Saturday, July 31, 2010

Congreve Rocket

The Congreve Rocket was a British military weapon designed by Sir William Congreve in 1804.

The rocket was developed by the British Royal Arsenal following the experiences of the Second, Third and Fourth Mysore Wars. The wars fought between the British East India Company and the kingdom of Mysore in India, made use of rockets as a weapon. After the wars, several Mysore rockets were sent to England, and from 1801, William Congreve, set on a research and development program at the Arsenal's laboratory. The Royal Arsenal's first demonstration of solid fuel rockets was in 1805. The rockets were used effectively during the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812.

The rocket was made up of an iron case containing black powder for propulsion and a "cylindro-conoidal" warhead. The warheads were attached to wooden guide poles and were launched in pairs from half troughs on simple metal A-frames. They could be fired up to two miles, the range being set by the degree of elevation of the launching frame, although at any range they were fairly inaccurate and had a tendency for premature explosion. They were as much a psychological weapon as a physical one, and they were rarely or never used except alongside other types of artillery.

Congreve designed several different warhead sizes from 3 to 24 pounds. The 24 pound type with a fifteen foot guide pole was the most widely used variant. Different warheads were used, including explosive, shrapnel and incendiary.

During their confrontation with the US during the War of 1812, the British used rockets at the Battle of Bladensburg, which led to the burning and surrender of Washington, D.C..

It was the use of Congreve rockets by the British in the bombardment of Fort McHenry in the U.S. in 1814 that inspired the fifth line of the first verse of the United States National Anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner: "And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air".

The weapon remained in use until the 1850s, when it was superseded by the improved spinning design of William Hale. In the 1870s the rockets were adopted to carry rescue lines to vessels in distress.

A wide variety of Congreve rockets, ranging in size from 3 pounds to 300 pounds, are displayed at Firepower - The Royal Artillery Museum in South-East London.[12] The Science Museum has two 18th century Indian war rockets in its collection. The Musée national de la Marine in Paris also features one rocket.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Steel Wool

Steel wool or 'wire wool' is a bundle of strands of very fine soft steel filaments, used in finishing and repairing work to polish wood or metal objects, as well as for household cleaning.

Steel wool is made from low-carbon steel (low enough to be close to plain iron). It is not made by drawing "steel wool wire" through a tapered die, but rather by a process more like broaching where a heavy steel wire is pulled through a toothed die that removes a thin wire shaving.

Steel wool is commonly used by woodworkers and craftsmen working with paint, lacquer and varnish.

Steel wool should not be used on oak, as traces of iron remaining afterwards may react with tannins in the wood to produce blue or black iron stain. Bronze wool or stainless steel wool may be used to avoid this.

When steel wool is heated, it increases in mass due to the burning iron combining with the oxygen.

Often it is used for professional cleaning processes not only on wooden surfaces but also on marble, stone and glass, because it is softer than these materials. For household cleaning use in many countries, including the United States, steel wool is sold as soap-impregnated pads under such trade names as Brillo Pad, Chore Boy, or S.O.S.

Steel wool also serves as an acceptable form of Ne'itzah (scouring) according to Orthodox Jewish laws of Kashrut.

Another use of steel wool is in rodent control. Small holes are plugged with steel wool which if gnawed on by rodents causes sharp pain in the mouth, and if ingested, severe internal damage, leading to death.

Very fine steel wool is sometimes carried for use as tinder in emergency situations; it burns even when wet, and can be ignited by fire, a spark, or by connecting a battery to produce joule heating.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Raymond Chandler

Raymond Chandler (July 23, 1888 – March 26, 1959) was an Anglo-American novelist and screenwriter who had an immense stylistic influence upon the modern private detective story, especially in the style of the writing and the attitudes now characteristic of the genre. His protagonist, Philip Marlowe, is, along with Dashiell Hammett's Sam Spade, considered synonymous with "private detective".

Chandler was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1888, but moved to the United Kingdom in 1900 with his Irish-born mother after they were abandoned by his father, an alcoholic civil engineer who worked for a North American railway company. His uncle, a successful lawyer, supported them. In 1900, after attending a local school in Upper Norwood, Chandler was classically educated at Dulwich College, London (the public school that also taught P.G. Wodehouse to write prose and which also taught C. S. Forester). He did not attend university, instead spending time in Paris and Munich.

In 1912, he borrowed money from his uncle, and returned to North America, eventually settling in Los Angeles with his mother in 1913. He strung tennis rackets, picked fruit and endured a lonely time of scrimping and saving. Finally, he took a correspondence bookkeeping course, finished ahead of schedule, and found steady employment.

