“Evening shadow”. Etruscan statue, 3rd c. BC, Volterra. The name is from Gabriele d’Annunzio
Via Poemas del rio Wang.
The list of Alexa commands is expansive and grows with every new service or device it supports. Alexa isn't perfect, but it's pretty great at understanding natural language, so you don't always have to speak the commands exactly as you see them below. Many commands work when worded several different ways or even with words omitted.I also discovered that there is a subreddit dedicated to Amazon Echo, wherein you can find a list of known Easter eggs, including...
As a hybrid of store and warehouse, the plants were the physical embodiment of the company’s pivot from rural-focused mail-order catalogues to urban and suburban retail stores...
The plants’ locations also speak to this transitional moment. They were built at what was then the edge of town, adjacent to rail lines. Land was cheap and parking plentiful in these areas, but they were still closer to the urban core than many early car-oriented bedroom communities, says Jerry Hancock, an amateur Sears historian.Plants were among the largest buildings by square footage in their cities, if not the largest outright. They usually clocked in at a million square feet or more. Their art deco flourishes and iconic “Sears towers”—not to be confused with the company’s eventual headquarters in Chicago—made them local landmarks. (The towers, Hancock explains, were built to hold the plant’s cistern, providing maximum water pressure during break times on the warehouse floor, when hundreds of workers would use the bathroom at the same time.)
I'd never seen my mother so afraid.The rest of the story is at The Washington Post.
“Promise me,” she pleaded, “you won’t tell anyone until after I die. How will I hold my head up with my friends?”
For two years, I’d waited for the right moment to confront my mother with the shocking discovery I made in 1995 while scrolling through the 1900 Louisiana census records. In the records, my mother’s father, Azemar Frederic of New Orleans, and his entire family were designated black.
If you heroically browse through the medical manuscripts and loose illustrations of the small shops in the Istanbul book bazaar, you will wander through more circles of hell than Dante...There are numerous illustrations at Poemas del Rio Wang.
Islamic dentistry leads back its origins to Mohammad, who instructs the believers in a special hadith to wash their teeth at least twice or thrice a day. He is also referred by the great 10th-century Arabic physician, Ibn Sina or Avicenna, whose famous Al kanun fi al-tibb (The canon of medicine) gives instructions for treating teeth, drilling, pain relief, and fixing dentures with gold wire to the jaw...
The first Ottoman medical manuscripts, Bereket’s Tuhfe-i Mubrizi, Ahmadi’s Tarvih al-ervah and Hacı Paşa’s Müntehab al-şifa, all come from the 14th century, and they also deal with the treatment and anatomy of teeth.
The study, led by academics at Newcastle University, found animals from trenches across the Pacific Ocean were contaminated with fibres that probably originated from plastic bottles, packaging and synthetic clothes...More at The Guardian. Photo credit: Richard Kirby
The study tested samples of crustaceans found in the ultra-deep trenches that span the entire Pacific Ocean – the Mariana, Japan, Izu-Bonin, Peru-Chile, New Hebrides and Kermadec trenches. These range from seven to more than 10 kilometres deep, including the deepest point in the ocean, Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench.
The team examined 90 individual animals and found ingestion of plastic ranged from 50% in the New Hebrides Trench to 100% at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
A moonlight tower or moontower is a lighting structure designed to illuminate areas of a town or city at night. The towers were popular in the late 19th century in cities across the United States and Europe; they were most common in the 1880s and 1890s. In some places they were used when standard street-lighting, using smaller, shorter, and more numerous lamps, was impractically expensive. In other places they were used in addition to gas street lighting. The towers were designed to illuminate areas often of several blocks at once, on the "high light" principle. Arc lamps, known for their exceptionally bright and harsh light, were the most common method of illumination. As incandescent electric street lighting became common, the prevalence of towers began to wane.Photo of Los Angeles in 1882, via TheWayWeWere subreddit.
