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30.9.2022

Cuba’s Taíno people: A flourishing culture, believed extinct

Part 1

 

“[The indigenous people] show the most singular loving behaviour… and are gentle and always laughing,” Columbus recorded. Conquistador Diego Velázquez’s arrival in 1511 would change that forever. Those Taíno not put to the sword or worked to death fell victim to smallpox, influenza and measles, against which they had no defence. Within 100 years of Columbus’ landfall, virtually the entire indigenous population – heavily concentrated in the fertile lowlands of eastern Cuba – had perished.

Yet contrary to popular claims, Taíno bloodlines, identity and customs were never completely extinguished.

You may also be interested in:

• The shipwreck that created a culture

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Many survivors mixed with Spanish colonists or fled the flatlands to endure in palenques (hidden redoubts) in the rugged, densely forested mountains inland of Baracoa ­– an ancient Taíno village that, in 1511, became Cuba’s first Spanish colony. Encircled by a mountain meniscus unfurling like an abanico fan around the Bahía de Miel (Bay of Honey), this insular enclave wasn’t connected by road to the rest of Cuba until 1964.

Throughout the colonial period, Spanish authorities refused to acknowledge the existence of Taíno people. Yet 19th-Century records are full of references to caseríos (Indian kinship communities) in the mountains of eastern Oriente province. Even José Martí, revolutionary apostle of Cuban independence, recorded (in the days preceding his death in a Spanish ambush in May 1895) how he was tracked by the ‘indios de Garrido’ – Indian scouts from Yateras under the command of Spanish Lieutenant Pedro Garrido Romero.

As recently as the 1940s, Cuba’s preeminent geographer and anthropologist Antonio Nuñez Jiménez – who would later hold top positions in the Castro government – had documented dozens of caseríos scattered throughout the Sierra del Cristal and Macizo Nipe-Sagua-Baracoa mountains. Following the 1959 Cuban Revolution, however, the communist government vehemently promoted the notion of the Taíno’s extinction. It dissuaded distinct racial identification and instilled a singular mind set of ‘Cubanness’, intended to equalise everyone. “The government was drastic about it for years and didn’t want it to come up,” says José Barreiro, Cuban-American former director of the Office for Latin America at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, in a 2016 article for Smithsonian Magazine.

19/8/22

  Extended part 1. Taíno: Indigenous Caribbeans

 

Taíno: Indigenous Caribbeans

Completing this week with the largest indigenous Caribbean ethnic group, BHM365 sheds the light on another group that has changed the Americas.

The Taíno were an Arawak people who were the indigenous people of the Caribbean and Florida. At the time of European contact in the late 15th century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), and Puerto Rico.

In the Greater Antilles, the northern Lesser Antilles, and the Bahamas, they were known as the Lucayans and spoke the Taíno language, a derivative of the  Arawakan languages.

The ancestors of the Taíno entered the Caribbean from South America. At the time of contact, the Taíno were divided into three broad groups, known as the Western Taíno (Jamaica, most of Cuba, and the Bahamas), the Classic Taíno (Hispaniola and Puerto Rico) and the Eastern Taíno (northern Lesser Antilles). A fourth, lesser-known group went on to travel to Florida and divided into tribes. At present, we know there are four named tribes: the Tequesta, Calusa, Jaega and Ais. Other tribes are known to have settled in Florida, but their names are not known.

At the time of Columbus’ arrival in 1492, there were five Taíno chiefdoms and territories on Hispaniola, each led by a principal Cacique (chieftain), to whom tribute was paid. Ayiti (“land of high mountains”) was the indigenous Taíno name for the mountainous side of the island of Hispaniola, which has retained its name as Haïti in French.

 

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Cuba, the largest island of the Antilles, was originally divided into 29 chiefdoms. Most of the native settlements later became the site of Spanish colonial cities retaining the original Taíno names. For instance; Havana,Batabanó, Camagüey, Baracoa and Bayamo are still recognised by their Taino names.

Puerto Rico also was divided into chiefdoms. As the hereditary head chief of Taíno tribes, the cacique was paid significant tribute. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the largest Taíno population centers may have contained over 3,000 people each.

The Taíno were historically enemies of the neighbouring Carib tribes, another group with origins in South America, who lived principally in the Lesser Antilles. The relationship between the two groups has been the subject of much study. For much of the 15th century, the Taíno tribe was being driven to the northeast in the Caribbean and out of what is now South America, because of raids by the Carib, resulting in Women being taken in raids and many Carib women speaking Taíno.

The Spaniards, who first arrived in the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola in 1492, and later in Puerto Rico, did not bring women in the first expeditions. They took Taíno women for their common-law wives, resulting in mestizo children. Sexual violence in Hispaniola with the Taíno women by the Spanish was also common. Scholars suggest there was substantial racial and cultural mixing in Cuba, as well, and several Indian pueblos survived into the 19th century.

The Taíno became nearly extinct as a culture following settlement by Spanish colonists, primarily due to infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. The first recorded smallpox outbreak in Hispaniola occurred in December 1518 or January 1519. The 1518 smallpox epidemic killed 90% of the natives who had not already perished. Warfare and harsh enslavement by the colonists had also caused many deaths. By 1548, the native population had declined to fewer than 500. Starting in about 1840, there have been attempts to create a quasi-indigenous Taino identity in rural areas of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. This trend accelerated among the Puerto Rican community in the United States in the 1960s.

 

 

5/8/2022

Who are the Tanio People

Part 2

 

Terminology

The Taíno people, or Taíno culture, has been classified by some authorities as belonging to the Arawak, as their language was considered to belong to the Arawak language family, the languages of which were present throughout the Caribbean, and much of Central and South America.

The early ethnohistorian, Daniel Garrison Brinton, called the Taíno people the “Island Arawak”. Nevertheless, contemporary scholars have recognized that the Taíno had developed a distinct language and culture.

Modern historians, linguists, and anthropologists now hold that the term Taíno should refer to all the Taíno/Arawak tribes except for the Caribs, who are not seen to belong to the same people. Linguists continue to debate whether the Carib language is an Arawakan dialect or creole language, or perhaps an individual language, with an Arawakan pidgin used for communication purposes.

Spaniards and Taíno

Columbus and his crew, landing on an island in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492, were the first Europeans to encounter the Taíno people. Columbus described the Taínos as a physically tall, well-proportioned people, with a noble and kind personalities.

Columbus wrote:

They traded with us and gave us everything they had, with good will…they took great delight in pleasing us…They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal…Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people…They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.

At this time, the neighbors of the Taíno were the Guanahatabeys in the western tip of Cuba, the Island-Caribs in the Lesser Antilles from Guadeloupe to Grenada, and the Timacua and Ais tribes of Florida. The Taíno called the island Guanahaní which Columbus renamed San Salvador (Spanish for “Holy Savior”). Columbus called the Taíno “Indians”, a reference that has grown to encompass all the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere. A group of Taíno people accompanied Columbus on his return voyage back to Spain.

On Columbus’ second voyage, he began to require tribute from the Taíno in Hispaniola. According to Kirkpatrick Sale, each adult over 14 years of age was expected to deliver a hawks bell full of gold every three months, or when this was lacking, twenty-five pounds of spun cotton. If this tribute was not brought, the Spanish cut off the hands of the Taíno and left them to bleed to death. These cruel practices inspired many revolts by the Taíno and campaigns against the Spanish —some being successful, some not.