To earn a living with his creative talent, he taught himself to write pulp fiction; his first story, “Blackmailers Don't Shoot”, was published in Black Mask magazine in 1933; his first novel, The Big Sleep, was published in 1939. Literary success led to work as a Hollywood screenwriter: he and Billy Wilder co-wrote Double Indemnity (1944), based upon James M. Cain's novel of the same name. His only original screenplay was The Blue Dahlia (1946). Chandler collaborated on the screenplay of Alfred Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train (1951) - a story he thought implausible - based on Patricia Highsmith's novel. By then, Chandler had moved to La Jolla, California, an affluent coastal neighborhood of San Diego.

All but one of his novels have been cinematically adapted. Most notable was The Big Sleep (1946), by Howard Hawks, with Humphrey Bogart as Philip Marlowe. William Faulkner was a co-writer on the screenplay. Raymond Chandler's few screen writing efforts and the cinematic adaptation of his novels proved stylistically and thematically influential upon the American film noir genre.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Ketchup, (also spelled catsup) is a condiment, usually made from tomatoes. The ingredients in a typical modern ketchup are tomato concentrate, spirit vinegar, corn syrup or other sugar, salt, spice and herb extracts (including celery), spice and garlic powder. Allspice, cloves, cinnamon, onion, and other vegetables may be included.

Ketchup started out as a general term for sauce, typically made of mushrooms or fish brine with herbs and spices. Some popular early main ingredients included blueberry, anchovy, oyster, lobster, walnut, kidney bean, cucumber, cranberry, lemon, celery and grape. Mushroom ketchup is still available in some countries, such as the UK, and banana ketchup is popular in the Philippines.

Ketchup is often used with french fries (chips), hot dogs, hamburgers, sandwiches and grilled or fried meat. Ketchup is also used as a base for various sauces.

In countries such as Australia, New Zealand and in South Africa the term 'tomato sauce' is used instead of the British and American usage of the word ketchup.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Idiot

The Idiot is the debut solo album by American rock singer Iggy Pop. It was the first of two LPs released in 1977 which Pop wrote and recorded in collaboration with David Bowie. Although issued after Low, the opening installment of Bowie's so-called Berlin Trilogy, the pair began writing and recording songs for The Idiot in mid-1976, before Bowie started work on his own album. As such, The Idiot has been claimed as heralding the unofficial beginning of Bowie's 'Berlin' period, being compared particularly to Low and "Heroes" in its electronic effects, treated instrument sounds, and introspective atmosphere. A departure from the hard rock of his former band The Stooges, the album is regarded by critics as one of Pop’s best works, but is not generally considered representative of his output.

Although the bulk of The Idiot was recorded before Low, the initial installment of the 'Berlin Trilogy', Bowie's album was released first, in January 1977, while Pop's was held over until March. Laurent Thibault opined that "David didn’t want people to think he'd been inspired by Iggy’s album, when in fact it was all the same thing". In 1981, NME editors Roy Carr and Charles Shaar Murray suggested that The Idiot's electronic sound had been "pioneered" on Low, whereas by 2000, Nicholas Pegg would describe it as "a stepping stone between Station to Station and Low. The Idiot made #30 in the UK, the first time any of Iggy Pop's records had cracked the Top Forty. It also peaked at #72 in the U.S. charts. "Sister Midnight" and "China Girl" were released as singles in February and May 1977, respectively—both with the same B-side, "Baby". Biographer Paul Trynka has written that The Idiot "would remain an album that was more respected than loved, the reviews mostly neutral" but that it "prefigured the soul of post-punk".

Monday, July 26, 2010

Syrup of Ipecac

Syrup of ipecac, commonly referred to as Ipecac, is derived from the dried rhizome and roots of the ipecacuanha plant and is a well known emetic (substance used to induce vomiting).

The actions of Ipecac are mainly those of its major alkaloids, emetine (methylcephaeline) and cephaeline. They both act locally by irritating the gastric mucosa and centrally by stimulating the medullary chemoreceptor trigger zone to induce vomiting.

Ipecac was used in cough mixtures as an expectorant or an emetic from the 18th until the early 20th century. Ipecac and opium were used to produce Dover's powder, which was used in syrup form. Ipecac syrup is still used to induce vomiting, though it is no longer widely recommended.

