Hawaiians reclaim their culture

For the past three centuries Hawaiian culture has been attacked by the cultures of immigrant groups from places such as China, Japan, the Philippines, and, of course, the U.S. As early as the 1820s, cultural conflict led to the prohibition of the hula, which is a way of dancing and chanting in praise of the Hawaiian gods, among them Kane, the creator; Lono, god of harvests; and Ku, the god of war, regarded by Christian missionaries as pagan.
By the time Hawaii became a state in 1959, its culture had been seriously eroded1. Many Hawaiians were angered as they had to prove that they had at least 50 percent Hawaiian blood to receive land grants. This lead to an insurgent movement in favor of land for all Kanaka Maoli, Original People, no matter how little native blood they had. Hawaiians resented the fact that in the new state the language continued to be forbidden in schools, and were enraged at the high crime rates and poor health standards.
Although the Hawaiians never lost their voice, only in the past two decades have people started paying close attention to them. Today the old term «part Hawaiian» is considered derogatory2, and of the 1.2 million people living in the islands, almost 250,000 identify themselves as «native Hawaiian», wholly or in combination with another ethnic group.
The 1970s saw four main expressions of the Hawaiian cultural renaissance: the recovery of the island of Kaho’olawe, the return of voyaging, the «Battle of the Bones», and the revival of traditional hula. The U.S. military had been using the small island of Kaho’olawe as a bombing target since 1941, despite the fact that it contains some 2,000 archaeological sites. In the late 1970s the bombing provoked anger, demonstrations and occupation of this uninhabited island, which since 1990 has been set aside for the preservation of Hawaiian culture.
The 1970s also saw the revival of voyaging in the ancestral way, sailing the Pacific in traditional canoes. Hawaiian voyaging had ended in the 14th century but the art of navigating and the ancient methods of reading the stars still existed on remote Pacific islands. Pius Piailug, «Mau», has brought back the art of crossing the Pacific following the stars, and a proud culture of voyaging that teaches discipline and self-steem has grown up around Hawaiian canoes.
The so-called Battle of the Bones erupted in the mid-1980s when a Ritz-Carlton hotel was proposed at Honokahua on a burial ground3. Protests were so strong that in 1989 the planned hotel was moved back to preserve the sanctity of the site, and new laws were passed to prevent buildings from desecrating ancient Hawaiian sites.
Hula is a symbol of the Hawaiian people. It is a performance of storytelling, chanting and stamping4, by one person or in groups. It is entertainment as well as a formal way of greeting visitors and of praising events and places. It teaches Hawaiian language, history, genealogy and spirituality. To most natives, hula was life, so it was not surprising that mothers used to teach hula to their daughters before they could walk.
(From the press. Adapted)

War against skinny mannequins

War against skinny mannequins
Thousands of Spanish women are to be invited to undergo “body scans” so that shop-window mannequins will better reflect the real female form. The Health Ministry is sending out invitations to 8,500 women between the ages of 12 and 70, drawn randomly from the electoral roll.
The findings will also be used to design clothes that fit women better, as Spain breaks new ground in trying to combat eating disorders by promoting a healthier body image for girls.
The country’s largest fashion retailers have signed up to the initiative. Chains such as Zara, Mango, Bershka and Massimo Dutti have agreed to get rid of skinny mannequins of sizes less than a European 38 – a 10 in Uk terms. “The idea is that the mannequins should not falsify reality, that they should be within the range of measurements of Spanish women”, explained Domingo Roibás, a spokesman for the ministry. Elena Salgado, the Health Minister, said: “It is unreasonable for a modern and advanced society to establish beauty stereotypes that are far removed from reality. It’s everyone’s commitment that beauty and health go hand-in-hand”.
It is not just the central Government that is taking up issues important to women. The Madrid regional government, controlled by the opposition conservative Popular Party, took the first step last year by banning very skinny models from its Cibeles fashion show.
Many Spanish women said yesterday that the ubiquitous mannequins did influence the way they thought about their bodies. “It’s a good measure”, said Maria José, a stylish woman entering Zara on Gran Via, Madrid’s main shopping street. “Hopefully it will stop our girls from thinking they need to be a size 34 to be normal”
Pressed by the Government, Spanish companies have also agreed to include size 46 clothing in their normal, rather than outsize ranges. They will also work to standardise sizes, which can vary widely between shops.

La précaire situation des immigrants en France

La précaire situation des immigrants en France
Le voyage a duré deux jours. Dans le car qui le menait jusqu’en France, Sorin a rigolé avec les copains. Arrivé à la gare d’Austerlitz, tout le monde s’est tu. Ce trajet, il l’avait mille fois fait dans sa tête, suivant de son doigt les cartes routières. Cela faisait si longtemps qu’il voulait partir. Pour obtenir un visa, il avait fallu soudoyer des «personnes avec de l’influence». Et trouver 1 100 euros! Ses parents avaient vendu leur unique voiture pour financer le départ de leur fils... A Paris, Sorin ne connaissait personne. C’était en 2000, il avait 22 ans.
«Au début, c’était dur. Quand j’appelais mes parents, je leur disais que c’était le paradis. En fait, je dormais dans la rue et je mangeais au Resto du Coeur.» Dans la rue, on donne à Sorin le tuyau* du Point P, la grande plate-forme du bâtiment en banlieue parisienne. Là, c’est le marché aux esclaves. Il y a le coin des Serbes, des Ukrainiens, des Russes... Les entrepreneurs viennent faire leurs courses. Ils embarquent, en même temps que des sacs de ciment, un maçon ou un carreleur pour des chantiers. Sorin y est allé. Un Portugais l’a pris. «Je ne parlais pas le français. Il me disait: donne-moi la pelle, je prenais le marteau.» Aujourd’hui, Sorin a appris le métier, parle le français. Il se débrouille, avec des chantiers par-ci par-là, loue un deux-pièces avec sa femme, roumaine elle aussi, rencontrée à Paris. Surtout, il a réussi à acheter un appartement en Roumanie pour 7 500 euros en 2004: «Aujourd’hui, il a triplé de prix!» Mais il travaille toujours au noir, comme sa femme, nounou dans une famille à Paris. «Je suis censé rentrer tous les trois mois pour renouveler le visa de tourisme. Mais si j’ai un job, je ne peux pas tout planter! J’aimerais enfin pouvoir travailler légalement. Nous, les Roumains à l’étranger, on n’a aucun droit. On est un peu comme des esclaves.»

