Saturday, December 31, 2011

Fresnel Lens

A Fresnel lens is a type of lens originally developed by French physicist Augustin-Jean Fresnel for lighthouses.

The design allows the construction of lenses of large aperture and short focal length without the mass and volume of material that would be required by a lens of conventional design. Compared to conventional bulky lenses, the Fresnel lens is much thinner, larger, and flatter, and captures more oblique light from a light source, thus allowing lighthouses to be visible over much greater distances.

The Fresnel lens reduces the amount of material required compared to a conventional spherical lens by dividing the lens into a set of concentric annular sections known as "Fresnel zones", which are theoretically limitless.

In the first (and largest) variations of the lens, each zone was actually a separate prism. Though a Fresnel lens might appear like a single piece of glass, closer examination reveals that it is many small pieces. It was not until modern computer-controlled milling equipment (CNC) could turn out large complex pieces that these lenses were manufactured from single pieces of glass.

Fresnel lens design allows a substantial reduction in thickness (and thus mass and volume of material), at the expense of reducing the imaging quality of the lens, which is why precise imaging applications such as photography still use conventional bulky (non-Fresnel) lenses.

Fresnel lenses are usually made of glass or plastic; their size varies from large (old historical lighthouses, meter size) to medium (book-reading aids, OHP viewgraph projectors) to small (TLR/SLR camera screens, micro-optics). In many cases they are very thin and flat, almost flexible, with thicknesses in the 1 to 5 millimeter range.

The idea of creating a thinner, lighter lens by making it with separate sections mounted in a frame is often attributed to Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. The marquis de Condorcet (1743–1794) proposed grinding such a lens from a single thin piece of glass. French physicist and engineer Augustin-Jean Fresnel is most often given credit for the development of the multi-part lens for use in lighthouses. The first Fresnel lens was used in 1823 in the Cordouan lighthouse at the mouth of the Gironde estuary; its light could be seen from more than 20 miles (32 km) out.

Friday, December 30, 2011


A jalopy is an old, decrepit, unreliable and often nonfunctional car which has limited mechanical abilities and is often rusty or dented or in an unmaintained shape. A jalopy is not a well kept antique car, but a car which is mostly rundown or beaten up. As a slang term in American English, "Jalopy" was noted in 1924 but is now slightly passé. The term was used extensively in the book On the Road by Jack Kerouac, first published in 1957, although written from 1947.

The origin of the word is unknown. It is possible that the non Spanish-speaking New Orleans-based longshoremen, referring to scrapped autos destined for Jalapa, Mexico scrapyards, pronounced the destination on the palettes "jalopies" rather than multiples or possessive of Jalapa.

During the 1930s, this word was used frequently when the market for used cars first started to grow. Cheap dealers could obtain the cars for very little, make aesthetic adjustments, and sell the car for much more. Early hot rodders also purchased jalopies as the basis for racers, and early stock car racing would be called "jalopy racing".

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Mise en Place

Mise en place (literally "putting in place") is a French phrase defined by the Culinary Institute of America as "everything in place", as in set up. It is used in professional kitchens to refer to organizing and arranging the ingredients (e.g., cuts of meat, relishes, sauces, par-cooked items, spices, freshly chopped vegetables, and other components) that a cook will require for the menu items that he or she expects to prepare during his/her shift.
Recipes are reviewed to check for necessary ingredients and equipment. Ingredients are measured out, washed, chopped, and placed in individual bowls. Equipment, such as spatulas and blenders, are prepared for use, and ovens are preheated. Preparing the mise en place ahead of time allows the chef to cook without having to stop and assemble items, which is desirable in recipes with time constraints.
It also refers to the preparation and layouts that are set up and used by line cooks at their stations in a commercial or restaurant kitchen.
The concept of having everything in its place as applied to the work in a kitchen is likely to have become a staple around the time of Auguste Escoffier, who is well known for his development of the brigade system of running a kitchen.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Johnson Wax Headquarters

Johnson Wax Headquarters is the world headquarters and administration building of S. C. Johnson & Son in Racine, Wisconsin. Designed by American architect Frank Lloyd Wright for the company's president, Herbert F. "Hib" Johnson, the building was constructed from 1936 to 1939.

An example of streamlined design, the building has over 200 types of curved red bricks making up the exterior and interior of the building and Pyrex glass tubing from the ceiling and clerestories to let in soft light. The colors that Frank Lloyd Wright chose for the Johnson Wax building are cream (for the columns and mortar) and "Cherokee red" for the floors, bricks, and furniture. The furniture, also designed by the architect, and manufactured by Steelcase, Inc., echoes the curving lines of the building.

The construction of the Johnson Wax building created controversies for the architect. In the Great Workroom, the dendriform columns are 9 inches (23 cm) in diameter at the bottom and 18 feet (550 cm) in diameter at the top, on a wide, round platform that Wright termed, the "lily pad." This difference in diameter between the bottom and top of the column did not accord with building codes at the time.

Additionally, it was very difficult to properly seal the glass tubing of the clerestories and roof, thus causing leaks. This problem was not solved until rubber gaskets were placed between the tubes, and corrugated plastic was used in the roof to seal it, while mimicking the glass tubes.

