Don't Move On.......StaggerON!
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Otherworldly Photos From Inside One of the World's Largest River Caves
Deep in Laos lies a four mile-long river cave—an underground cache filled with 65-foot stalagmites, gigantic rimpools, cave pearls and even (gulp) giant spiders. Though it opened to tourists in 2005, Tham Khoun Xe's location is so remote and the cave's watery interior so extensive (with occasional underground rapids blocking the way), few have explored it.
For photographer Ryan Deboodt, Tham Khoun Xe's inaccessibility offered a tantalizing challenge. Deboodt has spent a good portion of the last five years underground documenting caves, which are among the world’s least-documented geological formations.
Some speleologists estimate that at least half of the world's caves have never been visited by humans.
At first, Deboodt didn't plan on devoting his career to photographing caves: He just wanted to explore them. The Bejing-based photographer first began documenting his otherworldly subjects in 2011, when his wife’s job took the couple to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Their move coincided with a deluge of caving discoveries in the region—most notably the exploration of Hang Son Ðoòng, the world’s largest cave passage. After coming face to face with some of these spectacular formations, Deboodt felt compelled to share these hidden landscapes with the world. More
Why smart people are better off with fewer friends
Hell might actually be other people — at least if you're really smart.
That's the implication of fascinating new research published last month in the British Journal of Psychology. Evolutionary psychologists Satoshi Kanazawa of the London School of Economics and Norman Li of Singapore Management University dig in to the question of what makes a life well-lived.
While traditionally the domain of priests, philosophers and novelists, in recent years survey researchers, economists, biologists and scientists have been tackling that question.
Kanazawa and Li theorize that the hunter-gatherer lifestyles of our ancient ancestors form the foundation for what make us happy now. "Situations and circumstances that would have increased our ancestors’ life satisfaction in the ancestral environment may still increase our life satisfaction today," they write. More
The Very Strange History of the Easter Bunny
While you’re biting the heads off your chocolate bunnies this weekend, you might wonder how cartoon rabbits became so central to our Easter celebrations. It’s tempting to assume that because there’s no biblical basis for the Easter Bunny, rabbits and hares have no religious significance – but that’s just not the case.
Leviticus 11:6 states that the hare is an unclean animal: “The hare, for even though it chews the cud, it does not have divided hoofs; it is unclean for you"”, but in Christian art, it is regularly associated with rebirth and resurrection.
In fact, the symbol of a circle of three hares joined by their ears has been found in a number of churches in Devon. Like much of our cultural “bunny” symbolism, the meaning of this image remains mysterious – and The Three Hares Project has been set up to research and document occurrences of the ancient symbol, examples of which have been found as far away as China. More
Why we get naked at Mardi Gras: simple economics, says LSU prof
Wesley Shrum, a sociologist at LSU, knows why we get naked at Mardi Gras. Well, maybe not you or me, but -- you know -- those people. Flashing for beads makes economic sense.
"It's a deeply conservative ritual that reflects free market economics," Shrum said.
Ok, let's back up for a moment.
At first, the way you got beads was from a float. Fake royalty threw beads to plebeians below.
"You don't have to be a very insightful sociologist to say, I wonder what people dressed like nobles and people on the streets represent," Shrum said. "That represents an upper class and a lower class." More
6 stunning Star Wars filming locations you can actually visit
Did Vikings love to wear BLING? Iron Age settlement reveals feared warriors had a soft spot for delicate glass and amber beads
They may have been better known for raping and pillaging their way around Europe, but it seems Vikings also liked to show off their hard-earned gold by adorning themselves with bling.
Archaeologists have discovered delicate blue glass and amber beads at the site of a former Viking settlement in the middle of Norway's Ørland peninsula.
The Iron Age site reveals how the Vikings who lived there appear to have traded their wealth for trinkets and pieces of fine jewellery.
The 1,500-year-old village was unearthed as experts investigated the site ahead of plans to extend a military airbase on the site. The airbase is being designed to accommodate a fleet of 52 new F-35 jet fighters. Covering an area of more than 22 acres (9 hectares), the site contains a treasure trove of Viking artefacts, according to the archaeologists. More
Zombie nativity creates stir in Sycamore Township
SYCAMORE TWP., OHIO -- Jasen Dixon is living a dream this holiday season. For some though, his unique take on the Christmas nativity may be a nightmare.
”I wanted a zombie scene actually, a manger scene,” Dixon said. “All I had to work with since I work at 13 Room Haunted House is zombies. It’s a different take. I hand made everything, but Joseph and baby Jesus, so it’s kind of artsy.”
Dixon’s homespun creation stands about 8 feet tall with a roof, hay, and lights, all atop wooden skids. Reaction to the display, located on Vorhees Road no less, has drawn some ire, and some shrugs. More
The Stunning Evolution of Millennials: They've Become the Ben Franklin Generation
AprilWealthfront - an online financial services start-up targeted squarely and unashamedly at Millennial wallets - raised $64 million last month.
That's on top of $35 million that venture firms plowed into the company earlier this year.
Every sweeping cliché about Millennials - that they are addicted to the itch and twitch of immediate gratification, that they are not interested in participating in the casino stock market - is being sent to the generalization graveyard.
Not just because of the success of Wealthfront - who has crossed $1 billion in assets under management - but also the growth of Betterment, LoanVest and others who have a hungering eye on the $7 trillion in liquid assets that Millennials will have in their generational clutches within the next five years.
What's particularly revelatory about the success of Wealthfront - they reached one billion in two-and half years, while it took Chuck Schwab six years to get there - is its canny use of technology and whizzy algorithms, the deities of the Millennial, in the service of a rather boring, long-term, Ben Frankliny investment conservatism. This is more often associated with people who need hip replacements than hipsterst. More
Automatically organic: Bringing customers not to future, but to farms via self-serve stores
PARIS - Diners in Paris are flashing back — and forward — to the era of the automat, but this time with a nod to organic farming.
A precursor to the era of fast food, automat eateries served hundreds of thousands of customers a day throughout the mid-20th century, allowing on-the-go diners to pick hot dishes from coin-operated metal lockers. Today, entrepreneurs in France and Scotland are appropriating the concept that once symbolized modernity to help customers get back to the land. Their automats offer not burgers and fries, but fresh and local produce and other ingredients.
Joseph Petit employs no staff at his two Paris stores. Both called Au Bout du Champ — "at the end of the field" — the small spaces are stacked with metal cubbies containing just-picked strawberries, hours-old eggs, and neat bunches of carrots or spring onions, depending on the season. Customers simply choose the box that contains the food they want to buy, then pay at a console which then opens the appropriate door.
