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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Daily Drift

Sunday, July 14
Sounds about right

Carolina Naturally is read in 192 countries around the world daily.

Be a Dork then ...

Today is (no special occasion) but yesterday was  Be A Dork Day 

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is
Editor's Note: Regular readers may have noted we did not post yesterday (Monday, July15th). This was due to Ma Bell having a 'outage' shortly after we posted for Sunday the 14th. They promised us the outage would be repaired that day yet at the end of the day only 2 people had their service up and running - this out of only fifty people affected - and we were not either one of those lucky two. So we got our service and presumably the other 47 people got theirs today. It has been a rough couple of weeks because of weather related (read: a bloody awful amount of rain) difficulties for the past 23 straight days.

Today in History

1765   English Prime Minister Lord Greenville resigns and is replaced by Lord Rockingham.
1774   Russia and the Ottoman Empire sign the Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainardji, ending their six-year war.
1779   American troops under General Anthony Wayne capture Stony Point, N.Y.
1875   The new French constitution is finalized.
1882   Mary Todd Lincoln, the widow of Abraham Lincoln, dies of a stroke.
1918   Czar Nicholas and his family are murdered by Bolsheviks at Ekaterinburg, Russia.
1940   Adolf Hitler orders preparations for the invasion of England.
1944   Soviet troops occupy Vilna, Lithuania, in their drive towards Germany.
1945   The United States detonates the first atomic bomb in a test at Alamogordo, N. M.
1969   Apollo 11 blasts off from Cape Kennedy, Florida, heading for a landing on the moon.
1999   A private plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. is lost over the waters off Martha's Vinyard, Mass.

Non Sequitur


And I Quote

How we got the names of the days of the week

It never quite hit me, entirely, how each day of the week got its name – not fully – until I was watching the movie “Thor” last night (I’m not sure how, but I hadn’t heard about it when it came out), and they mentioned that Thursday is “Thor’s Day.”I didn’t know that.  So I googled the names of the week, and found something else I never fully appreciated.  The romance languages in Europe literally have different names – a different concept – of each day of the week than we do.  And I don’t mean that to sound naive – of course each language has a different word.  But we also have different concepts of the meaning of the day, the origin of the meaning at least.
Meaning, for English-speakers, Thursday is Thor’s Day.  But for romance speakers, Thursday is Jeudi (French), Jueves (Spanish), and Giovedi (Italian).  All of those are based on Jove, aka Jupiter, Zeus, the king of the Greco-Roman gods.  So we don’t just use a different word, the day is devoted to an entirely other concept.
Days of the week, via Shutterstock 
I went through Wikipedia and checked out the other days:
Same thing happens with Sunday.  For us, it’s the Sun’s Day.  For romance people, it’s the Lord’s day: dimanche, domingo, domenica.
Monday, we all share.  Moon’s Day is the same in French (lundi), Spanish (lunes) and Italian (lunedi).  All based on the moon.
Tuesday is similar, but not entirely shared.  In English, it’s apparently the day of the Norse god Tiw, a god of combat.  In Romance, it’s Mars, the Roman god of war – mardi, martes, martedi.
Wednesday is interesting.  It’s based on a god named Wodan – Wodan’s Day.  And what do they call Wodan further north?  Odin.  The king of Norse mythology.  So Wednesday is actually Odin’s Day for we English people.  For the romance folks, it’s Mercury’s Day, which I never really realized, even though I speak the languages: mercredi, miércoles, mercoledi – all Mercury.
Thursday, as noted, is Thor’s Day.  But it’s Juno’s or Jupiter’s Day for the romance people.
Friday is Frige’s Day – a Norse goddess associated with Venus in that the planet Venus is named Friggjarstjarna, or Frigg’s star.  Which corresponds with romance vendredi, viernes, and venerdi – all of which are based on Venus.
Saturday is obviously Saturn’s Day.  In French, Spanish and Italian – samedi, sabado, and sabato – it’s from the word Sabbath.
I suppose I knew a lot of this already, but I had never fully appreciated that the origins of the days were so different for English-speakers than they were for romance speakers.  Now we know.

