Monday, May 31, 2010

Big South Fork of the Cumberland River

The Big South Fork of the Cumberland River is a river in Tennessee and Kentucky. It is a major drainage feature of the Cumberland Plateau, a major tributary of the Cumberland River system, a world-class whitewater canoeing and kayaking stream, and the major feature of the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area.

The Big South Fork begins in Tennessee at the confluence of the New River and the Clear Fork River at the southern end of the Big South Fork National Recreation Area near an oil field developed by petroleum interests. It is downstream from extensive coal deposits. This confluence occurs approximately four miles (six km) line distance northwest of the U.S. Highway 27 bridge over the New River, in Scott County, Tennessee. From here, the river runs roughly north. This area is extremely remote. The river flows through a deep gorge which has been eroded through sandstone of the Pennsylvanian Period. A large island, unsurprisingly called "Big Island", is located fairly near the Kentucky state line. Many rapids features have names by which they are well known in the whitewater community. The stream enters McCreary County, Kentucky shortly below this point.

This area was depopulated when the National River and Recreation Area was formed. The balance of the stream course prior to its confluence with the Cumberland River downstream of the National Recreation Area is in Daniel Boone National Forest. It is bridged by Kentucky Highway 92 near the community of Hilltop.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Thorny Devil

The Thorny Devil (Moloch horridus) is an Australian lizard. It is also known as the Thorny Dragon, Mountain Devil, Thorny Lizard, or the Moloch and is the sole species of genus Moloch. It grows up to 20 cm (8 in) in length and can live up to 20 years, coloured in camouflaging shades of desert browns and tans; these change from pale colours when warm to darker colours when cold. The species is entirely covered with conical spines that are mostly uncalcified. It also features a spiny "false-head" on the back of the neck, the animal presents this to a potential predator by dipping its real head. Females are larger than males. The Thorny Devil's body is ridged in structure, and enables the animal to collect water from any part of its body, which is then channelled to the mouth.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Ba Cụt

Lê Quang Vinh popularly known as Ba Cụt (Short Third in Vietnamese, referring to a shortened third finger), was a military commander of the Hòa Hảo religious sect, which operated from the Mekong Delta and controlled various parts of southern Vietnam during the 1940s and early 1950s.

Ba Cụt and his forces fought the Vietnamese National Army (VNA), the Việt Minh, and the Cao Đài religious movement from 1943 until his capture in 1956. Known for his idiosyncrasies, he was regarded as an erratic and cruel leader who fought with little ideological purpose. His sobriquet came from the self-amputation of a finger as part of a vow during his teenage years to defeat the French colonial forces; he later swore not to cut his hair until the communist Việt Minh were defeated. Ba Cụt frequently made alliances with various Vietnamese factions and the French. He invariably accepted the material support offered in return for his cooperation, and then broke the agreement—nevertheless, the French made deals with him on five occasions. The French position was weak because their military forces had been depleted by World War II, and they had great difficulty in re-establishing control over French Indochina, which had been left with a power vacuum after the defeat of Japan.

In mid-1955, the tide turned against the various sects, as Prime Minister Ngô Đình Diệm of the State of Vietnam and his VNA began to consolidate their grip on the south. Ba Cụt and his allies were driven into the jungle, and their position was threatened by government offensives. After almost a year of fighting, Ba Cụt was captured. He was sentenced to death and publicly beheaded in Cần Thơ.

Friday, May 28, 2010


Homunculus (Latin for "little human", from the diminutive of homo; plural: "homunculi") is a term used, generally, in various fields of study to refer to any representation of a human being. Historically it referred specifically to the concept of a miniature though fully-formed human body, for example, in the studies of alchemy and preformationism. Currently, in scientific fields, a homunculus may refer to any scale model of the human body that, in some way, illustrates physiological, psychological, or other abstract human characteristics or functions.

, a philosophical theory of heredity, claimed either the egg or the sperm (exactly which was a contentious issue) contained a complete preformed individual called a homunculus. Development was therefore a matter of enlarging this into a fully formed being.

The term homunculus was later used in the discussion of conception and birth, Nicolas Hartsoeker discovered "animalcules" in the semen of humans and other animals. This was the beginning of spermists' theory, who held the belief that the sperm was in fact a "little man" (homunculus) that was placed inside a woman for growth into a child. This seemed to them to neatly explain many of the mysteries of conception. It was later pointed out that if the sperm was a homunculus, identical in all but size to an adult, then the homunculus may have sperm of its own. This led to a reductio ad absurdum, with a chain of homunculi "all the way down". This was not necessarily considered by spermists a fatal objection however, as it neatly explained how it was that "in Adam" all had sinned: the whole of humanity was already contained in his loins. The spermists' theory also failed to explain why children tend to resemble their mothers as well as their fathers, though some spermists believed that the growing homunculus assimilated maternal characteristics from the womb environment in which they grew.

