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Tuesday, 31 January 2012

miss Katherine Fingar holding a marvel receiving radio set...

National Publishing Co., 1922

"In 1920, Westinghouse, one of the leading radio manufacturers, had an idea for selling more radios: It would offer programming. Radio began as a one-to-one method of communication, so this was a novel idea. Dr. Frank Conrad was a Pittsburgh area ham operator with lots of connections. He frequently played records over the airwaves for the benefit of his friends. This was just the sort of thing Westinghouse had in mind, and it asked Conrad to help set up a regularly transmitting station in Pittsburgh. On November 2, 1920, station KDKA made the nation's first commercial broadcast (a term coined by Conrad himself). They chose that date because it was election day, and the power of radio was proven when people could hear the results of the Harding-Cox presidential race before they read about it in the newspaper."
From: RADIO The Miracle of the 20th Century

Copyright, Underwood & Underwood, N. Y.
Photo shows Private Adrian Bennett at attention while listening to the Star Spangled Banner being played by a band miles away. Miss Katherine Fingar is shown holding a Marvel receiving radio set with a horn attached to throw the sound.

Friday, 27 January 2012

intelligent design

From: Funzug.com

"John Krubsack was an American banker and farmer from Embarrass, Wisconsin. He shaped and grafted the first known grown chair, harvesting it in 1914. He lived from 1858 to 1941. He had studied tree grafting and become a skilled found-wood furniture crafter. The idea first came to him to grow his own chair during a weekend wood-hunting excursion with his son.
     He started box elder seeds in 1903, selecting and planting either 28 or 32 of the saplings in a carefully designed pattern in the spring of 1907. In the spring of 1908, the trees had grown to six feet tall and he began training them along a trellis, grafting the branches at critical points to form the parts of his chair. In 1913, he cut all the trees except those forming the legs, which he left to grow and increase in diameter for another year, before harvesting and drying the chair in 1914; eleven years after he started the box elder seeds. Dubbed The Chair that Lived; it is the only known tree shaping that John Krubsack did. The chair is on permanent display in a Plexiglas case at the entrance of Noritage Furniture; the furniture manufacturing business now owned by Krubsack's descendants, Steve and Dennis Krubsack."

"[...] In a tiny corner of western Poland a forest of about 400 pine trees grow with a 90 degree bend at the base of their trunks - all bent northward. Surrounded by a larger forest of straight growing pine trees this collection of curved trees, or 'Crooked Forest,' is a mystery.
     Planted around 1930, the trees managed to grow for seven to 10 years before getting held down, in what is understood to have been human mechanical intervention. Though why exactly the original tree farmers wanted so many crooked trees is unknown."
Discovery News

"The living bridges of Cherrapunji, India are made from the roots of the Ficus elastica tree. This tree produces a series of secondary roots from higher up its trunk and can comfortably perch atop huge boulders along the riverbanks, or even in the middle of the rivers themselves. [...]
     Cherrapunji is credited with being the wettest place on earth, and The War-Khasis, a tribe in Meghalaya, long ago noticed this tree and saw in its powerful roots an opportunity to easily cross the area's many rivers. Now, whenever and wherever the need arises, they simply grow their bridges."
Living Root Bridges
Read (and see) more...

Thursday, 26 January 2012

killer app

From: Grills on Wills

"I like high-end five star nonsense in oak paneled chambers where they sweep away your crumbs with a funny brush and give you sorbet between meals, but I prefer steaming fried onion caravans where fat lorry drivers drool over hot sausage and HP sauce butties in grease spotted white paper bags. I’ve had my ultra-lean times; years on end spent running miles every day and being very classy and salad-oriented with a bit of fish or foul thrown in for good measure. But my true self is the perennial fat bastard who doesn’t give a bollocks what he eats (and will undoubtedly die of a massive coronary). After all, as a native of Manchester, albeit an ex-pat, it’s my birthright to eat myself into an early grave.
     Here’s a list of my favourite Manchester-themed killer dishes. Don’t be surprised if they sometimes involve chips. [...]"
— Ian Hough, Sabotage Times

sinatra. is my life

From: www.sinatra.com

"The Sinatra thing killed me, I have to say. You pull into the Thomases' driveway and you're greeted by a sign that says, FRANK SINATRA FAN PARKING ONLY. ALL OTHERS WILL BE LEARNIN' THE BLUES! You're greeted by a timorous black cocker spaniel named Frankie. And you're greeted by Charlotte herself, dressed in maroon sweats, smoking a cigarette and drinking coffee from a Christmas-themed mug. You follow her into the house, and the first room you enter is a shrine to Ol' Blue Eyes in his American Century glory, a room wallpapered with vintage album covers and a big poster of Frank and Dean and Sammy standing in front of the Sands in Vegas. In the middle of all the paraphernalia, there's a small framed black-and-white photograph of Sinatra singing at the Sands, smoky and moody, very dark except for the glimpse of a woman's bare crossed leg, catching the spotlight up front and stage left. 'You can't really see, but that's me,' she says, pointing to the spotlit leg. 'I was on my way out to California to marry Fred, and I stopped in Vegas to see Frank.'
     And there it is — the conflation of two men whom Charlotte Thomas has loved most of her life. She was seventeen when she met Fred. Fred was nineteen, freshly enlisted in the Navy. 'The first thing that attracted me to him was his confidence,' she says. He was a little guy with a straight spine and a banty strut, a commanding runt who was never shy about saying what he wanted and how he was going to get it. She met him at a movie theater in Waukegan, Illinois, and she might as well have met Sinatra himself — 'I knew the minute I met him that he was the one for me. We've been married for fifty-one years, and he is my life.'"
— Tom Junod, Esquire

"I may be only fifteen years old, but I've managed to be a huge Frank Sinatra fan. There was a time when the only lullaby I knew was the tender lilt in the voice of ol' blue eyes, as he crooned in the background of Tommy Dorsey's glistening trombone. Then I grew a little older, a little wiser, and of course, started to like boys. The funny thing is, I've never had any pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio, or any of those teeny-bopper heart throbs. I lined my walls with pictures of a young, lady-killin' Louis Prima, baby-faced Bobby Darrin, a spunky Cab Calloway, and of course, my own wickedly angelic black and white photo of Frankie. [...]"
— Mariana Mattiazzi, museum.media

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

weapons of mass detention


"Barbed wire was used for the first time in the Spanish-American War during the siege of Santiago by the Spanish defenders. One year later, barbed wire was also extensively used in the Boer War, where it played a strategic role bringing spaces under control, at military outposts as well as to hold the captured Boer population in concentration camps. Less well known is its extensive usage in the Russo-Japanese War.
     More significantly, barbed wire was used extensively by all participating combatants in World War I to prevent movement, with deadly consequences. Barbed wire entanglements were placed in front of trenches to prevent direct charges on men below, increasingly leading to greater use of more advanced weapons such as high powered machine guns and grenades"

