Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Earliest Photographic Images of Humans Discovered

 In the steady barrage of images that make up the digital age, it's almost impossible to fathom a time when photographs of people were nonexistent. But rest assured, kids, that such a time did exist -- and it really wasn't that long ago in the grand scheme of things. So the recent discovery of what appears to be two men near the river's edge in a photo of Cincinnati taken in 1848 is kind of a big deal among photography historians.
As reported by NPR's Robert Krulwich last month, the photo was taken by Charles Fontayne and William Porter -- who were standing on the other side of the Ohio River -- on Sunday, September 24th, 1848, 162 years prior to Krulwich's post about it. The photo is what's known as a daguerreotype -- an image developed via an early photographic process developed in France. When zooming in on the photo, Krulwich noticed what appeared to be two human figures. You can see them in a close-up image below:
 A reader of Krulwich's blog took the photo and "lightened it up a bit and messed with the contrast a little" and posted a clearer version of it on his own blog. He thinks that "the man on the left is standing behind the wooden beam wall (wharf? dock?) with his left leg up on the wall and his left hand resting on his knee, while the man on the right is standing on top of that wall."
In case you're wondering if this is the earliest photograph taken of a human -- as Krulwich himself did in a recent headline -- well, it's not. The credit for photographing a human for the first time is generally given to Louis Daguerre, the inventor of the daguerreotype process. In an 1838 photo he took of Paris, Daguerre caught an image of a man who appears to be getting his shoes or boots shined at a street corner. You can see the figure -- together with that of the shoeshiner -- in the bottom left of the image here.
Daguerre's process involved exposing a chemically treated metal plate for several minutes. If someone or something was moving within the frame, it wouldn't show up in a daguerreotype photo. But since this person remained relatively stationary as the image was captured, he showed up in the picture. The anonymous Parisian thus gets credit for being the first person ever to have his picture taken.

We wonder what he'd think about Facebook.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Time traveller in 1928 Chaplin Movie

A woman in a 1928 Charlie Chaplin Movie, walking in the background of the shot, appears to be talking on a cell phone.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Nuns Will Profit From Auction of Rare Honus Wagner Card

Other than the rare heartless scoundrel out there, everyone loves stories about regular folks who stumble upon rare baseball cards and stand to make huge profits from their sale.  Take, for instance, the Fresno, Calif., granny who found a card of the 1869 Cincinnati Reds, the first professional baseball team, in a box of antiques. She cashed in for nearly $65,000 and got to tell her story on Jay Leno.

This might be even better: An order of nuns in Baltimore stands to make $150,000-$200,000 from the auction of a 100-year-old (or so) Honus Wagner T206 card. And even better, the card was an unexpected donation. It's expected to fetch that much, despite its beat-up condition, because only 60 of the T206 Wagners are known to exist. A contemporary of Ty Cobb and Cy Young, Wagner was a Hall of Fame shortstop for the Pittsburgh Pirates.

Well, you could knock over Sister Virginia Mueller with a feather. "It just boggles your mind," Mueller said
 "I can't remember a time when we have received anything like this."
The brother of a nun who died in 1999 left all his possessions to the order when he died earlier this year. The man's lawyer told Muller he had a Honus Wagner card in a safe-deposit box. When they opened the box, they found the card, with a typewritten note: "Although damaged, the value of this baseball card should increase exponentially throughout the 21st century!"

The auction is being handled by Heritage Auction Galleries of Dallas. At last check, the bidding was up to $65,000.  As Harry Caray (or Phil Rizzuto) might have said, "Holy cow!"  A near-mint Wagner at auction in 2008 went for $2.8 million, the highest price ever for a baseball card. This particular card — apparently owned by the nun's brother since 1936 — is in relatively poor condition; three of its borders have been cut off, it has a large crease and it was laminated. It probably endured a few thousand revolutions in someone's bicycle spokes, too. No matter. The T206 Wagner is in demand by collectors, says Chris Ivy, the director of sports auctions at Heritage.

"The T206 set is known as 'The Monster' among collectors. It's just really tough to complete the entire set," Ivy said. The Wagner card is "one of those that's always sought-after, always desirable, and there's not a big population of them. Even in a lower grade, they do have quite a bit of demand and command a strong price."

The proceeds will go to the School Sisters of Notre Dame, which has ministries in 35 countries around the world. I am sure the Sisters will find a much better use for the money than the card , which would have been put in an album and locked in a safe.

Painting Found In An Attic Could Sell For Over $100,00

Everyone loves a good "lost in the attic" story and there is one going up for  sale through Heritage Auctions on November 20. The 1901 painting by  H. A. McArdle depicting the  Texas Revolutions's decisive 1836 Battle of San Jacinto had been missing for nearly a century . It was covered with dust in the attic of a West Virigina home and could sell for $100,000 or more.

"It depicts the 1836 battle of San Jacinto , the decisive battle of the battle of Texas Revolution . It was painted in 1901 by  H.A. McArdle (1836 - 1908), five years after he painted a large mural of that scene that  still hangs in the State Senate chamber  of the Texas Capitol  building ," said Atlee Phillips of Heritage . According to a family story , McAdle was paid by a person who commissioned the smaller painting and so the painting was bought to West Virginia when the family moved there in 1901 . His descendants recently discovered it in the attic of the family's home in Weston , West Virginia . The five-by-seven oil painting was dusty but generally in good  in good condition . McAdle descendants had no idea they had something of so much value in their home . "I vaguely  remember seeing  the painting but never in the light of day in all the years I lived in that house ," said Bland Buell , McAdle's great-granddaughter .

"This is a stunning find of a work by one of the most important painters of scenes and individuals from Texas history," said Sam Ratliffe , Head of the Bywaters Special Collections at Southern Methodist University's Hamon Arts Library.

My take :A lot of  valuable things are being found iin the attics lately....well folks  I am now headed for the attic.
Kicking back  keeping it real and having fun.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Electronic Dream Catcher Records Dreams

 A US researcher says he plans to electronically record and interpret dreams.  Scientists have developed a way to record higher brain activity "We would like to read people's dreams," says the lead scientist Dr Moran Cerf. "The aim is not to interlope, but to extend our understanding of how and why people dream."

