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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.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Health News

Don't lie: Do you like big butts? Well that's OK, because new research shows that for women a big behind can actually be beneficial to health! Anthony and Laci join up to explain the science behind this finding.
The FDA found almost 7 percent of spice imports it examined were contaminated with salmonella.

The Daily Drift

It's true ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
Sad but, oh, so true ... !

Today is Use You Common Sense Day 


Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Quartzsite, Wenatchee, Manassas, Temecula, Ladue, Lenexa, Antioch, Honolulu, Waseca and Pima, United States
Mexicali, Guadalajara and Mexico City, Mexico
Kenora, Chertsey, Kitchener, Grananoque, Blainville, Vancouver, Ottawa, Thunder Bay, Guelph, Laval, Joliette, Bridgewater, Mississauga and Peterborough, Canada
San Juan, Puerto Rico
Tipitapa, Nicaragua
San Jose, Costa Rica
Lima, Peru
Rio De Janeiro and Santa Cruz Do Sul, Brazil
Milan, Ivrea, Rome, Altofonte and Reggio Di Calabria, Italy
Kista, Sweden
Sunds, Denmark
Kiev and Zhovti Vody, Ukraine
Haarlem, Netherlands
Frankfurt Am Main, Widdern, Rothe Erde and Muenchen, Germany
Chelyabinsk, and Vladivostok, Russia
Madrid, Teo and Ciutat Vella, Spain
Boulogne-Billancourt, Cerny and Rouen, France
Warsaw and Piotrkow, Poland
Bucharest, Romania
Celjes and Ljubljana, Slovenia
Mercin and Dikmen, Turkey
Dublin, Ireland
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Nis, Serbia
Bergen and Oslo, Norway
Lahti, Finland
Riga, Latvia
Spisska Nova Ves and Bratislava, Slovakia
Sheffield, England
Doha, Qatar
Orumiyeh, Tabriz and Tehran, Iran
New Delhi, Pune, Kolkata, Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Powai, Jamshedpur, Jodhpur, Tumkur, Delhi, Gurgaon and Thiruvananthapuram, India
Erbil, Iraq
Colombo and Galkissa, Sri Lanka
Tangerang, Indonesia
Singapore, Singapore
Segamat, Malaysia
Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
Muscat, Oman
Kuwait, Kuwait
Amman, Jordan
Cape Town and Johannesburg, South Africa
Tunis, Tunisia
Cairo and Al Jizah, Egypt
Casablanca, Morocco
Pasig, Cagayan De Oro and Manila, Philippines
Homebush, Australia

Today in History

644 Umar of Arabia is assassinated at Medina and is succeeded as caliph by Uthman.
1493 Christopher Columbus discovers Guadeloupe during his second expedition.
1677 William III and Mary of England wed on William's birthday.
1760 Following the Russian capture of Berlin, Frederick II of Prussia defeats the Austrians at the Battle of Torgau.
1791 General Arthur St. Clair, governor of Northwest Territory, is badly defeated by a large Indian army near Fort Wayne.
1798 Congress agrees to pay a yearly tribute to Tripoli, considering it the only way to protect U.S. shipping.
1842 Abraham Lincoln marries Mary Todd in Springfield, Ill.
1854 Florence Nightingale and her nurses arrive in the Crimea.
1863 From the main Confederate Army at Chattanooga, Tennessee, Lt. Gen. James Longstreet's troops are sent northeast to besiege Knoxville.
1918 Austria signs an armistice with the Allies.
1922 The U.S. Postmaster General orders all homes to get mailboxes or relinquish delivery of mail.
1922 The entrance to King Tut's tomb is discovered.
1924 Calvin Coolidge is elected 30th president of the United States.
1924 Nellie Tayloe Ross and Miriam Ferguson are elected first and second women governors (Wyoming and Texas).
1946 The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is established.
1952 General Dwight D. Eisenhower is elected 34th president of the United States.
1956 Russian troops attack Budapest, Hungary.
1979 At the American Embassy in Teheran, Iran, 90 people, including 63 Americans, are taken hostage by militant student followers of Ayatollah Khomeini. The students demand the return of Shah Mohammad Reza Pablavi, who is undergoing medical treatment in New York City.
1980 Ronald Reagan is elected the 40th president of the United States.
1992 Carol Moseley Braun becomes the first African American woman to be elected to the U.S. Senate.
1995 Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated at a peace rally in Tel Aviv.
2008 Senator Barack Obama of Illinois elected 44th president of the United States, the first African American to hold that position.

