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To: Duncan Green (Guardian Staff)
CC: Editor @ Guardian
Date: Fri, 9 Aug 2013 20:32:07 +0100
Subject: Re: Guardian article titled "If you pay charity bosses peanuts you're going to get monkeys"


Hello Duncan
Re: Guardian article titled "If you pay charity bosses peanuts you're going to get monkeys"

Wrong as can be!  Won't get into blame-game but that rather shallow thinking needs bringing up-to-date.  Two short remedial demos are below:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6XAPnuFjJc (10 mins)
`Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us'
(MIT research led to surprising conclusion - since confirmed - that for any cognitive job, large rewards lead to poorer performance)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rrkrvAUbU9Y#t=1m40s
`Dan Pink: The puzzle of motivation'
(As he says, it's now been known - for about 40 yrs - that high rewards dull the mind, narrow the focus and prevent creative thinking)

Answer in both cases:  The best results are obtained by groups (all paid only a "decent" i.e. adequate subsistence wage), motivated by creative thinking `for the common good' - rewarded only by kudos or esteem.

cheers
Ray Dickenson

BTW - as you might see, that answer can be applied to some of our other problems - at call.html#comp

BTW2 Update 13 Dec. 2013 - here's a reminder & clue (text version);  I.e. - they're grabbing for tax-payers money.
So would recommend watching those two short vids AND THEN emailing the address in that text version;   I.e. - Mail to Martyn Lewis; OR fill in the Questionnaire - (ends 14 January).

BTW3 Update 14 Dec. 2013 - Late proof from Euro-parliament: "Higher-paid MEPs 'work less hard'" (text version).
Ray D





Date: Date: Tue, 9 Jul 2013 10:40:34 -0300
Subject: Video -Jesus in India.

-----Original Message-----
From: Choong **** ****
Sent: Monday, July 08, 2013 4:54 PM

Hi all, what make this video interesting was that it is an Indian government production in tracing the story of Jesus in India, kind of interesting with some lesser known elements in it like the conjunction of records between the Muslim, Buddhists and the Hindus in what seems to the confirmation of factual narrative of history,..
. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e_Ecm4gMhiM


Hi Choong
You just made me recall this (edited) correspondence from a while back: [original here]


Sent: Sunday, May 21, 2006 5:25 PM
Subject: Jessos in Hindostan--was Re: Re: [Anglican] Film: The Da Vinci Code

> The one tidbit I remember most from reading _Jesus Died in
> Kashmir_ some 20-odd years ago was the author's citing the
> popularity of Hebrew-derived names like Yusuf, Ibrahim, and
> Soleyman in Kashmir as proof that Jesus had been there
> preaching a Judaic religion. The author had apparently
> never heard of Islam! :-) Or does the mention of Yusuf,
> Ibrahim, Suleyman, etc., in the Qur'an prove that Jesus
> died in Saudi Arabia? :-)

Hi T,
you tripped a memory from `Bernier's Travels' and have just looked it up. Bernier was there (Hindustan) in mid 1600's and wrote many letters and an account dedicated to King Louis (of France).  One of his chapter headings is "Jews in Kachemire".

On page 430 you find - "There are however, many signs of Judaism to be found in this country ... the Jewish appearance of these villagers having been remarked by our Jesuit Father, and by several other Europeans long before I visited Kachemire.

A second sign is the prevalence of the name of Moussa, which means Moses, among the inhabitants of this city, notwithstanding they are all Mahometans.

A third is the common tradition that Solomon visited this country, and that it was he who opened a passage for the waters by cutting the mountain of Baramoule.

A fourth, the belief that Moses died in the city of Kachemire, and that his tomb is within a league of it.

And a fifth may be found in the generally received opinion that the small and extremely ancient edifice seen on one of the high hills was built by Solomon; and it is therefore called the Throne of Solomon to this day"


Bernier goes on to note that evidence or actual history of Jews is known from Persia, Lar, and Hyspan; and in Hindustan towards Goa and Cochin.

Cheers
Ray





Date: Tue, 2 Jul 2013 08:22:12 +0100
Subject: FWD - Egypt's Rebellion


Ha!  We can see why the leaders of USA and UK are appalled by the Egyptians' forceful reactions to a President who promised fairness and democracy before his election and then did exactly the opposite afterwards.

After all, that's just what Western politicos always do.
Ray





Date: Sat, 22 Jun 2013 07:51:55 -0700 (PDT)
FWD - "Ode to Joy" Surprise

"Jane *****" wrote:
>Oh lovely Ray thanks so much xxxx


If I feel like being cheered-up will occasionally look at a musical `flash-mob which happened at Sabadell in Spain, worthwhile seeing the expressions on folks faces - and it clearly made the day for some kids
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbJcQYVtZMo
TITLE = Flashmob Flash Mob - Ode an die Freude ( Ode to Joy ) Beethoven Symphony No.9 classical music"

looking for it yesterday happened on this, the most moving and strangest version I've heard of the complete work, by _ten thousand_ scholarly [and virtuosi] and astonishingly well-dressed Japanese folk [in fluent German language]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xBlQZyTF_LY
10000 singing Beethoven - Ode an die Freude _ Ode to Joy

