Wednesday, November 30, 2022

Is Judaism a Younger Religion Than Previously Thought?

This is a damn good question.  The idea of a religion, rather than a local cult evolved with Baal worship and also the Greek Pasnthean as well and did so almost inside historic times.  Judeism was the local cult then sponsered by Herod the Great into the Roman Empire and extended Alexandrian proto empire.  Both had a common language facilitating this.

At the same time, other cults were also fomented. This is why Christianity expanded so fast on these already established networks that themselves had largely formed almost in living memory.  It all turned out to be a sucessful enterprise able to thrive locally anywhere and support other communnities as well. Not least independent of any local strongman.

So religions as such arose or evolved as part of the growth of empires and ultimately found themselves as a form of imperial glue.

Judeism itself does have a long cult history but centered upon the Temple and the Ark of the Covenant but was very much an impressive tribal cult.  It reformulated as a religion after expulsion from the holy land and paralel to Christianity.  The scriptures themselve were largely written down after the retyurn from Babylon.  Substancial portions certainly came from earlier unknown texts,. 

In this way the scriptures were secured and then promulgated by the Chritians globally.

Is Judaism a Younger Religion Than Previously Thought?

A new book by an Israeli archaeologist makes the stunning claim that common Jewish practices emerged only a century or so before Jesus

CorrespondentNovember 15, 2022

If Yonatan Adler's theory proves correct, then Judaism is, at best, Christianity’s elder sibling and a younger cousin to the religions of ancient Greece and Rome. Photo by Uriel Sinai / Getty Images

It’s the grandparent of Islam and Christianity and one of the world’s oldest surviving religions, by some counts dating back nearly 4,000 years. This, at least, has long been a common view of Judaism. But now an Israeli archaeologist is challenging those long-held assumptions.

Based on 15 years of studying textual and archaeological evidence, Yonatan Adler of Ariel University, in the West Bank, concludes that ordinary Judeans didn’t consistently celebrate Passover, hold the Sabbath sacred or practice other traditional forms of Jewish ritual until a century or so before the birth of Jesus. If his theory proves correct, then Judaism is, at best, Christianity’s elder sibling and a younger cousin to the religions of ancient Greece and Rome.

Groundbreaking research that utilizes archaeological discoveries and ancient texts to revolutionize our understanding of the beginnings of JudaismBUY

Report an ad

Adler lays out his case in The Origins of Judaism, a new book published Tuesday by Yale University Press. He argues that standard Jewish practices, from ritual bathing to avoiding representational images of humans and animals, didn’t come into widespread use until around 100 B.C.E.

That date is some 900 years after the Israelites settled in Jerusalem, which became the center of a region later known as Judea. It’s also several centuries after most scholars believe that Judean scribes in Jerusalem put together the books of the Hebrew Bible—a document long seen as the basis of Judaism. According to Adler, while some Judeans may have known about the religion’s rules and prohibitions, this “does not imply that anybody was necessarily putting [them] into practice.”

Fragments from the Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient Jewish and Hebrew religious manuscripts recovered from the Qumran Caves in the mid-1940s Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 4.0

Adler examined artifacts from dozens of excavations in the Levant, as well as ancient texts, including the Bible, to determine how people behaved in the centuries before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in 70 C.E. His analysis has won initial praise from some Near Eastern archaeologists and textual scholars who have examined the arguments laid out in the book. “He makes a good case that is certainly worth considering seriously,” says Jodi Magness, an archaeologist at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with extensive experience excavating in Israel. Harald Samuel, a classical Hebrew expert at the University of Oxford in England, says, “Adler’s work is absolutely solid.”

The new findings challenge conventional wisdom that assumes Jewish practices evolved in the same era as the Hebrew Bible was written—a view that Samuel argues will be hard to alter. They are also likely to raise broader questions of what constitutes Judaism and religion more generally.

Ritual baths, chalk cups and graven images

The Hebrew Bible contains a number of provisions required to maintain ritual purity, which eventually took the form of bathing in distinctive immersion pools known as mikvahs. As Jesus’s disciple Mark says in the biblical book of the same name, Jews returning from the marketplace “do not eat unless they wash.” In the past century, excavators have identified at least 700 of these small baths scattered across ancient Judea. According to Adler, the vast majority of the pools date to the first century B.C.E. and the first century C.E.

Immersion pool filled with groundwater at Magdala Aviad Amitai

Based on a comprehensive analysis of previously discovered vessels, the archaeologist notes that the use of chalk pitchers, bowls and cups for storing food and drink began about the same time. Unlike ceramic pottery, chalk was thought to be impermeable to spiritual impurities, and it became highly favored by many Judean households in the first century B.C.E. The porous and dusty material is more difficult to manufacture than ceramics, and it was not previously used by Judeans or other peoples in the region.

A strict taboo on graven images, expressed in the Bible’s second commandment, also appears to be a late development. Coins made in Judea during the fourth century B.C.E., when the province was part of the Persian Empire, and then after Alexander the Great conquered the region around 331 B.C.E. often include both the names of Judean officials and images of eagles, bearded men, winged lions and even foreign deities, suggesting they were widely used by Judeans despite the biblical prohibition.

Jug featuring likeness of the Egyptian god Bes Israel Antiquities Authority

Nor was this prohibition strictly adhered to even in the shadow of the Temple Mount, the preeminent Judean sanctuary on Jerusalem’s acropolis. During a recent excavation just south of site, Israeli archaeologists uncovered a host of artifacts featuring likenesses, including an image of the Greek goddess Athena and a jug carved with the face of the Egyptian god Bes; the latter was made from local clay and is therefore not an import. Though these objects may have been owned by non-Judeans, the finds suggest that at least some Jerusalem residents did not abide by the graven images taboo.
Jewish holy days

Biblical law also forbids preparing food, riding and drawing water, among other activities, on what is known as the Sabbath. “We do not know how pervasive Sabbath observance was during early biblical times, and when exactly the observance of the Sabbath took hold among the ancient Israelites,” says Rifat Sonsino, a theologist at Boston College. Adler says he found “no evidence predating the second century B.C.E. which suggests that ordinary people regarded any kind of activities as prohibited on that day.”

