Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Via Ferratas

A spectacular passage of the "via ferrata" Bocchette Centrali, on the Dolomiti del Brenta, Italy.

A via ferrata (Italian for "iron road", plural vie ferrate or in English via ferratas ) is a protected climbing route that is equipped with fixed cables, stemples, ladders, and bridges. The use of these allows otherwise dangerous routes to be accessible to people with a wide range of climbing abilities. Walkers and climbers can follow via ferrata without needing to use their own ropes and belays, and without the risks associated with unprotected scrambling and climbing. Over 1000 via ferratas now exist. The majority are found in the Alps: Italy, Austria, Germany, France, Switzerland, others are found in a number of European countries, including United Kingdom, Slovenia, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Norway and a few places elsewhere: in the United States, Canada, Iran, Malaysia and Singapore. The origins of via ferrata date back to the nineteenth century, but via ferratas are strongly associated with the First World War, when several were built in the Dolomite mountain region of Italy to aid the movement of troops. However, many more have been developed in recent years, as their popularity has grown and the tourism benefits have become recognised.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Model in an Alexander McQueen chainmail-type bodysuit.

A model in a chainmail-type bodysuit poses on the catwalk during fashion designer Alexander McQueen's 'Black' Fashion Show at Earls Court Exhibition Centre in London, Thursday, June 3, 2004.

Emma Mills Nutt

Emma Mills Nutt became the world’s first female telephone operator in operator in history when she began working for the Edwin Holmes Telephone Dispatch Company in Boston, Mass. She was paid a salary of $10 a month for a 54 hour work week. The first operators for the company were teenage boys who did not work well with the customers. Emma reportedly could remember every number in the directory of New England Telephone Company. Within seven years, all telephone operators in Boston were women.

Mike Ross, Sculptor

Ross' best known work, "Big Rig Jig", consisted of two modified tanker trucks attached to each other vertically in an S shape, with a truss installed in the tanks that allowed people to climb inside. The piece was built at American Steel, an art fabrication shop in Oakland, California. It was commissioned by the Black Rock Arts Foundation for Burning Man in 2007, and was considered one of the highlights of the event. It toured to the Coachella Music Festival in 2008. Ross described the work as a commentary on America's unsustainable oil economy.

Monsieur & Madame Monet

window washers, 48th street, new york, 1958 • inge morath

A Crocodile Hatching.

A crocodile hatches during a crocodile hatching festival at Sriracha Tiger Zoo, 74 miles east of Bangkok, 2008. Photo by Sukree Sukplang.

US Great Depression - 1934-1937

Waiting for the semimonthly relief checks at Calipatria, Imperial Valley, California. Typical story: fifteen years ago they owned farms in Oklahoma. Lost them through foreclosure when cotton prices fell after the war. Became tenants and sharecroppers. With the drought and dust they came West, 1934-1937. Never before left the county where they were born. Now although in California over a year they haven't been continuously resident in any single county long enough to become a legal resident. Reason: migratory agricultural laborers. March 1937. Photographer: Dorothea Lange.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Harry Patch, the last Tommy of WW1

Harry Patch. Harry was the last Tommy to survive the horror of the trenches of WWI. He died aged 111 in 2009. He never forgot those lost and always made sure to remember lost Germans as well as Allied troops. A quote from Harry: "Irrespective of the uniforms we wore, we were all victims."

The following account was given by Harry Patch in 2007 when he was 109:

We were the PBI. That's what we called ourselves. The poor bloody infantry. We didn't know whether we'd be dead or alive the next day, the next hour or the next minute.

We weren't heroes. We didn't want to be there. We were scared. We all were, all the time. And any man who tells you he wasn't is a damn liar.

Life in the trenches was dirty, lousy, unsanitary. The barrages that preceded battle were one long nightmare. And when you went over the top, it was just mud, mud and more mud. Mixed with blood. You struggled through it, with dead bodies all around you. Any one of them could have been me.

Yet 90 years on, I'm still here, now 109 years old. It's incredible to think that of the millions who fought in the trenches in the First World War, I'm the only one left - the last Tommy.

