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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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Back in the USSR: David Bowie

Frankie's Nostalgia

Photo by T.R. Hummer

On a recent trip to the small Mississippi town where I grew up, I saw this structure. It's perfect: everything is there. Having taken this photograph, I will never need to write my autobiography. This is it. --T.R. Hummer

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The Ultimate Obama Poster: Somebody Had To Do It

Costa Rican President Contracts Swine Flu

Raw Story » Costa rican President Arias contracts swine flu
Agence France-Presse writes

Costa Rican President Oscar Arias is suffering from the H1N1 virus, the government said on Tuesday, making him the first head of state known to have contracted swine flu.

A Nobel Peace Prize winner Mr. Arias, 68, felt unwell over the weekend and asked to be tested for the virus.

“As a result of that test, he was informed that he had contracted the H1N1 influenza virus,” said Rodrigo Arias, the government’s chief of staff and the President’s brother.

Mr. Arias, who another government official said suffers from asthma, is at home and will rest until Monday.
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Weird Law: Haitians in US Custody Unable, For 3 Months, To Bury Their Infant Daughter

Advocates: Release 2 Haitians to bury baby daughter who drowned when boat capsized off Fla. - WPIX
Jennifer Kay writes:

Advocates in Miami's Little Haiti pressed federal authorities Tuesday to release the 8-month-old girl's parents so they can bury the child they lost in the fast-flowing Gulf Stream current and to fight the government's efforts to deport them back to Haiti.

The body of Luana Augustin was among nine recovered from the ocean. The infant remains at the Palm Beach County medical examiner's office, along with the bodies of three other women who died in the accident and have not been identified.

Chandeline Leonard, 32, and Lucsene Augustin, 26, have been in U.S. custody since May 13 when the boat capsized and sank off Boynton Beach, some 60 miles north of Miami.

The grief-stricken couple from Port-de-Paix, Haiti, are plagued with nightmares about the baby's drowning and need counseling and the ability to plan Luana's funeral, relatives and advocates said.

"It's very critical for her" to see the baby buried, said Leonard's cousin, Albert Noel of Miami.

Marleine Bastien, executive director of Haitian Women of Miami, said the Department of Homeland Security has not responded to the couple's request for humanitarian parole, which is occasionally granted for pregnant women or others with serious medical conditions.

"As a matter of human decency, they should have been released in order to bury their little baby girl, to deal with their immigration cases and to be with family," Bastien said.
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For 75% of Neanderthals, Life was as Bitter as it Is for 75% of Modern Humans

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | 'Taste test' for Neanderthal DNA
DNA analysis of ancient remains shows that Neanderthals shared with modern humans the gene that gives the ability to taste bitter flavours.

Most people find the chemical, known as PTC, very bitter, but 25% cannot taste it at all.

The two groups have different taste receptors on their tongues.

Analysis of the 48,000 year-old bone shows that the genetic variation responsible for this difference also existed in Neanderthals.
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Book Review: The Magicians, by Lev Grossman

Critics' Picks: Magic for grown-ups | Salon Arts & Entertainment
Even if its author, Lev Grossman, weren't a colleague and friend, I'd be fervently recommending "The Magicians" to any reader who fell under the spell of Narnia or Harry Potter as a child and looks back on it all with an adult's ambivalence.

It's the story of Quentin Coldwater, a glum teenage Brooklynite preparing for his first year of university, who finds himself enrolled instead in a secret college of magic. Like most of the other students at Brakebills, Quentin grew up on a series of children's novels about a magical land called Fillory, emblem of all the wonder he longs for but that seems forever out of reach. Could his long-denied dreams finally be coming true?

"The Magicians" is a grown-up's book, one that reflects on the sort of questions you never think to ask about fantasy narratives as a kid, such as: Is it such a good idea to meddle in the politics of a strange country you barely understand? Wouldn't magical powers drain much of the challenge -- and therefore the purpose -- out of life? If animals and trees could really talk, would they have anything especially interesting to say?