The homunculus is commonly used today in scientific disciplines, such as psychology, to describe the distorted scale model of a human drawn or sculpted to reflect the relative space human body parts occupy on the somatosensory cortex (sensory homunculus) and the motor cortex (motor homunculus). The lips, hands, feet and sex organs have more sensory neurons than other parts of the body, so the homunculus has correspondingly large lips, hands, feet, and genitals. Well known in the field of neurology, this is also commonly called "the little man inside the brain." This scientific model is known as the cortical homunculus.

In medical science, the term homunculus is sometimes applied to certain fetus-like ovarian cystic teratomae. These will sometimes contain hair, sebaceous material and in some cases cartilaginous or bony structures.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Shotgun House

The shotgun house is a narrow rectangular domestic residence, usually no more than 12 feet (3.5 m) wide, with doors at each end. It was the most popular style of house in the Southern United States from the end of the American Civil War

(1861–65), through to the 1920s.

A longstanding theory is that the style can be traced from Africa to Haitian influences on house design in New Orleans, but the houses can be found as far away as Chicago, Illinois; Key West, Florida; and California. Shotgun houses can still be found in many small southern towns. Though initially as popular with the middle class as with the poor, the shotgun house became a symbol of poverty in the mid-20th century.

Shotgun houses consist of three to five rooms in a row with no hallways. The term "shotgun house", which was in use by 1903 but became more common after about 1940, is often said to come from the saying that one could fire a shotgun through the front door and the pellets would fly cleanly through the house and out the back door (since all the doors are on the same side of the house).

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


The PRR S1 class steam locomotive (nicknamed "The Big Engine") was an experimental locomotive that was the largest rigid frame passenger locomotive ever built. The streamlined Art Deco styled shell of the locomotive was designed by Raymond Loewy.

The S1 was the only locomotive ever built to use a 6-4-4-6 wheel arrangement. Also, the S1 class was a duplex locomotive, meaning that it had two pairs of cylinders, each driving two pairs of driving wheels. Unlike similar-looking articulated locomotive designs, the driven wheelbase of the S1 was rigid. The S1 was completed January 31, 1939 and was assigned locomotive number 6100.

The S1s extreme length, (140 feet 2½ inches/42.74 metres), made it incapable of negotiating curves on most of the PRR track system. This problem, combined with a wheel slippage problem limited the S1s usefulness. No further S1 models were built as focus was shifted to the T1 class. The last run for the S1 was in December 1945 and the engine was scrapped in 1949.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Billy Murray

William Thomas "Billy" Murray (25 May 1877 – 17 August 1954) was one of the most popular singers in the United States in the early decades of the 20th century. While he received star billings on Vaudeville, he was best known for his prolific work in the recording studio, making records for almost every record label of the era.

Billy Murray was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Patrick and Julia (Kelleher) Murray, immigrants from Ireland. His parents moved to Denver, Colorado, in 1882, where he grew up. He became fascinated with the theater and joined a traveling vaudeville troupe in 1893. He also performed in minstrel shows early in his career. He made his first recordings for a local phonograph cylinder company in San Francisco, California, in 1897. In 1903 he started recording regularly in the New York City and New Jersey area, when the nation's major record companies as well as the Tin Pan Alley music industry were concentrated there.

In 1906 he recorded the first of his popular duets with Ada Jones. He also performed with Aileen Stanley, the Haydn Quartet, the American Quartet (also known as the Premier Quartet), and Elsie Baker, in addition to his solo work.

Nicknamed the Denver Nightingale, Murray had a strong tenor voice with excellent enunciation and a more conversational delivery than common with bel canto singers of the era.

Murray's popularity faded as public taste changed and recording technology advanced; the rise of the electric microphone in the mid 1920s coincided with the era of the crooners. His "hammering" style, as he called it, essentially yelling the song into an acoustic recording horn, did not work in the electronic era, and he had to learn to soften his voice. Though his singing style was less in demand, he continued to find recording work. By the late 1920s and early 1930s, the music from his early days was considered nostalgic and Murray was in demand again.

Murray made his last recordings for Beacon Records on February 11, 1943. He retired the next year to Freeport, Long Island, New York, because of heart problems. He died at nearby Jones Beach of a heart attack in 1954 at the age of 77. Murray had married three times, the first two ending in divorce. He was survived by his third wife, Madeleine, and was buried in Holy Rood Cemetery in Westbury, Long Island.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Twist

The Twist was a dance inspired by rock and roll music. It became the first worldwide dance craze in the early 1960s, enjoying immense popularity among young people and drawing fire from critics who felt it was too provocative. It inspired dances such as the Jerk, the Pony, the Watusi, the Mashed Potato, the Monkey and the Funky Chicken, although none were as popular.

