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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Gobekli Tepe: The World’s First Temple?

Gobekli Tepe

Predating Stonehenge by 6,000 years, Turkey's stunning Gobekli Tepe upends the conventional view of the rise of civilization

  • By Andrew Curry
  • Photographs by Berthold Steinhilber
  • Smithsonian magazine, November 2008

Six miles from Urfa, an ancient city in southeastern Turkey, Klaus Schmidt has made one of the most startling archaeological discoveries of our time: massive carved stones about 11,000 years old, crafted and arranged by prehistoric people who had not yet developed metal tools or even pottery. The megaliths predate Stonehenge by some 6,000 years. The place is called Gobekli Tepe, and Schmidt, a German archaeologist who has been working here more than a decade, is convinced it's the site of the world's oldest temple.

"Guten Morgen," he says at 5:20 a.m. when his van picks me up at my hotel in Urfa. Thirty minutes later, the van reaches the foot of a grassy hill and parks next to strands of barbed wire. We follow a knot of workmen up the hill to rectangular pits shaded by a corrugated steel roof—the main excavation site. In the pits, standing stones, or pillars, are arranged in circles. Beyond, on the hillside, are four other rings of partially excavated pillars. Each ring has a roughly similar layout: in the center are two large stone T-shaped pillars encircled by slightly smaller stones facing inward. The tallest pillars tower 16 feet and, Schmidt says, weigh between seven and ten tons. As we walk among them, I see that some are blank, while others are elaborately carved: foxes, lions, scorpions and vultures abound, twisting and crawling on the pillars' broad sides.

Schmidt points to the great stone rings, one of them 65 feet across. "This is the first human-built holy place," he says.

From this perch 1,000 feet above the valley, we can see to the horizon in nearly every direction. Schmidt, 53, asks me to imagine what the landscape would have looked like 11,000 years ago, before centuries of intensive farming and settlement turned it into the nearly featureless brown expanse it is today.

Prehistoric people would have gazed upon herds of gazelle and other wild animals; gently flowing rivers, which attracted migrating geese and ducks; fruit and nut trees; and rippling fields of wild barley and wild wheat varieties such as emmer and einkorn. "This area was like a paradise," says Schmidt, a member of the German Archaeological Institute. Indeed, Gobekli Tepe sits at the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent—an arc of mild climate and arable land from the Persian Gulf to present-day Lebanon, Israel, Jordan and Egypt—and would have attracted hunter-gatherers from Africa and the Levant. And partly because Schmidt has found no evidence that people permanently resided on the summit of Gobekli Tepe itself, he believes this was a place of worship on an unprecedented scale—humanity's first "cathedral on a hill."

With the sun higher in the sky, Schmidt ties a white scarf around his balding head, turban-style, and deftly picks his way down the hill among the relics. In rapid-fire German he explains that he has mapped the entire summit using ground-penetrating radar and geomagnetic surveys, charting where at least 16 other megalith rings remain buried across 22 acres. The one-acre excavation covers less than 5 percent of the site. He says archaeologists could dig here for another 50 years and barely scratch the surface.

Gobekli Tepe was first examined—and dismissed—by University of Chicago and Istanbul University anthropologists in the 1960s. As part of a sweeping survey of the region, they visited the hill, saw some broken slabs of limestone and assumed the mound was nothing more than an abandoned medieval cemetery. In 1994, Schmidt was working on his own survey of prehistoric sites in the region. After reading a brief mention of the stone-littered hilltop in the University of Chicago researchers' report, he decided to go there himself. From the moment he first saw it, he knew the place was extraordinary.

Unlike the stark plateaus nearby, Gobekli Tepe (the name means "belly hill" in Turkish) has a gently rounded top that rises 50 feet above the surrounding landscape. To Schmidt's eye, the shape stood out. "Only man could have created something like this," he says. "It was clear right away this was a gigantic Stone Age site." The broken pieces of limestone that earlier surveyors had mistaken for gravestones suddenly took on a different meaning.

Schmidt returned a year later with five colleagues and they uncovered the first megaliths, a few buried so close to the surface they were scarred by plows. As the archaeologists dug deeper, they unearthed pillars arranged in circles. Schmidt's team, however, found none of the telltale signs of a settlement: no cooking hearths, houses or trash pits, and none of the clay fertility figurines that litter nearby sites of about the same age. The archaeologists did find evidence of tool use, including stone hammers and blades. And because those artifacts closely resemble others from nearby sites previously carbon-dated to about 9000 B.C., Schmidt and co-workers estimate that Gobekli Tepe's stone structures are the same age. Limited carbon dating undertaken by Schmidt at the site confirms this assessment.

The way Schmidt sees it, Gobekli Tepe's sloping, rocky ground is a stonecutter's dream. Even without metal chisels or hammers, prehistoric masons wielding flint tools could have chipped away at softer limestone outcrops, shaping them into pillars on the spot before carrying them a few hundred yards to the summit and lifting them upright. Then, Schmidt says, once the stone rings were finished, the ancient builders covered them over with dirt. Eventually, they placed another ring nearby or on top of the old one. Over centuries, these layers created the hilltop.