Adler cites passages in biblical books to back up his assertion: In Nehemiah, for instance, the titular narrator complains about Judeans blatantly ignoring religious leaders’ strictures regarding the Sabbath. “The masses,” says Adler, “were not heeding their call.” He adds, “If anyone would like to argue that the general populace knew of any kind of Sabbath prohibitions, the burden of evidence lies firmly on his or her shoulders to show that this was the case.”

David Roberts, Israelites Leaving Egypt, 1828 Public domain via Wikimedia Commons

The same holds true for important Jewish holidays such as Passover, which commemorates the ancient Israelites’ escape from Egyptian servitude as described in the Bible. Adler says there is little sign in non-biblical Judean and foreign texts that this event was celebrated widely—if at all—among common people prior to the second century B.C.E. That clearly had changed dramatically by the time of Jesus, when Passover was described in the Christian Gospels and other contemporary texts as a well-established holiday that drew thousands of pilgrims to Jerusalem.

Another major Jewish holiday is the Sabbath of Sabbaths, a sacred day of fasting and prayer that came to be known as the Day of Atonement, or Yom Kippur. According to the Christian Gospels, says Adler, the commemoration “appears to have been universal” among Judeans by the time of Jesus. But the archaeologist found no earlier texts mentioning the widespread commemoration of this holiday. The same proved true for the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot, which harks back to the sheltering of the Israelites in the desert after their escape from Egypt.

Even the iconic seven-branched menorah seemingly dates to long after the Hebrew Bible was written. “Prior to the mid-first century B.C.E., not a single example has been found of [one] depicted in Judean (or Israelite) art,” notes Adler. Synagogues, meanwhile, only appear in significant numbers in the first century C.E., according to the archeological record.

Catfish vertebrae from Jerusalem’s Givʿati parking lot Abra Spiciarich

Adler’s study of dietary habits, based on an analysis of animal remains, suggests that Judeans avoided eating pork and fish that lacked scales in the centuries directly preceding Jesus’s birth. This appears to be in line with biblical prohibitions, but the presence of scattered pig and catfish bones indicates such restrictions did not have universal support. Adler says these food taboos could predate biblical prohibitions and be linked to non-religious matters. He points out that pigs require water and other resources that make them more demanding domesticated animals than sheep or goats.
Hasmonean nation-building

Before the middle of the second century B.C.E., Adler believes Judeans were governed by “cultural norms and traditions inherited from the Iron Age”—that is, the centuries immediately after the Israelites arrived in Jerusalem. Veneration of the deity Yahweh was clearly part of this tradition, and there are hints of practices that later became common, such as a Passover meal at Elephantine Island in southern Egypt in 419 B.C.E.

In Adler’s view, the rise of what are today common Jewish practices coincided with Judean independence from Hellenistic control. The homegrown Hasmonean dynasty, formed around 140 B.C.E., began to issue coins devoid of animal and human images. As the archaeologist argues, it was during this era that Judeans became more familiar with scripture and began to abide by its lists of rules on a day-to-day basis as they distanced themselves from their former overlords.Hasmonean coin CNG Coins via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 3.0

By that time, Adler writes, Judeans were already “deeply embedded in a world dominated by Hellenistic culture”—a Greek-speaking milieu of classical learning, entertainment and a highly developed pantheon of deities. He contends that Judaism could therefore be seen as emerging from “the crucible of Hellenism” rather than from the tents of Abraham or Moses.

That emergence, Adler adds, “was the catalyst for setting the course of much of world history over the past 2,000 years—and probably also for centuries if not millennia to come.”

Gad Barnea, a biblical scholar at Israel’s University of Haifa, speculates that “the most likely trigger” for the process that led to the codification of the Torah was the construction of the Library of Alexandria in the third century B.C.E.—an institution that spread learning and drew Judean scholars. Around that same time, the Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek for the first time, making it accessible to foreigners, as well as Judeans who spoke Greek and Aramaic rather than Hebrew. Barnea argues, however, that widespread Judean adoption of specific religious practices only arrived under the relative autonomy of Hasmonean rule.

Konrad Schmid, a biblical scholar at the University of Zurich in Switzerland, agrees that “before the Hellenistic period,” knowledge of the sacred text “was probably limited to small scribal circles centered in Jerusalem.” He speculates that the Hebrew Bible’s rules could have been conceived not as laws but as “a document depicting an ideal community.” He is unsure, however, if the text remained obscure to most Judeans as late as the second century B.C.E.

A menorah at the Western Wall in Jerusalem StateofIsrael via Wikimedia Commons under CC BY-SA 2.0

Barnea calls Adler’s book “important” and agrees that before the Hasmonean era, there seems to be “not a shred of awareness” of “any degree of familiarity” with the Hebrew Bible. But Michael Langlois, a biblical expert at the University of Strasbourg in France who has not yet examined Adler’s research, says Judaism existed “centuries before the common era,” albeit in a different form than today’s Judaism of synagogues and rabbis. He dates the origins of Judaism to before the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 586 B.C.E. The faith, he adds, “slowly evolved throughout centuries to give birth to different forms, including rabbinical Judaism.”

Other experts agree. “I would argue that there are previous forms of Judaism” that existed before Hasmonean times, says Jonathan Stökl, a biblical authority at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Stökl deems Adler’s finds “significant” but suggests that Judeans could have been Jews even if they didn’t precisely follow the guidelines laid out in the Hebrew Bible.

Whether scholars accept Adler’s bold thesis will depend in part on how they define the concept of religion. Samuel suspects that many academics will push back against the idea that widespread adoption of biblical law did not occur until later than previously thought.

“I don’t see that this view, even though obvious to me, could claim to be a majority position in the near future,” he says. “I assume the traditional picture is way too influential.”