So now, on Remembrance Sunday, it is up to me to speak out for all those fallen or forgotten comrades. But today isn't just about my generation. It is about all the servicemen who have risked or given their lives, and the soldiers who are still doing so.

My comrades died long ago and it's easy for us to feel emotional about them. But the nation should honour what we did by helping the young soldiers of today feel worthwhile, by making them feel that their sacrifice has been worth it.

Remember the men in Iraq and Afghanistan. Don't make them wait eight decades, like my generation had to wait, to feel appreciated.

The time for really remembering our Forces is while they are at war or in the years immediately after they return, when they are coping with the shock and distress or just the problems of returning to civilian life.

That is what upsets me now. It is as if we have not learned the lessons of the war of 90 years ago.

Last year, the politicians suggested holding a commemoration service at Westminster Abbey to honour the remaining First World War veterans. But why? What for? It was too, too late.

Why didn't they think about doing something when the boys came back from the war bloodied and broken? And why didn't they do more for the veterans and the widows in later life?

It was easy to forget about them because for years afterwards they never spoke out about the horrors they had experienced. I was the same. For 80 years I bottled it up, never mentioning my time in the trenches, not even to my wife or sons.

I never watched a war film either. It would have brought back too many bad memories.

And in all that time, although I never said it, I still felt a deep anger and resentment towards our old enemy, the Germans.

Three years ago, at the age of 106, I went back to Flanders for a memorial service. I met a German veteran, Charles Kuentz. It was 87 years since we had fought. For all I know, he might have killed my own comrades. But we shook hands. And we had so much more in common than I could ever have thought.

He couldn't speak English and I couldn't speak German. We had a translator but in a way we didn't need him. After we had talked, we both sat in silence, looking at the landscape. Both of us remembering the stench, the noise, the gas, the mud crusted with blood, the cries of fallen comrades.

Once, to have shaken the hand of the enemy would have been treason, but Charles and I agreed on so much about that awful war. A nice old chap, he was. Why he should have been my enemy, I don't know.

He told me: "I fought you because I was told to and you did the same." It's sad but true.

When Charles and I met, we'd both had a long time to think about the war and all that had happened. We both agreed it had been a pointless exercise. We didn't know each other, we'd never met before, so why would we want to kill each other?

Charles has died now, but after our meeting he wrote me a letter. It said: "Shaking your hand was an honour and with that handshake we said more about peace than anything else ever could. On Sunday, I shall think of you, old comrade."

Now, finally, I feel I can talk about those times. I've even written a book about my life and they say that makes me the oldest ever first-time author. Isn't that something? I hope it helps people understand how the young men of my generation suffered.

I was conscripted into the 7th Duke of Cornwall's Light Infantry in 1916, by which time enthusiasm for the war had fallen away. I knew when I watched the White Cliffs receding as I sailed for France that I might never see England again.

I was put in a Lewis gun crew with three others and we became a very close team by the time we were ordered up to the front line during the Battle of Passchendaele. It was August 16, 1917, and just a couple of months after my 19th birthday.

It doesn't matter how much training you've had, you can't prepare for the reality of the front line - the noise, the filth, the uncertainty, the casualties, the call for stretcher-bearers.

Exactly 90 years later, in July this year, I returned to that very spot with The Mail on Sunday. There, in the sleepy Flanders countryside, I stared out at what was once No Man's Land and it all came back to me.

The bombardment like non-stop claps of thunder, the ground we had to cover, the stench of rotting bodies who would never be buried.

You lived in fear and counted the hours. You saw the sun rise, hopefully you'd see it set. If you saw it set, you hoped to see it rise. Some men would, some wouldn't.

Then the war, for me, suddenly came to an end. We were crossing open ground at Pilckem Ridge on September 22. In my mind, I can still see the shell explosion that took three of my pals and nearly did for me too.

I wasn't told until later that the three behind me had been blown to pieces. My reaction was terrible and it's still difficult to explain. It was like losing part of my life. The friendship you have during a war, it's almost like love.

