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That time I almost died from typhoid fever in Tanzania

"Do you believe in God?" She was earnest. She wielded a clipboard.

A grin skipped up beside. "Ca va?" He sounded young. A green mask covered half his face but I remember him grinning. From my back, on a bed, in a hallway, I replied automatically. "Comme ci, comme ca."

The doors opened. "It is time, Miss Tankard."

Lights, white tile, stainless steel. I remember the windows. It hurt, so they found another vein. An older voice told me to picture a happy place - to imagine my family - and they counted, backwards.

The grin on the left waggled a vial. "Maziwa..."

I swam upwards to translate. "Milk?" Split second having managed it, before she came in from the right, put her face to my ear, and whispered through her mask.

"Believe, Miss Tankard, believe. He is real."

And then I was out.

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No Get Up, Stand Up for your rights, here in Zanzibar

"No Get Up, Stand Up for your rights, here in Zanzibar," said a tall dreadlocked man who invited himself to join us. Rashid wanted to talk politics; politics by means of quoting Bob Marley - the rest of the conversation was, as his opening remark, an homage to the man.

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Tik cha, sister?

"Sister ready go Dhading! Didi get clothes now!" Didi is a tiny Nepali woman with a deeply-lined face and a worried frown that peers out from her smiling eyes.

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The Slow Boat of Archetypes

It was the second day down the Mekong and the God of Thunder was asleep on the back of the boat. The Three Graces were getting sunburnt on the bow before returning inside to play cards. Apollo flicked his cigarette ash into the river in synch with his twitching foot. Huckleberry Finn, who'd been sent home from the war in a body bag of opiates, looked as if he might jump.

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Common Denominators: Soy Sauce and Chillies

I wake at dawn to do yoga on a mountain top. Mist rises in the valley below as the clouds float into the sky above like a curtain peeling back. I sleep in a mud-and-straw hut with a thatched roof. Orange curtains, the same color as the monk's robes, hang in front of the fine blue netting which covers the windows.

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Essays & More

"Classical" European vs "Levantine" Near Eastern Neanderthals: Cladistic variation as regional and taxonomic identity

Neanderthal traits are generally discussed as if a complete package, "the Neanderthal pattern" - and specimens found lacking are often dismissed as unclassifiable. We have oversimplified the situation by deliberately disregarding that which does not fit a prefabricated, perhaps arbitrary, designation. The underlying question - of just how much variation a taxonomic entity can be expected to demonstrate - is of critical interest for not onlyunderstanding Neanderthals, but palaeoanthropology at large. The fact that the issue is unresolved is more than regrettable given our relationship with Neanderthal clade; the vast number of specimens and the extraordinarily high degree of resolution, unmatched in hominid taxa, creates an inspiring opportunity to come to grips with suchvariation.

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Hominid Species & Homo genus specimens

Cheat Sheets. Study Guides. Flashcards.

Call them what you will, they include: Quick facts (time-span, region, number of specimens, holotype, discovered by, environment, diet, speculation), Diagnostic Features, Key Specimens, Major Sites, & Bibliography (significant publications).

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Nepal as case study: demography & development

Nepal is officially classified as a Least Developed Nation (142 of 177 on the UN's Human Development Index). Over 90% of the population lives rurally with more than 30% under the poverty line . Nonetheless, the last 50 years have shown steady growth in most of the key markers used to gauge success and development - rate of infant mortality, life expectancy, and more. And yet, this hopeful improving "situation" was bad enough to turn the calls for political reform and ethnic conflict that began in the 90s into a full on civil war that killed at least 13,000 and displaced more than 100,000.

Where do international non-governmental organizations come in? How does development help? Since the 1960s, there has been a massive international humanitarian presence in Nepal - providing programs for everything from nutrition, medical and health care, to women's vocational training and education. The horror stories, called upon to solicitate donations, are real. Child soldiers. Girls sold into the slave trade. Trafficking of all sorts. It's real and it is tragic and there is a real, definite, and significant impact that NGOs and humanitarian interventions can make.

But, the situation is more complex than interventionary-style volunteer projects can address. We can build as many hospitals and schools as we can find idealistic twenty-somethings to devote themselves to a cause - but if we can't keep them staffed, supplied, and running... what's the point? We can educate the children of Nepal, too - but if there are no jobs to employ them...?

Development doesn't have to be non-sustainable - but too often it is.

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Poetry

Said the men of Babel

Syllables
have drifted loose from
words - which lacked the
weight to hold them
in, having themselves seceded
from the hierarchy
of syntax (forsaking
the patriarchy of phrases).

They float
to my ears and my brain
reassembles them
to my Mother Tongue - nearly,
a dialect close enough for
incomprehension.

"Wallah wallah,"
said the men of Babel and
the first generation, they
nodded sagely (with blank eyes
and empty smiles)
still thinking they understood -
it was the second that went insane
(trying trying trying)
but the third that figured
it out, stuffing wax in their ears...

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Peel back your skin

Peel back your skin. There's a mask underneath - don't you feel it? Doesn't it itch? It's made of bone and not yours. Haven't you felt your body fight it?Peel back your skin for me - and we will paint your features back, again...

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Words my own

I want words my own. I want them mine, olive-tinted pearls of lime and plum. I want to pierce through the mucus drops with an bone awl salvaged from my splintered thumb. I will treasure them when strung on a strand of my hair, conscientiously plucked from a strange pillow...

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Tell me my story

I do not know my skin these days nor even my edges (limits endoskeletal) and I do not know when my voice and yours diverge (two roads in a caged bird) and I write about writing as if conjuring...

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