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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Ancient Canals Discovered in Heart of Mesa

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor




Anthropologists, with the assistance of satellite imagery, have discovered the remains of a series of ancient canals, located just south of the Salt River, near the very heart of downtown Mesa, Arizona.

The existence of the canal system, built in the Salt River valley centuries ago by the Hohokam, has long been known, but the extent of this most recent discovery has caught some experts by surprise.

Jerry B. Howard, curator of anthropology at the Arizona Museum of Natural History is one of the experts involved in archaeological studies of the region being conducted before the city of Mesa can permit the area to be redeveloped. Planners had intended to build a massive water park on the property, but all bets are off as to whether that plan can still move forward.

Mesa Grande 001
Mesa Grande Pueblo Ruins

"Through satellite imagery, sometimes we can actually see the canals, kind of a signature of them," states Howard. "The soil in them is different than the other soil around them, more porous and moist.”

The area, larger in scope than previously anticipated, is currently home to a golf course and a hospital, the two of which are separated by not surprisingly, the Mesa Grande Pueblo ruins.

These ruins, located near the heart downtown Mesa, were once occupied by the Hohokam Indians, responsible for constructing massive canal systems, still providing water to the Valley of the Sun, hundreds of years after the Hohokam mysteriously vanished.

The Hohokam inhabited the northern Sonora desert region known as the ‘Phoenix Basin’ for centuries before the arrival of the European explorers. They constructed extensive canals and irrigation networks, rivaling those of Ancient Egypt and China. These industrious peoples cultivated a variety of crops, including tobacco, cotton, beans, squash, maize and agave.

Mesa Grande 002
Mesa Grande Pueblo Ruins

John Bartlett, Arizona pioneer, was one of the early explorers of the region to document the ruins at Mesa Grande, writing the following about his experience:

"(July 4, 1852) ...A ride of a mile brought us to the table-land, when we made for a large mound or heap which arose from the plain. In crossing the bottom we passed many irrigating canals; and along the base of the plateau was one from twenty to twenty-five feet wide, and from four to five feet deep, formed by cutting down the bank—a very easy mode of construction, and which produced a canal much more substantial than if carried across the bottom".

Mesa Grande Pueblo Ruins
Mesa Grande Pueblo Ruins

"On reaching the great pile, I found it to be the remains of an adobe edifice from two hundred to two hundred and twenty-five feet in length, by from sixty to eighty feet wide, its sides facing the cardinal points. Portions of the wall were visible in only two places, one near the summit, at the south end, where, from the height of the pile, it must have originally been three or four stories high; and the other at the northern extremity, on the western side...From the summit of the principle heap, which is elevated from twenty to twenty-five feet above the plain, there may be seen in all directions similar heaps; and about a mile to the east, I noticed a long range of them running north and south, which the Indians said were of similar character to that on which we stood."

Today, little of the Mesa Grande Pueblo remains. A fence has been erected around the perimeter of the ruins, and not much can be seen from the roadway. Few residents in the neighborhood are even aware of the ruin’s existence. A sad state of affairs for a culture responsible for so much innovation. Without the canals, the valley would have remained uninhabitable.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

George W. Bush, Piltdown Man of La Mancha

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



George W. Bush would like us to believe history will remember him as a hero, a man who stood by his convictions. Much like Don Quixote, however, Bush rose up against perceived evil only to find he was chasing the unobtainable.

In doing so, Bush the younger drew his sword and spilt the blood of thousands. His little game of shoot em up escalated into a full scale mash-up of Hell meets high-water. I don't care for the word "quagmire". The definition falls way short of describing how bad the situation in Iraq became. Of course, there is nothing civil about civil war.

In truth, I doubt George W. Bush has ever ventured near La Mancha. Had he done so, he would have soon learned it was not inhabited by dragons. Still, I digress.

Lets move on to the "Piltdown Man." The reference may seem somewhat left field for those not familiar with the story, so here's the set-up.

Until the Invasion of Iraq, Piltdown Man represented perhaps the most extraordinary hoax in modern history. As the story goes, a pair of archaeologists claimed to find a human skull in a gravel pit near the town of Piltdown, purported to be the five hundred thousand year old missing link between man and monkey. The skull was in fact constructed from parts of several different skulls, including the jaw of an orangutan. Varnish was then applied to give the finished product a look of consistency. Amazingly, it took the scientific establishment forty years to catch on.

