Sunday, June 27, 2010

Lonesome George: The World's Rarest Animal

He calls the Darwin Research center on the Galapagos Islands home.  Researchers have tried, without success, for years to find another of his kind.  He's Lonesome George, the only Pinta Island Turtle left. 

The area George calls home was once full of the turtles but they, like so many other animals, were killed off throughout the years.  Conservationists are trying to restore the animals and ecosystem in the area but it isn't always easy, especially in the case of George. 

Local fishermen, angry that the conservationists have moved in and are trying to save the animals and ecosystem in the area, have been protesting.  They have even gone so far as to barricade the researchers inside the Darwin Research Center and threatened to kill Lonesome George.

The fishermen aren't the only obstacle they have faced.  Researchers have been trying, without success, to get the 80 year-old George to mate.  When sperm collection proved unsuccessful, female tortoises were brought in.  That was fourteen years ago.  George seemed reluctant to mate despite having two beautiful ladies living with him.  Finally, in 2008, after 36 years in captivity, George shocked conservationists by mating for the first time.  However, the eggs laid by one of his female companions turned out to be infertile.

So, George has made progress!  Hopefully, we will shortly have the excellent news that George has once again decided to strike up a courtship with one of the ladies he lives with and there will be some little George's running around at the Darwin Research Center.  Go, George!!!

For more information:
Lonesome George, The Last Galápagos Giant Tortoise, May Become a Dad, July 22, 2009
Galápagos Giant Tortoise Saved From Extinction By Breeding Programme, June 27, 2010

A short video by BBC Worldwide about Lonesome George:

12 Year-Old Norwegian Boy Saves Sister from Moose Attack Thanks to World of Warcraft

Twelve year-old Hans Jørgen Olsen has become a hero after saving himself and his from a moose attack.  The siblings were walking in the forest near their home when a moose started to attack.  Any other 12 year old might be frightened in a situation like this but not Hans.  You see, Hans is a devoted player of the online video game, World of Warcraft (hereafter referred to as "WoW"). 

Young Hans immediately went into WoW mode.  He first "taunted" the moose, using himself as a target to draw the moose away from his sister.  In WoW, "taunting' is used to distract monsters from the more vulnerable team members.  After successfully 'taunting' the moose from his sister, Hans employed a skill he learned at WoW level 30:  he feigned death.  The moose tired of harassing the boy and wandered away.

Kudos to Hans for having the courage to protect his sister from an animal as large as a moose!

I'm a bit of a addict.  You think my top-notch Poppit skills would ever come in handy during hand-to-hand combat with an attacking woodland creature?


King Tutankhamun Died of Blood Disorder, Not Malaria, Study Says

According to German scientists, ancient Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun was probably killed by the genetic blood disorder sickle cell disease instead of malaria as suggested by an earlier research study.

A team from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine announced their findings Wednesday, June 23, 2010 in Hamburg, Germany.  They questioned the conclusions of a major study released in February that suggested by use of DNA testing and CT scans that the young pharaoh had died of malaria after suffering a fall.

The Journal of the American Medical Association published a letter by the German researchers claiming that scrutiny of King Tut's foot bones indicated sickle cell disease.

According to the letter, the German researchers state:  "(The) radiological signs are compatible with osteopathologic lesions seen in sickle cell disease (SCD), a hematological disorder that occurs at gene carrier rates of nine percent to 22 percent in inhabitants of Egyptian oases."

The researchers feel further DNA testing should be done to find a definitive answer as to how the young pharaoh actually did die.

Sickle cell disease is a common genetic disorder where the blood cells form a crescent shape rather than being smooth and round.  This causes blood flow to be blocked and leads to chronic pain, infections and tissue death.

King Tutankhamun died around the age of 19 after ruling Egypt for ten years between 1333 to 1324 B.C as "The Boy King".  The exact cause of his death has long been cause for speculation and rumor.

Source:  Discovery News

Sunday Funnies: The Black Bra

As told by a woman...

I had lunch with 2 of my unmarried friends.
One is engaged, one is a mistress, and I have been married for 20+ years.  We were chatting about our relationships and decided to amaze our men by greeting them at the door wearing a black bra, stiletto heels and a mask over our eyes. We agreed to meet in a few days to exchange notes..

Here's how it all went.

My engaged friend:
The other night when my boyfriend came over he found me with a black leather bodice, tall stilettos and a mask.  He saw me and said, 'You are the woman of my dreams.  I love you.' Then we made passionate love all nightlong.

The mistress:
Me too! The other night I met my lover at his office and I was wearing a raincoat, under it only the black bra, heels and mask over my eyes. When I opened the raincoat he didn't say a word, but he started to tremble and we had wild sex all night.

Then I had to share my story:
When my husband came home I was wearing the black bra, black stockings, stilettos and a mask over my eyes.  When he came in the door and saw me he said,

"What's for dinner, Zorro?"

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lake Michigan Shipwreck Found After 112 Years

Over a century ago, in October 1898, the L.R. Doty, a 300-foot-long wooden steamship was carrying a cargo of corn from South Chicago, Illinois to Ontario, Canada.  A fierce storm on Lake Michigan that produced heavy winds, snow, sleet and waves as high as 30 feet caused the steamship to sink.

By all accounts, the Doty should have been able to withstand the storm.  The ship was a mere five years old and its massive hull was reinforced with steel arches.  But, it had a weakness.  It was towing a small schooner, the Olive Jeanette.  The schooner began to founder in the storm and the tow line snapped.  Experts believe the Doty sank when it came to the aid of the Olive Jeanette.  All 17 of the ships crew members, and two ship's cats, Dewey and Watson, perished when the ship sank.

