Sunday, July 31, 2011

Eefing

Eefing is an Appalachian (United States) vocal technique similar to beatboxing, but nearly a century older. Jennifer Sharpe describes it as "a kind of hiccupping, rhythmic wheeze that started in rural Tennessee more than 100 years ago."

An eefing piece called "Swamp Root" was one of the first singles recorded and released by Sam Phillips. Singer Joe Perkins had a minor 1963 hit "Little Eeefin' Annie", (76 on the Billboard chart, featuring eefer Jimmie Riddle, whom Sharpe calls "the acknowledged master of the genre." Riddle later brought eefing to national visibility on the television series Hee Haw.

In fall 1963, the same time as Perkins' "Little Eefin' Annie" was released, a group called the Ardells issued a single on Epic called "Eefinanny," a sort of bluegrass/hillbilly spoof on the folk hootenanny movement. It was not a hit.

The song Hillbilly beatbox by The Evolution Control Committee prominently features eefing recordings.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Mafalda Salvatini

Mafalda Salvatini (17 October 1888 - 13 June 1971) was an Italian opera singer who was primarily active in Germany during the first half of the 20th century. She excelled in the dramatic soprano repertoire of the Italian language and was one of the leading operatic sopranos in Berlin from 1908-1932. Although she performed as a guest artist in other German cities and in Austria, Belgium, France, Holland, and Latvia, she never performed at theatres in her native country. She made several recordings for the Deutsche Grammophon and Odeon record labels.

Born in Baiae, Salvatini was the daughter of an officer of the Italian Army. She was orphaned at the age of 4 and thereafter was raised in boarding schools operated by the Sacred Heart in Portici and Paris. Her musical talents were evident at an early age and she was encouraged to pursue a singing career. She studied voice in Paris with Pauline Viardot-Garcia and Jean de Reszke. She later studied with Julius Lieban in Germany.

Salvatini made her professional opera debut in 1908 at the age of 19 at the Berlin State Opera in the title role of Giuseppe Verdi's Aida. She remained active at that theatre through 1914, singing such roles as Leonora in Verdi's Il trovatore and the title role in Giacomo Puccini's Madama Butterfly. In 1912 she appeared as a guest artist at the Bavarian State Opera and in 1913 she made her debut with the Paris Opera as Valentine in Giacomo Meyerbeer's Les Huguenots.

In 1914 Salvatini joined the roster of singers at the Deutsche Oper Berlin, remaining committed there through 1923. Among the roles she sang there were Aida, Amelia in Verdi's Un ballo in maschera, Marta in Eugen d'Albert's Tiefland, Myrtocle in d'Albert's Die toten Augen, Rachel in La Juive, Santuzza in Pietro Mascagni's Cavalleria rusticana, Senta in The Flying Dutchman, Valentine, and the title roles in Georges Bizet's Carmen and Puccini's Tosca. She was committed again to the Berlin State Opera from 1924-1926 where she was heard in the title role of Puccini's Turandot for the work's Berlin premiere in 1926. She then returned to the Deutsche Oper Berlin where she was active until her retirement from the stage in 1932.

After retiring from the stage, Salvatini lived in retirement in the Swiss canton of Ticino. From 1908 until his suicide in 1918, she was the mistress of Adolphus Frederick VI, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg with whom she had two sons: Horst Gérard and the set and costume designer Rolf Gérard. She later was married to the Lithuanian ambassador to Germany. She died in Lugano in 1971 at the age of 82.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Stomach

In some animals, including vertebrates, echinoderms, insects (mid-gut) and molluscs, the stomach is a muscular, hollow, dilated part of the alimentary canal which functions as an important organ of the digestive tract. It is involved in the second phase of digestion, following mastication (chewing). The stomach is located between the oesophagus and the small intestine. It secretes protein-digesting enzymes and strong acids to aid in food digestion, (sent to it via oesophageal peristalsis) through smooth muscular contortions (called segmentation) before sending partially-digested food (chyme) to the small intestines.

The word stomach is derived from the Latin stomachus which is derived from the Greek word stomachos, ultimately from stoma (στόμα), "mouth". The words gastro- and gastric (meaning related to the stomach) are both derived from the Greek word gaster.

The stomach lies between the oesophagus and the duodenum (the first part of the small intestine). It is on the left upper part of the abdominal cavity. The top of the stomach lies against the diaphragm. Lying behind the stomach is the pancreas. The greater omentum hangs down from the greater curvature.