Today, Schmidt oversees a team of more than a dozen German archaeologists, 50 local laborers and a steady stream of enthusiastic students. He typically excavates at the site for two months in the spring and two in the fall. (Summer temperatures reach 115 degrees, too hot to dig; in the winter the area is deluged by rain.) In 1995, he bought a traditional Ottoman house with a courtyard in Urfa, a city of nearly a half-million people, to use as a base of operations.

On the day I visit, a bespectacled Belgian man sits at one end of a long table in front of a pile of bones. Joris Peters, an archaeozoologist from the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, specializes in the analysis of animal remains. Since 1998, he has examined more than 100,000 bone fragments from Gobekli Tepe. Peters has often found cut marks and splintered edges on them—signs that the animals from which they came were butchered and cooked. The bones, stored in dozens of plastic crates stacked in a storeroom at the house, are the best clue to how people who created Gobekli Tepe lived. Peters has identified tens of thousands of gazelle bones, which make up more than 60 percent of the total, plus those of other wild game such as boar, sheep and red deer. He's also found bones of a dozen different bird species, including vultures, cranes, ducks and geese. "The first year, we went through 15,000 pieces of animal bone, all of them wild. It was pretty clear we were dealing with a hunter-gatherer site," Peters says. "It's been the same every year since." The abundant remnants of wild game indicate that the people who lived here had not yet domesticated animals or farmed.

But, Peters and Schmidt say, Gobekli Tepe's builders were on the verge of a major change in how they lived, thanks to an environment that held the raw materials for farming. "They had wild sheep, wild grains that could be domesticated—and the people with the potential to do it," Schmidt says. In fact, research at other sites in the region has shown that within 1,000 years of Gobekli Tepe's construction, settlers had corralled sheep, cattle and pigs. And, at a prehistoric village just 20 miles away, geneticists found evidence of the world's oldest domesticated strains of wheat; radiocarbon dating indicates agriculture developed there around 10,500 years ago, or just five centuries after Gobekli Tepe's construction.

To Schmidt and others, these new findings suggest a novel theory of civilization. Scholars have long believed that only after people learned to farm and live in settled communities did they have the time, organization and resources to construct temples and support complicated social structures. But Schmidt argues it was the other way around: the extensive, coordinated effort to build the monoliths literally laid the groundwork for the development of complex societies.

The immensity of the undertaking at Gobekli Tepe reinforces that view. Schmidt says the monuments could not have been built by ragged bands of hunter-gatherers. To carve, erect and bury rings of seven-ton stone pillars would have required hundreds of workers, all needing to be fed and housed. Hence the eventual emergence of settled communities in the area around 10,000 years ago. "This shows sociocultural changes come first, agriculture comes later," says Stanford University archaeologist Ian Hodder, who excavated Catalhoyuk, a prehistoric settlement 300 miles from Gobekli Tepe. "You can make a good case this area is the real origin of complex Neolithic societies."

What was so important to these early people that they gathered to build (and bury) the stone rings? The gulf that separates us from Gobekli Tepe's builders is almost unimaginable. Indeed, though I stood among the looming megaliths eager to take in their meaning, they didn't speak to me. They were utterly foreign, placed there by people who saw the world in a way I will never comprehend. There are no sources to explain what the symbols might mean. Schmidt agrees. "We're 6,000 years before the invention of writing here," he says.

"There's more time between Gobekli Tepe and the Sumerian clay tablets [etched in 3300 B.C.] than from Sumer to today," says Gary Rollefson, an archaeologist at Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, who is familiar with Schmidt's work. "Trying to pick out symbolism from prehistoric context is an exercise in futility."

Still, archaeologists have their theories—evidence, perhaps, of the irresistible human urge to explain the unexplainable. The surprising lack of evidence that people lived right there, researchers say, argues against its use as a settlement or even a place where, for instance, clan leaders gathered. Hodder is fascinated that Gobekli Tepe's pillar carvings are dominated not by edible prey like deer and cattle but by menacing creatures such as lions, spiders, snakes and scorpions. "It's a scary, fantastic world of nasty-looking beasts," he muses. While later cultures were more concerned with farming and fertility, he suggests, perhaps these hunters were trying to master their fears by building this complex, which is a good distance from where they lived.

Danielle Stordeur, an archaeologist at the National Center for Scientific Research in France, emphasizes the significance of the vulture carvings. Some cultures have long believed the high-flying carrion birds transported the flesh of the dead up to the heavens. Stordeur has found similar symbols at sites from the same era as Gobekli Tepe just 50 miles away in Syria. "You can really see it's the same culture," she says. "All the most important symbols are the same."

For his part, Schmidt is certain the secret is right beneath his feet. Over the years, his team has found fragments of human bone in the layers of dirt that filled the complex. Deep test pits have shown that the floors of the rings are made of hardened limestone. Schmidt is betting that beneath the floors he'll find the structures' true purpose: a final resting place for a society of hunters.

