Friday, July 31, 2009
Thursday, July 30, 2009
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Tuesday, July 28, 2009
Monday, July 27, 2009
Yahoo! News posted a story on a recent archaeological find in the Mediterranean. A team of archaeologists have found a "graveyard' of five nearly perfect Roman trading ships that sunk off the coast of Italy, and the earliest dates back to the first century BC. Underwater images show the well-preserved contents of the ships spilling out after the wood rotted away.
Also on Thursday, and as an addendum to the shipwreck story, Yahoo! News featured an article on two "new" works from Mozart. Apparently the International Mozarteum Foundation has had one of the works in their collection for a while, but only recently verified it was, in fact, written by Mozart as a young man. The results will be made public in a presentation on Aug. 2 in Salzburg, Austria, when an Austrian musician will play the piece on an original Mozart piano. The foundation also had a hand in authenticating another found Mozart composition in the possession of a French library last September.
Perhaps the sweetest of the three stories today concerns an object of less intrinsic value than those in the previous two articles. Once again, I mined Yahoo! to find this little gem... A love affair between a British man and his Spanish sweetheart was rekindled after 16 years when a missing love letter was found behind a mantle. The couple, who married two weeks ago, were reunited after the woman was brave enough to phone her former fiancee after discovering the letter.
(Photo courtesy of www.about.com)
Friday, July 24, 2009
Thursday, July 23, 2009
To me, nearly all science is magical. Not in the sense that I am endlessly fascinated by it, but more in that way most people regard watching someone get sawed in half. It's a "how did they DO that?" feeling. In school up until college, I took all the requisite classes - biology, chemistry, earth science, etc. My college transcript is less than stellar in that category, boasting a single class called "Natural Disasters." So I still regard scientific achievement with a certain degree of mystification. In this way I supposed I'm not that different than people from the Middle Ages or those of a very superstitious culture/religion.
Yesterday was the longest solar eclipse since 1991. It cut a swath across Asia and the Pacific, lasting for up to six minutes and 39 seconds in places. Indian astrologers were making predictions of widespread violence and evil according to their beliefs that what happened during a solar eclipse was that a dragon swallowed the sun. Fortunately for us (and the sun) neither mass panic and crime nor the sun being swallowed actually happened. Instead people had something really cool to look at, while some very confused cows in Japan decided it was dinner time and went to their troughs.
The Seattle Times had a story a few days ago on something that may be neither science nor magic. This one struck my attention because of my interest in animal behavior. Mary Phillips, a hospice nurse in the state of Washington, credits her co-worker's Maltese Poodle, Jacque Pierre, with saving her life. She arrived at work one day and was struck by a crippling headache. While lying on the floor resting, Jacque Pierre came in and, despite the fact Phillips and Jacque Pierre weren't buddies, licked the size of her head exactly where the pain was the most excruciating. That unlikely gesture convinced Phillips to go to the ER where they found a walnut-sized aneurysm in her head. Phillips had recalled times when hospice patients' pets refused to leave their dying owners' sides at the exact moment of death, and she stated those experiences were what made her finally seek help.
What might quite possibly be magic in the sue-happy American society of today is University of Michigan Health System doctors have found that admitting mistakes and offering compensation up front has actually saved them from malpractice suits. According to Google News, after implementing this "common decency" approach malpractice claims dropped by half from 2001-07, the time to process claims dropped from 20 to eight months and costs per claim were halved. Patients who have been on the receiving end of medical mistakes in the system but who received an immediate apology and compensation have stated their satisfaction with not feeling abandoned. I guess nice guys don't always finish last.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Delawareonline.com highlighted the story of an unidentified donor who went to an ad agency in Port St. Lucie, Fla. with a concept to put up inspirational billboards around the country and the money to back it. The Outdoor Advertising Association of America donated materials and manpower. Twelve messages are broadcast on over 1,000 billboards across the US that share fun and hopeful reminders about recessions, like "Self worth beats net worth" and "Bill Gates started Microsoft during a recession."
