May 01, 2007

From Medical News Daily and Science Daily

Multiple Sclerosis Is Increasingly Becoming A Woman's Disease
Over time, more women are developing multiple sclerosis (MS) than men, according to research that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 59th Annual Meeting. In 1940, the ratio of women to men with MS in the United States was approximately two to one. By 2000, that ratio had grown to approximately four to one.

"That's an increase in the ratio of women to men of nearly 50 percent per decade," said study author Gary Cutter, PhD, of the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health. "We don't yet know why more women are developing MS than men, and more research is needed."

Factors Causing Cartilage, Bone Destruction In Arthritis Suppressed By Green Tea Compound
In rheumatoid arthritis, a person's own immune system attacks the joints by activating the synovial tissue that lines the body's movable joints, causing inflammation, swelling, pain and eventually erosion of the bone and cartilage and deformation of the joint. It is among the most debilitating forms of arthritis, often making difficult even the simplest of daily activities.

In a study presented at Experimental Biology 2007, University of Michigan Medical School scientist Dr. Salah-uddin Ahmed reported that a compound derived from green tea was able to inhibit production of several immune system molecules involved in inflammation and joint damage. The compound, named epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), an active principal of green tea extract, is a potent anti-inflammatory molecule, and also was able to inhibit production of interleukin-6 (IL-6) and prostaglandin E2, the inflammatory products found in the connective tissue of people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Green Tea Compound May Be A Therapy For Rheumatoid Arthritis
A new study from the University of Michigan Health System suggests that a compound in green tea may provide therapeutic benefits to people with rheumatoid arthritis.

The study looks at a potent anti-inflammatory compound derived from green tea. Researchers found that the compound called epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG) inhibited the production of several molecules in the immune system that contribute to inflammation and joint damage in people with rheumatoid arthritis.

Hat Tip: Custom Medical Stock Photo

Hat Tip: Medical News Today

Hat Tip: Science News Daily

April 29, 2007

Update: Related

Wally Schirra, One of America's First Astronauts, Dies

Scotty Finally Gets Beamed Up

From IT Wire

'Scotty' and 'Gordo' reach space and return
Stephen Withers
29 APR 2007

A rocket carrying a portion of the remains of actor James Doohan (Star Trek's Montgomery "Scotty" Scott, l.), real life astronaut Gordon "Gordo" Cooper (r.) and over 200 others made a successful sub-orbital flight yesterday.

The charge for sending one gram of ashes on a suborbital flight is $495.00

Doohan requested in his will that his remains should travel into space. Another portion of his ashes will reportedly be part of the payload of a later orbital flight.

Cooper piloted the last Mercury mission (Faith 7) and was the commander of Gemini 5 {below}, which made him the first man to rack up two orbital spaceflights. Although he was backup commander of Apollo 10 and was expected to be named commander of (what turned out to be the ill-fated) Apollo 13, he did not fly any Apollo missions.

A memorial ceremony for Doohan and Cooper was held on Friday at the New Mexico Museum of Space History.

Hat Tip: IT Wire

April 18, 2007

Rick Dees Enters Hall of Fame

From Radio Ink

Legendary radio personality Rick Dees was inducted into the NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame Tuesday during the NAB 2007 Radio Luncheon. The affable Dees, who currently handles mornings at Emmis KMVN Los Angeles and who for years held down the same shift at Clear Channel's KIIS-FM Los Angeles, gushed about the honor of being welcomed into a fraternity that includes some of radio's greatest talents. "This is a moment that happens only once, and I'm proud to share it with you. Radio is something that has been in my blood forever. I'm hard-wired to do this."

Best-known for his 1977 novelty hit "Disco Duck," Rick Dees (born Riedon Osmond Dees III) reigns as one of America's top DJs. Hosting a morning show for KIIS-FM in Los Angeles since 1982, Dees is heard daily over 300 affiliated stations in 23 countries. His show, Weekly Top 40 Countdown, is heard weekly by more than 50 million people. The recipient of ten consecutive Billboard Number One Radio Personality of America awards and a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame, he's appeared in such films as La Bamba and Jetsons: The Movie.

A native of Greensboro, NC, Dees launched his radio career at the age of 17, as host of a country music show. Switching to Top 40, he hosted shows on Winston-Salem's WTOB and Raleigh's WKIX, while studying radio/TV/motion pictures and acting at the University of North Carolina. He recorded "Disco Duck" with an array of top session musicians while hosting a show for WHBQ in Memphis. The single went on to sell more than six million copies.

Although he veered toward television as the host of talk shows in 1990 and 1991 and a music show, Solid Gold, Dees mostly focuses on radio.

Way to go, Rick!

Hat Tip: Radio Ink
Hat Tip: AllMusic

April 16, 2007


How Jackie Robinson Desegregated America

Perhaps the least-learned lesson of the saga of Jackie Robinson is that competition can transform self-interest into an engine for racial fairness.


[This was the cover story of the April 8, 1996 issue of National Review.]

FIFTY years ago, on April 18, 1946, Jackie Robinson broke organized baseball's color barrier with a characteristic bang, homering and scoring four runs in his historic first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers' top farm team. This anniversary will no doubt unleash a wave of media meditations, since it combines the two national pastimes of the American male intellectual: denouncing racism and waxing nostalgic over the Brooklyn Dodgers. Spike Lee is preparing The Jackie Robinson Saga, and I'm sure Stephen Jay Gould will favor us with his thoughts.