The stomach is surrounded by parasympathetic (stimulant) and orthosympathetic (inhibitor) plexuses (networks of blood vessels and nerves in the anterior gastric, posterior, superior and inferior, celiac and myenteric), which regulate both the secretions activity and the motor (motion) activity of its muscles.

In humans, the stomach has a relaxed, near empty volume of about 45 ml. It is a distensible organ. It normally expands to hold about 1 litre of food, but will hold as much as 2-3 litres (whereas a newborn baby will only be able to retain 30ml).

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Earwig

Earwigs make up the insect order Dermaptera, found throughout the Americas, Eurasia and Australia. It is one of the smaller insect orders, with only 1,800 recorded species in 12 families. Typical earwigs have characteristic cerci, a pair of forceps-like pincers on their abdomen, and membranous wings folded underneath short forewings, hence the scientific name for the order, which translates literally as "skin wings." Some groups within the earwig order are tiny parasites on mammals and lack the typical pincers. Earwigs rarely fly, even though they are capable of doing so.

Earwigs are nocturnal; they often hide in small, moist crevices during the day, and are active at night, feeding on a wide variety of insects and plants. Damage to foliage, flowers, and various crops are commonly blamed on earwigs, especially the common earwig Forficula auricularia.

Earwigs undergo an average of 5 molts over the course of a year, their average life expectancy, before they become adults. Many earwig species display maternal care, which is uncommon among insects. Female earwigs are known to take care of their eggs, and even after they have hatched as nymphs will continue to watch over offspring until their second molt. As the nymphs molt, sexual dimorphism such as differences in pincer shapes begins to show.

Earwig fossils have been found in different places. Some of those specimens are now included in the extinct suborder Archidermaptera dating back to the Late Triassic. Many orders of insect have been theorized to be closely related to earwigs by many authors, though Grylloblattaria is the most likely.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Biodiesel

Biodiesel refers to a vegetable oil- or animal fat-based diesel fuel consisting of long-chain alkyl (methyl, propyl or ethyl) esters. Biodiesel is typically made by chemically reacting lipids (e.g., vegetable oil, animal fat (tallow)) with an alcohol.

Biodiesel is meant to be used in standard diesel engines and is thus distinct from the vegetable and waste oils used to fuel converted diesel engines. Biodiesel can be used alone, or blended with petrodiesel.

Biodiesel has better lubricating properties and much higher cetane ratings than today's lower sulfur diesel fuels. Biodiesel addition reduces fuel system wear, and in low levels in high pressure systems increases the life of the fuel injection equipment that relies on the fuel for its lubrication. Depending on the engine, this might include high pressure injection pumps, pump injectors (also called unit injectors) and fuel injectors.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Fish and chips

Fish and chips is a popular take-away food that originated in the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century. It consists of deep-fried fish (traditionally cod or in Australia, flake, but sometimes haddock or plaice) covered in batter—or sometimes breadcrumbs—accompanied by deep-fried chipped (slab-cut) potatoes.
Popular tradition associates the dish with the United Kingdom and Ireland. The dish remains very popular in the UK and in areas colonised by British people, such as Australia, New Zealand and Canada. It has also been popular in the Faroe Islands since the 1940s, when it was introduced during the British occupation of the Islands during World War II.
Fish and chips became a stock meal among the working classes in Great Britain as a consequence of the rapid development of trawl fishing in the North Sea and development of railways connecting ports to cities during the second half of the nineteenth century. Early fish-and-chip shops had only very basic facilities. Usually these consisted principally of a large cauldron of cooking-fat, heated by a coal fire. Insanitary by modern standards, such establishments also emitted a smell associated with frying, which led to the authorities classifying fish-and-chip supply as an "offensive trade", a stigma retained until the interwar period. The industry overcame this reputation because during World War II fish and chips remained one of the few foods in the United Kingdom not subject to rationing.
The modern fish-and-chip shop ("chippy" or "chipper" in modern British slang) originated in the United Kingdom, although outlets selling fried food occurred commonly throughout Europe. According to one story, fried-potato shops spreading south from Scotland merged with fried-fish shops spreading from southern England. Early fish-and-chip shops had only very basic facilities. Usually these consisted principally of a large cauldron of cooking-fat, heated by a coal fire. Insanitary by modern standards, such establishments also emitted a smell associated with frying, which led to the authorities classifying fish-and-chip supply as an "offensive trade", a stigma retained until the interwar period. The industry overcame this reputation because during World War II fish and chips remained one of the few foods in the United Kingdom not subject to rationing.
Traditional frying uses beef dripping or lard; however, vegetable oils, such as peanut oil (used due to its relatively high smoke-point) now predominate. A minority of vendors in the north of England and Scotland and the majority of vendors in Northern Ireland still use dripping or lard, as it imparts a different flavour to the dish, but it has the side-effect of making the fried chips unsuitable for vegetarians and for adherents of certain faiths.
The long-standing Roman Catholic tradition of not eating meat on Fridays - especially during Lent - and of substituting fish for other types of meat on that day - continues to influence habits even in predominantly Protestant, semi-secular and secular societies. Friday night remains a traditional occasion for patronising fish-and-chip shops; and many cafeterias and similar establishments, while varying their menus on other days of the week, habitually offer fish and chips every Friday.
In the UK, waste fat from fish and chip shops has become a useful source of biodiesel. German biodiesel company Petrotec have outline plans to produce biodiesel in the UK, from waste fat from the British Fish and Chip industry.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Mount Kythnos

