Monday, February 28, 2011

Hoxne Hoard

The Hoxne Hoard is the largest hoard of late Roman silver and gold discovered in Britain, and the largest collection of gold and silver coins of the fourth and fifth century found anywhere within the Roman Empire. Found by a metal detectorist in the village of Hoxne in Suffolk, England, on 16 November 1992, the hoard consists of 14,865 Roman gold, silver and bronze coins from the late fourth and early fifth centuries, and approximately 200 items of silver tableware and gold jewellery. The objects are now in the British Museum in London, where the most important pieces and a selection of the rest are on permanent display. In 1993, the Treasure Valuation Committee valued the hoard at £1.75 million (today £2.66 million).

The hoard was buried as an oak box or small chest filled with items in precious metal, sorted mostly by type with some in smaller wooden boxes and others in bags or wrapped in fabric. Remnants of the chest, and of fittings such as hinges and locks, were recovered in the excavation. The coins of the hoard date it after AD 407, which coincides with the end of Britain as a Roman province. The owners and reasons for burial of the hoard are unknown, but it was carefully packed and the contents appear consistent with what a single very wealthy family might have owned. Given the lack of large silver serving vessels and of some of the most common types of jewellery, it is likely that the hoard represents only a part of the wealth of its owner.

The Hoxne Hoard contains several rare and important objects, including a gold body-chain and silver-gilt pepper-pots (piperatoria). The Hoxne Hoard is also of particular archaeological significance because it was excavated by professional archaeologists with the items largely undisturbed and intact. The find has helped to improve the relationship between metal detectorists and archaeologists, and influenced a change in English law regarding finds of treasure.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist

"The Adventures of Phoebe Zeit-Geist" was an American comic strip, written by Michael O'Donoghue and drawn by Frank Springer. It was published as a serial in the magazine Evergreen Review and later in book form by Grove Press in 1968.

The comic detailed the adventures of debutante Phoebe Zeit-Geist as she was variously kidnapped and rescued by a series of bizarre characters, such as Nazis, Chinese foot fetishists, and lesbian assassins. For the majority of the strip, the title character was drawn in the nude, and subject to a number of tortures, humiliations and even multiple deaths.

Doonesbury comic-strip creator Garry Trudeau cited the strip as an early inspiration, saying, "[A] very heavy influence was a serial in the Sixties called 'Phoebe Zeitgeist'. . . . It was an absolutely brilliant, deadpan send-up of adventure comics, but with a very edgy modernist kind of approach. To this day, I hold virtually every panel in my brain. It's very hard not to steal from it."

Saturday, February 26, 2011


Sturgeon is the common name used for some 26 species of fish in the family Acipenseridae, including the genera Acipenser, Huso, Scaphirhynchus and Pseudoscaphirhynchus. The term includes over 20 species commonly referred to as sturgeon and several closely related species that have distinct common names, notably sterlet, kaluga and beluga. Collectively, the family is also known as the True Sturgeons. Sturgeon is sometimes used more exclusively to refer to the species in the two best-known genera; Acipenser and Huso.

One of the oldest families of bony fish in existence, sturgeon are native to subtropical, temperate and sub-Arctic rivers, lakes and coastlines of Eurasia and North America. They are distinctive for their elongated bodies, lack of scales, and occasional great size: Sturgeons ranging from 7–12 feet (2-3½ m) in length are common, and some species grow up to 18 feet (5.5 m). Most sturgeons are anadromous bottom-feeders, spawning upstream and feeding in river deltas and estuaries. While some are entirely freshwater, very few venture into the open ocean beyond near coastal areas.

Several species of sturgeons are harvested for their roe, which is made into caviar—a luxury good which makes some sturgeons pound for pound the most valuable of all harvested fish. Because they are slow-growing and mature very late in life, they are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and to other threats, including pollution and habitat fragmentation. Most species of sturgeons are currently considered vulnerable, endangered or critically endangered.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Sonny Barger

Ralph Hubert "Sonny" Barger (born October 8, 1938(1938-10-08) in Modesto, California) is a founding member (1957) of the Oakland, California, U.S. chapter of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club.

Sonny Barger is also the author of four books: Hell's Angel: The Life and Times of Sonny Barger and the Hell's Angels Motorcycle Club, Freedom: Credos from the Road, Dead in 5 Heartbeats and 6 Chambers, 1 Bullet. He was editor for the book Ridin' High, Livin' Free. Barger was identified but didn't speak in Hells Angels on Wheels and was one of several members of the Angels who had speaking parts playing themselves in Hell's Angels '69. He wrote a guide for motorcycle riders published in 2010.

Barger was one of the Hells Angels present at The Rolling Stones' Altamont Free Concert in 1969. He is also a prominent figure in Hunter S. Thompson's bestselling book, Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. Barger and the Hells Angels made international headlines when a small group disrupted hundreds of anti-war protestors in Berkeley, California in 1965.

Barger was also listed in Tom Wolfe's best seller: The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test during Ken Kesey's La Honda encampment.

In 1983, Barger was diagnosed with throat cancer, caused by years of heavy smoking. As a result, his vocal cords were removed, and after a laryngectomy he has learned to vocalize using the muscles in his throat.

