Wednesday, August 31, 2011

ETAOIN SHRDLU

ETAOIN SHRDLU is a nonsense phrase that sometimes appeared in print in the days of "hot type" publishing because of a custom of Linotype machine operators. It appeared frequently enough that it became part of the lore of newspapers. A documentary about the last issue of The New York Times to be composed in the hot-metal printing process (2 July 1978) was titled Farewell, Etaoin Shrdlu.

It is the approximate order of frequency of the twelve most commonly used letters in the English language.

The letters on Linotype keyboards were arranged by letter frequency, so ETAOIN SHRDLU were the first two vertical columns on the left side of the keyboard. Linotype operators who had made a typing error could not easily go back to delete it, and had to finish the line before they could eject the slug and re-key a new one. Since the line with the error would be discarded and hence its contents did not matter, the quickest way to finish the line was to run a finger down the keys, creating this nonsense phrase.

If the slug with the error made it as far as the compositors, the distinctive set of letters served to quickly identify it for removal. Occasionally, however, the phrase would be overlooked and be printed erroneously. This happened often enough for ETAOIN SHRDLU to be listed in the Oxford English Dictionary and in the Random House Webster's Unabridged Dictionary.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Union suit

A union suit is a type of one-piece long underwear. Created in Utica, New York, it originated as women's wear during the 19th-century United States clothing reform efforts, as an alternative to constricting garments, and soon gained popularity among men as well. The first union suit was patented in 1868 as "emancipation union under flannel." Traditionally made of red flannel with long arms and long legs, it buttoned up the front and had a button-up flap in the rear covering the buttocks (colloquially known as the "access hatch", "drop seat", "fireman's flap", and other names), allowing the wearer to eliminate bodily waste without removing the garment. Depending on the size, some union suits can have a dozen buttons on the front to be fastened through buttonholes from the neck down to the groin area.

The garment remained in common use in North America into the 20th century. As its popularity waned, it became chiefly working men's wear, increasingly replaced by two-piece long underwear, also known as "long johns". It was not uncommon until the mid-20th century for rural men to wear the same union suit continuously all week, or even all winter. Normally, no other type of underwear was worn with it.

Monday, August 29, 2011

HMS Sheffield

HMS Sheffield was the second Royal Navy ship to bear the name Sheffield, after the city of Sheffield in Yorkshire. She was a Type 42 Guided Missile Destroyer laid down by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering at Barrow-in-Furness on 15 January 1970, launched on 10 June 1971 and commissioned on 16 February 1975.
An explosion during construction killed two dockyard workers and damaged a section of hull which was replaced, ironically, with a section from an identical ship, ARA Hercules, being built for the Argentine Navy.

The ship was part of the Task Force sent to the Falkland Islands during the Falklands War. She was struck by an Exocet air-launched anti-ship missile from a Super Etendard aircraft belonging to the Argentine Navy on 4 May 1982.

The ship sank at 53°04'S, 56°56' W on 10 May 1982. This made her the first Royal Navy vessel sunk in action since WWII. Twenty of her crew (mainly on duty in the galley area) died during the attack. The wreck is a war grave and designated as a protected place under the Protection of Military Remains Act 1986.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ballista

The ballista was an ancient missile weapon which launched a large projectile at a distant target. Developed from earlier Greek weapons, it relied upon different mechanics, using two levers with torsion springs instead of a prod, the springs consisting of several loops of twisted skeins. Early versions ejected heavy darts or spherical stone projectiles of various sizes for siege warfare.

The Greek ballista was a siege weapon. All components that were not made of wood were transported in the baggage train. It would be assembled with local wood, if necessary. Some were positioned inside large, armored, mobile siege towers or even on the edge of a battlefield. For all the tactical advantages offered, it was only under Philip II of Macedon and even more so under his son Alexander, that the ballista began to develop and gain recognition as both siege engine and field artillery.
After the absorption of the Ancient Greek city-states into the Roman Republic in 146 BC, the highly advanced Greek technology began to spread across many areas of Roman influence. This included the hugely advantageous military advances the Greeks had made (most notably by Dionysus of Syracuse), as well as all the scientific, mathematical, political and artistic developments.
The Romans 'inherited' the torsion powered Ballista, which had by now spread to several cities around the Mediterranean, all of which became Roman spoils of war in time, including one from Pergamum, which was depicted among a pile of 'trophy' weapons in relief on a balustrade.
The torsion ballista, developed by Alexander, was a far more complicated weapon than its predecessor and the Romans developed it even further, especially into much smaller versions, that could easily be carried.
Polybius reports about the usage of smaller more portable ballistae, called scorpions, during the Second Punic War.
With the decline of the Roman Empire, resources to build and maintain these complex machines became very scarce, so the ballista was supplanted by the simpler and cheaper onager and the more efficient springald.
Though the weapon continued to be used in the Middle Ages, it faded from popular use with the advent of the trebuchet and mangonel in siege warfare. The crossbow and the longbow supplanted it as sniper weapon. They all were simpler to make, easier to maintain, and much cheaper.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tempest