It was because of those three men that I did not speak about the war for most of my life. It was too painful. Today I have forgiven the men who killed them - they were in the same position as us. I find it harder, though, to forgive the politicians.

Somebody told me the other day that at homecoming parades for our men in Iraq and Afghanistan, barely anyone turns up. I was shocked. Even in our day there would at least be some kind of welcome.

I hope that today people will take the time to remember not just those who have died but those who are alive and fighting for our country. Please don't forget them - or leave your thanks until it is too late.

Harry Patch was talking to Nigel Blundell

• The Last Fighting Tommy, by Harry Patch with Richard van Emden (Bloomsbury). Britain's Last Tommies, also by Richard van Emden (Pen & Sword).

Invasion orders found wrapped around cigars in field led to bloodiest day in U.S. history

When dawn broke along Antietam Creek on Sept. 17, 1862, cannon volleys launched a Civil War battle that would leave 23,000 casualties on the single bloodiest day in U.S. history and mark a crucial pivot point in the war.

And yet it might never have occurred - if not for what a historian calls a "freakish" twist of fate. Days earlier, a copy of Gen. Robert E. Lee's detailed invasion orders, wrapped around a few cigars, accidentally fell in a farm field and were discovered by Union infantrymen who passed their stunning find up the chain of command, spurring action.

Sea Butterfly

Habitat: Northwest Pacific: southern Hokkaido, Japan southward to the South China Sea

The Red Gurnard (Chelidonichthys spinosus) is one of 100 different species of Sea Robins, or Gurnards. These fantastic fish are normally found on the sea floor at depths of around 660 ft. They have a special set of 'wings,' which are actually just beautiful pectoral fins, that allow them to "fly" through the water. They also possess six spiny feet that allow them to walk across the ocean floor in search of food.
[Image source: suityu-sukima.sakura.ne.jp]

Crescent Lake, A Desert Oasis in China

Located approximately 6 km (3.73 miles) from the outskirts of the city of Dunhuang in Western China, lies Crescent Lake, an incredible oasis in the Gobi desert. Known as Yueyaquan in Chinese, the crescent-shaped lake is a major tourist attraction where one of the world’s great shrines to Buddhism resides.

Designated a World Heritage Site, the lake has been shrinking since the 1970s and is now about a third of its original size. In the last three decades alone, the lake has dropped more than 25 feet. However, it has been reported that the government has recently taken steps to preserve the site and restore the depth of the lake to previous levels.

An ancient city that once served as China’s gateway to the West, Dunhuang is now threatened by very modern demands. A dam built three decades ago to help local farming, combined with a doubling of the population, have overstressed the fragile desert hydrology that had been stable for thousands of years. As more people arrived, the underground water table that is the city’s main source of drinking water started dropping. [Source: New York Times, Wikipedia] [Photograph via UrinalCakes on reddit]

Terracotta Warriors of Xian

The Terracotta Army or the "Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses", is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. It is a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BC and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife, and to make sure that he had people to rule over.

The figures, dating from 3rd century BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers while digging a well in Lintong District, Xi'an, Shaanxi province.

The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits near by Qin Shi Huang's mausoleum. Other terracotta non-military figures were also found in other pits and they include officials, acrobats, strongmen and musicians.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Metamorphosis by Czech Sculptor David Cerny

Metalmorphosis is a mirrored water fountain by Czech sculptor David Černý that was constructed at the Whitehall Technology Park in Charlotte, NC. The 14-ton sculpture is made from massive stainless steel layers that rotate 360 degrees and occasionally align to create a massive head.

HH Dalai Lama tells Facebook Friends Religion is No Longer Adequate

On 9/10/12, the Dalai Lama said this to his friends on Facebook:

"All the world's major religions, with their emphasis on love, compassion, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness can and do promote inner values. But the reality of the world today is that grounding ethics in religion is no longer adequate. This is why I am increasingly convinced that the time has come to find a way of thinking about spirituality and ethics beyond religion altogether."