It's a system, Petit said, that brings fresh food to urban areas where few other options exist, while also supporting local, small-scale agriculture. More
Back to the Future Day: the movie’s 2015 predictions and the hoax, explained
Back to the Future was content to travel from 1985 back to 1955, but Back to the Future Part II zipped every which way, just because it could. Writer/director Robert Zemeckis and co-writer Bob Gale went from 1985 to 2015, back to an alternate 1985 for a dystopian nightmare sidebar, and then further back still to the 1955 they had crashed in the first movie. It is a hugely ambitious movie that envisions several parallel worlds all at once, and even if it's not always successful, it can't be faulted for a lack of imagination.
More importantly, Back to the Future II speculated on what 2015 was going to look like, and there is nothing fandom loves more than picking apart the object of its affection for sport.
Most movies set in the future jump far enough ahead to be completely removed from modern society, or at least don't peg a specific date to the action at hand (see: The Martian, Her). But Back to the Future Part II had to be close enough to 1985 that Marty (Michael J. Fox) could collide with his future self. The first film leapt 30 years into the past, so it only made sense to leap 30 years into the future in the second. More
Amazon is Great Place to Work (As Long as You Have No Personal Life, Never Get Sick)
We already knew that those who work at Amazon’s warehouses had to endure punishing hours and demands. But they’re hardly alone. The New York Times published a fascinating look at how Amazon is also pushing white-collar workers to the extreme. After speaking with more than 100 current and former Amazon employees, reporters Jodi Kantor and David Streitfeld reveal how working at one of the great success stories of the digital age can be fascinating but often brutal. As several Silicon Valley companies try to woo talent with perks, Amazon “offers no pretense that catering to employees is a priority.”
Amazon does not hide the fact that its workplace culture isn’t for everybody. In fact, it says it outright in one of its recruitment videos. “You either fit here or you don’t,” says Nimisha Saboo, a senior technical program manager, in one of the videos posted on YouTube. Amazon’s top recruiter says so as much to the Times: “When you’re shooting for the moon, the nature of the work is really challenging. For some people it doesn’t work.” More
Murder, Transsexuals, And The Price Is Right: The Story Of The Dale Car Hoax
April Fool's Day internet browsing is not like every other day. Every story is a probably lie, and for once the normally foolproof policy of believing everything you read on the internet is not recommended. This story is different, though. This is an entirely true story about a whole massive load of lies. It involves a car, a transgendered woman, a murder, and Bob Barker. It has everything. It's the strange story about a strange car called the Dale.
The Dale story starts in the Deep Malaise Era of the mid 1970s. Gas was starting to get really expensive, and all over America people were looking at their massive, thirsty V8s and starting to wonder if lumbering around town in a Delta 88 was really worth being forced to put a kidney on the market to pay for the gas. People were getting desperate for a new, cheaper, more radical automotive option, and the Dale seemed to fit that need perfectly.
The Dale does look pretty much exactly like what you'd think a mid-70s "revolutionary" car would look like: a Corbin Sparrow, basically. It was a three-wheeler, because of course it was, but at least the wheels were in the preferred "tail dragger" configuration with two up front. More
There are hundreds of 'micronations' you've never heard of
Kings, presidents, emperors, and even supreme dictators gather together today just outside of Disneyland in Anaheim, California.
If you’re wondering why you haven’t heard of this large assembly until now it’s because the countries represented aren't technically real.
It’s a meeting of “micronations” — countries that exist almost entirely online, or are comprised of one person — called MicroCon 2015. There are approximately 400 of them out there, according to some reports.
So what do micronations actually look like? Depends on the theoretical nation. The Principality of Sealand, the most famous example of a micronation, located on a sea fort off the shores of the United Kingdom, invites one to become a Lord, Lady, or Baroness on its official website. More
7 countries where Americans can study at universities, in English, for free (or almost free)
Since 1985, U.S. college costs have surged by about 500 percent, and tuition fees keep rising. In Germany, they've done the opposite.
The country's universities have been tuition-free since the beginning of October, when Lower Saxony became the last state to scrap the fees.
Tuition rates were always low in Germany, but now the German government fully funds the education of its citizens -- and even of foreigners.
Explaining the change, Dorothee Stapelfeldt, a senator in the northern city of Hamburg, said tuition fees "discourage young people who do not have a traditional academic family background from taking up study. It is a core task of politics to ensure that young women and men can study with a high quality standard free of charge in Germany."
What might interest potential university students in the United States is that Germany offers some programs in English -- and it's not the only country. Let's take a look at the surprising -- and very cheap -- alternatives to pricey American college degrees. More
Lost Lake drains: Mount Hood phenomenon, lake drains down lava tube each spring
Lost Lake on Mount Hood is a little known natural attraction that is as awe inspiring as its polar opposite, the Old Faithful the geyser.
This Mount Hood lake does something amazing each spring and while Old Faithful makes a spurting deposit of water, Lost Lake makes a swirling withdrawal of its water.
Each spring this lake in Oregon swiftly drains down a lava hole which is about six-feet in circumference, but unlike Old Faithful, scientists aren’t sure where the water goes! Jude McHugh, a spokesperson for the Willamette National Forest, explains that the hole the water drains into is called a lava tube.
According to Laboratory Equipment.com, this six foot round hole is on the north side of the lake. It has been there ever since anyone can remember, reports the local news. The lava tube is "caused by still-wet lava flowing downward into the earth, leaving an opening in the ground as it hardens." More
Exploding Head Syndrome: The Weird Sleep Phenomenon That’s Way More Common Than You Thought
Ever hear an “explosion” in the night that didn’t seem to exist? One that you never told anyone about, for fear they’d think you were going insane? According to Washington State University researchers, roughly one in five people experience the psychological phenomenon known as “exploding head syndrome,” which involves being awakened by an inexplicable loud – yet nonexistent – noise.
Exploding head syndrome generally happens when a person is falling asleep, and scientists believe it’s the result of a kink in the brain’s mechanisms as it’s turning off. You can think of the brain shutting down like a computer would: Motor, auditory, and visual neurons begin to flick off in stages.
However, the “exploding head” phenomenon occurs when, instead of shutting down gradually and slowly, the auditory neurons crash all at once — and with a bang. “That’s why you get these crazy-loud noises that you can’t explain, and they’re not actual noises in your environment,” says researcher Brian Sharpless, an assistant professor at Washington State University and the director of the university’s psychology clinic, in a press release. More
Why many restaurants don’t actually want you to order dessert
If you think you're doing a restaurant any favors by ordering dessert, you might want to think again.