Does this scenario sound at all familiar? Indeed it does!

George W. Bush wants us to believe that in forty years or so, history will recall his presidency as strong and steadfast. He sees himself riding off into the sunset mounted upon his trusty steed, the White Knight, the enemy of evil.

I, however don't see it happening that way. I suspect history will be far more accurate, and much less flattering. At best, George W. Bush will be regarded as the Don Quixote of presidents. Mission accomplished, the windmill is dead, Jim.

More likely, George W. Bush will be remembered as the reigning Piltdown Man, an unmitigated fraud that has pushed America back into the stone age.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Fitness Trends Adjust To Economic Woes

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor




Fitness Trends Adjust To Economic Woes

The new year is traditionally a time for resolve. For many of us, it inevitably means a renewed commitment to personal fitness. This year, Americans of all ilk and age will once again tip the scales fantastic, and walk away determined to shed those unwanted pounds predictably packed on during yet another bountiful holiday season.

This years model may look decidedly different, however, as nervous consumers and markets alike, adjust to the flattened economy. Recent trends suggest that in the coming months, many seeking to improve their personal fitness will be looking to more cost efficient methods.

Fear not, however. Options are as varied as they are many. Fitness is a personal matter. When deciding the right program for your fitness goals, there are a numbers of options you may wish to consider.

Gym Membership

In years past, the fitness industry has remained strong even during rough economic times, leading some experts to view the overall fitness industry as recession proof. Still, the number of new gym memberships have notably declined in recent months, a reflection of consumer jitters. With membership rates often costing seventy dollars per month or more, many consumers consider gym membership a luxury. Still memberships are expected to rise again for the month of January. From there, it remains to be seen how gyms, during these lean times, will flex their muscle.

Fitness Coaches & Personal Trainers

Another option you may wish to consider is a personal trainer or fitness coach. Beware! All personal trainers are not alike. Be sure you find a fitness coach who is professional and is as dedicated and enthusiastic as you are. Your training regimen should reflect your personal health and fitness needs, and at rates often beginning at fifty dollars per hour or more, you can nary afford to choose your personal trainer in haste.

Aerobic Workout & Dance Classes

For some folks, aerobic dance classes could prove to be the ultimate fitness solution. I suppose at some point, we've all watched a predictably ridiculous dance flick and wondered if perhaps, we too might someday leave it all on the dance floor. According to some industry observers, however, high-impact aerobic workouts aren't quite the rage they were not long ago. Enrollment is on the decline.

Dance classes contain about thirty students per classroom. Rates generally start around seventy dollars per class and the price only goes up from there. On second thought, the old stair-climber is looking better by the day. For now, I am content to leave the dancing to the experts.

Gym Equipment for the Home

Okay, so I'll admit the old stair-climber isn't going to be the answer to my fitness needs. The cumbersome dinosaur never saw much use when we kept it in the dining room. It has seen even less since being relegated to the back of the garage. For some consumers, home gym equipment offers the convenience of having the equipment on hand. But with consumers nervous about the future, and most home systems priced above a thousand dollars, many consumers are finding home equipment too pricy, turning instead to more traditional (and less costly) methods of exercise.

In fact, don't be surprised to find consumers returning to the basics. During rough economies, fitness regimens are more apt to include the use of free weights, jump ropes, etc. Regimens are also more likely to include jogging, hiking, swimming and other exercises requiring minimal financial investment. And why not? After all, exercising should be fun and of course, beneficial to your health. A good fitness program doesn't need to drain your bank account. And who knows? Perhaps all you really need this year is a comfortable pair of cross trainers and a little new-found willpower.

So what are you waiting for?



B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Saturday, January 10, 2009

A Long, Hard Summer

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



Somewhere in the halls of Washington, the powers that be are feeling the heat. It’s only the second week of January, and already I sense, it’s going to be a long, hard summer.

