Cave Reveals a Culture of Recycling

Homo sapiens sapiens - Deliberate deformity of...
Homo sapiens sapiens - Deliberate deformity of the skull, "Toulouse deformity ". Français: Homo sapiens sapiens – Déformation volontaire du crâne : « déformation toulousaine ». « Crâne déformé - Vieille femme –mars 1905" MHNT.ANT.2003.85 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
English: Flint stone tools, bronze age South H...
English: Flint stone tools, bronze age South Hungary - Tisza culture (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Always something to learn from the past, from our ancestors... do we, really?
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By ISABEL KERSHNER


ROSH HAAYIN, Israel – for years, archaeologists have been digging their way through prehistoric layers of time, unearthing the secrets of Qesem Cave. Located 12 kilometers outside Tel Aviv and discovered by accident during a road project in 2000, the cave most recently offered up insights into life hundreds of thousands of years ago that provide a counterpoint to at least one aspect of modern life. It seems early inhabitants cared about recycling.

“Recycling was a way of life,” said Ran Barkai of Tel Aviv University. “It was part of human evolution and human nature.”

Archaeologists have found thousands of recycled tools in the cave, including bone hammers and reworked flint stones. With aged, glossy surfaces broken by newer, rougher razor edges, the flint tools were part of a vast collection of knives apparently used for butchering, cleaning animal hides and cutting vegetables. Some of the blades are as sharp as a scalpel and as small as a thumbnail.

At the cave site, there is evidence that prehistoric humans were not always so thrifty, but that the behavior evolved. Life in the region dates back at least 1.5 million years, but professor Barkai said that a dramatic change had occurred here 400,000 years ago. He said that for some unknown reason the elephants that had served as a main food source apparently disappeared, prompting a change of menu and lifestyle.

In the quest for survival, Israeli archaeologists say, the cave dwellers here began hunting fallow deer instead of elephants. At the same time, they discovered the delights of a hot, home-cooked meal – and apparently invented the barbecue.

These early humans had the intelligence to squeeze the maximum out of every product. After cooking the meat, then smashing the bones to extract the marrow, Professor Barkai said, “they used the bone fragments to create tools with which to butcher the next deer.”

The cave was exposed by chance when road builders widening the highway to the West Bank settlement of Ariel blasted a hillside, collapsing the cave’s ceiling. Another archaeologist who happened to be nearby, guarding his own cave, spotted chunks of rocks packed with bones and flint and immediately realized that the site was prehistoric.

The cave caused a bit of a stir in 2010, when it was reported that several teeth found there had provided evidence for the existence of Homo sapiens, or modern humans, 200,000 years earlier than in Africa, and earlier than in anywhere else in the world.

By now, 13 early human teeth have been found, and Professor Barkai said the inhabitants might have been a kind of missing link – more advanced than Homo erectus and precursors of Homo sapiens and the Neanderthals. The Stone Age innovators lived here on and off from about 400,000 to 200,000 years ago.

The early humans had to adapt to their changing environment – perhaps another lesson for the modern world.

They developed an independent, local culture, Professor Barkai said, that stretched across the territory that now includes Jordan, Lebanon and Syria.

The hunters needed to become discerning, agile and efficient. On average, 80 deer were needed to make up the food provided by one elephant. The cave dwellers gathered fruit and nuts and collected wood for fires. This area was a kind of Eden, with natural springs and flint in abundance.

They began crafting their sharp tools from flint, according to experts, racing ahead of their time and their human contemporaries in Europe and Africa.

“This was the high technology of the ancient man,” Professor Barkai said.

In a patch that once serve as a hearth, layers of hardened ash date back 300,000 years. Here the earth is packed with bone fragments, including a horse’s jaw.

Though sporadic use of fire existed much earlier, Qesem Cave has been established as the site with the earliest evidence of the systematic use of fire for roasting meat on a daily, domestic basis – “like when we turn on the gas stove,” as Professor Barkai put it. The cave dwellers’ ancestors probably ate their elephants raw.

The cave was organized like a house, he said, with different areas serving as a kitchen, a workshop and an area where children appeared to have practiced making flint tools of their own. The hearth also appears to have served as a kind of central campfire.

Professor Barkai said that evidence of some of the same behavior, technologies and methods had been found as far away as Syria and that there must have been some kind of communication between the early humans in the region.

“I don’t know how,” the professor says. “There was no Wi-Fi, but they knew each other.”


Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, The New York Times International Weekly, December 13, 2014

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The Survival Of The Fittest Shoppers

BY ALAN FEUER


TULSA, OklahomaDisasters happen. It is a fact as certain as income taxes. And when a solar flare erupts or a flu pandemic hits, there is only one question that will matter: Are you, or are you not, prepared?

One could have found an answer – actually, many answers – here recently at the third annual National Preppers and Survivalists Expo. A trade show catering to those with an apocalyptic bent, the two-day exposition was an opportunity for vendors of calamity swag to meet their clientele.

“We tried to gear our event this year to the ordinary person who wants to be ready for any situation,” said Ray McCreary, who organized the conference for the trade show company Expo Inc.

Ever since Isaiah, someone somewhere has been talking about the imminent demise of civilized society. Still, one could argue that today’s connected world of globalized supply chains and multinational banks is especially susceptible to a catastrophic failure. Just last month, a study financed by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration found that, because of financial inequality and environmental problems, the industrial world could suffer “a precipitous collapse “within decades.

Alvin Jackson, a jazz musician from New Orleans, wants to be ready. Mr. Jackson, 66, was at the exposition checking out the Ark 290: a month’s supply of freeze-dried food.

“People think that preppers, and I use that term with caution, are guys in beards who live in bunkers and bury ammunition in their yards,” said Mr. Jackson, who had come to the conference with his wife, Marlane. “But I went through Katrina, and I’m not crazy. I know from experience that things go south, and it can happen just like that.”

Mr. Jackson’s cautions inspired by a hurricane notwithstanding, it would be easy to assume that a prepper convention would be peopled with right-wing zealots with a taste for guns and gold, or what survivalists like to call “the bullet-and-bullion set.” But while there was one man standing at a booth handing out business cards for Operation American Spring, a movement to impeach President Obama, there was also a countervailing element of organic gardeners, homeopathic healers and publishers selling books on the commercial uses of hemp.

The exposition seemed to be less about politics than consumer economics and was, if anything, an exercise in modern-day capitalism.

Apparently, there are endless ways to commodify catastrophe. There were tactical knives ($135), mass casualty bags ($ 250), solar-powered generators ($ 4,299), automated defibrillators ($695), gravity-fed water filters ($150) and vacuum-sealed packs of alligator jerky ($15).

Amy Alton, a co-founder of the survival-medicine company Doom and Bloom, feels that fear-mongering is less effective at persuading people to prepare than building a community.

Ms. Alton, a former Army nurse, is a purveyor of medical kits like the Stomp Supreme Trauma Survival Bag ($649) and the author, with her husband, Dr. Joseph Alton, of “The Survival Medicine Handbook.” Her latest project is a survival board game, which she is financing through Kickstarter donations and envisions as a way to introduce the subject of prepping to children.

“Being prepared is only possible if families and communities take part in it,” she said. “The idea of the lone survivalists living underground in a bunker with his guns – it’s absolutely crazy.”

The way Ms. Alton sees it, living in a tight-knit community where you know and trust your neighbors is the surest way to survive a disaster.

“We have to get back to a time when someone had the cow and someone made the quilt and everyone worked together,” she said. “That’s how America was founded.”


Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, April 12, 2014

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Online Shaming Keeps Celebrities From Behaving Too Badly

BY TEDDY WAYNE


Justin Bieber’s rap sheet over the past year would have been an afternoon’s work for Keith Richards.

Yet we excoriate Mr. Bieber for his misdeeds while glorifying Mr. Richards for his. And musicians are far from the only ones expected to be on their best behavior.

“If there was an arrest for drunk driving,” Robert J. Wagner writes of old Hollywood in his new memoir, “You Must Remember This,” “there would be a nod, a wink, perhaps some modest amount of money changing hands, and that would be the end of it.”

He added, “If an actor behaved the way that, say, Tiger Woods did – and believe me, it was not unusual – it was covered up.”

The days of our celebrating the rowdy, libidinous, self-destructive artist may be drawing to a close. What’s more, celebrities are no longer behaving all that badly.

Blame the Internet’s power to shame and memorialize. It certainly had an effect on Alec Baldwin, who quit Twitter multiple times and bade a recent long goodbye to public life in New York magazine.

Those chronicling the famous also have to mind their manners. A reporter who parties like Hunter S. Thompson did in the 1970s is unlikely to be published regularly by Rolling Stone in the 2010s.