Until now, the Doty was the largest wooden ship still unaccounted for.  The ship was discovered in the Milwaukee-area shoreline and appears to be completely intact having been preserved by the cold fresh waters.

In 1991, a Milwaukee fisherman reported snagging his nets on an underwater obstruction about 300 feet down.  His report was forgotten until diving technology improved to allow exploration at such a depth.  In recent months, researchers conducted preliminary surface scouting, then used deep-sea technology to finally find the massive wreckage.  Last week, divers were able to go into the waters.  Immediately, they knew they had the Doty.

The Doty is sitting upright and completely intact--including the cargo of corn in the hold--in the clay at the bottom of Lake Michigan.  The ship has been protected for the last 112 years because of the cold waters of Lake Michigan and its depth shielded it from storms.  Brandon Baillod, president of the Wisconsin Underwater Archaeology Association who worked on this find believes the bodies of the 17 crew members are likely intact as well, mostly likely in the boiler room where they believes they probably went as the ship sank.

Baillod believes the rudder chain must have snapped when the Doty was turning to assist the Olive Jeanette leaving the massive steamship at the mercy of the storm.  He imagines the crew must have had at least an hour of knowing they were going to die in the icy Lake Michigan waters before the cargo holds collapsed.

There are no plans to raise the Doty.  Doing so would probably be more harm than good.  As it sits, the ship is protected by the cold Lake Michigan waters and its depth in them.  Raised, the ship would be exposed to air that could cause it to rot away within a few years.  Diver interference isn't something the Doty must worry over either.  The depth of the ship guarantees that few divers will visit it because of the amount of experience one must have to make such a deep and dangerous dive.

For more information, to see an underwater photo of The Doty and to read about Brandon Baillod's next project, please visit the Technology and Science Article.

Update:  More spectacular underwater photographs of The Doty, courtesy of John Scoles, can be seen at this link.  The photographs are amazing quality; very clear and you really get a great look at this amazing find.

CDN Television: Rookie Blue, Episode 1.1 "Fresh Paint"

Rookie Blue is a Canadian police drama airing on the American television network, ABC.  The series, formerly known as Coppers, is set and filmed in Toronto, Ontario, Canada and follows five rookie cops as they embark on their new jobs protecting and serving the citizens of Toronto.

Andy McNally (Missy Peregrym), Dov Epstein (Gregory Smith), Traci Nash (Enuka Okuma), Chris Diaz (Travis Milne) and Gail Peck (Charlotte Sullivan) report for their first day on the job and meet their seasoned partners.  Peck and Epstein are assigned to the station rather than getting jobs on the street.  Andy McNally is partnered with Oliver Shaw and the two are called to a disturbance at a neighborhood crack house that turns into a murder.  On her first day, Andy makes a huge rookie mistake when she arrests an undercover narcotics officer and ends up ruining an eight-month operation.  She later gets the chance to redeem herself in a big way when she arrests the shooter.

Music: Jeffree Star "Beauty Killer"

This isn't a music blog but since I've got the whole potpourri thing going I figure it's alright to make a mention of a song every now and then.

I have an awesome friend who is constantly introducing me to new music that, in all honesty, I never would have known about otherwise.  This is one of the new songs that I definitely wouldn't have ever heard.

Beauty Killer is a new song by Jeffree Star.  This genre of music isn't usually my cup of tea but the chorus to this song is infectious.  Once you hear it, it will get into your head and you'll find yourself humming it later.  Since hearing it, I've had it running through my head and have caught myself singing "I'm a beauty killer" at odd times throughout the day.  I can see this song being very popular in clubs and would be quite surprised if there won't eventually be numerous "DJ remixes" of it showing up around the Internet.

The video is scenes of Jeffree Star wearing pink, blue and blond hair and blue and purple contact lenses intermixed with Star showing off the ladies he has tattooed on his body including the late Princess Diana and Audrey Hepburn.  As with Star's video for Get Away With Murder, the Beauty Killer video is creatively unique and striking and a video you will most definitely remember after seeing.

It's safe to say I really like Beauty Killer so, thank you, awesome friend.  ;-)

Jeffree Star Official Facebook Page
Jeffree Star Official YouTube Channel

Music: Jen Titus "Oh Death"

I don't often mention music here but there are some songs that just beg and plead to be mentioned.  One of those songs is O Death as performed by Jen Titus.

For fans of the mega-fantastic series Supernatural on the CW network this song has become a favorite.  Not only is the song amazingly appropriate for the series (and especially the episode and scene it appeared in) the song itself is phenomenal.

O Death is an old spiritual that was most recently heard in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou.  Chris Donovan, the senior VP and creative executive at the CW network, thought the song would be perfect to use in the advertising campaign for the fifth season of Supernatural.  However, he wanted something fresh, not the old recording of the song.

Enter Jennifer (Jen) Titus, an on-air promotions executive for the CW and someone known amongst her network colleagues for her singing ability.  Titus did a quick demo of the song on her iPhone.  Chris Donovan loved her version and, after making a few tweaks to the lyrics, he sent Jen Titus into the studio to record a polished version.  CW staffers performed background vocals and Leonard Richardson, the CW's music executive mixed the track.

Thus, was born the hypnotic and hauntingly beautiful theme for the fifth season of Supernatural.  The song appears in the promos for the fifth season as well as in the episode Two Minutes to Midnight.  Jennifer Titus has a gorgeous voice that makes this song even more ethereal and captivating.  Yes, the song is about death but it's impossible not to listen to this song and not be completely mesmerized by Titus' amazing voice and the striking presentation.