In 1511, several caciques in Puerto Rico, such as Agüeybaná II, Arasibo, Hayuya, Jumacao, Urayoán, Guarionex, and Orocobix, allied with the Carib and tried to oust the Spaniards. The revolt was suppressed by the Indio-Spanish forces of Governor Juan Ponce de León. Hatuey, a Taíno chieftain who had fled from Hispaniola to Cuba with 400 natives to unite the Cuban natives, was burned at the stake on February 2, 1512.

In Hispaniola, a Taíno chieftain named Enriquillo mobilized over 3,000 Taíno in a successful rebellion in the 1520s. These Taíno were accorded land and a charter from the royal administration. Despite the small Spanish military presence in the region, they often used diplomatic divisions and, with help from powerful native allies, controlled most of the region. In exchange for a seasonal salary, religious and language education, the Taíno were required to work for Spanish and Indian land owners. This system of labor was part of the ‘encomienda’- the strongest protecting the weak for the purpose of economic gain .

 Modern Taino Heritage

Groups of people currently identify as Taíno, most notably among the Puerto Ricans and Dominicans, both on the islands and on United States mainland. The concept of the “living Taíno” has been proven in a census in 2002. Some scholars, such as Jalil Sued Badillo, an ethnohistorian at the University of Puerto Rico, assert that the official Spanish historical record speak of the disappearance of the Taínos, but survivors had descendants and intermarried with other ethnic groups. Recent research notes a high percentage of mixed or tri-racial ancestry among people in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, with those claiming Taíno ancestry also having Spanish and African ancestry.

 

 

22/7/22

Part 1

Who are the Taino People?

 

The Taíno were an Arawak people who were the indigenous people of the Caribbean and Florida. At the time of European contact in the late 15th century, they were the principal inhabitants of most of Cuba, Jamaica, Hispaniola (the Dominican Republic and Haiti), and Puerto Rico.

In the Greater Antilles, the northern Lesser Antilles, and the Bahamas, they were known as the Lucayans and spoke the Taíno language, a derivative of the the Arawakan languages.

The ancestors of the Taíno entered the Caribbean from South America. At the time of contact, the Taíno were divided into three broad groups, known as the Western Taíno (Jamaica, most of Cuba, and the Bahamas), the Classic Taíno (Hispaniola and Puerto Rico) and the Eastern Taíno (northern Lesser Antilles). A fourth, lesser known group went on to travel to Florida and divided into tribes. At present, we know there are four named tribes; the Tequesta, Calusa, Jaega and Ais. Other tribes are known to have settled in Florida, but their names are not known.

At the time of Columbus’ arrival in 1492, there were five Taíno chiefdoms and territories on Hispaniola, each led by a principal Cacique (chieftain), to whom tribute was paid. Ayiti (“land of high mountains”) was the indigenous Taíno name for the mountainous side of the island of Hispaniola, which has retained its name as Haïti in French.

Cuba, the largest island of the Antilles, was originally divided into 29 chiefdoms. Most of the native settlements later became the site of Spanish colonial cities retaining the original Taíno names. For instance; Havana,Batabanó, Camagüey, Baracoa and Bayamo are still recognised by their Taino names.

Puerto Rico also was divided into chiefdoms. As the hereditary head chief of Taíno tribes, the cacique was paid significant tribute. At the time of the Spanish conquest, the largest Taíno population centers may have contained over 3,000 people each.

The Taíno were historically enemies of the neighbouring Carib tribes, another group with origins in South America, who lived principally in the Lesser Antilles. The relationship between the two groups has been the subject of much study. For much of the 15th century, the Taíno tribe was being driven to the northeast in the Caribbean and out of what is now South America, because of raids by the Carib, resulting in Women being taken in raids and many Carib women speaking Taíno.

The Spaniards, who first arrived in the Bahamas, Cuba, and Hispaniola in 1492, and later in Puerto Rico, did not bring women in the first expeditions. They took Taíno women for their common-law wives, resulting in mestizo children. Sexual violence in Hispaniola with the Taíno women by the Spanish was also common. Scholars suggest there was substantial racial and cultural mixing in Cuba, as well, and several Indian pueblos survived into the 19th century.

The Taíno became nearly extinct as a culture following settlement by Spanish colonists, primarily due to infectious diseases to which they had no immunity. The first recorded smallpox outbreak in Hispaniola occurred in December 1518 or January 1519. The 1518 smallpox epidemic killed 90% of the natives who had not already perished. Warfare and harsh enslavement by the colonists had also caused many deaths. By 1548, the native population had declined to fewer than 500. Starting in about 1840, there have been attempts to create a quasi-indigenous Taino identity in rural areas of Cuba, the Dominican Republic, and Puerto Rico. This trend accelerated among the Puerto Rican community in the United States in the 1960s.

 

 

 

24.6.2022

What Happens to Earth If the Amazon Rainforest Is Completely Burned?

What Happens to Earth If the Amazon Rainforest Is Completely Burned?

Metaphorically speaking, the vast tropical rainforest in South America’s Amazon River basin is often called the “lungs of the planet.” Do some people claim that the Amazon Rainforest alone is responsible for 20 percent of Earth’s oxygen, but is this really true? As the region experiences more fires in 2019 than it has seen in almost a decade, some people are wondering what would happen to Earth’s oxygen supply if the whole of the Amazon were to burn away. Would Earth actually lose 20 percent of its oxygen, or are there other, more-foreboding surprises that would await us instead?

 

The short answer is no, Earth would not lose 20 percent of its oxygen if the Amazon Rainforest were lost. Many of us learned at school that plants produce oxygen as a by-product of photosynthesis, and thus it seems reasonable to think that one of the largest visible regions of photosynthesis on the planet might just be Earth’s prime oxygen factory. However, relationships between tropical forests and oxygen are a little more complicated. Sure, growing plants produce oxygen, and tropical rainforests are huge contributors, but it is important to remember that dead and rotting plants—as well as burning plants—consume oxygen to release carbon dioxide as a by-product during decomposition and combustion. Often the ratio between a plant producing oxygen in life and consuming oxygen in death is 1:1, so many atmospheric scientists don’t see the Amazon, Earth’s rainforests, or even Earth’s forests as a whole as net oxygen producers, at least in any appreciable sense, because all plants die sooner or later.

Earth’s excess oxygen—that is, the stuff that makes up about 21 percent of Earth’s atmosphere—comes from marine algae. Marine algae bloom in the oceans, sitting on the surface and taking advantage of the nutrients that are stirred up in seawater and pulling in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. While algae live, they use carbon dioxide to grow, and they release oxygen into the atmosphere. However, when they die, algae do not decompose on the ocean surface, so they do not draw from the atmosphere the same amount of oxygen that they produced in life. Instead, algae sink. Some dead algae consume oxygen dissolved in seawater and largely or completely decompose as they sink, releasing the carbon stored in their bodies into the water. However, others sink deep enough fast enough that they fall below the ocean’s oxygenated layers before they decompose in earnest. They land on the ocean floor mostly intact, so the carbon in their bodies stays put. Over millions of years, this process results in a net oxygen gain in Earth’s atmosphere.

