My Musing Space: October 2006

My Musing Space

Monday, October 16, 2006

Iraq National Museum looted during the war... not!

I was discussing the fate of the looted National Museum in Iraq with some friends the other day, a most heart wrenching story back in 2003. We all bemoaned the sad fact that "thousands of years of history went down the drain in a couple of days". We disagreed on some details and so I turned to our trusted Google to help find the details. Did I ever find details...!!!

According to this report by Charles Krauthammer, the looting never happened! Yes, some items did go missing but altogether only 33. To quote from the report: "The source of the lie, Donny George, director general of research and study of the Iraqi State Board of Antiquities, now says (Washington Post, June 9) that he originally told the media that "there were 170,000 pieces in the entire museum collection. Not 170,000 pieces stolen. No, no, no. That would be every single object we have!"

The funny thing is that while the original (now proven) lie went around the world several times over, the correction did not. Why? Because it was not "sensational news", there were more interesting other war stories at the times, so why bother with something that would have possibly caused some red faces in media circles.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Speed bumps

Speed bump
Speed control bumps have been around for a while now, they are an accepted part of our street landscape. I remember at the beginning they even had large flower pots on some streets, placed at about 100 meters apart, alternating on the right nd left sides of the street. I remember feeling very unsafe winding my way between them. Once I even had a real scare when a cat slowly ambled into my path from behind one of them. These pots have luckily been removed since then.

As for the speed bumps, (I thought) I have become used to them, I accepted the fact that they must be justified in the number of lives they save every year. This week I had to drive through a street I regularly use which was recently resurfaced and for a few days had no bumps. I was amazed how much safer I felt. My eyes were zooming left and right the way I usually drive, checking for any movement between parked cars. That is when I realised that I probably do not, cannot do that when I have to keep my eyes on the upcoming next speed bump.

Now for a few days I have been consciously comparing my driving on streets with and without those speed bumps. Not only do I drive less cautiously because of them, but I also noticed something else. I have a Toyota Camry with a low front bumper. If I drived onto those bumps with the full maximum speed of 30 km/h, it woud bump down and scratch the ground, as a learned it very quickly at the beginning. Which means that I slam on the brakes before every bump and speed up as I leave it. I then paid attention to other drivers and I found that most of them do so. Do you know what this means for air quality...??? Noxious exhaust emissions considerably increase during slow-down and speed-up. Now calculate how many of us on these side streets can be doing our little dance every minute of the day - world wide(!), multiply the extra emissions by this number and WE'VE GOT TROUBLE!!!

I would like to urge anyone who happens to read this entry of mine, and who has access to statistical data to, please, please, check out by how much did traffic deaths decrease since the introduction of speed bumps and by what amount did cancer deaths increase...

Monday, October 02, 2006

3000 year old writing found in Mexico

They found a stone slab in Veracruz, known now as the Cascajal Block, that bears text that is believed to have been carved onto it during the ancient Olmec civilization cca. 900 B.C. The Olmec culture predates those of the Mayans and Aztec. They are thought to have flourishes between 1200 B.C. and 400 B.C.