Non Sequitur


Bacon Shaving Cream

Nothing is more powerful or captivating than the smell of bacon. Now you can work yourself into a rich, bacon lather with J&D's Bacon Shaving Cream.

J&D's Bacon Shaving Cream is a high end, luxurious bacon-scented shaving cream for all skin types. It is best used after a hot shower or before an important date with someone you may want to spend the rest of your life with. With J&Ds Bacon Shaving Cream, prepare to be loved, admired and possibly be eaten by bears.

Did you know ...

Hey, let's get this class warfare started

NYC teen arrested for shopping while black

Gun sellers using instagram to evade background checks

North Carolina repugican grows up and becomes a Democrat

‘I guess being American just isn’t good enough’ for the repugican cabal anymore thigpen 
The other day, a North Carolina Republican congressional candidate switched his party affiliation to Democrat, saying that he “refuse[s] to be part of an extremist movement in the repugican cabal that only appears to thrive on fear and hate mongering of anyone and everyone who doesn’t walk their line.”
In a statement posted on his website, Jason Thigpen criticized the establishment candidate, Walter Jones, saying “[t]he repugican cabal leadership has such little regard and faith in the more than 1 Million people whom live in NC’s 3rd Congressional District that they don’t believe even one of us are good enough to represent OUR District. So they sent a lobbyist who’s lived in Washington, D.C. for the last 15 or more years. What an insult.”
Earlier this year, Thigpen attacked the strict new North Carolina voting law, writing that “[y]ou can paint a turd and sell it as art, but it’s still a turd.”
Thigpen is a six-year Army veteran and, according to his website, a recipient of the Purple Heart. “I didn’t go to war to defend the liberties and freedoms of one party, race, sex, or one income class of Americans,” he writes of the repugican attempt to suppress the vote.
“So, to come home from serving our country and see North Carolina legislators using their super-majority status to gerrymander districts and pass a law to deliberately suppress and oppress the voting rights of Democrats but more specifically minorities and college students, is absolutely deplorable.”
Thigpen is challenging Walter Jones in the 3rd Congressional District. Jones, a repugican, is also facing a far-right challenger with tea party affiliations.

This is going to be interesting ...

Friday, November 1

Portraits of Walmart's parking-lot nomads

Nolan Conway's photos of Walmart nomads document the lives of people who use Walmart's overnight-parking-friendly lots as places to camp on their way from A to B, or for the long haul. The communities that form there run the gamut from happy-go-lucky retirees to the slightly desperate and more than slightly desperate, and the portraits give a sense of camaraderie and community.

Boats Made from Aviation Fuel Tanks Left over from the Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, the jets of the United States Air Force were equipped with expendable, external fuel tanks. When these metal-skinned tanks were used up, pilots dropped them where they were.
Vietnamese civilians put them to good use. Many of them were turned into boats and are even still in active service.

New Cannonball Run Record

The 1981 film Cannonball Run portrayed a group of "highway scofflaws and degenerates" who race across the United States while ignoring the 55-mph speed limit. The movie inspired others to see how fast one can really drive from New York to Los Angeles, and that goal is still known as the Cannonball Run. The record set in 2007 was 31 hours and 4 minutes, but that was broken on October 19-20 by Ed Bolian (center) and his team, Dave Black and Dan Huang. Bolian has been working on this run for several years, starting with research (the others were recruited at the last minute).
He went into preparation mode about 18 months ago and chose a Mercedes CL55 AMG with 115,000 miles for the journey. The Benz's gas tank was only 23 gallons, so he added two 22-gallon tanks in the trunk, upping his range to about 800 miles. The spare tire had to go in the backseat with his spotter, Dan Huang, a student at Georgia Tech, Bolian's alma mater.

