Friday, March 17, 2017

How am I doing?

We used to have a children's book, maybe the one called "Where Did I Come From?" or the one called "It's So Amazing!".  It showed a lineup of males from young boy through old man.  I was impressed at how accurately the artist captured the features we use to distinguish a man's age.  I often tell myself that I am primed by nature and seconded by the media to know that a trim, muscular body is the best one, the optimal one.  Nature and the media tell me that even when that picture is wrong.

We don't expect babies to be born looking like Mr. Universe with muscles all standing out.  We might think we want old men to look the same way.  The photographic essay "Old Age is Not for Sissies" shows some very impressive men in their 80's who do look like Mr. Universe types.  

I might be able to exercise more, eat more protein and lift heavier weights.  I might be able to look several decades younger than I am but why should I?  I am very confident that I won't look very good at age 145.  I will almost certainly be very deteriorated and probably yucky.  I am already rather wrinkled and wasted.

A certain amount of maintenance and self-care makes sense.  A little respect for myself, my body and social customs can assist me in keeping what I have in pretty good shape.  But trying too hard to look like I am in my 20's seems mistaken.  When you do meet someone in their 60's or older who looks 30, you immediately think of vanity, surgery and fear.  I guess I can do a little cost/benefit thinking.  If walking and some weight lifting feels good, doesn't hog up too many of my hours or dollars, that expenditure could be worthwhile.  

I have observed what many older people before me probably found, too.  If I pay attention to someone else, what I know of that person and what they are doing with their lives, I can often have more fun joking or lifting their spirit.  It is more uplifting than getting the same old wolf whistles from others.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

That's not what I meant!

I have explained previously that I have difficulty keeping a good relationship between my fingers and my brain.  I type on a keyboard for my blog and do many other things by typing.  My error rate, the probability that I will strike the wrong key, one I didn't want to strike by accident, is too high.  Keep in mind that I am thinking of what I do when I write for my blog or for an email to a friend: compose ideas in my head, create words that seem likely to express the ideas and type those words.  I type to create, not to provide a typescript of handwritten or previously made documents.

I wrote about my history in typing in this blog post:

But I was about 10% younger then and I have matured somewhat.  I have typed a heck of a lot since then.  Peter Vishton assures me that if I do any activity enough, I will improve at doing it.  Maybe I have improved.  I find the prospect of careful observation, timing and analysis of my typing, boring.  I find the rapid correction of misspellings and fat fingering (nipping a neighbor key as well as the targeted one) fun.  I guess if I could accept that I am never going to be a champion typist or executive secretary and so forgive the backspacing, the retyping and re-retyping, I might be even happier.

I am interested in error and error analysis since those subjects can lead to interesting discoveries.  I know that it is the modern American fascination with IMPROVEMENT that can lead to isolating the most common errors and then working on ways to lessen or eliminate them. That is certainly a common and worthwhile approach.  But there are other directions, too, as there usually are:

Freudian [how come so many of my errors have to do with calm?  Am I too stressed?]

Structural [many of my errors seem to relate to using my outer fingers, not the index fingers.  Does that call for a new keyboard design?]

Inventive [I often have trouble with the word 'analysis'.  Can I invent a new spelling of a word that leads to fewer typing errors?]

Dr. Kaufman and some others have expressed being impressed by my "dedication" to writing daily.  What they often don't realize is that it is fun.  Of course I like it when you get tickled by what I write.  But when you are too busy, I still get all sorts of fun.  I began this post at 8:30 and it is now 10:16.  What the heck?  Nearly two hours to write 445 words. I just used Excel to find I have been typing about a word every 15 seconds.  Slow!  Very slow!  But I have written to friends, checked all sorts of things on Google and learned a bunch.  I make errors but normally I am not entering crucial data, like instant stock orders (where 20,000 shares was mistyped as 2,000,000,000) and desired airplane descend angles (where a pilot meant angle of descent but set the wrong gauge, the speed of descent).  Look up big deal typos and fat-fingering.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Traffic both ways

I am listening to "Outsmart Yourself" by Peter Vishton, one of the Great Courses.  Their courses can be purchased in CD or DVD format and can be streamed to a computer, tablet or phone.  I haven't found a good way to fit Great Courses into my life except while driving around town on errands.  So, if a course is so visual that it is only sold in DVD - video format, I don't try to watch it.  The few times I have tried, I haven't gotten to the material.  