 

6.5.2022

Land use and climate change risks in the Amazon and the need for a novel sustainable development paradigm

 

significance

The Amazonian tropical forests have been disappearing at a fast rate in the last 50 y due to deforestation to open areas for agriculture, posing high risks of irreversible changes to biodiversity and ecosystems. Climate change poses additional risks to the stability of the forests. Studies suggest “tipping points” not to be transgressed: 4° C of global warming or 40% of total deforested area. The regional development debate has focused on attempting to reconcile maximizing conservation with intensification of traditional agriculture. Large reductions of deforestation in the last decade open up opportunities for an alternative model based on seeing the Amazon as a global public good of biological assets for the creation of high-value products and ecosystem services.

Abstract

For half a century, the process of economic integration of the Amazon has been based on intensive use of renewable and nonrenewable natural resources, which has brought significant basin-wide environmental alterations. The rural development in the Amazonia pushed the agricultural frontier swiftly, resulting in widespread land-cover change, but agriculture in the Amazon has been of low productivity and unsustainable.

 

The loss of biodiversity and continued deforestation will lead to high risks of irreversible change of its tropical forests. It has been established by modeling studies that the Amazon may have two “tipping points,” namely, temperature increase of 4 °C or deforestation exceeding 40% of the forest area. If transgressed, large-scale “savannization” of mostly southern and eastern Amazon may take place. The region has warmed about 1 °C over the last 60 y, and total deforestation is reaching 20% of the forested area. The recent significant reductions in deforestation—80% reduction in the Brazilian Amazon in the last decade—opens up opportunities for a novel sustainable development paradigm for the future of the Amazon. We argue for a new development paradigm—away from only attempting to reconcile maximizing conservation versus intensification of traditional agriculture and expansion of hydropower capacity—in which we research, develop, and scale a high-tech innovation approach that sees the Amazon as a global public good of biological assets that can enable the creation of innovative high-value products, services, and platforms through combining advanced digital, biological, and material technologies of the Fourth Industrial Revolution in progress.

 

A number of complex problems threaten our geopolitical, environmental, social, and economic stability: the links between global food and energy markets; the unsustainable depletion of natural resources and biodiversity stocks; the increasing water insecurity around the world; and, above all, the urgent need both to decarbonize the energy systems of the world to avoid catastrophic climate change and to adapt to unavoidable climate change underway. The scale and reach of the risks associated with climate change, together with their potentially irreversible nature, make this probably the greatest market failure and the starkest example of a “tragedy of the commons” the world has ever seen. To put this comparison in perspective, the net benefit to the world economy of a 50% reduction in tropical forest deforestation and degradation has been estimated at US $3.7 trillion (1).

 

 

 

 

 

2./04/22

Deforestation in Altamira, Pará state, Brazil. Credit: Joao Laet/AFP via Getty

When will the Amazon hit a tipping point?

Seen from a monitoring tower above the treetops near Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon, the rainforest canopy stretches to the horizon as an endless sea of green. It looks like a rich and healthy ecosystem, but appearances are deceiving. This rainforest — which holds 16,000 separate tree species — is slowly drying out.

 

Over the past century, the average temperature in the forest has risen by 1–1.5 °C1. In some parts, the dry season has expanded during the past 50 years, from four months to almost five2. Severe droughts have hit three times since 2005. That’s all driving a shift in vegetation. In 2018, a study reported that trees that do best in moist conditions, such as tropical legumes from the genus Inga, are dying. Those adapted to drier climes, such as the Brazil nut tree (Bertholletia excelsa) are thriving3.

 

At the same time, large parts of the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest, are being cut down and burnt. Tree clearing has already shrunk the forest by around 15% from its 1970s extent of more than 6 million square kilometres; in Brazil, which contains more than half the forest, more than 19% has disappeared. In the 2000s, Brazil was praised for drastically slowing forest loss, but the rate has since risen as a result of political turmoil and an economic recession. Last year, deforestation in Brazil spiked by around 30% to almost 10,000 km2, the largest loss in a decade. And last August, videos of wildfires in the Amazon made international headlines. The number of fires that month was the highest for any August since an extreme drought in 2010 (see ‘Forest loss’). Many scientists have linked these surges to the anti-environmentalist rhetoric of Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro.

 

08/04/22

How the Amazon's fires, deforestation affect the U.S. Midwest

 

The Amazon's lush greenery and network of waterways are at risk in the face of this summer's record fires, but another force of nature brewing high above the landscape is also deserving of attention, scientists and researchers say.

An invisible atmospheric river that carries water vapor from the rainforest's billions of trees helps to hydrate the land, as well as provide moisture across the South American continent. However, the continued loss of vegetation in the Amazon could have a cumulative effect, not only in contributing to climate change but also affecting rainfall patterns around the globe, including the U.S. Midwest, threatening food production and destabilizing ecosystems, according to the experts.

"The Amazon is definitely a weather engine," said Meg Symington, the World Wildlife Fund's senior director for the Amazon in the United States.

"It's well-known that the weather patterns affect rainfall in the breadbasket of South America," she added, "but there's also evidence that it affects the breadbasket that is the middle of the U.S."

 

 

A 2014 study in the journal Nature Climate Change found that "complete Amazon deforestation would reduce rainfall in the U.S. Midwest, Northwest and parts of the south during the agricultural season."

Similarly, deforestation in Central Africa would also have an effect on different areas of the U.S., the report found. That's because by cutting down trees, moisture that would cool the air is lost and the warmer air rises to the upper atmosphere, creating ripples that flow outward and can alter the climate of other regions.

While some areas could see a decline in rainfall, such as the U.S. Midwest and southern France, an opposite effect of more precipitation might be seen in Hawaii and the United Kingdom, according to the study, although the exact scale is still unclear.

 2018 report published through the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies noted that as humans "shave the planet of trees, we risk drying up these aerial rivers and the lands that depend on them for rain."

The impact of deforestation "could in many continental interiors dwarf the impacts of global climate change," the report added. "It could dry up the Nile, hobble the Asian monsoon, and desiccate fields from Argentina to the Midwestern United States."

Experts say a "tipping point" exists for how much deforestation must occur before the Amazon, which spreads across an area 10 times the size of Texas, flips into a drier, savanna-like state, with some studies suggesting that the deforestation level must reach 30 percent to 50 percent of the Amazon basin.

The World Wildlife Fund estimates about 17 percent of the Brazilian Amazon is already deforested. A 2018 study in the journal Science Advances reported that a tipping point can now be reached in Brazil at 20 percent to 25 percent.

Get the Morning Rundown

 

Smoke billows during a fire in an area of the Amazon rainforest near Humaita, Amazonas State, Brazil on Aug. 17, 2019.Ueslei Marcelino / Reuters

And with deforestation levels unchecked, that could happen in as little as five years, according to Symington.

 

"The Amazon is so important — a critically important part of the world — not just for animals and plants and the people that live there," she added. "This is a crisis."

Brazil had made strides from 2004 to 2017 to drive down its deforestation levels by 75 percent, the government reported last year.