Wright's chair design for Johnson Wax originally had only three legs, supposedly to encourage better posture (because one would have to keep both feet on the ground at all times to sit in it). However, the chair design proved too unstable, tipping very easily. Herbert Johnson, needing a new chair design, purportedly asked Wright to sit in one of the three-legged chairs and, after Wright fell from the chair, the architect designed new chairs for Johnson Wax with four legs; these chairs, and the other office furniture designed by Wright, are still in use.

The Johnson Wax buildings are on the National Register of Historic Places, and the Administration Building and the Research Tower were each chosen by the American Institute of Architects as two of seventeen buildings by the architect to be retained as examples of his contribution to American culture. In addition, the Administration Building and Research Tower were both designated National Historic Landmarks in 1976.

In 2008, the U.S. National Park Service submitted the Johnson Wax Headquarters and the Research Tower, along with nine other Frank Lloyd Wright properties, to a tentative list for World Heritage Status. The 10 sites have been submitted as one, total, site. The January 22, 2008 press release from the National Park Service website announcing the nominations states that, "The preparation of a Tentative List is a necessary first step in the process of nominating a site to the World Heritage List."

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Thee Headcoats

Thee Headcoats were a band comprising Billy Childish, Bruce Brand, and Johnny Johnson. Childish was featured on guitar and vocals, Brand on drums and backing vocals, and Johnson on bass. The band was the most prolific of Childish's many musical projects, releasing fourteen full length albums. Formed in Kent, England in the late 1980s, the band was well known for its garage rock sound, explicitly sticking to this format on almost all of their albums. The band's signature sound as well as their prolific writing has been attributed to Childish's love of simple, direct recording. The band has been on multiple labels including Billy's own Hangman Records and Sub Pop.

Described in the New York Times as 'the king of garage rock', Billy and Thee Headcoats actually grew out of the British punk scene of the 1970s (both Billy and Bruce Brand playing in The Pop Rivets. The band recorded songs by The Clash under the pseudonym Thee Stash. The band also recorded a tribute album to Bo Diddley called Bo in Thee Garage. On their debut album, the band recorded new versions of songs written by Son House including "John the Revelator" and "Child's Death Letter," both of which were later covered by The White Stripes upon whom Thee Headcoats were a great influence. These three influences give a good idea of what the band's sound was like; punk mixed with pure rhythmic rock 'n' roll and blues.

The band played their final concert on May 12, 2000 at the Dirty Water Club. Billy Childish went on to play with The Buff Medways from 1999 to 2006. His latest group is The Musicians of The British Empire.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Zoogz Rift

Zoogz Rift (July 10, 1953-March 22, 2011) was a musician, painter and professional wrestling personality.

The Trouser Press describes Zoogz Rift as "an iconoclastic original" who is "as imaginative and stimulating as he is irritating and vitriolic." Rift was influenced by Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart as well as Salvador Dalí and Ayn Rand. He began his recording career with the album Idiots on the Miniature Golf Course, released by Snout Records in 1979. His long-time collaborators include Richie Häss and John Trubee. Rift released several albums through SST Records during the 1980s. Keyboard Magazine, in a special "Experimental Music" issue, described Rift's album The Island of Living Puke as "moments of outstanding free-form rock, sandwiched between scrupulously obscene interruptions."

Zoogz Rift booked the UWF (Universal Wrestling Federation) in 1993. He left the promotion in March 1994, but returned in May 1995 to become Vice-President, alongside founder Herb Abrams. After Abrams died in 1996, the UWF promotion closed and Zoogz was left without a job. He hosted an online wrestling show, entitled Puke-A-Mania that provides a weekly assessment of WWE and TNA promotions, with Zoogz giving insight on wrestling issues. His rants on the show included the pushing of former WWF superstar Warlord, and his fascination with possibly training 60-year-old Vince McMahon to become a main-event wrestler. With Zoogz' former experience in wrestling, he claims he can train any man, via the techniques of the Golden Crab, as stated in Episode #3 of Puke-A-Mania.

Zoogz Rift died peacefully on March 22, 2011. His death was due to serious complications from diabetes which he had been battling for well over a decade.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Gävle goat

The Gävle Goat (known in Swedish as Julbocken i Gävle or Gävlebocken), located at Slottstorget ("Castle Square") in central Gävle, is a giant version of a traditional Swedish Yule Goat figure made of straw. It is erected each year over a period of two days by a local association called the Southern Merchants in time for the start of advent. Another version is erected by a group of students from the Natural Science Club of the School of Vasa. The Natural Science Club's goat holds the world record for the largest Yule Goat, but since 1994 the Southern Merchants' goats have been larger and have had more publicity. The goats have become the subject of a 'tradition' of regularly being torched by vandals.

The history of the Gävle Goat began in 1966. An advertising consultant, Stig Gavlén, came up with the idea of making a giant version of the traditional Swedish Yule Goat and placing it in the square. Ironically, considering its later history, the design of the first goat was assigned to the then chief of the Gävle fire department, Gavlén's brother Jesper Gavlén. The construction of the goat was carried out by the fire department, and they erected the goat each year from 1966 to 1970 and from 1986 to 2002. The first goat was financed by a man named Harry Ström. On 1 December 1966, a 13-metre (43 ft) tall, 7-metre (23 ft) long, 3-tonne goat was erected in the square. However, at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve, the goat went up in flames.