Cat Marnell, 31, is the rare journalist who seems to be written about more than she writes. The news media in New York, where she lives, have broadly covered her exploits with drugs. Ms. Marnell has written for a number of publications but has not stayed too long at any of them: she told The New York Post, “I couldn’t spend another summer meeting deadlines behind a computer at night when I could be on the rooftop of Le Bain looking for shooting stars and smoking angel dust with my friends and writing a book.”

Ms. Marnell has sold a memoir for a reported $550,000. She is ambivalent about her subject matter. “As somebody who’s overdosed and nearly died in September, I struggle with what kind of tone I want,” she said of her writing. Yet she acknowledged that “people do like me because I’m bad,” adding: “I didn’t go out there showing off. When I relapsed, I started writing about it. And it got me super-popular. Drugs are bad, but they’re still fun.”

Our cultural image of the writer has historically been of a thrice-divorced, whiskey-swilling chain smoker who brawls with his rival in a dimly lit speakeasy. Now it’s a married yogi who tweets from the kale section. Smokers, who once had an aura of sophistication, now huddle outside bars, resembling addicts who need a fix.

Coming of age, the writer Jay McInerney idolized Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald and William Faulkner, all with a noted fondness for alcohol – along with what he called “the silver generation” of hard drinkers like Norman Mailer, John Cheever and William Styron.

By the time Mr. McInerney published his debut novel, “Bright Lights, Big City,” in 1984, followed a year later by Bret Easton Ellis’s “Less Than Zero” – which depicted Reagan-era Manhattan and Los Angeles, respectively – “drugs were part of a rite of passage” for young writers, he said. Glamorizing hedonism, they failed to see the drawbacks, even of cocaine.

Mr. McInerney, at 59, now writes a column for The Wall Street Journal about a less lethal inebriant: wine. “I’m glad I survived my excesses,” he said. “I feel like an extinct species.”

Another species on the brink: the Casanova. With better education about sexually transmitted infections and apps like Lulu that crowd-source ratings of men (often flagging the cads), large numbers of people now deem sleeping around unhealthy.

Adelle Waldman, the author of the novel “The Love Affairs of Nathaniel P.,” has found it amusing how many readers dislike her character, a narcissistic young writer who is less than attentive to the women in his life.

Compared with the misogynistic protagonists in the works of the silver generation, his actions do seem tame. “They were able to prioritize their sexual experience and pleasure and find a way to dismiss any unhappiness that women might feel,” Ms. Waldman said. “They behaved in ways that Nate feels one can’t today – it violates our common beliefs of how civilized people behave.”

Ms. Waldman has felt “nostalgic for the more decadent past,” she said. “I sometimes crave a little more drunkenness and people saying the unwise thing, especially among creative types.”

Reached the morning after a night out, though, her views had changed – at least for the moment – as she was “a little hung over,” she confessed.

“Now I am anti-bad behavior,” she said, “and in favor of strict two drink limits.”


Taken from TODAY Saturday Edition, March 29, 2014


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IVF treatment linked to higher risk of ovarian tumours

The helper is now the cuplrit?
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Posted: 27 October 2011


Expert performs in-vitro fertilization. (AFP/Saeed Khan)
PARIS: Women who were given hormone treatment for in-vitro fertilisation (IVF) ran twice the risk of ovarian malignancies compared with counterparts who did not undergo IVF, a study said on Thursday.

Doctors in the Netherlands compared the long-term health of more than 19,000 women who had received at least one IVF ovarian stimulation treatment with just over 6,000 similarly infertile counterparts who had not been treated for IVF.

Of the 25,000 women they studied, 77 developed ovarian malignancies in the ensuing 15 years, a risk that in absolute terms was very low.

But in relative terms, the numbers were much higher in the IVF group, which had 61 out of the 77 cases compared to 16 in the non-IVF group.

Thirty of the 61 were cases of invasive ovarian cancer, which usually requires extensive surgery and chemotherapy and has a low survival rate.

The other 31 cases were borderline ovarian tumours, which have low malignancy potential and are rarely fatal but require major surgery.

After taking into account the age and how many children (if any) the women had had, as well as other factors that could skew the results, the researchers found a two-fold increase in the risk of ovarian malignancies in the IVF group.

But the risk did not increase with more IVF cycles, a surprise finding that will be probed further.

The study, appearing in the European journal Human Reproduction, is based on data from national health registries and women diagnosed with subfertility problems at the Netherlands' 12 IVF clinics between 1980 and 1995.

-AFP/pn



Taken from ChannelNewsAsia.com; source article is below:
IVF treatment linked to higher risk of ovarian tumours

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'Drunkorexia' growing problem on campuses: Research

A wreath Kolsch Beer - LA Times of Kölsch.Image via WikipediaThe rare death of a university student from binge drinking has brought heightened attention to the issue.

