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Monday, August 17, 2009

O Arizona: "Wild West Style Standoff" Over Computer System Intensifies

Arizona sheriff prefers jail to handing over server password • The Register
A legal standoff has developed in Arizona between sheriff’s deputies and county officials over a management system overhaul.

Last week officers from Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office raided government buildings and took over computer systems shared between law enforcement and county officials.

Sysadmins were marshalled away under threat of arrest, while the deputies changed passwords on servers and secured rooms. County officials called in the judges for help, with superior court judge Joseph Heilman ordering control of the system to be handed over by next Wednesday.

However, Chief Deputy David Hendershott is holding firm, refusing to hand over the passwords even under threat of going to jail for contempt of court.

Heilman has held hearings on a dispute between the sheriff and the Board of Supervisors over the running of an integrated criminal justice system since April.

Kerry Martin, a lawyer acting for the sheriff’s office, said deputies had taken over the system to stop county managers applying a management system they disagreed with. Martin, repeatedly quizzed by judge Heilman on why it didn’t bring this aspect of the dispute back to court before acting, claimed that the deputies had the authority to take control.

The Wild-West–style standoff between sheriffs and county threatens local access to the National Criminal Information Center and the Arizona Criminal Justice Information system.
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Dorothea Lange: Cropper, 1937

Americus: 1937 | Shorpy Photo Archive

July 1937. "Thirteen-year old sharecropper boy near Americus, Georgia." Medium-format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange.
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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Black Hole Shadow: Very Large Telescope Zaps the Sky

Image of the Day: Laser Strikes at Supermassive Black Hole at Core of the Milky Way Galaxy

It's not the sequel to War of the Worlds! Astronomers at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) site in Chile are trying to measure the distortions of Earth's ever changing atmosphere. Constant imaging of high-altitude atoms excited by the laser -- which appear like an artificial star -- allow astronomers to instantly measure atmospheric blurring. In this case, the VLT was observing our Galaxy's center, and so Earth's atmospheric blurring in that direction was needed.

At the center of the Milky Way is Sagittarius A -believed to be a supermassive black hole, which lurk at the center of all spiral galaxies. If we can observe Sagittarius A*'s surroundings we can confirm once and for all whether it's a black hole - and prove Einstein right (or wrong!) . Relativity theory predicts the existence of black holes. If relativity breaks down, we might not see a black hole at all, but something totally weird.

Relativity describes how large masses can bend space, and a black hole is where the mass is so large that space gives up altogether and becomes a singularity. Black holes are already well understood, we think, but we've only ever observed them at second hand - the behavior of orbiting objects or bent light rays. To actually view the shadow of a black hole, the cut-off point where light is swallowed and cannot escape, would be a massive advance - and only the beginning.
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Philadelphia, MS: Suspect in 1964 Civil Rights Worker Killing Dies

Suspect In 1964 Civil Rights Worker Killings Dies - CBS News
Federal authorities will continue to investigate the 1964 Mississippi killings of three civil rights workers _ a case that helped pass landmark legislation _ despite the death of a key suspect, the Justice Department says.

Billy Wayne Posey, 73, died Thursday. Federal investigators were looking into his possible involvement in the June 21, 1964, killings of James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who had been working to register black voters.

Posey's funeral was Saturday in Philadelphia, Miss., the town at the heart of the case.

On Friday afternoon, Alejandro Miyar, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said the death does not "alter our cold-case investigation." He said federal authorities are assisting state investigators who could bring state charges.

Goodman's brother, David Goodman, of New York City, said, "This is still the country of law and order, and the laws are clear. There is no statute of limitations on murder."
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View of the French Market, New Orleans, Late 19th Century

The Old French Market | Shorpy Photo Archive

Circa 1880s-1890s. "The old French Market, New Orleans." Photo by William Henry Jackson. Detroit Publishing Co. glass negative.
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Saturday, August 15, 2009

That Face A Landscape of the Moon? Carol Lombard

That Obscure Object

Carole Lombard on Her Beauty:

“You ought to see the map for my face in the Makeup Department. It looks like a landscape of the moon.”

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Photo by Dorothea Lang: Reaping the Dustbowl Whirlwind

In the Cotton: 1935 | Shorpy Photo Archive

June 1935. Somewhere in California. "Motherless migrant children. They work in the cotton." Medium-format nitrate negative by Dorothea Lange for the Resettlement Administration.
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Big Shoes to Fill: His Own -- Art Bell is Back in Memphis to Make It Rock Again

Al Bell - Out of Exile, Back in Soulsville -
AS the peacock-blue Cadillac with the gold trim and fur lining spun on a giant turntable in the Stax Museum of American Soul Music here, Al Bell, the final owner of the late, great record label, chuckled. Decades before 50 Cent with his customized Rolls-Royce and Akon with his tricked-out Lamborghini, there was Isaac Hayes with this pimped-out ride, an over-the-top gift from Stax to its over-the-top star, who wore slave chains like emancipatory bling across his bare, buff chest.

“The reason I chuckle is because I think of what has been born out of the rap and the hip-hop world, and then I look at what we were doing back then, and, you know, we were really ahead of our time,” Mr. Bell said.

His chuckle is rueful, though. When Mr. Bell, 69, stands by that revolving Cadillac, he sees the arc of his life come full circle, unexpectedly. The original Stax Records is long gone, Mr. Hayes and many other Stax artists, from Otis Redding to Rufus Thomas, have died, and, until recently, Memphis showed little interest in reclaiming or building on its soul-music heritage. Six years ago, though, the Stax Museum opened. And earlier this summer Mr. Bell was invited back to Memphis with a bittersweet mandate: to resuscitate the city’s once great music industry as chairman of the Memphis Music Foundation.

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How Many Miles Per Hour for a Car that Burns No Gas?

