Archive for December, 2010

December 19, 2010

Captain Harlock

Captain Harlock is a fictional character created by manga artist Leiji Matsumoto. Harlock is the archetypical romantic hero, a space pirate with an individualist philosophy of life. He is as noble as he is taciturn and rebellious; he stoically fights against totalitarian regimes, whether they be earthborn or alien.

The character was introduced in Adventures of a Honeybee (1953), but did not debut as a lead character until 1978’s Space Pirate Captain Harlock. Since then, he has appeared in numerous animated TV series and films, the latest of which re-imagines him as an Iron Cross fighter pilot and a gunslinger in the American Old West.

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December 19, 2010

Interstella 5555

interstella 55551

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem’ is a 2003 feature-length Japanese animated musical film set to French duo, Daft Punk’s second studio album, ‘Discovery.’ The film depicts the abduction and rescue of an interstellar pop band. The film was produced by Daft Punk and Toei Animation, under the supervision of famed managa and anime artist, Leiji Matsumoto. The film has no dialogue and minimal sound effects. Daft Punk’s concept for the project involved the merging of science fiction with entertainment industry culture and was further developed with their collaborator Cédric Hervet.

All three brought the album and the completed story to Tokyo in the hope of creating the film with their childhood hero, Leiji Matsumoto. Many elements common to Matsumoto’s stories, such as a romanticism of noble sacrifice and remembrance of fallen friends, appear in ‘Interstella 5555.’ Daft Punk revealed in an interview that ‘Captain Harlock’ was a great influence on them in their childhood. They also stated, ‘The music we have been making must have been influenced at some point by the shows we were watching when we were little kids.’

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December 19, 2010

ALDI

ALDI, short for ‘Albrecht Discount,’ is a discount supermarket chain based in Germany founded by brothers Karl Albrecht and Theo Albrecht in 1913. Karl has since retired and is Germany’s richest man. Theo was Germany’s second richest man until his death in July 2010. The Aldi group operates about 8,210 individual stores worldwide. A new store opens every week in Britain alone.

Originally Aldi stores were ridiculed as being cheap shops selling low-quality goods, and that Aldi’s customers were mostly people who could not afford to shop elsewhere. Gradually many German consumers discovered that the poor reputation of Aldi’s products was either undeserved or economically justifiable. This shift in public perception was boosted by actions like a series of cookbooks that only used Aldi ingredients, which led to the emergence of a kind of Aldi fandom into parts of the German mainstream.

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December 19, 2010

Fibromyalgia

fibromyalgia

Fibromyalgia [fahy-broh-mahy-al-juh] (latin for muscle and connective tissue pain) is a medical disorder characterized by chronic widespread pain and allodynia (pain in response to something that should not cause pain, like a light touch). It is estimated to affect 2–4% of the population, with a female to male incidence ratio of approximately 9:1, but is considered a controversial diagnosis, due to lacking scientific consensus to its cause. Not all members of the medical community consider it a disease because of a lack of abnormalities on physical examination and the absence of objective diagnostic tests.

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December 17, 2010

Oscar Zeta Acosta

Oscar Zeta Acosta (1935 – disappeared 1974) was an American attorney, politician, and minor novelist, perhaps best known for his friendship with the American author Hunter S. Thompson, who characterized him as his Samoan Attorney, Dr. Gonzo, in his novel ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.’ In 1967, Acosta began working as an antipoverty attorney for the East Legal Aid Society in Oakland, California. In 1968 he moved to East Los Angeles and joined the Chicano Movement as an activist attorney. His controversial defense earned him the ire of the LAPD, who considered the ‘Brown Pride’ movement more dangerous than the Black Panthers.

