Recent Posts

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Happy Birthday Leo Fender, 100 Years

Aug. 10, 1909: Leo Fender and the Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll | This Day In Tech |

1909: Clarence “Leo” Fender is born.

The designer, engineer and inventor would found the Fender Electric Instrument Manufacturing Company, the banner under which he created and produced the first wave of commercially successful electric guitars, basses and amplifiers. Fender’s panache for instrument design reached its pinnicle with his work on the Telecaster guitar, the Fender Precision bass and, most famously, the Stratocaster, the musical instrument that was the central force in defining rock ‘n’ roll in the 1950s and ’60s, and whose influence continues to dominate every genre of popular music.

Leo Fender didn’t invent the electric guitar. Six-string slingers had been experimenting with rudimentary amplification systems since the early decades of the 20th century. Always itching for more volume, guitarists were eager to be heard above the drums and other loud instruments in the dance bands of the time.

The first real innovations toward electric axes, however, came with the awarding of two patents for magnetic pickups. The first went to Gibson’s Guy Hart for his company’s Hawaiian guitar design on July 13, 1937, and the second went to Rickenbacker’s George Beauchamp for his horseshoe magnet pickup design featured on his company’s lap steel “frying pan” guitars, on August 10, 1937 — coincidentally, Fender’s 28th birthday.

The earliest electric guitars were either of the lap steel or hollow body archtop varieties. It wasn’t until guitarist Les Paul constructed his own prototype solid body electric, nicknamed “The Log,” in 1946 that the stage would be set for the revolution that would define popular music in the second half of the century.

And that’s where Leo Fender comes in.

[Article continues at the link]

Powered by ScribeFire.

Dumpster Harp Is Rare Instrument

Rare Egan Harp, Damaged and Discarded, Is Brought Back to Life -

Colin Moynihan writes:

To a certain type of New Yorker, every Dumpster is a potential treasure chest, right up there with thrift stores and stoop sales.

But if the scavenger gods offer only a finite number of prizes, Julie Finch might have claimed one of them.

Last month Ms. Finch stood on her toes to peer into the Dumpster outside her building on West 26th Street and found a blue wooden harp distinguished mainly by caked layers of grime and dust and a snarl of broken strings.

“It was this old thing with wires going in all directions,” she said. “It didn’t look like anything anybody could play.”

Still, as a lover of found objects, Ms. Finch felt duty bound to take the harp home. She offered it to a neighbor whose brother is a composer, but the man’s wife objected after seeing its sorry condition. So Ms. Finch used wood-floor soap to clean the harp and discovered not only clusters of hand-painted gold shamrocks climbing the column and soundboard, but a brass plaque bearing the name of the instrument’s maker, John Egan, and an address on Dawson Road in Dublin.

Egan, who is thought to have made instruments from the late 1700s until about 1840, is seen by many as the father of the modern Irish harp. In the 19th century his instruments were used by nationalist balladeers, like the poet Thomas Moore, who wrote “The Harp that Once Through Tara’s Halls.” Today universities and museums collect them.

“The ancient Irish harp tradition, which goes back to medieval times, was dying out around 1800,” Simon Chadwick, honorary secretary of the Historical Harp Society of Ireland, wrote in an e-mail message. “Egan invented a completely new romantic type of Irish harp, which was very successful, and which formed the basis of all subsequent revivals.”

Powered by ScribeFire.

Bill Clinton Will Raise Funds for Haiti

Clinton reiterates commitment to impoverished Haiti - World -
Former President Bill Clinton on Sunday delivered to Haitian-Americans and emigres a mixed message of heartbreak and hope.

As the new U.N. envoy to Haiti, Clinton has focused his well-honed fundraising talents on Haitian relief. The former president announced he would head a trade mission there in October with international investors.

Clinton also said billionaire investor and philanthropist George Soros' Soros Economic Development Fund was launching an equity investment program with an initial commitment of up to $25 million. The Haiti Invest Project's potential partners could immediately expand that amount to $150 million in manufacturing, agriculture, logistics, energy and tourism ventures.

