Old Cheese


Earlier this month researchers from the University of Bristol released findings on some very old cheese. Specifically; ancient tools used to make cheese; in Poland of all places. Pottery fragments full of small holes were analyzed and determined to be sieves used for cheese making. Dating back 7000 years, we now have scientific proof of the worlds first cheese. Similar pottery found in Turkey and Libya is suspected to be as old, but has not been tested.

“So what” you ask?

For starters; I love anything that ruffles the feathers of main stream historians. I see history as something fluid, with no beginning and no end,  expanding for eternity. History can’t be set in stone, or viewed as anything other than a riddle. To discover prehistory man, making cheese in Poland thousands of years before the pyramids, makes me giddy. This is land locked northern Europe. Hardly a truck stop on any trade route, or basking in Mediterranean sun; thought to be an outpost for barbaric hunter gatherers.

Ponder ancient Polish cheese makers; their ingenuity contradicts text book history in every way.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/12/121212134044.htm

A sieve fragment from a clay pit in north-central Poland which was submitted to lipid residue analyses. (Credit: Image by Mélanie Salque)
Advertisements

Chinese Plea


As the New Year looms, lets all ponder our priorities. Rather than feeble, half hearted promises; why not resolve to take a wider view of the world? A world crowded with mega stores, offering inexpensive goods, 24 hours a day – comes at a price. We grumble about the economy, complain about employment, whine over out sourced call centres; then flock to Wal Mart for cheap imported goods. Unfazed by recalls, faulty workmanship, lead contamination, or labour practices; we gobble up imported goods without blinking an eye. Worse still, we encourage trade to “stimulate the economy”, roll out the red carpet to foreign companies, and look the other way.

On Dec. 27 the Business Insider reported on a chilling story. A woman from Oregon discovered a letter written by a Chinese factory worker,  inside a box of Halloween decorations purchased last year at Kmart.

.

“If you occasionally buy this product,  please kindly resend this letter to the World Human Right Organization.  Thousands people here who are under the persecution of the Chinese Communist  Party Government will thank and remember you forever.

People who work here have to work 15 hours a day  without Saturday, Sunday break and any holidays. Otherwise, they will suffer  torturement, beat and rude remark. Nearly no payment (10 yuan/1 month).

People who work here, suffer punishment 1-3 years  averagely, but without Court Sentence (unlaw punishment). Many of them are Falun  Gong practitioners, who are totally innocent people only because they have  different believe to CCPG. They often suffer more punishment than others.”

Read more:  http://www.businessinsider.com/kmart-shopper-finds-letter-from-china-2012-12#ixzz2GWkfzwPm

I must stress – it is alleged to have been written by a factory worker. Obviously the author must be educated as it is written almost entirely in English. The context of the letter indicates these workers are not there by choice or court sentence.

I’ve written a lot about China, and realize the situation is complicated. That said; it’s no secret certain Chinese factories had to install “suicide nets” to stop workers from jumping to their death, imported pet food sickened or killed hundreds of animals, or that thousands of products are removed from shelves each year due to lead, pesticide, or melamine contamination. Banned or restricted Chinese food products; like honey, make their way to our supermarket shelves via other countries. Laundered and relabelled, we snap them up – pleased with ourselves for being great little shoppers.

Saving a few pennies has become a fact of life for countless families; I understand that. Imported goods are inexpensive.  Given the choice between providing for my family or not, obviously family trumps conscience. The disturbing fact is how the situation has taken on a life of its own. All of us feed the flames by being oblivious.

No one said life was fair. We can’t fix all the problems or change different cultures by applying our standards. What we can do is realize we have a voice. I guarantee that speaking up won’t empty mega or dollar store shelves. Waking up and saying “enough” might just put an end to the madness condoning flagrant disregard for health and human rights.

We owe it to one Chinese factory worker to at least ponder a plea for help.

Image Source Page: http://singularityhub.com/2011/12/13/chinese-company-continues-plan-to-replace-workforce-with-500000-robots/

“Egg”splanation


My “wish list” the other day included one hoping consumers learned the difference between “free run” and “free range” eggs. I thought it unfair to leave that dangling. We pay premium prices for free run, free range, and organic. I laughed out loud when the egg question was explained.