Perhaps, Schmidt says, the site was a burial ground or the center of a death cult, the dead laid out on the hillside among the stylized gods and spirits of the afterlife. If so, Gobekli Tepe's location was no accident. "From here the dead are looking out at the ideal view," Schmidt says as the sun casts long shadows over the half-buried pillars. "They're looking out over a hunter's dream."

Andrew Curry, who is based in Berlin, wrote the July cover story about Vikings.

Berthold Steinhilber's hauntingly lighted award-winning photograhs of American ghost towns appeared in Smithsonian in May 2001.

Color E-Paper Debuts

A waterproof MP3 player built for bright beach days is the first device with a color "e-paper" display, meaning it has no backlighting and thus can be read in direct sunlight. The display, from Qualcomm, consists of two layers of a reflective material. Some wavelengths of light bounce off the first layer; some pass through and bounce off the second. Interference between the two beams creates the color, and electrostatic forces control the distance between the layers.

Credit: Courtesy of Qualcomm

Product: Freestyle Audio player

Cost: Around that of Freestyle's previous players, which range from $80 to $100

Source: freestyleaudio.com

Company: Freestyle Audio, Qualcomm

Mysterious Giant Circle in the Sahara Desert




The Richat Structure, a prominent circular feature in the Sahara desert of Mauritania near Ouadane, has attracted attention since the earliest space missions because it forms a conspicuous bull's-eye in the otherwise rather featureless expanse of the desert. It has a diameter of almost 30 miles and has become a landmark for space shuttle crews.

Netflix finally brings 'Watch Instantly' to Macs via Silverlight


In a move that seemed like it would never, ever, ever happen, Netflix has finally managed to bring its streaming video technology (and decent library) to Macs everywhere, thanks to Microsoft's Flash-esque also-ran, Silverlight. It seems that the software will allow the rental house to safely DRM its content where ever it goes via Redmond's Play Ready, thus leaping the hurdle that has kept some 12,000 movies and TV shows off of non-PC systems. Netflix claims that the new implementation in Silverlight provides "breakthrough navigation for fast-forward and rewind," though fails to indicate exactly when this is all being rolled out (we assume immediately). Unfortunately for super-duper late adopters, the software will only work with Intel-based Macs, so if you've been holding onto a G3 for dear life, here's one more reason to finally can it, along with your Xbox 360 HD DVD player, Von Dutch trucker cap, and gas-guzzling Escalade. Full PR after the break.

NETFLIX BEGINS ROLL-OUT OF 2ND GENERATION

MEDIA PLAYER FOR INSTANT STREAMING

ON WINDOWS PCs AND INTEL MACS

Based on Microsoft Silverlight, New Player Features Enhanced Dynamic Streaming, First-Time Use for Macs and

Breakthrough Navigation for Fast-Forward and Rewind

LOS GATOS, Calif., October 27, 2008 – Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ: NFLX), the world's largest online movie rental service, today announced it has begun the deployment of Microsoft Silverlight to enhance the instant watching component of the Netflix service and to allow subscribers for the first time to watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their Intel-based Apple Macintosh computers. The deployment, which will initially touch a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers, is the first step in an anticipated roll-out of the new platform to all Netflix subscribers by the end of the year.

Silverlight is designed for delivery of cross-platform, cross-browser media experiences inside a Web browser. It is expected that Netflix members who watch movies and TV episodes instantly on their computers will enjoy a faster, easier connection and a more robust viewing experience with Silverlight, due to the quality built directly into the player. Among the viewing enhancements with the new player is a breakthrough in timeline navigation that vastly improves the use of fast-forwarding and rewinding. The new Netflix player takes advantage of Play Ready DRM, which is built into Silverlight, for the playback of protected content on both Windows-based PCs and on Macs. That had not been possible with previous generation technologies.

"Silverlight with Play Ready offers a powerful and secure toolkit for delivery of dynamic streaming, which offers faster start-up, and higher quality video, adapted in real time to users' connection speeds," said Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. "Members who enjoy watching movies and TV episodes from the growing library of choices that can be instantly streamed at Netflix will be thrilled with this next generation improvement of access and quality, on a broader range of platforms, including Intel Macs and Firefox."

Bejeweled Creator Spills Secrets of Addictive Games

By David Kushner Email
Illustration: Apirat Infahsaeng

Eight years ago, Jason Kapalka and a couple of friends devised a puzzle game they called Bejeweled. It was simple: A grid covered with lo-res gems, which players swapped around to match up the colors. Yeah, it sounds stupid, but once you start playing, it's like crack.

Since its debut, Bejeweled addicts have frittered away around $300 million—and more than 6 billion hours—on the game and its sequel, the provocatively titled Bejeweled 2. And PopCap, the company behind the blockbusters, has become a big player—it now has more than 200 employees in offices around the world.

But Kapalka and his team still preach the gospel of simplicity. They spent four years and $1 million to try to make sure that PopCap's latest release, Bejeweled Twist, would be at least as intuitive and habit-forming as the original. We asked Kapalka for his take on some of the most addictive puzzlers ever made and why we can't quit playing them.

