Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Shoes or no shoes...

My baby is rapidly approaching the walking stage. She is almost 7 months old now and I know soon will be standing up and trying to walk. So, is it better for her to walk barefoot or with shoes? I've heard mixed feelings on this. I know when my brothers and I were growing up, we wore those hard booties to make sure our feet were straight. I'm not even sure you can find those anymore. But, I've been reading a lot of articles saying that it's best for babies to walk barefoot. But what about cold hard floors and won't that hurt my little girl's feet?
Introducing, Robeez. Apparently, these shoes have soft soles and are flexible, yet supportive. They are supposed to be just as good as walking barefoot, but provide protection. They're kinda cute too aren't they? Check them out!

Robeez Baby Shoes Shop

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Whites, Blacks, Hispanics Disagree About Way Minority Groups Treated

July 11, 2006

Whites, Blacks, Hispanics Disagree About Way Minority Groups Treated
Whites diverge from blacks, Hispanics in their views of black-Hispanic relations
by Jeffrey M. Jones


PRINCETON, NJ -- Gallup's annual Minority Rights and Relations poll finds that non-Hispanic whites are much more likely than blacks or Hispanics to express satisfaction with the way each of six different minority groups are treated in society. However, whites are not as positive when asked to rate the state of relations between specific groups, especially when it comes to black-Hispanic relations. Whites are divided as to whether black-Hispanic relations are good or bad, but majorities of both blacks and Hispanics say that relations between these groups are good. There are only minor differences in the way whites and blacks rate black-white relations, although blacks are more likely than whites to believe that black-white relations will always be problematic.

The Minority Rights and Relations poll was conducted June 8-25, interviewing more than 2,000 adults nationwide and included samples of 500 blacks and Hispanics each. The poll was weighted so that it is representative of the U.S. adult population.

View full article

Genealogy Web sites expand research tools

Genealogy Web sites expand research tools

By JESSICA E. VASCELLARO, The Wall Street Journal
Thursday, July 6, 2006

Old family history records, from census information to draft cards, are now flooding the Internet thanks to new technology that makes it easier for companies to put fragile historical documents online., a subscription service owned by, has recently put a fully indexed version of the 1910 U.S. Census on the Web, culminating its six-year-long project of digitizing and indexing all publicly available U.S. Census records from 1790 to 1930.

This effort means users can now search all publicly available U.S. censuses for ancestors’ names, ages, birthplaces and places of residence. They can also discover other facts such as addresses, home values and occupations by viewing a digital image of the handwritten original document.

In recent months,, a free site sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has been expanding its collection of birth, marriage, death, census and other records. It has also begun a massive project to digitize billions of records previously available only on microfilm, particularly civil, church and local records. It plans to make those available online beginning early next year.

At the same time, a new genealogy search tool from MyHeritage, a free service based in Israel, is allowing consumers to simply search across hundreds of genealogy databases at once. These databases include everything from lists of passengers kept by ships transporting immigrants to war casualty records and photo archives.

While family-history aficionados have for years been able to hunt down batches of records (often with the help of subscription-only services available through libraries and schools), new services put such sources right at consumers’ fingertips and in one place., a free site, says its recent efforts to digitize billions of reels of microfilm will allow consumers to access sources from their desk. Previously, the site could only tell users how to find the relevant microfilm.

While traditional online genealogy queries often only pulled up a name, birth and death date and location, the new results are much richer and include more arcane trivia from church registries, cemetery records and even agrarian censuses (revealing how many pigs and chickens one’s relatives may have owned).

New technologies and plummeting digital storage costs are enabling companies to put more
sources directly online.’s massive batch of census records is housed in a 3,400-square-foot data center in Utah that contains 3,400 servers. Such an investment was possible only because such digital storage costs have been continuing to fall, says Tim Sullivan,’s chief executive.

Cameras that take higher-resolution pictures and that can automatically correct for blemishes like watermarks mean that can do “in minutes what used to take hours and days,” says the organization’s chief marketing officer Steve Anderson. New technologies that can recognize the type of document being scanned and highlight various fields for indexing are helping, too.

The preservation efforts are part of a massive global effort to digitize a variety of content for safekeeping and easy searching, such as Google’s effort to scan libraries of books. Online genealogy companies say that last year’s devastating hurricane season, which destroyed several archives in the South, has also increased demand for partnership programs in which they digitize local archives in exchange for being able to offer the sources to the public through their sites.

Companies are also branching out to include more international records. recently launched, which will help its U.S. market by allowing Americans to trace those with English roots further back, the company says. has been adding international sources to its U.S. site as well. In April, the company completed an online version of the 1841 United Kingdom Census and has plans to add German, Italian and Australia databases soon.

MyHeritage Research, which is available through, allows consumers to type in an ancestor’s name and then search simultaneously across more than 400 databases from around the world such as Ireland’s Gravestone Index and soldier records from the U.S. Civil War.

© 2006 Naples Daily News and NDN Productions. Published in Naples, Florida, USA by the E.W. Scripps Co.

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Friday, July 07, 2006

So now we're all the same...