But with the presidential election of populist Jair Bolsonaro, who took office in January, Brazil has seen a shift in environmental policies meant to curb illegal logging and fires started by farmers clearing land for cattle and agriculture. This week, Bolsonaro blamed the fires on nongovernmental organizations, accusing them of starting the blazes in order to undermine him. He provided no evidence for the claim.

His government has also blasted the government agency in charge of tracking deforestation, saying it was lying about the data. According to Brazil's National Institute for Space Research, more than 74,000 fires have been observed in Brazil alone this year, nearly double the total for 2018.

 

THE AMAZON RAINFOREST

11.3.2022

 

 Why Is The Amazon So Important?

 

The Amazon rainforest is a wondrous and beautiful place, full of mighty rivers and lush green trees. But, beneath its glossy green exterior, it’s working hard to provide the world with countless benefits. Without the Amazon the entire world’s climates would be thrown off, the atmosphere would be polluted with billions of tonnes of CO2, 10% of the world’s biodiversity would be lost, and we may never find cures for many modern-day diseases. Yes, the Amazon is an extremely important asset to the planet, and in this post, I’ll tell you why.

Medicine

 

Graviola leaves - a natural medicine with its origin in the Amazon Rainforest. Graviola leaves – a natural medicine with its origin in the Amazon Rainforest. 

For millions of years, mankind has used both insects and plants as a way to make medicine. The tribes in the Amazon still do this and have totally perfected the chemical extraction process. The indigenous tribe Yanomamo has used plants to cure diseases for hundreds of years, and many of their findings have been applied to the more modern ‘western’ medicine.

It is believed that only 0.5% of the plant species found in the Amazon have been studied for their medicinal properties. This means that the Amazon may hold natural cures for some of the many diseases present today. However, if the Amazon Rainforest dies, then the continuation of these practices and the discovery of these natural chemicals will never come to be.

Climate Control

 

Mist rising from the primary montane rainforest. Rainfall in the Amazon basin is recycled into the atmosphere by transpiration from the treesMist rising from the primary montane rainforest. Rainfall in the Amazon basin is recycled into the atmosphere by transpiration from the trees. 

Tropical forests exchange a tonne of water and energy with the surrounding atmosphere, and as such, they are thought to contribute greatly to both local and regional climates. The Amazon Rainforest is said to be responsible for as much as 75% of its own rainfall, which feeds the nearby rivers through evapotranspiration. The water from the rivers then flows directly into the ocean, maintaining extremely important ocean currents, and thus controlling the regional climate.

Recent research has found that the rainfall in the Amazon Basin not only affects South America’s climate, but it also influences rainfall in Central and Western United States.

 

 Carbon Storage in the Amazon Rainforest

 

 

The Amazon Rainforest contains over one-third of all the carbon stores in the world, that’s around 86 billion tonnes of CO2The Amazon Rainforest contains over one-third of all the carbon stores in the world, that’s around 86 billion tonnes of CO2. 

We have all heard of global warming, and whether you agree with the theory or not, it’s clear to see that we as a species produce a lot of carbon dioxide. Over the last 150 years, humans have been burning fossil fuels, using coal, oil, and gas, pumping countless tonnes of CO2 into the atmosphere. Trees are natural CO2 absorbers, they use it for photosynthesis, and then pump out lovely, clean oxygen.

The Amazon contains over 400 billion trees, which all absorb humongous amounts of CO2 from the atmosphere. One study that was published in Global Change Biology, if we were to lose the Amazon, the effects of global warming would very quickly become an immediate global problem.

Biodiversity

 

 

The Amazon is the most biodiverse terrestrial place on the planet The Amazon is the most biodiverse terrestrial place on the planet. 

The Amazon is the most biodiverse terrestrial place on the planet. This amazing rainforest is home to more species of birds, plants, and mammals than anywhere else in the world. Around 30% of the world’s species, and 10% of the world’s biodiversity, can be found there. The Amazon is also home to hundreds of endemic and endangered plant and animal species.

With the Amazon River flowing an impressive 6,600km and containing hundreds of tributaries and smaller streams, it’s no wonder that it’s home to the largest number of freshwater fish species in the world. The outstanding biodiversity in the Amazon isn’t only important for the natural ecosystems, it also provides many benefits to us, humans. The plants and animals here are used for food, research, medicines, and textiles.

 

 

photo 4.12.20.jpg

Reading Book

"The Road to Little Dribbling: More Notes From a Small Island"

by  Bill Bryson

Signatures of the trans-Atlantic movement

Black History Month

 

08.10.2021

Africa is the geographic origin of millions of individuals of recent African descent in the United States and Caribbean whose ancestors were forcibly brought to the New World as slaves. Historical records have documented the movement of Africans into this region of the world primarily from locations along the western coast of Africa (from Senegal to Angola) (Figure 3) [94]. Subsequent to migration of indigenous Africans, there was considerable admixture with Europeans with a smaller contribution from indigenous American populations. Specifically, Afro-Caribbean populations are estimated to have ~65– 95% West African, ~4–27% European, and ~0–6% Native American ancestry [9599].

 

Although pooled individuals from the Caribbean have a high proportion of African ancestry, fine-scale genetic structure has been observed within and between islands (particularly, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, St. Vincent, Jamaica, and Trinidad) due to regional differences in levels of African and/or European ancestry [100•]. Similarly, a study of genetic admixture within Puerto Rico showed that levels of African ancestry varied geographically with the highest proportion occurring in the eastern part of the island where African slaves and their descendants historically engaged in sugar pro-duction [101]. In addition, genome-wide data have suggested that patterns of genetic ancestry in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola (the Greater Antilles) were consistent with a model of two migration events from different regions of western Africa, implying that Afro-Caribbean populations have mixed African ancestry [102•].

 

These results are also congruent with a Y-chromosome study that found diverse haplotypes in Afro-Caribbeans from the Bahamas that were inferred to originate from different ethnic groups within West Central Africa [103]. Furthermore, isotope data from skeletal remains of enslaved Africans in Barbados suggested that first generation captives had different dietary histories likely due to differences in their geographic origins in Africa [104]. During the slave trade, the Caribbean has been an end-point of migration for hundreds of years, resulting in diverse genetic patterns. Because of the complexity of past migration events, additional studies across a broader geographic range of the Caribbean are needed to fully understand the extent of genetic variability and the different demographic processes that have contributed to it in Afro-Caribbean populations.

African Americans also have a high proportion of ancestry originating from western Africa, particularly Bantu and non-Bantu Niger-Kordofanian ancestry [3,36,105]. However, African Americans are characterized by genetic variability between populations living in different regions of the United States. An analysis of Y-chromosome loci genotyped in ~1300 individuals from Africa, the Caribbean, the District of Columbia (DC) and South Carolina (SC) detected genetic differentiation among African Americans that was largely attributed to geo-graphic differences in levels of European admixture [106•,107]. Specifically, a low proportion of European admixture was observed in individuals from SC compared to DC. These findings are in agreement with a prior study that also found low levels of European ancestry in SC, particularly among the Gullah Islanders [107,108].