Nissan says its new electric car, the Leaf, gets 367 miles per gallon
Nissan's gotten into a bit of a bragging contest on Twitter -- possibly fueled by Chevrolet's recent, shaky claim that the Volt will get 230 miles per gallon. The company is now saying that its new electric car, the Leaf, will get an astonishing 367 miles per gallon... even though it's a 100 percent electric car, and runs on absolutely no fuel. So, isn't that zero miles per gallon? Well, yes and no: all these massive numbers are based on both the Department of Energy and the EPA's calculations for estimating equivalencies in electric cars. Why? Well, it seems that car companies are still giving us -- the prospective buying public -- MPG figures because they think that's what we understand best. Tony Posawatz, vehicle line director for Chevy's Volt recently admitted to the New York Times that the miles per gallon matrix is "probably not the best measure of goodness" for a car that uses no gallons at all, but that it's "what people are accustomed to." We agree -- he's got a point -- but people were also accustomed to the hi-fi, the corded landline, and the steam engine. We assure you: people understand that a car that runs on zero gas (and therefore gets an astonishingly low amount of miles per gallon) is really, really awesome. So the MPG matrix is useless when talking about electric cars -- we'll adjust!
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US to Deploy Troops to Colombia?

Raw Story » Deal: United States soldiers will deploy to Colombia
Some American troops will soon find themselves stationed at military bases scattered across the South American nation of Colombia with a mission to use advanced Predator drone technology to aid the fight the drug trade and combat terrorism, according to published reports Saturday.

But Colombia’s neighbors certainly do not see it that way.

In Venezuela, officials bristled. President Hugo Chavez warned, “the winds of war [are] beginning to blow.”

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Not Mirrors: Mobile Phones

TYWKIWDBI: Afghan women

"... as President Hamid Karzai speaks to an audience of women ahead of imminent elections, many record the speech on their mobile phones."
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Oscar Wilde Reconceived as a Mosaic of Soap Bars

O Arizona: Sheriff Joe's Henchman Defies Judge

Sheriff's Office defies judge on order for system password
A Maricopa County Superior Court judge on Friday ordered that the Sheriff's Office divulge the password it forcefully installed on a county computer system linked to sensitive state and federal criminal-justice data.

But Chief Deputy David Hendershott later said he will refuse to share the password - even if it means he goes to jail.

During the Friday hearing, Judge Joseph Heilman said that if the Sheriff's Office doesn't divulge the password by Wednesday, he will "hold someone in contempt of court."

"I assume it's going to be someone seated at this table," he added, referring to Hendershott.

Hendershott said he could not reveal the password under federal law. And if he goes to jail: "I bet I get a pretty decent place. Something with a view of the dump."

Heilman would not comment on the remark.

Since April, Heilman has presided over a lawsuit between the sheriff and the Board of Supervisors over operation of the Integrated Criminal Justice Information System, an electronic hub that allows the county's criminal-justice agencies to share information.

On Wednesday, the Sheriff's Office took control of the system from county employees and changed a password to prevent civilians from having access to the sensitive data.
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Hamas Battles Islamist Extremists in Gaza; Leader Detonates Himself

Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Islamist leader dies in Gaza battle
The leader of an Islamist group that declared an "Islamic emirate" in the occupied Palestinian territories was among at least 22 people killed in clashes with Hamas security forces.

Abdel-Latif Moussa, the leader of Jund Ansar Allah (Soldiers of the Companions of God), was killed during fighting at his house in the Gaza town of Rafah early on Saturday, the Hamas-run interior ministry said.

Ihab Ghussein, a Hamas interior ministry spokesman, said that Moussa had detonated an explosives vest that he was wearing.

"The so-called Moussa has committed suicide ... killing a mediator who had been sent to him to persuade him and his followers to hand themselves over to the government," he said.

Dr Moaiya Hassanain of the Palestinian health ministry in Gaza said that six police officers and an 11-year-old girl were also among the dead after several hours of fighting outside Moussa's home and the Ibn Taymiya mosque where he was imam.

Hassanain said that 150 people were wounded in the fighting.

Hamas also confirmed the death in the fighting of Abu-Jibril Shimali, a high-level commander whom Israel says orchestrated the capture of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier still being held in the Gaza Strip.

The fighting began on Friday after Moussa proclaimed "the creation of an Islamic emirate in the Gaza Strip" during a sermon in the mosque and called for the territory to be governed purely by sharia (Islamic law).
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Field Embalming, Virginia 1864

Embalming Without Odor: 1864 | Shorpy Photo Archive

Circa 1864. "Dr. Bunnell's embalming establishment in the field. Army of the James." Wet-plate glass negative, half of stereograph pair.Technorati Tags: , , ,

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Man Ray, Photographer

adski_kafeteri: Man Ray, Tamiris c. 1929

Man Ray, Tamiris c. 1929
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Happy Birthday Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Smith, aka "Bricktop," Patron of the Stars

née: Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louise Smith
Saloon keeper/vocals
b. Alderson, W. VA, USA.
d. Feb. 1, 1984, New York (Manhattan), NY, USA.

Her red hair and cigars were her signature. She numbered Cole Porter, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and writer F. Scott Fitzgerald among her friends. Her proteges included Josephine Baker, Mabel Mercer and Duke Ellington. While still a child, she once told her mother, "I want to be in the back room of a saloon." And, when Ada grew old enough, she went north to New York city and Harlem. There, she would sing and dance at such fabled clubs as 'Baron Wilkins Club' and 'Connie's Inn'. Composer Cole Porter once walked into the cabaret and ordered a bottle of wine. "Little girl, can you do the Charleston?" he asked. "Yes", she said. After she demonstrated the new dance, Cole exclaimed, "What legs! What legs!" Porter hired her on the spot to give Charleston lessons to his guests. He took her to Venice, Italy, where she sang and danced at private parties on his barge.

By 1926, she had opened 'Chez Bricktop' on Paris' famed Rue Pigalle, a club that would become the talk of Paris and the world. In 1939, as the Germans marched down the Champs Elysee, "Bricktop" left her beloved Paris. In 1944, with the help of American heiress Doris Duke, she opened a cafe in Mexico City which closed a few years later. In 1949, she opened another on the Via Veneto in Rome. In 1961, she closed Bricktop's for good, and retired to New York city where she died peacefully in her sleep, at age 89.
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Hail and Farewell Lester Young

Lester Young’s Centennial « Jazziz Magazine

Jazziz writes:

Lester Young’s Centennial

Were Lester Young still alive today, he would be a couple weeks short of his 100th birthday. As it is, the trailblazing tenorman died just over 50 years ago, in March 1959. Still, the very fact that the saxophonist would’ve turned 100 on August 27 was reason enough for the Concord Music Group to spotlight Young in the latest installment of its Centennial Celebration Series.