The goat has since had a history of being burnt down roughly every other year, 2009 being the 24th time. The financing for the initial goats came from a group of businessmen known as the Southern Merchants (Söders Köpmän), so named because all their members were located on the southern side of Gavleån ("Gavle river"), a river that runs through central Gävle dividing the town into north and south.

In 1971, the Southern Merchants became so frustrated with the continual burning of their goats, that for 15 years they stopped building them, and the task was taken up by the Natural Science Club of the School of Vasa. The Natural Science Club's Yule Goat fared no better; besides being burnt and vandalised, one year it was even run over by a car. From 1988 onward, English bookmakers made it possible to bet on the goat's destiny.

In 1996 the Southern Merchants introduced webcams to monitor the goat 24 hours a day, with little or no success. On 27 November 2004 the Gävle Goat's homepage was hacked into and one of the two official webcams changed to display "Burn Bockjaevel" (translation: Burn the damn Goat) in the left corner of its live feed. One year, while security guards were posted around the goat in order to prevent further vandalism, the temperature dropped far below zero. As the guards ducked into a nearby restaurant to escape the cold, the vandals struck. Before they even had a chance to raise their glasses they saw flames shooting from the goat through the restaurant window.

During the weekend of December 3-4, 2005 a series of attacks on public Yule Goats across Sweden were carried out; The Gävle Goat was burnt on December 3, which escalated into a frenzy of copycat goat-burning across Sweden. The Visby goat on Gotland burned down, the Yule Goat in Söderköping, Östergötland was torched, and there was an attack on a goat located in Lycksele, Västerbotten. That goat escaped with only minor burn marks on the legs.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Jamón serrano

Jamón serrano is a type of jamón (dry-cured Spanish ham), which is generally served raw in thin slices, or occasionally diced. The French jambon de Bayonne and Italian prosciutto crudo are similar. A foreleg prepared in the same manner is called paleta.

Fresh hams are trimmed and cleaned, then stacked and covered with salt for about two weeks in order to draw off excess moisture and preserve the meat from spoiling. The salt is then washed off and the hams are hung to dry for about six months. Finally, the hams are hung in a cool, dry place for six to eighteen months, depending on the climate, as well as the size and type of ham being cured. The drying sheds (secaderos) are usually built at higher elevations, which is why the ham is called mountain ham.

The majority of Serrano hams are made from the Landrace breed of white pig and are not to be confused with the much more expensive and entirely different Jamón ibérico. These hams were known as a delicacy even in the days of the Roman Empire. Though not expensive in Spain and the European Union, duties imposed on imported meats and exchange rates makes these hams more costly outside the Union. Where available, the meat can usually be purchased sliced, in chunks, or as a complete, bone-in ham.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Harrison Bergeron

"Harrison Bergeron" is a satirical, dystopian science fiction short story written by Kurt Vonnegut and first published in October 1961. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, the story was re-published in the author's collection Welcome to the Monkey House in 1968.

In the story, social equality has been achieved by handicapping the more intelligent, athletic or beautiful members of society. For example, strength is handicapped by the requirement to carry weight, beauty by the requirement to wear a mask and so on. All this equality is due to the 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the United States Constitution. This process is central to the society, designed so that no one will feel inferior to anyone else.

Harrison Bergeron, the protagonist of the story, has exceptional intelligence, strength, and beauty, and thus has to bear enormous handicaps. Despite these societal handicaps, he is able to invade a TV station, declare himself Emperor, strip himself of his handicaps, then dance with a ballerina whose handicaps he has also discarded. Both are shot dead by the brutal and relentless Handicapper General, who demonstrates the hypocrisy of such equality in the first place. The story is framed by an additional perspective from Bergeron's parents, who are watching the incident on TV, but because of his father's handicaps, and his mother's merely average intelligence, they cannot concentrate enough to remember it.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Stiv Bators

Steven John Bator, known as Stiv Bators (October 22, 1949 – June 3, 1990), was an American punk rock vocalist and guitarist from Youngstown, Ohio. He is best remembered for his bands, The Dead Boys and The Lords of the New Church.

In the course of his career Bators was involved with a variety of bands beyond those for which he was best known. These short-term bands included Hormones, with Dennis Comeau and Andre Siva, Frankenstein, The Wanderers and The Whores of Babylon (with Dee Dee Ramone and Johnny Thunders). He also recorded as a solo artist with Bomp! Records.

It was as the lead singer and driving force of the Dead Boys, however, that Bators helped pioneer the punk rock sound, look and attitude. The band quickly became a popular staple at CBGB's, the music club in New York City's East Village. The Dead Boys were featured in the independent punk rock film Punking Out (1978), Live at CBGB's (1977) and Crash 'n' Burn (1977).

Bators formed The Lords of the New Church later in 1981 with Brian James of The Damned and Dave Tregunna of Sham 69. The Lords became notorious for their live shows. A devotee of Iggy Pop, Bators had developed a fearless reputation in his Dead Boys days and continued such antics with The Lords, the most famous being the time he reportedly hanged himself during a show.

