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Neanderthals Created Cave Art

A new discovery at Gorham’s Cave in Gibraltar suggests that Neanderthals were, contrary to their poor reputation, cave artists (and created the hashtag). Report via Chicago Tribune:

Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported Monday in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species.

Gorham's Cave.jpg

Gorham’s Cave. Photo by Gibmetal77 (CC)

The discovery is “a major contribution to the redefinition of our perception of Neanderthal culture,” said prehistorian William Rendu of the French National Center for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the work. “It is a new and even stronger evidence of the Neanderthal capacity for developing complex symbolic thought” and “abstract expression,” abilities long believed exclusive to early modern humans.

In recent years researchers have discovered that Neanderthals buried their dead, adorned themselves with black and red pigments, wore shell and feather jewelry and cared for the elderly and infirm, all evidence of complex thought.

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Richard Feynam’s Physics Lectures Are Now Available For Free

Photo of Richard Feynman, taken in 1984 in the woods of the Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham, MA, while he and the photographer worked at Thinking Machines Corporation on the design of the Connection Machine CM-1/CM-2 supercomputer. Copyright Tamiko Thiel 1984 via Wikimedia Commons

Photo of Richard Feynman, taken in 1984 in the woods of the Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham, MA, while he and the photographer worked at Thinking Machines Corporation on the design of the Connection Machine CM-1/CM-2 supercomputer. Copyright Tamiko Thiel 1984 via Wikimedia Commons

Saw this on io9 and thought it would be a great thing to pass on.

via io9:

The complete online edition of The Feynman Lectures on Physics has been made available in HTML 5 through a collaboration between Caltech (where Feyman first delivered these talks, in the early 1960s) and The Feynman Lectures Website. The online edition is “high quality up-to-date copy of Feynman’s legendary lectures,” and, thanks to the implementation of scalable vector graphics, “has been designed for ease of reading on devices of any size or shape; text, figures and equations can all be zoomed without degradation.”

Volume I deals mainly with mechanics, radiation and heat; Volume II with electromagnetism and matter; and Volume III with quantum mechanics.

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How the Ancients Should Have Built the Pyramids

1024px-Kheops-Pyramid

Nina at the Norwegian bokmål language Wikipedia via Wikimedia Commons

Joseph West and his team suggest that the easiest way to build the pyramids would have been to roll the blocks.

via Medium:

The Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt is the only one of the seven wonders of the ancient world to survive largely intact. Almost 4000 years old, it is a vast structure constructed from 2.4 million limestone blocks, most about 2.5 tonnes but some weighing in at up to 80 tonnes. These were largely sourced from local limestone quarries.

That raises a famous question. How did the Egyptians move these huge blocks into place? One theory is that the blocks were dragged along the sand which offers reduced friction when lubricated with water. But although the Great Pyramid is close to the Nile, many pyramids are not and this would have made the transport of water as big an engineering task as the movement of the blocks.

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A Letter From Franz Kafka About the Memories of Words

Franz_Kafka_1917

To Selma Kohn*

[Entry in an album]

How many words in this  book.

They are meant for remembrance. As though words could carry memories.

For words are clumsy mountaineers and clumsy miners. Not for them to bring down treasures from the mountains’ peaks, or up from the mountains’ bowels.

But there is a living mindfulness that has passed gently, like a stroking hand, over everything memorable. And when the flame shoots up out of these ashes, hot and glowing, strong and mighty, and you stare into it as though spellbound by its magic, then–

But no one can write himself into this kind of pure mindfulness with unskillful hand and crude pen; one can write only in such white, undemanding pages as these. I did so on September 2, 1900

Franz Kafka

*”Selma Kohn Robitschek, daughter of the chief postmaster of Roztok (Roztoky), on the left bank of Moldau, 7 1/2 miles north of Prague.Read the rest

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China: No Cult Zone

Naval_battle_between_Taiping-Qing_on_Yangtze

Actual photo of Naval battle between Taiping-Qing armies on Yangtze River. The caption in French says: “Canonnade des Taiping contre les jonques de guerre des Tsing qui assiégeaient la capital du Royaume céleste.” (“Taiping cannon fire against the Qing war junks that are assaulting the capital of the celestial kingdom”).

