Egyptian blue is the world’s oldest manmade pigment. And its recipe is so complex that it was lost for 1,500 years, from ancient Roman times till the 19th century.
First discovered at the time of the pyramids, Egyptian blue is made by mixing exact quantities of lime, sand, and a substance containing copper, then melting the blend in a furnace heated to between 1470 and 1650° F—no less, no more. What emerges is an opaque, crystalline material that’s perfectly blue. Artists would grind Egyptian blue and mix it with egg white, glue, or acacia gum to create a paint the color of a “swimming pool in summer.”
'TMS: The cat plays a very important role. Did you want the vampire to find a soulmate in that cat?
Amirpour: What do you think?'
A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, in theaters now, is one of the coolest movies of the year. Written and directed by Ana Lily Amirpour, the film stars Sheila Vand as a chador-wearing vampire preying on the men of Bad City in a mash-up of western and vampire film, which is also surprisingly funny and romantic. Vand and Amirpour were in New York this week for the release of the film, and talked about their mysterious character, dangerous love, and the benefits of working with a cat on set.
Lesley Coffin (TMS): The film was made in California, but seems to be set in Iran. Can you talk a bit about the importance of setting in the story?
Ana Lily Amirpour: Well, it is Iranian. It is an Iranian fairy tale. But in the sense that it is a fairy tale, the setting isn’t meant to be specific. The film should feel like a dream, a place in the mind. Like a Sergio Leone western town, it isn’t necessarily a specific town. He was an Italian, telling an Italian-American western story, but was shooting in Italy. There really are no rules, it just needs to be a place in the mind.
TMS: How did you create the character of The Girl and come to cast Sheila?
Amirpour: She was always the vampire from the time I first thought of the character. I did a short film first which [Vand] was going to do, but then she couldn’t so I had to cast someone else. But [Vand] is the vampire. And I didn’t even write the script until I talked to her and told her, I want to make an Iranian vampire western. And then I wrote the script and she said yes.
TMS: What is it abut [Vand] that made you think she had to play the vampire?
Amirpour: She just keeps killing people all the time and drinking their blood, and I just thought, we should film this [laughs]. I was just like, “Sheila, could you do that again?” It is hard to say, because the vampire is such a poetic, existential, lonely soul. I think they have a lot of power and mystery. They are old and young in extreme ways, and I feel that way about Sheila. I feel her eyes are just… look at them. They say everything. And the character is also this creature, and so much of what she does is in her physicality.
TMS: And I have to say, one of the things that first caught my attention is that you [Vand] really do command the screen almost by just starring into the camera.
Sheila Vand: One of the cool things about having a part written for you is you feel you don’t have to try so hard. You were chosen and it was crafted around you. So I did have to do a lot more work than just be myself, but at the end of the day, I knew Lily had her reason for picking me, so as long as I stayed open and brought my spirit to it, I thought it couldn’t go wrong.
TMS: When we are talking about physicality of a character, every actor uses that differently. Some focus on mastering the internal stuff which informs how they move, while others focus on the external to inform the character’s mindset. Do you have a process for building characters?
Vand: It depends on the project and directors I’m working with. I like to talk about it as much as they will let me and have as much information as possible. And that is why I really liked working with Lily, because she meticulously plans, which means there is a lot for me to dive into and draw from. Regardless of how the movie was going to turn out, I became a more interesting person doing it, because of all the movies she made me watch and books she had me read. I’m an outside-in sort of actor. I don’t do as much emotional work, but I do work and want to know everything the character knows. And then I try to just let go.
TMS: What were some of the books and films you [Amirpour] had the cast and crew watch?
Amirpour: It depends on the role they played. There were some movies everyone watched together, like Rumble Fish, Wild At Heart, and Once Upon a Time in the West. And then there were other Sergio Leone westerns like Man without a Name, which [Vand's] character kind of connected to in how mysterious they are and how the audience is always on their side, even if you aren’t sure if they are right. Gummo was another film we watched, because small towns are like fairy tales. And I had Sheila watch Nosferatu and read Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire, which had been my gateway to vampire stories. And cobras and cats are a big influence, so we spent a lot of time watching YouTube videos of cats and cobras and leopards.
TMS: The cat plays a very important role. Did you want the vampire to find a soulmate in that cat?
Amirpour: What do you think?
TMS: I interpreted it that way, because it seems almost like the cat is leading his owner to her.
Amirpour: I like that.
TMS: The more technical question is how do you get a cat to act? I have a cat, they don’t take direction, so just getting the cat to look in the right direction at the right time seems to me, impossible.
Amirpour: They are hard to work with. But we had a very special little being and it was that cat’s destiny in life to make this movie. Sina [Sayyah] our producer, was urging me to use Masuka, and I didn’t want to and I finally agreed to…
Vand: Let him have an audition [laughs].
Amirpour: Basically. We did a camera test and Masuka is just this cat that likes to go into unfamiliar places and is curious about everything. We were joking yesterday that if you unzipped Masuka’s fur, a dog would come out.
Vand: It was cool for me to act with an animal because, animals and babies, they are so unpredictable, they keep you a little bit on high alert and being more present because you are never sure what they are going to do. And I also used Masuka as an anchor because I was watching all these cat videos, modeling my character after tigers and cats. So when I found myself getting a little too stiff, I would just look over at him and relax.
TMS: Speaking of physicality, there is a scene of you dancing in your room and it is so cool, because it almost looks the way a baby would dance.
Vand: Oh, I love that
TMS: And you seem completely free and unaware of the camera.
Amirpour: She was. We were actually setting up the camera, talking over to the side, and a song was playing and I look over and she was just dancing to the song by herself and I said, “Turn the camera on, do it now!”
Vand: I did feel like I was exploring my body a lot in this role. There was always this feeling of, what it would be like to be a grandmother or old lady inside of an 19-year-old’s body. And how different time is. You may have dance a million times, but there still might have been 50 years between the last time you danced. And I had this idea that she felt the most human when she was dancing.
TMS: Did the chador effect how you played the scenes?
Vand: Absolutely. I didn’t feel like I was the girl until the chador would come on. And it is really technical too, because it is heavy, so you have to have good posture or else it would drag on the ground, especially on the skateboard. And I was also doing a lot underneath there, and I can imagine it is a lot like a bat, when they decide to take flight. There is a weight to the chador and way it moves that does feel like a cap. It is like Bruce Wayne when he puts on the cap.
Amirpour: It is kind of like at the end of Black Swan when she stars to change and gets the wings.
Vand: Yeah. I definitely felt a change when I put it on. I felt like a badass. I love that scene at the end when Arash when she puts the striped shirt back on. It is like she doesn’t just put the chador over anything.
Amirpour: She’s this really composed character. When she’s in the tub, she is the most like a creature. And then she puts on the striped shirt and she’s trying to act more like a person but she doesn’t go out without the chador. It is like Superman in that way, that he is Superman in the cape, Clark Kent, but when he strips down and gives up his powers in the second film, he’s just a human. I’m talking about Richard Donner’s Superman of course, not the other one I don’t want to even recognize.
TMS: You mention Wild at Heart, which is a favorite movie of mine, because it is this great love story, but at any minute, they can be destructive towards one another. And here, even though they do seem to be in love, you get the feeling that Arash isn’t completely safe with her.
Amirpour: Well, she eats people. Siegfried and Roy figured out that you might have a very loving tiger that will do your show a 100 times, but that 101th time, he is a fucking tiger that might bite you. That is the nature of the beast. I think love and the quest for love can compel you to do dangerous things. But I was always hyper-aware that she is a vampire and she is a creature. She’s a fucking killer. I always thought there was this tension, like having a tiger and bunny in the same room, and it is all about the missing information. With the pimp, he thinks he’s the tiger and she’s the bunny, but really it’s the other way around. So there is this tension in watching what will unfold. With Arash… Wild at Heart is a much farther-along love story, because these two haven’t even figured out where they are going to drive to.
Vand: We talked about how he, as a young man, he is like the best, freshest meat. The filet mignon for her. He’s young and virile and strong. His blood is really pumping through. He’s so alive and she’s just hanging on by a thread. And so, some times the best love is most dangerous. And it is scary falling in love. It is really scary and does sometime feel like it could kill you if it goes wrong.