Mount Kythnos is the highest point of the Greek holy island of Delos, part of the Cyclades.

Greek mythology states that Zeus observed the birth of his son Apollo (with Leto) from this vantage point. As the centre of the circular Aegaean islands ("Cyclades"), Mount Kythnos offers superb views of the innermost islands: Mykonos, Naxos, Paros, Syros, and Rhenia.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Great Comet

A Great Comet is a comet that becomes exceptionally bright. There is no official definition; often the term will be attached to comets that become bright enough to be noticed by casual observers who are not actively looking for them, and become well known outside the astronomical community. Great Comets are rare; on average only one will appear in a decade. While comets are officially named after their discoverers, Great Comets are sometimes also referred to by the year in which they appeared great, using the formulation "The Great Comet of...", followed by the year.

The vast majority of comets are never bright enough to be seen by the naked eye, and generally pass through the inner solar system unseen by anyone except astronomers. However, occasionally a comet may brighten to naked eye visibility, and even more rarely it may become as bright or brighter than the brightest stars. The requirements for this to occur are: a large and active nucleus, a close approach to the Sun, and a close approach to the Earth. A comet fulfilling all three of these criteria will certainly be spectacular. Sometimes, a comet failing on one criterion will still be extremely impressive.

For a comet to become spectacular, it also needs to pass close to the Earth. Comet Halley, for example, is usually very bright when it passes through the inner solar system every seventy-six years, but during its 1986 apparition, its closest approach to Earth was almost the most distant possible. The comet became visible to the naked eye, but was definitely unspectacular. On the other hand, the intrinsically small and faint Comet Hyakutake (C/1996 B2) appeared very bright and spectacular due to its very close approach to Earth at its nearest during the March of 1996. Its passage near the Earth was one of the closest cometary approaches on record.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Magnesium

Magnesium is a chemical element with the symbol Mg, atomic number 12 and common oxidation number +2. It is an alkaline earth metal and the eighth most abundant element in the Earth's crust, where it constitutes about 2% by mass, and ninth in the known Universe as a whole. This preponderance of magnesium is related to the fact that it is easily built up in supernova stars from a sequential addition of three helium nuclei to carbon (which in turn is made from three helium nuclei). Magnesium ion's high solubility in water helps ensure that it is the third most abundant element dissolved in seawater.

Magnesium is the 11th most abundant element by mass in the human body; its ions are essential to all living cells, where they play a major role in manipulating important biological polyphosphate compounds like ATP, DNA, and RNA. Hundreds of enzymes thus require magnesium ions to function. Magnesium is also the metallic ion at the center of chlorophyll, and is thus a common additive to fertilizers. Magnesium compounds are used medicinally as common laxatives, antacids (i.e., milk of magnesia), and in a number of situations where stabilization of abnormal nerve excitation and blood vessel spasm is required (i.e., to treat eclampsia). Magnesium ions are sour to the taste, and in low concentrations help to impart a natural tartness to fresh mineral waters.