The incredible shrinking future of college

The education industry is now coming off decadees of bouyant sales however achieved.  However, the demographic truth is that five percent of the student population able to sustain a full university program.  For this about twenty percent can be recruited and a quarter will graduate.  The rest of the po[ualtaion is targeted for vocational training of some sort.

Understand that also includes most lawyers, most accountants most medical types and teachers.  It now includes even business types..  The industry has happily expanded their net to capture sixty percent of the population or just about anyone capable of actually studying.

Now the numbers are going to fall off and the industry learns how to rationalize, just as the old farts are all fading away as wrell.

The fix of course is to recruit foreign students into multiple vocational programs and be done with it.  Just do it.  We need the workers and all poor countries need their young to become modern and there is always ample payback.

The incredible shrinking future of college

The population of college-age Americans is about to crash. It will change higher education forever.

By Kevin Carey Updated Nov 21, 2022, 7:03am EST

In 2021, Shippensburg University won the NCAA Division II Field Hockey championship, completing an undefeated season with a 3-0 victory over archrival West Chester. The “Ship” Raiders also won it all in 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2013, which I know because I saw it written in big letters on a banner festooning the fieldhouse on Ship’s campus in south-central Pennsylvania when I visited last month.

Ship was in fine form. Young men and women wearing logoed Champion sweatshirts bustled between buildings. There was a line at the coffee shop in the student union. It was the kind of bright-blue autumn day that you would see on a brochure.

There was no way to tell, from the outside, that Ship was a shrinking institution. Or that the problem is about to get a lot worse — not just here, but at colleges and universities nationwide.

In four years, the number of students graduating from high schools across the country will begin a sudden and precipitous decline, due to a rolling demographic aftershock of the Great Recession. Traumatized by uncertainty and unemployment, people decided to stop having kids during that period. But even as we climbed out of the recession, the birth rate kept dropping, and we are now starting to see the consequences on campuses everywhere. Classes will shrink, year after year, for most of the next two decades. People in the higher education industry call it “the enrollment cliff.”

Among the small number of elite colleges and research universities — think the Princetons and the Penn States — the cliff will be no big deal. These institutions have their pick of applicants and can easily keep classes full.

For everyone else, the consequences could be dire. In some places, the crisis has already begun. College enrollment began slowly receding after the millennial enrollment wave peaked in 2010, particularly in regions that were already experiencing below-average birth rates while simultaneously losing population to out-migration. Starved of students and the tuition revenue they bring, small private colleges in New England have begun to blink off the map. Regional public universities like Ship are enduring painful layoffs and consolidation.


The timing is terrible. Trade policy, de-unionization, corporate consolidation, and substance abuse have already ravaged countless communities, particularly in the post-industrial Northeast and Midwest. In many cases, colleges have been one of the only places that provide good jobs in their communities, offer educational opportunities for locals, and have strong enough roots to stay planted. The enrollment cliff means they might soon dry up and blow away.

This trend will accelerate the winner-take-all dynamic of geographic consolidation that is already upending American politics. College-educated Democrats will increasingly congregate in cities and coastal areas, leaving people without degrees in rural areas and towns. For students who attend less-selective colleges and universities near where they grew up — that is, most college students — the enrollment cliff means fewer options for going to college in person, or none at all.

The empty factories and abandoned shopping malls littering the American landscape may soon be joined by ghost colleges, victims of an existential struggle for reinvention, waged against a ticking clock of shrinking student bodies, coming soon to a town near you.

ShipShip was founded in 1871 as the Cumberland Valley State Normal School, to train young women to be school teachers. It became the State Teachers College in 1927, and stayed that way until something happened that would transform higher education and much else: the baby boom.

Some 4.3 million American children were born in 1957, a number that would not be matched for another 50 years, even as the overall population almost doubled to over 300 million.

The relationship between demography and higher education is always a two-decade delay of cause and effect. The college years of one generation fall in the birth years of the next. The baby boom meant that by the 1970s, campuses were bursting as the children of midcentury fecundity reached early adulthood and women increasingly sought degrees in professions that were finally opening up to women.


This put college leaders in a difficult spot. In the short term, they needed dorms and classrooms and teachers to handle the boomer wave. But birth rates had been declining for nearly 20 years, and they saw what that would mean for them in the near future. The talk then was much like today: Future enrollment trends looked bleak, and some colleges were already struggling.

But the 1980s enrollment cliff never really arrived. Higher education was saved by tectonic shifts in the labor market. As predicted, the number of high school graduates declined, from 3.1 million in 1976 to 2.5 million in 1994. But college enrollment rates actually increased, driven by deindustrialization and the collapse of well-paying blue-collar jobs. In 1975, the percentage of high school graduates who chose to immediately enroll in college was only 51 percent. By 1997, it was 67 percent.

Colleges found themselves in the extraordinarily lucky position of being the only places legally allowed to sell credentials that unlocked the gateway to a stable, prosperous life. That was enough to smooth out the bottom of the demographic trough until the children of the baby boom arrived.

And sure enough, the millennial college years began as expansionary times for places like Ship. From 1985 to 2007, the total number of undergraduates nationwide increased from 10.6 million to 15.6 million. And while birth numbers had been cycling back downward from the early 1990s to the mid-2000s, they began to move up again in 2006 and 2007 as older millennials reached parenting age.

Then everything went to hell.

TheThe immediate effect of the Great Recession on higher education was financial. State tax revenues cratered, and university budgets were slashed. From 2009 to 2012, Pennsylvania cut public funding for higher education by more than 19 percent, some $430 million. Nationwide, state funding for college dipped by 9 percent.

But the global financial calamity also created a bomb with an 18-year fuse: Birth rates immediately reversed course and began to plummet. From the early 1970s until 2007, the number of annual births per 1,000 women ages 15 to 44 stayed between roughly 65 and 70. Starting in 2008, the ratio went down, down, down, to 56 in 2020, the lowest rate in American history. There were 4.3 million births in 2007; last year, there were 3.7 million.