Vishton is a psychology professor and he tries hard to get recent research that is applicable to a typical difficulty most people have.  He organizes the course around "tips", clues that allow better living.  For instance, one of his tips, backed up by some research, is that you may be more creative in your thinking if you are standing up rather than sitting.  He goes so far as to hypothesize that mathematicians may be good at solving complex problems because they often work standing at a blackboard.

In discussing the various ways that our brains work, Vishton emphasizes that the notion of the brain being in charge of the body is being modified.  It is clear that actions and uses of the body influence the brain.  So, traffic and influence travel both ways: from the brain and into the brain.  The book "The Brain that Changes Itself" by N. Doidge, MD and his follow-up volume make body and activity influence and modification of the brain clear and interesting.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Just seeing old books

We cleared out our books in about 2008.  We were getting swamped by them, piles stacked here and there unable to fit on the over-crowded shelves.  About the same time, came into our awareness.  They offer the Kindle, I think, at first for about $450.  I read with disbelief that the little book-like object could get books WITHOUT being connected to a computer or other connection.  The best explanation seemed to be an analogy to a cellphone call, except getting a book file, instead of a conversation.  Not only that but the price of a book was about half of a paper book.  Not only that but the print could be enlarged if needed.

So, we got rid of about 500 books.  

At the same time, though, Amazon was developing its algorithms and practices aimed at being sure I learned about books that might interest me.  Over time, they get to know me very well and sometimes, I don't resist.  The Secret Life of Fat and The 10,000 Year Explosion are current examples of books that have genuinely increased my awareness and knowledge.

These days, I can run into a title of interest that is too old and specialized to be in Kindle form yet.  I check Google Books and Barnes and Noble for electronic files of older books of interest but usually if Amazon doesn't have it in e-form, nobody does.  A good book may cost $50 in special eform and 1 cent in a used copy. Plus, the university and the local library are very good at finding a copy of anything, getting it here and loaning it.

In preparing for today's talk about teaching teachers, I needed to find my dissertation.  I have a copy online but I thought I would look up the one paper copy I still have from 1968.  Seeing it and looking through the list of references again showed me an effect of having books from one's earlier years around.  The books, their covers are souvenirs,  objects that stir remembrance.  In my mind's eye, I can see books that I used over and over.  I know some of their content but that is not the point.  The physical book, like the face of a friend, recalls scenes from the time of its acquisition, its use, my steady dependence on it.

Sunday, March 12, 2017


The evidence had piled up more than 10 years ago and it is even higher now.  Yes, everything changes but yes, there are continuities and reliable patterns.  Some of those deal with myself and similar ones deal with yourself.  I have heard of the Socratic and ancient Greek admonition to "know yourself" but I have also heard of the Buddhist principle that there is no self.  I fall back on the French principle "C'est moi", It's me.  

The place to start understanding is with me.  My thinking, my feelings, my impressions, my memories, my worries, my impulses.  Isn't that rather self-centered?  Yes, it is so it is quite important to remember that there is you and others, that we are not alone and we are steadily influenced and guided and inspired and frightened by others.  However, our perceptions of others are us, again.  My perception of what you are thinking is, once again, mine.

It can be frightening, annoying and/or depressing to go through Prof. Herman's exercise of grasping, recognizing and accepting that what I see comes from my retina and optic nerve, what I hear comes through my ears and my hearing nerves, and what I feel emotionally comes from my brain.  Since I am such a big part of me and my experience, it does make sense to be aware of what my very large and complex set of unconscious processes and drives is doing, at least to whatever extent is possible.