The song used to be available as a download on the CW's official web site, but, unfortunately, I cannot find it there any longer.

Oh, Death...Oh Death...Oh Death...
Won't you spare me over another year
But what is this, that I can't see
with ice cold hands takin' hold of me
When God is gone and the Devil takes hold
who will have mercy on your soul
Oh, Death...Oh Death...Oh Death...
No wealth, no ruin, no silver, no gold
Nothing satisfies me but your soul
Oh, Death,
Well, I am Death, none can excel,
I'll open the door to heaven or hell.
Oh, Death...Oh Death,
My name is Death and the end ïs here...

The song is in the background in the official Supernatural season 5 trailer presented by the CW Network on their myspace page:

Supernatural Trailer - O Death

CW Network - Supernatural | MySpace Music Videos

President Barack Obama's Vision for NASA: Is it the Doom of US Space Exploration or a Misunderstanding?

There has been a great deal of talk about the plans the Obama administration has for NASA since those plans were announced earlier in the year.  Some feel that the current administration has all but taken the United States out of the business of space exploration.  Just what is the truth about the future of NASA?  Has President Obama sealed its fate or is it just one big misunderstanding?

Leaders at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have recently put together an FAQ about the direction the organization is now headed under the current administration.  They've answered some questions by offering further information to clear up some of the misconceptions about the future of the space program.  NASA would like for the public to focus more on the new directions of the organization, such as their plans to send astronauts to an asteroid by 2025 than on the furor surrounding the Obama administrations plans for NASA.

Is the Space Program Dead in the Water?
According to Leroy Chiao, a former NASA astronaut and member of the Augustine committee, the new administration didn't come in and kill the space program despite what is commonly being said.  Chiao feels that NASA is getting a slight bump from the Obama administration instead.  In 2010 the annual budget for the space administration was $18.3 billion.  The new plan has set aside $19 billion for 2011.  While that isn't a large increase, it isn't a cut, either.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Man Enters Into Wedded Bliss--With a Pillow??

A 28 year old Korean man has finally found Miss Right.  The only thing is, Miss right just so happens to be a pillow.

Lee Jin-gyu has apparently fallen head over heels in love with his "dakimakura", a large, Japanese huggable pillow with the picture of his favorite anime character, Fate Testarossa printed on it.  Fate Testarossa is a character from the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha.

The wedding was a special ceremony complete with a local priest and wedding dress for the "bride".

From all accounts, Lee Jin-gyu takes his pillow everywhere just as he would a real woman.  They go to the funfair together and even out to eat where the pillow gets its own seat and meal.

I know cultures all have their own customs and things can sometimes seem strange from one culture to another, but a pillow??  Really??

For more information and to see a photo of the lovely couple, click here.

Tiny Turtle Thrown in the Trash Reunited with Family

Tuesday, ten-year-old Carley Helm and her two sisters, Rebecca and Annie were on their way home to Milwaukee, Wisconsin from a visit with their father in Atlanta, Georgia.  On a side trip to South Carolina, Carley saw a coin-sized turtle in a souvenir shop.  Her father bought the turtle for her and she named it Neytiri.

When the girls were ready to go home to Milwaukee, Carley thought it would be fine if she took the tiny turtle on the plane with her.  AirTran officials didn't seem to mind either, at first.  As the plane was taxiing, it was called back and the turtle removed from the plane because of a no-reptiles rule AirTran, like most other airlines, have in place. 

Rebecca Helm insists AirTran staff told her to throw the tiny turtle away--something they deny.  Rebecca called their father and he was on his way to the airport to get Neytiri the Turtle.  According to Rebecca, airline staff refused to contact her father to make transfer arrangements so she set Neytiri, tank and all down in a trash bin.  She hoped that if the turtle was left there, her father could retrieve the tiny turtle.

However, when William Helm arrived at the airport, he nor airline employees couldn't find the reptile.  Another AirTran employee had fished the turtle out of the trash, handed it off to a co-worker who had taken it home as a pet for their son.

Neytiri was retrieved and the little boy who thought he had a Yellow-Eared Slider was given two replacement turtles for his loss.  AirTran sent the coin-sized Neytiri to Milwaukee free of charge--in the cargo hold.

I'm so very happy that Neytiri is safely back with her family.  What I'd like to know?  If the airline had no problem sending the turtle to Milwaukee in the cargo hold of the plane the second time around, why all the hubbub originally?  It sure would have spared Carley and her little turtle a lot of misery.

For further details about this story with a very happy ending and to see pictures of the too cute for words Neytiri the Turtle, refer to this article.

Movies & Film: Top 7 Animatronic Movie Beasts

Throughout movie history certain films have required a bit more than what the average actor could give.  When that occurred, it was time to call in the guys and gals who specialized in building complex, and sometimes, malfunctioning animatronic animals and beasts.  After all, dinosaurs no longer roam the earth, no actor in their right mind would want to do scenes with a 3 ton Great White shark and, while gorillas can get pretty big, none have reached 40 feet in height.

The top seven animatronic movie beasts have been compiled by Charles Q. Choi in celebration of the 35th anniversary of the classic film Jaws which opened in theaters on June 20, 1975.

I think Charles Choi did a pretty good job on his list.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Are Humans Destined to Be Extinct Within 100 Years?

