Monday, December 14, 2009
Rarely in human history has a piece of cloth been assigned so many roles. Been embroiled in so much controversy. Been so misjudged, misunderstood, and manipulated.
This bit, or in some cases bolt, of fabric is the Islamic veil.
For non-Muslims, it is perhaps the most visible, and often most controversial, symbol of Islam. From Texas to Paris, it has gained new prominence and been at the center of workplace misunderstandings, court rulings, and, in Europe, parliamentary debates about whether it should be banned.
The veil’s higher profile stems from several factors, including greater awareness and curiosity about Islam since 9/11, US military interventions in Muslim countries like Iraq and Afghanistan, and the rising visibility of Muslim immigrant communities in the United States and Europe.
It has also become a magnet for trouble in times of distress, as Illinois resident Amal Abusumayah discovered when a woman upset about the Fort Hood, Texas, killing spree tugged Ms. Abusumayah’s head scarf in a grocery store.
Vampires, pirates, ghost ships, skeletons—if it isn't Halloween, it can only be one thing: National Geographic News's annual lineup of our most popular archaeology coverage.
|10. "Extraordinary" Ancient Skeletons Found|
Several graves dating as far back as the early Stone Age—complete with the dog-tooth jewelry and sitting woman seen in these pictures—were discovered during extensive digs in central Germany, archaeologists announced this fall.
|9. "Vampire" Exorcism Skull Found in Italy|
The partial body and skull of a plague victim show her jaw forced open by a brick—a medieval exorcism technique used on suspected vampires—a forensic archaeologist explained in March.
|8. Blackbeard Pirate Relics, Gold Found|
A sword guard, tiny gold pieces, and a coin are among newfound artifacts from a shipwreck off North Carolina—shown in exclusive pictures. The discoveries, announced in March, add to evidence that the ship belonged to the pirate Blackbeard.
|7. World War II "Samurai Subs" Found—Carried Aircraft|
Two advanced Japanese "samurai subs" were found off Pearl Harbor in February and announced in November—including a stealth aircraft-carrying submarine and a supersleek vessel engineered for utmost speed.
|6. Huge Pre-Stonehenge Complex Found via "Crop Circles"|
Given away by crop circle-like formations, the pre-Stonehenge site surprised archaeologists with temple ruins, dozens of burial mounds, and two huge tombs that are among "Britain's first architecture," experts said in June.
|5. Mysterious Inscribed Slate Discovered at Jamestown|
Archaeologists are trying to unravel the mysteries of an unusual, inscribed 400-year-old slate tablet they dug out of a well in the early American settlement in Virginia, we reported in June.
|4. Ancient "King of Bling" Tomb Revealed in Peru|
Packed with treasure in the styles of two ancient orders, the 1,500-year-old tomb is apparently like no other—and may help resolve mysteries of the Moche Indian civilization.
|3. Ancient Gem-Studded Teeth Show Skill of Early Dentists|
The glittering "grills" of some hip-hop stars aren't exactly unprecedented. Sophisticated dentistry allowed Native Americans to add bling to their teeth as far back as 2,500 years ago, a May study said.
|2. Gold Hoard Found: Largest Known Anglo-Saxon Treasure|
Found in July by an amateur treasure hunter in England, the largest known Anglo-Saxon gold hoard is rich with precious stones and intricately wrought war gear.
|1. Gold Rush-Era "Ghost Ship" Wreck Found|
With boots thrown hastily on deck and cooking utensils scattered, the last moments of the crew aboard the gold rush-era paddleboatA.J. Goddard are preserved in the ship's recently found wreck, archaeologists announced in November.
Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit continues his investigation into “Safe Schools” czar Kevin Jennings and his involvement in a GLSEN conference that taught young teenagers about sexual techniques like “fisting,” “rimming,” and “watersports.” Some have suggested that Jennings did not know what kind of materials would be included in the curriculum for the conference, and contemporaneous reporting on the outrageous materials resulted in GLSEN firing one of the presenters. However, Jim interviews a Massachusetts teacher who attended the conference, and she tells Jim that Jennings not only was one of the presenters himself, he also was clearly in charge of all aspects of the presentations
Planet hunters have discovered as many as six low-mass planets around two nearby Sun-like stars, including two "super-Earths" with masses 5 and 7.5 times the mass of Earth
Out of Ethiopia - DNA studies suggest that all humans today descended from Ethiopia
In case you still doubt all humans descended from Ethiopia, here is yet another study that reveals, all humans today descend from a group of African ancestors who—about 60,000 years ago—began a remarkable journey.