Later, the punk vocalist gained additional exposure through more mainstream film. In 1981, Bators co-starred in the satirical John Waters film, Polyester. Seven years later, Bators made a memorable cameo appearance as "Dick Slammer", lead singer of "The Blender Children", in the offbeat comedy, Tapeheads, starring John Cusack and Tim Robbins.

The Lords of the New Church broke up in 1989, when Bators injured his back and guitarist Brian James secretly began advertising for a replacement singer. When Bators found out he played the encore of the band's final show donning a T-shirt with James' newspaper ad printed across the front, he then proceeded to fire the remaining members on-stage.

In the summer of 1990, Bators was struck by a taxi in Paris. He was taken to hospital but reportedly left before seeing a doctor, after waiting several hours. Reports indicate that he died in his sleep as the result of a concussion. Dave Tregunna said that Bators, a fan of rock legend Jim Morrison, had earlier requested that his ashes be spread over Morrison's Paris grave and that his girlfriend complied.

However, in the director's commentary of the film "Polyester," in which Bators starred, John Waters, in relating Bators death, stated that Bator's girlfriend had snorted his ashes.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Queen Carola's Parotia

The Queen Carola's Parotia, Parotia carolae, also known as Queen Carola's Six-wired Bird of Paradise is a medium-sized, up to 26 cm long, bird of paradise. The males, like all members in its genus, are mostly black and have three ornamental spatule head wires attaching behind each eye and elongated display feathers on the sides that form a tutu-like "skirt" during courtship. Unlike most other parotias, it also has white flank plumes, a gold-and-white crest, golden whiskers and eyebrow, and iridescent throat as well as breast feathers. The female is an overall brown bird barred greyish below. Queen Carola's Parotia often includes the enigmatic Berlepsch's Parotia as a subspecies, but information gained when it was rediscovery in 2005

hardened the case for considering it a separate species.

One of the most colorful parotias, the Queen Carola's Parotia inhabits the mid-mountain forests of central New Guinea. The diet consists mainly of fruits and arthropods. The stunning courtship dance of this species was described in detail by Scholes (2006). It is similar to that of Lawes's Parotia, but modified to present the iridescent throat plumage and the flank tufts to best effort.

The name commemorates Queen Carola of Vasa, the wife of King Albert I of Saxony.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Germania is a painting by Philipp Veit created in March 1848 during the Revolutions of 1848. It was used as an allegoric decoration in the National Assembly in Frankfurt's Paulskirche, where it concealed the organ. It was meant as a symbol of a united democratic Germany and remained a national personification until the end of World War I.

Today Germania is located in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum in Nuremberg.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Gum Arabic

Gum arabic, also known as gum acacia, chaar gund, char goond or meska, is a natural gum made of hardened sap taken from two species of the acacia tree; Acacia senegal and Acacia seyal. The gum is harvested commercially from wild trees throughout the Sahel from Senegal and Sudan to Somalia, although it has been historically cultivated in Arabia and West Asia. Gum arabic is a complex mixture of polysaccharides and glycoproteins that is used primarily in the food industry as a stabilizer. It is edible and has E number E414. Gum arabic is a key ingredient in traditional lithography and is used in printing, paint production, glue, cosmetics and various industrial applications, including viscosity control in inks and in textile industries, although less expensive materials compete with it for many of these roles. While gum arabic is now produced throughout the African Sahel, it is also still harvested and used in the Middle East. For example, Palestinians use the natural gum to make a chilled, sweetened, and flavored gelato-like dessert.

Sunday, December 18, 2011


The Schienenzeppelin or rail zeppelin was an experimental railcar which resembles a zeppelin airship in appearance. It was designed and developed by the German aircraft engineer Franz Kruckenberg in 1929. Propulsion was by means of a propeller located at the rear, and only a single example was ever built.

The train was built at the beginning of 1930 in the Hannover-Leinhausen works of the German Imperial Railway "Deutsche Reichsbahn" company. The work was completed by autumn of the same year. The train was 25.85 metres (84.8 ft) long and had just two axles, with a wheelbase of 19.6 m (64 ft). The height was 2.8 metres (9 ft 2 in). As originally built it had a BMW VI 12 cylinder petrol aircraft engine of 600 horsepower (450 kW) driving a four-bladed (later two-bladed), fixed pitch wooden propeller. The driveshaft was raised 7 degrees above the horizontal to give the vehicle some downwards thrust. The chassis of Schienenzeppelin was designed aerodynamically having some resemblance to the era's popular Zeppelin airships and it was built in aircraft style to reduce weight. The interior of the railcar was spartan and designed in Bauhaus-style.

On 10 May 1931, the train exceeded a velocity of 200 km/h (120 mph) for the first time. Afterwards, it was exhibited to the general public throughout Germany. On 21 June 1931, the train set a new world railway speed record of 230 km/h (140 mph) on the Berlin–Hamburg line between Karstädt and Dergenthin, which was not surpassed by any other train until 1954. The railcar still holds the land speed record for a petrol powered rail vehicle. This high speed was attributable, amongst other things, to its low weight, which was only 20.3 tonnes.

