Although writing can help decipher history, it’s our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

5 Things You Probably Didn't Know About Thanksgiving


How did the funny-lookin' fowl get stuck with the label "turkey?"
Oh boy, this will take some explainin'. Back in the day, the Europeans took a liking to the guinea fowls imported to the continent. Since the birds were imported by Turkish merchants, the English called them turkeys. Later, when the Spaniards came to America, they found a bird that tasted like those guinea fowls. When they were sent to Europe, the English called these birds "turkeys" as well.
A Tradition is Born:
TV dinners have Thanksgiving to thank. In 1953, someone at Swanson misjudged the number of frozen turkeys it would sell that Thanksgiving -- by 26 TONS! Some industrious soul came up with a brilliant plan: Why not slice up the meat and repackage with some trimmings on the side?Thus, the first TV dinner was born!
Break out the Menurkeys:
The first time of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving come together was in 1888. Scientists say the confluence won't occur again for another 70,000 years, give or take a millennium.
Leaving a Legacy:
When Abe Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday, it was thanks to the tireless efforts of a magazine editor named Sarah Josepha Hale. Her other claim to fame? She also wrote the nursery rhyme, "Mary had a Little Lamb."
This Land Is Your Land:
There are four places in the U.S. named Turkey
. Louisiana's Turkey Creek is the most populous, with a whopping 440 residents. There's also Turkey, Texas; Turkey, North Carolina; and Turkey Creek, Arizona. Oh, let's not forget the two townships in Pennsylvania: the creatively named Upper Turkeyfoot and Lower Turkeyfoot!



Copyright © 2014 KP KOLLENBORN*, All rights reserved.
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"Submitting to a moment in time allows us to remember, or to muse even, over our society’s past. Although writing can educate as well as entertain, yet what makes art incredibly amazing, to that of paintings, photographs, and music, it transposes emotion into another form of humanity, and therefore, it is our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future."
KP Kollenborn

Sunday, November 9, 2014

What is Modern Slavery?

What is Modern Slavery?

Over the past 15 years, “trafficking in persons” and “human trafficking” have been used as umbrella terms for activities involved when someone obtains or holds a person in compelled service. The United States government considers trafficking in persons to include all of the criminal conduct involved in forced labor and sex trafficking, essentially the conduct involved in reducing or holding someone in compelled service. Under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act as amended (TVPA) and consistent with the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Palermo Protocol), individuals may be trafficking victims regardless of whether they once consented, participated in a crime as a direct result of being trafficked, were transported into the exploitative situation, or were simply born into a state of servitude. Despite a term that seems to connote movement, at the heart of the phenomenon of trafficking in persons are the many forms of enslavement, not the activities involved in international transportation.

Slavery did not end with abolition in the 19th century. 
The practice still continues today in one form or another in every country in the world. From women forced into prostitution, children and adults forced to work in agriculture, domestic work, or factories and sweatshops producing goods for global supply chains, entire families forced to work for nothing to pay off generational debts; or girls forced to marry older men, the illegal practice still blights contemporary world. 

According to the International Labour Organisation (ILO) around 21 million men, women and children around the world are in a form of slavery.There are many different characteristics that distinguish slavery from other human rights violations, however only one needs to be present for slavery to exist. Someone is in slavery if they are: 

  • forced to work - through mental or physical threat;
  • owned or controlled by an 'employer', usually through mental or physical abuse or the threat of abuse;
  • dehumanised, treated as a commodity or bought and sold as 'property';
  • physically constrained or has restrictions placed on his/her freedom of movement.
Contemporary slavery takes various forms and affects people of all ages, gender and races.


Forced Labor

Also known as involuntary servitude, forced labor may result when unscrupulous employers exploit workers made more vulnerable by high rates of unemployment, poverty, crime, discrimination, corruption, political conflict, or even cultural acceptance of the practice. Immigrants are particularly vulnerable, but individuals also may be forced into labor in their own countries. Female victims of forced or bonded labor, especially women and girls in domestic servitude, are often sexually exploited as well.

Sex Trafficking

When an adult is coerced, forced, or deceived into prostitution – or maintained in prostitution through coercion – that person is a victim of trafficking. All of those involved in recruiting, transporting, harboring, receiving, or obtaining the person for that purpose have committed a trafficking crime. Sex trafficking can also occur within debt bondage, as women and girls are forced to continue in prostitution through the use of unlawful “debt” purportedly incurred through their transportation, recruitment, or even their crude “sale,” which exploiters insist they must pay off before they can be free. It is critical to understand that a person’s initial consent to participate in prostitution is not legally determinative; if an individual is thereafter held in service through psychological manipulation or physical force, that person is a trafficking victim and should receive the benefits outlined in the United Nations’ Palermo Protocol and applicable laws.

