The Astonishing Age of a Neanderthal Cave Construction Site – The Atlantic

The Bruniquel Cave site is an incredible discovery of the earliest known civilization in Europe, 176,000 years ago. We are learning that our distant Neandertal cousins were at least as clever as we were.

Bruniquel Cave

Bruniquel Cave

After drilling into the stalagmites and pulling out cylinders of rock, the team could see an obvious transition between two layers. On one side were old minerals that were part of the original stalagmites; on the other were newer layers that had been laid down after the fragments were broken off by the cave’s former users. By measuring uranium levels on either side of the divide, the team could accurately tell when each stalagmite had been snapped off for construction.

Their date? 176,500 years ago, give or take a few millennia.

Source: The Astonishing Age of a Neanderthal Cave Construction Site – The Atlantic

Does criticism of government turn off new leaders?

A few weeks ago, a local media outlet published a story taking a few swipes at Raleigh’s city manager. While the criticism was mostly harmless (and city managers know it comes with the territory), it reminded me again that while taking digs at city government might seem to win points with hipster readers, it also alienates those hipsters from possibly getting involved themselves. Make public service look uncool and you run the risk of scaring off good people who might do great things with it.

I’m not saying don’t afflict the comforted when they rightfully earn it, but at the same time if you’re taking swipes just for the sake of taking swipes then you could be inadvertently turning away the bright, creative people who could be doing us all good.

I guess the constant focus on the negative when there’s really a ton of good being done gets tiring to me. And it’s not just the local level but at every level. Maybe it’s human nature to find something to complain about. Or maybe not.

Soaring profit?

A “free market” story I read tonight reminded me of one of the most surprising aspects of the Wright Brothers’ invention of the airplane. The Bishop’s Boys author Tom D. Crouch makes the point that Wilbur and Orville Wright were not motivated by profit when they began their chase for powered flight. The Wrights took their airplane designs on more as an interesting hobby, funded by their very successful bicycle shop. They were not venture-funded and did not answer to Wall Street. Their innovation grew mainly from their intense curiosity and desire to create things.

That’s not to say that they were altruistic because they certainly weren’t. Once they began flying, the brothers became secretive and litigious. They went after anyone else who seemed to infringe on their patents, with the aim of making as much money as possible.

While they were not top-notch businessmen, they were top-notch engineers. Their love of engineering, not their love of money, wound up making them a fortune.

Clinton allies blame Bernie for bad polls | TheHill

Here it goes. Clinton supporters are already blaming Sanders for Clinton losing to Trump. It has nothing to do with all of Clinton’s faults, of course. Oh no. If she didn’t win, surely it must Bernie Sanders’s fault.

I’m so tired of Clinton playing the victim card. All. The. Time. The same thing played out in this political cartoon.

Poor Hillary.

Poor Hillary.

Hillary Clinton allies worried about polls that suggest a tightening general election match-up with Donald Trump are placing blame on Bernie Sanders. They say that the long primary fight with the independent senator from Vermont, which looks like it could go all the way to the Democratic convention in Philadelphia, has taken a toll on Clinton’s standing in the polls. In the latest RealClearPolitics average, she is two-tenths of a point behind Trump, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

The surrogates say they’re concerned that Sanders is still — this late in the game — throwing shots at Clinton and the Democratic establishment.

“I don’t think he realizes the damage he’s doing at this point,” one ally said of Sanders. “I understand running the campaign until the end, fine. But at least take the steps to begin bringing everyone together.”

Source: Clinton allies blame Bernie for bad polls | TheHill

Rosie the Seaboard Station ghost?

Does Rosie the Riveter have a doppelganger at Seaboard Station?

Does Rosie the Riveter have a doppelganger at Seaboard Station?

I needed a part to fix our broken dishwasher so I drove over to Seaboard Ace Friday morning before work. On my way out of the store, I spotted an African American woman slowly walking toward me from the north in the parking lot. I did not want to keep her waiting as I backed out of the space so I wasted no time in getting going. Sure I was out of her way, I headed towards the lot’s exit. In the time it took me to reach the stop sign in front of Logan’s Trading Company the woman had somehow made it into the next parking lot, where the Phydeaux store used to be.

I was stunned. I was sure I backed out of the space before this woman could’ve reached my car, and somehow she had beaten my car to the stop sign? How?

Not wanting to seem like I was stalking her, I continued left to Halifax Street, then turned right to go back down the little one-way alley between Phydeaux and 18 Seaboard. The woman was still in the Phydeaux parking lot, this time slowly walking west.

Just to make sure I hadn’t mistaken the woman for another one dressed similarly, I drove back down in front of the hardware store. No other similarly-dressed women were around. I turned around just past Peace China and headed back towards the woman.

This time when I reached the Phydeaux parking lot the woman was gone. I drove the counterclockwise loop from Logan’s back to the one-way alley but could not find her.

I still couldn’t believe what I had just seen. How did this slow-walking woman suddenly leap ahead of me? And where had she gone? What had just happened here!?
Contine reading

What science knows (and doesn’t know) about animals

I was unexpectedly on-call Monday night and the pages I got made me sleep very lightly the rest of the night. When 3:30 AM rolled around, I was a little surprised to be serenaded by the birds outside. As I dozed, I began to wonder what it is about 3:30 AM that prompts the birds to sing? There can be no sign of dawn at that early time, even on May 10th. Is there some sort of environmental variable that tips birds off that it’s time to sing?

Later that day, naturally I then did some Googling on the research about birds. A query on “what makes birds sing in the morning” brought up a few interesting articles but also left me exasperated.
Contine reading

Neighborhood joy

As sad as it is that Miss Ruth has moved away, our changing neighborhood ain’t all bad. In fact, there is lots to celebrate. Over the winter, Kelly and I finally bought a storm door for our front door, which gives us a look at what goes on outside. With the arrival of beautiful spring weather, I’ve been delighted to see all the neighbors out walking, running, pushing strollers, walking their dogs, and being neighborly. Last Friday evening alone I must have watched a dozen people passing happily by our home.

I’ve always considered as a sign of the health of a community how many people you see out interacting with each other. I’m thrilled to see so many of my friends and neighbors out getting to know their community.