"[...] The reason for this barbed wire in the streets of San Francisco was simple—it was a quarantine of Chinese people who were thought to be infested with bubonic plague. The reasons for this were simple and racist—given that the Chinese were seen from (at the very least) the 1860's to be an 'inferior' and 'degraded' race, living in close quarters and in fair squalor at times (given the wages that they were paid and the abuses they suffered from the Chinese Exclusion Acts), and given the codified racist sentiments against them, it was seen that these people were capable of spreading the diseases via their very presence and 'vapors.' (At least one of these 'three graces' of 'malarium,' 'small-pox' and leprosy were seen as coming directly from Chinatown in San Francisco [...]
     And so up went the barbed wire, 'and no Chinese American was allowed to leave the area bounded by California, Kearny, Broadway, and Stockton streets.'  This of course restricted the access of Chinese immigrants and Chinese-American citizens, and held for some three months, prohibiting access out and in, meaning that food was in short supply, prices for goods and food went very high, and many Chinese businesses suffered loss and closure. At the end of three months, the barbed wire quarantine was lifted, and of course not one case of plague was reported among the Chinese population."
Ptak Science Books

"Plans for a Jewish ghetto had in fact existed since the beginning of the Nazi occupation of Warsaw, but in October 1940 they finally began to take form. A small district South West of the Old Town, in the centre of the city, was chosen and 113,000 Poles were evacuated to make way for Warsaw's 400,000 Jews. Thirty percent of the city's population were now living in an area that constituted less than three square miles, or 2.4 % of the capital. In November that area was closed off by a formidable wall, topped with barbed wire."

"HARVEY, Ill., Oct. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Atkore International Inc. ('Atkore'), today announced that it has reached an agreement to acquire the assets of Razor Wire International, a manufacturing company specializing in razor wire ranging from 18 inches to 60 inches in diameter. The acquisition will strengthen Atkore's existing barbed tape product portfolio and market presence in the perimeter security market."— PR Newswire

"At Atkore, we are committed to producing high quality products for our customers with zero harm to the people that create, use and deliver our products, as well as protecting the environment in which we work. Additionally, we encourage every employee to look out for the health and safety of others and make it their own personal priority. We are invested in making environment, health and safety an indispensable part of our company’s commitment to excellence."
Atkore International ("Zero Harm Commitment")

village people

From: bavatuesdays

" [...] The newly approved €20m (£17m) housing project is to be built next to the Swiss village of Wiedlisbach near Bern and will provide sheltered accommodation and care for 150 elderly dementia patients in 23 purpose-built 1950s-style houses. The homes will be deliberately designed to recreate the atmosphere of times past.
     The scheme's promoters said there will be no closed doors and residents will be free to move about. To reinforce an atmosphere of normality, the carers will dress as gardeners, hairdressers and shop assistants. The only catch is that Wiedlisbach's inhabitants will not be allowed to leave the village. [...]
     Markus Vögtlin, the Swiss entrepreneur behind the Wiedlisbach scheme, visited Hogewey before launching his own project and is full of enthusiasm for the Dutch approach. 'People with dementia are often restless and aggressive, but at Hogewey they were relaxed and content,' Mr Vögtlin told Switzerland's Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.He said that his plan to house dementia sufferers in 1950s- style houses with front gardens was designed to increase patients' sense of security. He said they had difficulty remembering what was happening at present but usually had firm memories of the past. 'Such an environment makes them feel comfortable. I call it travelling back in time,' he said."
— Tony Patterson, The Independent

"[...] Citizens use the phrase 'Be seeing you' as a farewell, accompanied by a waving gesture consisting of thumb and forefinger forming a circle over the eye, then tipped forward in a salute. This may be a reminder that in the Village you are under constant surveillance; anyone may be a Warder, a stooge working for Number Two—although a simpler theory of the salute could be that the fingers are formed into the shape of a number six. Moreover, the hand gesture resembles the show's revolving penny-farthing bicycle logo. In their book, The Official Prisoner Companion, Matthew White and Jaffer Ali state that actress Norma West said that [Patrick] McGoohan told her the gesture was used by early Christians; it was the sign of the fish [...]"

"Dunbar is an anthropologist at the University College of London, who wrote a paper on Co-Evolution Of Neocortex Size, Group Size And Language In Humans where he hypothesizes:
     '... there is a cognitive limit to the number of individuals with whom any one person can maintain stable relationships, that this limit is a direct function of relative neocortex size, and that this in turn limits group size ... the limit imposed by neocortical processing capacity is simply on the number of individuals with whom a stable inter-personal relationship can be maintained.'
     Dunbar supports this hypothesis through studies by a number of field anthropologists. These studies measure the group size of a variety of different primates; Dunbar then correlate those group sizes to the brain sizes of the primates to produce a mathematical formula for how the two correspond. Using his formula, which is based on 36 primates, he predicts that 147.8 is the 'mean group size' for humans, which matches census data on various village and tribe sizes in many cultures.
Life With Alacrity

Friday, 13 January 2012

willard speaks truthiness, willard speaks truthiness

Source images from here and here

"I mean, is there anything at all in Romney’s stump speech that’s true? It’s all based on attacking Obama for apologizing for America, which he didn’t, on making deep cuts in defense, which he also didn’t, and on being a radical redistributionist who wants equality of outcomes, which he isn’t. When the issue turns to jobs, Romney makes false assertions both about Obama’s record and about his own. I can’t find a single true assertion anywhere."
Paul Krugman

"Politicians repeat the same messages endlessly (even when it has nothing to do with the question they've been asked). Journalists repeat the same opinions day after day.
     Can all this repetition really be persuasive?
     It seems too simplistic that just repeating a persuasive message should increase its effect, but that's exactly what psychological research finds (again and again). Repetition is one of the easiest and most widespread methods of persuasion. In fact it's so obvious that we sometimes forget how powerful it is.
     People rate statements that have been repeated just once as more valid or true than things they've heard for the first time. They even rate statements as truer when the person saying them has been repeatedly lying (Begg et al., 1992).
     And when we think something is more true, we also tend to be more persuaded by it. Several studies have shown that people are more swayed when they hear statements of opinion and persuasive messages more than once."