WTF I LIETERALLY THOUGHT IT WAS ABOUT DOGS UNTIL NOW I AM 20 YEARS OLD
of course it was, why would he actually sing about real dogs and why they got out
No it isn’t. It’s actually talking about the men who predate upon women in clubs, calling them dogs, not ‘ugly women’. Just look at the lyrics:
And tell the fellas stop the name callin’ Yepee ah yo Then them girls respond to the call I hear a woman shout out Who let the dogs out Woof, woof, woof, woof, woof
Or if that isn’t clear enough for you that it’s women quite clearly calling the men dogs then read this next bit:
Get back gruffy, mash scruffy Get back you flea infested mongrel Now I tell meh self dem man go get angry Ah yepee ah yo To hear them girls calling them canine
It’s saying that men who attack women for being ‘ugly’ or refuse to leave them alone are worse than stray mongrels! It plainly points out that women do not want or appreciate the attention and so taunt them with the verse of ‘who let the dogs out’ because they are both unable to control themselves and vile little creatures. Learn to do some fucking research.
It’s worse than it’s said here. They specifically asked the bronies to leave the disabled kid/character alone. So naturally, they attacked the character as ‘pandering’ and being ‘too PC’ and when asked to please NOT turn it into a porn character, they went out of their way to make as much porn as possible.
tbh, the fact that the creators had to say, “hey can you guys not make porn of this one specific pony" is an issue in and of itself
A brony got mad at me because I showed disgust in bronies. He told me “not all bronies are like that”. Fucker if you share the same label as people like this then it’s your problem, not mine. You care more about your stupid brony feelings then the respect for a fucking disabled child and his family.
Kyoto is so beautiful right now! Spent an amazing afternoon at Nijo Castle and viewing the light-up at a temple at night. There were tourists everywhere and the queues were snaking for blocks away from the sites, but so worth the wait. Just gorgeous!
Mark Twain once joked that “whenever a copyright law is to be made or altered, then the idiots assemble.” A lesser-known fact of Twain’s life is that he lobbied vigorously for stronger copyright protections, vexed by piracy of his work both at home and abroad. “They talk handsomely about the literature of the land,” Twain told a House committee in 1906. “And in the midst of their enthusiasm, they turn around and do what they can to discourage it.”
The “they” Twain referred to were the laws and lawmakers themselves. And in the United States, copyright law is administered by the Copyright Office, which is a part of the Library of Congress. So it’s no small irony then that a new about book about Mark Twain, “co-authored by” the Library of Congress, appears to contain text copied from at least five different sources, all with no attribution.
An independent scholar, Kevin Mac Donnell, whose sleuthing I’ve written about before, announced earlier this month on a Mark Twain web forum that he uncovered a hefty amount of plagiarism in Mark Twain’s America, an illustrated biography by Harry Katz and the Library of Congress, and published by Little, Brown.
In his review of the book, Mac Donnell noted that its chronology of Twain’s life seemed to be lifted without attribution from Mark Twain A to Z, a reference book by R. Kent Rasmussen. Mac Donnell counted over 400 lines of prose that match Rasmussen’s text almost word for word. More scholars have since joined Mac Donnell on the forum in scrutinizing Mark Twain’s America, and they now say the text includes over 100 factual errors as well.
For example, a photo purporting to show the author’s home in Hartford is, in fact, a picture of a house Twain never lived in. The scholars are compiling a complete list of the book’s inaccuracies to publish on the Mark Twain forum in the near future.
Of course this wouldn’t be the first time a sentimental survey of American history timed for a Christmas release featured a striking lack of original writing or fact checking. (A couple of books by Doris Kearns Goodwin jump to mind.) These accusations now surface about authors with alarming regularity. But what does it suggest about the state of American letters when the latest transgressor cited is actually one of the country’s oldest and most venerable libraries — the very institution where authors register their copyrights?
Indeed, how the Library of Congress proved capable of signing its name to any work, let alone one that included plagiarism, is curious in itself. The acknowledgments section of Mark Twain’s America lists several current and former library staffers, as well as interns. It seems the institutional authorship is meant to reflect their collective contributions to the book, rather than any individual effort.
That is, with the exception of the efforts and contributions of the book’s co-author, Harry Katz – himself a former Library of Congress curator. He did not respond to requests for comment before the time of this article’s publication.
For Twain’s part, although capable of extreme bouts of cynicism, he wouldn’t have predicted such a gaffe. Congressmen have “the smallest minds and the selfishest souls and the cowardliest hearts that God makes,” Twain wrote. Yet he seemed to admire the work of Capitol Hill librarians, once penning a letter that said, “A public library is the most enduring of memorials, the trustiest monument for the preservation of an event or a name or an affection.”
Mac Donnell, who holds a master’s in library science, told Quartz the revelation was “a huge disappointment.”
“I respect the Library of Congress and admire the work they do,” he added. “The vulgarity of this whole thing is not just toward Twain scholarship or Mr. Rasmussen, who is basically the victim here. It’s an insult to librarians and curators and everybody who works in the Library of Congress.” The Library of Congress declined to comment on the matter.
Rasmussen, the first author whose work Mac Donnell identified as lifted, also declined to comment for this article, except to confirm that he is considering legal action.
In response to these allegations, Katz and the book’s editor, Tom Wiener (who was a Library of Congress curator at the time of the book’s publication), posted a message on the Mark Twain Forum expressing regret that Rasmussen’s text was “mistakenly omitted” from their acknowledgments and bibliography sections. They promised to credit Rasmussen’s “important contribution to our chronologies” in future editions of Mark Twain’s America and in the ebook, which is also being adapted into a screenplay.
“Regarding factual errors, we deeply appreciate their being pointed out,” Katz and Wiener added. “We are generalist scholars and writers, but, like everyone on the Forum, we seek to be as accurate as possible in our work. We will rectify errors or omissions in forthcoming editions of the book. The review’s pointed criticisms speak to a deep passion for Twain, a passion we all share.”
Since the above statement was issued, additional vetting of the text (work Mac Donnell described as “deadening” “depressing” and “bad for the eyes”) revealed four more sources the authors seem to have cribbed – one of which was copied even more extensively than Rasmussen’s work.
If the controversy escalates, which seems likely, on top of the obvious embarrassment each party will face, US law leaves room for criminal charges when copyright infringement occurs for commercial purposes.
With that in mind, and in the increasingly archaic tradition of referencing secondary sources, I’ll mention that every Mark Twain quote found in this article was accessed via twainquotes.com, a fine resource for anyone interested in the author’s brilliant repertoire of vicious put downs and pithy aphorisms.
Just when my anger at DC and the New 52 had finally begun shifting to apathy, Sensation Comics comes along to remind me that I really, really should still be pissed at DC comics and their choices.
I miss Oracle so much. It was beyond wonderful to see her show up in the first issue of Sensation. There is a giant, gaping void in the DC universe where she once stood and DC’s decision to pull Babs away from Oracle instead of allowing her any ties to her former role just burns.
This was the single most powerful character in the DC universe before the reboot. She had the respect of the Justice League. She could challenge Batman and win. She had not just one legacy—the Batgirls who she chose and trained no matter what Bruce said.—but also her Legacy through the Birds of Prey. Bryan Q. Miller was even building a third, hacker Legacy through her training of Proxy. She had her own network of operatives that rivaled every other coalition of heroes in the DC universe. It’s not the fact that she had all this that was mind blowing, it’s the fact that she had all this as a disabled woman. It’s that she kept amassing strength. It was that no one at DC ever seemed at a loss when it came to her narrative (compared to Wonder Woman who went through reboot after reboot in the same era). It’s that they weren’t afraid to admit that she was at least as powerful as Batman and growing stronger.
Now she’s gone and no one rivals Batman. Her legacy has been erased while her male colleagues got to keep theirs. She has been de-aged and de-powered. A student of Batman’s again instead of his equal. And as good as the upcoming Batgirl book looks with its lighter imagery, it’s almost like Babs keeps growing younger. Moving backwards.
I can’t forgive DC for doing that to her. For cutting out the powerhouse that was Oracle. For erasing one of the most visible disabled characters in comics. For keeping the Killing Joke canon when they had a chance to get rid of it. I can’t forgive DC their treatment of Barbara Gordon. The release of Sensation Comics today was a reminder of why I shouldn’t.
Otherwise Sensation was quite lovely and you should all go buy it. For a variety of reasons (Wonder Woman’s prominence within the Trinity, out of New 52 continuity storytelling, the return of Oracle (if only for this arc)), it’s really important that this book succeeds.