Pediatricians once recommended ipecac be kept in the home as a ready emetic for use in cases of accidental poisoning. Current guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics, however, strongly advise against this and in fact recommend the disposal of any syrup of Ipecac present in the home. Many toxicological associations have also issued position papers recommending against its use as a first-line treatment for most ingested poisons, because there has been no evidence that syrup of Ipecac actually helps improve the outcome in cases of poisoning. Moreover, accidental overdose of ipecac can result when administered in the home.

A 2005 review by an HRSA-funded scientific panel concluded that vomiting alone does not reliably remove poisons from the stomach. The study suggested that indications for use of Ipecac syrup were rare and patients should be treated by more effective and safer means. Additionally, Ipecac’s potential side effects, such as lethargy, can be confused with the poison’s effects, complicating diagnosis. Ipecac may also delay the administration or reduce the effectiveness of other treatments such as activated charcoal, whole bowel irrigation, or oral antidotes.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Mingering Mike

Mingering Mike is a fictitious funk and soul recording artist created in the late 1960s as the subject of works of album art by a young Mike Stevens. More recently, Mingering Mike was rediscovered by law firm investigator Dori Hadar and his friend Frank Beylotte, who came across the art work at a flea market. Mingering Mike had created a whole complex, yet nonexistent music career (including a Bruce Lee concept album), and had released more than 50 album covers in 10 years. When Mike was rediscovered, it was learned that he had yet more unreleased material from the same time period as his first releases and it is in the process of being released as a real album. Mingering Mike at first refused to release his real name or allow a photo to be taken of him, because he's afraid his new celebrity status will cause him to lose his two day jobs.

In 2007, Dori Hadar released a book of Mike's work entitled “The Amazing Career of an Imaginary Soul Superstar,” published by Princeton Architectural Press. On June 17, 2008, the digital download service eMusic made the first Mingering Mike full length, Super Gold Greatest Hits, available to its subscribers. The album consists of tracks Mike recorded to reel-to-reel as a teenager.

In 2010 Mike's original record cover work will be featured in the exhibition The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


The Gyrojet is a family of unique firearms developed in the 1960s named for the method of gyroscopically stabilizing its projectiles. Firing small rockets rather than inert bullets, they had little recoil and didn't require a heavy barrel to resist the pressure of the combustion gases. Velocity on leaving the tube was very low, but increased to around 1,250 feet per second (380 m/s) at 30 feet (9.1 m). The result was a very lightweight weapon with excellent ballistics.

Long out of production, today they are a coveted collector's item with prices for even the most common model ranging above $1,000. They are, however, rarely fired; ammunition, when available at all, can cost over $100 per round.

Friday, July 23, 2010


A Kammback is a car body style that derives from the research of the German aerodynamicist Wunibald Kamm in the 1930s. The design calls for a body with smooth contours that continues to a tail that is abruptly cut off. This shape reduces the air resistance of the vehicle. "Kammback" is an American term. In Europe the design is generally known as a Kamm tail or K-tail.

The earliest use of "Kamm" to describe an automobile body incorporating this design was the prototype 1940 'Kamm' Coupe based on a BMW 328 chassis. The earliest mass-produced cars that used Kammback principles were the 1949-1951 Nash Airflyte in the U.S. and the 1952-1955 Borgward Hansa 2400 in Europe.

There is controversy about the proportions of a true Kamm tail. According to the classic definition the tail should be cut off where it has tapered to approximately 50% of the car’s maximum cross section, which Kamm found represented a good compromise - by that point the turbulence typical of flat-back vehicles had been mostly eliminated at typical speeds. Thus a minivan is not a Kammback, and neither are numerous cars that have truncated tails. Several automakers including American Motors (AMC) and General Motors (GM) have publicized certain models with truncated tails as “Kammbacks” even though they do not meet the classic "50% cross-section" definition, i.e. the AMC AMX-GT and Pontiac Firebird-based "Type K" concept cars.

Automakers’ use of the term “Kammback” has diminished as Kamm's principles have become more generally assimilated into modern car design.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Farnsworth House

The Farnsworth House, was designed and constructed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe between 1945-51. It is a one-room weekend retreat in a once-rural setting, located 55 miles southwest of Chicago's downtown on a 60-acre estate site, adjoining the Fox River, south of the city of Plano, Illinois. The steel and glass house was commissioned by Dr. Edith Farnsworth, a prominent Chicago nephrologist, as a place where she could engage in her hobbies; playing the violin, translating poetry, and enjoying nature. Mies created a 1,500-square-foot house that is widely recognized as an iconic masterpiece of modernist architecture. The home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 2006, after joining the National Register of Historic Places in 2004. The house is currently operated as a house museum by the historic preservation group, National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The building design received accolades in the architectural press, resulting in swarms of uninvited visitors trespassing on the property to glimpse this latest Mies building. But as a result of the accusations contained in Edith Farnsworth’s lawsuit, the house became a prop in the larger national social conflicts of the McCarthy era. The weekend house became a lightning rod for anti-modernist publications, exemplified in the April 1953 issue of House Beautiful, which attacked it as a communist inspired effort to supplant traditional American styles. Even Frank Lloyd Wright denounced the Bauhaus and International Style as un-American.