Around 4 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2005, Stephen Colbert was searching for a word. Not just any word, but one that would fit the blowhard persona that he was presenting that night on the premiere episode of Comedy Central’s 'Colbert Report.' He once described his faux-pundit character as a 'well-intentioned, poorly informed, high-status idiot,' and the word he was looking for had to be sublimely idiotic.
     During the rehearsal, Colbert was stuck on what term to feature for the inaugural segment of 'The Word,' a spoof of Bill O’Reilly’s 'Talking Points.' Originally, he and the writers selected the word truth, as distinguished from those pesky facts. But as Colbert told me in a recent interview (refreshingly, he spoke to me as the real Colbert and not his alter ego), truth just wasn’t 'dumb enough.'  'I wanted a silly word that would feel wrong in your mouth,' he said.
     What he was driving at wasn’t truth anyway, but a mere approximation of it — something truthish or truthy, unburdened by the factual. And so, in a flash of inspiration, truthiness was born."
— Ben Zimmer, The New York Times Magazine

Thursday, 12 January 2012

"She still has her dress that she was wearing the night of the abduction. Each time I see the dress, there is a little less of it to see as samples are taken and sent off to be analyzed in labs around the world."— Avis Ruffu, Rense.com

"NASA's Kepler Mission has discovered the first super-Earth orbiting in the habitable zone of a star similar to the Sun. A team of researchers, including Carnegie's Alan Boss, has discovered what could be a large, rocky planet with a surface temperature of about 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit), comparable to a comfortable spring day on Earth. [...]
     'This discovery supports the growing belief that we live in a universe crowded with life,' Boss said. 'Kepler is on the verge of determining the actual abundance of habitable, Earth-like planets in our galaxy.'"
Science Daily

"Scientists doing their first exploring of deep-sea vents in the Antarctic have uncovered a world unlike anything found around other hydrothermal vents, one populated by new species of anemones, predatory sea stars, and piles of hairy-chested yeti crabs.
     It was 'almost like a sight from another planet,' said expedition leader Alex Rogers, a professor of zoology at Oxford University."
—Stephanie Pappas, Live Science

"The Drake equation is closely related to the Fermi paradox in that Drake suggested that a large number of extraterrestrial civilizations would form, but that the lack of evidence of such civilizations (the Fermi paradox) suggests that technological civilizations tend to disappear rather quickly. This theory often stimulates an interest in identifying and publicizing ways in which humanity could destroy itself, and then counters with hopes of avoiding such destruction and eventually becoming a space-faring species. A similar argument is the Great Filter, which notes that since there are no observed extraterrestrial civilizations, despite the vast number of stars, then some step in the process must be acting as a filter to reduce the final value. According to this view, either it is very hard for intelligent life to arise, or the lifetime of such civilizations must be relatively short.
     The Drake equation states that:

N = the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which communication might be possible;
R* = the average rate of star formation per year in our galaxy
fp = the fraction of those stars that have planets
ne = the average number of planets that can potentially support life per star that has planets
fℓ = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop life at some point
fi = the fraction of the above that actually go on to develop intelligent life
fc = the fraction of civilizations that develop a technology that releases detectable signs of their existence into space
L = the length of time for which such civilizations release detectable signals into space [...]"

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

if corporations are people, Romney should be charged with manslaughter

From: Reanimation Library

"Responding to a question from an audience member as to why Social Security should be included in deficit talks when it doesn’t add to the deficit, Romney drifted into a defense of corporate rights.
'Corporations are people, my friend,' he said. 'Of course they are.'"
— Benjy Sarlin, TPM

"Corporate personhood is the status conferred upon corporations under the law, which allows corporations to have rights and responsibilities similar to those of a natural person."
— Wikipedia

"The Los Angeles Times recently surveyed the record of Bain Capital, the private equity firm Romney ran from 1984 to 1999. As the report notes, Romney made a lot of money over those years, both for himself and for his investors. But he did so in ways that often hurt ordinary workers.
     Bain specialized in leveraged buyouts, buying control of companies with borrowed money, pledged against those companies' earnings or assets. The idea was to increase the acquired companies' profits, then resell them. [...]
     One recent analysis of 'private equity transactions' — the kind of buyouts and takeovers Bain specialized in — noted that business in general is always both creating and destroying jobs, and that this is also true of companies that were buyout or takeover targets.
     However, job creation at the target firms is no greater than in similar firms that aren't targets, while 'gross job destruction is substantially higher.'
     So Romney made his fortune in a business that is, on balance, about job destruction rather than job creation. And because job destruction hurts workers even as it increases profits and the incomes of top executives, leveraged buyout firms have contributed to the combination of stagnant wages and soaring incomes at the top that has characterized America since 1980.
     Now I've just said that the leveraged buyout industry as a whole has been a job destroyer, but what about Bain in particular?
     Well, by at least one criterion, Bain during the Romney years seems to have been especially hard on workers, since four of its top 10 targets by dollar value ended up going bankrupt. (Bain, nonetheless, made money on three of those deals.) That's a much higher rate of failure than is typical even of companies going through leveraged buyouts — and when the companies went under, many workers ended up losing their jobs, their pensions, or both."
— Paul Krugman, The Modesto Bee

“'Mitt Romney as he runs for President has decided to make job creation a big piece of it,' [Randy] Johnson tells me. 'And if he’s going to make a big piece of it he has to be accountable for what he’s done.'
     He recounts his now familiar story: in 1992, Bain took over a company, Ampad, which in turn bought the Marion factory where Johnson worked. Under new management, he and his fellow workers returned from their July 4 holiday to find they had been fired en masse and had to reapply for their old jobs. Those who came back were greeted with lower wages and stingier health and pension benefits. As conditions worsened, workers rebelled against their treatment and went on strike. Johnson took their story public and Democrats used it to go after Romney in his 1994 Senate run.
     Johnson’s efforts may have helped stop Romney from defeating Ted Kennedy that year, but things only got worse after the campaign ended. Within months, the company shut down the factory entirely, leaving all of its employees out of a job, and Ampad eventually went bankrupt in 2000. But despite its disastrous arc, Bain made huge profits off the company — as much as $100 million — thanks to revenue from management fees and selling off shares of its stock, which they took public in 1996."—Benjy Sarlin, TPM

