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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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