Zazzle Shop

Screen printing

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Woman Shouts "Heil Hitler!" At Jewish Man Praising Israel's National Health System (VIDEO)

Dear God. This is the way America is now. Some conservative radio host stages a "town hall" meeting in Las Vegas. The local news reports that it "was a packed house, full of opinions and no shortage of passion." How passionate? How does some dumb lady, yelling anti-Semitic slurs at another man grab you?

Media Monitor Jon, who holds it down daily on YouTube at NewsPoliticsNews, has the completely depressing clip, which shows an Israeli man holding forth on the virtues of Israel's health care system, which is "universal and compulsory, and is administered by a small number of organizations with funding from the government." I have no basis to judge its merits -- in 2000, the World Health Organization ranked it as the 28th best in the world. That said, let me sum up the countering argument, proferred by another town hall attendee: "Heil Hitler!"

That's right! Some idiot woman yells "Heil Hitler" at a Jewish man who was doing nothing more than being a passionate advocate for Israeli health care. The man, quite naturally, goes completely apoplectic, saying "Shame on you" over and over again. The woman counters by saying, "Well, you ought to be the most against President Obama." The poor man responds by saying, "I want to talk, not against Obama or for Obama. I want to talk about [health care]." He goes on to describe his own experiences with high-cost health care. For his efforts, the woman mocks him some more!

As ThinkProgress points out today, "Conservatives have strenuously denied that there is any anti-Semitism on display by anti-health reform protesters at town hall meetings nationwide." Those denials are no longer tenable, are they?

UPDATE: Various sources maintain that this awful woman is wearing an Israeli Defense Forces t-shirt, which is precisely the level of coherence we've come to expect from these Town Hall twits.

[Would you like to follow me on Twitter? Because why not? Also, please send tips to -- learn more about our media monitoring project here.]

Purdue Scientists Develop 'Self-Cleaning' Coatings that Repel Oil

WASHINGTON, DC — Purdue scientists working with polymers say they've developed "eco-friendly coatings" that can be applied in industrial and household settings to create surfaces that resist oil and can be cleaned with plain water, reducing the need for heavy duty detergents or solvents.

Jeffrey Youngblood, an assistant professor of Materials Engineering at Purdue University, provided a media briefing on the project yesterday at the 238th National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Washington, D.C.

The polymer coatings, which can be applied to surfaces including glass and concrete, are 20,000 times thinner than a human hair and have two key layers: A bottom layer of polyethylene glycol, which attracts water, and an upper layer of a Teflon-like molecule that repels oil.

So when oil, whether in a machine shop or a kitchen, comes in contact with a concrete floor or a countertop coated with the substance, the surface resists the oil while attracting the water, said Youngblood in his presentation, which was videotaped.

"Water will just completely remove the oil, you don't need any soap," he said. "You prevent soaps from getting into the environment."

The substance can also be used to prevent fogging either by coating a surface with it or adding it to a product.

A graduate student added the substance to a glass cleaner and sprayed it on half his bathroom mirror, then the researchers turned on the shower taps and left the room. When they returned about 20 minutes later, half the mirror was fogged over, the other half was clear, said Youngblood, who also applied an early version of the stuff to his dive mask.

"It worked better than the commercial defogger, but not as good as spit," he said, adding that the formula has improved since.

So far the team has used glass, metals, ceramics, aluminum and cement as substrates. Youngblood said the researchers are also interested in the substance's application with plastics, nylon, resins and wood. In addition, they're looking into use of the material and fabrics to make the textiles stain resistant.

Youngblood said the coatings may be commercially available in a few years.

The role of polymers in the cleaning process is also being developed by scientists in the United Kingdom.

Earlier this year at the international Clean Show 2009 in New Orleans, researchers from the University of Leeds, who formed a cleaning company startup called Xeros Ltd., and Cambridge Consultants rolled out a proof-of-concept washing machine that launders clothes with reusable nylon polymer beads and cuts water consumption by as much as 90 percent.

In the Xeros model, the nylon polymer beads are released into a load of wash that has been slightly dampened to create steam, which in turn activates polarizing properties in the polymer beads that then bind to -- or capture -- dirt and stains.

Image by Aldridged,, via the American Chemical Society

Is the favorite in the women's 800m actually a man?

The favorite in the women's 800m at the world track championships will run under suspicion that she's actually a man.

After bursting onto the scene with the world's fastest time three weeks ago at a junior meet, South Africa's Caster Semenya, 18, has been dogged by gender-swapping accusations. She will undergo complex gender testing (it's not as easy as you'd think) after her race tonight, but the results won't be available for a few weeks. Semenya had the fastest qualifying time of the eight competitors.

