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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.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

The Daily Drift

So, that's what they're for ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 199 countries around the world daily.   

Chocolate ... !
Today is - National Chocolate Chip Day

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

Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
Thunder Bay, L'ancienne-Lorette, Joliette, Pikangikum, Winnipeg, Britannia, Saint John's, Ouebec, Vancouver, Ottawa, Nunalla, Red Lake and Byward Market, Canada
Hazel Court, Hialeah, Hemet, Des Peres, Duluth, Lindenhurst and Wayzata, United States
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Soacha, Armenia, Cali and Bogota, Colombia
Sao Paulo, Alta Florestra and Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Managua and Tipitapa, Nicaragua
Quito, Ecuador
Guatemala City, Guatemala
Lisbon, Teixoso and Palmela, Portugal
Sarajevo, Mostar, Hadzci, Banja Luka and Kobilja Glava, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Dresden, Frankfurt Am Main and Berlin, Germany
Treviso, Padova, Rome, Venice, Naples, Milan, Ravenna and Pisa, Italy
Zagreb, Croatia
Rouen, Paris, Nice, Salon-De-Provence, Cerny and Lyon, France
Kent, Southampton, Poplar, Manchester, London and Birmingham, England
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Madrid, A Coruna, Merida, Barcelona and Seville, Spain
Dublin, Limerick and Cork, Ireland
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Parnu, Estonia
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The Pacific
Perth, Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne, Australia
Pasay and Markina, Philippines
Auckland, New Zealand

Today in History

756 Abd-al-Rahman is proclaimed emir of Cordoba, Spain.
1213 King John submits to the Pope, offering to make England and Ireland papal fiefs. Pope Innocent III lifts the interdict of 1208.
1602 English navigator Bartholomew Gosnold discovers Cape Cod.
1614 An aristocratic uprising in France ends with treaty of St. Menehould.
1618 Johannes Kepler discovers his harmonics law.
1702 The War of Spanish Succession begins.
1730 Following the resignation of Lord Townshend, Robert Walpole becomes the sole minister in the English cabinet.
1768 By the Treaty of Versailles, France purchases Corsica from Genoa.
1795 Napoleon enters the Lombardian capital of Milan in triumph.
1820 The U.S. Congress designates the slave trade a form of piracy.
1849 Neapolitan troops enter Palermo, Sicily.
1862 The Union ironclad Monitor and the gunboat Galena fire on Confederate troops at the Battle of Drewry's Bluff, Virginia.
1864 At the Battle of New Market, Virginia Military Institute cadets repel a Union attack.
1886 Emily Dickinson dies in Amherst, Mass., where she had lived in seclusion for the previous 24 years.
1916 U.S. Marines land in Santo Domingo to quell civil disorder.
1918 Pfc. Henry Johnson and Pfc. Needham Roberts receive the Croix de Guerre for their services in World War I. They are the first Americans to win France's highest military medal.
1930 Ellen Church becomes the first airline stewardess.
1942 The United States begins rationing gasoline.
1958 Sputnik III is launched by the Soviet Union.
1963 The last Project Mercury space flight, carrying Gordon Cooper, is launched.
1968 U.S. Marines relieve army troops in Nhi Ha, South Vietnam after a fourteen-day battle.
1972 George Wallace is shot by Arthur Bremer in Laurel, Maryland.
1975 The merchant ship Mayaguez is recaptured from Cambodia's Khmer Rouge.
1988 Soviets forces begin their withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Non Sequitur


The Concept Cars That Helped Shape The Future

Dream Cars: Innovative Design, Visionary Ideas is an upcoming exhibition at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia, USA, showcasing concept cars made over the last 80 years or so.
Many of the vehicles selected either explored the limits of automotive design or played host to innovations that would later become ubiquitous in modern cars.

Nothing beats the Classics

A classic - Pontiac Trans Am

Secret Libraries of New York City

The main branch of the New York Public Library is undergoing a debate about a possible renovation. If it happens, there will be plenty of other branches to visit during the construction, but there are also many lesser-known libraries in New York that are not part of the public system. Atlas Obscura found quite a few, and just the names are fascinating. There’s the Conjuring Arts Research Center in Manhattan, a treasure trove of magic.
With over 12,000 books and artifacts, the Conjuring Arts Research Center invites visitors to learn the tricks of the secret trade. Manuscripts of magic methods dating back to the 15th century are available in the small library on 30th Street, as are magic props and ephemera of illusions from around the world.
There’s also libraries from General Society of Mechanics and Tradesmen, the Hispanic Society of America, the American Kennel Club, and more, as well as private libraries not dedicated to single subjects that are open to the public. You might find a new hangout in this list!

