Sunday, July 31, 2016

Haunted Island To Be Luxury Hotel?

It's located in a picturesque setting in the middle of the Venice Lagoon. An 18-acre haunted island that the Italian government wants to have developed as the site of a luxury hotel and resort.

Venetians think the place is evil, and they're not the only ones.

The Italian island of Poveglia was used as a quarantine location during the outbreak of the Plague in the 16th century. Thousands of dead and still-living victims were basically dumped on the island to be burned and in some cases simply left to rot. Estimates say that more than 100,000 people died on the island.

Hundreds of years later, in the 1920s, Poveglia was the site of a hospital for the insane where the doctor who built the facility reportedly tortured his patients. He eventually went insane himself and took his own life.

The island has been featured on The Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures which claimed a member of their cast/crew became possessed during the production of the episode. It was also on Scariest Places On Earth.

In 2014, the Italian government announced it would auction a 99-year lease on Poveglia in order to reduce their debt with the hope that someone would develop it as a luxury resort. A couple of months later it was auctioned off with the winner of the auction, an Italian businessman named Luigi Brugnaro, paying the equivalent of $700,000 US dollars for the 99 year lease.

A spokesman for Brugnaro said he had not yet decided what he would do with the island but wanted it to have some form of public use. It was estimated the restoration of the island's derelict buildings would cost around $28 million US dollars.

Of the surviving buildings on the island, the most visible is the bell-tower which dates back to the 12th Century. It was repurposed as a lighthouse in the 1800s.

The island consists of three separate parts. A bridge connects the island on which the buildings stand with the island that was taken over by trees and vegetation. The octagonal fort is on a third separate part next to the island with the buildings but not physically connected to it.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

The Last Czar

Romanov family, photograph taken in 1914
I came across a news article…actually, it was September of 2015…about the Russian government's desire to reunite the remains of their last imperial family in one place—the czar, czarina, and their five children. However, the mission was not without roadblocks, namely the need to satisfy skeptics about the validity of all the remains.

On September 23, 2015, Russian investigators exhumed the body of Czar Nicholas Romanov II and his wife, Alexandra, as part of an investigation into the family's death in 1918. It's part of the ongoing attempt to confirm the remains really belong to Nicholas, Alexandra, and their children. Some of the family's remains were tested in the early 1990s (the early days of DNA testing) with the results being that the scientists were pretty confident that it's really them. The remains exhumed at that time included the czar, his wife, three of their children and several servants. Two of the children, Alexei and Maria, were unaccounted for at that time. But…the officials weren't able to convince the Russian Orthodox Church about the authenticity of the remains.

The church officials have not come out with their exact reasons for doubt. There had been some discussion about the Romanov family having been canonized in 2000 which made the remains holy relics which required a different way of treating them. In general, church leaders say they just aren't convinced. The church's approval is important for bringing the family's remains together.

The church did, somewhat reluctantly, allow the family's remains to be interred in the Peter and Paul Cathedral in St. Petersburg where most of Russia's other czars are buried. But the church still had not accepted the family's identities in spite of the fact that several rounds of DNA testing had occurred.

In 2007 another burial site was located containing the remains of a young man and a young woman. More DNA testing confirmed they were Alexei and Maria. Those remains, however, were left sitting on a shelf because the Russian Orthodox Church balked at the idea of adding them to the family tomb. The church says it believes the family's remains were destroyed and won't change their position until they are 100 percent sure regardless of the DNA confirmation.

In February 2016 the church once again blocked the reuniting of the remains. Currently, the most prevalent explanation is that the church hierarchy wants to avoid the decision because either choice would alienate key factions. Rejecting the bones will anger some Orthodox adherents, particularly those outside Russia, while accepting them will incense a conservative domestic faction that believes the Soviet government somehow faked the original burial at the time they died and those aren't the real remains of Czar Nicholas II and his family.

And the entire effort remains in limbo.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

20 English Language Phrases Mispronounced or Misspelled (continuation of The Confusion Of The English Language)

As pointed out in my blog from July 3rd, the English language (or at least the American branch of the language) is often confusing even to those who were born here.  I can't imagine learning it as a second language.  Where other languages seem to have set rules, English has set rules that all seem to have exceptions and sometimes even those exceptions have exceptions.