Tempest is an arcade game by Atari Inc., originally designed and programmed by David Theurer. Released in October, 1981, it was fairly popular and had several ports and sequels. The game is also notable for being the first video game with a selectable level of difficulty (determined by the initial starting level). The game is a tube shooter, a type of shoot 'em up where the environment is fixed and viewed from a three-dimensional perspective.

The object of Tempest is to survive as long as possible and score as many points as possible by clearing the screen of enemies that have landed on the playing field. The game takes place in a closed tube or open field which is viewed from one end and is divided into a dozen or more segments. The player controls a claw-shaped spaceship that crawls along the near edge of the playfield, moving from segment to segment. This ship can rapid-fire shots down the tube, destroying any enemies within the same segment, and is also equipped with a Superzapper, which destroys all enemies currently on the playfield once per level. (A second use of the Superzapper in a level destroys one random enemy.)

Tempest introduced several new features for its time. It was one of the first video games to use Atari's Color-QuadraScan vector display technology (along with Space Duel, which was released around the same time). It was also the first game to allow the player to choose their starting level (a system Atari dubbed "SkillStep"). This feature would increase the maximum starting level depending on the player's performance in the previous game, essentially allowing the player to continue, a feature that became a standard in later video games. Finally, Tempest was one of the first video games to sport a progressive level design in which the levels themselves varied rather than giving the player the same level with increasing difficulty levels.

The game was initially meant to be a 3D remake of Space Invaders, but such early versions had many problems, so a new design was used. Theurer says that the design came from a dream where monsters crawled out of a hole in the ground.

Three different cabinet designs exist for Tempest. The most common cabinet is an upright cabinet in the shape of a right triangle sitting on top of a rectangle, when viewed from the side. This cabinet sported colorful side art. A shorter and less flashy cabaret-style cabinet was also released with optional side art, and a cocktail-style table cabinet allowed two players to play at opposite ends of the table. In this configuration, the screen would flip vertically for each player.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Paris Syndrome

Paris syndrome is a transient psychological disorder encountered by some people visiting or vacationing in Paris. It is similar in nature to Jerusalem syndrome and Stendhal syndrome.

Japanese visitors are observed to be especially susceptible. From the estimated six million yearly visitors the number of reported cases is significant: according to an administrator at the Japanese embassy in France, around twenty Japanese tourists a year are affected by the syndrome. The susceptilibity of Japanese people may be linked to the popularity of Paris in Japanese culture, notably the idealized image of Paris prevalent in Japanese media, which does not correspond to reality.

Paris Syndrome is characterized by a number of psychiatric symptoms such as acute delusional states, hallucinations, feelings of persecution (delusions of being a victim of prejudice, aggression, or hostility from others), derealization, depersonalization, anxiety, and also psychosomatic manifestations such as dizziness, tachycardia, sweating, etc.

In fact, the observed clinical picture is quite variable, but it has the characteristic of occurring during trips which confront travellers with things they have not previously experienced and had not anticipated. Principal to the diagnosis is that the experienced symptoms did not exist before the trip and disappear following a return to the sufferer's familiar surroundings.

Professor Hiroaki Ota, a Japanese psychiatrist working in France, is credited as the first person to diagnose the disease in 1986.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

1943 steel cent

The 1943 steel cent, also known as a steelie, was a variety of the U.S. one-cent coin which was struck in steel due to wartime shortages of copper.

Due to wartime needs of copper for use in ammunition and other military equipment during World War II, the US Mint researched various ways to limit dependence and meet conservation goals on copper usage. After trying out several substitutes (ranging from other metals to plastics) to replace the then-standard bronze alloy, the one cent coin was minted in zinc-coated steel. It was struck at all three mints; Philadelphia, Denver, and San Francisco. Coins from the latter two sites have respectively "D" and "S" mintmarks below the date.