'Bezos himself drew a cash salary of just $81,840 last year. Even counting stock-based compensation, he is one of the lowest paid CEOs among major corporations. Plenty of top executives have drawn meagre salaries and received most of their compensation in stock, but to have a company-wide limit on salaries is highly unusual. And a flagging stock price means the dollops of equity awarded to employees to make up the difference will be worth less.
Don’t forget, Amazon has also been criticized for the low wages it pays to employees for the “soul crushing experience” of manning its warehouses. And the company has one of the highest staff turnover rates in the tech business.'
Since his inaugural letter to shareholders in 1997, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has pledged to “to focus relentlessly on our customers” and ignore “short-term profitability considerations or short-term Wall Street reactions.”
He has proven true to his word. Amazon is routinely praised and criticized for its unorthodox business model that puts customers above shareholders. But with its stock price struggling this year, investment bank Nomura argues the company can no longer afford to ignore Wall Street:
No Amazon employee receives more than $160K in annual cash compensation; any remuneration above that level is paid in company stock. Therefore, because continued weak stock-price performance could hurt employee morale and retention, and hinder the ability for to attract industry-leading talent, it follows that management would not view stock weakness lightly.
Amazon’s top cash salary of $160,000 is more than triple the median US household income in 2013, but in the fiercely competitive market for talent that is the technology industry, it is not excessive.
Bezos himself drew a cash salary of just $81,840 last year. Even counting stock-based compensation, he is one of the lowest paid CEOs among major corporations. Plenty of top executives have drawn meagre salaries and received most of their compensation in stock, but to have a company-wide limit on salaries is highly unusual. And a flagging stock price means the dollops of equity awarded to employees to make up the difference will be worth less.
To be fair, while the stock price is struggling this year, it has performed strongly over just about every other timeframe. Here it is over the past 10 years against some of the companies with which it competes for talent. It doesn’t hold up against Apple—who does?—but outperforms Google.
Even so, the flight of talent suggests Amazon’s compensation philosophy needs reassessment. If the company wants to dominate the future of consumer purchasing and the internet then maybe its time for that self-imposed salary cap to go.
I consider myself a confident, adept baker. I can make cookies with one eye closed, and my muffins never fail to please. But when it comes to making pie—as I have been asked to do this Thanksgiving—my chest tightens up. It has nothing to do with the filling, and everything to do with the crust.
I love a buttery, golden, flaky pie crust, and take great joy and pride in pulling one out of the oven. But the process makes me exceedingly anxious—specifically the rolling-out stage. The dough never seems to hold together. When it does, it sticks to the counter. Then the butter warms up and starts to melt. There’s not enough to cover the tin. It’s awful.
You may be thinking: Just buy the bloody crust! I will not buy the crust. Store-bought crust is insipid and often made with unpronounceable fats. Even if it tasted as good as homemade—which it does not—I would simply be too proud.
But this year will be different. It will be different because I have figured out exactly how to ease dough-induced anxiety: Just make twice as much dough as you need.
Conventional butter crust wisdom—here’s my current favorite recipe—calls for making the dough into balls and wrapping them in wax paper or cling wrap to chill before rolling. The beauty of having one of those extra dough balls in the fridge is that if your first ball of dough gets too warm and sticky as you roll it out, you can just throw it back into the fridge and take out the other one. If you finally get the perfect rollout, but it’s too small for your pie plate, you can just tack on a piece of your auxiliary dough. Ditto if you want to be one of those people that puts leaf-shaped cutouts on the top of your pie. (Not I.)
Even if you don’t end up using that second ball, this will cut down on your nerves about making the pie, which is of utmost importance. I once read about an anxiety-stricken man who didn’t actually take the pills prescribed for his condition; he just needed to know they were there. This is the way I treat my extra wad of pie crust.
As the blogger and cookbook author Joy the Baker explains, the ingredients can smell your fear. If you are hesitant in your dough-making and rolling, it’s going to turn out badly (and you will resent your loved ones for putting you in charge of pies). A bit of extra flour and butter is a small price for peace of mind.
What’s more, that dough won’t be wasted. When your perfect pie is done and eaten, you’ll find your lovely little extra dough ball nestled among the leftovers in the fridge. Then you can roll it out for a savory galette, or mini pies baked in a muffin tin, take a deep breath, and pour yourself a celebratory drink.
Jagger Gravning from MotherBoard spent time with Tetris creator Alexey Pajitnov.
Over lunch, we had discussed Russia’s fight against the Nazis in World War II, Pajitnov’s longstanding love for classic puzzler game Lode Runner, his time developing artificial intelligence and speech recognition platforms during the Cold War, and the many other games, such as Yoshi’s Cookie, he’s worked on that aren’t Tetris. Among other things.
A quick web search for “Alexey Pajitnov” brings up pages of articles and interviews that fixate only on his creation of Tetris—a work that remains, far and away, the best selling video game of all time. Meeting Pajitnov himself led me to wonder about, well, everything else. What was the Tetris-less life of Alexey Pajitnov?
Michelle Hurd is a terrific actress who’s appeared as a series regular on “Law & Order SVU,” “90210,” “Gossip Girl,” among other shows. She posted this on Facebook last night. I hesitated to re-post it without her permission, but the story has traveled now. It’s brave of her, like all the other women, to tell the story at all.
Why is it that people are willing to spend $20 on a bowl of pasta with sauce that they might actually be able to replicate pretty faithfully at home, yet they balk at the notion of a white-table cloth Thai restaurant, or a tacos that cost more than $3 each? Even in a city as “cosmopolitan” as New York, restaurant openings like Tamarind Tribeca (Indian) and Lotus of Siam (Thai) always seem to elicit this knee-jerk reaction from some diners who have decided that certain countries produce food that belongs in the “cheap eats” category—and it’s not allowed out. (Side note: How often do magazine lists of “cheap eats” double as rundowns of outer-borough ethnic foods?)
Yelp, Chowhound, and other restaurant sites are littered with comments like, “$5 for dumplings?? I’ll go to Flushing, thanks!” or “When I was backpacking in India this dish cost like five cents, only an idiot would pay that much!” Yet you never see complaints about the prices at Western restaurants framed in these terms, because it’s ingrained in people’s heads that these foods are somehow “worth” more. If we’re talking foie gras or chateaubriand, fair enough. But be real: You know damn well that rigatoni sorrentino is no more expensive to produce than a plate of duck laab, so to decry a pricey version as a ripoff is disingenuous. This question of perceived value is becoming increasingly troublesome as more non-native (read: white) chefs take on “ethnic” cuisines, and suddenly it’s okay to charge $14 for shu mai because hey, the chef is ELEVATING the cuisine.
A new study from the University of Japan has confirmed this, showing that although pet cats are more than capable of recognising their owner’s voice they choose to ignore them - for reasons that are perhaps rooted in the evolutionary history of the animal.
Carried out by Atsuko Saito and Kazutaka Shinozuka, the study tested twenty housecats in their own homes; waiting until the owner was out of sight and then playing them recordings of three strangers calling their names, followed by their owner, followed by another stranger.
The researchers then analysed the cats’ responses to each call by measuring a number of factors including ear, tail and head movement, vocalization, eye dilation and ‘displacement’ – shifting their paws to move.
When hearing their names’ being called the cats displayed “orientating behaviour” (moving their heads and ears about to locate where the sound was coming from) and although they showed a greater response to their owner’s voices than strangers’, they declined to move when called by any of the volunteers.
“These results indicate that cats do not actively respond with communicative behavior to owners who are calling them from out of sight, even though they can distinguish their owners’ voices,” write Saito and Shinozuka. “This cat–owner relationship is in contrast to that with dogs.”
The study, published by Springer in the Animal Cognition journal, suggests that the reason for cats’ unresponsive behaviour might be traced back to the early domestication of the species, contrasting this with the relationship of humans to dogs.
Recent genetic analysis has revealed that the common ancestor of the modern housecat was Felis silvestris, a species of wildcat that first came into contact with humans around 9,000 years ago. As early societies developed agriculture, these cats moved in to prey on the rodents that were attracted to stores of grain. In the words of the paper’s authors, they effectively “domesticated themselves”.
“Historically speaking, cats, unlike dogs, have not been domesticated to obey humans’ orders. Rather, they seem to take the initiative in human–cat interaction.” This is in contrast to the history of dogs and humans, where the former has been bred over thousands of years to respond to orders and commands. Cats, it seems, never needed to learn.
