Wednesday, May 1, 2013

China’s Militant Nationalism. By Gordon Chang.

China’s Militant Nationalism. By Gordon Chang. Real Clear World, April 29, 2013.

Xi’s War Drums. By John Garnaut. Foreign Policy, May/June 2013.

Three New Facts About the Tea Party. By Abby Rapoport.

Three New Facts About the Tea Party. By Abby Rapoport. The American Prospect, April 29, 2013.

Republican Factionalism and Tea Party Activists. By Ronald B. Rapoport et al. Midwest Political Science Association Conference, April 11-14, 2013.

Starving Settlers in Jamestown Colony Resorted to Cannibalism.

Doug Owsley, division head for Physical Anthropology at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, displays the skull and facial reconstruction of “Jane of Jamestown” during a news conference at the museum in Washington, Wednesday, May 1, 2013. Scientists announced during the news conference that they have found the first solid archaeological evidence that some of the earliest American colonists at Jamestown, Va., survived harsh conditions by turning to cannibalism presenting the discovery of the bones of a 14-year-old girl, “Jane” that show clear signs that she was cannibalized. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster).

Starving Settlers in Jamestown Colony Resorted to Cannibalism. By Joseph Stromberg. Smitshsonian, May 1, 2013.


The harsh winter of 1609 in Virginia’s Jamestown Colony forced residents to do the unthinkable. A recent excavation at the historic site discovered the carcasses of dogs, cats and horses consumed during the season commonly called the “Starving Time.” But a few other newly discovered bones in particular, though, tell a far more gruesome story: the dismemberment and cannibalization of a 14-year-old English girl.

“The chops to the forehead are very tentative, very incomplete,” says Douglas Owsley, the Smithsonian forensic anthropologist who analyzed the bones after they were found by archaeologists from Preservation Virginia. “Then, the body was turned over, and there were four strikes to the back of the head, one of which was the strongest and split the skull in half. A penetrating wound was then made to the left temple, probably by a single-sided knife, which was used to pry open the head and remove the brain.”

Much is still unknown about the circumstances of this grisly meal: Who exactly the girl researchers are calling "Jane" was, whether she was murdered or died of natural causes, whether multiple people participated in the butchering or it was a solo act. But as Owsley revealed along with lead archaeologist William Kelso today at a press conference at the National Museum of Natural History, we now have the first direct evidence of cannibalism at Jamestown, the oldest permanent English colony in the Americas. “Historians have gone back and forth on whether this sort of thing really happened there,” Owsley says. “Given these bones in a trash pit, all cut and chopped up, it's clear that this body was dismembered for consumption.”

It’s long been speculated that the harsh conditions faced by the colonists of Jamestown might have made them desperate enough to eat other humans—and perhaps even commit murder to do so. The colony was founded in 1607 by 104 settlers aboard three ships, the Susan Constant, Discovery and Godspeed, but only 38 survived the first nine months of life in Jamestown, with most succumbing to starvation and disease (some researchers speculate that drinking water poisoned by arsenic and human waste also played a role). Because of difficulties in growing crops—they arrived in the midst of one of the worst regional droughts in centuries and many settlers were unused to hard agricultural labor—the survivors remained dependent on supplies brought by subsequent missions, as well as trade with Native Americans.

By the winter of 1609, extreme drought, hostile relations with members of the local Powhatan Confederacy and the fact that a supply ship was lost at sea put the colonists in a truly desperate position. Sixteen years later, in 1625, George Percy, who had been president of Jamestown during the Starving Time, wrote a letter describing the colonists’ diet during that terrible winter. “Haveinge fedd upon our horses and other beastes as longe as they Lasted, we weare gladd to make shifte with vermin as doggs Catts, Ratts and myce…as to eate Bootes shoes or any other leather,” he wrote. “And now famin beginneinge to Looke gastely and pale in every face, thatt notheinge was Spared to mainteyne Lyfe and to doe those things which seame incredible, as to digge upp deade corpes outt of graves and to eate them. And some have Licked upp the Bloode which hathe fallen from their weake fellowes.”