Ninety-five year-old Australian microbiologist Professor Frank Fenner is world renown for bringing the myxomatosis virus to rabbits in Australia to control their population in the 1950's.  He's also the man who announced to the World Health Assembly in 1980 that smallpox had been eradicated.  Now, Professor Fenner has made another startling announcement.

In an interview with The Australian, Professor Fenner has revealed his fears that "we're going to become extinct" and that "whatever we do now is too late."

According to Fenner, "Homo sapiens will become extinct, perhaps within 100 years.  A lot of other animals will, too.  It's an irreversible situation.  I think it's too late.  I try not to express that because people are trying to do something but they keep putting it off."

Fenner feels that despite efforts to control global warming and overpopulation issues the fate of humans is already sealed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Robert Pattinson Distantly Related to Dracula??

According to genealogical researchers at, Robert Pattison, famed for playing Edward Cullen in the Twilight series of films isn't the only famous individual known for blood lust in his family tree.

Researchers say Pattison is distantly related to Vlad the Impaler through the relationship both men have to the British royal family.  Pattinson is distant cousins with Princes William and Harry.  Vlad the Impaler is the distant uncle to the Princes.

According to Anastasia Tyler, an genealogist, it was difficult work tracing Pattinson's family back to the 15th century Wallachian prince.  "Without any myth or magic, we find royalty and vampires lurking in Pattinson's life--making his history just as supernatural as the one he's playing on screen."

Manet Self-Portrait Sells for £22 Million

Tuesday, at Sotheby's in London, England a self-portrait of Edouard Manet painted between 1878 and 1879 sold for a record £22,441,250 million British pounds (roughly $33.1 million US dollars).  The painting titled "Edouard Manet with Palette" was one of only two Manet self-portraits and was purchased by an anonymous bidder.

Tuesday's sale is the highest amount ever paid for a Manet painting.  In 1989, a Manet painting fetched £16 at an auction in New York City, New York.

Edouard Manet, a French impressionist, is considered by many to be the father of the Impressionist movement.  Impressionism led to the creation of 'modern art'.  Manet was born January 23, 1832 in Paris, France and died April 30, 1883.  Some of his notable works are "Music in the Tuileries", "Luncheon on the Grass" and "Olympia".

To see "Edouard Manet with Palette", click here.

Australian Television: The Music of City Homicide

I've done four posts on the Australian crime drama City Homicide and I can't talk about that show without talking about the music from it.

Along with delivering a great drama from a stellar cast, City Homicide delivers a wealth of good music.  Virtually every episode of the show has two or three songs in it that adds to the tension, emotion and action of the storyline. 

A couple of years ago, some of the music from the series was collected into a 2 disc soundtrack.  The soundtrack was sold in Australia and available on some Internet music retailers to other countries as an import.  (A full track listing of this soundtrack is at the end of this post.)

In my opinion, Josh Pyke's Goldmines and Into My Arms by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds were two of the stand-out tracks from the soundtrack.

But the soundtrack didn't contain all of the excellent music viewers of City Homicide have been privileged to hear over the course of the three seasons the show has been on the air.  Some of the songs that didn't make the cut for the soundtrack can be found on iTunes as well as on the original albums on which they appear (providing the albums are still in print).  Fans of the show and its music living outside of Australia might have a little trouble finding the songs but some of them are certainly worth the extra legwork to find.  I can't mention them all here, sadly, as it would make the post several pages long.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Great Grandfather" of Lucy Found in East Africa

A 3.6 million year old partial skeleton from the same species as "Lucy" was recently discovered .  The skeleton, Kadanuumuu, meaning "big man", was found in Ethiopia's Afar region, the same place Lucy was found in 1974.  Both skeletons share the species name Australopithecus afarensis.  Australopiths share traits with chimpanzees and humans.  They share protruding faces and small brains with chimpanzees and skeletons built for upright walking with humans.

There isn't much information on Kadanuumu at this point.  I'm sure there will be more released as further research is conducted.

The complete press release from the Cleveland Museum of Natural History regarding Kadanummu can be found here.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fmr. Astronaut & US Senator John Glenn: America Should Continue Flying Its Shuttles

On Monday, June 21, 2010, John Glenn released an eight-page open letter expressing his concerns about the future of the American space program.

According to Glenn, the United States shouldn't retire its fleet of Space Shuttles but instead continue flying them.  The shuttle fleet is scheduled to be fully retired either at the end of this year or early next year.  When that happens, the United States will be left without its own source of travel to and from the International Space Station for a very long time.

Glenn believes that the current shuttles are capable of continuing space flight carrying American astronauts into space and delivering astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station rather than the United States relying on, and paying, the Soviet Union to perform those tasks.  When the shuttle fleet retires, American astronauts will be hitching rides on the Soviet Soyuz for a fee.  Glenn believes the United States will spend almost as much paying the Soviets as they would sending their own vessels into space.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Funnies: Crazy Laws from Each US State

It's a good thing the Grammy Awards weren't held in North Carolina this past year or Taylor Swift's performance with Stevie Nicks would have put her in a world of trouble!  God bless the state of Kentucky for making sure its residents always stay clean.  I think I might retire to Louisiana because I'm considering being rather cranky when I get older.  And I'm very glad I don't live and date in Idaho. 

It’s illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church.

Whispering in someone’s ear while he’s moose hunting is prohibited.

Cutting down a cactus may earn you a twenty-five-year prison term.

It’s illegal to mispronounce the name of the state of Arkansas.

You may not eat an orange in your bathtub.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Gulf Sea Turtles Getting Some Much-Needed Survival Help

Yesterday, I had a small update for you about Kevin Costner's "dream machines" going to work in the Gulf oil spill.  Today, I have another update relating to the Gulf oil spill.  This one is about the sea turtles that have been affected by the spill.