For centuries, people have been fascinated by dreams and what they might mean. In Ancient Egypt they were thought to be messages from God.  More recently, dream analysis has been used by psychologists as a tool to understand the unconscious mind. But the only way to interpret dreams is to ask people about the subject of their dreams when they were awake. The eventual aim of Dr Cerf's project is to develop a system which would enable psychologists to corroborate people's recollections of their dream with an electronic visualisation of their brain activity.

"There's no clear answer as to why humans dream," according to Dr Cerf. "And one of the questions we would like to answer is when do we actually create this dream?" Dr Cerf makes his bold claim based on an initial study which he says suggests that the activity of individual brain cells, or neurons, are associated with specific objects or concepts.  He found, for example, that when a volunteer was thinking of Marilyn Monroe, a particular neuron lit up.  By showing volunteers a series of images, Dr Cerf and his colleagues were able to identify neurons for a wide range of objects and concepts - which they used to build up a database for each patient. These included Bill and Hilary Clinton, the Eiffel Tower and celebrities. So by observing which brain cell lit up and when, Dr Cerf says he was effectively able to "read the subjects' minds".

He admits that there is a very long way to go before this simple observation can be translated into a device to record dreams, or dream catcher. But he thinks it is a possibility - and he said he would like to try.
The next stage is to monitor the brain activity of the volunteers when they are sleeping. In the Nature study, the researchers obtained their results by studying patients who had electrodes implanted to monitor and treat them for brain seizures. But Dr Cerf believes that sensor technology is developing at such a pace that eventually it might be possible to monitor brain activity in this way without invasive surgery. If this were to happen it would open up a range of possibilities.

"It would be wonderful to read people's minds where they cannot communicate, such as people in comas," said Dr Cerf. There have been attempts to create machine interfaces before that aim to translate thoughts into instructions to control computers or machines.  But in the main these have tried to tap into areas of the brain involved in controlling movement. Dr Cerf's system monitors higher level areas of the brain and can potentially identify abstract concepts.

"We can sail with our imaginations and think about all the things we could do if we had access to a person's brain and basically visualise their thoughts. "For example, instead of just having to write an email you could just think it. Or another futuristic application would be to think a flow of information and have it written in front of your eyes."

Astronomers Say They Have Found Oldest Galaxy So Far

Washington (October 22) - astronomers believe they've found the oldest object they've ever seen in the Universe. It's a galaxy far,far away from a time long,long ago.

Hidden in a  Hubble Space telescope photo released earlier this year is a small smudge of light that European  astonomers now calculate is a galaxy from 13.1 billion years ago.  That's the time when the universe was very  young , just shy of 600 million years old. That would make it  the earliest and most distant galaxy seen so far.

"We're looking at the universe when it was a 20th of it's current age," said California Institute of Technology astronomy professor Richard Ellis, who wasn't part of the discovery team. "In human terms , we're looking at a 4-year-old boy in the life span of an adult."

While Ellis finds the basis for the study "pretty good," there have been other claims about the age of distant space objects that have not held up to scrutiny . And some experts have questions about this one. But even the skeptics praised the study as important and interesting.

The Eurpoean astronomers calculated  the age after 16 hours of observations from a telescope in Chile that looked at light signatures of cooling hydrogen gas. Earlier this year , astronomers had made a general estimate of 600 to 800 million years after the Big Bang  for the most distant fuzzy points of lights in the Hubble photograph ,  which was presented at an astronomy meeting back in January.

The new galaxy doesn't have a name - just a series of letters and numbers . So Lehnert said he and colleagues have called it  "the high red-shift blob. "Because it takes so long for the light to travel such a vast time and distance, astronomers are seeing what the glaxay looked liked  13.1 billion years ago at a time when it was quite young - maybe even as young as 100 million years old - Lehnert said. It has very little of the carbon or metal that we see in more mature stars and is full of young , blue massive stars, he said.

What's most interesting to astronomers is that this finding  fits with theories about when the first stars  and galaxies were born. This galaxy would have formed not too soon after them. "We're looking almost to the edge , almost within 100 million years of seeing the very first objects," Ellis said .  "One hundred million years to a human seems an awful long time, but in astronomical time periods, that's nothing compared to the life of the stars."
Meet you on the mountain-top to watch the stars...remember to bring your telescope.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Species Found in 50 Million Year Old Amber

Raw Amber
Most of the found species are completely new to science.  More than 700 new species of ancient insects have been discovered in 50-million-year-old amber produced by an ancient rainforest in India. This means that, despite millions of years in isolation in the ocean, the region was a lot more biologically diverse that previously believed.

The amber, dubbed Cambay amber, was found in lignite mines in the Cambay Shale of the Indian state of Gujarat. Jes Rust from the University of Bonn in Germany led an international team of researchers from India, Germany and the US.
According to a predominant theory of continents' formation, at first there were only two so-called supercontinents on Earth. The one in the north was called Laurasia and the other one, located more towards the south, Gondwana. When Gondwana split up into several smaller pieces in the mid-Jurassic, some 160 million years ago, most of its parts stayed in the southern hemisphere, but one started drifting towards the north.  Having floated in the ocean for at least 100 million years at a remarkable rate of 15-25cm per year, it eventually collided with Asia and became what we know today as the Indian subcontinent. In the process, the Himalayas were formed.

Most of the recently discovered bugs also show links to modern insects as well as those that lived millions of years ago in different parts of the world, including Asia, Australia, and even South America.  The lead author Dr Rust told BBC News that this could be explained by land-bridge connections - possibly small islands that formed before the collision with Asia, in the Eocene - between the Indian "ferry" and other landmasses.