Despite this and other textual references to cannibalism, though, there had never been hard physical evidence that it had occurred—until now. Kelso’s team discovered the girl’s remains during the summer of 2012. "We found a deposit of refuse that contained butchered horse and dog bones. That was only done in times of extreme hunger. As we excavated, we found human teeth and then a partial human skull," says Kelso.

Kelso brought them to Owsley for a battery of forensic tests, including microscopic and isotope analysis. “We CT scanned the bones, then replicated them as virtual 3D models and then put them together, piece by piece, assembling the skull,” Owsley says. Digitally mirroring the fragments to fill in the missing gaps allowed the team to make a 3D facial reconstruction despite having just 66 percent of the skull.

The researchers used this reconstruction, along with the other data, to determine the specimen was a female, roughly 14 years old (based on the development of her molars) and of British ancestry. Owsley says the cut marks on the jaw, face and forehead of the skull, along with those on the shinbone, are telltale signs of cannibalism. "The clear intent was to remove the facial tissue and the brain for consumption. These people were in dire circumstances. So any flesh that was available would have been used," says Owsley. "The person that was doing this was not experienced and did not know how to butcher an animal. Instead, we see hesitancy, trial, tentativeness and a total lack of experience."

He’s probably one of the researchers best qualified to make this judgment. As one of the country’s most prominent physical anthropologists, he’s analyzed many cannibalized skeletons from ancient history, and as an accomplished forensic investigator who works with the FBI, he’s also worked on much more recent cases, such as one of the victims of 1980s serial killer and cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer. In total, he estimates that he’s examined more than 10,000 bodies during his career, oftentimes people who were killed in tragic circumstances, including victims of 9/11 and journalists who were kidnapped and murdered in Guatemala. Most of his time, though, is spent working on more inspiring cases, such as the 9,000-year-old “Kennewick Man” discovered in Washington State, and the mysterious remains of ancient Easter Islanders. “I love the moments when you come up with something that you're just totally in awe of," he told Smithsonian magazine when he was named one of “35 Who Made a Difference.” “Something that gives you an overwhelming sense of wow!”

Owsley speculates that this particular Jamestown body belonged to a child who likely arrived in the colony during 1609 on one of the resupply ships. She was either a maidservant or the child of a gentleman, and due to the high-protein diet indicated by his team’s isotope analysis of her bones, he suspects the latter. The identity of whoever consumed her is entirely unknown, and Owsley guesses there might have been multiple cannibals involved, because the cut marks on her shin indicate a more skilled butcher than whoever dismembered her head.

It appears that her brain, tongue, cheeks and leg muscles were eaten, with the brain likely eaten first, because it decomposes so quickly after death. There’s no evidence of murder, and Owsley suspects that this was a case in which hungry colonists simply ate the one remaining food available to them, despite cultural taboos. “I don’t think that they killed her, by any stretch,” he says. “It's just that they were so desperate, and so hard-pressed, that out of necessity this is what they resorted to.”

Kelso’s team of archaeologists will continue to excavate the fort, searching for other bodies that might help us learn about the conditions faced by some of the country’s first European colonists. This might be the first specimen that provides evidence for cannibalism, but Owsley is pretty sure there are more to come. Percy’s letter also describes how, as president of the colony, he tortured and burned alive a man who had confessed to killing, salting and eating his pregnant wife—so the remains of this woman, along with other victims of cannibalism, may still be waiting to be found underground. “It’s fairly convincing, now that we see this one, that this wasn’t the only case,” he says. “There are other examples mentioned here and there in the literature. So the only question is: Where are the rest of the bodies?”

Jane’s Story. Historic Jamestowne website.

“Things which seame incredible”: Cannibalism in Early Jamestown. By Mark Nicholls. Colonial Williamsburg, Winter 2007.

“Such a dish as powdered wife I never heard of.” By Dennis Montgomery. Colonial Williamsburg, Winter 2007.