In 1988, Barger was sentenced for conspiring to blow up the clubhouse of a rival motorcycle club, the Outlaws in Louisville, Kentucky, and spent four years in federal prison in Arizona.

As of 2007, Barger remains an active member of the Hells Angels in the Cave Creek Chapter (Phoenix, Arizona), having moved there from Oakland in 1998. He is reported to have owned 10 to 12 motorcycles throughout his life. In recent years Barger has worked to promote motorcycle safety, co-authoring a book on the subject with Darwin Holmstrom, the author of "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Motorcycles (Alpha: 1998). The book, "Let's Ride: Sonny Barger's Guide to Motorcycling," was released by HarperCollins on 8 June, 2010.

Thursday, February 24, 2011


In horology, a tourbillon is an addition to the mechanics of a watch escapement. Developed around 1795 by the French - Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet from an earlier idea by the English chronometer maker John Arnold a tourbillon counters the effects of gravity by mounting the escapement and balance wheel in a rotating cage, ostensibly in order to negate the effect of gravity when the timepiece (and thus the escapement) is rotated. Originally an attempt to improve accuracy, tourbillons are still included in some expensive modern watches as a novelty and demonstration of watchmaking virtuosity. The mechanism is usually exposed on the watch's face to show it off.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hyannis Rear Range Light

The Hyannis Rear Range Light was a lighthouse and, for part of its life, one of a pair of range lights at Hyannis Harbor, Massachusetts. The tower was built in 1849 and equipped with a 5th order Fresnel lens in 1856. In 1863 the original birdcage lantern was replaced with a new cast iron one. In 1885, a front light was added on the Old Colony Railroad Wharf, leading vessels to the wharf.

Over time, as the channel into the adjacent Lewis Bay was dredged deeper, there was a shift of traffic into Lewis Bay and Hyannis inner harbor, and the wharf fell into disuse. The lights were discontinued in 1929 and the front range light has disappeared along with the wharf, although the outline of the wharf can still be seen in aerial photographs.

The lantern was removed from the rear light before it was sold. In 1987 a new, much larger lantern room was added to the top of the tower, acting as a sunroom.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Devil's Island

Devil's Island is the smallest and northernmost island of the three Îles du Salut located about 6 nautical miles (6.9 mi) off the coast of French Guiana . It has an area of 34.6 acres. It was a small part of the notorious French penal colony in French Guiana until 1952.

The rocky, palm-covered island rises 40 m (130 ft) above sea level. The penitentiary was first opened by Emperor Napoleon III's government in 1852, and became one of the most infamous prisons in history. In addition to the prisons on all three islands, prison facilities were located on the mainland at Kourou. Over time, they became known collectively as "Devil's Island" in the English-speaking world, while they are known in France as the bagne de Cayenne, (French: Cayenne penal colony) Cayenne being the main city of French Guiana.

While the colony was in use (1852–1946), the inmates were everything from political prisoners (such as 239 republicans who opposed Napoleon III's coup d'état) to the most hardened of thieves and murderers. A great many of the more than 80,000 prisoners sent to the harsh conditions at disease-infested Devil's Island were never seen again. Other than by boat, the only way out was through a dense jungle; accordingly, very few convicts ever managed to escape.

On 30 May 1854, a new law provided that convicts would be forced to stay in French Guiana following their release for a time equal to their forced labour time, or, for sentences exceeding eight years, for the remainder of their lives. They were to be provided with land to settle on. In time, a variety of penal regimes emerged, convicts being divided into categories according to the severity of their crimes and their imprisonment or forced residence regime.

In 1885, a further law accelerated the process, since repeat offenders for minor crimes could also be sent. A limited number of convicted women were also sent to French Guiana, with the intent that they marry the freed male inmates; however, the results were poor and the government discontinued the practice in 1907.Devil's Island was used mainly for French prisoners from 1852 to 1946.

Clément Duval, an anarchist, was sent to Devil's Island in 1886. He was sentenced to death but this sentence commuted to hard labour on Devil's Island. He contracted smallpox while on the island. He escaped in April 1901 and fled to New York City, where he remained for the rest of his life. He eventually wrote a book on his time of imprisonment called Revolte.

Henri Charrière's bestselling book Papillon describes a supposedly successful escape from Devil's Island, with a companion, Sylvain, using two sacks filled with coconuts. According to Charrière, the two men leapt into heavy seas from a cliff and drifted to the mainland over a period of three days. Sylvain died in quicksand a short distance from the shore.

In 1938 the French government stopped sending prisoners to Devil's Island, and in 1952 the prison was closed. Most of the prisoners returned to metropolitan France, although some chose to remain in French Guiana.

In 1965, the French government transferred the responsibility of most of the islands to the newly founded Guiana Space Centre. The islands are under the trajectory of the space rockets launched eastward, toward the sea, from the Centre (to geostationary orbit). They must be evacuated during each launch. The islands host a variety of measurement apparatus for space launches.

The CNES space agency, in association with other agencies, has since had the historical monuments restored. Tourism facilities were added; the islands now welcome more than 50,000 tourists each year.