It’s unlikely, however that this will dismay cat owners (or indeed, be of any surprise) and the paper notes that although “dogs are perceived by their owners as being more affectionate than cats […] dog owners and cat owners do not differ significantly in their reported attachment level to their pets”.
The study concludes by observing that “the behavioural aspect of cats that cause their owners to become attached to them are still undetermined.”
the only way to stop a bad guy with a gun update: the kid died
"Cleveland Police say officers responded to a radio assignment outside of the rec center for a male with a gun. Preliminary information reveals that witnesses reported a male was in the playground area of the center, waving a gun and pointing it at people.
Police say when officers arrived, they located the suspect and advised him to raise his hands. However, the suspect did not comply with the officers' orders and reached to his waistband for the gun. Shots were fired and the suspect was struck in the torso.
"The young man had the weapon in his waistband. He pulled the weapon out. One of our officers fired two shots, striking the young man," said Deputy Chief Ed Tomba with Cleveland Police.
Tomba said the boy did not make any verbal threats towards police, and there was no confrontation. The boy did not point the gun at officers.
Further information from police reveals the weapon was an "airsoft" type replica gun, resembling a semi-automatic pistol, with the orange safety indicator removed. "
Police say a 12-year-old boy brandishing what turned out to be a fake gun at a Cleveland recreation center was shot and wounded by a responding officer.
Cleveland's Emergency Medical Service tells WOIO-TV (http://bit.ly/1FefMZO ) that the boy is at a hospital with serious injuries. His mother says he's in surgery for a stomach wound.
When tourists visit sub-Saharan Africa, they often wonder “Why there are no historical buildings or monuments?”
The reason is simple. Europeans have destroyed most of them. We have only left drawings and descriptions by travelers who have visited the places before the destructions. In some places, ruins are still visible. Many cities have been abandoned into ruin when Europeans brought exotic diseases (smallpox and influenza) which started spreading and killing people. The ruins of those cities are still hidden. In fact the biggest part of Africa history is still under the ground.
In this post, I’ll share pieces of informations about Africa before the arrival of Europeans, the destroyed cities and lessons we could learn as africans for the future.
The collection of facts regarding the state of african cities before their destruction is done by Robin Walker, a distinguished panafricanist and historian who has written the book ‘When We Ruled’, and by PD Lawton, another great panafricanist, who has an upcoming book titled “The Invisible Empire”.
All quotes and excerpts below are from the books of Robin Walker and PD Lawton. I highly recommend you to buy Walker’s book ‘When We Ruled’ to get a full account of the beauty of the continent before its destruction. You can get more info about PD Lawton work by visiting her blog: AfricanAgenda.net
In fact, at the end of the 13th century, when a european traveler encountered the great Benin City in West Africa (present Nigeria, Edo State), he wrote as follows:
“The town seems to be very great. When you enter into it, you go into a great broad street, not paved, which seems to be seven or eight times broader than the Warmoes street in Amsterdam…The Kings palace is a collection of buildings which occupy as much space as the town of Harlem, and which is enclosed with walls. There are numerous apartments for the Prince`s ministers and fine galleries, most of which are as big as those on the Exchange at Amsterdam. They are supported by wooden pillars encased with copper, where their victories are depicted, and which are carefully kept very clean. The town is composed of thirty main streets, very straight and 120 feet wide, apart from an infinity of small intersecting streets. The houses are close to one another, arranged in good order. These people are in no way inferior to the Dutch as regards cleanliness; they wash and scrub their houses so well that they are polished and shining like a looking glass.” (Source: Walter Rodney, ‘How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, pg. 69)
Sadly, in 1897, Benin City was destroyed by British forces under Admiral Harry Rawson. The city was looted, blown up and burnt to the ground. A collection of the famous Benin Bronzes are now in the British Museum in London. Part of the 700 stolen bronzes by the British troops were sold back to Nigeria in 1972.
Here is another account of the great Benin City regarding the city walls “They extend for some 16 000 kilometres in all, in a mosaic of more than 500 interconnected settlement boundaries. They cover 6500 square kilometres and were all dug by the Edo people. In all, they are four times longer than the Great Wall of China, and consumed a hundred times more material than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. They took an estimated 150 million hours of digging to construct, and are perhaps the largest single archaeological phenomenon on the planet.” Source: Wikipedia, Architecture of Africa.” Fred Pearce the New Scientist 11/09/99.
Did you know that in the 14th century the city of Timbuktu in West Africa was five times bigger than the city of London, and was the richest city in the world?
Today, Timbuktu is 236 times smaller than London. It has nothing of a modern city. Its population is two times less than 5 centuries ago, impoverished with beggars and dirty street sellers. The town itself is incapable of conserving its past ruined monuments and archives.
Back to the 14 century, the 3 richest places on earth was China, Iran/Irak, and the Mali empire in West Africa. From all 3 the only one which was still independent and prosperous was the Mali Empire. China and the whole Middle East were conquered by Genghis Kan Mongol troops which ravaged, pillaged, and raped the places.
The richest man ever in the history of Humanity, Mansa Musa, was the emperor of the 14th century Mali Empire which covered modern day Mali, Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea.
At the time of his death in 1331, Mansa Musa was worth the equivalent of 400 billion dollars. At that time Mali Empire was producing more than half the world’s supply of salt and gold.
When Mansa Musa went on a pilgrimage to Mecca in 1324, he carried so much gold, and spent them so lavishly that the price of gold fell for ten years. 60 000 people accompanied him.
He founded the library of Timbuktu, and the famous manuscripts of Timbuktu which cover all areas of world knowledge were written during his reign.
Witnesses of the greatness of the Mali empire came from all part of the world. “Sergio Domian, an Italian art and architecture scholar, wrote the following about this period: ‘Thus was laid the foundation of an urban civilisation. At the height of its power, Mali had at least 400 cities, and the interior of the Niger Delta was very densely populated.’
The Malian city of Timbuktu had a 14th century population of 115,000 – 5 times larger than mediaeval London.
National Geographic recently described Timbuktu as the Paris of the mediaeval world, on account of its intellectual culture. According to Professor Henry Louis Gates, 25,000 university students studied there.
“Many old West African families have private library collections that go back hundreds of years. The Mauritanian cities of Chinguetti and Oudane have a total of 3,450 hand written mediaeval books. There may be another 6,000 books still surviving in the other city of Walata. Some date back to the 8th century AD. There are 11,000 books in private collections in Niger.
Finally, in Timbuktu, Mali, there are about 700,000 surviving books. They are written in Mande, Suqi, Fulani, Timbuctu, and Sudani. The contents of the manuscripts include math, medicine, poetry, law and astronomy. This work was the first encyclopedia in the 14th century before the Europeans got the idea later in the 18th century, 4 centuries later.
A collection of one thousand six hundred books was considered a small library for a West African scholar of the 16th century. Professor Ahmed Baba of Timbuktu is recorded as saying that he had the smallest library of any of his friends – he had only 1600 volumes.
Concerning these old manuscripts, Michael Palin, in his TV series Sahara, said the imam of Timbuktu “has a collection of scientific texts that clearly show the planets circling the sun. They date back hundreds of years . . . Its convincing evidence that the scholars of Timbuktu knew a lot more than their counterparts in Europe. In the fifteenth century in Timbuktu the mathematicians knew about the rotation of the planets, knew about the details of the eclipse, they knew things which we had to wait for 150 almost 200 years to know in Europe when Galileo and Copernicus came up with these same calculations and were given a very hard time for it.
The old Malian capital of Niani had a 14th century building called the Hall of Audience. It was an surmounted by a dome, adorned with arabesques of striking colours. The windows of an upper floor were plated with wood and framed in silver; those of a lower floor were plated with wood, framed in gold.
Malian sailors got to America in 1311 AD, 181 years before Columbus. An Egyptian scholar, Ibn Fadl Al-Umari, published on this sometime around 1342. In the tenth chapter of his book, there is an account of two large maritime voyages ordered by the predecessor of Mansa Musa, a king who inherited the Malian throne in 1312. This mariner king is not named by Al-Umari, but modern writers identify him as Mansa Abubakari II.” Excerpt from Robin Walker’s book, ‘WHEN WE RULED’
Those event were happening at the same period when Europe as a continent was plunged into the Dark Age, ravaged by plague and famine, its people killing one another for religious and ethnic reasons.
