras (and other loonies) book.

A quote about Pythag and beans I do have is the following, which is, in fact, Diogenes Laertius (later Roman-ish) quoting a lost work of Aristotle:

Pythagoras enjoined abstention from beans either because they are like the privy parts, or because they are like the gates of Hades (for this is the only plant that has no joints), or because they are destructive, or because they are like the nature of the universe, or because they are oligarchical (being used in the choice of rulers by lot).

Nothing like good decisive analysis. How they resemble the universe, what jointlessness has to do with Hades, and what was wrong with Aristotle's privy parts may bear further investigation.

311694.  Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:54 pm Reply with quote

The Orphics, with whom there are various Pythagorean links, also shunned the bean (Orphica fragment 291):

Eating fava beans and gnawing on the heads of one's parents are one and the same.

Pythagoreans' devotion to the anti bean cause is demonstrated by the following story, taken from Iamblichus' Life of Pythagoras (chapter 31), although one probably ought to take it with a pinch of salt, as with much that is Pythagorean:

So (the Pythagoreans) would have escaped, and their pursuit would have been given up by Eurymene's soldiers, who were heavily armed, had their flight not led them up against a field sewn with beans, which were already flowering. Unwilling to violate their principle not to touch beans, they stood still, and driven to desperation turned, and attacked their pursuers with stones and sticks, and what ever they found at hand, till they had wounded many, and slain some. But [numbers told and] all the Pythagoreans were slain by the spearmen, as none of them would suffer himself to be taken captive, preferring death, according to the Pythagorean teachings.

Aristotle wasn't the only one unsure as to why this was so important; Iamblichus goes on to say that:

As Eurymenes and his soldiers had been sent for the express purpose of taking some of the Pythagoreans alive to Dionysius, they were much crest-fallen; and... turned homewards. But as they were returning they met two of the Pythagoreans who had lagged behind, Myllias the Crotian and his Lacedaemonian wife Timycha, who had not been able to keep up with the others, being in the sixth month of pregnancy. These therefore the soldiers gladly made captive, and led to the tyrant with every precaution, so as to ensure their arrival alive. On learning what had happened, the tyrant was very much disheartened, and said to the two Pythagoreans, "You shall obtain from me honors of unusual dignity if you shall be willing to reign in partnership with me." All his offers, however, were by Myllias and Timycha rejected. Then said he, "I will release you with a safe-guard if you will tell me one thing only." On Myllias asking what he wished to learn, Dionysius replied: "Tell me why your companions chose to die rather than tread on beans?" But Myllias at once answered, "My companions did indeed prefer death to treading on beans; but I had rather do that than tell you the reason." Astonished at his answer, Dionysius ordered him forcibly removed, and Timycha tortured, for he thought that a pregnant woman, deprived of her husband, would weaken before the torments, and easily tell him all he wanted to know. The heroic woman, however, with her teeth bit her tongue until it was separated, and spat it out at the tyrant, thus demonstrating that the offending member should be entirely cut off, even if her female nature, vanquished by the torments, should be compelled to disclose something that should be reserved in silence.

Last edited by 96aelw on Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:04 pm; edited 1 time in total

311695.  Sun Apr 06, 2008 6:56 pm Reply with quote

Pliny the Elder on beans and their spriitual significance, including mention of Pythagoras:

In our ancient ceremonials, too, bean pottage occupies its place in the religious services of the gods. Beans are mostly eaten together with other food, but it is generally thought that they dull the senses, and cause sleepless nights attended with dreams. Hence it is that the bean has been condemned by Pythagoras; though, according to some, the reason for this denunciation was the belief which he entertained that the souls of the dead are enclosed in the bean: it is for this reason, too, that beans are used in the funereal banquets of the Parentalia. According to Varro, it is for a similar cause that the Flamen abstains from eating beans: in addition to which, on the blossom of the bean, there are certain letters of ill omen to be found.

There are some peculiar religious usages connected with the bean. It is the custom to bring home from the harvest a bean by way of auspice, which, from that circumstance, has the name of "referiva." In sales by public auction, too, it is thought lucky to include a bean in the lot for sale. It is a fact, too, that the bean is the only one among all the grains that fills out at the increase of the moon, however much it may have been eaten away: it can never be thoroughly boiled in sea-water, or indeed any other water that is salt.

311704.  Sun Apr 06, 2008 7:41 pm Reply with quote

Egyptians also shunned beans, according to Herodotus, which is slightly curious given that the Oxford Companion to Food describes a broad bean based concoction (ful medames) as the (modern) Egyptian national dish. It also suggests a farting-religion link to bean suspicion, in that the Greek word anemos means both wind and soul.

The supposed genital resemblance of beans was noticed by others than Aristotle, and they seem to have been held to resemble both testicles and wombs, depending on whom you ask. St Jerome is said to have forbade them to nuns, on the grounds that their resemblance to a womb might excite lust (among other places, here), and that the ensuing farting might excite lust, which may say more about Jerome than it does about beans. Haven't pinned down the quote to a particular letter yet, but I don't despair of doing so.

There you go, then; the broad bean, symbol of birth, death, lust, creation, politics, and cosmic order. Links to both food and farting, of course, in one of which threads all that probably should have gone, but heigh ho.

311711.  Sun Apr 06, 2008 8:00 pm Reply with quote

Oh, one more thing (he typed, in his best Columbo voice); Pythagorean bean abstension has been linked to favism, a genetic condition for whose sufferers broad beans can prove fatal. Favism is linked to a deficiency of a particular enzyme (Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase), in that all favists have G6PD deficiency, but many people lacking in G6PD are not favist. The deficiency confers greater resistance to malaria, and is particularly common in, amongst other places, Greece and southern Italy, which has led to suggestions that Pythagoras' ban was in fact intended to protect favists against the serious consequences that eating beans would have for them. However, this wouldn't explain why Pythagoreans and Orphics alone among the Greeks banned them, why the other Greeks were so mystified by this ban, or why Pythagoras' other dietary rules came to be. Further, favism wasn't described until the 19th century, and the particular brand of malaria against which it especially protects may not have come to Greece and Italy until after Pythagoras' time (taken from a review of Plants of Life, Plants of Death, in Folklore, 2000).

311745.  Mon Apr 07, 2008 3:20 am Reply with quote

Extraordinary. I'm shamefully ignorant of this; were the Pythagoreans in questions personal disciples of the man himself, or some kind of militia, or what?

Mat, your friend Barry Baldwin would like this stuff.


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