Thursday, December 31, 2009

Alcoholic Beverage

An alcoholic beverage is a drink that contains ethanol (commonly called alcohol). Alcoholic beverages are divided into three general classes: beers, wines, and spirits.

Alcoholic beverages are consumed in almost every sovereign state, and most have laws that regulate their production, sale, and consumption. In particular, such laws specify the minimum age at which a person may legally buy or drink alcoholic beverages. This minimum age can be as low as 16 years in some nations, however most nations set the minimum age at 18 years.

The production and consumption of alcohol occurs nowadays in most cultures of the world, from hunter-gatherer peoples to nation-states. Alcoholic beverages are often an important part of social events in these cultures. In many cultures, drinking plays a significant role in social interaction — mainly because of alcohol’s neurological effects.

Alcohol is a psychoactive drug that has a depressant effect. A high blood alcohol content is usually considered to be legal drunkenness because it reduces attention and slows reaction speed. Alcoholic beverages can be addictive, and the state of addiction to alcohol is known as alcoholism.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Gen John Sedgwick

John Sedgwick (September 13, 1813 – May 9, 1864) was a teacher, a career military officer, and a Union Army general in the American Civil War. His death at the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House is often considered a well known tale of irony.

Sedgwick fell at the beginning of the Battle of Spotsylvania Court House, on May 9, 1864. His corps was probing skirmish lines ahead of the left flank of Confederate defenses and he was directing artillery placements. Confederate sharpshooters were about 1,000 yards (910 m) away and their shots caused members of his staff and artillerymen to duck for cover. Sedgwick strode around in the open and was quoted as saying, "What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line? I am ashamed of you. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Although ashamed, his men continued to flinch and he repeated, "I'm ashamed of you, dodging that way. They couldn't hit an elephant at this distance." Just seconds later he fell forward with a bullet hole below his left eye.

Sedgwick was the highest ranking Union casualty in the Civil War.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Three Wolf Moon

Three Wolf Moon is a t-shirt, featuring three wolves howling at the moon. The numerous ironic reviews for this on Amazon have become an Internet phenomenon. The t-shirt was designed by Bulgarian American artist Antonia Neshev.

The Three Wolf Moon t-shirt is a product for sale on Amazon. It gained popularity after attracting facetious reviews attributing great power to it such as being irresistible to women, striking fear into other males and magical healing abilities.

The t-shirt is manufactured by The Mountain - a wholesale clothing company in Keene, NH. Their art director, Michael McGloin, said that they were making many more shirts in response to the great demand which had made it the top selling item in Amazon's clothing store.

On August 24th 2009 the Three Wolf Moon shirt was introduced to the Amazon UK store and promoted on the front page, with the words, "With over 1,300 reviews, the Three Wolf Moon T-shirt is hot news in the US. Harness the power of the wolves - get yours now."

A similar shirt featuring Keyboard Cats instead of wolves has been produced at the T-shirt design site Threadless. In July 2009, this was the most highly-rated design there. The shirt was also worn by the character Dwight Schrute on the October 8, 2009 episode of The Office.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Shroud of Turin

The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth bearing the image of a man who appears to have been physically hurt in a manner consistent with crucifixion. It is kept in the royal chapel of the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist in Turin, Italy. How and when the shroud and its image were created is the subject of intense debate among scientists, believers, historians and researchers.

Believers contend that the shroud is the cloth placed on the body of Jesus Christ at the time of his burial, and that the face image is the Holy Face of Jesus. Detractors contend that the artifact postdates the Crucifixion of Jesus by more than a millennium. Both sides of the argument use science and historical documents to make their case.

The image on the shroud is much clearer in black-and-white negative than in its natural sepia color. The striking negative image was first observed on the evening of May 28, 1898, on the reverse photographic plate of amateur photographer Secondo Pia, who was allowed to photograph it while it was being exhibited in the Turin Cathedral. The Catholic Church has neither formally endorsed or rejected the shroud, but in 1958 Pope Pius XII approved of the image in association with the Roman Catholic devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.

Various tests have been performed on the shroud, yet both believers and skeptics continue to present arguments for and against the validity of the tests. One of the contentious issues is the Radiocarbon dating in 1988 which yielded results indicating that the shroud was made during the Middle Ages. Believers have since presented arguments against the 1988 carbon dating results, ranging from conflicts in the interpretation of the evidence, to samples being taken from a non representative corner, to additional carbon content via fire damage. Heated debate has ensued ever since.