South African officials have acknowledged the controversy, but are standing by Semenya. Molatelo Malehopo, general manager of Athletics South Africa, told UK's Daily Mail:

"She is a female. We are completely sure about that and we wouldn't have entered her into the female competition if we had any doubts.

We have not been absent-minded, we are very sure of her gender. We are aware of the claims that have been made but our aim at the moment is to prepare Caster for the race this evening."

It's nothing new for a great female athlete to be accused of being a man. Babe Didrikson, perhaps the greatest sportswoman of all-time, was constantly being hounded by such slurs. And it's also not unheard of for a man to compete as a woman.

But despite the breathless reports from British and Australian newspapers, there doesn't seem to be any concrete evidence that Semenya is actually a man other than the fact that she runs really fast, has a defined physique and doesn't have the most feminine of features.

It's interesting that the speculation immediately turned to gender rather than steroids, as the latter would be a more logical way to cheat. Normally when athletes lower their personal bests by wide margins, the talk immediately turns toward doping. Not in this case.

And if Semenya was actually a man, wouldn't he/she try to do more to look like a woman? I mean, I've seen Tootsie. Dustin Hoffman didn't go into that TV studio with a buzz cut and form-fitting pants. He put on a dress, teased the hair and wore nail polish and makeup. He sold it. If Semenya was trying to switch genders, wouldn't there be some more effort to glam it up?

The whole thing is pretty insulting and I feel bad for the 18-year old that is getting dragged through this. Maybe she's a he. If that's proven, then I'll be first in line to criticize. But right now there's nothing to suggest that there's anything nefarious going on other than the jealous whispers of competitors.

Global Ocean Temperatures for July 2009 Break Records

by Jennifer Lance in Saving Water

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), July 2009 was the hottest month on record for the average global ocean surface temperature. The previous record was broken in 1998. When combined with global land surface temperatures, July 2009 was the fifth warmest month since data collection began in 1880.

July 2009 ocean temperatures break records.

July 2009 ocean temperatures break records.

The New York Times describes NOAA’s briefing:

The agency said the average sea surface temperature was 1.06 degrees higher than the 20th-century average of 61.5 degrees. Though July was unusually cool in some areas, like the eastern United States, analysts at the NOAA Climate Data Center said the combined global land and ocean surface temperature was 1.03 degrees higher than the 20th-century average of 60.4 degrees, the fifth warmest since worldwide record keeping began in 1880.

Specifically, NOAA reports the “Notable Developments and Events” responsible for the increased warming:

  • El Niño persisted across the equatorial Pacific Ocean during July 2009. Related sea-surface temperature (SST) anomalies increased for the sixth consecutive month.
  • Arctic sea ice covered an average of 3.4 million square miles during July. This is 12.7 percent below the 1979-2000 average extent and the third lowest July sea ice extent on record, behind 2007 and 2006. Antarctic sea ice extent in July was 1.5 percent above the 1979-2000 average. July Arctic sea ice extent has decreased by 6.1 percent per decade since 1979, while July Antarctic sea ice extent has increased by 0.8 percent per decade over the same period.
  • Cooler-than-average conditions prevailed across southern South America, central Canada, the eastern United States, and parts of western and eastern Asia. The most notably cool conditions occurred across the eastern U.S., central Canada, and southern South America where region-wide temperatures were nearly 4-7 degrees F (2-4 degrees C) below average.
  • Large portions of many continents had substantially warmer-than-average temperatures during July 2009. The greatest departures from the long-term average were evident in Europe, northern Africa, and much of western North America. Broadly, across these regions, temperatures were about 4-7 degrees F (2-4 degrees C) above average.

Some scientists suspect a link between global warming and El Niño. Kevin Trenberth, a National Center for Atmospheric Research climatologist, believes that during periods of global warming, the “ocean currents and weather systems might not be able to bleed off all the heat pumped into the tropical seas.” Under such a scenario, El Niño acts as a “pressure release valve” for this excess heat.

All of the “Notable Developments and Events” could all be attributed to climate change.

Barney Frank Confronts Woman At Townhall Comparing Obama To Hitler

At a Barney Frank town hall meeting in Dartmouth, MA, a constituent asks, "Why are you supporting this Nazi policy?"

Frank responds: "On what planet do you spend most of your time?" He then calls her approach "vile, contemptible nonsense." He closes by saying: "Trying to have a conversation with you would be like arguing with a dining room table."