"The Indian amber is from the Lower Eocene and was likely produced by flowering hardwood trees called Dipterocarpaceae, [trees] that predominate in the forests of Southeast Asia today," Paul Nascimbene of the American Museum of Natural History in New York said. To determine where the amber came from, the scientists chemically fingerprinted it. They also analyzed the wood anatomy of fossilised branches and trunks on the site.
"Fossil wood samples were also recovered in association with the amber, [and they] showed that these samples preserved details of the wood's microstructure, pointing to dipterocarps as the probable source," added Dr Nascimbene. The team also said that it was able to determine the age of the modern rainforest.
Up until now, many experts used to suggest that this type of tropical rainforest, found today all over the South-East Asia, first originated in the Miocene some 20 or 25 million years ago. But the recent discovery challenged that idea.  David Grimaldi from the American Museum of Natural History and another co-author said that the rainforest is at least 60 million years old.

Amber looks like yellow-brownish rocks. Most of the fossil outcrops are in drier, very eroded areas of the northern hemisphere or southern parts of southern hemisphere, but not so much in the equatorial belt.
 Besides the rainforest's age and India's biogeography, the most astonishing part of the discovery was the huge number of perfectly preserved specimens of insects, most of which have never been seen before.
Unlike other types of amber found in deposits in the north, the Indian amber is much softer. This unique property allowed the scientists to completely dissolve the amber using solvents - toluene and chloroform - and extract the ancient insects, plants and fungi.

"We have complete, three-dimensionally preserved specimens that are 52 million years old and you can handle them almost like living ones," said Dr Rust. "Of course they are very fragile, but it is still astonishing.
"We have several examples where it is possible to get a complete specimen out. And of course this opens a new dimension in investigations of this material.  Many insects are related to modern and ancient species found in different parts of the world The researcher said that this amber deposit was the first important one found in India.  "There are tonnes of amber [in this Indian deposit], and what is interesting about it is that it was produced in the tropics, the most highly diverse areas in respect to species diversity," said Dr Rust.
"And the fossil record of the terrestrial tropics is not so good, because usually all the organic material gets rotten very quickly."

With tonnes of amber at their disposal, the researcher said his team hoped to uncover many more secrets of the peculiar world that existed millions of years ago.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Why It's So Hard for Scientists to Believe in God

Francis Collins: Director  National Institutes of Health
Some scientists see religion as a threat to the scientific method that should be resisted. But faith "is really
asking a different set of questions," says Collins.

I borrow things periodically from' Big Think' if I think they are interesting or if  they stimulate thought. I have often wondered what the general concensus of  scientists  was on the concept of God. I was married at one time to a scientist. He was a Muslim and managed to keep his science and his religion in harmony and in balance but I had doubts that he was in the majority.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Haiti Cholera Death Toll Tops 250....Over 3,000 Cases Reported

Paitents and families wait outside St. Nicolas Hospital on October 21 in St. Marc, 96 Km north of Port-au-Prince. UN health experts rushed to northern Haiti to help tackle a sudden outbreak of diarrhoeal disease that has left 250 dead. Tests showed trace of cholera.
 A multinational medical response has slowed deaths in a Haitian cholera epidemic that has killed more than 250 people so far, but the outbreak is likely to widen, a senior U.N. official said on Sunday. "We must gear up for a serious epidemic, even though we hope it won't happen," Nigel Fisher, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Haiti, told Reuters.

More than 3,000 cholera cases have been reported so far in the poor, earthquake-hit
Caribbean nation, which is experiencing its second humanitarian crisis since a catastrophic earthquake on January 12.The U.N., Haiti's government and aid partners have launched a major effort to try to contain the epidemic. This involved setting up cholera treatment centers to isolate patients in the two worst affected central provinces, Artibonite and Center, and in the capital Port-au-Prince. The main outbreak areas straddle the Artibonite River watershed, suspected of being the main propagator of the deadly disease. "We have registered a diminishing in numbers of deaths and of hospitalized people in the most critical areas ... The tendency is that it is stabilizing, without being able to say that we have reached a peak," Gabriel Thimote, director-general of Haiti's Health Department, told a news conference.

With a number of confirmed cases in Port-au-Prince and suspected cases reported in the town of L'Arcahaie and in the country's northern second city of Cap-Haitien, Fisher said the expectation was that the outbreak would spread geographically.  Accumulated deaths since the cholera outbreak began around a week ago stood at 253, while cases totaled 3,015, mostly in the Artibonite region, Haitian health authorities said.

President Rene Preval on Sunday visited Saint-Marc, the coastal town at the center of the Artibonite outbreak zone whose hospital had been overwhelmed with patients suffering the acute diarrheal disease that can kill in hours through dehydration. It is transmitted by contaminated water and food. Health workers were distributing kits of soap bars, water purification tablets and oral rehydration sachets to people on the Artibonite River watershed and also in Port-au-Prince.

The detection of five "imported" cholera cases in Port-au-Prince, involving patients who had traveled south to the city from the central outbreak zone, has raised fears of the virulent diarrheal disease spreading in the capital. Experts see as vulnerable to infection the inhabitants of Port-au-Prince's sprawling, squalid slums and around 1.3 million quake survivors left homeless by the earthquake who live precariously in tent and tarpaulin camps across the city.

The 12,000-strong U.N. peacekeeping mission in Haiti is using its helicopters, trucks and soldiers to back the campaign against the epidemic and Cuba's government has mobilized several hundred doctors and nurses to help treat the sick. Medical NGOs from around the world are also helping. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has dispatched a team of experts to Haiti and the U.S. Southern Command has also offered assistance.
Scientific papers published by seismology experts in the journal Nature Geoscience on Sunday said the January earthquake may have been caused by an unseen fault and pressure could be building for another quake.

Barack Obama : African relatives Think His Father Was Murdered "OMG"

Perhaps the president can add this one to his list of myths to bust in December when he appears on the Discovery Channel show  "MythBusters" : His Father was not killed in a car accident  in 1982 , as was reported , but was murdered.

So goes a family theory investigated by Peter Firstbrook in his history of  President  Barack Obama's  African side of the family, "The Obamas," and dissected by Obama biographer  David Remnick in a  post today on the New Yorker's website.

