China's Political Parties

China maintains eight small, legal opposition parties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). They are known collectively as "the democratic parties." They have a total membership of about 700,000 members, mostly professionals, intellectuals, scientists, artisans, and entrepreneurs and they are functionally consultants to the CCP in their areas of specialty. As consultants, these parties seem to have some small impact on specific policy points.

Members of the democratic parties come together, like political parties in other countries, at semi-regular intervals. They discuss issues, conduct research, and submit proposals. Any proposals are taken to the CCP for consideration. And like other political parties, China's democratic parties exist to represent certain segments of the population's opinions.

Unlike political parties in other countries, they are bound by their charters to accept the CCP's leadership of the country. There is no jostling between political parties. Membership is tightly controlled, as are the areas they can give opinions on, and no one joins the political parties thinking they might get to win an election someday.

This hand-crafted figure portrays a spirit being, or perhaps a shaman in spirit form, ready to battle supernatural forces. Given the shape of the shaman and the long walkway behind the shaman, it is likely a snuff tray! This artifact comes from the Jama-Coaque culture (in what is today Ecuador). The Jama-Coaque's religious figures are believed to have engaged in shamanic transformations. These spiritual events were aided by psychoactive plants that they ground into a fine powder, then ingested as a snuff, from trays like this one. Circa 300 BCE to 600 CE.

Broccoli, kale, brussel sprouts, cauliflower, cabbage, and kohlrabi are all human-made plants. Weird as that sounds, humans turned B. oleracea into six different plants, depending on what part of the plant was bred to be larger. B. oleracea (aka wild mustard) was once just another wild plant that grew along the coast of Britain, France, and countries in the Mediterranean. In ancient Greece and Rome humans began replanting the seeds from leafier versions. Slowly, such selective replanting created plants historians think were the ancestors to today's collard greens or kale. Time and agricultural ingenuity eventually produced the rest.

It was only during World War II -- which in Japan caused scarcity of cloth and disapproval of luxuries -- that kimonos stopped being everyday wear for most Japanese.

North-western Syria has about seven hundred "Dead Cities" or "Forgotten Cities." They include villages, towns, and some cities that were mainly abandoned between the 700s and 900s CE. Because they rest in an elevated area of limestone known as the Limestone Massif, which gets relatively little rain, the settlements are more or less still at surface level and well-preserved. There are three main groups of highlands on the Massif, each with their own Dead Cities. They provide us with insight into what life was like for prosperous agriculturalists in Late Antiquity and the Byzantine period.

The Dead Cities became a massive UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2011, although they have been largely inaccessible since 2013.

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    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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