Bobbit Worms

At over 10 feet long, bobbit worms are the size of most snakes. They have poisonous bristles up and down their body that can cause significant nerve damage to anyone who dares touch them, and they eat by grabbing their victims with enormous strong mouths and sucking them down into the sand.
They are ambush hunters that wait in shallow waters with only about a tenth of their body poking out of the sand and their mouths stretched completely open. As soon as one of their antennae detects something in the water, they leap for it, even if it's significantly bigger than they are. Their bites, it should be noted, are so powerful that they'll sometimes accidentally just cut fish in half while trying to grab them.

Simple iron chain bridge, China, 1930

Techno-Fascist Autophagy

by John Valentine Arkenseele

When we think of totalitarian fascism, our minds are conditioned to regard the past regimes, to visualize a ranting Hitler or Stalin or Mao—a dictator. This is a spurious way to characterize it. Fascism need not necessarily exhibit itself through the cult of personality; that it is associated with these individuals only demonstrates that our collective impulse towards it once again has been canalized into its past “faces” in order to conceal its present nature.

The fact is that totalitarian fascism can very well exist as a distributed network, as a self-sustaining system with no central planner; it evolves in the same way organisms evolve, by increment, over a period of time. Instrumentally it may need a figurehead in some politician for purposes of public ritual catharsis, but only to conceal what is beneath.

An organism possesses antibodies conditioned to strike blindly at forces threatening its integrity.

When that immune system overworks, it begins to attack the body itself.

Such is what the war on terror has given us—this organism on the edge of autonomy from the rule of law and the management of any individual human beings.

This system is a Beast.

One school of thought maintains that a Beast like this doesn’t just happen, that individuals created it and individuals run it.

Another school, call it the bureaucratic-apologetic, believe that things like the Beast do “just happen,” that individual human culpability is like the Tao: that culpability has infinite circumference and a center that is at once everywhere and nowhere.

We hear this excuse with regard to the Third Reich, but think about this: did anyone swing in the power structure after 9/11?

No, not a single person. We’re supposed to think that institutional hiccups led to the non-prevention of the attack.

Such thinking is the bureaucratic-apologetic in action. 9/11 served too many purposes for our “masters of death” who, after the fall of the USSR, were left twiddling their thumbs, stalled in their Pentagon offices, for it to go unwasted...The Beast will survive the fate of its "cells"--its individually culpable constituents--as they are shed to go on their speaking tours and enjoy some “family time” and write their memoirs about that Terrible Day. Thus thanks to some handy biological metaphors in management systems theory, the latter model of the bureaucratic-apologetic has gained ascendancy in our society—and academic imprimatur and an intellectual alibi to cover one’s ass is a logical move, of course, when so much money is being made at the top all around on fear-mongering, torture, murder, fraud, and political blackmail.

- John Valentine Arkenseele

UK Company Develops Cannabinoid Medicine with International Acceptance

Sativex is a cannabinoid medicine for the treatment of spasticity due to multiple sclerosis which is also in development in cancer pain and neuropathic pain of various origins...
Now approved in the UK, Spain, Germany, Denmark, the Czech Republic, Sweden, New Zealand and Canada.

GW Pharmaceuticals, the developer of Sativex, was founded in 1998 and listed on AIM, a market of the London Stock Exchange, in June 2001.

GW occupies a world leading position in cannabinoid science and has developed an extensive international network of the most prominent scientists in the field. In mid 2007, GW’s early cannabinoid research activities were significantly expanded through the establishment of a global cannabinoid research agreement with Otsuka. Under this collaboration, GW and Otsuka are researching novel cannabinoids as potential treatments in the fields of Central Nervous System (CNS) disorders and oncology. In addition, GW has an in-house programme researching cannabinoids in the field of type 2 diabetes and related metabolic disorders. As part of this programme, GW set up in 2009 the GW Metabolic Research Laboratory at the University of Buckingham.

There are over 60 cannabinoid compounds identified to date. GW is researching a large number of cannabinoids, each of which has different effects and applications.

