Culture

Dino-Era Fossils Inspired Monster Myths, Author Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: June 17, 2005   View Article

According to the Lakota, or Sioux, Indians’ “Water Monsters of the Badlands” legend, the rugged and eroded lands of southwestern South Dakota were the stage for an epic battle between water spirits and thunder and lightning spirits.

The water sprits were embodied by giant water monsters known as the Unktehi. Thunder and lighting spirits took the form of thunderbirds known as Wakinyan.

In Sports, Red Is Winning Color, Study Says

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: May 18, 2005   View Article

Note to sportswear shops: stock up on red.

When opponents of a game are equally matched, the team dressed in red is more likely to win, according to a new study.

British anthropologists Russell Hill and Robert Barton of the University of Durham reached that conclusion by studying the outcomes of one-on-one boxing, tae kwon do, Greco-Roman-wresting, and freestyle-wrestling matches at the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece.

Ramp Fests Add Flavor, Stench, to Appalachian Spring

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 29, 2005   View Article

On Sunday, Cathey Owens vows to give the ramps on her dinner plate to the first person who will take the onionlike herbs. With upward of 3,000 people expected to attend the 52nd annual Cosby Ramp Festival in Cosby, Tennessee, finding a taker should be easy.

“If you eat one, you’re going to stink, and the more you eat, the more you’re going to stink,” said Owens, who is helping to organize the annual event in Cosby.

Does “Intelligent Design” Threaten the Definition of Science

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 27, 2005   View Article

Where did we come from? It’s one of the oldest and most profound questions. Now “intelligent design” theory may change the very definition of science by allowing the supernatural into the lab.

“Ever since the birth of science as we know it, a cardinal rule for theists [believers in the existence of a god or gods] and nontheists alike has been to limit scientific explanations to natural causes,” said Ronald Numbers, a science historian at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Kudzu Entrepreneurs Find Gold in Green “Menace”

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: April 22, 2005   View Article

Nancy Basket agrees with the sentiment that kudzu, a fast-growing vine originally imported to the U.S. from Japan, is a menace. But 15 years ago she learned to respect that menace and now it’s rewarding her with a profitable—and growing—business.

Basket is a Native American artisan who runs Kudzu Kabin Designs from her home in the Appalachian foothills of Walhalla, South Carolina. She is one of a handful of people who are seeing gold in the vine that North Americans love to hate.

Ginseng Hungry Deer Eating Appalachian Tradition

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 14, 2005   View Article

Since the 18th century, industrious folk in Appalachia have energized their bank accounts through the harvest and sale of wild American ginseng. Today, the increasing number of local white-tailed deer is putting future American ginseng harvests in doubt.

Wild American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius) is one of the most widely harvested medicinal plants in the United States. When consumed by humans, it is thought to boost energy and increase concentration. It is especially popular in Asia, where a pound (half a kilogram) can fetch as much as U.S. $500.

Annual Ice Harvest Evokes Pre-Fridge Era in New York

Publication: National Geographic News   Date: March 2, 2005   View Article

On a hot summer day, few things beat a bowl of old-fashioned, homemade strawberry ice cream. This June, residents of Tully, New York, will get just such an authentic treat, right down to the ice used to freeze the cream.

The ice was hauled out of the town’s Green Lake this February during the annual Tully Ice Harvest. The 18-inch-by-18-inch (46-centimeter-by-46-centimeter) chunks of frozen water are currently packed with insulating sawdust in the town’s ice shed.

© 2008-2010 Collected Writings By John Roach