[A personal note: I am an indefatigable and obsessive saxophonist, who first took up the instrument at age 9 in 1959--just as Lester Young was checking out. This fact is meaningless, but of interest to me, as I love Lester above all other saxophonists. Hail and farewell, genius: we still hear you, and are trying to catch up. --TRH]
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Batista in Arlington, 1938

Our Man in Havana: 1938 | Shorpy Photo Archive

November 11, 1938. "No doubt armies were discussed when this picture was made today. Maj. General Malin Craig, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, and Col. Fulgencio Batista, Cuba's Dictator, as they chatted informally at Arlington while waiting for the arrival of President Roosevelt for the Armistice Day ceremonies there." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
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Chinese Advance Work on "Hidden" Electromagnetic Portal

'Hidden Portal' Concept Described: First Tunable Electromagnetic Gateway
While the researchers can't promise delivery to a parallel universe or a school for wizards, books like Pullman's Dark Materials and JK Rowling's Harry Potter are steps closer to reality now that researchers in China have created the first tunable electromagnetic gateway.

The work is a further advance in the study of metamaterials, published in New Journal of Physics (co-owned by the Institute of Physics and German Physical Society).

In the research paper, the researchers from the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology and Fudan University in Shanghai describe the concept of a "a gateway that can block electromagnetic waves but that allows the passage of other entities" like a "'hidden portal' as mentioned in fictions."

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What World Is This: Dylan Has To Serve Somebody

You're Bob Dylan? NJ police want to see some ID - Yahoo! News

By WAYNE PARRY, Associated Press Writer Wayne Parry, Associated Press Writer – 1 hr 34 mins ago

Rock legend Bob Dylan was treated like a complete unknown by police in a New Jersey shore community when a resident called to report someone wandering around the neighborhood.

Dylan was in Long Branch, about a two-hour drive south of New York City, on July 23 as part of a tour with Willie Nelson and John Mellencamp that was to play at a baseball stadium in nearby Lakewood.

A 24-year-old police officer apparently was unaware of who Dylan is and asked him for identification, Long Branch business administrator Howard Woolley said Friday.

"I don't think she was familiar with his entire body of work," Woolley said.

The incident began at 5 p.m. when a resident said a man was wandering around a low-income, predominantly minority neighborhood several blocks from the oceanfront looking at houses.

The police officer drove up to Dylan, who was wearing a blue jacket, and asked him his name. According to Woolley, the following exchange ensued:

"What is your name, sir?" the officer asked.

"Bob Dylan," Dylan said.

"OK, what are you doing here?" the officer asked.

"I'm on tour," the singer replied.

A second officer, also in his 20s, responded to assist the first officer. He, too, apparently was unfamiliar with Dylan, Woolley said.

The officers asked Dylan for identification. The singer of such classics as "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Blowin' in the Wind" said that he didn't have any ID with him, that he was just walking around looking at houses to pass some time before that night's show.
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Family Values Redux

Family Dollar Package Store. --T.R. Hummer

Family values Mississippi style.

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Photo-Crashing Squirrel is Now Officially the Emperor of Our Solar System

Top 10 Crasher Squirrels [Pics]

[If you haven't already encountered the squirrel in his original context, you will soon; then this will make sense.]

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Oldest Primary School Student, 90, Dies in Kenya

Al Jazeera English - Africa - World's oldest pupil dies at 90

Kimani Nganga Maruge, the world's oldest student, has died in Kenya at the age of 90 from stomach cancer, an official at a pensioners' home where he was living said.

Donatila Ekuyi from Cheshire Home for the Aged, announced his death on Friday, saying: "He has been sick and his condition had deteriorated lately."

Maruge made history at the age of 84 when he earned an entry in the Guinness book of records as the oldest man ever to start primary school.

As a veteran of Kenya's 1950's anti-colonial Mau Mau revolt, Maruge once said that he was inspired to start learning when he suspected a preacher was misinterpreting the Bible.
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New Tourism Campaign: Georgia is Focused

Georgia Is Focused. Y'all Come.

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Income Inequality Never Higher

Income Inequality Is At An All-Time High: STUDY
Income inequality in the United States is at an all-time high, surpassing even levels seen during the Great Depression, according to a recently updated paper by University of California, Berkeley Professor Emmanuel Saez. The paper, which covers data through 2007, points to a staggering, unprecedented disparity in American incomes. On his blog, Nobel prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman called the numbers "truly amazing."

Though income inequality has been growing for some time, the paper paints a stark, disturbing portrait of wealth distribution in America. Saez calculates that in 2007 the top .01 percent of American earners took home 6 percent of total U.S. wages, a figure that has nearly doubled since 2000.

As of 2007, the top decile of American earners, Saez writes, pulled in 49.7 percent of total wages, a level that's "higher than any other year since 1917 and even surpasses 1928, the peak of stock market bubble in the 'roaring" 1920s.'"

Beginning in the economic expansion of the early 1990s, Saez argues, the economy began to favor the top tiers American earners, but much of the country missed was left behind. "The top 1 percent incomes captured half of the overall economic growth over the period 1993-2007," Saes writes.

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Jazz Photography by Jimmy Katz

Riffing in Black and White - ArtsBeat Blog -

Ornette Coleman: Photo by Jimmy Katz

Daniel J. Wakin writes:

A jazz musician takes musical matter and, without much detailed planning or many written notes, spins out lines into uncharted space. The great ones surprise us as their solos unwind, but their sound is always identifiable. Jimmy Katz, the photographer who generally works with his wife Dena Katz, compares their picture-taking to that kind of music-making. They struggle, he says, to capture spontaneity and maintain a consistent look.
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"This Opposition Cannot Be Appeased": Krugman Lays it Out in Four Sentences

Op-Ed Columnist - Republican Death Trip -
President Obama is now facing the same kind of opposition that President Bill Clinton had to deal with: an enraged right that denies the legitimacy of his presidency, that eagerly seizes on every wild rumor manufactured by the right-wing media complex.