Bonded Labor

One form of coercion is the use of a bond, or debt. Often referred to as “bonded labor” or “debt bondage,” the practice has long been prohibited under U.S. law by its Spanish name, peonage, and the Palermo Protocol calls for its criminalization as a form of trafficking in persons. Workers around the world fall victim to debt bondage when traffickers or recruiters unlawfully exploit an initial debt the worker assumed as part of the terms of employment. Workers may also inherit intergenerational debt in more traditional systems of bonded labor.

Debt Bondage Among Migrant Laborers

Abuses of contracts and hazardous conditions of employment for migrant laborers do not necessarily constitute human trafficking. However, the burden of illegal costs and debts on these laborers in the source country, often with the support of labor agencies and employers in the destination country, can contribute to a situation of debt bondage. This is often exacerbated when the worker’s status in the country is tied to the employer in the context of employment-based temporary work programs and there is no effective redress for abuse.

Involuntary Domestic Servitude

A unique form of forced labor is the involuntary servitude of domestic workers, whose workplace is informal, connected to their off-duty living quarters, and not often shared with other workers. Such an environment, which often socially isolates domestic workers, is conducive to nonconsensual exploitation since authorities cannot inspect private property as easily as formal workplaces. Investigators and service providers report many cases of untreated illnesses and, tragically, widespread sexual abuse, which in some cases may be symptoms of a situation of involuntary servitude. Ongoing international efforts seek to ensure that not only that administrative remedies are enforced but also that criminal penalties are enacted against those who hold others in involuntary domestic servitude.

Forced Child Labor

Most international organizations and national laws recognize that children may legally engage in certain forms of work. There is a growing consensus, however, that the worst forms of child labor should be eradicated. The sale and trafficking of children and their entrapment in bonded and forced labor are among these worst forms of child labor. A child can be a victim of human trafficking regardless of the location of that exploitation. Indicators of forced labor of a child include situations in which the child appears to be in the custody of a non-family member who has the child perform work that financially benefits someone outside the child’s family and does not offer the child the option of leaving. Anti-trafficking responses should supplement, not replace, traditional actions against child labor, such as remediation and education. However, when children are enslaved, their abusers should not escape criminal punishment by virtue of longstanding patters of limited responses to child labor practices rather than more effective law enforcement action.

Child Soldiers

Child soldiering can be a manifestation of human trafficking where it involves the unlawful recruitment or use of children—through force, fraud, or coercion—as combatants, or for labor or sexual exploitation by armed forces. Perpetrators may be government forces, paramilitary organizations, or rebel groups. Many children are forcibly abducted to be used as combatants. Others are made unlawfully to work as porters, cooks, guards, servants, messengers, or spies. Young girls can be forced to marry or have sex with male combatants. Both male and female child soldiers are often sexually abused and are at high risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases.

Child Sex Trafficking

According to UNICEF, as many as two million children are subjected to prostitution in the global commercial sex trade. International covenants and protocols obligate criminalization of the commercial sexual exploitation of children. The use of children in the commercial sex trade is prohibited under both U.S. law and the Palermo Protocol as well as by legislation in countries around the world. There can be no exceptions and no cultural or socioeconomic rationalizations preventing the rescue of children from sexual servitude. Sex trafficking has devastating consequences for minors, including long-lasting physical and psychological trauma, disease (including HIV/AIDS), drug addiction, unintended pregnancy, malnutrition, social ostracism, and death.

To educate yourself further about human trafficking, click here TIP 101 Training»

Friday, November 7, 2014

15 Medieval Hygiene Practices That Might Make You Queasy

By Megan Senseney
Chamber Pots
Chamber pots were containers for collecting urine overnight. Back in old Edinburgh, you always have to be alert for the shout of 'garde loo,' which is French for 'watch out for the water.' If you're not quick enough, you could find yourself being showered with the contents of chamber pots hurled from tenement windows.

Privies and Garderobe
In Tudor houses, toilets were a bowl with a slab of wood and a hole carved at the top. Builders set the toilet into a recess or cupboard-like area called a garderobe.  In castles, a slab of wood covers a hole in the floor that took waste products straight into the moat. Poor people didn't have the luxury of toilets, so they simply relieved themselves wherever they could and just buried the waste matter.

Leaves or Moss as Toilet Paper

Neither rich nor poor people had toilet paper. Poor people used leaves or moss to wipe their bottoms while the rich used lamb's wool instead. Kings had a royal bum wiper known as the 'Groom of the Stool.' 