In 1939 the rail zeppelin was finally dismantled because its material was needed by the German army.

The failure of Schienenzeppelin has been attributed to everything from the dangers of using an open propeller in crowded railway stations to fierce competition between Kruckenberg's company and the Deutsche Reichsbahn's separate efforts to build highspeed railcars.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Fool's Gold Loaf

Fool's Gold Loaf is a sandwich made by the Colorado Mine Company, a five-star restaurant in Denver, Colorado. The sandwich consists of a single warmed, hollowed-out loaf of bread filled with one jar of creamy peanut butter, one jar of grape jelly, and a pound of bacon. The name of the sandwich is derived from its price of $49.95. In later years, it was priced closer to $100 for the sandwich and a bottle of Dom Pérignon.

On the night of February 1, 1976, Elvis Presley was at his home Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, entertaining Capt. Jerry Kennedy of the Denver, Colorado, police force, and Ron Pietrafeso of Colorado's Strike Force Against Crime. The three men began discussing the sandwich, and Presley decided he wanted one right then. The Mine Company was a five-star restaurant known for its rip-roaring parties and as the 'place' to be seen at the time. Presley had been to the restaurant before, while in Denver.

Kennedy and Pietrafeso were friends of the owners and hung out there often, so they were driven to the Memphis airport and boarded Presley's private jet, the Lisa Marie, and flew the two hours to Denver. When they arrived in Denver at 1:40 AM, the plane taxied to a special hangar where the passengers were greeted by Buck Scott, the owner of the Colorado Mine Company, and his wife Cindy who had brought 22 fresh Fool's Gold Loaves for the men. They spent three hours in the hangar eating the sandwiches, washing them down with Perrier and champagne. Presley invited the pilots of the plane, Milo High and Elwood Davis, to join them. When they were done, they flew back to Memphis without ever having left the Denver airport.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Stutz Bearcat

The Stutz Bearcat was a well known American sports car of the pre and post World War One period.

Essentially, the Bearcats were a shorter (120" wheelbase vs 130"), lighter version of the standard Stutz passenger cars chassis. It was originally powered by a 390 cubic-inch, 60 horsepower straight-4 engine produced by the Wisconsin Motor Company. Common with racing and sports cars of the period, it featured minimal bodywork consisting of a "dog house" hood, open bucket seats, a tiny "monocle" windscreen in front of the driver, and a cylindrical fuel tank on a short rear deck. Production Bearcats differed from the factory "White Squadron" racers by having fenders, lights and a trunk. Factory literature from 1913 describes the Bearcat as "The Stutz Bearcat, designed to meet the needs of the customer desiring a car built along the lines of a racing car with a slightly higher gear ratio than out normal torpedo roadster, has met with great favor with motor car owners and meets the demand for a car of this class."

Overall, its low weight, balance, and power made it an excellent racer. For example, in 1912, Stutz Bearcats won 25 of the 30 auto races in which they were entered. In 1915 a stock Bearcat was also the car used in Erwin "Cannon Ball" Baker's record coast-to-coast drive, inspiration for the later Cannonball Run outlaw race and film spin-offs. Baker drove his Bearcat from California to New York in eleven days, seven hours, and fifteen minutes, shattering the previous record.

The original production Bearcat was introduced in the Series A of 1912. The first public mention of the car (then spelled “Bear Cat” ) is in an advertisement in the 1912 program for the Indianapolis 500 mile race. This ad also was the first to use the soon to be famous Stutz slogan “The Car that made good in a day” referring to the Stutz racer’s 11th place finish in the 1911 Indianapolis 500. As previously mentioned, that was truthful advertising as the Bearcat was essentially a road-going version of the racer with fenders and lights added. The Series E of 1913 brought electric lights and starting. A six-cylinder option was available for an extra $250.00. The doorless body style would last through 1916. A sales catelog lists the available colors for the Series E as Vermillion, Monitor Gray, or Mercedes Red. Wire wheels were listed as a $125 option.

The Series S Bearcat of 1917 brought the first large change to the model. While it retained the 120” wheelbase its body now featured an enclosed cockpit with step over sides. It continued to be right hand drive with external gearshift and brake levers. The main change was under the hood where a new Stutz-designed 360 C.I. 16-valve 4 cylinder engine resided. It was cast in a single block had a heat treated nickel crank and camshafts. 1919’s Series G was similar, but the mid-1919 Series H body’s featured cut down sides to make cockpit entrance easier. The H also introduced new colors including yellow, Royal Red, or Elephant Gray. By the end of 1919 price for a Bearcat had risen to $3250 (the same price as the roadster and slightly less than the touring coupe). The 1920 Series K was again similar but prices had risen to $3900 in the wake of a postwar auto sales boom. The 1921 series K featured a new “DH” engine with a detachable head was introduced but a switch to left hand drive in the following KLDH (L for left) meant the end of the Bearcat since its narrow front seat and cockpit did not leave room for centrally located gear and brake levers. By 1922, the famed Bearcat name was missing from model lists and sales literature. For 1923, the roadster was renamed the Bearcat, but the name would again disappear in 1924.