Schrödinger versus the morning

Nobel-winning physicist Erwin Schrödinger had a complicated relationship with mornings. At times, his sorrow over WWI kept him from getting out of bed; other times he was too hungover. He even reorganized the Planck lectures so that he could deliver them later in the day. But by the 1920s, he was also fond of going to the beach in Zurich in the mornings with a blackboard, and he'd sit in the grass in his bathing trunks and work out equations.
A student recalled that in the early 20s, Schrödinger liked to go to the beach in the mornings. When he was there, he had an interesting occupation. "In summertime when it was warm enough we went to the bathing beach on the Lake of Zurich, sat with our own notes on the grass and watched this lean man," the student said. "[He was] in bathing trunks writing his calculations before us on an improvised blackboard which we had brought along. At the time few people came to the bathing beach in the morning and those that did watched us from a discreet distance and wondered what that man was writing on the blackboard!”

Lost Song by Mendelssohn Re-Discovered Among Papers in US

The famous German composer's song, made up of 29 bars for alto voice and piano, was never intended to be made public.

Shipwreck Yields Bonanza of Gold Bars & Coins

The precious artifacts were recovered during a reconnaissance dive to the shipwreck site on April 15 off the coast of South Carolina. 

Margin Mystery Solved in Rare Edition of Odyssey

Curious notations at the margins of a 1504 copy of Homer's Odyssey have finally been identified.

Did you know ...

Did you know, President Harry Truman has a middle initial, but no middle name? The "S" in Harry S. Truman is a compromise tribute to his grandfathers, Anderson Shipp Truman and Solomon Young.

President Truman was born on May 8, 1884.

Berchtesgaden Binge

John Reginald Christie

In 1953, the police entered number 10 Rillington Place in London. It was a house of horrors. The scene of 8 horrific murders. The man believed to be responsible for these brutal killings was John Reginald Christie. How was it that a decade of destruction went undetected and how was Christie able to frame one of his neighbors, Timothy Evans, for a murder he didn’t commit?
During the 1940s and 1950s Christie gained the trust of vulnerable women and exploited that trust to sexually abuse, then kill them. He hid their bodies in his house.
How did he get away with it and why wasn’t he brought to justice earlier?
Christie was born in Halifax in 1899. One of 7 children, he was the youngest male in what was a largely female household and he resented the fact that the girls had power over him. It made him crave the opportunity for authority.
As a child, Christie joined the scouts and he sang in the choir. When he joined the scouts, he had a uniform which he wore all the time, even though he wasn’t supposed to. It gave him authority; it gave him a role to play