Philadelphia record label Cameo/Parkway had recorded a version of “The Twist” with singer Chubby Checker. Released in the summer of 1960, Checker’s rendition of “The Twist” became number one on the singles chart in the USA in 1960 and then again in 1962. He debuted the song to a national audience on August 6, 1960, on The Dick Clark Show, a Saturday night program that, unlike disc jockey Clark's daytime American Bandstand, was a stage show with a sitting audience.

In 1961, at the height of the craze, patrons at New York's Peppermint Lounge on West 45th Street were twisting to the house band, a local group from Jersey, Joey Dee and the Starliters. Their song, "The Peppermint Twist (Part 1)" became number one in the United States for three weeks in January 1962.

In 1962, Dell Comics produced a comic called The Twist that fictionalized the Peppermint Lounge dance craze. Several television shows parodied the dance in the early 60s. An episode of The Alvin Show showed a parody of the Twist called The Alvin Twist. "The Flintstones" version was called the Twitch and aired in 1962, as did "The Dick Van Dyke Show"'s Twizzle. The same year, it was featured in an episode of "Leave It To Beaver" called "Beaver Joins a Record Club".

The dance would come to be seen as emblematic of the early 1960s in later years, with popular songs, television shows, and movies likely to reference it when they wanted to convey the spirit of that time period.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Generic Brand

Generic brands of consumer products (often supermarket goods) are distinguished by the absence of a brand name. It is often inaccurate to describe these products as "lacking a brand name", as they usually are branded, albeit with either the brand of the store in which they are sold or a lesser-known brand name which may not be aggressively advertised to the public. They are identified more by product characteristics.

They may be manufactured by less prominent companies, or manufactured on the same production line as a 'named' brand. Generic brands are usually priced below those products sold by supermarkets under their own brand (frequently referred to as "store brands" or "own brands"). Generally they imitate these more expensive brands, competing on price. Generic brand products are often of equal quality as a branded product, however, the quality may change suddenly in either direction with no change in the packaging if the supplier for the product changes.

In the early 1980s, generic products in the United States had plain white labels with blue or black lettering describing the product in simple terms - "Yellow Cake Mix", "Tuna In Water", "Chocolate Flavor Syrup", "Deodorant Soap" - with only ingredients and preparation details as appropriate. This was during a sharp economic downturn when many consumers were placing more emphasis on value than on brand loyalty. In the U.S. industrial Midwest, a region especially hard hit by the recession, generics became a common sight in supermarkets and discount stores.

In the mid-1970s Al Williams, a former private label product lines manager at Albertsons Stores in Boise Idaho, left his employer and started a Private Label consulting business by the name of Keynote Marketing. He created 20 No-Name Generic products all under a plain white label and introduced them into to several grocery chains across the United States, including Skaggs-Albertson in Texas and Smith's Food King. After initial introduction, several large chain stores started introducing various white labeled products that were available from various manufacturers until they created their own chain specific No-Name Generics. Later as the major grocery chains created their own No-Name Generics, his business grew as Keynote Marketing expanded their sales offices into other cities and concentrated on the independent distributors and smaller grocery chains.

Jewel Companies is often credited with selling the first supermarket Generic Brand product line in 1977 - no name or pictures on the packaging - only what the contents are, a UPC code, and the required product information in a white package with an avocado-green stripe. These first generics even cut out such extras such as the flip top on soda cans, requiring a can opener to open them.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Iso Grifo

The Iso Grifo was an Italian automobile produced by Iso Rivolta between 1963 and 1974.

Iso SpA in Bresso was already well known for producing the extremely well built and fast Iso Rivolta IR300; a sleek looking 2+2 Coupe based on a Chevrolet Corvette power train. After leaving Ferrari, in 1961 Giotto Bizzarrini set up “Prototipi Bizzarrini” in Livorno, Tuscany where he designs and consults for Marques like ATS, Lamborghini and Iso Rivolta. In 1963 he designed the Iso Grifo A3/L (L for Lusso {Italian for Luxury}) for Renzo Rivolta, who was looking for a follow-up to his Iso Rivolta GT. The body was designed by Giorgetto Giugiaro at Bertone, while Bizzarrini put his expertise in the mechanicals. Bizzarrini figured there would also be a demand for a race version of the Grifo and came up with the A3/C (C for Corsa) with a dramatic modified alloy body. He later dubbed it his “Improved GTO", as he had been the designer for the 250 GTO when he had worked for Ferrari.