Both skeptics and proponents tend to have very entrenched positions on the cause of formation of the shroud image, (at times pitting science versus divine formation) which has made dialogue very difficult. This may prevent the issue from being fully settled to the satisfaction of all sides in the near future.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Axolotl

The axolotl, Ambystoma mexicanum, is the best known of the Mexican neotenic mole salamanders belonging to the Tiger Salamander complex. Larvae of this species fail to undergo metamorphosis, so the adults remain aquatic and gilled. The species originates from the lake underlying Mexico City and is also called ajolote (which is also the common name for the Mexican Mole Lizard). Axolotls are used extensively in scientific research due to their ability to regenerate most body parts, ease of breeding, and large embryos. They are commonly kept as pets in the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Japan and other countries.

As of 2008, wild axolotls are near extinction due to urbanization in Mexico City and polluted waters. Nonnative fish such as African tilapia and Asian carp have also recently been introduced to the waters. These new fish have been eating the axolotls' young, as well as its primary source of food. The axolotl is currently on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's annual Red List of threatened species.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Spring Heeled Jack

Spring Heeled Jack is a character from English folklore said to have existed during the Victorian era and able to jump extraordinarily high. The first claimed sighting of Spring Heeled Jack that is known occurred in 1837. Later alleged sightings were reported all over England, from London up to Sheffield and Liverpool, but they were especially prevalent in suburban London and later in the Midlands and Scotland.

Many theories have been proposed to ascertain the nature and identity of Spring Heeled Jack. The urban legend of Spring Heeled Jack gained immense popularity in its time due to the tales of his bizarre appearance and ability to make extraordinary leaps, to the point where he became the topic of several works of fiction.

Spring Heeled Jack was described by people claiming to have seen him as having a terrifying and frightful appearance, with diabolical physiognomy, clawed hands, and eyes that "resembled red balls of fire". One report claimed that, beneath a black cloak, he wore a helmet and a tight-fitting white garment like an "oilskin". Many stories also mention a "Devil-like" aspect. Spring Heeled Jack was said to be tall and thin, with the appearance of a gentleman, and capable of making great leaps. Several reports mention that he could breathe out blue and white flames and that he wore sharp metallic claws at his fingertips.
The vast urban legend built around Spring Heeled Jack influenced many aspects of Victorian life, especially in contemporary popular culture. For decades, especially in London, his name was equated with bogeymen, as a means of scaring children into behaving by telling them that if they were not good, Spring Heeled Jack would leap up and peer in at them through their bedroom windows, by night.

However, it was in fictional entertainment where the legend of Spring Heeled Jack exerted the most extensive influence, owing to his allegedly extraordinary nature. Almost from the moment the first incidents gained public knowledge, he turned into a successful fictional character, becoming the protagonist of many penny dreadfuls from 1840 to 1904. Several plays where he assumed the main role were staged as well.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Baby Jesus Theft

Baby Jesus theft is the theft of plastic or ceramic figurines of the infant Jesus (or, "Baby Jesus") from outdoor public and private nativity displays during the Christmas season. Some attribute such occurrences to juvenile pranksters while others wonder if the thefts have anti-Christian undertones. The prevalence of such thefts has caused the owners of outdoor manger scenes to protect their property with GPS devices, surveillance cameras, or by other means.

Washington DC journalist Daniel Nasaw of the online presence of Britain's The Guardian notes that dozens of communities across America have suffered thefts of Baby Jesus figurines, and, in some instances, entire nativity scenes. He observes that it is unclear whether such theft is on the rise, as it is not tracked by federal law enforcement.

Some nativity display owners have taken measures to secure their property against would-be thieves. Others are reluctant to exercise such vigilance. One Indiana man who suffered the loss of his Baby Jesus figurine rebuffed suggestions to secure the figurines on his porch because, "that would be like putting Jesus in jail". Traditional security measures are not always foolproof. The Baby Jesus fastened to the National Christmas Creche at Independence Hall disappeared within days.

While Baby Jesus thefts are largely regarded as pranks, they are set apart by the involvement of a religious icon. "They think it's a prank, but it isn't a prank to some of these people," Pennsylvania state police Corporal Paul Romanic told The Morning Call newspaper, in regards to an incident in which ten nativity scene figures were found in a yard after being stolen from across Bucks county, Pennsylvania. "Plus, it's just wrong to steal the baby Jesus."

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Marzipan

Marzipan is a confection consisting primarily of sugar and almond meal.