Women played an important role in Christie’s life. One of his first teenage sexual experiences is believed to have made a significant impact on the way he viewed the opposite sex. The girl he went with was slightly more experienced and he wasn’t able to have sex with her.
Of course, she told her friends, who told their friends and his name became “can’t do it Christie” or “Reggie no dick.” Christie was humiliated in his small community. These early problems with women were to haunt him all his life and were to play a pivotal role in Christie becoming a serial killer and nechrophiliac. He had impotence problems, certainly when he was with a woman who had power over him; the power that came from her sex, her gender. And that was a pattern for the way that Christie was to behave later with the women that he killed.
On leaving school, Christie worked as a cinema operator and then he found work with the Post Office as a postman. When he was 21 he met Ethel Waddington. She was plain and homely. They married and the marriage appeared to be happy for a while. They were seen as a respectable married couple. But they had their problems. He was to admit later that sex was always sporadic; there was no possibility of children. During his job as a postman, Christie began to steal postal orders. When he was found out, he went to prison for a while. His image of respectability began to crumble.
On his release from prison he separated from Ethel and travelled to London. He became addicted to the seedier sides of life. For a 10 year period Christie existed in a twilight zone, where he lived within the criminal world, visiting prostitutes, mixing with low life; having a job here, losing a job there. He had no particular home; he drifted, going into prison 3 or 4 times.
By the end of World War 2, Christie decided he wanted respectability. He persuaded Ethel to return to him and they relocated to London’s Notting Hill. They moved into a small flat at 10 Rillington Place. Here, nobody knew of Christie’s criminal past and he set about to establish himself as a respected member of the community.
He saw an advertisement in the newspaper for the British Reserve. He applied, not mentioning his previous convictions. No one checked and Christie, the criminal was suddenly in uniform; he was the symbol of all that is good and he was on the right side of the law. And being a Special Constable, gave him further opportunities to meet and engage with people; specifically young women. He was so tenacious about his role that the neighbours described him as; “the Himmler of Rillington Place.” Christie’s position gave him power over the community and he exploited it. If prostitutes gave him free entertainment, he turned a blind eye to their soliciting.
Rillington Place was in a poor neighbourhood, but it was in a perfect position for, the now respectable Christie, to continue with his seedier pastime. Prostitution was a big problem. By the end of the war many women had lost husbands and boyfriends, so there were a lot of women with no men to support a family. And the only way they could earn a living was prostitution.
With no contraception and no legal abortion many of the women found themselves with unwanted pregnancies. Christie and Ethel capitalised on this and performed illegal abortions in their kitchen. Ethel would perform the abortion, while Christie would set up the anaesthetec. A rubber tube from the gas stove put the women out with coal gas. The scheme worked well. The Christies became well known in the area for their procedures.
But life changed in 1943, when Ethel went to visit her sister in Sheffield. With his wife away, Christie became involved with Ruth Fuerst, a local prostitute. She was an Austrian émigré. She came to England to train as a nurse, but by the time she met Christie she was selling sexual services to U.S. air force men. Ruth became a regular visitor at 10 Rillington Place.
A telegram arrived from Ethel informed Christie that she was returning to London. Christie was in a difficult position. Would Ruth spread rumours about him? Was she going to turn up and tell Ethel exactly what had been going on? Christie had to dispose of Ruth.
During their final sexual encounter, Christie strangled Ruth. Years later he would tell the police; “she was completely naked. I tried to put her clothes back on her. I wrapped her leopard skin coat around her. I took her from the bedroom and put her under the floorboards.”
In killing Ruth, Christie had found that he could attain the ultimate form of power over women. This was the beginning of a sexual fetish that informed an emerging pattern. His first kill had given him a thrill. He was soon looking for another victim to satisfy his desires.
The year was 1944. Christie had given up his job as a Special Constable and got a job at the Ultra Radio Works in Acton. It was there that he met Muriel Eady. She was from a respectable family; a spinster in her 30’s. They met regularly in the canteen and Muriel told Christie that she had a problem with catarrh. That set Christie’s mind rolling. His wife was away again and Christie offered to cure Muriel of her affliction using a breathing device. When she visited 10 Rillington Place Christie put a mask on her face; it was connected to the gas supply. It rendered Muriel unconscious. Christie liked women unconscious because that way he could control them further, as opposed to a living breathing woman who might have her own views about what might be happening in terms of the relationship.