 

Genome-wide data also demonstrated that individuals who self-identified as African American have a range of genetic ancestry with some individuals showing close to no West African ancestry, while others have almost complete West African ancestry [36]. Indeed, these studies indicate that populations of African descent have a complex history resulting in genetic heterogeneity. In the future, African Americans could potentially become more genetically diverse. Particularly, this pattern could emerge as individuals migrate from regions of Africa, not originally represented in the African Diaspora, into the United States contributing ancestry to subsequent generations of individuals who may self-identify as African Americans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE AMAZON RAINFOREST

Natural

Amazon rainforest in Colombia

10.2.2022

 

Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest, near Manaus

The rainforest likely formed during the Eocene era (from 56 million years to 33.9 million years ago). It appeared following a global reduction of tropical temperatures when the Atlantic Ocean had widened sufficiently to provide a warm, moist climate to the Amazon basin. The rainforest has been in existence for at least 55 million years, and most of the region remained free of savanna-type biomes at least until the current ice age when the climate was drier and savanna more widespread.[10][11]

Following the Cretaceous–Paleogene extinction event, the extinction of the dinosaurs and the wetter climate may have allowed the tropical rainforest to spread out across the continent. From 66 to 34 Mya, the rainforest extended as far south as 45°. Climate fluctuations during the last 34 million years have allowed savanna regions to expand into the tropics. During the Oligocene, for example, the rainforest spanned a relatively narrow band. It expanded again during the Middle Miocene, then retracted to a mostly inland formation at the last glacial maximum.[12] However, the rainforest still managed to thrive during these glacial periods, allowing for the survival and evolution of a broad diversity of species.[13]

 

Aerial view of the Amazon rainforest

During the mid-Eocene, it is believed that the drainage basin of the Amazon was split along the middle of the continent by the Purus Arch. Water on the eastern side flowed toward the Atlantic, while to the west water flowed toward the Pacific across the Amazonas Basin. As the Andes Mountains rose, however, a large basin was created that enclosed a lake; now known as the Solimões Basin. Within the last 5–10 million years, this accumulating water broke through the Purus Arch, joining the easterly flow toward the Atlantic.[14][15]

There is evidence that there have been significant changes in the Amazon rainforest vegetation over the last 21,000 years through the last glacial maximum (LGM) and subsequent deglaciation. Analyses of sediment deposits from Amazon basin paleolakes and the Amazon Fan indicate that rainfall in the basin during the LGM was lower than for the present, and this was almost certainly associated with reduced moist tropical vegetation cover in the basin.[16] There is a debate, however, over how extensive this reduction was. Some scientists argue that the rainforest was reduced to small, isolated refugia separated by open forest and grassland;[17] other scientists argue that the rainforest remained largely intact but extended less far to the north, south, and east than is seen today.[18] This debate has proved difficult to resolve because the practical limitations of working in the rainforest mean that data sampling is biased away from the center of the Amazon basin, and both explanations are reasonably well supported by the available data.

 

 

 

 

A Naturalist

 

Ephraim George Squier 

(June 17, 1821 – April 17, 1888), usually cited as E. G. Squier, was an American archaeologist, history writer, painter and newspaper editor.

Squier was born in Bethlehem, New York, the son of a minister and his wife. His father was of English descent and his mother ethnic Palatine German, from immigrants who settled in New York in the early 1700s. wife. In early youth he worked on a farm, attended and taught school, studied engineering, and became interested in American antiquities. The Panic of 1837 made an engineering career unfeasible, so he pursued literature and journalism. He was associated in the publication of the New York State Mechanic at Albany 1841–1842. In 1843–1848, he engaged in journalism in Hartford, Connecticut and then edited the Chillicothe, Ohio, weekly newspaper the Scioto Gazette.

 

During this period, Squier collaborated with physician Edwin H. Davis on the book, Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, which was issued in 1848. The work was a landmark in American scientific research, the study of the prehistoric Mound Builders of North America, and the early development of archaeology as a scientific discipline. The book was the first volume of the Smithsonian Institution's Contributions to Knowledge series and the Institution's first publication. Among Squier and Davis's most important achievements was their systematic approach to analysing and documenting the sites they surveyed, including the Serpent Mound in Peebles, Ohio, which they discovered in 1846. They also mapped the Mound City Group in Chillicothe, Ohio, which has been restored using their data and is now part of Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. Squier and Davis's collection of ancient Mound objects is now kept at the British Museum.

 

Ideas of Ephraim was and what people abstract to relive his image.  Would they be successful what obstacles that would stand in their way and prevent them from reliving Ephraim? 

Common Era

24.09.2021

"Era Vulgaris" redirects here. For the Queens of the Stone Age album, see Era Vulgaris (album).

Not to be confused with common area.

Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar (and its predecessor, the Julian calendar), the world's most widely used calendar era. Before the Common Era (BCE) is the era before CE. BCE and CE are alternatives to the Dionysian BC and AD notations, respectively. The Dionysian era distinguishes eras using the notations BC ("Before Christ") and AD (Latin: Anno Domini, in [the] year of [the] Lord).[1] The two notation systems are numerically equivalent: "2021 CE" and "AD 2021" each describe the current year; "400 BCE" and "400 BC" are each the same year.[1][2] The Gregorian calendar is used throughout the world today, and is an international standard for civil calendars.[3]

The expression has been traced back to 1615, when it first appeared in a book by Johannes Kepler as the Latin: annus aerae nostrae vulgaris (year of our common era),[4][5] and to 1635 in English as "Vulgar Era".[a] The term "Common Era" can be found in English as early as 1708,[6] and became more widely used in the mid-19th century by Jewish religious scholars. Since the later 20th century, CE and BCE are popular in academic and scientific publications as religiously neutral terms.[7][8] They are used by others who wish to be sensitive to non-Christians by not explicitly referring to Jesus as "Christ" nor as Dominus ("Lord") through use of the other abbreviations.[9][10


The Georgian  Calendar

24.09.2021

Gregorian calendar, also called New Style calendar, solar dating system now in general use. It was proclaimed in 1582 by Pope Gregory XIII as a reform of the Julian calendar.

By the Julian reckoning, the solar year comprised 365 1/4 days, and the intercalation of a “leap day” every four years was intended to maintain correspondence between the calendar and the seasons. A slight inaccuracy in the measurement (the solar year comprising more precisely 365 days, 5 hours, 48 minutes, 45.25 seconds) caused the calendar dates of the seasons to regress almost one day per century.

Although this regression had amounted to 14 days by Pope Gregory’s time, he based his reform on restoration of the vernal equinox, then falling on March 11, to March 21, the date it occurred in 325 CE, which was the time of the First Council of Nicaea, and not the date of the equinox at the time of the birth of Christ, when it fell on March 25. The change was effected by advancing the calendar 10 days after October 4, 1582, the day following being reckoned as October 15.

Common Era

24.09.2021

"Era Vulgaris" redirects here. For the Queens of the Stone Age album, see Era Vulgaris (album).

Not to be confused with common area.

