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n2doc

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Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 34,983

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Environmental Scientist

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Why a Medieval Peasant Got More Vacation Time Than You

By Lynn Parramore

Life for the medieval peasant was certainly no picnic. His life was shadowed by fear of famine, disease and bursts of warfare. His diet and personal hygiene left much to be desired. But despite his reputation as a miserable wretch, you might envy him one thing: his vacations.

Plowing and harvesting were backbreaking toil, but the peasant enjoyed anywhere from eight weeks to half the year off. The Church, mindful of how to keep a population from rebelling, enforced frequent mandatory holidays. Weddings, wakes and births might mean a week off quaffing ale to celebrate, and when wandering jugglers or sporting events came to town, the peasant expected time off for entertainment. There were labor-free Sundays, and when the plowing and harvesting seasons were over, the peasant got time to rest, too. In fact, economist Juliet Shor found that during periods of particularly high wages, such as 14th-century England, peasants might put in no more than 150 days a year.

As for the modern American worker? After a year on the job, she gets an average of eight vacation days annually.

It wasn't supposed to turn out this way: John Maynard Keynes, one of the founders of modern economics, made a famous prediction that by 2030, advanced societies would be wealthy enough that leisure time, rather than work, would characterize national lifestyles. So far, that forecast is not looking good.

What happened? Some cite the victory of the modern eight-hour a day, 40-hour workweek over the punishing 70 or 80 hours a 19th century worker spent toiling as proof that we're moving in the right direction. But Americans have long since kissed the 40-hour workweek goodbye, and Shor's examination of work patterns reveals that the 19th century was an aberration in the history of human labor. When workers fought for the eight-hour workday, they weren't trying to get something radical and new, but rather to restore what their ancestors had enjoyed before industrial capitalists and the electric lightbulb came on the scene. Go back 200, 300 or 400 years and you find that most people did not work very long hours at all. In addition to relaxing during long holidays, the medieval peasant took his sweet time eating meals, and the day often included time for an afternoon snooze. "The tempo of life was slow, even leisurely; the pace of work relaxed," notes Shor. "Our ancestors may not have been rich, but they had an abundance of leisure."

more

http://blogs.reuters.com/great-debate/2013/08/29/why-a-medieval-peasant-got-more-vacation-time-than-you/

(edit to provide working link)

Thursday TOON Roundup 3- The Rest

Dream












Rumors




Homeless







Trump




Fire






Thursday TOON Roundup 2- Republicans and CONgress

GOP












Congress






Thursday TOON Roundup 1 - Burned by War again?






































"Guided Missiles and Misguided Men"

NSA: fear of a black van

Most of us are good citizens. And yet. What if the government is listening in, or watching, or scanning, and some algorithm triggers an investigation and some quota-happy g-man decides to make one of us a pet project?


By David Gewirtz

What are we afraid of, really? What is it about the NSA story that so pushes our buttons?

Most people, when confronted with those questions will express that their outrage is about their right to privacy, that government intervention is un-American, that spying is just wrong.

But that's not really it, is it?

What pushes our buttons is fear. We're afraid that something we do, something we say, or even the fact that we know someone will cause the full might and power of the U.S. government to descend down upon us and ruin our lives.

Most of us are generally law-abiding. Oh, sure. We might speed up to 66 in a 65-mile zone to get out of the way of a nutball driver. We might still have one or two MP3s from the early Napster days, but we've been buying all our music like good consumers ever since. We pay our taxes and while H&R Block might make an error, we'll pay any fees if we're required to.

more

http://www.zdnet.com/nsa-fear-of-a-black-van-7000019846/

It has come to this: NYT Op Ed- "Bomb Syria, Even if It Is Illegal"

By IAN HURD
Published: August 27, 2013
EVANSTON, Ill. — THE latest atrocities in the Syrian civil war, which has killed more than 100,000 people, demand an urgent response to deter further massacres and to punish President Bashar al-Assad. But there is widespread confusion over the legal basis for the use of force in these terrible circumstances. As a legal matter, the Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons does not automatically justify armed intervention by the United States.