You know, Mrs. Clendaniel, that I am going to get to my central topic somehow and you are, of course, correct.  The evidence and the centrality of me for myself and I combine to make MEDITATION valuable and increasingly understood worldwide to be valuable.  Are you real manly?  You may be inspired to know that Navy Seals and Army Rangers and Russian special forces all practice meditation because after all, in tight, dangerous and frightening situations, yourself is the main thing you've got.  Are you quite feminine?  You can perceive more of your emotions and allow yourself to be more complete when you are more aware and more accepting of your whole self: mind, body and spirit.

The most common experience that shuts people down and away from meditative training is mental refreshment.  Often people try to concentrate on their breathing or a point on the wall.  If they are more advanced and a bit braver, they try to just let their thoughts flow and watch the flow.  That is riskier because when you think of last night's snack, you may be stuck on the idea of a snack right now and then berate yourself for sinning and so sink right back into normal thinking instead of improving mind awareness.

But mental refreshment, one's attention, works like our eyes, with constant refreshment.  The Wikipedia says about eye movement:

Therefore, these random eye movements constantly change the stimuli that fall on the photoreceptors and the ganglion cells, making the image more clear.[10  

Our vision needs and gets continuous refreshment with tiny, rapid and unperceivable movements.  So with our attention.  A living mind will always jump to new angles, views and subjects.  Don't let that stop the training of bringing the mind back to your chosen focus any more than you would cease training table manners because the kid dropped his fork.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Fwd: The Scout Report -- Volume 23, Number 10

The bottom of the Internet Scout Report is probably truncated and you may be able to expand it.  Several items in this edition may be of interest.  You can get your own copy every other Friday by signing up.  Put "Internet Scout" in Google or Bing or Duckduckgo and go to the site.  The tools section at the end mentions "Ghost Browser" and "Pixabay", tools which address the need or use of multiple browsers to keep open multiple sites like social ones (Facebook, Twitter) and search for and use of images and video clips for presentations and such.  

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: <>
Date: Fri, Mar 10, 2017 at 11:21 AM
Subject: The Scout Report -- Volume 23, Number 10

March 10, 2017
Volume 23, Number 10

Research and Education

General Interest

Network Tools

In the News

If you would like to make a tax-deductible contribution to support The Scout Report and the work of Internet Scout, please visit our donation page.

Research and Education

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Mapping the Overland Trails
Social studies
The Overland Trails, 1840-1860 is one of five maps from American Panorama, a historical atlas project from the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. This specific map traces the experiences of about two dozen American migrants who moved westward during the mid-nineteenth century. Over 2,000 diary entries have been transcribed and organized onto a map according to route (e.g. the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail). Once visitors select a route, they can examine a list of individuals who kept track of their daily lives while traveling west. In addition, the map provides information about significant historical and political events that occurred concurrently with each diary entry. Mapping the Overlands Trails provides visitors with a way to examine primary documents in context, offering an engaging resource for history classrooms. [MMB]

From Psychology to Logic: Learning Computer Programing in the Kitchen
From MIT BLOSSOMS, a video series dedicated to high school mathematics and science instruction, comes this innovative lesson that engages students with computer programing through a series of hands-on activities. In this particular video lesson, Tanzeena Ali, a computer science student at Superior University in Pakistan, presents a series of problem solving activities centered around the simple task of making a mango milkshake. Throughout this presentation, Ali poses a series of questions that high school students would be able to answer quickly: How do I determine which mango in the bowl has the greatest mass? How do I arrange my jars from tallest to shortest? As students work collaboratively to solve this problem, their challenge is to represent their problem solving strategy in a way that a computer program could understand. Through each task, Ali demonstrates programming skills and concepts including variable swapping, sorting an array, and finding the max of an array. The lesson that Ali models in the video is aimed at "those students who know the syntax of programming in any language (C or GWBASIC preferred), but are unable to build the logic for a program." This video lesson is accompanied by a teacher's guide for those who may want to adapt the lesson to better fit the needs of their classroom. [MMB]

