Weekly Photo Challenge: The Pantheon

The Pantheon

This week’s photo challenge is alphabet themed, and I was reminded of my time spent at the Pantheon in Rome. The Latin inscription reads:

M·AGRIPPA·L·F·COS·TERTIVM·FECIT

According to Wikipedia, the full message is, “”M[arcus] Agrippa L[ucii] f[ilius] co[n]s[ul] tertium fecit,” which translates to “Marcus Agrippa, son of Lucius, made [this building] when consul for the third time.” Unlike a lot of messages these days, this one is literally set in stone! A larger version is viewable here.

What Are The Four New Elements On The Periodic Table?

DNews briefly explains the latest additions that complete the seventh row of the periodic table. Right now, IUPAC has given them temporary names: Ununtrium, Ununpentium, Ununseptium, and Ununoctium. Yeah, gotta love that impromptu Latin root lesson…Anyway, these new elements will get proper names later on, and hopefully the public will get to learn more about what they can do as well. What a way for the field of Chemistry to kick off 2016!

Soundtrack Saturdays: Katamari Forever – Katamari On The Funk (Senor Coconut’s Katamambo! Remix)

If there’s any musical genre that was unexpected for the Katamari Damacy series, it was probably Mambo. But when the trailer for Katamari Forever debuted, this remix of the original Katamari On The Funk stole the show. It rounds out an already eclectic soundtrack with some powerful brass instrumentals and one of the most upbeat rhythms in the entire series. In a game that involves rolling the entire universe up into a gigantic sticky ball, you need a track like this to cheer you on.

If you want more Katamari Forever, you can find part of the OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Soundtrack Saturdays: LittleBigPlanet – Cornman

Video

Choosing a song from the LittleBigPlanet OST is like buying ice cream. There are many options, and most of them are amazing. Kinky’s Cornman represents just one of several genres featured in the game’s playlist. Depending on the level, you could be treated to rock, funk, folk, jazz, classical, chill, and techno. The soundtrack reflects LittleBigPlanet’s eclectic design; it takes its fundamental mechanics from old school Super Mario-style platformers, but allows you to collect tons of stickers, costumes, decorations, and other ways to customize your avatar. It even lets you build, edit, and share your own levels online, resulting in some of the most fun and original platformers in recent memory. Six years, an even better sequel, some spinoffs, and 8 million user-made levels later, it’s still going strong.

…Oh, and it’s narrated by none other than Stephen Fry.

If you want more LittleBigPlanet, you can find the OST here.

Good gaming, good music.

Why IS It Called February?

Hey, folks. Don’t know if you’ve noticed, but there’s only a week left in February. Most people (in the states, anyway) associate this month with holidays like Valentine’s Day and Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and the occasional Leap Year bizarreness. With all that stuff to think about, it’s easy to overlook the month itself. Aside from being the shortest of the twelve, February is the hardest to pronounce. Seriously, try saying February out loud. Correctly.

Go on, don’t be shy.

Yeah, that ‘r’ in the middle doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue. You’ve got the Romans to thank for the awkwardness. February comes from the Latin term februum, which means purification. It refers to Februalia, a purification ritual held on the 15th. Rather than scrubbing up the house, their version of spring cleaning was more about the cleansing of the self; there was a focus on sacrifices and atonement for previous misdeeds. Not exactly the Valentine’s Day you were expecting, was it? It makes sense, considering that February used to be the last month on the calendar; what better way to kick off New Year’s than cleansing yourself of the past?

The idea caught on so well that it even got its own deity. Februus was the Roman god of – you guessed it – purification. He lived in the underworld, which would’ve taken the whole cleansing thing to the spiritual level. The Etruscans also considered him a god of wealth and the dead, which means he had to share the spotlight with Pluto, the ruler of the afterlife. I’m pretty sure you can figure out who won that popularity contest. You can’t get much cooler than being King of the Afterlife. Or having a wife as awesome as Persephone, for that matter. Just think, our last planet-that’s-not-actually-a-planet could’ve been called Februus.

Oh, and watch your spelling and pronunciation. Februus could easily be mistaken for Febris, the Roman goddess of fevers and malaria. Because those usually involve a completely different kind of cleansing.

Why IS It Called January?

Hey, folks. We’re about halfway through January already. But have you ever thought about why the first month of the year is called “January”? Well, it’s all thanks to Janus. No, not the James Bond villain from Goldeneye. No, not one of Saturn’s moons. Like a lot of modern naming conventions, it goes back to the Romans. According to Cicero and other ancient writers, Janus was their god of beginnings and transitions. It sounds kind of lame at first glance, but there some awesome implications when you think about it. Every gate, door, ending, marriage, harvest, boundary, and shifts between war and peace were his domain. This guy was responsible for the flow of time itself. He even had two faces (no, not like that one guy) just so he could look into both the past and the future at the same time.

And you thought Doc Brown was awesome.

“January” is a reference to Janus by way of the Latin word Ianuarius. It – along with Februarius – were supposedly added to the calendar by Numa Pompilius, the legendary second king of Rome. That dude was responsible for creating a lot of religious and cultural traditions in the empire, some of which still lingers in modern times. Ever hear the term “vestal virgin”? Yeah, that was his idea. So was the construction of Ianus geminus, the Temple of Janus. It had doors on both ends (of course!) which were only shut during peacetime. That last part was really rare, because, you know, it was Ancient Rome. If you were a king and got to close the temple to symbolize peace for the empire, you earned some serious bragging rights. It’s like having “Won the Nobel Prize” on your resume.

Oh, one last thing: Today’s entry was posted on January 14th. According to some Roman calendars, today is marked as dies vitiosus. It basically means that something is bad or faulty about that specific day. One calendar, the Fasti Verulani, gives us the reason: it was Mark Antony’s birthday. You know, the guy who loved Cleopatra so much that he betrayed the empire and tried to go to war against Augustus? Even if you’re not well-versed in history, I’m pretty sure you can figure out how well that went down. Let’s just say the consequences (both short and long-term) were…messy. You know you’ve messed up when your enemies can legally declare your birthday to be inherently evil.