Since the sewage system back then was not yet proper, people had to make do with burying much of their waste material in a cesspit in their cellar or garden.  People should have emptied these cesspits regularly, but only a few of them did. The stench was overwhelming especially during summer and winter.

Ceruse Lead Makeup Poisoned People

Ceruse was the foundation make-up choice for both men and women as it gave them a smooth, pale look. However, it contained lead that seeped into the body through the skin, leading to poisoning.

Lead-Lined Water Tanks
Even though the rich paid for private water companies for their drinking and other water needs, the water that they consumed was not exactly better than those of peasants.  The main water supply came from elm trunks and domestic pipes lined with lead. Water also required storage in large lead tanks and often became stagnant.

Nose-Gays When Walking in a Crowd
A nose-gay was something to keep the smells at bay, usually held in the hand or on the wrists on a lapel.  It could be a small bouquet of flowers or a sachet of dried flowers and herbs. People held it up to their noses while walking in a large crowd.

People Bathed Using the Same Water
Public baths were popular during the 13th century. But because of the scarcity of firewood used to heat the bath, bathing became an expensive practice.  Whole families and friends had to share a bath, or many of them would remain dirty.

Laundry Was Scoured in Lye Made of Ashes and Urine
Ancient Romans believed in the ability of urine to remove stains. Until the medieval times, people used lye made of ashes and urine in order to clean their clothes.  

No Changing of Clothes
King James VI of Scotland wore the same clothes for months on end, even sleeping on them on occasion.  He also kept the same hat on 24 hours a day until it fell apart. He didn't take a bath as he thought it was bad for his health.
Lice Infested Wigs
Nits and lice were common back then, so many of the more wealthy folks would shave their natural hair and wear periwigs instead.  Unfortunately, even periwigs could be infested with nits, especially during plagues.

Bird Droppings on the Bed
Houses in the past didn't have the protective roofing that houses have today, so it wasn't unusual for bugs, pests, and droppings to fall onto the clean bedding.  People then invented four-poster beds in order to keep a canopy that would catch all unpleasant stuff falling from the roof and not soil the bedding.

Infection from Rushes
One of the biggest sources of infection during the medieval times was the use of rushes or straws to cover up the natural dirt floor of a building.  Although people often changed the top rushes, they did not do the same to the bottom layer, hence leading to all manner of possible infection sources.

Mousey Eyebrows
People were already fashion-conscious during the medieval times. When their eyebrows did not look fashionable, they often masked them with tiny pieces of skin from a mouse.  

A Peculiar Cure to Baldness
Men had to combine potassium salts with chicken droppings, and then place the mixture on the affected area.  If they wanted to remove unwanted hair from any area of the body, they had to make a paste consisting of eggs, strong vinegar, and cat dung, and then apply it to the area where they want to remove hair.

Article reprinted from

Sunday, November 2, 2014

If a book is written...

Of course playing off the cliche: "If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"  But to clarify the meaning, in a nutshell, it's a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality.  So contemplating on the same plane of knowledge and existence, if a book was indeed written but no one reads it, does the book still have a soul?

Having posing this question to other authors, all say "yes!"  The life brought into the story is evidence of the books existence, thereby concluding it does posses a "soul," as it were. Like all living beings giving birth, life breeds life.  

But I raise the question of why writers write, and how their existence is influenced by the deepest desire to have their voices heard.  Even through the argument that an artist should only write for her or himself, without worry of an audience, yet still, writers wish to share their art; and by sharing, an audience is needed, regardless of size.  So, once a writer has composed words onto paper, but no one "listens" to the interpretations, how is the connection and kinship shared?  To create life is one form of the soul, but to sustain it, to give it purpose, that is the destination.  If a reader doesn't know the existence of the book or chooses to not read it, endorsing George Berkley's observations about whether something can exist without being perceived, does that book truly exist?  And if that book doesn't exist, can it truly have a soul?

Whether a tree does make a sound, or whether a book does encompass a soul, to be perceived is the question of any argument.  Naturally the answer is bi-polar in examination.  Shared knowledge is a writer's ambition, and that is the only reality a writer is able to express. 

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Even though I am from Kansas, I enjoy venturing into other worlds from around the globe which is why my writing focuses on diversity. With fluid accessibility to modern media and traveling opportunities, my Midwestern world can expand and explore beyond my own backyard. In addition to studying cultures, I take pleasure in studying history. Submitting to a moment in time allows us to remember, or to muse even, over our society’s past. Although writing can educate as well as entertain, yet what makes art incredibly amazing, to that of paintings, photographs, and music, it transposes emotion into another form of humanity, and therefore, it is our humanity which keeps all of us striving for an improved future.

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