Meet the coywolf - Hybrid Coyote/Wolf

Wolves and coyotes are interbreeding to create an animal that has the pack-hunting instinct of wolves and the fearlessness of coyotes.

A newly emerging species is behind the brazen attacks in Durham

Urban Affairs Reporter

Is it a coyote? Is it a wolf?

Yes and yes. It's a "coywolf."

The predators that are plaguing Durham Region and showing up in urban areas appear to be an emerging species resulting from wolves and coyotes interbreeding.

The larger, highly adaptable animals "have the wolf characteristics of pack hunting and aggression and the coyote characteristics of lack of fear of human-developed areas," says Trent University geneticist Bradley White, who's been studying the hybrids for 12 years.

We're seeing "evolution in action," he says.

But that combination of genetic material from both species has spelled trouble for farmers, who are losing a growing number of livestock to predators.

They report attacks by animals that are bigger, bolder and smarter than regular coyotes. They say hunting in packs to prey on sheep and cattle in broad daylight is becoming a common behaviour.

Durham Region farmers have suffered the most damage to livestock in the province. Last year the food and agriculture ministry paid out a total compensation of $168,000 in the region for 545 dead or injured animals.

Commonly called eastern coyotes, the creatures are actually a mixture of western coyote and eastern wolf that comes from a constantly evolving gene pool, says White, chair and professor of biology in Peterborough.

Going back 100 years, deforestation, wolf control programs and changing habitat, ecosystems and prey conspired to drive down the wolf population. Meanwhile, the number of coyotes – whose original range was in western North America – grew, thanks to their ability to adapt and reproduce with ease. The two species started to interbreed, White explains.

"In many ways, this animal is a creation of human impact on the planet," says White.

Although the coywolf hybrid has only recently been verified through genetic research, White believes they started appearing in southern Algonquin Park back in the 1920s.

Colleague Paul Wilson, a wildlife genetics specialist, says the genetic gumbo from which coywolves emerge produces some that are more wolf-like, while others have more coyote characteristics. But they're definitely bigger.

"Some of these are 80-pound animals, double the size of a typical coyote that used to be 40 pounds."

But there's no cause for alarm, says John Pisapio, a wildlife biologist with the Ministry of Natural Resources, which is studying the role of coyotes and wolves in the ecosystem.

Hybrids may be larger but there's no evidence the population as a whole is more aggressive or prone to aberrant behaviour, he says.

He agrees predation on livestock is a concern – they do kill sheep and smaller animals – but insists attacks on cattle are unusual.

"As a biologist I find it hard to explain how a coyote brings down a 900-pound steer."

In some cases, coyotes might just be feeding on an animal that died from other causes, he says.

The population growth is a natural upswing following a mange epidemic that wiped out big numbers eight or nine years ago, he adds.

Pisapio says instances of fearlessness or brazen attacks are usually the result of coyotes that have come to associate food with people and lose their natural fear of humans.

That belief is echoed by Johnny, "The Critter Gitter," who didn't want his last name used because people don't like that he kills problem wildlife for a living.

"I kill coyotes. I don't sugarcoat it," he says.

But he feels sympathy for them.

"Humans are to blame for making monsters of them," he says. Coyotes are attracted by pet food and garbage left lying around in urban areas, and deadstock on farms.

They're not all bad and often get the blame when dogs kill livestock, he says. Johnny also doubts they're making a regular meal of cattle. During the 30 years he's worked in the province, he's seen only a few cases of "large, healthy animals taken down by coyotes."

But as coywolves become more urbanized and their relationship with people continues to evolve, city dwellers can expect problems, says White, suggesting a control program may be needed at some point.

"They will clearly bump into human activities, and there will be pets eaten in Rouge Valley."

Old PC Holding You Back?

Laptops are helping more people do more of what they love in more places around the world.

That’s what we learned while collecting stories and footage from the UC Berkeley campus, Malaysia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. We mixed those stories with data collected by Intel computer performance engineers.

In this video:

  • HD playing on a new vs. a three-year older laptop
  • Editing high quality video at home or even the beach
  • Recording and mixing music at home, a club or with other DJ live over the Internet
  • A college field hockey coach helping students become well rounded adults with the help of her laptop and digital video camera

Today, high quality HD video and television shows are being served up to computers from ever more Internet sites like Hulu, Disney, Fancast,, and the networks ABC, CBS and NBC. Not only are they all offering Internet HD video, many people (myself included and each of our Intel Insiders) are creating HD videos and uploading them to various video sites.