It derives its characteristic flavor from bitter almonds, which constitute 4% to 6% of the total almond content by weight.

It is often made into sweets: common uses are marzipan-filled chocolate and small marzipan imitations of fruits and vegetables. It is also rolled into thin sheets and glazed for icing cakes and is traditionally used in wedding cakes, Christmas cakes, and stollen. In some countries marzipan is shaped into small figures of animals as a traditional treat for New Year's Day. Marzipan is also used in Tortell, and in some versions of king cake eaten during the Carnival season.

In Italy, particularly in Palermo, marzipan (marzapane) is often shaped and painted with food colorings to resemble fruit — Frutta martorana — especially during the Christmas season and on Il Giorno dei Morti (the Day of the Dead) on November 2. May 9 and 10 are also special days for eating marzipan in Sicily. In Portugal, traditional marzipan (maçapão) fruit shaped sweets made in the Algarve region are called morgadinhos.

There are other regions, as Toledo in Spain in which marzipan is shaped into simple animal shapes, and usually filled in with egg yolk (yema) and sugar. In Latin American cuisine, marzipan is known as mazapán and is also traditionally eaten at Christmas, though "Mazapan" is generally made with peanuts in place of almonds.

In the Netherlands Marzipan figures are given as presents to children during Saint Nicholas' Eve. In Germany it is common to give marzipan in the shape of a pig as new year presents, known as a "Glückschwein" (lucky pig). In Geneva, a traditional part of the celebration of L'Escalade is the ritual smashing of a chocolate cauldron filled with marzipan vegetables, a reference to a Savoyarde siege of the city which was supposedly foiled by a housewife with a cauldron of boiling soup.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Caganer

A Caganer is a small statue found in Catalonia, in neighbouring areas with Catalan culture such as Andorra, and in other parts of Spain, Portugal and Italy. The figure is depicted in the act of defecation. Caganer is Catalan for "pooper".

In Catalonia, as well as in the rest of Spain and in most of Italy and Southern France, traditional Christmas decorations consist of a large model of the city of Bethlehem, similar to the Nativity scenes of the English-speaking world but encompassing the entire city rather than just the typical manger scene. The caganer is a particular feature of modern Catalan nativity scenes, and is also found in other parts of Spain and southwestern Europe, including Salamanca[1], Murcia (cagones), Naples (cacone or pastore che caca) and Portugal (cagões)[2]. Accompanying Mary, Joseph, Jesus, the Shepherds and company, the caganer is often tucked away in a corner of the model, typically nowhere near the manger scene.

The exact origin of the Caganer is lost, but the tradition has existed since the 17th century. Originally, the Caganer was portrayed as a Catalan peasant wearing a traditional hat called a barretina — a red stocking hat with a black band.

The practice is tolerated by the local Catholic church. Caganers are easiest to find before Christmas in holiday markets, like the one in front of the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia, which has tables and tables of caganers. Caganers have even been featured in art exhibits.

The Catalans have modified this tradition somewhat since the 1940s. In addition to the traditional caganer design, you can easily find other characters assuming the caganer position, such as nuns, devils, Santa Claus, celebrities, athletes, historical figures, politicians, Spanish royalty, and other famous people past and present. Just days after his election as US president in 2008, a caganer of Barack Obama was made available.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Krampus

The word Krampus originates from the Old High German word for claw (Krampen). In the Alpine regions the Krampus is represented by an incubus demon in company of Saint Nicholas. Krampus acts as an anti-Saint Nicholas where instead of giving gifts to good children, he gives warnings and punishments to the bad children. Traditionally, young men dress up as the Krampus in the first two weeks of December, particularly in the evening of December 5, and roam the streets frightening children and women with rusty chains and bells.

The present day Krampus costume consists of wooden masks or Larve, sheep's skin and horns. Considerable effort goes into the manufacture of the hand-crafted masks, as many younger adults in rural communities engage competitively in the Krampus events.

In Oberstdorf, in the southwestern alpine part of Bavaria, the tradition of der Wilde Mann ("the wild man") is kept alive. He is described exactly like Krampus (except the horns), dressed in fur and frightening children (and adults) with rusty chains and bells. Der Wilde Mann however, is not an assistant of Saint Nicholas.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Santa Claus, Indiana

Santa Claus, Indiana, is a town located in Carter, Clay and Harrison townships, Spencer County in the southern portion of the state, between Interstate 64 and the Ohio River.

