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Origins of Agriculture - Did Civilization Arise to Deliver a Fix?



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Is hierarchical civilization a mad dream of drug addiction?

Introduction

What might head a list of the defining characteristics of the human species? While our view of ourselves could hardly avoid highlighting our accomplishments in engineering, art, medicine, space travel and the like, in a more dispassionate assessment agriculture would probably displace all other contenders for top billing. Most of the other achievements of humankind have followed from this one. Almost without exception, all people on earth today are sustained by agriculture. With a minute number of exceptions, no other species is a farmer. Essentially all of the arable land in the world is under cultivation. Yet agriculture began just a few thousand years ago, long after the appearance of anatomically modern humans.

Life Preserver

The Original Affluent Society

Hunter-gatherers consume less energy per capita per year than any other group of human beings. Yet when you come to examine it the original affluent society was none other than the hunter's - in which all the people's material wants were easily satisfied. To accept that hunters are affluent is therefore to recognise that the present human condition of man slaving to bridge the gap between his unlimited wants and his insufficient means is a tragedy of modern times.

Magic Wand

Brain patterns of former anorexics reveal clues to disorder's lasting impact

Even after more than a year of maintaining a normalized body weight, young women who recovered from anorexia nervosa show vastly different patterns of brain activity compared to similar women without the eating disorder, Walter H. Kaye, M.D., professor of psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, and colleagues report in the December issue of the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Studying these differences in brain function could lead to a better understanding of why some young women, who are typically worriers and perfectionists in childhood, are at greater risk of developing the disorder. Evidence also shows that such patterns of temperament persist even after recovery.

"Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) of the brain is providing new clues to why people with anorexia nervosa are able to deny themselves food and other immediately rewarding pleasures," said Dr. Kaye, who is director of the eating disorders research program at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and has a joint appointment as professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego. "In addition, we have a new understanding of why people with anorexia seem to worry so much."

Syringe

The Autism-Vaccine Debate: Anything But Over

Memo to those who wanted the autism-vaccine contretemps to just go away: You lost.

Exactly five years ago, I began research for my book Evidence of Harm, which looked into the possible link between mercury, vaccines and the tsunami of autism that now overwhelms our education system.

Attention

Vaccinated Children Two and a Half Times More Likely to Have Neurological Disorders Like ADHD and Autism, New Survey in California and Oregon Finds

As the first trial in Vaccine Court explores the relationship between vaccines and autism, a new survey released today indicates a strong correlation between rates of neurological disorders, such as ADHD and autism, and childhood vaccinations.

Einstein

Parents' marriage choice may lead to autism

The recent rise in autism may have been driven by the tendency of like-minded engineers, physicists, mathematicians and other "systemizers" to marry each other, according to a Cambridge University professor.

Cut

Woman Wakes Up Mid-Surgery, Paralyzed and in Pain

20,000 to 40,000 Americans May Wake Up Mid-Surgery

It is one horror that not even Hollywood can exaggerate.

You're supposed to be unconscious from the anesthetic, but suddenly your brain wakes up, so you hear and feel everything. But your body remains "paralyzed" -- unable to cry out for help or stop the pain to come.

Bulb

Brazil to Dispense Condoms in Schools

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Brazil's government announced plans to put condom-dispensing machines in public schools to help teenagers reduce the spread of AIDS.

Attention

HIV Infection Rate In U.S. 50 Percent Higher Than Previously Thought

New government estimates of the number of Americans who become infected with the AIDS virus each year are 50 percent higher than previous calculations suggested, sources said yesterday.

For more than a decade, epidemiologists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have pegged the number of new HIV infections each year at 40,000. They now believe it is between 55,000 and 60,000.

Document

In Spite Of Computers, Handwriting Instruction Is Important Because Of Carry-Over To Composition

When the mechanical process of handwriting is taught in tandem with the more creative process of composition, the result is improvement in both skills, a study of Seattle first-graders shows. Ironically, the discovery comes at a time when the teaching of handwriting is less emphasized in the schools because of the presence of the computer. However, children who have poor handwriting in first grade are likely to have trouble with written expression when they are older, say Virginia Berninger and Robert Abbott, co-directors of the study and professors of education at the University of Washington. Their research since 1989 shows a direct carry-over from handwriting to compositional length and quality throughout the elementary grades.

For the study, first grade classes in eight public schools in the greater Seattle area were screened for problems with handwriting, using test measures and teacher recommendations. From this group of more than 700 children, 144 with writing problems were selected and randomly assigned to one of six types of remedial work. The children met in groups of three with a trained graduate student tutor who worked with them for 20 minutes about twice a week until 24 sessions had been conducted.