There are five species of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico and all five are protected as endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has documented some 278 sea turtles that have been stranded by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.  Sadly, many of those turtles died.  Federal officials have unfortunately found more dead than living sea turtles in the Gulf.  Forty turtles that have managed to survive the spill are being washed up and given special care at the Audubon Aquarium in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Now, the staff of the National Aquarium and the Maryland state's veterinarian are preparing to lend a hand to help the endangered sea turtles from the Gulf.  The National Aquarium is already housing four turtles from the New England area that they are hoping to be able to release some time this month to make room for turtles from the Gulf.

The National Aquarium works to "rescue, rehabilitate and release".  They want the injured animals back in their natural habitats so they can flourish there rather than in captivity.  They are capable of caring for six to ten animals at a time and are ready to help when they get the call.

Pneumonia from inhaling fumes, ulcerations from ingesting oil, starvation and fouled nesting areas are some of the problems the turtles face because of the disaster in the Gulf.

If you would like to read more about this development, please check out the article appearing on The Baltimore Sun web site.

Australian Television: City Homicide, Season Three

Season three of City Homicide consisted of eighteen one-hour episodes that aired in 2009.  Episodes one and two, Money Shot and Meet and Greet, aired on the same night as the season three premiere. 

Episode 3.1 & 3.2:  The Money Shot & Meet and Greet
Original Air Date:  August 10, 2009
The Money Shot:  A photographer is murdered because of photographs in his possession that could implicate a crime boss in a murder.  The team must catch the killer while protecting the photographers widow and newborn baby, which Duncan helps to deliver.  Duncan Freeman returns to work strong, looking amazing and at the top of his game after the brutal bashing he took in season two.  Simon Joyner has problems dealing with what happened to Duncan.
Meet and Greet:  The Homicide Unit gets a new member:  Allie Kingston.  A man is brutally raped and murdered.  Evidence points to a local video dating service but as the team delves deeper into the case they see that the innocent victim might not be so innocent after all. 

Episode 3.3:  Chop Shop
Original Air Date:  August 17, 2009
A police constable and friend of Matt Ryan is killed in the line of duty.  As Matt struggles with the loss of his friend, the team becomes involved in the murder of a young Greek man that leads them to a wrecking yard that is already under investigation by Serious Crime for being a chop shop.  Could the two crimes be related somehow?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Kevin Coster's "Dream Machines" Have Started Work in the Gulf

As you might remember, a while back, I blogged about an effort by actor Kevin Costner to help with the environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. To recap, Coster, his brother and the company they established developed a vacuum-like machine that can supposedly remove up to 97% of oil from water.

Well, the machines have made their debut in the Gulf of Mexico.

Thirty-two of Costner's "dream machines" are going out into the waters on an oil finding barge.  Over the next 60 days, the 32 machines will start to do their thing. 

I truly hope this works.  Something has to work in the Gulf.

To read a bit more about this, check out this short article.

The Scourge of Summer: Tick-Borne Illnesses

It's that time of year again, folks.  Summer is arriving in all its glory.  It's time to enjoy family get togethers, endless amounts of sunshine, picnics, swimming and for spending time at the beach.  Unfortunately, not everything about summer is all fun and good times.  Along with the good things of summer come the bad things:  ticks.

If you live in an area of the world where ticks are a problem you know all too well about the nasty little bloodsuckers and the problems they can cause.  They cling to the high grass and weeds in your yard, in the woods and even on the backs of the leaves on the trees and wait for a warm-blooded creature to come by.  It might be your family dog or it might be you that is unlucky enough to pass by the waiting pest.  When something does brush past, the tick leaves its station and works its way to a warm part of the body where it can attach itself to the skin and begin to feed.  If you are lucky, you catch it before it has a chance to attach itself to your skin.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Australian Television: City Homicide, Season Two

Season two of City Homicide consisted of twenty-two one hour episodes that aired in the latter part of 2008 and early 2009. 

Episode 2.1:  Thicker Than Water
Original Air Date:  June 30, 2008
The detectives are called in to investigation the stabbing murder of a woman found in a dumpster.  At first, they suspect a random encounter gone bad, but when her ex-husband is later found stabbed the case takes on a new twist.  Meanwhile, Stanley Wolfe's marriage is in trouble.

Episode 2.2:  Somersaulting Dogs
Original Air Date:  July 7, 2008
A gifted teenager is found hanging in the bathroom of a high school, an apparent suicide.  But, the investigation points towards homicide over suicide and the detectives learn of something dark afoot at the school thanks to a hidden computer file.  Away from the office, Matt Ryan's colleagues and friends are eager to meet the new lady in his life, Emma, after she makes a surprise visit to see him at the office.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Australian Television: City Homicide, Season One

Season one of City Homicide consisted of fourteen (14) hour-long episodes that aired in the latter part of 2007.  The pilot to the series was in two parts, both of which aired on the same night.  Season one is available on DVD in Australia.

Episode, 1.1 & Episode 1.2:  In the Hands of Giants
Original Air Date:  August 27, 2007
After being called in to investigate the suicide of Natalie Pierce, the detectives of the Homicide Division discover that there is more to the investigation than just an open and closed suicide.  An encounter with a mysterious suspect who "looks like Clark Kent" leads the detectives to a string of house fires responsible for the deaths of several children.  The team must prevent more children from dying.  Meanwhile, Simon Joyner finds himself in a bit of a jam after losing his credentials during a tryst with the wife of a fellow police officer.