Santa Claus, Indiana, was established in 1854. In 1856, when the town was (then known as Santa Fe, pronounced "fee") working to establish a Post Office; the US Postal Service refused their first application as there was already another Santa Fe, Indiana. Several town meetings were held, during which the name Santa Claus was selected.

The town has the world’s only post office to bear the name of Santa Claus. Because of this popular name, the post office receives thousands of letters to Santa from all over the world each year. A group of volunteers known as "Santa’s Elves" ensures each child receives a reply from Santa Claus; this tradition has been around since at least 1914. Every year, the Post Office also creates a special Christmas 'hand cancellation' pictorial postmark for use during the month of December. This practice attracts mail from all over the world wishing to have the official Santa Claus postmark. The pictorial postmark is chosen each year from submissions from art students at the local high school, Heritage Hills H.S.

Santa Claus is currently home to approximately 2,200 residents. According to the 1990 census, 927 people resided in Santa Claus. By 2000 the town's population had grown to 2,075. A majority of Santa Claus residents live within the gated community of Christmas Lake Village, which was first established in the late 1960s by Bill Koch. It consists of 2,500 acres (10 km2) developed around three lakes: Christmas Lake, Lake Holly, and Lake Noel. The street names in Christmas Lake Village are all themed and named after the Christmas season. Many residents also live in Holiday Village, a subdivision on the north side of town.

Santa Claus is the home to several attractions including: Santa's Candy Castle, Santa Claus Museum, Holiday World & Splashin' Safari, Frosty's Fun Center, Mushie's Car Museum, and Christmas Lake Golf Course.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Poinsettia

Euphorbia pulcherrima, commonly known as poinsettia, is a species of flowering plant indigenous to Mexico and Guatemala. The name "poinsettia" is after Joel Roberts Poinsett, the first United States Minister to Mexico, who introduced the plant into the US in 1828.

In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs, the plant is called Cuetlaxochitl meaning "skin flower." The Aztecs used the plant to produce red dye and as an antipyretic medication.Today it is known in Mexico and Guatemala as "Noche Buena" or Christmas' Eve. In Spain its is known as "Flor de Pascua" or Easter Flower in English. In both Chile and Peru, the plant became known as "Crown of the Andes".

The plants' association with Christmas began in 16th century Mexico, where legend tells of a young girl who was too poor to provide a gift for the celebration of Jesus' birthday. The tale goes that the child was inspired by an angel to gather weeds from the roadside and place them in front of the church altar. Crimson "blossoms" sprouted from the weeds and became beautiful poinsettias. From the 17th century, Franciscan friars in Mexico included the plants in their Christmas celebrations.

Across North America, poinsettias are typical Christmas decorations in homes, churches, offices, and elsewhere, available in large numbers from grocery, drug, and hardware stores. In the United States, December 12 is National Poinsettia Day.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Mary Toft

Mary Toft (1701–1763) was an English woman from Godalming, Surrey, who in 1726 became the subject of considerable controversy when she hoaxed doctors into believing that she had given birth to rabbits.

Toft became pregnant in 1726, but later miscarried. Apparently fascinated by a rabbit she had seen while working, she claimed to have given birth to parts of animals. Local surgeon John Howard was called to investigate, and upon delivering several animal parts he notified other prominent physicians.

The matter came to the attention of Nathaniel St. André, surgeon to the Royal Household of King George I of Great Britain. St. André investigated and concluded that Toft was telling the truth. The king also sent surgeon Cyriacus Ahlers to see Toft, but Ahlers remained sceptical.

By now quite famous, Toft was brought to London and was studied at length. Under intense scrutiny, and producing no more rabbits, she eventually confessed to the hoax and was subsequently imprisoned. The public mockery which followed created panic within the medical profession. Several prominent surgeons' careers were ruined, and many satirical works were produced, each scathingly critical of the affair.

The pictorial satirist and social critic William Hogarth was notably critical of the gullibility of the medical profession. Toft was eventually released without charge and returned to her home.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Garden of Earthly Delights

The Garden of Earthly Delights is a triptych painted by the early Netherlandish master Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450–1516), housed in the Museo del Prado in Madrid since 1939. Dating between 1503 and 1504, when Bosch was about 50 years old, it is his best-known and most ambitious work. The masterpiece reveals the artist at the height of his powers; in no other painting does he achieve such complexity of meaning or such vivid imagery. The triptych depicts several Biblical scenes on a grand scale and as a "true triptych", as defined by Hans Belting, was probably intended to illustrate the history of mankind according to medieval Christian doctrine.