Description = This concert was filmed in December 2011 at the Osaka-Jo Hall in Osaka / Japan The Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Yutaka Sado and a choir with 10 thousand people living in Osaka and Sendai, interpreted Ode to Joy of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony in D minor, Op 125. A tribute to the victims of the tsunami and nuclear disaster that hit Japan in March of that year.
---
PS am full of admiration for reasons most folk won't know about:  i) how did the conductor [a magic character] synchronise those choirs over such huge (sonic) distances?  [I.e. occasionally would have to drill a squad on large parade grounds - when they're a hundred yards away you have to shout the order one full pace ahead of when you want them to hear it (usually when their left heels hit the ground), and you have to continually gauge the changing distances]

Ray





Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2013 15:55:14 +0100
Subject: FWD - Happening now: different (brain + body) genetic changes in today's human groups


Today was reviewing files of sci-news and came across some reports of genetic studies.  Buried in the details are some interesting results which seem to show that very recently (in evolutionary terms) changes began in human brains; with different changes happening to say Chinese people compared to Europeans.

Those seem to be triggered by the ongoing demands of our ever-developing languages.  I.e. the Chinese and some other tonal language groups have been swept by a brain-affecting change to DAB1 gene, while the broadly Indo-European non-tonal language groups have experienced a different, but also rapid change to the gene ASPM, also brain-affecting.

Here's the Wiki refs
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DAB1#Gene_variants_.26_associated_phenotypes_in_humans
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ASPM_(Gene)#Evolution

Those language-driven changes are maybe `divergent' (perhaps until all our languages maybe converge - when we'll all need similar brain-changes to cope).

However, from the summaries (various but maybe try http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/26/science/26human.html) you can see there have also been changes like lactose-tolerance, enabling us to benefit from drinking milk as adults, and getting paler skin to allow vitamin D manufacture in cold sunless climates, which are convergent evolution - achieving the same final result but via different routes for different human groups.

And for the paler skin gimmick, it seems that Chinese groups developed a route much earlier and by different mutation paths than those more recently taken by Europeans' genes.

[Seem to recall, from time in Far-East, that even now an average Chinese or Japanese person brought up avoiding sunlight (usually for cultural reasons, especially with females) will probably have very pale skin, maybe `whiter' than a European.]

Ray
[PS - that whole evolution thing is interesting - and controversial]

-
Date: Tue, 11 Jun 2013 01:56:28 +0800
Subject: Re:FWD - Happening now: different (brain + body) genetic changes in today's human groups


Hi Ray,
that's quite an observation, and for one thing language does shape the mind and form the end culture and I always felt the differences in abilities between cultures is a fact notably between the western and eastern mind so I always seems to be waiting for a "messiah' to emerged that a western man of science with an eastern mind of philosophy and even spirituality would be an exciting next Einstein,
and as for the females yes indeed oriental women and even me as a kid who seldom venture out is "whiter than whites" but since orientals are more aptly known as "Yellow" and whites are known as "pale" I happens to check up on florescent tubes specifically for those "Daylight" type so the irony thing is when under such lightning in the nude I did see myself quite "yellow" indeed especially on the non sunny chest area so there is always this curiosity in me to have another whitey John Doe stand right next to me for such "scientific" experiment to see his "real color" literally speaking but then one of my friend while in NZ long ago with a roommates of "multinationals" of Africans, Asians, Iranians and Whites all lay flat on the floor only to check on the bottom of their foots which end up all same in color.

Choong

Date: Mon, 10 Jun 2013 19:06:27 +0100
Subject: Re: FWD - Happening now: different (brain + body) genetic changes in today's human groups


Hi Choong,
hadn't thought about that sort of experiment, but now you mention it - it's ironic (especially for `racially' minded people) that if/when we travel to other planets under other suns, with different frequency radiations - all our perceived `skin colours' would change, in one direction or another.
Ray





Date: Sat, 8 Jun 2013 23:03:10 +0100
Subject: FWD - More evidence of VIKINGS in America


The news report is interesting and backs up a lot of stuff that the mainstream have been covering-up and denying for years. I recall a logger from Oregon wrote me some years ago; here's his mail: (original here)
QUOTE

Date: Sat, 1 Jul 2006 02:16:35 +0100
[compliments]
I once found what I believe to have been a grave of somesort in southern Oregon. It was in the area of the old Fort Klamath. I told a Forest Service Archaeologist where it was. the next year I looked and the site had been destroyed. When I asked, I was told that it was none of my business, that it was out of place and didn't belong there.

It was a wall about eight feet tall with five crosses, I believe they are nordic or gothic. all the limbs tapered to the center and they stood out from the wall. It was built out of carefully cut stone and older than old. Now they deny that it ever existed.

Dave Clyburn
(address supplied)
Keep up the good work. I was a logger.
UNQUOTE
Ray


http://news.yahoo.com/north-america-viking-voyage-discovered-131333241.html
New North America Viking Voyage Discovered

Some 1,000 years ago, the Vikings set off on a voyage to Notre Dame Bay in modern-day Newfoundland, Canada, new evidence suggests.

The journey would have taken the Vikings, also called the Norse, from L'Anse aux Meadows on the northern tip of the same island to a densely populated part of Newfoundland and may have led to the first contact between Europeans and the indigenous people of the New World.

