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Our eyes tell us that the Earth is flat, that the sun revolves around the Earth, and that we humans are not animals. But we now ignore that evidence of our senses. We have learned that our planet is in fact round and revolves around the sun, and that humans are slightly modified chimpanzees.
The reality of human races is another commonsense "truth" destined to follow the flat Earth into oblivion.
The commonsense view of races goes somewhat as follows. All native Swedes differ from all native Nigerians in appearance: Swedes have lighter skin than Nigerians do.
They also generally have blond or light brown hair, while Nigerians have very dark hair. Nigerians usually have more tightly coiled hair than Swedes do, dark eyes as opposed to eyes that are blue or gray, and fuller lips and broader noses.
In addition, other Europeans look much more like Swedes than like Nigerians, while other peoples of sub-Saharan Africa--except perhaps the Khoisan peoples of southern Africa--look much more like Nigerians than like Swedes. Yes, skin color does get darker in Europe toward the Mediterranean, but it is still lighter than the skin of sub-Saharan Africans.
In Europe, very dark or curly hair becomes more common outside Scandinavia, but European hair is still not as tightly coiled as in Africa. Since it's easy then to distinguish almost any native European from any native sub-Saharan African, we recognize Europeans and sub-Saharan Africans as distinct races, which we name for their skin colors: What could be more objective?
As it turns out, this seemingly unassailable reasoning is not objective. There are many different, equally valid procedures for defining races, and those different procedures yield very different classifications.
One such procedure would group Italians and Greeks with most African blacks. Another equally valid procedure would place Swedes with Fulani a Nigerian "black" group and not with Italians, who would again be grouped with most other African blacks. Still another procedure would keep Swedes and Italians separate from all African blacks but would throw the Swedes and Italians into the same race as New Guineans and American Indians.
Faced with such differing classifications, many anthropologists today conclude that one cannot recognize any human races at all.
If we were just arguing about races of nonhuman animals, essentially the same uncertainties of classification would arise.
But the debates would remain polite and would never attract attention outside the halls of academia.
Classification of humans is different "only" in that it shapes our views of other peoples, fosters our subconscious differentiation between "us" and "them," and is invoked to justify political and socioeconomic discrimination. On this basis, many anthropologists therefore argue that even if one could classify humans into races, one should not.
To understand how such uncertainties in classification arise, let's steer clear of humans for a moment and instead focus on warblers and lions, about which we can easily remain dispassionate.
Biologists begin by classifying living creatures into species. A species is a group of populations whose individual members would, if given the opportunity, interbreed with individuals of other populations of that group.
But they would not interbreed with individuals of other species that are similarly defined. Thus all human populations, no matter how different they look, belong to the same species because they do interbreed and have interbred whenever they have encountered each other.
Gorillas and humans, however, belong to two different species because--to the best of our knowledge--they have never interbred despite their coexisting in close proximity for millions of years. We know that different populations classified together in the human species are visibly different.
The same proves true for most other animal and plant species as well, whenever biologists look carefully. For example, consider one of the most familiar species of bird in North America, the yellow-rumped warbler. Breeding males of eastern and western North America can be distinguished at a glance by their throat color: Hence they are classified into two different races, or subspecies alternative words with identical meaningstermed the myrtle and Audubon races, respectively.Follow a diamonds path from the mines of Africa to the showrooms of Paris in this exclusive photo essay.
more. FOREIGN POLICY: Blood Diamond stars Leonardo DiCaprio as an African mercenary on the. Dear Twitpic Community - thank you for all the wonderful photos you have taken over the years. We have now placed Twitpic in an archived state.
Ethics on Film: Discussion of "Blood Diamond" , minutes, Five Academy Award Nominations. May 13, What is a “smallsword” and how did it descend from the rapier? By the mids, as fashion, firearms, and necessity altered the need for personal self-defense weapons, the long bladed, large-hilted rapier fell out of general use.
Weeks of wet weather preceding Lincoln's second inauguration had caused Pennsylvania Avenue to become a sea of mud and standing water.
Thousands of spectators stood in thick mud at the Capitol grounds to hear the President. Introduction Though perhaps best known throughout the world for his science fiction, Isaac Asimov was also regarded as one of the great explainers of science.