To foil the police, he installed a switch to kill the rear lights and bought two laser jammers and three radar detectors. He commissioned a radar jammer, but it wasn't finished in time for the trek. There was also a police scanner, two GPS units and various chargers for smartphones and tablets -- not to mention snacks, iced coffee and a bedpan.
The trip began with a bad omen, as Bolian was pulled over in New York City for relying on the GPS, which sent him the wrong way down a one-way street. But the rest of the trip went fast. How fast? The car reached Redondo Beach, California, in 28 hours and 50 minutes! They had covered 2,803 miles. You can read the announcement at Bolina's website, and the entire story at CNN.

Ghostly image damaged police officer's car

When a strange phenomenon blew through the parking lot of Hartford Police department in Connecticut and damaged an officer's personal vehicle, police turned to the local TV station to help them solve the mystery. Surveillance video shows a ghost-like wisp of wind whirling around the car, ripping off the mirror, tossing it around a bit and then dropping it right back beneath the door.
"At the end of his shift, he went out to his car and found his rear view mirror had been damaged and it was lying there next to his vehicle," said Lt. Brian Foley, spokesman for the Hartford Police Department. At first, the officer assumed it was the work of vandals, but investigators saw something much more unusual when they looked at surveillance video of the lot.

"Some of the officers said they think the parking lot is haunted," Lt. Foley, said. NBC Connecticut meteorologist Brad Field reviewed the video and gave an explanation that was scientific rather than supernatural. "I saw this surveillance video and I said, 'What the heck is this,' "he said. After checking it more closely, Field realized that the conditions were just right for a dust devil, a tornado-like whip of wind that tends to form over asphalt.

"The only way you can see the dust devil is that it picks up dust and debris into it," Field said. Call it a dust devil, call it what you will, but investigators call it creepy and said no other cars in the lot were damaged. "To be able to rip a mirror off a car, throw it around and then put it right back below where it was ripped off is interesting ... to say the least," Foley said.

Two Cups of Milk

Milky Way that is ...

Lady attacked news crew

Reporters from WUSA9 in Washington were on Southern Avenue in Southeast DC to cover a reported home invasion that occurred at 2:00am on Wednesday.

Police said four armed men held eight people hostage, assaulted three of them, including a male who had a broom stick thrust into his mouth.

Photographer Danielle Gill and reporter Bruce Johnson were knocking on doors, trying to get neighbours to talk to them. Most of them did not know the family living in the house.

All agreed it had been an up and down community - meaning the drugs and violence would come and go; No one was willing to guess what lead to the home invasion. And then a lady appeared ...

Yoga fanatic accidentally drowned in clay pit attempting to have near-death experience

A yoga fanatic from St Austell, Cornwall, drowned in a disused clay pit after attempting to have a 'near-death experience' to achieve a higher level of spirituality, an inquest heard. Luke Monrose, 27, of  Rescorla, intended to catch hypothermia and be taken to the brink of death in a bid to better himself and prove the existence of an afterlife. Police divers discovered his body, clad in swimming goggles and a life jacket, at Lantern Pit on Sunday, May 19, almost two days after he told his mother, Susan, that he was meeting friends for a drink.
He had confided in younger brother Daniel, 26, who had agreed to pass a note explaining his actions to their mother if he did not return from the pit by noon on the Saturday. Cornwall Coroner's Court heard that Luke had taken to practising for his near-death experience (NDE) attempt in the bath and had spent ten years reading books about aliens living among people on Earth. An emotional Mrs Monrose said the most important thing was that people did not believe her son had intended to kill himself. She said: "He knew he was going to do something that endangered his life. But this wasn't suicide and he wasn't suffering with a mental illness. The intent was not to die, but to have a near-death experience, but it went wrong.
"He made absolutely sure his mum knew where to find him [in the note]. He was brave and silly and he was thinking about me. He wasn't unhappy. It was a very unselfish act because he was trying to prove something to other people." After he left education he became withdrawn, stopped seeing his pals, and took to reading books on meditation and spirituality. "I told him he should get out more, get a girlfriend and go to the pub and get drunk but he wasn't interested," she said. A follower of conspiracy theorist David Icke, Luke came to believe that aside from proving life after death, an NDE would allow him to gain psychic powers, see the future and achieve an outer body experience known as astral projection.