If you go to NASA’s site be prepared for an HD video experience. And it is not limited to watching. New laptops and desktops are empowering people to do things with rich media they could never do before. But if you got your PC three years ago, that would mean it was built in 2005, before the onslaught of online HD video and the rise of sites like YouTube and Facebook

Intel engineers put older and new computers to the test, and here’s what we learned:

  • Compared to most Intel-powered laptops from 2005, a newer laptop from 2009 powered by an Intel Core processor can help you do more things, faster
  • The 2009 laptop can multitask better and perform up to two times better,
  • play HD internet TV shows, and can convert photos into videos as much as three-times faster than the 2006 laptop

Here is a place to learn about the latest Intel consumer technologies being used by PC makers around the world. If you’re interested in the sources for the old vs. new computer comparisons, check out the Intel performance site.

My Anecdotal Home Tests

At home, I have one desktop that is four years old. It helped my wife get through her PH.D program at UC Berkeley. But for the past few months, she feared that the computer was on its last leg, about to croak. I saw her trying to surf and watch videos on FanCast, the Comcast landing page. It worked, but it was painful watching her move from one video to another and then move to searching on Google, even when connected to the fastest home service Comcast offers.

I checked, and my two year laptop doesn’t choke like our old desktop. One other proof point for me is that my one-year-old MacBook is way better at editing video, photos and multitasking than my two year-old laptop.

I’ve been buying computers since 1986, and I’ve always tried buying one that will last at least three or four years. My first computers seemed to last four or five year, especially with a little memory upgrade. It seems now computers are getting much better much faster, so around the third year, I notice my patience wearing thin as computer begins bogging down when I’m working several browser tabs and other applications running at the same time.

I have a few four year old laptops I keep around, but they’re my clunkers for the kids to play with — they’re slower and just not as trusted as my newer laptops.

On the other end, I actually look forward to turning on my 2008 MacBook and quickly diving into my video editing and social media sharing.

I have heard that something like 2 out of every 5 or 6 consumer computers being used by consumers today are three years old or older — “over the hill” and possibly holding back their owners from fully enjoying the media-rich experience that today’s Internet offers.

Maybe some of these older PC are considered collector items by their owners. Or they’re waiting for the right time to buy that right model with specific mix of technologies inside and out.

7 New Wineries Open in Indiana

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) -- The recession doesn't seem to have hurt Indiana's wine industry.

The Indiana Wine Grape Council says seven new wineries opened this year across Indiana and seven more are expected to start up in the coming year. The new wineries give Indiana 43 commercial wineries and more than 400 acres of grapes.

Grape council marketing director Jeanette Merritt says it's an exciting time for Indiana wine lovers to see so many new wineries open in such a short time.

The new businesses are D'Avella Family Winery in Granger; Madison County Winery in Markleville; J&J Winery in Richmond; Blue Heron Winery in Cannelton; River City Winery in New Albany; Scout Mountain Winery in Corydon, and Wine Shak Vineyard in Tell City.

© 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Spiderman Lizard

9 Burning Questions Answered by Howard Stern's Tarantino Interview

We thought it couldn’t get any more revealing than when he shared the fact that his favorite movie of the past 17 years is the underrated Woody Allen gem, American Pie Presents: Little Stifflers, but Quentin Tarantino’s all-access media assault in support of Inglourious Basterds continues, making a stopover yesterday at Howard Stern’s Sirius studios. And in typical Stern style, the disarming radio host coaxed more out of the genre-obsessed auteur than any interviewer to come before. David Carradine’s final gasps; sexual attraction to Kathy Griffin; his thing about feet: they hit it all. We run down the most fascinating for you now, with much help from the Internet’s leading Stern summarizer,

1. How did Eli Roth get a part in a Tarantino movie?

“Howard asked why he cast Eli Roth, who used to sit outside his door on the set of Private Parts, instead of casting him in a part. Quentin told Howard he does a great Boston accent so that’s why he got Eli in there.”

2. For a man so obsessed with death and dying in his films, how well does he handle the subject in his real life?

“Howard asked Quentin about John Travolta and if he called him to talk to him about his son dying. Quentin said that he didn’t hear about it right after it happened. He was over in Germany and he still hasn’t called the guy to talk to him. He said that he’s very immature about that kind of thing.”

3. Did Tarantino really bed America’s most beloved faghag comediennes (not including Joan Rivers)?

“Howard read that Quentin had made out with Kathy Griffin. Quentin said that he didn’t have sex with her but he did make out with her. Howard asked him about Margaret Cho and doing her. Quentin said that she is pretty crazy and she talks a lot about sex. Howard asked if she was the best he had ever had. Quentin said no to that.”