The Collected Poems of Gavin Turnbull Online
Language Arts
Born in Scotland in 1765, Gavin Turnbull, a contemporary of Robert Burns, worked as an actor and published two books of poetry before he immigrated to Charleston, South Carolina in 1795. In 1840, poetry scholar James Paterson lamented, "Of the subsequent history of Turnbull we are almost entirely ignorant." Fortunately, more recent English scholars have uncovered more information about Turnbull's life in the United States, revealing his subsequent work in both poetry and theatre. On this website, visitors can read poetry that Turnbull penned on both sides of the Atlantic and learn more about this influential but oft-overlooked writer. These poems include work from his most famous publication, 1788's Poetical Essay, along with recently uncovered poems that Turnbull authored in Charleston (and often published individually in local newspapers). Through this collection, literary scholars and poetry fans alike can explore the characteristics and development of Turnbull's poetry. [MMB]

Teaching Calculus
Lin McMullen is a former high school calculus teacher who has fifteen years of experience working with high school calculus teachers to help them improve their craft. McMullen has also created this resource website for calculus teachers and students alike. Teaching Calculus can be browsed in a number of ways. Those who are currently teaching or taking a Calculus class can explore Thru the Year, which organizes calculus resources in the order in which they are typically taught in American high schools. For example, visitors will find resources related to Theorems, Definitions, and Logic in August followed by Computing Derivatives in September. Resources include study guides, definitions of key terms, classroom activities, and instructional videos. These videos are also available for browsing in the Video section of the website. Collectively the Thru the Year and Video section provide useful resources for instructors to incorporate into their classroom or for students to use while working on homework. In addition, instructors can find a variety of PowerPoint presentations and handouts in the Resources section. [MMB]

The Glossary of Education Reform
Social studies
What is a norm-referenced test? What does it mean for a student to be "college-ready"? What does project-based learning entail? Designed for "journalists, parents, and community members," the Glossary of Education Reform is intended to make jargon and terminology used in educational policy circles accessible to anyone. While vocabulary related to educational reform is often linked to particular policy implementations and ideologies, the team behind the Glossary of Education Reform strives to be as objective as possible. The Glossary was created by the Great Schools Partnership, a Portland, Maine based non-profit organization that works "to redesign public education and improve learning for all students." This resource is authored and edited by a team of educational policy analysts, journalists, and scholars. Users can search for terms or browse terms alphabetically. [MMB]

EdX: The Extremes of Life: Microbes and their Diversity
Kyoto University offers this open EdX course dedicated to microorganisms and their role in our world. More specifically, this course investigates microbes that are able to survive in extreme environments and temperatures. As the course introduction explains, "Microorganisms are everywhere, and although some are notorious for their roles in human disease, many play important roles in sustaining our global environment." In this course, anyone can learn more about microbes via video lectures, course readings, and assignments. These materials are divided into four units: Evolution and the Diversity of Life; Life in Boiling Water; Diversity of Extremophiles; and Genome Sequences. Intended for anyone with a middle-school level knowledge of science, this course is self-paced but designed to be completed in about four weeks. Auditing The Extremes of Life is free; students also have the the option to earn a certificate if they pay a course fee. [MMB]