Elemental magnesium is a fairly strong, silvery-white, light-weight metal (two thirds the density of aluminium). It tarnishes slightly when exposed to air, although unlike the alkali metals, storage in an oxygen-free environment is unnecessary because magnesium is protected by a thin layer of oxide that is fairly impermeable and hard to remove. Like its lower periodic table group neighbor calcium, magnesium reacts with water at room temperature, though it reacts much more slowly than calcium. When it is submerged in water, hydrogen bubbles will almost unnoticeably begin to form on the surface of the metal, though if powdered it will react much more rapidly. The reaction will occur faster with higher temperatures (see precautions). Magnesium also reacts exothermically with most acids, such as hydrochloric acid (HCl). As with aluminium, zinc and many other metals, the reaction with hydrochloric acid produces the chloride of the metal and releases hydrogen gas.

The name originates from the Greek word for a district in Thessaly called Magnesia. It is related to magnetite and manganese, which also originated from this area, and required differentiation as separate substances. See manganese for this history.

Magnesium is the seventh most abundant element in the Earth's crust by mass and eighth by molarity. It is found in large deposits of magnesite, dolomite, and other minerals, and in mineral waters, where magnesium ion is soluble. In 1618, a farmer at Epsom in England attempted to give his cows water from a well. They refused to drink because of the water's bitter taste. However the farmer noticed that the water seemed to heal scratches and rashes. The fame of Epsom salts spread. Eventually they were recognized to be hydrated magnesium sulfate.

The metal itself was first produced in England by Sir Humphry Davy in 1808 using electrolysis of a mixture of magnesia and mercury oxide. Antoine Bussy prepared it in coherent form in 1831. Davy's first suggestion for a name was magnium, but the name magnesium is now used.

Magnesium is a highly flammable metal, but while it is easy to ignite when powdered or shaved into thin strips, it is difficult to ignite in mass or bulk. Once ignited, it is difficult to extinguish, being able to burn in nitrogen (forming magnesium nitride), carbon dioxide (forming magnesium oxide and carbon) and water (forming magnesium oxide and hydrogen). This property was used in incendiary weapons used in the firebombing of cities in World War II, the only practical civil defense being to smother a burning flare under dry sand to exclude the atmosphere. On burning in air, magnesium produces a brilliant white light which includes strong ultraviolet. Thus magnesium powder (flash powder) was used as a source of illumination in the early days of photography. Later, magnesium ribbon was used in electrically ignited flash bulbs. Magnesium powder is used in the manufacture of fireworks and marine flares where a brilliant white light is required. Flame temperatures of magnesium and magnesium alloys can reach 5,610 °F, although flame height above the burning metal is usually less than 12 in. Magnesium may be used as an ignition source for thermite, an otherwise difficult to ignite mixture of aluminium and iron oxide powder.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Platte Purchase

The Platte Purchase was a land acquisition in 1836 by the United States government from Native American tribes all of which was east bank lands along the Missouri River that added 3,149 square miles to the northwest corner of the state of Missouri. The area acquired is almost as large as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, and extended Missouri north and westward along the river. St. Joseph, one of the main ports of departure for the westward migration of American pioneers was located in the new acquisition.

The region includes the following modern counties within its bounds: Andrew (435 square miles ), Atchison (545 square miles,), Buchanan (410 square miles), Holt (462 square miles), Nodaway (877 square miles), and Platte (420 square miles). It also includes the northwest suburbs of Kansas City, a small area of Kansas City proper, the cities of St. Joseph, Mound City and Maryville, Missouri, as well as Kansas City International Airport and almost all of Missouri's portion of Interstate 29, save the small portion which runs concurrently with Interstate 35 in Clay County.

Native American people living in unorganized portions of the Missouri Territory had been promised that they would keep their land permanently. However, White settlers quickly broke the agreement, including most notoriously Joseph Robidoux, and demanded incorporation of settled territory into the recently formed state of Missouri that was located east of the Missouri River to the latitude of the state's northern border.

An agreement was reached with Chiefs Mahaska and No Heart of the Ioway tribe and leaders of the combined Sac and Fox tribes in a ceremony that was presided by William Clark (of Lewis and Clark Expedition fame) at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

The tribes were paid $7,500 for their land. The U.S. government was to "build five comfortable houses for each tribe, break up 200 acres of land, fence 200 acres of land, furnish a farmer, blacksmith, teacher, interpreter, provide agricultural implements, furnish livestock" and a host of other small items. The tribes agreed to move to reservations west of the Missouri River in what was to become Kansas and Nebraska, today known as the Ioway Reservation and the Sac and Fox Reservation.