Large areas of glass wall, flat roofs, purging of ornament, and a perceived lack of traditional warmth and coziness were International Style features that were particular talking points of attack. Still, the Farnsworth House has continued to receive wide critical acclaim as a masterpiece of the modernist style, and Mies went on to receive the presidential Medal of Freedom for his contribution to American architecture and culture. Prominent architect and critic Philip Johnson was inspired by the design to build his own Glass House in 1947. In the 21st century, Pulitzer Prize winning architectural critics Paul Goldberger and Blair Kamin have both declared the house a masterpiece of modern architecture. Its timeless quality is reflected by the reverent fascination in the minimalist house shown by a new generation of design professionals and enthusiasts.

In September 2008, the house was flooded by rains from the remnants of Hurricane Ike. Water levels reached about 18 inches above the floor and the 5 foot stilts upon which the house rests. Much of the furniture was saved by elevating it above the flood waters. The house has been closed to the public for the since 2008 for repairs.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


Applejack is a strong alcoholic beverage produced from apples, popular in the American colonial period and thought to originate from the French apple brandy Calvados. Applejack is made by concentrating hard cider, either by the traditional method of freeze distillation or by true evaporative distillation. The term applejack derives from jacking, a term for freeze distillation.

From the fermented juice, with an alcohol content of less than 10%, the concentrated result contains 30-40% alcohol, is slightly sweet and usually tastes and smells of apples. Freeze distilling concentrates all of the alcohol by-products of fermentation including ethanol, methanol and fusel alcohols. Distillation by evaporation can separate these; they have different boiling points. Due to the higher cost and lower yield of alcohol produced from fruit fermentation, commercially produced applejack may be composed of apple brandy diluted with grain spirits until the drink reaches the desired alcohol content.

In New Jersey, applejack was used as currency to pay road construction crews during the colonial period. A slang expression for the beverage was Jersey Lightning.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Spike Jones

Lindley Armstrong "Spike" Jones (December 14, 1911 – May 1, 1965) was a popular musician and bandleader specializing in performing satirical arrangements of popular songs. Ballads and classical works receiving the Jones treatment would be punctuated with gunshots, whistles, cowbells and ridiculous vocals. Through the 1940s and early 1950s, the band recorded under the title Spike Jones and his City Slickers and toured the USA and Canada under the title The Musical Depreciation Revue.

Jones's father was a Southern Pacific railroad agent. Young Lindley got his nickname by being so thin that he was compared to a railroad spike. At the age of 11 he got his first set of drums. As a teenager he played in bands that he formed himself. A railroad restaurant chef taught him how to use pots and pans, forks, knives and spoons as musical instruments. He frequently played in theater pit orchestras. In the 1930s he joined the Victor Young orchestra and thereby got many offers to appear on radio shows, including Al Jolson's Lifebuoy Program, Burns and Allen, and Bing Crosby's Kraft Music Hall.

From 1937 to 1942, he was the percussionist for the John Scott Trotter Orchestra, which played on Bing Crosby's first recording of White Christmas. Spike Jones was part of a backing band for songwriter Cindy Walker during her early recording career with Decca and Standard Transcriptions. Her song "We're Gonna Stomp Them City Slickers Down" provided the inspiration for the name of Jones’ future band, the City Slickers.

The City Slickers evolved out of the Feather Merchants, a band led by vocalist-clarinetist Del Porter, who took a back seat to Jones during the embryonic years of the group. They made experimental records for the Cinematone Corporation and performed publicly in Los Angeles, gaining a small following. The original members included vocalist-violinist Carl Grayson, banjoist Perry Botkin, trombonist King Jackson and pianist Stan Wrightsman.

The band signed a recording contract with RCA Victor in 1941 and recorded extensively for the company until 1955.