The Milton and Nelma Fillius Jazz Archive
For music scholars as well as music fans, the Milton and Nelma Fillius Jazz Archive, part of Hamilton College Library's Digital Collections, will appeal. The archive is split into two kinds of resources: interviews and photographs. In the first section, visitors can browse over 300 interviews conducted by composer (and Fillius Jazz Archive Coordinator) Monk Rowe and Hamilton professor Michael Woods. Each interview record includes a full transcript of the interview, accompanied by an audio recording of the interview and a photograph. Interviewees include Be'la Fleck, Herbie Hancock, and Etta Jones, to name just a few. Visitors to this archive can also search for interviews by Topics (e.g. composers, saxophonists, music educators) or Subject Headings (e.g. Jazz festivals, Sound recording industry, Ragtime Music) or by conducting a text search of interview transcripts. Meanwhile, in the Photographs section, visitors can explore hundreds of jazz musicians and bands. [MMB]

Atlas of ReUrbanism
Social studies
The Preservation Green Lab at the National Trust for Historic Preservation aims to connect historic preservation with growing interest in sustainability nation-wide. With this goal, the organization has created the Atlas of ReUrbanism, a series of interactive maps that present data about urban buildings in an engaging fashion. Aimed at urban developers, residents, activists, and journalists, the Atlas of ReUrbanism allows users to examine data about the age and diversity of buildings in each area of the city. As of this write up, users can examine information about ten U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Detroit; maps of 30 additional cities will be added in the future. While directed at developers and preservation activists, these maps may also have a broader appeal. For example, the atlas provides an engaging tool for K-12 geography classrooms, providing young students with information about their city. Alternatively, the tool provides a model for students to create interactive maps about their own communities. In addition, this tool may be of interest to anyone researching urban areas for the purposes of journalism, grant proposals, and academic research. [MMB]

General Interest

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The Quack Doctor
In the 1880s, long before one could purchase a treadmill, a New York company promoted a "health jolting chair" for "ALL PERSONS...whose sedentary habits have caused or may cause disease." Meanwhile, in 1896, a Fort Wayne, Indiana pharmacy placed an advertisement in the local newspaper for "ambition pills for weak and nervous men." Caroline Rance, a writer who holds a master's degree in the history of science, is the author of The Quack Doctor, a blog dedicated to nineteenth and early-twentieth century medical advertisements. Readers can explore these advertisements by categories including Digestive Issues, General Health & Panaceas, Rheumatism, and Women's Complaints. These advertisements are accompanied by Rance's thoughtful commentary, which places these advertisements in historical context (and, on occasion, calls attention to false "Victorian advertisements" that have been created by contemporary humorists). Rance clarifies that while her blog may be called The Quack Doctor, she includes all medical advertisements, from hucksters and from legitimate health professionals alike. And while some of these products and remedies have been debunked by more recent research, others make good medical sense. Not always for the squeamish, The Quack Doctor provides visitors with a fascinating glimpse into the evolution of medicine and healthcare. [MMB]

Recording and Playing Machines
Since Thomas Edison invented the phonograph in 1877, innovators have continued to develop new technologies for recording and playing sound. In this Europeana exhibition, visitors can learn more about "machines that illustrate a wide range of techniques and technologies" for doing so. This diverse collection includes contributions from nine different institutions across Europe, including the British Library and the Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision. Visitors can explore these items via five themes: Wax Cylinder & Discs, Shellac & Vinyl Discs, Magnetic & Digital Medium, Radio Set & Receivers, and Player Piano. Within each theme, visitors can examine photographs of instruments both familiar and obscure, accompanied by information about the instrumen's history, design, and utility. For example, visitors can check out a 1959 EMI Dictating Machine, a 1925 Player Piano (accompanied by an audio recording), and a 1927 Edison Bell gramophone designed for children. [MMB]

The team behind ScienceNordic describes this online publication as "the trusted English-language source for science from Nordic countries." ScienceNordic is authored by and, science news organizations based out of Norway and Denmark, respectively. Visitors can browse this blog by a number of categories, including Health, Society and Cultures (where visitors will find stories addressing the intersections of science and society), and Technology, Within these categories, readers will find articles about recent research studies, health care innovations, technological developments, environmental news, and more. New articles are added almost daily. ScienceNordic will appeal to researchers and journalists who seek to stay informed about science developments around the globe, as well as anyone with an interest in science, health, and environmental news. [MMB]