In Canada, “free run” chickens are still confined to massive barns, never see the light of day, and are given nesting boxes to lay their eggs. To claim “free range” producers have to let the hens have access to outside the barn once a day. To be clear; we’re not talking flinging open the barn doors onto a grassy meadow – all they have to do is provide an “opening” for a prescribed amount of time.

Organic chicken deserves a serious ponder as well.  Any illusions to a “Sunnybrook” farm existence should immediately be tossed in the compost bin. Poultry is certified “organic” as long as it wasn’t feed antibiotics or animal by-products. Commercial producers can still pack thousands of birds into airless barns; still force feed them round the clock. I guarantee,  commercial organic chickens have never seen the light of day.

There is absolutely no difference in the nutritional content of eggs. Free run, range, or plain old eggs; it’s all the same. Falling for slick marketing ploys designed to feed on social conscience, only puts egg on your face. Organic chicken, free from antibiotics is not a bad idea; provided you suspend romantic notions of birds blissfully scratching around a grassy field.

Stop and think before you buy. Shop at farmers markets if you want eggs laid by happy chickens. Otherwise, save your money and demand unregulated marketing nonsense stops.There truly is no end to the ingenuity of mankind. Marketing is alive and well; human nature dictates no shortage of those willing to line up for “snake oil”.

Free range egg barn.

Stand By Me


Time to ponder a song. If this doesn’t make you tap your foot, or put a little smile on your face – I give up.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6AZIVjHnG8&list=HL1356695177

 

Grandpa Elliot – New Orleans, Louisiana

Wish List


I’m not one to make New Year resolutions. Experience shows the folly of setting ones self up to fail. Beating myself up over broken expectations grew old a long time ago. Instead, I pondered a “wish list” of  things I’d like to see in the New Year. I’ve left out the obvious Miss America style references to “world peace”. My opinion of the NRA, Monsanto, Halliburton, and political circus are well documented. A simple wish list, offering some practical suggestions; in no particular order –

All children would be taught cursive writing in school. It’s not enough to be able to read, you have to be able to sign your name.

School curriculum would require that all children, at some point between the 5th and 8th grades; be taught, in an unbiased manner – the origins, beliefs, and practices of major world religions.

Reddit would view links to blogs as something other than spam.

Weather reports would include space weather.

Canadians would learn to spell the name of our Prime Minister. It’s STEPHEN not Steven Harper.

Legislation would pass banning shoes for dogs; on grounds of cruelty to animals.

Any organization or religion operating as a “non profit” and enjoying “tax exempt” status, would be forbidden to contribute to political campaigns. These organizations would also have to re-apply for tax exemption every few years.

Elected officials couldn’t refer to God in defence of their position on issues.

Consumers were informed of the actual difference between “free run” and “free range” eggs.

Vegans stopped wearing leather shoes.

Happy New Year.

Finding Atlantis


The expression ” rewriting history” couldn’t be more accurate if it tried. History is a chameleon, changing colour as it reflects the perspective of individual orators. Inoffensive landmarks faithfully, universally noted – controversial or distasteful facts, omitted or presented in more favourable light. History is a subject open to interpretation; often a best guess or comfortable middle ground. The last few thousand years are easy. Reasonable written records piece together an accurate portrait of humanity’s sordid parade.

Ancient history is another story; a far different story than I learned in school. I was taught that “civilization ” began in Mesopotamia. I learned of Egypt, Greece, and Rome. Taught that civilization began with the advent of written language, I happily absorbed my lessons, textbook timeline and all.

Now I’m wishing they would find Atlantis. The only written record comes from Greek philosopher Plato in 360 B.C. He described the city in great detail, dating it to 9,600 B.C. That would put it thousands of years before Mesopotamia. Many scholars believe Plato wrote of Atlantis, not as fact, rather as a tool to express his ideas on society. At the heart of the debate are the extreme details Plato used to describe the physical lay out of the city. If simply a metaphor, why would he painstakingly scribe such details?