That same year Bertone showed the Grifo A3/L prototype at the Turin Auto Show, while Iso showed off the (partly unfinished) competition version; the Iso Grifo A3/C. Both were overwhelmingly successful. Although design changes had to be made to the prototype, Iso concentrated on getting the Grifo A3/L ready for production. The car got a light facelift that made it less aggressive but turned it into possibly the most elegant-looking Gran Turismo (GT) supercar ever produced.

All Grifos are extremely desirable today because of their rarity; beauty and un-complicated mechanicals, so most surviving cars are either restored or in the process of being restored. A former employee of Iso, Roberto Negri, runs a small Company in Clusone, Italy where Grifos from all over the world are being restored to original specifications.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Johnny "Guitar" Watson

Johnny "Guitar" Watson was an American blues and funk guitarist/singer.

John Watson, Jr. was born in Houston, Texas His father John Sr. was a pianist, and taught his son the instrument. But young Watson was immediately attracted to the sound of the guitar, in particular the electric guitar as practiced by the "axe men" of Texas: T-Bone Walker and Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown.

His grandfather, a preacher, was also musical. "My grandfather used to sing while he'd play guitar in church, man," Watson reflected many years later. When Johnny was 11, his grandfather offered to give him a guitar if, and only if, the boy didn't play any of the "devil's music"—blues. Watson agreed, but "that was the first thing I did." A musical prodigy, Watson played with Texas bluesmen Albert Collins and Johnny Copeland.

His parents separated in 1950, when he was 15. His mother moved to Los Angeles, and took Johnny with her. In his new city, Watson won several local talent shows. This led to his employment, while still a teenager, with Jump blues style bands such as Chuck Higgins's Mellotones and Amos Milburn. He worked as a vocalist, pianist, and guitarist.

He quickly made a name for himself in the African-American juke joints of the West Coast, where he was billed as "Young John Watson" until 1954. That year, he saw the Joan Crawford film "Johnny Guitar," and a new stage name was born.

He affected a swaggering, yet humorous personality, indulging a taste for flashy clothes and wild showmanship on stage. His "attacking" style of playing, without a plectrum, resulted in him often needing to change the strings on his guitar once or twice a show, because he "stressified on them" so much, as he put it.

His seminal blues album Gangster of Love was recorded in 1953 or '54, and first released on Keen Records (his labelmates included Sam Cooke) in 1957. It was not especially heralded at the time—the title song in particular was deemed too fast, too raw, and too witty, especially compared to the likes of the then-kingpins of blues Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf. Watson's ferocious "Space Guitar" of 1954 pioneered guitar feedback and reverb. Watson would later influence a subsequent generation of guitarists. Frank Zappa, for example, would cite Watson as one of his all-time favorite guitarists.

As the popularity of blues declined and the era of soul music ascended in the 1960s, Watson transformed himself from the southern blues singer with pompadour into the urban soul singer with pimp hat. He went all out - the gold teeth, broad-brimmed hats, fly suits, designer sunglasses, and ostentatious jewelery made him one of the most colorful figures in the West Coast funk circle.

He modified his music accordingly. His LPs Ain't That a Bitch (from which the successful singles Superman Lover and I Need It were taken) and Real Mother For Ya were landmark recordings of '70s funk. "Telephone Bill" (on Love Jones - 1980) featured complex, rapid-fire lyrics that foreshadowed rap music. His subsequent LPs employed and popularized the modern "computer sound"

Watson died on stage May 17, 1996, while on tour in Yokohama, Japan. According to eyewitness reports, he collapsed mid guitar solo. His last words were "ain't that a bitch", probably in reference to the song "Ain't that a Bitch". His remains were brought home for interment at Forest Lawn Memorial Park Cemetery in Glendale, California.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

SMS Moltke

SMS Moltke was the lead ship of the Moltke-class battlecruisers of the German Imperial Navy, named after the 19th century German field marshal Helmuth von Moltke. Commissioned on 30 September 1911, the ship was the second battlecruiser commissioned into the Imperial Navy.

Moltke, along with her sister ship Goeben, was an enlarged version of the previous German battlecruiser design, Von der Tann. The ship was very similar to Von der Tann, but had increased armor protection and two more main guns in an additional turret. Compared to her British rivals—the Indefatigable classMoltke and her sister Goeben were significantly larger and better armored.

The ship participated in most of the major fleet actions conducted by the German Navy during the First World War, including the Battles of Dogger Bank and Jutland in the North Sea, and the Battle of the Gulf of Riga and Operation Albion in the Baltic. Moltke was damaged several times during the war: the ship was hit by heavy caliber gunfire at Jutland, and torpedoed twice by British submarines while on fleet advances.