There are moral reasons for disregarding the law, and I believe the Obama administration should intervene in Syria. But it should not pretend that there is a legal justification in existing law. Secretary of State John Kerry seemed to do just that on Monday, when he said of the use of chemical weapons, “This international norm cannot be violated without consequences.” His use of the word “norm,” instead of “law,” is telling.

Syria is a party to neither the Biological Weapons Convention of 1972 nor the Chemical Weapons Convention of 1993, and even if it were, the treaties rely on the United Nations Security Council to enforce them — a major flaw. Syria is a party to the Geneva Protocol, a 1925 treaty that bans the use of toxic gases in wars. But this treaty was designed after World War I with international war in mind, not internal conflicts.

What about the claim that, treaties aside, chemical weapons are inherently prohibited? While some acts — genocide, slavery and piracy — are considered unlawful regardless of treaties, chemical weapons are not yet in this category. As many as 10 countries have stocks of chemical weapons today, with the largest held by Russia and by the United States. Both countries are slowly destroying their stockpiles, but missed what was supposed to be a final deadline last year for doing so.

There is no doubt that Mr. Assad’s government has violated humanitarian principles throughout the two-year-old war, including the prohibition on the indiscriminate killing of civilians, even in non-international conflicts, set out in 1949 in the Geneva Conventions. But the conventions also don’t mean much unless the Security Council agrees to act. It is an indictment of the current state of international law that there is no universally recognized basis to intervene.

more
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/28/opinion/bomb-syria-even-if-it-is-illegal.html

I'm sure many here at DU will approve of this message. It really comes down to "screw it, we can do this because we have the power to do so, and will make our own reality" Been there, done that, learned nothing.

Obama Constituency Overwhelmingly Supports War with Syria

by Barb Weir / August 28th, 2013

Despite a Reuters/Ipsos poll showing that only 9% of Americans support military intervention in Syria, the White House today assured the public that a more recent and reliable poll leaves no doubt that the President’s constituency favors war.

The poll was conducted by Defense Industries Systems Information, Inc. (DIS Information). It shows that 99.9% prefer increased U.S. military intervention. The poll has a .1% margin of error. DIS Information spokesperson Lyon Daly spoke to this reporter about the polling methodology and findings.

Lyon Daly: We use the same scientific polling methods as Reuters/Ipsos, but our job is to come up with results that support what our clients and the President want to hear without compromising quality. It’s very similar to the way the press provides facts without informing the public, and we even provide many such facts.”

Barb Weir: How do you do this and still maintain methodological integrity?”

LD: The Reuters/lpsos poll used all Americans as its base, whereas we used all constituents. Elected officials are much more likely to listen to their constituents than to random Americans.


more (it's if you can't tell)
http://dissidentvoice.org/2013/08/obama-constituency-overwhelmingly-supports-war-with-syria-2/

Hurricane tracks, 1842-2012

Rock solid proof of alien life? Scientists claim fossilized algae inside meteorite


An example of a supposedly fossilized diatom (Image from www.journalofcosmology.com)

Fossilized algae recently discovered inside a Sri Lankan meteorite could finally prove the existence of extra-terrestrial life, claim the authors of the new paper.

In a recently published article in the Journal of Cosmology titled “Fossil Diatoms in a New Carbonaceous Meteorite”, scientists from the UK and Sri Lanka claim to have found fossilized algae in a meteorite.

The paper alleges that “microscopic fossilized diatoms were found in the sample,” which fell in Sri Lanka in December last year. The finding, the work suggests is a “strong evidence to support the theory of cometary panspermia.” The theory argues that life across planets is spread by meteorites and asteroids. Panspermia suggests that life could have existed on another planet and moved to Earth.

The scientists concluded the paper by saying “the presence of structures of this kind in any extra-terrestrial setting could be construed as unequivocal proof of biology.”


more
http://myscienceacademy.org/2013/01/29/rock-solid-proof-of-alien-life-scientists-claim-fossilized-algae-inside-meteorite/

The finding however has already come under sharp criticism, with astronomers claiming that the meteorite looks more like a rock that could be found on earth as the study provides vague details of the finding.
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