Man Armed With Giant Stick Robs Store
|1:13:17 PM, Friday, December 31, 2010|
-- In what appears to be a premeditated store robbery, the paper shoe-ed robber has apparently decided to wield an entire tree as a weapon against a store clerk armed with a hammer...
Great Snow Wall Drive in Tateyama
|12:15:19 PM, Friday, December 31, 2010|
-- A clip of a bus driving through a snow wall between Bijodaira and Murodo in Tateyama, Japan.In April, the snow plows get the snow off the road with an accuracy of a centimeter through the use of GPS. The snow wall is 15 meter high this year.
North Korea’s Dollar Store
|11:45:13 AM, Friday, December 31, 2010|
“Office 39, North Korea’s billion-dollar crime syndicate, pays for Kim Jong Il’s missiles and cognac. Why did the Bush White House choose not to shut it down?
Appropriately enough, I met Chen Chiang Liu on Las Vegas Boulevard. But it wasn’t at one of the casinos on the Strip that he loved so well; it was in a different kind of building a few miles to the north—the Lloyd D. George U.S. District Courthouse. Peering through the heavy mesh screen in a holding cell, he was a very unhappy man. Understandably so. It was March 5, 2009, and later that morning, he was due to be sentenced. Liu had been convicted of conspiracy and fraud involving millions of dollars made not by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing but by counterfeiting presses in a foreign country, presumably North Korea. The quality of these “supernote” forgeries is so high that he’d managed to pass enormous quantities through the electronic detection devices with which every Vegas slot machine is supposed to be equipped. The prosecutor was asking the judge to give him close to 25 years, and in the end Liu would receive more than 12.
Liu’s crimes threatened not only the integrity of America’s currency but the very fabric of international peace. They were part of a vast criminal enterprise believed to be controlled by the North Korean state, set up and used to finance its nuclear-weapons and ballistic-missile programs. All of this, intelligence analysts say, is coordinated by a secret agency inside the North Korean government controlled directly by “the Dear Leader,” Kim Jong Il, himself. The agency is known as Office 39. (Given the opacity of anything inside North Korea, experts differ on whether “Office” should be “Bureau” or even “Room”—and they also suspect that the number itself may change.) Until a few years ago, American law enforcement had Office 39 squarely in its sights—probing its networks, disabling its enablers, and gradually shutting off the sources of illegal hard currency. And then, peremptorily, the Bush administration shut this law-enforcement effort down…”
-- Old, but, apparently, still very relevant.
Roger Ebert Declares First-Ever Oscar-Worthy YouTube Video
|10:01:47 AM, Friday, December 31, 2010|
”Jamie Stuart may have just created the first Oscar-worthy YouTube video. Stuart, who recorded the clip during the day-after-Christmas blizzard in New York this weekend, edited and emailed the video, entitled "Idiot With a Tripod," to Roger Ebert the next day. Ebert was so impressed he shared it with readers on his Chicago Sun-Times blog, proclaiming, "this film deserves to win the Academy Award for best live-action short subject."
Ebert goes on to explain why he believes to 3 minute and 35 second video should win Hollywood's most coveted award: …”
Astronomy Picture of the Day: Still Life with NGC 2170
|4:10:31 AM, Thursday, December 30, 2010|
"In this beautiful celestial still life composed with a cosmic brush, dusty nebula NGC 2170 shines at the upper left. Reflecting the light of nearby hot stars, NGC 2170 is joined by other bluish reflection nebulae, a compact red emission region, and streamers of obscuring dust against a backdrop of stars. Like the common household items still life painters often choose for their subjects, the clouds of gas, dust, and hot stars pictured here are also commonly found in this setting - a massive, star-forming molecular cloud in the constellation Monoceros. The giant molecular cloud, Mon R2, is impressively close, estimated to be only 2,400 light-years or so away. At that distance, this canvas would be about 15 light-years across."
Mercs (Kinda Sorta) Lose Out in the Defense Bill
|3:46:28 AM, Thursday, December 30, 2010|
"Want to bilk the government for millions in private security cash during wartime? Congress just made it marginally more difficult for you!
The just-passed $724.6 billion defense bill didn’t just expand the U.S.’s shadow wars. It also made some meager noises toward increasing oversight of wartime contractors. Thank Sen. Claire McCaskill for that.
For instance: the Defense Department’s inspector general will have to conduct a review of how the U.S. trains Afghan police, supplemented by a Government Accountability Office study in the role contractors play in the cops’ training. McCaskill’s office says the measure reflects a “clear and pressing need for improved oversight” over a crucial component of the U.S.’s (very slow) extrication strategy. More eyes on the program can’t hurt. But McCaskill’s measure comes too late to stop the Army from re-awarding a $1 billion contract to DynCorp last week, the same security company that’s helped train the Afghan police since 2003 into a force riddled with corruption, incompetence and illiteracy.