"This area of Notre Dame Bay was as good a candidate as any for that first contact between the Old World and the New World, and that's kind of an exciting thing," said Kevin Smith, deputy director and chief curator of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology at Brown University.

Evidence of the voyage was discovered by a combination of archaeological excavation and chemical analysis of two jasper artifacts that the Norse used to light fires. The analysis, presented at the annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Honolulu, suggests the jasper used in the artifacts came from the area of Notre Dame Bay. [See Images of the Viking Voyage Discovery]

The jasper artifacts were found L'Anse aux Meadows and the Norse explorers likely set out from that outpost. They would've headed due south, traveling some 143 miles (230 kilometers) to Notre Dame Bay. When they reached their destination Norse would have set foot in an area of Newfoundland that modern-day researchers know was well inhabited.

"This area of Notre Dame Bay [is] archaeologically the area of densest settlement on Newfoundland, at that time, of indigenous people, the ancestors of the Beothuk," a people who, at the time, lived as hunter-gatherers, Smith told LiveScience.

Aside from likely encountering the ancestral Beothuk, the Norse would probably have been impressed by the landscape itself. The coastline had fjords, inlets and offshore islands, with lots of forests. Birds, sea mammals and fish also would have been plentiful.
(more at page ...)
[see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L'Anse_aux_Meadows





Date: Thu, 30 May 2013 08:56:27 +0100
Subject: Help stop restrictions to the FOI Act


Dear Colleague

Help stop government proposals to restrict the FOI Act

The Campaign is urging the government not to proceed with proposals to make it easier for public authorities to refuse Freedom of Information requests on cost grounds.  The government wants to make it easier for authorities to refuse requests that create a `disproportionate burden', particularly by requesters said to be making 'industrial' use of the Act.  But the proposed changes are not targeted at people who make excessive use of the Act.  They would make it easier for authorities to refuse all requests including those of modest scope and of real public interest.

These proposals are likely to be extremely damaging to the FOI Act.  We also think they are unnecessary, even in the government's own terms.

Earlier this year the Upper Tribunal, the top level body dealing with FOI appeals, issued a new ruling that requests which imposed `disproportionate burdens' could be refused as vexatious.  The Information Commissioner's Office has also issued new guidance to this effect.  This means that no new measures are necessary to deal with disproportionately burdensome requests.

This approach contains a crucial safeguard:  a request cannot be vexatious if the public interest in the information justifies the expense of replying to it.  But the government's proposals would allow requests to be refused regardless of the public interest in disclosure.

What we are doing:
The Campaign has held a briefing meeting for campaign organisations, journalists and concerned individuals explaining the implications of the proposals.
We have met the justice minister, Lord McNally, to explain why we think the proposals are likely to be so damaging.
We have written to Lord McNally setting out our concerns in detail. Read the letter at: http://www.cfoi.org.uk/pdf/mcnallyltr160513.pdf.
We have provided a succinct account of the issue for the press: http://www.cfoi.org.uk/foi210513pr.html.
We have helped to organise an Early Day Motion - a parliamentary petition - calling on the Government to drop the proposals.  The motion has been tabled by veteran FOI advocate Sir Richard Shepherd (Con) supported by an all-party group of MPs:  Mark Durkan (SDLP), John Healey (Lab), Dr Julian Huppert (Lib Dem), Caroline Lucas (Green) and David Winnick (Lab).

What you can do
Write to your MP urging him or her to sign Early Day Motion 80 on the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  You can write to your MP at the House of Commons, London SW1A 0AA or using Unlock Democracy's website http://action.unlockdemocracy.org.uk/save-foia - put your postcode into the 'participate' box, it will generate a letter for you to send and suggest some points that you may want to make, though it's always better to compose it yourself if you can.
(Note: your letter and email address will be retained by Unlock Democracy who are working with us on this issue and you may hear from them about the subject).  For further information on the EDM please see http://www.cfoi.org.uk/edm80.html.

A list of MPs that have signed the Early Day Motion is here http://www.parliament.uk/edm/2013-14/80.  Even if your MP has signed the EDM, you can write to them, letting them know how concerned you are about the government's proposals.

Information Commissioner should clamp down on excessive FOI delays
The Campaign has called on the Information Commissioner to use his power to issue legally binding enforcement notices to clamp down on authorities which make requesters wait months before replying to their FOI requests.

The Campaign highlighted the fact that:
78 requests to the Treasury took more than 120 working days to be answered in 2012.  The figure includes 69 requests made the previous year but not answered until 2012.
The Treasury was also the worst offender in terms of interminable internal reviews:  27 internal reviews took more than 100 working days to complete.  Two thirds of these were started in 2011 but not completed until 2012.
22 requests to the Home Office took more than 120 working days to be answered.  The majority of these were made in 2011 but only answered in 2012.  Five of its internal reviews took more than 100 working days to complete.
For details of other departments' performance see our press release of 25 April 2013 http://www.cfoi.org.uk/foi250413pr.html.

We don't know how much longer than 120 working days these requests actually took. Some could have taken a year or even more.