With his victim unconscious, Christie raped her and then strangled her. Christie is quoted as saying; “I had this wonderful sense of excitement. A wonderful sense of release.” Christie had now taken the lives of 2 young women; he buried their bodies in the garden. Nobody knew that they had been visiting Christie, which meant he was free to continue his murderous spree. It wouldn’t take him long to strike again.
Christie hid behind his established air of respectability. He was now working as a ledger clerk at the Post Office. He and Ethel returned to their system of helping out young women with unwanted pregnancies.
In 1948 a married couple by the name of Evans moved into the flat above the Christies. Timothy and Beryl Evans were expecting their first baby and they quickly attracted the attention of their sinister neighbour. The Evans were from mid-Wales and they were in London for Timothy Evans to seek work. With a very low IQ he could only find work as a van driver. But it was his wife that interested Christie.
The Evans had their first baby, Geraldine. But family life wasn’t all that they had hoped it would be. The cramped and squalid conditions at 10 Rillington Place were not the ideal conditions to raise a child. With a second child on the way their problems were magnified. Timothy Evans’ wage of £7 a week was not enough. Unknown to Beryl, Christie knew of their situation and he had a solution; an abortion. Beryl agreed, but her husband was against it. Beryl tried to terminate her pregnancy herself with medication and a douche. It didn’t work. While Evans was at work, Beryl was in Christie’s hands.
When Timothy Evans returned from work, he returned to a tragedy. Christie told him that he had tried to carry out an abortion on Beryl, be she had died during the procedure. Christie told him that he, Timothy Evans, was to blame for his wife’s death. With his low IQ, Evans was no match for Christie’s manipulative sophistry. Christie told Evans that both of them would go to jail; Christie for the botched abortion and Timothy Evans for knowing about it. Timothy Evans would be found guilty as an accessory. They decided that the whole mess should be covered up. Beryl’s body was dumped in an empty room at 10 Rillington Place. Christie told Evans that he would get rid of her in a drainage manhole outside. Evans was now left with a small child and having to explain the disappearance to Beryl’s family. And he was susceptible to another idea from Christie. Christie suggested to Evans that he let a couple he knew in Acton have Geraldine. There she would be safe and Evans would be able to visit her.
No such couple existed.
Timothy Evans was a young, unworldly man. He was stressed and he couldn’t have known how to react. He must have thought that Christie was looking after his best interests, so he simply did as he was told. With his wife dead, Evan’s decided to return to Wales. Both his relatives, and Beryl’s asked questions about her death and the whereabouts of Geraldine. On the 30th of November 1948 Evans was unable to maintain the pretense any longer. Racked with guilt he went to the police station in Merthyr Tydfil. He made 2 statements. In the first statement, he said that Beryl had died in a botched abortion and he had put her body into a manhole. The police in London searched the manhole but found nothing. If they had searched the house and garden they would have found Beryl and the bodies of the other 2 victims.
Evans then made a second statement implicating Christie. The police went again to 10 Rillington Place and this time knocked on Christie’s door. The Christies’ presented a united front and denied any wrong doing. The word of a respectable married couple was worth more than the word of working class Evans. Christie told the police that Evans was an abusive alcoholic. When he told the police that he hadn’t seen Beryl for weeks the police carried out a full scale search of the house. They found the bodies of Beryl and little Geraldine behind a woodpile in the wash house. Both had been beaten and strangled. Beryl’s corpse showed signs of sexual interference.
But the suspicion of guilt didn’t fall on Christie. Evans was taken to see the bodies and was of course shocked that Geraldine was dead. He’d believed Christie’s lie about her being safe with a loving family in Acton. At an interrogation at Notting Hill police station the easily led Evans changed his story again. He confessed to murdering his wife and child.
On the 11th of January 1950 Evans was on trial at London’s Old Bailey charged with the murders of his wife and child. By this time he had changed his statement again and he accused Christie of the murders. Evans’ plea was not guilty, but the evidence against him was overwhelming. Christie stood as a key witness against him. The trial lasted 3 days and after just 40 minutes of deliberation the jury found Evans guilty of the double murder and he was sentenced to death. Christie’s evidence had been instrumental in convicting him.
The bodies of Ruth Fuerst and Muriel Eady lay undiscovered; Christie was still free from suspicion. As the Christies left the court Evans’ mother shouted “murderer”. Ethel leapt to his defense. “Don’t you dare call my husband a murderer! He’s a good man!”
Evans’ legal team appealed to the Home Secretary, James Chuter Ede. His appeal was denied and Timothy Evans was hanged at Pentonville prison by the famous hangman Albert Pierrepoint on the 9th of March 1950. Evans protested his innocence to the end.