However, problems began to arise from the mintage. Freshly minted, they were often mistaken for dimes. Magnets in vending machines (which took copper cents) placed to pick up steel slugs also picked up the legitimate steel cents. Because the galvanization process didn't cover the edges of the coins, sweat would quickly rust the metal. After public outcry, the Mint developed a process whereby salvaged brass shell casings were augmented with pure copper to produce an alloy close to the 1941-42 composition. This was used for 1944-46 dated cents, after which the prewar composition was resumed. Although they continued to circulate in the 1960s, the mint collected large numbers of the 1943 cents and destroyed them.

The steel cent is the only regular-issue United States coin that can be picked up with a magnet. The steel cent was also the only coin issued by the United States for circulation that does not contain any copper. (Even U.S. gold coins at various times contained from slightly over 2% copper, to an eventual standard 10% copper).

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Curse of the Colonel

Curse of the Colonel refers to an urban legend regarding a reputed curse placed on the Japanese Kansai-based Hanshin Tigers baseball team by deceased KFC founder and mascot Colonel Harland Sanders. The curse was said to be placed on the team because of the Colonel's anger over treatment of one of his store-front statues.

The Hanshin Tigers are located in Kansai, the second largest metropolitan area in Japan. They are considered the eternal underdogs of Nippon Professional Baseball, in opposition to the Yomiuri Giants of Tokyo, who are considered the kings of Japanese baseball. The devoted fans flock to the stadium no matter how badly the Tigers play in the league.

As is common with sports-related curses, the Curse of the Colonel is used to explain the Japan Championship Series drought that the Hanshin Tigers have had to endure since their first and only victory in the 1985 Japan Championship. The curse is said to have happened when Hanshin fans, excited over winning the 1985 championship series, tossed the statue of Colonel Sanders into the Dōtonbori River.

In 1985, the Hanshin Tigers faced the Seibu Lions and took their first and only victory in the Japan Series, largely due to star slugger Randy Bass, a gaijin (foreigner) player for the team.

The rabid fan base went wild, and a riotous celebration gathered at Ebisubashi Bridge in Dōtonbori, Osaka. There, an assemblage of supporters yelled the players names, and with every name a fan resembling a member of the victorious team leapt from the bridge into the waiting canal. However, lacking someone to imitate MVP Randy Bass, the rabid crowd seized a Colonel Sanders (like Bass, the Colonel had a beard and was not Japanese) plastic statue from a nearby KFC and tossed it off the bridge as an effigy.

Since then, fans have said they would never win another Japan Series until the statue was recovered. Comparisons are often made between the Hanshin Tigers and the Boston Red Sox, who were also said to be under a curse, the Curse of the Bambino, until they won the World Series in 2004.

The Colonel was finally discovered in the Dōtonbori River on March 10, 2009. Divers who recovered the statue at first thought it was only a large barrel, and shortly after a human corpse, but Hanshin fans on the scene were quick to identify it as the upper body of the long-lost Colonel. The right hand and lower body were found next day, but the statue is still missing its glasses and left hand.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Discobolus

The Discobolus of Myron ("discus thrower" Greek Δισκοβόλος, "Diskobolos") is a famous Greek sculpture that was completed towards the end of the Severe period, circa 460-450 BC. The original Greek bronze is lost. It is known through numerous Roman copies, both full-scale ones in marble, such as the first to be recovered, the Palombara Discopolus, or smaller scaled versions in bronze. A discus thrower is depicted about to release his throw: "by sheer intelligence", Sir Kenneth Clark observed in The Nude (1956:p 239f) "Myron has created the enduring pattern of athletic energy. He has taken a moment of action so transitory that students of athletics still debate if it is feasible, and he has given it the completeness of a cameo." The moment thus captured in the statue is an example of rhythmos, harmony and balance. Myron is often credited with being the first sculptor to master this style. Naturally, as always in Greek athletics, the Discobolus is completely nude. His pose is said to be unnatural to a human, and today considered a rather inefficient way to throw the discus. Also there is very little emotion shown in the discus thrower's face, and "to a modern eye,it may seem that Myron's desire for perfection has made him suppress too rigorously the sense of strain in the individual muscles," Clark observes. The other trademark of Myron embodied in this sculpture is how well the body is proportioned, the symmetria.

The potential energy expressed in this sculpture's tightly-wound pose, expressing the moment of stasis just before the release, is an example of the advancement of Classical sculpture from Archaic. The torso shows no muscular strain, however, even though the limbs are outflung.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Sepoy

A sepoy was formerly the designation given to an Indian soldier in the service of a European power. In the modern Indian Army, Pakistan Army and Bangladesh Army it remains in use for the rank of private soldier.