Here is a list of 21 commonly mispronounced or misspelled phrases.

It didn't phase me, should be: It didn't faze me.

For all intensive purposes, should be: For all intents and purposes.

He has another thing coming, should be: He has another think coming.

Escape goat, should be: Scape goat.

One in the same, should be: One and the same.

Given free reign, should be: Given free rein.

Low and behold, should be: Lo and behold.

Case and point, should be: Case in point.

I could care less, should be: I couldn't care less.

Peak your interest, should be: Pique your interest.

Hunger pains, should be: Hunger pangs.

Suppose to, should be: Supposed to.

Should of, should be: Should have.

Nipped that problem in the butt, should be:  Nipped that problem in the bud.

Mute point, should be: Moot point.

Piece of mind, should be: Peace of mind.

Beck on call, should be: Beck and call.

On accident, should be: By accident.

Expresso, should be: Espresso.

and probably the most commonly misused:

Irregardless, should be: Regardless.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

The English Language

The English language (or at least the American branch of the language) is often confusing even to those who were born here.  I can't imagine learning it as a second language.  Where other languages seem to have set rules, English has set rules that are filled with exceptions and sometimes even those exceptions have exceptions.

A good example is the rule 'i before e' (the spelling rule) except after c' (exception to rule) 'or when sounded as a, as in weigh' (exception to the exception).

We'll begin with a box and the plural is boxes, but the plural of ox became oxen, not oxes.

One fowl is a goose, but two are called geese, yet the plural of moose should never be meese.

You may find a lone mouse or a nest full of mice, yet the plural of house is houses, not hice.

If the plural of man is always called men, why shouldn't the plural of pan be called pen?

If I spoke of my foot and show you my feet, and I give you a boot, would a pair be called beet?

If one is a tooth and a whole set are teeth, why shouldn't the plural of booth be called beeth?

Then one may be that and three would be those, yet hat in the plural would never be hose. And the plural of cat is cats, not cose.

We speak of a brother and also of brethren, but though we say mother, we never say methren.

Then the masculine pronouns are he, his and him, but imagine the feminine, she, shis and shim.

Some reasons to be grateful if you grew up speaking English rather than learning it as a second (or even third) language:

1)       The bandage was wound around the wound.
2)       The farm was used to produce produce.
3)       The dump was so full that it had to refuse more refuse.
4)       We must polish the Polish furniture.
5)       He could lead if he would get the lead out.
6)       The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.
7)       Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
8)       At the army base a bass was painted on the head of the bass drum.
9)       When shot at, the dove dove into the bushes.
10)     I did not object to the object.
11)     The insurance was invalid for the invalid.
12)     There was a row among the oarsmen about how to row.
13)     They were too close to the door to close it.
14)     The buck does funny things when the does are present.
15)     A seamstress and a sewer fell down into the sewer line.
16)     To help with planting, the farmer taught his sow to sow.
17)     The wind was too strong to wind the sail.
18)     After a number of Novocain injections, my jaw got number.
19)     Upon seeing the tear in the painting I shed a tear.
20)     I had to subject the subject to a series of tests.
21)     How can I intimate this to my most intimate friend?
22)     I spent last evening evening out a pile of dirt.

Let's face it – English is a crazy language.  There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.  English muffins weren't invented in England.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.  And why is it that writers write but fingers don't fing, grocers don't groce and hammers don't ham?

Doesn't it seem crazy that you can make amends but not one amend?

If you have a bunch of odds and ends and get rid of all but one of them, what do you call it, an odd or an end?

If teachers taught, why didn't preachers praught?

If a vegetarian eats vegetables, what does a humanitarian eat?

In what language do people recite at a play and play at a recital?  Ship by truck and send cargo by ship?  Have noses that run and feet that smell?  How can a slim chance and a fat chance be the same, while a wise man and a wise guy are opposites?

You have to marvel at the unique lunacy of a language in which your house can burn up as it burns down, in which you fill in a form by filling it out and in which an alarm goes off by going on.

If dad is pop, how's come mom isn't mop?

Are you totally confused yet?  If not, then check out my blog for next week where I continue with the eccentricities of the English language.