Friday, September 28, 2007

The Demise of the Neanderthal--Hypothesis # 651

. . . just might be the right one.

It is mind-boggling to grasp but only 30,000 years ago Neanderthals walked the face of the earth. But then they disappeared relatively suddenly. Climate issues were widely viewed as a reason for their demise.

Not so, says Rick Weiss of Wapo:

The case isn't closed yet, but modern humans are looking awfully guilty in one of the biggest whodunits in prehistory: the case of the demise of the Neanderthals.
So say scientists who have measured with unprecedented precision what the climate was like when humankind's closest relatives went extinct about 30,000 years ago.

Contrary to a popular hypothesis that Neanderthals succumbed to a suddenly colder climate, the new research indicates that southwestern Europe, where our beetle-browed cousins made their last stand, enjoyed relatively mild weather when their last campfires went cold.

"We found there was a lot of rain but no major change in climate," said Chronis Tzedakis of the University of Leeds, a leader of the study published in today's issue of the journal Nature. "It is hardly something we can invoke to explain their demise."
That pretty much leaves one suspect: the butler -- or more precisely the predecessors to all butlers and to modern humans, generally, who were making their initial sweep across Europe at the time.

It appears it was the butler.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Atheism on the Rise

Wapo has an article on the rise of Atheism. I don't think it is terribly surprising, Religion hasn't necessarily acquitted itself nobly in modern history. My wife points out that these are regular cycles in human history. That is true. What's more, is that cycles of atheism lead to de-mythologization and intellectual advances which then open the door for a rapprochement between faith and reason. It seems that faith to advance to new levels of self awareness and understanding, previous mythological barriers have to be credibly abandoned.

All in all, it is not a horrible thing in the vast cycle of human history. It is, though, rather unfortunate for the individuals involved to be robbed of the consolation of the divine.

Iran and the Holocaust

The Washington Post has an interesting story about a TV Miniseries in Iran about an Iranian diplomat in Paris who helped Jews flew WWII persecution. What's particularly fascinating is that this TV miniseries, run on state TV, had to have been approved by the powers that be who are ostensibly anti-Israel.