After appearing as the house band on The Bob Burns Show, Spike got his own radio show on NBC, The Chase and Sanborn Program, as Edgar Bergen's summer replacement in 1945. Frances Langford was co-host and Groucho Marx was among the guests. The guest list for Jones' 1947-49 CBS program for Coca-Cola (originally The Spotlight Revue, retitled The Spike Jones Show for its final season) included Frankie Laine, Mel Torme, Peter Lorre, Don Ameche and Burl Ives. Frank Sinatra appeared on the show in October 1948, and Lassie in May 1949.

One of the announcers on Jones's CBS show was the young Mike Wallace. Writers included Eddie Maxwell, Eddie Brandt and Jay Sommers. The final program in the series was broadcast in June 1949.

The last City Slickers record was the LP Dinner Music For People Who Aren't Very Hungry. The whole field of comedy records changed from musical satires to spoken-word comedy (Tom Lehrer, Bob Newhart, Mort Sahl, Stan Freberg). Spike Jones adapted to this, too; most of his later albums are spoken-word comedy, including the horror-genre sendup Spike Jones in Stereo (1959).

Jones was a lifelong smoker. He was once said to have gotten through the average workday on coffee and cigarettes. Smoking may have contributed to his developing emphysema. His already thin frame deteriorated, to the point where he used an oxygen tank offstage, and onstage he was confined to a seat behind his drum set. He died at the age of 53, and is buried in Holy Cross Cemetery, Culver City, California.

Monday, July 19, 2010

La Catedral

La Catedral was a prison overlooking the city of Medellín in Colombia. The prison was built to specifications ordered by Medellin Cartel leader Pablo Escobar, under agreement with the Colombian government. Escobar would surrender to authorities, serve a maximum term of five years, and the Colombian government would not extradite him to the United States. In addition to the facility being built to Escobar's specifications, he was also given the right to choose who would guard him, believing to have chosen guards only loyal to him. The prison was believed to be designed more to keep out Escobar's enemies from assassination attempts, than to keep Escobar in.

The finished prison was often called "Hotel Escobar," or "Club Medellin," due to its amenities. La Catedral featured a soccer field, a giant doll house, a bar, jacuzzi, and a waterfall. Escobar also had a telescope installed that allowed him to look down onto the city of Medellin to his daughter's residence while talking on the phone with her.

Alhough the government was willing to turn a blind eye to Escobar continuing his drug smuggling, the arrangement fell apart when it was reported Escobar brought four of his lieutenants, including his head lieutenant Paul F. Sauer, Jr., to La Catedral to be tortured and murdered. The Colombian government decided it had to move Escobar to a standard prison, which Pablo refused. In July 1992, after serving one year and one month, Pablo would again be on the run. With the Colombian National Army surrounding the facility, it is said Pablo simply walked out the back gate. The ensuing manhunt would employ a 600-man unit, specially trained by the United States Delta Force, named Search Bloc, and led by Colonel Hugo Martinez.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Vaughn Bodé

Vaughn Bodé (July 22, 1941 - July 18, 1975) was an artist involved in underground comics, graphic design and graffiti. He is perhaps best-known for his comic strip character Cheech Wizard and artwork depicting voluptuous women. His works are noted for their psychedelic look and feel. He was inducted into the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame for comics artists in 2006.

In 1969, Bodé moved to Manhattan and joined the staff of the underground newspaper the East Village Other. It was here that Bodé met Spain Rodriguez, Robert Crumb and other founders of the quickly-expanding underground comics world. At EVO, he introduced Gothic Blimp Works, a comics supplement to the magazine, which ran for eight issues, the first two edited by Bodé.

Bodé’s most famous comic creation is the Cheech Wizard, a wizard whose large yellow hat, covered with black and red stars covers his entire body except his legs, and big red feet. He is usually depicted without arms. Cheech Wizard is constantly in search of a good party, cold beer, and attractive women. It is never actually revealed what Cheech Wizard looks like under the hat, or exactly what kind of creature he is.

Bodé's death was due to autoerotic asphyxiation, or perhaps the use of asphyxia as a meditation aid. He left behind a library of sketchbooks, journals, finished and unfinished works, paintings, and comic strips. Most of his art has since been published in a variety of collections, most from Fantagraphics.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Acme Corporation

The Acme Corporation is a fictional corporation that exists in several cartoons, films and TV series, most significantly in the Looney Tunes universe. It appeared most prominently in the Road Runner/Wile E. Coyote cartoons, which made Acme famous for outlandish and downright dangerous products that fail catastrophically at the worst possible times.