Educational Technology
Typography enthusiasts, including professional graphic designers and those of us with a general fondness for font design, will enjoy TypeWolf, a website about "what's trending in type." Authored by professional designer Jeremiah Shoaf (whose clients include the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, and The Washington Post to name just a few), TypeWolf features a number of interesting resources and articles. Anyone currently engaged in design projects, such as creating a website, flyer, or infographic, may want to start by checking out Font Recommendations & Lists. Here, visitors can explore Shoaf's top ten fonts that are underused, check out possible alternatives for the ubiquitous Helvetica, and learn where to find free fonts. Meanwhile, Web Fonts in the Wild features a new website (and font) each day, allowing designers to visualize how fonts shape the aesthetic character of different websites. Those interested in reading Shoaf's musings about new developments in the world of typography can do so via his Blog. Finally, the Guides & Resources section offers links to a variety of outside resources including online books, blogs, and more. [MMB]

YouTube: Reactions
What is catnip, and why do cats react to it? What is the best way to clean and care for a cast iron skillet? How does shampoo work? Why do onions make you cry? From the American Chemical Society (ACS) comes Reactions, a series of videos that address the kind of chemistry questions that you've probably found yourself pondering about at some point. Each video is approximately three to five minutes and length and presents a series of engaging video clips and diagrams. Through these videos, viewers will learn about an array of chemical compounds that affect their everyday lives, perhaps in ways they did not realize. These videos make for enjoyable browsing for the generally curious and provide some helpful life hacks to boot. [MMB]

Literary Hub
Language Arts
Literary Hub is an online magazine that strives to be "a single, trusted, daily source for all the news, ideas and richness of contemporary literary life." To do so, Literary Hub partners with a wide variety of sources for literary news and reviews, including publishers, bookstores, and literary journals. Readers will find book reviews, author profiles, interviews, essays, book excerpts, and more. Those looking for a new read may want to start with Bookmarks, a feature that helpfully compiles critical reviews of new books from major publications. Readers can then see how these reviewers assessed the book (reviews are categorized as Rave, Positive, Mixed or Pan) and read these reviews in full. Meanwhile, readers can explore a number of original pieces in Features. As of this write up, recent pieces in Features include an essay by novelist and short story writer Jhumpa Lahiri and a profile of author Jami Attenberg. Those who want to stay informed about literary news may want to sign up for Lit Hub Daily, a regular round-up of literary news from Literary Hub and other publications and organizations. [MMB]

The Travel Letters of Mrs. Kindersley
Social studies
Jemima Kindersley (nee Wicksteed) was born in Norwich, England in 1741. In 1764, after her marriage to Nathaniel Kindersley, the young couple embarked on a series of global travels. Destinations included Salvador, Brazil, the Cape of Good Hope (in modern-day South Africa) and Calcutta, India. In 1777, almost a decade after her return to England, Kindersley published Letters from the Island of Teneriffe, Brazil, the Cape of Good Hope, and the East Indies. The book was one of the first travelogues to be penned by a woman. On this website, visitors can browse over 60 transcribed letters penned by Kindersley during her travels. These letters are tagged by a number of terms to aid in browsing, and are perhaps best explored via interactive map, where letters have been arranged by geographic location. Visitors can also browse especially memorable quotes by topic in the Find Quotes By Map section. [MMB]