It is only as a result of the Campaign's efforts that this level of statistical detail is now available.  Until 2011 the government only published information on the number of requests taking more than 60 working days to be answered.  And requests which were made in one year and not answered until after January the following year were not counted at all - they didn't appear in either year's statistics.  This meant that the most seriously delayed requests were completely unmonitored.  For example, on the old basis, the statistics would have shown that the Treasury would have exceeded 120 working days on 9 occasions.  The additional 69 requests made in 2011 and not answered until 2012 would not have been mentioned.  We raised this issue with the Ministry of Justice and the Statistics Authority (http://www.cfoi.org.uk/pdf/foistatsresponse.pdf) and this has led to the more detailed figures being published.

In our evidence to the Justice select committee's review of the Act last year we called for tighter time limits for replying to requests and carrying out internal reviews.  The committee recommended these changes in its report but the government has rejected the recommendations.

New research exemption
The government has agreed to create a new FOI exemption for information obtained from a programme of continuing research where disclosure would prejudice the research or the interests of the researchers or the authority.  The exemption will be subject to the Act's public interest test.

The proposed exemption can be found in clause 19 of the new Intellectual Property Bill.  It would bring the UK FOI Act into line with the Scottish Act, which already contains a similar exemption.

However, there has been very little use of the Scottish exemption.  In February 2012, the Campaign made FOI requests to all Scottish universities to gather data on the use of this exemption.  The responses revealed that it had been cited on just 6 occasions since the legislation came into force in 2005.  To date, the Office of the Scottish Information is yet to rule on any appeal involving its use.

The Bill and explanatory notes are available from http://services.parliament.uk/bills/2013-14/intellectualproperty/documents.html

Information Commissioner & Tribunal Decisions course, London 5 June 2013
The Campaign's next training course on significant new FOI case law is on 5 June 2013.  This is aimed at FOI practitioners with a good working knowledge of the Act.  Our next course for requesters will be held in October.  For further information see http://www.cfoi.org.uk/pdf/foidecisions_jun2013.pdf.

Best wishes,

Katherine Gundersen
Campaign for Freedom of Information

Unit 109 Davina House,
137-149 Goswell Road,
London
EC1V 7ET

Tel: (020) 7490 3958 | www.cfoi.org.uk | http://twitter.com/CampaignFOI




Date: Sun, 19 May 2013 09:52:33 +0100
Subject: FWD - "Big Science in Politics `It's bullshit!' says Alice Bell


Article in today's Guardian rang bells:
www.guardian.co.uk/science/political-science/2013/may/17/science-policy1
"Challenge, don't worship, the chiefs and high priestesses of science.  If we don't recognise the politics of science, we will just get played by those who do"

It reminded me of Vallee's `shock talk' at TEDX Brussels
(it would've been banned and censored today)
www.youtube.com/watch?v=S9pR0gfil_0
TEDxBrussels - Jacques Vallee - A Theory of Everything (else)...
where Jacques quite bravely outlines what `science' _doesn't_ really know - like:
TIME (unexplained magic `arrow of time')
GRAVITY (unexplained `magic force')
QUANTUM VIEW OF PARTICLE PHYSICS (unexplained `magic particle exchanges')
and he might've added INERTIA (an unexplained `magic property' of MASS)

and _that_ immediately recalled a very recent discussion about science's reluctance to admit it's clueless about the really important things, like INERTIA:
ansci903.html#re-inert
"For those folk who've been asking for a run-down on INERTIA. [It's vitally important to our physical world - but `scientists' don't like to talk about it]"

Ray





Date: Thu, 16 May 2013 08:47:58 +0100
Subject: FWD - "Almost anything you do (inc. reading this) is now `classified' as a mental illness - The Case of Psychiatry


QUOTE
The Case of Psychiatry It had a widely accepted, peer-reviewed guidebook, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by its professional society, the American Psychiatric Association.  With its focus on observable symptoms, presumably rooted in biology, it had all the trappings of science.

The things being said about psychiatry now, though, on the eve of publication of its latest upgrade, the DSM-5, are revealing it to be a science in crisis - if it ever was a science at all.  As we list the problems, ponder whether many of the same criticisms could be leveled against Darwinism.

DSM-5, coming out on May 22, is the latest edition of the official diagnostic "bible" for psychiatrists that had its genesis in 1952.

Each such manual, DSM or others, has tried to improve on its predecessor.  All have failed, says psychotherapist Gary Greenberg in his entertaining, biting and essential The Book of Woe. But none has failed so spectacularly as the DSM-5.

DSM-5 removes some diagnoses, like Asperger's syndrome, reclassifies others, and adds a number of new conditions that are, to most of us, just weird: like "Skin Picking Disorder," "Sluggish Cognitive Tempo," and "Compulsive Hoarding."

The DSM has been embroiled in controversy for a number of years.  Critics have said that has turned complaints that are not truly illnesses into medical conditions, and has been unduly influenced by pharmaceutical companies looking for new markets for their drugs.
(more at www.evolutionnews.org/2013/05/how_a_scientifi071931.html
END QUOTE


Another example of what seems prevalent today - psychologists/psychiatrists generating loads of fake `mental conditions' merely for reasons of greed & power (+ Big Pharma?) is at:
www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/diederik-stapels-audacious-academic-fraud.html

Ray

PS - overall the state of modern society vis-a-vis `science', especially the more abstruse subjects like cosmology (see http://www.edge.org/conversation/think-about-nature ) and the so-called `science of the mind' is pretty much like in the Dark Age.