The western border of Missouri was established at the mouth of the Kaw River in Kansas City . The purchase extended the Missouri border in the northwest to 95 degrees 46 minutes West longitude).

On 28 March 1837, President Martin Van Buren proclaimed the Platte Purchase part of the state of Missouri, making what was the largest state in the union at that time even larger.

Current maps show the eastern border of Platte County and all counties north further east than the border between Missouri and Kansas south of the river, which no longer conforms to the mouth of the Kaw River.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Ring Oiler

A ring oiler is a form of oil-lubrication system for bearings.

Ring oilers were used for medium-speed applications with moderate loads, during the first half of the 20th century. These represented the later years of the stationary steam engine, and the beginnings of the high-speed steam engine, the internal combustion oil engine and electrical generating equipment. Before this time plain bearings were lubricated by drip-feed oil cups or manually by an engine tender with an oil can. As speeds or bearing loads later increased, forced pressure lubrication became more prevalent and the ring oiler fell from use.

A ring oiler is a simple device, consisting of a large metal ring placed around a horizontal shaft, adjacent to a bearing. An oil sump is underneath this shaft and the ring is large enough to dip into the oil. As the shaft rotates, the ring is carried round with it. The rotating ring in turn picks up some oil and deposits it onto the shaft, from where it flows sideways and lubricates the bearings. The oil ring is effectively a simple lubrication pump, with only one moving part and no complex or high-precision components. The device is crude, but automatic, effective and reliable. Unlike a drip oiler, there is also no need to close off the oiler or remove oil wicks when the machine is stopped.

Ring oilers were used for speeds up to around 1,000 rpm. Above this, the oil tended to be thrown centrifugally from the ring, rather than carried by it. The bearing must also remain horizontal and stable, so although suitable for crankshaft main bearings, they could not be used on connecting rod big end bearings. They were not used on vehicles for similar reasons, although the engines concerned at this time were anyway too large and heavy for practical mobile use. Automatic ring oilers were particularly useful for large engines with multiple horizontally opposed cylinders, where it was otherwise difficult to access the central main bearings. Ring oilers were most suited where bearing side-loads were relatively light, but the bearing capacity required more lubrication than could be supplied by a drip feed oiler. For this reason they were widely used on larger electric motors and generators.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Barry White

Barry White (September 12, 1944(1944-09-12) – July 4, 2003(2003-07-04)) was an American record producer and singer-songwriter. A five-time Grammy Award-winner known for his distinctive bass voice and romantic image, White's greatest success came in the 1970s as a solo singer and with the Love Unlimited Orchestra, crafting many enduring soul, funk, and disco songs such as his two biggest hits, "You're the First, the Last, My Everything" and "Can't Get Enough of Your Love, Babe".

White was born Barry Eugene Carter in Galveston, Texas and grew up in the high-crime areas of South Central Los Angeles. White was the elder of two brothers; his brother Darryl is 13 months younger. As a child, White grew up listening to his mother's classical music collection. White first took to the piano emulating what he heard on the records. White's introduction to music later led to him playing piano on Jesse Belvin's hit single, "Goodnight My Love". During his teenage years, Barry and his brother got involved with crime and gang activity. At age 17, he was jailed for four months for stealing $30,000 worth of Cadillac tires.

While in jail, White listened to Elvis Presley singing "It's Now or Never" on the radio, an experience he later credited with changing the course of his life. After his release, he left gang life and began a musical career at the dawn of the 1960s in singing groups before going out on his own in the middle of the decade.

The marginal success he had to that point was as a songwriter. His songs were recorded by rock singer Bobby Fuller and TV bubblegum act The Banana Splits.

In 1972, he got his big break producing a girl group he had discovered called Love Unlimited. Formed in imitative style of the Motown girl group The Supremes, the group members had gradually honed their talents with White for two years previously until they signed contracts with Uni Records. His best friend, music industry businessman Larry Nunes, helped to finance their album. After it was recorded, Nunes took the recording to Russ Regan, who was the head of the Uni label owned by MCA. The album, 1972's "From A Girl's Point of View We Give to You... Love Unlimited" became a million album seller.

