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Alien Life

Guide to Alien Literature
The possibility of alien life fascinates humankind. The earliest recorded references to extraterrestrials occur mainly in religious terms. The earliest known record of alien life in literature can be found in the Epic of Gilgamesh, which dates from the Third Dynasty of Ur (circa 2100 B.C.). In these tales, the King of Uruk (Gilgamesh) and Enkidu (originally Gilgamesh’s adversary) defeat occult monsters on epic quests either in defiance or obedience to an assortment of gods and goddesses. In the 2nd century B.C., Assyrian satirist Lucian of Samosata wrote True History, a parody of Greek mythology that involved traveling to outer space, alien life forms, and interplanetary warfare. 

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Nations on a Small Scale

Micronations
When asked about past lives, no one claims to have been a tax collector or a scullery maid.  No, so-called psychics flatter their customers with glittering visions of past lives as royalty--or at least aristocracy. Royalty populates the legends, myths, and popular literature of every culture. Can it be a surprise that some people with delusions of grandeur and a penchant for making their own rules grew the gumption to start their own countries with themselves as the rulers?

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In Celebration of Water

One thing connects all humanity above tradition, religion, or climate. That one thing is critical to all human life: water. Used for hydration, for power, for spiritual and physical cleansing, for cooling, for transportation, and for myriad other purposes, water fills a multitude of human needs, desires, and goals. One can have no doubt that festivals celebrating water must then be magnificent and always apropos. If you’re looking to find a celebration that focuses on water itself, take a look at these events worldwide.

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The Golden Legend of St. George

Dragons
Blame Miguel de Cervantes’ epic poem Don QuixoteJ. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, George R. R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit, DreamWorks Animation’s How to Train Your Dragon, myriad fairy tales, and an entire sub-genre of paranormal romance: dragons are here to stay. Mystical, magical, mythic, dragons capture our imagination. The titan of dragon lore throughout Western civilization, however, is St. George, a Roman soldier of Greek heritage who died a martyr for the Christian faith under Emperor Diocletian and was then christened as Great Britain’s patron saint. Like many Christian saints, St. George comes with a fantastic story, such as related in Saints’ Legends by Gordon Hall Gerould (1916).

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On the Divisions of Columbus Day

Time has a habit of sifting through the many facts of history and leaving only a few stark facts. Of Christopher Columbus' landing in the Americas in 1492, common teaching as of the 1970s was that he, in search of the East Indies, instead found the Americas. It was the common rhyme taught in many schools:

In fourteen hundred ninety-two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue.
He had three ships and left from Spain.
He sailed through sunshine, wind and rain.

Most salient of these points is that Columbus Day represents the spread of Western European culture and politics. The rhyme continues to present Columbus as a great explorer, the Native Americans as benevolent and generous hosts, and a great communion of Western Europeans into the New World.
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H. P. Lovecraft

The Birth of Cosmicism
H. P. Lovecraft crafted a genre of horror that’s more than horror; it’s science and philosophy. It may seem pedantic to say, but imagine, if you will, the stars--all the stars we cannot see with their own pretty, feebleness amid 46 billion light years of a universe. Then see that same universe filled with approximately 99 percent vacuum. Nothing.

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Gongshi

Spirit Stones
Mountains are the Earth’s hourglass. Living rocks rising and falling with the years, morphing, congealing, and shaping into one another to create the rocks and sands of the shore. 

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Storytelling by Smell

Great storytellers create a world without seams in which the suspension of disbelief on the reader's part leads to a mirroring of the real world, and thus to one of the great tenets of art as Pablo Picasso once put it: "Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth."

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Double Ninth

The ninth day of the ninth month is the Double Ninth, and has been an important celebration all over Asia since 25 AD. Nine is a lucky number in China, and bears a similar pronunciation as "forever" or "everlasting." The number nine appears throughout Chinese history, and many Ancient Chinese emperors built temples, walls, and rooms in multiples of nine (for instance, The Forbidden City in Beijing has a total of 9,999 rooms, with number of stairs in staircases being nine or a multiple of nine, and the height of the three great halls were 9 Zhang and 9 Chi). But everyone who has ever played around with luck knows that it is closely tied to danger. The I Ching shows nine as a number of the Yang, being both masculine and in opposition to the feminine yin, and an odd number that signifies danger.