Barack Obama Sr. was "a thwarted politican and bureaucrat," outspoken in his criticism of the Kenyan government's acceptance of corruption among it's ranks, according to Remnick.

He was also a heavy drinker , nicknamed  "Mr Double-Double" after his usual Scotch orders. On the night  of his death he was found inside his car, which had hit a tree.

Fristbrook talked to Charles Oluoch , a cousin of the president , who related the family's suspicious . Obama Sr. had been in a number of accidents  before and had survived them all . His body  appeared to be fairly unharmed  -- no broken bones  and only a small amount of blood, Oluoch said.

"Although  it looked like an accident , our family suspected that there must have been foul play . I am not a medical doctor , but the way we saw  Barack laying there , he didn't look like someone who was involved in an accident," Oluoch said.

Sarah Obama , the president's step-grandmother , told the author a similar story :
"We think there was foul play there, and that is how he died , and they covered it up [by saying] that he  had an accident ," she said. "But we just had to leave it like that because the government  then was ruthless."

Remnick talked to Caroline Elkins, a historian at Harvard , who said she doesn't buy it .  Obama Sr. was a "serious, fall-down alcoholic" and his family is probably trying to restore  his reputation now that they have one of their own in the White House, she said.

But as Firstbrook points out 25 years later , we will probably never know the truth....

My take : I totally agree with Caroline Elkins ...why wait this long, I'm sure  the President  looked into his African background...maybe, just maybe they are looking for their 15 minutes of fame...
But hey that's just me  and keeping it real.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


Happy Birthday


Craters Full of Water on the Moon Open Possibilities

Vast pockets of water ice numbering in the millions of tons have been discovered at the north pole of the moon, opening up another region of the lunar surface for potential exploration by astronauts and unmanned probes, NASA announced Monday.
A NASA radar instrument on an Indian moon probe found evidence of at least 600 million metric tons of water ice spread out on the bottom of craters at the lunar north pole. It is yet another supply of lunar water ice, a vital resource that could be mined to produce oxygen or rocket fuel to support a future moon base, NASA officials said.
"After analyzing the data, our science team determined a strong indication of water ice, a finding which will give future missions a new target to further explore and exploit," said Jason Crusan, program executive for the Mini-RF Program for NASA's space operations program in Washington, D.C., in a statement.

The ice was discovered in permanently shadowed craters at the moon's north pole. Similar conditions of perpetual night exist at the moon's south pole as well, where water ice was also confirmed to be present last year. Because these regions never see sunlight, water can stay in its frozen form indefinitely.
Last September, NASA and other scientists confirmed without a doubt the existence of water ice at the moon's south pole, as well as signals of water molecules across large areas of the lunar surface. Several spacecraft, including India's Chandrayaan-1 probe that carried the radar instrument used for the new findings, found hard evidence of water on the moon.

In October, NASA crashed two impactor probes into the lunar south pole in an attempt to kick up clouds of water ice and measure it from an orbiting spacecraft and other space and ground-based observatories. The subsequent analysis turned up significant amounts of water and water vapor in the debris cloud, NASA scientists said.
"The emerging picture from the multiple measurements and resulting data of the instruments on lunar missions indicates that water creation, migration, deposition and retention are occurring on the moon," said Paul Spudis, principal investigator of the Mini-SAR experiment at the Lunar and Planetary Institute in Houston, in a statement. "The new discoveries show the moon is an even more interesting and attractive scientific, exploration and operational destination than people had previously thought."  The research will be detailed in the journal Geophysical Research Letters.

Water ice is a tantalizing find anywhere on the moon because it can serve as a natural resource for astronauts on future lunar landing missions. The ice could be melted into drinking water or be separated into its component oxygen and hydrogen to provide breathing air and rocket fuel, NASA officials have said in the past. NASA had planned to send astronauts on new lunar landing missions by 2020 as part of its Constellation program. The program was building the new Altair moon landers, as well as the Orion spacecraft and Ares rockets needed to launch and ferry them to the lunar surface, but experts said it was extremely underfunded and behind schedule.

Last month, President Barack Obama ordered NASA to cancel the Constellation program and focus on using commercial spacecraft to launch American astronauts to orbit instead. The move is aimed at freeing up NASA to concentrate on more lofty exploration missions, such as returning to the moon or sending astronauts to visit an asteroid, stable regions in space called Lagrange points or the moons of Mars.
NASA chief Charles Bolden told members of the U.S. Senate and Congress last week that Mars is expected to be the ultimate destination for astronauts. But the moon, he said, is still a good interim target to serve as a stepping stone for more distant space exploration goals.

Water is a much more useful discovery than green cheese, which we believed the moon was made of as kids.  Now we 'll be travelling to Mars and hopefully will make remarkable discoveries there and prove for once and for all that there are no little green men there; or are there?

Friday, October 22, 2010

Serial Killer Col. Russell Williams Receives 150 Years

Jessica lloyd's mother
BELLEVILLE, Ont. - The unprecedented, sadistic crimes of convicted sex killer Col. Russell Williams have earned him a place among the worst criminals Canada has ever seen, court heard Thursday as the final chapter in the shocking case drew to a close.
"The depths of the depravity demonstrated by Russell Williams had no equal," Ontario Superior Court Justice Robert Scott said as he sentenced the once decorated officer to two concurrent life sentences with no possibility of parole for 25 years. "One suspects that he has contained for most of his adult life sexual desires and fetishes. ...Russell Williams will forever be remembered as a sadosexual serial killer."

WARNING: Graphic details from this court case may disturb some readers:
Once destined for senior military command, the 47-year-old former airbase chief who flew prime ministers on VIP flights is now in Kingston Penitentiary, home to some of the country's most notorious criminals — including schoolgirl killer Paul Bernardo. Already branded "the devil" by the brother of one of his victims, Williams will go down as one of the worst killers in Canadian history, said Crown prosecutor Lee Burgess.