Mrs Monroe told the court: "He read books on people that have had near-death experiences and came back with a new sense of purpose. Luke intended to be one of those people and to say 'It's OK, we don't die, we carry on'. That's what he intended to do. He took it to the extreme." In a statement read out in court, Daniel, his brother, said: "It's my belief that Luke thought he was on this Earth to change the fate of the planet for the better. Luke and I weren't scared of death as we know that our consciousness is separate from our physical bodies." Coroner Emma Carlyon recorded a narrative verdict that Luke "died as a consequence of a near-death experience which resulted in physical death". The cause of death was said to be drowning. Paying tribute to her son after the inquest, Mrs Monrose said: "I didn't want anyone thinking he had killed himself on purpose. He was funny, brave and gentle and his spirit will never die."

Woman arrested for Ninja star attack on her younger brother

A knife-wielding woman threw several metal Ninja stars at her younger brother as she chased him down a Florida street late on Wednesday night following a violent confrontation in their home, police allege.
Kimberly Martinez, 25, was jailed on felony aggravated assault charges for allegedly battering her brother Randy, 21. Kimberly and Randy had argued earlier on Wednesday evening about their little sister having a boy over to their home in Fellsmere, a city outside Vero Beach.

Randy “did not like it,” while Kimberly said it was okay, according to an Indian River County Sheriff’s Officer arrest affidavit. The dispute escalated at around midnight, when Kimberly “started to hit and choke Randy” and sought to extinguish a cigarette on his face.
After Randy departed the family’s residence, Kimberly “came outside with a filet Knife” and “started to throw Metal Ninja Stars at him.” Luckily for Randy, his sister’s aim was not true. An officer recovered three Ninja stars, one in the roadway and two near Randy’s girlfriend’s car. Kimberly is being held in lieu of $21,000 bond.



Unusually Placed Sports Venues

When it comes to sports venues, they are often located in the usual places. These are the most peripheral parts of towns and other settlements, and in major cities are located in strictly urban areas.

But if you search hard enough, you'll find there are some unusually placed venues that are worth of being called unique. Here are twelve such examples.

Diverse Perspectives

Machu Picchu

For most people, this view (photo above) is the one most associated with Machu Picchu, the broad mountainous prominence dotted with ancient buildings, sharp peaks towering above them. It is little wonder this place is the most instantly recognizable icon of Inca civilization for so many.

Yet a closer look gives a greater insight in to how it must have felt to live there, its thick stone walls echoing to the sounds of everyday life. Take a look at Machu Picchu from different perspectives.

Some 6,000 years of occupation revealed at French site

In advance of the construction of an industrial business park by the associated communes of Pays de Sainte Odile, Inrap has just finished a large excavation at Obernai, under the curation of the State (DRAC Alsace).
6,000 years of occupation revealed at French site
Deliberately distorted skull unearthed in a necropolis of the Late Empire
in Obernai (Bas-Rhin), 2013 [Credit: © Denis Gliksman, Inrap]
Across more than 7.5 hectares, Neolithic, Gallic, Gallo-Roman and Merovingian societies succeeded each other through time. The excavation of this site sheds new light on the cultural evolution and population movements over nearly 6 millennia, as well as on the territorial organisation of Alsace.

