Fun fact of the day

About 50 million years ago, the area that is now known as Egypt was covered with an ancient sea. At the bottom of this sea were nummulites, a genus of small seashells made of calcium and carbon. Over millions of years, these creatures would die and stack up on the ocean floor, eventually creating limestone. Fast forward to human civilization and we see this:

This image comes from a limestone quarry near Cairo – the same sort of quarry that the ancient Egyptians used to build the pyramids and other structures of that great civilization. In other words, there is a homogenous mix of fossils that can be found all throughout one of the 7 Great Wonders of the World; the Egyptians owe much of their incredible accomplishments to deposits laid down by dying marine creatures over 50 million years ago.

Nudity versus sex

Aliaa Magda Elmahdy is a student in Egypt who has started a campaign to challenge silly Muslim attitudes towards nudity, and in fact, towards women in general. Her strategy? Posing nude on her blog:

The 20-year-old wrote on her blog that the photos, which show her naked apart from stockings, are her “screams against a society of violence, racism, sexism, sexual harassment and hypocrisy”. Her blog has received 1.5 million hits since her photos were posted earlier this week.

From this we’ve learned two things and reinforced a third: We’ve learned that some people do have guts, we’ve learned that novel nudity has a strong appeal, and it has been reinforced that people like naked women.

And yes, yes, here is the link to her blog.

The article, apparently being written by a lazy journalist, goes to Twitter feeds for quotes on the issue. There was one I especially liked:

Another supporter commented: “We need to learn how to separate between nudity and sex.”

Whether in the Islamic, Christian, Jewish, or other religious world, there is a difficulty people have in distinguishing between these two things. There really isn’t a good reason for it; I think, like with the unprincipled opposition to legalized prostitution, this all comes down to an irrational “ewwy!” feeling. Sex is something which has been beaten down, portrayed as a negative thing which comes with nothing but bad consequences (unless done within the confines of marriage, of course). I think that’s a view we could do away with for the better.

via PZ.