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

don't piss where you drink

From: Modern Mechanix

"Stretching some 400 miles, the Delaware is one of the cleanest free-flowing rivers in the United States, home to some of the best fly-fishing in the country. More than 15 million people, including residents of New York City and Philadelphia, get their water from its pristine watershed. To regard its unspoiled beauty on a spring morning, you might be led to believe that the river is safely off limits from the destructive effects of industrialization. Unfortunately, you’d be mistaken. The Delaware is now the most endangered river in the country, according to the conservation group American Rivers.
     That’s because large swaths of land—private and public—in the watershed have been leased to energy companies eager to drill for natural gas here using a controversial, poorly understood technique called hydraulic fracturing. 'Fracking,' as it’s colloquially known, involves injecting millions of gallons of water, sand, and chemicals, many of them toxic, into the earth at high pressures to break up rock formations and release natural gas trapped inside. Sixty miles west of Damascus, the town of Dimock, population 1,400, makes all too clear the dangers posed by hydraulic fracturing. You don’t need to drive around Dimock long to notice how the rolling hills and farmland of this Appalachian town are scarred by barren, square-shaped clearings, jagged, newly constructed roads with 18-wheelers driving up and down them, and colorful freight containers labeled 'residual waste.' [...]
     The real shock that Dimock has undergone, however, is in the aquifer that residents rely on for their fresh water. Dimock is now known as the place where, over the past two years, people’s water started turning brown and making them sick, one woman’s water well spontaneously combusted, and horses and pets mysteriously began to lose their hair."
— Christopher Bateman, Vanity Fair

"In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole."
Gasland: The Movie

Young Canadian musicians: the Elora Festival is now accepting entries for the 2012 TD Canada Trust Festival Competition

Violin and Checkerboard Juan Gris, 1913 (Wikipedia)
The 2012 TD Canada Trust Festival Competition is open to musicians in the following categories: voice, piano, strings, woodwind and brass. Competitors must be born in, reside in, or study in Canada and be between the ages of 17 and 27 as of April 2, 2012.
     The Grand Prize is $3,000.00, the Second Prize is $2,000.00—the Third Prize is $1,000.00 and the Kathleen Deters Audience Favourite award $500.00.

"Twenty-two years ago I saw an opportunity to give young artists a chance to perform at a first-class event and also offer financial support towards their artistic education. I have always felt that students need encouragement, especially students in the arts.
     Each year at the Elora Festival, with the generous support of TD Canada Trust, we proudly present the final-round concert. It is truly memorable and rewarding to see and hear these young competitors with various musical disciplines on the threshold of a professional career. The audience has its favorites and the judges have theirs. And this year’s competition will once again boast an internationally recognized jury panel.
     I invite all young artists to apply. You could very well be one of the finalists who launch their career in a dazzling performance on July 18, 2012 at the Elora Festival!"
— Noel Edison, Artistic Director of the Elora Festival

A downloadable PDF of the Competition Brochure and Application Form can be found here...

Monday, 9 January 2012

right there in black and white

"(CNN) If there were any doubts about how important South Carolina is to Rick Santorum's Republican nomination hopes, he erased them on Sunday.
     Speaking in ominous terms, Santorum urged a crowd at Stax Original Restaurant in Greenville to make their voices heard in the January 21 primary and vote for the one true 'Reagan conservative' in the race.
     'You have an opportunity in this election to speak very loudly,' he said. 'You are going to see this race coming into South Carolina with a lot on the line.'
     Santorum called the 2012 election 'the most critical election maybe since 1860' -- the election that presaged the Civil War -- and said the stakes could not be higher in November.
     In an implicit shot at GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney, Santorum said South Carolina must vote for a candidate who offers a 'bold stark contrast' to President Barack Obama."
NEWS 4 Jax.com

"Republican Newt Gingrich told a Georgia audience on Friday evening that the 2012 presidential election is the most consequential since the 1860 race that elected Abraham Lincoln to the White House and was soon followed by the Civil War.
     Addressing the Georgia Republican Party's convention, Gingrich said the nation is at a crossroads and that the re-election of Democratic President Barack Obama would lead to four more years of 'radical left-wing values' that would drive the nation to ruin."
Associated Press (via MSNBC)

"The United States presidential election of 1860 was a quadrennial election, held on November 6, 1860, for the office of President of the United States and the immediate impetus for the outbreak of the American Civil War. The nation had been divided throughout the 1850s on questions surrounding the expansion of slavery and the rights of slave owners.
     In 1860, these issues finally came to a head. As a result of conflicting regional interests, the Democratic Party broke into Northern and Southern factions, and a new Constitutional Union Party appeared. In the face of a divided and dispirited opposition, the Republican Party, dominant in the North, secured enough electoral votes to put Abraham Lincoln in the White House with very little support from the South. Within a few months of the election, seven Southern states, led by South Carolina, responded with declarations of secession, which was rejected as illegal by outgoing President James Buchanan and President-elect Lincoln. Four additional Southern states seceded after the Battle of Fort Sumter."

a higher order

Larry Poons, NY 1986 by Leo Holub (from: Stanford University News)

"[...] There's an old adage that says A clean house is a sign of a wasted life. The following is a description of Beethoven's workspace by a man, Baron de Tremont, who saw it firsthand:
     'Picture to yourself the darkest, most disorderly place imaginable...blotches of moisture covered the ceiling; an oldish grand piano, on which the dust disputed the place with various pieces of engraved and manuscript music; under the piano (I do not exaggerate) an unemptied chamber pot; beside it a small walnut table accustomed to the frequent overturning of the secretary placed on it; a quantity of pens encrusted with ink, compared with which the proverbial tavern pens would shine; then more music. The chairs, mostly cane-seated, were covered with plates bearing the remains of last night's supper, and with wearing apparel, etc.'"
Trying to be Perfect

"Barbara Dawson, director of the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin, remembers very clearly the day in 1997 when she climbed the steep stairs and entered Francis Bacon's studio at 7 Reece Mews, South Kensington. It had been left the way it was when he died, on April 28 1992, and it was a chaos of slashed canvases, paint-splashed walls, cloths, brushes, champagne boxes, a large mirror. She stood and stared for a long time, in a kind of incredulity, "and actually it became quite beautiful." She began to see "paths cut through it," and details. "The last unfinished painting was on the easel when I went in there, and on the floor underneath the easel was a short article on George Michael, from Wham, about how he liked to be photographed from one side. It was like looking into somebody's mind. [...]
     Dawson recognised that the studio was the making of Bacon's art in a more profound sense than just being a comfortable space to paint in, and determined that it should not be dismantled. John Edwards, to whom Bacon had left Reece Mews, felt similarly, and after months of painstaking cataloguing by archaeologists, conservators and photographers - they recorded the exact position of everything - the Hugh Lane Gallery took delivery of the studio, in toto, in 1998. It was opened to the public in 2001. [...]
     In the end, there were 7,500 items - 2,000 samples of painting materials, 1,500 photographs, 100 slashed canvasses, umpteen handwritten notes, drawings, books, champagne boxes, corduroy trousers (he ripped them up and used the cloth to achieve his distinctive paint textures) … it took two years to compile a database of all of it, for the delectation of Bacon scholars in perpetuity"
— Alda Edemariam, The Guardian

