Scotland’s Attempt to Settle In the New World

Scotland is now preparing for an independence referendum. It’s a good time to look at the late 1690s when an independent Scotland launched an ambitious plan to create a colony in what is now Panama.

The story of the ill-fated Scots colony at Darien survives in the oral history of the Kuna Indians, who are the only people who have ever settled successfully in that inhospitable place.

scotland panamaIn 1698, a fleet of five ships sailed from Leith docks near Edinburgh carrying 1,200 settlers to found a colony in Panama.

It was a place where the poet John Keats would later locate “stout Cortez” gazing at the Pacific for the first time, “and all his men looked at each other with a wild surmise, silent upon a peak in Darien”.

The Scots found a large sheltered harbor with a supply of fresh water. They went ashore and built a fort they called Fort St. Andrew.

Darien Fort

Darien Fort

Three centuries later a trench they had dug to provide the fort with a defensive moat can still be found. It is a wide gash, filled with sea water, cut through solid coral rock by 17th Century hands, the first canal in Panama built by Scotsmen under a punishing tropical sky. It is pretty much all that is left of the colony they named Caledonia, and the town they called New Edinburgh.

Even before they made landfall, the colonists had begun to die.

Tropical diseases – malaria, yellow fever, something they called the bloody flux – cut them down even faster on land.

Somewhere beneath the tangle of jungle there is a Scottish cemetery with hundreds of graves. No-one has ever found it. The forest is too dense. Within nine months of setting sail from Leith, on a wave of national euphoria, most of the colonists were dead. A second fleet sailed in 1699, not knowing that the colony had already been attacked and burned to the ground by the Spanish, and abandoned by its few survivors.

The disaster helped end Scotland’s independence. For the colony had been funded by public subscription, an early example of a financial mania.

Public bodies, town corporations, members of parliament, landed gentry, and thousands of private citizens, from sea captains and surgeons, to druggists and ironmongers, sank their life savings into the scheme.

etween a quarter and a half of the available wealth of Scotland was spent, and lost.

And it was the role of England that was most bitterly resented.

Scotland, though an independent country, shared its head of state with England.

King William was monarch of both kingdoms. English merchants and the English parliament saw the Scottish venture as a threat to the trading monopolies they enjoyed.

King William issued a decree to all the English colonies from Canada to the Caribbean: there was to be no trade with the errant Scots and no assistance – not so much as a barrel of clean water was to be offered to them.

Few of the 3,000 Scots who went made it home. Those who did found an impoverished country which, within a decade, accepted union with England.

The Treaty of Union of 1707 included a clause in which the English government agreed to pay a sum of money to the Scots, to compensate the Darien investors for what they had lost.

The sum of money England paid to the Scots was known in the treaty as the Equivalent, or the Price of Scotland.

Darien still resonates, as Scotland prepares to vote on independence.

Pro-union Scots see in it a cautionary tale about the dangers of over-ambition. But when a nation is rethinking its future, as Scotland now is, it also looks again at its past.

Some now argue that the story reinforces the case for independence, for it proved that when Scotland and England place themselves under one government in London – as they were under King William – that government will, when the interests of the two countries conflict, inevitably favor the cause of the larger and more powerful partner.

The poet Robert Burns was scathing about the Scottish parliament that voted to accept union with England. “We’re bought and sold for English gold,” he wrote decades later, “such a parcel of rogues in a nation”.

The Richest Woman In the World

gina rinehartHer $29 billion mining fortune is $3 billion greater than Christy Walton’s, the widow whose inherited wealth comes from the retail giant Wal-Mart.

Gina Rinehart has ridden Australia’s resources boom like no one else, her wealth ballooning by an unparalleled $18.87 billion in the past year, according to BRW magazine’s annual rich list. That equates to $1,077,0540 every 30 minutes of every day.

The huge increase comes from foreign investment in new projects, increased production, and a recovery in the iron ore price over the past six months, BRW says.

And much more could be on the way.

“If the demand for natural resources remains strong, additional multi-billion mines are almost inevitable,” BRW Rich List editor Andrew Heathcote said.

“There is a real possibility that (Ms) Rinehart will become not just the richest woman in the world but the richest person in the world.”

That title is currently held by Mexican telecommunications mogul Carlos Slim Helu, with $69 billion.

“A $100 billion fortune is not out of the question for (Ms) Rinehart if the resources boom continues unabated,” said Heathcote.

Three of Ms Rinehart’s four children – John Hancock, Bianca Rinehart and Hope Welker – launched a lawsuit against their mother last September in a bid to oust her as trustee of the multibillion-dollar family trust established by her late father Lang Hancock.

Unlike many wealthy heirs, Ms Rinehart has not just maintained her fortune but multiplied it many times over.

When she made her debut on the rich list after her father’s death in 1992, her net wealth was estimated at $75 million. Now she is worth 386 times as much.