Instead of deflating the novel's spell, this skepticism liberates the story from the old fantasy clichés and takes it into exhilaratingly uncharted territory. There are some ravishing episodes (especially a passage in which Quentin gets transformed into a migrating wild goose), and above all an irresistible storytelling momentum that makes "The Magicians" a great summer book, both thoughtful and enchanting.
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1923: The Three Fates of Washington

'23 Skidoo | Shorpy Photo Archive
1923. Washington, D.C. "Unidentified women." There are two glass negatives of these lovely ladies; the caption labels are blank. National Photo.

[These three would fit rather well in a hippie commune @1966. . . .]
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Book Review: Why This World, A Biography of Clarice Lispector, by Benjamin Moser

Books of The Times - ‘Why This World’ by Benjamin Moser Examines the Brazilian Writer Clarice Lispector - Review -

Dwight Gardner writes:

The avant-garde Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector (1920-77) is little known in America, where only a handful of her many books have been issued in translation, but back home she is literary royalty — she burns in the collective memory like a slightly sinister eternal flame.

Lispector’s face stares from Brazilian postage stamps, and her name adorns luxury condominiums. Countless books have been written about her there, and dozens of theatrical performances have been based on her work. You can buy her books in subway vending machines.

“Her first name is enough to identify her to educated Brazilians,” Benjamin Moser writes in “Why This World: A Biography of Clarice Lispector.”

Lispector’s myth looms as large as anything she has written. Her unusual name made her sound like a spy. Her green almond eyes and high cheekbones led people to liken her to a she-wolf or a panther. To the translator Gregory Rabassa, Lispector “looked like Marlene Dietrich and wrote like Virginia Woolf.”

Because Lispector shunned the spotlight, and because she married a diplomat at 22 and spent nearly two decades outside of Brazil, rumors about her sprang up to fill the void.

Some thought she was a man writing under a pseudonym. Her interest in the occult (she had a lifelong habit of consulting astrologers and card readers) led people to refer to her as “the great witch of Brazilian literature.” She was also called a monstre sacré. Later in life she burned her right hand in an apartment fire, and it came to resemble a black claw.

Lispector’s writing was as unconventional as she was. Her novels and stories lack easily discernible plots, and are related in simmering, impressionistic language. They have a haunted, interior quality that cut against the grain of contemporary Brazilian literature. The poet Elizabeth Bishop, who translated a few of Lispector’s stories, wrote to friends: “I think she is better than J. L. Borges — who is good, but not all that good!”

This is rich biographical material that gets only richer as Mr. Moser, a translator and a book critic for Harper’s Magazine, begins to unpeel the layers of her complicated life. “Why This World” sucks you — for long stretches, anyway — into its subject’s strange vortex.

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More Weird Law: Woman Arrested for Blogging About the Police?

'Uh-Oh They're Here' -
Editorial from the Washington Post

A 34-YEAR-OLD woman, the mother of a 12-year-old girl, has been locked up in a Virginia jail for three weeks and could remain there for at least another month. Her crime? Blogging about the police.

Elisha Strom, who appears unable to make the $750 bail, was arrested outside Charlottesville on July 16 when police raided her house, confiscating notebooks, computers and camera equipment. Although the Charlottesville police chief, Timothy J. Longo Sr., had previously written to Ms. Strom warning her that her blog posts were interfering with the work of a local drug enforcement task force, she was not charged with obstruction of justice or any similar offense. Rather, she was indicted on a single count of identifying a police officer with intent to harass, a felony under state law.

It's fair to say that Ms. Strom was unusually focused on the Jefferson Area Drug Enforcement task force, a 14-year-old unit drawn mainly from the police departments of Charlottesville, Albemarle County and the University of Virginia. (Her blog at, expresses the view that the task force is "nothing more than a group of arrogant thugs.") In a nearly year-long barrage of blog posts, she published snapshots she took in public of many or most of the task force's officers; detailed their comings and goings by following them in her car; mused about their habits and looks; hinted that she may have had a personal relationship with one of them; and, in one instance, reported that she had tipped off a local newspaper about their movements.

