Posted: March 20, 2014 Filed under: Barack Obama, Foreign Affairs, morning reads | Tags: Angela Merkel, Chicken from Hell, Crimea, Faberge eggs, Indian Ocean, Malaysian Airlines, MH370, NCAA basketball, North Dakota State, oviraptorosaurs, P-8 Poseidon airplane, Perth Australia, robins, spring, Ukraine crisis, Vernal Equinox, Vladimir Putin
Good Morning and Happy Vernal Equinox!!
Today is the first day of Spring. Isn’t it wonderful? Soon those of us in the North will begin seeing the signs–little yellow buds on the forsythia bushes, crocuses, and robins hopping around outside. We’ve survived another winter. Sure, we could get a little more snow, but it won’t stick around as long because the days are longer and the sun is brighter.
The Independent has an explainer on the vernal equinox.
In the most basic terms an equinox is when the length of the night and the length of the day are roughly equal. There are two equinoxes (one in March for the beginning of spring and one in September for the beginning of autumn) and the word itself comes from the Latin for equal (‘aequus’) and night (‘nox’).
The ‘opposite’ of an equinox is a solstice – another pair of biannual events which occur in the middle of winter and summer when the Sun appears at its lowest or highest point in the sky. Each of these four days occur at roughly equal time periods, marking major transitional points as the Earth orbits the sun.
These transitions (and the season themselves) are caused by the Earth’s axial tilt….This tilt means that different parts of the planet are exposed to different amounts of sunshine as the Earth orbits the Sun. The tilt itself is actually caused by the distribution of land masses and ice sheets on the planet – the Earth is literally top-heavy, meaning that it tilts as it’s spun.
Humans living thousands of years may not have known the details of this astronomy, but over generations they certainly learnt that the Earth gets warmer and colder in pretty regular cycles, with the spring equinox marking one point when the Northern Hemisphere begins to shrug off winter’s cold.
Read all about it at the link.
Late last night, news broke that two large pieces of debris had shown up on satellite imagery off the coast of Australia that could be from missing Malaysian flight 370. AP via ABC News: Australia Checking 2 Objects in Search for Plane.
Military search planes flew over a remote part of the Indian Ocean on Thursday hunting for debris in “probably the best lead” so far in finding the missing Malaysia Airlines flight, officials said.
The four planes were checking to see if two large objects spotted in satellite imagery bobbing in the ocean were debris from Fight 370 that disappeared March 8 with 239 people on board….
One of the objects spotted by satellite imagery was 24 meters (almost 80 feet) in length and the other was 5 meters (15 feet). There could be other objects in the area, a four-hour flight from Australia’s southwestern coast, said John Young, manager of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority’s emergency response division.
“This is a lead, it’s probably the best lead we have right now,” Young said. He cautioned that the objects could be seaborne debris along a shipping route where containers can fall off cargo vessels, although the larger object is longer than a container.
Young told a news conference in Canberra, Australia’s capital, that planes had been sent to the area about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth to check on the objects. He said satellite images “do not always turn out to be related to the search even if they look good, so we will hold our views on that until they are sighted close-up.”
This morning, ABC reported that so far nothing has been found.
A nine hour search of the Indian Ocean by the world’s most sophisticated search plane failed to locate the objects spotted by a satellite that investigators believe could be from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet, instead finding only a freighter and two pods of dolphins.
The hunt by the P-8 Poseidon airplane is an indication of how difficult it will be to find the objects spotted by a satellite or any debris in the vast expanse of the southern Indian Ocean.
The military airplane is considered so sophisticated that civilians’ cameras were confiscated so photos could not be taken on board.
The search area is so remote that it took the Poseidon three hours of flying to arrive over the area part way to the South Pole and 1,300 miles west of Australia.
More details at ABC News. Of course even if the objects are located and they are found to be parts from MH370, it still will be some time (if ever) before we learn what happened to the missing plane.
Meanwhile, the crisis continues in Ukraine. Even Angela Merkel has begun speaking out, saying there will be no more G8 meetings “until the situation changes.” Merkel also threatened more sanctions by the EU.
Kiev — European leaders were on Thursday to debate biting economic sanctions against Russia for its annexation of Crimea as Ukraine tore up key ties with the Kremlin and drew up plans to evacuate its nationals from the rebel peninsula.