Powered by ScribeFire.

First I Make the Coffee, THEN I Go Online, While the Pot Fills: New Media Alters Family Mornings

For Families Today, Technology Is Morning’s First Priority -

Brad Stone writes:
Technology has shaken up plenty of life’s routines, but for many people it has completely altered the once predictable rituals at the start of the day.

This is morning in America in the Internet age. After six to eight hours of network deprivation — also known as sleep — people are increasingly waking up and lunging for cellphones and laptops, sometimes even before swinging their legs to the floor and tending to more biologically urgent activities.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Are Artists Doing Their Cultural Job?

The Artist Formerly Known as Dissident: Artists have a duty to dissent—even against Obama - Reason Magazine
Patrick Courrielche writes:

Throughout modern history, art typically enters politics on a mass scale in two fashions: first, as a check on power; second, as a tool used by those in power. Freedom of the Press comes into play in both cases, but in very different ways. In the first case, it protects political commentary by artists. This freedom is not a garnish. It is a necessary weapon, enshrined in the Constitution for the purpose of countering contradictions, hypocrisies, and distortions made by politicians and others in power. Yet the art community has responded to the Obama administration's contradictions, hypocrisies, and distortions with near total silence.

Powered by ScribeFire.

First US Solar Power Tower

Idealab rebounds with recent focus on clean technology - Los Angeles Times

The hundreds of glass mirrors break the dusty field in Lancaster, a sea of silver in a landscape of brown.

When switched on for the first time today at an opening gala with investors, local politicians and others, they'll make up the first operational solar tower energy facility in the United States.

They reflect the sun into a tower in the middle of the field, boiling water into steam that travels through pipes to power a turbine and create electricity. The plant, created by Pasadena company ESolar Inc., will be able to power 4,000 homes.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Starvation in Eastern India

BBC NEWS | In Pictures | In pictures: Hunger threat to ancient Indian tribe

BBC writes:

The Korwas are an ancient tribe who have lived for generations in the eastern Indian state of Jharkhand. But the sceptre of hunger and even starvation hangs over this community of hunter-gatherers in Jhelabathan village.

[see extensive photoarchive at the link]

Powered by ScribeFire.

Cuba: Waiting for the Ox

In Cuba, the ox may be mightier than the tractor -

In this Aug. 6, 2009 photo, farmer Diosdado Mena works his oxen in a field in Los Palacios, Cuba. Cuba may rely more heavily than ever on oxen to save fuel normally used by heavily machinery. In a speech to lawmakers last weekend, Raul Castro extolled the value of oxen, saying a pilot program promoting urban farming and relying on the beasts of burden in the central province of Camaguey would be expanded to the rest country.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Jewelry of Mass Destruction, 1948

adski_kafeteri: General Mills' Atomic Bomb Ring, 1948

General Mills' Atomic Bomb Ring, 1948

Powered by ScribeFire.

Persiankiwi: We Haven't Forgotten You; With Hope for Your Well-Being

persiankiwi (persiankiwi) on Twitter
For the first few weeks following the recent election in Iran, when the protests began and when Twitter was such an important information lifeline between the Iranian people and the world, a poster who called him- or herself "Persiankiwi" was one of the most prolific, accurate, important, and heroic conduits. "Persiankiwi"'s Twitter account went silent on June 24. As a matter of record, and as a tribute to Persiankiwi (wherever he or she may be), Conscience Continuum presents the last page from Persiankiwi's Twitter messages. It makes absorbing and moving reading.