Predictably, this annoyed law enforcement officials, who, it's fair to guess, comprised much of her readership before her arrest. But what seems to have sent them over the edge -- and skewed their judgment -- is Ms. Strom's decision to post the name and address of one of the officers with a street-view photo of his house.

All this information was publicly available, including the photograph, which Ms. Strom gleaned from municipal records. The task force's officers may have worked undercover on occasion, but one wonders about their undercover abilities, given that Ms. Strom was able to out them so consistently. Chief Longo warned Ms. Strom that her blog posts were scaring off informants and endangering the officers and their families, but he provided no evidence. At no point did Ms. Strom's blog express a threat, explicit or otherwise, to police or their sources.

Ms. Strom is not the most sympathetic symbol of free-speech rights. She has previously advocated creating a separate, all-white nation, and her blog veers from the whimsical to the self-righteous to the bizarre. But the real problem here is the Virginia statute, in which an overly broad, ill-defined ban on harassment-by-identification, specifically in regard to police officers, seems to criminalize just about anything that might irritate targets.

It should not be a crime to annoy the cops, whose raid on Ms. Strom's house looks more like a fit of pique than an act of law enforcement. Some of her postings may have consisted of obnoxious speech, but they were nonetheless speech and constitutionally protected. That would hold true right up through her last blog post, written as the police raid on her home began at 7 a.m.: "Uh-Oh They're Here."
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"Send 'em Back with a Bullet in the Head"--OK, and THEN Who Should We Shoot?

The Washington Independent » Protesters: Send Illegal Aliens Home ‘With a Bullet in the Head’
It sure is getting to be a hot summer. And the town hall protesters are turning up the heat: they’ve gone from objecting to a national health care plan to wanting to shoot illegal immigrants in the head — and then deport them.

ConsiderThisNews has the video of protesters in New Hampshire, expressing their anger at President Obama. This is the highlight:

“We don’t need illegals,” says a white-bearded protester into his megaphone. “Send ‘em all back. Send ‘em back with a bullet in the head the second time.”

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People Carry Guns, and Carry Inflammatory Signs, and Carry On: Is This About Health Care?

Let's Just Say It: We're Scared Someone's Going to Try to Kill Barack Obama - Barack Obama - Gawker
John Cook writes:

MSNBC just aired video of a man with a pistol strapped to his leg waiting for Barack Obama to arrive at a townhall in New Hampshire.

The man is carrying a sign that says, "It Is Time to Water the Tree of Liberty." That's a reference to a Thomas Jefferson quote: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants." It was a favorite slogan of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who was wearing a T-shirt when he was arrested with a picture of Lincoln on the front and a tree dripping with blood on the back.

Now, this guy is carrying a legal weapon, says NBC News' Ron Allen. The local chief of police has no objections. Open carriage of licensed handguns is legal in New Hampshire, and the man is standing on the private property of a nearby church (!) that has no problem with an armed man hanging around.

But let's be clear: anyone watching the mounting rage over, of all things, health care — perhaps one of the most boring and complex policy subjects — has to worry that these people are going to try to kill Barack Obama. That's not an extrapolation from unhinged rhetoric, or a partisan reading of the imagined intentions of our political enemies. It's a rational reading of the anticipated behavior of a man who brandishes a gun at the location where the president is expected to imminently arrive while holding a sign that openly advocates his assassination. And the astonishing, breathtaking, maddening fact that he hasn't been violently taken to the ground by large men wearing suits and earpieces is an open encouragement to anyone else so inclined to give it a shot.
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America, Could We Take A Deep, Cleansing Breath Here: Swastika Painted on Rep. David Scott's Office Sign in Georgia

Swastikas? | TPM

David Kurtz writes:

Help me out here. Is the swastika scrawled on the district office door sign of Rep. David Scott (D-GA) in Smyrna supposed to suggest that he's a Nazi (blacks being especially favored by Hitler, don't you know) or is it a warning that the vandal is a fascist thug?