The triptych is painted in oil and comprises a square middle panel flanked by two rectangular wings that can close over the center as shutters. These outer wings, when folded shut, display a grisaille painting of the earth during the Creation. The three scenes of the inner triptych are probably intended to be read chronologically from left to right. The left panel depicts God presenting to Adam the newly created Eve, while the central panel is a broad panorama of sexually engaged nude figures, fantastical animals, oversized fruit and hybrid stone formations. The right panel is a hellscape and portrays the torments of damnation.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Confit

Confit is a generic term for various kinds of food that have been immersed in a substance for both flavor and preservation. Sealed and stored in a cool place, confit can last for several months. Confit is one of the oldest ways to preserve food, and is a speciality of southwestern France.

The word comes from the French verb confire (to preserve), which in turn comes from the Latin word (conficere), meaning "to do, to produce, to make, to prepare." The French verb was first applied in medieval times to fruits cooked and preserved in sugar.

Confit of goose (confit d'oie) and duck (confit de canard) are usually prepared from the legs of the bird. The meat is salted and seasoned with herbs, and slowly cooked submerged in its own rendered fat, in which it is then preserved by allowing it to cool and storing it in the fat. Turkey and pork may be treated similarly. Meat confits are a specialty of the southwest of France (Toulouse, Dordogne, etc.) and are used in dishes such as cassoulet. Although confits are now considered luxurious, these preparations originated as a means of preserving meats without refrigeration.

Goose confit is associated with the Béarn and Basque regions with their classic specialties of cassoulet and garbure, hearty and earthy dishes of confit and beans. Saintonge and Brantôme feature duck confit, often with potatoes and truffles. Non-waterfowl meats are frequently treated to the confit process, but are not classically considered true confits. The French refer to ‘true’ confits as “duck confit” (confit de canard) or “goose confit” (confit de oie); other meats poached in duck or goose fats are considered “en confit.” For example, chicken cooked in goose fat is called poulet en confit.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hell

In many religious traditions, Hell is a place of suffering and punishment in the afterlife, often in the underworld. Religions with a linear divine history often depict Hell as endless (for example, see Hell in Christian beliefs). Religions with a cyclic history often depict Hell as an intermediary period between incarnations (for example, see Chinese Diyu).

Punishment in Hell typically corresponds to sins committed in life. Sometimes these distinctions are specific, with damned souls suffering for each wrong committed (see for example Plato's myth of Er or Dante's The Divine Comedy), and sometimes they are general, with sinners being relegated to one or more chamber of Hell or level of suffering. In Islam and Christianity, however, faith and repentance play a larger role than actions in determining a soul's afterlife destiny.

In Christianity and Islam, Hell is traditionally depicted as fiery and painful, inflicting guilt and suffering. Some other traditions, however, portray Hell as cold and gloomy. Despite the common depictions of Hell as a fire, Dante's Inferno portrays the innermost (9th) circle of Hell as a frozen lake of blood and guilt. Hell is often portrayed as populated with demons, who torment the damned. Many are ruled by a death god, such as Nergal or the Christian/Islamic Devil.

In contrast to Hell, other types of afterlives are abodes of the dead and paradises. Abodes of the dead are neutral places for all the dead (for example, see sheol) rather than prisons of punishment for sinners. A paradise is a happy afterlife for some or all the dead (for example, see heaven). Modern understandings of Hell often depict it abstractly, as a state of loss rather than as fiery torture literally under the ground.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Revolution 9

"Revolution 9" is a recorded composition that appeared on The Beatles' 1968 self-titled LP release (popularly known as "The White Album").

The recording began as an extended ending to the album version of "Revolution", to which were added vocal and music sound clips, tape loops, reverse sound/music and sound effects influenced by the musique concrète styles of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Edgard Varèse, Luigi Nono, and John Cage, further manipulated with editing and sound modification techniques (stereo panning and fading). At over eight minutes, it is the longest track on the album, as well as the longest Beatles track ever officially released, excluding the unreleased track "Carnival of Light" (which clocks in at 13 minutes, 48 seconds), which is said to carry avant-garde influences as well.

The work is credited to Lennon/McCartney, but Paul McCartney did not actively participate in the track's creation. In actuality, "Revolution 9" was primarily the work of John Lennon, George Harrison and Ringo Starr, although Yoko Ono made small contributions (and, perhaps more importantly, her avant-garde influence on Lennon's compositional style is clear throughout the work.)