Colleges have been left to manage a complex mix of past, present, and future demographic trends. Early on, state funding cuts were offset by a surge in enrollment and tuition revenue, as laid-off workers went back to college for retraining and the millennial wave peaked in 2010, with a record 18.1 million undergraduates. For some community colleges, the big problem in the late aughts was too many students and not enough money to teach them.

But in the early 2010s, enrollment began to drop. In 2019, the last full year before the pandemic, undergraduate enrollment was down to 16.6 million. (That number could have been worse: Bush-era school reform policies contributed to a rise in the percentage of teenagers graduating from high school, which offset some of the demographic drop.)

The problem now is that colleges have likely hit a ceiling in terms of how many 18-year-olds they can coax onto campus. The percentage of young adults with a high school diploma has reached 94 percent. And the immediate college enrollment rate of high school graduates was flat, right around 70 percent, from 2010 to 2018, before dipping in 2019 and 2020 as the job market heated up for less-skilled, lower-wage jobs.

Some parts of the country are already experiencing an enrollment bust, mainly because of internal migration. According to the census, 327,000 people moved to the Northeast (which includes Pennsylvania) from elsewhere in the United States in 2018-19, while 565,000 moved out, for a net loss of 238,000 people.

By contrast, the South (which includes Texas and Florida) saw a net increase of 263,000 internal migrants, and another 447,000 people arrived from abroad, more than twice the number for the Northeast. Fertility rates are also lower, and falling faster, for white people, and the Northeast and Midwest have proportionally more white people. This was true before the Great Recession, too.

All of which made states like Pennsylvania a kind of canary in the demographic coal mine. In the 2010-11 academic year, Ship enrolled 8,326 students. Last year, the count was down to 5,668.

NathanNathan Grawe, an economist at Carleton College in Minnesota, has projected all of these trends forward to create what he calls the Higher Education Demand Index, a forecast of college enrollment that takes into account regional differences, various types of colleges, immigration rates, and differences in birth rates and the likelihood of attending higher education among demographic groups.

According to Grawe, highly selective colleges and universities will be least affected. They have power in the marketplace for students, and the United States’ very wealthy, very unequal society has produced a sizable upper class that is eager and able to buy access to sought-after schools. By immunizing themselves from the effects of enrollment decline, elites will shove the problem down the ladder of institutional status and make things worse for everyone else.

The future looks very different in some parts of the country than in others, and will also vary among national four-year universities, regional universities like Ship, and community colleges. Grawe projects that, despite the overall demographic decline, demand for national four-year universities on the West Coast will increase by more than 7.5 percent between now and the mid-2030s. But in states like New York, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Louisiana, it will decline by 15 percent or more.


Demand for regional four-year universities, per Grawe, will drop by at least 7.5 percent across New England, the mid-Atlantic, and Southern states other than Florida and Texas, with smaller declines in the Great Plains. Community colleges will be hit hard in most places other than Florida, which has a robust two-year system with a large Latino population.

Immigration is a factor, and tricky to project far into the future. The Trump administration erected many barriers to legal immigration, while immigration seems to have bounced back under President Joe Biden. But it’s likely that under any circumstances, immigrants will arrive at higher rates in California and Texas than, say, the Northeast or Upper Midwest.

The economy is another headwind. Shippensburg is next to I-81, a pulsing artery of commerce for the Northeast. The first thing you see after turning off the interstate is a 1.7-million-square-foot Procter & Gamble distribution center. There’s an Amazon warehouse at the exit on the other side of town, five miles away. These giant companies have a version of the university’s problem: fewer people of typical employee age in the hiring pool. So they pay more: a minimum of $22 an hour at P&G.

Colleges are offering increasingly expensive, often debt-financed credentials with a long-term payoff that can seem uncertain compared to a steady, increasingly large paycheck in hand. The state of Pennsylvania has made matters worse by chronically underfunding higher education, forcing schools like Ship to charge tuition that doesn’t compare well to other states, or even some private colleges. All of this makes the shrinking pool of 18-year-olds even harder to recruit.

Meanwhile, the pandemic threw millions of students into online classes, and some of them seem to like it there. A recent survey found a small but noteworthy increase in the number of high school juniors and seniors aiming for an online degree. If this continues, it would further burden colleges that have enormous amounts of money tied up in their buildings and physical plants.

Birth rates did not recover after the Great Recession, even as the economy eventually did. Grawe notes that American fertility is now in line with comparable economically advanced nations, and is well below the level needed for the native-born population to sustain itself. The new normal is just normal now. Higher ed’s eight-decade run of unbroken good fortune — always more students, more money, more economic demand, and more social prestige — may be about to end.

AsAs we walked across the Ship campus, president Charles Patterson pointed to the student union named after Anthony Ceddia, who led Ship for a quarter-century and built much of what was around us during the long boom years. Those kinds of presidencies are in the past, Patterson said. “Presidents these days are in the business of deconstruction,” he said — not in the sense of tearing down what their forebears created, but of rethinking and reconfiguring what universities have and who they are, for leaner times.

“Deconstruction” is about to become the watchword in campus boardrooms nationwide. How this affects you depends on whether your local colleges succeed or fail at it.

Public colleges and universities tend not to disappear entirely. They have the backstop of public funding and local political support. But they can diminish over time. Ship is part of the 14-campus Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE). As in the rest of the country, system enrollment peaked in 2010-11, 20 years after the top of the millennial birth wave.

But some campuses acted like the students would always keep coming. In 2007, Edinboro College, in the northeast corner of the state near Lake Erie, spent $115 million to construct new dorms. They opened in 2011, when Edinboro had 8,642 students. Last year, it had 4,043. The new dorms are empty, and for sale.

Private colleges are even more vulnerable. Many have small financial endowments and get by year to year on tuition revenue. Unluckily for them, private colleges are disproportionately located in the Northeast and Midwest — the same regions that will be hit hardest by declining enrollment. When they shut down, they leave a void of employment and tax revenue that local communities can’t easily fill.