Following the end of the war in 1918, Moltke, along with most of the High Seas Fleet, was interned at Scapa Flow pending a decision by the Allies as to the fate of the fleet. The ship met her end when she was scuttled, along with the rest of the High Seas Fleet, in 1919 to prevent them from falling into British hands. The wreck of Moltke was raised in 1927 and scrapped at Rosyth from 1927 to 1929.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Hand of Faith

The Hand of Faith is an 875 troy ounces (27.21 kilograms or 72 Troy pounds 11 Troy ounces) nugget of good-quality gold. It was found on 26 Sep 1980 near Kingower, Victoria, Australia by Kevin Hillier using a metal detector. It was only 12 inches below the surface, resting in a vertical position. The announcement of the discovery, occurred at a press conference, in Melbourne, attended by the Premier of Victoria—Dick Hamer, on 8 Oct 1980. Kovac's Gems & Minerals were appointed agents for the sale of the huge nugget, by the then anonymous finder. It was sold to the Golden Nugget Las Vegas, a casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, where it is on public display.

It was initially incorrectly stated as weighing only 720 Troy Ozs, but after correction, the new calculation was 874.82 Troy Ozs. This explains why some publications continue to give an incorrect weight. It is still regarded as the largest modern nugget found by a metal detector, anywhere in the world. Dimensions are 47 cm × 20 cm × 9 cm. The sale price was supposedly around $US1m.

The nugget was the 2nd largest nugget found in Australia, during the 20th century. There were numerous nuggets found during the Victorian gold rush era, commencing in the 1850s, that were far larger.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Unknown Hinson

Stuart Daniel Baker, better known by his stage name, Unknown Hinson, is a musician and songwriter.

Unknown Hinson, dressed in his signature rodeo tailored coat and black ribbon necktie, is a dark parody of the country western stars from the early/mid 20th century. With his glued on sideburns, blacked out front teeth, and dark hair slicked back to reveal a prominent widows peak, he has been referred to as the "hillbilly vampire." Hinson's personality is that of a hell-raising and hard-drinking country western singer with a preference for "party liquor," sexy women, and fine guitars.

Stuart Daniel Baker, a music teacher and studio musician from Albemarle, North Carolina, created his alter-ego for The Wild Wild South, a Charlotte area public-access program that featured comedy sketches and concert footage. Baker along with co-star Don Swan played the characters of Unknown Hinson and Rebel Helms. After Swan's death in 1994, Baker created "The Unknown Hinson Show", a direct spin-off of "The Wild Wild South". The Unknown Hinson Show won Creative Loafing's "Best Of" poll for Best Public-Access Television Show four years in a row.

After the series ended, Baker continued in his role as Unknown Hinson, performing live concerts and releasing several recordings.

As a live performer, Unknown Hinson has been known to tour for months at a time. After his shows, he takes the time to meet as many of his fans as want to stay, and graciously takes pictures, signs shirts, posters, CDs, and body parts. He has shared the stage with many notable rockabilly, country, and psychobilly acts such as The Reverend Horton Heat, Marty Stuart, and Hank III.
He is an accomplished and respected performer with a strong cult following and many high-profile fans, including Ed King of Lynyrd Skynyrd, Waylon Reavis of Mushroomhead, Billy Bob Thornton, and Matt Groening.

Unknown Hinson writes his own music, performs live, and produces all of his own recordings. His music often parodies the dark elements of today's country and redneck culture. Unknown Hinson's album "Target Practice" was never made available in music stores in the US; it can be found on his official website. His 2002 album "Rock n Roll Is Straight From Hell" is now out of print and difficult to find. In early 2009, Hinson's 'Torture Town' won in The 8th Annual Independent Music Awards for Best Alternative Country Song. He is also notable for his unique voice, his lack of teeth and rebel yell.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Munroe Effect

The Munroe effect refers to the partial focusing of blast energy caused by a hollow or void cut into a piece of explosive, a property which is exploited by a shaped charge.

Explosive energy is released directly away from (normal to) the surface of an explosive, so shaping the explosive will concentrate the explosive energy in the void. If the void is properly shaped (usually conically), a high-velocity jet of plasma will form.

It is named after Charles E. Munroe, who discovered it in 1888. Whilst working at the Naval Torpedo Station at Newport, Rhode Island in the United States, he noticed that when a block of guncotton with the manufacturer's name stamped into it was detonated next to a metal plate, the lettering was cut into the plate. If letters were raised in relief above the surface of the guncotton then the letters on the plate would also be raised above its surface. In 1910, Egon Neumann of Germany discovered that a block of TNT which would normally dent a steel plate would cut a hole right through it if the explosive contained a conical indentation. However, the military usefulness of this effect was not appreciated until the Second World War.

In modern military applications, a Munroe-effect shaped-charge warhead can be expected to penetrate solid steel armor of thickness equal to 150–250% of the warhead diameter, though it will tend to be somewhat less effective against modern composite armors and reactive armor, which was developed specifically as a counter to shaped-charge weapons.

