Maskal

Maskal is a Christian festival in Ethiopia to commemorate what is believed to have been the finding of the True Cross, the cross on which Christ was crucified. In communities throughout the nation, a tall pole called a demara is set up and topped with a cross. Families place smaller demaras against the big one, and in the evening they are made into a huge bonfire. Religious ceremonies are performed around the bonfire, with songs and dancing. The ashes of the burned-out fire are considered holy, and the people place the powder of the ashes on their foreheads. Discuss

Marie Celeste

A place, location, or high-occupancy vehicle (especially a ship) that is inexplicably deserted or abandoned. An allusion to the Mary Celeste, an American merchant brigantine that was discovered floating off the Azores Islands in 1872 with no one on board and still in seaworthy condition. (Note: The variant spelling of “Marie” is the more common usage for the idiomatic reference, likely due to its use in a story by Arthur Conan Doyle.) Watch the video

The Deathstalker

The deathstalker scorpion stalks the deserts and scrublands of the Middle East and North Africa. Ranging in color from bright green to straw yellow, the deathstalker lives up to its nickname—its venom is a cocktail of neurotoxins that can kill humans, especially those who are very young or old or who have pre-existing medical conditions. Despite the inherent danger, some people keep these deadly creatures as pets. How can the deathstalker’s venom be used therapeutically? Discuss

Yemen September Revolution Day

Yemen observes two Revolution Days: one commemorates the revolutionary movement that overthrew the monarchy of Imam Muhammad al-Badr on September 26, 1962, and helped pave the way for the creation of the Yemen Arab Republic. Before that could occur, however, British occupation of the area remained another force impeding independence. Revolts against the British then ensued in 1962-63, and, by 1967, the British granted Yemen its sovereignty. These revolts are commemorated on October 14. Discuss

Chiptune Music

Chiptune music is created by manipulating the sound chips of the early gaming systems and microcomputers of the 1980s. Though some chiptune musicians use emulators to replicate gaming system sounds on modern computers, much chiptune music is composed—and “played” in live settings—with the original sound chips of devices like the Nintendo Entertainment System, Nintendo Game Boy, Atari, and Commodore 64. The chiptune music scene was recently the subject of what documentary? Discuss