Defining a Hot Dog

When is a hot dog, a hot dog? When the law says so!
When hot-dog cart owners are being threatened by closure by health inspectors, the Assembly Health Committee in California came up with the legal definition of a hot dog to help them out:
The proposed change to state health laws spells it out: "'Hot dog' means a whole, cured, cooked sausage that is skinless or stuffed in a casing that may be known as a frankfurter, frank, furter, wiener, red hot, Vienna, bologna, garlic bologna or knockwurst and that may be served in a bun or roll." [...]
The definition is needed so health departments can hold hot-dog vendors, who boil already cooked wieners, to a less-stringent sanitation standard than food stands that cook raw foods, such as bratwurst, said Justin Malan of the California Assn. of Environmental Health Administrators.
Marc Lifsher of the Los Angeles Times explains: Here
Well, at least they didn't define watermelon as a vegetable or declare pi as 3.

Did you know ...

That corporations are exploiting temp workers to cut costs

The Spiritual and Political Warfare of the New Religio-Wingnuts

As many of the pre-Reagan era Religio-wingnut leaders retire and/or die off, beware of the new breed. Lou Engle is one of the new breed. Although Engle has been kicking around for more than a decade, it is only in the past few years that he and the New Apostolic Reformation (NAR), the charismatic evangelical political and religious movement that he has come to personify, has made such a splash that it threatens to drown out the more traditional voices of the christian wingnuts.
In 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the shrub would be president, Lou Engle saw it as the answer to his prayers. A few months before the election, Engle had held an all-day prayer event in Washington, D.C., that drew approximately 400,000. Although Engle's prayer rally wasn't as magnetic or media buzz-worthy as when the Promise Keepers drew nearly one million to the nation's capital three years earlier, it could be seen as Engle's coming out party.
(The Promise Keepers is a still extant wingnut christian men's organization whose membership and attendance at its stadium and arena events soared in the 1990s, and, due to internal squabbles, subsequently plummeted to earth in the first decade of this century.)
"The prayers of the faithful were answered when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the Bush v. Gore decision, giving the election to the shrub," Rachel Tabachnick wrote in a long essay titled "The christian Right, Reborn: The New Apostolic Reformation Goes to War," in the Spring 2013 issue of Political Research Associates' The Public Eye. For the NAR, the DC rally was just the beginning of a more public political journey that has allowed it to become one of the most important and yet least understood religious/political movements in the country.
Since that first rally, "Engle has staged more than 20 similar rallies, and each has attracted tens of thousands of participants to stadiums across the United States. He and his organization have also become deeply involved in U.S. politics, especially in anti choice and antigay organizing," Tabachnick, a PRA research fellow who has over the past several years become one of the nation's leading experts on the New Apostolic Reformation, reported.
None other than the venerable Dr. James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, one of the Christian Right's flagship entities, and a long-time culture warrior, credited Engle with bringing out the troops for a rally at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego one week before Election Day in 2008, and making a huge difference in helping pass Proposition 8, California's anti-same-sex marriage initiative. According to Tabachnick, "Engle's organization mounted a radio campaign and sent out email and phone blasts in support of Proposition 8, and he urged attendees to be martyrs for the cause."
Journalist and Talk2Action co-founder, Bruce Wilson described Engle as "the unofficial prayer leader of the repugican cabal." He has been called a "radical theocrat," and the Southern Poverty Law Center has said that he says he can occasionally "venture into bloodlust."
Engle, a New Apostolic Reformation leader, has helped build a movement that has veered away from what we have come to know as the "traditional" christian wingnuts. It "is rooted in Charismatic christianity, a cross-denominational belief in modern-day miracles and the supernatural." It emerged from neo-Pentecostal movement of the 1980s and "spread to Roman catholics and mainline and evangelical Protestant cults in the United States and worldwide."
According to Tabachnick, the NAR embraces women and minorities, and is particularly focused on youth, "sponsoring youth events that look more like rock concerts than traditional church services." Its "stylish leaders dress in casual clothes, encourage fasting and repetitive chanting as a means of inducing altered mental states, and use sophisticated media strategies and techniques to deliver their message."