Episode 1.3:  Lie Down with Dogs
Original Air Date:  September 3, 2007
Homicide detectives are called in when the body of a well-known criminal, Michael Booth, is discovered in a crypt--a crypt that doesn't belong to Booth or his family.  The Homicide and Armed Robbery Squads both have an interest in the Booth family but for different reasons.  Matters get complicated when it is learned that Booth and his lawyer were involved in a long-term affair and had a son together.  A shooting involving Mapplethorpe and Joyner leaves them with questions.  Out of the office, Duncan learns something unpleasant about his fiance, Claire.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Australian Television: City Homicide, An Introduction

"No greater honour will ever be bestowed upon an officer than when they are entrusted with an investigation into the death of a Human Being."

So begins each episode of City Homicide.

City Homicide is an Australian dramatic television series created and written by John Banas and John Hugginson.  It deals with the cases and daily lives of a small group of homicide detectives and their superiors.  They manage to do their jobs while struggling not only with personal demons but with department politics.

In a scripted drama of this nature, it would be easy for the show to become exactly like every single other crime drama with just a different set of characters.  Murder is murder and detection is detection.  However, with good writing and interesting plot twists, a show can stand out amongst its peers.  City Homicide does that, in my opinion, and proves that not all crime dramas are created alike. 

Sunday, June 13, 2010

BBC One Dramatic Series "Luther" To Air in America

Great news for American fans of UK television and great psychological dramas.  It was recently announced the the UK drama Luther starring Idris Elba in the lead role as DCI John Luther will be airing later this year on BBC America. 

Luther currently has one fully-aired UK season under it's belt consisting of six, sixty-minute episodes.  As of right now there has been no determination by BBC as to whether or not there will be a second season of the show produced.

For more information about this exciting news and more information on the show, please visit the BBC America Press page for Luther.

Hopefully, the fact the show will be airing in the United States means Luther will see a US DVD release.

Sunday Funnies: A Brush With the Law

Things You Never Want To Hear A Policeman Say
  1. "The handcuffs are tight because they're new. They'll stretch out after you wear them awhile."
  2. "If you run, you'll only go to jail tired."
  3. "So, you don't know how fast you were going. I guess that means I can write anything I want on the ticket, huh?"
  4. "Yes sir, you can talk to the shift supervisor, but I don't think it will help. Oh, did I mention that I am the shift supervisor?"
  5. "Warning! You want a warning? O.K., I'm warning you not to do that again or I'll give you another ticket."
  6. "The answer to this last question will determine whether you are drunk or not. Was Mickey Mouse a cat or dog?"
  7. "Yeah, we have a quota. Two more tickets and my wife gets a toaster oven."
  8. "Life's tough, it's tougher if you're stupid."
  9. "No sir, we don't have quotas anymore. We used to have quotas, but now we're allowed to write as many tickets as we want."
  10. "Just how big were those two beers?
  11. "In God we trust, all others are suspects."

Things You Should Never Say To A Policeman
  1. Sorry, Officer, I didn't realize my radar detector wasn't plugged in.
  2. Aren't you the guy from the Village People?
  3. Hey, you must've been doin' about 125 mph to keep up with me. Good job!
  4. Are You Andy or Barney?
  5. I thought you had to be in good physical condition to be a police officer.
  6. You're not gonna check the trunk, are you?
  7. I pay your salary!
  8. Gee, Officer! That's terrific. The last officer only gave me a warning, too!
  9. Do you know why you pulled me over? Okay, just so one of us does.
  10. I was trying to keep up with traffic. I know there are no other cars around. That's how far ahead of me they are.
  11. When the Officer says "Gee Son....Your eyes look red, have you been drinking?" You probably shouldn't respond with, "Gee Officer your eyes look glazed, have you been eating doughnuts?"

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Sydney, Australia: Ninja's to the Rescue!

File this under the "does it get any cooler than this" section.

On May 20, 2010, the Sydney Morning Herald in Sydney, Australia reported that a 27 year-old German medical exchange student was viciously assaulted by muggers.  That might not have been a story that would have caught many eyes had it not been for the student's unlikely rescuers:  ninjas.

Yes, you read that right, ninjas.  The student was being mugged in an alleyway adjacent to a ninja warrior school, Ninja Senshi Ryu.  Kaylan Soto, the school's sensai instructed his students to confront the muggers attacking the German student.  The students, in full black ninja garb did so and have become hero's in Sydney.

First, I have to say this is super cool.  Ninjas! 

Second, can you imagine what went through the muggers minds when they saw all of these black-garbed ninja warriors heading for them?  I'm sure that next time they decide to mug some poor soul they will be sure to pay special notice that they aren't around a ninja warrior school! 

Kudos to Sensai Soto and his students for teaching the muggers a lesson they hopefully will not forget anytime soon.

You can read a bit more about this at Yahoo! News.  There's a photo of three of the green belt ninja warriors from the Ninja Senshi Ryu on The web site.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BBC One Dramatic Series: Luther, Episode 1.6

As I suspected last week, the season finale of Luther does end with a bang--both literally and figuratively.  This episode is packed full of tension, excitement and jaw-dropping moments as John Luther is being hunted by his law enforcement colleagues as the murderer of his beloved ex-wife, Zoe.  Unlikely alliances are formed and we see actions from characters that are shockingly out-of-character from what they've done in past episodes.  Emotions run high on both sides of the fence.  Luther is angry and wanting revenge for Zoe's murder.  Reed is struggling with inner demons and trying to balance his greed with the fact he killed Zoe.  The police are having to hunt one of their own for a brutal crime. 