The European Union is under intense pressure to find a credible response to an explosive security crisis on the 28-nation bloc’s eastern frontier that NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Wednesday called “the gravest threat to European security and stability since the end of the Cold War.”
But the Kremlin has warned repeatedly that it would strike back hard if confronted with a new wave of Western punitive measures that EU nations — their energy and financial sectors intertwined with Russia’s — would keenly prefer to avoid.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said EU leaders would widen the list of people targeted by travel bans and asset freezes and warned of economic sanctions if the crisis escalates.
The EU Council “will make clear that we are ready at any time to apply third-phase measures in the event of a further worsening of the situation,” she said, adding that “it will, without a doubt, be a question of economic sanctions.”
USA Today on Russia’s actions in Crimea: Russia takes over Ukraine’s military bases, officers.
KIEV, Ukraine — Ukraine’s government said Wednesday it will pull its troops from Crimea, where Russian troops and Crimean allies are seizing military bases and officers.
Masked armed men assumed to be Russian military seized Ukraine’s naval headquarters in the city of Sevastopol on the Black Sea in Crimea and took away a Ukrainian admiral.
Ukraine’s defense minister and deputy prime minister put off a trip to Crimea in what they said was a bid to avert an escalation in hostilities after the self-appointed prime minister in Crimea, Sergei Aksyonov, warned that they “are not welcome,” Interfax news agency said.
The hostilities follow a decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin that the former captive of the Soviet Union, Russia’s predecessor, is now part of Russia despite warnings from the White House and Europe that Moscow will pay “costs” for a takeover.
For anyone who wants to dig deeper check out this article at The Independent, Ukraine crisis: New face of Crimea revealed after naval base is stormed, and these opinion pieces:
Financial Times: Threat of future Russian aggression remains.
CNN: Putin’s breathtaking lies about Russia.
Finally, I thought this post by Carl Bialek at Nate Silver’s FiveThirtyEight was kind of funny: Another Explanation For Crimea Referendum Landslide. Bialek discusses statistical explanations, but never mentions the possibility that the election was fixed. Not everything can be explained by statistics.
Anzu wyliei a bird-like dinosaur nicknamed the ‘chicken from hell’
In other news . . .
Have you heard about the recently discovered dinosaur that has been nicknamed the “Chicken from Hell?” It looks like something out of a 1950s monster movie. From the WaPo:
Scientists have discovered a freakish, birdlike species of dinosaur — 11 feet long, 500 pounds, with a beak, no teeth, a bony crest atop its head, murderous claws, prize-fighter arms, spindly legs, a thin tail and feathers sprouting all over the place. Officially, it’s a member of a group of dinosaurs called oviraptorosaurs.
Unofficially, it’s the Chicken From Hell.
That’s the nickname the scientists have been using. It’s the term in the news release associated with the discovery. This dino-bird is not literally a chicken, or even a bird. It’s definitely a dinosaur, and it lived at the end of the Cretaceous period, from about 68 million to 66 million years ago….
“It would have been a cross between a chicken and a lizard,” said Tyler Lyson, a paleontologist at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, who excavated some of the fossils on his uncle’s North Dakota ranch in 1999.
The fossils of three specimens of the new dinosaur were found in a sedimentary rock layer known as the Hell Creek Formation in three locations in North and South Dakota. The formation, the scientists said, helped inspire the nickname.
This undated handout photo issued by London antique dealers Wartski via the Press Association on Wednesday March 19, 2014, shows a rare Imperial Faberge Egg. The London antique dealer says the gold ornament bought by an American scrap-metal dealer has turned out to be a rare Faberge egg worth millions. (AP/WARTSKI/PA)
Here’s another freaky story for you. Have you heard about the scrap dealer who bought a Faberge egg at an antique fair in the Midwestern U.S.? The guy bought it for about $14,000 hoping to melt it down and make a small profit from the gold; but the buyers he talked to thought he was asking too much for it.
From the Telegraph: The £20m Fabergé egg that was almost sold for scrap (That’s $4o million in U.S. dollars).
The egg languished in his kitchen for years until one night in 2012, when he Googled “egg” and “Vacheron Constantin”, a name etched on the timepiece inside.
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The result was a Telegraph article published a year earlier, featuring a picture of his egg and the title: “Is this £20 million nest-egg on your mantelpiece?” The dealer – who wishes to remain anonymous, given his newfound wealth – contacted the Fabergé expert named in the article, Kieran McCarthy of Mayfair jeweller Wartski.