Scott had a town hall meeting last week that was especially heated on health care reform, but it's not clear if the two events are connected.
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For the Record: Here are the White House Emails (Bush Administration) on the Federal Judge Firings

White House Documents
White House Documents

* White House Documents Part 1
* White House Documents Part 2
* White House Documents Part 3
* White House Documents Part 4
* White House Documents Part 5
* White House Documents Part 6
* White House Documents Part 7
* White House Documents Part 8
* White House Documents Part 9
* White House Documents Part 10
* White House Documents Part 11

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Define "Outrageous": Man Jailed for Yawning

Judge sentences man to 6 months in jail for yawning --
Steve Schmadeke writes:

Clifton Williams arrived at the Will County Courthouse in Joliet and sat in the fourth-floor courtroom where his cousin was pleading guilty to a felony drug charge.

As Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak handed down the cousin's sentence -- 2 years' probation -- Williams, 33, stretched and let out a very ill-timed yawn.

Williams' sentence? Six months in jail -- the maximum penalty for criminal contempt without a jury trial. The Richton Park man was locked up July 23 and will serve at least 21 days.

"I was flabbergasted because I didn't realize a judge could do that," said Williams' father, Clifton Williams Sr. "It seems to me like a yawn is an involuntary action."

Chuck Pelkie, a spokesman for the state's attorney's office, said the prosecutor in the courtroom that day told him that "it was not a simple yawn -- it was a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings."

Jason Mayfield, the cousin of Williams who was pleading guilty at the time, said it was "not an outrageous yawn."

A Tribune review of a decade's worth of contempt-of-court charges reveals that Rozak jails people -- typically spectators whose cell phones go off or who scream or shout profanity during sentencing -- at a far higher rate than any other judge in the county. There are now 30 judges in the 12th Judicial Circuit, but since 1999, Rozak has brought more than a third of all the contempt charges, records show.
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US-Donated Weapons Sold to Al-Shabab in Somalia Somalia: Al-Shabab 'Is Buying Govt Weapons' (Page 1 of 1)
Mogadishu — The weapons that the US government donated to the Somalia's Transitional Federal Government are being sold in the market, according to a trader who asked Garowe Online to be quoted anonymously.

"The TFG weapons on sale are light weapons. We bought the weapons from officers of the TFG at very steep price, and we sell them at higher price because anti-TFG forces such Al-Shabab buy weapon " says the Cirtoogte market trader.

In July 2009 the US government gave the struggling TFG arms to defend itself against Al-Shabab and Hizbul-Islam forces. Spokesman for the US State Department stated the his government had given Somalia " 40 tons of arms".

Traders at Cirtoogte market told Garowe Online that the new weapons on sale at the market are from the presidential palace ( Villa Somalia).
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Extracurricular Kafka: The Porn Years

Franz Kafka’s porn brought out of the closet - Times Online
A stash of explicit pornography to which Franz Kafka subscribed has emerged for the first time after being studiously ignored by scholars anxious to preserve the iconic writer's saintly image.

Having stumbled by chance across copies in the British Library in London and the Bodleian in Oxford while doing unrelated research, James Hawes, the academic and Kafka expert, reveals some of this erotic material in Excavating Kafka, to be published this month. His book seeks to explode important myths surrounding the literary icon, a "quasi-saintly" image which hardly fits with the dark and shocking pictures contained in these banned journals.

Their additional significance is that the publisher, Dr Franz Blei, was also the man who first published Kafka in 1908 - a series of miniature stories later gathered in his book Meditation.

Hawes, an Oxford graduate and university lecturer, emphasises his total admiration for the literary Kafkaesque genius who wrote brooding classics such as The Metamorphosis, The Castle and The Trial, and argues that these discoveries merely show Kafka as more human than the popular image. He believes that "suppressing" them detracts from sensible assessment of his work, and has even led to nonsensical evaluation.