Solitaire

How it's played: Shuffle the deck, deal the cards into stacks, arrange them in order and by suit. Napoleon was supposedly a big fan—great for passing the time on Elba.

Kapalka's take: People compare Bejeweled to Tetris, but this is the real analog. Solitaire is a game in which skill isn't a factor. You're lucky or you aren't, and it just goes on and on until you're out of moves. Yet it doesn't feel completely random.

Rubik's Cube

How it's played: Twist the cube until the colors match on all sides. The toy, created by a Hungarian architect, set off a craze in the 1980s.

Kapalka's take: A clear example of a game in which the pleasure is in creating order. You randomize it, it becomes a big mess, and then you have to bring it to an organized state.

Where's Waldo?

How it's played: Spot the hidden object in a densely illustrated book. Turn page. Repeat.

Kapalka's take: There are paper variants going back to the 1800s that hide illustrations in the little curlicues of the margins. And there are new videogame versions like Mystery Case Files. For thousands of years, we've derived satisfaction from searching and uncovering—and we still do each time we turn up lost car keys.

Tetris

How it's played: As differently shaped tetraminoes fall from the sky, you pivot and position them to fill in gaps and form unbroken lines.

Kapalka's take: A timeless classic. Fitting pieces together feeds the same pleasure center of the brain that gets off on packing a suitcase really well or squeezing all your groceries into a single bag.

Collapse!

How it's played: In this PC title, colored blocks bubble up from the bottom of the screen. Mouse over groups of three or more and click to eliminate them.

Kapalka's take: You click wherever you want and something happens. It has that bubblewrap factor—pop, pop, pop. A completely mindless experience, but not in a negative sense—it's a letting go of conscious thought. Playing slot machines can be the same way.

With Banner 17 Hung, Celtics Eye Repeat


Looking To Be Grouped with the Greats in Franchise History, Pierce and Co. Intend to Defend Crown

Hours after the Celtics won their 17th World Championship, a banner was hoisted to the ceiling in place of the spotlight that shone 24 hours a day at the Celtics' training facility in Waltham.

That new banner, 22 years younger than its nearest relative, glows in stark contrast to the 16 flags hung by your father's Celtics, most recently in 1986, 1984 and 1981. Dating as far back as 1957, they all line the walls in Waltham. Some are replicas, others the decaying originals from the eras long since passed, but until June, all of them were showing their age.

Training Camp

At the team's Newport training camp, the focus was all basketball, all the time.
Darren McCollester/NBAE

Burning white and glossy, the 2008 banner jumps off the wall at the Sports Authority Training Center at HealthPoint. It's sheen makes it awfully conspicuous, especially if you're one of the guys chiefly responsible for hanging it. However, what really catches the eye of Paul Pierce, the Celtics captain and NBA Finals MVP, isn't the banner that he finally helped to hang after 10 long years.

Instead, it's a series of dingy old banners stained from years of decorating the rafters of the old Boston Garden. They're downright dirty, but that's part of their charm. With the Garden gone and Red Auerbach's passing, those banners are among the few remaining vestiges of a dynasty.

So after spending most of a short summer celebrating the title at a parade through the streets of Boston in front of scores of Celtics fans, back home in Los Angeles among his family and friends (many of whom are admittedly Lakers fans) and in Vegas nightclubs surrounded by his NBA peers, a raspy Pierce, fighting laryngitis, told reporters about the next chapter in the Celtics' journey.

"You ask yourself, 'what's the next challenge?' And as I asked myself, I looked at all of the banners, and I said to myself, all the great players, all the great teams that have been here, they did it more than once," Pierce said during the team's media day. "That's what I thought about during the summer."

"You ask yourself, 'what's the next challenge?' And as I asked myself, I looked at all of the banners, and I said to myself, all the great players, all the great teams that have been here, they did it more than once," Pierce said during the team's media day. "That's what I thought about during the summer."

Those aging banners, hung by the sons of Red, they're artifacts of Johnny Most's gravel-voiced bedtime stories. They starred John Havlicek, Tommy Heinsohn, Bill Russell and Bob Cousy, and given the state of the franchise during the 24-win 2006-07 season, it was getting harder and harder to believe this was the same team. Pierce had heard Tommy, Cooz, Hondo and Russ retell these stories in person at the start of training camp for years.

He'd even heard them from Auerbach himself.

Finally, Pierce has his own story to tell. Carried off the floor in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, it looked like curtains for the captain and the Celtics' title hopes. But he'd return to the floor that night and inspire a Game 1 win that helped lift the Celtics to a six-win NBA Finals victory, and etch his name into the annals of NBA history.

For eight straight years, from 1959-1966, the Celtics won consecutive championships and dominated the NBA. And as much as Pierce is proud of what he and his mates accomplished last season, he knows that to be truly great in the eyes of Celtics fans and the legends who came before him, they have to do it again.

"Once you get a taste of it, you don't want to let it go," Pierce said. On the day the team sized players for rings, Pierce laughed about finally having his own jewelry to show off among his peers after gazing at his friends' hardware. "I've seen Antoine's, I've seen Sam's, and I've seen Posey's. I'm tired of looking at everybody else's ring in the summer."