Sunday, 8 January 2012

mountains out of molehills

"DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum shrugged off reports late Thursday that the vote count from Iowa's caucuses might be wrong, saying the errors appear not to change the fact that he and Mitt Romney were nearly tied.
     Santorum told Fox News that Iowa's Republican Party chairman, Matt Strawn, informed him of two cases in which errors were reported in the count from Tuesday night. Taken together, Santorum said, the changes would almost cancel out each other and that Romney would win by nine votes instead of eight.“
— NPR (from: The Associated Press)

"The 2012 Iowa Republican caucuses took place on January 3, 2012. It was the closest race in Iowa caucus history with only an eight-vote margin (less than 1⁄100th of a percent) separating former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who received 30,015 votes (24.55 percent), and former Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, who received 30,007 votes (24.54 percent). Representative Ron Paul of Texas ran a close third, receiving 26,219 votes (21.4 percent). [...]"
     Total turnout was 122,255 votes, setting a record for Iowa Republican caucuses, but still far less than the all-time Iowa caucus record in the 2008 Democratic Iowa caucuses, in which 239,000 Democrats voted. The 122,255 votes represent 19 percent of active registered Republicans in the state, and just 5.4 percent of all voters in the state."— Wikipedia

For Iowans, at least, that means Rick got about 1.6% of the vote—and so did Mitt.

For a related post, go here...

Saturday, 7 January 2012

democracy under the influence

From: Wikimedia Commons

There seems to be a cartoon version of the "other" taking root in the already xenophobic mindset of the Republican Party—or maybe it's been there all along, and the uninhibited influence of the Tea Party (like a few too many drinks at a workplace shindig) has revealed the true colors of the Republican elite.

"The past year has seen an unprecedented wave of Republican bills to drug test the poor and jobless. It also saw a smaller wave of Democratic bills that said in response, 'No, you pee in the cup.'
One of the most recent retorts comes from Georgia, where last month Democratic state Rep. Scott Holcomb introduced a bill requiring members of the local legislature to prove they're not Legislating Under the Influence. Holcomb told HuffPost he came up with the idea because he was struck by a bill from his Republican colleagues to drug test welfare applicants.
     'I was really struck by how awful it was,' he said. 'I wanted to bring some attention to it.'"
— Arthur Delaney, Huffington Post

"Tallahassee, FL - August 24, 2011 -- About a thousand Floridians who receive temporary cash assistance have been drug tested since July. A little more than twenty failed, far fewer than expected.
     The Department of Children and Families says it’s too early to tell if the 2.5 percent failure rate will hold steady. Some recipients are appealing the results.
     'As far as people testing positive, just because you do test positive there is still an appeals process here and that’s why the numbers are still fluid,' said DCF Spokesman Joe Follick.
But even if the rate doubles it will still be well below the eight percent drug use rate of the general public."

Friday, 6 January 2012

throw away the key

From: Modern Mechanix

“Federal prosecutors want a judge to order a Colorado woman to provide the password to decrypt her laptop, which the government seized with a search warrant.
     With backup from digital rights groups, the woman is fighting the feds, arguing that being forced to provide her password violates the Fifth Amendment’s protection against forced self-incrimination.
    Colorado U.S. District Judge Robert Blackburn is expected to rule any day on whether to force defendant Ramona Fricosu to decrypt her Toshiba Satellite M305, which authorities seized from her in 2010 with a court warrant while investigating financial fraud.
    The case is being closely watched by digital rights groups, as the issue has never been squarely weighed in on by federal courts, and the Supreme Court has never addressed the issue. [...]
    The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Marcia Hofmann said  in a court filing that the very act of requiring Fricosu to input her password into the laptop would be incriminating 'because it might reveal she had control over the laptop and the data there.'”
― David Kravets, Wired

"The Fifth Amendment protects people from being forced to be a witness against themselves in a criminal proceeding. But its protections are not unlimited.
     The debate, then, is about which pre-decided scenario this new situation fits into. Is a computer password like a key to a lockbox, as the government argues? Or is it akin to a combination to a safe, as Fricosu's attorneys say?
     While the key is a physical thing and not protected by the Fifth Amendment, the Supreme Court has said, a combination — as the 'expression of the contents of an individual's mind' — is. [...]
     Prosecutors, though, say they don't really care about the password itself. They say they will allow [Ramona] Fricosu to enter the password without their looking and won't use whatever inference could be made by Fricosu's ability to unlock the computer against her.
'The government seeks the strongbox's contents,' [Assistant U.S. Attorney Patricia] Davies wrote in a case filing, 'not the ability to open the strongbox for itself.'"
― John Ingold, The Denver Post

meant to be

From: Reanimation Library

"While on a vacation in Alaska, a physician undergoing psychotherapy 'heard' the reassuring voice of an ill, beloved mentor in Texas, speaking to her. A few days later, she was told that the mentor had died around the time she had heard his voice. She had been reluctant to tell her psychiatrist (or anyone) about this event, as well as about many previous similar extraordinary events.
     This case report appeared in a recent lead article in the American Journal of Psychiatry. In the May 2009 issue of Psychiatric Annals, my colleagues and I reported results of the Weird Coincidence Scale (WCS-2) study, strongly suggesting that such extraordinary experiences are far more common than is generally recognized by the scientific community. Schizophrenic and manic patients sometimes present with stories of odd and impossible connections between events, and psychiatrists usually (and often correctly) attribute these associations to the illness. However, patients who are less psychiatrically disturbed also report strange connections between their subjective experiences and environmental events.  
     The analysis of these strange connections, if we do not dismiss them as meaningless, can sometimes prove useful. Jung formalized the description of these 'acausal' connections as 'synchronicity.' A rich theoretical and clinical literature on synchronicity has provided a basis for many of Jung’s speculations about the collective unconscious, archetypes and the unus mundus psychoid, from which both mind and matter are thought to emerge."
— Bernard D. Beltman, Psychiatric Annals

"For those with a highly empirical bent, a coincidence is happenstance, a simultaneous collision of two events that has no special significance and obeys the laws of probability. 'In reality, the most astonishingly incredible coincidence imaginable would be the complete absence of all coincidence,' says John Allen Paulos, professor of mathematics at Temple University in Philadelphia, and best-selling author of Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences. 'Believing in the significance of oddities is self-aggrandizing,' he adds. 'It says, "Look how important I am." People find it dispiriting to hear, "It just happened, and it doesn't mean anything."'"
— Jill Neimark, Psychology Today

Thursday, 5 January 2012

don't shit where you eat

"Toilet Paper Cake" from: The House of Cakes (Dubai)