Finding a good buyer for empty campuses can be difficult. The defunct Marlboro College in Vermont was sold in 2020 to a charter school entrepreneur whose plans to resell it at a seven-figure profit possibly in exchange for a new cryptocurrency called “Chronotanium” were interrupted by his arrest and eventual conviction on federal wire fraud charges. That same year, the former Green Mountain College, also in Vermont, was auctioned off for pennies on the dollar to a liquor entrepreneur whose previous claim to fame included hitting on Anna Kournikova and being fired by Donald Trump on The Apprentice. Neither campus has reopened as an accredited school.

At colleges that survive, as most of them will, the biggest effect of the enrollment cliff will be on how students experience higher learning. Administrators will be hustling to give them new reasons to turn down that $22-an-hour warehouse job. Sports will play a growing role. The biggest athletic schools in America, measured by the percentage of undergraduates who participate in a varsity sport, aren’t the Division I behemoths you watch play football on Saturday afternoons. They’re the Division II, Division III, and NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) schools that are most vulnerable to an enrollment shock. If you loved playing field hockey in high school, the chance to play for the national champions is a powerful draw.

Colleges will very likely step up their use of “enrollment management,” a controversial and sometimes exploitative technique for combining marketing, recruitment, and high-powered number-crunching to maximize tuition revenue from every student.

But the most powerful force driving the post-cliff transformation, by far, will be the labor market. First and foremost, students go to college so they can start a career. As tuition and student debt have increased, on-the-job training has declined, and as the unforgiving job market has raised the bar for well-paying careers, students have moved away from the traditional humanities toward degrees in business, health care, and IT.

The enrollment crisis will shift this trend into overdrive. Ship is responding to all the distribution centers out on I-81 by developing programs in logistics and supply chain management. It’s looking to create more short-term, job-focused certificates that lead up to a bachelor’s degree, and others that supplement BA’s after graduation. Other nearby colleges are expanding nursing programs, developing professional master’s degrees, and creating new courses for adults looking to change careers.

Colleges won’t just be going along with the strengthening alignment of the higher education experience with the labor market. They will be actively promoting it, jettisoning “unprofitable” majors that used to be sheltered inside universities with more than enough students. The next generation of higher education leaders will take scarcity as a given and “return on investment” as both sales pitch and state of mind.

This will be good in some ways and bad in others. Good, if it means colleges are more focused on helping students stay in college and graduate, instead of just maximizing the size of the freshman class. Bad, if academic standards are sacrificed to the “customer is always right” ethos. Good, if colleges build better relationships with local employers so students have a clear path toward a career. Bad, if they cut deals with for-profit companies to spin up overly expensive, debt-financed online degrees.

But there is no arguing with demography. Colleges are about to experience something outside of living memory, and not all of them will make it through.

IsIs there an upside to all of this? After all, a lot of the students who came through college during the early-century boom years were shackled with student loans and had a hard time launching their careers. Why force someone down a college path that isn’t best for them and load them up with debt when there are good jobs to be found?

These are fair questions, and it’s certainly true that college is not always worth it for everyone. Before the student loan collection system was frozen in 2020, a million people were defaulting on their loans every year.


But people who graduate from places like Carnegie Mellon and Swarthmore aren’t handing their kids a brochure for jobs at the P&G distribution center. They’re sending them back to Carnegie Mellon and Swarthmore, where the humanities are alive and well. The payoff to college, particularly bachelor’s degrees, comes less in the first job than the second and those that follow, on the path to graduate school and management careers.

The financially motivated vocationalization of less selective colleges and universities will further divide students by income and class. First-generation students are not going to discover their calling in academia at the local university if all the quiet and quirky majors have been eliminated in the name of financial efficiency.

If your political leanings are progressive, you may know that Democrats have a concentration problem, clustering in highly educated metropolitan areas in a way that puts them at an electoral disadvantage. People sometimes joke that 150,000 liberals should decamp to Wyoming and grab its two Senate seats. But the enrollment cliff will, no joke, likely make this problem worse, killing some colleges and shrinking others in many of the same Northeastern and Midwestern places that helped Donald Trump overcome a 2.9 million-voter deficit in the 2016 election, while pushing more college-educated voters into states and districts that are already safely in Democratic hands.

In the midst of all the enrollment doomsday prepping and general pessimism, there was a small piece of good news. After a steep 4 percent decline from 2019 to 2020, the number of births in America ticked up by 1 percent in 2021, with the largest increase among women ages 35 to 39.

Perhaps it was an artifact of the lockdown and the downward trend will resume, particularly with a new recession looming. Or it might be something longer-lasting.

Either way, its effects will not be felt for decades. The near future of higher education is one of decline, and its consequences will reshape the American landscape.

Walt Whitman on What Makes Life Worth Living

This is a reminder about a famous man of letterrs who should not be forgotten.  So many artists are put aside upon their death as the marketing machinary disapates.  Yet many like whitman are well worth the attention.

schools days give us a glimpse at best.  Effort touches a few readers from all that.  I have read the work of thousands of artists and most were worth at least a passing glance. a lot learn to write and share and some like Whitman are truly well noticed even in their own lifetime.

We fail to go back and properly honor those artists by never reading their work.  

Walt Whitman on What Makes Life Worth Living

“Tone your wants and tastes low down enough, and make much of negatives, and of mere daylight and the skies.”The Marginalian (formerly Brain Pickings)Maria Popova

“Do you need a prod?” the poet Mary Oliver asked in her sublime meditation on living with maximal aliveness. “Do you need a little darkness to get you going?” A paralytic prod descended upon Walt Whitman (May 31, 1819–March 26, 1892) in his fifty-third year when a stroke left him severely disabled. It is a peculiar kind of darkness to be so violently exiled from one’s own body — a cascade of exiles, for it forced Whitman to leave his home in Washington, where he had settled after his noble work as a volunteer nurse in the Civil War that first taught him about the connection between the body and the spirit, and move in with his brother in New Jersey. Still, he kept reaching for the light as he slowly regained corporeal agency — a partial recovery he attributed wholly to being “daily in the open air,” among the trees and under the stars.