Williams' dark descent began with a string of disturbing fetish break-ins in 2007 that escalated to sexual assaults and culminated in the brutal sex killings of Cpl. Marie-France Comeau, 37, and Jessica Lloyd, 27.
He beat, bound and raped both women repeatedly — obsessively documenting each gruesome moment with videotape and photographs — before he killed them.
Those homemade movies, which include Comeau's murder, weren't played in court, but described in horrifying detail by prosecutors as family members and friends of the victims wept openly.

His fate sealed, Williams stood up Thursday and tearfully told the judge he was "indescribably ashamed" of what he'd done. "I've committed despicable crimes, your honour. In the process, betraying my family, my friends and colleagues, and the Canadian Forces," he said, his voice breaking. "I shall spend the rest of my life regretting, above all, that I've ended two vibrant, innocent and cherished lives."
But his tears failed to move the families of his victims, or the investigators who helped put him behind bars.

It's still unclear whether the sickening videos Williams made will be destroyed. Burgess said the matter is still being discussed with the families as they may prove "useful" if Williams ever applies for parole.
Det. Insp. Chris Nicholas, the lead investigator in the case, vowed the "videos will never be shown while I'm alive — to anybody."
Williams came under police suspicion last February after officers stopped him at a roadside canvass after Lloyd went missing. Officers noticed the distinctive tires on his Nissan Pathfinder, similar to the treads they'd found near Lloyd's Belleville home. He came in for questioning and eventually caved under Ontario Provincial Police Det. Sgt. Jim Smyth's masterful interrogation techniques — a camera-obsessed rapist squirming under the unflinching eye of a police lens.

In his videotaped confession, Williams admitted he started breaking into homes in 2007 to steal underwear — some from girls as young as 11 — which he wore while masturbating on their beds, his camera snapping away. Those deeply disturbing images of a rising military star donning lacy lingerie and girl's panties would pale in comparison to the horrific scenes that would be presented in a Belleville court over three gruelling days. It heard how Williams attacked two women that lived near his cottage in Tweed. He bound their hands, stripped them naked and forced them to pose in pornographic photos that he kept on two hard drives hidden in the basement of his Ottawa home.
Last November, he broke into Comeau's home in Brighton, using his authority as her commanding officer to find her address and schedule. She was brutally beaten, bound, gagged and raped repeatedly before he suffocated her by covering her nose with duct tape. Williams, who obsessively recorded all his crimes, paused only to re-adjust his camera — even reaching for it during the attack to get a close-up shot of the rape.

Two months later, he broke into the Belleville home of Lloyd — the daughter of a retired navy officer — who worked for a school bus company. Williams tied her up and raped her over and over again for hours. Then he took her to his Tweed cottage where he repeated the torture, every gruesome step captured in photographs and on video. Williams later admitted to police that he made Lloyd believe she was going home, before he struck her over the head with a flashlight and strangled her to death. He left her body in his garage for four days while he resumed his military duties, then dumped it in a wooded area as Lloyd's family and friends were still frantically searching for her.

Williams, who is likely headed for permanent solitary confinement, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder, two counts each of sexual assault and forcible confinement, and 82 break and enters. His full sentence amounted to 150 years. It's extremely unlikely he will ever see the outside again even though, in Canada, he would be eligible for a  parole hearing  in 25 years.
The Canadian military, which has been rocked to its core by the stunning revelations, wasted no time in declaring he be drummed out of its ranks and stripped of his medals. Prime Minister Stephen Harper noted that the military has been "very badly wounded and betrayed by all of this."
It's not the first time in our history that a person in a position of trust, rank and responsibility has committed heinous crimes; I think it won't be the last. 

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Former JFK Secret Service Agent Reveals Secret

Ex-agent: I almost shot LBJ hours after JFK murder:
A former Secret Service agent says in his new book that he nearly shot President Lyndon B. Johnson hours after John F. Kennedy's assassination.  In "The Kennedy Detail," Gerald Blaine recalls standing guard outside the Washington home of newly sworn-in President Johnson in the early hours of Nov. 23, 1963. Blaine heard footsteps approaching. He picked up his submachine gun and, in the darkness, pointed it at the chest of a man who turned out to be Johnson.

Blaine writes that the enormity of what had almost happened left him chilled. He realized that, 14 hours after losing one president, the nation had almost lost another one by his hand. He says his book is the first account of the assassination by a member of Kennedy's security detail. The book comes at the events from an entirely different view point. It's honest and outspoken and very interesting.

Elin Getting $110...Is That All??

Elin Nordegren is  getting $110 million in her divorce settlement. That's the latest on the Tiger Woods - Elin Nordegren divorce front.  Elin, formerly Elin Woods, is going to get a pretty nice lump of cash out of this whole "Escalade-waitresses-porn star" debacle that happened to the top golfer in the land nearly a year ago. She will get $110 million when the papers are signed, sealed and delivered. A sum that has been tossed around ever since news hit that the two would be splitting. While nobody knows exactly how much Tiger is worth (Remember that story that floated around a year or so ago about Woods becoming the first athlete to hit the billion-dollar mark?), most people felt $110 million was too low for Elin. Even if he is a bit short of a billion, I think he got off very lightly. She could have gotten more if she had pressed for it and persisted. As for Tiger, he should have offered more since she will be raising the kids. Further proof of his sterling character.
No worries, though, for the 30-year-old former model. She is still a very rich, single lady who can move on with her life, away from golf, and Tiger and the constant speculation and media attention that must be driving her batty. She can become herself again, free from all the ups and downs of the past year.

It has been the most dominant story in the golf world this season, overshadowing the sport completely. You can bet  anytime Elin and Tiger are in the news, it is going to be reported worldwide. He's the most famous athlete in the world, still, and a fall from grace is always going to lead the evening news. He will no doubt continue to indulge in his chosen lifestyle now that he has no encumbrance, like a wife. I'm willing to bet, however, that he will be a little more discreet in future.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The End of the Earth Has Been Postponed

It's a good news/bad news situation for believers in the 2012 Mayan apocalypse. The good news is that the Mayan "Long Count" calendar may not end on Dec. 21, 2012 (and, by extension, the world may not end along with it). The bad news for prophecy believers? If the calendar doesn't end in December 2012, no one knows when it actually will — or if it has already.