I actually found myself talking to the characters in this episode.  Urging them on to do certain things they were doing or telling them not to do something.  I love it when a show makes me do that.  When I become so involved in the show that I actually think I can convince a character to do something.  That's excellent drama.  This show has characters that I care about and want to see how things turn out for them.  The only bad thing about this episode that I could see was that it is the last Luther of this first season.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Stephen Fry in America, Episode Six: Pacific

Stephen Fry in America
Episode 6, Pacific
The original air date for this episode on BBC One was November 16, 2008.

All good things must come to and end and, alas, Stephen Fry in America is no exception.  We've covered thousands of miles and 45 states with our fearless host in his little black London cab.  In this episode, we visit the last five states in the Union.

We start in San Fransisco, California.  Trolley cars, hills, the Painted Ladies and Chinatown.  Stephen tours Chinatown and sees fortune cookies being made and gets to taste a freshly made and still hot chocolate cookie.  He heads to Nob Hill to speak with Jonathan Ive, design guru for Apple Computers.  As well all know, Stephen is a huge fan of Apple products.  Stephen drives across the famous Golden Gate Bridge on his way to Mendocino County to ride with Sheriff Tom Ullman who is on the front line of the "weed growing" in California.  Stephen attends a quick firearms class in preparation for the bust he is getting ready to attend with the officers.  He gets to shoot a "Dirty Harry" magnum.  It's clear to see that Stephen isn't completely comfortable with firearms from his handling of the gun.  Stephen is fitted with a bulletproof vest and we set off for the bust.  The cameras go inside to see what the police have taken in the bust.  Sheriff Ullman tells Stephen that marijuana sells for roughly $2,500-3,000 a pound and each plant can produce two pounds.  The grow rooms are full of marijuana plants.  Thousands upon thousands of possible dollars of weed.  Stephen leaves the drugs and heads for Humboldt University to a cafe where there is an all-female amateur performer night. 

Sunday Funnies: I May Be Six Minutes Late

There was a man named George who got a new job. His fellow employees always met for a round of golf every Saturday. They asked George to meet them at 10:00 a.m. Saturday morning. George replied that he would love to meet them, but he may be 6 minutes late.

On Saturday morning George was there at exactly 10:00 a.m.. He golfed right handed and won the round.

The Following Saturday rolls around, and George says that he will be there, but he may be 6 minutes late again. He shows up right on time, golf's left handed, and wins the round. This continues for the next few weeks, with George always saying that he may be 6 minutes late, and then always winning the round golfing, either left or right handed.

The other employees are getting tired of this, and decided to ask him what the deal was.

They said, ''George, every Saturday you say you may be six minutes late.

You never are. Then you show up and golf with either right handed or left handed, and always win. What is up with that?

George replies, ''Well, I am a very superstitious kind of guy.  Every Saturday when I wake up, I look over at my wife. If she is sleeping On her left side, I golf left handed. If she is sleeping on her right side, I golf right handed.''

''Well,'' one of the employees questioned, ''What happens if she is laying on her back?''

George replies, ''Then I am 6 minutes late.''

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stephen Fry in America, Episode Five: The True West

Stephen Fry in America
Episode 5, True West
The original air date for this episode on BBC One was November 9, 2008.

This, the second-to-last installment of Stephen Fry in America is full from the first second to the last with breathtaking scenes and great humor as we tour one of the most spectacular parts of the United States, the American West.

Episode five opens in New Mexico with Stephen riding in a hot air balloon high over the Rio Grande Rift.  He moves on to Taos, New Mexico where he visits one of the "earthships" of the desert.  He speaks with founder, Mike Reynolds about the self-sustaining homes built with refuse such as old tires, cans, etc.  For a home built essentially with garbage, it is quite lovely.  The idea of the homes is that a family of four could live in one with absolutely no utility bills and still have plenty of water and food.  The home employs solar panels to generate power.  Reynolds explains how the homes fully sustain themselves and the residents needn't go without a single modern convenience.  He arrives in Santa Fe, New Mexico and visits "Post Office Box 1663".  Stephen takes us to Los Alamos past the Center for Integral Nanotechnologies and to the Quark Bar.  Terry Wallace and Stephen discuss the research conducted in Los Alamos today.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Major Mystery of the 20th Century Solved?

For seventy-three years it has been one of the most intriguing mysteries to capture international attention. 

On July 2, 1937, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan took from from Lae with the intended destination of Howland Island some 2,556 miles away.  The last known position of Earhart and Noonan was a mere 800 miles into the flight near the Nukumanu Islands.  Approximately one hour after Earhart's last message, the United States Coast Guard (USCG) ship Itasca began search efforts that proved to be unsuccessful.  No trace of Earhart's twin-engine plane, a 1935 Lockheed Electra 10E, or of Earhart and Noonan were to be found.  The search was called off July 19, 1937.  To that point in history, the $4 million air and sea search by the USCG and US Navy was the most expensive and intense search in United States history.

In the years since that historic flight, Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan have been the subject of much spectulation, rumor and theory.  Just what did happen on that fateful day in July 1937?  Did they crash into the sea and drown?  Did they crash on Saipan Island and were executed by Japanese troops?  Perhaps we shall never know.  Or will we?

New clues have surfaced that might just solve the mystery once and for all.