Relations between Christie and Ethel began to break down. She had caught Christie fondling the genitalia of one of their victims. On the 14th of December 1952 Christie strangled his wife in their bed with a stocking. Unlike his other victims Christie did not have sex with her. He buried Ethel under the floorboards.
A robbery occurred at 10 Rillington Place and the police were called. They paid Christie a visit and were invited in to the killer’s home. One police officer remarked later on the strange smell in the flat.
Christie explained Ethel’s disappearance by saying she’d gone to visit her sick sister in Birmingham. With his wife gone, Christie was free to indulge himself and he actively went looking for new victims.
Rita Nelson worked at a local tea shop and found herself with an unwanted pregnancy. She turned to Christie for a solution. She had gone to Christie for help, but she became the 6th victim at 10 Rillington Place. Kathleen Maloney appealed to Christie’s skills as an abortionist. Christie strangled her and buried her body beneath the floor boards – alongside Ethel.
With Ethel alive Christie had to exercise some sort of control over his behaviour. With Ethel dead the serial killer was out of control. The bodies increased and the time gap between his victims narrowed. Christie was operating in a world that made sense to him as a killer rather than to approach his behaviour in a cognitive way. He was murdering vulnerable women that he knew would not be missed.
Hectorina McGlellan was in need of somewhere to live. Christie heard about her plight and offered her his flat. But Hectorina wasn’t alone. Her boyfriend, Alex Baker moved in with her. After 3 days they decided to leave. Christie asked her to pay a final visit before she moved on; it would be her fatal mistake. He strangled her, before having sex with her. Alex Baker came to Christie’s flat looking for her. Christie let him search the whole house, but he couldn’t find her.
Christie was becoming nervous. The bodies of his victims were beginning to stack up. He decided to move away from the scene of his crimes, but he had no money. He decided to sub-let the flat to a couple from whom he took about £7 – the equivalent of £181 in today’s money. This was fraud. Christie did not own the house. But he took their money anyway and moved away leaving behind him the house that had seen 8 murders and still contained 6 of the bodies.
The landlord visited 10 Rillington Place that same evening and finding people in his house that had no right to be there demanded that the couple leave the next morning. The tenant of the top floor flat, Beresford-Brown asked the landlord if he could use Christie’s kitchen. On the 24th of March 1953 Beresford-Brown was fixing a bracket to the wall at 10 Rillington Place. He noticed that there was wallpaper covering an alcove. He removed it and discovered 3 bodies. The police were called and a citywide search for Christie began. The manhunt was one of the biggest ever seen.
The police left no stone unturned. All 6 bodies were discovered in the house and the 2 bodies buried in the garden. 10 Rillington Place had turned into a real house of horrors.
On the 31st of March a man was stopped by the police on the Thames embankment near Putney Bridge. He told them his name was John Waddington. On further examination they discovered that the man was John Reginald Christie. He was taken to Putney police station. Christie described his killings as acts of mercy, self-defense, or accidents of suicide.
On the 22nd June 1953 it was standing room only at Court number 1 at the Old Bailey. Journalists and the public crammed into the court, keen to see the man whose crimes had shocked Britain. Christie was charged with Ethel’s murder; the trial lasted 4 days. When asked if he’d committed more murders, he said. “I can’t say exactly. I might have done. (He was pleading insanity) He showed little emotion, only bursting into tears at the mention of Ethel’s name. He refused to take responsibility for the murder of Geraldine, the Evans’ baby; the crime that Timothy Evans had been hanged for.
In his summing up, the Judge said; “That just because a man behaved like a monster, it did not mean he was insane.”
After just 1 hour and 20 minutes of deliberation, the jury returned a verdict of guilty. Christie was sentenced to death for the murder of his wife. Whilst awaiting his fate at Pentonville Prison Christie received a letter from Timothy Evans’ mother. She wanted him to confess to the murder of baby Geraldine, the crime for which her son had been hanged. Christie not only refused, he retracted his confession of killing Beryl Evans.
It seems that Christie was controlling women, in one way or another, right up to the bitter end.
On the 15th of July 1953 Christie was hanged at Pentonville Prison. He was 54 years old.
But even after his death his crimes and confessions left questions unanswered. In 1966 Timothy Evans received a posthumous pardon but attempts to formally quash his conviction have failed. A judicial review in 2004 described Evans’ fate as an historic and unique injustice. He had been in the wrong place at the wrong time and inadvertently moved into a murderer’s lair.
A year later Rillington Place changed its name to Ruston Close; number 10 continued to be rented out to tenants. In the early 1970’s, after the film 10 Rillington Place was filmed, the whole street was demolished. It has been removed from the London map.