He wasn't the only one. When they came together in Rome a year ago for training camp, Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen were three stars who all had the same hole in their resume: None had won an NBA Championship. So the obvious question, one they heard all summer, was where they'd find motivation with their lifelong goal accomplished. And how would things change now that the Celtics were the proverbial hunters-turned-hunted?

"The bulls-eye is huge. But it's not like we're going to back down from that," Garnett said before the team left for training camp.

Rather than jetting overseas, the team bused about 70 miles down the coast to Salve Regina University in Newport, RI at the end of September, just as the New England foliage was starting to turn and tourist season was winding down. Newport was deserted through most of the week, so the team was felt free to roam town with few intrusions.

Aside from the wide-eyed students who lined up outside the gym waiting to catch a glimpse of the champs as they boarded the bus, there were few distractions during camp. The five-minute bus ride from the team hotel to the campus gym was a welcome change from the hour-plus police-escort voyage through Rome last fall. And without the international media horde that tailed them in Europe, the wonder of the ancient city just begging to be explored and a bevy of league-sponsored appearances that were sprinkled into last year's camp, the focus in Newport was all basketball, all the time.

For those who doubted last year that three superstars could check egos at the door and unite for a common goal, the Celtics had everything to prove and the burden of overwhelming hype. They were media darlings nationwide at the beginning of the season, gracing just about every magazine cover on the rack. The Big Three -- Coach Doc Rivers finally allows himself to call them that -- even had their own media day last fall to handle the influx of media requests that dwarfed anything the organization had ever seen.

"I thought we were the anointed champs all last year. We were on every magazine cover you could ever be on without having done anything. That actually bothered me a lot last year," Rivers said on media day on the eve of training camp. "At least this year, if we are on one, we can say we've done something. And now we have to try to do it again."

Their desire certainly hasn't waned. Much like last season, almost the entire roster was in Waltham a month early staging informal workouts and pick-up games. Rajon Rondo placed calls to many of his teammates, while Pierce took rookies Bill Walker and J.R. Giddens under his wing, leading them through a demanding workout regiment. According to Pierce, "this is the same commitment we had a year ago when everybody got in early."

Ray Allen, who keeps himself in top shape year round, made it clear that the Celtics refuse to settle for being a one-hit wonder.

"Just having a chance to repeat is the most important thing. This season, for us, it's not different than starting off last season," Allen said after a workout this summer. "I don't think we need to do anything different from what we've been doing. We know what the formula was, and we've gotta stick to that."

With that in mind, the team voted to once again carry "Ubuntu" as their motto, and when it comes to goals, the mission is essentially the same. They're looking to win an NBA title and hang another banner.

The early returns are encouraging. Pierce's knee has healed, and Allen, who played just under 36 minutes a game last season, is in top form for preseason. Garnett is as intense as he's ever been, running the length of the floor in one preseason game to block a layup from behind. Rondo says he's added seven pounds of muscle in the offseason, and his backup Eddie House was draining everything in camp.

Tony Allen is showing signs of returning to his pre-injury form. Kendrick Perkins, who had offseason shoulder surgery, returned to the lineup in mid-October. Meanwhile, rookie Bill Walker opened eyes in training camp for attacking the basket and had a pair of huge slams back-to-back in the team's first exhibition game. And tough-as-nails Leon Powe is still doing all the dirty work that made him famous last year.

Does all of this add up to a repeat? We're about to find out, but with the season upon us, Rivers and company are certainly headed in the right direction. The Celtics will officially raise their 17th banner in the TD Banknorth Garden and hand out their rings on Opening Night against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Once the ceremony ends, the journey begins anew.

Peter Stringer covers the team for Celtics.com and Parquet Magazine.

Protect Your Rights: How To Deal With The Police If You Get Pulled Over

The above video is the correct way to handle a traffic stop. After the jump, I’ve posted several very informative videos about dealing with police, including the complete video that this excerpt was taken from, called “BUSTED: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters“.

If you get pulled over, just remain calm and remember your rights. Keep your hands on the wheel where the officer can see them. Police officers in some states have the legal right to search your car if they say they “smell” drug smoke. This is a very obvious loophole, but one you have to deal with since it is the law. The best way to deal with it is to only lower your window enough to talk to the officer and pass him your license and registration. You are under no obligation to lower your window completely.

When he requests them, show the officer your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance. Try to remember the officers’ badge number and patrol car numbers, and write them down as soon as you have the chance. Police WILL try to intimidate you, and they WILL make you wait. Maintain your composure, don’t show fear, and be polite. The police officer will most likely ask you if you know why he pulled you over. Say no, never admit to speeding or try to guess why you were pulled over; just say no.

Don’t get into an argument with the police. You cannot win an argument with a police officer. Also remember that anything you say or do can be used against you, so say as little as possible. In some cases, police can search your car without a warrant based on “probable cause”. Make it clear that you do not consent to a search so you’re protected later on. It’s not lawful for police to arrest you simply for refusing to consent to a search. Remember that, NEVER consent to search.