But as his body healed, the experience had permanently imprinted his mind with a new consciousness. Like all of our unexpected brushes with mortality, the stroke had thrust into his lap a ledger and demanded that he account for his life — for who he is, what he stands for, what he has done for the world and how he wishes to be remembered by it. As nature nursed him back to life in her embrace, Whitman found himself reflecting on the most elemental questions of existence — what makes a life worth living, worth remembering? He recorded these reflections in Specimen Days (public library) — the sublime collection of prose fragments, letters, and journal entries that gave us Whitman on the wisdom of trees and music as the profoundest expression of nature.

Walt Whitman Photo by: Library of Congress

Writing to a German friend on his own sixty-fourth birthday, ten years after his paralytic stroke, Whitman reflects on what the limitations of living in a disabled body have taught him about the meaning of a full life:

From to-day I enter upon my 64th year. The paralysis that first affected me nearly ten years ago, has since remain’d, with varying course — seems to have settled quietly down, and will probably continue. I easily tire, am very clumsy, cannot walk far; but my spirits are first-rate. I go around in public almost every day — now and then take long trips, by railroad or boat, hundreds of miles — live largely in the open air — am sunburnt and stout, (weigh 190) — keep up my activity and interest in life, people, progress, and the questions of the day. About two-thirds of the time I am quite comfortable. What mentality I ever had remains entirely unaffected; though physically I am a half-paralytic, and likely to be so, long as I live. But the principal object of my life seems to have been accomplish’d — I have the most devoted and ardent of friends, and affectionate relatives — and of enemies I really make no account.

Above all, however, Whitman found vitality in the natural world — in what he so poetically called “the bracing and buoyant equilibrium of concrete outdoor Nature, the only permanent reliance for sanity of book or human life.” Looking back on what most helped him return to life after the stroke, Whitman echoes Seneca’s wisdom on calibrating our expectations for contentment and writes:

The trick is, I find, to tone your wants and tastes low down enough, and make much of negatives, and of mere daylight and the skies.


After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.

Specimen Days remains a kind of secular bible for the thinking, feeling human being. Complement this particular fragment with Dostoyevsky’s dream about the meaning of life, Tolstoy on finding meaning when life seems meaningless, and the forgotten genius Alice James — William and Henry James’s brilliant sister — on how to live fully while dying, then revisit Whitman on why literature is central to democracy and his timeless advice on living a vibrant and rewarding life.

Is Fossil Fuel Actually Produced Renewably Inside the Earth?

Without question, nature is wonderful at reprocessing biology and only chokes when confrontyed with no oxygen and a pile of plant material which then becomes coal,.  We see coal neen made.  We really do not see oil or gas been made.  So the proposition has legs.

Better yet in the Ukraine we have a convincing example.

Before we get excited though, sediments do provide natural trap rock which nothing else really does.  The rarity of obvious replenishment supports all that.  Without trap rocks it all voids to the atmosphere if it ever gets there.

The argument does not really matter too much because we would need to access rocks way too hot and high pressured to access mobile hydrocarbons.  For that we may as well access geothermal gradients.

Is Fossil Fuel Actually Produced Renewably Inside the Earth? Some Scientists Theorize ‘Abiotic’ Origins of Oil

(Shutterstock - Mike Pellinni/PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek/Corona Borealis Studio)

NOVEMBER 25, 2022

Most people are taught that petroleum is formed deep under the Earth over the course of millions of years and is derived from the remains of plankton, plants, and other biological organisms. This explanation is stated matter-of-factly on certain government and educational websites.

This theory for oil formation is, however, just that—a theory. There is an opposing view that has substantial evidence to back it up.

Credence for oil’s organic origin (biotic origin) is strong in the United States, while the idea of an inorganic origin (abiotic origin) has long been accepted among post-Soviet scientists. Some American scientists have also jumped on the abiotic train, scorned though it may be by most of their peers.

They point to problems posed by the idea that oil comes from dead plants.

Where Did All That Dead Stuff Come From?

When a plant or animal dies, very little of its matter is buried. Nature recycles—some of nature’s greatest recyclers are insects, microorganisms, fungi, and bacteria. Has enough organic matter really been buried below the Earth to create trillions of barrels of oil?

Moreover, the biotic theory holds that organic matter must fit within the “oil window” before becoming oil. The oil window refers to a set of conditions, including reaching a particular depth (1 to 2.5 miles) where the temperature is right (140 to 300 degrees Fahrenheit) for oil to be produced.

Proponents of the alternative, abiotic theory, say oil may instead be a primordial substance that rises up from the Earth’s depths through fissures. Thus, oil might originate independently of organic sources undergoing chemical processes, similar to how methane is found on asteroids or in other barren environments.

Skeptics say methane is a simpler substance than petroleum; the process of forming the hydrocarbons in petroleum is more complex and the same logic might not hold.

Striking Oil Based On Abiotic Theory

Siljan Ring: Thomas Gold of New York’s Cornell University, who died in 2004, was a vocal proponent of abiotic theory. He advised a team that drilled in central Sweden in the late 1980s and early 1990s at a site known as the Siljan Ring that would have been seen as unpromising, to say the least, by surveyors working from a biotic perspective.

Conventional oil exploration confines itself to sedimentary basins. It is believed that plankton sinks to the bottom of bodies of water when it dies and is buried in sediment, which gets forced down over time until reaching the right conditions: the oil window.

The Siljan Ring, on the other hand, is not sediment-rich. What sediments are there, Gold said, are no deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters), while the drilling was done at a depth of 3 to 7 miles (5 to 7 kilometers).

Albeit the drilling did not find the “gas field of world class dimensions” Gold predicted; it struck 80 barrels of oil, enough for Gold to feel vindicated and make some scientists reconsider his views. Of course, conventional drilling also doesn’t always strike it rich when surveyors think an area looks promising.