By Jordan Press, Postmedia News

October 19, 2011


More students on university and college campuses are cutting calories during the day so they can binge drink at night, leaving them open to long-term health problems, new U.S. research suggests.

Results from a study out of the University of Missouri found that as many as one in five students save their calories for alcohol, an eating and drinking disorder dubbed 'drunkorexia.'

The findings, which have been presented publicly but not peer-reviewed, are part of a growing body of research showing drunkorexia as a trend on campuses.

Students in the study said their motivations to be drunkorexic included getting drunk faster, spending money on alcohol that might otherwise be spent on food, and keeping their weight down.

The growing problem is another issue counsellors will have to handle as students spend their limited funds in potentially unhealthy ways, said Dr. Valerie Taylor, chief of psychiatry at Women's College Hospital in Toronto.

"It's ironic. Society has to adapt to our changing environment and these kids are doing the same thing," Taylor said.

"Perhaps . . . because students don't have as much money, it's becoming more prevalent."

Taylor said alcohol abuse and mental-health issues are on the rise in Canada and schools continue to try to address the problem.

One example was in May when Queen's University in Kingston, Ont., said it would address a "culture of drinking on campus" after the release of a coroner's report that concluded excessive drinking was a factor in the deaths of two students at the beginning and end of the 2010 fall term.

"Like other universities, we are wrestling with the societal issue of alcohol consumption and excessive drinking in the university-aged population," the university's dean of student affairs, John Pierce, said in a statement at the time. "We've been proactively addressing this issue for several years and will continue to do so."

Drunkorexia differs from anorexia, where people purposely starve themselves to lose weight, Taylor said. It's also different from dieters who avoid alcohol to lose weight, but may give in and have a drink when their willpower fails them, she said.

The research suggests the majority of drunkorexics are women — they were three times more likely to have the disorder than men.

Women are at higher risk for health problems related to binge drinking because they metabolize alcohol faster than men. This means women can get sick faster and suffer damage to vital organs sooner than men.

"Women are bombarded with lots of images with what's socially acceptable," Taylor said. "They desperately want to not gain weight.

"If they can only consume so many calories a day . . . that's going to come from alcohol."

Drunkorexics are at greater risk of becoming sexual assault victims and suffering from substance abuse and more severe eating disorders later in life, Taylor said.

What these students may not be aware of is that drunkorexia could affect their ability to learn and to make decisions, and ultimately damage their internal organs, the Missouri study suggests.

jpress@postmedia.com
Twitter.com/jordan_press


Taken from MontrealGazette.com; source article is below:
'Drunkorexia' growing problem on campuses: Research

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Lifestyle changes may cut Alzheimer's risk, says study

On the other hand...
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Posted: 20 July 2011

(AFP/File/Sebastien Bozon)
PARIS: Up to half of worldwide cases of Alzheimer's disease could be due to modifiable lifestyle risk factors, according to a study released Tuesday based on a mathematical model.

The theoretical analysis suggests that seven known behaviour-related risk factors, taken together, account for 50 per cent of the more than 35 million cases of dementia worldwide.

The findings "suggest that relatively simple lifestyle changes such as increasing physical activity and quitting smoking could have a dramatic impact" on the number of Alzheimer's cases over time, said lead researcher Deborah Barnes, a professor at the University of California in San Francisco.

The study, presented at an international Alzheimer's conference in Paris, is among the first attempts to link risk factors with the degenerative brain disease, which causes memory loss, disability and eventually death.

Only a tiny percentage of cases -- about one per cent -- are clearly caused by genetic factors.

Otherwise, while the process by which the disease attacks nerve cells in the brain is well known, its origins remain poorly understood.

Barnes and colleagues used a statistical method to measure the percentage of cases which might be attributable, at least in part, to each of the risk factors assessed.

Worldwide, they found that a low level of education was linked to 19 per cent of cases, smoking to 14 per cent, physical inactivity to 13 per cent, depression to 11 per cent, mid life hypertension and obesity to five and two per cent, respectively, and diabetes to two per cent.

When combined, these seven modifiable risk factors contribute to as many as 17 million Alzheimer's cases worldwide, and about three million in the United States, the study found.

While eliminating harmful lifestyle habits entirely is likely to remain a theoretical exercise, the more realistic goal of reducing them by a quarter would cut the number of cases globally by three million, the researchers calculated.

