Stardust Wine, Witchcraft in Wales
& China’s Visit-Your-Elderly Decree
A Chilean winery is infusing its Cabernet Sauvignon with a 4.5 billion-year-old meteorite. A Welsh minister is concerned about a thriving witchcraft community stealing his congregation. And a Chinese law demands that citizens visit their elders often, or risk being sued.
Yeah, it’s that overstuffed file again, begging to get raided. Often, its far out contents of odd news and curious trivia deliver a surprising jolt of unexpected vitality to our day. Besides, our second option, the Quadrantids meteor showers, were a no-show this time around.
As it turned out, this annual shooting star festival first observed in Italy, in 1825, has been visible faintly in the West Coast, and way more vividly in Asia and the U.K. Let them have their fun. We’ll beat them in April, with the Lyrid showers, which are supposed to be twice as spectacular.
We’re not complaining, mind you. Last year may have been a terrible one for many, but it was not short of amazing sky gazing events, such as the Supermoon, and the once-in-a-lifetime Venus transit in front of the sun. More showers, eclipses and a couple of comets are also slated to grace our skies in 2013.
Back on the ground, though, things are no less amusing, if you abstract just for a moment the carnage in the streets, the indiscriminate pillaging of planetary resources, and the demise of the two New York football teams. For in the big scheme of things, the week was mercifully short and we’re not quite done with it yet.
METEORITES IN THE WINE
But where were we? Oh, that’s right, in Chile, where you can now kind of taste a piece of rock that fell on earth 6,000 years ago. Or so it’s the idea that Ian Hutcheon had, to combine his two main passions: Enology and Astronomy. In fact, he owns both the winery and a small observatory, the Centro Astrononomico Tagua Tagua.
It’s an unusual combination, but we wouldn’t bet you would taste it in Meteorite, the wooden barrel-marinated Cabernet Sauvignon he produces every 12 months, with the 3-inch meteorite inside. Even without owning the object, he found a novel way to attract attention to his winery, which just between us, is kind of a fad, really.
Apparently, the unidentified owner of the precious piece of rock that probably came from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter doesn’t care that it’s being used to boost the commercial profile of Hutcheon’s winery. Shouldn’t such a space relic be researched or something? Well, never mind that. We wouldn’t refuse having a taste of it either.
A THRIVING COVEN OF WITCHES
The Rev. Felix Aubel has been working really hard for the past two decades in rural Carmarthenshire, Wales. He’d been methodically building a small complex of five separate congregations in the region, who faithfully would attend church services and piously pay close attention to his rousing sermons.
That is, until some of them started missing mass and acting as if they were under the influence of some kind of ‘evil eye,’ according to the good shepherd, who just published his autobiography, A Rebel’s Story. In it, he describes in detail what he’s been up against, including his view that ‘the motivation behind this evil was envy that had turned into jealousy.’
According to the pastor, he’s been told that there’s a ‘coven of witches,’ nearby, who gathers with the sole intent of luring his defenseless parishioners into their despicable pagan rites. Or something to that effect. Fortunately for him, the book is being selling like hot cakes. Or dolls, you know, the kind people use to pierce with needles to do bad things to each other.
But it seems that Rev. Aubel doesn’t mind straying a bit from the good book every once in a while. Citing a case of a ‘spinster’s evil eye,’ he allowed a local mother to place a ‘horse shoe amulet in the porch of her home in order to protect her baby son from malevolent effects,’ but only as ‘a precautionary measure,’ of course.
WHO ARE YOU GOING TO CALL?
The stereotypical ‘Jewish mother’ is an excuse to portray the kind of demanding parent who refuses to be forgotten by her children, and even resorts to play a guilty trip on them, in order to have them over for some blintzes and homemade kasha. Well, the Chinese now put that into law: children must either visit their elderly parents, or risk being sued.
There are many ways to see this yet another attempt from the Chinese government to micro-manage the lives of its citizens. One is that, with an estimated 170 million people over 60, and another million or so over 80, and the continental size of its land, families do get decimated, and old people are at constant risk of being simply abandoned by their kin.
Also, with almost as wide an income gap as some of the most impoverished nations in the world, along with the present day U.S. too, the young has to frequently travel ever farther from their families to find one, two, and sometimes even three jobs to survive. And thirdly, of course, because for any young person, let’s face it, having to visit their parents is truly a pain in the neck.
HOW SOON WE ALL FORGET
We’re just being realistic here. Just remember a few years back in France, a country with a much superior welfare structure than China (and again, the U.S. too), when a string of old people’s deaths exposed what everyone already knew: that entire families would skip town in the summer and forget all about their elderly relatives.
So, let’s not knock the Chinese legislator, who most likely is himself also a person of a certain age. He or she may be seriously thinking about what may happen to them when the time comes. Thus the law to force the young to visit their relatives, or risk a possible lawsuit. Details remain sketchy though, and no one knows how many visits will do the trick.
One thing is for sure: they’d better at least call their Moms. And Pops. Seriously. After all, they may be dying in there. Abandoned. With no one to talk to. Who’s going to share that delicious bow of Borsch with them? Or the homemade kasha? What are the children thinking they are, chopped liver?