Around 6900 years ago: a Neolithic necropolis 

In the south-eastern part of the excavated area, the archaeologists uncovered a funerary sector containing around twenty graves. The oldest of them date from 4900 to 4750 BC. Another sector yielded around fifteen additional Neolithic graves. Most of the deceased were adorned with pendants and bracelets composed of small limestone or mother-of-pearl beads. One of them was wearing two stone ring-disks.
6,000 years of occupation revealed at French site
Neolithic burial unearthed at Obernai (Bas-Rhin), 2013
[Credit: © Denis Gliksman, Inrap]
Flint tools and pottery are abundant. Based on the decorated pottery, this occupation can be attributed to the end of the Grossgartach culture, the first large entity of the Middle Neolithic, at around 4750 BC. During this period, vast “Danubian” necropoli were replaced by small sepulchral entities. This transitional period is poorly known in Alsace and the Obernai necropolis now provides a solid reference.

2160 years ago: a Gallic farm 

To the north of the site, the remains of a Gallic farm were found. It is composed of a 8000 m2 enclosure with an unusual plan; it has two doors built into its corners, one of which is covered with a monumental porch. Inside the enclosure, there are building remains, storage pits and many artefacts from the Final La Tene period (150 to 130 BC). These artefacts (fibulae, glass ornaments, pottery, amphorae, coins, etc.) show the importance of this farm and the wealth of its owner.
6,000 years of occupation revealed at French site
Two children and several dogs at the bottom of a silo, dated between 450 and 350 BCE,
Obernai (Bas-Rhin), 2013 [Credit: © Denis Gliksman, Inrap]
The Gallic occupation also extends outside of the large enclosure, beyond its trenches: to the south, the archaeologists uncovered a small contemporary enclosure whose purpose is still unknown, and around fifty meters to the east there is a group of habitat structures (excavated buildings, storage pits).

The discovery of human skull fragments, weapons and a few burials of children and animals, across the entire site, suggests a religious context, and perhaps even the presence of a sanctuary. One pit in particular yielded umbo shields with marks made by strikes.

These data and the location of this establishment at the border between Mediomatrici and Rauraque populations make this site one of the most important for this period in Alsace.

Around 1650 years ago: peoples from the East 

Archaeologists and physical anthropologists have studied a Merovingian necropolis composed of eighteen graves orientated west-east, following the ritual of the period. Objects were found in four tombs, including three silver earrings. The richest of the deceased was wearing two small gold pins that were holding a piece of clothing or a veil on her chest.
6,000 years of occupation revealed at French site
Roman sandstone column, Obernai (Bas-Rhin), 2013
[Credit: © Clement Feliu, Inrap]
Two pendants, called ‘chatelaines’, were attached to her belt, and various objects were attached to them: a silver mirror, like those used by Alans-Samartian populations (Caucasus); several large beads of coloured glass and amber; and a toiletry kit (tweezers and earscoop). This woman also had a triangular brush made from deer antler and decorated with geometric motifs, and horse heads at its extremities

In addition to the grave goods, the eastern origin of the individuals is shown by the presence of a deformed skull. During the Merovingian period, this practice was first associated with the Huns, the famous ethnic group of central Asia. The intentional deformation required the use of wooden planks or ties that bound the head from a very young age.
6,000 years of occupation revealed at French site
An archaeologist of the National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Researches (Inrap)
presents a 5th century triangular comb made with deer antler in the 5th century,
Obernai (Bas-Rhin), 2013 [Credit: AFP/Frederick Florin]
This practice distinguished the elites and affirmed their social status. Similar graves, which are usually isolated, have been discovered in Northern Gaul, Germany and eastern Europe. They are accompanied by abundant grave goods. They thus appear to be the graves of high dignitaries and their families, of eastern origin, incorporated into the Roman army during the “great migrations”.

The Obernai necropolis is one of the few large groups of discovered in France. It is the first evidence of the presence of an eastern community over a long period of time in Alsace at the end of the Roman Empire.

Southwest To Skaftafell

On the Stokksnes peninsula in Iceland, you can encounter a strange construction: A circular cluster of turf-roofed buildings which look like an abandoned fortification. There's a giant rock in its center.