4. How much did Brad Pitt make on Inglourious Basterds?

“He said that he didn’t have a ton of money to pay the guy but he thinks that he paid Brad something like $9 million for this.”

5. Pitt recently told Bill Maher he no longer smokes weed, for the kids’ sake. Was he telling the truth?

“Quentin said that things eventually ended and he went to his hotel. He said that Brad had this big brick of hash and he was going to give him some for the night. He said that Brad whipped out a knife and cut up a big sliver for him and the stuff was pretty good. He said that he asked for a pipe to go with it and Brad handed him a Coke can to use instead. Quentin said that would make for a great scene in a movie and he may have to use that.”

6. What legendary rock album was recorded in a studio on Pitt’s estate?

“Quentin said he and Brad didn’t just talk about the movie. They were all going around the property in a dune buggy type of thing and they all checked out the property. He said that the kids got in it and they had to drive around to see the huge vineyard that they were at. He said that they have a recording studio on the property that was the one where Pink Floyd recorded ”The Wall.’”

7. Why does Lindsay Lohan still refer to Eli as “Ernie” every time she sees him?

“Howard asked about Eli Roth again and talked about how he met him at Lindsay Lohan’s house. Quentin said it wasn’t quite like that. He said that they were at a club and met and Lindsay asked them if they wanted to go back to her house for a party. Quentin said that Lindsay thought that Eli was his assistant so he was telling her that it was actually his younger brother Ernie Tarantino.”

8. So, what are Q.T.’s thoughts on what really killed Bill?

“Quentin said that he has thought about the auto erotic asphyxiation but he has never done it. He said that he brought it up with some girls and they wanted to go through with it. He said he had second thoughts about it after they said yes. Howard asked Quentin if he was shocked that Carradine was into that. Quentin said that he’s not sure that was the case but for the sake of the conversation, he thinks that’s fucking bad ass. He said he went out great as far as he’s concerned. Howard said that he thinks differently. He said that guy was Kill Bill and Kung Fu and he went out like that and it wasn’t cool in his opinion.”

9. And finally, could Tarantino expand on the specifics of his foot fetish? Is it a toe thing? A heel thing? A heel-toe step-ball-change thing?

“Howard asked Quentin about his foot fetish. Quentin said he doesn’t have a fetish but he does like the lower end of the female body. Howard asked if he’s really into feet. Quentin said that he likes feet and legs.”


The Magic of Disneyland 1956

This is one my favorite clips in the past couple of months.

Based on the videos description on Vimeo, Jeff Altman, an aspiring colorist at a local Chicago production house, inherited a bunch of 16mm from his grandparents.

While going through all of the footage, he struck gold. He found some priceless footage that his grandparents recorded at Disneyland in only its second year of the parks operation, on the retired 16mm Kodachrome film stock. Of course, the most amazing part is that Jeff unearthed some footage of his Grandmother actually meeting Walt Disney himself! How cool is that?

Beyond the story behind the footage, the transfer and coloring of the footage look fantastic! It really brings the magic of the moment to life.

Home Movies At DisneyLand - 1956 from Jeff Altman on Vimeo.

B.C. university introduces grade worse than F

BY: Darcy Wintonyk,

CTV British Columbia

It used to be that the worst grade you could receive in school was an F, and that was bad enough.

But B.C.'s Simon Fraser University is taking punishment to a whole new level, introducing a grade of FD -- meaning failure with dishonesty -- the worst possible grade a student can receive.

Dr. Rob Gordon, director of criminology at SFU and acting chair of the senate committee on academic integrity, says the new grading is intended to curtail cheating using the internet.

"What used to be a lot of cheating in libraries has changed quite significantly," he told

"We now have to be concerned about cheating during exams with high-tech devices and the inappropriate use of internet sources and downloading, including online companies offering services to students that promote academic dishonesty."

University department chairs can impose the FD grade if they feel the incident warrants a severe penalty, or if the student has landed themselves in academic hot water in the past.

"They only use this grade in particularly egregious cases of dishonestly or in cases when they've committed acts of dishonesty several times and haven't learned from their lesson," Gordon said.

The mark, which has yet to be used in its introductory semester, will stay on the student's transcripts for two years after graduation.

"It's more than a fail, it's a failure with a particular reason that is publicly announced that may well be seen by potential employers."

Some students say it's unfair to carry that stigma into the working world.

"Two years loss of your life that is a bit too far," Olid Amid said.

B.C.’s Simon Fraser University has introduced a grade of FD -- failure with dishonesty – to address cheating. August 12, 2009.