I.e. - when only priests could read and write they naturally aimed to increase their power and wealth and so went on a spree (lasting for hundreds of years) of fantastic lies about almost everything - history, medicine `physics' (of the day) and of course cosmology (of the day).

Maybe see www.perceptions.couk.com/talltales.html#eur - Buckle's account of the damage done to society's knowledge of reality by the Xtian priesthoods during those dark days - which we probably haven't yet recovered from.  Is the fake `science' of psychiatry going to do the same damage?





Date: Fri, 10 May 2013 19:48:11 +0100
Subject: Defamation Act 2013 - It's time to celebrate its successes and celebrate


Dear Friends

The Defamation Bill became the Defamation Act 2013 last week. It's time to celebrate its successes and the campaigning effort. We will be organising an event on Wednesday 12th June for an opportunity to discuss the final stages of the campaign to press for new civil procedure rules which allow earlier strike out of trivial claims, website regulations which are effective, and costs protection rules which ensure fairness and access to justice. We'll be in touch with more details very soon.

In the meantime, many of you may have heard that we are organising a libel reform get together downstairs at the Penderel's Oak pub in Holborn, London WC1 on Thursday 16th May from 6.30pm.

This will be almost exactly four years since David Allen Green assembled scientists, bloggers, skeptics, comedians and authors at Penderel's Oak to discuss Simon Singh's case and what could be done. That gathering started the Keep Libel Laws out of Science campaign which led to the Libel Reform Campaign. Many of the people who addressed that original meeting will be there again on Thursday 16th May to reflect on all that's been achieved.

Would you be able to join us at the Penderel's Oak to raise a glass to libel reform?

We will be restricted on numbers downstairs so entry will be by registration list. Please let us know (email cpeters @ senseaboutscience.org) as soon as possible if you intend to come. If the demand is high enough we will take over the upstairs of the Penderel's Oak too and the Red Lion across the road. The champions and speakers will get around to everybody on the night.

Please do let us know if you can come on Thursday 16th May.

Best wishes
Síle & Mike
Information: www.libelreform.org




Date: Tue, 7 May 2013 19:55:45 +0100
Subject: Some words haven't changed much in 15,000 years


Some would say a bit speculative but they've apparently addressed the "by chance" issue with their statistical treatments.  Very interesting anyway - Ray

http://bangordailynews.com/2013/05/06/news/nation/some-words-havent-changed-much-in-15000-years/
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/national/words-that-last/

The traditional view is that words can't survive for more than 8,000 to 9,000 years. Evolution, linguistic "weathering" and the adoption of replacements from other languages eventually drives ancient words to extinction, just like the dinosaurs of the Jurassic era.

New research, however, suggests a few words survive twice as long.

Their existence, in turn, suggests there was a `proto-Eurasiatic' language that was the common ancestor of about 700 languages used today (and many others that have died out over the centuries).  The descendant tongues are spoken from the Arctic to the southern tip of India. Their speakers are as apparently different as the Uighurs of western China and the Scots of the Outer Hebrides.

"We've never heard this language, and it's not written down anywhere," said Mark Pagel, an evolutionary theorist at the University of Reading in England who headed the study that appears in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "But this ancestral language was spoken and heard. People sitting around campfires used it to talk to each other."

Pagel and his collaborators have come up with a list of two dozen `ultraconserved words.' It contains both predictable and surprising members. The most conserved word is "thou" which is the singular form of "you". "I", "not", "what" "mother" and "man" are also on the list. So are the verbs "to hear", "to flow" and "to spit", and the nouns "bark", "ashes" and "worm". Together, they hint at what has been important to people over the past 15 millennia.

"I was really delighted to see `to give' there," Pagel said. "Human society is characterized by a degree of cooperation and reciprocity that you simply don't see in any other animal. Verbs tend to change fairly quickly, but that one hasn't."

That a spoken sound carrying a specific meaning could remain unchanged over 15,000 years is a controversial idea for most historical linguists.

"Their general view is pessimistic," said William Cross, a professor of linguistics at the University of New Mexico who studies the evolution of language and was not involved in the study. "They basically think there's too little evidence to even propose a family like Eurasiatic." In Cross's view, however, the new study supports the plausibility of an ancestral language whose audible relics cross tongues today.

Pagel and three collaborators studied `cognates', which are words that have the same meaning and a similar sound in different languages. Father (English), padre (Italian), pere (French) , pater (Latin) and pitar (Sanskrit) are cognates. Those words, however, are from languages in one family, the Indo-European. The researchers looked much farther afield, in seven language families in all.

In addition to Indo-European, the language families include the Altaic (whose modern members include Turkish, Uzbek and Mongolian); Chukchee-Kamchatkan (languages of far northeastern Siberia); Dravidian (languages of south India); Inuit-Yupik (Arctic languages); Kartvelian (Georgian and three related languages); and Uralic (Finnish, Hungarian and a few others).

They are a diverse group. Some don't use the Roman alphabet. Some had no written form until modern times. They sound different to the untrained ear. Their speakers live tens of thousands of miles apart. In short, they seem unlikely candidates to share cognates.

