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February 23, 2010

Archaeologists discover Turkish temple that reshapes what we know of human history

Turkey: Archeological Dig Reshaping Human History - Newsweek.com
Standing on the hill at dawn, overseeing a team of 40 Kurdish diggers, the German-born archeologist waves a hand over his discovery here, a revolution in the story of human origins. Schmidt has uncovered a vast and beautiful temple complex, a structure so ancient that it may be the very first thing human beings ever built. The site isn't just old, it redefines old: the temple was built 11,500 years ago—a staggering 7,000 years before the Great Pyramid, and more than 6,000 years before Stonehenge first took shape. The ruins are so early that they predate villages, pottery, domesticated animals, and even agriculture—the first embers of civilization. In fact, Schmidt thinks the temple itself, built after the end of the last Ice Age by hunter-gatherers, became that ember—the spark that launched mankind toward farming, urban life, and all that followed. . . . The new discoveries are finally beginning to reshape the slow-moving consensus of archeology. Göbekli Tepe is "unbelievably big and amazing, at a ridiculously early date," according to Ian Hodder, director of Stanford's archeology program. Enthusing over the "huge great stones and fantastic, highly refined art" at Göbekli, Hodder—who has spent decades on rival Neolithic sites—says: "Many people think that it changes everything…It overturns the whole apple cart. All our theories were wrong." Schmidt's thesis is simple and bold: it was the urge to worship that brought mankind together in the very first urban conglomerations. The need to build and maintain this temple, he says, drove the builders to seek stable food sources, like grains and animals that could be domesticated, and then to settle down to guard their new way of life. The temple begat the city.
*Thanks, Clint!*

February 22, 2010

Today's Contest: What New York Times Headline Best Describes Your Marriage?

I'm gonna have to go with "An Erotic Encounter Further...

February 21, 2010

Val Kilmer explains the history of meth

History of Meth- The Salton Sea

February 20, 2010

During prohibition our government poisoned the alcohol supply, killed 10,000 Americans

The little-told story of how the U.S. government poisoned alcohol during Prohibition. - By Deborah Blum - Slate Magazine
Doctors were accustomed to alcohol poisoning by then, the routine of life in the Prohibition era. The bootlegged whiskies and so-called gins often made people sick. The liquor produced in hidden stills frequently came tainted with metals and other impurities. But this outbreak was bizarrely different. The deaths, as investigators would shortly realize, came courtesy of the U.S. government. Frustrated that people continued to consume so much alcohol even after it was banned, federal officials had decided to try a different kind of enforcement. They ordered the poisoning of industrial alcohols manufactured in the United States, products regularly stolen by bootleggers and resold as drinkable spirits. The idea was to scare people into giving up illicit drinking. Instead, by the time Prohibition ended in 1933, the federal poisoning program, by some estimates, had killed at least 10,000 people. Although mostly forgotten today, the "chemist's war of Prohibition" remains one of the strangest and most deadly decisions in American law-enforcement history. As one of its most outspoken opponents, Charles Norris, the chief medical examiner of New York City during the 1920s, liked to say, it was "our national experiment in extermination." Poisonous alcohol still kills—16 people died just this month after drinking lethal booze in Indonesia, where bootleggers make their own brews to avoid steep taxes—but that's due to unscrupulous businessmen rather than government order.

February 19, 2010

FYI: Those Anthrax Letters After 9-11? Presbyterian-Catholic White Guy Terrorism.

F.B.I., Laying Out Evidence, Closes Anthrax Letters Case - NYTimes.com...

Hey, Internet, I'm not starting anything, just saying: As of today, I almost certainly have a cooler belt than you

(Yes, that's red velvet backing the "Giant Squid"; the...

February 14, 2010

Was Decartes murdered by a priest with a poisoned communion wafer?

Descartes was 'poisoned by Catholic priest' | World news | guardian.co.uk
For more than three and a half centuries, the death of Rene Descartes one winter's day in Stockholm has been attributed to the ravages of pneumonia on a body unused to the Scandinavian chill. But in a book released after years spent combing the archives of Paris and the Swedish capital, one Cartesian expert has a more sinister theory about how the French philosopher came to his end. According to Theodor Ebert, an academic at the University of Erlangen, Descartes died not through natural causes but from an arsenic-laced communion wafer given to him by a Catholic priest. Ebert believes that Jacques Viogue, a missionary working in Stockholm, administered the poison because he feared Descartes's radical theological ideas would derail an expected conversion to Catholicism by the monarch of protestant Sweden. "Viogue knew of Queen Christina's Catholic tendencies. It is very likely that he saw in Descartes an obstacle to the Queen's conversion to the Catholic faith," Ebert told Le Nouvel Observateur newspaper.

February 10, 2010

"Lap Dance Therapy" Neither Fun Nor Effective

Maia Szalavitz: Really Special Education: State Investigation Confirms "Lap Dance...

Continue reading ""Lap Dance Therapy" Neither Fun Nor Effective" »