A new critique, published as a chapter in the new textbook "Calendars and Years II: Astronomy and Time in the Ancient and Medieval World", argues that the accepted conversions of dates from Mayan to the modern calendar may be off by as much as 50 or 100 years. That would throw the supposed and over-hyped 2012 apocalypse off by decades and cast into doubt the dates of historical Mayan events. (The doomsday worries are based on the fact that the Mayan calendar ends on Dec 21st, 2012, much as our year ends on Dec. 31.)

The Mayan calendar was converted to today's Gregorian calendar using a calculation called the GMT constant, named for the last initials of three early Mayanist researchers.   The GMT theory was bolstered by American linguist and anthropologist Floyd Lounsbury, who used data in the Dresden Codex Venus Table, a Mayan calendar and almanac that uses the movements of Venus to predict events.
He took the position that his work removed the last obstacle to fully accepting the GMT constant. But Lounsbury's evidence is arguable. It's not so much that any of these gentlemen's calculations are off but that historical data, which their calculations depend  upon, is unreliable at best.

 Looks like end-of-the-world theorists  need to find another ancient calendar on which to pin their apocalyptic hopes. Sorry guys, I realize you were hoping that the earth would blow up or burn to a cinder and spin off into space; Maybe another day.

Other Dire Predictions of Doom Which Fizzled Out;
Heaven's Gate, 1997:
When comet Hale-Bopp appeared in 1997, rumors surfaced that an alien spacecraft was following the comet — covered up, of course, by NASA and the astronomical community. Though the claim was refuted by astronomers (and could be refuted by anyone with a good telescope), the rumors were publicized on Art Bell's paranormal radio talk show "Coast to Coast AM." These claims inspired a San Diego UFO cult named Heaven's Gate to conclude that the world would end soon. The world did indeed end for 39 of the cult members, who committed suicide on March 26, 1997.

Nostradamus, August 1999:
The heavily obfuscated and metaphorical writings of Michel de Nostrdame have intrigued people for over 400 years. His writings, the accuracy of which relies heavily upon very flexible interpretations, have been translated and re-translated in dozens of different versions. One of the most famous quatrains read, "The year 1999, seventh month / From the sky will come great king of terror." Many Nostradamus devotees grew concerned that this was the famed prognosticator's vision of Armageddon. But hey, we're still here.

Y2K, Jan. 1, 2000:
As the last century drew to a close, many people grew concerned that computers might bring about doomsday. The problem, first noted in the early 1970s, was that many computers would not be able to tell the difference between 2000 and 1900 dates. No one was really sure what that would do, but many suggested catastrophic problems ranging from vast blackouts to nuclear holocaust. Gun sales jumped and survivalists prepared to live in bunkers, but the new millennium began with only a few glitches. And hey, we're still here.

Don't relax completely; we are slowly but surely bringing the earth as we know it to an end. It may take several more decades but we will end up in a hostile, barren environment which, eventually, will be unable to sustain life. Ponder that for a minute.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Germans Scientists Unveil Self-Driving Car

 Driverless Audi
Driverless BMW
 Scientists in Germany unveiling the latest self-driven car on Wednesday said the days of humans behind the wheel are numbered and that their technology can slash accidents and help the environment.
"In the future it will be forbidden for safety reasons for people to drive cars," predicted Raul Rojas, professor at Berlin's Free University (FU). "The cars of today are the horses of yesterday."
"In five to 10 years the technology could be applied in private areas like airports, factories or warehouses. On motorways ... in 10-20 years," Rojas told reporters. "In cities the obstacles could be removed in 20-30 years."
The car, dubbed the "Made in Germany (MIG)" by the FU, uses cameras, laser scanners, heat sensors and satellite navigation -- even in tunnels -- to "see" other vehicles and pedestrians and respond to traffic lights.

The technology will sharply reduce the number of cars on the road because people will no longer need their own vehicle so much, using instead driverless cars pooled in car-share schemes, the MIG's developers believe.
"Autonomous cars are the real 'green' cars," Mexican-born Rojas said. "We could use a fraction of the cars that we now have. If China and India want the same level of mobility as us, then the world is not big enough. The only real solution when it comes to sustainability and preserving resources is car-sharing."

According to the World Health Organization, more than a million people are killed in road accidents worldwide every year and 50 million more are injured. Driverless vehicles can slash this, their proponents say. "Cars that use sensors to recognize other vehicles, pedestrians and bikes will in future drive more safely than people who lose concentration and get tired," the FU said.
"The car has more information at its disposal than a human does now. A person can only see in front. This car can see in all directions at a range of 70 metres (yards)," said Rojas.

The MIG, which from the outside looks like a regular Volkswagen Passat with a camera on top, was put through its paces at Berlin's disused Tempelhof airport on Thursday but it has already been tested on public roads. A human being was inside -- but only in case things went wrong. Nothing did, with the car stopping while a couple with a pram crossed the road, or steering around a parked car -- all without human intervention.

It is by no means the first self-driving car, however. Scientists at Germany's Braunschweig last week demonstrated a driverless car called "Leonie" in real traffic conditions, while other road tests have been conducted in Italy and elsewhere. US technology giant Google said this week that its driverless cars -- but also with a human inside -- have already travelled 140,000 miles (225,000 kilometres) around the San Francisco Bay area.
 The team of German researchers at AutoNOMOS Labs in Berlin's Free University have upped the ante and unveiled the driverless taxi.
Imagine never arguing about the most efficient route or mentally debating the merits of tipping a driver whose ineptitude at the wheel almost killed you. Made in Germany (MIG) is an autonomous Volkswagen Passat cab you hail using an iPad app, and it eliminates the most unappealing aspect of taxis: the driver.
MIG is equipped with GPS navigation, video cameras, laser scanners, sensors and radars that it uses to construct a 3D map of its surroundings. It uses this map to detect pedestrians and other vehicles as it navigates the road. To hail MIG, passengers use an iPad that transmits its GPS location to the vehicle and tells the taxi where to pick them up. The passengers can track the taxi as it navigates toward them, and once in the vehicle they can use the iPad to tell the vehicle their destination.
The advantages of the technology are obvious: safer taxi rides to the airport and no surly drivers yelling at in-laws on cell phones while you're forced to listen to angry talk radio. And tipping is probably not required.