Yet, critics posited that oil seeped down there from sedimentary rock, to which Gold rebutted: “Oil seepage generated after 360 million years from such a small quantity of sediments seemed improbable.”

Oil Fields in Ukraine: A strong proponent of abiotic theory, Professor Vladilen A. Krayushkin, Chairman of the Department of Petroleum Exploration at the Ukrainian Academy of Sciences, is quoted in a 1996 paper by Dr. J. F. Kenney, titled “Special Edition on The Future of Petroleum.”

Krayushkin said: “The eleven major and one giant oil and gas fields here described have been discovered in a region which had, forty years ago, been condemned as possessing no potential for petroleum production. The exploration for these fields was conducted entirely according to the perspective of the modern Russian-Ukrainian theory of abyssal, abiotic petroleum origins.

“The drilling which resulted in these discoveries was extended purposely deep into the crystalline basement rock. … These reserves amount to at least 8,200M metric tons [more than 57 billion barrels] of recoverable oil and 100B cubic meters [328 billion cubic feet] of recoverable gas, and are thereby comparable to those of the North Slope of Alaska.”

Eugene Island: On Eugene Island, Louisiana, in 1995, it was reported that the oil fields were—perplexingly—refilling themselves after being depleted. The findings of Dr. Jean K. Whelan, part of a U.S. Department of Energy exploration program, seem to support the abiotic theory to explain this. She found that the oil likely came from great depths, as abiotic proponents say.

A New York Times article from that time explained: “[Whelan] has found evidence of differences in the composition of oil over periods of time as it flows from greater to shallower depths. By gauging degradative chemical changes in the oil resulting from action by oil-eating bacteria, she infers that oil is moving in quite rapid spurts from great depths to reservoirs closer to the surface.”

Whelan also supported a theory of Gold’s that microbes eat oil, thus explaining the presence of biological material found in oil at great depths.


Whelan, like Gold, met with criticism. One of the major arguments against abiotic theory is that oil migrates with underground water, thus explaining oil found in unexpected places absent of sedimentary rock. Thus, the weird uniformity of oil found in different types of rock formations of different ages is the result of oil migrating to other places.

Petroleum engineer and consultant Jean H. Laherrère wrote a detailed, point-by-point rebuttal of Gold’s arguments. Gold had already died by this point, and was unable to respond. Laherrère said Gold was surely aware of this information.

Laherrère offers alternative explanations rather than direct disproofs. He sometimes seems to take Gold’s comments out of context or treat them as standalone arguments for abiotic theory. The paper does, however, consider both sides of the argument with many of Laherrère’s responses boiling down to the fact of oil migration explaining away the abiotic proposition.

The presence of certain metals and helium found in petroleum, too, are explained from both sides.

Since oil takes millions of years to form, and no one has witnessed it firsthand, whatever evidence is submitted on either side is difficult to qualify. If the abiotic theory is correct, though, it could have vast ramifications for the energy industry. If oil production were calibrated accordingly, “fossil fuel” could come to be regarded as a renewable energy source.

Gold a “Heretic?”

In a Cornell article written after Gold’s passing, Gold is quoted saying, “I don’t enjoy my role as heretic. … It’s annoying.”

The article goes on: “Indeed, despite the intense opposition they often encountered, many of Gold’s most outrageous—and passionately held—ideas had a curious habit of turning out to be right.”

Some of his theories—such as regarding the human ear’s mechanisms for hearing, the nature of pulsars in space, and the existence of fine rock powder on the moon—were scoffed at for decades before being vindicated and becoming widely accepted.

Gold has been compared to famed astronomer Carl Sagan, whom Gold was responsible for bringing to Cornell in 1968, after Sagan was denied tenure by Harvard. The Cornell article quotes Keay Davidson’s words from a 1999 biography of Sagan: “Gold epitomized Cornell’s openness to offbeat geniuses.”

Tuesday, November 29, 2022

South Korea has almost zero food waste. Here’s what the US can learn

This sounds a lot smarter than buckets that smell.  Better yet it separates and collects at source and we also recapture those plastic bags for some form of recycling..

someone thought this out and got it right.  And yes this is usuable biomass.

No different than a farmer throwing unused food scraps into the animal manure pile for accelerated rotting.  Much better than what we have seen and small waste bags work just fine at source to gathering system already in place.

South Korea has almost zero food waste. Here’s what the US can learn

Illustration: Ulises Mendicutty/The Guardian

In the US, most food waste ends up in landfills while South Korea recycles close to 100% annually, and its model could illustrates some core principles

Max S Kim in Seoul, South Korea

Sun 20 Nov 2022 11.00 GMT

Every few months or so, 69-year-old Seoul resident Hwang Ae-soon stops by a local convenience store to buy a 10-piece bundle of special yellow plastic bags.

Since 2013, under South Korea’s mandatory composting scheme, residents have been required to use these bags to throw out their uneaten food. Printed with the words “designated food waste bag”, a single 3-liter bag costs 300 won (about 20 cents) apiece. In Hwang’s district of Geumcheon-gu, curbside pickup is every day except Saturday. All she has to do is squeeze out any moisture and place the bag by the street in a special bin after sunset.

Wasted food, hungry Americans – is donating surplus produce a solution?

“We’re just two people – my husband and myself,” said Hwang. “We throw out one bag or so every week.” Hwang, an urban farmer who also composts some of her food waste herself (things like fruit peels or vegetable scraps) guesses that this is probably on the lower end of the spectrum. “We’re part of a generation from a far more frugal time,” she explained. “Back in the 1970s and 1980s, the country was so poor that very little food actually went to waste. We ate everything we had.”