Pagel's team used as its starting material 200 words that linguists know to be the core vocabulary of all languages. Other researchers had looked for cognates of those words in members of each of the seven Eurasiatic language families. They looked, for example, for similar sounding words for `fish' or `to drink' in the Altaic family of languages or in the Indo-European languages. When they found cognates, they then constructed what they imagined were the cognates' ancestral words - a task that requires knowing how sounds change between languages, such as `f' in Germanic languages becoming `p' in Romance languages.

Those made-up words with a certain meaning in each language family are called `proto-words'. Pagel's team compared them among language families. They made thousands of comparisons, asking in effect such questions as: Does the proto-word for `hand' in the Inuit-Yupik language family and in the Indo-European language family sound similar? The answer, to that question and many others, surprisingly was yes.

The 23 entries on the ultraconserved word list are cognates in at least four language families. Could they sound the same in different families purely by chance? Pagel and his colleagues think not.

Linguists have calculated the rate at which words are replaced in a language. Not surprisingly, common words disappear the slowest. It's exactly those words that Pagel's team found were most likely to have cognates among the families. Words uttered at least 16 times per day by an average speaker had the greatest chance of being cognates in at least three language families.

If chance had been the explanation, some rarely used words would have ended up on the list. But they didn't.

Of course, one has to explain the presence of "bark".  "I have spoken to some anthropologists about that, and they say that bark played a very significant role in the lives of forest-dwelling hunter-gatherers," Pagel said. Bark was woven into baskets, stripped and braided into rope, burned as fuel, stuffed in empty spaces for insulation and consumed as medicine.

"To spit" is also a surprising survivor.  It may be that the sound of that word is just so expressive of the sound of the activity - what linguists call `onomatopoeia' - that it simply couldn't be improved on over 15,000 years.

As to the origin of the sound of the other ultraconserved words, and who made them up, that's a question best left to the poets.
---
(more at both pages - inc. the sounds of some of the words in different languages ...)





Date: Thu, 2 May 2013 15:09:23 +0100
Subject: FWD - "Flash floods in Saudi Arabia leave 13 dead


The item about floods in Saudi Arabia (a very dry place?) jogged a memory of Richard Burton (the explorer and writer of Victorian times: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Francis_Burton) telling about dangers from `flash floods' when he was undergoing troubles and strife in his lone travels in disguise on the way to Mecca and Medina and other places in Arabia. - Ray

www.amazon.com/Personal-Narrative-Pilgrimage-Al-Madinah-Meccah/dp/0486212173 "Posing as a wandering dervish, Burton gained admittance to the holy Kaabah and to the tomb of the prophet at Medina and participated in all the rituals of the Hadj (pilgrimage). A treasury of material on Arab life, beliefs, manners and morals, and much more. Volume One starts with the Preface to the Memorial Edition by his wife, Isabel Burton."

It's a fascinating and sometimes moving read (inc. his wife Isabel's contribution). Here's an on-line copy:
`Pilgrimage to Al-Madinah and Meccah' by Richard Burton
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97p/preface1.html#preface1
http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/b/burton/richard/b97p/contents.html


http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-22367587
1 May 2013 Last updated at 16:11
Flash floods in Saudi Arabia leave 13 dead
At least 13 people have died and four other are missing in flash floods in Saudi Arabia.

Deaths were reported in the capital Riyadh, Baha in the south, Hail in the north and in the west of the country
The Saudi Civil Defense Authority urged people to avoid valleys and plains that have been flooded by the heavy rainfall that began on Friday.
Saudi television showed footage of people clinging to trees and cars trapped by water.
The rain is said to be the heaviest experienced by the desert kingdom in more than 25 years.

On Sunday the Saudi Interior Minister Prince Mohammad Bin Nayef called on civil defence authorities to coordinate their efforts and provide assistance to people affected by rain and flooding. The minister was described by a spokesperson as "closely monitoring the situation".

Saudi authorities have been criticised in the past for lack of preparedness in coping with flooding. Flash floods in the Red Sea port of Jeddah killed 123 people in 2009 and 10 in 2011.
The inability of Jeddah's infrastructure to drain off flood waters and uncontrolled construction in and around the city were blamed for the high number of victims in 2009.
At the time King Abdullah promised action saying "we cannot overlook the errors and omissions that must be dealt with firmly".
However critics have said that despite the promises little has been done to alleviate the dangers posed by flash floods.
---





Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2013 16:40:44 +0100
Subject: Defamation Bill agreed by Parliament


Dear Friends

We have some great news to share.  The Defamation Bill has been agreed by Parliament and is now just waiting for Royal Assent, which will probably happen today, before becoming an Act of Parliament.  This is undoubtedly down to all of your hard work with us over the last few years and you all deserve a huge thank you!

Below are some of the reactions from some of the Libel Reform Campaign supporters.  You can read more here: http://www.libelreform.org/news

Tracey Brown, Director, Sense About Science said:  "A campaign of small organisations, thousands of individuals and good parliamentarians has achieved changes that were denied to citizens for a century. We can now decide to publish based on `is it true', not `will they sue'."