In its most common application Sepoy was the term used in the British Indian Army, and earlier in that of the British East India Company, for an infantry private. It is still so used in the modern Indian Army, Pakistan Army and Bangladesh Army. Close to 300,000 sepoys were crucial in securing the subcontinent for the British East India Company. There was widespread mutiny amongst the sepoys of the Bengal Army in the Indian Rebellion of 1857 after it was alleged that the new paper cartridges being issued to them used beef tallow to grease the casing (see "Causes of the Indian Rebellion of 1857").

Following the formation of the French East India Company (Compagnie des Indes) in 1719, companies of Indian sepoys (cipayes) were raised to augment the French and Swiss mercenary troops available. By 1720 the sepoys in French service numbered about 10,000. Although much reduced in numbers, France continued to maintain a Military Corps of Indian Sepoys (corps militaire des cipayes de l'Inde) in Pondichery (now Puducherry) until it was disbanded in 1898 and replaced by a locally recruited gendarmerie.

Sepoys were also recruited in Portuguese India. Some Portuguese sepoys were later sent to serve in other territories of the Portuguese Empire, especially those in Africa. The term "sipaio" (sepoy) was also applied by the Portuguese to African soldiers and African rural police officers.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Second wine

Second wine (or second label; in French Second vin) is a term commonly associated with Bordeaux wine to refer to a second label wine made from cuvee not selected for use in the Grand vin or first label. Depending on the house winemaking style, individual plots of a vineyard may be selected, often those of the youngest vines, and fermented separately with the best performing barrels being chosen for the house's top wine with the other barrels being bottled under a separate label and sold for a lower price than the Grand vin.

In less favorable vintages, an estate may choose to release only a second label wine rather than to release a smaller than normal quantity of its Grand vin or a wine that would not be consistent with past vintages under that name. The practice has its roots in the 18th century but became more commercially prominent in the 1980s when consumers discovered these wines as a more affordable way to drink the product of a First growth or classified Bordeaux estate without paying the premium for the estate's label and classification.

From the producer's point of view, a second wine allows the winery to use a stricter selection for its Grand Vin, while still capitalising on its name and distribution channels in selling the second wine, which will be much more profitable than selling off lesser wine "anonymously" to be used in e.g. negociant bulk bottlings.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Congregation Baith Israel Anshei Emes

Congregation Baith Israel Anshei Emes is an egalitarian Conservative synagogue located at 236 Kane Street in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, New York City. It is currently the oldest continuously operating synagogue in Brooklyn.

Founded as Baith Israel in 1856, the congregation constructed the first synagogue on Long Island, and hired Rabbi Aaron Wise for his first rabbinical position in the United States. Early tensions between traditionalists and reformers led to the latter forming Congregation Beth Elohim, a Reform synagogue, in 1861. The synagogue nearly failed in the early 1900s, but the 1905 hiring of Israel Goldfarb as rabbi, the purchase of its current buildings, and the 1908 merger with Talmud Torah Anshei Emes, re-invigorated the congregation.

The famous composer Aaron Copland celebrated his bar mitzvah there in 1913, and long-time Goldman Sachs head Sidney Weinberg was married there in 1920. Membership peaked in the 1920s, but with the onset of the Great Depression declined steadily, and by the 1970s the congregation could no longer afford to heat the sanctuary. Membership has recovered since that low point; the congregation renovated its school/community center in 2004, and in 2008 embarked on a million-dollar capital campaign to renovate the sanctuary.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Master of the Flying Guillotine

Master of the Flying Guillotine is a 1975 Taiwanese / Hong Kong martial arts film starring Jimmy Wang Yu, who also wrote and directed the film. It is a sequel to Wang's 1971 film One Armed Boxer, and thus the film is also known as One-Armed Boxer 2 and The One Armed Boxer Vs. the Flying Guillotine.

The film concerns Wang's one-armed martial arts master being stalked by an Imperial assassin, the master of two fighters (the Tibetan Lamas) who were killed in the previous film. When the One-Armed Boxer is invited to attend a martial arts tournament, his efforts to lay low are unsuccessful, and the assassin soon tracks him down with the help of his three subordinates competing in the tournament: a Thai boxer, a yoga master, and a kobojutsu user.

The title refers to the assassin's weapon, the "Flying guillotine" which resembles a hat with a bladed rim attached to a long chain. Upon enveloping one's head, the blades cleanly decapitate the victim with a quick pull of the chain.