Monday, February 21, 2011


The peanut (Arachis hypogaea), is a species in the legume "bean" family (Fabaceae). The cultivated peanut was probably first domesticated in the valleys of Perú. It is an annual herbaceous plant growing 0.98 to 1.6 ft tall. The leaves are opposite, pinnate with four leaflets (two opposite pairs; no terminal leaflet), each leaflet ⅜ to 2¾ in long and ⅜ to 1 inch broad. The flowers are a typical peaflower in shape, ¾ to 1½ in across, yellow with reddish veining. After pollination, the fruit develops into a legume 1.2 to 2.8 in long, containing 1 to 4 seeds, which forces its way underground to mature. Hypogaea means "under the earth."

Archeologists have (thus far) dated the oldest specimens to about 7,600 years found in Peru. Cultivation spread as far as Mesoamerica where the Spanish conquistadors found peanuts being offered for sale in the marketplace of Tenochtitlan (Mexico City). The plant was later spread worldwide by European traders.

Peanuts are rich in nutrients, providing over 30 essential nutrients and phytonutrients. Peanuts are a good source of niacin, folate, fiber, magnesium, vitamin E, manganese and phosphorus. They also are naturally free of trans-fats and sodium, and contain about 25% protein (a higher proportion than in any true nut).

While peanuts are considered high in fat, they primarily contain “good” fats also known as unsaturated fats. One serving of peanuts contains 11.5 g unsaturated fat and 2 g of saturated fat. In fact, peanuts have been linked well enough to their heart-healthy benefits. In 2003, the Food and Drug Administration released a health claim recognizing peanuts in helping maintain one's cholesterol.

Popular confections include salted peanuts, peanut butter (sandwiches, candy bars, and cups), peanut brittle, and shelled nuts (plain/roasted). Salted peanuts are usually roasted in oil and packed in retail size, plastic bags or hermetically sealed cans. Dry roasted, salted peanuts are also marketed in significant quantities. Peanuts are often a major ingredient in mixed nuts because of their inexpensiveness compared to Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, and so on. The primary use of peanut butter is in the home, but large quantities are also used in the commercial manufacture of sandwiches, candy, and bakery products. Boiled peanuts are a preparation of raw, unshelled green peanuts boiled in brine and typically eaten as a snack in the southern United States where most peanuts are grown. More recently, fried peanut recipes have emerged - allowing both shell and nut to be eaten. Peanuts are also used in cosmetics, nitroglycerin, plastics, dyes and paints.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Retinal Detachment

Retinal detachment is a disorder of the eye in which the retina peels away from its underlying layer of support tissue. Initial detachment may be localized, but without rapid treatment the entire retina may detach, leading to vision loss and blindness. It is a medical emergency.

The retina is a thin layer of light sensitive tissue on the back wall of the eye. The optical system of the eye focuses light on the retina much like light is focused on the film in a camera. The retina translates that focused image into neural impulses and sends them to the brain via the optic nerve. Occasionally, posterior vitreous detachment, injury or trauma to the eye or head may cause a small tear in the retina. The tear allows vitreous fluid to seep through it under the retina, and peel it away like a bubble in wallpaper.

  • Rhegmatogenous retinal detachment – A rhegmatogenous retinal detachment occurs due to a break in the retina that allows fluid to pass from the vitreous space into the subretinal space between the sensory retina and the retinal pigment epithelium. Retinal breaks are divided into three types - holes, tears and dialyses. Holes form due to retinal atrophy especially within an area of lattice degeneration. Tears are due to vitreoretinal traction. Dialyses which are very peripheral and circumferential may be either tractional or atrophic, the atrophic form most often occurring as idiopathic dialysis of the young.
  • Exudative, serous, or secondary retinal detachment – An exudative retinal detachment occurs due to inflammation, injury or vascular abnormalities that results in fluid accumulating underneath the retina without the presence of a hole, tear, or break. In evaluation of retinal detachment it is critical to exclude exudative detahment as surgery will make the situation worse not better. Although rare, exudative retinal detachment can be caused by the growth of a tumor on the layers of tissue beneath the retina, namely the choroid. This cancer is called a choroidal melanoma.
  • Tractional retinal detachment – A tractional retinal detachment occurs when fibrous or fibrovascular tissue, caused by an injury, inflammation or neovascularization, pulls the sensory retina from the retinal pigment epithelium.

A minority of retinal detachments result from trauma, including blunt blows to the orbit, penetrating trauma, and concussions to the head. A retrospective Indian study of more than 500 cases of rhegmatogenous detachments found that 11% were due to trauma, and that gradual onset was the norm, with over 50% presenting more than one month after the inciting injury.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Rat Fink

Rat Fink is one of the several hot-rod characters created by one of the originators of Kustom Kulture, Ed "Big Daddy" Roth. Roth's hatred for Mickey Mouse led him to draw the original Rat Fink. After he placed Rat Fink on an airbrushed monster shirt, the character soon came to symbolize the entire hot-rod/Kustom Kulture scene of the 1950s and 1960s. Although Detroit native Stanley Mouse (Miller) is credited with creating the so-called "Monster Hot Rod" art form, Roth is accepted as the individual who popularized it.