It's not all style over substance as the NAR's "most prominent leaders and prolific authors claim to be creating the 'greatest change in cult since the Protestant Reformation,' and they describe themselves as modern-day prophets and apostles."
What the movement is really after is "to unify evangelical and all Protestant christianity into a postdenominational structure, bringing about a reformation in the way that churches relate to one other, and in individual churches' internal governance."
Engle calls for massive "spiritual warfare" that will result in a complete worldwide "political and social transformation": "The revolution begins, they believe, with the casting out of demons, Tabachnick states. "NAR training materials claim that communities around the world are healed of their problems — experiencing a sudden and supernatural decline in poverty, crime, corruption, and even environmental degradation — once demonic influences are mapped and then purged from society through NAR's particular brand of 'spiritual warfare,' which is sometimes referred to as 'power evangelism.'"
Demonic activity has caused the downfall of society, both at home and abroad. "The sources of demonic activity can include homosexuality, abortion, non-christian religions, and even sins from the past." According to NAR leaders, "strategic prayer can literally alter circumstances in the temporal world: the spontaneous burning and destruction of religious icons and structures," Tabachnick noted.
To achieve its goals, the NAR aims to have its apostles seize control over every important aspect of society, including, the government, military, entertainment industry and education."
If the NAR falls short of world denomination, it intends, as a minimum, to "turn America back to god."
Why pay any attention to what thus far appears to be a marginally effective political movement?
Tabachnick argues that, "The movement is bringing about profound changes in the character of conservative christianity and the christian wingnuts, both in the United States and around the globe." It is not only "building new institutions, but [it is] creating new networks and alliances among long-established institutions. The NAR's leaders are methodically transforming the nature of the relationship between cultists and their leaders, creating a much more authoritarian leadership style than has traditionally been true of evangelical christianity. That shift is central to the movement's political potential.
"The NAR's charismatic, authoritarian leaders are well-positioned to reinvent the christian wingnuts, infusing it with a new wave of energy, expanding its base of support, conducting sophisticated political campaigns, and doubling down on right-wing social and economic agendas — all while giving the christian wingnuts a new gloss of openness and diversity."
The "leading theorist" and the NAR's "most important organizing force" is C. Peter Wagner, a professor of "church growth" for three decades at Fuller Theological Seminary, a nondenominational evangelical seminary in Pasadena, CA. In the 1990's, Wagner headed up the International Coalition of Apostles, a networking group that "presided over an association of apostles — many of which, in turn, claimed hundreds or thousands of ministries under their leadership." He "also formed networks of faith-healing ministries, 'deliverance ministries' that claim to free people from demon possession, and an inner-circle of leading prophets, in addition to the Wagner Leadership Institute (WLI), a network of training programs in locations across the United States, Canada, and several Asian nations."
Tabachnick pointed out that the New Apostolic Reformation's influence does not end at America's shores: "Engle was featured extensively in god Loves Uganda, a documentary about U.S. evangelical wingnuts' antigay influence in Uganda, where the infamous Anti-Homosexuality 'Kill the Gays' Bill was first introduced in 2009."
The NAR might have reached its pinnacle in the summer of 2011 when 30,000 people attended a prayer rally in Houston, Texas. Promoted heavily of Texas Governor Rick Perry, then a leading contender for the repugican cabal's presidential nomination, the rally featured several NAR leaders, "apostles and prophets who had for years remained under the radar were suddenly subjected to scrutiny from the media."
"Exposed to this scrutiny, NAR's leaders publicly distanced themselves from some of their more radical ideology. Webpages were removed and websites were amended to explain that the NAR's apostles are either not Dominionists, or that the term simply means to gain influence in society."
This increased scrutiny may have led to a retreat of sorts, but certainly not to surrender.

Reality Bites

Sunday, July 14

Edward Snowden's yet-unleaked leaks could be USA's 'worst nightmare,' says Glenn Greenwald

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who was first to publish the documents that former NSA contractor Edward Snowden leaked about the US government's surveillance programs, gave an interview to the Argentinean daily La Nacion.
"Snowden has enough information to cause harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had," he said from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare."
A synopsis of the interview in English at Reuters.