Tales of youth and age

The conflict between youth and age
It is a story as old as boy meets girl ... who become man and woman ... who become father and mother ... who grow old ... and who become more and more resentful about the behaviour of the younger generation. Yet that story is developing today some new twists1. They arise from science, from economics and from society. For, in a very broad sense, the conflict between youth and age could be one of the defining issues2 of the 21st century.
Maybe it is too early in the century to make such a risky claim. Demography, however, is a predictable tendency. Remember that even in 1900 one thing was clear: that industrial and social change was shifting3 millions of people into the cities and the factories. The political and economic consequences of that were unpredictable, but the rise of urban working classes did indeed prove to be one of the 20th century’s defining issues.
Today, the twists and turns of youth and age are pushing in all sorts of different directions.
Statistics show clearly that science, combined with the better diet that comes with money, is making almost everyone outside the AIDS-afflicted areas of sub-Saharan Africa live longer.
The conventional worry is that rich countries will, by 2025, have too little youth and too much old age. Those countries will be divided between taxpayers and benefit-consumers, just as they are divided today between those with children (who consume public services) and the increasing number of those without (who think they pay for the services).
Even in the developing countries, a time comes, perhaps nearer 2050, when that same problem will arise. And, unless they are by then much richer, battles between the young and the old could come to dominate politics in the same way as battles between workers and bosses, rich and poor, did in the past.
Yet in the rich world, the latest transformations have been paradoxical and opportunities for the young have been proliferating. The companies of the 1990s became less hierarchical, seniority counted for less, initiative and creativity for more; and when technology conspires today to benefit those who are able to exploit it, the balance shifts distinctly towards the young.
But who are the young? Another twist brought by science is that people now feel young and look young and social customs allow them to express that feeling, in dress or behaviour. Last Christmas the top-selling disc around the world was another compilation of the greatest hits of that timeless youth phenomenon ... The Beatles. The line between youth and age has become blurred4, and is likely to get even blurrier. If governments allow for it, the line between work and retirement should also fade, as more people choose to carry on working, either full- or part-time, into their 70s or even 80s.
These are long-run5 forces. But, as a famous economist once said, in the long run we are all dead. Think now of the short-run forces, like war and economic depression, that changed the demographic trends in the 20th century. Will they do it again?
(From the press. Adapted)

Space tourism

Space tourism
Would you pay $20 million for a 10-day vacation? That is what Dennis Tito, a millionaire from the USA, did when he became the first space tourist in April, 2001. Two others followed him in 2002 and 2005. After a short training period, each man went for a short visit to the orbiting International Space Station (ISS).
The high cost of a “space vacation” makes it impossible for most people, but several private companies believe that the cost will soon come down. New technological developments should lower fares initially to about $100,000, but the price could quickly drop to $10,000. Although this sounds high, estimates indicate that at least half a million people each year would pay $50,000 for a ticket to space.
Companies also have to ensure the safety of their passengers to the satisfaction of national space agencies. In addition, they still have to develop reliable vehicles that can be reused. But despite these problems, several commercial companies believe that they will soon be able to offer brief space flights. These would take passengers straight up into space for about 100 km, and then back down again, without orbiting the Earth. Brief orbital flights are planned for the next stage.
Space tourism may sound unbelievable, but even NASA, the American space agency, recognised the possibility in a report published in 1998. So in the not too distant future, when you start to plan a vacation, you may include “space” along with the Caribbean or the Himalayas as a possible destination.

The drug trade

Traffic - Steven Soderbergh
While living in London in the late 1980s, producer Laura Bickford happened to watch a TV miniseries entitled "Traffic", which followed a drug route from Pakistan to Great Britain. As Bickford recalls, "The story stayed with me. When I moved back to the United States, I began to notice that, several times a week, newspapers were reporting on drug trafficking. There were social issue stories, stories about law enforcement and stories about prisons and drugs."
That was how the film "Traffic" (2000) got started. Directed by Steven Soderbergh, who is well-known for other films like "Erin Brockovich," this is a contemporary thriller about the world of the drug trade as seen through several interrelated stories, some of which are very personal and some of which are fun of intrigue and danger. A Mexican policeman, who works on the border, has to resist temptations of power and money. In the United States, Robert Wakefield is fighting against the drug traffic, but at home he must deal with his teenage daughter's addiction. As the director explains: "Drugs are one of the key social issues in our culture today: everyone knows someone who has been touched by it. This film shows how drugs are affecting our world, our children, families, politics, everything."

La nouvelle campagne qui accuse l'industrie du tabac

La nouvelle campagne qui accuse l'industrie du tabac
Le Comité national contre le tabagisme (CNCT) va lancer une nouvelle campagne télévisée au ton cynique et percutant pour dénoncer les pratiques de l’industrie du tabac à l’égard des jeunes et faire réagir devant l’inacceptable. Le spot, créé par l’agence EuroRSCG360, sera diffusé à partir de mardi et jusqu’à fin janvier sur TF1 et Eurosport notamment. Il sera aussi visible sur Daylymotion et YouTube. «Il faut que les choses soient dites et, si l’industrie du tabac n’est pas contente, c’est bien l’objectif», a déclaré le président du CNCT, Yves Martinet. «ll y a entre 200.000 et 300.000 jeunes qui sont de nouveaux fumeurs chaque année », a-t-il souligné. «On veut rappeler que le tabagisme est une maladie de l’enfant, puisque les jeunes commencent à fumer à 13 ou 14 ans et que ce sont encore des enfants », a-t-il ajouté. Le CNCT profite de cette campagne pour lancer une pétition en ligne pour dire non aux pratiques des cigarettiers qui recrutent des consommateurs de plus en plus jeunes. «Vous pensiez qu’en fumant vous étiez cool et rebelle? Vous avez tout faux; fumer, c’est être esclave du tabac». C’est le message véhiculé par l’Association des droits des non-fumeurs (DNF) via une campagne de prévention-choc contre le tabagisme.
L’Express.fr 21/12/2010

Zoo life

Boycott Zoos - PETA: Think outside the box
In the past, a visit to the zoo was considered an enjoyable day out, not much different from a picnic in the park. But zoos are now causing a lot of controversy.
As people move away from rural areas, it is more difficult for them to see animals in their natural habitats. Many people believe that we can teach children about these animals through visits to zoos, where it is possible to see, hear, smell and sometimes even touch them.
Opponents, however, argue that seeing animals in cages is not instructive, because it is impossible to learn about their natural behaviour in such unnatural conditions. They believe that zoos actually send a negative message and allow people to believe that keeping living beings captive is permissible.
Moreover, these opponents believe that keeping animals in cages promotes suffering, especially for more intellectually complex species that need mental stimulation as well as adequate space in which to move. They say that in many zoos, animals are kept in small, filthy enclosures and are often forced to perform tricks for the public. Consequently, many animals suffer from “zoochosis”; that is, abnormal behaviours such as bar-biting or self-mutilation among zoo animals. They reject the arguments that zoos help animals to lead longer, healthier lives due to the guaranteed diet and veterinary care they receive.
There are, of course, kind and humane zoos, such as the Jersey Zoo in the UK, that provide *outstanding services to animal welfare and conservation. But most zoos do not in fact meet the standards they set themselves. Unless they really do start to contribute to animal welfare, zoos may soon find that they themselves are extinct.