This opposition cannot be appeased. Some pundits claim that Mr. Obama has polarized the country by following too liberal an agenda. But the truth is that the attacks on the president have no relationship to anything he is actually doing or proposing.
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Polls Show Conservative Town Hall Strategy Not Working

Daily Kos: State of the Nation
Research 2000 for Daily Kos. 8/10-13/2009. All adults. MoE 2% (8/3-6/2009 results):
PRESIDENT OBAMA 60 (60) 36 (37) +1

PELOSI: 36 (35) 56 (57) +2
REID: 34 (33) 55 (56) +2
McCONNELL: 16 (17) 66 (66) -1
BOEHNER: 11 (12) 66 (65) -2

CONGRESSIONAL DEMS: 43 (42) 51 (52) +2
CONGRESSIONAL GOPS: 10 (10) 76 (75) -1

DEMOCRATIC PARTY: 45 (44) 48 (49) +2
REPUBLICAN PARTY: 17 (18) 74 (73) -2

Full crosstabs here. This poll is updated every Friday morning, and you can see trendline graphs here.

As stated before, it is usually tough to offer conclusions based on weekly movements of one or two points. It becomes a little bit easier, however, when all of the representatives from one party move in one direction, while all of the representatives of the other party move in the opposite direction.

Given that the dominant story in the public conversation over the past week has been the health care townhall meetings, it is not completely unreasonable to suggest that the protest tactic employed by the opponents of reform (and at least tacitly cheered on by Congressional Republicans) has not had the desired effect of cratering Democratic numbers and resurrecting Republican ones.

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Poland Reburys 2000 WWII Victims Found in Mass Grave

BBC NEWS | Europe | Mass Polish reburial of war dead
The remains of more than 2,000 people discovered in Poland's largest mass grave from World War II have been reburied in a military cemetery.

Polish and German officials presided over the ceremony at a cemetery for German soldiers in north-west Poland, near the border between the countries.

The victims are believed to be German civilians who died in the last months of the conflict, in early 1945.

The mass grave was discovered in the Polish city of Malbork last October.

Because no-one was prepared to pay for expensive DNA testing, the historians' best guess is that the victims were German civilians caught up in the Red Army's assault on the city.

At the time Malbork was Marienberg, a German city.

The first skeletons were unearthed by workmen digging the foundations of a new hotel near the city's medieval castle.

In the end, more than 2,000 skeletons were discovered, two-thirds of them belonging to women and children.
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Steal This Music: Morrissey Rebels Against EMI

Morrissey: Don't Buy My Music | Techdirt
Techdirt writes:

from the no-royalties dept

We keep hearing from the big record labels and the RIAA how they're doing everything they do "for the artists." Yet, everywhere we turn, we see artists who are anything but happy by what's being done to for them. The latest, sent in by Bryan Colley, is that the singer Morrissey is going on fan sites, warning fans not to buy the new box sets of his music that EMI is putting out, noting that not only did he have nothing whatsoever to do with them, he won't see a penny in royalties from them. But it's all for the artists, right? These days, when artists are finally learning to connect with fans directly, those fans want to know that when they choose to spend money on an artist, that money actually goes to the artist.
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New Law in Afghanistan Diminishes the Rights of Women

Afghanistan passes 'barbaric' law diminishing women's rights | World news |

Afghanistan has quietly passed a law permitting Shia men to deny their wives food and sustenance if they refuse to obey their husbands' sexual demands, despite international outrage over an earlier version of the legislation which President Hamid Karzai had promised to review.

The new final draft of the legislation also grants guardianship of children exclusively to their fathers and grandfathers, and requires women to get permission from their husbands to work.

"It also effectively allows a rapist to avoid prosecution by paying 'blood money' to a girl who was injured when he raped her," the US charity Human Rights Watch said.

In early April, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown joined an international chorus of condemnation when the Guardian revealed that the earlier version of the law legalised rape within marriage, according to the UN.

Although Karzai appeared to back down, activists say the revised version of the law still contains repressive measures and contradicts the Afghan constitution and international treaties signed by the country.

Islamic law experts and human rights activists say that although the language of the original law has been changed, many of the provisions that alarmed women's rights groups remain, including this one: "Tamkeen is the readiness of the wife to submit to her husband's reasonable sexual enjoyment, and her prohibition from going out of the house, except in extreme circumstances, without her husband's permission. If any of the above provisions are not followed by the wife she is considered disobedient."
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Malawian Women Mistreated by Female Nurses and Midwives

AfricaNews - Survey: Malawian women fear child bearing - The AfricaNews articles of FRAZER POTANI
Some Malawian women have stated that child bearing is no longer joyful for them following harsh treatments from fellow female nurses during labour. They have requested for the services of male attendants during birth.

“They do insult us and sometimes beat us up. We opt to be attended by a male nurse or midwife because they treat us kindly, with respect and dignity,” Asiyatu Ibrahim, 46, a mother of five from Che Mbaluku in Mangochi said.

She stated that she was overwhelmed by a male nurse’s empathy during her fifth child's delivery. "My experience was totally different from previous deliveries whereby I was treated harshly,” she said adding, “In fact during my third pregnancy I was even slapped on the face by a nurse for failing to follow her instructions due to severe pain.”

Malawi’s Principal Secretary for Health Chris Kang’ombe attributed the poor nurse-patient relation to pressure as a result of staff shortage in public hospitals.
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Isak Dinesen: A Great Writer's Reputation Fades in the US

In the Theater of Isak Dinesen

Joanna Scott writes:

Known in this country by her pseudonym, Isak Dinesen, the Danish writer Karen Blixen published her first collection of stories in 1934, at the age of 49. Though she'd returned to her family home in Denmark after spending seventeen years in British East Africa, Dinesen wrote her stories in English and secured her first contract with an American publisher. The book, Seven Gothic Tales, established Dinesen as a literary giant, a reputation that would be sustained throughout her life. Eudora Welty said Dinesen's fiction embodies "the last outreach of magic." Carson McCullers reported that she would reread Dinesen's memoir Out of Africa for comfort. When he was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1954, Ernest Hemingway said with uncharacteristic humility that it might have gone to "that beautiful writer Karen Blixen."