Treasures Found At Yard Sales and Thrift Shops

More often than not, one person’s garbage is also another person’s garbage. These are the exceptions to the rule.


Sold For: $8000

Although Floyd Landis was stripped of his Tour de France title, it didn’t stop him from cycling. In 2008, a gust of wind blew one of his bikes off the vehicle transporting it. It was found on the side of the interstate and sold to Greg Estes at a garage sale.


Sold for: $27,630

In 2007, a German student visited a Berlin flea market and came home with a new pullout couch. When she opened it, she didn’t discover loose change or a lost remote control—she found a Venetian painting.


Not yet sold: Estimated at $660,000

Father Jamie McLeod, a Catholic priest, bought the painting at an antique shop, but only for its gold frame. Later, Antiques Roadshow confirmed it was the work of the top court painter of King Charles I.


Worth: Estimated $2 million

Andy Fields bought five crappy sketches at a Sin City garage sale. One picture boasted Warhol’s preteen signature.


Sold for: $2.2 million

In 2013, a New York family bought a dish no bigger than a cereal bowl at a garage sale. The piece was actually 1000 years old!


Sold for: $2.42 million

In 1989, a Philadelphia man bought a cruddy painting at a flea market. While he was investigating a tear in the canvas, the frame broke apart and out fell a small folded document. It was one of 24 surviving copies of the original 1776 Declaration.


Sold for: $26,200

Roving a Manhattan flea market in 2002, Warren Hill found a sleeveless LP with “Velvet Underground … 4/25/66” scrawled on the label. It was the same demo disc Columbia Records had rejected!


Worth, if authentic: About $200 million

Rick Norsigian bought these negatives depicting American landscapes at a Fresno garage sale in 2000. Some experts insist they belonged to Ansel Adams, while others think they were snapped by Earl Brooks.

20 Health Benefits of Sesame Seeds

Sesame seeds may be tiny, but they have huge health benefits. They were worth their weight in gold during the Middle Ages, and for many good reasons.

1. Full of Great Protein
Sesame seeds are full of high quality protein making up 20 percent of the seed with 4.7 grams of protein per ounce.

2. Helps Prevent Diabetes
Sesame seeds contain magnesium and other nutrients. Sesame oil has been shown to prevent diabetes. Sesame seed oil can also improve plasma glucose in hypersensitive diabetics

3. Reduces Blood Pressure
The same study above reveals how sesame oil lowers blood pressure in diabetics. Sesame seeds are full of magnesium – a key nutrient known to help lower blood pressure.

4. Lowers Cholesterol
Sesame helps lower cholesterol levels because it contains phytosterols which block cholesterol production. Black sesame seeds are especially high in phytosterols.

5. Good for Digestion
The high fiber content of sesame seeds helps the intestines with elimination.

6. For Healthy SkinThe high zinc content helps produce collagen, giving skin more elasticity and helping repair damaged body tissues. Regular use of sesame oil can reduce skin cancer. Learn more about Sesame Benefits For Your Skin.

7. Boosts Heart Health
Sesame seed oil can help heart health by preventing atherosclerotic lesions with the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compound known as sesamol.

8. Prevents Cancer
Sesame seeds contain anti-cancer compounds including phytic acid, magnesium, and phytosterols. Sesame seeds have the highest phytosterol content of all seeds and nuts.

9. Helps Lessen Anxiety
Sesame seeds contain the stress relieving minerals magnesium and calcium. Sesame also contains the calming vitamins thiamin and tryptophan that help produce serotonin, which reduces pain, assists moods and helps you sleep deeply.

10. Alleviate Anemia
Black sesame seeds are particularly rich in iron, so they’re highly recommended for those with anemia and weakness.

11. Protects from Radiation Damage to DNA
Sesamol in sesame seeds and sesame oil, has been shown in to protect against DNA damage caused by radiation.

12. Relieves Arthritis
The high copper content in sesame seeds prevents and relieves arthritis, and strengthens bones, joints and blood vessels.

13. Protects Your Liver from Alcohol
Sesame helps protect you from alcohol’s impact on your liver, helping you maintain healthy liver function.

14. Prevents Wrinkles
Sesame seed oil prevents harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun from damaging your skin, thus preventing the appearance of wrinkles and pigmentation.

15. Encourages Bone Health and Prevents Osteoporosis
A handful of sesame seeds contains more calcium than a glass of milk! Also the high zinc content of sesame boosts bone mineral density.

16. Help Your Baby’s Health
A sesame oil massage improves growth and improves sleep. Rashes on a baby’s skin — especially where the diaper is — can be protected with sesame seed oil by rubbing it in. As a bonus, sesame also helps reverse dry skin.

