Timbuktu, Mali and its Cultural and Commercial Traditions

Timbuktu-MaliTimbuktu, Mali is located at the precise point where the Niger River flows northward into the southern edge of the Sahara Desert, which is an incredibly difficult place to reach and is why it is often used in the English language as a representative of a far away place. In Timbuktu, men keep their faces veiled while in the presence of women at all times, not even lowering their veils to eat, instead taking in food from underneath the veil. Women predominantly make familial decisions and hold the position of power within society. Timbuktu is made up of various ethnic tribes including the Kel Tamasheq, Songaï (pronounced “sore-eye”) (sometimes spelled as “Songhai”) and Arabs primarily. Timbuktu was founded by the Tuareg people however their numbers are vastly outweighed by the 3 main tribes of Timbuktu during the modern era. Despite once being a trading hub of both of salt and gold, Timbuktu now primarily trades in salt as the price of gold has made gold inaccessible for the average inhabitant. Timbuktu is slowly being buried in the sands of the Sahara Desert as these sands blow in and slowly but surely bury Timbuktu’s structures a little bit at a time. Fortunately, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization has been helping to preserve the city of Timbuktu and its buildings from the elements of sand, wind, and rain which have eroded its structures made from natural materials, mainly adobe and mud brick

The Eurasian Yamnaya People and Their Cultural and Physical Dominance of the European and Asian Continents

Yamnaya-horseback

The Yamnaya people were bands of nomads who roamed territory north of the Black Sea and Caspian Sea during the Bronze Age. By 3000 B.C., the Yamnaya became the greatest horse culture of the ancient world, as they were the first culture to adopt both riding upon horseback as well as the pulling of horse wagons. This breakthrough in technology allowed the Yamnaya to transport food and supplies more easily and readily so that the best pasture lands could be acquired. This allowed the Yamnaya to quickly become the most dominant culture within the Central Step region. Horses allowed for larger herds of cattle and sheep, which permitted wealth to be quickly generated and redistributed into local economies. The Yamnaya alongside other cultures which they combined with traversed across the Central Step, moving as far east as Mongolia and as far west as central Europe. The Yamnaya nomads dominated virtually every culture encountered which is understood due to the fact that many regions began speaking the Proto-Indo-European language in the Yamnaya dialect. The rationale for this is that language is connected to power and/or wealth which is a large incentive for a person or group of people to adopt because it provides unique advantages in all aspects of life including everything from economic trade to finding a romantic life partner. The Yamnaya left no written record of a written language but linguists are able to piece together fragments of the Yamnaya dialect due to the fact that many languages in Europe and Asia, including ancient languages like Greek and Latin, modern romantic languages like Italian, French, and Spanish, Germanic languages like various Scandinavian languages and English, and Russian and Sanskrit, all derive from the common Proto-Indo-European language spoken by the Yamnaya (e.g. the English term ”brother” is “frater” in Latin, “bratar” in Sanskrit, and “pratar” (pronounced “pray-tarr” with a rolled “R”) in Greek). The term “wheel” and “wagon” are Yamnaya terms, and only appeared after the Yamnaya people became dominant within the Central Step region where these two technologies were developed. This is important because Proto-Indo-European languages like that of the Yamnaya must have been spoken after the invention of the wheel around 3500 B.C., as the terms invented would have no use prior to the advent of the practical application (e.g. only using the term “hard drive” in English after the advent of computers, as there is no intended use prior). Many linguists believe that all languages stem from a single source language and that this single source may be the Yamnaya dialect. This dialect and Yamnaya culture as a whole spread across Europe and Asia with millions of modern day people in both continents with generic markets tracing their lineage back to the Yamnaya people. Archeologists and anthropologists believe the Yamnaya were so successful because of learned, acquired immunity towards the Bubonic Plague. Evidence of yersinia pestis bacteria exists within the burial sites of Yamnaya people, which means that the Bubonic Plague was already affecting humans as far back as 3000 years before any written record. This evidence further demonstrates that the Bubonic Plague began within Eurasia, possibly in Yamnaya communities and that those who survived, were most likely able to dominate other European and Asian cultures which did not have acquired immunity as they brought the plague with them when invading foreign territory. It is believed by experts that this immunity and transference of the Bubonic Plague allowed the Yamnaya to expand across the known world, conquering and acquiring the people and regions they came across