"Emaar Properties claims Dubai Mall is now the world's most-visited shopping and leisure destination, after the centre attracted 54 million visitors last year.
     The traffic was a 15 per cent increase on 2010 and pushed the mall past the 50.2 million visitors to New York City, according to Emaar. The developer also compared the visitor numbers to Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Times Square, Central Park and Niagara Falls, but did not offer independent verification in a release issued yesterday.
     'From a tourist perspective and a global perspective, it is very successful,' said David Macadam, the regional director of retail for Jones Lang LaSalle. 'But it would be very hard to justify [the numbers] or contradict them.'
     Dubai Mall features more than 1,200 shops, in addition to a skating rink, a massive aquarium and an indoor theme park, in addition to its direct link to Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building."
—Kevin Brass, The National (UAE)

"Once again we followed workers back to their accommodation. This time they were employed by one of Dubai's biggest construction firms Arabtec, to work on a part of the development that had been sold to a sub-developer, but the picture was familiar.
     After an hour-long journey back to their gated and guarded labour camp, the men agreed to speak to us if their identities were kept secret.
     'The latrines are so filthy we cannot use them, we are so disgusted. The roads are full of garbage and waterlogged. Living and moving about here is a great problem. We suffer greatly,' one of the workers told us. We decided to find out for ourselves.
     Armed with a secret camera we sneaked into the camp to be met with the smell of raw sewage. Sewage had leaked out all over the camp, and workers had to create a network of stepping stones to cross it and get back to their accommodation blocks. One toilet block had no water supply and the latrines were filled with piles of raw faeces."
— Lila Allen, BBC

"When I saw [Dubai's] Burj Khalifa in real life I was truly stunned. The tallest skyscraper in the world defies belief. Today I learned something that also defies belief: all the poop produced there has to be removed by trucks. Let's do the math here.
     The Burj Khalifa has 163 habitable floors. It's designed to hold 35,000 people at any given time. Now, humans produce 100 to 250 grams (3 to 8 ounces) of feces per day. Let's say 200 in this case, since these people are well fed. That's 7,000,000 grams per day. Seven tonnes of poop per day. Now, add human-produced liquids (pee, bathing, cleaning their teeth...) and the water to push the poop down its miles of sewage pipes. I think a very conservative total would be 15 tonnes of sewage per day."
The Canadian

caveat emptor (bibentis et audientis)

From: Reanimation Library

"Antique Italian violins, such as those crafted by Antonio Stradivari or Giuseppe Guarneri 'del Gesu,' can fetch millions of dollars. Many violinists truly believe that these instruments are better than newly made violins, and several scientists have tried to work out why. Some suspected at the unusually dense wood, harvested from Alpine spruces that grew during an Ice Age. Others pointed the finger at the varnish, or the chemicals that Stradivari used to treat the wood.
     But Claudia Fritz (a scientist who studies instrument acoustics) and Joseph Curtin (a violin-maker) may have discovered the real secret to a Stradivarius’s sound: nothing at all.
     The duo asked professional violinists to play new violins, and old ones by Stradivari and Guarneri. They couldn’t tell the difference between the two groups. One of the new violins even emerged as the most commonly preferred instrument."
Discover Magazine

"An expensive wine may well have a full body, a delicate nose and good legs, but the odds are your brain will never know.
     A survey of hundreds of drinkers found that on average people could tell good wine from plonk no more often than if they had simply guessed."
The Guardian

"'Of course, the wine preferences of the subjects were clearly nonsensical. Instead of acting like rational agents — getting the most utility for the lowest possible price — they were choosing to spend more money for an identical product. When the scientists repeated the experiment with members of the Stanford University wine club, they got the same results. In a blind tasting, these 'semi-experts' were also misled by the made-up price tage. 'We don't realize how powerful our expectations are,' says Antonio Rangel, a neuroeconomist at Cal-Tech who led the study. 'They can really modulate every aspect of our experience. And if our expectations are based on false assumptions' — like the assumption that more expensive wine always taste better — 'they can be very misleading.'"
—Jonah Lehrer (from his book How We Decide), The Frontal Cortex

See related article here...

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

au revoir (revisited)

"Peter Frampton has been reunited with the Gibson electric guitar he played on Frampton Comes Alive, three decades years after it was presumed destroyed in a plane crash.
     It turns out the guitar did not burn up in November 1980 when a cargo plane crashed on takeoff in Caracas, Venezuela, on its way to Panama, where Mr. Frampton was to perform. Instead someone plucked it from the burning wreckage and later sold it to a musician on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao. [...]
     Last month, the tourist board official, Ghatim Kabbara, bought the guitar with public funds and traveled to Nashville to hand it to Mr. Frampton in a tattered gig bag. Mr. Frampton said he knew as soon as he picked the instrument up that it was the same 1954 Gibson Les Paul with customized pickups that he had played for a decade. It was an emotional moment, he said.
     'For 30 years, it didn’t exist – it went up in a puff of smoke as far as I was concerned,' Mr. Frampton said in a telephone interview.
     Mr. Frampton said he was given the guitar by a man named Mark Mariana in 1970. Mr. Frampton had been playing with his band Humble Pie at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, and he borrowed the guitar from Mr. Mariana for a show because his own instrument kept feeding back when he soloed. He fell in love with it. Made of Honduran mahagony, it was light in his hands, and the neck was thin, the fretting action light, suiting his small hands. 'I used it for both sets and my feet didn’t touch the ground,' he recalled. saying he thought, 'This is the best guitar I have ever played.'
— James C. McKinley Jr., The New York Times

iowan pie vs. american pie… bye-bye

From: informed COMMENT

"From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66 per cent among Hispanic households and 53 per cent among black households, compared with just 16 per cent among white households."
Deccan Herald

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

stuff that dreams are made of

From: Reanimation Library

"It was during the time of Freud that the concept of ectoplasm as ghost residue gained popularity. Studies of the time suggested ectoplasm was a yellow-green ooze around a ghost body. Residue was thought to be left behind and often spotted on a photograph or with special lights or goggles. Contact with ectoplasm was thought to have the potential to harm. One of the key properties of ectoplasm is that some of its forms are extremely sensitive to light, so much so that even flashing a torch drives the substance back into the medium's body with the force of snapped elastic. Bruises, open wounds and hemorrhage may result. In a seance at the British College of Psychic Science one of the sitters made a violent movement when touched by ectoplasm; the medium, Mr. Evan Powell, immediately suffered a severe injury to his chest. Breathing it or moving through it was supposed to be the cause of illness or possession, although many times the supposed ectoplasm was found to be fabricated.
     Other samples of ectoplasm have been proven to be a composition of egg white, cheesecloth or wood pulp created by or for the medium. The distinctive texture and smell of ectoplasm can be created using various ingredients, such as a mixture of soap, gelatin and egg white. In the late nineteenth century many fraudulent mediums used muslin. In the twentieth-century divining rooms that sprung up during the Spiritualist movement, seances were often held for members of the public. During these rituals, webs and pieces of gauzy fabric were covered with fluorescent paint and glowing materials to create fake ectoplasm. Sometimes liquid was released in an effort to create tears or rain by spirits, often dropped from the ceiling, and pulled back up before the end of the seance. Visitors would be warned not to touch the 'spirit residue,' lest they come to grave harm."
— Robin Bellamy, PSICAN