"Joaquín Rodrigo Vidre, 1st Marquis of the Gardens of Aranjuez... commonly known as Joaquín Rodrigo, was a Spanish composer and a virtuoso pianist.I first encountered this music in the 1960s on the Miles Davis album. I'm pleased now to blog the entire concierto.
Rodrigo was born in Sagunto, Valencia, and completely lost his sight at the age of three after contracting diphtheria. He began to study solfège, piano and violin at the age of eight; harmony and composition from the age of 16. Although distinguished by having raised the Spanish guitar to dignity as a universal concert instrument and best known for his guitar music, he never mastered the instrument himself. He wrote his compositions in Braille, which was transcribed for publication.
His most famous work, Concierto de Aranjuez, was composed in 1939 in Paris for the guitarist Regino Sainz de la Maza. In later life he and his wife declared that it was written as a response to the miscarriage of their first child. It is a concerto for guitar and orchestra. The central adagio movement is one of the most recognizable in 20th-century classical music, featuring the interplay of guitar with cor anglais. This movement was later adapted by the jazz arranger Gil Evans for Miles Davis' 1960 album "Sketches of Spain".
Fatwood, also known as "fat lighter,"... "pine knot," "lighter knot," "heart pine"... is derived from the heartwood of pine trees. This resin-impregnated heartwood becomes hard and rot-resistant. The stump (and tap root) left in the ground after a tree has fallen or has been cut is an excellent source of fatwood. Other locations, such as the joints where limbs intersect the trunk, can also be harvested...One of the pleasant memories of my childhood in Minnesota is of searching through the woods with my mother looking for pine knots to put in the fireplace. We used them to add a pleasant odor to the cabin, not for kindling per se.
Because of the flammability of terpene, fatwood is prized for use as kindling in starting fires. It lights quickly even when wet, is very wind resistant, and burns hot enough to light larger pieces of wood. A small piece of fatwood can be used many times to create tinder by shaving small curls and using them to light other larger tinder. The pitch-soaked wood produces an oily, sooty smoke, and it is recommended that one should not cook on a fire until all the fatwood has completely burned out.
Heartwood (or duramen) is wood that as a result of a naturally occurring chemical transformation has become more resistant to decay. Heartwood formation is a genetically programmed process that occurs spontaneously... Heartwood is often visually distinct from the living sapwood, and can be distinguished in a cross-section where the boundary will tend to follow the growth rings...
Sapwood (or alburnum) is the younger, outermost wood; in the growing tree it is living wood, and its principal functions are to conduct water from the roots to the leaves and to store up and give back according to the season the reserves prepared in the leaves. However, by the time they become competent to conduct water, all xylem tracheids and vessels have lost their cytoplasm and the cells are therefore functionally dead. All wood in a tree is first formed as sapwood. The more leaves a tree bears and the more vigorous its growth, the larger the volume of sapwood required.
"Steven Spielberg directs Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks in The Post, a thrilling drama about the unlikely partnership between The Washington Post’s Katharine Graham (Streep), the first female publisher of a major American newspaper, and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks), as they race to catch up with The New York Times to expose a massive cover-up of government secrets that spanned three decades and four U.S. Presidents. The two must overcome their differences as they risk their careers – and their very freedom – to help bring long-buried truths to light."One wonders what impact the current Paradise Papers revelation will have compared to the Pentagon Papers.
The Equifax credit reporting agency, with the aid of thousands of human resource departments around the country, has assembled what may be the most powerful and thorough private database of Americans’ personal information ever created, containing 190 million employment and salary records covering more than one-third of U.S. adults.That was from an article published in 2013. I naively assumed that the situation might have changed by now. Nope. CNN writes "Why Equifax will continue to profit by selling your personal information":
Some of the information in the little-known database, created through an Equifax-owned company called The Work Number, is sold to debt collectors, financial service companies and other entities...
But salary information is also for sale by Equifax through The Work Number. Its database is so detailed that it contains week-by-week paystub information dating back years for many individuals, as well as other kinds of human resources-related information, such as health care provider, whether someone has dental insurance and if they’ve ever filed an unemployment claim...