Dessert can be delicious. And it can be profitable, too. But generally speaking, when diners extend their meal with slices of chocolate cake, cups of ice cream, and servings of crème brûlée, it can come at restaurants' expense.
"It's hard to make money on desserts in the restaurant business today," said Tyler Cowen, an economics professor at George Mason University who has written extensively about the economics of eating out. "I don't think many [restaurants] benefit when people order them anymore." There are many problems with dessert, but it all starts with one pretty simple truth: The restaurant industry is a place of razor thin margins, and dessert tends to offer one of the thinnest. More
Ghost Town Mysteries: The 30-year slumber of Kitsault, B.C.
After over 30 years, the Kitsault mine is coming back to life.
The ghost town built for it isn’t. Last month, Avanti Mining received federal and provincial clearance to begin work reopening the molybdenum mine, 140 kilometres north of Prince Rupert.
Avanti CEO Gordon Bogden says that workshops are scheduled in Terrace, New Aiyansh, and other communities as they prepare to begin construction next year.
They plan to employ up to 700 people during the two years of construction and 300 permanent workers when the mine opens in 2017.
At its height, the mine could produce 45,500 metric tonnes of ore per day. “It’s moving in the right direction,” says Bogden, who says they’ve signed agreements with the First Nations groups in the area. More
What French Kids Eat For School Lunch (It Puts Americans To Shame!)
I walked into the dining room to see tables of four already set — silverware, silver bread basket, off-white ceramic plates, cloth napkins, clear glasses and water pitchers laid out ready for lunch.
I was standing inside my children’s public elementary school cafeteria, or “cantine” as the French call it, in our local town near Annecy, France. As part of my research into why French kids aren’t fat, the local city council gave me a tour of the public school’s cantine and kitchen and let me ask any question that came to mind.
There are many theories as to why the French, and French children in particular, do not suffer from weight problems, obesity, diabetes, and hypertension like their American counterparts. Eating moderate quantities of fresh and freshly prepared food at set times of the day is definitely one of the most convincing reasons why they stay lean. Daily exercise, in the form of three recess periods (two 15-minute and one 60-minute recess every day) and walking or biking to and from school, is another. More
8 Ways Facebook Is a Cult Just Like Scientology
We all know Scientology is a cult. But Facebook, everyone’s favorite social network, has plenty of cultish qualities too. After all, the amount of control and personal information we relinquish to Facebook goes way beyond any confidential tidbits John Travolta reveals during the church’s regular “ auditing” interviews.
Think of the cult similarities between Facebook and Scientology: Both have a strong, authoritative leader (Zuckerberg/L. Ron Hubbard) who came to power via questionable means (See The Social Network/The Master for reference). And both Facebook and Scientology have Tom Cruise as a member—coincidence, or something more?
Georgia gun range to feature firearms photo shoot with Santa
You better watch out...
A Georgia gun range is getting fired up for Christmas while offering photos with a gun-toting Santa Claus.
Gun lovers of all ages will be able to sit with a heat-packing St. Nick or hold their own firearm supplied by the Sandy Springs Gun Club and Range as part of a charity event Saturday.
"Any time we have an opportunity to do something fun with our patrons and give back to the community ... any time we can combine the two, we get really excited," the range's co-owner Robyn Marzullo told the Daily News.
The variety of firearms supplied by the range, located just north of Atlanta, are all inspected, unloaded and deactivated for safety precautions. Personal firearms brought from home won't be allowed in the picture, stressed Marzullo, who operates the range with her sister.
Among the options for weapons are an AK-47, AR-15 or FN-SCAR-17. More
How Your Education Failed You
Attending school in the United States is compulsory from the time we’re about 6 until we turn 18, which is a lengthy amount of time to be a slave in a system in which you have no control. The vast majority of children are taught the same subjects, and with the same techniques. Everyone is funneled towards the same end goal.
You are conditioned for over a decade to have behaviors within a certain range, and you learn preselected information using ubiquitous techniques. This is all done to make you a productive wage slave in our capitalist economy. Unfortunately, if you do not deviate from this path and change your mindset at some point, then you will end up as a wage slave. And this is exactly what they want.
You were psychologically and physically conditioned with this system, but this conditioning can be overcome. View the system objectively for what it is. More
7 U.S. National Parks You Didn't Know You Needed To See
You know Yellowstone and Yosemite... but how much do you know about the America's 56 other National Parks?
These lesser-known National Parks are less popular than their famed counterparts, but they're just as beautiful. Whether you want to explore ocean, mountains, caverns or forest, these parks offer an adventure for everyone.
Lake Clark National Park sits 100 miles southwest of Anchorage and is a nature-enthusiast's heaven. Visitors can explore the park's three mountain ranges, two active volcanos, and many lakes and streams on foot, raft or kayak. In the winter, stargazers can catch a breathtaking view of the Northern Lights.
Undersea explorers should flock to Biscayne National Park, where 95 percent of the park's 172,000 acres are covered by water. Visitors can snorkel, scuba dive, go canoeing or kayaking, camp on Boca Chita Key, and view some seriously cool wildlife, like manatees and crocodiles. One of the park's coolest features is the Maritime Heritage Trail, a ranger-guided snorkel tour that visits sunken shipwrecks. More
How to Invent a Person Online
On April 8, 2013, I received an envelope in the mail from a nonexistent return address in Toledo, Ohio. Inside was a blank thank-you note and an Ohio state driver’s license. The ID belonged to a 28-year-old man called Aaron Brown—6 feet tall and 160 pounds with a round face, scruffy brown hair, a thin beard, and green eyes. His most defining feature, however, was that he didn’t exist.
I know that because I created him.
As an artist, I’ve long been interested in identity and the ways it is represented. My first serious body of work, Springfield, used the concept of a Midwestern nowhere to explore representations of middle-American sprawl. A few years later, I became interested in the hundreds of different entities that track and analyze our behavior online—piecing together where we’re from, who we’re friends with, how much money we make, what we like and dislike. Social networks and data brokers use algorithms and probabilities to reconstruct our identities, and then try to influence the way we think and feel and make decisions. More
The modern history of swearing: Where all the dirtiest words come from
The 18th and 19th centuries’ embrace of linguistic delicacy and extreme avoidance of taboo bestowed great power on those words that broached taboo topics directly, freely revealing what middle-class society was trying so desperately to conceal. Under these conditions of repression, obscene words finally came fully into their own. They began to be used in nonliteral ways, and so became not just words that shocked and offended but words with which people could swear.