GW was co-founded in 1998 by Dr Geoffrey Guy and Dr Brian Whittle, two well-known entrepreneurs in the UK biotech sector. In setting up GW, Dr Guy and Dr Whittle worked closely with both the UK Home Office and the UK’s medicines regulatory authority on establishing necessary licences and procedures so as to facilitate the progress of GW’s cannabinoid research programme. Dr Guy and Dr Whittle also worked with various branches of UK law enforcement to ensure the strictest security surrounds any work conducted involving the company’s cannabis plant material.

In just one year following its inception, GW commenced its first clinical trials evaluating different cannabinoid formulations as potential treatments in the fields of MS and pain. Rapidly, GW focused on the development of Sativex, an oromucosal spray with two principal cannabinoid components, Cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9 Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Since 1999, the safety and efficacy of Sativex has been studied in over 20 randomized placebo-controlled trials including over 3,000 patients.

In 2003, GW entered into its first pharmaceutical licence agreement with Bayer Healthcare AG for the UK marketing rights to Sativex. This agreement was expanded to include Canada later that year. In 2005, GW and Almirall signed a licence agreement granting Almirall exclusive marketing rights to Sativex in Europe (ex-UK). In 2007, GW granted Otsuka the US development and marketing rights to the product.

Sativex was first approved in Canada in 2005 under Health Canada’s Notice of Compliance with conditions (NOC/c) policy for the treatment of neuropathic pain in MS. This approval was extended to cancer pain in 2007.

In May 2009, Sativex was the subject of a regulatory submission in the UK and Spain for the treatment of MS spasticity and was approved in both countries in summer 2010. The UK launch took place in June 2010. Following the achievement of national remibursement status in Spain in February 2011, Sativex was launched in that country in March 2011.

In March 2011, Sativex successfully completed the European Mutual Recognition Procedure (MRP) with the regulatory authorities in six member states(Germany, Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic) confirming that Sativex meets their requirements for approval. The next step in the regulatory process involves separate national phases in each country to finalize local wording on product packaging and related documents and also to agree any other country-specific requirements. Following completion of the national step, they expect each country to then issue a national marketing authorization. They anticipate launch before the end of 2011 in Germany, Denmark and Sweden with the remaining countries expected in 2012.

In the United States, the lead indication for Sativex is cancer pain. Following positive data reported in March 2010 from a Phase IIb study, a Phase III clinical program is now underway.

In only the very recent past, a natural cannabinoid receptor system in the human body has been discovered. This has sparked renewed interest in the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids by identifying important new targets for drugs.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Beauty mark meanings in the 18th century

A diagram labeled in French, showing what the position of a "mouche" or beauty mark signified in the 18th century. (Many were applied rather than naturally acquired.)

middle of forehead = dignified
corner of eye = passionate
middle of cheek = gallant
heart-shaped (left cheek) = engaged heart-shaped (right cheek) = married between mouth and chin = silent
on lower lip = discreet
beside the mouth = likes to kiss
on nasolabial fold = playful
on nose = saucy
near lip = flirtatious

Baby Pygmy Marmoset Monkeys

These monkeys are not good pets as they do bite and throw feces. In captivity they are not happy away from their families and are hard to care for.

They are the smallest monkeys in the world. Their body weight averages about 4 ounces and they grow to around 5 inches tall.

They are considered New World Primates as they originate from Central and South America. (Old World Primates come from Asia and Africa.). New World Primates have tails that can grasp and hold things, while Old World Primates usually have opposable thumbs.

Noticeable Bulge in Victor Noir's Sculpted Trousers Which Adorn His Tomb Becomes Fertility Symbol

Victor Noir, a french journalist, died in Paris 1870. His tomb located in Pere LaChaise Cemetery became a fertility symbol due to a noticeable bulge in his sculpted trousers.

Victor Noir (1848-1870) became famous for the manner of his death and its political consequences. He was shot by Prince Bonaparte, great nephew of Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte over an insulting letter published by Noir's boss at the radical newspaper he worked. Noir was sent as a "second" with another reporter where they were to duel with Bonaparte's "seconds," but showed up at the nobleman's door instead. Prince Bonaparte claimed aggression on Noir's part and testified in a highly publicized court battle that his deadly shot was in defense. Prince Bonaparte prevailed.