On closer inspection you'll see that the rock isn't a rock at all. It's made from styrofoam. And the abandoned fortification has been built for a never-completed movie.

Norwegian Vikings purchased silk from Persia

The Vikings did not only go West to pillage and plunder. Most of the silk found in the Oseberg ship may have been purchased by honest means from Persia.
Norwegian Vikings purchased silk from Persia
Silk textiles from the Persian region were found in the Oseberg ship. Among the motifs, we can see parts of special birds associated with Persian mythology, combined with clover-leaf axes, a Zoroastrian symbol taken from the Zodiac. The textiles have been cut into thin strips and used for adornment on clothing. Similar strips have also been found in other Viking Age burial sites [Credit: KHM- UiO]
The Norwegian Vikings were more oriented towards the East than we have previously assumed, says Marianne Vedeler, Associate Professor at the Museum of Cultural History, University of Oslo in Norway. After four years of in-depth investigation of the silk trade of the Viking Age, she may change our perceptions of the history of the Norwegian Vikings. The silk trade was far more comprehensive than we have hitherto assumed.

The Norwegian Vikings maintained trade connections with Persia and the Byzantine Empire. A network of traders from a variety of places and cultures brought the silk to the Nordic countries. Her details are presented in the book “Silk for the Vikings”, to be published by Oxbow publishers this winter, but in this article you can glimpse some of her key findings.

In the Oseberg ship, which was excavated nearly a hundred years ago, more than one hundred small silk fragments were found. This is the oldest find of Viking Age silk in Norway.

At the time when the Oseberg silk was discovered, nobody conceived that it could have been imported from Persia. It was generally believed that most of it had been looted from churches and monasteries in England and Ireland.

Lots of Viking silk

Since the Oseberg excavation, silk from the Viking Age has been found in several locations in the Nordic countries. The last finding was made two years ago at Ness in Hamaroy municipality, Nordland county. Other Norwegian findings of silk from the Viking Age include Gokstad in Vestfold county, Sandanger in the Sunnmore district and Nedre Haugen in Ostfold county.

The highest number of burial sites containing silk from the Viking Age have been found at Birka in the Uppland region, a few miles west of Stockholm.

– Even though Birka has the highest number of burial sites containing silk, there are no other places where so much and such varied silk has been found in a single burial site as in Oseberg, says Marianne Vedeler to the research magazine Apollon.

In Oseberg alone, silk from fifteen different textiles, as well as embroideries and tablet-woven silk and wool bands were discovered. Many of the silk pieces had been cut into thin strips and used for articles of clothing. The textiles had been imported, while the tablet-woven bands most likely were made locally from imported silk thread.

Marianne Vedeler has collected information on silk and its trade in the Nordic countries. She has also studied manuscripts on silk production and trade along the Russian rivers as well as in Byzantium and Persia.

– When seeing it all in its totality, it’s more logical to assume that most of the silk was purchased in the East, rather than being looted from the British Isles.


Vedeler believes that in the Viking Age, silk was imported from two main areas. One was Byzantium, meaning in and around Constantinople, or Miklagard, which was the Vikings’ name for present-day Istanbul. The other large core area was Persia.

The silk may have been brought northwards along different routes.

– One possibility is from the South through Central Europe and onwards to Norway, but I believe that most of the silk came by way of the Russian rivers Dnepr and Volga.

The Dnepr was the main route to Constantinople, while the Volga leads to the Caspian Sea. The river trade routes were extremely dangerous and difficult. One of the sources describes the laborious journey along the Dnepr to Constantinople.

– A band of traders joined up in Kiev. Along the river they were attacked by dangerous tribesmen. They needed to pass through rapids and cataracts. Then, slaves had to carry their boat.

Persian patterns

On the basis of the silk that has been found, there are indications that more silk came to Norway from Persia than from Constantinople.

– Large amounts of the Oseberg silk have patterns from the Persian Empire. This silk is woven using a technique called samitum, a sophisticated Oriental weaving method. Many of the silk motifs can be linked to religious motifs from Central Asia.