The definitive expletive of the 18th century was bloody, which is still in frequent use in Britain today, and is so common Down Under that it is known as “the great Australian adjective.” Bloody was not quite an obscenity and not quite an oath, but it was definitely a bad word that shocked and offended the ears of polite society. It is often supposed to be a corruption of the old oaths by our lady or God’s blood (minced form: ’sblood), but this is another urban legend that turns out to be false. Either it derives instead from the adjective bloody as in “covered in blood” or, as the OED proposes, it referred to the habits of aristocratic rabble-rousers at the end of the 17th century, who styled themselves “bloods.” “Bloody drunk,” then, would mean “as drunk as a blood.” More
Why do so many nations want a piece of Antarctica?
I pick a path between rock pools and settle my bottom on a boulder. A spectacular, silent view unfolds across a mountain-fringed bay.
Then there is a flash in the shallows by my feet - an arrow of white and black.
What on earth fish is that? My slow brain ponders, as before my eyes a gentoo penguin slips out of the water, steadies itself on a rock, eyes me cheekily, squawks and patters off into the snow.
Antarctica is the hardest place I know to write about. Whenever you try to pin down the experience of being there, words dissolve under your fingers.
There are no points of reference. In the most literal sense, Antarctica is inhuman.
Other deserts, from Arabia to Arizona, are peopled: humans live in or around them, find sustenance in them, shape them with their imagination and their ingenuity. No people shape Antarctica. More
Hershey Sues Edible Marijuana Company
DENVER — The Hershey Co. has sued a Colorado marijuana edibles maker, claiming it makes four pot-infused candies that too closely resemble iconic products of the chocolate maker.
The trademark infringement lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Denver this week against TinctureBelle LLC and TinctureBelle Marijuanka LLC.
It alleges TinctureBelle's Ganja Joy, Hasheath, Hashees and Dabby Patty mimic Hershey's Almond Joy, Heath, Reese's peanut butter cups and York peppermint patty candies, respectively. TinctureBelle did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
The Denver Business Journal first reported about the lawsuit filed Tuesday. The company's website says its products, which include lotions and balms, are "diabetic safe and delicious" and helpful with a variety of issues, including pain, headaches and insomnia. More
Meet The Real Amazon Drones
At least five days a week, Myron Ballard races around Washington, D.C., with a cargo van full of Amazon Prime packages. A career delivery driver with 20 years behind the wheel, Ballard typically gets paid $1.50 for each address he visits. If he delivers 150 Amazon boxes -- a fairly routine number -- he can pull in $225. Not bad for a day's work.
That is, until he starts tallying up all his out-of-pocket costs. Ballard works for an Amazon contractor called LaserShip. He's technically an "independent contractor," not an employee, meaning all of the costs stemming from the deliveries fall on him rather than on LaserShip or Amazon.
Ballard had to purchase the cargo van he drives for work. He doesn't get reimbursed for the wear and tear he puts on it; for the gasoline he pours into it on a near-daily basis; for the auto insurance he needs to carry; or for the parking tickets he inevitably racks up downtown. He doesn't even get reimbursed for the LaserShip uniform he's obliged to purchase and wear.
At the end of the day, much of that $225 has vanished.
"It's like they want us to be employees, but they don't want to pay for it," said Ballard, 45.
Anyone who shops regularly online, particularly with Amazon, has to marvel at how quickly and cheaply packages arrive on the doorstep these days. Many of the millions of Amazon Prime members -- including this reporter -- may have noticed, however, that not all packages are ferried by workers wearing the familiar UPS, FedEx or U.S. Postal Service uniforms. Instead, they’re sometimes handled by smaller companies like LaserShip, with drivers working on contract and out of their own vehicles. More
No War, No Money, No Problems. The Island At The End Of The Earth, Where Life Is Good
It is one of the most isolated island communities in the world. The tiny Pacific island of Palmerston is visited by a supply ship twice a year – at most – and the long and hazardous journey deters all but the most intrepid visitors. What’s more, most of its 62 inhabitants are descended from one man – an Englishman who settled there 150 years ago.
Nine days of constant movement. Nine days in a boat, unable to stand. Nine days with the fear of being hit by a tropical storm, thousands of miles from rescue. The Pacific Ocean is big. Far bigger than one would imagine. This is the journey to the island at the end of the earth..
Part of the Cook Islands, Palmerston is one of a handful of islands connected by a coral reef which surrounds the calm waters of a central lagoon. But within this entire area the reef sits too high in the water for sea planes to land – and outside it the ocean is simply too rough. It is also too far from anywhere for a normal helicopter to fly to. The sea is the only access. More
Were Ancient Greeks The Original Recyclers?
It may seem like a bizarre controversy, but experts on ancient Greece have been debating for more than 60 years why potsherds so often surround archaeological sites there. These scattered fragments of pottery are routinely found in explorations.
Some regard it as simple — obvious even. They hold that, as was common in most areas of temperate Europe, people threw their household and barn waste into the fields. The theory is that people were essentially composting and enriching the soil with food, manure and other scraps, and that pottery shards sometimes found their way into these piles.
According to these archaeologists, what they find when they survey the ground of the Hellenic countryside is nothing more than centuries-old trash. Indeed, ceramic was to the ancient Greeks what plastic is to us now. It was abundant.
Still, Hamish Forbes, a professor at the University of Nottingham, decided to review the entire subject from scratch. In an article published in Hesperia — the journal published quarterly by the American School of Classical Studies at Athens — he concludes after 30 years of careful observation that, No, the ancient Greeks did not populate their fields with garbage.. More
Why Bitcoin Matters
A mysterious new technology emerges, seemingly out of nowhere, but actually the result of two decades of intense research and development by nearly anonymous researchers.
Political idealists project visions of liberation and revolution onto it; establishment elites heap contempt and scorn on it.
On the other hand, technologists – nerds – are transfixed by it. They see within it enormous potential and spend their nights and weekends tinkering with it.
Eventually mainstream products, companies and industries emerge to commercialize it; its effects become profound; and later, many people wonder why its powerful promise wasn’t more obvious from the start.
What technology am I talking about?
Personal computers in 1975, the Internet in 1993, and – I believe – Bitcoin in 2014. More
Hairless hero: Iranian teacher shaves head in solidarity with bullied pupil
When Iranian schoolteacher Ali Mohammadian noticed that one of his students was being bullied after going bald as a result of a mysterious illness, he decided to show solidarity and shave his own hair. In no time, his entire class shaved their heads and the bullying stopped.
Now, Mohammadian, who teaches at Sheikh Shaltoot's elementary school in Marivan, a Kurdish city in the west of Iran, has become a national hero.
President Hassan Rouhani has praised him, the government has offered financial support for the pupil's medical treatment and his story has reached the four corners of his country.