Kirsty Hughes, Chief Executive, Index on Censorship said:  "We now have a Defamation Bill that will strengthen freedom of expression, end the global chill from libel tourism and restrict corporations from suing citizen critics."

Jo Glanville, Director, English PEN said:  "This has been a remarkable campaign that has united politicians and campaigners to reform a law that had become an international embarrassment. The chill has had an impact on anyone speaking out in the public interest - from scientists to bloggers - so this is good news for freedom of speech in the UK."

Dr Evan Harris, Libel Reform Campaign parliamentary adviser said:  "As someone involved the campaign from the start, and from inside and outside Parliament, I can see what an achievement it is to achieve this reform."

Simon Singh, science writer and defendant in BCA v Singh said:  "This is an extraordinary story of cross party collaboration, fired up by a grass roots campaign, backed by everyone from nerds to Mumsnet, which includes mums who are also nerds."

Justine Roberts, CEO and co-founder of parenting forum Mumsnet said:  "It's not perfect, and of course we don't yet have the full detail on how the regulations will deal with publication on the internet. But we applaud the hard work of everyone involved, and are very happy to have been a part of this much-needed reform."

Charmian Gooch, Director, Global Witness said:  "The passage of the Defamation Bill is a long overdue victory in the campaign to reform the UK's outdated and repressive libel laws."

You can also read our Initial Analysis of the Bill (PDF)

We're going to arrange a bit of a gathering to get supporters and champions of the campaign together to celebrate this wonderful accomplishment and let you know what needs to happen next.  We all still need to keep the pressure on to make sure the new law is enacted as soon as possible, clear and robust regulations are published, new Civil Procedure Rules are issued and most importantly we need to tell those who try and silence free speech through that libel they can't get away with it any more.

We'll be in touch with more details soon!

Síle & Mike

Information: www.libelreform.org




Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2013 14:30:12 +0000
Subject: Bees: Urgent Vote


It's crunch time. This Monday, Owen Paterson the environment minister will be voting on the future of our bees. Scientists across the planet are calling for certain pesticides to be banned, but last time Owen refused to support a European vote to stop them being used.

Over 250,000 38 Degrees members have now signed the petition to tell him to protect our bees. That's 100,000 more in the last week alone!

Please add your name to the petition before Monday's crucial vote:

SIGN THE PETITION

In case you missed it, here's the original email from earlier this week:
----------
Our bees are in danger. Three species are already extinct, and others are in rapid decline. Scientists say that certain pesticides are responsible. [1]

Next week environment ministers from across Europe will come together to decide the fate of our bees. They'll vote on a ban of these pesticides - but Owen Paterson, our environment minister, is currently saying he'll vote against. [2]

We only have one week to show him that he's not only going against science, he's going against public opinion too. Already, over 160,000 38 Degrees members have signed a petition to push Paterson to vote the right way and back a ban.

Please add your name to the petition before next Monday's crucial vote:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/ban-the-pesticides-that-are-harming-our-bees#petition

Summer skies used to hum furiously with busy bees, pollinating our strawberries, turnips and cucumbers. [3] But bee numbers have been declining for many years and the countryside is suffering. Scientific studies point the finger firmly at certain pesticides but despite all the evidence, our minister is still planning to vote against a ban.

Changing his mind won't be easy - we're battling against furious lobbying from big pesticide companies who put their profits first. [4] But the tide is turning. The scientific evidence is on our side, and the weight of public opinion on this is becoming difficult to ignore.

We have stood against those that seek to cash in on our countryside before, and we won. [5] These pesticide companies are desperate to defeat Monday's vote. They may have the money to make a lot of noise, but we have something their cash can't buy: people power. When we stand together, we stand for the interests of the many over the few. Let's make Owen Paterson sit up and take notice.

Can you sign the petition to tell him to vote to protect our bees?
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/page/s/ban-the-pesticides-that-are-harming-our-bees#petition

Thanks for being involved,
Robin, Megan, Maddy and the 38 Degrees team.

P.S: Please share the petition with your friends on Facebook and Twitter

NOTES:
[1] A mountain of science http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2013/04/11/bees-mountain-of-science/
[2] Bee deaths: EU delays action on pesticides ban: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-21793365
[3] Crops pollinated by bees: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_crop_plants_pollinated_by_bees
[4] Private letters reveal Syngenta and Bayer's furious lobbying against EU measures to save bees: http://corporateeurope.org/publications/pesticides-against-pollinators
[5] 38 Degrees blog: Save our forests: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/tag/save-our-forests/
Rethink the badger cull petition handed in: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2011/09/21/rethink-the-badger-cull-petition-handed-in/
Stopping the nuclear dump in the Lake District - Peter's story: http://blog.38degrees.org.uk/2013/02/07/stopping-the-nuclear-dump-in-the-lake-district-peters-story/





Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2013 21:13:14 +0100
Subject: Re: FWD - "Global Peace Index - and nuances


Right Choong,
Understand what you're saying. In UK, until recently, the police and politicos also gave `rigged' figures for crime and violence (but for different reasons than yours).  I.e earlier we only had police reports, which showed violence as always increasing *1 (but rape as almost non-existent).  [Suspect that was because a fearful population are easier to fool - and will usually vote further to the `right' than usual].