Common Era (CE) is one of the year notations used for the Gregorian calendar (and its predecessor, the Julian calendar), the world's most widely used calendar era. Before the Common Era (BCE) is the era before CE. BCE and CE are alternatives to the Dionysian BC and AD notations, respectively. The Dionysian era distinguishes eras using the notations BC ("Before Christ") and AD (Latin: Anno Domini, in [the] year of [the] Lord).[1] The two notation systems are numerically equivalent: "2021 CE" and "AD 2021" each describe the current year; "400 BCE" and "400 BC" are each the same year.[1][2] The Gregorian calendar is used throughout the world today, and is an international standard for civil calendars.[3]

The expression has been traced back to 1615, when it first appeared in a book by Johannes Kepler as the Latin: annus aerae nostrae vulgaris (year of our common era),[4][5] and to 1635 in English as "Vulgar Era".[a] The term "Common Era" can be found in English as early as 1708,[6] and became more widely used in the mid-19th century by Jewish religious scholars. Since the later 20th century, CE and BCE are popular in academic and scientific publications as religiously neutral terms.[7][8] They are used by others who wish to be sensitive to non-Christians by not explicitly referring to Jesus as "Christ" nor as Dominus ("Lord") through use of the other abbreviations.[9][10

The Akha are an ethnic group

03/12/2021

 

The Akha are an ethnic group who live in small villages at higher elevations in the mountains of Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Yunnan Province in China. They made their way from China into Southeast Asia during the early 20th century. Civil war in Burma and Laos resulted in an increased flow of Akha immigrants and there are now 80,000 people living in Thailand's northern provinces of Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai.[4]

The Akha speak Akha, a language in the Loloish (Yi) branch of the Tibeto-Burman family. The Akha language is closely related to Lisu and it is thought that it was the Akha who once ruled the Baoshan and Tengchong plains in Yunnan before the invasion of the Ming Dynasty in 1644.

Scholars agree with the Akha that they originated in China; they disagree, however, about whether the original homeland was the Tibetan borderlands, as the Akha claim, or farther south and east in Yunnan Province, the northernmost residence of present-day Akha. The historically documented existence of relations with the Shan prince of Kengtung indicates that Akha were in eastern Burma as early as the 1860s. They first entered Thailand from Burma at the turn of the 20th-century, many having fled the decades-long civil war in Burma.[5][6]

Population distribution and indigenous status

An Akha girl in Laos

Akha live in villages in the mountains of southwest China, eastern Myanmar, western Laos, northwestern Vietnam, and northern Thailand. In all these countries they are an ethnic minority. The population of the Akha today is roughly 400,000. A decline in village size in Thailand since the 1930s has been noted and attributed to the deteriorating ecological and economic situation in the mountains.[7]

 

The Akha are often classified by the Chinese government as part of the Hani, an official national minority. The Akha are closely related to the Hani, but consider themselves a distinct group and often resist being subsumed under that identity.[8] In Thailand, they are classified as one of the six hill tribes, a term used for all of the various tribal peoples who migrated from China and Tibet over the past few centuries and who now inhabit the dense forests on the borders between Thailand, Laos, and Burma. Few Akha in Thailand are citizens and most are registered as aliens. There is an oft cited lack of political or state infrastructure to address Akha, or any other indigenous issues in Thailand.[6]

The Akha are not always treated or addressed as equals by the people whose countries they now inhabit. Speakers of Tai languages in Myanmar and Thailand refer to them as "gaw" or "ekaw" (ikaw/ikho), terms which the Akha view as derogatory. In Laos the colloquial term used by Tai speakers to refer to the Akha is "kho" (ko), often prefaced by the word "kha", which means "slave."[5]

Language

Akha women, c. 1900

Called "Avkavdawv," meaning "Akha language," by its native speakers, Akha is a tonal language in the Lolo/Yi branch of the Sino-Tibetan family. Most Akha speakers can understand the jeu g’oe ("jer way") dialect spoken in southern China, Thailand, and Myanmar.[5] Some basic and systematic variations in regional dialects of Akha are discussed by Paul Lewis in his Akha-English-Thai Dictionary. Very few dialects of Akha do not share mutual intelligibility. The Akha have no written language, but there are several competing scripts that have been written by missionaries and other foreigners.[8]

Signatures of the trans-Atlantic movement

Black History Month

 

08.10.2021

Africa is the geographic origin of millions of individuals of recent African descent in the United States and Caribbean whose ancestors were forcibly brought to the New World as slaves. Historical records have documented the movement of Africans into this region of the world primarily from locations along the western coast of Africa (from Senegal to Angola) (Figure 3) [94]. Subsequent to migration of indigenous Africans, there was considerable admixture with Europeans with a smaller contribution from indigenous American populations. Specifically, Afro-Caribbean populations are estimated to have ~65– 95% West African, ~4–27% European, and ~0–6% Native American ancestry [9599].

 

Although pooled individuals from the Caribbean have a high proportion of African ancestry, fine-scale genetic structure has been observed within and between islands (particularly, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Thomas, St. Vincent, Jamaica, and Trinidad) due to regional differences in levels of African and/or European ancestry [100•]. Similarly, a study of genetic admixture within Puerto Rico showed that levels of African ancestry varied geographically with the highest proportion occurring in the eastern part of the island where African slaves and their descendants historically engaged in sugar pro-duction [101]. In addition, genome-wide data have suggested that patterns of genetic ancestry in Cuba, Puerto Rico and Hispaniola (the Greater Antilles) were consistent with a model of two migration events from different regions of western Africa, implying that Afro-Caribbean populations have mixed African ancestry [102•].

 

These results are also congruent with a Y-chromosome study that found diverse haplotypes in Afro-Caribbeans from the Bahamas that were inferred to originate from different ethnic groups within West Central Africa [103]. Furthermore, isotope data from skeletal remains of enslaved Africans in Barbados suggested that first generation captives had different dietary histories likely due to differences in their geographic origins in Africa [104]. During the slave trade, the Caribbean has been an end-point of migration for hundreds of years, resulting in diverse genetic patterns. Because of the complexity of past migration events, additional studies across a broader geographic range of the Caribbean are needed to fully understand the extent of genetic variability and the different demographic processes that have contributed to it in Afro-Caribbean populations.

African Americans also have a high proportion of ancestry originating from western Africa, particularly Bantu and non-Bantu Niger-Kordofanian ancestry [3,36,105]. However, African Americans are characterized by genetic variability between populations living in different regions of the United States. An analysis of Y-chromosome loci genotyped in ~1300 individuals from Africa, the Caribbean, the District of Columbia (DC) and South Carolina (SC) detected genetic differentiation among African Americans that was largely attributed to geo-graphic differences in levels of European admixture [106•,107]. Specifically, a low proportion of European admixture was observed in individuals from SC compared to DC. These findings are in agreement with a prior study that also found low levels of European ancestry in SC, particularly among the Gullah Islanders [107,108].

 

Genome-wide data also demonstrated that individuals who self-identified as African American have a range of genetic ancestry with some individuals showing close to no West African ancestry, while others have almost complete West African ancestry [36]. Indeed, these studies indicate that populations of African descent have a complex history resulting in genetic heterogeneity. In the future, African Americans could potentially become more genetically diverse. Particularly, this pattern could emerge as individuals migrate from regions of Africa, not originally represented in the African Diaspora, into the United States contributing ancestry to subsequent generations of individuals who may self-identify as African Americans.