B.C.’s Simon Fraser University has introduced a grade of FD -- failure with dishonesty – to address cheating. August 12, 2009.

But although some consider the new grading heavy handed, others say the punishment is just in a time where internet cheating is increasing at Canadian post-secondary institutions.

"A student would seriously need to re-evaluate their intentions at university and what they are hoping to get out of it," University of Alberta student Patrice Strate said.

"It makes it a lot easier for those of us who don't cheat to get good grades and to not worry about the people who are cheating," student John Aubrey said.

The University of Alberta's Frank Robinson says students should have an opportunity to redeem themsevles after incidents of academic dishonesty. August 12, 2009.

The University of Alberta's Frank Robinson says students should have an opportunity to redeem themsevles after incidents of academic dishonesty. August 12, 2009.

The University of Alberta uses a similar system where cheaters are given an F8 or F9 grade, which is reduced to an F after three years.

Robert Gordon, a professor at Simon Fraser University's department of criminology

SFU professor Dr. Robert Gordon says the FD grading will address high-tech cheating and repeat offenders. August 12, 2009.

"In our case we give the students a chance to redeem themselves," Dean of Students Frank Robinson said.

"[In] three years they can graduate and have a clean record and get on with life."

Marblehead uncovers letter from rising star

Future VP wrote missive in 1775

By Jazmine Ulloa Globe Correspondent / August 19, 2009

MARBLEHEAD - Tucked among mundane file documents in the damp basement of Abbot Hall, historical commissioners have found a little piece from the 18th century, a letter dated Sept. 19, 1775.

Addressed to “ye Selectmen of Marblehead in Town,’’ the historic missive was from Elbridge Gerry, who would go on to serve as a US vice president and as governor of Massachusetts.

On a sheet of ivory rag paper, Gerry wrote to the town board to accept his seat at the Continental Congress, amid growing revolutionary fervor and only years before he became a political bigwig. Jackie Belf-Becker, today’s chairwoman of the Board of Select men, said she felt a sense of pride in the discovery.

“I am actually in awe,’’ Belf-Becker said. “You get a sense of the continuity of life and politics.’’

Gerry had retreated from the public sphere a year before the letter was written, when as representative of the General Court in Marblehead, he supported smallpox isolation and clashed with popular opinion, said Peter Drummey, a librarian at the Massachusetts Historical Society. But he could not stick to the sidelines for long in the events leading up to the Revolution and soon began his ascent into political prominence, Drummey said.

The Marblehead native signed the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and served as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention in 1787, refusing to sign the original Constitution because it lacked a bill of rights. He became governor in 1810 and later reached his political peak serving as vice president under James Madison, until his death on Nov. 23, 1814.

But not all of his contributions have been grandiose.

Though he did not invent it, the term “Gerrymandering,’’ or the redrawing of district lines to favor a political party, rose from his name (though it is actually pronounced with a hard “G’’).

Still, the ardent war patriot deserves a place among the country’s founding fathers, Drummey said, though today he might not be as famed as John Adams or Thomas Jefferson.

“You could not have invented a life like the one this man led, so to find new documents about it is wonderful,’’ he said. “Every new piece of information adds to the story.’’

Historical Commissioners Wayne Butler and P. Chris Johnston stumbled upon the letter about two weeks ago, as they cleaned out a small room in the basement of Abbot Hall in preparation for the historic, red brick building’s restoration, Butler said. It was packed into one of the five metal cabinets in the room, which hold receipts, lists of stockholders, and other town documents that date back to the 1800s.

But there might be other golden finds between the folders with labels like, “Gas Electric Vouchers.’’ Butler and Johnston also discovered former Governor John Hancock’s stylish signature in another letter dispensing state funds. The commission is deciding whether to put the Gerry letter on display.

Before their discovery, Butler had ventured into the cramped cellar room only once in his seven years of volunteering at the commission. Now the history buff and voracious reader can be found down there daily, rummaging through the documents and taking them up to his office on the second floor to catalog them.

One cabinet drawer, he estimated, holds up to 35,000 individual documents, and all five might hold up to 80,000.

“If I worked five hours a day, I would be 110 years old by the time I finished sorting through all of them,’’ said Butler, who is 77 and a retired boat builder. “I might get me some help down here so I don’t have to survive until then.’’

20 Fall Movies We Can't Wait to See

Click here for the list:,,20298028,00.html

Shared via AddThis

How Sam Adams Helped Save Craft Brewing

BY Ellen McGirt

Making and drinking beer is serious business, says Boston Beer Founder, Jim Koch. But he's just as serious about doing right by his neighbors and his band of craft brewing brothers.


