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some of the things I read in antisocial isolation

The Victorian Ladies Who Smuggled a Mummy Case Out of Egypt

And did the unthinkable to the mummy inside.

The cartonnage dates to 800 BC.

AT FIRST GLANCE, THE CARTONNAGE in Macclesfield Museum’s display of Egyptian antiquities seems like any other mummy-holding case. The cartonnage material is made of two or three thin layers of bandages applied on top of one another, with ancient glue holding them together. It’s “the Egyptian equivalent of papier mâché,” according to Ken Griffin, Egyptologist and Curator of the Egypt Centre at Swansea University. Its smooth surface, created by a thin layer of plaster, is painted with images to guide the deceased to the afterlife in shades of salmon pink, blue, and olive green. It once held mummified remains and was placed inside a sarcophagus.

But if you lean in very close, you might notice that this cartonnage has a couple anomalies. A pair of orthogonal seams are barely visible: one runs around the base, and the other bisects it around the waist. These are evidence of repairs made after the case was cut into pieces—and the mummy removed—for smuggling. And the people who pulled off the illegal heist were two Victorian ladies.

Though the cartonnage dates to about 800 BC, it was taken from Egypt in 1874. “[The cartonnage] is special because of what it tells us about the actions of British travelers in Egypt at that time, as well as for its own sake,” says Bryony Renshaw, Macclesfield Museum’s Collections Officer.

Macclesfield, a market town in northwest England, seems an unlikely spot to find a collection of Egyptian antiquities. But the artifacts are here because of Marianne Brocklehurst, the daughter of a wealthy silk mill owner, and her interest in archaeology.

Marianne Brocklehurst and her partner Mary Booth were known as the MBs.

In November 1873, 41-year-old Brocklehurst departed for Egypt with her companion, Mary Booth. Together, they were known as the “MBs.” This was their first of five Egyptian expeditions, from which they returned with artifacts that now furnish Macclesfield’s Museum.

Nearly 2 million Americans are using kratom yearly, but it is banned in multiple states: A pharmacologist explains the controversy

Kratom products are sold online and at smoke shops and gas stations, like this one in Lone Tree, Colo.

The herbal substance kratom, derived from the leaves of a Southeast Asian tree, is used by nearly 2 million people in the United States annually. It can be easily purchased at gas stations and convenience stores, smoke shops and online, and is marketed as an “herbal supplement.”

Proponents claim that kratom has many of the pain-relieving benefits of traditional opioids and that it can potentially be used as a treatment for opioid dependence.

The primary concern about kratom is that it can mimic how synthetic opioids work in the body, potentially causing overdoses, severe withdrawal symptoms and other serious health issues. As a result, the Food and Drug Administration recommends against its use.

The Conversation asked C. Michael White, a pharmacist at the University of Connecticut who has been studying the science behind kratom for many years, to explain its potential benefits and why consumers should use caution with this product.

How does kratom work in the body?
Kratom doesn’t contain just one active ingredient; rather, it is made up of many substances that induce effects in the body. This is very common for natural products, since the cells of the plant make a variety of chemicals for different purposes.

When the body is experiencing pain, it releases hormones called endorphins that stimulate opioid receptors to mildly reduce the transmission of local pain sensations to the brain. This same process also causes the release of the neurotransmitter dopamine, inducing a feeling of pleasure to neutralize the pain.

Traditional opioids, like morphine and fentanyl, stimulate these same receptors to such a degree that they more potently numb pain, induce a euphoric feeling that can lead to addiction, and suppress the drive to breathe, which can result in death.

One of the key constituents of kratom is an organic compound called mitragynine. It interacts with the same opioid receptors as morphine and fentanyl, but does not recruit the beta-arrestin-2 (the reason for breathing suppression). As a result, kratom can provide pain relief with a lower risk of slowed or stopped breathing compared to traditional opioids.

Kratom also contains a small amount of 7-hydroxymitragynine, which is thought to more potently stimulate opioid receptors, leading to a greater risk of opioidlike adverse events.

Ed. The sober bar adjacent to where I work sells Kratom.

4 Unfortunate Incidents That Went Down While a Webcam Was On

The webcam was invented in 1993, when a group of scientists realized the internet might be a great way of sharing live footage of their genitals. Of course, that doesn’t make for a very wholesome origin story, so all legitimate sources instead say the first webcam monitored a coffee pot, and the genital origin motive is pure speculation.

Still, there’s nothing pure about how webcams were used in the decades that followed. Consider how webcams managed to record such stuff as…

4. Getting Shot in the Vagina

In November 2021, a deputy in Georgia responded to a report of what’s known as “reckless conduct.” The address was 95 Manly Road, but the injury was not manly: A woman had been shot in the vagina. Though no one but the woman claimed to have seen the shooting itself, the small home contained five people to offer accounts of what had occurred.