"I'm so happy that this has touched many hearts and people reacted enormously positive," the 45-year-old teacher told the Guardian by phone from Marivan. "Everyone in the school now wants to shave their head." More
Why Skim Milk Will Make You Fat and Give You Heart Disease
Joke: How do you dramatically increase sales of a new or unpopular food product to the American public?
Answer: Call it a health food!
This joke, while funny, is also very sad as it illustrates with humor what common sense, logic, observation, and facts cannot for the vast majority of Westerners.
Time and time again, Americans are completely duped by the clever marketing of a food product, falling all over themselves to buy it just because it has been touted in the media and by their (equally duped) doctors as a food that will improve their health.
Don’t believe it? How about margarine? Americans, in the span of just a few short years after World War II, all but completely shunned butter and this behavior pattern continued for decades because saturated fat was supposedly the demon of heart disease. More
Big Hole, Deep Secret
Ask Pittsboro Mayor Chuck Devinney what he did when he worked for AT&T, and he offers evasions straight out of an X-Files script. "I wiped it all out of my head," he says. "When I went out the door, I never looked back."
Coming from a public utility employee turned small-town public official, that might sound pretty melodramatic. Unless, that is, the door walked out of was the secured gateway to Chatham County's underground enigma, the Big Hole. That's where Devinney and dozens of other AT&T employees holed up for much of the Cold War, soldiers in a hidden battle to safeguard a U.S. command and control system in the event of nuclear war.
The system, called the Automatic Voice Network (AUTOVON), was put in service in 1964 by the Defense Communications Agency; the Chatham facility came on-line in 1966. About 60 AUTOVON relay and switching centers were built across the country. Of those, 20 sites, including Big Hole, were underground, hardened facilities, engineered to withstand anything but a direct hit by an enemy missile. AT&T won the classified contract to operate domestic AUTOVON centers, while the U.S. military manned those established in other countries. More
Pancho Claus: A Tex-Mex Santa from the South Pole
HOUSTON -- He usually has black hair and a black beard, sometimes just a mustache. Like Santa, he wears a hat -- though often it's a sombrero. He dons a serape or a poncho and, in one case, a red and black zoot suit. And he makes his grand entrance on lowriders or Harleys or led by a pack of burros instead of eight reindeer.
Meet Pancho Claus, the Tex-Mex Santa.
Amid all the talk about Santa Claus' race, spawned by a Fox News commentator's remarks that both Santa and Jesus were white, there is, in the Lone Star State, a Hispanic version of Santa in cities from the border to the plains -- handing out gifts for low-income and at-risk children.
Born from the Chicano civil rights movement, Pancho Claus is a mostly Texas thing, historians say, though there may be one somewhere in California. Lorenzo Cano, a Mexican-American studies scholar at the University of Houston, says Pancho was apparently conceived north of the border as Mexican-Americans looked to "build a place and a space for themselves" in the 1970s. His rise coincided with a growing interest in Mexican art, Cinco de Mayo, Mexican Independence Day and other cultural events. More
Edinburgh man branded Bad Santa
A GROTTO Santa claims he was forced to quit after his bosses objected to him dumping his script and letting kids sit on his knee.
Actor Mike Daviot, 55, took the ho-ho-huff at the £5-a-time Edinburgh’s Christmas grotto in the capital’s East Princes Street Gardens, branding it a “cattle-herding” exercise.
He said: “The kids are only getting about a minute in the grotto and if they ask a question which isn’t in the script you are supposed to ignore them. We’re not really meant to converse with the children at all.”
He added he had taken the decision to allow the youngest kids to sit on his knee because that had been promised in the adverts. But he was reprimanded for it.
Organisers yesterday insisted Mike was “brusque” with kids and didn’t even get on with his elves.
And Underbelly, who run the festive attraction, said they had been told by child protection experts that letting kids on Santa’s lap was not appropriate. More
The Insidious Genius of Hello Kitty-Branded Beer
Hello Kitty, having been slapped onto just about every other imaginable consumer product on this little blue marble of ours, is now being used to market beer in Asia.*
Consumers in China and Taiwan can now pick from six fruit-flavored brews, including peach, lemon-lime, passion fruit, and banana, sporting the cartoon cat on the can. With about half the alcohol content of a Budweiser, they're not very potent. But as Kotaku's Eric Jou put it, "They're so ridiculously smooth and tasty that one can barely tell they're drinking beer. It's almost like drinking fruit juice, even if the cans do say 'beer.'"
This is for the kids, right? Maybe not. Hello Kitty has plenty of adult fans, especially across Asia (we are, after all, talking about a 40-year-old icon). This seems more like a silly but smart branding ploy to reach China's great untapped booze market: women. More
No Man’s Land: 3 territories that are still unclaimed
When it comes to dividing up the planet, politicians have pretty much thought of everything. Leaders around the world have dutifully divvied up continental shelves, found and claimed islands via satellite and established laws for future reference on who gets what — including the moon. But there are a few pieces of Earth that still need an owner, and they are up for grabs.
If you’re looking for sun and sand, Bir Tawil could be the perfect place for that summer home. Bordering Egypt and Sudan, it’s a trapezoid-shaped piece of land that neither want to claim. Bir Tawil is made up of desert and mountains and is lacking any valuable natural resources, rendering it rather useless. The reason behind the two countries’ “generosity”? Both want the prettier, more useful older sister of Bir Tawil — Hala’ib, a piece of land that is much larger and comprised of rich soil. Under the border treaty from 1899, Hala’ib belongs to Egypt.
Under the 1902 treaty, that land belongs to Sudan and Bir Tawil belongs to Egypt. Both recognize the treaty that gives them Hala’ib, as it’s the better end of the deal, leaving Bir Tawil owner-less. More
The Shocking True Tale Of The Mad Genius Who Invented Sea-Monkeys
In a 2002 interview with Erik Lobo of Planet X magazine, Harold von Braunhut comes across as the kind of charming old guy who might detain you in conversation a bit too long if you were volunteering at a home for the aged. An inventor and entrepreneur who brought us legions of wonderfully gimmicky toys before he died, at 77, in 2003, von Braunhut holds forth about times gone by, interrupted only when his cockatoo chews at the wire connecting his hearing aid to the telephone.