Francis Bacon by John Deakin for Vogue 1962 (Anamas à Miami)

"Baron Schrenck Notzing was able to get a fragment of ectoplasm into a tube. The moment he wanted to trap it it vanished with lightning-like speed. Occasionally, however, with the medium's consent, specimens were amputated for chemical and microscopical analysis. Of the result Baron Schrenck Notzing writes: 'Very probably the formation of the substance which appears in the sitting as liquid material, and also as amorphous material, or filmy net-like and veil-like material, in the form of shreads, wisps, threads and cords, in large or small packets, is an organized tissue which easily decomposes-a sort of transitory matter which originates in the organism in a manner unknown to us, possesses unknown biological functions, and formative possibilities and is evidently peculiarly dependent on the psychic influence of the medium. As regards the structure of the teleplasm, we only know this: that within it, or about it, we find conglomerates of bodies resembling epithelium, real plate epithelium with nuclei, veil-like filmy structures, coherent lamellar bodies without structure, as well as flat globules and mucus. If we abstain from any detailed indications concerning the composition and function of teleplasm we may yet assert two definite facts: 1. In teleplasm, or associated with it, we find substances of organic origin, various cell-forms, which leave behind cell detritus. 2. The mobile material observed, which seems to represent the fundamental substance of the phenomena, does not consist of india-rubber or any other artificial product, by which its existence could be fraudulently represented. For substances of this kind can never decompose into cell detritus, or leave a residue of such.'"
New Age Village

side effects; side affects

From: Reanimation Library
"Why are inert pills suddenly overwhelming promising new drugs and established medicines alike? The reasons are only just beginning to be understood. A network of independent researchers is doggedly uncovering the inner workings—and potential therapeutic applications—of the placebo effect. At the same time, drugmakers are realizing they need to fully understand the mechanisms behind it so they can design trials that differentiate more clearly between the beneficial effects of their products and the body's innate ability to heal itself. A special task force of the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health is seeking to stem the crisis by quietly undertaking one of the most ambitious data-sharing efforts in the history of the drug industry. After decades in the jungles of fringe science, the placebo effect has become the elephant in the boardroom.
     The roots of the placebo problem can be traced to a lie told by an Army nurse during World War II as Allied forces stormed the beaches of southern Italy. The nurse was assisting an anesthetist named Henry Beecher, who was tending to US troops under heavy German bombardment. When the morphine supply ran low, the nurse assured a wounded soldier that he was getting a shot of potent painkiller, though her syringe contained only salt water. Amazingly, the bogus injection relieved the soldier's agony and prevented the onset of shock."
— Steve Silberman, Wired

"It might sound strange to some, but a new study published in the most recent issue of PLoS One may have turned the conventional idea of a placebo on its head. Researchers found that placebo pills benefited patients, even when doctors explained that they were only taking sugar pills.
     'Until now, doctors have thought they had to lie about the placebo pill in order to tap into the effects,' said Dr. Ted Kaptchuk of Harvard Medical School and Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston. 'But we said, "Let's see if placebos can work when they're applied in an honest way."'
     And, according to this study, it seems they did."
— Mikaela Conley, ABC News

Monday, 2 January 2012

"I said don't tear me up." — part two

From: Modern Mechanix

"[...] Almost a lone voice at the time was that of Winston Churchill who recorded his opinion in May 1919 while he was the War Secretary that: ‘I do not understand this squeamishness about the use of gas. ... It is sheer affectation to lacerate a man with the poisonous fragment of a bursting shell and to boggle at making his eyes water by means of lachrymatory gas. I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes. It is not necessary to use only the most deadly gasses: gasses can be used which cause great inconvenience and would spread a lively terror and yet would leave no serious permanent effects on most of those affected’. [...]
     In January 1953 the Colonial Secretary, now Oliver Lyttleton, authorised the army to use a ‘new tear gas’, known as BBC, in Malaya. ‘This gas’, he said, ‘the only effect of which was lachrymatory, would be used in the jungle to divert bandits into other routes or to deny portions of the jungle to them. It was possible that, when it became known that this gas was being used in Malaya, there would be criticism from some quarters’. The Cabinet, chaired by the Foreign Secretary, now Anthony Eden, gave its approval but Lyttleton had been misinformed about BBC (also known as CA for short), or to give it its proper name, Bromobenzyl-cyanide. It was not a ‘new tear gas’ because it had been used by the French as Camite during World War I. Under the terms of the Geneva Gas Protocol the use of BBC was permissible because the British army was engaged in fighting ‘bandits’ who were members of the Malayan National Liberation Army, the military wing of the Malayan Communist Party. It was a therefore a ‘police action’ and not a ‘war’ (to remove any doubts it would come to be called the ‘Malayan Emergency’) but it still represented a major change in attitude for the army to be allowed to go beyond the use of a lachrymatory agent for crowd control and to employ it as a stand-alone ‘area denial’ weapon.
     At the time there were two main lachrymatory agents employed by police forces and their exploitation illustrates the difference in attitudes to tear gas on the other side of the Atlantic. The first, and the one most probably used in Northern Rhodesia, Bombay and shipped to Palestine by the War Office to replace the obsolete KSK grenades, was Chloroacetophenone, known as CN for short. It was discovered by German scientists in the 1870s and further developed by the US after World War I. It caused severe irritation to the eyes, nasal passages and throat. It also induced involuntarily closure of the eyes and a feeling of helplessness and panic and during the 1920s CN became virtually standard equipment in US urban police departments.
     The second was Diphenylaminechlorarsine, known as Adamsite or DM for short. Although this was also first discovered in Germany, it was developed independently in the US by Dr. Roger Adams (after whom it was named) in 1918. In small doses its effects were similar to CN but in higher concentrations it caused nausea and uncontrollable vomiting.

Its effects could last for up to twenty-four hours and one of its earliest uses was after President Hoover ordered the removal of the so-called ‘Bonus Army’ from Washington, D.C. on 28 July 1932. An infantry regiment and a cavalry regiment commanded by Army Chief of Staff General Douglas MacArthur (with Major Dwight D. Eisenhower as one of his aides), supported by tanks commanded by Major George Patton, used DM and rifles fitted with bayonets to break up a huge protest camp created by World War I veterans (accompanied by their wives and children) who were demanding payment of a war bonus they believed they had been promised.