How World War I shaped the Evolutionism/creationism debate

The National Center for Science Education has a really interesting six-part series talking with historians about the impact WWI had on shaping rhetoric about creationism and evolution, and how the public discourse and laws might have been very different had the Great War never happened 

Mystery of the pandemic flu virus of 1918 solved

This is from an emergency hospital during the influenza epidemic, Camp Funston, Kan.
A study led by Michael Worobey at the University of Arizona in Tucson provides the most conclusive answers yet to two of the world's foremost biomedical mysteries of the past century: the origin of the 1918 pandemic flu virus and its unusual severity, which resulted in a death toll of approximately 50 million people. Worobey's paper on the flu, to be published in the early edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) on April 28, not only sheds light on the devastating 1918 pandemic, but also suggests that the types of flu viruses to which people were exposed during childhood may predict how susceptible they are to future strains, which could inform vaccination strategies and pandemic prevention and preparedness.
"Ever since the great flu pandemic of 1918, it has been a mystery where that virus came from and why it was so severe, and in particular, why it killed young adults in the prime of life," said Worobey, a professor in the UA Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "It has been a huge question what the ingredients for that calamity were, and whether we should expect the same thing to happen tomorrow, or whether there was something special about that situation."
Worobey and his colleagues developed an unprecedentedly accurate molecular clock approach and used it to reconstruct the origins of the 1918 pandemic H1N1 influenza A virus (IAV), the classical swine H1N1 influenza virus and the post-pandemic seasonal H1N1 lineage that circulated from 1918 until 1957. Surprisingly, they found no evidence for either of the prevailing hypotheses for the origin of the 1918 virus – that it jumped directly from birds or involved the swapping of genes between existing human and swine influenza strains. Instead, the researchers inferred that the pandemic virus arose shortly before 1918 upon the acquisition of genetic material from a bird flu virus by an already circulating human H1 virus – one that had likely entered the human population 10-15 years prior to 1918.
"It sounds like a modest little detail, but it may be the missing piece of the puzzle," Worobey said. "Once you have that clue, many other lines of evidence that have been around since 1918 fall into place."
If these individuals had been already been exposed to an H1 virus, it could explain why they experienced much lower rates of death in 1918 than those who died in greatest numbers, a cohort centered on those about 29 years of age in 1918.
The researchers found a remarkable overlap between death rates in various age groups in 1918 and childhood exposure to an H3 influenza virus mismatched in its major antigenic protein to the H1 virus of 1918: age groups with the highest percentage of individuals exhibiting H3 antibodies fared the worst in 1918, and the death-by-age curve closely tracks the peaks and valleys of H3 antibodies in cohorts born before, during and after the 1889 H3 pandemic. Credit: Michael Worobey
IAV typically kills primarily infants and the elderly, but the pandemic virus caused extensive mortality in those ages 20 to 40, primarily from secondary bacterial infections, especially pneumonia. The authors suggest that this is likely to be because many young adults born from about 1880 to 1900 were exposed during childhood to a putative H3N8 virus circulating in the population, which featured surface proteins distinct to both the major antigenic proteins of the H1N1 virus.
The authors compared the virus' genetic history with the types of antibodies present in people from different generations alive in 1918 and with death-by-birth-year patterns not only in 1918 but also in later years. The combined lines of evidence suggest that this small wedge of the population may have been uniquely susceptible to severe disease in 1918, whereas most individuals born earlier or later than between 1880 and 1900 would have had better protection against the 1918 H1N1 virus due to childhood exposure to N1 and/or H1-related antigens.
The authors speculate that long-term protection, for example the perplexingly low mortality in very elderly people in 1918 who may have been exposed in youth to an H1N1-like virus, might be mediated by immune responses to relatively slowly evolving regions of the viral HA protein.
"Imagine a soccer ball studded with lollipops," Worobey explained. "The candy part of the lollipop is the globular part of the HA protein, and that is by far the most potent part of the against which our immune system can make antibodies. If antibodies cover all the lollipop heads, the virus can't even infect you."
Fatalities by birth year for H5N1 and H7N9: Most patients with birth years prior to 1968 are expected to have been initially exposed, as children, to a group 1 HA. The researchers found that most H5N1 vs. H7N9 mortality in these age groups is caused by the mismatched group 2 H7 HA virus. Conversely, most of those born in 1968 and later were exposed first to a group 2 HA (H3N2, orange shading). The mismatched H5 HA virus causes most mortality in these age groups. Credit: Michael Worobey
The part of the protein that represents the stem of the lollipop in this analogy is less exposed to the immune system's responses.
"Antibodies binding the HA stalk might not prevent infection altogether, but they can get in the way enough to prevent the virus from multiplying as much as it otherwise would, which protects you from severe disease and death," Worobey said.
"But a person with an antibody arsenal directed against the H3 protein would not have fared well when faced with flu viruses studded with H1 protein," Worobey said, "And we believe that that mismatch may have resulted in the heightened mortality in the age group that happened to be in their late 20s during the 1918 pandemic."
The authors note that childhood exposure to mismatched viral proteins may nevertheless have been better than nothing: isolated populations on islands where many individuals might have had no prior exposure to IAV before 1918 suffered mortality rates many times higher than the "H3N8" cohort of young adults worldwide.
The authors suggest that immunization strategies that mimic the often impressive protection provided by initial childhood exposure to influenza virus variants encountered later in life might dramatically reduce mortality due to both seasonal and novel IAV strains.
Worobey said the new perspective does not just apply to the pandemic of 1918, but might also explain patterns of seasonal flu mortality and the mysterious patterns of mortality from highly pathogenic avian origin H5N1. H5N1causes higher mortality rates in young people and H7N9 causes higher mortality in the elderly. In both cases, the more susceptible age groups were exposed initially, as children, to viruses with a mismatched HA, and may suffer severe consequences similar to young adults faced with a mismatched virus in 1918.
"What seems to be the decisive factor is prior immunity," Worobey said. "Our study takes a variety of observations that have been difficult to explain and reconciles and places them into a logical chain able to explain many patterns of influenza mortality over the last 200 years. What we need to do now is to attempt to validate these hypotheses and determine the exact mechanisms involved, then apply that knowledge directly to better prevent people from dying from seasonal flu and future pandemic strains."

Historical Fashions

The height of Fashion in 1912

Mother's Day Turns 100

Its Surprisingly Dark History

Mothers Day was invented by Anna Jarvis after her mother passed away in 1905. Woodrow Wilson officially designated the holiday as the second Sunday in May in 1914, so this year marks 100 years of Mothers Days. But to Jarvis, it was Mother’s Day -with an apostrophe- meaning a day for each person to honor their own mother; a private family occasion.
Anna Jarvis's idea of an intimate Mother's Day quickly became a commercial gold mine centering on the buying and giving of flowers, candies, and greeting cards—a development that deeply disturbed Jarvis. She set about dedicating herself and her sizable inheritance to returning Mother's Day to its reverent roots.

Jarvis incorporated herself as the Mother's Day International Association and tried to retain some control of the holiday. She organized boycotts, threatened lawsuits, and even attacked First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother's Day to raise funds for charities.
Read the story of how Mothers Day was founded, and Jarvis’ fight to return it to her original vision, at NatGeo News.
Yeah, we know it was last Sunday, but our schedule didn't allow for this post on Sunday.

Catherine the Great

Young Catherine soon after her arrival in Russia, by Louis Caravaque.
Catherine the Great’s name wasn’t Catherine, and she wasn’t even Russian.
The woman whom history would remember as Catherine the Great, Russia’s longest-ruling female leader, was actually the eldest daughter of an impoverished Prussian prince. Born in 1729, Sophie von Anhalt-Zerbst enjoyed numerous marital prospects due to her mother’s well-regarded bloodlines. In 1744, 15-year-old Sophie was invited to Russia by Czarina Elizabeth, a daughter of Peter the Great who had assumed the Russian throne in a coup just three years earlier. The unmarried and childless Elizabeth had chosen her nephew Peter as heir and was now in search of his bride. Sophie, well trained by her ambitious mother and eager to please, made an immediate impact on Elizabeth, if not her intended husband. The marriage took place on August 21, 1745, with the bride (a new convert to Orthodox christianity) now bearing the name Ekaterina, or Catherine.