Clips from the film's soundtrack (particularly the score whenever the assassin appears) have been sampled by Wu Tang Clan and has been mentioned in their lyrics. Quentin Tarantino has cited the film as "one of my favorite movies of all time."


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Duppy

Duppy is a Jamaican Patois word of West African origin meaning ghost or spirit. Much of Caribbean folklore revolves around duppies. Duppies are generally regarded as malevolent spirits. They are said to come out and haunt people at night mostly, and people from the islands claim to have seen them. The 'Rolling Calf', 'Three footed horse' or 'Old Higue' are examples of the more malicious spirits.

Duppy folklore originates from West Africa. A duppy can be either the manifestation (in human or animal form) of the soul of a dead person, or a malevolent supernatural being. In Obeah, a person is believed to possess two souls - a good soul and an earthly soul. In death, the good soul goes to heaven to be judged by God, while the earthly spirit remains for three days in the coffin with the body, where it may escape if proper precautions are not taken, and appear as a duppy.

In many of the islands of the Lesser Antilles, duppies are known as jumbies.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Locomotive Breath

Locomotive Breath is a song by the English progressive rock band Jethro Tull from their 1971 album, Aqualung, notable for a long bluesy piano introduction (particularly during live performances) and its flute solo by rock flute virtuoso Ian Anderson. The lyrics use the imagery of an impending and unavoidable train wreck as an allegorical portrayal of a man's life falling apart. The song receives frequent airplay on classic rock radio stations.

The term "locomotive breath" ostensibly refers to the steam ejected from a steam locomotive's pistons, which provided a characteristic foggy atmosphere and metallic odor to 19th-century train station platforms.

"Locomotive Breath" was recorded in a rather unusual manner: The entire track was pieced together from overdubs; most of the parts of the song were recorded separately. Ian Anderson did his normal flute and vocal parts in addition to bass drum, hi-hat, acoustic guitar and some electric guitar parts. Then John Evan's piano parts were recorded; Clive Bunker added the rest of the drums and Martin Barre finished the electric guitar parts. All of these recordings were then overdubbed onto each other because Anderson was finding it difficult to communicate his musical ideas about the song to the other band members.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Microtome

A microtome is a sectioning instrument that allows for the cutting of extremely thin slices of material, known as sections. Microtomes are an important device in microscopy preparation, allowing for the preparation of samples for observation under transmitted light or electron radiation. Microtomes use steel, glass, or diamond blades depending upon the specimen being sliced and the desired thickness of the sections being cut. Steel blades are used to prepare sections of animal or plant tissues for light microscopy histology. Glass knives are used to slice sections for light microscopy and to slice very thin sections for electron microscopy. Industrial grade diamond knives are used to slice hard materials such as bone, teeth and plant matter for both light microscopy and for electron microscopy. Gem quality diamond knives are used for slicing thin sections for electron microscopy.

Microtomy is a method for the preparation of thin sections for materials such as bones, minerals and teeth, and an alternative to electropolishing and ion milling. Microtome sections can be made thin enough to section a human hair across its breadth, with section thickness between 0.05 and 100 µm.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Daemon

In Unix and other computer multitasking operating systems, a daemon is a computer program that runs in the background, rather than under the direct control of a user; they are usually initiated as background processes. Typically daemons have names that end with the letter "d": for example, syslogd, the daemon that handles the system log, or sshd, which handles incoming SSH connections.

In a Unix environment, the parent process of a daemon is often (but not always) the init process (PID=1). Processes usually become daemons by forking a child process and then having their parent process immediately exit, thus causing init to adopt the child process. This is a somewhat simplified view of the process as other operations are generally performed, such as dissociating the daemon process from any controlling tty. Convenience routines such as daemon(3) exist in some UNIX systems for that purpose.

Systems often start (or "launch") daemons at boot time: they often serve the function of responding to network requests, hardware activity, or other programs by performing some task. Daemons can also configure hardware (like udevd on some GNU/Linux systems), run scheduled tasks (like cron), and perform a variety of other tasks.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

V-J Day in Times Square

V-J Day in Times Square is a photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt that portrays an American sailor kissing a young nurse in a white dress on V-J Day in Times Square on August 14, 1945. The photograph was originally published a week later in Life magazine among many photographs of celebrations around the country that were presented in a twelve-page section called Victory. A two-page spread faces three other kissing poses among celebrators in Washington, D.C., Kansas City, and Miami, Florida opposite Eisenstaedt's, which is given a full page display. Kissing was a favorite pose encouraged by media photographers of service personnel during the war, but Eisenstaedt was photographing a spontaneous event that occurred in Times Square as the announcement of the end of the war on Japan was made by President Truman at seven o'clock. Similar jubilation spread quickly—with the news.