The Rat Fink is a green, depraved-looking mouse with bulging, bloodshot eyes, an oversized mouth with yellowed, narrow teeth, and a red T-shirt with yellow "R.F." on it.

Other artists associated with Roth also drew the character, including Rat Fink Comix artist R.K. Sloane and Steve Fiorilla, who illustrated Roth's catalogs.

A Rat Fink revival in the late 1980s and the 1990s centered around the West Coast grunge/punk rock movements. The term fink was originally underworld slang for an informer, comparable to "stool pigeon", and ratfink is an intensified version of "fink." By the time Roth used this name for a character, the term had started to pass into more general usage.

Friday, February 18, 2011


An amphora is a type of ceramic vase with two handles and a long neck narrower than the body. The word amphora is Latin, derived from the Greek amphoreus (αμφορεύς), an abbreviation of amphiphoreus (αμφιφορεύς), a compound word combining amphi- ("on both sides", "twain") plus phoreus ("carrier"), from pherein ("to carry"), referring to the vessel's two carrying handles on opposite sides.

Amphora dated to around 4800 BCE have been found in Banpo, a Neolithic site of the Yang Shao Culture in China. In the West, Amphorae first appeared on the Syrian coast around 3500 BCE and spread around the ancient world, being used by the ancient Greeks and Romans as the principal means for transporting and storing grapes, olive oil, wine, oil, olives, grain, fish, and other commodities. They were produced on an industrial scale from Greek times and used around the Mediterranean until about the 7th century. Wooden and skin containers seem to have supplanted amphorae thereafter.

They are of great benefit to maritime archaeologists, as amphorae in a shipwreck can often indicate the age of the wreck and geographic origin of the cargo. They are occasionally so well preserved that the original contents are still present, providing invaluable information on the eating habits and trading systems of the ancient Mediterranean peoples. Amphorae were too cheap and plentiful to return to their origin-point and so, when empty, they were broken up at their destination. In Rome this happened in an area named Testaccio, close to Tiber, in such a way that the fragments, later wetted with Calcium hydroxide (Calce viva), remained to create a hill now named Monte Testaccio 45 meters tall and more than 1 km circumference.

High-quality painted amphorae were produced in significant numbers for a variety of social and ceremonial purposes. Their design differs significantly from the more functional versions; they are typified by wide mouth and a ring base, with a glazed surface and decorated with figures or geometric shapes. Such amphorae were often used as prizes. Some examples, bearing the inscription "I am one of the prizes from Athens", have survived from the Panathenaic Festivals held between the 6th century BC to the 2nd century BC. Painted amphorae were also used for funerary purposes. The loutrophoros, a type of amphora, was used principally for funeral rites. Outsize vases were also used as grave markers, while some amphorae were used as containers for the ashes of the dead.

Two principal types of amphorae existed: the neck amphora, in which the neck and body meet at a sharp angle; and the one-piece amphora, in which the neck and body form a continuous curve. Neck amphorae were commonly used in the early history of ancient Greece but were gradually replaced by the one-piece type from around the 7th century BC onwards. Most were produced with a pointed base to allow them to be stored in an upright position by being partly embedded in sand or soft ground. This also facilitated transport by ship, where the amphorae were tightly packed together, with ropes passed through their handles to prevent breaking or toppling during a rough sea voyage.

Amphorae varied greatly in height. The largest could stand as much as 1.5 metres (5 ft) high, while some were under 30 centimetres (12 in) high - the smallest were called amphoriskoi (literally "little amphorae"). Most were around 45 centimetres (18 in) high. There was a significant degree of standardisation in some variants; the wine amphora held a standard measure of about 39 litres (41 US qt), giving rise to the amphora quadrantal as a unit of measure in the Roman Empire. In all, around 66 distinct types of amphora have been identified.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Slavic Peoples

The Slavic Peoples are an ethnic and linguistic branch of Indo-European peoples, living mainly in central and eastern Europe. From the early 6th century they spread to inhabit most of the Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans. Many settled later in Siberia and Central Asia or emigrated to other parts of the world. Over half of Europe's territory is inhabited by Slavic-speaking communities.

Modern nations and ethnic groups called by the ethnonym Slavs are considerably diverse both in appearance and culturally, and relations between them - even within the individual ethnic groups themselves - are varied, ranging from a sense of connection to feelings of mutual hostility.

Slavic peoples are classified geographically and linguistically into West Slavic (including Czechs, Poles, Silesians, Slovaks and Sorbs), East Slavic (including Belarusians, Russians and Ukrainians), and South Slavic (including Bosniaks, Bulgarians, Croats, Macedonians, Montenegrins, Serbs and Slovenes).

Wednesday, February 16, 2011


The V-3, also known as the Hochdruckpumpe ("High Pressure Pump", HDP for short; this was a code name used to hide the real purpose of the project), was a German World War II supergun working on the multi-charge principle whereby secondary charges are detonated to add velocity to a projectile.

The weapon was planned to be used to bombard London from two large bunkers in the Pas-de-Calais region of northern France, which were rendered unusable by Allied bombing raids before completion. Two similar guns were used to bombard the country of Luxembourg from December 1944 to February 1945.