How does Equifax obtain this sensitive and secret information? With the willing aid of thousands of U.S. businesses, including many of the Fortune 500. Government agencies -- representing 85 percent of the federal civilian population, including workers at the Department of Defense, according to Equifax -- and schools also work with The Work Number..
"But it's not in the interest of lenders to stop sharing information with the credit rating agencies, Horn said. It could hurt the accuracy of the credit reports they buy back."
Developed in the 1970s as a tranquilizer for large animals such as elephants and bears, the synthetic opioid has also been studied as a potential chemical weapon by countries including the US, China and Israel. It is thought to have been deployed with disastrous effects when Russian special forces attempted to rescue hundreds of hostages from a Moscow theatre in 2002.
But it only burst into public view last year after officials across North America began to warn that it was being cut with heroin and other illicit drugs, leaving a rash of overdoses and deaths in its wake.
“An amount as small as a grain of sand can kill you,” Dr Karen Grimsrud, Alberta’s chief medical officer, told reporters after traces of carfentanil were found in the bodies of two men who had overdosed. “Carfentanil is about 100 times more toxic than fentanyl and about 10,000 times more toxic than morphine.”..Scary. And I bet it's not hard to synthesize. Could be aerosolized via drones in a city or at a stadium.
The remarks came after Canadian police – protected by hazmat suits and oxygen containers – seized one kilogram of carfentanil hidden inside cartridges labelled as printer ink and which had been shipped to Vancouver from China.
Given the purity of the substance seized, police estimated that the package could contain as many as 50m lethal doses – enough to wipe out the entire population of the country.
Dozens of warships believed to contain the remains of thousands of British, American, Australian, Dutch and Japanese servicemen from the second world war have been illegally ripped apart by salvage divers, the Guardian can reveal.
An analysis of ships discovered by wreck divers and naval historians has found that up to 40 second world war-era vessels have already been partially or completely destroyed. Their hulls might have contained the corpses of 4,500 crew...
The rusted 70-year-old wrecks are usually sold as scrap but the ships also contain valuable metals such as copper cables and phosphor bronze propellors.
Large “crane barges” have been photographed above wreck sites, often with huge amounts of rusted steel on their decks. At the seabed, divers have found ships cut in half. Many have been removed completely, leaving a ship-shaped indent.
Cambodian, Chinese and Malaysian-registered vessels have been spotted above shipwrecks. In some cases, their crews have been arrested. In one case, the looters had acquired a letter from a Malaysian university which said the work was authorised as “research”...
Archeologists believe the criminals might be turning a profit because the hulls are one of the world’s few remaining deposits of “low-background” metals. Having been made before atomic bomb explosions in 1945 and subsequent nuclear tests, the steel is free of radiation. This makes even small quantities that have survived the saltwater extremely useful for finely calibrated instruments such as Geiger counters, space sensors and medical imaging.
Some ancient ships, often centuries-old Roman vessels in European waters, have also been salvaged for their lead, which is also low-radiation and is used in nuclear power stations.
"...Buenos Aires has more bookshops per inhabitant than any other city in the world, according to a recent study by the World Cities Culture Forum.More pix of the bookstore.
With a population of around 2.8 million, Buenos Aires has at least 734 bookstores – roughly 25 bookshops for every 100,000 inhabitants. Worldwide, only Hong Kong comes close, with 22 bookshops per 100,000, followed by Madrid in a distant third with just 16 and compared to a mere 10 bookshops for every 100,000 for London...
...opened as a theatre in 1919 and converted into a giant bookstore 15 years ago, the Grand Splendid still boasts the beautiful ceiling frescoes painted by an Italian artist almost a century ago. Around 1 million customers visit it each year to browse through its gargantuan 21,000 square feet showroom, or withdraw into one of the old theatre boxes perched for a leisurely read."
"The history of art has been rewritten after archeologists unearthed an astonishing 3,500 year old carving of an ancient Greek battle, depicting human bodies in anatomical detail which was thought way beyond the skill of Bronze Age artisans.