The photograph is known under various titles, such as V-J Day in Times Square and V-Day.

The official United States celebration is not on this date, however. V-J Day is instead celebrated on September 2, the date of the formal signing of the surrender. A special day of remembrance is marked in Japan and other countries on September 2, as well.

Because Eisenstaedt was photographing rapidly changing events during the celebrations he didn't have an opportunity to get the names and details. The photograph does not clearly show the faces of either person involved in this embrace and several people have claimed to be the subjects. The photograph was shot just south of 45th Street looking north from a location where Broadway and Seventh Avenue converge. Soon afterward, throngs of people crowded into the square and it became a sea of people.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Sons of the Thames

Sons of the Thames is a rowing club in Hammersmith, London, England. It was originally formed in Putney over a hundred years ago with the aim, still enshrined in its constitution, to further the sport of rowing.

Originally a Trademen's club who boated from their first premises at the Dukes Head in Putney, Sons has moved westwards to Hammersmith. The latest move, in 2000, was to share the premises of Linden House, on Upper Mall, with London Corinthian Sailing Club. The building has a 999 year lease, so another move is not expected soon. The club welcomes novices and more experienced members for their Henley squads.

The club's official founding date is 1886, however there is evidence of crews racing under the "Sons of the Thames" name at least as far back as 1865.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Hail

Hail is a form of solid precipitation which consists of balls or irregular lumps of ice, that are individually called hail stones. Hail stones on Earth consist mostly of water ice and measure between 0.20 in and 5.9 in in diameter, with the larger stones coming from severe thunderstorms.

Hail is possible with most thunderstorms as it is produced by cumulonimbi (thunderclouds), usually at the leading edge of a severe storm system. Hail is possible within 2 nautical miles (3.7 km) of its parent thunderstorm. Hail formation requires environments of strong, upward motion of air with the parent thunderstorm (similar to tornadoes) and lowered heights of the freezing level. Hail is most frequently formed in the interior of continents within the mid-latitudes of Earth, with hail generally confined to higher elevations within the tropics.

Unlike ice pellets, hail stones are layered and can be irregular and clumped together. Hail is composed of transparent ice or alternating layers of transparent and translucent ice at least 1 millimetre (0.039 in) thick, which are deposited upon the hail stone as it cycles through the cloud multiple times, suspended aloft by air with strong upward motion until its weight overcomes the updraft and falls to the ground.

There are methods available to detect hail-producing thunderstorms using weather satellites and radar imagery. Hail stones generally fall at higher speeds as they grow in size, though complicating factors such as melting, friction with air, wind, and interaction with rain and other hail stones can slow their descent through Earth's atmosphere. Severe weather warnings are issued for hail when the stones reach a damaging size, as it can cause serious damage to man-made structures and, most commonly, farmers' crops.

In North America, hail is most common in the area where Colorado, Nebraska, and Wyoming meet, known as "Hail Alley." Hail in this region occurs between the months of March and October during the afternoon and evening hours, with the bulk of the occurrences from May through September. Cheyenne, Wyoming is North America's most hail-prone city with an average of nine to ten hailstorms per season.

During the Middle Ages, people in Europe used to ring church bells and fire cannons to try to prevent hail. After World War II, cloud seeding was done to eliminate the hail threat, particularly across Russia. Russia claimed a 50 to 80 percent reduction in crop damage from hail storms by deploying silver iodide in clouds using rockets and artillery shells. Their results have not been able to be verified. Hail suppression programs have been undertaken by 15 countries between 1965 and 2005. To this day, no hail prevention method has been proven to work.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Uakari

Uakari is the common name for the New World monkeys of the genus Cacajao. Both the English and scientific names are believed to have originated from indigenous languages.
The uakaris are unusual among New World monkeys in that the tail length (15-18 cm) is substantially less than their head and body length (40-45 cm). Their bodies are covered with long, loose hair but their heads are bald. They have almost no subcutaneous fat, so their bald faces appear almost skull like. Like their closest relatives the saki monkeys, they have projecting lower incisors.
The four species of uakari currently recognized are all found in the north-western Amazon Basin. The Bald Uakari is found north of the Amazon River, and south of the Japurá River in the Mamirauá Sustainable Development Reserve. The Black-headed Uakari is found north of the Amazon and south of the rio Negro. The Neblina Uakari is found north of the rio Negro, west of the rio Marauiá and east of the Casiquiare canal. The Ayres Uakari is currently known only from the rio Curuduri basin.
Uakaris are typically lethargic and silent in zoo conditions, but in the wild they are agile and active, capable of leaps of over 6 meters. They have been observed both in small groups and in larger troops of up to 100. When traveling through the forest they move in the lower branches of the trees, though when foraging they also go up to the canopy. They eat fruit, nuts, buds and leaves.
Henry Walter Bates, the nineteenth century zoologist, recorded that the Native Americans captured uakaris alive by using blowpipe darts or arrows tipped with diluted curare; once captured the animals were revived by putting a pinch of salt in their mouths. Those animals that survived were kept as pets.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Typhon