The gun used multiple propelling charges placed along the barrel's length and timed to fire as soon as the projectile passed them by, to provide an additional boost. Due to their higher suitability and ease of use, solid-fuel rocket boosters were used instead of explosive charges. These were arranged in symmetrical pairs along the length of the barrel, angled to project their thrust against the base of the projectile after it passed. This layout spawned the German codename Tausendfüßler ("millipede"). Unlike conventional rifled weapons of the day, the smooth-bore gun fired a fin-stabilized shell, dependent upon aerodynamic rather than gyroscopic forces to prevent tumbling, which resulted in a higher drag coefficient.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Baby Burlesks

Baby Burlesks is the collective series title of eight thematically unrelated one-reeler films produced by Jack Hays and directed by Charles Lamont for Educational Pictures in 1932 and 1933. The eight films are satires on major motion pictures, film stars, celebrities, and current events, and are sometimes racist and sexist. Cast members are preschoolers clad in adult costumes on the top and diapers fastened with large safety pins on the bottom.

Many of the children employed in the series were recruited from Meglin's Dance School in Hollywood, and, when not rehearsing or shooting, were sent out by the studio as advertising models for a variety of products (including breakfast cereals and cigars) in order to underwrite the costs of film production.

The series is notable for featuring three-year old Shirley Temple in her first screen appearances, and, in her 1988 autobiography, the actress describes the Baby Burlesks as "a cynical exploitation of our childish innocence." She also said the films were "the best things I ever did."

Monday, February 14, 2011

Edward K. Valentine

Edward Kimble Valentine (June 1, 1843 – April 11, 1916, age 72) was a Nebraska Republican politician.

Born in Keosauqua, Iowa, he attended common schools and learned to become a printer. During the Civil War he enlisted in the Union Army, serving in the Sixty-seventh Regiment of the Illinois Volunteer Infantry. He was promoted to second lieutenant and then honorably discharged. He reenlisted in the spring of 1863 as a private in the Seventh Iowa Volunteer Cavalry. He was promoted to adjutant of the regiment and served until 1866.

He settled in Omaha, Nebraska in 1866. He was appointed register of the United States land office in West Point, Nebraska serving from May 17, 1869 to September 30, 1871. He studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1869, setting up practice in West Point.

He was elected judge to the sixth judicial district in 1875. He ran in Nebraska at-large for the Forty-sixth and Forty-seventh congress, being elected as a Republican both times. He was elected to the newly created 3rd district of Nebraska to the Forty-eighth Congresses. In all he served from March 4, 1879 to March 3, 1885. During his time in the Forty-seventh Congress he was the chairman of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture. He declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1884. He was the United States Senate Sergeant at Arms from June 30, 1890 to August 6, 1893. After that he resumed practicing law in West Point. He retired to Chicago, Illinois in 1908, where he later died. He was buried in Union Ridge Cemetery, Norwood Park, Illinois.

Sunday, February 13, 2011


Shabu-shabu is a Japanese variant of hot pot. The dish is related to sukiyaki in style, where both use thinly sliced meat and vegetables, and usually served with dipping sauces, but it is considered to be more savory and less sweet than sukiyaki. It is considered a winter dish but is eaten year-round.

Shabu-shabu was introduced in Japan in the 20th century with the opening of a Shabu-shabu restaurant "Suehiro" in Osaka. Its origins are traced back to the Chinese hot pot known as "shuan yang rou". Shabu-shabu is most similar to the original Chinese version when compared to other Japanese dishes (nabemono) such as sukiyaki. The name of Shabu-shabu was named when Suehiro served it. After that, Suehiro registered the name of shabu-shabu as a trademark in 1955. The cuisine rapidly spread through Asia. Together with sukiyaki, shabu-shabu is a common dish in tourist hot-spots, especially in Tokyo, but also in local Japanese neighborhoods (colloquially called "Little Tokyos" or "Japantowns") in countries such as the United States and Canada.

The dish is traditionally made with thinly sliced beef, though modern preparations sometimes use pork, crab, chicken, duck, or lobster. Most often, tender ribeye steak is used, but less tender cuts such as top sirloin are also common. A more expensive meat, such as wagyū, may also be used for its enhanced flavor and texture. It is usually served with tofu and vegetables, including Chinese cabbage, chrysanthemum leaves, nori (edible seaweed), onions, carrots, shiitake mushrooms and enokitake mushrooms. In some places, udon, mochi or harusame noodles may also be served.

The dish is prepared by submerging a very thin slice of meat or a piece of vegetable in a pot of boiling water or dashi (broth) made with kombu (kelp) and swishing it back and forth several times. The familiar swishing sound is where the dish gets its name. Shabu-shabu directly translates to "swish-swish". Cooked meat and vegetables are usually dipped in ponzu or "goma" (sesame seed) sauce before eating, and served with a bowl of steamed white rice. Once the meat and vegetables have been eaten, leftover broth from the pot is customarily combined with the remaining rice, and the resulting soup is usually eaten last.