“A continuall and dayly Table for Gentlemen of fashion”: Humanism, Food, and Authority at Jamestown, 1607–1609. By Michael A. Lacombe. American Historical Review, Vol. 115, No. 3 (June 2010).

George Percy’s “Trewe Relacyon”: A Primary Source for the Jamestown Settlement. By Mark Nicholls. The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 111, No. 3 (2005).

Three ships lie at anchor on the river as early settlers carry lumber and raise the walls of the stockade fort at Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in America, circa 1610. (Hulton Archive/Getty).

Jamestown Colonists Resorted to Cannibalism. By Paula Neely. National Geographic News, May 1, 2013.

Scholars find cannibalism at Jamestown settlement. By Brett Zongker. AP. Yahoo News, May 1, 2013. Gallery. Huffington Post.

Girl’s Bones Bear Signs of Cannibalism by Starving Virginia Colonists. By Nicholas Wade. New York Times, May 1, 2013.

Skeleton of teenage girl confirms cannibalism at Jamestown colony. By David Brown. Washington Post, May 1, 2013.

Not Just Cannibalism: Seven Ways Colonial Jamestown Was a Living Hell. By Nina Strochlic. The Daily Beast, May 2, 2013.

The Jamestown Girl: Traditional Cuts. By Dana Goodyear. The New Yorker, May 2, 2013.

Archaeology and Forensic Anthropology Confirm Survival Cannibalism at Jamestown. Video. JamestownRediscovery, May 1, 2013. YouTube.

Secrets of the Dead S2 E3: Death at Jamestown. PBS Video. ShalomEducation1993, February 27, 2013. YouTube. Original air date, July 10, 2001.

Amanda Knox, in Her Own Words.

Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox, in Her Own Words. Interview with Diane Sawyer. Video. 20/20. ABC News, April 30, 2013.

Murder Mystery: Amanda Knox Speaks. By Nikki Battiste, Phoebe Natanson, and Geoff Martz. ABC News, April 30, 2013.

Book Excerpt: Amanda Knox Shares Intimate Details About Personal Life in “Waiting to Be Heard.” Good Morning America. ABC, May 1, 2013.

Amanda Knox Finally Speaks in Interview With Diane Sawyer. By Ben Teitelbaum and Nina Strochlic. The Daily Beast, May 1, 2013.

Israel Is Doing Quite Well. By Barry Rubin.

The situation is looking better for Israel. By Barry Rubin. Jerusalem Post, April 29, 2013.

For Israel, Tranquil Days. By David Ignatius. Real Clear Politics, April 28, 2013.

Why I Quit Facebook. By Christopher Thompson.

Why I Quit Facebook. By Christopher Thompson. New Hampshire Union Leader, April 27, 2013.

Time to Confront Obama on Radical Islam. By Caroline Glick.

Time to Confront Obama on Radical Islam. By Caroline Glick. Real Clear Politics, April 29, 2013.

Colleges Adapt Online Courses to Ease Burden. By Tamar Lewin.

Colleges Adapt Online Courses to Ease Burden. By Tamar Lewin. New York Times, April 29, 2013.

Adapting to Blended Courses, and Finding Early Benefits. By Tamar Lewin. New York Times, April 29, 2013.

Universities Look to MOOCs for Remedial Help. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, May 1, 2013.

College: What’s the Point. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, April 27, 2013.

How to Assess the Real Payoff of a College Degree. By Scott Carlson. The Chronicle of Higher Education, April 22, 2013.

It’s a 401 (k) World. By Thomas L. Friedman.

It’s a 401 (k) World. By Thomas L. Friedman. New York Times, April 30, 2013.

Blue Bureaucrats Strangling Innovation: The Case of Uber. By Walter Russell Mead. Via Meadia, April 30, 2013.

Uber In NYC Shows What’s Really Wrong With The US Economy. By Tim Worstall. Forbes, April 27, 2013.