17. Good for Eye Health:
In traditional Chinese medicine there is a relationship between the liver and eyes. The liver sends blood to the eyes to support functioning. Black sesame seeds are the best for this.

18. Good for Oral Health:
Oil pulling, has been used for oral health for thousands of years in Ayurveda to reduce dental plaque, whiten your teeth and boost overall health. Learn How To Do Oil Pulling

19. Good for Respiratory Health:
The magnesium in sesame seeds helps prevent respiratory disorders by preventing airway spasm and asthma.

20. Hair Benefits:
Sesame seed oil is full of nutrients which are needed for a healthy scalp and hair. Learn more about Benefits Of Sesame For Your Hair

Sesame seeds deserve to be highly honored as an affordable food that deeply nourishes the body on many levels.

Hongeo, the Fish Meal That Smells Like a Bad Public Toilet


Fermented foods are famous for their rancid smell and flavor, but South Korea’s popular ‘hongeo’ has to be the worst of them all. It’s definitely classified as one of the grossest foods in the world, even for ‘foodie daredevils’ who like trying out weird dishes.

What makes hongeo so bad? Well, for starters, it’s made from a fish called skate, and like sharks, they have no bladder or kidneys. Its digestive waste simply oozes out of its skin in the form of uric acid. That’s why sharks and skates, if eaten at all, need to be eaten fresh. But the Koreans seem to enjoy defying the norm in this case.

What they do is leave dozens of fresh skates, a cartilage-rich fish that resembles a stingray, stacked up in a walk-in refrigerator. Then they wait, sometimes as long as a month, for the fish to acquire a distinct ‘aroma’, reminiscent of a public urinal. When the smell reaches its worst, the skates are ready to be taken out, sliced up and served raw.

When skate flesh is fermented, the uric acid in its skin intensifies into ammonia. And if you’ve ever been in direct contact with ammonia, you’ll know that its gag-inducing stench is not something you want in your mouth. The smell won’t leave you for hours after you’ve had the dish, lingering on your clothes, skin and hair, raising some serious questions from the people around you.

But for seasoned hongeo eaters, the stinking, glistening, dark-pink fish steaks are a real treat. “Some people start to crave it as soon as they smell the ammonia,” said Shin Ji-woo, who works in a seafood store in Mokpo. “There’s no need to advertise how intense the smell is. Everyone already knows.”

The origins of hongeo are not clear, but experts say it might have been invented in the days prior to refrigeration. Food that could keep for a long time without rotting was popular back then. So a clever fisherman must have discovered that skate doesn’t spoil as easily as other fish. The traditional method to make hongeo involved putting the fish on a bed of hay inside a clay pot, piling on more hay on top, and leaving it to ferment, for several days.

The store where Shin works has two refrigerators dedicated to fermenting skate. If you walk into one of them, the blast of ammonia will burn your eyes and nose, all the way down to your lungs. The skate is placed in the first refrigerator for up to 15 days at 36 degrees fahrenheit, and then moved to the second one for another 15 days, at 34 degrees. Several shops in Mokpo supply custom-fermented skate to restaurants and individuals around South Korea. Over 11,000 tons of hongeo are consumed annually in South Korea.

Let’s face it , no one is born with a natural affinity for ammonia, I’m sure it’s an acquired taste. First timers have a generally horrible experience with hongeo. They try sandwiching it with as much garnish as they can. Red pepper paste, salty mini shrimp, raw garlic, strong kimchi, chili salt, and slices of boiled pork. Yet, they squeeze their eyes shut before shoving it into their mouths, with tears streaming down their cheeks. When the gag-reflex kicks in, not many are able to hold it down.

Hongeo tastes just as awful as it smells. It has an extremely chewy texture, with spongy flesh and hard cartilage, making it difficult to swallow. Joe McPherson, who writes for the Korean food blog ZenKimchi, said: “It’s a freaking punch in the face. Like everyone else, I gagged the first time. Even with some of the most powerful flavors in the world to put up against it, it does not cover up the flavor at all.” Surprisingly, Joe is now a huge devotee of the dish.

According to fans, all it takes is four trials to become hooked on hongeo. The locals actually insist that hongeo must be eaten plain; they complain when restaurants serve it up with elaborate garnishes to disguise the taste and smell. Some believe that the strong kick of ammonia induces a non-alcoholic buzz that they can’t get enough of.

They even follow a specific technique while eating it, which is a lot like smoking, breathe in through the mouth and breathe out through the nose. This helps fight some of the smell and provides a minty sensation in the throat. Some Koreans say that their craving for hongeo is quite similar to a smoker’s desire for a cigarette. It tastes like rubbish, but you want it anyway.

Normalcy vs. Normality

Some words, when I hear them spoken, just make me grit my teeth. Probably number one on my list is the word “drug,” when speaking of the act of dragging something. The proper form is, of course, dragged, but only about one time out a hundred do you hear it said properly.