Black History: Celebration of Black History Month 2021

22.10. 2021

 

The Colony of Jamaica [ Jamaica was an English colony from 1655 (when it was captured by the English from Spain), and a British Colony from 1707 until 1962, when it became independent. Jamaica became a Crown colony in 1866.]   gained its independence from the United Kingdom on 6 August 1962, following more than 300 years under British control. Black nationalism was particularly fostered in Jamaica in the first half of the 20th century, the most notable Black leader in the country being Marcus Garvey, a labor leader and an advocate of the Back-to-Africa movement, which called for everyone of African descent to return to the homelands of their ancestors.[1] Nationalist sentiment climaxed during the British West Indian labour unrest of 1934–39, during which protests occurred between Black and British residents of the British West Indies. Following the end of World War II, the decolonisation movement began, with local politicians in Jamaica and in the British Empire transitioning their crown colonies into independent states. After Norman Manley was elected to the post of Chief Minister in 1955, the process of decolonisation was made even quicker, especially with his constitutional amendments that he enacted that allowed for greater home rule and established the basis for a cabinet of ministers of ministers under a Prime Minister of Jamaica.[2]

Jamaica also entered the West Indies Federation, a political union of 10 colonial Caribbean islands that were combined to become a single, independent state. Jamaica's role in the WIF was unpopular, which resulted in the popular opinion in the 1961 West Indies referendum of 1961 to rule that the colony will withdraw from the union the following year. On 19 July 1962, the Parliament of the United Kingdom passed the Jamaica Independence Act, granting independence effective on 6 August, establishing the role of the Governor General of Jamaica and enshrining the role of head of state in the Queen of Jamaica.

 

Marcus Mosiah Garvey Sr. ONH (17 August 1887 – 10 June 1940) was a Jamaican political activist, publisher, journalist, entrepreneur, and orator. He was the founder and first President-General of the Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League (UNIA-ACL, commonly known as UNIA), through which he declared himself Provisional President of Africa. Ideologically a black nationalist and Pan-Africanist, his ideas came to be known as Garveyism.

Garvey was born to a moderately prosperous Afro-Jamaican family in Saint Ann's Bay, Jamaica, and apprenticed into the print trade as a teenager. Working in Kingston, he became involved in trade unionism before living briefly in Costa Rica, Panama, and England. Returning to Jamaica, he founded UNIA in 1914. In 1916, he moved to the United States and established a UNIA branch in New York City's Harlem district. Emphasising unity between Africans and the African diaspora, he campaigned for an end to European colonial rule across Africa and the political unification of the continent. He envisioned a unified Africa as a one-party state, governed by himself, that would enact laws to ensure black racial purity. Although he never visited the continent, he was committed to the Back-to-Africa movement, arguing that some people of African descent should migrate there. Garveyism ideas became increasingly popular and UNIA grew in membership. However, his black separatist views—and his relations with white racists such as the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) to advance their shared interest in racial separatism—divided Garvey from other prominent African-American civil rights activists such as W. E. B. Du Bois who promoted racial integration.

 

Afro-Jamaicans are Jamaicans of predominantly or partial Sub-Saharan African descent. They represent the largest ethnic group in the country. Most Jamaicans of mixed-race descent self-report as just Jamaican.[1]

 

 

Amazon Rainforest

the region, South America

25.2.22

 

The Amazon Rainforest is the world’s richest and most-varied biological reservoir, containing several million species of insects, plants, birds, and other forms of life, many still unrecorded by science. The luxuriant vegetation encompasses a wide variety of trees, including many species of myrtle, laurel, palm, and acacia, as well as rosewood, Brazil nut, and rubber tree. Excellent timber is furnished by the mahogany and the Amazonian cedar. Major wildlife includes jaguar, manatee, tapir, red deer, capybara and many other types of rodents, and several types of monkeys

Amazon Rainforest, large tropical rainforest occupying the drainage basin of the Amazon River and its tributaries in northern South America and covering an area of 2,300,000 square miles (6,000,000 square km). Comprising about 40 percent of Brazil’s total area, it is bounded by the Guiana Highlands to the north, the Andes Mountains to the west, the Brazilian central plateau to the south, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east.A stream in the Amazon Rainforest, Ecuador.

In the 20th century, Brazil’s rapidly growing population settled major areas of the Amazon Rainforest. The size of the Amazon forest shrank dramatically as a result of settlers’ clearance of the land to obtain lumber and to create grazing pastures and farmland. Brazil holds approximately 60 percent of the Amazon basin within its borders, and some 1,583,000 square miles (4,100,000 square km) of this was covered by forests in 1970. The amount of forest cover declined to some 1,283,000 square miles (3,323,000 square km) by 2016, about 81 percent of the area that had been covered by forests in 1970. In the 1990s the Brazilian government and various international bodies began efforts to protect parts of the forest from human encroachment, exploitation, deforestation, and other forms of destruction. Although Brazil’s Amazon continues to lose forest cover, the pace of this loss declined from roughly 0.4 percent per year during the 1980s and ’90s to roughly 0.1–0.2 percent per year between 2008 and 2016. However, some 75,000 fires occurred in the Brazilian Amazon during the first half of 2019 (an increase of 85 percent over 2018), largely due to encouragement from Brazilian Pres. Jair Bolsonaro, a strong proponent of tree clearing.

In 2007 Ecuador initiated a unique plan to preserve a portion of the forest within its borders, which lies in Yasuní National Park (established 1979), one of the world’s most biodiverse regions: the Ecuadoran government agreed to forgo development of heavy oil deposits (worth an estimated $7.2 billion) beneath the Yasuní rainforest if other countries and private donors contributed half of the deposits’ value to a UN-administered trust fund for Ecuador. In 2013, however, Ecuador abandoned the plan, after only $6.5 million had been raised by the end of 2012. By 2016 the state oil company Petroecuador had begun to drill and extract petroleum from the park.

How Writers Create Engaging Characters: Exploring the Role of Personality, Empathy, and Experience

 

05.11.2021

Engaging characters are essential to a good story, but not everyone is skilled at creating them. Good writers may possess distinct characteristics, which help them create characters that draw us in and make it hard to resist reading another chapter of a favorite novel or watching another episode of an absorbing television series.

Our desire to stay involved in a fictional world may show that we have identified with one or more of its characters, or formed bonds with them, which often happens when characters are likeable, interesting, or complex (i.e. multidimensional and believable). However, it isn't clear what makes writers successful at creating these types of characters.

In a study recently published in Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, Marta Maslej, Keith Oatley, and Raymond Mar (2017) looked to see whether there was a connection between writers and the types of characters they create.

Researchers have identified some traits and habits of creative writers. Writers seem to possess higher levels of the Big Five personality trait of Openness, reflecting an interest in aesthetic and intellectual experiences, higher levels of Introversion, as well as lower levels of Emotional Stability and Agreeableness, than average.

In some studies, creative writers have been found to be more empathetic and more willing to take on perspectives of others. Unsurprisingly, they tend to read and write a lot of fiction.

Maslej, Oatley, and Mar examined whether these traits and habits were associated with the ability to create an engaging character.

In the first part of their study, 207 participants each wrote a character sketch — a brief description of an imaginary character — based on a photograph of a man. These participants also answered questions about their own personality, empathy, and habits of writing and reading.