Believing the track to be too uncommercial for even the Beatles to get away with, McCartney and producer George Martin fought hard to keep the track off the The Beatles, but Lennon and Ono won out, and the track was included as the penultimate track of the album's fourth (and final) side.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Zumpy

Zumpy is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Boronów, within Lubliniec County, Silesian Voivodeship, in southern Poland. It lies approximately 2 kilometres (1 mi) west of Boronów, 15 km (9 mi) east of Lubliniec, and 49 km (30 mi) north of the regional capital Katowice.

The village has a population of 123.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

TGV

The TGV (Train à Grande Vitesse, French for 'high-speed train') is France's high-speed rail service, currently operated by VFE, the long-distance rail branch of SNCF, the French national rail operator. It was developed during the 1970s by GEC-Alsthom and SNCF, and is now operated primarily by SNCF. Although originally designed to be powered by gas turbines, the TGV prototypes evolved into electric trains. Following the inaugural TGV service between Paris and Lyon in 1981, the TGV network, centred on Paris, has expanded to connect cities across France and in adjacent countries. A TGV test train set the record for the fastest wheeled train, reaching 574.8 km/h (357 mph) on 3 April 2007,[1] and a TGV service holds the record for the fastest scheduled rail journey with a start to stop average speed of 279.4 km/h.[2]

The success of the first line led to an expansion of the network, with new lines built in the south, west, north and east of the country. Eager to emulate the success of the French network, neighbouring countries such as Belgium, Italy, Spain and Germany built their own high-speed lines. TGVs link with Switzerland through the French network, with Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands through the Thalys network, and the Eurostar network links France and Belgium with the United Kingdom. Several lines are planned, including extensions within France and to surrounding countries. Towns such as Tours have become a part of a "TGV commuter belt".

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Lunar Dome

A lunar dome is a type of shield volcano that is found on the surface of the Earth's Moon. They are typically formed by highly viscous, possibly silica-rich lava, erupting from localized vents followed by relatively slow cooling. Lunar domes are wide, rounded, circular features with a gentle slope rising in elevation a few hundred meters to the mid-point. They are typically 8-12 km

in diameter, but can be up to 20 km across. Some of the domes contain a small craterlet at the peak.

Some of the domes have been shown to consist of the same materials as the lunar maria. Thus they could be created by some mechanism that differs from the mare-forming flows. It is thought that these domes are formed from a smaller magma chamber that is closer to the surface than is the case for a mare. This results in a lower pressure, and so the lava flows more slowly. The magma wells up through a crack in the surface, but the flow eventually concentrates through one primary vent. This concentration can then result in a vent crater at the peak of the dome.

There are concentrations of lunar domes near the craters Hortensius, Marius and T. Mayer, and across the top of Mons Rümker. Solitary lunar domes are also found on the near side, including Kies Pi, Milichius Pi , Mons Gruithuisen Gamma and Delta, and a dome near the craters Gambart C, Beer and Capuanus. Omega Cauchy and Tau Cauchy form a pair of domes near the crater Cauchy. Likewise near Arago are the domes Arago Alpha and Arago Beta.

Friday, December 11, 2009

The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis is a novella by Franz Kafka, first published in 1915. It is often cited as one of the seminal works of short fiction of the 20th century and is widely studied in colleges and universities across the western world; Elias Canetti described it as "one of the few great and perfect works of the poetic imagination written during this century".

The story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Samsa, awakes one morning in his family's apartment to find himself inexplicably transformed overnight into a gigantic pest. Gregor does not immediately recoil from his insect form, but instead chooses to lament his job by saying, "How am I going to get to work?" and the general misery of the rainy weather outside.

Horrified by his appearance, Gregor's family shuts Gregor into his room, but Grete, his sister, tries to care for him by providing him with food and water. In his new form, he rejects his erstwhile favourite food (milk and bread), preferring stale, rotten food, but later loses his appetite completely. One day, when Gregor emerges from his room, his father chases him around the dining room table and pelts him with apples. One of the apples becomes embedded in his back, causing an infection.

Eventually, Grete's rejection of Gregor becomes total when she says to the family, "We must try to get rid of it. We've done everything humanly possible to take care of it and to put up with it, no one can reproach us in the slightest."