Even today, the pornography would be "on the top shelf", Dr Hawes said, noting that his American publisher did not want him to publish it at first. "These are not naughty postcards from the beach. They are undoubtedly porn, pure and simple. Some of it is quite dark, with animals committing fellatio and girl-on-girl action... It's quite unpleasant."

"Academics have pretended it did not exist," Dr Hawes said. “The Kafka industry doesn’t want to know such things about its idol."
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Happy Birthday Crying Sam Collins, Early Bluesman


Sam "Crying" Collins
Blues vocals/guitar
b. Louisiana, USA.
One of the earliest generation of blues performers, Collins developed his style in South Mississippi (as opposed to the Delta). His recording debut single ("The Jail House Blues," 1927) predated those of legendary Mississippians such as Charley Patton and Tommy Johnson and was advertised as "Crying Sam Collins and his Git-Fiddle." Collins did not become a major name in blues -- in fact his later records appeared under several different pseudonyms, most notably the name Jim Foster -- but his rural bottleneck guitar pieces were among the first to be compiled on LP when the country-blues reissue era was just beginning. Sam Charters wrote in The Bluesmen: "Although Collins was not one of the stylistic innovators within the Mississippi blues idiom, he was enough part of it that, in blues like 'Signifying Blues' and 'Slow Mama Slow,' he had some of the intensity of the Mississippi music at its most creative level."
~ Jim O'Neal, All Music Guide
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British NeoCon Tries to Have it Both Ways: Racist and In Denial

The Raw Story » Financial Times columnist: Obama like Felix the Cat, ‘black and lucky
A Financial Times columnist who once angrily defended himself from charges of condoning racism within his own paper, is comparing President Obama to the cartoon character Felix the Cat, because both are "black" and "lucky."

In a column entitled A runaway deficit may soon test Obama’s luck, British historian Niall Ferguson writes, "President Barack Obama reminds me of Felix the Cat. One of the best-loved cartoon characters of the 1920s, Felix was not only black. He was also very, very lucky. And that pretty much sums up the 44th president of the US as he takes a well-earned summer break after just over six months in the world’s biggest and toughest job."

The Huffington Post notes, "Ferguson's column was accompanied by a cartoon and caption that read, 'Felix the Cat, the wonderful, wonderful cat! Whenever he gets in a fix, he reaches into his bag of tricks!'"

Three years ago, Ferguson wrote that he was "appalled by a recent article on these pages that strongly implied that I condone racism."

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Do You Twitter When You're Happy, or Does Twittering Make You Smile: Twitter Hedonimeter

Using Twitter as a Collective Mood Ring - Bits Blog -
Twitter has been described many ways. At its best, it has been called a revolutionary political tool and a low-cost marketing machine. At its worst, it has been dubbed a waste of time.

Now, two researchers are calling it a hedonimeter, a device that measures happiness.

Peter Sheridan Dodds and Christopher M. Danforth, a pair of statisticians from the University of Vermont, are hoping to harness the stream of messages flowing through the popular microblogging platform at any given moment to read public opinion and sentiment in real time.

The goal is to establish an index, akin to the Dow Jones industrial average, that can “give an overall sense of how a collective body of people are feeling at any given point in time,” Mr. Dodds said.

“The goal is to take the public’s pulse on certain topics,” Mr. Dodds said.
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New Figures on Deaths and Detentions in Iranian Protests

New figures released on protesters detained, killed « niacINsight
niacINsight reports new figures released on Iranian protesters detained, killed

From AFP:

An aide to Iranian opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has said in a report to parliament that 69 people died in post-election violence, a newspaper reported on Tuesday.

“A list of 69 dead and about 220 detained after the election was submitted to a special parliamentary committee,” Alireza Beheshti was quoted as saying by the reformist Sarmayeh newspaper.

Iran’s judiciary also said today that 4,000 protesters were initially arrested in the brutal crackdown just after the vote.