But Dinesen's claim on American readers has been waning. The majority of critical books and articles on her work were published before 1990. In 1985, three years after the publication of Judith Thurman's biography Isak Dinesen, Hollywood jumped on board, recasting the time Dinesen spent in British East Africa managing a coffee plantation with her husband as a love story starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford. The film, Out of Africa, might have generated a resurgence of interest in Dinesen's work, but instead it appears to have inaugurated a new period of critical indifference.

Dinesen, who died in 1962, was always an elusive target for readers, even at the height of her renown. As her fame spread, she responded by cloaking herself in an eccentric and mysterious persona. In his introduction to the Paris Review interview with Dinesen, published in 1956, Eugene Walter lists some of the legends about her: "She is really a man; he is really a woman...she is a nun; he is very hospitable and receives young writers; she is difficult to see and lives a recluse." He doesn't note the secret hidden behind the persona: Dinesen suffered for many years from ravaging syphilis, which she contracted from her husband. But if her public identity was a calculated performance, it matched the design of her tales. When Walter asked her in the interview if she objected to readers who found her tales artificial, she responded, "Of course they are artificial. They were meant to be, for such is the essence of the tale-telling art."

These days, when the merit of fiction tends to be measured by the currency of its subjects, a confessional element in the work helps establish credibility. Reviewers try to square the antics of a writer's life with the antics in the fiction. Even satirical verbal play is too often read and admired as autobiographical expression. And thanks to the democratic exposures of the web, it's easier than ever to document private experiences and divulge the most intimate secrets. Confession doesn't leave much room for imagination except to demand its allegiance to the personal, which may leave readers less inclined to find value in the extravagant lies of fiction. It's understandable, then, but no less disappointing, that the tales of Isak Dinesen--filled with children who dream too much, fat old nobles who are devoted to revenge, nuns who are good at weaving, servants who are good at cooking--would be easy to overlook.
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O Arizona: Sheriff Joe "Raids" and Commandeers County Computer System

Sheriff's Office explains why it took over county computers
A Maricopa County Sheriff's official said Thursday that his office's takeover of a county computer system
was prompted by repeated requests by the state to protect sensitive criminal-justice data.

Chief Deputy David Hendershott said the state Department of Public Safety was concerned that civilians could have inappropriate access to criminal-history records in the system.

The Sheriff's Office took control of the Integrated Criminal Justice Information System from county employees on Wednesday. The system links the county's criminal-justice agencies to state and national databases that hold criminal records, court dates, probation and personal information, and other records.

"We felt intrusion (into the system) was imminent," Hendershott said.

At a Superior Court hearing Thursday, the Board of Supervisors and county administrators tried to get a temporary restraining order against the Sheriff's Office and get the system back under their control. That hearing continues at 2:15 p.m. today.

The Sheriff's Office and the Board of Supervisors have been debating control of the system for months. In April, the Sheriff's Office filed a lawsuit in Superior Court over the system's management.

On Wednesday morning, 10 deputies and a sheriff's computer expert took control of some county computer equipment and changed a password. County officials characterized the action as a "raid."

But Kerry Martin, an attorney representing the Sheriff's Office, said deputies "did not go in and seize any equipment, no court records and no e-mails." Instead, they changed the password so sensitive criminal-justice information could be accessed only by law-enforcement officers with special clearance.

County officials say the Sheriff's Office overstepped its boundaries, especially given the lawsuit.

"There's just no justification imaginable for the . . . use of force that was put out, or the intimidation," said Wade Swanson, an attorney for the supervisors.
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Photography: Washington D.C., 1942

The "Pleasantville" Effect | Shorpy Photo Archive

Shorpy writes:

A splash of color added to Ester Bubley's 1943 photograph of a Washington, D. C. working girl as enjoyed on Shorpy. What were her dreams and aspirations? Was she married or hoping to be married soon? Was her husband or boy friend in the military? What happened to her life after the war? Too many questions, too few answers.
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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Danish Police Arrest Iraqi Asylum Seekers in Church

Al Jazeera English - Europe - Iraqis seized from Denmark church
Danish police have clashed with protesters as they moved to arrest a group of 17 Iraqis who had taken refuge in a Copenhagen church following the rejection of their asylum applications.

Police forced their way into the Protestant Brorson church in a suburb of the Danish capital early on Thursday, pushing past at least 100 protesters who had tried to barricade the building.

Some reports said pepper spray was used as the police tried to clear the protesters, five of whom were arrested.

Video of the operation appeared to show an officer beating a woman protester several times with his truncheon, and other incidents of what critics said was excessive or unnecessary force.

The move drew an angry response from the pastor in charge of the church, Per Ramsland, who said the police action violated Danish traditions of church sanctuary.

"I had never dreamed that something like this could happen," he told reporters.

Denmark's former prime minister, Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, also condemned the police action, saying it "went beyond the bounds of common humanity and decency".

Denmark's justice Minister, Brian Mikkelsen, however defended the police action, saying in a statement that "the law must be respected" and "one should not count on special treatment even if one occupies a church".

A spokesman for Copenhagen police said the 17 asylum seekers had been taken to a local police station for questioning to establish their identities and if they had a legal right to remain in Denmark.
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Buddy Holly Lives, and Cory Doctorow is Psyched

Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede, one of the all-time great American comedy sf novels, will be a movie - Boing Boing

Cory Doctorow writes:

Holy CRAP this is good news: Bradley Denton's incredible comic sf novel Buddy Holly is Alive and Well on Ganymede is being made into a movie directed and written by Robert Rugan.

Buddy Holly is the story of Oliver Vale, whose mother was obsessed with Buddy Holly, and who one day discovers that Buddy Holly is on the TV, on every TV, on every station, with a guitar around his neck, standing in a bubble on the surface of Ganymede, disoriented, musical, and periodically reading out a sign saying that further information is available from Oliver, and supplying his home address.

The entire world chases Oliver at this point: cops, radio cops, televangelists and their flocks, aliens -- you name it. And Oliver begins a road-trip across America to Lubbock, Texas, there to exhume Buddy Holly's corpse and verify for himself that the famous musician is not on a distant, airless moon.