Yet, beyond the obvious platitudes, baseball's long struggle over race can yield some surprising perspectives on our national predicament. The Robinson epic is generally lumped in with the 1954 Brown decision against segregated public schools and the 1964 Civil Rights Act outlawing job discrimination. Yet two crucial differences stand out. 1) The integration of organized baseball preceded the civil-rights revolution, and in reality baseball helped make later reforms politically feasible by giving white Americans black heroes with whom to identify. 2) Government had almost nothing to do with this triumph of the competitive market. Baseball owners finally realized that the more they cared about the color of people's money, the less they could afford to care about the color of their skin.

It's ironic that the hallowed civil-rights revolution owed so much to something as seemingly trivial as pro sports. Yet, without this business of producing heroes for public consumption, whites might never have cared enough about blacks to be bothered by racial injustice. It's not the most noble trait of human nature, but we tend to be more outraged by minor slights to winners (note the endlessly recounted tales of the indignities Robinson endured) than by mass atrocities against downtrodden losers.

That competitive markets make irrational bigotry expensive -- not impossible, but costly -- was first formally demonstrated in 1957 by University of Chicago economist Gary Becker (the 1992 Nobel Laureate), and in the four decades since has barely gained a toehold in conventional thinking. Let me be clear: this idea does not pollyannaishly presume that white people (or any other people) are motivated by disinterested good will. It merely assumes that if forced to by competition, people will hire whoever makes them the most money. Don't forget, though, that we humans are always conniving to exempt ourselves from competition. The more we can insulate ourselves from the open market, the more painlessly we can then discriminate for kin and countrymen and against people we don't like. Baseball's often ugly history shows this clearly.

Back in the 1880s, when the term ``organized baseball'' reflected ambition more than reality, the general anarchy let a few dozen blacks play in integrated leagues. By the turn of the century, however, blacks had been utterly banished. Although liberal demonology would assume that the owners were the villains, the prime agitators for segregation were, as economic theory would predict, the white ballplayers. Cap Anson was the best known of the many white athletes who threatened strikes or violence against black rivals. The banning of blacks came up for a vote only once, in 1887 in the International League. Following many nasty anti-black demonstrations by white players, the owners of the six all-white teams outvoted the owners of the four mixed teams. Elsewhere, blacks were driven out by ``gentlemen's agreements.''

Why did all the owners, although often after some resistance, ultimately give in to rabble-rousing white players? Easing the slide into segregation was organized baseball's curious status as a sort of Portuguese man-of-war of economic entities -- in some ways an industry of independent competitors, in others a single enterprise. Baseball teams must agree upon how they will compete, and, while they're at it, it's always tempting to agree upon how they won't compete. Congress ratified organized baseball's collusive tendency in 1920 by exempting it from the Sherman Antitrust Act.

The team owners' ill-named ``gentlemen's agreement'' to discriminate against blacks closely resembles today's unspoken understanding among the presidents of another government-sanctioned cartel, our elite colleges, that they will all discriminate against whites and Asians. Both clubowners and college presidents chose to head off ugly incidents by pre-emptively caving in to racial activists. They then browbeat all their peers into closing ranks, lest a lone dissident spotlight their spinelessness.

When all teams colluded against blacks, each team could assure itself that it was no worse off competitively than if all hired blacks. Cartels often collapse quickly because of cheating, but it was easier to enforce a national ban on black ballplayers than on, say, black factory workers. A ballclub couldn't hide its black workers away inside the mill, but would have had to flaunt them on the road before hostile, even murderous crowds. JACKIE ROBINSON'S vast (and deserved) fame tends to make us assume that blacks and whites never played together before April 1946. In truth, as the supply of black baseball talent exploded after World War I, the demand for it could not be contained either. There were of course the Negro Leagues. By the 1940s they were booming, and their All Star game frequently outdrew the white version. More forgotten are the many venues outside the South where blacks and whites increasingly played together. 1) Collegiate athletics had been haphazardly integrated for decades. At UCLA, for example, Robinson starred in baseball, football, basketball, track, tennis, golf, and swimming. 2) The California winter baseball league was integrated, though not its individual teams. 3) In the Caribbean winter leagues, race meant even less. Many teams had black and white American stars playing in the same lineups, with few problems. 4) In the mid Forties, a Mexican mogul raided both the Negro and the Major Leagues to stock his summer Mexican League's integrated teams. (Among 18 big-leaguers heading south after the 1945 season was Dodger catcher Mickey Owen. Whether this increased competition for whites encouraged the Dodgers' owner, Branch Rickey, to plunder the Negro Leagues is unknown, but it certainly didn't hurt.) 5) Semipro ball, which was hugely popular before TV, was surprisingly integrated. For instance, in 1935, Bismarck, North Dakota, fielded an awesome team, half white, half black, lead by the fabled pitcher Satchel Paige. Soon, practically every town in the Dakotas boasted ``semipros'' lured from the Negro Leagues. 6) Barnstorming was the chaotic epitome of Disorganized Baseball, requiring only two teams willing to play and a crowd willing to pay. In many Midwestern villages, the annual athletic highlight was the arrival of a Negro Leagues squad to play the local semipros. 7) Each October the black Satchel Paige All Stars and the white Dizzy Dean All Stars barnstormed the nation together. (Predictably, the blacks won a sizable majority of these games.) During World War II, Paige could claim to be the highest-paid player in all of baseball.

