We’re All Astonishment

Dear Millicent,

The internet is so good at presenting and listing wonders, that it seems rote to make a list of current astonishments.  However, astonishing is nothing to be taken lightly, and we are a lucky culture indeed to be distracted by the strange news of the world as often as we are.  Here are a few things that I learned in the past few days that brought up the refrains “how have I never heard of this!”,  “this is more interesting than the paragraph it’s buried in,” or the ever articulate “wow.”

  • During pregnancy, a woman gains about a pound in each boob
  • Gay and lesbian teens have higher rates of teenage pregnancy than straight teens. The why and the how here.
  • The Vatican has an observatory, and the priest who directs it doesn’t flinch at the idea of life forms in space.
  • When Pope Benedict XVI first took office, one of the first things he did was to “close himself in his Vatican apartment with the heart of the patron saint of priests, Saint Jean-Baptiste-Marie Vianney, who was famous in life for being able to “read the hearts” of those who came to him to confess their sins.” From Peter Manseau’s book on relics Rag and Bone.
  • Codpieces were worn in Medieval times as a helpful way to copulate without taking off your full kit.
  • And, in the middle ages, most women hit menopause by 30, if they were lucky enough to live that long.  Meaning, if we were alive in 1300, we would not only probably be at death’s door, but we would be having hot flashes.  Men made it to about 45, and ran through 4-5 wives.




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