In non-military applications, shaped charges are valued for their versatility and speed. Shaped charges are used in the explosive demolition of buildings: a few hundred pounds of well-placed shaped charges can raze a building faster than several hundred tons of machinery. In steelmaking, small shaped charges are often used to pierce taps that have become plugged with slag.

A device called a "Jet-Axe" was also used sometime around the 1960s or 1970s by fire brigades in the United Kingdom to cut holes through reinforced doors and walls to help gain access to fight fires or rescue people. The "Jet-Axe" was the shape of a flattened doughnut with a hole in the middle and contained a ring of a shaped charge. The device, which was roughly 2 feet (60 cm) in diameter, would be hung on a door or wall with the shaped charge facing the door or wall and when detonated it would cut a circular hole through it.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Byzantine Master of the Crucifix of Pisa

The Byzantine Master of the Crucifix of Pisa was an anonymous Italian painter active in Pisa in the first half of the thirteenth century. His most important painting is a Crucifixion painted on wood panel, dating to sometime around 1230 and currently in the Museo nazionale di San Matteo. The painting is significant in the history of Italian painting for its iconography of the patient, suffering Christ on the cross; although then new, it quickly replaced the older style, depicting Christ triuphant and free from pain, with open eyes and a regal bearing free from sorrow.

The painting contains all the canonical elements of this type of representation, already known from Byzantine art and miniatuer painting. Christ's head falls to the left; the eyes are closed, and a small trail of blood escapes from one wound. The four arms of the cross are decorated with smaller scenes, as is traditional:

  • a painting of Christ in triumph with angels at the head
  • depictions of spectators at the arms
  • the suppedaneo at the feet

Flanking the body of Christ are other representations of various scenes from the Passion. The body itself is rigid, with little suggestion of movement or life; this is in contrast to the slightly later depictions of the same scene by Giunta Pisano and Cimabue, both of which show the body bending under its own weight.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Metal Machine Music

Metal Machine Music is an album by Lou Reed. It was originally released as a double album by RCA Records in 1975. It was reissued on a single compact disc by BMG in 1997 and again by Buddah Records in 2000.

As a radical departure from the rest of Reed's catalog, Metal Machine Music is generally considered to be either a joke, a grudging fulfillment of a contractual obligation, or an early example of noise music. In the album's liner notes he claimed to have invented heavy metal music and asserted that Metal Machine Music was the ultimate conclusion of that genre.

According to Reed (despite the original liner notes), the album entirely consists of guitar feedback played at different speeds. The two guitars were tuned in unusual ways and played with different reverb levels. He would then place the guitars in front of their amplifiers, and the feedback from the very large amps would vibrate the strings — the guitars were, effectively, playing themselves. He recorded the work on a four-track tape recorder in his New York apartment, mixing the four tracks for stereo. In its original form, each track occupied one side of an LP record and lasted exactly 16 minutes and 1 second, according to the label. The fourth side ended in a locked groove that caused the last 1.8 seconds of music to repeat endlessly. The rare 8-track tape version has no silence in between programs, so that it plays continuously without gaps on most players.

On its release, it was reviewed in Rolling Stone magazine as sounding like "the tubular groaning of a galactic refrigerator" and as displeasing to experience as "a night in a bus terminal". In the 1979 Rolling Stone Record Guide, critic Billy Altman said it was "a two-disc set consisting of nothing more than ear-wrecking electronic sludge, guaranteed to clear any room of humans in record time."

However, the first issue of the seminal New York zine Punk, placed Reed and the album on its inaugural 1976 issue, presaging the advent of both punk and the discordance of the New York No Wave scene. To quote critic Victor Bockris Reed's recording can be understood as "the ultimate conceptual punk album and the progenitor of New York punk rock."

The album was a precursor to the development of the industrial music genre that emerged not long after its release. The transgressive nature of Metal Machine Music's overall wall of sound, use of abrasive tones and structure and the underlying rejection of existing music industry norms all became characteristics of the industrial movement.

Despite the intensive criticism (or perhaps because of the exposure it generated), Metal Machine Music reportedly sold 100,000 copies in the US according to the liner notes of the Buddah Records CD issue.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Harry Raymond Eastlack

Harry Raymond Eastlack died from fibrodysplasia ossificans progressiva (FOP), a rare and poorly understood disease in which the bone repair mechanism runs out of control, turning other tissue like muscles and tendons into bone. Eastlack permitted his skeleton to be preserved for scientific research, and it is today on display at the Mutter Museum of the The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. His skeleton is one of the few existing in the world and a valuable asset to the study of the disease.