Archaeologists and historians have placed it under Antarctic ice, off the coast of the Bahamas, under Spanish marshland, and in the Aegean Sea. It tickles our imagination; fuelling tales of Poseidon and Captain Nemo. Finding this mythical city would re-write history.

We need to find Atlantis because we’ve all heard of it. Atlantis would be the spark needed to ignite the accepted timeline of civilization – blowing it to smithereens. I can think of no other course of action; Atlantis would tip the cart. My dismay stems from the realization my textbook history was shot full of holes years ago. Watching my children; dutifully hand in the same reports I did; colouring the same tired historical march, not once presented with possibilities of civilization lost.

Mention civilization lost and most people would think of Atlantis or Shangra-La. Not a shred of evidence has ever been found to support either. Meanwhile, irrefutable scientific evidence dates Gobekli Tepe at 7000 years before the pyramids. Puma Punku is older than that, perhaps the oldest structure on earth. These aren’t stone huts, I’m talking mind boggling monolithic stone structures.Places that defy explanation Documents such as the Piri Reis map, showing the outline of Antarctica under miles of ice;.as it would have been before the last ice age.

Ancient history has more questions than answers.One thing for certain; the cradle of civilization is no more Mesopotamia than the world is flat. We can’t discount facts simply because we don’t have all the answers. A closed mind is a sorry excuse, it’s time to re-write history.

Not Right America! (NRA)


Pondering the NRA is something I may hardly be able to put into words. I lack any frame of reference to comprehend their mission. It was jaw dropping enough to attempt a shred of objectivity when they announced; armed guards should be placed at every school. As I dressed for work this morning, MSNBC aired in the background. My back was turned as another NRA grenade went off. It stopped me in my tracks. A reporter was interviewing an NRA member who advocated all teachers be armed. She asked him what if the teacher didn’t agree? His response; “then I wouldn’t want my child in that classroom”

As a Canadian I couldn’t possibly understand what it is to be American. In desperation I decided to find out about the NRA. I wanted to grasp the world through their eyes. I should have known; I planted desperation and grew despair. My outrage replaced by the horrible churning belly of nervous dread. My thoughts and conviction spill into a pool of fatigue. Tired and hopeless is not what I expected. Hardly able to muster a fight; a few things I’ve learned is all I have to offer.

My first stop was the NRA website. I wasn’t able to get past the home page Not because I couldn’t, I simply didn’t have the energy to climb that mountain first. Slick and interactive, proudly displaying the Eagle as if stamped by the presidential seal. Somehow the words “non profit” registered before I turned away. Briefly pondering what Bill Maher might joke about this; I settled on a more practical fact finding mission.

I confess my next stop was Wikipedia. Formed in 1871 the NRA was established to protect the second amendment” right to bear arms ”  in the U.S. Bill of Rights. Lacking the capacity at the moment to summarize the early years, I’ll capsulize by saying the Union Army were lousy shots. Co-founder George Wingate travelled to Europe, liked the training he saw, returned to America where the New York legislature funded a gun range. The NRA was born. The first NRA president was Civil War General  Ambrose Burnside.

A humble enough beginning; completely understandable and practical in it’s time. This “non-profit” was funded by the likes of Remington and Sharps rifle manufacturers.  They established gun clubs, taught marksmanship and certified gun owners. The NRA of today is far more

Call me crazy but for the life of me I need to know how a non-profit society is able to become the most powerful lobby in America? Forget the gravy – all I want is a meat and potatoes answer. How can a non profit organization contribute millions of dollars to political campaigns? These people are not elected; yet are allowed to influence policy. How can we validate the NRA’s agenda by airing “press conferences” that subject reasonable people to nonsense?

I’m not an American, perhaps I’ll never understand.

Obama 'actively' supports assault weapons ban; NRA ends silence on school shooting

A protestor holds a banner during a march to the National Rifle Association headquarters on Capitol Hill in Washington Monday, Dec. 17, 2012. Curbing gun violence will be a top priority of President Barack Obama’s second term, aides say. but exactly what he’ll pursue and how quickly are still evolving. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)