Of all the nonsense metrics I like to use to measure brand strength, the most fun is my Facebook status update. By that shaky yardstick, I'd hit a deep wellspring of brand loyalty when I posted that I'd spent the day at Fast Company HQ drinking beer with Jim Koch, the beloved founder of the Boston Beer Company, maker of Boston's finest brew, Samuel Adams.

The flood of Sam Adams drinking stories, jealous outbursts and requests for beer was immediate and enthusiastic. Conclusion: This is a product with unusual consumer engagement profile and a tenacious brand appeal. (The response had nothing to do with the beer-soaked company I keep.)

Koch is no empty keg. He comes from a long line of brewmasters, sports a double Harvard degree and gave up a lucrative career in consulting to do something incredibly risky that he knew would make him happy. Brewing beer. And now, it's made him very, very successful. With Anheuser-Busch's 2008 takeover by Brazilian behemoth InBev, The Boston Beer Company has become the largest American owned brewery in the United States, and at one million barrels per year, the largest craft brewer. In the process, Koch has become a TV icon nearly as cool as the Clydesdales.

In between beer tastings, Koch walked us through the history of the business, as well as his unique take on philanthropy--and the unusual steps he took to keep fellow craft brewers in business during a recent worldwide shortage of hops.

Video by Michael Shick

New Computer Techniques Developed To Analyze Historic Hebrew And Arabic Documents

ScienceDaily (Aug. 17, 2009) — Researchers at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU) will combine the scientific and scholarly expertise of their humanities and computer science experts in a new project to analyze degraded Hebrew documents.

The effort to develop new computer algorithms combines BGU's scientific expertise in computer vision, computer graphics, image processing and computational geometry with the scholarly expertise of historians and liturgy scholars to provide valuable answers regarding Jewish liturgical texts and Arabic historical texts that advance scholarship in these fields.

The technical goal of the research is to develop new state of the art algorithms for analyzing text and combine them into an easy to operate, open source system of tools to aid historical document research throughout the world.

Experiments are being conducted on degraded documents from sources such as the Cairo Geniza, copies of which are located at the national liturgy project at BGU, the El-Aqsa manuscript library in Jerusalem and the Al-Azar manuscript library in Cairo.

Most fragments that have been discovered at the Geniza are now in libraries at Cambridge and Oxford universities, the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, The British Library and in Israel and Paris.

Until now the documents have not been researched systematically. Prof. Uri Ehrlich of the Goldstein-Goren Department of Jewish Thought is the head of the Prayer Research Project at BGU. He explains that, "There was one book that was originally used as a Hebrew prayer book from the 12th century, but had been scratched off, and the parchment used to write an Arabic text (called a palimpsest).

"Our aim was to read the first book and not the second book. So we needed to find out how the Arab book could disappear and would leave only the Hebrew letters of the original book. This is why the computer sciences and humanities departments at BGU decided to collaborate."

"To solve the problem, we created an algorithm to cover the text in a dark grey color, which then highlights lighter colored pixels as background space and identifies the darker pixels as outlining the original Hebrew lettering," said Prof. Klara Kedem of the Department of Computer Sciences and one of the system's creators.

Many of the new methods will apply to other languages as well, including binarization of highly degraded documents (converting up to 256 grey colors to black and white to facilitate digitization), segmentation of skewed and curved lines and word spotting in both curved and highly degraded documents.

Other algorithms will be more language specific, such as paleographic analysis of Hebrew and Arabic historical documents that will include automatic indexing of document collections, determining authorship, location and date of the documents.

The research is being funded by the Israel Science Foundation (ISF). Prof. Ehrlich and other BGU scholars in the humanities will be among those to evaluate the system to be built by Prof. Klara Kedem and Dr. Jihad El-Sana of the Department of Computer Sciences and Prof. Emeritus Tsiki Dinstein from Electrical Engineering.

The group is part of the emerging global effort to understand, manipulate and archive historical documents so that they are available to researchers in paleography, archaeology and historical research.

American Associates, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2009, August 17). New Computer Techniques Developed To Analyze Historic Hebrew And Arabic Documents. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 19, 2009, from­ /releases/2009/08/090814165305.htm

Gargantuan NOAH 'Ark' Proposed to New Orleans with Straight Face

By Mark Wilson

How do you know when your building plan has gotten unnecessarily crazy and pretentious? When it's named after a Biblical figure who was fabled to save life as we know it...that might be a clue.

