Friday, March 1, 2013

Centralia, Pennsylvania

Centralia is a borough and ghost town in Columbia County, PennsylvaniaUnited States. Its population has dwindled from over 1,000 residents in 1981 to 12 in 2005, as a result of a mine fire burning beneath the borough since 1962. Centralia is one of the least-populated municipalities in Pennsylvania.
Centralia is part of the Bloomsburg-Berwick micropolitan area. The borough is completely surrounded by Conyngham Township.
All properties in the borough were claimed under eminent domain by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in 1992 (and all buildings therein were condemned), and Centralia's ZIP code was revoked by the Postal Service in 2002. A few residents continue to reside there in spite of the failure of a lawsuit to reverse the eminent domain claim.

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Funky Drummer

"Funky Drummer" is a funk song recorded by James Brown and his band. The recording's drum break, performed by drummer Clyde Stubblefield, is one of the most frequently sampled rhythmic breaks in hip hop and popular music; indeed, it lays a strong claim to being the most sampled recording ever, along with the Amen Break.

"Funky Drummer" was recorded on November 20, 1969 in Cincinnati, Ohio and originally released by King Records as a two-part45 rpm single in March 1970. Despite rising to #20 on the R&B chart and #51 on the pop chart, it did not receive an album release until the 1986 compilation In the Jungle Groove.

The piece takes the form of an extended vamp, with individual instruments (mostly the tenor saxophones and organ) improvising brief licks on top. Brown's ad-libbed vocals on "Funky Drummer" are sporadic and declamatory, and are mostly concerned with encouraging the other band members.

As in the full-length version of "Cold Sweat" he announces the upcoming drum break, which comes late in the recording, with a request to "give the drummer some." He tells Stubblefield "You don't have to do no soloing, brother, just keep what you got... Don't turn it loose, 'cause it's a mother." Stubblefield's eight-bar unaccompanied "solo", a version of the riff he plays through most of the piece, is the result of Brown's directions; this break beat is one of the most sampled recordings in music.

After the drum break, the band returns to the original vamp. Brown, apparently impressed with what Stubblefield has produced, seems to name the song on the spot as it continues, and repeats it: "The name of this tune is 'The Funky Drummer', 'The Funky Drummer', 'The Funky Drummer'." The recording ends with a reprise of Stubblefield's solo and a fade-out.

Friday, February 22, 2013


meteorite is a meteoroid (a solid piece of debris from such sources as asteroids or comets) originating in outer space that survives impact with the Earth's surface. A meteorite's size can range from small to extremely large. Most meteorites derive from small astronomical objects called meteoroids, but they are also sometimes produced by impacts of asteroids. When a meteoroid enters the atmosphere, frictional, pressure, and chemical interactions with the atmospheric gasses cause the body to heat up and emit light, thus forming a fireball, also known as a meteor or shooting/falling star. The term bolide refers to either an extraterrestrial body that collides with the Earth, or to an exceptionally bright, fireball-like meteor regardless of whether it ultimately impacts the surface.
More generally, a meteorite on the surface of any celestial body is a natural object that has come from elsewhere in space. Meteorites have been found on the Moon and Mars. Meteorites that are recovered after being observed as they transited the atmosphere or impacted the Earth are called falls. All other meteorites are known as finds. As of February 2010, there are approximately 1,086 witnessed falls having specimens in the world's collections. In contrast, there are over 38,660 well-documented meteorite finds.
Meteorites have traditionally been divided into three broad categories: stony meteorites are rocks, mainly composed of silicate mineralsiron meteorites are largely composed of metallic iron-nickel; and, stony-iron meteorites contain large amounts of both metallic and rocky material. Modern classification schemes divide meteorites into groups according to their structure, chemical and isotopic composition and mineralogy. Meteorites smaller than 2mm are classified as micrometeorites.


Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes, although he called himself Mario Moreno, (August 12, 1911 – April 20, 1993), was a Mexican comic film actor, producer, and screenwriter known professionally as Cantinflas. He often portrayed impoverished campesinos or a peasant of pelado origin. The character came to be associated with the national identity of Mexico, and allowed Cantinflas to establish a long, successful film career that included a foray into HollywoodCharlie Chaplin once commented that he was the best comedian alive, and Moreno has been referred to as the "Charlie Chaplin of Mexico". To audiences in the United States, he is best remembered as co-starring with David Niven in a Golden Globe Award-winning role in the 1956 film Around the World in 80 Days.
As a pioneer of the cinema of Mexico, Moreno helped usher in its golden era. In addition to being a business leader, he also became involved in Mexico's tangled and often dangerous labor politics. Although he was a political conservative, his reputation as a spokesperson for the downtrodden gave his actions authenticity and became important in the early struggle against charrismo, the one-partygovernment's practice of co-opting and controlling unions.
Moreover, his character Cantinflas, whose identity became enmeshed with his own, was examined by media critics, philosophers, and linguists, who saw him variably as a danger to Mexican society, a bourgeois puppet, a kind philanthropist, a transgressor of gender roles, a pious Catholic, a verbal innovator, and a picaresque underdog.