Saturday, February 12, 2011


Quinine is a natural white crystalline alkaloid having antipyretic (fever-reducing), antimalarial, analgesic (painkilling), anti-inflammatory properties and a bitter taste. It is a stereoisomer of quinidine which, unlike quinine, is an anti-arrhythmic. Quinine contains two major fused-ring systems: the aromatic quinoline and the bicyclic quinuclidine.

Though it has been synthesized in the lab, the bark of the cinchona tree is the only known natural source of quinine. The medicinal properties of the cinchona tree were originally discovered by the Quechua Indians of Peru and Bolivia; later, the Jesuits were the first to bring the cinchona to Europe.

Quinine was the first effective treatment for malaria caused by Plasmodium falciparum, appearing in therapeutics in the 17th century. It remained the antimalarial drug of choice until the 1940s, when other drugs replaced it. Since then, many effective antimalarials have been introduced, although quinine is still used to treat the disease in certain critical situations. Quinine is available with a prescription in the United States and over-the-counter, in very small quantities, in tonic water. Quinine is also used to treat lupus and arthritis. Until recently, quinine was also a common "off-label" treatment for nocturnal leg cramps. This practice is now considered dubious by the FDA[1]

Quinine is very sensitive to ultraviolet light (UV) and will fluoresce in direct sunlight, due to its highly conjugated resonance structure (See Quinoline)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Booji Boy

Booji Boy is a character created in the early 1970s by American New Wave band Devo. The name is pronounced "Boogie Boy"—the strange spelling resulted when the band was using letraset to produce captions for a film, and ran out of the letter "g". When the "i" was added but before the "e," Devo lead singer Mark Mothersbaugh looked at the odd spelling and reportedly remarked that it "looked right."

Booji Boy has traits of a simian child and typically wears an orange nuclear protection suit. He is portrayed by Mothersbaugh in a mask and is the son of another fictitious Devo character, General Boy. The intent of the figure is to satirize infantile regression in Western culture, a quality Devo enjoyed elucidating. This character was officially introduced in the 1974 short film The Truth About De-Evolution.

According to the book We're All Devo!, the roots of the character come from discovering a baby mask in an Akron area novelty store. Mark developed the character's distinctive high pitched falsetto almost instantly. Mark Mothersbaugh kept a supply of Booji Boy masks for several years, but due to improper storage, many of them ended up ruined from dry rot. A similar, half-head mask was used in concerts during 2004 and 2005, and a new mask based on the original was created and used beginning in 2007.

Booji Boy was incorporated into Devo's 1996 PC CD-ROM video game "Adventures of the Smart Patrol." His name was simplified to "Boogie Boy" and the game claims his "real name" was "Craig Allan Rothwell." (Coincidentally, this is also supposedly the real name of the dancer known as "Spazz Attack" who appeared in Devo's music videos for "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" and "Peek-A-Boo!," and who played Booji Boy on a Devo tour.)

The game's booklet contained more information about the character's back story:

Obsessed with the idea of genetic mutation, Craig submitted to a botched operation in an effort to land a media deal with Big Media. Viola! Boogie Boy - a bizarre adult infant freak with pre-adolescent sexuality and Yoda-like wisdom.

Booji Boy has been featured in the band's visual imagery throughout their career. For example, he plays a prominent role in the video of their 1981 single "Beautiful World." He also appeared in the 1982 Neil Young film Human Highway in a very comical yet unsettling role predicting the end of the planet. Booji Boy publicly announced his pending resignation on multiple occasions, most recently on August 13, 2007, yet he appeared at a Summerfest concert on July 4, 2010 and on July 8, 2010 at the Town Ballroom In Buffalo, NY. Booji Boy continues to appear in concert regularly to perform "Beautiful World." In recent years, Booji Boy's concert appearances have seen him dressed in modern "hip hop" attire (including a sideways ball cap and sporting "bling"), with Devo member Jerry Casale introducing him as "Boogie Boyyyyyy."

Beyond Devo's works, Booji appeared in the Zabagabee home video by Barnes and Barnes demonstrating how to wax a carrot, and in the music video for "You Ain't Fresh" by Rap duo Boogie Boys.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Vargas Diamond

The Vargas Diamond, discovered in Brazil on August 13, 1938 by Joaquim Venancio Tiago and Manoel Miguel Domingues, was 726.6 carats (145.3 g) when pulled out of the ground. Twenty nine smaller diamonds were carved from the larger rough Vargas Diamond including the 48.26-carat (9.65 g) emerald cut diamond named "President Vargas", after the former Brazilian President, Getúlio Dornelles Vargas.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


The Billiken was a charm doll created by an American art teacher and illustrator, Ms. Florence Pretz of St. Louis, Missouri, who is said to have seen the mysterious figure in a dream. In 1908 she patented the Billiken who was elf-like with pointed ears, a mischievous smile, and a tuft of hair on his pointed head. His arms were short and he was generally sitting with his legs stretched out in front of him.

In its heyday, the Billiken enjoyed worldwide celebrity. In America he became the athletic mascot of Saint Louis University, because the figure was said to resemble coach John R. Bender. The school's athletic teams remain the Billikens to this day. A statue of the Billiken stands in front of the Chaifetz Arena on the Saint Louis University Campus and a junior version of the Billiken also became the mascot of nearby Saint Louis University High School. Bud Billiken was a youth-club mascot for the Chicago Defender, and was created in 1923.