Here below are some depiction of the city of Timbuktu in the 19th century.
“Kumasi was the capital of the Asante Kingdom, 10th century-20th century. Drawings of life in Kumasi show homes, often of 2 stories, square buildings with thatched roofs, with family compounds arranged around a courtyard. The Manhyia Palace complex drawn in another sketch was similar to a Norman castle, only more elegant in its architecture.
“These 2 story thatched homes of the Ashanti Kingdom were timber framed and the walls were of lath and plaster construction. A tree always stood in the courtyard which was the central point of a family compound. The Tree of Life was the altar for family offerings to God, Nyame. A brass pan sat in the branches of the tree into which offerings were placed. This was the same in every courtyard of every household, temple and palace. The King`s representatives, officials, worked in open-sided buildings. The purpose being that everyone was welcome to see what they were up to.
“The townhouses of Kumase had upstairs toilets in 1817.This city in the 1800s is documented in drawings and photographs. Promenades and public squares, cosmopolitan lives, exquisite architecture and everywhere spotless and ordered, a wealth of architecture, history, prosperity and extremely modern living” – PD Lawton, AfricanAgenda.net
Winwood Reade described his visit to the Ashanti Royal Palace of Kumasi in 1874: “We went to the king’s palace, which consists of many courtyards, each surrounded with alcoves and verandahs, and having two gates or doors, so that each yard was a thoroughfare . . . But the part of the palace fronting the street was a stone house, Moorish in its style . . . with a flat roof and a parapet, and suites of apartments on the first floor. It was built by Fanti masons many years ago. The rooms upstairs remind me of Wardour Street. Each was a perfect Old Curiosity Shop. Books in many languages, Bohemian glass, clocks, silver plate, old furniture, Persian rugs, Kidderminster carpets, pictures and engravings, numberless chests and coffers. A sword bearing the inscription From Queen Victoria to the King of Ashantee. A copy of the Times, 17 October 1843. With these were many specimens of Moorish and Ashanti handicraft.” – Robin Walter
The beautiful city of Kumasi was blown up, destroyed by fire, and looted by the British at the end of the 19th century.
Here below are few depictions of the city.
In 1331, Ibn Battouta, described the Tanzanian city of Kilwa, of the Zanj, Swahili speaking people, as follows ” one of the most beautiful and well-constructed cities in the world, the whole of it is elegantly built”. The ruins are complete with `gothic` arches and intricate stonework, examples of exquisite architecture. Kilwa dates back to the 9th century and was at its peak in the 13th and 14th centuries. This international African port minted its own currency in the 11th -14th centuries. Remains of artefacts link it to Spain, China, Arabia and India. The inhabitants, architects and founders of this city were not Arabs and the only influence the Europeans had in the form of the Portuguese was to mark the start of decline, most likely through smallpox and influenza.” – Source: UNESCO World Heritage Centre, excerpt from “The Invisible Empire” by PD Lawton
In 1505 Portuguese forces destroyed and burned down the Swahili cities of Kilwa and Mombasa.
The picture below shows an artist’s reconstruction of the sultan’s palace in Kilwa in the 1400’s, followed by other ruins photographs.
“A Moorish nobleman who lived in Spain by the name of Al-Bakri questioned merchants who visited the Ghana Empire in the 11th century and wrote this about the king: “He sits in audience or to hear grievances against officials in a domed pavilion around which stand ten horses covered with gold-embroidered materials. Behind the king stand ten pages holding shields and swords decorated with gold, and on his right are the sons of the kings of his country wearing splendid garments and their hair plaited with gold. The governor of the city sits on the ground before the king and around him are ministers seated likewise. At the door of the pavilion are dogs of excellent pedigree that hardly ever leave the place where the king is, guarding him. Around their necks they wear collars of gold and silver studded with a number of balls of the same metals.” - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghana_Empire#Government – the source of the quote is given on wikipedia as p.80 of Corpus of Early Arabic Sources for West Africa by Nehemia Levtzion and John F.P. Hopkins)
Here below are few depictions of Ghana Empire.
In 15th when the Portuguese, the first europeans who sailed the atlantic coasts of Africa “arrived in the coast of Guinea and landed at Vaida in West Africa, the captains were astonished to find streets well laid out, bordered on either side for several leagues by two rows of trees, for days thet travelled through a country of magnificant fields, inhabited by men clad in richly coloured garments of their own weaving! Further south in the Kingdom of the Kongo(sic), a swarming crowd dressed in fine silks’ and velvet; great states well ordered, down to the most minute detail; powerful rulers, flourishing industries-civilised to the marrow of their bones. And the condition of the countries of the eastern coast-mozambique, for example-was quite the same.”
For example the Kingdom of Congo in the 15th Century was the epitome of political organization. It “was a flourishing state in the 15th century. It was situated in the region of Northern Angola and West Kongo. Its population was conservatively estimated at 2 or 3 million people. The country was fivided into 6 administrative provinces and a number of dependancies. The provinces were Mbamba, Mbata, Mpangu, Mpemba, Nsundi, and Soyo. The dependancies included Matari, Wamdo, Wembo and the province of Mbundu. All in turn were subject to the authority of The Mani Kongo (King). The capital of the country(Mbanza Kongo), was in the Mpemba province. From the province of Mbamba, the military stronghold. It was possible to put 400,000 in the field.” – Excerpt from “The Invisible Empire” by PD Lawton
Below is an depiction by Olfert Dapper, a Dutch physician and writer, of the 17th century city of Loango (present Congo/Angola) based on descriptions of the place by those who had actually seen it.
Depiction of the City of Mbanza in the Kongo Kingdom
King of Kongo Receiving Dutch Ambassadors, 1642 DO Dapper, Description de lAfrique Traduite du Flamand (1686)
Portuguese Emissaries Received by the King of Kongo, late 16th cent Duarte Lopes, Regnum Congo hoc est warhaffte und eigentliche , Congo in Africa (Franckfort am Mayn, 1609)
Until the end of 16 century, Africa was far more advanced than Europe in term of political organization, science, technology, culture. That prosperity continued, despite the european slavery ravages, till the 17th and 18th century.
The continent was crowded with tens of great and prosperous cities, empires and kingdoms with King Askia Toure of Songhay, King Behanzin Hossu Bowelle of Benin, Emperor Menelik of Ethiopia, King Shaka ka Sezangakhona of South Africa, Queen Nzinga of Angola, Queen Yaa Asantewaa of Ghana, Queen Amina of Nigeria.
We are talking here about Empires, Kingdoms, Queendoms, Kings, emperors, the richest man in the history of humanity in Africa.
Were these Kings and Queens sleeping on banana trees in the bushes? Were they dressed with tree leaves, with no shoes?
If they were not sleeping in trees, covered with leaves, where are the remainder of their palaces, their art work?
The mediaeval Nigerian city of Benin was built to “a scale comparable with the Great Wall of China”. There was a vast system of defensive walling totalling 10,000 miles in all. Even before the full extent of the city walling had become apparent the Guinness Book of Records carried an entry in the 1974 edition that described the city as: “The largest earthworks in the world carried out prior to the mechanical era.” – Excerpt from “The Invisible Empire”, PD Lawton, Source-YouTube, uploader-dogons2k12 `African Historical Ruins`
“Benin art of the Middle Ages was of the highest quality. An official of the Berlin Museum für Völkerkunde once stated that: “These works from Benin are equal to the very finest examples of European casting technique. Benvenuto Cellini could not have cast them better, nor could anyone else before or after him . . . Technically, these bronzes represent the very highest possible achievement.”
In the mid-nineteenth century, William Clarke, an English visitor to Nigeria, remarked that: “As good an article of cloth can be woven by the Yoruba weavers as by any people . . . in durability, their cloths far excel the prints and home-spuns of Manchester.”
The recently discovered 9th century Nigerian city of Eredo was found to be surrounded by a wall that was 100 miles long and seventy feet high in places. The internal area was a staggering 400 square miles.” Robin Walter
Loango City in the Congo/Angola area is depicted in another drawing from the mid 1600`s. Yet again, a vast planned city of linear layout, stretching across several miles and entirely surrounded by city walls, bustling with trade. The king`s complex alone was a mile and a half enclosure with courtyards and gardens. The people of Loango had used maths not just for arithmetic purposes but for astrological calculations. They used advanced maths, linear algebra. The Ishango Bone from the Congo is a calculator that is 25 000 years old. “The so-called Ishango bone`s inscriptions consist of two columns of odd numbers that add up to 60,with the left column containing prime numbers between 10 and 20, and the right column containing both added and subtracted numbers.” Source: Ta Neter Foundation. It is on view in a museum in Belgium. – Excerpt from “The Invisible Empire” by PD Lawton
The beautiful city of Loango was destroyed by European fortune hunters, pseudo-missionaries and other kinds of free-booters.