Allah - you are the creator of all and all must return to you - Allah Akbar - #Iranelection Sea of Green8:39 AM Jun 24th from web

thank you ppls 4 supporting Sea of Green - pls remember always our martyrs - Allah Akbar - Allah Akbar - Allah Akbar #Iranelection8:36 AM Jun 24th from web

we must go - dont know when we can get internet - they take 1 of us, they will torture and get names - now we must move fast - #Iranelection8:34 AM Jun 24th from web

Everybody is under arrest & cant move - Mousavi - Karroubi even rumour Khatami is in house guard - #Iranelection -8:28 AM Jun 24th from web

they pull away the dead into trucks - like factory - no human can do this - we beg Allah for save us - #Iranelection8:23 AM Jun 24th from web

Lalezar Sq is same as Baharestan - unbelevable - ppls murdered everywhere - #Iranelection8:19 AM Jun 24th from web

they catch ppl with mobile - so many killed today - so many injured - Allah Akbar - they take one of us - #Iranelection8:18 AM Jun 24th from web

in Baharestan we saw militia with axe choping ppl like meat - blood everywhere - like butcher - Allah Akbar - #Iranelection RT RT RT8:16 AM Jun 24th from web

reports of street fighting in Vanak Sq, Tajrish sq, Azadi Sq - now - #Iranelection - Sea of Green - Allah Akbar8:14 AM Jun 24th from web

rumour they are tracking high use of phone lines to find internet users - must move from here now - #Iranelection8:09 AM Jun 24th from web

phone line was cut and we lost internet - #Iranelection - getting more difficult to log into net - #Iranelection8:05 AM Jun 24th from web

all shops was closed - nowhere to go - they follow ppls with helicopters - smoke and fire is everywhere #Iranelection7:03 AM Jun 24th from web

ppl run into alleys and militia standing there waiting - from 2 sides they attack ppl in middle of alleys #Iranelection7:01 AM Jun 24th from web

so many ppl arrested - young & old - they take ppl away - #Iranelection - we lose our group6:59 AM Jun 24th from web

saw 7/8 militia beating one woman with baton on ground - she had no defense nothing - #Iranelection sure that she is dead6:55 AM Jun 24th from web

they were waiting for us - they all have guns and riot uniforms - it was like a mouse trap - ppl being shot like animals #Iranelection6:53 AM Jun 24th from web

I see many ppl with broken arms/legs/heads - blood everywhere - pepper gas like war - #Iranelection6:35 AM Jun 24th from web

just in from Baharestan Sq - situation today is terrible - they beat the ppls like animals - #Iranelection RT RT RT6:34 AM Jun 24th from web

Larijani pressing for Mousavi to be given airtime on IRIB to discuss elections #Iranelection RT RT RT - tahlilerooz.ir2:15 PM Jun 23rd from web

MOUSAVi - on his wesite - Wed Sea of Green is 100% confirmed - no cancellation will be made #Iranelection RT RT RT2:12 PM Jun 23rd from web

Powered by ScribeFire.

The Recession: That Flushing Sound You Hear Is Coming from the School of the Arts

Arts Programs in Academia Are Forced to Nip Here, Adjust There -
If you are looking for a sign of how strapped the University of California, Los Angeles, is for cash, consider that its arts and architecture school may resort to holding a bake sale to raise money. California’s severe financial crisis has left its higher-education system — which serves nearly a fifth of the nation’s college students — in particularly bad straits. But tens of thousands of students at public and private colleges and universities around the country will find arts programs, courses and teachers missing — victims of piercing budget cuts — when they descend on campuses this month and next.

At Washington State University the department of theater arts and dance has been eliminated. At Florida State University the undergraduate program in art education and two graduate theater programs are being phased out. The University of Arizona is cutting three-quarters of its funds, more than $500,000, for visiting classical music, dance and theater performers. Wesleyan University’s Center for the Arts, which supports four departments — dance, music, theater and visual arts — is losing 14 percent of its $1.2 million budget over the next two years. The Louisiana State University Museum of Art, one of the largest university-affiliated collections in the South, saw 20 percent of its state financing disappear. Other private and state institutions warn of larger classes, trimmed offerings, higher tuition and fewer services, faculty and visitors.

Powered by ScribeFire.

14,000 Year Old Map the Oldest Known Cartography

World's oldest map: Spanish cave has landscape from 14,000 years ago - Telegraph

Archaeologists have discovered what they believe is man's earliest map, dating from almost 14,000 years ago.