The sister then determines with finality that the insect is no longer Gregor, since Gregor would have left them out of love and taken their burden away. Gregor collapses, finally succumbing to his wound and to his starvation.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Ice Glen

The Ice Glen is a grotto in the southeast area of Stockbridge, Massachusetts. The park is essentially a lush, untended, romantic landscape consisting of piled rocks thick with mosses. The Ice Glen derives its name from the fact that, because the valley is naturally refrigerated, ice can persist there even during the summer months. Surrounding the glen is an old growth forest, rare in New England.

In 1891, the Ice Glen was donated by David Dudley Field to the Laurel Hill Association, the first incorporated village improvement society in the United States. As the association's existing property at Laurel Hill, which directly abuts the village center of Stockbridge, is separated from the forested hills in which the Ice Glen is located by the Housatonic River, the association built a bridge to connect the two properties. A trail still runs from Laurel Hill, behind the former Plains School over the bridge, through the glen, and exits on Ice Glen Road behind Villa Virginia.

Beginning in the late nineteenth century, annual torch light hikes of the Glen became popular.

In Moby-Dick, in the chapter "A Bower in the Arsacides," the narrator invokes the Icy Glen as the apotheosis of verdant nature run wild: "It was a wondrous sight. The wood was green as mosses of the Icy Glen; the trees stood high and haughty, feeling their living sap; the industrious earth beneath was as a weaver's loom … " Herman Melville was living not too far from Pittsfield when he wrote the novel, and he is known to have visited the Ice Glen on at least one occasion.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Saturn V

The Saturn V (pronounced "Saturn Five") was a multistage liquid-fuel expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. In total NASA launched thirteen Saturn V rockets with no loss of payload. It remains the largest and most powerful launch vehicle ever brought to operational status from a height, weight and payload standpoint. The Soviet Energia, which flew two test missions in the late 1980s before being canceled, had slightly more takeoff thrust.

The largest production model of the Saturn family of rockets, the Saturn V was designed under the direction of Wernher von Braun at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, with Boeing, North American Aviation, Douglas Aircraft Company, and IBM as the lead contractors. Von Braun's design was based in part on his work on the "Aggregate" series of rockets, especially the A-10, A-11, and A12 in Germany during World War II. The three stages of the Saturn V were developed by various NASA contractors, but following a sequence of mergers and takeovers all of them are now owned by Boeing.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Juggalo

Juggalo or Juggalette (the latter being feminine) is a name given to fans of Insane Clown Posse or any other Psychopathic Records hip hop group. Juggalos have developed their own idioms, slang, and characteristics.

The term originated during a live performance by Insane Clown Posse. During the song "The Juggla", Joseph Bruce addressed the audience as Juggalos, and the positive response resulted in Bruce and Joseph Utsler using the word thereafter to refer to themselves and their friends, family, and fans, including other Psychopathic Records artists. Juggalos have compared themselves to a family. Common characteristics include drinking the inexpensive soft drink Faygo, wearing face paint and displaying the 'running hatchetman' logo. They view the lyrics of Psychopathic Records artists, which are often violent in nature, as a catharsis and/or inspiration for aggression. Several well known figures have identified themselves as Juggalos. These include actor Kane Hodder, professional wrestlers Kazushige Nosawa and Vampiro, and rappers Chuck D, MURS, and Vanilla Ice.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Isoroku Yamamoto

Naval Marshal General Isoroku Yamamoto was the commander-in-chief of the Combined Fleet of the Imperial Japanese Navy during World War II, a graduate of the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy and a student of the U.S. Naval War College and of Harvard University (1919–1921).

Yamamoto held several important posts in the Imperial Japanese Navy, and undertook many of its changes and reorganizations, especially its development of naval aviation. He was the commander-in-chief during the decisive early years of the Pacific War and so was responsible for major battles such as Pearl Harbor and Midway.

He died on April 14, 1943, during an inspection tour of forward positions in the Solomon Islands when his aircraft (a G4M Betty bomber) was shot down during an ambush by American P-38 Lightning fighter planes. His death was a major blow to Japanese military morale during World War II.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Pocket Computer

A pocket computer is a small calculator-sized handheld programmable computer.

This specific category of computers existed primarily in the 1980s. Manufacturers included Casio, Hewlett-Packard, Sharp, Tandy/Radio Shack and many more.

Programming languages available was usually BASIC but some devices offered alternatives. For example the Casio PB-2000 could be programmed in ANSI-C, BASIC, Assembler and Lisp. An important feature of pocket computers where that all programming languages where available for the device itself.