Another word that bothers me, though it has become an accepted form, is “normalcy.” You hear it used in speeches, everyday conversation, and on television news shows. I still prefer “normality” though, as it’s generally recognized as the older and more preferable word to use.

Normality and normalcy are different forms of the same word. Normality is centuries older, though, and most English authorities consider it the superior form. In fact, normalcy is almost always heard in American English, not in British English.

Nouns ending in -cy usually come from adjectives ending in -t—for example, pregnancy from pregnant, complacency from complacent, hesitancy from hesitant—while adjectives ending in -l usually take the -ity suffix. Normalcy is unique in flouting this convention.

Normalcy was popularized in the early 20th century thanks to President Warren G. Harding’s “return to normalcy” campaign slogan, though the word did exist before then, and language authorities have been unable to stamp it out.

Frankengrass May Soon Be Taking Over Yards and Pastures Everywhere

Monsanto and Scotts have begun testing the first genetically engineered (GE) grass, intended for both consumer and commercial use.

Scotts Roundup-Ready Kentucky Bluegrass, genetically engineered to withstand massive amounts of Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, is unregulated, will not be labeled “GMO” (genetically modified organisms), and because of the ease with which grass spreads, could soon contaminate lawns, parks, golf courses and pastures everywhere.

Because Roundup will kill everything except the grass engineered to stand up to it, lawns all over the country will be green and lush. Unfortunately, they’ll also be toxic, and you won’t even know it.

As these seeds spread and more grass takes up that genetic trait, organic farmers who want to grass feed their beef won’t be able to do so because their grass is genetically modified, which is prohibited in organic standards.

In July 2011, Scotts Company and Monsanto convinced the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to give the companies a free pass to market Roundup-Ready Kentucky Bluegrass with no testing required.

They were able to circumvent the system because GE crops are regulated by the USDA under rules pertaining to plant pests. These rules were created in the 1950s to give the USDA the ability to constrain the introduction of organisms that would inflict harm to plants. Because genetically modified crops use DNA material derived from natural plant pathogens, they technically qualify as “plant pests.”

Scotts got around this level of restriction because they avoided using plant pests in the development of the Kentucky Bluegrass. Instead, the glyphosate-resistant gene originated from other plants that were not considered pathogens. Furthermore, the gene was fired in with a gene gun, instead of being carried by a plant pest bacterium. By avoiding the use of plant pests in the engineering process, Scotts has also avoided that regulation trigger.

The second mechanism the USDA could have used to regulate GMO grass is the noxious weed provision under the Plant Protection Act of 2000. Bluegrass spreads easily because its light pollen can be carried for miles on the wind. Inevitably, genetically modified bluegrass will transfer its genes to established conventional bluegrass.

Because of this, Scotts Roundup-Ready grass threatens to contaminate every lawn, park, roadside, and field in sight, including the pastures used by organic farmers to graze their cattle. This not only puts organic farmers at risk of losing their certification, but it puts the animals at risk of eating GMO grass. Research shows that GMO grain has a devastating impact on the health of animals raised for slaughter. Will GMO grass also be hazardous to animal health, including cattle raised for meat, as well as people’s prized horses?

Beyond its ability to spread quickly, beyond its potential impact on organic farmers, even more troubling is the fact that once Scotts Roundup Ready grass hits the market, it will lead to a dramatic increase in the use of Roundup, already the most widely used, and potentially harmful, herbicide in the world. And much of that Roundup will be lurking in places where kids play.

Glyphosate, the active ingredient in Roundup herbicide is described by researchers as, “the most biologically disruptive chemical in our environment.” It’s been linked to a litany of health disorders and diseases including Parkinson’s, cancer and autism.

Studies have revealed a connection between the use of glyphosate and birth defects in frog and chicken embryos. A more recent study shows that the toxic herbicide is found in the breast milk of American women.

This month, employees of Scotts goal is to have the GMO ready for commercial applications in 2015, and on the consumer market in 2016.

Scotts, which is Monsanto’s exclusive agent for the marketing and distribution of consumer Roundup, has much to gain by releasing its frankengrass into the marketplace. They see a potential profit of 500 million to one billion dollars per year as realistic. 

The company is determined to protect its projected revenue. When Connecticut came close to passing a statewide ban on GMO grass, Scotts CEO sent a letter to Gov. Dannel Malloy stating that any renewed effort to ban or place a moratorium on the new seed could result in them questioning whether continuing to invest in Connecticut is in the best long-term interests of their company and its stockholders.
Monsanto and Scotts are both members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association, which has spent millions to defeat GMO labeling laws and bans, and plans to sue Vermont to overturn its recently passed law requiring mandatory labeling of foods containing GMOs. The Organic Consumers Association has called for a boycott of all products marketed by members of the Grocery Manufacturers Association.