Von Braunhut was a short, balding man who had the accent that turns “beautiful” into “bee-YOO-dee-full,” and he often cast himself as the guy they all doubted until he showed ’em. In the interview he seems to delight in telling Lobo about his most famous and successful novelty item, Sea-Monkeys. These little critters, you may recall, carry with them the promise of “a BOWLFULL OF HAPPINESS—Instant PETS!” They’re supposed to arrive in the mail, spring to life in water, and soon start horsing around and making babies. According to von Braunhut, the problem with selling Sea-Monkeys early on, ya see, was that “nobody believed it!” He adds, “It’s a little bit like the story of the Wright brothers.” More
Burning Man 2013 burns its man in Nevada’s desert
RENO, Nev. — A federal official says more than 61,000 people have turned out so far for the weekend Burning Man outdoor art and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of northern Nevada.
U.S. Bureau of Land Management spokesman Mark Turney said Saturday that gate management was tightened Friday when organizers got close to a permitted capacity of 68,000.
Turney says the crowd ebbs and flows at the festival taking place about 100 miles north of Reno.
He says organizers reported one person
was flown to a hospital by medical helicopter this week after being struck by
No other serious incidents have been reported. More
Lima: Where the pallbearers are black
LIMA, Peru — Elegant in tuxedos and white gloves, the six black pallbearers silently and gracefully remove the mahogany coffin bearing a Lima tire magnate from his mansion. They slide it into the Cadillac hearse that will parade Jorge Reyna's body through the Chorrillos district where he was once mayor.
The pallbearers are in the job precisely because of the color of their skin, a phenomenon unique to this South American capital that was the regional seat of Spain's colonial empire for more than three centuries. In fact, prominent citizens such as Reyna, a widely respected, charitable man of indigenous origin who died at age 82, request black pallbearers for their funerals.
"He planned his funeral and wanted it to be elegant," said Reyna's widow, Clarisa Velarde. Blacks routinely bear the caskets of ex-presidents, mining magnates and bankers to their tombs in Lima. The peculiar tradition exists neither in provincial Peruvian cities nor in other Latin American countries with significant black populations such as Brazil, Panama and Colombia. More
Israelis find 2,750-year-old temple
Archaeologists have uncovered a 2,750-year-old temple near Jerusalem, along with pottery and clay figurines that suggest the site was the home base for a ritual cult, the Israeli Antiquities Authority said Wednesday.
The discovery was made during excavations at the Tel Motza archaeological site, about 3 miles (5 kilometers) west of Jerusalem, during preparations for work on a new section of Israeli's Highway 1, the agency said in a statement.
"The ritual building at Tel Motza is an unusual and striking find, in light of the fact that there are hardly any remains of ritual buildings of the period in Judaea at the time of the First Temple," excavation directors Anna Eirikh, Hamoudi Khalaily and Shua Kisilevitz were quoted as saying in the statement. That’s some imaginative cursing. More
How much gold is there in the world?
Imagine if you were a super-villain who had taken control of all the world's gold, and had decided to melt it down to make a cube.
How big would it be? Hundreds of metres cubed, thousands even?
Actually, it's unlikely to be anything like that size.
Warren Buffet, one of the world's richest investors, says the total amount of gold in the world - the gold above ground, that is - could fit into a cube with sides of just 20m (67ft). But is that all there is? And if so, how do we know?
A figure that is widely used by investors comes from Thompson Reuters GFMS, which produces an annual gold survey.
Their latest figure for all the gold in the world is 171,300 tonnes - which is almost exactly the same as the amount in our super-villain's imaginary cube.
A cube made of 171,300 tonnes would be about 20.7m (68ft) on each side. Or to put it another way, it would reach to 9.8m above ground level if exactly covering Wimbledon Centre Court.
But not everyone agrees with the GFMS figures. More
How to piss off a Spaniard
I should probably preface this whole thing by saying that it’s really not that easy to piss off a Spaniard, unless you’re overtly trying to do so. They, along with the people of Bali, are probably the most easy going and good natured people I’ve ever encountered.
However, it is possible to anger a Spaniard, especially in certain circumstances.
Insult their mother.
The Spanish don’t curse like we do. There’s no equivalent in the language for a simple “Fuck you.” Instead, most real curses invoke the purity, or lack thereof, of the cursee’s mother. I have two favorites I heard while I lived in Madrid. There’s the sort of standard, “I shit in the milk of the mother who bore you,” which is sometimes shortened to just, “the milk!” But my all time favorite is, “I shit in the fourteenth kilometer of the cuckold’s horns of your father.” That’s some imaginative cursing. More
The Science Behind Coffee and Why it’s Actually Good for Your Health
Coffee isn't just warm and energizing, it may also be extremely good for you. In recent years, scientists have studied the effects of coffee on various aspects of health and their results have been nothing short of amazing.
Here's why coffee may actually be one of the healthiest beverages on the planet.
Coffee Can Make You Smarter
Coffee doesn't just keep you awake, it may literally make you smarter as well. The active ingredient in coffee is caffeine, which is a stimulant and the most commonly consumed psychoactive substance in the world. Caffeine's primary mechanism in the brain is blocking the effects of an inhibitory neurotransmitter called Adenosine.
By blocking the inhibitory effects of Adenosine, caffeine actually increases neuronal firing in the brain and the release of other neurotransmitters like dopamine and norepinephrine. Many controlled trials have examined the effects of caffeine on the brain, demonstrating that caffeine can improve mood, reaction time, memory, vigilance and general cognitive function. More
Should We Establish National Parks On Mars?
There’s an old proverb that states “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children.” And if some in the scientific community have their way, that sentiment will extend to other planetary bodies as well. A movement among some in the spacefaring community believe that humans need to set up a kind of national parks system for planets prior to human and further robotic exploration to ensure that pristine environmental value--both scientific and intrinsic--is preserved beyond Earth orbit.
Earth orbit might be a good example as to why. The area of space where human activity has been most prevalent is filled with debris--the leftovers and byproducts of our presence there. And with private spaceflight now rapidly making up technical ground on even the world’s most capable space programs, it’s only a matter of time before manned exploration is happening elsewhere in the solar system and outside of the strict oversight of a state-sponsored space agency, advocates argue. More
Off the Grid and Loving It in Belize
Turquoise waves lap the shore 30 feet from where I sit writing on my borrowed veranda in southern Belize.
As a pair of large birds glides gracefully through the sky, I think to myself that this remote, off-the-grid home is exactly where I belong at this moment.
When my husband and I first started dreaming about taking a six-month “family sabbatical” with our four young kids somewhere in Central America, we’d considered Costa Rica and Panama as well as Belize.
But then I met a British couple who lived in southern Belize. We stayed in touch and they often gave me advice about our unfolding plans. When they decided they needed a house sitter, they asked if we would be interested. We were!