Poetry and Prayer: Islamic Manuscripts from the Walters Art Museum
First open to the public in 1909 in Baltimore, the Walters Museum began as the collection of William Thompson Walters and his son, Henry. Bequeathed to the city of Baltimore in 1931, the collection has grown to include 35,000 artifacts from "ancient Egyptian mummy masks and medieval armor to 19th-century French impressionism and turn-of-the-century art deco." The Walters collection also includes significant Islamic manuscripts. In 2008, the museum received an NEH grant to catalog and digitize 236 of these illuminated manuscripts dating from the 9th to the 19th centuries containing 53,000 folios (2-page spreads). This exhibition is based on the NEH grant work, and permits visitors to view the manuscripts in an online, page-turner format. For example, W.658 is Kitab-i Bahriye (Book of the Sea), with a Map of the Bay of Salonica, and includes 240 maps and charts, while W.568 is a manuscript fragment of the Qur'an from the 12th century, written on Italian paper in a large Maghribi script. [DS]

Network Tools

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Ghost Browser
Do you have multiple social media accounts - perhaps a Facebook account for work as well as a personal one? Or do you manage multiple Twitter accounts as part of your job? If so, Ghost Browser may be for you. This free web browser allows users to be logged into multiple social media accounts simultaneously. Available for Mac and Windows computers, Ghost Browser allows users to open and save different accounts through a color-coded tab system. Users can also save these accounts as a project (e.g. "Twitter accounts") in order to open a series of accounts quickly and easily in the future. Ghost Browser also allows users to import bookmarks from existing web browsers and to import Google Chrome extensions. [MMB]

Finding the perfect image or video clip for a website, poster, or presentation can be a challenge. Pixabay is a helpful repository of images and videos available for use under the Creative Commons CC0 license. On this website, users can browse for images by a number of categories, including Education, Health/Medical, Computers/Communications, and Emotion. In addition to photos, this collection also includes Illustrations, Vector Graphics, and Videos. Pixabay is also available as an Android or iOS application. [MMB]

In the News

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Ancient Dental Plaque Provides a Glimpse into Early Medicine and the Original Paleolithic Diet
NOVA: A Neanderthal Burial
The Paleo Diet, popularized by Loren Cordain in a 2002 book of the same title, purports to help people lose weight by encouraging them to imitate the diet of Paleolithic humans. How well does this diet actually resemble what our prehistoric ancestors ate? An international team of researchers, led by the University of Adelaide's Center for Ancient DNA, has recently uncovered new insights into that question through a surprising source: Neanderthal dental plaque. The team examined the plaque of five Neanderthals skulls, ranging in age from 42,000 to 50,000 years old, found at two different cave sites: Spy in Belgium and El Sidron in Spain. Microbiologist Laura Weyrich, the study's lead author, explained, "Dental plaque traps microorganisms that lived in the mouth and pathogens found in the respiratory and gastrointestinal tract, as well as bits of food stuck in the teeth - preserving the DNA for thousands of years." By sequencing and examining this DNA, the research team inferred that Neanderthal diets likely varied widely by region. While Spy Cave Neanderthals ate meat (likely from wild rhinos and sheep), those in El Sidron had a vegetarian diet consisting of pine nuts, mushrooms, and tree bark. In short, as Dr. Weyrich puts it, "The true paleo diet is eating whatever's out there in the environment." [MMB]
To learn more about this discovery, the first three links take readers to articles from The Atlantic, The Guardian, and Popular Archeology. These articles contain links to the original research paper, published in Nature earlier this week, for those interested in reading the original study in full. The fourth link takes readers to a long form feature by Jon Mooallem in The New York Times earlier this year. In this piece, Mooallem explores the history of research into the Neanderthal and how this early human ancestor came to be (inaccurately) maligned as "a slow-witted lout." The fifth link, a 2013 NOVA documentary about Neanderthal burial practices, offers further clues about the lifestyle and rituals of the Neanderthal. The final link takes visitors to an interactive Human Family Tree, courtesy the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Here visitors can explore six million years of human evolution and learn more about major prehistoric ancestors, including Neanderthals.
The Scout Report (ISSN 1092-3861) is published every Friday of the year except for the last two Fridays of December by the Internet Scout Research Group, based in the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Department of Computer Sciences.

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