In the liberal world-view, discrimination stems from prejudice, from ignorance of the actual talents of blacks. In organized baseball, the opposite was true. White Major Leaguers freely admitted that many blacks could have taken white players' jobs. Yet, somehow, this enlightened perception failed to make the white pros into ardent integrationists. Meanwhile, a number of owners and managers tried to cheat on their gentlemen's agreement. For example, many historians claim that the Washington Senators quietly broke the color barrier in the late 1930s by playing Cubans dark enough to have been banned as Negroes if they had spoken English.

There was strikingly little correlation between the rectitude of the man and his urge to integrate baseball. For example, among managers the most creative was the choleric John J. McGraw, a ferocious scrapper who won ten pennants. In 1901 he almost succeeded in smuggling a light-skinned black second baseman onto his team as a full-blooded Cherokee named ``Chief Tokohama.'' During World War II huckster Bill Veeck tried to buy the dreadful Philadelphia Phillies and stock them with Negro Leagues stars. Like all direct challenges, though, this was rebuffed by the autocratic Commissioner of Baseball, Judge Kenesaw Mountain Landis. After the Chicago Black Sox threw the 1919 World Series, the owners had restored faith in the game by appointing Landis, who was famed for his strict moral standards -- one of which was Segregation Forever. After the good Judge went to his reward in late 1944, the owners, hoping to lighten up, picked as Commissioner the Southern politician A. B. ``Happy'' Chandler. When Happy surprisingly indicated that he wouldn't veto black players, Branch Rickey set his plans in motion.

``Mahatma'' Rickey was as renowned as Landis for his righteousness (as Rickey tirelessly reminded his players while chiseling down their salaries). No one should look down upon Rickey, however; pursue his self-interest he certainly did, but with infinitely more intelligence and courage than his rival owners. (Today's elite colleges, for example, have yet to produce their own Branch Rickey, a school president brave enough to dump affirmative action.) Rickey chose Robinson because they had so much in common: both were Methodists who didn't smoke, drink, or chase women, and both were smart enough to know the historic importance of their undertaking. Most importantly, both were too competitive to back down.

Further undermining the naive presumption that breaking the color line was an act of progressive piety was the key role played by Rickey's favorite field manager, the little ferret Leo Durocher. Bonding the Mahatma and Leo the Lip was a shared passion for victory and money. During spring training in 1947, Rickey scheduled a series between the Dodgers and Robinson's minor-league team. He hoped that when the Dodger players saw Robinson's talents, they would demand his promotion. Instead, fearing for their jobs or those of their friends, they said nothing. But when some Dodgers from Dixie actively protested against Robinson, Durocher deflated their mutiny: ``I don't care if the guy is yellow or black, or if he has stripes like a f -- -- -- zebra. I'm the manager of this team, and I say he plays. What's more, I say he can make us all rich. And if any of you can't use the money, I'll see that you are all traded.''

WHAT lessons can we learn from this tangled tale? A few simple ones seem to leap out. The more greed and lust for victory, the less discrimination. The more competition between teams and businesses, the more cooperation between the races. In contrast, the more collusion, centralization, community standards, and concern for the feelings of people you know, the more bias. If we now look at the remarkable impact that the first few dozen blacks had on Major League baseball, we can confirm the Chicago School's theory that competition tends to make irrational discrimination self-defeatingly expensive. The 1946 World Series looked as if it would be only the first of many between the Boston Red Sox and the St. Louis Cardinals. Led by Ted Williams, the greatest hitter since Babe Ruth, the 1946 Red Sox had won an exceptional 104 games, losing only 50. The Cardinals, meanwhile, had averaged 104 wins per season during the four seasons that the young Stan Musial had anchored their lineup. Both leftfielders would long remain superlative hitters. As late as 1957 Musial led the National League (NL) with a batting average of .351, while Williams topped even that with .388, the highest average between the Roosevelt and Carter Administrations. Yet neither man ever returned to the World Series. Why not?

Largely because of St. Louis's and Boston's boneheaded bigotry. With Robinson apprenticing in the minors throughout the 1946 season, the Brooklyn Dodgers finished two games behind the Cards. In 1947, Rookie of the Year Robinson made the difference, as the Dodgers edged the Cards for the pennant. Jackie instantly became the league's biggest draw, with the Dodgers setting NL records for both home and away attendance. During each pre-season alone, Robinson earned his annual salary from the huge Southern crowds, black and white, that turned out to cheer and boo him at Dodger exhibitions. (By barnstorming through Dixie, Rickey was exposing Robinson to a real threat of assassination, as well as the insults of Jim Crow, but, hey, the money was too good to pass up.)

Rickey followed up his masterstroke by signing more Negro Leagues stars like Roy Campanella and Don Newcombe. During Robinson's ten-year tenure, Brooklyn's dividends for desegregating first were six NL titles, fueled by black Dodgers' winning five Most Valuable Player awards and four Rookie of the Year awards.