Another pattern depicts a shahrokh, a bird that has a very specific meaning in Persian mythology; it represents a royal blessing. In the Persian myth, the shahrokh bird is the messenger that brings the blessing to a selected prince. In a dream, the bird visits the prince holding a tiara, a tall head adornment, in its beak. The prince then wakes up and knows that he is the chosen one. The image of the imperial bird was popular not only in silk weaving, but also in other art forms in Persia. The motif gained widespread popularity in Persian art.

– It’s an amusing paradox that silk textiles with such religious and mythological images were highly prized and used in heathen burial sites in the Nordic countries as well as in European churches.


In the Orient, silk was essential for symbolizing power and strength. There was an entire hierarchy of different silk qualities and patterns reserved for civil servants and royalty.

Even though silk was a prominent status symbol for the Vikings, they failed to get their hands on the best silk.

– Most likely, the bulk of the silk imported to Scandinavia was of medium or below-medium quality.

In Byzantium, major restrictions were imposed on the sale of silk to foreign lands. The punishment for illegal sale of silk was draconian. The Persian lands also imposed strict restrictions on the sale and production of silk.

In Byzantium, it was illegal to buy more silk than what could be bought for the price of a horse. A foreign trader was allowed to buy silk for ten numismata, while the price of a horse was twelve numismata.

– However, several trade agreements that have been preserved show that traders from the North nevertheless had special trade privileges in Byzantium.

Silk was not only a trade commodity. Certain types of silk were reserved for diplomatic gifts to foreign countries, as described in Byzantine as well as Persian sources. In Europe, silk became especially popular for wrapping sacred relics in churches.

– Some of the silk found in Norway may be gifts or spoils of war, but archaeological as well as written sources indicate that silk was traded in the Nordic countries.

– So the Vikings were more honest than has been assumed?

– We may safely assume that the Vikings engaged in trade, plunder, exchange of gifts and diplomatic relations in equal measure.

A possible example of loot found in the Oseberg ship is a piece of silk with an image of a cross.

– This was long before the introduction of Christianity. The silk piece may have been sewn locally, but it is also highly likely that it was purloined from an Irish church.

Possibly China

At Gokstad, thin strips of hammered gold wrapped around silk threads were among the findings.

– These threads are highly exclusive. We do not know their origin, but we suspect that they may have come from even further east, in the direction of China, says Vedeler, who will now travel to China to find out more.

As yet, Vedeler must draw conclusions regarding the origin of the silk by investigating weaving technologies and patterns. With time, she wishes to make use of a new method which is being developed at the University of Copenhagen and which will be able to reveal the geographic origin of artifacts.

Viking Graves Yield Grisly Find

A Viking burial in Norway contained the bodies of Viking masters and their slaves, who were probably beheaded and offered as grave gifts.

Earth News

Turns out living animals aren't the only ones with internal clocks. Plants also have them and they're driven by sugar! Anthony explains how they work.
Maine has supervolcanoes. Wait, Maine has volcanoes? Yes, and their eruptions could have been among the biggest ever on Earth.
Russia again objects to a plan to protect Antarctic waters.
Carbon dioxide emissions hit a record high in 2012, but could have been even higher, according to a new report. The increase in emissions was only 1.1 percent in 2012, compared to an average 2.9 percent over the past decade.

Winter Treats for Amateur Astronomers

Throughout the year there are many beautiful sights to be seen above our heads, but the crisp dark nights are without doubt the best for hunting down celestial wonders.