White wanted to work with another act but decided to work with a solo male artist. While working on a few demos for a male singer, he made three song demos of himself singing and playing, but Nunes heard them and insisted that he re-record and release them himself as a solo recording artist. After arguing for days about it, White was finally persuaded to release the songs himself although he was initially reluctant to step out in front of the microphone.

He then wrote several other songs and recorded them for what eventually became an entire album of music. He was going to use the name "White Heat," but decided on using his given name instead. White was still hesitating up to the time the label copy was made. It eventually became the first solo White album, 1973's "I've Got So Much to Give". It included the title track and his first solo chart hit, "I'm Gonna Love You Just a Little More Baby", which also rose to #1 on the Billboard R&B charts as well as #3 on the Billboard Pop charts in 1973 and stayed in the top 40 for many weeks.

In 1972 White created The Love Unlimited Orchestra, a 40-piece orchestral group to be used originally as a backing band for the girl-group Love Unlimited. However, White had other plans, and in 1974 he released an album of their music titled "Rhapsody in White", yielding the now-timeless composition "Love's Theme," reaching #1 on the Billboard Pop charts. It was one of only a handful of instrumental recordings ever to do so.

White is sometimes credited with ushering in the "disco" sound, seamlessly combining R&B music with classical music. Some also regard the song as the first hit in the actual "disco era", but Nino Tempo & the 5th Ave Sax Band's song "Sister James" had already reached the Billboard Hot 100 a few months before and had a disco sound in its own right.

He would continue to make albums with the Orchestra, but never achieved the same kind of success with his debut album. The Orchestra ceased to make albums in 1983, but continued to support White as a backing band.

Although White's success on the pop charts slowed down as the disco era came to an end, he maintained a loyal following throughout his career. Despite several albums over the next three years he failed to repeat his earlier successes, with no singles managing to reach the Billboard Hot 100 except for 1982's "Change," climbing into the Billboard R&B Top 20 (#12). His label venture was exacting a heavy financial cost on White, so he concentrated on mostly touring and finally folded his label in 1983.

His final album, 1999's Staying Power, resulted in his last hit song "Staying Power," which placed #45 on the Billboard R&B charts. The single won him two Grammy Awards in the categories Best Male R&B Vocal Performance and Best Traditional R&B Vocal Performance.

White, who had been clinically obese for many of his adult years, had been ill with chronically high blood pressure which resulted in kidney failure in the autumn of 2002.

He suffered a stroke in May 2003, after which he was forced to retire from public life. On July 4, 2003, he died at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles after suffering from complete renal failure. White was cremated, and his ashes were scattered by his family off the California coast.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Assisi Cathedral

Assisi Cathedral (Italian: Cattedrale di Assisi or Cattedrale di San Rufino di Assisi), dedicated to San Rufino (Rufinus of Assisi) is a major church in Assisi, Italy, that has been important in the history of the Franciscan order. In this church Saint Francis of Assisi (1182), Saint Clare (1193) and many of their original disciples were baptised. It was on hearing Francis preaching in this church in 1209 that Clare became deeply touched by his message and realized her calling. Tommaso da Celano related that once Saint Francis was witnessed praying in this church while, at the same time, he was seen jumping on a chariot of fire in the Porziuncola.

This stately church in Umbrian Romanesque style was the third church built on the same site to contain the remains of bishop Rufinus of Assisi, martyred in the 3rd century. The construction was started in 1140 to the designs by Giovanni da Gubbio, as attested by the wall inscription visible inside the apse. He may be the same Giovanni who designed the rose-window on the façade of Santa Maria Maggiore in 1163.

In 1228, while he was in Assisi for the canonization of Saint Francis, Pope Gregory IX consecrated the high altar. Pope Innocent IV inaugurated the finished church in 1253.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dead Cat Bounce

A Dead cat bounce is a Wall Street term that refers to a small, brief recovery in the price of a declining stock.

The term "dead cat bounce" is derived from the idea that "even a dead cat will bounce if it falls from a great height". The phrase has been used on Wall Street for many years. The earliest use of the phrase dates from 1985 when the Singaporean and Malaysian stock markets bounced back after a hard fall during the recession of that year. Journalist Christopher Sherwell of the Financial Times reported a stock broker as saying the market rise was a "dead cat bounce". A similar expression has an older history in Cantonese and this may be the origin of the term.

A short rise in price followed by a price decline of a stock is the standard usage of the term. In other instances the term is used exclusively to refer to securities or stocks that are considered to be of low value. First, the securities have poor past performance. Second, there is no indication of an impending rise in price. Lastly, there is no indication that sustained growth is imminent should a major upward shift occur in the market.