     After World War II another lachrymatory agent, 0-chlorobenzylidene Malononitrile, known as CS for short, gradually replaced most of the others. It had first been synthesized in 1928 by two US chemists, Ben Corson and Roger Stroughton, whose initials identify the compound. It was developed further by the Chemical Defence Establishment (CDE) at Porton Down in England where it was found that CS reacted with moisture on the skin and in the eyes causing effects similar to CN, but that the dose of CS which might lead to subsequent death was at least twelve hundred times greater than that which produced symptoms so intolerable as to force a person to leave an exposed area. SK, KSK, BBC (CA), DM and CN all had a much lower safety factor and the first use of CS by the British army in the Empire was in 1958 in the Crown Colony of Cyprus. [...]
     There is one further lachrymatory agent that should be mentioned. Didenoxazepine, known as CR for short, was only ever manufactured in the UK at the Chemical Defence Establishment at Nancekuke in Cornwall between 1962 and 1977. On the closure of Nancekuke the remaining stocks of CR were transferred to Porton Down and in response to a question asked in the House of Commons in December 1994 it was disclosed by the Chief Executive of Porton Down, Graham Pearson, that: ‘The studies on CR gas in relation to the skin and eye sensitivity tests ... concluded that CR was found to have certain advantages over CS in specific situations. Its potency was found to be approximately ten times greater than that of CS and its toxicity is low in comparison with the other irritants’. In response to another question in December 1998 the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Defence, John Spellar, said that: ‘We have no records of CR having been used operationally by the Armed Forces. ... CR was authorised to be held in readiness for use in Northern Ireland in October 1973. Its possible use has also been authorised on a small number of occasions where the armed forces have responded to a request for assistance for law enforcement purposes from the civil power’. It is still reserved for use by military Special Forces and is not available to the police."
— Mike Waldren, Police Firearms Officers Association

Protester reacts to tear gas in Cairo, Egypt (from: The Telegraph)

"While tear gas and pepper spray are banned from use in war by an international treaty, domestic use is legal and nearly ubiquitous in the United States. The advantages of these 'non-lethal' technologies, police say, include fewer deaths and serious injuries to officers and suspects, a more benign image for departments and less litigation. Currently, more than 90 percent of the country's police departments issue pepper spray to their officers, according to the Justice Department, and many departments store tear gas for use in crowd control or riot situations.
     Despite widespread use, none of the agents sold for police purposes is monitored, tested or regulated by any government agency for consistency, purity, toxicity or even efficacy. Dr. Howard Hu, a Harvard University epidemiologist, says that the extent of ill effects from these chemicals is unknowable since there have been no rigorous, independent follow-up studies on exposed populations. Little has changed since 1989, when Hu wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 'There is an ongoing need for investigation into the full toxicological potential of tear gas chemicals and renewed debate on whether their use can be condoned under any circumstances.'
     Because they are treated as weapons, police-grade products 'fall between regulatory cracks,' says Raymond Downs, program manager in science and technology at the National Institute for Justice. 'Police are at the mercy of manufacturers,' Downs adds, in that they have to rely solely on makers' claims for the safety of the chemical weapons themselves and for the wide variety of solvents and propellants routinely added to turn the active ingredients into aerosols."
— Terry Allen, Common Dreams
See earlier article about tears here...

Sunday, 1 January 2012

au revoir

From: Coco The Blogging Dog

"A Swedish woman's recent toiling in her garden turned up a rather unexpected harvest when she pulled a carrot out of the ground 'wearing' the wedding ring she had lost back in 1995. After 16 years, Lena and Ola Påhlsson, who reside near Mora, Dalarna, in central Sweden, had given up hope of ever finding Lena's lost wedding ring. The ring, which Lena had designed herself, went missing after she had put it on the kitchen counter in midst of a holiday baking session back in 1995. The couple engaged in a frantic search for the ring, even checked behind the appliances and beneath the floor boards when renovating the kitchen a few years later, but to no avail."
Nothing To Do With Arbroath

"A businessman who lost his mobile phone on a beach was amazed when it turned up - in the belly of a giant cod. Andrew Cheatle thought it had been swept out to sea after it slipped from his pocket.
     But a week later his girlfriend's mobile rang and it was fisherman Glen Kerley saying he'd found the phone in a 25lb fish, reports The Sun. Andrew got the handset back, dried it out - and amazingly it still works."
Junior's Book

"An Arizona woman who lost her class ring 26 years ago says she has no idea how the object wound up in Iowa, a state she has never visited.
     Cindy Herzner said she obtained the ring from Phoenix's Trevor Browne High School in 1985 and lost it six months later, The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday.
     Herzner said she never thought she would see the ring again until she recently received a call from Amanda Kennedy, whose grandmother, Sandy Neuhaus, discovered the ring entwined in the roots of a dead evergreen she was removing from her Dyersville, Iowa, yard in August."

"In 1942, Ted Mogil was given a military-issued prayer book just prior to being shipped out to the South Pacific. As the only Jew in his regiment, he grew especially attached to the prayer book as the only tangible ties to his Jewish heritage while he fought in World War II. He said he always kept it in the left breast pocket of his shirt, every single day overseas. After the war, Mogil married his childhood sweetheart and they left their Nebraskan hometown. Sixty-seven years later, a twelve-year-old Nebraskan boy named Will Beach browsed through a used book sale at his temple and found an old, but well-kept, army-issued prayer book with Mogil’s name inscribed inside the book cover. Using the money he saved from mowing lawns, Beach bought the book and after searching on the internet, eventually found and returned the book to Mogil, who by that time was living in Washington, halfway across the country."

"Bill Fulton, of Baker City, Oregon, dropped his wallet behind the bleachers in his middle school gym in 1946. Sixty-three years later, that lost wallet, with its leather cowboy design and Fulton’s original Social Security card still inside, has been returned to him.
     The contents have been untouched since the end of World War II, holding, along with the SS card, Fulton’s bike license, which he carried as a delivery boy for a pharmacy. Melanie Trindle, the secretary for Baker Middle School, said the wallet was found by a worker removing the school’s bleachers in a renovation. When she brought the wallet to Fultons door, he was very suprised and appreciative to Trindle for bringing the missing item back.
     Fulton, now 78, says the wallet probably got dropped behind the bleachers while he was cheering at a highschool basketball game with his friends. Seeing it again has made him reflect back on his life, which has taken him to the Korean War and Berlin and back to Oregon. He commented on how fast time goes."
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