NOAH (New Orleans Arcology Habitat) is a massive, 1200-foot city within a building that's hurricane-proof and can actually float (don't worry, it's tethered to something or other). Conceptualized through a mind trust of three architectural firms, green (wind, solar and water) energies would help power the structure's 20,000 residences, 1,000,000 square feet of commercial space, school, hospital and, just for fun, 3 casinos.

On one hand, this floating triangle seems like nothing less than a feat of modern engineering, a clever idea that's both structurally sound and handy in an emergency. On the other, have we given up so much on New Orleans that architects should abandon existing infrastructure altogether? If culture and way of life are not things we're looking to preserve, then why not just tell residents to move and be done with it?

[Yanko via DVICE]

CRISTAL combines 'The Sims' and Surface for full room control

Have you ever yearned for more immediate control over your surroundings? No, we don't mean Magneto car-flipping abilities. We mean more like wrangling all of the gear in a room into some kind of understandable and connected system. If you said yes -- and you're a Sims aficionado -- you'll want to check into CRISTAL. We're not talking expensive champagne here, we're talking about the "Control of Remotely Interfaced Systems using Touch-based Actions in Living spaces" system (c'mon, it sort of makes sense). The premise is simple: instead of having to juggle multiple remotes and input systems to deal with a room full of technology, CRISTAL merges a Surface-like touch area (your coffee table in this scenario), an overhead camera, and connected devices to form a frighteningly intuitive control scheme. The idea allows for all sorts of handy arrangements, like being able to virtually drag media from a server on one side of the room to your TV on the other, dim lights in a particular area by swiping on that location, or draw a path for a Roomba to clean using the overhead view. Right now this is just a research project, of course, but the team working on the concept believes costs could move down from the astronomic $10,000-$15,000 the setup would cost now to a more affordable range. Until that happens, you'll have the video of CRISTAL in action after the break.

The 10 Hottest Girls From Quentin Tarantino Films

Critics often praise Quentin Tarantino for his edgy screenplays and directing technique, which is cool and all, but we’ve always respected the guy for casting so many hot women his movies. Seriously, the dude has a resume chock-full of beauties, and his latest flick Inglourious Basterds passes the sexy baton to Diane Kruger . Sure, D.K. is the latest and greatest attractive woman to star in a a Tarantino flick, but how does she stack up to other stunners the filmmaker has casted? Read on for a countdown of the 10 hottest girls from Tarantino films.


#10: Diane Kruger
FILM: Inglourious Basterds
ROLE: Bridget von Hammersmark
• The movie isn’t even out yet, but this German beauty has us copping pre-sale tickets.


#9: Pam Grier
FILM: Jackie Brown
ROLE: Jackie Brown
• Some say Grier hit her prime in the ’70s, but her snappy attitude, tight stewardess outfit, and our unfulfilled cougar fantasies made us love her in this role. The twos are forever.


#8: Patricia Arquette
FILM: True Romance
ROLE: Alabama Whitman
• We’d go on a cocaine-fueled run from the mafia with her on our arm any day.


#7: Vivica A. Fox
FILM: Kill Bill: Vol. 1
ROLE: Vernita Green
Fox didn’t get much screen time with this role, but seeing her all bloody and sweaty in the opening fight scene brought out our inner sadist. Too weird? Whatevs.


#6: Lucy Liu
FILM: Kill Bill: Vol. 1
ROLE: O-Ren Ishii
• Ah, our favorite chick from the Deadly Vipers squad. We’d love to stick her with our Hattori Hanzo sword, if you know what we mean.



#5: Bridget Fonda
FILM: Jackie Brown
ROLE: Melanie Ralston
• She tossed a fuck Robert DeNiro’s way when his character got out of jail only for him to shoot her in a mall parking lot later on for running her mouth too much. Sounds like one of our ex-girlfriends.


#4: Chiaki Kuriyama
FILM: Kill Bill: Vol. 1
ROLE: Gogo Yubari
• This little assassin will probably merk you after smashing, but we wouldn’t mind going out with a bang.


#3: Uma Thurman
FILM: Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill
ROLE: Mia Wallace, Beatrix Kiddo
• Tarantino knows how to shoot this woman, because Uma has never looked hotter than she did in these two movies. Period.


#2: Rosario Dawson
FILM: Death Proof
ROLE: Abernathy
• There’s no movie where Rosario doesn’t look hot, but the potty-mouthed, ass-kicking lady she played in this flick really did it for us.


#1: Salma Hayek
FILM: From Dusk Till Dawn
ROLE: Santanico Pandemonium
• Tarantino gave Hayek one of her first major looks with this role (which he wrote), and she gave us scenes to masturbate to over a decade later. Win/win.