“On the subject of cloth, Kongolese textiles were also distinguished. Various European writers of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries wrote of the delicate crafts of the peoples living in eastern Kongo and adjacent regions who manufactured damasks, sarcenets, satins, taffeta, cloth of tissue and velvet. Professor DeGraft-Johnson made the curious observation that: “Their brocades, both high and low, were far more valuable than the Italian.”
On Kongolese metallurgy of the Middle Ages, one modern scholar wrote that: “There is no doubting . . . the existence of an expert metallurgical art in the ancient Kongo . . . The Bakongo were aware of the toxicity of lead vapours. They devised preventative and curative methods, both pharmacological (massive doses of pawpaw and palm oil) and mechanical (exerting of pressure to free the digestive tract), for combating lead poisoning.”
In Nigeria, the royal palace in the city of Kano dates back to the fifteenth century. Begun by Muhammad Rumfa (ruled 1463-99) it has gradually evolved over generations into a very imposing complex. A colonial report of the city from 1902, described it as “a network of buildings covering an area of 33 acres and surrounded by a wall 20 to 30 feet high outside and 15 feet inside . . . in itself no mean citadel”.
A sixteenth century traveller visited the central African civilisation of Kanem-Borno and commented that the emperor’s cavalry had golden “stirrups, spurs, bits and buckles.” Even the ruler’s dogs had “chains of the finest gold”.
One of the government positions in mediaeval Kanem-Borno was Astronomer Royal.
Ngazargamu, the capital city of Kanem-Borno, became one of the largest cities in the seventeenth century world. By 1658 AD, the metropolis, according to an architectural scholar housed “about quarter of a million people”. It had 660 streets. Many were wide and unbending, reflective of town planning.
The Nigerian city of Surame flourished in the sixteenth century. Even in ruin it was an impressive sight, built on a horizontal vertical grid. A modern scholar describes it thus: “The walls of Surame are about 10 miles in circumference and include many large bastions or walled suburbs running out at right angles to the main wall. The large compound at Kanta is still visible in the centre, with ruins of many buildings, one of which is said to have been two-storied. The striking feature of the walls and whole ruins is the extensive use of stone and tsokuwa (laterite gravel) or very hard red building mud, evidently brought from a distance. There is a big mound of this near the north gate about 8 feet in height. The walls show regular courses of masonry to a height of 20 feet and more in several places. The best preserved portion is that known as sirati (the bridge) a little north of the eastern gate . . . The main city walls here appear to have provided a very strongly guarded entrance about 30 feet wide.”
The Nigerian city of Kano in 1851 produced an estimated 10 million pairs of sandals and 5 million hides each year for export.
In 1246 AD Dunama II of Kanem-Borno exchanged embassies with Al-Mustansir, the king of Tunis. He sent the North African court a costly present, which apparently included a giraffe. An old chronicle noted that the rare animal “created a sensation in Tunis”.
In Southern Africa, there are at least 600 stone built ruins in the regions of Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa. These ruins are called Mazimbabwe in Shona, the Bantu language of the builders, and means great revered house and “signifies court”.
The Great Zimbabwe was the largest of these ruins. It consists of 12 clusters of buildings, spread over 3 square miles. Its outer walls were made from 100,000 tons of granite bricks. In the fourteenth century, the city housed 18,000 people, comparable in size to that of London of the same period.
Bling culture existed in this region. At the time of our last visit, the Horniman Museum in London had exhibits of headrests with the caption: “Headrests have been used in Africa since the time of the Egyptian pharaohs. Remains of some headrests, once covered in gold foil, have been found in the ruins of Great Zimbabwe and burial sites like Mapungubwe dating to the twelfth century after Christ.”
On bling culture, one seventeenth century visitor to southern African empire of Monomotapa, that ruled over this vast region, wrote that: “The people dress in various ways: at court of the Kings their grandees wear cloths of rich silk, damask, satin, gold and silk cloth; these are three widths of satin, each width four covados [2.64m], each sewn to the next, sometimes with gold lace in between, trimmed on two sides, like a carpet, with a gold and silk fringe, sewn in place with a two fingers’ wide ribbon, woven with gold roses on silk.”
Apparently the Monomotapan royal palace at Mount Fura had chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. An eighteenth century geography book provided the following data: “The inside consists of a great variety of sumptuous apartments, spacious and lofty halls, all adorned with a magnificent cotton tapestry, the manufacture of the country. The floors, cielings [sic], beams and rafters are all either gilt or plated with gold curiously wrought, as are also the chairs of state, tables, benches &c. The candle-sticks and branches are made of ivory inlaid with gold, and hang from the cieling by chains of the same metal, or of silver gilt.”
Monomotapa had a social welfare system. Antonio Bocarro, a Portuguese contemporary, informs us that the Emperor: “shows great charity to the blind and maimed, for these are called the king’s poor, and have land and revenues for their subsistence, and when they wish to pass through the kingdoms, wherever they come food and drinks are given to them at the public cost as long as they remain there, and when they leave that place to go to another they are provided with what is necessary for their journey, and a guide, and some one to carry their wallet to the next village. In every place where they come there is the same obligation.”
In, 1571 Portuguese forces invade Munhumutapa, and started the destruction of the place. In 1629, Emperor Mavhura becomes puppet ruler of Munhumutapa on behalf of the Portuguese.
Chinese records of the fifteenth century AD note that Mogadishu had houses of “four or five stories high”.
“Gedi, near the coast of Kenya, is one of the East African ghost towns. Its ruins, dating from the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, include the city walls, the palace, private houses, the Great Mosque, seven smaller mosques, and three pillar tombs.
The ruined mosque in the Kenyan city of Gedi had a water purifier made of limestone for recycling water.
The palace in the Kenyan city of Gedi contains evidence of piped water controlled by taps. In addition it had bathrooms and indoor toilets.
A visitor in 1331 AD considered the Tanzanian city of Kilwa to be of world class. He wrote that it was the “principal city on the coast the greater part of whose inhabitants are Zanj of very black complexion.” Later on he says that: “Kilwa is one of the most beautiful and well-constructed cities in the world. The whole of it is elegantly built.”
Bling culture existed in early Tanzania. A Portuguese chronicler of the sixteenth century wrote that: “[T]hey are finely clad in many rich garments of gold and silk and cotton, and the women as well; also with much gold and silver chains and bracelets, which they wear on their legs and arms, and many jewelled earrings in their ears”.
In 1961 a British archaeologist, found the ruins of Husuni Kubwa, the royal palace of the Tanzanian city of Kilwa. It had over a hundred rooms, including a reception hall, galleries, courtyards, terraces and an octagonal swimming pool.
The Bamilike structures of the Cameroon are of mind-blowing architectural delicateness and beauty. The Bamum and Shomum scripts of the Cameroon are similar to those of Ethiopia. There are over 7000 ancient Bamum manuscripts and the Bamum Palace is still perfectly preserved.” Robin Walter
As historical sources described above the continent was full of monuments. Where are they?
The sad truth is that Europeans invaders have destroyed most of them either as punitive actions or under the scramble for Africa ‘Terra Nullius’ law.
During the scramble for Africa by Europeans, the main way to prove that a land was qualified for colonization or take over was ‘Terra Nullius”, a Latin expression deriving from Roman law meaning “land belonging to no one”, which is used in international law to describe territory which has never been subject to the sovereignty of any state, or over which any prior sovereign has expressly or implicitly relinquished sovereignty. Sovereignty over territory which is terra nullius may be acquired through occupation” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Terra_nullius
Many islands were acquired that way when it was possible to slaughter the small population and easily prove that the land was empty before the arrival of colonial powers.
But very soon, the colonial powers were in difficulty to find “land belonging to no one”. Africa was not a Terra Nullius. Consequently, the terra nullius law was altered to include land inhabited by savages and uncivilized people.