The company is never clearly defined but appears to be a conglomerate which produces everything and anything imaginable, no matter how elaborate or extravagant—none of which works as desired or expected. An example is the Acme Giant Rubber Band, subtitled "(For Tripping Road Runners)", which would appear to be produced specifically for Wile E. Coyote.

While their products leave much to be desired, Acme delivery service, on the other hand, is second to none; Wile E. can merely drop an order into a mailbox and have the defective and/or dangerous product in his hands (or on top of him) within seconds.

Friday, July 16, 2010


A Scopitone is a type of jukebox featuring a 16 mm film component. It was a forerunner of music video. The Italian Cinebox/Colorama and Color-Sonics were competing, lesser-known technologies of the time.

Based on technology developed during World War II, color 16 mm film clips with a magnetic soundtrack were designed to be shown in a specially designed jukebox. The first Scopitones were made in France, among them Serge Gainsbourg's Le poinçonneur des Lilas (filmed in 1958 in the Porte des Lilas Métro station), Johnny Hallyday's "Noir c'est noir" (a cover of Los Bravos' "Black Is Black") and the "Hully Gully" showing a dance around the edge of a French swimming pool.

Scopitones spread to West Germany, where the Kessler Sisters burst out of twin steamer trunks to sing "Quando Quando" on the screen that surmounted the jukebox. Scopitone went on to appear in bars in England, including a coffee bar in Swanage where Telstar was a favourite. By 1964, approximately 500 machines were installed in the USA, according to Time magazine.

Several well-known acts of the 1960s appear in Scopitone films, ranging from the earlier part of the decade The Exciters ("Tell Him") and Neil Sedaka ("Calendar Girl") to Procol Harum's ("A Whiter Shade of Pale") later on. In one Scopitone recording, Dionne Warwick lay on a white shag rug with an offstage fan urging her to sing "Walk On By". Another had Nancy Sinatra and a troupe of go-go girls shimmy to "These Boots Are Made for Walkin'". Inspired by burlesque, blonde bombshell Joi Lansing performed "Web of Love" and "The Silencer", and Julie London sang "Daddy" against a backdrop of strippers. The artifice of such scenes led Susan Sontag to identify Scopitone films as "part of the canon of Camp" in her 1964 essay "Notes on 'Camp'."

By the end of the 1960s, the popularity of the Scopitone had faded. The last film for a Scopitone was made at the end of 1978. However, in 2006 the French singer Mareva Galanter released several videos which mimic the Scopitone style. Galenta's album Ukuyéyé features several songs in the French Yé-yé style. She also recently hosted a weekly French television program called "Do you do you Scopitone" on the Paris Première channel.

As of the mid-2000s, one of the few Scopitones not in a museum or private collection in the United States was located at the Belcourt Theatre in Nashville, Tennessee.

Thursday, July 15, 2010


The McRib is a sandwich sold by the international fast-food restaurant chain McDonald's. It consists of a boneless pork patty, barbecue sauce, onions and pickles served on a 6 inch (15.2 cm) roll. The patty is precooked, frozen and later reheated.

The sandwich test-marketed very well in Nebraska and other Midwestern markets and was added to the restaurant's permanent menu throughout the United States in 1981. Sales were mediocre, and it was removed after several years, only to be brought back as a limited time offering.

When first introduced, packets of a special McRib barbecue sauce called "Blazing Hot Sauce" were available with the sandwich. This sauce was much hotter than the barbecue sauce on the prepared sandwich and was only available for a short time.

The McRib Jr. was available for a short time in the late 90's. This version replaced the sesame seed roll with a standard hamburger bun and was served with a smaller portion of the pork patty. This product was sold at a lower price than the standard McRib.

On November 1, 2005, McDonald's put out a press release stating that the McRib would be permanently removed from the menu following a "McRib Farewell Tour." This appears to have been a deceptive kickoff to a viral/stealth marketing campaign;[citation needed], a site registered to McDonald's, featured a petition to "Save the McRib," which was facetiously sponsored by the "Boneless Pig Farmers Association of America." So in a two-angled campaign, McDonald's was simultaneously conducting a McRib farewell tour and sponsoring a petition to "Save the McRib" to create buzz. On October 16, 2006, the "McRib Farewell Tour II" site appeared, confirming the campaign was a marketing ploy. The petition to "Save the McRib" still existed as well as the "BPFAA" site.

McDonald's brought the McRib back in the United States once again in October 2007, beginning the third farewell tour. It was reintroduced for a fourth time in late October 2008, across the United States, Hong Kong and Japan, with a promotional website featuring music sponsored by a "McRib DJ".