A stone tablet found in a cave in Abauntz in the Navarra region of northern Spain is believed to contain the earliest known representation of a landscape.

Engravings on the stone, which measures less than seven inches by five inches, and is less than an inch thick, appear to depict mountains, meandering rivers and areas of good foraging and hunting.

A team from the University of Zaragoza spent 15 years deciphering the etched lines and squiggles after unearthing the artefact during excavation of the cave in 1993.

"We can say with certainty that it is a sketch, a map of the surrounding area," said Pilar Utrilla, who led the research team.

Powered by ScribeFire.

The Saboteur by Todd R. Behrendt--Burn Magazine

burn magazine

The Saboteur by Todd R. Behrendt

Incorporating elements of collage and expressionism, The Saboteur is my response to hucksters who ruined the world economy with their rampant greed. This image is a silver gelatin print created in a traditional wet-process darkroom utilizing non-traditional techniques.


Powered by ScribeFire.

16th Century Anatomical Sheets

The Library’s rare and important collection of printed anatomical sheets dating from the 16th century are now freely available online via Wellcome Images. These intriguing prints depict the human body through labelled illustrations, often using a three-dimensional 'pop-up' device of superimposed flaps, which can be raised in sequence to display the internal anatomy of the male or female figure. The fugitive sheet thus mimics the act of dissection.
Wellcome Library: 16th century anatomical sheets - images and animations now online

Powered by ScribeFire.

Leon Gimpel: Autochrome Photography, 1915

TYWKIWDBI: "The Grenata Street Army" - color photos from 1915

Leon Gimpel was one of the first and perhaps one of the finest "autochrome" photographers. Working out of Paris in the early 1900s, he published some of the world's first color photographs when L'Illustration printed his autochromes of soldiers and of royalty visiting France. His most famous photos are those of children from Grenata Street (more pix from the set here).

Powered by ScribeFire.

Detainees Abused, Iran Acknowledges

Al Jazeera English - Middle East - Iran acknowledges prisoner abuses
Iranian officials have acknowledged that some protesters detained in the crackdown on Iran's post-election protests were abused in prison.

Iran's prosecutor general said there had been "violations and carelessness" at Kahrizak prison, while on Sunday, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, Iran's police chief, admitted prisoners had been beaten by their jailers.

But he insisted that any deaths were caused by illness, not torture.

Prisoners "died of viral illness and not as a result of beating", he said, according to Iran's semi-official Fars news agency.

Growing public anger over the deaths of at least three people in custody have prompted Iran to jail the head of the Kahrizak detention centre.

"The head of the centre has been sacked and jailed. Three policemen who beat detainees have been jailed as well," Ahmadi-Moghaddam was quoted by the official IRNA news agency as saying.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Jazz Demographics: Bad News for the Music

Terry Teachout Asks, Can Jazz Be Saved? -
The bad news came from the National Endowment for the Arts’ latest Survey of ­Public Participation in the Arts, the fourth to be conducted by the NEA (in participation with the U.S. Census Bureau) since 1982. These are the findings that made jazz musicians sit up and take ­notice:

• In 2002, the year of the last survey, 10.8% of adult Americans attended at least one jazz performance. In 2008, that figure fell to 7.8%.

• Not only is the audience for jazz shrinking, but it’s growing older—fast. The median age of adults in America who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 46. In 1982 it was 29.

• Older people are also much less likely to attend jazz performances today than they were a few years ago. The percentage of Americans between the ages of 45 and 54 who attended a live jazz performance in 2008 was 9.8%. In 2002, it was 13.9%. That’s a 30% drop in attendance.

• Even among ­college-educated adults, the audience for live jazz has shrunk significantly, to 14.9% in 2008 from 19.4% in 1982.

These numbers indicate that the audience for jazz in America is both aging and shrinking at an alarming rate. What I find no less revealing, though, is that the median age of the jazz audience is now comparable to the ages for attendees of live performances of classical music (49 in 2008 vs. 40 in 1982), opera (48 in 2008 vs. 43 in 1982), nonmusical plays (47 in 2008 vs. 39 in 1982) and ballet (46 in 2008 vs. 37 in 1982). In 1982, by contrast, jazz fans were much younger than their high-culture counterparts.