Though not identical in principle, personal digital assistants, handheld PCs, and programmable calculators serve many of the same functions as the old pocket computers, generally with significantly more computing power in a package the same size or smaller. The main distinction is that more modern designs (with the exception of programmable calculators) usually do not have included programming capability and are usually set up to act as clients of a larger system rather than as self-contained environments of their own, whereas the early pocket computers had their own data storage and input/output facilities such as printers and tape drives.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Carl Switzer

Carl Switzer (August 7, 1927 – January 21, 1959) was an American child actor, professional dog breeder and hunting guide, most notable for appearing in the Our Gang short subjects series as Alfalfa, one of the series' most popular and best-remembered characters.

The Switzers took a trip to California in 1934 to visit with family members. While sightseeing they eventually wound up at Hal Roach Studios. Following a public tour of the facility, 8-year-old Harold and 6-year-old Carl entered into the Hal Roach Studio's open-to-the-public cafeteria, the Our Gang Café, and began an impromptu performance. Producer Hal Roach was present at the commissary that day and was impressed by the performance. He signed both Switzers to appear in Our Gang. Harold was given two nicknames, "Slim" and "Deadpan," and Carl was dubbed "Alfalfa." By the end of the year, Alfalfa was one of the main characters in the series, and sported one of the most famous cowlicks in pop culture history.

Switzer's tenure in Our Gang ended in 1940, when he was twelve. Carl continued to appear in movies in and television in various supporting roles.

On January 21, 1959, Switzer was shot and killed in a drunken argument over a borrowed hunting dog.

Carl Switzer is interred at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Hollywood, California. His death went virtually unnoticed in the media, as Switzer died on the same day as Cecil B. DeMille. Switzer received only minor footnotes in most newspapers, while DeMille's obituary dominated the columns.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Great Chrysanthemum Diamond

The Great Chrysanthemum Diamond is a diamond measuring 104.15 carats (20.830 g) with a Pear-Shaped Modified Brilliant Cut, rated in colour as Fancy Orange-Brown and I1 clarity by the Gemological Institute of America. The diamond's origins are in South Africa, where it was bought by the jeweler Julius Cohen as a 198.28 carat (39.656 g) rough in 1963. After buying it, Cohen returned to New York where he had it cut into its distinctive pear shape by S&M Kaufman. Because of its colouring similarities to the brown chrysanthemum, it was named after that flower.

The Great Chrysanthemum has been shown in a number of diamond exhibits throughout the United States. In 1965, the Chrysanthemum was named a winner of one of the Diamonds International Awards and was placed on display in the Rand Easter Festival in Johannesburg, South Africa. Julius Cohen later sold the diamond to an unknown and reputedly foreign buyer; it was later purchased by Garrards of London around 2003.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Nước mắm

Nước mắm is a condiment that is derived from fish that have been allowed to ferment. It is an essential ingredient in many curries and sauces. Fish sauce is a staple ingredient in Filipino, Vietnamese, Thai, Lao, and Cambodian cuisine and is used in other Southeast Asian countries. In addition to being added to dishes during the cooking process, fish sauce can also be used in mixed form as a dipping condiment, and it is done in many different ways by each country mentioned for fish, shrimp, pork, and chicken. In parts of southern China, it is used as an ingredient for soups and casseroles.

Fish sauce, and its derivatives, impart an umami flavor to food due to their glutamate content.[1]

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Binding of Isaac

The Binding of Isaac, in Genesis 22:1-24, is a story from the Hebrew Bible in which God asks Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah.

The narration is referred to as the Akedah or Akedat Yitzchak in Hebrew and as the Dhabih in Arabic. The sacrifice itself is called an Olah in Hebrew — for the significance of sacrifices, especially in Biblical times, see korban.

According to the narration, Abraham sets out to obey God's command without questioning. After Isaac is bound to an altar, the angel of God stops Abraham at the last minute, at which point Abraham discovers a ram caught in some nearby bushes. Abraham then sacrifices the ram in Isaac's stead.

While it is often imagined that Isaac was a young boy at the time of the incident, some traditional sources claim he was an adult. According to Josephus, Isaac is twenty-five years old at the time of the sacrifice; the Talmudic sages teach that Isaac is thirty-seven, likely based on the next Biblical story, which is of Sarah's death at 127 (she was ninety when Isaac was born).

Genesis 22:14 states that it occurred at "the mount of the LORD": in 2 Chronicles 3:1; Psalm 24:3; Isaiah 2:3 & 30:29; and Zechariah 8:3, the Bible seems to identify the location of this event as the hill on which Solomon later built the Temple, now known as the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.