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United Nations Day

Tuesday, October 24th marks United Nations Day and the 72nd anniversary of the entry into force of the United Nations Charter in 1945. With the ratification of this founding document by most of its signatories, including the five permanent members of the Security Council (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States), the United Nations was established.

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Money Talks

Whether your wish list includes a luxurious hour indulging at the local spa or a weekend getaway to some exotic destination, money is necessary for making most dreams take flight. As the popular expression says, “Money makes the world go ’round.”

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Building a Wall

Internet Censorship Worldwide
The Information Age has impacted the way we navigate our lives, from how we work to how we communicate and shop. The Internet has become a necessary tool for many worldwide, but remains off limits to a vast number of people.

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Character Development

One billion people--or about 15 percent--of the world’s population experience some form of disability. Disability prevalence is higher for developing countries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), one-fifth of the estimated global total—or between 110 million and 190 million people—experience significant disabilities.

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Beer Here!

Many people around the globe clink glasses with other revelers when drinking beer or other spirits. Drinking beer, wine, cocktails, and spirits is a means of celebration and part of socializing. Whether we say cheers, salute, slainte, or kanpai, we should understand the history behind beer.

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Here Be Dragons

Dinosaur Fossils
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Second Sight

From ancient myths to fairy tales to religious prophecies to tales of the occult, literature revels in exploration of psychic powers, also known as the second sight or farsight.

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Buttons

Who, What, When, Wear
The ubiquitous button, that practical and sometimes fancy fastener of clothing, survives largely unchanged from ancient times. As early as 2000 BC, buttons were used as ornaments in the Indus Valley and as seals during the Bronze Age in China and in ancient Rome. Their use as clothing fasteners first appeared in 13th century Germany, slowly replacing laces and ties as fashions for snugly fitting clothing spread. Buttons soon combined utility and ornamentation, a dual purpose that continues to this day.

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The Boss of Me

Myriad periodicals, both printed and digital, offer tips on best management practices to hire, train, and retain good employees. Many of them come in the form of listicles and direct their messages to executive management and supervisory personnel.

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A Kinder, Gentler Diet

The invention of modern refrigeration and food preservation techniques enable many people to enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables as part of a well-balanced diet, regardless of season. This modern development allows for people to forego the slaughter of animals to acquire the necessary protein in their diets.

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Happily Ever After

Long derided as the lowest form of literature, the genre of romance covers a wide spectrum of sub-genres, including historical, paranormal, fantasy, contemporary, “chick lit,” and more. What readers, writers, publishers, and reviewers fail to acknowledge is that romance shows up in every fiction genre. The difference is that the romantic relationship serves as the fulcrum for the story within the romance genre: it’s the focus of the story, not an ancillary subplot.

In July 2016, the Association of American Publishers released a report stating that the U.S. publishing industry generated nearly $28 billion in revenue in 2015, representing 2.71 billion units. 

That doesn’t tell the whole story. The Romance Writers of America’s (RWA) presentation published on July 15, 2016, by Author Earnings reports total book sales of 748 million units in 2015. Fiction comprised 88 percent of books sold, with 31 percent of fiction book sales allotted to the romance genre alone. 

We can parse the numbers further. The RWA reports that the romance genre claimed 4.4 percent of Nielsen Bookscan units and 45 percent of Amazon.com paid units--and that sales within the romance genre are underreported. The RWA also asserts that 89 percent of romance book sales are digital, less than 50 percent are self-published books, and 67 percent of all U.S. romance sales are not tracked by any traditional industry metric. The RWA offers informative statistics regarding the genre’s strength.

No matter how you break down the numbers, sales reports by genre show that romance is the largest selling genre in both ink and digital formats. 
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