Venice has cast off a chill midwinter gloom with an explosion of festive color to mark the opening of its annual Carnevale. \nMasked 17th century noblemen emerged over the weekend from the mist in St Mark's Square with their marchionesses like figments of the imagination, emphasizing the otherworldly atmosphere of this water-lapped city forever in a state of barely arrested decay. \nOthers paraded in the grotesque masks and garments of the ancient characters of the Commedia dell'Arte, Harlequin, Pantaloon and Columbine, bought from lines of artisan mask makers stalls. Many wandering, wide-eyed tourists opted to simply have their faces painted. \n"I think it's the most decadent, erotic carnival in the world," said Carolina from Germany. \nThe city fathers hope to top last year's figure of 1 million visitors by stretching the events over an extra week, capitalizing on the lure for foreigners of this crumbling masterpiece of a city where gondolas maneuver like nonchalant swans amid the dank recesses of the canals. \nHigh society will have its fling next week, when the official costume balls and private parties get into swing. Once the preserve of misbehaving nobility, many of these balls are now open to customers, albeit the high-paying sort. \n"Most of them are French, who pay between 150 euros to 350 euros (US$190 to US$445) a day to hire a costume," said Dario, on the front desk at the fabled Danieli Hotel, whose costumes are among the most popular. \nThe prices and the hype have made the exclusive carnival balls the preserve of foreigners from Japan, the US, Germany and France. According to Dario, the Venetians prefer the quiet life. \n"To tell the truth, the Venetians, more than anything else, like a bit of peace," he said. \nUndeterred, specialized travel companies have sprung up in recent years offering tailor-made Venice excursions with historical costumes, accessories like wigs, and entry to the balls -- at a price. \nThese range from a US$50 costumed "hot chocolate" at the exclusive Caffe Laverna, Wagner's old haunt, to a more satisfying Venezia Romantica evening at the Hotel Danieli (US$500), arranged by the Events and Shows Production Company. \nThe most exclusive masked ball will take place at the Gothic Palazzo Pisani-Moretta on the Canale Grande. The uninitiated will be guided through the steps of the quadrilles and other de rigeur group dances by a dancing master. \nThis year promises more variety than ever as the carnival's "Orient Express" theme celebrates Venice's history as the doorway to the East via the Silk Road exploited by its most famous son, Marco Polo, born here 750 years ago. \nA sumptuous costumed parade celebrated "The Return of Marco Polo" last Saturday, and performers from China, Japan, India and Thailand will take over the city's small campi, or squares, over the next two weeks of public and private frolics. \nThe Beijing Modern Dance Company started performing on Monday. \nMask wearing and mask making are at the heart of carnival. But Claudia Pandolfo, a young Venetian mask-maker whose mail-order customers include Japanese, French and Germans, says the government should crack down on cheap imitation plastic and plaster masks. \n"I think there should be a law to protect the artiganato in Venice, because it's a dying art," she said surrounded by the grotesque and beautiful ceramic and papier mache creations in her cramped shop. \n"There are no schools for this trade. You learn as you go along. In fact the first ones I made were pretty ugly." \nThe white, long-chinned Casanova mask is the most popular, presumably among those hoping to mimic the style of the legendary Venetian lover in a bit of traditional debauchery for which the carnival was famous through the centuries. \nThat all ground to a halt under Napoleon and was only revived again in 1979, when the merchants of Venice hit upon a way to make some low-season profit. \nThough the anonymity bestowed by wearing a mask historically tended to lead to outrageous behavior, the carnival no longer has the license of earlier times. \nBut perhaps not entirely. \nThe intriguing sounding "Shadows of Love" private event promises "an afternoon of amusements accompanied by music, dinner with dance masters and malicious games of the 18th \ncentury."
The Taiwan of yesteryear was dominated in whole or in part by the Dutch, Spanish, Qing Empire and Japanese. But is the Taiwanese name for a popular edible fish derived from the Portuguese language? Cheng Wei-chung (鄭維中), an associate research fellow at Academia Sinica’s Institute of Taiwan History, says yes. The fish in question is the narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, which was listed in early 18th century Qing local gazetteers as Taiwanese specialities alongside milk fish and mullet, according to Cheng’s paper, “Mullet, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel and milkfish: Multiple contextual developments of three certified seafood specilaities in Taiwan, from the
Aug. 10 to Aug. 16 They called him the “No Problem Doctor” (沒關係醫生) because that’s what he always told his patients when they couldn’t pay up. Operating the only clinic in Changhua County’s Pusin Township (埔心) during the 1950s, Hsu Tsai-chih (許再枝) knew that life was difficult in his remote hometown. “They barely had enough to survive, so it was pointless to chase after them for the money,” an 81-year-old Hsu told the United Daily News in 2002. “I just went with the flow, some offered to pay me back years later but I had already forgotten
I didn’t expect to spend more than three minutes out of my car, yet the sun was so brutal I put on my hat before approaching the seawall. Beimen (北門) is the flattest and most sun-baked part of Tainan. It lacks trees and people. In wintertime, the weather is often delightful. It wasn’t yet mid-morning in the hot season, however, and I felt like a leaf shriveling in the desert. Atop the seawall but facing inland, I could see dozens of the rectangular ponds which account for a significant percentage of Beimen’s “land” area. Some, no doubt, were dug to produce
A widely criticized peer-reviewed study that measured the attractiveness of women with endometriosis has been retracted from the medical journal Fertility and Sterility. The study, “Attractiveness of women with rectovaginal endometriosis: a case-control study,” was first published in 2013 and has been defended by the authors and the journal in the intervening years despite heavy criticism from doctors, other researchers and people with endometriosis for its ethical concerns and dubious justifications, with one advocate calling the study “heartbreaking” and “disgusting.” The study’s conclusion was: “Women with rectovaginal endometriosis were judged to be more attractive than those in the two control groups.