Mr McCarthy said: “He saw the article and recognised his egg in the picture. He flew straight over to London – the first time he had ever been to Europe – and came to see us. He hadn’t slept for days.
McCarthy then traveled to the U.S. to make sure the egg was genuine.
“It was a very modest home in the Mid West, next to a highway and a Dunkin’ Donuts. There was the egg, next to some cupcakes on the kitchen counter.
“I examined it and said, ‘You have an Imperial Fabergé Easter Egg.’ And he practically fainted. He literally fell to the floor in astonishment.” The dealer etched Mr McCarthy’s name and the date into the wooden bar stool on which Mr McCarthy sat to examine the egg, marking the day that his life changed forever.
The scrap dealer is hoping none of his neighbors find out how rich he is now. But how did the “egg” get to the U.S.?
I’ll end with some sports news that no one but my mother and I probably care about. Today is the first day of March Madness–the NCAA basketball tournament, and my parents’ alma mater North Dakota State is a 12 seed in the tournament. They will be playing number 5 seeded Oklahoma, so they probably won’t make it to the second round, but President Obama picked them to pull an upset. Sadly, no Indiana teams made it this year. Some Cinderella teams from my current home state are Harvard and U. Mass. I usually root for Kansas, but I wouldn’t mind at all if Michigan State wins the whole thing, as Obama predicted.
Now what stories are you following today? Please post your links on any topic in the comment thread.
Posted: April 17, 2013 Filed under: Discrimination against women, education, Environment, History, misogyny, morning reads, nature, open thread, the internet | Tags: Anne Frank, Appalachian Trail, D.H. Lawrence, Justin Bieber, Maria Tallchief, Otto Wirsching, spring, standing on my own titty, Wriston Art Galleries
This is going to be exactly what the title says…nothing more to say about that.
I have saved these links over the last few days, they may be a little stale but hopefully you will still find them somewhat interesting.
And since I am completely out of it, this link dump is in no particular order.
D.H. Lawrence Righteously Rages Against Misogyny in Newly Discovered Essay
A lost D.H. Lawrence essay in which the famed author issued a major takedown to a misogynistic contemporary has been found in a library in New Zealand.
Dr. Andrew Harrison, an English professor at the University of Nottingham, discovered the essay while doing research in the online archive of the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington. The essay was buried among the papers and correspondence of John Middleton Murry, a writer and editor who was married to the New Zealand writer Katherine Mansfield. Murry’s papers were recently acquired by the library. Lawrence had written the 185-word essay in a letter to his friend Murry. It was never published, and its existence was unknown to scholars until now.
You can find more information about the essay here, but check this out….
Lawrence wrote the piece some time in late 1923 or early 1924 in response to an essay published in Adelphi, a literary magazine Murry edited. That essay, which ran under the byline “JHR,” was a viciously misogynistic treatise called “The Ugliness of Women.” Its author argued that “in every woman born there is a seed of terrible, unmentionable evil: evil such as man — a simple creature for all his passions and lusts — could never dream of in the most horrible of nightmares, could never conceive in imagination.”
Continued JHR, “No doubt, the evil growth is derived from Eve, who certainly did or thought something wicked beyond words.”
Murry invited readers to respond to JHR, and Lawrence — a regular contributor to Adelphi — did so.
Lawrence argued that JHR was projecting, basically:
The hideousness he sees is the reflection of himself, and of the automatic meat-lust with which he approaches another individual…Even the most ‘beautiful’ woman is still a human creature. If he approached her as such, as a being instead of as a piece of lurid meat, he would have no horrors afterwards.
Meat-lust! The revolutionary idea that women are human! Advice about how to approach the opposite sex that would still work today!
Ever wonder about, What Happens to Your Email When You Die? Google’s Got a Solution Google Announces Inactive Account Manager | Geekosystem
And another item from Geekosystem, this is a picture and I absolutely love it!!!!!
Pen and Paper, that dude takes my breath away! I think you could find a couple more kids using paper and pens in that picture, but the yellow shirt just stands out.
Another picture for you, the fiber artist in me had to save it:
Image of the Day: April 10 – NYTimes.com
An artisan hanging freshly dyed strands of multicolored thread used in Hindu rituals, at Lalgopalganj, a town in Allahabad district of Uttar Pradesh.