Friday, November 16, 2012


The Twinkie is an American snack cake that was made and distributed by Hostess Brands until 2012. They were marketed as a "Golden Sponge Cake with Creamy Filling".
Twinkies were invented in Schiller Park, Illinois in 1930 by James Alexander Dewar, a baker for the Continental Baking Company. Realizing that several machines used to make cream-filled strawberry shortcake sat idle when strawberries were out of season, Dewar conceived a snack cake filled with banana cream, which he dubbed the Twinkie. He said he came up with the name when he saw a billboard in St. Louis for "Twinkle Toe Shoes". During World War II, bananas were rationed and the company was forced to switch to vanilla cream. This change proved popular, and banana-cream Twinkies were not widely re-introduced. The original flavor was occasionally found in limited-time promotions, but the company used vanilla cream for most Twinkies. In 1988, Fruit and Cream Twinkies were introduced with a strawberry filling swirled into the cream. However, the product was soon dropped. Vanilla's dominance over banana flavoring would be challenged in 2005, following a month-long promotion of the movie King Kong. Hostess saw its Twinkie sales rise 20 percent during the promotion, and in 2007 permanently restored the banana-cream Twinkie to its snack lineup.
In January 2012, Twinkie manufacturer Hostess filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Twinkie sales for the year ended December 25, 2011 were 36 million packages, down almost 2% from a year earlier. Hostess said customers have migrated to healthier foods. In November 2012, Hostess announced that is was ceasing production of all its products and liquidating all assets, but it hopes to be able to sell its more popular brands to other manufacturers.
A common urban legend claims that Twinkies have an infinite shelf life or can last unspoiled for a relatively long time of ten, fifty, or one hundred years due to chemicals used in production. This urban legend is false, although Twinkies can last a relatively long time (25 days or more) because they are made without unstabilized dairy products and thus spoil more slowly than most bakery items. In reality Twinkies are on the shelf for a short time, a company executive told theNew York Times in 2000 that the "Twinkie is on the shelf no more than 7 to 10 days."

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

La Llorona

La Llorona ("The Weeping Woman") is a widespread legend in Mexico, the US southwest, Puerto Rico and Central and South America.

Although several variations exist, the basic story tells of a beautiful woman by the name of Maria who drowns her children in order to be with the man that she loved. The man would not have her, which devastated her. She would not take no for an answer, so she drowned herself in a lake in Mexico. Challenged at the gates of heaven as to the whereabouts of her children, she is not permitted to enter the afterlife until she has found them. Maria is forced to wander the Earth for all eternity, searching in vain for her drowned offspring, with her constant weeping giving her the name "La Llorona".

In some versions of this tale and legend, La Llorona will kidnap wandering children who resemble her missing children, or children who disobey their parents. People who claim to have seen her say she appears at night or in the late evenings from rivers or oceans in Mexico. Some believe that those who hear the wails of La Llorona are marked for death, similar to the Gaelic banshee legend. She is said to cry "Ay, mis hijos!" which translates to "Oh, my children!"

La Llorona bears a resemblance to the ancient Greek tale of the demonic demigodess Lamia. Hera, Zeus' wife, learned of his affair with Lamia, and then forced Zeus to give up the relationship and punished Lamia by forcing her to eat her own children. Out of jealousy over the loss of her own children, Lamia preys upon human children and devours them if she catches them. In Greek mythology, Medea killed the two children fathered by Jason (one of the Argonauts) after he left her for another woman.
Local Aztec folklore possibly influenced the legend; the goddess Cihuacoatl or Coatlicue was said to have appeared shortly prior to the invasion of Mexico by Hernán Cortés, weeping for her lost children, an omen of the fall of the Aztec empire.
La Llorona is also sometimes identified with La Malinche, the Nahua woman who served as Cortés' interpreter and who some say betrayed Mexico to the Spanish conquistadors. In one folk story of La Malinche, she becomes Cortés' mistress and bore him a child, only to be abandoned so that he could marry a Spanish lady (although no evidence exists that La Malinche killed her children). Aztec pride drove La Malinche to acts of vengeance. In this context, the tale compares the Spanish invasion of Mexico and the demise of indigenous culture after the conquest with La Llorona's loss.

Friday, August 24, 2012


Junglefowl are the four living species of bird from the genus Gallus in the Gallinaceous bird order, which occur in India, Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia and Indonesia.

These are large birds, with colourful male plumage, but are nevertheless difficult to see in the dense vegetation they inhabit.

As with many birds in the pheasant family, the male takes no part in the incubation of the egg or rearing of the precocial young. These duties are performed by the drab and well-camouflaged female.
The junglefowl are seed-eaters, but insects are also taken, particularly by the young birds.