However a short while ago a different method began - surveying the public to find the _actual_ level of violence impinging on people.  That was a big shock for the police (and the politicos) - it turned out that long-term violence was always decreasing (with blips) and that there was a huge amount of unreported rape and pedophile crime.*2  [Suspect the police have always had motives to conceal sex-crimes - mostly committed by the rich and powerful]

I was already aware of the long-term violence trend - had done research since late '90s and gotten the figures*3 - see below - (you can see at least three blips i) around 1846+ (the Irish Famine was starting)[+also wars in USA]; ii) WWI; iii) WWII.

BTW - you can also see that general violence has fallen far enough to show the previously hidden male-on-female murders (from '91), maybe domestic but don't think so. - Ray

Male / Female death rates for UK from 1841
* table from http://www.statistics.gov.uk/
DEATHS FROM ACCIDENT/VIOLENCE - - - - - PERCENTAGES
Dates  Totals  Male  Female                   Total Male Female
                                                                  /1000
---------------------------------------------------------------
1841-1845 1746110   885168   860942      21.4 22.1 20.6
1846-1850 2023286 1023957   999329      23.3 24.1 22.6
1851-1855 2087236 1061271 1025965      22.7 23.5 21.8
1856-1860 2123479 1077265 1046214      21.8 22.6 21.0
1861-1865 2331957 1192943 1139014      22.6 23.7 21.5
1866-1870 2462541 1266546 1195995      22.4 23.7 21.2
1871-1875 2572749 1330063 1242686      22.0 23.3 20.7
1876-1880 2605562 1349353 1256209      20.8 22.1 19.5
1881-1885 2585164 1330461 1254703      19.4 20.5 18.3
1886-1890 2659606 1367855 1291751      18.9 20.0 17.8
1891-1895 2785391 1427164 1358227      18.7 19.8 17.7
1896-1900 2789984 1438062 1351922      17.7 18.8 16.6
1901-1905 2671566 1379931 1291635      16.0 17.1 15.0
1906-1910 2577208 1326425 1250783      14.7 15.6 13.8
1911-1915 2598719 1344171 1254548      14.3 15.4 13.3
1916-1920 2589333 1340340 1248993      14.4 16.5 12.8
1921-1925 2336270 1189865 1146405      12.1 12.9 11.4
1926-1930 2386721 1217610 1169111      12.1 12.9 11.4
1931-1935 2426435 1232370 1194065      12.0 12.7 11.4
1936-1940 2565773 1319242 1246531      12.5 13.5 11.6
1941-1945 2497013 1301357 1195656      12.8 15.1 11.1
1946-1950 2500640 1284831 1215809      11.8 12.8 10.9
1951-1955 2571153 1325747 1245406      11.7 12.5 10.9
1956-1960 2616963 1344000 1272963      11.6 12.3 10.9
1961-1965 2766372 1415447 1350925      11.8 12.4 11.2
1966-1970 2837466 1448627 1388839      11.7 12.4 11.2
1971-1975 2914762 1474783 1439979      11.8 12.3 11.4
1976-1980 2934749 1475067 1459682      11.9 12.2 11.5
1981-1985 2896974 1443291 1453683      11.7 11.9 11.4
1986-1990 2861323 1407628 1453695      11.4 11.5 11.3
1991-1995 2830033 1370879 1459154      11.0 10.9 11.1
1996          560135   268682   291453      10.8 10.5 11.0
1997          555281   264865   290416      10.6 10.3 10.9
1998          555015   264707   290308      10.6 10.3 10.9
1999          556118   264299   291819      10.6 10.2 10.9
2000                       256698   281179               9.9 10.5
---------------------------------------------------------------
2000 ------ ------ ------ ----                              10.0 10.5
2001 ------ ------ ------ ----                                9.9 10.4
2002 ------ ------ ------ ----                                9.8 10.4
2003 ------ ------ ------ ----                                9.8 10.6

-----Original Message-----
From: Choong **** ****
Sent: Wednesday, April 24, 2013 6:35 PM
Subject: Re: FWD - "Global Peace Index - and nuances

You know Ray, Malaysia is most peaceful in the absence of war, but crime is another kind of war happening here nearly daily and two days ago in the serene part of Gasing hill not far from me which I have spoken quite a few times a morning jogger was killed by thugs who want to rob him and his daughter, there are too many to mention and I wish those "Experts" come over bare handed without their guns and live here like Shangrila to feel the real "peace" they are talking about.

Choong





Date: Wed, 24 Apr 2013 17:38:23 +0100
Subject: FWD - "Global Peace Index - and nuances


The `Global Peace Index' for 2013 (i.e data up to 2012) is released today and the back-story has some interesting nuances - just looking at the (big version) maps for last year and this year, gives you an idea of the trajectory (i.e progress or back-sliding) of various countries / blocs.

For instance, UK was only medium peaceful, Southern Ireland and Portugal plus _central- eastern Europe were most peaceful (UK was about the same as Morocco).

Interestingly Malaysia, alone in that part of the world, is consistently in "most peaceful" category.

2011 Index2012 Index
CLICK MAP FOR FULL SIZE

N.b. the map for this year seem to be more `broad-brush' (wider categories) so maybe expect it to be refined as the data are picked over.

Ray


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