The McRib has remained on sale as a regular item in Germany.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Crown of Monomakh

The Crown of Monomakh, also called the Golden Cap, is one of the symbols of Russian autocracy, and is the oldest of the crowns currently exhibited at the Kremlin Armoury. It was the crown of all Muscovite Grand Princes and Tsars from Dmitri Donskoi to Peter the Great.

It is an early 14th-century gold filigree skullcap composed of eight sectors, elaborately ornamented with a scrolled overlay with sable trimming, decorated with precious stones and pearls. At some point in the 15th or 16th century the crown was surmounted by a simple gold cross with pearls at each of the extremities

After Russia overcame the period of feudal fragmentation and Ivan III of Moscow and Vladimir asserted his position as successor to the Roman emperors, there arose a legend that the cap had been presented by the Byzantine emperor Constantine IX Monomachus to his grandson Vladimir Monomakh, the founder of the city of Vladimir and patrilineal ancestor of Ivan III. The legend served as one of the grounds for the "Moscow as the Third Rome" political theory. Accordingly, the crown became known as "Monomakh's Cap", the term first recorded in a Russian document from 1518.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Wacky Packages

Wacky Packages are a series of trading cards featuring parodies of North American consumer products. The cards were produced by the Topps Company beginning in 1967, in a sticker format. The original series sold for two years, and the concept proved popular enough that it has been revived every few years since.

Relying on the talents of such comics artists as Kim Deitch, George Evans, Drew Friedman, Bill Griffith, Jay Lynch, Norman Saunders, Art Spiegelman, Bhob Stewart and Tom Sutton, the cards spoofed well-known brands and packaging, such as "Crust" (instead of Crest) toothpaste, "Blisterine" (instead of Listerine), and "Neveready" batteries (for Eveready Industries batteries).

Wacky Packages returned in 1973 for a highly successful run. They continued until 1977 through a total of 16 series. Some cards were sold in reprinted editions beginning in 1979 to 1980. (4 series with puzzle/checklist backs) Newly designed series were produced in 1985 and 1991, but these strayed from the original concept and were not as successful. A new series of stickers was released in 2004, and continued into a sixth set in 2007. These series have been very successful with the return of cartoonist Jay Lynch, plus newcomers Dave Gross, Strephon Taylor and Neil Camera.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Flying Scotsman

The Flying Scotsman is an express passenger train service that has been running between London, England and Edinburgh, Scotland since 1862. It is currently operated by East Coast.

The East Coast Main Line over which the Flying Scotsman runs was built in the 19th century by many small railway companies, but mergers and acquisitions led to only three companies controlling the route; the North British Railway, the North Eastern Railway and the Great Northern Railway. In 1860 the three companies established the East Coast Joint Stock for through services using common vehicles, and it is from this agreement that the Flying Scotsman came about.

The first Special Scotch Express ran in 1862, with simultaneous 10am departures from the GNR's King's Cross Station in London and North British's Waverley Station in Edinburgh. The original journey took 10½ hours, including a half-hour stop at York for lunch; however, increasing competition and improvements in railway technology saw this time reduced to 8½ hours by the time of the Race to the North in 1888. From 1900, the train was dramatically modernised, introducing such features as corridors between carriages, heating, and dining cars.

In 1923, the railways of Britain were 'grouped' into the so-called 'Big Four'. Consequently, all three members of the East Coast Joint Stock became part of the newly formed London and North Eastern Railway . It was the London and North Eastern which, in 1924, officially renamed the 10 AM Special Scotch Express linking Edinburgh and London in both directions as the Flying Scotsman, a name under which it had been unofficially known since the 1870s.

The 1928 non-stop Flying Scotsman had improved catering and other on-board services - even a barber's shop. With the end of the limited speed agreement in 1932, journey time was down to 7 h 30m and 7h 20m by 1938. The Flying Scotsman would remain an express service, making stops only at Newcastle upon Tyne, York and Peterborough through nationalisation (with the exception of the Second World War) until 1962 when the Deltic diesel locomotives took over.

The Flying Scotsman name has been maintained by the private operators of Anglo-Scottish trains on the East Coast Main Line; the former Great North Eastern Railway even subtitled itself The Route of the Flying Scotsman.

After the privatisation of British rail, the service was operated by GNER from 1996 to November 2007, and then by National Express East Coast until November 2009. Now operated by East Coast, a publicly operated company created after the collapse of National Express East Coast, the northbound service departs from London King's Cross at the traditional time of 10.00, while the southbound service leaves Edinburgh daily at 13.00 (having originated from Glasgow Central at 11.50 on Mondays through Saturdays).