In contrast, St. Louis frittered away the heart of Musial's stupendous career by not obtaining a black regular until Curt Flood in 1958. The Cards paid a brutal price for discriminating. During the first four years they had Stan the Man (up through 1946), the Cards won almost 18 more games per year than the Dodgers. But during the Robinson era, the Cards fell to nearly 13 victories per year fewer than the Dodgers, a monumental swing of over 30 wins per 154-game season. The Cardinals stubbornly ignored blacks until Augie Busch bought the team in 1954. Fearing a black boycott of Budweiser, he immediately ordered his scouts to find black players, but by then the easy pickings were gone. Although too late for Musial, Busch's integration move finally paid off in the 1960s, as blacks like Flood, Lou Brock, and Bob Gibson became the core of great Cardinal teams. As could be expected, the National League, which had been sorely trailing the American League (AL) in superstars since the days of Ty Cobb, more aggressively pursued black talent. By the mid Fifties all NL teams except the Cardinals and the hapless Phillies featured at least one black headed for the Hall of Fame. Between 1949 and 1962, blacks won 11 of the 14 NL MVP awards, while no black was the AL MVP until Yankee catcher Elston Howard in 1963. And the AL lacked an African-American superstar until Frank Robinson arrived via a 1966 trade and promptly showed the league what it had been missing by capturing the rare Triple Crown for batting.

Integration electrified the NL's style of play, as blacks showed that sluggers didn't have to be sloggers -- e.g., Willie Mays led the league four times in home runs and four times in stolen bases. The balance of power shifted away from the slow, complacent American League. The AL had won 12 of the 16 All Star games played in the Thirties and Forties, but could capture only 5 of the 24 held in the Fifties and Sixties.

Where competition is not particularly intense, however, discrimination can linger. In the AL, the New York Yankees ruled, winning 29 of 44 pennants from 1921 to 1964. Not surprisingly, the Yankees saw little need to rush into integrating, especially after they signed Mickey Mantle, a white man even faster and stronger than the NL's black stars. With most of the AL not expecting to dethrone the Yankees (indeed, some forlorn AL franchises subsisted by routinely selling their top prospects to the Yankees), most other AL teams also lagged at integrating.

The main exception was the Cleveland Indians. Under master promoter Bill Veeck, in 1948 the Tribe suddenly overtook the Red Sox as the Yankees' chief challenger. The Indians edged out the Red Sox for the pennant that year by a single game, a difference more than accounted for by their two blacks, outfielder Larry Doby and a 42-year-old rookie phenom named Paige. As the AL's most integrated team, from 1948 to 1956 the Tribe would average 94 wins, peaking with a 111 - 43 record in 1954, the best anywhere since 1906. In comparison, under the ownership of beloved philanthropist Tom Yawkey, the Red Sox would fade into mediocrity, wasting Williams's bat as they refused to play a black man until 1959. Still, to be fair, the Red Sox did take only seven more years to hire a black than the Braves -- the Osaka Braves, that is.

WHILE the complete integration of baseball through competition took longer than we would have liked, it's worth contrasting baseball's record to the civil-rights milestones dependent upon the Federal Government. For example, the vaunted 1954 Brown decision remained mostly a symbol until the Nixon Administration began broadly enforcing it 15 years later. Likewise, although the decline in job discrimination in the South in the 1960s is often attributed to the 1964 Civil Rights Act, little of the now vast array of bureaucratic and legal machinery for enforcing that law existed before the end of that decade. Far more beneficial during the 1960s than pestering private companies was federal intervention freeing up the Southern economy by cracking down on state-authorized discrimination, whether imposed by legislatures or by mobs winked at by local authorities. These gains became permanent under the most wholly successful civil-rights law, the 1965 Voting Rights Act. By finally establishing a competitive market for political power, this law rapidly made hatemongering unprofitable for Southern office-seekers.

Today, conservatives tend to lionize the 1964 Civil Rights Act for embodying color-blindness. In denouncing quotas while supporting anti-discrimination laws, however, the Right shows a surprising faith in the ability of government bureaucrats and judges to decide case by case which private hiring decisions were tainted by bias. In reality, close study of possible instances of discrimination shows why the sainted 1964 act made quotas inevitable. Frequently, no outsider, and sometimes not even those involved, can know which of the many possible reasons for an employment decision was actually conclusive. For example, the Yankees first employed black minor-leaguers in 1949 but didn't promote any to the big club until 1955. Was this long delay caused by discrimination? If you assume that any team in the early 1950s that didn't have a few blacks must have been discriminating, it appears obvious that the Yankees were guilty. But if you reject this kind of statistical or quota-based reasoning, how do you find the smoking gun? Did the Yankees trade away their top prospect, the black Puerto Rican Vic Power, for his uppitiness (when a Southern waitress once told him, ``I'm sorry, but we don't serve Negroes here,'' he blithely replied, ``That's OK, I don't eat them'')? Or were they sincere in claiming they'd lost faith in his potential? Or both? Presumably bias played a role, since Power turned out to be a good (though not great) Major Leaguer. But who can say for sure? Ballclubs constantly make honest mistakes about minor-leaguers (in the same period, the integrated Dodgers discarded another young black Puerto Rican, the great Roberto Clemente). Did the Yankees then force their other most promising black minor-leaguer, outfielder Elston Howard, to convert to catcher in order to delay his rise to the big leagues? Possibly, but this time the Yankees proved right, as Howard became an MVP behind the plate.