"The next step is to perform large-scale studies with people to discover whether changing these lifestyle factors will actually lower Alzheimer's risk," Barnes said in a statement.

The number of people afflicted by Alzheimer's is expected to more than triple by 2050 as populations across the planet age.

The disease is characterised by unwanted proteins that form plaque in some areas of the brain, ultimately destroying neurons and leading to irreversible brain damage.

Typical symptoms are memory loss, erratic behaviour and extreme agitation.

Alzheimer's affects 13 per cent of people over 65, and up to 50 per cent of those over 85.

-AFP/ac



Taken from ChannelNewsAsia.com; source article is below:
Lifestyle changes may cut Alzheimer's risk, says study


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Head injuries in war, sports may boost dementia

Somehow, some memories would rather be forgotten by vets, don't you think? Or you also don't remember anything anymore?
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Posted: 19 July 2011

A doctor looks at several brain scans a hospital (AFP/File, Fethi Belaid)
PARIS - Brain injuries sustained on the battlefield and the gridiron of American football likely boost the risk of dementia later in life, according to two studies released Monday.

In a third study, also presented at an international Alzheimer's conference in Paris this week, researchers unveiled evidence that falling over in daily life may be an early warning sign of the onset of Alzheimer's.

Older war veterans who experienced traumatic brain injury face a doubled risk of developing dementia, according to a study led by Kristine Yaffe, head of the Memory Disorders Program at the San Francisco Veterans Association medical centre.

Reviewing the medical records of 281,540 US veterans aged 55 and older, they found that the risk of dementia was 15.3 percent in those who had had traumatic brain injuries (TBI) compared to 6.8 percent for ex-soldiers who had not.

"This issue is important, because TBI is very common," Yaffe said in a statement.

"About 1.7 million people experience a TBI each year in the United States, primarily due to falls and car crashes."


Brain injuries sustained on the battlefield and the gridiron of American football likely boost the risk of dementia (AFP/Getty Images/File, Spencer Platt)
Such injuries are also known as the "signature wound" of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, accounting for 22 percent of casualties overall and 59 percent of blast-related injuries.

The research suggests that the death and damage of axons -- long cell extensions that form connections among nerve cells in the brain -- may be to blame for the higher risk of dementia.

The swelling of the traumatised axons accompanies the accumulation of proteins called beta-amyloid, a hallmark of Alzheimer's.

Amyloid plaques similar to those found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's are present in up to 30 percent of TBI patients who do not survive their injuries, regardless of age.

In the second study, scientists led by Christopher Randolph of Loyola University Medical Center in Chicago compared the likelihood of decline in basic cognitive functions among retired football players and in older adults who had not played professional sports.

The repeated head-on clashes typical of American football may -- despite protective gear -- boost the chances of long-term brain damage.


Brain injuries sustained on the battlefield and the gridiron of American football likely boost the risk of dementia (AFP/File, Samuel Kubani)
Of more than 500 ex-football players, mean age 61, who responded to a health survey in 2008, just over 35 percent gave answers suggesting possible dementia, nearly triple the rate of Alzheimer's among Americans over 65.

Researchers followed up on this data to identify players with Mild Cognitive Disorder (MCI), often a precursor to full-blown dementia or Alzheimer's.

The study compared neurological and psychological test results from this group with two other groups, neither of which had played pro sports: demographically similar adults who showed no cognitive decline, and adults diagnosed with MCI.

The former athletes were clearly impaired compared to the normal adults. They were slightly less impaired that the non-athlete group diagnosed with MCI, but were considerably younger.

"It appears that there may be a very high rate of cognitive impairment in these retired football players compared to the general population," Randolph said, pointing to "repetitive head trauma" as the likely culprit.

In the last study, Washington University researcher Susan Stark and colleagues tracked 125 older adults over eight months, asking them to log any falls they made in day-to-day life.

Those adults with so-called preclinical Alzheimer's -- signs measurable in brain scans even in the absence of memory loss -- were nearly three times more likely to fall for each notch on a scale used to measure Alzheimer's progression.

"This study suggests that higher rates of falls can occur very early in the disease process," said Stark.

Traditional hallmarks of Alzheimer's such as memory loss remain critically important, said Maria Carrillo, a senior director at the Alzheimer's Association in the United States, commenting on the study.

"But these results also illustrate the significance of understanding that, in some people, changes in gait and balance may appear before cognitive impairment," she said.

-AFP/rt



Taken from ChannelNewsAsia.com; source article is below:
Head injuries in war, sports may boost dementia


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