Airport cities

Airport cities
Anyone who has ever spent time in an airport waiting for a flight knows that this can be very dull. However, this is changing, as airports have already entered the twenty-first century.
The rise and expansion of air traffic is causing many changes. Many people commute for business reasons, and there has recently been a large increase in the air cargo business. Food items produced in one place, for example, tropical fruit, may have to be transported quickly for sale in another. In addition, the growth in Internet use has expanded e-commerce, and customers who order items online expect delivery right away.
As a result, airports and the surrounding areas have grown tremendously. Many companies are building warehouses near runways, and high-tech firms are setting up offices that are convenient for airline commuters. Other new airport buildings include entertainment and sports facilities. Some “aerotropoli”, as these new airport cities have been called, even include housing. Despite the noise and pollution, developers are quickly building homes to house the increasing number of workers dependent on airports.
Even without the adjacent businesses, airports themselves are growing. To meet the needs of workers and travellers, airports are expanding their services. Not only has shopping become more attractive and competitive, but some airports display works of art, and the Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport even offers wine tasting.
The idea of building aerotropoli is now spreading beyond the USA, and there are plans to build them in France, Brazil, South Korea, and Hong Kong. Wouldn’t it be nice if, while you wait for your next flight, you could sit in a rocking chair (as in Boston Logan International Airport, Massachusetts) and listen to live music (as in Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, Texas)?

Ethical fashion

Ethical fashion: If you do it right, it will last forever
“Would you like some sweet potato with your pineapple?” You might expect this question in a restaurant, but now, it seems, it could be asked in your local clothing boutique as the ethical fashion industry is starting to gain recognition.
Ethical fashion is all about creating and promoting clothing which uses raw materials that can be recycled, and treating these materials in ways that are not environmentally harmful. In addition, ethical fashion aims to encourage local craft workers, and many of the garments produced are made by women in co-operative groups in developing countries. Ethical fashion also promises to reinvest part of its profits in local community projects such as health and education.
In 2006, the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris featured 60 designers from all over the world. Some used organic materials to create modern fashions. For example, one designer used a traditional technique from the Philippines in order to create fabric made from pineapple leaves. Other designers focused on unusual methods of processing fabrics. One French company employed a traditional Chinese practice to dye silk fabric. This involves coating the silk in a sweet potato paste, and then burying it in the ground. It is later rinsed many times in water, and ends up a soft, off-black colour. This company also uses an old Japanese method to produce kakishibu, a natural dye made from fruit, to colour silk scarves brown and pink.
Those involved in ethical fashion hope that the movement will gain in popularity. Twenty years ago, they say, organic food was considered “alternative” and was produced mostly by small companies, but today it has become mainstream. They hope this will happen to fashion, boosting sales and benefiting workers at local levels, as well as helping the environment.

Food allergies

Are you hungry? Perhaps you would like a peanut butter sandwich and some milk. For some people – including two million US teenagers – such foods could cause a severe adverse reaction, or even death.
Potentially life-threatening allergies to food are common among children and are often outgrown over time, although allergies to peanuts or other nuts almost never disappear. Sometimes, an allergic person may suffer a reaction from simply touching or smelling the dangerous food.
An allergic reaction is a mistake made by the body. It may identify certain foods as harmful and try to attack the “threat” by releasing chemicals such as histamine, which cause an allergic reaction. The reaction may prove fatal if the vocal chords swell shut, leading to suffocation. Or the sufferer may experience an anaphylactic reaction, which results in a decrease in the flow of blood to the heart, lungs or brain, leading to seizures and, possibly, to death.
Allergic individuals are encouraged to wear medical alert bracelets, and carry anti-histamine for immediate injection if necessary. But recent research shows that teenagers often ignore these precautions partly because they want to conform and partly because they tend to minimise the risks. Certainly, living with a potentially fatal food allergy can be difficult for teenagers. They have to cope with telling new acquaintances about their allergy, eating carefully in restaurants, and reading labels on food packaging. And, since even kissing someone who has recently eaten a forbidden food can trigger a reaction, they may even have to ask their dates to brush their teeth before kissing!
So the next time you reach for some peanuts, remember those who can’t. Some people avoid peanuts because they are fattening or can cause skin problems, but for a small minority, those peanuts are a killer.

Space travel

Profile of the future - Arthur C. Clarke
One day - it may be in this century, or it may be a thousand years from now - we will discover a really efficient means of propelling our space-vehicles. The ultimate speed for spaceships is the velocity of light. They will never reach that goal, but they will get very close to it. And then the nearest star will be less than five years’ voyaging from Earth.
Our exploring ships will spread outwards from their home over an ever-expanding sphere of space. It is a sphere which will grow at almost the speed of light. So, looking far into the future we must picture a slow (little more than half a billion miles an hour!) expansion of human activities outwards from the Solar System, among the suns in the region of the galaxy where we now find ourselves. These suns are on the average five light-years apart; in other words, we can never get from one to the next in less than five years.
At this point we will deal with an obvious objection. Can we be sure that the velocity of light is a limiting factor? So many ‘impassable’ barriers have been broken in the past; perhaps this may go the way of all the others.
Scientists believe that light can never be outraced* by any form of radiation of any material object. Let us assume the contrary and see where it gets us. We will even take the most optimistic case, and imagine that the speed of transportation may eventually become infinite.
Picture a time when, by the development of techniques as far beyond our present engineering as a transistor is beyond a stone axe*, we can reach anywhere we please instantaneously, with no more effort than dialling a number. This would indeed cut the Universe down, and reduce its physical immensity to nothingness. What would be left?
Everything that really matters. For the Universe has two aspects -its scale, and its breathtaking complexity. Having abolished the first, we are now face-to-face with the second.
What we must now try to visualize is not size, but quantity. The directories for such cities as London and New York are already getting somewhat out of hand, but they list only about a million - 106- numbers- The Cosmic Directory would be 1014 times bigger to hold its 1020 numbers.
To continue our fantasy a little further, here is another consequence of 20-digit telephone number. Think of the possibility of cosmic chaos if dialling just a wrong digit in 27945015423811986385 could put you at the wrong end of the universe. And it is still possible that this is not enough and we may need bigger numbers to keep score of the stars, and even more to number their planets.
Before such numbers, even spirits brave enough to face the challenge of the light-years must quail*. The detailed examination of all the grains of sand on all the beaches of the world is a far smaller task than the exploration of the universe.
(From Profiles of the Future by Arthur C. Clarke. Adapted)

