The Ancient Egyptians built massive obelisks as sundials in order to differentiate the parts of day. With a relative segmentation of the day, the culture utilized educated predictions to provide basic scheduling. Uniform patterns along different sites allowed for temporal estimations between distances aiding in decision making. The revelation of seasonal differences aided in agriculture and record-keeping, and eventually cyclic patterns could be dictated at night by watching the moon and stars. Soon, the pyramids and other architecture were designed in tune with cyclic rhythms of heavenly bodies in the sky. The Ancient Chinese developed a mechanical method of time utilizing the near constant drip of water. Su Song designed a mechanized calendar that ornately displayed astronomical data with such intricacy, that this "clock" was over thirty feet tall. Other cultures in Ancient Africa developed a water clock by using a bowl with a tiny hole in the bottom, as the bowl filled, marks were made in its rim in order to denote time. As for calendaring, the methods seem much more diverse. Early indigenous cultures of europe developed a cyclical calendar based on solar and lunar events, as did the Chaco, the Incans, the Sumerians, the Hebrews, and even the early Egyptians. However, it was the Egyptians who noticed the appearance of the Dog Star (Sirius) every 365 days. Interestingly enough, the Dogon culture of Africa had such a complex understanding of the Sirius system as to presuppose a fainter star causing gravitational differences within its orbit. The Babylonians weren't so convinced by a solar year, and simply followed an alternating lunar cycle.
All across the continents of Africa, Asia, and Europe these intertwining implementations of chronology led to a combination of the elements of timekeeping. The Macedonians, however, were the first (recorded) to divide the day into 24 hours.
The indigenous peoples of the southern americas, time and record were kept on string. The Inca had a series of relay runners that would carry messages, as one would pass, a knot was tied into a string at a certain distance, depending on the part of the day. The mayans got a little deeper with the calendaring. By incorporating other revolving objects in the night sky like venus, mars, and even the Milky-way Galaxy, the culture developed the most complex calendaring system imaginable. Equating rhythmic ratios into a 13/20 into 260 day Tzolkin also combined with a 365 Haab, creating an even larger ration. But then there was an even longer calendar called the Bak'tun with a total cycle of 144000 days! With this calculable series of days and characters, great cycles like the time it takes the Earth's axial spin to turn 360 degrees, or even the solar system to make one revolution around galactic central point. One of the key differences between this calendar and others, is that the time is relative to the position of ourselves within the galaxy, rather than the position of the sun relative to ourselves.
In the ancient west, sundials were good enough for the common man. Eventually, the uncommon man began to construct elaborate clocks as decoration and as discipline, hung on the highest of towers for all to see. These weight powered precipices soon gave way to springs and pendulums for accuracy. Galileo, an avid star-watcher, is credited with the design of the first pendulum-powered clocks. Soon, the west would be increasing their productivity by accurately keeping time, among other things of course. 24 hour clocks got smaller and smaller, and twenty four hour time got bigger and bigger. First Quartz, then Ammonia, then Cesium became the standard to measure time worldwide. Time got borrowed in some countries and states for Daylight Savings Time, and soon the whole world was relying on twenty-four hours of 60 minutes and sixty seconds to carry out its business.
Perhaps the major difference between the indigenous peoples of the Americas and the western influence of scheduling is the reverence of the cyclical aspect of time. The Mvskoke peoples held time as sacred. Dances, stories, plantings, harvestings, and celebrations were held at certain times in conjunction with the most palpable changes within time. Incorporated so deeply into the culture, the natural rhythm of time resonated into every aspect of the civilization. Time was not money. Time was life. The most apparant observations of this were noted by the animals, insects, plants, waters, and winds around them. To the Mvskoke, and many others, these elements were people too. A universal respect yielded a universal harmony.
Personally, I would very much like to return to a time when one arises to the warmth of the sun and goes to sleep with its descent. I would like to count my weeks with the faces of the moon, and count my seasons by the lengths of the days. What do you think?
All along the Huanghe and Yangzte, people began to plant grains in standing water. Pioneered by Shen Nong Shi, the agrarian culture of China was born, according to legend anyway. This specialized growth of edible foods, led to other civil practices and even climate studies. Generation after generation, this so-called "farming" became wildly popular all across Asia, eventually reaching Northern Africa and then eventually Europe. Aboriginal Australians figured it out on their own, but they didn't make a livelihood of it, the same could be said for the Aboriginal Americans. It was simply a way of life, after all it's not hard to figure out that plants grow from seed. Little did the earliest agrarian civilizations realize that traces of their farming would be unearthed, thousands of years later in mineral layers of a stalagmite in Mexico. Luis González ( A really nice guy, by the way), Associate Professor of Geology at KU once showed me this stalagmite.
Utilizing some of the most complex machines, mathematics, and methodologies, it became apparent that the first instances of mankind's influence on global climate was during the birth of agriculture in China. The decaying plant matter emitted methane, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere. Granted, all decaying plant matter emits methane to some degree, large-scale growing operations to harvest grain, as opposed to the entire plant, accelerated the natural rate of methane emissions.
Other climate scientists have found correlations with the Sun's activity, solar maxima and solar minima, cross-referenced with the axial rotation of the earth to indicate global warming and global cooling periods, as evidenced by glacial maximums and glacial retreat. Either way, it seems absolute that climate change, man-made or not, is occurring.
So why is it that everyone is freaking out?
Al Gore presented "An Inconvenient Truth," and showed a few numbers. Senator Jim Inhofe warned of "A climate change hoax," and presented a few numbers. All sorts of scientists from Australia to Zimbabwe, have presented countless data on climate, cross-referenced with just about every factor known, and even some factors unknown, to try to answer whether or not the weather is changing for the worse. Even still, some people will be able to tell you Yes it Is, or No it is Not.