Speaking of Fiber Art: A Box of Sheep – NYTimes.com
This week, a sheep arrived in a box. Not the whole sheep, which is still, I hope, grazing happily in a pasture somewhere in northeast Washington State. Only its fleece. I’ve raised many animals but never sheep. My dad, who raised them as a farm boy, left me with a vicious prejudice against them, and the only sheep I saw as a boy did nothing to counter it. They stood — a dim, ghostly flock — in a grove they had denuded entirely of grass and undergrowth. It occurs to me now that this was the fault of the farmer, not of the sheep, who have no more interest in eating bare dirt than I do.
I bought the fleece because I’ve been away from the farm for a couple of months and because it’s just the right amount of commitment. No feeding, no herding, no vet bills; no wondering: What have I done? If I were home, it would have been all too easy to drive up the road, pick up a few lambs and turn them loose in the pasture — the beginning of another trial-and-error episode in livestock management. These episodes get easier and easier because the pigs, horses, chickens, geese and turkeys have taught me so much. Still, none of them are sheep.
I set the box on the kitchen table, opened it with a knife and folded back the newspaper inside. The scent of sheep rose like a genie from a bottle — a genie who used a lot of lanolin.
There is something so comforting and joyful and soothing in the smell of lanolin.
Of course you have to click these links to read the rest of the stories, I mean, that goes without saying.
Did you see this crap? Albany Teacher Gives Pro-Nazi Writing Assignment – NYTimes.com
Or how about this idiot? Justin Bieber at Anne Frank House: ‘Hopefully She Would Have Been a Belieber’
…Bieber wrote in the guestbook: “Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber.”
I found this image on Pinterest and there was no information available. The website page it went to was no longer loading so I wrote to Lawrence University (the only clue I could sort out) to find out more about it….it was thrilling to get an email back from Leslie Walfish, Director of the Galleries, Wriston Art Galleries. I am quoting the email below with the image…
Otto Wirsching, 1919
Dear JJ Lopez Minkoff,
Thank you for your interest in our Otto Wirsching print from Vom Totentanz Anno 1915. The particular print you have asked about is part of a portfolio created by Wirsching in 1919.
The following information was previously on the website that you mentioned, please let me know if you need more information:
Born, Nuremberg, January 29, 1889; died Dachau, December 1919
While Wirsching’s life and career were short, he left behind several notable sets of graphic works that demonstrate his devotion to the tradition of German woodcut. The son of a Nuremberg pharmacist, Wirsching studied for three years at the School of Arts and Crafts there. In 1907, he came to Munich, where he worked with Hugo von Habermann (1849-1929). In the summer of that year, he walked to Italy and Corsica; during this time he made copies in the Uffizi. He continued his travels through Spain and North Africa, living as a vagabond. Despite his thorough knowledge of Mediterranean art, Wirsching’s greatest artistic inspirations were the paintings and woodcuts of the great German masters of the Renaissance; he studied these works avidly at Munich’s City Library. When he returned to Munich at the beginning of 1913, he moved to the nearby village of Dachau, since the 1980s an important artists’ colony of the naturalist school. When war broke out, he served in the artillery, but was back in Dachau by 1916. Here he painted and also perfected his skill as a graphic artist, creating a fanciful style that translated his knowledge of the German Masters into a modern idiom. He became a leading artist of the new Dachau school, which took on a more Expressionist mode. He supported himself by making woodcut ex-libris and greeting cards for members of Munich’s artistic circles. He married in Dachau the Hungarian painter, Ankara Kowatsch. Signs of the mental instability–no doubt exacerbated by the unrecognizable presence of a brain tumor–began to appear in 1916 or 1917. He continued nonetheless to produce woodcut series and illustrations for books, as well as paintings which incorporated traditionally religious and mythological motifs into contemporary settings. While placing a new print into the press, he fell dead to the ground, the victim of a stroke. A dissertation on his woodcuts was completed in 1923, evidence of the strength of his artistic vision and its influence on Munich artists immediately following World War I.