The Bearcat name was reintroduced in 1931. The depression had not been kind to Stutz, so the name was used as a way to boost sales. The new Bearcat had the DV-28 (28 valve) eight cylinder engine and each car came with an affidavit saying the car had been tested at 100 m.p.h. It was a small coupe featuring dual side mount spare tires and a rakish dip in the doors, similar to current (and future) sports cars. The car lasted through 1933. The same year, the model range was enhanced by the “Super Bearcat” powered by the DV-32 engine. Unlike it standard model, it offered full weather protection and higher performance . Sitting on a 116 inch wheelbase, it featured a light-weight fabric body built by Weymann. Stutz production ended in 1934.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Kathmandu Post

The Kathmandu Post is a major daily newspaper published in Nepal. Centred in the capital Kathmandu, it is one of the largest English-language newspapers in the country. The Kathmandu Post is independently owned, and is published by Kantipur Publications, the owners of Nepal's largest selling newspaper, the Nepali-language Kantipur. It is a member of the Asia News Network, an alliance of nineteen Asian newspapers.

In October 2007, the offices of The Kathmandu Post were attacked by the All Nepal Printing and Publication Workers' Union, a group connected to the former Maoist rebels. The printing press was vandalised, stopping the paper from being published. Two hundred journalists and legal professionals marched in Kathmandu in protest at the attacks.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Slate Industry

The slate industry is the industry related to the extraction and processing of slate. Slate is either quarried from a slate quarry or reached by tunneling in a slate mine. Common uses for slate include as a roofing material, a flooring material, gravestones and memorial tablets, and for electrical insulation. Slate mines are found around the world and the major slate mining region in the United Kingdom is Wales: in Cornwall there are a number of slate quarries (famously the village of Delabole) and in the Lake District there are numerous slate mines and quarries.

90% of Europe's natural slate used for roofing originates from the Slate Industry in Spain.

In the remainder of Continental Europe and the Americas Portugal, Italy, Germany, Brazil, the east coast of Newfoundland, the Slate Valley of Vermont and New York, and Virginia are important producing regions. The Slate Valley area, centering on a town called Granville in the state of New York is one of the places in the world where colored slate (i.e. slate which is not grey or blue) is obtained.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Gleek is a fictional character appearing in the animated series Super Friends and its related spinoffs. He debuted in The All New Superfriends Hour, which first aired September 10, 1977. Gleek's vocalizations were provided by Michael Bell.

Gleek is a blue "space monkey" and the pet of Zan and Jayna, the Wonder Twins. Gleek is often used as comic relief for the series, as the character often gets into mischief. A joke involving Gleek often ends episodes of the Super Friends in which he appears. Gleek has a stretchable, prehensile tail which can be quite useful. Gleek is also highly intelligent, as he clearly understands spoken English, even somewhat complicated concepts such as the various stages of simple strategic planning.

He communicates through the use of sign language, acting out scenes, and chattering in an unintelligible alien tongue. Gleek also helps the Twins when they need to travel: Jayna becomes an eagle, Zan becomes water, and Gleek produces a bucket to hold Zan while Jayna carries them both. A joke observation about this is that Gleek's other power is to materialize a bucket out of nowhere on demand. Possibly unrelated, the verb "to gleek" is the projection or "spitting" of saliva from the submandibular gland underneath the tongue.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Eupeodes Corollae

Eupeodes corollae is a very common European species of hoverfly. Adults are 6–11 millimetres (0.24–0.43 in) in body length. Males and females have different marking on the abdomen; males have square commas on tergites 3 and 4, whereas females have narrow commas. Larvae feed on aphids. This species has been used experimentally in glasshouses as a method of aphid control, and to control scale insects and aphids in fruit plantations. They were found to be partial to the fruit, eating more fruit than aphids.

E. corollae is found across Europe, North Africa and Asia. Adults are often migratory.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Luna Park

Luna Park is a name shared by dozens of currently operating and defunct amusement parks that have opened on almost every continent except Antarctica since 1903. The first to use the name was the second major amusement park at Coney Island, designed by Charles I.D. Looff, who subsequently designed Seattle, Washington's Luna Park, which opened in 1907. The spaceship in the Pan-American Exposition ride "A Trip to the Moon" gave its name to these parks... and to dozens that followed over the next century.

In 1905, Frederick Ingersoll was already making a reputation for his pioneering work in roller coaster construction and design (he also designed scenic railroad rides) when he opened Luna Parks in Pittsburgh and Cleveland, the first two amusement parks to be covered with electric lighting (the former was adorned with 67,000 light bulbs; the Cleveland park had 50,000). Ultimately he opened 44 Luna Parks around the world, the first chain of amusement parks.

Despite the death of Ingersoll in 1927 and the closing of most of his Luna Parks, the name's popularity continued with newer parks with the name opening with regularity. As a result, "Lunapark" now translates into "amusement park" in Bulgarian, Croatian, Dutch, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Macedonian, Polish, Russian, and Turkish.

Saturday, December 10, 2011


Castelmagno is a cheese with Protected designation of origin status from the north-west Italian region Piedmont. It is a cheese which has been made for many centuries: the earliest known mention of it dates to 1277, but in all likelihood its origins are much earlier.