Historical Wrecks


Train wreck at the Gare Montparnasse, 1895, FRANCE
Train wreck at the Gare Montparnasse, 1895, FRANCE

Cold War-Era Satellite Images Reveal Lost Cities

A spy program that had been kept secret until 1992 is offering archaeologists a satellite view of thousands of previously unknown archaeological sites in the Middle East.

Over 1,000 Mayan Codices Discovered in Yucatan Ruins

Uxmal| Deep inside the jungle of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula, near the pre-hispanic city of Uxmal, a team of archeologist from the university of Boston in collaboration with local archeologists from the University of Mexico, have uncovered yet another pyramidal structure estimated to be 1,100 years old. But even more surprisingly enough, satellite imagery confirmed the existence of a secret chamber where the team found thousands of Mayan codices, a discovery that could shatter previous views and shed a new light on our understanding of Mayan culture and the sudden and tragic destruction of their civilization.
Professor Jenny Rothsgard from the research team from Boston was in for a huge surprise when she fell first hand on the codices, which only three copies remain in the world today. «Most copies were burned during the Spanish conquest» she concedes. «Most of them were destroyed by Bishop Diego de Landa in July of 1562. They were deemed diabolical at the time by the authorities, who burned all copies. For a long time, archeologists were hoping that a Mayan ruler might have hid some from the Spaniards. This might just be our luck!» she adds, very enthusiast.
«If these are proven to be authenticated by carbon dating, this could be the find of the century» explains world renown expert on Mayan writing, Dr. Pizarro, from University of Mexico. «They seem to have been made of similar material as the original ones, that is of the bark of the amate, or wild fig tree, which the Nahuatl people called huun. Yet scientific tests will prove without an inch of a doubt if we are in the presence of the real deal or if these are forgeries» he adds.
Forgeries have been known to have been made in the 20th century. Two elaborate forged codices were in the possession of William Randolph Hearst, a private collector. Even though the debate still fires on today as to the authenticity of the these two last mentioned codices, chances are that the newly found ones have a good probability of being real, explains expert John H. Rawls.
«The emplacement of the ruin, which is totally out of reach today for most humans, hidden behind the thick foliage of the Yucatan jungle, makes it more probable that these are authentic documents. Possibly hid here by an ancient  Mayan ruler who feared, and for a good reason, the ultimate destruction of these historically and culturally significant documents» he concludes.

The Evolution of London

Watch the city of London, England, grow over the past 2,000 years! Yellow spots represent “statutorily protected buildings and structures.” These are buildings that still exist.

The London Evolution Animation was produced by The Bartlett Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (UCL). You can find out more about how this visualization was made at Polly Hudson design. The post includes a historical overview of London through each of the periods covered in the animation.