Typhon is the final son of Gaia, fathered by Tartarus, and is the most deadly monster of Greek mythology. Typhon attempts to destroy Zeus at the will of Gaia, because Zeus had imprisoned the Titans.

Typhon was known as the "Father of all monsters"; his wife Echidna was likewise the "Mother of All Monsters."

Typhon was described as one of the largest and most fearsome of all creatures. His human upper half reached as high as the stars. His hands reached east and west and had a hundred dragon heads on each. He was feared even by the mighty gods. His bottom half was gigantic viper coils that could reach the top of his head when stretched out and made a hissing noise. His whole body was covered in wings, and fire flashed from his eyes.

Typhon fathered several children by his niece, Echidna, daughter of Phorcys and Ceto, including the multiheaded hounds Cerberus and Orthrus.

The Sphinx was sent by Hera to plague the city of Thebes. She was the most brilliant of Typhon's children, and would slay anyone who could not answer her riddles (possibly by strangling them). When Oedipus finally answered her riddle, she threw herself into the ocean in a fit of fury and drowned.

The Nemean Lion was a gigantic lion with impenetrable skin. Selene, the moon goddess, adored the beast. Heracles was commanded to slay the Lion as the first of his Twelve Labors. First, he attempted to shoot arrows at it, then he used his great club, and was eventually forced to strangle the beast. He would then use the Lion's own claws to skin it, whereupon he wore its invulnerable hide as armor.

Cerberus, another one of Typhon's sons was a three-headed dog that was employed by Hades as the guardian of the passage way to and from the Underworld. According to Hesiod, he was the son of Orthrus and Echidna.

Orthrus, a fearsome, two-headed hound. According to Hesiod, he mated with his mother, Echidna, to sire Cerberus, the Nemean Lion, the Lernean Hydra, the Sphinx and the Chimera[2][3]. Orthrus, and his master, Eurytion, son of Ares and the Hesperid Erytheia, guarded the fabulous red cattle of Geryon. Both were slain, along with Geryon, when Heracles stole the red cattle.

Ladon was a serpentine dragon, known as a drakon. According to Hesiod, Ladon was the son of Phorcys and Ceto, instead of Typhon and Echidna. Regardless of his parentage, Ladon entwined himself around the tree in the Garden of the Hesperides at the behest of Hera, who appointed him the garden's guardian. He was eventually killed by Heracles.

The Lernaean Hydra, another one of Typhon's daughters, terrorized a spring at the lake of Lerna, near Argos, slaying anyone and anything that approached her lair with her noxious venom, save for a monstrous crab that was her companion.she was originally thought to have nine heads,and any neck,if severed,would give rise to two more heads.her ninth head was immortal. She and her crab were slain by Heracles as the second of his Twelve Labors - he cut off her heads and burnt the neck so that she could not regenerate,and crushed her ninth head under a rock. (the crab being accidentally crushed underneath Heracles' heel).

Typhon's last child was his daughter, Chimera. Chimera resembled a tremendous, fire-breathing lioness with a goat's head emerging from the middle of her back, and had a snake for a tail. She roamed the ancient kingdom of Lycia, particularly around Mount Chimaera (possibly near Yanartaş), bringing bad omens and destruction in her wake, until she was slain by Bellerophon and Pegasus at the behest of Iobates.