Things changed as urbanization intensified in the following decades, bringing with it industrialized food systems and new scales of waste. Beginning in the late 1990s, as landfills in the crowded capital area approached their limits, South Korea implemented a slate of policies to ease what was becoming seen as a trash crisis. The government banned burying organic waste in landfills in 2005, followed by another ban against dumping leachate – the putrid liquid squeezed from solid food waste – into the ocean in 2013. Universal curbside composting was implemented that same year, requiring everyone to separate their food from general waste.

Hwang’s yellow bag will be hauled off to a processing plant along with thousands of others, where the plastic will be stripped off and its contents recycled into biogas, animal feed or fertilizer. Some municipalities have introduced automated food waste collectors in apartment complexes, which allow residents to forgo the bags and swipe a card to pay the weight-based fee at the machine directly. As far as the numbers go, the results of this system have been remarkable. In 1996, South Korea recycled just 2.6% of its food waste. Today, South Korea recycles close to 100% annually.

Workers sort rubbish at a waste recycling center the in the Songpa-gu district of Seoul, South Korea. Photograph: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

Ease-of-use and accessibility have been crucial to the success of the South Korean model. “South Korea’s waste system, especially in terms of frequency of collection, is incredibly convenient compared to other countries,” says Hong Su-yeol, a waste expert and director of Resource Recycling Consulting. “Some of my peers working at non-profits overseas say that disposal should be a little bit inconvenient if you want to discourage waste but I disagree: I think that it should be made as easy as possible as long as it goes hand-in-hand with other policies that attack the problem of reducing waste itself.”

In addition to daily curbside pickup, Hong notes the importance of balancing cost-sharing and affordability. Food waste is heavy from its high moisture content, which makes transportation expensive. In South Korea, the revenue from the yellow bags is collected by the district government to help defray the costs of this process, in effect working as a pay-as-you-throw tax. (In Hwang’s district of Geumcheon-gu, yellow bag fees pay for about 35% of the total annual costs). “As long as the public’s sense of civic duty can accommodate it, I think it’s good to charge a fee for food waste,” he says. “But if you make it so costly that people feel the blow, they’re going to throw it away illegally.”

In the United States, where most food waste still ends up in landfills – the third largest source of methane in the country – state and municipal governments are also reckoning with the growing need to recycle more of their discarded food. Earlier this year, California enacted Senate bill 1383, which makes separated food waste collection in all jurisdictions mandatory with the aim of a 75% reduction in landfilled organic waste by 2025. New York City, which has long struggled to find a workable food recycling system of its own, recently introduced its first borough-wide universal curbside composting program in Queens.

Each of these experiments is pointing in the right direction, but experts say that there is still a long way to go. Only nine US states currently have some sort of ban on landfilling organic waste, while others are facing the high costs and logistical complexities of building new recycling infrastructure. “The way this goes, it’s policy first, then money for infrastructure, then making sure that it gets collected at the home,” said Dana Gunders, executive director of food waste-focused non-profit ReFed. “Most cities are at the stage of still needing the policy.”

A person throws garbage into separated waste bins to recycle waste materials at a rest stop of an expressway in southern Seoul, South Korea. Photograph: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

While it will ultimately fall to individual states and cities to figure out the specific recycling policies best suited to their unique environments, the South Korean model illustrates some of the core principles that might guide this process. “When it comes to larger-scale municipal organics recycling, in the United States, like in South Korea, convenience and cost effectiveness are essential to garner political will and participation from residents,” said Madeline Keating, city strategist at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Cities like Denver, for example, are exploring a volume-based pricing strategy similar to South Korea’s pay-as-you-throw system. Ease-of-use, most notably in the form of curbside pickup, is also critical. “For households, you have to collect it at home,” said Gunders, of ReFed. “There’s no way you’re going to hit any critical mass if you have to take it somewhere.”

But there are cautionary tales in South Korea’s case, too. Although centralized recycling facilities are necessary in order to make a difference at scale – and currently much needed across the US – some municipal facilities in South Korea are already at their breaking points. And while on paper, South Korea’s food waste recycling rate is nearly 100%, there’s still a need for more diversified recycling and end-use streams.

The viability of recycled food waste as animal feed has been undermined by livestock diseases like avian influenza and African swine fever, while fertilizer made from compost has struggled to find takers even among the farmers who receive it from the government free of charge. “We need more public procurement, such as municipalities buying up this fertilizer to use for landscaping in public parks,” said Hong, the waste expert. “And we need more efforts to compost at the source, expanding many smaller models driven by resident participation rather than relying only on mass processing.”

To this end, national and municipal governments in South Korea have been actively investing in urban farming programs, which include composting courses and project grants.

“I think that concerned citizens composting their own food waste can be an important contribution to resource recirculation,” said Kwon Jung-won, a 63-year-old retiree who was recently hired part-time by the Seoul city government as a fertilizer consultant after completing a composting accreditation course. Funded in part by a grant, Kwon currently teaches members of Geumcheon-gu’s urban farming network how to compost everyday food waste into fertilizer. “Doing this at a large-scale farm would make a big difference environmentally, and I see this project as a pilot for that,” he said.

A rubbish processing facility in Seoul, South Korea. Photograph: Anthony Wallace/AFP/Getty Images

These sort of community-based efforts might be where the US can shine, increasing initial access to composting options in cities that presently have few other options, and taking advantage of backyard composts that can feed gardens. “These smaller-scale methods have the advantage of removing materials from the municipal waste stream by involving consumers and households directly in their food waste recycling, and often yield additional benefits such as job creation and production of compost products that enrich local soil,” said Madeline Keating of the NRDC.

The most sustainable approach to composting, of course, is to not view it as a magic bullet. No amount of recycling can replace the more fundamental solution of simply eliminating waste at the source, and this is an area where individual effort – not hi-tech solutions – can make the biggest impact. Examples of this might be not throwing out food just because it’s past its label date (it’s OK to trust your senses to determine if it’s spoiled or not, experts say) and not over-buying or over-preparing food.

“There is no one-size-fits-all solution,” said Keating. “Each individual needs to look at why food goes to waste in their own kitchen and find opportunities to prevent that from occurring.”