"The ancient Maya civilization of Central America left behind a riddle: an intricate and mysterious hieroglyphic script carved on stone monuments and painted on pottery and bark books. Because the invading Spanish burned all available Mayan books, thereby suppressing nearly all knowledge of how the script worked, unlocking its meaning posed one of archaeology's fiercest challenges."
Certainly one of the most exciting videos I have ever disovered on YouTube, is the PBS NOVA "Cracking The Maya Code". Filled with the history of the Maya writing system and years of trial and error in deciphering it. I spent much of my decade in Mexico visiting the Maya archeological sites in the Yucatan and Northern Guatemala areas. Purchased and read everything I could find about the fascinating Maya civilization. Spent untold hours pouring over the complicated Maya glyphs. This video has filled many of the numerous gaps in my education.
There is also an excellent PBS web site devoted to more information about 'Cracking The Maya Code". Even includes an interactive on decoding one of the stela.
A series of Maya hieroglyphs may look like just so many pretty pictures or symbols to you. But they actually say something, of course, as Mayanists have known for some time (see Time Line of Decipherment). In this feature, you can actually "read" a passage of glyphs carved into an ancient Maya stela, or dedicatory stone monument. You can both read the ancient Maya (transcribed using the Roman alphabet) and hear it spoken (by Mayanist Barbara MacLeod) as well as read the English translation. Accompanying notes explain each glyph in detail. You can also see the original stela and learn more about it. Along the way, you'll get a good taste of the language—and you'll see just how important dates and numbers were to the Maya.
"Critical consensus on Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen is overwhelmingly negative. But the critics are wrong. Michael Bay used a squillion dollars and a hundred supercomputers' worth of CG for a brilliant art movie about the illusory nature of plot.
Oh, and I would warn you that there'll be spoilers in this review — except that, really, since I still have no idea what actually happened in this movie, I'm not sure how much I can spoil it.
Since the days of Un Chien Andalou and The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, filmmakers have reached beyond meaning. But with this summer's biggest, loudest movie, Michael Bay takes us all the way inside Caligari's cabinet. And once you enter, you can never emerge again. I saw this movie two days ago, and I'm still living inside it. Things are exploding wherever I look, household appliances are trying to kill me, and bizarre racial stereotypes are shouting at me.
Transformers: ROTF has mostly gotten pretty hideous reviews, but that's because people don't understand that this isn't a movie, in the conventional sense. It's an assault on the senses, a barrage of crazy imagery. Imagine that you went back in time to the late 1960s and found Terry Gilliam, fresh from doing his weird low-fi collage/animations for Monty Python. You proceeded to inject Gilliam with so many steroids his penis shrank to the size of a hair follicle, and you smushed a dozen tabs of LSD under his tongue. And then you gave him the GDP of a few sub-Saharan countries. Gilliam might have made a movie not unlike this one.
.....So I've gotten almost all the way through this review, and I still haven't summarized the movie's plot. Here goes. It's a couple years after the first movie, and Sam is going off to college, leaving his transforming car and his hot girlfriend, whom he still hasn't told he loves her. And meanwhile, the soldiers from the first movie are running around with a bunch of late-model GM cars and trucks, which turn into robots and fight other robots sometimes. Sam sees weird symbols which make no sense (and they still make no sense at the end of the movie) and they turn out to be the key to the location of a thing that can control another thing, that will enable the bad guys to destroy the sun. Sam has to embrace the heroic destiny he's rejected, so he can save us all from solarcide. ....."
And at this point the reviewer was just getting warmed up. To hell with seeing the movie, I just want to bask in the unique descriptions of Transformers: ROTF as penned by Charlie Jane Anders.
This is a disturbing program that was aired in the UK on channel 4 on Nov 12, 2008 that looks at the superstition and poverty, coupled with teaching of a severly warped evangelical Christianity in Nigeria, and the subsequent effect upon the lives of innocent young children there.
How can people can act this savagely with young children?
Saving Africa's Witch Children Part 1 [of 6 parts]
Well, today in my garden here in Chiang Mai I discovered a Thai cousin, of sorts, also with a portion of the wing structure with transparent panels. This variety also had long, black 'swallowtails', a brilliant blue patch, and was considerably larger than the dainty Greta oto. A little research has provided a possible name, Lamproptera.
The White Swallowtail [Lamproptera curis] is evidently common to nearly all of Southeast Asia. Although the Wikipedia article doesn't mention anything about blue bands instead to the usual white.