Typhon was defeated by Zeus, who trapped him underneath Mount Etna.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fernwood 2 Night

Fernwood 2 Night is a comedic television program that ran from July 1977 – September 1977. It was created by Norman Lear as a spin-off/summer replacement from Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. It was a parody talk show, hosted by Barth Gimble (Martin Mull) and sidekick/announcer Jerry Hubbard (Fred Willard), complete with a stage band, Happy Kyne and His Mirthmakers (featuring Frank De Vol as the ironically dour "Happy" Kyne, and Tommy Tedesco as one of the guitarists). Barth was the twin brother of Garth Gimble from Mary Hartman.
Like Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman, Fernwood 2Nite was set in the fictional town of Fernwood, Ohio. The show satirized real talk shows as well as the sort of fare one might expect from locally-produced, small-town, midwestern American television programming. Well-known actors usually appeared playing characters or a contrivance had to be written for the celebrity to appear as themselves. (In one episode, Tom Waits' tour bus happened to break down in Fernwood.)
After one season of Fernwood, the producers revamped the show the following year as America 2-Night. In this second version, Barth and Jerry's show moved to Los Angeles (actually, they claimed to be broadcasting from "Alta Coma, the unfinished furniture capitol of the world!") and was broadcast nationally on the fictional UBS network, whose slogan was "We put U before the BS". This change allowed the show to now have well-known actors on the show as themselves.
Reruns aired on Nick at Nite from 1990 to 1993, on TV Land in 1996, and again on TV Land sporadically between 2001 and 2003, as part of the TV Land "Kitschen", a weekend block of campy programming hosted by Mull and Willard that aired at midnight.

Monday, August 8, 2011

96 Tears

96 Tears is a popular song recorded by ? & the Mysterians in 1966. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. and on the RPM 100 in Canada and is ranked #210 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

The song was originally written by likely Question Mark, Rudy Martinez, around 1962. The recording was done in Bay City, Michigan. It was first released on the small Pa-Go-Go label and then picked up by Cameo Records for national distribution. The original issue is quite rare and sought after by record collectors.

Known for its signature organ licks and bare-bones lyrics, "96 Tears" has been widely-recognized as one of the first garage band hits and has even been given credit for starting the punk rock movement. It is generally accepted that rock critic Dave Marsh coined the term "Punk rock" when referring to this song.

The song hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 in the U.S. in 1966 and almost simultaneously topped the RPM 100 in Canada and was the band's only major hit single. Follow-up song "I Need Somebody" peaked at number 22 later that year and no other U.S. top-forty singles followed. It appears on the band's album 96 Tears.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Aglet

An aglet is a small plastic or metal sheath typically used on each end of a shoelace, cord, or drawstring. An aglet keeps the fibers of the lace or cord from unraveling; its firmness and narrow profile make it easier to hold and easier to feed through the eyelets, lugs, or other lacing guides.

There is a subtle distinction between aglets, which are generally functional, and aiguillettes, which are generally decorative. The latter usually appear at the end of decorative cords, such as bolo ties, and the identically named aiguillettes of military dress uniforms.

Aglets today are most often made of plastic; they also have been made of metal, glass, and stone. Many were highly ornamental and made of precious metals, such as silver. Before the invention of buttons, they were used on the ends of ribbons to fasten clothing together. Sometimes they were formed into small figures. Shakespeare calls this type of figure an "aglet baby" in The Taming of the Shrew.

Home-made aglets can be fashioned out of adhesive tape, wax, resin, glue, thread, heat shrink or metal tubing, and by simply knotting or melting the end of a lace or cord. For a time during the Great Depression, aglets were made out of paper and glue.

The word aglet (or aiglet) comes from Old French aguillette (or aiguillette), which is the diminutive of aguille (or aiguille), meaning needle. This in turn comes from acus, Latin for needle. An aglet is like a small needle at the end of a cord.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ronald Wayne

Ronald Wayne founded Apple Computer with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, but soon gave up his share of the new company for a total of $2,300.

Wayne was born in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. He worked with Steve Jobs at Atari before he, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak founded Apple Computer on April 1, 1976. Serving as the venture's "adult supervision", Wayne drew the first Apple logo, wrote the three men's original partnership agreement, and wrote the Apple I manual.

Wayne received a 10% stake in Apple but relinquished his stock for US$800 less than two weeks later, on 12 April 1976. Legally all members of a partnership are personally responsible for any debts incurred by any partner; unlike Jobs and Wozniak, 21 and 25, Wayne had personal assets that potential creditors could seize. The failure of a slot machine company he had started five years earlier also contributed to his decision to exit the partnership.

Later that year, venture capitalist Arthur Rock and Mike Markkula helped develop a business plan and convert the partnership to a corporation. Wayne received another check, for $1,500, for his agreement to forfeit any claims against the new company.

After Apple, Wayne resisted Jobs's attempts to recruit him back to Apple, remaining at Atari until 1978 when he joined Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and later a Salinas, California electronics company. He is retired and sells stamps, rare coins, and gold from his Pahrump, Nevada home, and has never owned an Apple product.