The sculpture, by the renowned sculptor, Dalou, has a very noticeable bulge in Noir's trousers. This has made it one of the most popular memorials for women to visit in the famous cemetery. Myth says that placing a flower in the upturned top hat after kissing the statue on the lips and rubbing its genital area will enhance fertility, bring a blissful sex life, or, in some versions, a husband within the year. As a result of the legend, those particular components of the oxidized bronze statue are rather well-worn. Some visitors have seen women hike up their skirts and mount the statue as if engaging in intimate congress.

In 2005, a fence was erected around the statue of Noir, to deter people from touching the statue. However, due to the protests of the female population of Paris, it was torn down. Photo: The Urban Snapper, Flickr.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Halliburton loses 7 inch Radioactive Rod Containing Americium-241/Beryllium

A seven inch radioactive rod containing americium-241/beryllium used in association with hydraulic fracturing was presumably stolen on Sept. 11 from a locked storage facility. The padlock on the storage facility was missing along with the rod. Halliburton called off a search of the mine it was last used at 3am yesterday morning in order to inform the National Regulatory Commission. They plan a renewed search with more advanced equipment.

Although, not reportedly dangerous to an individual who has the sealed container in their possession for less than a few hours, the risk to the public is unknown were it to land in the hands of skilled handlers. Source: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-13/halliburton-hunting-for-missing-radioactive-probe-in-west-texas.html

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Record for Most Children Birthed by a Single Woman

Feodor Vassilyev (c. 1707-1782) was a peasant from Shuya, Russia. His first wife, Mrs. Vassilyev sets the record for most children birthed by a single woman. She gave birth to a total of 69 children; however, few other details are known of her life, such as her date of birth or death. She gave birth to 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets and 4 sets of quadruplets between 1725 and 1765, in a total of 27 births. 67 of the 69 children born are said to have survived infancy.

St. Nicholas in Mavrovo, Macedonia

The church of St. Nicholas in Mavrovo, Macedonia was built in 1850 and stood for a 153 years until it was decided an artificial lake was needed in the village. At one point the church was fully submerged, but it keeps rising again, especially in summer with the droughts of the 21st century.

The Lifestraw

The Lifestraw – an icon of humanitarian product design – is a small cigar-shaped tube that houses some pretty. impressive engineering. When water is drawn through the straw, the mechanism inside it purifies water from potential pathogens like typhoid, cholera, dysentery and diarrhea – all before it reaches your lips.

Man Robs Bank Of 1 Dollar To Get Health Care In Jail

Man Robs Bank Of 1 Dollar To Get Health Care In Jail: This is so sad. Amazingly, many people’s reaction to the story is outrage…that our prisoners receive medical treatment. ABC News reports: Verone said he asked for 1 dollar to show that his motives were medical, not monetary, according to news reports. With a growth in his chest, two ruptured disks and no job, Verone hoped a three-year stint in prison would afford him the health care he needed.

Jacob Applebaum aka 'ioerror'

Jacob Appelbaum is an independent computer security researcher and hacker. He was employed by the University of Washington, and is a core member of the Tor project. Appelbaum is known for representing Wikileaks at the 2010 Hope conference. He has subsequently been repeatedly targeted by US law enforcement agencies, who obtained a court order for his Twitter account data, detained him 12 times at the US border after trips abroad, and seized a laptop and several mobile phones.

Appelbaum, under the handle "ioerror", has been an active member of the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective since 2008, and is the co-founder of the San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge with Mitch Altman. He has worked for Greenpeace and has volunteered for the Ruckus Society and the Rainforest Action Network. He is also a photographer and ambassador for the art group monochrom.

Upon returning to the US from the Netherlands on 29 July 2010, Appelbaum was detained for three hours at Newark airport by agents, according to anonymous sources. The sources told CNET that Appelbaum's bag was searched, receipts from his bag were photocopied, and his laptop was inspected, although in what manner was unclear.

Appelbaum reportedly refused to answer questions without a lawyer present and was not allowed to make a phone call. His three mobile phones were reportedly taken and not returned. On 31 July he spoke at DEF CON and mentioned his phone being "seized". After speaking, he was approached by two FBI agents and questioned.