We now live in their darling 2,400-square-foot furnished home directly fronting the Caribbean Sea. The house is only accessible by boat. We have two large bedrooms, two and a half baths, a living room, dining room, kitchen, and several porches, as well as a cabana for our guests’ use, and a caretaker’s home. We have access to a paddle boat, a sailboat, fishing equipment and two sea kayaks. More
11 Amazing Facts about the McDonald's McRib
The McDonald's McRib is back, hitting restaurants nationwide today.
The legendary boneless pork sandwich, famously molded to resemble a rack of ribs, is both a feat of modern engineering and shrewd marketing.
It garners almost as much attention for its pseudo-meat shape as its impermanence on restaurant menus.
The barbecue-sauce-smothered sandwich was supposed to return at the end of October, but was pushed back to help boost end-of-the-year sales.
Better late than never. More
‘Santa’ arrested for driving with suspended license
Two men were arrested on warrant charges in Jackson County on Dec. 8 after a deputy ran the license tag number of a 1977 Ford truck on Plainview Road that appeared to be driven by Santa Claus.
The deputy spotted a white male with a long beard wearing a red Santa Claus cap and a dark sleeveless shirt, an incident reported filed at the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office states.
The deputy ran the vehicle’s tag number through the Georgia Crime Information Center and lost sight of the vehicle while the results returned, showing that the registered owner, Glyndon Coker, had a suspended license for failure to appear and outstanding warrants with Gainesville and Forsyth police departments.
After checking the area, the deputy made contact with the vehicle in the driveway of a Pine Tree Circle residence, where a man met him in the yard. The deputy asked the man where the driver was, but the man said he didn’t know. Johnson, did, however, tell the officer the driver’s named was “Glyndon Coker.”
The deputy walked around the residence and made contact with the man he saw driving the LGT, who was still wearing the red Santa hat, the dark sleeveless shirt and camouflage pants. The man identified himself as Coker. When the deputy asked Coker if he was driving the red Ford truck, Coker responded, “yeah.” More
35,000 rubber ducks in Santa, reindeer outfits seized at L.A. port
They may have had better luck on Santa’s sleigh, but more than 35,000 holiday-themed rubber ducks from China were detained by U.S. Customs officials at the Port of Los Angeles.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers seized the ducks -- dressed as snowmen, gingerbread men, penguins and reindeer -- which were valued at $18,522, after determining they contained the chemical phthalate in excess of the limit which may be harmful to children.
Phthalates are used to make vinyl and other plastics soft and flexible, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security said in a statement. Consumer officials prohibit the sale, distribution and import of any child's toy or child care item that contains concentrations of more than 0.1% of phthalate. More
Sir Patrick Moore dies aged 89
Sir Patrick Moore, the astronomer and Sky at Night presenter who inspired a generation of stargazers, has died at his home at the age of 89.
The broadcaster “passed away peacefully" in Selsey, West Sussex, after a short spell in hospital last week, a group of friends and staff said in a statement.
“It was determined that no further treatment would benefit him, and it was his wish to spend his last days in his own home, Farthings, where he today passed on, in the company of close friends and carers and his cat Ptolemy,” the statement said.
Sir Patrick reckoned that he was the only person to have met the first man to fly, Orville Wright, the first man in space, Yuri Gagarin, and the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong. He outlived them all.
Brian May, the Queen guitarist and astronomy PhD, paid tribute to a "dear friend and a kind of father figure to me".
He said: "It's no exaggeration to say that Patrick, in his tireless and ebullient communication of the magic of astronomy, inspired every British astronomer, amateur and professional, for half a century.
"Patrick will be mourned by the many to whom he was a caring uncle, and by all who loved the delightful wit and clarity of his writings, or enjoyed his fearlessly eccentric persona in public life," he added. "Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one." More
Mock Zombie Invasion Held in San Diego
Move over vampires, goblins and haunted houses, this kind of Halloween terror aims to shake up even the toughest warriors: An untold number of so-called zombies are coming to a counterterrorism summit attended by hundreds of Marines, Navy special ops, soldiers, police, firefighters and others to prepare them for their worst nightmares.
"This is a very real exercise, this is not some type of big costume party," said Brad Barker, president of Halo Corp, a security firm hosting the Oct. 31 training demonstration during the summit at a 44-acre Paradise Point Resort island on a San Diego bay. "Everything that will be simulated at this event has already happened, it just hasn't happened all at once on the same night. But the training is very real, it just happens to be the bad guys we're having a little fun with."
Hundreds of military, law enforcement and medical personnel will observe the Hollywood-style production of a zombie attack as part of their emergency response training.
In the scenario, a VIP and his personal detail are trapped in a village, surrounded by zombies when a bomb explodes. The VIP is wounded and his team must move through the town while dodging bullets and shooting back at the invading zombies. At one point, some members of the team are bit by zombies and must be taken to a field medical facility for decontamination and treatment. More
Khan Academy: The man who wants to teach the world
What Salman Khan, the founder of the non-profit online school Khan Academy, has to say to the parent of an 11-year-old is frankly terrifying: 'If your child is not placed in the fast track for math in sixth grade, his chances of going to Stanford are close to zero. His chances of becoming a doctor or an engineer are probably zero. And it’s decided when he’s 11 years old.’
That’s tragic, I find myself blurting out when we meet at his office in Mountain View, California, the heart of Silicon Valley.
As the mother of an 11-year-old who has just started sixth grade at a California middle school – and still waiting for the results of the deciding test – this pronouncement hits rather too close to home.
'It is,’ Khan agrees wholeheartedly. 'And many of those kids who don’t get into the fast track could easily be there. They just didn’t test well on the day.’
This is exactly what happened to his cousin Nadia. Usually a straight-A student, she had done poorly in a maths streaming test in sixth grade because she had failed to understand one concept. This one test result, Khan says, might have harmed her academic destiny. Nadia’s distraught mother turned to Khan for help. More
Crusader Era Hoard of Gold Coins Found in Israel
The treasure, more than 100 gold pieces weighing about 400 grams, is estimated to be worth more than $100,000.
The coins were found hidden in a partly broken pottery vessel at the Appollonia National Park near Herzliya, the site where archaeologists believe the ancient Crusader town of Apollonia-Arsuf once stood.
The hoard includes 108 gold coins, among them 93 weigh four grams each, and 15 weigh about 1 gram each. The archaeologists suggest that the gold was part of someone’s family treasure or business investment. The coins were probably minted in Egypt about 250 years prior to their burial under the floor tiles of the 13th century CE fortress that has been under excavation for more than 30 years.