“In the aftermath of the election, 4,000 people were arrested,” judiciary spokesman Ali Reza Jamshidi told reporters.

He said 3,700 were released “very soon”, but that “those who were involved in the riots were detained.”

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Russian Tourist Attacks Mona Lisa with Louvre Coffee Mug

Woman attacks Mona Lisa - Telegraph
Screams erupted from the 40-odd tourists jostling for position around Leonardo da Vinci's enigmatic painted lady when the empty terracotta mug flew over their heads and smashed into the portrait.

The Russian woman is thought to have bought it minutes earlier at the museum gift shop.

However, the Mona Lisa's enigmatic smile was unaffected by the commotion, as the mug bounced harmlessly off the bullet-proof glass shielding her and shattered on the floor, according to the team of staff paid to guard her.

"There was no damage done to the painting whatsoever," a museum official told Le Parisien.

"Naturally the Mona Lisa is a carefully watched and protected painting. It is kept in a special sealed box to protect it from vibrations, heat and humidity. It is protected by thick glass resistant to bullets and any other object hurled at it," he said.

The woman was seized by two museum security guards and handed over to central Paris police after the incident on August 2.

The remaining tourists were then left in peace to gaze at the work, viewed by 8.5 million people each year.

The Russian is being held in custody and has reportedly undergone a psychological examination.

Doctors were trying to assess whether she was suffering from Stendhal Syndrome, a rare condition in which often perfectly sane individuals momentarily lose all reason and attack a work of art.

In July last year, a 32-year-old woman wearing lipstick kissed a painting by the American artist Cy Twombly on display in Avignon, leaving left a large red smudge. She was sentenced to community work.

At the Orsay Museum in Paris the previous year, a man ripped a hole in a painting by impressionist Claude Monet.
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When Worlds Collide: NASA Telescope Spots Debris

BBC NEWS | Science & Environment | Telescope sees planets collide

A Nasa space telescope has found evidence of a high-speed collision between two burgeoning planets orbiting a young star.

Astronomers say the cosmic smash-up is similar to the one that formed our Moon some four billion years ago, when a Mars-sized object crashed into Earth.

In this case, two rocky bodies are thought to have slammed into one another in the last few thousand years.

Details are to be published in the Astrophysical Journal.

The collision involved one object that was at least as big as our Moon and another that was at least as big as Mercury.

The impact destroyed the smaller body, vaporising huge amounts of rock and flinging plumes of hot lava into space.

Infrared detectors on Nasa's Spitzer Space Telescope were able to pick up the signatures of the vaporised rock, along with fragments of hardened lava, known as tektites.
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India's Mayawati Helps the Poor by Erecting Thousands of Statues of Herself

Asia Times Online :: South Asia news, business and economy from India and Pakistan
While other parts of India focus on building software parks and special tax-free economic zones to attract investment, in Uttar Pradesh (UP) chief minister Mayawati has a different agenda.

Mayawati, who goes by one name, has erected so many statues of herself and her late political mentor Kanshi Ram that it has led to a public outcry and a complaint to India's Supreme Court. Her critics say the statues have also put severe strain on the budget of Uttar Pradesh, which is India's most populous state and one of its least developed.

The statues and parks are being constructed by the local government with a zeal some commentators say would be better channeled towards improving roads, healthcare, education and law and order.

Huge statues of Mayawati and Kanshi Ram have sprung up across the state, as have marble and stone carved elephants, the logo of Mayawati's political outfit, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

According to estimates, the state has already spent over 15 billion rupees (US$313 million) on statues and parks, with the final aim of constructing 10,000 statues across the state. In its supplementary budget for 2009-10, the Uttar Pradesh government has allocated 7 billion rupees for memorials and parks, with 270 million rupees earmarked for new statues.
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Libya Reported Poised to Execute 220 Displaced Nigerians

AfricaNews - Libya: 220 Nigerians face execution - The AfricaNews articles of KingsleyKobo
Kingsley Kobo writes:

Nigerians in the diaspora inundated their country's news websites with e-mail petitions against the probable execution of some 220 Nigerian youths in Libya, who have been accused of illegal entry. News reports said Nigerian authorities were not aware of the situation and were shocked at the news.