According to CNET in an interview with Appelbaum, he told them that "other people who appeared in the address book of [his] seized cell phones also have encountered trouble at borders or in airports".

On December 14, 2010, the US Department of Justice obtained a court order compelling Twitter to provide data associated with the user accounts of Appelbaum, as well as several other individuals associated with Wikileaks, including Julian Assange and Birgitta Jónsdóttir. While the order was originally sealed, Twitter successfully petitioned the court to unseal it, permitting the company to inform its users that their account information had been requested.

When Appelbaum returned from a vacation in Iceland on January 10, 2011, he was again detained by US Customs agents for 30 minutes at the Seattle airport. According to Appelbaum, the agents "specifically wanted laptops and cell phones and were visibly unhappy when they discovered nothing of the sort. I did however have a few USB thumb drives with a copy of the Bill of Rights encoded into the block device. They were unable to copy it."

Similarly, Appelbaum was detained in Houston, Texas while returning from a trip to Serbia on April 12, 2011. He was again subject to detention on arrival in Seattle on June 14, 2011.

After being detained at Keflavik Airport on October 27, 2011 when returning to the United States Appelbaum wrote about the experience on the weblog Boing Boing.
In April 2012 Appelbaum told a Democracy Now Exposé that "I don’t have important conversations in the United States anymore. I don’t have conversations in bed with my partner anymore." He said that his being targeted creates a threat for those he wants to help and therefore makes him "less effective" in his work for the Tor Project.

China's Yangtze River Turns Pink - Officials Baffled

"Residents of Chongqing, China got quite a surprise when they looked out at the Yangtze River last Saturday: The river, which usually has a golden-brown hue, had been dyed a deep red-orange, and nobody knows why! The crimson coloration first appeared yesterday where the Yangtze meets the Jialin River, but it was also reported at other points along China’s longest river. Officials are currently investigating the cause of the dramatic color change, but so far they haven’t arrived at any conclusive answers."

Pioneer Family Pose Outside Their Sod House, Kansas, c.1860

This family likely was a recipient of The Homestead Act signed by Lincoln giving homesteaders 160 acres to settle land. Sod houses were often built beause they were quick and cheap and satisfied the Act's requirements. This Act was passed with the intention to stop the monopolistic land grabbers from taking all the available land. Conservatives today would decry this as an infringement of "freedom."

The Spite House

In 1882, Patrick McQuade wanted to build some homes at the corner of 82nd and Lexington in New York City. Trouble was, he needed an adjoining parcel owned by Joseph Richardson; that parcel was only 5′ wide, hence McQuade offered what he thought was a reasonable $1K for the land so he could complete his project.

Richardson refused the offer, asking for $5K instead. McQuade, told him to get lost and started building, thinking that the 5′ parcel would simply go unused.

He was mistaken. Richardson later built what would be known at “The Spite House.” The house at its narrowest was 3’4″ wide. Because of a zoning law that allowed bay windows to extend 2’3″ beyond the lot, he was able to eek out a maximum width of 7’3″. The building was 102′ long, 4 stories had 8 suites (2 per floor), one of which Richardson occupied, and, surely pleasing to the man, blocked most of the light to McQuade’s building.

A 1929 article said this of the interior and furnishings:

Only the very smallest furniture could be fitted into the rooms. The stairways were so narrow that only one person could use a stair at a time. If a tenant wished to descend or ascend, from one floor to another, he would, of necessity, have to ascertain that no one else was using the stair. The halls throughout the house were so narrow that one person could pass another only by dodging into of the rooms until the other had passed by. The largest dining table in any of the suites was 18 inches in width. The chairs were proportionately small. The kitchen stoves were the very smallest that are made.

Unfortunately, the home was demolished in 1915 by the venerable Bing and Bing company, so pics of the interiors are nonexistent.

Kyoto, Japan, 1960

Kyoto, Japan, 1960

A starburst construction made out of 30,000 toothpicks

Tom Friedman
Untitled, 1995
26 x 30 x 23 inches
A starburst construction made out of 30,000 toothpicks