In addition to the gold treasure, the archaeologists found a large cache of arrowheads – hundreds, in fact – and other weaponry, including stones used in catapults. They said the find indicated a fierce battle had taken place at the time the Mameluks seized the area from the Crusaders. More
Drug decriminalization in Portugal decreases number of addicts
On July 1, 2001, Portugal decriminalized every imaginable drug, from marijuana, to cocaine, to heroin. Some thought Lisbon would become a drug tourist haven, others predicted usage rates among youths to surge.
Eleven years later, it turns out they were both wrong.
Over a decade has passed since Portugal changed its philosophy from labeling drug users as criminals to labeling them as people affected by a disease. This time lapse has allowed statistics to develop and in time, has made Portugal an example to follow.
First, some clarification.
Portugal's move to decriminalize does not mean people can carry around, use, and sell drugs free from police interference. That would be legalization. Rather, all drugs are "decriminalized," meaning drug possession, distribution, and use is still illegal. While distribution and trafficking is still a criminal offense, possession and use is moved out of criminal courts and into a special court where each offender's unique situation is judged by legal experts, psychologists, and social workers. Treatment and further action is decided in these courts, where addicts and drug use is treated as a public health service rather than referring it to the justice system (like the US), reports Fox News.
The resulting effect: a drastic reduction in addicts, with Portuguese officials and reports highlighting that this number, at 100,000 before the new policy was enacted, has been halved in the following 10 years. Portugal's drug usage rates are now among the lowest of EU member states, according to the same report . More
eBook replaces all mentions of the word 'kindle' with rival 'Nook' - and ends up destroying War And Peace
War and Peace, one of the most well-known and hefty books in history, went through many revisions during the lifetime of Leo Tolstoy.
But the latest edition is not bowing to cultural pressure, or the posthumous demands of an author, but by an apparent over-zealous use of the 'Find and Replace' function before an e-book was re-released for a virtual print run.
The version available on the 'Nook' reader - the second most-popular bookreader in the US and arch-rival of Amazon's Kindle - lacks any use of the verb to 'kindle'.
Every use of the verb - in it's various forms - has been replaced with 'Nook' - or even 'Nookd'.
Some lazy employee had been preparing the e-book - and had apparently simply taken the Kindle edition, and thought a quick 'find and feplace' would be enough to bring the book up to date.
But he did not count on the Russian author - or to be more accurate, the English translator's - love of fires, and the art of making them.
The error was discovered by shop-owner and book-lover Philip Howard after he was given a copy of War and Peace, but as the book weighs in at a hefty 1,400 pages - and is not exactly bag-friendly - he took the opportunity to try out his new eBook reader. More
Somewhere in North America, there is a place where little girls don’t give the slightest thought to what kind of wedding dress they’ll wear one day. A place where young men have never heard the expression: “why buy the cow when you can have the milk for free?”—because the milk is always free. A place where no one asks an unmarried couple expecting a baby if they’re getting hitched.
This place is the province of Quebec. The French language spoken here is no guarantee for romance. Couples are practical, and lovers treasure their individuality.
Quebec has become one of the least marrying places in the world, thanks to the institution known as “de facto spouses,”
But now, thanks to a bizarre legal case entangling a Quebec billionaire and his de facto spouse , the freedom to un-marry is under threat. More than 1 million Quebecois in this kind of relationship may soon be automatically married by the state, against their will. More
USDA Buys 7 Million Pounds of ‘Pink Slime’ For School Lunches
School lunch programs have been in the spotlight recently. Just last week, the Blaze posted two stories about a North Carolina school where the food police were aggressively monitoring lunches that parents give to their children. Earlier this year, First Lady Michelle Obama lead a very public campaign to announce that healthier foods would be coming to school cafeterias and military mess halls.
Today, many parents will be questioning the wisdom of a government-controlled school lunch program. Why? Because the Feds have announced that the USDA is buying seven million pounds of something that is affectionately known as “pink slime.”
The seven million pounds of this frankenmeat product purchased by the USDA is not a new addition to the lunch programs in schools, just a substantial increase. The New York Times reported that in 2009 the U.S. government purchased 5.5 million pounds of the stuff.
Pink slime is a mixture of leftover trimmings, sinew, and other beef parts culled from a cow once the expensive and more recognizable cuts of meat have been harvested and sent to a butcher. The collection of leftovers is spun in a centrifuge to remove excess fat, washed in a disinfecting solution and then minced for use in various applications. More
Female Gladiators? Tantalizing New Evidence From Ancient Rome
Female-gladiator fights appear to have been rare spectacles in the Roman Empire. But new analysis of a statue in a German museum adds to the evidence that trained women did fight to the death in ancient amphitheaters, a new study says.
The bronze statuette is only the second known representation of a female gladiator, according to study author Alfonso Manas, of Spain's University of Granada.
The roughly 2,000-year-old artwork, which resides at the Museum für Kunst und Gewerbein in Hamburg, shows a bare-chested woman in a loincloth brandishing a scythe-like object in her left hand.
Manas believes the woman is holding a sica, a short, curved sword associated with a type of gladiator known as a thraex, or Thracian. Thraexes typically fought in plumed helmets, with small shields and metal leg guards called greaves. Their unarmored backs were particularly vulnerable—and were likely ripe targets for sica.
Experts had previously interpreted the curved implement as a strigil, which Romans used for scraping the body clean.
The woman's pose, though, doesn't support that explanation, Manas said. More
Slab City, Here We Come: Living Life Off the Grid in California's Badlands
"Chicago" Joe Angio and his wife Anna did everything by the book to secure their slice of the American Dream. They earned college degrees, started a small business, bought a house and pair of cars, paid their taxes and credit-card bills on time.
But when the economy tanked, so did the dream. Between two jobs they could barely pay their mortgage, reaching a point where they had to choose which creditor to shortchange at the end of the month in order to keep the lights on. With foreclosure no longer a matter of if, but of when, the couple looked on the Internet for the ideal place to lay low, spend less and experiment with solar power to "get more for our buck out of our environment." They bought a used RV and went off the grid. Way off.
Slab City, their home for the past three months, is a squatters' camp deep in the badlands of California's poorest county, where the road ends and the sun reigns, about 190 miles southeast of Los Angeles and hour's drive from the Mexican border. The vast state-owned property gets its name from the concrete slabs spread out across the desert floor, the last remnants of a World War II–era military base.
In the decades since it was decommissioned, dropouts and fugitives of all stripes have swelled its winter population to close to a thousand, though no one's really counting. These days, their numbers are growing thanks to a modest influx of recession refugees like the Angios, attracted by do-it-yourself, rent-free living beyond the reach of electricity, running water and the law. And while the complexion of the Slabs, as the place is locally known, may be changing in some ways, the same old rule applies: respect your neighbor, or stay the hell away. More