At age 5, he broke his left leg while playing with his sister. There were complications with the fracture, which did not set properly. The hip and knee stiffened and bone growths began to develop elsewhere on the muscles of his thigh. Within some years the condition spread to other parts of his body, ossifying his tendons and muscle and fusing his joints. By his mid-20s his vertebrae had fused together. He died from pneumonia in November 1973, six days before his 40th birthday. At the time of his death his body had completely ossified, even his jaw locked up, leaving him able to move only his lips.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Sheep Dip

Sheep dip refers to a liquid formulation of insecticide and fungicide which shepherds and farmers may use to protect their sheep from infestation against external parasites such as itch mite (Psorobia ovis), blow-fly, ticks, keds and lice.

The dip is available as wettable powders, pastes, solutions or suspensions which are used to prepare diluted solutions or suspensions. The term is used both for the formulation itself, and the trough in which the sheep is dipped. The sheep are completely immersed in the preparation.

The world's first sheep dip was invented and produced by George Wilson of Coldstream, Scotland in 1830. That dip was based on arsenic powder and was exported by Package Steamer from nearby Berwick Upon Tweed.

There are two broad classes of sheep dip: organophosphorus compounds, from which chemical warfare agents were later developed, and synthetic pyrethroids. Organophosphorous compounds are very toxic to humans, as they travel easily through the skin. When traveling over water, containers for these sheep dips are subject to United Nations regulations which state that they must remain legible after immersion in water.

Plunge sheep dips may be a permanent in-ground structure or a steel transportable mobile dip. Invented after the permanent plunge dip was the rotating, power spray dip. These dips are redundant in the major sheep breeding countries, as the backliners and jetting provide a better alternative.

Sheep dips have been found to cause soil contamination and water pollution.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


The Bloop is the name given to an ultra-low frequency and extremely powerful underwater sound detected by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) several times during the summer of 1997. The source of the sound remains unknown.

The sound, traced to somewhere around 50° S 100° W (a remote point in the south Pacific Ocean west of the southern tip of South America), was detected repeatedly by the Equatorial Pacific Ocean autonomous hydrophone array, which uses U.S. Navy equipment originally designed to detect Soviet submarines.

According to the NOAA description, it "rises rapidly in frequency over about one minute and was of sufficient amplitude to be heard on multiple sensors, at a range of over 5,000 km." NOAA's system ruled out its origin as any known man-made sound, such as a submarine or bomb, or familiar geological sounds such as volcanoes or earthquakes. While the audio profile of the bloop does resemble that of a living creature, the system identified it as unknown because it was far too loud for that to have been the case: it was several times louder than the loudest known biological sound. Five other significant unexplained sounds have been named by NOAA: Julia, Train, Slowdown, Whistle, and Upsweep.

Dr. Christopher Fox of the NOAA speculated that the Bloop may be ice calving in Antarctica. A year later Dr. Fox was paraphrased speculating it was likely animal in origin.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Kevlar is the registered trademark for a para-aramid synthetic fiber, related to other aramids such as Nomex and Technora. Developed at DuPont in 1965, this high strength material was first commercially used in the early 1970s as a replacement for steel in racing tires. Typically it is spun into ropes or fabric sheets that can be used as such or as an ingredient in composite material components.

Currently, Kevlar has many applications, ranging from bicycle tires and racing sails to body armor because of its high tensile strength-to-weight ratio—famously: "...5 times stronger than steel on an equal weight basis..." When used as a woven material, it is suitable for mooring lines and other underwater applications.

Aramid fibers are widely used for reinforcing composite materials, often in combination with carbon fiber and glass fiber. The matrix for high performance composites is usually epoxy resin. Typical applications include monocoque bodies for F1 racing cars, helicopter rotor blades, tennis, table tennis, badminton and squash rackets, kayaks, cricket bats, and field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse sticks.

Monday, May 10, 2010

"Shipwreck" Kelly

John Simms "Shipwreck" Kelly (July 8, 1910 – August 17, 1986) was a professional American football player who played halfback in the National Football League. He played five seasons for the New York Giants (1932) and the Brooklyn Dodgers (1933-1937). Kelly became a player-coach and later a player/coach/owner with the Dodgers football club, the successor to the Dayton Triangles, a charter member of the NFL. The Dodgers, through a couple of reorganizations, became the Baltimore Colts, now the Indianapolis Colts.

Kelly's real claim to fame was his 1941 marriage, in New York City, to the "Millionaire Debutante" Brenda Frazier, after whom the long-running comic strip Brenda Star was modeled. The couple bought a new Packard Darrin convertible off the floor of the New York Auto Show, and palled around NYC with the likes of Jock Whitney and Tom Kerrigan. They were married for fifteen years, and had one daughter. in 1956 he married Catherine Hannon. They had 2 children John Kelly and Victoria.

During World War II, Kelly was recruited by the FBI to travel to Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Chile and Argentina to track the activities of wealthy German expatriates helping the Nazi cause.

