Assorted Links

  1. Bribery Aisle: How Wal-Mart Got Its Way in Mexico– A story in the New York Times Wal Mart de Mexico and how it used bribes to bypass, manipulate, or acquire zoning and licensing permits for stores in Mexico, including around historic landmarks.
  2. Ramesses III’s Throat Was Slit– A new cat scan on the mummy of Ramesses III reveals a deep cut in the throat that likely would have caused death instantly, thereby suggesting that that was what caused his death. Likewise, a DNA test on a desecrated body found near the dead Pharaoh, confirms that it was a blood relative and probably his son.
  3. The Entourage in Antiquity– At PhDiva, classicist Sarah Bond discusses some of the ways that paying for and having an entourage was a symbol of status in the ancient world…not unlike the modern world.
  4. Defining Learning Expectations-An essay on Inside Higher Ed that looks at the set of standards for skills that students should be able to learn in history classes, while leaving the specific facts up to the instructor.
  5. Why Workers Are Losing The War Against Machines– An article in the Atlantic that has a somewhat misleading title. Instead of looking at manual labor against the machines (as the followers of Ned Ludd attempted), the article gives a solid, if somewhat basic, account of the ways in which technology disproportionately benefit those people who are already in positions of power or have the technology. In short, those with the resources and training/ability can maintain some level of control over the product and with the rapid growth of communication, the net effects of the decisions made by relatively few people are magnified. There are exceptions, but the article argues that those few who can rise into the category of “superstars” are fewer than in the past while the underlying, structural gap between the haves and the have-nots is growing. Despite the somewhat misleading title, the article provides some figures and a straightforward walk-through of information that has been popping up in fits and starts for a few years (at least).
  6. Buried Christian Empire in Yemen Casts New Light on Early Islam– A report in Spiegel about an archaeological find in Yemen that further suggests a Christian kingdom that may have exerted influence over Mecca in the years leading up to Mohammed’s birth. It also discusses in passing the environmental conditions and plagues of Arabia during the latter part of the period of the kingdom. As a detailed report and discussion the article is pretty deficient (or, alternately, it tries to let the reader know too much and does it in terms that are too vague), but as a thought piece and article blurb it is interesting.

Assorted Links

“Money worship has been elevated into a religion. Perhaps it is the only real religion—the only really felt religion—that is left to us.”
– George Orwell, Keep the Aspidistra Flying
(A quote I thought of while watching the Frontline documentary about the education industry)

1. Vanishing Languages – A feature in National Geographic this month that looks at the linguistic genocide being committed by English, Mandarin, Russian, Spanish, and Hindi (to name the big five).

2. Third World Child – Johnny Clegg and Savuka – The National Geographic article reminded me of one of my favorite songs of all time, Third World Child, written and performed by Jonny Clegg and Savuka, released in 1987. Clegg created the first prominent mixed-race band in South Africa during Apartheid, and I would also recommend other songs of his, though Third World Child touches me in a way most of the others don’t, even if I often like the other songs better. There are actually two songs on the video, with Third World Child ending at 4:09, but I like the video because it attempts to recreate as best as possible the actual music video.

you should learn to speak a little bit of English
Maybe practise birth control
Keep away from controversial politics
So to save my third world soul

3. Food and the College Experience – Some thoughts on the decline in social eating at college.

4. A Case for Not Fearing Islamism – An article in the Atlantic that suggests that accepting (since allowing is rather condescending) Islamic governments would eliminate any aggrieved sense and that when Islamic law runs countries, some of the undercurrents of radical Islamism are eliminated. Islamism (it argues) is fueled by exclusion from economic and political power. There is something to be said for this argument.

5. Why Do We Wear Pants? – The answer is horses. A report on this proposed theory of social evolution on the fact that pants for men evolved out of warfare on horseback, while pants for women emerged from bicycle riding.

What else is out there?