Remember the cult killing in a Chinese McDonald’s by members of the Church of the Almighty God? The Economist examines the history of “cults” in China in light of this recent crime.

via The Economist:

ON AUGUST 21st five members of a banned religious sect known as the Church of the Almighty God went on trial for a murder that has gripped the country. One evening in May, in front of stunned customers at a McDonald’s in the eastern city of Zhaoyuan, in Shandong province, the suspects allegedly beat to death a woman who had refused to give them her phone number.

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Wealth in Poverty: A Tribal’s View

Women in a tribal (Gond adivasi) village, Umaria district, India. Picture taken during a meeting organised by Ekta Parishad about land rights, the main grievance of the Adivasi people. By Yann via Wikimedia Commons.

Women in a tribal (Gond adivasi) village, Umaria district, India. Picture taken during a meeting organised by Ekta Parishad about land rights, the main grievance of the Adivasi people. By Yann via Wikimedia Commons.

This is an excerpt from “The Little Earth Book” by James Bruges.

Wealth means different things to different people. For a tribal person, money has little value. It is community they value.

The community at Gudalur, South India, is extremely poor. They used to live in the forest but could not prove ownership of any land. In their culture, there was no conception that land could be owned. Land, water and air are regarded as commons, available for all to use.

The government sold the forests in which the tribal community adivasis lived. It was assumed that the forests were empty and Brooke Bond acquired large tracts as tea plantations. Tribals continued to live on the edges.… Read the rest

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James Randi’s “Evidence” Against ESP Turns Out to Be Fabricated

James-Randi-LIAR

Some Disinfonauts might recall that last month I posted a rather scathing commentary in regards to the career of blow-hard skeptical debunker James Randi. Of course I hope people realize that I write polemic rants like this to reflect the negativity that the closed minded “skeptical” community, hardline materialist types, and religious people alike have been directing at anyone with alternate spiritual practices for the vast majority of recorded history. We deal with this condescension constantly and to pretend there isn’t a bias against things like Shamanism, the Occult, or Psi is sort of like pretending there’s no homophobia or misogyny, or that racism is just a thing of the past. For the record, we’re not talking about a fictional “sky-god” but rather the potentiality of the human imagination. It’s incredibly bizarre how many people desperately want to believe that this potentiality doesn’t exist and will eat up anything that reinforces this deeply held belief no matter how short on facts or evidence their claims happen to be.… Read the rest

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Only the Strong Survive: Fear, Stereotypes, and Myths

This is an excerpt from “Don’t Believe It! How Lies Become News” by Alexandra Kitty.

Only the Strong Survive (snippet from Chapter Nine: Fear, Stereotypes, and Myths)

533936Crime and tragedy befall many people, yet not all their stories make the news. So what separates newsworthy grief from the nameless variety? The newsworthy misfortune should be violent, cruel, unexpected and have a photogenic and winsome victim.

A crime meeting those requirements befell a young, attractive, upwardly mobile Boston couple expecting their first child. A husband and his pregnant lawyer wife seemed to be doing everything right, yet something went horribly wrong on their way home from the hospital. To the middle class posse, it was an unspeakable crime: nice, well-heeled couples weren’t supposed to get attacked after attending a birthing class.

The chilling details were recounted in the October 24, 1989 edition of the Boston Globe:

A Reading man and his pregnant wife were shot in Roxbury last night by a gunman who forced his way into their car after the couple left Brigham and Women’s Hospital.

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The Cultural Impact of ‘The Exorcist’

I’m not sure if we’ll ever see this level of intensity again. Though, The Blair Witch Project created quite a stir, albeit for different reasons.

via The Film Stage:

Thanks to inflation, box-office records seem to get broken every few weeks, but looking at the adjusted highest-grossing films list, one of the top ten features sticks out more than any other: William Friedkin‘s 1973 horror The Exorcist, considered by many to be the scariest film of all time. Besting even Avatar when it comes to adjusted domestic grosses, the film racked up $232 million in the U.S., which is over $900 million by today’s standards.

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