After the war, Kelly pursued a career as an investment banker, Florida real estate investor and became a champion amateur golfer. He died of a stroke at age 76 and is buried in his home town of Simstown, Kentucky.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Cadwalader Ringgold

Cadwalader Ringgold was an officer in the United States Navy who served in the United States Exploring Expedition, later headed an expedition to the Northwest and, after initially retiring, returned to service during the Civil War.

Ringgold was born in Washington County, Maryland, at "Fountain Rock", the 18,000-acre estate of his father, Samuel Ringgold, a Maryland politician who later served in the U.S. House of Representatives.

He entered the U.S. Navy in 1819 and commanded the schooner Weazel in action against West Indies pirates during the late 1820s. He became a lieutenant May 17, 1828 and that year served on Vandalia in the Pacific. He went on to serve on the Adams in the Mediterranean.
During 1838-42, he participated in the Wilkes Expedition in the Pacific, commanding Porpoise from 1840 at the invitation of the head of the project, Charles Wilkes.

When the expedition visited Fiji, they captured Vendoni, a chief on the islands who had inspired some Fijians to capture and eat 11 crewmen on a ship seven years before. Soon afterward, Fijians on the island of Malolo ambushed and killed two officers of the expedition, and the Americans took revenge. Wilkes' ship grounded on the north side of the island, but Ringgold led 80 men from the south side. Women and children were spared, but about 87 Fijians were killed before the rest surrendered. Two villages were destroyed.

The expedition visited California that summer. On August 19, 1841, Ringgold led a 60-man party exploring San Francisco Bay watershed for 20 days. The party got about as far as Colusa, California. Ringgold, who returned to New York shortly after the rest of the expedition, had been gone three years and 11 months at sea. He and his crew had sailed 95,000 miles (153,000 km) and lost only two men.

He was promoted to commander on July 16, 1849 and began the definitive survey of the San Francisco Bay region, suddenly important because of the discovery of gold in the area. The survey began in August 1849, with Ringgold commanding the chartered brig Col. Fremont.

In 1853 he took command of the North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition, also known as the Rodgers-Ringgold Expedition, but while on the expedition, in July 1854, he became sick with malaria and was sent home, according to at least one source. John Rodgers was given full command of the expedition and completed it. For the next several years, he was in Washington, D.C., working on the North Pacific Exploring and Surveying Expedition charts, some of which were later used by the U. S. Navy as late as World War II.

He returned to the fleet with the rank of captain during the Civil War. While in command of the frigate Sabine on November 1, 1861, he effected the rescue of a battalion of 400 Marines from Maryland whose transport steamer, Governor, was sinking during a severe storm near Port Royal, South Carolina.

In February 1862, he was a part of the search and rescue of the ship of the line Vermont which had lost her rudder in a storm. For these rescues, Ringgold received commendations from the Maryland Legislature and the U.S. Congress, along with a gold medal from the Life Saving Benevolent Association.

Promoted to commodore on July 16, 1862, he was sent (still on the Sabine), to cruise the Azores, Cape Verde Islands, the coast of Brazil and then back to New York in a fruitless search for the Confederate raider CSS Alabama from November 1862 to February 1863. In mid-1863, Ringgold's assignment was to search (again unsuccessfully) in the vicinity of Bermuda and then the New England coast for the bark Tacony, another Confederate raider.

He retired on August 20, 1864, and was placed on the rear admiral (retired) list in 1866 (a promotion that was given to all commanders of squadrons). In retirement, he lived at 18 East Eighteenth Street in New York City. He died of a stroke on April 29, 1867.

Two ships have been named in his honor: USS Ringgold (DD-89), and USS Ringgold (DD-500).

Saturday, May 8, 2010

April In Paris

"April in Paris" is a song composed by Vernon Duke with lyrics by E. Y. Harburg in 1932 for the Broadway musical, Walk A Little Faster. It has been performed by many artists, including Louis Armstrong, Count Basie, Bill Evans, Charlie Parker, Coleman Hawkins, Frank Sinatra, Mary Kaye Trio, Billie Holiday, Thelonious Monk, Ella Fitzgerald, Benny Goodman, Dinah Shore, Glenn Miller, Doris Day, Alex Chilton, Tommy Dorsey, Blossom Dearie, Wynton Marsalis and Dawn Upshaw. The original 1933 hit was performed by Freddy Martin, the 1952 remake (inspired by the movie of the same name) was by the Sauter-Finegan Orchestra, whose version made the Cashbox Top 50.

Basie's 1955 recording is the most famous, and that particular performance was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. On this recording, trumpeter Thad Jones played his famous "Pop Goes the Weasel" solo, and Basie directs the band to play the shout chorus "one more time," then "one more once."