So now someone from Trinidad is the same as being from Puerto Rico. Let me explain. A coworker of mine said that there were 3 hispanics in the office today. That I knew of, there were only 2, me included. So I asked, who's the third? Said person pointed to one of the student assistants, who I know is from Trinidad. Hmmmmm - He's not hispanic, he's from Trinidad! Then this person proceeded to tell me - Well, it's close enough, isn't it? Suuuuuureeeee! It's in the Caribbean and it's an island - so let's just say from now on that all people from the Caribbean are hispanic. Why not??!!

Some people are so ignorant.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

I hate it when...

I'm sure this has happened to other people before. I hate it when people ask me why I put a Puerto Rican flag up in my car. I tell them I'm proud of where I come from. They then ask, "So what, I should put a US flag up?" If you feel like it, then do so! It's that simple.

That's the problem. People are only patriotic when there is a "crisis". After the world trade center attack, everyone had a US flag up in their car, outside their houses, and everywhere else they could think of, where are they now??!!

Don't catch an attitude with me for putting up my flag and being proud of my roots. Do the same and represent and leave me and my flag alone!

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Roots of Human Family Tree Are Shallow

Article from the LA Times -

Roots of Human Family Tree Are Shallow

AP National Writer
2:17 PM PDT, July 1, 2006

Whoever it was probably lived a few thousand years ago, somewhere in East Asia -- Taiwan, Malaysia and Siberia all are likely locations. He -- or she -- did nothing more remarkable than be born, live, have children and die.

Yet this was the ancestor of every person now living on Earth -- the last person in history whose family tree branches out to touch all 6.5 billion people on the planet today.

That means everybody on Earth descends from somebody who was around as recently as the reign of Tutankhamen, maybe even during the Golden Age of ancient Greece. There's even a chance that our last shared ancestor lived at the time of Christ.

"It's a mathematical certainty that that person existed," said Steve Olson, whose 2002 book "Mapping Human History" traces the history of the species since its origins in Africa more than 100,000 years ago.

It is human nature to wonder about our ancestors -- who they were, where they lived, what they were like. People trace their genealogy, collect antiques and visit historical sites hoping to capture just a glimpse of those who came before, to locate themselves in the sweep of history and position themselves in the web of human existence.

But few people realize just how intricately that web connects them not just to people living on the planet today, but to everyone who ever lived.

With the help of a statistician, a computer scientist and a supercomputer, Olson has calculated just how interconnected the human family tree is. You would have to go back in time only 2,000 to 5,000 years -- and probably on the low side of that range -- to find somebody who could count every person alive today as a descendant.

Furthermore, Olson and his colleagues have found that if you go back a little farther -- about 5,000 to 7,000 years ago -- everybody living today has exactly the same set of ancestors. In other words, every person who was alive at that time is either an ancestor to all 6 billion people living today, or their line died out and they have no remaining descendants.

That revelation is "especially startling," statistician Jotun Hein of England's Oxford University wrote in a commentary on the research published by the journal Nature.

"Had you entered any village on Earth in around 3,000 B.C., the first person you would have met would probably be your ancestor," Hein marveled.

It also means that all of us have ancestors of every color and creed. Every Palestinian suicide bomber has Jews in his past. Every Sunni Muslim in Iraq is descended from at least one Shiite. And every Klansman's family has African roots.

How can this be?

It's simple math. Every person has two parents, four grandparents and eight great-grandparents. Keep doubling back through the generations -- 16, 32, 64, 128 -- and within a few hundred years you have thousands of ancestors.

It's nothing more than exponential growth combined with the facts of life. By the 15th century you've got a million ancestors. By the 13th you've got a billion. Sometime around the 9th century -- just 40 generations ago -- the number tops a trillion.

But wait. How could anybody -- much less everybody -- alive today have had a trillion ancestors living during the 9th century?

The answer is, they didn't. Imagine there was a man living 1,200 years ago whose daughter was your mother's 36th great-grandmother, and whose son was your father's 36th great-grandfather. That would put him on two branches on your family tree, one on your mother's side and one on your father's.

In fact, most of the people who lived 1,200 years ago appear not twice, but thousands of times on our family trees, because there were only 200 million people on Earth back then. Simple division -- a trillion divided by 200 million -- shows that on average each person back then would appear 5,000 times on the family tree of every single individual living today.

But things are never average. Many of the people who were alive in the year 800 never had children; they don't appear on anybody's family tree. Meanwhile, more prolific members of society would show up many more than 5,000 times on a lot of people's trees.

Keep going back in time, and there are fewer and fewer people available to put on more and more branches of the 6.5 billion family trees of people living today. It is mathematically inevitable that at some point, there will be a person who appears at least once on everybody's tree.

But don't stop there; keep going back. As the number of potential ancestors dwindles and the number of branches explodes there comes a time when every single person on Earth is an ancestor to all of us, except the ones who never had children or whose lines eventually died out.

And it wasn't all that long ago. When you walk through an exhibit of Ancient Egyptian art from the time of the pyramids, everything there was very likely created by one of your ancestors -- every statue, every hieroglyph, every gold necklace. If there is a mummy lying in the center of the room, that person was almost certainly your ancestor, too.