Refusing a search DOESN’T mean you’re guilty. The age old argument: “Well sonny, honest people don’t have anything to hide” is nonsense. That argument has been debunked many times over. Don’t let that old line influence you.

At the bottom of this post, I’ve posted several very informative videos. The first two are from a talk given by James Duane, a lawyer and law professor, and the third is the complete Flex Your Rights video on how to handle a police stop.

Unfortunately, police enjoy a monopoly on protection. They’re the only game in town, so they aren’t pressured by the forces of the free market to make their customers happy. Police can generally act however they want and do whatever they please and we have to keep paying them to protect us. It’s an unfortunate situation, but until we live in a world with competing police services, where we can choose protection companies like we choose our cell phone provider, then we have to deal with it. So remember your rights, and don’t give in to police intimidation.

Don’t talk to cops, part 1:

Don’t talk to cops, part 2:

BUSTED: The Citizen’s Guide to Surviving Police Encounters:


Written by Vito Rispo

1 of Nicest Sunset Scenes with Lightning You'll See Today

Tucson Lightning


Photo: A thunderstorm over Tucson, Arizona
The bright lights of Tucson, Arizona, are more than matched by a flash of lightning far above the city skyline. The sunset scene shows a classic cumulonimbus cloud formation.

Ferrari leaving Formula 1??

MARANELLO, Italy — As though there was not already enough excitement in the Formula 1 circus — just as McLaren F1 driver Lewis Hamilton focuses on clinching the Formula 1 championship at this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix, and just as Felipe Massa is trying to salvage Ferrari's rather mediocre season by spoiling things for Hamilton — now Ferrari issues another in a series of big threats: to leave F1 altogether.

In a press release sent to Inside Line, Ferrari's industrious spin office chats about the company's 22.3 percent growth in revenue year on year and then segues into a threat to leave what has been called the billionaires' traveling carnival at the end of this season.

An excerpt from the press release: "The board has also examined the new rules proposed by the governing body of Formula 1 in light of the dismal global financial situation.

"The Ferrari board, while it confirms its full commitment to a substantial and needed reduction in costs beginning with engine strategy, has nonetheless expressed its grave concern regarding the "equalizing" or standardization of the engines, a move which would strip Formula One of its very raison d'être based on the spirit of competition and technological development. This is precisely how Ferrari has understood its uninterrupted involvement ever since the inaugural season of the World Championship of Formula 1 in 1950.

"In anticipation of how these various elements may unfold, the Board of Directors exercises its right to reassess, together with its partners, the prospect of continuing its participation in the sport."

Inside Line says: Another indignant stare-down instigated by the Italians! We bet this threat has the controversial Max Mosley feeling like he's been slapped. Oh, wait

The NBA's Top 10 Storylines for 2008



Led by Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Boston recorded the biggest one-season improvement in NBA history ( 42 games) last year en route to the franchise's 17th championship. Now it seeks to become the first Celtics club to repeat as champs since the Bill Russell era (1968 and '69). The good news for Boston is that most of the pieces are back, with the notable exception of small forward James Posey. But will the Big Three be as hungry now that they have those long-sought rings?

click here for the article

18 Extraordinary Modern Beds and Bed Designs

Montage of Groundbreaking Beds

Considering we spend a third of our lives occupying them, it is surprising bed designs have remained so stable throughout history - until now. Here are 18 groundbreaking beds that are straining to free themselves from convention, predictability and even gravity.

Le Beanock hammock bed

Image: Le Beanock.

Its origins lost in antiquity, the hammock has been a popular and practical alternative to terra firma sleeping arrangements for thousands of years. Le Beanock’s contribution to this tradition is scale: slung between walls on a series of heavy-duty chains, their double-sized (but presumably only one-person) hammock is an eye-catcher, a room centerpiece and a sheer joy when it is time to sweep the floor.

Float Bed

Images: Max Longin.

But other modern beds also aren’t keen on being grounded either. Take the Bed Float - not only can it be fully dismantled in a jiffy (with part of the bed frame forming a carrying case), it is also designed to look as if it’s touching the ground as little as possible.

Hesselgren Bed

Fluttua Bed

Images: Lago and Yanko Design.

Similarly overcome with the urge to levitate are these two beds. Joel Hesselgren’s vision is of bed legs that also double as side tables, in a modular design that can be divided into singles or doubled up and expanded as need be - “a bed that grows with you”. Lago’s Fluttua bed aims for a David Blaine trick: from the right angle, there is nothing but air under this bed.

Okooko Bed / Tree Bed / Casket Bed

Images: New York Times and Shawn Lovell Metalworks and Casket Furniture.

Children like their beds to look like anything but beds (for example, pirate ships are popular) but this habit is not just confined to the kids. The Okooko bed looks almost seaworthy, albeit in a Columbus rather than Blackbeard style. The Tree Bed - part four-poster, part Lothlorien - can’t make up its mind whether it is a bed or a bird’s nest. And the Casket Bed seems perhaps a little too perfect for those with an angsty, gothic-revival obsession with creatures of the night.