Friday, July 17, 2009
Thursday, July 16, 2009
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
see more Lolcats and funny pictures
Just like any proud human mother, I was convinced my cat Galway was smarter than other cats. She actually seemed to communicate with me aside from the "I'm hungry" and "I'm bored" and "It's midnight; where the h*** have you been?" meows. And often after I finally figured out what she wanted, I thought I caught a glimpse of a "finally, you dummy" look on her face. Now she lives with my parents, and nearly every phone call home includes a story of the latest intelligent thing my cat has done.
The University of Sussex recently concluded a study that states what most cat owners know from prior experience. When it comes to control of the household, cats are in charge. A researcher at the university discovered cats embed an urgent cry inside their meow that subtly plays off humans' response to a baby crying. Apparently this cry is always in the meow, but once cats learn humans respond favorably to it, they learn to exaggerate the sound when they want something. According to Yahoo! News, this type of solicitation cry is more prevalent in a one-to-one household where the cat's cries are harder to ignore and/or do not get lost in general bustle. So, sorry Mom and Dad.
But that story got me thinking about all the ways communication can happen. Cats and babies express needs through crying. People generally express pain/distress through swear words. It's often involuntary - you stub your toe or shut your finger in a door, and the first thing out of your mouth is usually four-lettered. Yahoo! News had an article on Sunday that explained swearing can actually make it easier to bear the pain of injury. Participants in a study were asked to immerse a hand in ice water while swearing. A control group did the same but saying a benign word. Those who swore held their hands in the water longer (can you imagine being the college student asked to be a part of this study??).
Multiple ethnicities express themselves in music and dance. Baltic republic Estonia held its Song and Dance Festival on the first weekend of July this year in the hopes it would help the nation turn its collective attention away from its economic troubles. Held every five years, the festival has its roots in Estonians' response to repression first by czarist Russia then 50 years of Soviet occupation. In the 1980s, in what was called the Singing Revolution, the people would gather, sometimes by the thousands, to sing patriotic songs to defy the Soviets (Google News).
Monday, July 13, 2009
Friday, July 10, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Monday, July 6, 2009
Friday, July 3, 2009
So in deference to both President Adams and history, I'm going to split the difference and celebrate on my blog today. : )
The LA Times has an abridged version of the Declaration of Independence on one of its blogs. It is edited for length and typographical understanding. Personally I'm okay with omitting all the haths and thous in favor of clarity; this version does not diminish the power of the ideas and motivations of the men who crafted the original document.
The Daily Star in Oneonta, N.Y., publishes an editorial annually in time for the Fourth of July, entitled "Independence is the cornerstone of America." It talks not in grand language about the lofty ideals of the American democratic experiment but in simple terms about what it means to everyday people. It's no soapbox appeal, just a reminder that our country was founded to give people the freedom to say and do what they believe, regardless of whether someone else agrees with them. I think that's why I appreciate the Fourth on a level other than the ninth-grade U.S. history way - it's the one political holiday people all along the party spectrum can celebrate and not tilt its meaning to the left or right.
On a slightly more down-to-earth level, the Denver Business Journal reported MillerCoors and Pizzeria Uno donated 8000 cases of beer and 25,000 pizzas to the men and women fighting in the Middle East on July 4. MillerCoors, Pizzeria Uno and DHL partnered with Pizzas 4 Patriots, a non-profit committed to sending food and beverages to soldiers overseas.I thought it might be fitting to put the National Anthem on here instead of a picture today, and this particular version struck me on YouTube. I still can't decide if it's original or slightly disrespectful. I'm leaning toward original since I've never seen the reaction Marvin Gaye gets to his rendition of "The Star-Spangled Banner" (written in Baltimore - yay Maryland!) at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game.
Thursday, July 2, 2009
I suppose it's the Gemini in me, but I have a hard time making decisions between two distinct things. You'd think it would be easy, but for me it's never one or the other; I want to have both. It's generally not because I'm greedy, but more because I can see the benefits or advantages to both and don't want to lose one to the other.