NASA Admits Alcubierre Drive Initiative

Faster Than The Speed Of Light

faster-than-light-300x225NASA is currently working on the first practical field test toward the possibility of faster than light travel. Traveling faster than light has always been attributed to science fiction, but that all changed when Harold White and his team at NASA started to work on and tweak the Alcubierre Drive. Special relativity may hold true, but to travel faster or at the speed of light we might not need a craft that can travel at that speed. The solution might be to place a craft within a space that is moving faster than the speed of light! Therefore the craft itself does not have to travel at the speed of light from it’s own type of propulsion system.
It’s easier to think about if you think in terms of a flat escalator in an airport. The escalator moves faster than you are walking! In this case, the space encompassing the ship would be moving faster than the ship could fly, keeping all the matter of the ship intact. Therefore, we can move faster than light, in a massless cloud of space-time.
What is the Alcubierre Drive? It’s actually based on Einsteins field equations, it suggests that a spacecraft could achieve faster-than-light travel. Rather than exceed the speed of light alone in a craft, a spacecraft would leap long distances by contracting space in front of it and expanding space behind it. This would result in faster than light travel (1). Physicist Miguel Alcubierre was the first that we know to identify this possibility. He described it as remaining still on a flat piece of space-time inside a warp bubble that was made to move at “superluminal” (faster than light) velocity. We must not forget that space-time can be warped and distorted, it can be moved. But what about moving sections of space-time that’s created by expanding space-time behind the ship, and by contracting space-time in front of the ship?
This type of concept was also recently illustrated by Mathematician James Hill and Barry Cox at the University of Adelaide. They published a paper in the journal proceedings of the Royal Society A: Mathematical and Physical Sciences (3).
It was once believed that Einsteins theory of special relativity means that faster than light travel is just not possible. This is a misconception, special relativity simply states that the distance you travel depends on how fast you move, for how long you’re moving for. So if you are driving at 70 mph you will have covered 70 miles in one hour. The confusing part is that, no matter how fast you are moving you will always see the speed of light as being the same. It’s similar to sound, if you close your eyes and imagine that the only sense you have is hearing, you will identify things by how they sound. So if a car is driving at a rapid speed and honks its horn, we know that the horn is always tooting the same tone, it’s just the car’s motion that made it appear to change.
Special relativity also showed us that the atoms and molecules that make up matter are connected by electromagnetic fields, the same stuff light is made up of. The object that would break the light speed barrier is made up of the same stuff as the barrier itself. How can an object travel faster than that which links it’s atoms? This was the barrier.
The only problem with our modern day science is that creating distortions in space-time require energy densities that are not yet possible for humans, or so they say. NASA scientists are currently working on tweaking Alcubierre’s model.
Faster-than-light travel, also known as hyper space or “warp” drive from what the masses know for sure is currently at the level of speculation. Although there is already a lot of evidence that shows it is possible and has already been accomplished, mainstream science is still catching up. We are at the point right now where faster-than-light travel is still theoretical, but possible.

A link between quantum physics and game theory found

A deep link between two seemingly unconnected areas of modern science has been discovered by researchers from the Universities of Bristol and Geneva. While research tends to become very specialized and entire communities of scientists [...]

The Scariest Bridge In The World

An entrepreneurial Maryland man is charging $25 to drive motorists in their own cars across one of the world's scariest bridges because they are too terrified to do it themselves.

The William Preston Lane Jr. Memorial Bridge, known as the Bay Bridge, spans nearly five miles of the Chesapeake Bay to connect Maryland's eastern and western shores. Standing 186 feet tall at its highest point, the structure, which is regularly subject to violent storms, instills fear in thousands of Baltimore and Washington residents every time they drive across it.

The last survivors of the end of the world

In 2 billion years’ time, life on Earth will be confined to pockets of liquid water deep underground, according to PhD astrobiologist Jack O’Malley James of the University of St Andrews. The new research also suggests that though the hardiest forms of life may have a foothold on similar worlds in orbit around other stars, evidence for it may be very subtle. O’ Malley- James will present the findings at the National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews, Scotland.
The last survivors of the end of the world
An image of the Upper Geyser Basin region in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA. As the Sun heats up, much of the Earth will come to resemble this landscape [Credit: Jack O’Malley-James]
All species have finite lifetimes, with each eventually facing an event that leads to its extinction. This can be sudden and catastrophic, like the giant impact that wiped out the dinosaurs, or a slow and gradual process. Ultimately, a combination of slow and rapid environmental changes will result in the extinction of all species on Earth, with the last inhabitants disappearing within 2.8 billion years from now.