Scientology leader David Miscavige is the focus of this special report from the St. Petersburg Times. Former executives of the Church of Scientology, including two of the former top lieutenants to Miscavige, have come forward to describe a culture of intimidation and violence under David Miscavige. These former Scientology leaders served for years with Miscavige.
Another fascinating article from my favorite science writer, Ed Yong. All about a single species of butterfly. The intricate web of life and the multitude of connections that each single living thing encompasses never fails to astound me — and ultimately we are ALL connected.
"In 1979, somewhere in Dartmoor, a butterfly died. That would hardly have been an exceptional event, but this individual was a Large Blue butterfly (Maculinea arion) and it was the last of its kind in the United Kingdom. Over more than a century, the Large Blue's population had been declining and it was finally declared nationally extinct 30 years ago.
Now, it's back. A bold conservation effort managed to work out the factors behind the butterfly's decline, and resurrect this vanished species. The Large Blue's reintroduction has been one of conservation's flagship successes and it was the first time that efforts to save a declining butterfly had actually paid off. ....
The Large Blue butterfly has a very strange lifestyle. When it hatches in July, its caterpillar feeds on thyme plants for three weeks and then drops to the ground to begin a more leisurely existence. The caterpillar so strongly mimics the smells and sounds of the ant Myrmica sabuleti that it is carried to the colony and cared for as if it were an actual ant. It spends the next 10 months of its life in this sheltered environment, and its mimicry ensures that its surrogate parents leave it alone, even when it eats their young.
So the fate of the Large Blue is closely intertwined with that of M.sabuleti, the ant it parasitizes. The butterfly's problems started when subtle changes in grazing and local vegetation caused its host to be replaced by other types of ants that were unsuitable babysitters. . . . . ."
Dinosaurs may not have been as monstrously big as scientists and Hollywood film directors would have us believe. Scientists believe the original method used to calculate dinosaur mass was flawed. As a result of the mistake, some dinosaurs may have been oversized, it is claimed.
Widely-cited estimates for the mass of Apatosaurus louisae, one of the largest dinosaurs, may be double that of its actual mass, say the researchers. Instead of weighing 38 tonnes, Apatosaurus may have tipped the scales at a relatively puny 18 tonnes. ...
'Palaeontologists have for 25 years used a published statistical model to estimate body weight of giant dinosaurs and other extraordinarily large animals in extinct lineages,' said lead researcher Dr Gary Packard from Colorado State University in the US. 'By re-examining data in the original reference sample, we show that the statistical model is seriously flawed and that the giant dinosaurs probably were only about half as heavy as is generally believed.'
Scientists extrapolated measurements of these animals to estimate the body mass of dinosaurs. But a mathematical mistake involving logarithms meant that the dinosaur estimates were much too high, according to Dr Packard's team.
Well, on the surface this would seem to be good news for Ken Ham's 'Creation Museum'. Poor Ken was having trouble fitting even a few of those behemoths on Noah's Ark. But even with their reduced poundage, I think he still has a problem [with his brain perhaps?].
"Two grandmothers on mobility scooters had to be dragged apart after getting into a fight where they were "ramming each other like dodgems" in a supermarket.
The women were separated after they started trading blows in front of shoppers in an aisle of the Iceland store in Crawley, West Sussex.
They were prized apart after staff heard screams. A store worker said: "It was shocking. "Seeing these two old ladies going for each other like that was truly disturbing."
The shelf-stacker, who did not wish to be named, added: "They could have been seriously hurt - they were ramming each other like dodgems." Police were called to the scene after the warring pensioners - who had been friends - fell out over money. . . . .
In Rugby, Warwickshire, the policy introduced a speeding clampdown on mobility scooters, which can reach a top speed of 8mph, after a series of collisions and near misses in the town centre."
"To convey the logical absurdity of trying to squeeze the round peg of science into the square hole of religion, I penned this scientific revision of the Genesis creation story. It is not intended as a sacrilege of the poetic beauty of Genesis; rather, it is a mere extension of what the creationists have already done to Genesis in their insistence that it be read not as mythic saga but as scientific prose. If Genesis were written in the language of modern science, it would read something like this."