Teenage girl is real-life elephant whisperer

Fourteen-year old Nirmala Toppo has become something of a celebrity in the eastern Indian state of Orissa. As panic gripped the industrial city of Rourkela when a herd of wild elephants entered residential areas from dense forests nearby, Nirmala acted as a real-life "pied-piper" when she managed to drive the herd back to the forest, much to the relief of the residents, forest department officials say. She walked many miles with the herd, guiding it out of town, in the process getting blisters on her legs which later turned septic. "The infection is now gone and my wound has almost dried up," she said from her hospital bed where her treatment was organized by the local Red Cross Society.
State forest department officials sought help from Nirmala, who is originally from the neighboring state of Jharkhand, when they could not get the elephants to leave the city. Forest official PK Dhola says: "When the herd entered the city, we tried our best to contain its movement. There were 11 of them, including two calves. We managed to make the herd go into the local football stadium, but we were not sure how we could drive them back to the forest. It was a difficult task." Mr Dhola says that was when the department decided to seek Nirmala's help. "We knew of a tribal girl who lived in Jharkhand, who talked to elephants and was able to drive them back. We called up her father and she arrived along with some other tribal people from her village." The state government paid the girl for her services, he added.
Nirmala says she talks to the herd in her local tribal dialect - Mundaari - and persuades the animals to "return to where they belong". "First I pray and then talk to the herd. They understand what I say. I tell them this is not your home. You should return where you belong," says Nirmala who is a Roman Catholic. Her mother, she says, was killed by wild elephants and that was when she decided to learn the technique to drive them away. In her work, she is assisted by her father and a group of boys from her village. "We surround the herd. Then I go near them and pray and talk to them." But some are not convinced by Nirmala's methods. Orissa-based social activist Rabi Pradhan says there is no scientific evidence that wild elephants can understand what a human says. Mr Pradhan says the girl claims to talk to the herd in her own tribal language, but there is no basis for the elephants to follow what she says.
However, others explain such behavior by saying that tribal people and elephants - or for that matter, other wild animals - have been cohabiting in the forests for ages. Niel Justin Beck, a member of the district council in Jharkhand's Simdega area, where Nirmala comes from, says due to their co-existence with the wild animals, the tribal people know how to deal with them. "In Jharkhand, we call Nirmala a lady Tarzan. Whenever marauding elephants enter a village or destroys crops, the local forest department officials never turn up. It is then that the villagers approach Nirmala for help. And she is able to successfully drive away the herd after talking to them." More than 3,000 elephants roam the forests of the three states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh, stretching across central and eastern India, but over the past decade the region has become the epicenter of man-animal conflict. According to the ministry of environment and forests, more than 200 elephants and some 800 people have been killed in the last 10 years.

Solar Power Camel

Paul Salopek, a Pulizer Prize-winning journalist, is walking in the path of humanity’s ancient ancestors. For his Out of Eden project, he’s traveling the likely route that the earliest homo sapiens took out of Africa and through Arabia about 106,000 years ago. The 21,000-mile journey will take him about 7 years. And, yes, he’s going on foot.
Here’s a winter scene from Djibouti on the journey. It’s about 90°F. Mr. Salopek snapped this photo of Madoita, a camel sporting a cloak of solar cells. Mr. Salopek is using it to charge his satellite phone. It’s a handy, modern convenience, but they have to make frequent stops to wipe the dust off the solar camel.

Snakes on the brain

Snakes on the brain: Are primates hard-wired to see snakes?
Read more at http://scienceblog.com/#PctIgJFgwqHde3R1.99
Snakes on the brain: Are primates hard-wired to see snakes?
Read more at http://scienceblog.com/#jgc3FZQVPfd5TxDO.99

Was the evolution of high-quality vision in our ancestors driven by the threat of snakes? Work by neuroscientists in Japan and Brazil is supporting the theory originally put forward by Lynne Isbell, professor of anthropology […]

Animal News

Which dolphin type has a new species? What does a fly's face look like up really close? Find out in this week's animal photos.
Scientists blast holes thinner than a human hair in the heads of live fruit flies, allowing researchers to see how the flies' brains work.
A boomerang-headed amphibian often met its doom in the jaws of a reptilian fin-backed mammalian ancestor.
Documentaries like "Blackfish" have sparked worldwide debate about whether Orcas should be held in captivity and used for our entertainment. Laci looks at just how intelligent these animals are and what a life out of the ocean does to them.

Animal Pictures