The main driver for these changes will be the Sun. As it ages over the next few billion years, the Sun will remain stable but become steadily more luminous, increasing the intensity of its heat felt on Earth and warming the planet to such an extent that the oceans evaporate. In his new work, O’Malley James has created a computer model to simulate these extremely long-range temperature forecasts and has used the results to predict the timeline of future extinctions.

Within the next billion years, increased evaporation rates and chemical reactions with rainwater will draw more and more carbon dioxide from the Earth’s atmosphere. The falling levels of CO2 will lead to the disappearance of plants and animals and our home planet will become a world of microbes. At the same time the Earth will be depleted of oxygen and will be drying out as the rising temperatures lead to the evaporation of the oceans. A billion years after that the oceans will have gone completely.

The last survivors of the end of the world
An electron microscope image of thermophilic (heat-loving) bacteria. These organisms may be amongst the last life on Earth, perhaps surviving 2.8 billion years into the future [Credit: Mark Amend / NOAA Photo Library]
"The far-future Earth will be very hostile to life by this point", said O'Malley-James. "All living things require liquid water, so any remaining life will be restricted to pockets of liquid water, perhaps at cooler, higher altitudes or in caves or underground". This life will need to cope with many extremes like high temperatures and intense ultraviolet radiation and only a few microbial species known on Earth today could cope with this.

The new model not only tells us a lot about our own planet's future, but it can also help us to recognise other inhabited planets that may be approaching the end of their habitable lifetimes.

O’Malley-James adds "When we think about what to look for in the search for life beyond Earth our thoughts are largely constrained by life as we know it today, which leaves behind telltale fingerprints in our atmosphere like oxygen and ozone. Life in the Earth's far future will be very different to this, which means, to detect life like this on other planets we need to search for a whole new set of clues".

"We have now simulated a dying biosphere composed of populations of the species that are most likely to survive to determine what types of gases they would release to the atmosphere. By the point at which all life disappears from the planet, we're left with a nitrogen:carbon-dioxide atmosphere with methane being the only sign of active life".

This is what a dying sun looks like.

So why is it so beautiful? When the sun-like stars run out of fuel during the final stages of their natural lives, powerful gravitational convulsions within a failing star blast its outermost layers into space. When the outwardly-expanding shells of material are then impacted by the star’s rays.

The Beautiful Brain

After being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Elizabeth Jameson began creating paintings based off of MRIs and other digital scans of her brain: “My diagnosis initiated a fascination with these eerie images, which I found [...]

Decapitated Worms Regrow Heads with Memories Still Inside

Think that memories are in the brain? New research says that may not be exactly true -at least for flatworms. The planarian is fascinating in that it has the ability to regrow body parts when you cut it into pieces -it will even grow a new head if you cut it off! If that's not freakish enough, experiments show that a newly-regrown head can have some knowledge the earlier head learned. Experiments had been don on planarian heads decades ago, with inconsistent results. Tal Shomrat and Michael Levin at Tufts University returned to this idea with state-of-the-art planarian training methods and computerized testing methods. They trained the worms to overcome their distaste of light and rough surfaces to reach food. After two weeks, the trained planarians went straight to the food, unlike a control group of untrained worms.
The worms were relieved of their heads. The scientists made certain that no bit of brain survived. Then, after the worm stumps had painstakingly re-headed themselves, the planarians went back into the testing chamber.

The memory wasn't there right away. But Levin and Shomrat found that if they gave all the worms one quick training session before testing, worms who'd previously been familiarized with rough petri dishes reached the food significantly faster than the other worms. The training session "basically allowed the worms to refresh their memory of what they had learned before decapitation," Levin says. In other words, their memories had survived the loss and regrowth of their heads.

Levin doesn't know how to explain this. He says epigenetics may play a role—modifications to an organism's DNA that dial certain genes up or down—"but this alone doesn't begin to explain it."
Read more at Inkfish.

Looks Like Yoda This Pig’s Forehead Does



Amazing Bridged Bastion Of Saxony

Bastei in German translates as bastion and you can easily see why this name was chosen for this rock formation, situated on the River Elbe near Dresden in the German Free State of Saxony.

Towering almost 200 meters (656 feet) over the river below, Bastei was formed by water erosion over a million years ago. In recent times it has become such an object of fascination that a bridge linking a number of the rocks was constructed, and is itself something of a marvel of Victorian age engineering.

