Tag Archive: Technology


“Therefore, O king, let my counsel be acceptable to you: break off your sins by practicing righteousness, and your iniquities by showing mercy to the oppressed, that there may perhaps be a lengthening of your prosperity.” Daniel 4:27

Nebuchadnezzar was king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, which had conquered most of the Middle East. This included the Kingdom of Judah (Israel had already been conquered by the Assyrians, whom the Babylonians supplanted). Daniel was a Hebrew, and thus a captive of the Empire. But he was an important political official, and the king relied on him to interpret dreams, since God gave Daniel prophetic power. The above passage is at the end of Daniel’s interpretation of a dream: Nebuchadnezzar, ruler of much of the known world, would be humiliated. But, if he follows Daniel’s advice, he might be spared.
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Rope is strands or yarns of fibers twisted together into a stronger form, and is a staple for everyday life all over the world. But how did it originate? What are some things that it has been used for? This weekend, let’s examine the history of this extremely important and useful tool.

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A bundle of rope. Released under a CC0 license.

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Writing is a form of communication that involves expressing language and emotions through the recording of signs and symbols, usually in a way that complements spoken language. But when did writing start? Which culture was the first to introduce writing?

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The Narmer Palette, one of the oldest examples of Egyptian writing. Credit: Public domain, uploaded to Wikimedia Commons by User:Nicolas Perrault III

Exactly which culture first developed writing we do not know, and writing was invented by different cultures at different times. The earliest examples of writing that have been found so far are the Dispilio Tablet, found in Greece and dated to 5260 ± 40 BC, and, possibly, the Tărtăria tablets that were found in Romania. These tablets are dated to approximately 5300 BC, but the claim the the inscriptions on the tablets constitute writing is disputed, and there are recent claims that the tablets themselves are forgeries.

Conventionally, the first writing systems are credited to the Sumerian and Egyptian cultures, who both were practicing writing by 3200 BC. Whether Egypt developed writing independently or learned it from the Sumerians is debated. The Sumerians, who lived in what is now Iraq, would keep track of trade and industry by pressing marks into a clay tablet using a stylus. Originally, these styluses were round or sharp-edged, and engraved pictures of the items being recorded. Eventually, scribes started using a wedge-shaped stylus, and made simple marks into a tablet, rather than pictures, creating a writing script known as cuneiform.

Egyptian writing used a system of pictures known as hieroglyphs. Whereas Sumerian writing developed out of accounting and record keeping techniques, Egyptian writing emerged out of an artistic tradition. Writing in Egypt was an elite practice, and only select people were allowed to train to be scribes.

Some other writing systems that developed elsewhere independently are Chinese writing, the earliest examples of which are from 1200 BC during the late Shang dynasty, Mesoamerican writing, the earliest example of which is attributed to the Olmec/La Venta culture from the period 1200 BC to 900 BC, and, possibly, the Indus Valley Civilization (the earliest writing there dates to 2600 BC, but there is debate as to whether this culture learned writing from Mesopotamia).

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History Weekend: The Blog

Considering that this is a blog, I’d thought it would be interesting to look at the history of the blog. How did blogs develop? Why are they called blogs?

The origins of the blog typically are credited to the years 1994 through 1997, when online diaries began appearing. Justin Hall is sometimes called the “founding father” of blogging. He launched an online diary, Links.net, in January of 1994, on which he chronicled his daily life. Another early pioneer is Carolyn Burke with her site Carolyn’s Diary, launched in 1995.

Dave Winer also laid much of the early groundwork for blogging in 1994, with his site Scripting News, which developed many early techniques for World Wide Web syndication. In 1997, Jorn Barger, a diarist inspired by Winer, coined the term “Weblog.” This is the origin of the term “blog,” as we shall see in a moment.

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Children root through the burning piles of plastic and wire, smoke searing their lungs as they scrounge for any little piece of valuable metal amidst the melted plastic and poisonous fumes. The scene just described occurs daily in third world and developing countries, and even in more industrialized nations such as China. Cargoes of old, outdated, or just plain unwanted technological devices arrive from wealthy Western countries like the United States and are deposited at often illegal sites where they are pulled apart by hand or burned in open pits, the impoverished workers collecting any re-usable material that can be sold and put back into the system where it will cycle through and again arrive at some foreign port where it will again be sifted through by hand. Clearly, discarded technology is a serious world problem, but it can be solved through simple, relatively easy steps that every citizen can take.

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