The Human Journey

We Have Come Far

From Africa to Astoria by Way of Everywhere

The Astoria section of Queens, New York, is one of the most ethnically diverse communities on Earth. At the 30th Avenue Street Festival in July 2008, people of all heritages and complexions mingled among booths offering up Thai charms and Peruvian sweaters, Mexican corn and Italian zeppole. The sun was hot, the mood merrily multicultural. Through the crowd walked a tall, blond man with pale skin rapidly turning red. He stopped occasionally to talk to people, and if he found them obliging, asked if they could spare a few cells from the inside of their cheeks.

For the past four years Spencer Wells and his colleagues with National Geographic and IBM’s Genographic Project have been traveling the globe, collecting DNA in cheek swabs and blood samples from hundreds of indigenous groups. By comparing their DNA, the project has been retracing the ancient history of human migrations since our species originated in Africa some 200,000 years ago.

The Genographic Project focuses on the Y chromosome in males, which is handed down intact from father to son, and on mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which a mother passes to her offspring. Over generations, small, harmless mutations accumulate on these two snippets of DNA; to Wells and other scientists these genetic markers constitute a history book. As ancient human populations migrated out of Africa, splitting off from each other and entering new lands, they accumulated different patterns of markers that reflect that history. Each individual today retains such a pattern.

In recent centuries those prehistoric paths have reconnected in New York and other immigrant havens. “From the beginning of the project,” Wells says, “I’ve wondered if it would be possible to sample all the major lineages on Earth on a single street.” On 30th Avenue he almost did—the 193 volunteers turned out to be carrying genetic markers for virtually all the major migrations that peopled the continents. The only missing lineage was the oldest one, which Genographic scientists found in Khoisan hunter-gatherers in southern Africa; their ancestors initially diverged from other modern humans more than 100,000 years ago.

The DNA of small, relatively unmixed groups like the Khoisan still preserves clear signals of their unique population histories. In places like Queens, where people from around the world have been swapping DNA for generations, those histories are being lost; a Y chromosome, say, doesn’t reflect the whole ancestry of its owner, let alone of a population. If the Genographic Project usually targets populations that have so far escaped the melting pots, it’s precisely because those pots are such a rich confusion of genes.

“Everybody talks about Astoria like it’s Greek,” says George Delis, a retired community manager and a Greek immigrant himself. “Well, it’s not Greek. It’s everything.” —Jamie Shreeve

Alcohol vs. Marijuana (via Peace & Nonviolence Project)

What’s your take on the matter? I really would like to know how you feel about one or the other or both!

Let us know and you could win some free stuff, possibly an iPad or iPhone.

Alcohol vs. Marijuana Source:Online Universities … Read More

via Peace & Nonviolence Project

The many faces of Clark Rockefeller – Dateline NBC – Crime reports –


The many faces of Clark Rockefeller



The latest on the imposter, recently convicted of kidnapping his daughter



via The many faces of Clark Rockefeller – Dateline NBC – Crime reports –

America’s Meanest Airlines


America’s Meanest Airlines

By Hamooda Shami

Simply put, flying can be a stressful activity.



A lot of the time it begins with the airports: dizzying parking garages, overpriced food and a series of long lines have a way of making even the most serene travelers a little bit agitated. And that’s even before the airplane leaves the ground. So it’s easy to see how poor service from an airline can put the finishing touches on a ruined day — long check-in lines, flight delays, lost luggage, baggage fees and general rudeness have a way of doing that. Not to mention the scary food (at least it used to be free scary food).



Based on the Airline Quality Rating (AQR) Report, which covers 18 domestic carriers, here is a list of the airlines that could stand to do the most work on making their customers happy. The report’s conclusions are based on surveys of airline industry experts, with positive and negative values assigned to different elements in airline quality. Several common complaint areas were factored in — including on-time arrival, mishandled baggage, delays and involuntary denied boardings — the scores of which were then calculated to produce an overall quality score. We also took a look at a number of other sources, including the American Customer Satisfaction Index and the Air Travel Consumer Reports by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Regional airlines are ranked separately because of their tendency to score lower.



via America’s Meanest Airlines.


via America’s Meanest Airlines.