It’s hard to have a conversation today with any worker, teacher, student or boss who doesn’t tell you some version of this: More things seem to be changing in my world than ever before, but I can’t quite put my finger on it, let alone know how to adapt. So let me try to put my finger on it: We now live in a 401(k) world — a world of defined contributions, not defined benefits — where everyone needs to pass the bar exam and no one can escape the most e-mailed list.

Here is what I mean: Something really big happened in the world’s wiring in the last decade, but it was obscured by the financial crisis and post-9/11. We went from a connected world to a hyperconnected world. I’m always struck that Facebook, Twitter, 4G, iPhones, iPads, high-speech broadband, ubiquitous wireless and Web-enabled cellphones, the cloud, Big Data, cellphone apps and Skype did not exist or were in their infancy a decade ago when I wrote a book called “The World Is Flat.” All of that came since then, and the combination of these tools of connectivity and creativity has created a global education, commercial, communication and innovation platform on which more people can start stuff, collaborate on stuff, learn stuff, make stuff (and destroy stuff) with more other people than ever before.

What’s exciting is that this platform empowers individuals to access learning, retrain, engage in commerce, seek or advertise a job, invent, invest and crowd source — all online. But this huge expansion in an individual’s ability to do all these things comes with one big difference: more now rests on you.

If you are self-motivated, wow, this world is tailored for you. The boundaries are all gone. But if you’re not self-motivated, this world will be a challenge because the walls, ceilings and floors that protected people are also disappearing. That is what I mean when I say “it is a 401(k) world.” Government will do less for you. Companies will do less for you. Unions can do less for you. There will be fewer limits, but also fewer guarantees. Your specific contribution will define your specific benefits much more. Just showing up will not cut it.

The policy implications? “Just as having a 401(k) defined contribution plan requires you to learn more about investing in your retirement, a 401(k) world requires you to learn much more about investing in yourself: how do I build my own competencies to be attractive to employers and flourish in this world,” said Byron Auguste, a director at McKinsey and one of the founders of Hope Street Group, which develops policies to help Americans navigate this changing economy. “As young people rise to that challenge, the value of mentors, social networks and role models will rise.”

Indeed, parenting, teaching or leadership that “inspires” individuals to act on their own will be the most valued of all.

When I say that “everyone has to pass the bar now,” I mean that, as the world got hyperconnected, all these things happened at once: Jobs started changing much faster, requiring more skill with each iteration. Schools could not keep up with the competencies needed for these jobs, so employers got frustrated because, in a hyperconnected world, they did not have the time or money to spend on extensive training. So more employers are demanding that students prove their competencies for a specific job by obtaining not only college degrees but by passing “certification” exams that measure specific skills — the way lawyers have to pass the bar. Last week, The Economist quoted one labor expert, Peter Cappelli of the Wharton business school, as saying that companies now regard filling a job as being “like buying a spare part: you expect it to fit.”

Finally, every major news Web site today has a “most e-mailed list” that tracks what’s popular. Journalists who tell you they don’t check to see if their stories make the list are lying. What makes those lists possible is the use of Big Data and the cloud, which can also measure almost any performance in any profession in real-time and tailor rewards accordingly. More schools can now instantly measure which teachers’ kids are on grade level in math every week, Jamba Juice can see which clerk sells the most between 8 and 10 a.m., and factories in China can find out which assembly lines have the fewest errors. On, you can track your kid’s homework assignments and daily progress in every K-12 class. A most e-mailed list is coming to a job near you.

I find a lot of this scary. We’re entering a world that increasingly rewards individual aspiration and persistence and can measure precisely who is contributing and who is not. This is not going away, so we better think how we help every citizen benefit from it.

It has to start, argues Ryan Burke, the director of jobs and workforce for Hope Street, with changing our education-to-work system to one that “enables and credits a variety of viable pathways to needed skills.” But “for students and workers to take advantage of the opportunities open to them in a ‘defined contribution’ world, they will need much better information to inform their decisions. Right now it’s much easier to evaluate a choice about buying a car or picking a mutual fund” than to find the competencies employers are looking for and the best cost-effective way to obtain them.