A new tax on rubbish

Guys on a tip - rubbishA new tax, known as “pay–as-you-throw,” in which British families will be charged for the amount of rubbish they produce, is to be brought nationwide.
The Government thinks there must be a radical revision of the way in which rubbish is thrown away, otherwise there is a real danger that city council taxes will have to rise and the environment will continue to suffer. In this sense, the Environment Minister has said he would look sympathetically at this new system, which would encourage recycling and make the polluter pay, as he is contributing to climate change.
According to figures published recently by a prestigious institute, Britain has the third worst recycling rate in the European Union, after Greece and Portugal. So, the Local Government Association has threatened to increase council tax bills if recycling doesn’t improve. It has said that this tariff will be needed to cover EU fines.
As in Britain every family owns its waste container, there is a project to secretly fit thousands of bins with microchips with a serial number identifying the home to which waste belongs. This is detected by a sensor on the truck as the bins are lifted for emptying. The weight of the rubbish it contains is calculated by equipment on the truck. This information is then transmitted to a central computer where it is recorded for its later use on household waste bills.

The truth about laughter

The truth about laughter
Why do we laugh? Most people believe that laughter involves humour, but it seems that laughter is really a serious business.
Dr Robert Provine conducted research in shopping centres in the USA to find out when and why people laugh. He found out that most laughter did not occur after jokes but in response to simple statements, such as “It was nice to meet you, too”. This suggests that laughter is not just a response to humour, but has got other, less obvious functions.
Sometimes we laugh to mask fear (think of a roller-coaster ride at an amusement park) or express relief, especially after a stressful experience. Often, laughter helps us to bond with other people – we rarely laugh out loud when we are alone. In many situations, laughter has got a positive social function, reinforcing social relationships within a group. However, laughter may sometimes have the opposite effect – people who are laughed at will probably feel excluded from the group. And sometimes laughter is about power: a boss may laugh in order to control the emotional mood of surrounding individuals.
A good laugh also has a physical effect. It obviously involves facial muscles, but may also involve arms, legs and torso, and so uses up calories. And laughing affects our breathing, relaxing arteries and lowering blood pressure. It even increases the amount of immune response cells in the blood, and increases blood flow to the brain, stimulating a feel-good response. So perhaps laughter really is the best medicine!
And so we will continue to laugh several times a day. Oh, do you know why the chicken crossed the road? Obviously, to get to the other side!

Crisis? What is crisis?

Tony McMichael - Human Frontiers, Environments and Disease
No one has the full picture of the damage we're doing to our planet, says Debora MacKenzie. But we've never needed it more.
Everyone knows about the three blind men who investigated an elephant. Each came back sure the entire beast must be like the bit he had felt: the tail, the trunk, the leg. No one had the whole picture.
Humanity is now faced with an elephantine crisis of its own making made of bits that aren't always obviously related. Our physical domination of this planet is altering all our fundamental life-support systems. These are the processes that give us our food and water and air, our social stability, and ultimately our health. It's happening so fast and on such a scale that comprehending the whole process is almost impossible.
Scientists deal with this elephant in their methodical, piecemeal way, feeling their way around a collapsing fishery here, an emerging disease there, epidemics of obesity and starvation, climate change and population growth. And with each discovery comes yet another warning that something else that we do threatens us all, from driving cars to eating meat.
It's become fashionable to mock all this doom1 and destruction. If you don't realise that most of the problems are bits of the same enormous, onrushing elephant, it can seem as though the doomsayers are merely competing for attention and grant money.
But they aren't, as Tony McMichael's book tries to show us. There is enough in Human Frontiers, Environments and Disease to show that all these diverse warnings are not merely a trick to upset the optimists. They all stem from the same, huge fact: that having taken over the planet, we aren't running it in our collective best interests.
Perhaps we don't know what our best interests are. McMichael says we need to understand human ecology —our relationships with nature and the way we evolved— before we can know what makes for a healthy population.
To reach this comprehension, McMichael attempts to bring into focus a vast range of subjects, from hunter and gatherer2 diets to the history of germ theory. He even includes topics such as workplace safety and income3 distribution, social factors that can be crucial to health and to a global economy.
This brings into welcome perspective our obsession with free trade. Under current trade agreements, industries can compete by spending so little on wages and infrastructure, such as decent sewerage4, that their labourers end up in very poor health. The result: Guatemalan farm workers inadvertently contaminate New Yorkers' strawberries with a nasty intestinal pathogen.
This should turn the battle for minimum work conditions in trade agreements into intelligent self-interest. But this is a fact even epidemiologists usually forget.
Sometimes McMichael manages to pull things together —how trade, migration, poverty and dirty water spread cholera, for instance. And he knows a lot. The book is worth reading if only to learn more about these important, yet little taught subjects.
(From the press. Adapted)

How do you build a Pyramid?

Soaring stones - Maureen Clemmons
Kneeling before a 180-kg concrete obelisk in the hills northwest of Los Angeles, Maureen Clemmons murmurs a prayer to the ancient Egyptian god of wind. An hour passes. Then a strong air-current straightens the strings that connect the obelisk to two nylon kites1, shaped like the ones used in parasailing2. Very soon the kites start pulling the obelisk and drag it across a green grassy field. Clemmons and her 12 assistants cheer vigorously.
For three years, Clemmons, 42, who runs a hair-care-products company and has no formal scientific training, has spent all her spare time and more than $10.000 of her own money trying to solve everyone’s favourite engineering enigma: how the Egyptian pyramids were built.
Over the years, researchers have experimented with everything from ramps to levers3 in failed attempts to move duplicates of the three-ton pyramid stones.
Inspired by winds that hit her home in Reseda, Calif., each November, Clemmons recalled4 that even stronger winds blow in Egypt from February through June. Then she remembered that the Egyptians mass-produced linen5 for their boat sails, and that some hieroglyphs suggest that the pyramids were raised by “invisible gods in the sky.” Clemmons concluded that the ancient Egyptians could have used a system of large kites to lift the pyramid stones into place.
Does it sound ludicrous? That’s what most of her friends said. So Clemmons did some research and talked to Mory Gharib, an aeronautics engineer at the California Institute of Technology, who surprised everyone by supporting her concept. “It needs more study,” Gharib says, “but all of the mathematics works”. Others were persuaded by what they saw. “I thought it was bullshit,” admits Lynn Velazquez, an administrator at Pepperdine University. “Then I saw Maureen use a kite to lift up a heavy log, and I started to believe.”
The kite theory evokes a rolling of eyes, however, from professional Egyptologists, most of whom believe the pyramid builders used ramps. Many of these experts are fed up with so many amateurs pushing bizarre theories that often involve space aliens. Mark Lehner, a Harvard archaeologist widely regarded as the leading U.S. expert on the pyramids, was so shocked at the kite theory that he declined comment. Zawi Hawass, Under Secretary of State for Egypt’s Giza plateau, explained that “Egyptologists call people with these kinds of theories ‘pyramidiots.’”
To carry out further tests in California’s Mojave desert a $100.000 research fund is needed. To that end, Clemmons has persuaded several companies to collaborate on a new perfume labelled Ala (Latin for “wing”) that will sell in pyramid-shaped bottles. The profits will go to the kite-research project.
If these additional tests are successful, Clemmons wants to demonstrate her theory on a much grander stage in the shadow of the Giza pyramids outside Cairo. “Other research expeditions had a bunch of men pushing and pulling,” she says. “Mine will be me and my girlfriends with kits and a pack of beer, sitting in lawn chairs, waiting for the wind to kick up.”