The Death-Dance Anno 1915/10 Pictures (Vom Totentanz Anno 1915/10) 1950
According to Theime-Becker, this portfolio was the most significant of the many “death dances” produced during the First World War. In its style, one recognizes immediately Wirsching’s international allusion to the medieval German masters of the woodcut. His choice of images, however, is distinctly modern: the figure of Death, in the traditional form of a skeleton, confronts a variety of contemporary figures who will meet their doom as a result of the devastation of this new war. The first plate shows a peasant in the field learning of the declaration of war from his newspaper; Death appears over his shoulder and steals the farmer’s scythe. In another plate, Wirsching shows Death leading a spy by a rope, depicted as the obvious Jewish stereotype of the moneylender–evidence of the prevalence in German society of this anti-Semitic view. Perhaps the most griping image is that of the corpse-fleecer, one of the vandals who ransacked the bodies on the battlefields for gold teeth and anything else of value. In Wirsching’s depiction, Death surprises the fleecer himself in the field of corpses. As a whole, Vom Totentanz is a grim indictment of the evil of war and man’s innate inhumanity to man. By alluding so directly to the hallow stylistic tradition of the German Totentanz, Wirsching’s philosophical message is all the more damning.
Director of the Galleries
Wriston Art Galleries
Last week Legendary ballerina Maria Tallchief died at 88
Born in 1925 to a father from the Osage tribe and a mother of Irish-Scottish descent, Tallchief was one of the first Native American ballerinas to achieve such prominence with major companies.
Her pride in her heritage led her to refuse pressure common at the time to change her name to a more marketable, Russian-sounding version — for example turning Tallchief into Tallchieva.
She grew up initially on the Osage reservation in Oklahoma, where her family’s life had been revolutionized by the wealth that came with the discovery of oil on tribal land.
Highly musical, she took piano and ballet lessons, and at eight, when her family moved to Los Angeles, her dancing turned serious.
In 1942, she joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a leading touring company, and it was there that she grew close Balanchine, who was the choreographer. They married in 1946 and divorced in 1950.
She was the prima ballerina at New York City Ballet, where Balanchine was also choreographer. Her appearance in the “The Firebird” in 1949 assured her stardom.
This is video of Tallchief dancing The Firebird.
Hey, I was happy when I saw this little headline last week: The pros and cons of going braless
Scientific research on the effect on bras on the sagging of boobs backs up the old feminist call for women to ditch the harness
I don’t care if this next study is done by a male professor, I never wear bras anyway…and I could care less if they sag all the way down to the floor.
Anyway, Bras: a male professor is no expert
French professor Jean-Denis Rouillon has said ‘breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity’. Photograph: Pierre Verdy/AFP/Getty Images
Jean-Denis Rouillon, a professor of sports science at Besançon university, has spent 15 years studying the anatomy of 330 women, and come to the conclusion that bras are a “false necessity”. So, clever him and stupid women.
Except, wait. Rouillon isn’t any kind of expert at all, because he doesn’t have breasts. He reckons that “medically, physiologically, anatomically breasts gain no benefit from being denied gravity”. But women don’t wear bras for medical, physiological or anatomical reasons. We wear them for psychological, aesthetic and practical reasons. Bras stop our breasts from wobbling about in a Don’t Forget for a Second You’ve Got Breasts manner, allowing us to forget them. Otherwise we’d be cupping them in our hands every time we broke into a trot to catch a lift.
Rouillon says that his research shows the nipples of women aged 18-35 rose by an average of 7mm when they went braless. He fails to understand that one of the many comforting things about bras is that you rarely have to think about where your nipples might be. Women are encouraged to fret about their breasts enough. The last thing we need is some fool telling us that we need to think about them, and their welfare, a great deal more.
Gotta give you a link on prehistoric dwarfism: BBC News – Study backs ‘hobbit’ island dwarfism theory
Plus a little history: Speaking up for women’s voting rights: From the archive, 15 April 1892 | From the Guardian | guardian.co.uk
And, a bit of nature: Spring flowers along the Appalachian Trail | Today’s Image | EarthSky
EarthSky Facebook friend Tom Wildoner posted this photo yesterday. He wrote:
Spring flowers along the Appalachian Trail and Swatara State Park in Pennsylvania. What a great weekend for hiking in PA.
Thanks so much for posting Tom!
Last week I went to Atlanta for my EEG and on the way back we stopped at the Walasi-Yi Center, on Blood Mountain which is a stop on the Appalachian Trail…here are some pictures I took, the shoes are from folks who have put at least 500 miles on their boots. There are also some pictures of hikers just starting out on the trail:
No spring flowers yet, we must be at a higher elevation.
Since I am sharing pictures, here is one from last week….early in the morning facing east, looking out at the farm next door.
Pretty isn’t it?
Have a wonderful day….think of this as an open thread.