Category Archives: miscellaneous

what doesn’t fit into any other category but seems/seemed worthwhile to mention/comment on

Zwarte Piet: Holland’s favorite racist Christmastime tradition. – Slate Magazine

Zwarte Piet: Holland’s favorite racist Christmastime tradition. – Slate Magazine.

In Holland, Santa Doesn’t Have Elves. He Has Slaves.

The racist Christmastime tradition Dutch people have begun fighting about.

As a newcomer to the Netherlands, I do many things wrong. I forget to bring gifts to dinner parties, I thank people too profusely, and often speak too personally with people I’ve just met. But no slip-up has provoked a more troubled response than when I’ve brought up my concerns about Santa Claus.

Here’s what concerns me: In Holland, Santa, or “Sinterklaas,” as he’s known to the Dutch, doesn’t have reindeer; he has a little helper named Zwarte Piet, literally Black Pete, who charms children with pepernoten cookies and a kooky demeanor while horrifying foreign visitors with his resemblance to Little Black Sambo. Each year, on Dec. 5, the morning before the feast of St. Nicholas, children all over the country wake up excited for gifts and candy while thousands of adults go to their mirrors to apply brown paint and red lips. In their Zwarte Piet costumes, they fill central Amsterdam and small village streets, ushering in the arrival of Sinterklaas who, in the Dutch tradition, rides a flying white horse.

[…]

Read the full story here: Slate Magazine

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Martin McGuinness is a convicted terrorist yet he could be elected Ireland’s new president – Telegraph

Martin McGuinness is a convicted terrorist yet he could be elected Ireland’s new president – Telegraph.

Martin McGuinness is a convicted terrorist yet he could be elected Ireland’s new president

The Republic of Ireland elects its president this week, but the choice of candidates is alarmingly poor.

By Ruth Dudley Edwards

8:12PM BST 24 Oct 2011

In September, Gay Byrne, Ireland’s most famous broadcaster, was asked what it was like to interview Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. “You get nowhere with them,” he said, “because they lie. They lie all the time.”

Byrne’s broadside was prompted by the news that McGuinness was taking a leave of absence from his job as Northern Ireland’s Deputy First Minister to try to become the head of state of the Republic of Ireland – a country where, as a non-resident, he does not even have the vote. And since announcing his candidacy, McGuinness has lied frequently and brazenly. […]
Read the full story here: The Daily Telegraph

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What Typos Mean to Book Publishing – NYTimes.com

What Typos Mean to Book Publishing – NYTimes.com.

July 17, 2011, 5:30 pm

The Price of Typos

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Too Much Life on Earth? – NYTimes.com

Too Much Life on Earth? – NYTimes.com.

I.H.T. Op-Ed Contributor

Too Much Life on Earth?

The specter of overpopulation was raised once more in 2008 by the decline in global food stocks and rapid deterioration of the environment. The figures are frightening — 218,000 more mouths to feed each day, 80 million more each year, a global population now close to 7 billion.

But overpopulation is as much a question of culture as statistics, and has worried humanity for a long time. In the 4th century B.C., when the world had a population of less than 200 million, Plato and Aristotle recommended strict control of birth rates by the state. The populationists have long been at loggerheads with those who favor birth rate control. Populationists claim overpopulation is an illusion; Malthusians warn of dire consequences.

For a long time no reliable statistics were available, and the debate was primarily philosophical, religious or political. Now there is plenty of data but the positions are still largely ideological or religious. The debate touches on fundamental questions regarding life and its value, hence the passion that it raises.

[…]

Read the full story here: The New York Times

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Can the Planet Support 10 Billion People? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

Can the Planet Support 10 Billion People? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Introduction

A United Nations report released on Tuesday projects that world population, instead of stabilizing at above 9 billion by 2050, will keep growing and may hit 10.1 billion by 2100.

The population of Africa, for instance, could more than triple, rising to 3.6 billion by century’s end. Nigeria, the continent’s most populous nation, could see its population increase from 162 million today to 730 million by 2100. Accelerating rates of growth are already evident: world population is expected to pass 7 billion in October, only a dozen years after reaching 6 billion.

How will the world accommodate this growth? What have we learned from history about how countries adapt to feed and house ever more people?

Read the complete debate here: NYT, Room for Debate

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Do We Want to Be Supersize Humans? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

Do We Want to Be Supersize Humans? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Introduction

Advances in technology and improvements in nutrition have produced remarkable physiological changes in the human body over a relatively short period.

Debate over the causes and implications of those changes has been raised anew by the Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert W. Fogel and his co-authors in a forthcoming book titled, “The Changing Body.” “In most if not quite all parts of the world,” they argue, “the size, shape and longevity of the human body have changed more substantially, and much more rapidly, during the past three centuries than over many previous millennia.”

If the pattern holds and humans become taller, bigger and longer-living, will that always represent progress? What are the limits?

Read the complete debate here: NYT, Room for Debate

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The Age of Anthropocene: Should We Worry? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com

The Age of Anthropocene: Should We Worry? – Room for Debate – NYTimes.com.

Introduction

Schoolchildren are taught that we are still in the Holocene, the epoch in Earth’s history that began roughly 12,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. But some scientists say that it’s high time to enter the Anthropocene, or the Age of Man.

Last week, our colleague Andrew C. Revkin of Dot Earth reported on a conference at the Geological Society of London exploring the evidence for the Anthropocene, meaning that the human species has become a “globally potent biogeophysical force, capable of leaving a durable imprint in the geological record.”

Are we really in our own geologic era? If we are, how does that change our view of the world?

Read the complete debate here: NYT, Room for Debate

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Bible Nation Society: Obama is the Antichrist | The American Independent

A Michigan-based group called the Bible Nation Society, which has been urging Congress to pass a resolution commemorating the 400th anniversary of the King James Version of the Bible, also says that President Obama may be the Antichrist.

Read the full article here: Bible Nation Society: Obama is the Antichrist | The American Independent.

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The Case for Cursive – NYTimes.com

For centuries, cursive handwriting has been an art. To a growing number of young people, it is a mystery.

Read the full article here: The Case for Cursive – NYTimes.com.

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Canis soupus

The “genetic mess” created by all species of the genus Canis interbreeding.

Foud in: The New York Times, Sept. 28, 2010

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