Common sense about smoking

Smoking kills slowly
It is often said, ‘I know all about the risk to my health, but I think that the risk is worth it.’ When this statement is true, there is not much you can say. Everyone has the right to choose what risks they take, however great they may be. However, often the statement really means, ‘I have the nasty feeling that smoking is bad for my health, but I would rather not think about it.’ When some of these people are asked to explain what they think the risk to their own health is, very few get far in personal terms. This reaction can be observed in different aspects.
When it is explained that the number who die of lung cancer in Great Britain in one year is the equivalent of one every twenty-five minutes or is four times as many as those killed on the roads, the significance is more apparent. The one-in-eight risk of dying of lung cancer for the person who smokes twenty-five cigarettes a day is better understood with this analogy. If, when you board a plane, the girl at the top of the steps welcomed you aboard with the greeting, ‘I am pleased that you are coming with us –only one in eight of our planes crashes,’ how many would think again and make other arrangements? Lung cancer is a disease which kills quickly.
However, one of the difficulties of making people aware of the danger, is that, despite the big epidemic of cancer, there are many who have no experience of it among their family or friends yet .
Smokers easily suggest an association between disease and air pollution by industrial smoke or by car fumes but are reluctant to accept the relation to cigarette smoking. These people think that ‘they’ ought to do something about air pollution, while forgetting that ‘I’ would have to change smoking habits. It is true that those living in cities are more likely to get lung cancer and bronchitis, but the difference between town and country is not so meaningful. Mechanics in garages and London traffic policemen do not appear to have any excess of lung cancer or related illnesses, like artery disease, tuberculosis and duodenal ulcer. What seems likely is that town smoke and cigarette smoke are cumulative in their effects.
The economic aspect of smoking can be interpreted in many different ways. On the one hand, the money gained by the Government from tobacco taxes is thousands of millions. Such big numbers are only used by astronomers or by engineers building spaceships for space travelling. From the point of view of the smoker, however, twenty-five cigarettes a day, cost over $1.000 a year. If you start young, by the time you’re sixty the accumulated capital almost equals your retirement pension. The cost of a lung cancer is the equivalent to several years of the smoker’s salary. All this has led some doctors to create a cynical name for a packet of cigarettes –‘a two-pound do-it-yourself cancer kit

Too much television

Too much television
A new study suggests that the amount of television young children watch may be directly related to attention problems later in school. They may even suffer a condition known as Attention Deficit Disorder or A.D.D. Experts say that A.D.D. involves an over-stimulation of young developing brains and teachers say many children in the United States are showing signs of the disorder. Some education researchers have believed for years that watching television at a very young age could change the normal development of the brain. For example, they say that children who watch a lot of television are not able to sit and read for an extended period of time, show less ability to listen, pay attention, as well as engage in independent problem solving.
This new study tested the idea that television watching by very young children is linked to attention problems by the age of seven. The findings reported that every hour pre-schoolers watch television increases their chances by about ten percent of developing attention deficit problems later in life. For example, children who watched three hours a day were thirty percent more likely to have attention problems than those who watched no television. 
One of the researchers said there are other reasons why children should not watch television. Earlier studies have linked it with children becoming too fat and too aggressive. Other experts say the new study is important, but more work needs to confirm the results and better explain the cause and effect.

I was born a slave

Mauritanian girl crying
My name is Salma. I was born a slave in Mauritania in 1956. My parents were slaves, and their parents were slaves of the same family. As soon as I was old enough to walk, I was forced to work all day, every day of the week. Even if we were sick, we had to work.
When I was still a child, I started taking care of the first wife of the head of the family and her 15 children. Later, even if one of my own children was hurt or in danger, I didn’t dare help my child because I had to care for the master’s wife’s children first. I was beaten very often with a wooden stick or a leather belt. One day they started beating my mother, and I couldn’t stand it. I tried to stop them. The head of the family got very angry with me. He tied my hands, branded me with a burning iron and hit me across the face. His ring cut my face and left a scar.
I was never allowed to go to school or learn anything more than some religious verses and prayers. But I was lucky, because the eldest son of my master had gone to school away from our village and had different ideas from his father. This eldest son secretly taught me to speak French and to read and write a little. I think that everyone thought he was raping me, but he was teaching me and doing it well.
Other slaves were afraid of liberty. They were afraid they wouldn’t know where to go or what to do. But I always believed that I had to be free. I tried to escape about ten years ago. I didn’t know how close I was to Senegal, so I walked for two days in the wrong direction. I was found and sent back, and then punished. My wrists and ankles were bound first, then I was tied to a date tree in the middle of the family compound, and left there for a week. The head of the family cut my wrists with a razor, and as a result I bled terribly. I still have scars on my arms.
Finally I met a man in the market who told me that Senegal was just across the border. I decided I had to try again. I ran to the river, where a man with a small wooden boat agreed to take me to Senegal. There I made my way to a safe house run by a former slave from Mauritania. I stayed in Senegal for a few weeks, earning my keep by doing housework. But I never felt safe. I was always afraid that the master of the family I had escaped from would pay people to find me and bring me back to his house.
When I got to the U.S., I worked braiding hair. The first time I was paid for work I had done. I cried. I had never seen a person paid for her work before in my life. It was a very good surprise.
(From the press. Adapted)

Dreaming of the moon

Moon water
Eugene Shoemaker’s dreams may soon come true. In the 1960s, this famous astronomer wanted to be an astronaut, but he became a researcher instead. In 1997, just before he was killed in a road accident, he said: “The biggest disappointment in my life is that I haven’t been to the Moon.” Thanks to his university colleagues, this may happen soon. This year, the spacecraft Lunar Prospector will be sent to the moon. And in the spacecraft are the ashes1 of Eugene Shoemaker, who was born in 1928 and who died in 1997.
Shoemaker was a dreamer. He believed that human beings would one day live on the Moon and he devoted his life to its study. But, in the 1970s, the United States stopped sending astronauts there. However, in 1994 a satellite detected possible evidence of ice in a crater at the Moon’s South Pole. The news shocked the world: “There could be water on the Moon!” So, the United States built the Lunar Prospector, a big, expensive spacecraft that will look for signs of minerals, gases and water on the Earth’s satellite.
“If we find sufficient water, the Moon could be colonised in a few years”, said Bill Feldman, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. “Water will support life on the moon. It will make trips to other planets possible because hydrogen will be used as fuel for rockets2.”
Who will be as brave as to build a home on the moon? Who will be the first one to open a business there? Nobody knows who the first moon colonisers will be, but we now know one thing for sure: Eugene Shoemaker will be the first one to be on the Moon. The Lunar Prospector will take his ashes there soon. “This is very important to us”, said his wife, Carolyn, “because we will always know when we look at the moon that Eugene is there, waiting for us”.