The truth about Colorado's Mummy Lake

The truth about Colorado's Mummy Lake (Live Science)
The 1,000-year-old structure thought to be an ancestral water reservoir may have been something else. In Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park, a large 1,000-year-old structure long thought to be an Ancestral Puebloan water reservoir may not have been built to store water after all, a new study suggests. Instead, the so-called Mummy Lake — which isn't a lake and has never been associated with mummies — likely held ancient ritual ceremonies, researchers say.
Mummy Lake is a sandstone-lined circular pit that was originally 90 feet (27.5 meters) across and 22 feet (6.65 m) deep. In 1917, American naturalist Jesse Walter Fewkes pegged the structure as a prehistoric water reservoir. Several subsequent studies of Mummy Lake have also supported this view, leading the National Parks Service to officially name the structure "Far View Reservoir" in 2006. (Far View refers to the group of archaeological structures located on the northern part of the park's Chapin Mesa ridge, where Mummy Lake is also situated.)
In the new study, researchers analyzed the hydrologic, topographic, climatic and sedimentary features of Mummy Lake and the surrounding cliff area. They concluded that, contrary to what previous research had determined, the pit wouldn't have effectively collected or distributed water.
"The fundamental problem with Mummy Lake is that it's on a ridge," said study lead author Larry Benson, an emeritus research scientist for the U.S. Geological Survey and adjunct curator of anthropology at the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History. "It's hard to believe that Native Americans who understood the landscape and were in need of water would have decided to build a reservoir on that ridge."
A supposed reservoir
Far View Village lies on a ridgeline that decreases in elevation from north to south, and includes Far View House, Pipe Shrine House, Far View Tower, Mummy Lake and other buildings. Previously, scientists had thought Mummy Lake — the northernmost structure — was a key part of a large water collection and distribution system that transported water between these structures to areas south of the reservoir.
'Mummy Lake' Used for Ancient Rituals, Not …
 A panorama of Mummy Lake in Colorado's Mesa Verde National Park.
They proposed that a gathering basin was once located uphill from Mummy Lake, and that a hypothetical "feeder ditch" connected the two locations. Studies have shown that another shallow, foot-paved ditch runs south from Mummy Lake to Far View House and Pipe Shrine House, and a third ditch connects Far View Village to Spruce Tree House and Cliff Palace (two structures built centuries after the Far View group) farther south.
The prevailing idea was that precipitation would first collect in the basin, and then travel down to Mummy Lake along the ditch; from there, some of it could then travel to the rest of the village, providing water for drinking and irrigating crops.
"I think it's appealing to think of Mummy Lake as a reservoir," Benson told Live Science, noting that the Ancestral Puebloans of Mesa Verde lived in a region without any natural bodies of water. "[Scientists] naturally want to find structures that hold or convey water, to explain how the people got their water."
Testing the theory
To test this reservoir theory, Benson and his colleagues first analyzed the topography and hydrology of the ridge using GPS surveys, high-resolution imagery and digital elevation models.
They found that the ditches leading from Mummy Lake to the southern structures couldn't have functioned as water canals or irrigation distribution systems. The ditches would have easily spilled water over the canyon edge at various points if it didn't have walls controlling the water flow (which don't appear to have existed).
Far View Village lies on a ridgeline that decreases in elevation from north to south
Next, the team used climate models to investigate Mummy Lake's potential to store water. They found that even in the wettest year on record, 1941, the pit would have gotten less than a foot of water from winter and spring precipitation by the end of April. This water would have completely evaporated by the end of July, when it's most needed for crops.
The researchers then tested if a hypothetical feeder ditch could actually provide Mummy Lake with water. "The engineering and sediment transport work showed that any water in the ditch would start moving so much dirt that it would block the path," Benson said. That is, soil would have quickly clogged the ditch after regular rainfall, preventing the water from reaching Mummy Lake.
A ceremonial structure?
Benson and his colleagues propose Mummy Lake is an unroofed ceremonial structure, not unlike the ancient kivas and plazas elsewhere in the Southwest. They noted that the structure is similar in size to a great kiva found at a Pueblo historical site near Zuni, N.M. It also resembles a ball court and amphitheater at the Puebloan village of Wupatki in Arizona — interestingly, Fewkes also thought these two structures were reservoirs.
Furthermore, the ditches connecting Mummy Lake to Far View Village, Spruce Tree House and Cliff Palace aren't canals to transport water, but rather Chacoan ceremony roads with similar dimensions to Chacoan roads that exist at other sites in the San Juan Basin, the researchers argue.
Two decades ago, researchers studying the Manuelito Canyon Community of New Mexico discovered the Ancestral Puebloan population had an evolving ritual landscape. Over the centuries, the Manuelito people relocated the ritual focus of their community several times. Each time they moved, they built ceremonial roads to connect their retired great houses and great kivas to the new complexes.
Benson and his colleagues suspect the same thing happened at Mesa Verde. Mummy Lake was built as early as A.D. 900, around the same time as the rest of the Far View group of structures; Cliff Palace and Spruce Tree House, on the other hand, date to the early 1200s. The researchers think the community relocated to the latter structures between A.D. 1225 and 1250, and connected their past with their present using the ceremonial roads.
If the Far View Reservoir really had nothing to do with water, then it may be time for another name change. "I think [the structure] needs new signage," Benson said. "We could probably call it 'Mummy Lake' again."
The study was detailed in the April issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.

Daily Comic Relief



The ancient Nazca people of Peru are gone, but their curious markings still remain. 

'Vampire' Skeleton Unearthed in Poland

The skeleton was found with a brick stuck into the mouth -- evidence that the subject was believed to be a vampire.

Did Coconut Crabs Really Hide Amelia Earhart's Remains?

If you read about coconut crabs, you might come across this alleged factoid: the massive arthropods may have stolen the remains of Amelia Earhart and hidden them in their burrows. But where does this claim come from? And could coconut crabs really have hidden human bones?

Does that mean that, lurking somewhere in a coconut crab's burrow, there may be human bones? And could those bones really belong to Amelia Earhart?

Egyptian Mummy Find Sheds Light on Lesser Royals

What do these mummies, many decimated by grave robbers, tell us about life at that time?  

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • Whales hear us more than we realize
  • Mangalitsa
  • The Animal Of Chernobyl
  • Crocodile tears please thirsty butterflies and bees
And more ...
This owl is our Animal Picture, for today.