Powered by ScribeFire.

"Naked Singularities" Could Negate All Laws of Physics

Fast-spinning black holes might reveal all - physics-math - 08 August 2009 - New Scientist
IT IS the ultimate cosmic villain: space and time come to an abrupt end in its presence and the laws of physics break down. Now it seems a "naked" black hole may yet emerge in our universe, after spinning away its event horizon.

In 1969, physicist Roger Penrose postulated that every singularity, or black hole, must be shrouded by an event horizon from which nothing, including light, can escape. His Cosmic Censorship Conjecture has it that singularities are always hidden.

If the conjecture doesn't hold, it would be bad news for cosmologists. If even one location in the universe cannot be described by the laws of physics, the future of the universe - as predicted by those laws - is cast into doubt. Our description of photons, for instance, may be undermined because those photons may have interacted with a naked singularity while zipping across the universe.

In theory, adding matter to a black hole could make it spin fast enough to shed its event horizon, but previously, physicists have calculated that the spin of black holes has an inherent speed limit that prevents such shedding. This limit is partly determined by the swirling tornado of space-time that surrounds a spinning black hole. Past simulations showed that if material was added that made space-time swirl faster, adding yet more material would be increasingly difficult because the increased centrifugal force might fling it outwards before it could reach the black hole's event horizon, spin it up and disrupt it.
Infalling matter can disrupt a black hole's event horizon, exposing a 'naked' singularity

However, these simulations began by adding matter to a black hole spinning at its maximum possible rate, say Ted Jacobson and Thomas Sotiriou at the University of Maryland at College Park. They simulated adding matter orbiting in the same direction to a black hole spinning just below its maximum rate. Their work suggests that the event horizon could then be disrupted and shed (

Powered by ScribeFire.

The Dark Side of Lucid Dreaming: Sleep Paralysis

Freaky Sleep Paralysis: Being Awake in Your Nightmares | Wired Science |
You wake up, but you can’t move a muscle. Lying in bed, you’re totally conscious, and you realize that strange things are happening. There’s a crushing weight on your chest that’s humanoid. And it’s evil.

You’ve awakened into the dream world.

This is not the conceit for a new horror movie starring a ragged middle-aged Freddie Prinze Jr., it’s a standard description of the experience of a real medical condition: sleep paralysis. It’s a strange phenomenon that seems to happen to about half the population at least once.

People who experience it find themselves awake in the dream world for anywhere from a few seconds to 10 minutes, often experiencing hallucinations with dark undertones. Cultures from everywhere from Newfoundland to the Caribbean to Japan have come up with spiritual explanations for the phenomenon. Now, a new article in The Psychologist suggests sleep researchers are finally figuring out the neurological basis of the condition.

“This research strongly suggests that sleep paralysis is related to REM sleep, and in particular REM sleep that occurs at sleep onset,” write researchers Julia Santomauro and Christopher C. French of the Anomalistic Psychology Research Unit, Goldsmiths, at the University of London. “Shift work, jet lag, irregular sleep habits, overtiredness and sleep deprivation are all considered to be predisposing factors to sleep paralysis; this may be because such events disrupt the sleep–wake cycle, which can then cause [sleep-onset REM periods].”

In other words, you experience just a piece of REM sleep.

As David McCarty, a sleep researcher at Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center’s Sleep Medicine Program, explained it, humans tend to think about the elements of the different stages of sleep as packaged nicely together. So, in REM sleep, you’re unconscious, experiencing a variety of sensory experiences, and almost all of your muscles are paralyzed (that’s called atonia).

“But in reality you can disassociate those elements,” McCarty said.

In sleep paralysis, two of the key REM sleep components are present, but you’re not unconscious.

Powered by ScribeFire.

The Recession: Shoplifting in Spain

The unusual suspects | GlobalPost
There's a new shoplifter profile surfacing in Spain with the economic crisis: housewives and heads of households. It is called "robo famelico," literally "starving theft."