In 2015, the tomb of the so-called ‘Griffin Warrior’ was discovered near the ancient city of Pylos, southwest Greece, containing the remains of a powerful Myceneaen warrior and a treasure trove of burial riches...
The seal, named the ‘Pylos Combat Agate’ has been hailed as one of the finest works of prehistoric Greek art ever discovered and may depict the mythological war between the Trojans and Mycenaeans, which was told in Homer’s Iliad hundreds of years later.
“What is fascinating is that the representation of the human body is at a level of detail and musculature that one doesn’t find again until the classical period of Greek art 1,000 years later."..
Researchers are baffled as to how ancient craftsmen were able to create the minute scene without microscopes.More details at The Telegraph.
“Some of the details on this are only a half-millimeter big,” added Prof Davis. “They’re incomprehensibly small.
Actor Harrison Ford took a swipe at Washington on Thursday night, blasting lawmakers and leaders who deny climate change.More at The Hill.
During a speech to the environmental group Conservation International in Culver City, Calif., where he was receiving an award, Ford said the biggest threat to the United States is leaders that don't understand or accept evidence that human activity is driving rapid climate change.
"We face an unprecedented moment in this country. Today’s greatest threat is not climate change, not pollution, not flood or fire," Ford said, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "It’s that we’ve got people in charge of important shit who don’t believe in science."
Ford, an outspoken and longtime advocate for environmental causes, cast the threat posed by climate change as a dire one in his speech, arguing that unless it is addressed quickly, "nothing else will matter."
"Knowing a book’s relationship to other books often means you know more about it than you do on actually reading it... we also forget a very large percentage of the books we have actually read, and indeed we build a sort of virtual picture of them that consists not so much of what they say but what they have conjured up in our mind. So that if someone who hasn’t read a book cites nonexistent passages or situations from it, we are ready to believe that they are in the book..."Excerpted from an essay by Umberto Eco at The Paris Review (in turn excerpted from Chronicles of a Liquid Society).
"You will accumulate more knowledge and more books as you grow older, and the growing number of unread books on the shelves will look at you menacingly. Indeed, the more you know, the larger the rows of unread books. Let us call this collection of unread books an antilibrary."From Brain Pickings, again citing Umberto Eco.
‘No Way To Prevent This,’ Says Only Nation Where This Regularly Happens
SUTHERLAND SPRINGS, TX—In the hours following a violent rampage in Texas in which a lone attacker killed 27 individuals and seriously injured several others, citizens living in the only country where this kind of mass killing routinely occurs reportedly concluded Sunday that there was no way to prevent the massacre from taking place.Reposted in its entirety from The Onion, which has been reposting this same story repeatedly after mass killings since 2014, changing only names and dates.
In February, just weeks into his presidency, Trump signed a bill eliminating an Obama-era regulation that made it harder for people with mental illnesses to purchase a gun. The rule, which had been finalized in December 2016, added people receiving Social Security checks for mental illnesses and people deemed unfit to handle their own financial affairs to the national background gun-check database. Had the rule fully taken effect, the Obama administration predicted it would have added about 75,000 names to the database.
The National Rifle Association applauded Trump for signing the bill. Chris Cox, the group's chief lobbyist, said at the time that it marked "a new era for law-abiding gun owners, as we now have a president who respects and supports our arms.”
According to extensive research done by the Fondazione Nazionale Carlo Collodi in late 1990s and based on UNESCO sources, it has been adapted in over 260 languages worldwide. That makes it the most translated non-religious book in the world, and one of the best-selling books ever published. According to Francelia Butler, it remains "the most widely read book in the world after the Bible".I was delighted recently to locate a 2005 edition published by The Creative Company. Nobody will be surprised to learn that the 19th century text differs from the Disney version. Collodi's Pinocchio encounters assassins who hang him (top image) when they are unable to stab his wooden body with their "long, horrid" knives (he's rescued by a blue fairy who lives in the distant house).
"Then he fell asleep. And while he slept, his feet, which were wooden, caught fire, and little by little they burned away."