It means when Muslims, Jews or Christians claim to be children of Abraham, they are all bound to be right.

"No matter the languages we speak or the color of our skin, we share ancestors who planted rice on the banks of the Yangtze, who first domesticated horses on the steppes of the Ukraine, who hunted giant sloths in the forests of North and South America, and who labored to build the Great Pyramid of Khufu," Olson and his colleagues wrote in the journal Nature.

How can they be so sure?

Seven years ago one of Olson's colleagues, a Yale University statistician named Joseph Chang, started thinking about how to estimate when the last common ancestor of everybody on Earth today lived. In a paper published by the journal "Advances in Applied Probability," Chang showed that there is a mathematical relationship between the size of a population and the number of generations back to a common ancestor. Plugging the planet's current population into his equation, he came up with just over 32 generations, or about 900 years.

Chang knew that answer was wrong because it relied on some common, but inaccurate, assumptions that population geneticists often use to simplify difficult mathematical problems.

For example, his analysis pretended that Earth's population has always been what it is today. It also assumed that individuals choose their mates randomly. And each generation had to reproduce all at once.

Chang's calculations essentially treated the world like one big meet market where any given guy was equally likely to pair up with any woman, whether she lived in the next village or halfway around the world. Chang was fully aware of the inaccuracy -- people have to select their partners from the pool of individuals they have actually met, unless they are entering into an arranged marriage. But even then, they are much more likely to mate with partners who live nearby. And that means that geography can't be ignored if you are going to determine the relatedness of the world's population.

A few years later Chang was contacted by Olson, who had started thinking about the world's interrelatedness while writing his book. They started corresponding by e-mail, and soon included in their deliberations Douglas Rohde, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology neuroscientist and computer expert who now works for Google.

The researchers knew they would have to account for geography to get a better picture of how the family tree converges as it reaches deeper into the past. They decided to build a massive computer simulation that would essentially re-enact the history of humanity as people were born, moved from one place to another, reproduced and died.

Rohde created a program that put an initial population on a map of the world at some date in the past, ranging from 7,000 to 20,000 years ago. Then the program allowed those initial inhabitants to go about their business. He allowed them to expand in number according to accepted estimates of past population growth, but had to cap the expansion at 55 million people due to computing limitations. Although unrealistic in some respects -- 55 million is a lot less than the 6.5 billion people who actually live on Earth today -- he found through trial and error that the limitation did not significantly change the outcome with regard to common ancestry.

The model also had to allow for migration based on what historians, anthropologists and archaeologists know about how frequently past populations moved both within and between continents. Rohde, Chang and Olson chose a range of migration rates, from a low level where almost nobody left their native home to a much higher one where up to 20 percent of the population reproduced in a town other than the one where they were born, and one person in 400 moved to a foreign country.

Allowing very little migration, Rohde's simulation produced a date of about 5,000 B.C. for humanity's most recent common ancestor. Assuming a higher, but still realistic, migration rate produced a shockingly recent date of around 1 A.D.

Some people even suspect that the most recent common ancestor could have lived later than that.

"A number of people have written to me making the argument that the simulations were too conservative," Rohde said.

Migration is the key. When a people have offspring far from their birthplaces, they essentially introduce their entire family lines into their adopted populations, giving their immediate offspring and all who come after them a set of ancestors from far away.

People tend to think of preindustrial societies as places where this sort of thing rarely happened, where virtually everyone lived and died within a few miles of the place where they were born. But history is full of examples that belie that notion.

Take Alexander the Great, who conquered every country between Greece and northern India, siring two sons along the way by Persian mothers. Consider Prince Abd Al-Rahman, son of a Syrian father and a Berber mother, who escaped Damascus after the overthrow of his family's dynasty and started a new one in Spain. The Vikings, the Mongols, and the Huns all traveled thousands of miles to burn, pillage and -- most pertinent to genealogical considerations -- rape more settled populations.

More peaceful people moved around as well. During the Middle Ages, the Gypsies traveled in stages from northern India to Europe. In the New World, the Navaho moved from western Canada to their current home in the American Southwest. People from East Asia fanned out into the South Pacific Islands, and Eskimos frequently traveled back and forth across the Bering Sea from Siberia to Alaska.

"These genealogical networks, as they start spreading out they really have the ability to get virtually everywhere," Olson said.

Though people like to think of culture, language and religion as barriers between groups, history is full of religious conversions, intermarriages, illegitimate births and adoptions across those lines. Some historical times and places were especially active melting pots -- medieval Spain, ancient Rome and the Egypt of the pharaohs, for example.

"And the thing is, you only need one," said Mark Humphrys, an amateur anthropologist and professor of computer science at Dublin City University.

One ancestral link to another cultural group among your millions of forbears, and you share ancestors with everyone in that group. So everyone who reproduced with somebody who was born far from their own natal home -- every sailor blown off course, every young man who set off to seek his fortune, every woman who left home with a trader from a foreign land -- as long as they had children, they helped weave the tight web of brotherhood we all share.