Thieves have long targeted CDs, DVDs, batteries, cell phones, expensive perfumes, razors and gourmet food items, which are later sold at a discount at flea markets. Now people are stealing even food and basic products, said Carlos Martinez, director of communication at Niscayah, a leading company in technological security solutions.

People even conceal packages of frozen fish under their shirts. “Imagine trying to keep a straight face,” Martinez said.

Those who steal to eat are embarrassed when caught. They even apologize sometimes, Martinez said. But they often keep coming back, believing it is the only way to make ends meet. And there is little supermarkets can do to stop them since non-violent theft of goods worth less than 400 euros isn't considered a crime in Spain.

Spain has the highest unemployment rate in Western Europe, at 18 percent. Spaniards enjoyed a period of impressive economic growth that ended abruptly when the real estate bubble burst. More than 4 million people are jobless, and more than a million households have all members out of work.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Word to the Wise: Silicon Inadequate for Safes, and Don't Keep Millions in Your Hotel Room: Saudi Princess Robbed of $16 Million

BBC NEWS | Europe | Saudi princess robbed in Sardinia
Italian police are investigating the theft of some $16m (£10m) in cash and jewellery from a Saudi princess staying on the Italian island of Sardinia.

The thieves used a master key to gain entry to her luxury hotel suite in Porto Cervo before ripping a safe from the wall, Italian media reports say.

They said the safe was only fixed with silicon to the wall in the suite.

Officials have not named the princess but say Italian and Saudi diplomats have had talks about the incident.

"The thieves used a master key. In 10 minutes at dinner time, without making any noise, they managed to remove the safe from a suite occupied by the Saudi princess," Italy's La Stampa newspaper reported.

Powered by ScribeFire.

O Arizona: Phoenix Mayor Declares Monday "Stress Free Day": Anyone Stressed Out Tomorrow Will Be Arrested: So Chill, People

Mayor Gordon Declares 'Stress Free Day' - Phoenix News Story - KPHO Phoenix
"Today, more than ever, most of us experience stress to some degree as we balance busy schedules on a daily basis," Gordon said. "Life can be hectic and often times we don't think about how stress can impact us physically, mentally and emotionally."

"I encourage Phoenicians to celebrate Stress Free Day and focus on taking measures to improve overall health," Gordon added.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Josh Keyes, Artist

"Calle Del Indio Triste" by Keith Carter 1970

adski_kafeteri: 3for3

"Calle Del Indio Triste" by Keith Carter 1970

Powered by ScribeFire.

Happy Birthday to the Sublime Harry Mills (of Mills Brothers Fame)

Google Reader (236)

Harry Mills, vocals
b. Piqua, OH, USA.
Member: Mills Brothers.
Mills Brothers Bio:
An astonishing vocal group that grew into one of the longest-lasting oldies acts in American popular music, the Mills Brothers quickly moved from novelty wonders to pop successes and continued amazing audiences for decades. Originally billed as "Four Boys and a Guitar," the group's early records came complete with a note assuring listeners that the only musical instrument they were hearing was a guitar. The caution was understandable, since the Mills Brothers were so proficient at recreating trumpets, trombones, and saxophones with only their voices that early singles like "Tiger Rag" and "St. Louis Blues" sounded closer to a hot Dixieland combo than a vocal group. And even after the novelty wore off, the group's intricate harmonies continued charming audiences for decades.

Powered by ScribeFire.

Your Sunday Morning Leviathan Roundup

Of the Monstrous Pictures of Whales

feuilleton writes:

When Herman Melville complains in chapter 55 of Moby Dick about erroneous representations of whales, this is the kind of thing he had in mind. Among those he takes to task, however, I don’t recall any of them having two blow-holes like the creature above.
These fanciful beasts are the work of (no sniggering, please) Hieronymus Cock (1510–1570), an Antwerp engraver, and they populate the seas as part of his marvellous map of America created with the assistance of Spanish cartographer Diego GutiĆ©rrez.

Powered by ScribeFire.