Where did we come from? Evolutionary biologist Spencer Wells is pretty close to the answer. He's the National Geographic "Explorer-in-Residence" and heads an initiative called the Genographic Project. By collecting DNA samples from people around the world, he's tracing the paths of human migration, and he's uncovered some startling facts about homo sapi.
The Genographic Project, he says, tries to answer the basic questions that most people have: "We look around, we see people who seem so different to each other and from ourselves. Do we share a common origin? And how recently was that if we do? If we do spring from a common source, how did we populate every corner of the globe?"
In the process of answering these questions, Wells is also trying to understand how humans generated the patterns of diversity that we see today.
Wells says that according to the fossil record, humans originated in Ethiopia about 200,000 years ago.
Quote for the day -
“Nobody believes a weather prediction twelve hours ahead. Now we're asked to believe a prediction that goes 100 years into the future? And make financial investments based on that prediction? Has everyone lost their minds?"
Champagne has been found to have the same health benefits as red wine.
In research, which will be published in the British Journal of Nutrition this week, a team led by Dr Jeremy Spencer of Reading University, found that champagne has the same health benefits as previously found in red wine.
It contains polyphenol antioxidants, which are believed to reduce the effects of cell-damaging free radicals in the body. In particular, these antioxidants slow down the removal of nitric oxide from the blood, lowering blood pressure and therefore reducing the risk of heart problems and strokes.
December 14, 2009:
The troops can now get clean water, on demand, by zapping it with a handheld device. The SteriPen uses ultraviolent light to kill all microbes in water. The battery powered device weighs 4.5 ounces (189g) and is 7.3 inches (18.6cm) long. It takes 48 seconds to clean half a liter (16 ounces) of water (and 90 seconds for a liter). Just stick the probe in the water, press the button and watch the countdown timer. One set of batteries will purify 58 liters (14.3 gallons). Unlike purification tablets, the SteriPen method does not leave a chemical taste. For this reason, many troops buy a SteriPen, which cost a hundred dollars.
More on the differences between Repubs and Dems
"Conservatives and Republicans report fewer experiences than liberals or Democrats communicating with the dead, seeing ghosts and consulting fortunetellers or psychics," the Pew study says.
Mankiw: Tax Cuts Work 2x Better Than Government Spending to Cure Recession
When devising its fiscal package, the Obama administration relied on conventional economic models based in part on ideas of John Maynard Keynes. Keynesian theory says that government spending is more potent than tax policy for jump-starting a stalled economy. The report in January put numbers to this conclusion. It says that an extra dollar of government spending raises GDP by $1.57, while a dollar of tax cuts raises GDP by only 99 cents. The implication is that if we are going to increase the budget deficit to promote growth and jobs, it is better to spend more than tax less.
But various recent studies suggest that conventional wisdom is backward.
One piece of evidence comes from Christina D. Romer, the chairwoman of the president’s Council of Economic Advisers. In work with her husband, David H. Romer, written at the University of California, Berkeley, just months before she took her current job, Ms. Romer found that tax policy has a powerful influence on economic activity. According to the Romers, each dollar of tax cuts has historically raised G.D.P. by about $3 — three times the figure used in the administration report. That is also far greater than most estimates of the effects of government spending.
Other recent work supports the Romers’ findings. In a December 2008 working paper, Andrew Mountford of the University of London and Harald Uhlig of the University of Chicago apply state-of-the-art statistical tools to United States data to compare the effects of deficit-financed spending, deficit-financed tax cuts and tax-financed spending. They report that “deficit-financed tax cuts work best among these three scenarios to improve G.D.P.”
My Harvard colleagues Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna have recently conducted a comprehensive analysis of the issue. In an October study, they looked at large changes in fiscal policy in 21 nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. They identified 91 episodes since 1970 in which policy moved to stimulate the economy. They then compared the policy interventions that succeeded — that is, those that were actually followed by robust growth — with those that failed.
The results are striking. Successful stimulus relies almost entirely on cuts in business and income taxes. Failed stimulus relies mostly on increases in government spending. ...
Government Salaries Soar In Bad Times. “Hard times for folks outside of the federal establishment are also good times for Washington politicians with their never-ending thirst for finding new ways of grabbing tax dollars to benefit themselves, members of their families, present or former staff members, friends, or campaign donors. The $448 billion appropriations bill approved last week by the House contained more than 5,000 earmarks, many of which will ultimately benefit the favored few rather than the suffering many. It’s helpful to keep these realities about Washington bureaucrats and politicians in mind the next time one of them steps forward and proposes solving another crisis with billions more tax dollars.”
Christmas Lights, The Brief and Strangely Interesting History Of
But the opportunity for graft is much less.