The following video created by the research team shows the driverless taxi in action:


Friday, October 15, 2010

Do You Believe ??

Recently, my family had a discussion about when one stops believing in Santa Claus. It’s interesting that one segment of the population (kids) accepts the Santa concept completely  while all others do not. I  spent more time than it was worth thinking about other beliefs that one portion of our society deems the truth, while others  scoff. Cher once asked in song, “Do you believe in life after love?” The Lovin’ Spoonful musically asked, “Do you believe in magic in a young girl’s heart?’ I simply ask, “What do you believe?” Let’s delve into the human mind, shall we?

Aliens Visiting Earth: There is a good-sized chunk of people out there who believe in the visitors-from-another-world-probing-people’s-butts thing. They subscribe to magazines with names like “Abduction Tales” (or perhaps"Tails" because of the probing). They chat with others online about what is really going on in Area 51 and also in an empty wooded lot behind the super Wal-Mart near their home. These people did really well on science projects in school and always came up with something more in-depth than that dumb baking soda volcano that we scabby kneed brats, who hated science, always reverted to  (Point to remember: These alien abduction people always sucked at sports).
When I have insomnia I watch the space channel too but I do not believe there is any being who is smart enough to traverse the galaxy and yet is dumb enough to think the best way to study us is to probe something out of our butts which they wish to keep and study closely. Do I think there is life somewhere else in the galaxy? A big yes to that one but they are not interested in what is in your ( or my) butt.

Ghosts and Demons Among Us: These people study parapsychology in college, and, except for a few who actually find gainful employment in that field, end up working in a bookstore or library part time. They pore over photographs looking for weird white orbs in the background and listen to audio tapes recorded overnight in cemeteries hoping to catch whispered phrases such as, “I need a snorkel,” apparently uttered by someone who drowned 15 years ago. They warn us of the evils of Ouija boards while secretly holding séances to ask if Grandpa is in a happy place. They don’t date much but are prone to being attacked  ( and or raped)  in their own bed by a ghostly “entity.” They have The Exorcist memorized and have a poster of Linda Blair, green puke et al.
 There may or may not be an afterlife, but I can only keep my sanity if I refuse to believe that any, self respecting, spirit  would waste their afterlife time whispering into a tape recorder that was planted by a grave by an amateur spook hunter who's hiding behind a tree. If I’m ever a spirit in that situation, though, I plan to mess with their heads by saying things like, " I was killed by aliens who stuck a probe up my butt." (Despite my scepticism, I plan to stay away from Ouija boards just to be on the safe side.)

Things Will Work out:  This one’s a little different. These are the people who believe that the stars will align for them one day, and, without having to do any planning or making any real sacrifices, they will find their soul mate, their perfect job, and will have the perfect house, car, boat etc. These people usually drop out of college the first year. They are pretty sure they’ll win a car from Drew Carey on The Price Is Right (despite the fact that they are not actively trying to get on the show), and it will only be a matter of time before some publisher reads their blogs and begs them to write for their magazine. They know their soul mate is out there, and they are not the least bit alarmed that their past  relationships have fallen apart within six months. Also, their retirement plans usually consist of winning the Power Ball lottery. Today’s politically correct atmosphere has really killed any gumption these people might have had at one point. They’ve had it pounded into their brain that everyone is extremely special and if they just wait, things will work out.

The Government is Conducting Secret Projects just to Screw with us:  These people have twelve months’ worth of water, canned sardines and ammunition hidden underground. They believe the government has been involved in conspiracies in the following areas: JFK assassination, 911, airplane exhaust comtrails (the white lines left in the sky), pink Teletubbies promoting homosexuality, cell phones causing brain damage, subliminal messages in pop songs and cartoons, battery packages being impossible to open, potato chip bags being only 1/3 full when you open them ; El Nino weather patterns, the New England Patriots’ winning streak and the unprecedented number of earthquakes in the world lately. They see conspiracies in everything and trust no one. Stay away from these people unless you're out of sardines or wish to spend some time in an underground bunker.

I haven't even scratched the surface of belief systems. For every person there is a uniquely individual belief. And that's what makes us wonderful and interesting and funny and endearing and it makes the world go round. 

Yonni Barrios : Who Will Play 'Miner of Two Loves' In The Movie ? "OMG"

After spending 69 days in a mine in Chili , Yonni Barrios became the  21st miner to be rescued .

Barrios became known  as the 'Miner of Two Loves' in the media , after his wife and mistress met each other  at a vigil held for the men .

Of course , the story itself is prime movie fodder , but , Barrios' troubles in particular seem  perfect  for a script.

If that happens , we want to suggest Javier Bardem in the starring role because , well , look at the resemblance .

Bardem  in particular is well suited for the part , having  starred in 'Vicky Cristina  Barcelona,' in which  his character  lives with his ex-wife (Penelope Cruz ) and his mistress (Scarlett Johansson).
Stay tuned , we will be following  this story closely...Yonni Barrios  saga just began.

Just wondering :  What's on Yonni Barrios mind at the moment  .... On crap,  he was in hell under ground and now his hell has just beginning  ... only the mistress showed up for  the rescue  and the wife says you keep him until  the next mistress shows up.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Bosnia Revokes Permission For Angie's Film

Bosnian authorities on Wednesday revoked permission for Angelina Jolie to shoot part of her directorial debut film there after complaints from a women's war victims group.  The film will tell the story of a Serbian man and Bosnian woman who fall in love in the middle of the war, but are driven to take different paths.
However Bosnian press reported the movie would be a love story between a Muslim victim and her rapist, a Serb, causing outrage among victims' groups. They no longer have the authorization or licence to shoot in Bosnia.
The culture minister said that while he could not stop the film from being shot somewhere else, revoking the filming licence was a way to "express our disapproval for the shooting of a movie which does not tell the truth and hurts a large number of victims".