Stonehenge: An ancient sex symbol?

Stonehenge circle
Stonehenge has dominated the Wiltshire landscape for more than 4,000 years and is one of the world’s most important heritage sites, but its purpose has remained a mystery. Some researchers have claimed the stone circles were used as a giant computer; others that Stonehenge was an observatory for studying stars and predicting the seasons; and a few have even argued that its rings acted as a landing ground for alien spaceships.
Now a University of British Columbia researcher who has investigated the famous prehistoric monument for several years has announced he has uncovered its true meaning: it is a giant fertility symbol built in the shape of the female sexual organs. «There was a concept in Neolithic times of a great goddess or Earth Mother», says Anthony Perks, a gynaecologist who decided to investigate the idea that the circles could have symbolic anatomical links.
«Stonehenge could represent the opening by which the Earth Mother gave birth to the plants and animals on which ancient people depended.»
According to Perks’s analysis, the critical events in the lives of the builders of Stonehenge —who began their work around 3,000 BC— were births and deaths in their families and community. But there is no evidence of any burials near Stonehenge, Perks adds. «There is little sign of death; there are no tombs, because Stonehenge was a place of life and birth, not death, a place that looked to the future. To a biologist, the smooth and rougher stones arranged in pairs, united by heavy lintels, suggest that male and female, father and mother, joined together», he states. «The central area is empty because it represents the opening to the world, the birth canal.» Stonehenge was constructed to honour the Earth Mother for «giving life and livelihood».
This intriguing theory has failed to impress experts. David Miles, chief archaelogist for English Heritage, which owns the site, said Perks’s theory, although interesting, was essentially untestable. «If Stonehenge was built so that it looked like a female sexual organ when viewed from above, how were people supposed to see that? As far as we know, they didn’t have hot-air balloons in prehistoric times.»
In fact, scientists have shown that Stonehenge was not built in one single stage, but was put together over a period of more than 1,500 years in a series of successive modifications and improvements. Nor was it built by the druids, the people more often associated with the site. In fact, many more ancient tribes and societies —individuals attempting to make their impact on the landscape of England— were responsible. The archaelogist Jacquetta Hawkes once said that every age gets the Stonehenge it deserves.
In the 1960s, at the dawn of the computing era, researchers argued that you could use Stonehenge as a giant calculating machine. Later, in the more mystical New Age, it was argued that the monument was really a spaceport for aliens, while, in the Middle Ages, it was said Stonehenge was built by giants. By those standards, this latest idea seems to say something quite odd about the twenty-first century.
(From the press. Adapted)

SAD

Seasonal Affective Disorder - Winter Blues
If you’ve been feeling depressed recently, this could be due to the weather. Every winter, a number of people (between 1 to 9 percent of the US population) suffer from a condition called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), also known as winter depression or the winter blues.
As days become shorter, many people experience mild “winter blues”, with symptoms such as fatigue, a desire to eat more, and an increased vulnerability to infection. With the coming of spring, these symptoms disappear. But some people, 70 to 80% of them women, are so affected by the lack of sunlight that they become unable to function. They experience severe disruptions in eating and sleeping patterns, mood changes, extreme loss of energy and depression.
SAD is not a new phenomenon. In the 6th century AD, symptoms of winter depression among Scandinavians were noted by a scholar called Jordanes. Even today, SAD is most commonly found in locations further away from the equator and nearer to the poles – up to 20% of Swedes may be affected. However, SAD was not diagnosed as a medical condition until the mid-1980s.
No one is certain what causes the condition, but some researchers believe that SAD is related to a disruption of our internal body clock. This “clock” controls the secretion of hormones that affect our daily functioning. Without sufficient sunlight, the clock does not reset itself. As a result, we may feel sleepy or hungry at inappropriate times, or suffer from mood changes. Luckily, most sufferers respond to light therapy, which involves exposure to super-bright light bulbs as a supplement to weak winter sun. These may be fitted inside a light-box, which is placed in front of the user, or in the visor of a cap, which is worn by sufferers for half an hour a day.

Dracula

Bram Stoker's Dracula
Published in 1897 by Irish writer Bram Stoker, the novel Dracula, translated into many languages including Irish, has never been out of print. The figure of Count Dracula has dominated twentieth-century culture, and the novel has inspired over 700 films. It is astonishing that a single novel should have become such a phenomenon.
Bram Stoker did not invent the vampire. Vampires appear in the folklore and legends of many cultures dating back to ancient times. Interest in vampires within the English-speaking world can be traced back to 1732, when the word vampyre first appeared in this language. The occasion was a wave of vampire sightings reported and documented in several parts of Central and Eastern Europe and eventually reported in the British press.
The attention given to vampirism coincided with a rising interest in Gothic literature, first in Germany and later (during the last decades of the eighteenth century) in England, where Gothic writers soon adopted the vampire. The first in English literature to do so were poets, but the most important contribution came from an unlikely source: Lord Byron’s personal physician, John Polidori. He wrote the first piece of vampire fiction in the English language.
Interest in vampire literature continued through the nineteenth century with the appearance of several short stories and novels, but it was Dracula that became the yardstick for future vampires. Bram Stoker combined several of the elements of early vampire fiction with the results of research into vampire folklore —and added a few of his own. Although Stoker had never visited Transylvania, his descriptions of that enchantingly beautiful Eastern European region are astonishingly vivid. Because of his novel and the proliferation of Dracula movies, the Dracula myth became firmly established.
What about the name Dracula? Contrary to popular opinion, Bram Stoker knew very little about the real Dracula. All we know for sure is that he found the name Dracula in an obscure history book he borrowed from the public library in the English seaside resort of Whitby where he was spending a summer vacation in 1890. He was already working on a vampire novel, and had even selected a name for his Count: Vampyr. Then he saw the name Dracula with a footnote that suggested it came from a Romanian word for devil. As this suited Stoker’s conception of his vampire, he appropriated the name, and Dracula became a vampire.
However, Stoker did not live long enough to see the tremendous success of his novel. The book that made Bram Stoker famous has eclipsed Stoker himself and become undisputedly the world’s eternal Gothic novel.
What is it about the vampire in general and about Count Dracula in particular that continues to fascinate? There is no simple answer, as the appeal goes across the whole spectrum of human interest. For some it is the seductive element, for others it is the connection with the dark side of our natures. The vampire symbolizes for many the breaking of taboos, the challenge of authority, the fine line between power and passion, and the search for immortality and eternal youth. While Stoker’s Dracula was the embodiment of evil, late 20th century vampires have become more ambivalent creatures, a clear reflection of the disappearing line between good and evil in our increasingly secularized world.
(Adapted from several sources)