In the beginning — specifically on October 23, 4004 B.C., at noon — out of quantum foam fluctuation God created the Big Bang, followed by cosmological inflation and an expanding universe. And darkness was upon the face of the deep, so He commanded hydrogen atoms (which He created from Quarks) to fuse and become helium atoms and in the process release energy in the form of light. And the light maker he called the sun, and the process He called fusion. And He saw the light was good because now He could see what He was doing, so He created Earth. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
And God said, Let there be lots of fusion light makers in the sky. Some of these fusion makers He grouped into collections He called galaxies, and these appeared to be millions and even billions of light years from Earth, which would mean that they were created before the first creation in 4004 B.C. This was confusing, so God created tired light, and the creation story was preserved. And created He many wondrous splendors such as Red Giants, White Dwarfs, Quasars, Pulsars, Supernova, Worm Holes, and even Black Holes out of which nothing can escape. But since God cannot be constrained by nothing, He created Hawking radiation through which information can escape from Black Holes. This made God even more tired than tired light, and the evening and the morning were the second day.
And God said, Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together unto one place, and let the continents drift apart by plate tectonics. He decreed sea floor spreading would create zones of emergence, and He caused subduction zones to build mountains and cause earthquakes. In weak points in the crust God created volcanic islands, where the next day He would place organisms that were similar to but different from their relatives on the continents, so that still later created creatures called humans would mistake them for evolved descendants created by adaptive radiation. And the evening and the morning were the third day. And God saw that the land was barren, so He created animals bearing their own kind, declaring Thou shalt not evolve into new species, and thy equilibrium shall not be punctuated. And God placed into the rocks, fossils that appeared older than 4004 B.C. that were similar to but different from living creatures. And the sequence resembled descent with modification. And the evening and morning were the fourth day.
And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that hath life, the fishes. And God created great whales whose skeletal structure and physiology were homologous with the land mammals he would create later that day. God then brought forth abundantly all creatures, great and small, declaring that microevolution was permitted, but not macroevolution. And God said, “Natura non facit saltum” — Nature shall not make leaps. And the evening and morning were the fifth day.
And God created the pongidids and hominids with 98 percent genetic similarity, naming two of them Adam and Eve. In the book in which God explained how He did all this, in one chapter He said he created Adam and Eve together out of the dust at the same time, but in another chapter He said He created Adam first, then later created Eve out of one of Adam’s ribs. This caused confusion in the valley of the shadow of doubt, so God created theologians to sort it out.
And in the ground placed He in abundance teeth, jaws, skulls, and pelvises of transitional fossils from pre-Adamite creatures. One chosen as his special creation He named Lucy, who could walk upright like a human but had a small brain like an ape. And God realized this too was confusing, so he created paleoanthropologists to figure it out.
Just as He was finishing up the loose ends of the creation God realized that Adam’s immediate descendants would not understand inflationary cosmology, global general relativity, quantum mechanics, astrophysics, biochemistry, paleontology, and evolutionary biology, so he created creation myths. But there were so many creation stories throughout the world God realized this too was confusing, so created He anthropologists and mythologists.
By now the valley of the shadow of doubt was overrunneth with skepticism, so God became angry, so angry that God lost His temper and cursed the first humans, telling them to go forth and multiply themselves (but not in those words). But the humans took God literally and now there are six billion of them. And the evening and morning were the sixth day.
By now God was tired, so He proclaimed, “Thank me its Friday,” and He made the weekend.
"Iranians challenging the results of last week’s election prepared for a day of mourning Thursday after renewed protests that ranged from tens of thousands on the streets of Tehran to six soccer players on the national team wearing opposition green wristbands at a World Cup qualifying game.
Mir Hussein Moussavi, the main opposition candidate in last Friday’s disputed election, urged his followers on Wednesday to visit mosques and parade on the streets on Thursday, seeking to maintain the momentum of protests that began almost as soon as the election results were announced on Saturday and ballooned this week into mass demonstrations......
In the unfolding battle of wills, the government worked on many fronts to disrupt the outside world’s view of the unrest, banning coverage of the demonstrations, arresting journalists, threatening bloggers and trying to block Web sites like Facebook and Twitter, which have become vital outlets for information about the confrontation. " . . . . .
I have often wondered why Americans did not successfully challange the Presidential election of 2000, and again in 2004, when George W. Bush and his cronies stole both of those elections. Perhaps because it was not quite as transparent [to some] that the results of the elections had been perverted by a power hungry few. The world today would be a far different place if the Bush Cabal had not gained power.