A Nigerian national daily, Vanguard, reported the urgency of the e-mails alerts, which called on the government to intervene in no time to prevent the killing of these Nigerians.

30 youths, according to the e-mails, were allegedly executed in the early hours of Thursday in a prison yard in Tripoli, the Libyan capital, according to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).

One of the reports quoted a 37-year-old man from Imo State (eastern Nigeria) who said he was arrested alongside other Nigerians for entering the North African country without valid documents, and was awaiting execution.

According to quotes from other victims, the Libyan forces arrested them in the desert while trying to cross to Europe. But they said they were never involved in any criminal activities.
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Music of the Sphere: Why the Earth Hums

Scientists Pinpoint Source of Earth’s "Hum"
It's not just whales that sing, the Earth does too. A pair of physicists at the University of California figured out that the Earth’s hum is caused not by earthquakes or atmospheric turbulence, but by ocean waves colliding with the seafloor.

About ten years ago researchers discovered infrasonic background noise of 3-7 mHz believed to originate from the solid Earth itself. claim to have the most convincing physical evidence yet. Using data from a wide-spread array of seismic recorders, Peter Bromirski and Peter Gerstoft, have pinpointed the Pacific coast of Central America as the dominate source of background noise, with the western coast of Europe acting as the main secondary source.

Hum beam power observations using the USArray EarthScope transportable array, which monitors seismic activity right across the US and its surrounding waters, combined with infragravity wave observations, show that the dominant source area of the Earth’s hum during winter months is the Pacific coast of North America, with the western coast of Europe a secondary source region.

Pbo_obs Within this new view of hum, long-wavelength surface waves - known as ocean swell - act as the mediator between the sky and the sea. As the swell reaches shallower waters, a portion of its energy is then transformed by non-linear processes into infragravity (IG) waves, which have even longer wavelengths than the surface waves. Some of the energy from IG waves affect the Earth, registering as blips at seismic recording stations around the world.
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UK Developing Intelligent Agricultural Harvesting Robots

UK scientists developing intelligent harvesting robot to save farms up to £100,000 a year
Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington have developed imaging technology to be used in an intelligent harvesting machine that could minimise wastage and solve an impending labour shortage for UK farmers.

Annual waste for certain crops can be up to 60% - which can mean up to £100,000 of lost revenue for an average farm every year, according to farmers who were consulted during research. Falling number of migrant labourers means that healthy crops cannot be gathered and so farms are losing crops due to harvesting at the wrong time.

NPL 's scientists are working with KMS projects and Vegetable Harvesting Systems (VHS) to turn the technology into an intelligent harvesting machine, which can look beneath the leafy layers of a crop, identify the differing materials, and enable precise size identification. This can be used to develop a fully automated harvesting robot, which would be able to fill the gap left by the labour shortage.
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Your Daily Dose of Dragons


Illustration from "The Tree That Reached The Sky" by Elek Benedek and Gyula Illyes.
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Chevy Volt's Fuel Economy Rating: 230 MPG

Chevrolet Volt's official fuel economy: 230 mpg - Aug. 11, 2009
The Chevrolet Volt, GM's electric car that's expected to go on sale in late 2010, is projected to get an estimated 230 miles per gallon, the automaker announced Tuesday.

That exceptionally high government mileage rating could give the Volt a major boost. For the first time, car buyers will easily be able to compare electric cars with ordinary gas-powered cars.

"Having a car that gets triple-digit fuel economy can and will be a game changer for us," said GM CEO Fritz Henderson.

Determining fuel economy for an electric car is a tricky matter, and General Motors (GM, Fortune 500) has been working with the Environmental Protection Agency for years on the issue.

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