I smoke cigarettes. I'm not proud of it, but it's a fact. At least I don't throw my butts on the ground. My favorite brand of cigarette is Newport™ brand cigarettes. I'm fully aware of the reasons why I should quit. The studies on carcinogenic pesticides used in the Lorillard fields in Greensboro, NC and their toxic effects is alarming. The pictures of smoker's lungs hanging about in schools other constant advertisements remind me that it's not good for my health. But all these facts mean absolutely nothing to me when I hear the soothing click of a lighter, smell the faint tinge of toasted paper as the tip turns red, as my cheeks pucker with a savory draw of cool mentholated smoke dancing over my tongue as I inhale that first puff deeply with a calming sigh.
I will quit someday, that is known. But whether I quit because I contract cancer and die, or because I take a conscientious effort to stop smoking is the true unknown. Draw all the parallels you like.
I think that the climate is getting warmer and here's why. Last year, seven of my favorite trees on campus were cut down because of Bark Beetle infestation. That's enough evidence for me. What do you think?
Long ago in ancient Sumeria, scribes were considered to be some of the most important members of society. The oldest known accounts of the civilization were expressed by pressing marks into a clay tablet. Those who devoted their life to interpreting the patterns were held in high esteem, trusted as the only source in which the ruling class could record and recount a history. The ancient Egyptians used inks and papers as well as the Chinese. The common man and woman was illiterate, trusting that the interpretations of the scribes were true.
Fast forward a few years to 15th century Europe. Stone printing became primarily ornamental, giving way to papers and parchment. The continent's favorite book, the Versio Vulgata, had previously been tediously transcribed by hand. That is, until a goldsmith named Gutenburg figured out that, much like a wine press, type could be easily replicated onto copies of pressed paper. Still, presses were rare, and illiteracy still very common.
Fast forward to the 17th century British Colonies. Owning a press was good for business. Business and official documents could be manufactured relatively cheaply. In the Americas, presses were highly regulated, as the ruling class didn't want a repeat of the situations in France and England. But soon, people got tired of the regulations of press and other facets of life. After all, the regulators were across the ocean, what do they know of colonial life? Dissent lead to published grievance, and soon anyone with a press was publishing their opinions. For the most part, only the educated could read the texts, as illiteracy was still the norm.
Fast forward to today. Practically anyone can print anything. Now begs the question of ethics. In the old days, very few could write, let alone read. Therefore, anything recorded in written form underwent severe scrutiny. Before mass communication such as radio, tv, and the internet, Newspapers were THE form of localized information. Paper, ink, and type didn't grow on trees, so therefore the information must be sold. If there were competing presses in a town, the better the journalism, the more profitable the business. This model would press the presses (snicker) to provide the best information. But not today.
I haven't bought a newspaper in years. I don't watch TV. I rarely listen to the radio. I get my information from the internet. Well, not all of it.
Let's rewind back in time a little bit, I almost forgot about another form of communication: oration. Long before the Japanese, Norsemen, or Europeans reached the coasts of the Americas, tribal nations from the tip of South America to the crown of Greenland shared their news and stories with spoken word. Just as scribes were held in high esteem, the storytellers had their place in the civilizations also. Symbols and center pieces for stories were used, such as the vessels of the Chimú in South America, or the Winter Counts of the Lakota, but these were only used as reference. The story travelled generation to generation. Accounts were encoded poetically, and the most important things were remembered, like what plants you could eat, when to move, how to live peacefully, and even how to pay respects.
Back to the present in good ol' Lawrence KS. Seems if I ever want to know what's going on, I can ask someone. Oral tradition is alive and well, but the subject matter has in some ways changed from poetic allegory to events and happenings. Information is everywhere. As I walk into the dorm, I read safety posters, club flyers, at-a-glance phone numbers, and academic brochures. On occasion, I'll read a copy of the Indian Leader if it's there, mostly to read the quotes from students. I'll pull my cellphone out of my pocket to read text-messages for meeting locations, band practice times, or other personal information. I'll sit down in front of a computer to read headlines and articles from around the world. However, of all the information available, the most pertinent is the information I recieve from the people. A five minute conversation can yield more useful information than an hour-long session on the internet.
So what's going on? Objectivity in modern journalism is severely lacking. I recall watching a CNN segment on how poor a journalism source FOX News is, only to switch to FOX News berating CNN. Neither of these segments are news. I tried watching TV when the US deployed more troops to Afghanistan only to find Michael Jackson's funeral on almost every single channel. The radio, even NPR, rarely ever offers anything useful to me as news. And local newspapers and local TV stories always seem to discuss things that seem so very irrelevent, the applicable news, such as anything having to do with the SLT never seems to get to the heart of the story. Maybe the world, even at the local level is simply too complex to put into one place. Perhaps then, a new type of journalism is warranted.
The internet offers a host of weblogs from MySpace to Blogger, to microblogs like Twitter and Facebook. By examining many experiences on the subjective level some truth can be gleaned from the accounts, however no singular source can be accurate. Ironically, this seems to be the most accurate representation of what's going on at a local level, second only to first-hand experience. On a national level, I'll read about the same story from many different perspectives. Analyzing the liberal left, to the conservative right, sometimes I'll get an idea of what's going on. When it comes to politics however, it's hard to ever find any truth except by actually reading the legislation itself. Not everyone reads it though, sometimes not even the members of congress. On a global level, it's even more grey. But subjectivity can be dangerous, especially when one's words are taken as factual and complete.
So what is the new journalism? It's more personal and experiential. It's the observer who must critically analyze EVERYTHING to ascertain the truth for themselves. What do you think?