And it’ll be up to the military to act on whatever the new studies find. Contract-watching blogger Feral Jundi comments that he’ll have faith in the provision “when I see some actual adult supervision on this stuff…””
The Train by Any Pulmer
|3:28:23 AM, Wednesday, December 29, 2010|
Evolutionary Relationships Hold, Even in Our Guts
|2:11:55 AM, Wednesday, December 29, 2010|
"The human body is coated with bacterial cells. They live on our skin and between our teeth. They particularly like our warm, nutrient-filled gut, where they help digest food, make vitamins, and produce some seriously smelly gas. But when it comes to these gut bacteria, we are not what we eat. A new analysis of feces from humans and several other primates finds that evolutionary history, not diet, determines the makeup of our intestinal bugs.
Babies are born sterile, then they start picking up bacteria from their mothers. These microbes multiply and fill the intestines; one adult's gut can hold a thousand species. But it's not clear what exactly influences the makeup of that community—that is, what particular species of bacteria, in what quantities, hang out in our guts. It could depend mainly on what we get from our mothers, on what we eat, or on some other factor. Scientists have started using new genetic techniques to work out whether different species of animals have different communities; some studies in recent years have concluded that animals with similar diets have similar microbial communities..."
The Building of a Boeing 737 Airliner in 2 min 30s: Southwest Airlines The Making of Florida One
|1:37:29 AM, Wednesday, December 29, 2010|
Year Zero by ximena07
|12:45:54 AM, Wednesday, December 29, 2010|
Olek’s Christmas Gift to NYC
|11:41:01 PM, Tuesday, December 28, 2010|
"Last week on Christmas Day, Agata Olek installed the above crochet on Charging Bull, Arturo di Modica’s sculpture of a bull in New York City. Olek’s work only lasted a few hours, but as Hi-Fructose notes, Charging Bull was originally put up without permission by the di Modica on Christmas Day 1989."
Israeli Archaeologists: Ancient Teeth May Provide Oldest Evidence of Human Remains
|11:37:53 PM, Tuesday, December 28, 2010|
"Israeli archaeologists said Monday they may have found the earliest evidence yet for the existence of modern man, and if so, it could upset theories of the origin of humans.
A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in central Israel said teeth found in the cave are about 400,000 years old and resemble those of other remains of modern man, known scientifically as Homo sapiens, found in Israel. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found until now are half as old.
"It's very exciting to come to this conclusion," said archaeologist Avi Gopher, whose team examined the teeth with X-rays and CT scans and dated them according to the layers of earth where they were found.
He stressed that further research is needed to solidify the claim. If it does, he says, "this changes the whole picture of evolution..."
The Big (Military) Taboo
|11:31:24 PM, Tuesday, December 28, 2010|
"We face wrenching budget cutting in the years ahead, but there’s one huge area of government spending that Democrats and Republicans alike have so far treated as sacrosanct.
It’s the military/security world, and it’s time to bust that taboo. A few facts:
• The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says that we spend more than six times as much as the country with the next highest budget, China.
• The United States maintains troops at more than 560 bases and other sites abroad, many of them a legacy of a world war that ended 65 years ago. Do we fear that if we pull our bases from Germany, Russia might invade?
• The intelligence community is so vast that more people have “top secret” clearance than live in Washington, D.C.
• The U.S. will spend more on the war in Afghanistan this year, adjusting for inflation, than we spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War combined.
This is the one area where elections scarcely matter. President Obama, a Democrat who symbolized new directions, requested about 6 percent more for the military this year than at the peak of the Bush administration.
“Republicans think banging the war drums wins them votes, and Democrats think if they don’t chime in, they’ll lose votes,” said Andrew Bacevich, an ex-military officer who now is a historian at Boston University. He is author of a thoughtful recent book, “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War...”"
-- Whether you're left, or right, this has much truth to it.
Swedish Fighter Jet Pulls Toboggans
|4:51:56 AM, Tuesday, December 28, 2010|
Three Men + Snow + Fighter Jet and here we have the awesome results, - a video of a fighter pilot in Sweden pulling three toboggans through the snow. Genius!
The jet fighter is a Saab Viggen on an unnamed snow-covered airbase pulling three men on toboggans who are dressed in pilots uniforms.
Picture Show: 500 Years, - a Visual Exploration of Life in Potosi, Bolivia
|4:40:43 AM, Tuesday, December 28, 2010|
"For five centuries, the residents of Potosi, Bolivia, have lived and died in the mines of Cerro Rico, or "rich mountain." The name, one could argue, is painfully ironic: Although the mountain has been a veritable trove of silver, it has been imperialists, not the natives and Africans working the mines, who have enjoyed those riches. "At one point in the mid-17th century, the town's population was greater than that of London or Paris or Rome," says the photographer Evan Abramson, who has spent much of the last decade living and photographing in Bolivia. "The myth goes that at the height of excavation, you could have built a bridge made of the mountain's silver all the way back to Spain."
The mountain, which has been gutted with some 250 mines, now seems to teeter on the brink of collapse. And although the town remains one of the poorest in Bolivia, the mining continues. During the period from 2006 to 2008, when the price of minerals like silver, tin, and zinc increased some 300 percent, there was a staggering influx of work. But that increased work wasn't met with a corresponding improvement in health care or mining conditions, and residents' lifespan hovers around 50 years-15 below the national average. Daily life continues the way it has for the past 500 years..."
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