In the second part of the study, a different group of 144 participants rated the characters in these sketches on three factors: interest, complexity, and likeability. The researchers examined links between traits and habits of participants who created the sketches and ratings of the characters depicted in the sketches provided by the second group of participants.

Of the Big Five personality traits, only Openness was associated with the creation of characters who were interesting and complex. As to empathy, participants who reported having more empathic concern for others created more complex characters, perhaps because they think deeply about other people.

Fiction and poetry writing habits were associated with creating more interesting and complex characters. When it came to reading, however, only reading poetry predicted how interesting and complex the characters were rated, but reading fiction did not.

Although this was an unexpected finding, the researchers reasoned that reading poetry might help people create interesting and complex characters because poetry often involves exploring complex emotions and understanding these emotions may enable writers to develop better characters.

It appears that simply consuming fiction does not contribute to this ability, much in the same way that listening to music does not transform us into musicians. Instead, creating engaging characters may be influenced by how much we become immersed in stories and think about their characters while reading.

This idea is in line with the study's additional finding that participants who created more complex characters reported a higher tendency toward fantasy (i.e. imagining themselves transported into stories).

Although these results provide some insights into the ability to create interesting and complex characters, none of the traits or habits the researchers examined predicted the likeability of characters, which seemed separate from interest and complexity.

Rather than assessing quality, this rating could reflect compatibility between characters and those who engage with them. Our fascination with villains and anti-heroes can attest to the notion that characters do not need to be likeable to be compelling.

Much of the variability in how characters were rated remains unexplained, so this is a topic for future investigation. For instance, television- and film-viewing habits may be worth studying.

Other features of characters besides interest, complexity, and likeability, might also be considered. The results indicate, however, that certain traits and habits of writers do contribute to their ability to create engaging fictional characters.

Citation

  • Maslej, M. M., Oatley, K., & Mar, R. A. (2017). Creating fictional characters: The role of experience, personality, and social processes. Psychology of Aesthetics, Creativity, and the Arts, 11(4), 487–499. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/aca0000094

 

 

 

 

An Early Historic Well

Women used to hang a bonnet on the outside to stop men coming in while they were bathing (Image: HALL Mr and Mrs SC; The Book of South Wales, the Wye, and the Coast)

The early history of Taff's Well is shrouded in obscurity. A book published in 1833 states that it was "sometimes called 'Ffynnon Dwym' or the tepid well."

Surveys in 1877 deduced that the well itself would originally have been surrounded by green fields, but after a weir was built across the River Taff to supply water to the Pentyrch iron works, the riverbed moved eastwards.

As a result, the well now borders the river and was often covered by floodwater.

There is some debate as to whether the well was known by the Romans. Until the mid-eighteenth century, the well was probably used on a purely local basis.

Gradually, people began to travel from afar attracted by testimonies of the well's healing powers and aided by the building of the turnpike road, canal and railway.

It was not until the mid-nineteenth century that there were reports that the well was enclosed.

Healing powers?

 

The orange scum is mineral deposits left at the surface of the water (Image: Rob Browne)

By 1760, bathing and consumption of mineral and thermal waters was growing in popularity, with Llandrindod Wells and Builth Wells leading the fashionable trend in Wales.

Analysing the waters at Taff's Well, a German chemist called D.W Linden suggested that consumption of several pints every day would be a good cure for rheumatism.

Linden undertook a series of experiments, which he detailed in a hand-written manuscript now kept at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff, and suggested patients should "drink it from the fountain, to begin with a pint and to increase every day a small glass till he come to three half pints or more".

The taking of the water should be followed by "a hearty breakfast upon milk and then [the patient should] go to bed and compose himself to sleep so much he can".

How People Domesticated Amazonian Forests

28.1.2022

For millennia, Amazonian peoples have managed forest resources, modifying the natural environment in subtle and persistent ways. Legacies of past human occupation are striking near archaeological sites, yet we still lack a clear picture of how human management practices resulted in the domestication of Amazonian forests. The general view is that domesticated forests are recognizable by the presence of forest patches dominated by one or a few useful species favored by long-term human activities. Here, we used three complementary approaches to understand the long-term domestication of Amazonian forests. First, we compiled information from the literature about how indigenous and traditional Amazonian peoples manage forest resources to promote useful plant species that are mainly used as food resources. Then, we developed an interdisciplinary conceptual model of how interactions between these management practices across space and time may form domesticated forests.

Finally, we collected field data from 30 contemporary villages located on and near archaeological sites, along four major Amazonian rivers, to compare with the management practices synthesized in our conceptual model. We identified eight distinct categories of management practices that contribute to form forest patches of useful plants: (1) removal of non-useful plants, (2) protection of useful plants, (3) attraction of non-human animal dispersers, (4) transportation of useful plants, (5) selection of phenotypes, (6) fire management, (7) planting of useful plants, and (8) soil improvement. Our conceptual model, when ethnographically projected into the past, reveals how the interaction of these multiple management practices interferes with natural ecological processes, resulting in the domestication of Amazonian forest patches dominated by useful species. Our model suggests that management practices became more frequent as human population increased during the Holocene. In the field, we found that useful perennial plants occur in multi-species patches around archaeological sites, and that the dominant species are still managed by local people, suggesting long-term persistence of ancient cultural practices. The management practices we identified have transformed plant species abundance and floristic composition through the creation of diverse forest patches rich in edible perennial plants that enhanced food production and food security in Amazonia.

Introduction

The notion of pristine rainforests has been questioned by increasing archaeological and ecological evidence suggesting long-term human activities across even the most intact forests worldwide (Denevan, 1992Van Gemerden et al., 2003Willis et al., 2004Ross, 2011Boivin et al., 2016Roberts et al., 2017). Amazonia is no exception — over thousands of years with humans living in the region, forest composition has been altered significantly (Clement et al., 2015Levis et al., 2017b). Many dominant species in Amazonian forests are widely used as food resources by native indigenous peoples (ter Steege et al., 2013), and at least 85 tree and palm species were domesticated to some degree during pre-Columbian times (Clement, 1999Levis et al., 2017b). Plant domestication is a long-term process that results from the capacity of humans to overcome environmental selection pressures with the purpose of managing and cultivating useful plants (Kennedy, 2012Boivin et al., 2016Levis et al., 2017b), leading to significant changes in natural ecosystems and plant communities across landscapes (Clement, 1999Terrell et al., 2003). First, useful individuals are managed in situ (Rindos, 1984Wiersum, 1997a) and later humans select the best varieties with more desirable morphological traits for cultivation (Darwin, 1859Rindos, 1984Clement, 1999). Over time, humans create a mosaic of domesticated landscapes to favor numerous useful plant populations, each domesticated with different intensities and outcomes (Wiersum, 1997b). In modern Amazonian forests, legacies of past human societies are evident in the surroundings of archaeological sites, where humans enriched the forest with useful, especially edible, and domesticated plants (Balée, 1989Erickson and Balée, 2006Junqueira et al., 2010Levis et al., 2017b). These pre-Columbian legacies suggest that Native Amazonians interacted with natural ecological processes and shaped the distribution of plants and entire forest landscapes across the region (Balée, 2013).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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comedy and satire run by writers obsessed with writing, out joking & out funning each other. Anything welcomed, 100-700words.

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