This ambiguity inherent in so many hiring decisions explains why aggressive anti-discrimination laws always end up impelling employers toward quotas. Unfortunately, racial quotas have numerous side effects. While the overall impact of reverse discrimination remains harshly controversial, we can safely say that year by year quotas' benefits to blacks diminish while quotas' costs to blacks rise. Since strong anti-bias laws make quotas inevitable and quotas are inexorably becoming a net harm to blacks, then logic would imply that we must eventually repeal enforcement of the Civil Rights Act's prohibitions against discrimination by competitive employers.

How, then would we fight racism in hiring? I suggest: in roughly the same way as we now deter its cousin, nepotism. In noncompetitive organizations like government agencies, laws often ban nepotistic hiring. On the other hand, the government allows the market to police competitive firms. If a CEO promotes Junior and he turns out to be inept, well, the firm pays the price in lost profits.

Our country is probably several years away from even beginning to grasp this logic, but in the long run it may prove compelling. Conservatives, however, can't seize the rational high ground until they stop leaping to defend institutions they, especially, should be wary of -- e.g., unions, regulated monopolies, and government agencies -- against the threat of racial quotas. True, competition does restrain irrational discrimination. But where competition is lacking -- such as in government monopolies like police and fire departments, or in labor unions, which exist to negate competition -- then quotas can sometimes be necessary to put a price on discrimination.

April 09, 2007

Hope you all had a nice Easter or Passover... I did!

Stuff on my Cat

I hate cats, and I usually find "cat sites" to be silly beyond words.
But this site is actually cute.

Now, if they were to take suggestions...
Just kidding!

Hat tip: Cool Site of the Day

April 03, 2007

The USS Monitor Center

The Mariners’ Museum and its partners the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration are undergoing a major effort to restore the USS Monitor , which was lost at sea during the Civil War. The USS Monitor Center will be one of the nation’s foremost Civil War attractions.

Hat Tip:'s Opinion Journal

March 27, 2007

Monster Toad

Crikey! This monster cane toad has been captured in Australia. His body is as big as a football, and he weighs two pounds.

Hat Tip: Sky News

March 22, 2007

From the Things I Know a Little Something About Dep't


Physicists control light at the nanoscale

22 March 2007

Physicists in Europe have unveiled a new technique that can control the intensity distribution of laser pulses at dimensions that are much smaller than the wavelength of the laser light.

The experimental set-up, including a graphical representation of the silver disks that make up the nanostructure.
From Gary Price's Resource Shelf

Guide to World War I Materials

Includes photos, essays, primary documents, films, and sound recordings related to World War I. Read news accounts of the war, including in The Stars and Stripes, a newspaper written by and for American soldiers at the war front.

Guide to Harlem Renaissance Materials

Features writing, music, and art of Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s. Learn about Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, Zora Neale Hurston, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Robert Blackburn, and others

Hat Tip to FREE - Federal Resources for Educational Excellence

The Library of Congress

March 20, 2007

War of the Worlds: Truth or Reality
In 1938, the Martians landed in New Jersey.
A humped shape is rising out of the pit. I can make out a small beam of light against a mirror. What's that? There's a jet of flame springing from the mirror, and it leaps right at the advancing men. It strikes them head on! Good Lord, they're turning into flame...
Eyewitness at Grovers Mill, NJ, October 30, 1938

For more War of the Worlds Resources and Information, see here

March 19, 2007

See The Web


Ditto announces 500 million new pictures in our "Image Search"

Aishwarya Rai =>

March 18, 2007

Ice on Mars

New measurements of Mars' south polar region indicate extensive frozen water. The polar region contains enough frozen water to cover the whole planet in a liquid layer approximately 11 meters (36 feet) deep. A joint NASA-Italian Space Agency instrument on

the European Space Agency's Mars Express spacecraft provided these data.

Woo hoo! Mars on Ice!

March 17, 2007

American Women Through Time

Each section includes a timeline that links specific events with relevant online sources, such as diaries and letters, photograph collections, and lectures by historians.
Each section also includes a guide to research sources that are appropriate for the specified time period. Examples of categories include Advertising, Advice Lit., Clothing, Historical Statistics, Manuscripts, Newspapers, Quilts, and Secondary Sources.

About the Author
Ken Middleton is a reference librarian at Middle Tennessee State University Library. He has a second master's degree, with an emphasis in American women's history, from the same university. His American Women's History: A Research Guide was named one of the Best Free Reference Web Sites in 2004 by the Machine-Assisted Reference Section (MARS) of the Reference and User Services Association (RUSA) of ALA.

Hat Tip: The Internet Scout Report

March 15, 2007

Shush, Shush, Sweet Librarian

Librarians are protesting a new "action figure" being released by Archie McPhee and Co. of Seattle, Wash. The $8.95 doll, complete with "amazing push-button shushing action!", is "a lovely idea and a lovely tribute to my chosen profession," says librarian Nancy Pearl, 58, whom the doll is modeled after. But other librarians don't like it one bit. "The shushing thing just put me right over the edge," says Diane DuBois of the Caribou (Me.) Public Library. "It's so stereotypical I could scream."