Fast train, big dam show China’s engineering might – Yahoo! News


China rolled out its fastest train yet on Tuesday and announced that the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s biggest hydroelectric project, is now generating electricity at maximum capacity — engineering triumphs that signal the nation’s growing ambitions as its economy booms.



via Fast train, big dam show China’s engineering might – Yahoo! News.

True Stories Behind Car Company Logos

Find out why Ferraris prance, Chevys wear a bowtie and much more

By Nick Kurczewski
True Stories Behind the Company Badge

Did a wallpaper pattern in a Paris hotel room inspire the famous Chevrolet Bowtie emblem? Does the blue and white BMW roundel really symbolize a propeller and sky? And was the Porsche logo first sketched on a napkin in a New York City restaurant? In the world of automobile logos, truth can be stranger than fiction—though a good story can go a long way toward embellishing a brand’s corporate identity.

From Ferrari’s Prancing Horse to Cadillac’s crest, automobile logos appear on everything from steering wheel hubs to giant billboards, and even the lapel pins on the suits of company executives. This kind of flexibility is one of the design elements needed for an effective and strong logo, says Jack Gernsheimer, Creative Director of Partners Design Inc. and author of Designing Logos: The Process of Creating Symbols that Endure. Read the rest of this entry

Robin Hood Digital Wars: Is This Only The Start?


The Robin Hood digital attacks against anti-piracy law firms and copyright-focused associations have gone on for nearly two weeks now, with a number of prominent groups involved. The protest organisers, dubbing themselves “Anonymous,” have been calling on like-minded individuals through social networking sites 4chan, Reddit, Digg and Twitter to launch Distributed Denial of Service — DDoS — attacks against a number of media authorities involved in anti-piracy actions. Recruiting fliers — as pictured — have been posted all around the world in multiple languages. Thousands of online people from all around the world have been encouraged to join in, stand up, and digitally attack the anti-piracy lobby. Read the rest of this entry

10-investment-mistakes-to-avoid: Personal Finance News

Jerry Miccolis, co-author of “Asset Allocation for Dummies” and chief investment officer at the wealth advisory company Brinton Eaton in New Jersey, shared his list of 10 mistakes investors should avoid.

Let us know in the comments section below what you would add to the list.

1.) Overlooking the importance of asset allocation: According to Mr. Miccolis, getting asset allocation right is the building block of investing successfully. Many investors, however, skip this step and instead build their portfolio by haphazardly buying securities they like.

2.) Confusing diversification with asset allocation: Asset allocation goes beyond simple diversification. According to Mr. Miccolis, asset allocation involves picking asset classes (think stocks and bonds) and subclasses/sectors that do not move in synch and then putting the right proportions of each in your portfolio. A portfolio with all stock investments, for instance, probably is not properly allocated.

3.) Neglecting to rebalance regularly: After you set up your initial asset allocation, you need to make sure to keep those allocations on target over time because some asset classes will grow faster than others. Read the rest of this entry

Mistakes Of Startup Entrepreneurs: Personal Finance News

When it comes to starting a successful business, there’s no surefire playbook that contains the winning game plan.

On the other hand, there are about as many mistakes to be made as there are entrepreneurs to make them.

Recently, after a work-out at the gym with my trainer — an attractive young woman who’s also a dancer/actor — she told me about a web series that she’s producing and starring in together with a few friends. While the series has gained a large following online, she and her friends have not yet incorporated their venture, drafted an operating agreement, trademarked the show’s name or done any of the other things that businesses typically do to protect their intellectual property and divvy up the owners’ share of the company. While none of this may be a problem now, I told her, just wait until the show hits it big and everybody hires a lawyer. Read the rest of this entry

Just Manic Enough: Seeking Perfect Entrepreneurs

DAVID SEGAL, On Sunday September 19, 2010, 2:09 am EDT
Cambridge, Mass.

IMAGINE you are a venture capitalist. One day a man comes to you and says, “I want to build the game layer on top of the world.”

You don’t know what “the game layer” is, let alone whether it should be built atop the world. But he has a passionate speech about a business plan, conceived when he was a college freshman, that he says will change the planet — making it more entertaining, more engaging, and giving humans a new way to interact with businesses and one another. Read the rest of this entry

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