Daniel Cohen, pilote à Air France

pilote à Air France
Paris, Mexico, Berlin, Tokyo, Paris. « J’en avais assez, explique Daniel Cohen, 40 ans, commandant de bord à Air France. Au bout de cinq ans de long-courrier*, j’étais très fatigué. Je n’avais pas une vie normale». Liée en grande partie aux changements d’horaires, la fatigue est une véritable catastrophe pour les pilotes. «Plus de la moitié des gens qui volent de nuit prennent des somnifères le jour», pour récupérer. Longtemps, Daniel a refusé d’en prendre, par principe. Et puis il s’est laissé convaincre par son médecin. «C’était un confort. Aujourd’hui, je n’en ai plus besoin». Daniel fait à présent des vols court* et moyen-courriers*. Son amplitude de travail est de 180 heures par mois en moyenne pour 75 heures de vol. Le temps de travail réel intègre, outre les heures de vol proprement dites, d’autres tâches, comme la préparation des vols et la gestion du personnel navigant pendant les escales. A Air France, la rémunération mensuelle des commandants de bord varie entre 40 000 francs et 80 000 francs, pour 32 à 34 heures de travail hebdomadaires.
Les trois quarts de sa rémunération sont calculés sur une base horaire, le dernier quart dépendant de son ancienneté, de sa qualification ainsi que de la puissance de l’avion. Les heures supplémentaires commencent à partir de 75 heures de vol effectif – et sont payées 50 % de plus. Temps d’absence et temps d’escale sont pris en compte. Daniel, qui depuis un an travaille aussi provisoirement à l’Aéropostale, y consacre 30 % de son activité. Comme il s’agit de vols de nuit, il est rémunéré 15 % de plus par heure. Le métier a ses inconvénients. A Air France, trois fois par mois il doit effectuer des réserves de 24 heures destinées à prévoir la relève d’un pilote qui est tombé malade.
Maître de lui, il explique avec méthode les avantages et les inconvénients de son métier. La flexibilité? «La compagnie peut m’avertir d’un changement d’horaire pour le lendemain». Les changements d’horaires posent des problèmes dans sa vie familiale. «Il n’y a aucune régularité. Par exemple je ne peux pas inscrire Benjamin aux bébés nageurs ni l’accompagner tous les samedis matin, je travaille quatre fois sur dix». Daniel est absent cinq jours par semaine. A 25 ans, c’est un mode de vie séduisant, à 40 c’est une autre histoire. Sa femme, exhôtesse de l’air, le confirme: «On n’imagine pas à quel point c’est bon de se réveiller tous les jours dans son lit».
Les avantages alors? «Les changements d’horaires, c’est surtout pratique pour faire les courses. On y va quand il n’y a personne. Et puis on a un salaire élevé – 54 000 francs par mois – sans supporter les horaires ni le stress d’un cadre* dans une entreprise privée». Cependant: «En dix ans, mes conditions de travail se sont dégradées. Les rotations sont aujourd’hui plus longues et pour le même salaire en francs courants, je travaille 25 à 30 % de plus».
Pilote à Air France depuis quatorze ans, il avait choisi de faire ce métier pour piloter une machine, pour voler. «Mais c’est comme toutes les professions: quand ça devient répétitif, et que l’on ne découvre plus rien, on finit par s’en fatiguer».
D’après Le Nouvel Observateur, du 23 au 29 septembre 1999

An interview for a job

An interview for a job
Some employers recruit graduates after a half hour personal interview. This is done in a formal setting, between two people, one of whom controls the conversation. There are always parts of interviews which are different from what is expected. The interviewer may not start at the beginning, and this can be difficult. You will have to order and clarify your thoughts quickly as the interviewer jumps from one point to the other. “Situational questions” are where the interviewer describes a work situation and asks for your solution. Generally you are recommended to think aloud - identify the key points and clarify the information, adding a dash of common sense.
In some cases, you will encounter panel interviews, where you will meet two, three or more interviewers at the same time. It is usual in such cases for the question topics to be split up between the interviewers, so that for example one will cover your academic record, the second concentrating on your reasons for wanting the job, and so on. You will have to build up rapport with each interviewer, adapt to his/her style, and concentrate on the abrupt change of topic. You should try and remember who is who - not their names, but their job or position, so that your answers are given at an appropriate level.
Remember that an interview is a two way process, and you should use the opportunity to ask questions. At the end of the interview you should have enough information to make a decision, if the job is offered to you.