Hat Tip: Bonzer Web Site of the Week

March 10, 2007

Frog in a Rock

This mummified corpse of a frog was found in a hollow flint 'geode' which was cracked open in 1899 by workmen in a quarry in England. There have been many reports of frogs found inside rocks; some still living in a kind of stupor but which revived once exposed to the air. In 1910 a living toad was found when a piece of coal was broken open; another was
found in 1906 six feet (2 m) underground in a solid layer of clay. The most commonly found seem to be stuck in limestone.

The theory is that a small tadpole somehow enters a crack in a forming nodule or pocket and gets trapped in there as it grows. As it does, the smell attracts tiny insects which feed the toad and keep it alive. Through this crack also comes water and air. This is fine for some of the many examples that have been found but makes no sense in cases where live frogs have been found in totally sealed or deeply buried pockets. Some frogs have been found with the impression of their bodies so tightly jammed against the rock 'pocket' that even the skin's crackles can be seen imprinted on the sides of their frog-shaped hole --meaning the rock formed around them somehow.

Hat Tip to Anomalies Unlimited

March 06, 2007


Did you know that only a small percentage of explosive demolition jobs are true 'building implosions'?

Webster’s Dictionary defines implosion as "a violent collapse inward". In the demolition industry, a blaster is usually trying to pull a structure away from adjacent exposures and towards an area large enough to contain the debris. Therefore, the only time a building is truly 'imploded' is when exposures (other structures or areas of concern) completely surround it.

Building dropped into an adjacent parking lot

Structures, underground utilites and city streets on all 4 sides

All this, and much, much more about blowing up buildings at

Hat Tip to Cool Site of the Day
Have you heard about Pandia Search Central?

Now you have ...

Hat Tip to Researchbuzz
Cold Case, CSI and... Global Warming?

Yes, that's right. Read this!

If you have even a passing interest in climate / weather, you should subscribe to

We're Baaack!

Yes, after a rude interruption by EarthLink (so far, the worst ISP it has ever been my experience to deal with - I strongly urge all of you to spread the word: EarthLink Stinks!), we're blogging and linking again...

Stay tuned!

February 07, 2007

From the "I Think I Know Something About This" Department

Storing light here -- and retrieving it there
7 February 2007
Nature 445 605

Physicists in the US have been able to imprint a coherent pulse of light on a collection of ultracold atoms -- and then retrieve the same light pulse from a second set of atoms that is some distance away. The experiment proves that macroscopic particles can be quantum mechanically indistinguishable even though they are physically separate. The work was carried out using Bose-Einstein condensates (BECs) -- atoms cooled to such low temperatures that they are all in the same quantum state.

Messenger atoms

To make light "jump" from one place to another, Lene Hau and colleagues from Harvard University exploited a technique that they developed in 2001 to store a light pulse in a BEC, which effectively slows laser light to a standstill. This technique involves shining a pulse from a probe laser onto a BEC of sodium atoms, which induces tiny oscillating distributions of electric charge in the atoms.

Normally these dipoles radiate and quickly decay, but shining a control laser onto the atoms transfers the oscillations in charge to oscillations in spin, which are more stable. So when the control laser is turned off, the information content of the probe pulse is "imprinted" on the oscillating spin dipoles of the atoms. Switching the control laser back on releases the light by allowing the atoms to reradiate coherently i.e. with the same phase of the original probe pulse.

What is different in the new experiment is that the delayed pulse is made to reappear from a second BEC situated some 160 ┬Ám away. The trick lies in the fact that the quantum-mechanical wave function of the spin dipoles is actually a superposition of atoms in the ground state and atoms in a spin-excited state. Because of conversation of momentum, the spin-excited atoms move away from the BEC when the atoms absorb photons from the pulse laser, while the ground-state atoms stay in the condensate.

The clever part of the experiment is that the Harvard team decided to wait until the spin-excited atoms had reached the second condensate before turning the control laser back on. To their delight, they found that that this physically separate collection of atoms was then able to re-emit the initial light pulse. This revived light pulse slowly propagated out of the second BEC before reaching its normal speed of 300 million metres per second.

Because the two BECs had been independently prepared, one might expect the "messenger wavepacket" transferred from the first condensate to be alien to the second BEC. The fact that it was not implies that the ground-state wavefunction has a component in both BECs at the same time, which can then combine with the spin-excited component once it had reached the second BEC. The experiment is a striking demonstration of quantum indistinguishability.

"By manipulating the matter copy [of the original light pulse], we can process optical information", says Hau. She told Physics Web that the experiment could lead to techniques to process optical information in optical communications and quantum-information networks. Other applications could be in ultra-sensitive rotation sensors or gravity detectors.

About the author: Jon Cartwright is a reporter for Physics Web.

Hat Tip: PhysicsWeb
Hat Tip: Nature

February 05, 2007

Transportation Security Officer Saves 10 People Asleep in Burning Building

A fire was engulfing the top floor of a three-story apartment house when TSO Catherine Burns spotted it as she drove to work at Hanscom Field Airport in Bedford, Mass. on the morning of January 17.
She immediately stopped and, realizing the fire was raging above residents as they slept, ran into the smoke-filled building.