Private Cloud bed

Image: Private Cloud.

Another design trend happily carried over from our childhoods is the cradle. Private Cloud have taken the concept and thoroughly updated it with more than a splash of style and pupil-dilating beauty. Rollers can be fixed under the leg-arches to allow safe rocking to and fro, or to lock the whole bed in place - and the whole piece can double as a comfortable (and stable) lounge-chair.

Lomme bed
Image: Lomme.

If you thought Private Cloud looked modern, the Lomme will be a revelation. This egglike bed comes equipped with a “light therapy” alarm clock, a massaging viscoelastic memory foam mattress and a control unit that is a specially modified iPhone. (At this point, you will be correct in assuming the Lomme isn’t cheap). With muting acoustics and a distinctly calming aesthetic, the Lomme seems guaranteed to give you a trouble-free night’s sleep, wherever you are.

Trap Bed / Pump It bed

Images: Come Up To My Bedroom exhibition and Architonic.

Some beds have something to hide. All that’s lacking from this wicked-looking mousetrap-style bed (created for an exhibition, not for sale) is a box of chocolates as a lure, and possibly some kind of first-aid kit. The Pump It bed, on the other hand, could not look less innocuous…since until it is inflated, it’s just a corner of your carpet. An ideal solution to the problem of friends inviting themselves over for the weekend.

Lectus bed / Foetal bed / Hold Me bed

Images: Lectus and Techeblog and Tovdesign.

As much as minimalist is a pure and beautiful thing, maybe there’s such a thing as too minimalist. The classic-lined but somewhat severe Lectus Stripe Bed is a masterpiece of pared-down design, but just how comfortable is it? The Foetal Position Bed is even more demanding: you either lie in exactly the correct way, or you fall off - there is no middle ground. Taking constraint one step further, the Hold Me Bed is arguably the safest in the world, as you’d have to work extraordinarily hard to roll off it.

Napping Pods montage

Images: Trendhunter and Metronaps.

Yet it is not just the design of beds that is changing - their function is similarly in flux. As evidence builds that power napping has a profound positive influence on concentration and energy levels throughout the day, business of the future will have to find suitable furniture for corporate napping programmes. Here are some beds that are ahead of the curve. The two Cocon Napping Pods (the first reminiscent of Ridley Scott’s Alien) and the stunningly hi-tec pod from Metronaps seek to tackle sleepiness with the sturdiest of modern technology…

Nappak inflatable napping bed

Image: Nappak.

…while Nappak is keen for a quickly, easily inflated solution to the problem!

One man's garbage becomes another's power plant

By DAVID PORTER, Associated Press Writer David Porter, Associated Press Writer

A methane gas collection pipe sticks out of the 1-E landfill in Kearny, N.J.,
AP – A methane gas collection pipe sticks out of the 1-E landfill in Kearny, N.J., Monday, Oct. 6, 2008, with …


KEARNY, N.J. – Standing atop the 400-acre 1-E landfill, you get a panoramic view of the Meadowlands sports complex to the north and the New York City skyline to the east. You're also standing on a critical part of New Jersey's, and the nation's, energy future.

Decades' worth of household trash, construction waste and assorted refuse buried in the landfill are providing electricity to thousands of homes.

"It's like you're buying back your own garbage, but in a different form," said Tom Marturano, director of solid waste and natural resources for the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission, which owns and operates the 1-E site.

The Kearny site is among 21 landfills in New Jersey where methane gas produced by decomposing garbage is used as fuel to generate electricity, according to the state Board of Public Utilities.

That is almost as many as in the state of Texas and more than the combined number in Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, Arkansas and Oklahoma.

Nationwide, the federal Environmental Protection Agency counts 455 landfills that use their methane to generate electricity and has targeted more than 500 others as potential candidates through its Landfill Methane Outreach Program.

One of New Jersey's leading environmentalists envisions the state's landfills someday making more use of the sites by installing wind and solar power to supplement methane.

"We see landfills as potential New Age energy plants because you can combine all three and create a steady source of power — and not everybody wants a windmill in their backyard," said Jeff Tittel, executive director of the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club.

Marturano cautioned that adding wind farms might take awhile because landfill surfaces are constantly shifting, but the Meadowlands Commission already has plans to install 20 acres of solar panels on the southern side of the 1-E landfill.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine's Energy Master Plan touts landfill methane gas as one of the key renewable energy sources that the state hopes will combine to supply 30 percent of New Jersey's electricity by 2020. According to the plan, New Jerseyans produce 6.7 pounds of trash per day, 50 percent more than the national average.

While wind and solar power are in their relative infancy in New Jersey — Corzine recently announced the state's first offshore wind power project — landfills in the state have been collecting methane gas and using it as fuel to generate electricity for more than two decades.

Mike Winka, director of the Board of Public Utilities' clean energy office, said new landfills in New Jersey are required to be designed to accommodate methane gas collection.

Existing landfills can produce methane long after they've been shut down.