Some variations on the definition of the term include:

  • A stock in a severe decline has a sharp bounce off the lows.
  • A small upward price movement in a bear market after which the market continues to fall.
A "dead cat bounce" price pattern may be considered part of the technical analysis method of stock trading. Price patterns such as the dead cat bounce are recognized only with hindsight. Technical analysis describes a dead cat bounce as a continuation pattern that looks in the beginning like a reversal pattern. It begins with a downward move followed by a significant price retracement. The price fails to continue upward and instead falls again downwards, and exceeds the prior low.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Trepanning

Trepanning, also known as trephination, or trephining, is a medical intervention in which a hole is drilled or scraped into the human skull, exposing the dura mater in order to treat health problems related to intracranial diseases. It may also refer to any "burr" hole created through other body surfaces, including nail beds. It is often used to relieve pressure beneath a surface. A trephine is an instrument used for cutting out a round piece of skull bone.

Evidence of trepanation has been found in prehistoric human remains from Neolithic times onward. Cave paintings indicate that people believed the practice would cure epileptic seizures, migraines, and mental disorders. The bone that was trepanned was kept by the prehistoric people and may have been worn as a charm to keep evil spirits away. Evidence also suggests that trepanation was primitive emergency surgery after head wounds to remove shattered bits of bone from a fractured skull and clean out the blood that often pools under the skull after a blow to the head. Such injuries were typical for primitive weaponry such as slings and war clubs.

There is some contemporary use of the term. In modern eye surgery a trephine instrument is used in corneal transplant surgery. The procedure of drilling a hole through a fingernail or toenail is also known as trephination. It is performed by a physician or surgeon to relieve the pain associated with a subungual hematoma (blood under the nail); a small amount of blood is expressed through the hole and the pain associated with the pressure is partially alleviated.

Trepanation is perhaps the oldest surgical procedure for which there is forensic evidence, and in some areas may have been quite widespread. Out of 120 prehistoric skulls found at one burial site in France dated to 6500 BC, 40 had trepanation holes. Many prehistoric and premodern patients had signs of their skull structure healing; suggesting that many of those subjected to the surgery survived.

Trepanation was also practiced in the classical and Renaissance periods. Hippocrates gave specific directions on the procedure from its evolution through the Greek age, and Galen also elaborates on the procedure. During the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, trepanation was practiced as a cure for various ailments, including seizures and skull fractures. Out of eight skulls with trepanations from the 6th to 8th centuries found in southwestern Germany, seven skulls show clear evidence of healing and survival after trepanation suggesting that the survival rate of the operations was high and the infection rate was low.

Although widely considered today to be pseudoscience, the practice of trepanation for other purported medical benefits continues. Moreover, some proponents point to recent research on the increase in cranial compliance following on trepanation, with resulting increase in blood flow, as providing some justification for the practice. Individuals may practice non-emergency trepanation for psychic purposes. A prominent proponent of the modern view is Peter Halvorson, who drilled a hole in the front of his own skull to increase "brain blood volume". Other modern practitioners of trepanation claim that it holds other medical benefits, such as a treatment for depression or other psychological ailments. In 2000, two men from Cedar City, Utah were prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license after they performed a trepanation on an English woman to treat her chronic fatigue syndrome and depression.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Peary Caribou

The Peary Caribou (Rangifer tarandus pearyi) is a caribou subspecies found in the high Arctic islands of Canada's Nunavut and Northwest territories. They are the smallest of the North American caribou, with the females weighing an average of 60 kg (132 lb) and the males 110 kg (243 lb). In length the females average 1.4 m (4.6 ft) and the males 1.7 m (5.6 ft).

Like other reindeer, both the males and females have antlers. The bulls grow their antlers from March to August and the females from June to September, and in both cases the velvet is gone by October. The coat of the caribou is white and thick in the winter. In the summer it becomes short and darker, almost slate-grey in colour. The coat is made up of hollow hair which helps to trap warmer air and insulate the caribou.

The males become sexually mature after two years and the females after three years. Breeding is in the fall and depends on the female having built up sufficient fat reserves. The gestation period last for 7 to 8 months and one calf is produced.