Jolie has already started shooting the film in Hungary and was planning to continue it in Bosnia. According to Bosnian actress Zana Marjanovic, who has landed the lead in the movie, the film is "an epic drama against the backdrop of the 1992-92 Bosnian war". But women's war victims groups were up in arms over the film's reported subject of a rapist and his victim falling in love.
"This is misleading history. Among thousands of testimonies by women raped during the war, there is not a single one that tells of a love story between a victim and her rapist," Bakira Hasecic, the head of the "Women victims of war" association in Sarajevo stated. "We will not allow anyone to falsify our pain," she added.

International organizations have estimated that thousands of women were raped during the Bosnian war. In February 2001, the UN war crimes court for the former Yugoslavia convicted three Bosnian Serbs for crimes against humanity and war crimes after they were found guilty of rape and forced prostitution of Bosnian Muslim women in the southeastern town  of Foca. The verdict marked the first time an international court had ruled that rape was a crime against humanity.

Better do a rewrite Angie and try to make it fast...Crew, production people,actors all standing around twiddling their thumbs... Money down the toilet. And try to be a little more sensitive to rape victims or any victims in future.

Giant Crystal Caves Create an " Ice Palace"

  In hellish conditions , explorers find biological mysteries, "alien" environments. It looks like Superman's Fortress of solitude and is nearly as hard to get into , but that hasn't stopped explorers from uncovering new secrets in and around Mexico's deep , deadly hot cave of Crystals . Outfitted with ice-cooled suits , teams have found biogological mysteries and parallels  with other planets. The  "Ice Palace," an unexplored cavern is lined with rare crystal formations. The explorers are just in time too. Parts of the complex may soon be returned to their natural , submerged states.
     A thousand feet (304 meter) underground , the Cave of Crystals (pictures above) is just  one of a series of glittering caverns  beneath the Chihuahuan Desert's Naica mountain. In the two-story tall, football field size cave of Crystals, enormous beams of gypsum -- among the largest freestanding crystals in the world -- sprout haphazardly , sporting the sharp, geometric appearance that scientists call euhedral.
     The jewel -like effect makes the giant crystals truly unique , according to John Rakovan , a mineralogist at Miami University of Ohio , who was not involved in the project. "When crystals get larger and larger , they become less euhedral , typically, and more rocklike. Scientists didn't think it was possible  to get  large crystals that are so morphologiaclly perfect before the Cave of Crystals  discovery," Rakovan said.
     The translucent columns also resemble giant pillers of ice  but are warmed by superheated air leaking up from underground magna chambers.  The combination of  90 percent humidity and a temperature  of 118  degrees Fahrenheit (48 degrees Celsius ) inside the cave can kill an unprepared human in just 30 mintues. "It's a deadly and magical environment all at the same time," said Penelope Boston, an astrobiologist  and cave scientist.
Ice-Cooled Suits required:
     Exploring the Naica caves requires more than just industrial strengh water pumps . Scientists entering the complex in 2008 and 2009 wore custom-made , 45-pound (25-kiograms) cooling suits that extend mission times from 15 mintues  to an hour. Each suit contains several ice-filled compartments as well as respirators connected to ice-filled backpacks , which send cool air to the wearer's lungs. Masks  protects the eyes,, which can scorch in the cave's heat. "It's funny , because when you look at  the pictures of us in there in the suits , it looks like we're in an ice chamber , but it's just the reverse," said  Boston , of the  New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology.
Microbial Mystery in Cave of Crystals :
     Though the calling card of the horseshoe-shaped Cave of Crystals may be its massive mineral formations , some of its biggest surprises are literally microscopic . In 2008 a team of scientists , including New Mexico Tech's Boston, investigated the cave and found microbial life living in tiny air pockets in the crystals. In December 2009 Boston returned to the cave with another team. From pools of water that hadn't been present during her first trip, the scientists collected bacteria as well as viruses that prey on bacteria -- something that was suspected but had not been comfirmed on the first expedition.
     Viruses, after all, are among the "primary predators of bacteria," explained Danielle Winget, a biologist at the Univeristy of British Columbia . Sure enough , the team found as many as 200 million viruses in a single drop of cave of Crystals water. But the virus finding was perhaps not the expedition's most surprising microbial discovery. Analysis of bacterial DNA from the Cave of Crystals showed that the tiny life-forms are  related to microbes living in other extreme environments around the world , including caves in South Africa and Australia. "We're picking up these patterns of similarities  in places that are geographically widely separated," Boston said.  "We don't really understand how it is that the organisms in a hydrothermal vent in Greece or a deep gold mine in South Africa are related  to organisms that we find in a  subsurface cave" at Naica , Suttle  said.  "It's hard to imagine some kind of underground [network] connecting South Africa with Mexico."
Alien underworlds :
     As mind-boggling as the idea of a possibly globe-spanning , underground bacterial network may be , some scientists see potential links between the  Cave of Crystals and even farther-flung hot spots -- for example , extreme environments on Mars and other worlds. Though Martian geology might be more static overall than Earth's , "there may be residual pockets of geothermal activity that could provide a zone where water could be liguid and where chemically reduced gases from below  can percolate up and act as a nutrient source," as in the Cave of Crystals, Boston said. Poirier, the Ontario astrophysicist , agreed. "For Mars , our best bet of finding life is to look underground," Poirier said. "So there are a lot of parallels between humans exploring subterranean caves looking for microbes and Martian exploration in the future.  If the caves on Mars are anything like the caverns beneath Naica mountain, future Martian explores will have to be trained to ignore the strange sights around them.
"When you are in the caves , you're overwhelmed by the [harsh] conditions , but you are also overwhelmed by the beauty, and it's hard to maintain your focus," Boston said. "Even if scalding water submerges that beauty tomorrow , the caves' scientific  potential should live on, thanks to the multitude of samples already collected."
Well now, we not only have to watch the skies, but scope beneath the ground also .