The present-day Flying Scotsman is usually operated by an InterCity 225 ‘Mallard’ set, and the journey takes around 4½ hours.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Ice Cream Headache

An ice cream headache, also known as brain freeze, cold-stimulus headache, or its given scientific name sphenopalatine ganglioneuralgia (meaning "nerve pain of the sphenopalatine ganglion"), is a form of brief cranial pain or headache commonly associated with consumption (particularly quick consumption) of cold beverages or foods such as ice cream and popsicles. It is caused by having something cold touch the roof of the mouth (palate), and is believed to result from a nerve response causing rapid dilation and swelling of blood vessels or a "referring" of pain from the roof of the mouth to the head. The rate of intake for cold foods has been studied as a contributing factor.

"Ice cream headaches" result from quickly eating or drinking very cold substances. It is commonly experienced when applying ice-cream (or similar) to the roof of the mouth (palate) or when swallowing it. Typically the headache appears in about 10 seconds and lasts about 20 seconds although some people experience much longer lapses of pain, with the pain seeming to relate to the same side of the head as the cold substance was applied to the palate, or to both sides of the head in the case of swallowing. The most effective way to prevent it is to consume the cold food or liquid at a slower rate. Keeping it in one's mouth long enough for the palate to become used to the temperature is also an effective preventative.

Ice cream headache is the direct result of the rapid cooling and rewarming of the capillaries in the sinuses. A similar but painless blood vessel response causes the face to appear "flushed" after being outside on a cold day. In both instances, the cold temperature causes the capillaries in the sinuses to constrict and then experience extreme rebound dilation as they warm up again.

In the palate, this dilation is sensed by nearby pain receptors, which then send signals back to the brain via the trigeminal nerve, one of the major nerves of the facial area. This nerve also senses facial pain, so as the nerval signals are conducted the brain interprets the pain as coming from the forehead—the same "referred pain" phenomenon seen in heart attacks. Brain-freeze pain may last from a few seconds to a few minutes. Research suggests that the same vascular mechanism and nerve implicated in "brain freeze" cause the aura (sensory disturbance) and pulsatile (throbbing pain) phases of migraines.

It is possible to suffer from an ice-cream headache in both hot and cold climate conditions.

To relieve pain, some doctors suggest pressing the tongue against the roof of the mouth to warm the area.

The phenomenon is common enough to have been the subject of research published in the British Medical Journal and Scientific American.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Comstock Act

The Comstock Act, was a United States federal law was enacted March 3, 1873. It amended the Post Office Act and made it illegal to send any "obscene, lewd, and/or lascivious" materials through the mail, including contraceptive devices and information. In addition to banning contraceptives, this act also banned the distribution of information on abortion for educational purposes. Twenty-four states passed similar prohibitions on materials distributed within the states. Collectively, these state and federal restrictions are known as the Comstock laws.

The law was named after its chief proponent, the anti-obscenity crusader Anthony Comstock. The enforcement of the Act was, in its early days, often conducted by Comstock himself or through his New York Society for the Suppression of Vice.

The Comstock Act not only targeted pornography as such, but also all contraceptive equipment and many educational documents such as descriptions of contraceptive methods and other reproductive health-related materials. The ban on contraceptives was declared unconstitutional by the courts in 1936, though the remaining portions of the law continue to be enforced today. The current law on obscenity is expressed in the Miller test.

In 1915, architect William Sanger was charged under the New York law against disseminating contraceptive information. In 1918, his wife Margaret Sanger was similarly charged. On appeal, her conviction was reversed on the grounds that contraceptive devices could legally be promoted for the cure and prevention of disease. The prohibition of devices advertised for the explicit purpose of birth control was not overturned for another eighteen years. During World War I, U.S. Servicemen were the only members of the Allied forces sent overseas without condoms which led to more widespread STDs among U.S. troops.

In 1957, Samuel Roth, who ran a literary business in New York City, was charged with distributing "obscene, lewd, lascivious or filthy" materials through the mail, advertising and selling a publication called American Aphrodite ("A Quarterly for the Fancy-Free"). The publication contained literary erotica and nude photography. In this case, Comstock was upheld and refined in Roth v. U.S.

In 1965, the U.S. Supreme Court case Griswold v. Connecticut struck down one of the remaining contraception Comstock laws in Connecticut and Massachusetts. However, Griswold only applied to marital relationships. Eisenstadt v. Baird (1972) extended its holding to unmarried persons as well.