Suffice to say we have begun the new year with a bang, and not a whimper. For what it’s worth, however, that bang we just collectively heard was not the sound of the US economy hitting rock bottom. Expect that sound to be deafening. I suspect what we might have just heard was, in fact, the sound of George W. Bush slamming the door on his way out. It would, after all, be the only noise we have heard from him in quite some time.

Perhaps, during these times of great hardship, the forty-third president of the United States finds it increasing difficult to face an ever skeptical public. Perhaps George W. Bush has grown weary of Washington, and the public perception of him as a hapless rodeo clown. After all, isn’t this the part of the story where Bush envisioned himself riding off into the Texas sunset?

But I will not pine for the glory days of George W. Bush and his companions. Certainly not whilst confronting the dog days of summer which surely lie before us. I cannot but fear, and I mean truly fear, for the future welfare of this once great nation of ours. The outlook is grim.

President Elect, Barack Obama, is facing an uphill battle, probably for many years to come. By the time he takes the oath of office in ten days, the nation will be three trillion dollars in debt, in most part, due to the irresponsible actions of his predecessor. He and the Democratic controlled Congress must act quickly to stem this current of financial bloodletting. Even then, we have no guarantees as to how this crisis will play out.

I suppose I risk comparisons to the fool who shouts fire in a crowded theater. Nonetheless, somewhere off in the distance, I smell smoke. Perhaps it remains too early to panic, but rest assured, it’s much too late to do nothing. The heat is on, America. Unfortunately, I’m afraid it is us, the average Joe and Jane, who will ultimately get burned.

Now might be a good time to catch up on some reading. The Grapes of Wrath, perhaps.


B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Thursday, January 08, 2009

Radical Cleric Orders Attacks Against US Troops

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor




The relative calm, pervasive throughout much of Iraq in recent months, may soon come to an abrupt end. Moqtada al-Sadr, the powerful cleric and outspoken opponent of the US occupation of Iraq, has ordered attacks on US troops in reprisal for recent Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Al-Sadr has been vocal in his opposition to any continued presence of US troops in the region, and has launched two previous offensives targeting US soldiers and outposts. The influential cleric also apposed a security deal agreed upon and signed by the two countries last year.

This new edict from al-Sadr does not bode well for peace in Iraq any time in the near future. His followers are loyal and numerous, and have shown themselves to be fierce fighters.

"I ask the Iraqi resistance to engage in revenge operations against the United States, the biggest partner of the Zionist enemy," al-Sadr is quoted as saying, urging the Iraqi resistance to carry out “revenge operations” against US interests.

The cleric also urged the closing of all Israeli embassies in the region as an act of solidarity with the Palestinian people. So far, more than seven hundred Palestinians have died as a result of this most recent Israeli aggression against the people of Gaza.

Earlier Thursday, a chief spokesman for the United Nations announced the organization would suspend further activities in the Palestinian territory. The organization provides food and relief to nearly 80 percent of Gaza's population.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Cuba Allows Digital Access to Hemingway Documents

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



The Cuban Heritage Council has announced it will allow access to thousands of pages of documents once belonging to American novelist Ernest Hemingway. Hemingway wrote many of his greatest works while living on the island, which he called home for more than twenty years.

Ada Rosa Alfonso Rosales, director of the Museo Ernest Hemingway, located in Havana, answered questions about the documents. "We are talking about 3,194 pages of documents, close to 2,000 plus of documents, some already digitalised," Rosales stated. "For practically the first time, this is being made available to students and researchers," she added.

Hemingway spent much of his adult life in Cuba, where he lived with his wife on a fifteen acre estate called the `Finca Vigia` approximately fifteen miles from downtown Havana. There he wrote some of his most memorable novels, including the literary classic ‘The Old Man and the Sea”

The archive is purported to include coded messages Hemingway is believed to have sent while drunkenly pursuing German submarines operating just off the coast of Cuba. The collection also includes photographs, letters and manuscripts, as well as an unpublished epilogue to Hemingway's novel, For Whom the Bell Tolls.

An additional thousand or so documents have yet to be scanned and added to the archive, but will be made available upon completion. Academics and researchers can request electronic copies of the rare documents from Cuba's Heritage Council.

B. Thomas Cooper - Editor



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