There was Grandma Addie, who was in her bed in the TV room with her granddaughter when Lauren walked in and said she’d been shot. Grandma’s son Cody was in his bedroom, and since he had some medical knowledge, he treated Lauren till emergency services arrives. Some guy named Jason was there, offering no information at all. Then there was the owner of the gun, Jordan. Who among them was responsible for the painful discharge?

Bet the baby granddaughter shot her. It’s always the one you least suspect.


Confessions of an Intersection Gridlocker

Some people just want to watch the world burn.

We’ve never met but you know who I am. I’m even sure you’ve seen some of my work. Let me paint a picture.

It’s 7:56 in the morning and you’re running four minutes late. You’ve got three kids to drop off at two different schools and the line of traffic to the school is moving like a block of cheese through an octogenarian’s bowels. Your two oldest are bickering about the latest episode of Demon Slayer. You don’t get it. It’s creepy and dark and not what a twelve and fourteen-year-old should be watching but this isn’t the hill you want to die on. All of their friends watch Demon Slayer and you’ve decided to roll with it.

It’s 7:57. “Come on, come on,” you say to yourself. The light up ahead has gone through two cycles and you’ve started tapping your thumbs on the steering wheel like it’s a double bass drum and you’re Tommy Lee from Motley Crue.

At 7:58 your youngest pops off the top of her sippy cup like it’s a bottle of Perrier Jouet. You hate this sippy cup because the top always pops off but you keep forgetting to throw it away. Milk explodes over the back half of your SUV like a dairy-based IED. It is dripping from the ceiling. It is dripping from your two-year-old. It is even, somehow, dripping from your hair and down your neck. Everyone in the SUV is screaming but the promised land is within sight.

The clock ticks over to 7:59. There’s no one in front of you at the light. Traffic zooms crosswise through the intersection. “I’ve got this,” you think as you edge up to make a left-hand turn. The light is just about to turn green and then I show up. That jackass in the late model Mercedes who gridlocks the intersection all the way back to the Stone Age? That’s me.

And now. Your day. Is fucked.

In response to online backlash over his criticism of Joe Biden last week, Jon studies Tucker Carlson’s interview with Vladimir Putin in Russia for a lesson in speaking “of course” to power. Plus, Michael Kosta reports from North Korea to demonstrate how nice life under a dictatorship can be.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart for making this program available on YouTube.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Here’s me critical analysis of awkwardness ya legends. Cheers for not being awkward about it.

Maru plays sledding on a small snowy mountain.

Ed. マルは小さな雪の山でそりをします。



How The Gay Nightlife in Bangkok Scared Me

My unforgettable foray into Bangkok’s gay scene.

Image generated by DALL-e. Embiggenable.

I OFTEN THINK ABOUT THE STREETS OF BANGKOK, a city that’s as much about its people as it is about its places. There’s something about the rhythm of the city — the ebb and flow of the traffic, the melodious chaos of marketplaces, the silent serenity of its temples — that stays with you long after you’ve left.

I was in my mid-twenties, bright-eyed and backpack-laden, when I first stepped foot in Bangkok. Solo traveling always had this allure for me; it was a way to break free, to explore not just the world but the inner recesses of my own mind. I’d heard a lot about Bangkok’s vibrant nightlife and, as a young, gay Asian American man, the prospect of exploring this facet of the city, particularly the gay nightlife, felt both exciting and daunting.

Lost in Bangkok

Bangkok by night is a different creature. Neon lights paint the sky, music spills onto the streets, and the air is thick with a heady mix of excitement and apprehension. I remember wandering through Silom, the heart of the city’s gay nightlife, feeling a cocktail of emotions swirling within me.

I stumbled upon a bar that seemed inviting, its rainbow flag fluttering like a beacon. But stepping inside, I was hit by a wave of unease. It wasn’t anything tangible, nothing anyone did or said, but the sudden realization that I was alone in a foreign land, in a space where I was both a part of and apart from the crowd.

The Dance of Familiarity and Alienation

Inside the bar, the music throbbed like a persistent heartbeat, pulsating through the air, setting the rhythm for an eclectic dance of strangers and would-be friends. Bodies moved in a rhythm that was both familiar and alien — a mesmerizing blend of local flair and universal language of dance. I, with my drink in hand, felt like a chameleon trying its best to match the vibrant colors around it, but only managing a pale imitation.

Ed. More tomorrow? Possibly. Probably. Maybe. Likely, if I find nothing more barely uninteresting at all to do.

Ed., etc. I didn’t have time to do this today.


Ed. Also TYPOS. I’m not fixing it.

Assimilation Complete