Snow in Iran During the Summer

Mt.Damavand

Iran experiences snow during the winter every couple of years and even during the summer on occasion due to the topography and geography of Iran which includes high altitude mountains. Iran is a mountainous state referred to as a “plateau”. Mount Damavand, the highest peak in Iran, is a primary example of Iran’s ability to produce snow. With an elevation of 18,403′ in height, Mount Damavand always has snow to some degree, even if relatively minute, with snow occurring even during the peak summer months of June, July, and August

The Physics of the Pac-Man Universe

Pac-Man.png

The game of Pac-Man allows players to exit the world on one side, and re-enter upon a completely different side without delay. Pac-Man’s universe appears to be a flat, two dimensional, rectangular shape, but in reality it must be cylindrical like a pipe, only with the 2 ends of the pipe touching, making Pac-Man’s universe actually in the shape of a donut

The Abhorrent​ Canadian Chinese Head Tax Law of the Late 19th and Early 20th Century

Canadian-Chinese-Head-Tax

97,000 people paid the Chinese Head Tax when implemented in Canada in 1885. The tax was effectively a discriminatory practice in which only those of Chinese descent would pay a fee when entering Canada. The purpose was to deter Chinese immigrants from coming to Canada. The fee started out as $50.00 in 1885 which was equivalent to 1 year worth of salary, but by 1904 the price had ballooned to $500.00, a modern day equivalent of 2 years salary

The Dreadful Conditions Imposed Upon North Korean’s Who Work Abroad

North-Korean-money

Many North Koreans decide to work abroad but foreign work programs do not work the same way in North Korea as they do in the western world. Workers go abroad to places which will take them, with Russia and China being the primary location to migrate, and then work in industries which require cheap labor, typically in construction or factory work. Workers are forced to pay a mandatory fee to the North Korean state as crippling sanctions by the United Nations has hobbled North Korea’s ability to advance its nuclear program(s). This fee is referred to as “party duty” and is typically $300.00 – $900.00 per month which is why many workers end up giving up and returning home, often in debt. Workers are paid in a form of food stamps as all financial pay goes to the team leaders of the band of workers. These leaders arrange for part of the money to be paid to the worker, part of the money to be kept for themselves, and part of the money to be paid to the North Korean government. Workers have reported earning as little as 7% of their gross income after the immense fees which were imposed upon them. Many workers work during the day at their primary job, and then again during the night with private construction jobs which they acquire most often by bribing their team leader. The night construction jobs pay much better than the state sanctioned jobs because doing so is completely “off the books” meaning that no taxes or fees are imposed allowing workers to keep the entire payment for themselves and their families. These migrant workers are often referred to as “dollar heroes” within North Korean culture and there are approximately 40,000 of these types of workers in Russia alone. At its core, this system is essentially forced labor which is equitable to slavery. The North Korean state is dependent upon this system as many of its legitimate exports are now blocked from world trade making income generation substantially more difficult. The demand for North Korean labor is intense because Chinese laborers now earn enough that their wages are no longer competitive with North Korea. The Chinese government often sets up conventions which function as career fairs, placing perspective employers in touch with those looking for work. These work fairs are established so that North Korean workers can be brought to China to help meet the demand of laborers needed to build new projects, primarily in construction. North Korea has put laws in place so that employers and employees can never directly exchange payment for services rendered. Any employee demanding payment is dismissed and sent back to North Korea. Workers are closely guarded and watched by North Korean managers who report back anything suspicious to the North Korean government. China is North Korea’s most important trading partner and it is estimated that in China alone, North Korean workers earn hundreds of millions of dollars each year. Before workers are allowed to go abroad, they must pass an ideological examination which is essentially a background check of ones family. Workers are required to have 1 spouse and 1 child in North Korea before migrating for work so that those who go abroad cannot engage in rogue activities. The North Korean government leverages these families left behind to manipulate workers into complying with the harsh system setup abroad, as many are unaware just how bad conditions are until they arrive to their worksite for the first time. The United Nations estimates that North Korean workers earn over $1,000,000,000 ($1 billion) annually for the North Korean state. Reports indicate that there are approximately 150,000 North Korean workers working abroad in total with 100,000 in China, 40,000 in Russia, and the remaining 10,000 working in Africa, Cambodia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Myanmar, and Poland. The United Nations has predicted that because western sanctions have put such immense pressure upon North Korea and its future financial growth, Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s leader whose technical title is the “Chairman of the Workers Party”, will be looking to increase the number of workers North Korea sends abroad as well as ratchet up the pressure placed upon these workers to generate even more foreign exchange income. Because of the insatiable drive to fulfill ever lower wages, it seems the rest of the industrialized world is complicit in helping North Korea’s Supreme Leader fulfill his ambition