At least two Billiken-themed songs were recorded, including "Billiken Rag" and the "Billiken Man Song."

The manufacturer of the dolls, Horsman Dolls, Inc., had earlier enjoyed success with the Teddy bear: a toy named after president Theodore Roosevelt. The Billiken was one of the first copyrighted dolls and the first likenesses of the Billiken, banks and statues, were produced in 1909. After a few brief years of popularity, like many other fad toys, the Billiken faded into obscurity.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Humboldt Squid

The Humboldt Squid (Dosidicus gigas), also known as Jumbo Squid, Jumbo Flying Squid, or Diablo Rojo (Spanish for Red Devil), is a large, predatory squid found in the waters of the Humboldt Current in the Eastern Pacific Ocean. They are most commonly found at depths of 200–700 metres (660–2,300 ft), from Tierra del Fuego to California. Recent findings suggest the range of this species is spreading north into the waters of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, and Alaska. Though they usually prefer deep water, between 1,000 and 1,500 squid washed up on the Long Beach Peninsula in southwest Washington in the fall of 2004. They have also ventured into Puget Sound.

Humboldt Squid are carnivorous marine invertebrates that move in shoals of up to 1,200 individuals. They swim at speeds of up to 24 kilometres per hour (15 mph/13 kn) propelled by water ejected through a hyponome (siphon) and by two diamond shaped fins. Their tentacles

bear suckers lined with sharp teeth with which they grasp prey and drag it towards a large, sharp beak.

Although Humboldt squid have a reputation of being aggressive, the only reports of aggression towards humans have occurred when reflective diving gear or flashing lights have been present as a provocation. Roger Uzun, a veteran scuba diver and amateur underwater videographer who swam with a swarm of the animals for about 20 minutes, said they seemed to be more curious than aggressive. In reality, there is very likely little danger to humans. In circumstances where these animals are not feeding or being hunted, they exhibit curious and intelligent behavior.

Electronic tagging has shown that Humboldt squid undergo diel vertical migrations which bring them closer to the surface from dusk to dawn. Humboldt Squid are thought to have a lifespan of only about one year, although larger individuals may survive up to two years. They may grow to 1.75 metres (5.7 ft) in mantle length (ML) and weigh up to 50 kilograms (100 lb). They can rapidly change their skin color from deep purplish red to white using chromatophores (specialized skin cells) in what some researchers believe is a complex communication system. Experts have also stated that the squid hunt for their prey of small fish and krill in a cooperative fashion, which would be the first observation of such behavior in invertebrates. Humboldt Squid are known to hunt near the surface at night, taking advantage of the dark to use their keen vision to feed on more plentiful prey.

Recent research suggests that Humboldt squid are only aggressive while feeding. At other times, they are quite passive. Their behavior while feeding often extends to cannibalism and they have been seen to readily attack injured or vulnerable squid of their own shoal. This behavior may account for a large proportion of their rapid growth.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Operation Chastise

Operation Chastise was the official name for the attacks carried out on German dams by Royal Air Force No. 617 Squadron, subsequently known as the Dambusters on 16–17 May 1943 using a specially developed "bouncing bomb" invented and developed by Barnes Wallis. The Möhne and Eder dams were breached, causing catastrophic flooding of the Ruhr valley and of villages in the Eder valley, while the Sorpe dam sustained only minor damage.

The mission grew out of a concept for a bomb designed by Barnes Wallis and developed by his team at Vickers. Wallis was an aircraft designer who had worked on both the Vickers Wellesley and Vickers Wellington bombers. While working on aircraft he had also begun work on a bomb designed specifically with dam-destruction in mind.

Wallis' concept was a drum-shaped bomb spinning backwards at over 500 rpm, dropped at a sufficiently low altitude at the correct speed. It would skip for a significant distance over the surface of the water in a series of bounces before reaching the dam wall. Its residual spin would run the bomb down the side of the dam to its underwater base. Using a hydrostatic fuse, an accurate drop could bypass the dam's defences and enable the bomb to explode against the dam.

After some testing and many engineering meetings, the idea was adopted on 26 February 1943. The bomb was codenamed "Upkeep", and a target date was set for May, when water levels would be at their highest and breaches in the dams would cause the most damage.

At least 1,650 people were killed: around 70 in the Eder Valley, and at least 1,579 bodies were found along the Möhne and Ruhr rivers, with hundreds missing. 1,026 of the bodies found downriver of the Möhne Dam were foreign prisoners of war and forced-labourers in different camps, mainly from the Soviet Union. Worst hit was the city of Neheim (now part of Neheim-Hüsten) at the confluence of the Möhne and Ruhr rivers, where over 800 people perished, among them at least 526 female forced-labourers from the Soviet Union. (Some non-German sources erroneously cite an earlier total of 749 for all foreigners in all camps in the Möhne and Ruhr valleys as the casualty count at a camp just below the Eder Dam.)