The cheese has traditionally been made in the Valle Grana in the south-west of the Province of Cuneo, where production is permitted today within the boundaries of the communes of Castelmagno, Pradleves and Monterosso Grana.

Castelmagno is a semi-hard, half-fat cheese produced from whole cows milk, obtained from cattle of the Piedmontese breed fed on fresh forage or hay from mixed meadows or pasture. On occasion some milk from sheep or goats may may be added to the cows’ milk. Aside from being eaten on its own Castelmagno can be part of countless recipes, such as in fondue or veloutees and can be eaten along with rice, pasta, polenta, thinly sliced raw beef meat (carpaccio) or grilled vegetables.

Friday, December 9, 2011


In organic chemistry, a thiol is a organosulfur compound that contains a carbon-bonded sulfhydryl (-C-SH or R-SH) group (where R represents an alkane, alkene, or other carbon-containing moiety). Thiols are the sulfur analogue of alcohols.

Many thiols have strong odours resembling that of garlic. The odours of thiols are often strong and repulsive, particularly for those of low molecular weight. Skunk spray is composed mainly of low molecular weight thiol compounds. These compounds are detectable by the human nose at concentrations of only 10 parts per billion.

Thiols are also responsible for a class of wine faults caused by an unintended reaction between sulfur and yeast and the "skunky" odour of beer that has been exposed to ultraviolet light.

However, not all thiols have unpleasant odours. For example, grapefruit mercaptan, a monoterpenoid thiol, is responsible for the characteristic scent of grapefruit. This effect is present only at low concentrations. The pure mercaptan has an unpleasant odour.

Natural gas distributors began adding thiols, originally ethanethiol, to natural gas, which is naturally odourless, after the deadly 1937 New London School explosion in New London, Texas. Most gas odourants utilized currently contain mixtures of mercaptans and sulfides, with t-butyl mercaptan as the main odour constituent. In situations where thiols are used in commercial industry, such as liquid petroleum gas tankers and bulk handling systems, the use of an oxidizing catalyst is used to destroy the odour. A copper-based oxidation catalyst neutralizes the volatile thiols and transforms them into inert products.

Thiols are often referred to as mercaptans. The term mercaptan is derived from the Latin mercurium captans (capturing mercury) because the thiolate group bonds so strongly with mercury compounds.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Francis E. Dec

Francis E. Dec (January 6, 1926 – January 21, 1996) was a U.S. lawyer from Hempstead Village, New York, disbarred for fraud in 1959, and later known for the bizarre socio-political tracts of conspiracy theories he mass-mailed to the media. Often denouncing a "Worldwide Mad Deadly Communist Gangster Computer God" mind-controlling mankind, Dec is considered to have been a paranoid schizophrenic of the influencing-machine delusion kind, and is often referred to as a "kook".

Not unlike Ed Wood, Dec later became a cult figure referenced in underground culture. He was the subject of a 1994 book chapter, a 1998 comics, and a 1999 stage play; he also made his way into the folklores of the Discordians and the Church of the SubGenius. His rants have been reprinted in a 1983 issue of Robert Crumb's magazine Weirdo and circulated since 1986 from recordings by KROQ-FM host Doc Britton; they have been sampled in 1991 and 2004 by Psychic TV, in 2004 by Venetian Snares, and inspired a Coldcut album in 2005; they have been archived as outsider art by UbuWeb and WFMU; they spawned a fanclub and website; they have also been used as a gauge in 1994 for "kook typography" and in 1998 for the entropy of the undeciphered Voynich manuscript.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011


Murex is a genus of medium to large sized predatory tropical sea snails. These are carnivorous marine gastropod molluscs in the family Muricidae, the murexes or rock snails.

The common name "murex" is also used for a large number of species in the family Muricidae, most of which in the past were originally given the Latin generic name Murex, but most of which have now been grouped in other newer genera.

The word murex was used by Aristotle in reference to these kinds of snails, thus Murex is arguably one of the oldest classical shell names still in use by the scientific community.

This genus includes many showy members, their elongate shells highly sculptured with spines or fronds. The inner surfaces of their ornate shells are often brightly colored.

Costly and labor-intensive dyes Tyrian purple (or royal purple) and Tekhelet were historically made by the ancient Phoenicians using mucus from the hypobranchial gland of two species commonly referred to as "murex", Murex brandaris and Murex trunculus, which are the older names for Haustellum brandaris and the Hexaplex trunculus.

This dye was used in royal robes, other kinds of special ceremonial or ritual garments, or garments indicating high rank. It is theorized that the dye was the same dye as that which featured prominently in the ancient Temple in Jerusalem, the clothing of the High Priest (or Kohen Gadol) officiating there; it is sometimes still used by Jews today in the ritual fringes (tzitzit) on four-cornered garments. A consensus has yet to be achieved regarding the Biblical source of the "blue" dye.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

¡Ay, caramba!