One of the species in this genus, the Red Junglefowl, is of historical importance as the likely ancestor of the domesticated chicken, although it has been suggested the Grey Junglefowl was also involved.

The Sri Lanka Junglefowl is the National Bird of Sri Lanka.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Platonic Solids

In Euclidean geometry, a Platonic solid is a regular, convex polyhedron. The faces are congruent, regular polygons, with the same number of faces meeting at each vertex.  There are five Platonic solids; their names are derived from their numbers of faces.

The aesthetic beauty and symmetry of the Platonic solids have made them a favorite subject of geometers for thousands of years. They are named for the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, who theorized that the classical elements were constructed from the regular solids.

The Platonic solids have been known since antiquity. Ornamented models of them can be found among the carved stone balls created by the late neolithic people of Scotland at least 1000 years before Plato.

The ancient Greeks studied the Platonic solids extensively. Some sources (such as Proclus) credit Pythagoras with their discovery. Other evidence suggests he may have only been familiar with the tetrahedron, cube, and dodecahedron, and that the discovery of the octahedron and icosahedron belong to Theaetetus, a contemporary of Plato.

Euclid gave a complete mathematical description of the Platonic solids in the Elements, the last book (Book XIII) of which is devoted to their properties. Propositions 13–17 in Book XIII describe the construction of the tetrahedron, octahedron, cube, icosahedron, and dodecahedron in that order. For each solid Euclid finds the ratio of the diameter of the circumscribed sphere to the edge length. In Proposition 18 he argues that there are no further convex regular polyhedra. Much of the information in Book XIII is probably derived from the work of Theaetetus.

In the 16th century, the German astronomer Johannes Kepler attempted to find a relation between the five extraterrestrial planets known at that time and the five Platonic solids. In Mysterium Cosmographicum, published in 1596, Kepler laid out a model of the solar system in which the five solids were set inside one another and separated by a series of inscribed and circumscribed spheres. Kepler proposed that the distance relationships between the six planets known at that time could be understood in terms of the five Platonic solids, enclosed within a sphere that represented the orbit of Saturn. The six spheres each corresponded to one of the planets (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn). The solids were ordered with the innermost being the octahedron, followed by the icosahedron, dodecahedron, tetrahedron, and finally the cube. In this way the structure of the solar system and the distance relationships between the planets was dictated by the Platonic solids. In the end, Kepler's original idea had to be abandoned, but out of his research came his three laws of orbital dynamics, the first of which was that the orbits of planets are ellipses rather than circles, changing the course of physics and astronomy. He also discovered the Kepler solids.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


Wadi is the Arabic term traditionally referring to a valley. In some cases, it may refer to a dry (ephemeral) riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain or simply an intermittent stream.

Modern English usage differentiates a wadi from another canyon or wash by the action and prevalence of water. Wadis, as drainage courses, are formed by water, but are distinguished from river valleys or gullies in that surface water is intermittent or ephemeral. Wadis, cut by stream in a desert environment, generally are dry year round except after a rain. The desert environment is characterized by a sudden but infrequent heavy rainfall often resulting in flash floods. Crossing wadis at certain times of the year can be dangerous because of unexpected flash floods. Such flash floods cause several deaths each year in North America and many Middle Eastern countries.

Wadis tend to be associated with centers of human population because sub-surface water is sometimes available in them. Nomadic and pastoral desert peoples will rely on seasonal vegetation found in wadis, even in regions as dry as the Sahara, as they travel in complex transhumance routes.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


Blowup, or Blow-Up, is a 1966 film directed by Michelangelo Antonioni about a photographer, played by David Hemmings, who believes he may have witnessed a murder and unwittingly taken photographs of the killing. It was Antonioni's first English-language film.

The film also stars Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Miles, John Castle, Jane Birkin, Tsai Chin and Gillian Hills as well as sixties model Veruschka. The screenplay was written by Antonioni and Tonino Guerra, with English dialogue by British playwright Edward Bond. The film was produced by Carlo Ponti, who had contracted Antonioni to make three English-language films for MGM (the others were Zabriskie Point and The Passenger).

The plot was inspired by Julio Cortázar's short story, "Las babas del diablo" or "The Devil's Drool" (1959), translated also as Blow-Up, and by the life of Swinging London photographer David Bailey. The film was scored by jazz pianist Herbie Hancock, although the music is diegetic, as Hancock noted: "It's only there when someone turns on the radio or puts on a record." Nominated for several awards at the Cannes Film Festival, Blowup won the Grand Prix.

The American release of the film with its explicit content (by contemporary standards) by a major Hollywood studio was in direct defiance of the Production Code. Its subsequent outstanding critical and box office success proved to be one of the final events that led the code to be finally abandoned in 1968 in favor of the MPAA film rating system.