Ten Spectacular Overhanging Rocks

Overhanging rocks are pieces of rocks that stands horizontally out of the mountains. They literally hanging over a precipice and offer amazing views of the surrounding terrain. Greater dose of excitement, gorgeous views of the natural environment and the possibility of taking amazing photos are the things that make these places popular among tourists.

Awesome Pictures

Possible vampire graves found in Poland

Archaeologists in Gliwice, southern Poland have discovered a burial ground where the dead were laid to rest in accordance with practices for alleged vampires.
Possible vampire graves found in Poland
Skeletons at the site in Gliwice [Credit: Regional Conservator of Monuments, Polamd]
Four skeletons were found at the site, where mandatory digs were being carried out prior to the construction of a ring road. In each case, the deceased had been buried with the head between the legs.

According to folk beliefs, this prevented a possible vampire from finding his or her way back to the land of the living.

There was no trace at the burial ground of any earthly possessions, such as jewellery, belts or buckles.

“It's very difficult to tell when these burials were carried out,” archaeologist Dr Jacek Pierzak told the Dziennik Zachodni newspaper.

However, it is believed that they took place in the early modern period. Tests are due to me made, so as to determine exact dates.

Archaeologists believe that the burials may have been done in such a fashion so as to protect locals from vampire attacks. Another theory is that the skeletons were the victims of cholera epidemic. Further research will be undertaken.

The last recorded instance of a vampire burial within current Polish borders was in the village of Stare Mierzwice, Masovia, in 1914. A corpse was dug up in the village, and the head was cut off and placed between the person's legs.

Rich Greek graffiti found in Smyrna's agora

A rich Greek graffiti collection has been found in the İzmir (Greek Smyrna) agora during excavation work in the area. The graffiti shows daily life in the Hellenistic and Roman periods.
Rich Greek graffiti found in Smyrna's agora
The graffiti shows daily life in the Hellenistic and Roman periods [Credit: DHA]
The graffiti is estimated to date back to the 2nd and 4th centuries A.D. Experts have said the graffiti was the richest Greek graffiti collection in the world. Besides writing and paintings done with paint, there are also dozens of carvings on the wall.

The graffiti shows that İzmir was very tolerant even in ancient times. The writings on the wall mention the names of different cities, showing tolerance of other cultures.

There are many different figures in the graffiti, from trade ships to gladiators. There are also confessions; one read, “I love someone who does not love me.” One inscription read, “The gods healed my eyes, this is why I dedicate an oil lamp to the gods.” Another piece of graffiti read, “The one who ensouls,” which symbolized Jesus Christ in early Christianity. There are also riddles that have not yet been solved on the walls.

Professor Cumhur Tanrıver said İzmir had the most Greek graffiti in the world. “There are some pieces of graffiti under the plaster as well that we cannot prepare yet. We are having talks with Swiss experts to uncover them without damaging the ones on the top layer.” 

A 2,000 year old pyramid, multiple pre-Hispanic burials found in Veracruz, Mexico

The National Anthropology and History Institute, or INAH, announced the discovery of 30 pre-Columbian burials and a pyramid in an ancient settlement in eastern Mexico that could be up to 2,000 years old.
2,000 year old pyramid, multiple pre-Hispanic burials found in Veracruz, Mexico
This could have been a sanctuary where people surrounding the area buried their dead, a marketplace or a reining center where diverse cultures would meet, whose occupation could have been since the begging of our era through 700 AD [Credit: INAH]
The graves located in the municipality of Jaltipan, Veracruz state, were accompanied by offerings, animal remains and fossils.

Also found was a brick structure with characteristics similar to one at the Mayan site of Comalcalco in Tabasco, INAH said in a communique.

Preliminary hypotheses indicate it could have been a sanctuary where people of the region buried their dead, or perhaps a kind of market or a center of government where different cultures merged. Its use could date back to 700 A.D.

Research leader Alfredo Delgado said the discovery occurred in the course of construction work being done in the area.

Among the objects found and removed for future study were jade beads, mirrors and figurines of Teotihuacan, Mayan, Nahua and Popoluca origin, and from the Remojadas culture that flourished in central Veracruz.