When this book came out, I was a bookseller at Bakka in Toronto, the venerable science fiction bookstore. If you were a science fiction reader in Toronto in those days, it's a damned good bet I sold you a copy of it. I hand-sold about 750 copies of that book, and would have sold more. Will sell more.

Bradley Denton is a stone comic genius and no two of his books are alike, but this is the one I love -- I worship -- as the apotheosis of a certain kind of gonzo, brilliant, marvellous thing that is to American science fiction comedy what Douglas Adams' Hitchhikers' series is to British sf comedy.

To see it come back and to the big screen, too -- marvellous. Congrats, Brad, and well-deserved.
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RIP Rashied Ali

Rashied Ali, 1935–2009

feuilleton writes:

The death this week of guitar pioneer Les Paul is already receiving considerable attention; less will be given to the passing of drummer Rashied Ali. The latter means more for me as a musician since I’m listening to his work all the time. Ali famously (and to some, controversially) replaced drummer Elvin Jones as John Coltrane’s drummer of choice from 1966 onwards, and Ali’s revolutionary free style enabled Coltrane to voyage even further out with his stream-of-consciousness sax playing. Ali’s playing supports all of Coltrane’s later recordings, including their extraordinary duet album Interstellar Space (recorded in the ’60s but not released until 1974). Following Coltrane’s death in 1967, Ali played on a number of albums by the fantastic Alice Coltrane, and while this period inevitably overshadows any appraisal of his work, his career continued to develop to the present day.

If you’re unused to the “formlessness” of free jazz, Interstellar Space can be a forbidding region until you attune yourself to its rarefied atmospheres. Alice Coltrane’s A Monastic Trio, recorded shortly after her husband’s death, is less challenging and a beautiful tribute to John Coltrane from his wife, friends and collaborators. With Jimmy Garrison on bass, Pharoah Sanders on sax, Alice playing harp and piano, and Ali drumming on five of its six tracks, its a perfect introduction to Ali’s work, and, by extension, to some of the finest music of the last century.

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Photography: New York Light and Dark

Art Review - 'New York Photographs' - Frozen in Time, a City in Flux, at Bonni Benrubi, Yossi Milo, Laurence Miller and More -

Ken Johnson writes:

Last winter, when the art economy was looking especially dark, a group of Manhattan photography dealers got together and decided to put on a spirit-lifting show: “New York Photographs,” a summertime tribute to the greatest city on earth. Thirteen galleries agreed to mount exhibitions — some dedicated to individual artists, some to subjects like sex or music — of which six are currently up. Together they offer a tantalizing series of glimpses, a dreamy tour of the town from the Statue of Liberty to the streets of Spanish Harlem and from the hurly-burly of Times Square to the furtive sexual encounters of the old West Side piers. They are a reminder, for anyone who needs it, of the endless churn of dark and light, innocence and experience that surrounds all of us in the city at every moment.
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Artist Walter De Maria's "Most Subtle, and Bizarre, Work"

Vertical Earth Kilometer | Kassel, Germany | Atlas Obscura

Atlas Obscura writes:

The Vertical Earth Kilometer, located in the Friedrichsplatz Park in Kassel, Germany, is a one-kilometer long brass rod five centimeters (two inches) in diameter. The full length of the rod is inserted into the ground with the top lying flush to the surface of the earth. A red sandstone square surrounds the brass rod’s flat circular top, commemorating the undistinguished top of the pole, which could otherwise be mistaken for a large blank coin.

Installed in 1977, the VEK is the work of famed American artist Walter De Maria, whose other work with metal rods includes the Lightning Field and the Broken Kilometer. But this is by far De Maria's most subtle, and bizarre, work. The piece is almost entirely hidden from view, confining its existence to the trusting mind of the viewer.

The boring of the shaft, which goes through six geological layers, took seventy-nine days. The continuous metal rod is made of 167 one-meter long rods, screwed tightly together. The sandstone square which surrounds the top of the shaft is at the intersection of two paths which traverse the Friedrichsplatz in Kassel, Germany, site of the international contemporary art survey, Documenta.
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The Herd

adski_kafeteri: ***

“Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual.” --Nietzsche

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A.S. Byatt Attacks Reality

Byatt attacks novelists who use real-life characters | Books |
Alison Flood writes:

A.S. Byatt has launched a vigorous attack on writers who combine biography and fiction, calling it an "appropriation of others' lives and privacy".

Her broadside against authors of "faction", which she describes as "mixtures of biography and fiction, journalism and invention", is particularly startling given that it could be applied to her rival for this year's Man Booker prize, Hilary Mantel, who is longlisted for her historical novel about the life of Thomas Cromwell, Wolf Hall.

"I really don't like the idea of 'basing' a character on someone, and these days I don't like the idea of going into the mind of the real unknown dead," said Byatt in an interview with the organisers of the Booker prize. "It feels like the appropriation of others' lives and privacy. Making other people up, which is a kind of attack on them." Oscar Wilde appears in her own Booker-nominated novel, The Children's Book, she added, but "the novelist doesn't say what he thinks".
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Automagic Pin Setter, 1943

Alley Cat: 1943 | Shorpy Photo Archive

April 1943. Washington, D.C. "Pin boy at a bowling alley." Nitrate negative by Esther Bubley for the Office of War Information.
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Photojournalism: Zoriah Does Havana


Zoriah writes:

The Colors of Cuba

There is a lot of great color photography from Cuba out there, which is why before coming here I decided to focus my efforts on capturing this country in black and white. That being said, there are some moments that just need to be in color.
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Victoria Crater, Mars

Image of the Day: Mars' Victoria Crater

The Daily Galaxy writes:

This image of the Victoria Impact Crater in the Meridiani Planum region of Mars was taken by the High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment (HiRISE) camera on NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter at more of a sideways angle than earlier orbital images of this crater. The camera pointing was 22 degrees east of straight down, yielding a view comparable to looking at the landscape out an airplane window. The crater is named after Victoria -one of the five ships of Ferdinand Magellan and the first ship to circumnavigate the globe . Along the edges of the crater are many outcrops within recessed alcoves and promontories, named for bays and capes that Magellan discovered. Opportunity traveled for 21 months to Victoria before finally reaching its edge on September 26, 2006.
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Flamingo Mystery Solved?

