Saturday, September 28, 2013

The Worst of Times in the Islamic World. By Nikhat Sattar.

The worst of times. By Nikhat Sattar. Dawn, September 27, 2013.

What Modern Humans Can Learn From the Neanderthals’ Extinction. By Annalee Newitz.

Reconstruction of a Neanderthal with a young modern girl

What Modern Humans Can Learn From The Neanderthals’ Extinction. By Annalee Newitz. Popular Science, May 16, 2013.

How did humans really evolve?. By Annalee Newitz. io9, March 4, 2011.

The Humans Who Went Extinct: Why Neanderthals Died Out and We Survived. By Clive Finlayson. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Clive Finlayson’s Human Evolution Blog.

Those superior modern humans . . . By Clive Finlayson. Clive Finlayson’s Human Evolution Blog, June 11, 2013.

Volcanic ash layers illuminate the resilience of Neanderthals and early modern humans to natural hazards. By John Lowe et al. PNAS, Vol. 109, No. 34 (August 21, 2012). PDF.

Neanderthals . . . They’re Just Like Us? By Sarah Zielinski. National Geographic News, October 12, 2012.

Last of the Neanderthals. By Stephen S. Hall. National Geographic, October 2008.

Neanderthal. Wikipedia.

Rethinking “Out of Africa.” By Chris Stringer. Edge, November 12, 2013.

A Bone Here, a Bead There: On the Trail of Human Evolution. Interview with Chris Stringer by John Noble Wilford. New York Times, July 16, 2012.

What makes a modern human. By Chris Stringer. Nature, Vol. 485, No. Issue 7396 (May 3, 2012).

A Mysterious Fire Transformed Cahokia, North America’s Greatest City, in 1170. By Annalee Newitz.

Reconstruction of Cahokia

A mysterious fire transformed North America’s greatest city in 1170. By Annalee Newitz. io9, September 26, 2013.

A Mississippian conflagration at East St. Louis and its political-historical implications. By Timothy R. Pauketat, Andrew C. Fortier, Susan M. Alt, and Thomas E. Emerson. Journal of Field Archaeology, Vol. 38, No. 3 (July 2013).


A walled portion of the extensive Precolumbian civic-ceremonial precinct of East St. Louis, near present day St. Louis, Missouri, enclosed a cluster of as many as 100 small buildings or huts. The huts were associated with a walled ritual-residential zone or elite compound dating to the late Stirling phase (a.d. 11501200) and, importantly, were burned in a single conflagration. The burning of East St. Louis may have resulted from a ritual commemoration, an act of aggression, or an accidental fire; circumstantial evidence primarily supports the first scenario. With strongly diminished mound and architectural construction at the site in subsequent decades, and with the coeval disappearance of key ritual-residential buildings from the regional landscape after the burning, the ancient East St. Louis fire was part of a larger pattern of historical events that mark a downward turning point in the social and political history of Greater Cahokia.

Neandertals Made the First Specialized Bone Tools in Europe. By Marie Soressi et al.

Neandertals made the first specialized bone tools in Europe. By Marie Soressi et al. PNAS, Vol. 110, No. 35 (August 27, 2013). Also here.

UC Davis research finds Neandertals, not modern humans, made first specialized bone tools in Europe. UC Davis News and Information, September 19, 2013.


Modern humans replaced Neandertals 40,000 y ago. Close to the time of replacement, Neandertals show behaviors similar to those of the modern humans arriving into Europe, including the use of specialized bone tools, body ornaments, and small blades. It is highly debated whether these modern behaviors developed before or as a result of contact with modern humans. Here we report the identification of a type of specialized bone tool, lissoir, previously only associated with modern humans. The microwear preserved on one of these lissoir is consistent with the use of lissoir in modern times to obtain supple, lustrous, and more impermeable hides. These tools are from a Neandertal context proceeding the replacement period and are the oldest specialized bone tools in Europe. As such, they are either a demonstration of independent invention by Neandertals or an indication that modern humans started influencing European Neandertals much earlier than previously believed. Because these finds clearly predate the oldest known age for the use of similar objects in Europe by anatomically modern humans, they could also be evidence for cultural diffusion from Neandertals to modern humans.

Maximum Bibi. By Daniel Levy.

Maximum Bibi. By Daniel Levy. Foreign Policy, September 27, 2013. Also here.

Peace in the Middle East? Not if Benjamin Netanyahu has anything to say about it.

Are Young Women Really Racing to Syria’s Front Lines to Wage Sex Jihad? By David Kenner.