After the operation Barnes Wallis wrote, "I feel a blow has been struck at Germany from which she cannot recover for several years." However, on closer inspection, Operation Chastise did not have the military effect that was at the time believed. By 27 June full water output was restored, thanks to an emergency pumping scheme inaugurated only the previous year, and the electricity grid was again producing power at full capacity. The raid proved to be costly in lives (more than half the lives lost belonging to Allied POWs and forced-labourers), but in fact no more than a minor inconvenience to the Ruhr's industrial output. The value of the bombing can perhaps best be seen as a very real boost to British morale.

By far the greatest and most unexpected effect was on German food production. The Ruhr Valley below the dams was a major source of vital food for Germany, and large areas of arable land were rendered unusable and huge numbers of farm animals were killed. This had an immediate negative effect on German morale. In addition, the pictures of the broken dams proved to be a propaganda and morale boost to the Allies, especially to the British, still suffering under German bombing.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Flat Daddy

A Flat Daddy (also Flat Mommy or Flat Soldier) is a life-sized cardboard cut-out of someone absent from home, the idea being to keep connected to family members during a deployment. Flat Daddies came in fashion after the start of the Iraq War when spouses and children were left alone after soldiers were called up for duty. By the mid 2000s, thousands of Flat Daddies have been produced for families in USA.

The Flat Daddy concept dates back to at least 2003, when Cindy Sorenson of Bismarck, North Dakota created a cutout of her husband who was deployed in Iraq with the North Dakota National Guard. The name was modeled on the 1964 children's book Flat Stanley and a program in which children mailed small cutouts of themselves. The idea was shared by Sorenson with Elaine Dumler, a motivational speaker who mentioned the idea in a book offering coping tips for families with a deploying soldier. Dumler obtained a trademark on the term "Flat Daddy", hoping to prevent anyone from profiting on the idea. Dumler filed for the trademark on October 16, 2006, for use as photographs of active duty military personnel mounted on cardboard cut-outs, vinyl, and photo paper and in books in the field of military family readiness. The trademark application indicated that the term was first used in September 2003.

As of 2006, the Maine National Guard had produced 200 "Flat Daddy" and "Flat Mommy" cutouts for the families of soldiers deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Maine program was started based on information received at a National Guard conference. The state's family-support director noted the enthusiastic response to the program, stating that "If there's something we can do to make it a little easier on the families, then that's our job and our responsibility. It brings them a little bit closer and might help them somewhere down the line."

By 2007, a Toledo, Ohio firm had manufactured over 1,000 of the cutout figures. While many of the initial Flat Daddies had been produced gratis, the firm was seeking sponsors for the 50 per week that it was producing.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Pace Car

In motorsport, a pace car is a car which limits the speed of competing cars on a racetrack in the case of a caution period such as an obstruction on the track. During a caution period the pace car enters the track ahead of the leader. Competitors are not allowed to pass the pace car or other competitors during a caution period, and the pace car leads the field at a pre-determined safe speed, which may vary by series and circuit. At the end of the caution period, the pace car leaves the track and the competitors may resume racing.

Friday, February 4, 2011

These Foolish Things

"These Foolish Things (Remind Me Of You)" is a standard with words by Eric Maschwitz and music by Jack Strachey. The name of an American, Harry Link, sometimes appears as a co-writer, but his input was probably limited to changes to suit the US market. It is one of a group of 'Mayfair Songs', like "A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square". Maschwitz wrote the song under his pen name, Holt Marvell. The copyright was lodged in 1936 and it was written for Joan Carr for a late-evening review broadcast by the BBC. Maschwitz was romantically linked to the Chinese-American actress Anna May Wong while working in Hollywood, and the lyrics of "These Foolish Things" are evocative of his longing for her after they parted and he returned to England

When the song was written, Maschwitz was Head of Variety at the BBC. It is a list song (Maschwitz calls it a 'catalogue song' in his biography), in this case working through the various things that remind the singer of a lost love. The lyrics - the verse and three choruses - were written by Maschwitz during the course of one Sunday morning at his flat in London. Within hours of crafting the lyrics, he dictated them over the phone to Jack Strachey and they arranged to meet the same evening to discuss the next step. Strachey suggested an alternative title, These Little Things, but this was not taken up.

The song was not an immediate success and even Keith Prowse, Maschwitz's agent, refused to publish it, releasing the copyright to Maschwitz himself - a stroke of luck for the lyricist. Writing in 1957, he claims to have made £40,000 from the song. Despite being featured in Spread it Abroad, a London review of 1936, it aroused no interest until the famous West Indian pianist and singer, Leslie Hutchinson ('Hutch') discovered it on top of a piano in Maschwitz's office at the BBC. 'Hutch' liked it and recorded it, whereupon it became a great success and was recorded by musicians all over the world. This first recording by 'Hutch' was by HMV in 1936.

Various other versions have been recorded including vocal arrangements featuring: Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Billie Holiday, Frankie Laine, Sarah Vaughn, Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Aaron Neville, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Bryan Ferry and Rod Stewart.

Instrumental jazz arrangements of the song have been recorded by Stan Getz, Benny Goodman, Lionel Hampton, Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck, Chet Baker, Count Basie, Lester Young and numerous other artists.