“Analyses will enable us to see whether this site was multicultural, as is indicated by the materials found, or whether the inhabitants were all of the same genetic type.

“This find has great value not only for the number of skeletons found, but also for the fossils that have appeared, and which at some time were brought from the central part of the country, since in this region that are no remains of this kind,” the archaeologist said.

Very large bones and teeth were found that could be from prehistoric camelids and dwarf rhinos, fossilized shark’s teeth most certainly of the Megalodon type - extinct for more than 10,000 years - and of the tiger shark that still swims the seas.

The discovery of the pyramid, which is 12 meters (39 feet) high, 60 meters (197 feet) deep and 25 meters (82 feet) wide, on a nearby hill is particularly important because this is the first time a stone structure has been discovered in southern Veracruz.

These 5,000-year-old carvings believed to be first-written Chinese

Archaeologists say they have discovered some of the world’s oldest known primitive writing, dating about 5,000 years ago, in eastern China, and some of the markings etched on broken axes resemble a modern Chinese character.
5,000-year-old carvings believed to be first-written Chinese
5,000-year-old carvings believed to be first-written Chinese
The two inscribed stone axes were found in Pinghu, in eastern China's Zhejiang province [Credit: AP]
The inscriptions on artifacts found at a relic site south of Shanghai are about 1,400 years older than the oldest written Chinese language. Chinese scholars are divided over whether the markings are words or something simpler, but they say the finding will shed light on the origins of Chinese language and culture.

The oldest writing in the world is believed to be from Mesopotamia, dating slightly more than 5,000 years ago. Chinese characters are believed to have been developed independently.

Inscriptions were found on more than 200 pieces dug out from the Neolithic-era Liangzhu relic site. The pieces are among thousands of fragments of ceramic, stone, jade, wood, ivory and bone excavated from the site between 2003 and 2006, lead archaeologist Xu Xinmin said.

The inscriptions have not been reviewed by experts outside the country, but a group of Chinese scholars on archaeology and ancient writing met last weekend in Zhejiang province to discuss the finding.

They agreed that the inscriptions are not enough to indicate a developed writing system, but Xu said they include evidence of words on two broken stone-ax pieces.

One of the pieces has six word-like shapes strung together to resemble a short sentence.

“They are different from the symbols we have seen in the past on artifacts,” Xu said. “The shapes and the fact that they are in a sentence-like pattern indicate they are expressions of some meaning.”

5,000-year-old carvings believed to be first-written Chinese
Detail of the carvings a a stone axe found in Pinghu, Zhejiang province [Credit: Xinhua]
The six characters are arranged in a line, and three of them resemble the modern Chinese character for human beings. Each shape has two to five strokes.

“If five to six of them are strung together like a sentence, they are no longer symbols but words,” said Cao Jinyan, a scholar on ancient writing at Hangzhou-based Zhejiang University. He said the markings should be considered hieroglyphics.

He said there are also stand-alone shapes with more strokes. “If you look at the composition, you will see they are more than symbols,” Cao said.

But archaeologist Liu Zhao from Shanghai-based Fudan University warned that there was not sufficient material for any conclusion.

“I don’t think they should be considered writing by the strictest definition,” Liu said. “We do not have enough material to pin down the stage of those markings in the history of ancient writings.”

For now, the Chinese scholars have agreed to call it primitive writing, a vague term that suggests the Liangzhu markings are somewhere between symbols and words.

The oldest known Chinese writing has been found on animal bones – known as oracle bones – dating to 3,600 years ago during the Shang dynasty.

Stone Age Britons were first to master time

No wonder the British are known for punctuality!

Scotland's prehistoric hunter-gatherer tribes, widely seen as civilization's late starters, may have been among the first humans to form a concept of time, archaeologists have found.

They have found evidence that the prehistoric hunter-gatherer tribes built a giant "year clock" capable of tracking the passing of lunar months and linking these to the changing of the seasons, so enabling them to prepare for changes in food supply.

The structure, in a field near Banchory in Aberdeenshire, dates back 10,000 years, meaning it predates the calendar systems created by the ancient Mesopotamians 5,000 years ago, which had been thought the world's oldest.

"The capacity to conceptualize and measure time is among the most important achievements of human societies, and the issue of when time was 'created' by humankind is critical in understanding how society developed," said Vincent Gaffney, professor of landscape archaeology at Birmingham University.

