With a population of one million and hailed as the Venice of the East, Suzhou is famous for its canals, gardens, silk and beautiful women. As you approach through the industrial suburbs, you might begin to doubt the hype, but visit one of the enchanting traditional gardens or take a canal cruise and you'll soon get back on track. With entire blocks of traditional old housing lining the canals, Suzhou's streets can take you back to another time. If you want to take the experience one step further, Tongli, Wuzhen, Xitang, Zhouzhuang and Zhujiajiao (see The Water Towns), while touristy, offer idyllic scenes free from the clamor of the city.
Supposedly founded by the mythical emperor, He Lu in 600 BC, Suzhou didn't really begin to develop for another thousand years. The construction of the Grand Canal (see callout below)under the Sui dynasty, which runs from Hangzhou straight past the city, transformed Suzhou from a sleepy backwater into an industrial hub. With the arrival of the Tang dynasty in 618 AD came the development of the Silk Road across Central Asia, and Suzhou prospered as a result of its silkproduction. The establishment of the Southern Song dynasty in 1126 brought the formation of a new capital in nearby Hangzhou. The resulting influx of academics, merchants and government officials to the new capital directed yet more wealth to Suzhou. That laid the foundations for the development of Suzhou's Chinese gardens. During the Ming dynasty, Suzhou continued to flourish. It became a center for the arts, especially wood-block carving and silk weaving. The already established gardens were expanded and it is estimated that, in Suzhou's heyday, the city had as many as 200 of these exquisite retreats.
This is not the first time Americans have been screwed.
The American colonists were screwed, too. By the 1700s the colonists living in America should have been well off. Once they had chased away or killed the Native Americans (also screwed), they had plenty of land. Trade was booming. Small businesses were springing up in cities all over the East Coast. A young kid like Benjamin Franklin, coming from modest means, could be apprenticed to a tradesman and hope to easily stay in the middle class.
But by the 1750s, folks realized that something was terribly wrong. The harder they worked, the less money they had. Instead of living in a democracy, they found that their country was run by King George II, and he saw it as a great cash cow—for himself and his wealthy cronies.
King George set the rules of business in America. He levied sales taxes (called “excise laws”) on almost every product Americans consumed. To make matters worse, he added import taxes (“duties”) on the items Americans brought in from overseas.
The substance is nickel, and legislators enacted the law because nickel is an allergen. The word nickel comes from the German for devil, because the metal interfered with the smelting of copper; German miners in the 1700s called it Kupfernickel, or copper devil.
Nickel really may be the devil to some people because of its allergenicity. Researchers in Finland have recently reported that body piercing is likely responsible for a dramatic increase in nickel allergies. Nickel-allergy sufferers can remain sensitive to the metal for life, and they also have a greater risk of developing other allergies. Many sensitized people have trouble finding wristwatches, belt buckles, or eyeglass frames that they can wear. The researchers discovered that even jewelry that tested negative for nickel by a standard color test involving ammonia and dimethylglyoxime released nickel when exposed to artificial sweat. Jewelry intended for pierced tongues, cheeks, and genitals fared the worst: eleven out of the twelve pieces sampled exceeded safety standards.
Zinc is essential to many enzyme systems in the body. We need it to grow and develop, digest protein, produce energy, and absorb vitamin A efficiently, for starters. Prostate and reproductive health depend on adequate zinc status, too. But this mineral is perhaps most famous for its starring role in immune system function. High levels of copper, also an essential mineral, can suppress zinc levels.
Zinc for Immunity
The immune system needs zinc to fight infections. It is required for normal synthesis of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which helps make new immune cells. It also promotes the activity of immune cells. Zinc deficiency leads to impaired immunity and, as a result, increased susceptibility to viral, bacterial, and fungal infections. Infections can even lead to death when the immune system is damaged.
Supplementation with zinc has repeatedly improved immunity in people with low levels. Studies have found that elderly people, who often have low zinc levels, experience a decreased risk of infection by taking the RDA of zinc for one to two months. Zinc and selenium supplements have improved immunity and decreased the risk of respiratory infections among elderly patients. Zinc also increases the survival rate of elderly people following infection.