"I just ran," said Burns. "I never did shut my car off. I just ran into the building."

Risking her own safety, Burns knocked on apartment doors on all three floors to wake sleeping residents who had not reacted to a faint smoke alarm. "The smoke wasn't that bad on the first floor," Burns recalled. "Once I knew I couldn't take it anymore and I thought everyone was out, I ran out, too."

Burns' heroic act is credited with saving the lives of all 10 people in the building – and a resident's dog.

The two-alarm fire rendered the building uninhabitable. Residents said they are grateful that "Good Samaritan" Catherine Burns was in the right place and the right time, willing to take action. She suffered minor smoke inhalation, but continued on to work at the airport.

"We are very proud of Catherine and the actions she instinctively took to help others in distress. She is an important part of our team and demonstrates that same type of commitment and dedication to her job in the airport every day," said FSD George Naccara. "Considering what she did on her way to work, then spent a full shift in the airport, on duty, as if this was just any other typical day for her - that is truly remarkable."

Hat Tip: TSA.Gov

February 03, 2007

The Day the Music Died

On this day in 1959, rising American rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson are killed when their chartered Beechcraft
Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa a few minutes after takeoff from Mason City on a flight headed for Moorehead, Minnesota. Investigators blamed the crash on bad weather and pilot error. Holly and his band, the Crickets, had just scored a No. 1 hit with "That'll Be the Day."

After mechanical difficulties with the tour bus, Holly had chartered a plane for his band to fly between stops on the Winter Dance Party Tour. However, Richardson, who had the flu, convinced Holly's band member Waylon Jennings to give up his seat, and Ritchie Valens won a coin toss for another seat on the plane.

Buddy Holly, born Charles Holley in Lubbock, Texas, and just 22 when he died, began singing country music with high
school friends before switching to rock and roll after opening for various performers, including Elvis Presley. By the mid-1950s, Holly and his band had a regular radio show and toured internationally, playing hits like "Peggy Sue," "Oh, Boy!," "Maybe Baby" and
"Early in the Morning." Holly wrote all his own songs, many of which were released after his death and influenced such artists as Bob Dylan and Paul McCartney.

Another crash victim, J.P. "The Big Bopper" Richardson, 28, started out as a disk jockey in Texas. Jiles Perry Richardson was born October 24, 1930 in Sabine Pass, Texas.The family moved to Port Arthur when Jiles was still very young.After high school, Jiles decided to attend Lamar State College in Beaumont,Texas. While attending Lamar, Jiles found a job as a disc jockey and singer on the local radio station KTRM. Jiles coined his ownstage name, "The Big Bopper," while working at the station.

On April 18, 1952, The Big Bopper married Adrian Joy Fryon. Together, they would have one daughter which they named Deborah. In the May of 1957, Jiles established a world record for continuous broadcasting by working six straight days and spinning 1,821 records. During his tenure at KTRM, Jiles decided to write a few songs. Before long, he was discovered by Harold "Pappy" Daily. In 1957, Jiles released his most popular work, "Chantilly Lace," which became the third most played song of 1958. Jiles was overwhelmed with tour offers and decided to take them.

His last tour, the Winter Dance Party of 1959, was scheduled to play in remote locations throughout the midwest United States.The tour headlined with the likes of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper (Jiles). The three musicians and their bands toured in a run down bus with a poor heating system. Because of these terrible circumstances, Jiles became ill with the flu. When the tour rolled into Clear Lake, Iowa, Buddy Holly chartered a plane to fly him and his band to the next tour stop after the show. When the show ended, Jiles approached Buddy's bassist, Waylon Jennings, and asked for Jennings' seat on the plane so that Jiles could get some rest and have time to schedule a doctors appointment. Waylon agreed and gave his seat to Jiles.

The third crash victim was Ritchie Valens, born on 13 May, 1941 in Pacoima, a suburb of Los Angeles, California. His real name was Richard Valenzuela. At nine years of age he got his first (Spanish) guitar. As a twelve year old Ritchie had already written several songs, most of which were inspired by Mexican music. He also displayed considerable singing talent, and became a feature at school assemblies singing and playing the guitar. When Ritchie was seventeen he was spotted by Bob Keene, president of Del Fi Records in Hollywood, and offered recording contract. Bob Keene also became his manager. His first single, the self-penned tune 'Come On Let's Go', sold 750,000 copies and earned him quite a reputation among teenagers all over the country.

Shortly after this, he wrote a song for his high school sweetheart, Donna Ludwig. The song 'Donna' was recorded and rapidly made the 1958 hit charts. It became his biggest all-time hit and first million seller it was a two-sided hit and the flip side 'La Bamba' was a traditional Spanish wedding song which Ritchie sang in Spanish after adding a rock'n'roll beat to it. That song was also a million seller.
Valens was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Singer Don McLean memorialized Holly, Valens and
Richardson in the 1972 No. 1 hit "American Pie," which
refers to February 3, 1959 as "the day the music

February 01, 2007

Tallest Buildings Timeline

World or Pulitzer Building
New York City (1889-90)

The History of Skyscrapers: A race to the top
by Karen Barss

The desire to build big is nothing new. Big buildings have been used to show off power and wealth; to honor leaders or religious beliefs; to stretch the limits of what's possible; and even as simple competition among owners, families, architects, and builders...