Are Young Women Really Racing to Syria’s Front Lines to Wage Sex Jihad? By David Kenner. Foreign Policy, September 26, 2013. Also here.

Obama’s Myopic Worldview. By Jackson Diehl.

Obama’s myopic worldview. By Jackson Diehl. Washington Post, September 26, 2013. Also here.

Obama Doctrine a negative turn for US foreign policy. By Linda Chavez. New York Post, September 28, 2013.

Trouble at the core of U.S. foreign policy. Editorial. The Washington Post, September 25, 2013. Also here.

In what may be the most morally crimped speech by a president in modern times, Mr. Obama explicitly ruled out the promotion of liberty as a core interest of the United States.

There Is No Such Thing as the “Traditional Male Breadwinner.” By Stephanie Coontz.

There Is No Such Thing as the “Traditional Male Breadwinner.” By Stephanie Coontz. Time, September 23, 2013.

Families and Work Institute’s Ideas Video Series with Stephanie Coontz. Video. FWIChannel, September 16, 2013. YouTube.

Families and Work Institute website.


If we’re ever going to fix our problems accommodating both work and family in our lives, we have to stop thinking that the dilemmas we face today stem from the collapse of the traditional male-breadwinner family. There is no such thing as the traditional male-breadwinner family. It was a late-arriving, short-lived aberration in the history of the world, and it’s over. We need to move on.
For thousands of years, any family that needed to work understood that everyone in that family needed to work. There was no such term as “male breadwinner.” Throughout the colonial America era, wives were called “yokemates” or “deputy husbands.” When men married, they didn’t do it because they had fallen helplessly in love. They did it because they needed to expand their labor force or their land holdings, or they needed to make a political or military or business alliance, or they needed a good infusion of cash, which was why they were often more interested in the dowry than the daughter. Male breadwinner was a contradiction in terms — there was no such thing. Males were the bosses of the family workforce, and women and children were the unpaid employees.
It wasn’t until the 1920s that a bare majority of American children came to live in a family where the husband earned the income, the wife was not working beside him in a small business or on a farm or earning income herself, and the children were either at home or in school and not working in a factory or in the fields. That family form then grew less common during the Great Depression and World War II, but it reappeared in the 1950s thanks to an unusual economic and political situation in which real wages were rising steadily and a government flush with cash was paying veterans benefits to 44% of young men starting families. This was a period when your average 30-year-old man could buy a home on 15% to 18% of his own salary, not needing his wife’s. That era is gone — for good. And yet the U.S. formulated its work policies, school hours and social-support programs on the assumption that this kind of family would last forever, that there would always be someone at home to take care of the children and manage the household.
Today in a sense we’ve gone back to the future. We’ve gone back to the two-earner family but forward to a world where men and women now earn separate incomes and have equal legal rights. Increasingly, they want equal access to the rewards and challenges of both paid work and family. Yet many policymakers and business leaders are still stuck in that blip in time when women were only marginal members of the workforce and men were only marginal members of the family. The only major change we’ve made since the 1950s is passing the Work Family Leave Act, which offers unpaid leave that lasts only 12 weeks and is available to only half the workers who need it. Our policies are so inadequate and so far behind the rest of the world that the best claim we can make is that we’re 181st in the world; 180 other countries have better work-family policies than we do.
We have to get rid of the embarrassing disconnect between our outdated policies and the realities of our family lives, where 70% of American children grow up in homes where all the adults work outside the home. We are now 13 years into the 21st century. Isn’t it time to stop acting like it’s still the 1950s?

Why My Brother Shouldn’t Go on Birthright Israel. By Daria Reaven.

Why My Brother Shouldn’t Go on Birthright Israel. By Daria Reaven. Muftah, September 26, 2013.

Regular Iranians Speak Directly to America. By Max Fisher.

“You’re not the boss of the world”: Regular Iranians speak directly to America. By Max Fisher. Washington Post, September 27, 2013. Also here.

CNN’s “Open Mic” in Tehran: Iranians Tell It Like It Is. By Nima Shirazi. Muftah, September 27, 2013. Also at Wide Asleep in America, CASMII.

Open Mic: Tehran. Video. CNN, September 25, 2013. YouTube.

Russia’s Coming Implosion. By Clifford D. May.

Après Putin, Le Déluge? By Clifford D. May. National Review Online, September 26, 2013. Also at Real Clear World.

In the long term, Russia’s prospects look dim.

Who Are the Real Suicide Bombers? By John Hinderaker.

Who Are the Real Suicide Bombers? By John Hinderaker. Powerline, September 27, 2013.