BBC - Earth News - Why flamingos stand on one leg

Matt Walker writes:

It is one of the simplest, but most enigmatic mysteries of nature: just why do flamingos like to stand on one leg?

The question is asked by zoo visitors and biologists alike, but while numerous theories abound, no-one has yet provided a definitive explanation.

Now after conducting an exhaustive study of captive Caribbean flamingos, two scientists believe they finally have the answer.

Flamingos stand on one leg to regulate their body temperature, they say.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Georgia Shamanism

Shaman. --T.R. Hummer

In Georgia, children and grandparents go on mandatory vision quests.

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Georgia Living Statues

Bronze Madonna and Child. --T.R. Hummer

In Georgia, the people often are transfixed while staring into fires, and then turn to bronze.

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Georgia Ritual Sacrifice

Ritual Sacrifice. --T.R. Hummer

In Georgia, marshmallows are burned in the auto de fe, for the edification of the children.

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Georgia Socialism

Gourd Condominium, Georgia. --T.R. Hummer

In Georgia, where this photo was taken, every citizen is entitled to forty gourds and a bird.

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Honor Thy Car and Thy Fireworks

Black Cat Fireworks. T.R. Hummer

In my Mississippi home town, fireworks are not merely legal, they are mandatory, especially in close proximity to gas stations.

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Honor Thy Flag and Thy Garbage

Composition with Flag, Bow, and Garbage. T.R. Hummer

In my Mississippi home town, at the holidays many flags fly.

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Ryan Grim's "This Is Your Country On Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High"

Hit & Run > Ryan Grim on The Secret History of Getting High in America - Reason Magazine
Ryan Grim's new book explores the long and tangled roots of drug use and prohibition in America.

This Is Your Country on Drugs: The Secret History of Getting High is essential reading for anyone interested not only in understanding why drug policy always goes wrong but also how it just might be reformed.
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Girl Scouts for the Cause: War Gardening,1918

War Gardeners: 1918 | Shorpy Photo Archive

Washington, D.C., or vicinity, 1918. "Nat'l Emergency War Garden Commission. Girl Scouts and others." Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative.
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How Much Should Medical Services Cost? Are You Being Gouged By Something Other Than A Scalpel? Find Out Here

Healthcare Blue Book

The Healthcare Blue Book is a free consumer guide to help you determine fair prices in your area for healthcare services. If you pay for your own healthcare, have a high deductible or need a service your insurance does not fully cover, we can help. The Blue Book will help you find fair prices for surgery, hospital stays, doctor visits, medical tests and much more.
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RIP Stanley Robertson, Human Archive

Stanley Robertson: storyteller, singer and writer | Times Online Obituary
When Stanley Robertson appeared in the Smithsonian Institution’s Folklife Festival in Washington in 2004, it was a meeting between a bricks-andmortar cultural repository and its flesh-and-blood equivalent.

Robertson had hundreds of hours of folk tales and a vast repertoire of traditional ballads and songs committed to memory. Regarded as a national treasure in Scottish traditional music circles and revered in storytelling circles as far afield as Denmark and the US, where storytelling events attract audiences in their thousands, Robertson could hold schoolchildren, pensioners, folk clubs and university conference delegates alike in thrall.
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Goddess of Speed

Packard Goddess of Speed - Patent Design -

The design patent for The Packard Goddess of Speed automobile hood ornament. The ornament was designed and filed by John D. Wilson of Grosse Point, Michigan, in 1938 and assigned to the Packard Motor Car Company of Detroit. The patent was issued in 1939.

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How We Scan: Point to Point to Point

The mind's eye scans like a spotlight
You're meeting a friend in a crowded cafeteria. Do your eyes scan the room like a roving spotlight, moving from face to face, or do you take in the whole scene, hoping that your friend's face will pop out at you? And what, for that matter, determines how fast you can scan the room?

Researchers at MIT's Picower Institute for Learning and Memory say you are more likely to scan the room, jumping from face to face as you search for your friend. In addition, the timing of these jumps appears to be determined by waves of activity in the brain that act as a clock. The study, which appears in the Aug. 13 issue of the journal Neuron, sheds new light on a long-standing debate among neuroscientists over how the visual system picks out an object of interest in a complex scene.

In the study, monkeys were given the task of searching for one particular tilted, colored bar among a field of bars on a computer screen. By monitoring the activity of neurons in three of the animals' brain regions, researchers found that the monkeys spontaneously shifted their attention in a sequence, like a moving spotlight that jumped from location to location.

What's more, the study showed that brain waves act as a kind of built-in clock that provides a framework for shifting attention from one location to the next. The work could have implications for understanding or treating attention deficit disorder or even potentially speeding up the rate of cognition in the brain.

"For many years, neuroscientists have been debating competing theories on whether humans and animals spontaneously search elements of a visual scene in a serial or parallel manner," said lead author Earl K. Miller, the Picower Professor of Neuroscience. "Ours is the first study based on direct evidence of neurophysiological activity."
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Computer Generated Flowers by Macoto Murayama

Inorganic flora — Pink Tentacle

Inorganic flora
10 Aug 2009

CG illustrator Macoto Murayama takes a unique look at the organic beauty of flowers by highlighting their geometric and mechanical structure.

[h/t to Boing Boing]
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Does This Include Dirty Dancing?--Getting Dirty Elevates Mood

Dr. Larry Dossey: "Is Dirt the New Prozac?"
"Cleanliness is almost as bad as godliness."

-- H. L. Mencken

Imagine: You're feeling so depressed that you visit your doctor and request a prescription for a mood elevator. Instead of writing you a prescription for Prozac or a similar antidepressant, she advises you to get dirty. While you consider changing doctors, she describes how getting dirty changes your brain chemistry. The microbes in dirt, she says, tweak the same neurons that are stimulated by Prozac. Your options, she explains, are an expensive drug plus its possible side effects, or gardening, yard work, or a romp in the park. Your doctor, it turns out, hasn't gone round the bend. She is actually up-to-date on the latest scientific findings about how the natural environment affects our brain function.
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Pink Ferns, Blue Mushrooms, Vision Quests, and--Giant Rat-Eating Pitcher Plant

BBC - Earth News - Giant 'meat-eating' plant found

A new species of giant carnivorous plant has been discovered in the highlands of the central Philippines.