Again, very quickly the colonial power found it difficult to prove that Africa was a land of savages and uncivilized people. Instead they found, as demonstrated above, queendoms and kingdoms with great palaces and highly developed political and social norms.
At this stage, the colonial power have to destroy any sign of civilization.
From then on, the colonial power spent a lot of energy to destroy and burn african historical building and monuments, slaughtered the african elite of engineers, scientists, craftsmen, writers, philosophers, etc.
There is a museum in Paris with 18 000 human heads of people killed by the french colonial troops and missionaries. It’s called “Musée d’Histoire Naturelle de Paris”.
Among the heads are the ones of African kings, kings’ families, african engineers, writers, army officers, spiritual leaders, but also ordinary men, women, children that the french found unusual, exotic enough or interesting to kill to enrich their Museum of natural history where they display mainly animals skulls to represent bio-diversity and evolution.
France was not alone in the european competition to behead the maximum of variety of exotic people. The skulls and heads of many africans still could be found in museums and unusual places around Europe.
Another consequence of the Terra Nullius law defined as a land inhabited by savages, lead to the capture of Africans to display in zoos and public events around Europe, in primitive conditions, to demonstrate the inferiority and barbarism of the African people.
From that moment till now, most europeans still think Africans are savages, inferior, grotesque, unintelligent people. They more an african would display features that would fit that stigma, the more he or she would be liked by them.
Stupid Africans are the best companion of Europeans. A smart and assertive African is something most europeans are still not used to, and would do anything to reject or ostracize.
For example in Paris, the Soninke people from Mali play a lot on that stigma. They will go to the french public administration and play the most stupid African, speaking broken french, displaying sign of unintelligence and dumbness. Suddenly, the public servant would found a long awaited or dormant humanitarian mission to help an uncivilized African to sort out his papers and get his head around even simple things.
In this way, the Soninke often get most of the things they want from the public servants. They represent over 50% of the sub-sahararian africans living in France. An African who will go to the French administration with the posture of a person who is smart and affluent will face lot hurdles, because the instinctive reaction of the servants would be “You want to show us that you are intelligent, we will show you!”.
Reason why you’d see most Africans in Europe weaken themselves voluntary to be accepted. With white people they will act docile, submissive, take-order-and-obey, but would strangely turn angry, aggressive and pedantic with their fellow black people.
Sadly, nothing is left of our ancestors. When Europeans invaded Africa they applied the 4 basic principles of any occupant forces:
1. First, Kill the strong and loot the place
2. Second, Breed the weak
3. Third, Kill, Deport or Exile the smartest and the skilled ones
4. Fourth, Impose the golden colonial rule “My way or the Highway”.
The Kings and their descendants were all killed. Additionally, 3 centuries of transatlantic slavery exported over 12 millions of the finest men and women from Africa to America, tens of millions have died in the process.
Imagine what would happen to any country or civilization when almost all writers, storytellers, engineers, craftsmen, artists, leaders are killed or exiled? And, Any sign of heir past glory and ingenuity destroyed or burned? Their books and records of knowledge stolen or destroyed.
Who will transmit the century accumulated knowledge to the ordinary men and women?
It’s that broken link to knowledge and leadership for the last 3 centuries which has plunged the whole continent into a dark age, its people left without guidance.
Our fearless Warriors and Civilization builders are gone. Our global traders, pyramid, Kingdom and Empire builders are extinct.
Unsurprisingly none of these generations have being nurtured in creating empire, and waging wars, defending their territory, protecting their children and women.
Reason why we don’t have anymore the modern version of the fearless African Warriors and Civilization builders.
When some people ask why are they so poor, we answer they are not poor, they have been made poor.
Today, If you want to see the glory of Africa, you have to go to Europe, where thousands and thousands of stolen arts objects, civilization artifacts are in public museums and private collection (in UK, France, Germany, Belgium, Germany, etc.). If you want to see the wealth of Africa, you have also to go to Europe where they are stored in private and public accounts. 5 centuries of plundering and destruction brought the continent to its knees.
As PD Lawton put it “From Egypt to the Sudan, from Mali to Tanzania, from Zimbabwe to Mozambique, Africa is full of the testimony to her past. In many cases the complete destruction of structures has not been through natural elements but deliberate acts, most notably of the British Empire. The museums of Britain and Europe are full of the results of` pillage and plunder`. There are numerous ancient structures that are in a state of good preservation but in the case of many of Africa`s cities, palaces, temples and trading ports of old we are left with nothing other than the written reports and drawings of traders and travellers from medieval times to the final days of complete destruction in the late 1800s.In terms of beauty and even on occasion scale the architecture of Egypt`s pyramids pale in comparison to other African historical structures. The diversity of architecture from this continent is staggering. The use traditionally of what is termed fractal scaling in building highlights a religious tradition practiced throughout the continent. Fractal scaling is the `Mandelbrot` idea of architecture where the smallest parts of a structure resemble the largest parts. This cultural/religious tradition was/is practised in all aspects of life from weaving, to grinding cereals to the building of homes and palaces and is the incorporation of `history` and explanation of the Universe and our place within it, into everyday lives, lest we forget.” – “Africa Before The 20Th Century” in “Invisible Empire”.
We need to invest time and resources to unearth ourselves the ruins of our old cities to strengthen the faith of a young generation in our ability to rebound.
It’s time we revive in the mind of a new generation of Africans the true nature of their ancestors, the past glory of their empires, the pride of its warriors, conquerors and civilization builders, and clearly make them understand that the 5 “Centuries of Shame” under European occupation shall end with a new generation of Leaders and Builders!
5 century ago, when europeans arrived into africa they found the people were so advanced, wealthier, and were impressed by the abundance of nature and civility of its people. European became so jealous, and bitter, and knew they could conquer the people because the people were so kind, so welcoming, and have no gun or mounted mechanized armies as their.
Africans were exactly like what Christopher Columbus wrote about the Amerindians “They are artless and generous with what they have, to such a degree as no one would believe but him who had seen it. Of anything they have, if it be asked for, they never say no, but do rather invite the person to accept it, and show as much lovingness as though they would give their hearts.”
Therefore, Columbus later wrote what he would do to those good Indians “we shall powerfully enter into your country, and shall make war against you in all ways and manners that we can, and shall subject you to the yoke and obedience of the Church and of their highnesses; we shall take you, and your wives, and your children, and shall make slaves of them, and as such shall sell and dispose of them as their highnesses may command; and we shall take away your goods, and shall do you all the mischief and damage that we can, as to vassals who do not obey, and refuse to receive their lord, and resist and contradict him; and we protest that the deaths and losses which shall accrue from this are your fault, and not that of their highnesses, or ours, nor of these cavaliers who come with us…”
The fate of Africa from then on has been sealed in the evilness of the Devil with blue eyes. They looted what they found worthy, destroy and burned down anything that has worth but couldn’t be taken away.
As we have seen above, at “the apex of Afrikan Civilization, they mastered development of a stable high culture where the arts, sciences and human dignity flourished for thousands of years. BUT they did not develop a solution to the problem of the violent ravenous invading european. Neither did other parts of Afrika or Native America. We and our descendants will have to solve that problem or continue to suffer never ending recyclings of slavery, massacre, second classness, slavery, massacre, second classiness.” Muai-Aakhu Meskheniten
A story said,
When Europeans started killing African writers, craftsmen, philosophers, nobles and kings, a group of young apprentices and courtesans decided to find a place where to hide the books, and manuscripts.
In many part of the continent the europeans have already killed many writers and philosophers, and the few left have to flee. While Europeans were burning the books and manuscripts, a sage passed some sacred manuscripts to two brothers to hide from the invaders.
Before the two brothers was caught and killed by the savages, they succeeded to hide the manuscripts, split them in few parts, gave them to a dozen couriers to bring to sages of other kingdoms on the continent.
The story said that the person who will find these manuscripts will uncover the secret that will finally give the clues for africa renaissance. They contain a coded message, embedded in their lines, which upon reading it will open and enlighten the minds of the African people, connect them to an ancestral power uniquely African.
These manuscripts are reported to contain the secret for Africa to become all powerful once again, and dominate the world. People will come from Europe, Asia, America to bow before African kings. Black people as the original human beings will be first among all nations. People will travel the world seeking their protection and knowledge.
Till, now no one has succeeded to find those manuscripts, but the time has come to try again, and I’m ready to commit my life in search of those documents. I’ve already spent the last 15 years asking around about these documents.