Taipei 101, Taipei, Taiwan;
(the Taipei Financial Center)
101 stories
and reaching
1,671 ft (509 m) high
world's tallest building (2003)

Hat Tip:

The History of Black History

Americans have recognized black history annually since 1926, first as "Negro History Week" and later as "Black History Month" [each February]

Hat Tip: Thompson - Gale
Windows Live Local / Virtual Earth

From the website of Keystone Aerial, one of the flyers using the Ultracam D. It's a page of images opportunistically snapped while contract flying. This shot of Mt. Rushmore is fabulous - they couldn't have had more dramatic lighting if they were directing the show

Hat tip: Resource Shelf

January 30, 2007


It ends just like in real life.

Hat Tip: Linky and Dinky
From Pearls of Wisdom by Dave Barry

Thought for the day: Never be afraid to try something new

Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark.
A large group of professionals built the Titanic.

Hat Tip: StumbleUpon


September 18, 2000, Albany, GA
A new study shows that snacking on peanuts and peanut butter is an effective way to control hunger without leading to weight gain. Subjects who snacked on peanuts and peanut butter self-adjusted their caloric intake spontaneously and did not add extra calories to their daily diets. These findings are published in this month's International Journal of Obesity(Vol. 24, p.1167-75).
I like peanut butter,
creamy peanut butter,
chunky peanut butter too.

The Marathons (1961)
Hat Tip:

January 29, 2007

From the New York Post

January 29, 2007 -- Deborah Orin-Eilbeck, The Post's longtime Washington, D.C., bureau chief whose passion for politics and unrivaled integrity kept the high and mighty on their toes, died yesterday after a battle with cancer.

"Laura and I were saddened to learn of the death of Deborah Orin-Eilbeck," President Bush said.

"Deb had a distinguished, decades-long career as a journalist, covering every presidential campaign since 1980 and joining the New York Post's Washington bureau in 1988.

"Deb fought a valiant battle against cancer with the same tenacity, devotion and determination that she brought to her work in the White House briefing room through numerous administrations," the president said. "She'll be missed by all of us at the White House who cared deeply for her."

Post editor-in-chief Col Allan said, "Deborah was one of the nation's finest political reporters. She was never part of press group-think that so often rules Washington.

"Common sense ruled her mind, not dogma. I will miss her advice, and The Post's readers will miss her honesty and wisdom."

A native New Yorker, Orin-Eilbeck studied French and English literature and graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University. She received a master's degree from Northwestern University, and also did graduate work at the Sorbonne in Paris.

Orin-Eilbeck, 59, joined the New York Post in 1977 after stints at the Chicago Daily Press and the Long Island Press.

After being dispatched to Washington in 1988, she covered four presidencies, interviewing leaders and dignitaries including President Bush, Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell.

Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said, "Deborah was a dogged reporter who never failed to ask a tough question. She always had her readers' best interests at heart."

Sen. Charles Schumer said, "She was fair and down the middle, and she would always get her story."

The White House Correspondents Association will award a $2,500-a-year scholarship in her name.

Vince Morris, a former Post reporter who worked under Orin-Eilbeck, said, "She was unlike most of the other bureau chiefs . . . She was a lot more caring.

"In 2003, when I went to Iraq, she would check in daily with my wife and tell her, 'I just got his story. He's doing fine,' to reassure her."

Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani hailed Orin-Eilbeck's "deep knowledge and understanding of how politics work . . . Her readers could rely on that knowledge when they read her stories. She didn't just report politics, she explained them."

In August she married Neville Eilbeck, whom she met on a plane coming back from an assignment.

Orin-Eilbeck is survived by her husband, her father, Aaron Slotkin, and her brother, Mark.


January 28, 2007

The MTA Home Page

MTA stands for Metropolitan Transit Authority, New York City's labyrinthine system of subways, trains and buses.

They have a very interesting home page, with all kinds of interesting pictures and information.

And, of course, help in getting around "the City".

Check out the interactive Transit Maps under NYC Transit
I Don't Want This To Be a Political Blog, But...

This was too good to pass up

A Historical Curiosity

For your consideration and debate:

US Civil War: first time there is a Republican President - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

Spanish/American War: Republican President - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

World War One: Democratic President - no anti-war movement.

World War Two: Democratic President - no anti-war movement.

Korean War: Democratic President - no anti-war movement.

Vietnam War: As soon as a Republican took over the botched war from the Democrats - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

Last Ten Years of the Cold War: Republican President - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

Gulf War: Republican President - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

Kosovo War: Democratic President - no anti-war movement.

War on Terrorism: Republican President - very large, Democratic anti-war movement.

Discuss: What are we to make of this clear pattern of Democrats opposing any war they are not in charge of?

Hat Tip: Blogs for Bush

Update: My comment

Rather than try to establish some hard and fast "rule", it is easier say that there is a trend.

Whenever the United States is involved in a military conflict for any length of time, the American people will hand the war to the Republicans to manage.

When they grow tired of that war, or the Democrats sense that more than the "usual gang of idiots" oppose the war, you can pretty much count on the Democrats to advocate for its end, regardless of the consequences for the affected locals, the participating soldiers, or future American foreign policy.

Is that better?