The pitcher plant is among the largest of all pitchers and is so big that it can catch rats as well as insects in its leafy trap.

During the same expedition, botanists also came across strange pink ferns and blue mushrooms they could not identify.

The botanists have named the pitcher plant after British natural history broadcaster David Attenborough.

They published details of the discovery in the Botanical Journal of the Linnean Society earlier this year.

Word that this new species of pitcher plant existed initially came from two Christian missionaries who in 2000 attempted to scale Mount Victoria, a rarely visited peak in central Palawan in the Philippines.

With little preparation, the missionaries attempted to climb the mountain but became lost for 13 days before being rescued from the slopes.

On their return, they described seeing a large carnivorous pitcher plant.
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Ancient Real Estate: Remains of 6000-Year-Old Wooden Structure Found in London

London's earliest timber structure found during Belmarsh prison dig
London's oldest timber structure has been unearthed by archaeologists from Archaeology South-East (part of the Institute of Archaeology at UCL). It was found during the excavation of a prehistoric peat bog adjacent to Belmarsh Prison in Plumstead, Greenwich, in advance of the construction of a new prison building. Radiocarbon dating has shown the structure to be nearly 6,000 years old and it predates Stonehenge by more than 500 years. Jacobs Engineering UK Ltd acted as the managing consultants, on behalf of the Ministry of Justice, and the work was facilitated by Interserve Project Services Ltd.

The structure consisted of a timber platform or trackway found at a depth of 4.7m (about the height of a double decker bus) beneath two metres of peat adjacent to an ancient river channel (image available). Previously, the oldest timber structure in Greater London was the timber trackway in Silvertown, which has been dated to 3340-2910 BC, c. 700 years younger.

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Stephen Hawking Clarifies the Obvious, for Once: National Health Care Saved His Life

Guess That Settles It | TPM
Stephen Hawking responds to the bizarro report that if he were English (which he is) that his life would be considered worthless by the National Health Service: "I wouldn't be here today if it were not for the NHS. I have received a large amount of high-quality treatment without which I would not have survived."
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Nothing New about Human Complicity in Ecological Destruction: Humans, Not Glaciers, Created Irish Wasteland

Animal dung reveals secrets of the past | GlobalPost

The Burren in County Clare in the west of Ireland has long delighted tourists and intrigued scientists and botanists.

It consists of 135 square miles of bare limestone hills, its gray and pink rock contrasting with the emerald green fields on its horizons. It had long been assumed that the stripping action of glaciers long ago removed the top soil, and that only the arctic plant life for which the Burren is famous survived. Now new research has established that this "stony place" as the word burren (or boireann) means in Gaelic, was once a forest of pines and hazel trees that survived long after the Ice Age ended 12,000 years ago.

A team from National University of Ireland Galway came to this conclusion by examining ancient cattle and sheep excrement found deep in nearby peat deposits to establish grazing habits. To be more precise, they studied the spores of a fungus found on the animal dung, and were able to draw conclusions about the original plant cover.

Research published in the Journal of Ecology in London and carried out by Michael O’Connell and Ingo Fesser shows that the Burren supported woody vegetation and grasslands from around 1500 B.C. until possibly as late as the 17th century. The trees were cleared or burned by farmers to facilitate cultivation and grazing and the arctic flora that coexisted with the pine and hazel forests survived the clearances.

What the farmers lost through soil erosion is today Ireland’s gain. It has made a small corner of the country an area of spell-binding scenery, composed of terraced limestone rock and cracked pavements underneath which are hidden rivers and large caves.
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Don't Trust Anybody Under 64: Generation Gap Narrows, Beatles are Catalyst

Study Says Beatles May Bridge Generational Gap -
Maybe it is the sweet mixture of apprehension and promise in “When I’m 64,” Paul McCartney’s ode to aging, which he wrote when he was still a teenager. Or the gentle optimism of “Here Comes the Sun.”

Whether or not the inspiration was lyrical (don’t forget “All You Need Is Love,” “All Together Now” and “Your Mother Should Know”), a new study argues that the Beatles may have helped bridge today’s generation gap in America.

They didn’t close it altogether, of course. Younger and older people still disagree.

But the raging antagonisms that defined the intergenerational divide in the 1960s have eased, according to a survey by the Pew Research Center being released on Wednesday to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Woodstock (the music festival, which more than half of 16- to 29-year-olds could not identify).

“There’s now broad agreement across the generations about one realm of American culture that had been an intense battlefield in the 1960s: the music,” the survey concludes. Every age group from 16 through 64 listens to rock ’n’ roll more than any other format (people 65 and over prefer country music). The Beatles rank in the top four among every group.

Strikingly, Pew found that the number of Americans who find major differences in the viewpoints of younger and older adults is slightly higher than it was 40 years ago. But Paul Taylor, the Pew center’s director, said: “The generations in 2009 have found a way to disagree without being disagreeable. They’re not fighting with each other.”

While 19 percent of older adults recall that as teenagers they had major disagreements with their parents, only 10 percent say they have similar arguments with their own teenage or young adult children.
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Chaplin on Break

CONSTANT SIEGE - Charlie Chaplin on the set of ‘Payday’ 1922 True:...

Charlie Chaplin on the set of ‘Payday’ 1922

Constant Seige writes:

True: In 1978 Chaplin’s becoffined corpse was dug up and held hostage for almost three months by two Eastern European men, who tried to ransom it for more than half a million dollars.
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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

BibliOdyssey: Perspective of the Regular Solids


         Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Jamnitzer Perspectiva

Perspectiva Corporum Regularium

Perspective of the Regular Solids: that is, a diligent exposition of how the five regular solids of which Plato writes in the Timaeus and Euclid in his Elements are artfully brought into perspective using a particularly new, thorough and proper method never before employed. And appended to this a fine introduction how out of the same five bodies one can go on endlessly making many other bodies of various kinds and shapes.
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