For example, the freshest garbage in the Kingsland landfill, adjacent to 1-E, dates to 1987, according to Marturano. That means the half-eaten Big Mac you threw away near the end of the Reagan administration may be helping to light your neighbor's home today.

Marturano estimates the 1-E landfill can keep collecting methane for 20 more years or so. He said the energy produced by the four landfills in the Meadowlands district powers about 25,000 homes.

The Edgeboro landfill in East Brunswick, operated by the Middlesex County Utilities Authority, has been collecting methane since 2001 and currently generates about 13 megawatts of electricity, enough for about 13,000 homes for a year, according to Public Service Electric and Gas, the state's largest utility.

The Middlesex County agency uses the electricity generated by the Edgeboro landfill's methane to power the county's wastewater treatment plant in Sayreville. Last year, that saved the authority about $3 million, according to executive director Rich Fitamant.

Methane gas is produced by micro-organisms that feed on organic matter in trash. The bacteria are not picky eaters and have adapted to feasting on wood, cardboard or plastic if food waste isn't available.

"It's evolution on a fast track," Marturano said.

Long tubes with perforated bases are drilled down into a landfill to collect the methane gas, which then is used as fuel to drive generators. Inactive landfills like 1-E are capped, usually with a plastic or rubber covering that prevents excess gas from escaping.

"People used to think of the landfills as wasted space," Marturano said. "But we're turning them from the juvenile delinquents of the district into productive members of society."

Smuggled clues hint at 2,000-year-old lost tribe

22 bags of confiscated broken pottery could be major archaeological find


Image: Confiscated antiquities
Archaeologists say the discovery of 22 sacks of broken anthropomorphic pottery could lead to a long lost local tribe that existed around 2,000 years ago.
Stringer/philippines / Reuters


By Manny Mogato

MANILA - When Philippine police confiscated 22 bags of broken pottery from antiquity smugglers near an area where Muslim rebels operated, little did they know that they may have uncovered the remnants of a long-lost tribe.

Now, experts at the National Museum in the capital Manila are studying the burial urns from a tribe that lived in the Philippines over 2,000 years ago, in what could be a major archaeological discovery.

"The pottery has human faces that show emotions," Eusebio Dizon, head of the archaeological unit at the National Museum, told Reuters.

Dizon said that pictures of people on the shards might mean the tribe that used the vessels had different origins from the known indigenous tribes in the Philippines.

"The Manobos, Tirurays and B'laans tribes that have survived over time do not bury their dead in painted anthropomorphic (human form) jars. So, we have no idea what kind of people are behind these unique burial jars," Dizon said.

A U.S.-trained archaeologist, Dizon spent several years in the 1990s excavating in a cave in Sarangani province on Mindanao after he was tipped off by treasure hunters about rare anthropomorphic, or human form, pottery in the area. Carbon dating tests showed the jars to be from about 5 BC.

He said the latest pottery find could be much older because of the cruder method used in the pottery as well as the human forms on the jars. But, further studies are needed to establish the real origins of the latest finds, he added.

"We have no idea where these artifacts come from because the people who were trying to smuggle them out from the area could not tell us where exactly they found those materials. But, I am sure the materials are not fake."

Rene Miguel Dominguez, governor of Sarangani province, said they were told the latest pottery was found near Palembang town, a coastal area in the adjacent Sultan Kudarat province where Muslim rebels are very active.

Rare and unique
Archaeologists have uncovered late stone-age weapons, pottery and other artifacts in digs in the region.

"(But) Anthropomorphic pottery is seldom seen in this part of the world," Dizon said.

Angel Bautista, head of the National Museum's cultural property division, said the government wanted the new discovery to be declared a "national treasure," but further investigations were needed to establish provenance.

Dizon said it was important for archaeology experts to inspect the places where the pottery was found and examine the "primary data" that might reveal valuable information about what could be one of the earliest sites of human habitation in the country.

However, the museum lacked the resources to embark on a major exploration in an area where there has been sporadic fighting between troops and the country's largest Islamic rebel group.

Dominguez said some areas where the pottery was suspected to have been found were controlled by Muslim rebels that demand huge sums of money to allow further archaeological exploration work.

"These pottery pieces are part of our pre-historic history and the government must do everything to protect the site where these materials were found," he said.

Apart from rebels and lawless groups active in the areas, archaeologists may have to race against antiquity dealers and treasure hunters as the artifacts could fetch millions of pesos on the black market.

"We could learn more about our past from this pottery, but first we need to preserve and protect the areas from where these materials have been found," he added.


© 2008 MSNBC.com

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Teaser Trailer

International teaser trailer for Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince shows all new footage. As Harry begins his sixth year at Hogwarts, Lord Voldemort wreaks havoc throughout Britain, and the pressure to defeat him grows stronger. Using an old Potions book which previously belonged to the "Half-Blood Prince," Harry is able to increase his magical knowledge and prepare for battle. First, however, he must help Dumbledore discover the secret to Voldemort's quest for immortality -- the location of his Horcruxes. But the quest for the Horcruxes and the resulting battle at Hogwarts produce More Trailer Details


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