¡Ay, caramba! comes from the Spanish interjection ¡ay! (denoting surprise or pain) and caramba (a minced oath, a euphemism for carajo, an interjection expressing pain or surprise similar to "ouch" or "gee"), which is an exclamation used today in surprise (usually positive) in Spanish. The term caramba is also used in Portuguese, where it used to be a minced oath for caralho, the Portuguese equivalent of the Spanish carajo (a vulgar word for penis), both of which descend from the Latin "caraculus"

The exclamation was the signature nickname of the flamenco dancer and singer, La Caramba, in the 1780s in Madrid. Her head-dress of brightly coloured ribbons became known as a caramba too.

The phrase is regularly used by stereotyped Mexicans in (especially Wild West) fiction, for example the adventures of Zagor, Tex Willer or Lucky Luke and select Warner Brothers cartoons, such as the bull Daffy Duck encounters in the 1947 cartoon Mexican Joyride.[citation needed]

Also often used in frustration by the character General Alcazar in The Adventures of Tintin comic books by Hergé.

Ay Caramba! was the name of a 1998–2006 Spanish-language television series featuring funny home videos. It was broadcast on Mexico's TV Azteca network.

The fictional character Bart Simpson from the American animated sitcom The Simpsons further popularized the phrase in modern pop culture. It became one of his most notable catchphrases. Bart said the line not always in positive surprise, but in negative/general surprise as well.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Pepper's ghost

Pepper's ghost is an illusionary technique used in theater and in some magic tricks. Using a plate glass and special lighting techniques, it can make objects seem to appear or disappear, or make one object seem to morph into another. It is named after John Henry Pepper, who first demonstrated the technique in the 1860s.

In 1862, inventor Henry Dircks developed the Dircksian Phantasmagoria, a technique used to make a ghost appear onstage. He tried unsuccessfully to sell his idea to theaters. His method would require theaters to be completely rebuilt just to support the effect. Later in the year, Dircks set up a booth at the Royal Polytechnic, where it was seen by John Pepper.

Pepper realized that the method could be modified to make it easy to incorporate into existing theaters. Pepper first showed the effect during a scene of Charles Dickens's The Haunted Man, to great success. Pepper's implementation of the effect tied his name to it permanently. Though he tried many times to give credit to Dircks, the title "Pepper's ghost" stuck.

In order for the illusion to work, the viewer must be able to see into the main room, but not into the hidden mirror room. The edge of the glass may be hidden by a cleverly designed pattern in the floor. Both rooms may be identical mirror-images; this approach is useful in making objects seem to appear or disappear. This effect can also be used to make an actor reflected in the mirror appear to turn into an actor behind the mirror (or vice versa).

The mirror room may instead be painted black, with only light-coloured objects in it. When light is cast on the objects, they reflect strongly in the glass, making them appear as ghostly images superimposed in the visible room. The world's largest implementation of this illusion can be found at the Haunted Mansion and Phantom Manor attractions at several Walt Disney Parks and Resorts theme parks. Here, a 90-foot (27 m)-long scene features a single Pepper's ghost effect. Guests travel along an elevated mezzanine, looking through a 30-foot (9.1 m)-tall pane of glass into an empty ballroom. Animatronic ghosts move in hidden black rooms beneath and above the mezzanine.

The reflections in the glass, which is vertical rather than angled, create the appearance of three-dimensional, translucent ghosts. These swarm through the ballroom, seeming to interact with props in the physical ballroom, disappearing when the lights on the animatronics are turned off.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Flak Tower

Flak towers (German: Flaktürme) were 8 complexes of large, above-ground, anti-aircraft gun blockhouse towers constructed in the cities of Berlin, Hamburg, and Vienna from 1940 onwards. They were used by the Luftwaffe to defend against Allied air raids on these cities during World War II. They also served as air-raid shelters for tens of thousands of people and to coordinate air defence.

After the RAF's raid on Berlin in 1940, Adolf Hitler ordered the construction of 3 massive flak towers to defend the capital from air attack. The flak towers, the design of which Hitler took personal interest in and even made some sketches for, were constructed in a mere 6 months.

With concrete walls up to 3.5 metres thick, flak towers were considered to be invulnerable to attack with the usual ordnance carried by Allied bombers. Aircraft generally appeared to have avoided the flak towers. The towers were able to sustain a rate of fire of 8000 rounds per minute from their multi-level guns, with a range of up to 14 km in a full 360-degree field of fire.

The flak towers had also been designed with the idea of using the above-ground bunkers as a civilian shelter, with room for 10,000 civilians, and even a hospital ward, inside. The towers, during the fall of Berlin, formed their own communities, with up to 30,000 or more Berliners taking refuge in a single tower during the battle. These towers, much like the keeps of medieval castles, were some of the safest places in a fought-over city, and so the flak towers were some of the last places to surrender to USSR forces, eventually being forced to capitulate as supplies dwindled.

The Soviets, in their assault on Berlin, found it difficult to inflict significant damage on the flak towers, even with some of the largest Soviet guns, such as the 203 mm howitzers. Soviet forces generally manoeuvered around the towers, and eventually sent in envoys to seek their submission. Unlike much of Berlin, the towers tended to be fully stocked with ammunition and supplies, and the gunners even used their anti-aircraft 20 mm cannons to defend against assault by ground units

For a time after the war, the conversion to representative objects with decorated facades was planned. After the war was lost, the demolition of the towers was in most cases unfeasible and many remain to this day.