His team analyzed a site at Warren Field that previous excavations showed had once been home to Mesolithic (middle Stone Age) hunter-gatherers.

Those excavations had revealed a set of pits, perhaps used to hold large posts or stones, but whose real purpose remained mysterious.

Gaffney and his colleagues studied the orientation of the pits, finding they were aligned with key astronomical events such as the phases of the moon and the midwinter sunrise, The Sunday Times reported.

They were to issue a full report on their findings but an abstract released on Birmingham University's website summarized the findings.

"A pit structure, discovered in Aberdeenshire and dated to the 8th millennium BC, has been re-analyzed and appears to demonstrate a basic calendrical function," the report said.

"The site may provide the earliest evidence currently available for 'time reckoning' as the pit group appears to mimic the phases of the moon and is structured to track lunar months. It also aligns on the midwinter sunrise framed within a prominent point on the horizon," it said.

The ability to track the midwinter Sun hints at a level of sophistication unsuspected in prehistoric Scots.

Most early calendars were designed to track lunar months, but could not tell their users when a year had passed. This is because lunar months are not in step with the year, which is measured by the time taken for the Earth to orbit the Sun.

Aberdeenshire's Stone Age inhabitants appear to have noticed this problem, however, and used the alignment of the sun with particular posts within their calendar structure to work out when the midwinter solstice had arrived, so marking the end of a year.

Then they used this information to "reset" the lunar clock system with which they marked the passing of the months within the next year.

Astronomical News

SEM of Chelyabinsk meteor fragmentMeteor's debris seen close up

Scientists release microscopic images of fragments of the meteorite that struck Russia near the city of Chelyabinsk in February.

A mosquito's idea of a delicious human

Many criteria — from blood type to body temperature — can play a role in affecting who attracts mosquitoes.
Many criteria — from blood type to body temperature — can play a role in affecting who attracts mosquitoes. 
If mosquitoes used Yelp, they might look for their next meal by searching nearby for a heavy-breathing human with Type O blood, sporting a red shirt and more than a smattering of skin bacteria. Preferably either pregnant or holding a beer.
That's some of what we take away from a post today on the from the Smithsonian.
The post gives reasons behind some of those preferences, such as mosquitoes' reliance on sensing carbon dioxide to find their next target and a preference for people with higher body heat. But it also adds that if you're a blood-sucker's favorite target, it could simply be a matter of genetics.
As has reported, in 2011 Dutch researchers found "that mosquitoes were more attracted to men with a 'higher abundance but lower diversity of bacteria on their skin,' " and were less attracted to people "with more diverse skin microbiota."
And in May, NPR's reported on research finding that mosquitoes "are more attracted to human odors when they're infected with the malaria parasite."
If you're wondering why raindrops don't kill mosquitoes, you can check out by NPR's Richard Harris, who reported:
"Imagine how tough life would be if raindrops weighed 3 tons apiece as they fell out of the sky at 20 mph. That's how raindrops look to a mosquito, yet a raindrop weighing 50 times more than one can hit the insect and the mosquito will survive."

Man's kiss of life saved Salty the dog

Salty the dog has been saved by the kiss of life. The five-year-old Jack Russell cross was brought back to life by a passer-by after he was hit by a car outside his family's home in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia, on Tuesday.

Delivery driver Steve Hunter, of Ballarat, performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on the dog by the roadside. "He was completely gone so I pulled his jaws apart, blew into his mouth and did CPR on the side of the road," Mr Hunter said. "I felt his chest and felt a couple of heartbeats so I scooped him up and took him back to the truck where I kept going.

"I squeezed his chest and he blinked and came around and then we rushed him off to the vet. I saw the owners had children and I thought 'this is someone's pet, you have to at least try you never know', and this time it worked. He was pretty lucky." Salty was treated at the Eureka Veterinary Hospital for a fractured pelvis and cuts to the head.

Owner Jock Maule, who was at work at the time, thanked Mr Hunter. "I couldn't believe it, I was very impressed that he had managed to revive him," Mr Maule said. Eureka Veterinary Hospital's Albert Lim said: "He's very lucky dog. The CPR saved his life."

Animal Pictures


Lion by safari-partners on Flickr.