Peary caribou feed on most of the available grasses, Cyperaceae (sedges), lichen and mushrooms. In particular they seem to enjoy the Purple Saxifrage and in summer their muzzles become purple from the plants. Their hooves are sharp and shaped like a shovel to enable them to dig through the snow in search of food.

The caribou rarely travel more than 150 km (100 miles) from their winter feeding grounds to the summer ones. They are able to outrun the arctic wolf, their main predator, and are good swimmers. They usually travel in small groups of no more than twelve in the summer and four in the winter.

The Peary caribou population has dropped from above 40,000 in 1961 to about 700 in 2009. During this period, the number of days with above freezing temperatures has increased significantly, resulting in ice layers in the snow pack. These ice layers hinder foraging and are the likely cause for dramatic drops in caribou population in the future.

The Peary caribou, called tuktu in Inuinnaqtun/Inuktitut, is a major food source for the Inuit and was named after Robert Peary.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Heavy Metal

Heavy Metal is an American science fiction and fantasy comics magazine, known primarily for its blend of dark fantasy/science fiction and erotica. In the mid-1970s, while publisher Leonard Mogel was in Paris to jump-start the French edition of National Lampoon, he discovered the French science-fantasy magazine Métal Hurlant which had debuted December 1974. The French title translates literally as "Howling Metal."

When Mogel licensed the American version, he chose to rename it, and Heavy Metal began in the U.S. on April, 1977 as a glossy, full-color monthly. Initially, it displayed translations of graphic stories originally published in Métal Hurlant, including work by Enki Bilal, Jean Giraud (also known as Moebius), Philippe Druillet, Milo Manara and Philippe Caza. The magazine later ran Stefano Tamburini and Tanino Liberatore's ultra-violent RanXerox. Since the color pages had already been shot in France, the budget to reproduce them in the U.S. version was greatly reduced.

Heavy Metal's high-quality artwork is notable. Work by international fine artists such as H.R. Giger and Esteban Maroto have been featured on the covers of various issues. Terrance Lindall's illustrated version of Milton's epic poem Paradise Lost appeared in the magazine in 1980. Many stories were presented as long-running serials, such as those by Richard Corben, Pepe Moreno and Matt Howarth. Illustrator Alex Ebel contributed artwork over the course of his career.

After two years, Mogel felt the lack of text material was a drawback, and in 1979, he replaced Kelly and Marchant with Ted White, highly regarded in the science fiction field for revitalizing Amazing Stories and Fantastic between 1968 and 1978. White and Workman immediately set about revamping the look of Heavy Metal, incorporating more stories and strips by American artists, including Arthur Suydam, Dan Steffan, Howard Cruse and Bernie Wrightson.

White's main solution to the problem of adding substantive text material was a line-up of columns by four authorities in various aspects of popular culture: Lou Stathis wrote about rock music and Jay Kinney dug into underground comics, while Steve Brown reviewed new science fiction novels and Bhob Stewart explored visual media from fantasy films to animation and light shows.

The founding editors of the American edition of Heavy Metal were Sean Kelly and Valerie Marchant. Art director and designer John Workman brought to the magazine a background of experience at DC Comics and other publishers.

In 1981, an animated feature film was adapted from several of the magazine's serials. Made on a budget of USD$9,300,000, under production for three years, Heavy Metal featured animated segments from several different animation houses with each doing a single story segment. Another house animated the frame story which tied all the disparate stories together. Like the magazine, the movie featured a great deal of nudity and graphic violence, though not to the degree seen in the magazine. For example, in its Den segment, it did not display the blatant male genitalia of its print counterpart. The film featured such SCTV talents as John Candy, Eugene Levy, Harold Ramis and Ivan Reitman. It did reasonably well in its theatrical release and later gained something of a cult status, partially because a problem with music rights resulted in a delay of many years before the film became available on video.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Bastille Day

Bastille Day is the French national holiday which is celebrated on 14 July each year. In France, it is formally called La Fête Nationale (The National Celebration) and commonly le quatorze juillet (the fourteenth of July).

It commemorates the 1790 Fête de la Fédération, held on the first anniversary of the storming of the Bastille on 14 July 1789; the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille fortress-prison was seen as a symbol of the uprising of the modern nation, and of the reconciliation of all the French inside the constitutional monarchy which preceded the First Republic, during the French Revolution. Festivities are held on the morning of 14 July, on the Champs-Élysées avenue in Paris in front of the President of the Republic.