Over the course of twenty-one years and ten visits, researchers have scoured Nikumaroro, a remote island in the South Pacific where they believe Earhart and Noonan spent their final days.  The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR) has found several artifacts they feel might shed a little more light on the Earhart disappearance.  Three pieces of a pocket knife and fragments of a broken cosmetic jar are the latest artifacts that have been found.  According to Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR believes that "touch DNA" can be taken from the objects and compared to an Earhart DNA reference sample held by a DNA lab working with TIGHAR. 

Nikumaroro lies approximately 300 miles southeast of Earhart and Noonan's original destination of Howland Island. 

The researchers will be working on the island through June 17, 2010.

For more in-depth reading of this fascinating development in the interesting story of Amelia Earhart and Fred Noonan please read the Technology and Science article and visit the TIGHAR web site.  The TIGHAR site contains photographs of a couple of of the artifacts recovered on Nikumaroro.

Stephen Fry in America, Episode Four: Mountains and Plains

Stephen Fry in America
Episode 4, Mountains and Plains
The original air date for this episode on BBC One was November 2, 2008.

In the state of Montana Stephen starts his journey at the Airborne Border Patrol Headquarters in Great Falls.  He flies along the 49th Parallel with the Airborne Border Patrol.  He speaks with Agent John Miller who takes him to the American/Canadian border.  He holds his hand over the barbed wire fence so his hand is in Canada while his body is in the United States.  He stands on a marker with his right foot in the United States and his left foot in Canada--literally straddling the 49th Parallel.  He drives to Glacier National Park and takes in the gorgeous scene in front of him.  Beautiful mountains, crystal clear water, blue and white skies and white snow.  He heads into southern Montana to visit Ted Turner at his two million acre ranch to see the 46,000 bison he owns.  Stephen and Turner drive out onto one of his ranches to see the bison after having breakfast.  They get out of the car to walk to view the bison closer and Stephen asks what reaction he should have if they charge to which Turner simply replies "run like hell".

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Stephen Fry in America, Episode Three: Mississippi

Stephen Fry in America
Episode 3, Mississippi
The original air date for this episode on BBC One was October 26, 2008.

The "Mighty Mississippi River" is the theme of this entire episode.  Stephen follows it from the southernmost tip of the river in Louisiana to its source in Minnesota.

We start our journey in Louisiana where Stephen is in the French Quarter in New Orleans on Mardi Gras.  He is sporting a broken arm, the same break he received during a bad fall while filming another excellent documentary series Last Chance to see.  (For a top-notch recap of the entire Last Chance to See documentary please visit the "A Media Mindset" blog.)  He takes us to see Sallie Ann Glassman, a Voodoo priestess and attends a Voodoo celebration.  Glassman describes Voodoo as a mix of African traditions that came over with the slaves, European Catholicism, Native American practices and Masonry; "a gumbo of all those traditions".  He tours some of the destruction of Hurricane Katrina in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans with Isiah.  He takes a ferry ride up the Mississippi on his way to his next stop:  the Louisiana State Penitentiary, also known as "Angola" or "The Farm".  It houses some 5,000 prisoners and employs 1,800 staff members.  He tours the 18,000 acre prison campus with the warden, Burl Cain.  He sees the workshop where prisoners make wheelchairs and items to assist the handicapped.  While the security might seem lax, the prisoners know that if they try and escape, if the guards don't get them, the wild hogs, alligators, snakes, bears and other panthers that roam the woods near the prison very well might.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BBC One Dramatic Series: Luther, Episode 1.6 Trailer

BBC One has uploaded a trailer for the season finale of Luther.  It appears this season is going to end with a big bang!

I've greatly enjoyed this first season of Luther and I sincerely hope we will be getting a second season of this, excellent, smart and tension-filled drama.

BBC One Dramatic Series: Luther, Episode 1.5

This episode was amazing!  The ending was full of action and a huge surprise.  I wouldn't have expected the events that unfolded at the end to have happened at all. 

Episode five offers up several interesting plot twists and surprises.  The first surprise for me was when Luther asked Ripley to send information about an American suspect they had to a "Detective Munch in New York who works Special Victims".  Having been a fan of Richard Belzer's Detective John Munch character from the days he first appeared on Homicide:  Life on the Streets to his current stint on Law & Order:  Special Victims Unit it was quite a treat to see him mentioned in Luther.  I was really hoping to see John Munch, even for a few seconds, but, alas, that didn't happen.

As with each episode in this series thus far, this show delivers excellent tension and intriguing twists.  We have a heartless American bad guy, a good guy gone bad and a heartbreaking event at the end of the show.  There was a lot packed into the episode and it set the scene for next weeks season finale beautifully.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Stephen Fry in America, Episode Two: The Deep South

Stephen Fry in America
Episode 2, The Deep South
The original air date for this episode on BBC One was October 19, 2008.

In this, the second part of Stephen Fry in America, Stephen leaves the hustle and bustle of the busy eastern United States and heads for the more laid back life of the Deep South.  In this episode, Stephen encounters colorful locations and even more colorful people.

Our first stop is the state of Virginia where Stephen watches a military parade at Arlington National Cemetery on Veterans Day. 

Next, we move on to West Virginia.  Stephen gives us the story of the Mason-Dixon line and actually takes us to the stone marking the line itself.  For something that is so famously referred to by many in the South, the Mason-Dixon line is in a remote location with not even a formal sign marking it.  Stephen next visits a coal mine where he gears up and goes down into the mine with the brave men who work it.  It is a dark and frightening place he goes into.  It's like a hot, black and endless tomb.  And with all the recent stories of mine cave-in's that have been in the U.S. news, I can't help but look at the faces in this episode and wonder if they are all still alive.  They truly are brave men.