Ces messieurs qui travaillent à temps partiel

Père avec ses enfants
Le temps partiel n’est plus réservé aux seules mères de famille. Les hommes aussi franchissent le pas, au nom du bonheur de vivre. Même s’ils doivent en assumer les risques.
Vive la vie! «Travailler quarante-cinq heures par semaine, cinq jours sur sept, et emmener des dossiers le week-end? Merci, ça suffit! Aujourd’hui, je veux du temps pour moi!» Faute de promotion, Pierre Cocha, 53 ans, cadre* administratif, a décidé d’arrêter après quinze ans passés au sein d’un grand groupe. Aujourd’hui, il travaille trois jours par semaine comme directeur administratif et financier pour une petite entreprise de la région d’Avignon. «Je consacre une journée à mes cours et à mes répétitions de théâtre et une autre aux tâches ménagères, explique-t-il. Ma femme est ravie. Finis les weekends à courir les magasins, à s’occuper des papiers administratifs… Nous avons le temps d’aller au cinéma et de voir nos amis sans être pressés ou fatigués.» Vivent les heures passées tranquillement à la maison, la plénitude personnelle et le bonheur d’avoir le temps! Le temps partiel n’est plus réservé aux seules mères de famille à la recherche d’un mercredi après-midi. Même si les Français de sexe masculin travaillant à temps partiel restent une espèce rare, celle-ci se développe à grande vitesse. Certes, elle ne représente encore que 5 % des salariés et seulement 2 % des cadres. Mais ces oiseaux rares font des petits: il y a encore deux ans, seuls 1 % des cadres avaient franchi le pas. Et il est probable que les 35 heures vont encore faire évoluer les mentalités.
Nombreux sont les cadres, en effet, qui ne se laissent plus conditionner par un agenda surchargé. Les débats sur les 35 heures qu’il y a eu dernièrement en France au sein des entreprises ont largement contribué à délier les langues*. Les cadres, qui n’osaient pas avouer leur envie de ralentir le rythme de peur des représailles de la part de leur employeur, en parlent maintenant plus volontiers. Les visites très médiatiques et très contestées des inspecteurs du travail dans de grandes entreprises comme Alcatel ou Thomson pour y contrôler les horaires des cadres ont ouvert des perspectives.
Cette aspiration à travailler moins apparaît particulièrement chez les plus jeunes. Depuis janvier 1998, Bruno Hernandez, 29 ans, ingénieur à Gaz de France, pratique ainsi sans aucun complexe la semaine de quatre jours: «Je fais mon travail exactement comme avant. Rien n’a changé. Sauf que je suis plus relaxé lorsque je rentre du week-end!» Lorsque Gaz de France met en place il y a un an l’accord sur les 32 heures, il n’hésite pas un seul instant: sa baisse de salaire n’est que de 5 % et, surtout, il a du temps à passer avec sa femme, qui s’est convertie elle aussi au travail à temps partiel.
Un extraterrestre dans une compagnie du gaz, Bruno Hernandez? Pas du tout. Il y a deux ans, un professeur qui demandait à ses élèves s’ils seraient intéressés par un travail à temps partiel a vu, avec stupeur, la moitié de la salle lever le doigt. Même les jeunes hommes semblaient apprécier cette possibilité. Les jeunes aussi veulent gérer leur temps. On rêve d’équilibre harmonieux entre vie professionnelle et vie privée… Et, donc, de temps partiel.
D’après Le Point, 3-9-1999

Chocolate is good for your heart

Chocolate is good for your heart
A study carried out in Germany over eight years has found that chocolate may be good for your heart. They compared how much chocolate was in the diet of almost 20,000 people to the number of heart attacks and strokes people had. Lead researcher Brian Buijsse said: "Chocolate is not as bad as we used to think, and may even lower the risk of heart disease and stroke." Mr Buijsse's team found that dark chocolate was the healthiest kind to eat; milk chocolate has fewer effects and white chocolate no effects.
The German study showed that people who ate the most chocolate reduced their risk of having a heart attack by 27 per cent. The risk of suffering a stroke was cut by 48 per cent. Nutrition experts believe that natural compounds in chocolate called flavonols are good for our heart. Flavonols also help reduce blood pressure. They are found in cocoa beans, and this is why dark chocolate, which has more cocoa, contains more of them than milk chocolate, which has more fat. Buijsse warns people not to suddenly eat lots of chocolate: "Eating higher amounts will most likely result in weight gain. If people start eating small amounts of chocolate, it should replace other high-calorie sweets or snacks."

April Fool's Day

shark attack fake photo
In Spain, many people play tricks on December 28, Holy Innocents’ Day. In many other countries, jokes are played on April 1—April Fool’s Day. The reason seems to be that, up until the mid-sixteenth century, France celebrated New Year’s Day on April 1, but in 1562 Pope Gregory XIII introduced a new calendar to the Christian world, which changed the date of the New Year to January 1. At that time news travelled slowly and some people continued to celebrate on April 1. These poor, misinformed people were referred to as "April Fools" and other people played tricks on them.
Nowadays, it seems that new technologies provide fresh ways of playing tricks on April 1. The Internet has given birth to a rise in popularity and proliferation of tricks and hoaxes. E-mail inboxes are bombarded with messages warning of terrible viruses that cause users to delete important data from their computers, or of credit card cheats that request personal information, including passwords and bank account numbers. In August 2001 e-mail containing a photo of a shark trying to attack a helicopter was received by e-mail throughout the world. The e-mail claimed the photo was National Geographic's "Photo of the Year", but National Geographic said that the photo was a fake and finally found the people responsible for making the composite image.

Skating was a mode of transportation for war and hunting in Northern Europe

figure skating - ice dancing - winter sports
Skating was a mode of transportation for war and hunting in Northern Europe: it was a quick way to cross frozen lakes, rivers and streams. Skates were first made from bones, and later from iron and steel. By the 16th century, skaters were transporting goods across frozen waterways. Thus, like other winter sports, figure skating grew from necessity.
In 1892, the International Skating Union was founded. Six years later, the first official event was celebrated, and the Union’s organisers hoped it might soon become an Olympic sport. After a great deal of work over the next decade, figure skating was added to the Olympic programme for the 1908 Games.
There are four Olympic Figure Skating events: women's singles, men's singles, pairs, and ice dancing. The singles event consists of two sections: the short programme, and free skating. The short programme combines eight prescribed elements such as a number of jumps. In the free skating programme, skaters perform original techniques to music of their choice. As judges deduct points for too many or too few jumps, a balanced programme is important. The pairs event also consists of a short programme and free skating. The couple works as a unit, performing many manoeuvres.
In ice dancing, the focus is on the complex steps in time with the music, in which the skaters maintain physical contact with each other. Ice dancing consists of three sections: compulsory, original, and free dances. In compulsory dancing, the couple must perform one pre-determined dance. Original dances must follow selected rhythms, although the pair can choose their own music and interpretative steps. In free dancing the pair freely express their interpretation of the music they have chosen.

Probiotic products are healthy foods that contain good bacteria

Probiotic products
Probiotic products are healthy foods that contain good bacteria, and some of them are among the bestselling foods in supermarkets. Probiotic foods and drinks contain types of bacteria that naturally colonise your intestines and help you digest food, though we may not like eating them so much.
The theory is that by putting these ‘friendly’ bacteria into our system, we fight the bad bacteria and help promote the natural balance of micro-organisms in our digestive system. This, it is said, helps digestion.
There is also a theory that probiotics can help your immune system — some scientists believe that our immune system suffers in our super-clean homes, and that introducing good bacteria helps it. Because of this, there is evidence that they may improve those illnesses associated with the immune system, such as psoriasis and asthma.
Some of this is supported by studies, particularly in the area of intestine health. Recent studies have supported the theory that the bacteria in probiotics can make the immune system stronger. A paper presented at the European Influenza Conference indicated that probiotics, combined with vitamin and mineral supplements, could reduce the duration of some common illnesses. And then another study showed that people taking probiotics took fewer days off work than a group who took no probiotics, especially in night workers.
So far, studies on their effects on eczema, asthma and cholesterol have not produced good results, but the potential role of friendly bacteria in promoting digestive health is irrefutable. Our digestive health may be affected if we don’t eat them.
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