It’s certain these manuscripts exist, and my mission is to find them. I’ll uncover the name of the two brothers, follow their fleeing path, travel the roads of the dozen couriers who carried the dozen chapters, uncover the places the manuscripts have been hidden, and decrypt the message, expose it to every african children as necessary to recover our ancestral glory and build our path to millennial glory and greatness.
I don’t know how long this search will take, but my determination is total and unwavering.
Your data is telling a story about you. Maybe the story's a good one: you vote at every election, you pay your bills on time, you do your job well and get to work on time each day. But there are now so many data brokers -- buyers and sellers of data -- that databases may be defaming you without you even knowing it. Consider the following examples:
1) You could get classified as a meth dealer
ChoicePoint is a data broker that maintains files on nearly all Americans. It mistakenly reported a criminal charge of "intent to sell and manufacture methamphetamines" in an Arkansas resident's file. ChoicePoint corrected the information when notified about the error, but other companies that had bought Taylor's file from ChoicePoint did not automatically follow suit. The free-floating lie ensured rapid rejection of her job applications, and she could not even obtain credit to buy a dishwasher. Some companies corrected their reports in a timely manner, but Taylor had to nag others repeatedly and even took one to court.
She found the effort to correct all the meth conviction entries overwhelming. "I can't be the watchdog all the time," she told the Washington Post. It took her four years to find a job, even after the error was uncovered, and she was still rejected for an apartment. Taylor ended up living in her sister's house and says the stress of the wrongful accusation exacerbated her heart problems. As Elizabeth DeArmond has observed, the "power of mismatched information . . . to disrupt or even paralyze the lives of individuals has grown dramatically." For every Catherine Taylor -- who became aware of the data defaming her -- there may be thousands of other victims entirely unaware of dubious scarlet letters besmirching their digital dossiers.
2) Buy cable "plus package," get classified as plus-sized
Health status can be attributed (if not definitively discovered) with reference to records from far outside the medical system. If you're a childless man who shops for clothing online, spends a lot on cable TV and drives a minivan, we know certain data brokers are going to assume you are overweight. Recruiters for obesity drug trials will happily pay for that analysis, and that could lead to some good health outcomes for the people they reach. But how far might the data go?
3) Watch out for that coffee cup!
The Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues issued a report in 2012 that brought up some of the novel threat scenarios involved in probabilistic analyses of genomic information:
In many states, someone could legally pick up a discarded coffee cup and send a saliva sample to a commercial sequencing entity in an attempt to discover an individual's predisposition to neurodegenerative disease. That information might then be misused, for example, by a contentious spouse as evidence of unfitness to parent in a child custody case. Or the information might be publicized by a malicious stranger or acquaintance without the individual's knowledge or consent in a social networking space, which could adversely affect that individual's chance of finding a spouse, achieving standing in a community or pursuing a desired career path.
Even more bizarrely, malicious gossips may claim First Amendment protection for spreading such information. As long as it's true, there's very little you can do to stop them.
The coffee cup example may seem speculative. But translated to the digital world, it's a business model for many big companies. As Anil Dash has observed:
Someone could make off with all your garbage that's put out on the street, and carefully record how many used condoms, pregnancy tests or discarded pill bottles are in the trash, and then post that information up on the web along with your name and your address. There's probably no law against it in your area. Trash on the curb is public. . . . [Online,] the business models of some of the most powerful forces in society are increasingly dependent on our complicity in making our conversations, our creations and our communities public whenever they can exploit them.
We now need to consider whether the types of social norms that keep companies from picking up trash bags and analyzing their contents should also apply to our online lives. The "digital exhaust" from internet use might be just as embarrassing and largely irrelevant to society as the refuse in our waste baskets. And just as no one should be forced to move to a building with an incinerator to keep their trash private, so too might we want to live in a world where there's no pressure to keep up with the latest in encryption technology to keep one's secrets.
4) A depressing use of pharmacy data
Companies are not shy about using and distributing certain information. For those in the individual insurance market, the risk of runaway health data has already been realized. Patients who purchased antidepressants were later denied insurance repeatedly, thanks to a dossier sold to insurers.
Consider, for instance, the plight of a Louisiana couple who sought insurance while in their fifties. Paula had taken an antidepressant as a sleep aid and occasionally used a blood pressure medication to relieve some swelling in her ankles. Humana, a large insurer based in Kentucky, refused to insure the couple based on that prescription history. They were not able to find insurance from other carriers, either. No one had explained to them that a few prescriptions could render them uninsurable. Indeed, the model for blackballing them may still have been a gleam in an entrepreneur's eye when Mrs. Shelton obtained her drugs. The Affordable Care Act makes things better now, since health insurers cannot deny coverage for preexisting conditions. But who knows who else is using such data?
5) Get tracked by many different sources
One thing is becoming clear with data brokers: it is almost impossible to keep track of where they're getting their data. Consider all the sources that could collect "health-inflected" information, such as bills for pills or GPS records of an emergency room visit:
And how far data brokers could go to combine and recombine those sources:
Images Credit: Federal Trade Commission
Keeping track of all these uses of data is nearly impossible -- it could turn into a full time job.
6) Opportunity -- and peril -- on new social networks
Social networks can now be organized around personal health records. One is PatientsLikeMe, which provides novel and powerful opportunities to address health issues and to form communities, but also opens the door to other data uses. While addressing frequently asked questions, PatientsLikeMe has stated that "you should expect that every piece of information you submit (even if it is not currently displayed) may be shared with our partners and any member of PatientsLikeMe."
While the company might be relied on to vet partners, its customers may have no idea about how easily information can spread. The Wall Street Journal reported that "Nielsen Co., [a] media-research firm . . . was 'scraping,' or copying, every single message off PatientsLikeMe's private online forums." Health attributes connected to usernames (which, in turn, can often be linked to real identities) could have spread into numerous databases. Many are not required to report to any entity on either the origin or destination of their data.
7) Perplexing personality tests
In an era of persistently high unemployment, even low-wage cashier and stocking jobs are fiercely competitive. Firms use tests from companies like Kronos, Inc. to determine who would be a good fit for a given job. You may be penalized for only agreeing "strongly" rather than "totally" in response to this statement: "All rules must be followed to the letter at all times." Consider how you might respond to statements like these, given four possible multiple-choice responses: "strongly disagree, disagree, agree and strongly agree:"
• You would like a job that is quiet and predictable
• Other people's feelings are their own business
• Realistically, some of your projects will never be finished
• You feel nervous when there are demands you can't meet
• It bothers you when something unexpected disrupts your day
• In school, you were one of the best students
• In your free time, you go out more than stay home
What is the right response for a would-be clerk, manager or barista confronted with these statements, which come from recent tests? It's not readily apparent. Moreover, the tests' authors refuse to release the "right answers," and who knows if they could. Companies like CVS and Circuit City may want different attitudes from different staff. Despite its indeterminacy, the test has important consequences for job seekers. Test takers with a "green score" have a decent shot at full interviews; those in the "red" or "yellow" zone are most likely shut out.
A glimmer of hope...
Although the new data landscape is scary, it makes sense to use some existing ways of protecting yourself. For example, under HIPAA, you can at least demand to see your medical records. You even have the right to see whom your health providers disclosed them to. Similarly, with FCRA, you can try to assure that your credit records are accurate. And you can order copies of your credit report from annualcreditreport.com. You can find out where other files about you are kept by consulting this site, maintained by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
But even in these areas, it pays to be careful! For example, after federal law required credit bureaus to release a free copy of credit histories to consumers annually, credit bureaus created a number of websites with names like "freecreditreport.com" which ultimately charged for the report, or only released it when the requestor bought other services. Forced to establish the site www.annualcreditreport.com to release credit histories, the bureaus "blocked web links from reputable consumer sites such as Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and Consumers Union, and from mainstream news web sites," according to one complaint. Enforcers at the Federal Trade Commission had to intervene, and sued when bureaus made their call centers difficult to reach. Even when data is regulated, it pays to be very careful in how you access it.
Unfortunately, most data isn't covered by FCRA or HIPAA. So we're going to need new laws to help rein in the worst abuses of the new data landscape. Data brokers need to document where they get their data from, and to whom they sell it. We deserve the right to access all files kept on us and the right to correct them. Until that happens, the brave new world of runaway data will continue to threaten our reputations, opportunities and livelihoods.