In the summer of 1967 Acosta met Hunter S. Thompson, who would write an article on Acosta and the injustice in the barrios of East L.A. for ‘Rolling Stone’ in 1971 titled ‘Strange Rumblings in Aztlan.’ When working on the article, Thompson and Acosta visited Las Vegas (inspiring Hunter’s later novel on the city). In 1972, Acosta disappeared while traveling in Mexico. His son, Marco Acosta, believes that he was the last person to talk to his father. In May 1972, Acosta telephoned his son, telling him that he was ‘about to board a boat full of white snow.’ Marco is later quoted in reference to his father’s disappearance: ‘The body was never found, but we surmise that probably, knowing the people he was involved with, he ended up mouthing off, getting into a fight, and getting killed.’

December 17, 2010

Bodyflight

vertical wind tunnel

Bodyflight is the art of ‘flying your body’ in a controlled manner. This include turns, rolls, lateral movement, fall rate control, and other acrobatics in the air. The skill of bodyflight makes it possible for skydivers to fly closer to each other while they are falling, to allow them to link together in formation skydiving, then fly apart to a safe distance before opening parachutes. Many skills of bodyflight can be learned in a vertical wind tunnel, to enable skydivers to become better at controlling their bodies in the sky.

The first human to fly in a vertical wind tunnel was Jack Tiffany in 1964 at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. The first recreational vertical wind tunnel was developed by a Canadian company named AERODIUM in Quebec, patented as the ‘Levitationarium’ in 1979.

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December 17, 2010

Manhattan Project

manhattan engineer district

war dept certificate

The Manhattan Project was the codename for a project conducted during World War II to develop the first atomic bomb, before the Germans or the Japanese. The project was led by the United States, and included participation from the United Kingdom and Canada. From 1942 to 1946 the project was under the command of Major General Leslie R. Groves, Jr. of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Robert Oppenheimer was the scientific director.

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December 17, 2010

Hobo Nickel

Hobo Nickels

The hobo nickel is a sculptural art form involving the creative modification of small-denomination coins, essentially resulting in miniature bas reliefs. The nickel, because of its size, thickness, and relative softness, was a favored coin for this purpose. Due to its low cost and portability, this medium was particularly popular among hobos, hence the name. Common hobo nickels sell for $5 or $10, and rarer or more desirable coins sell for hundreds of dollars.

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December 17, 2010

Love Token

Love Tokens are custom engraved coins given as a gift. They were especially popular in the 1750s in the United States. They are made by machine-smoothing a coin (usually silver) on one or both sides, then engraving it with initials, monograms, names, scenes, etc., often with an ornate border. They can be mounted on pins or incorporated into bracelets and necklaces. The love token fad faded out in the early 20th century; love tokens engraved on buffalo nickels are quite rare and prized by collectors of ‘hobo nickels’ (altered coins).

December 16, 2010

Amplified Cactus

Amplified Cactus

An amplified cactus is a cactus plant used as a musical instrument. It harnesses the acoustic properties of a cactus (preferably a Denmoza or Geohintonia), by applying contact microphones and amplifying their projection and tone. The effect is somewhat ethereal: Vivien Schweitzer of The New York Times reports ‘Jason Treuting played an amplified cactus, running his hand over the plant’s unfriendly spikes to produce an alluring sound like a babbling brook.’

The amplified cactus is a medium rarely written for, even in the contemporary music genre. John Cage, perhaps one of the most recognizable names in the contemporary music genre, composed Child of Tree (1975) and Branches (1976) for what he described as ‘amplified plant materials.’ Cage was a large proponent of chance music and felt that the organic nature of music without man-made instruments was very strong and influential. Another of the most famous pieces for amplified cactus is called Degrees of Separation ‘Grandchild of Tree’ by Paul Rudy which received mention at the Bourges International Competition for Electroacoustic Music in 2000.

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December 16, 2010

Deck Prism

deck prism

A deck prism (sometimes called a deadlight) is a prism inserted into the deck of a ship to provide light down below. For centuries, sailing ships used deck prisms to provide a safe source of natural sunlight to illuminate areas below decks Before electricity, light below a vessel’s deck was provided by candles, oil and kerosene lamps – all dangerous aboard a wooden ship. The deck prism was a clever solution: laid flush into the deck, the glass prism refracted and dispersed natural light into the space below from a small deck opening without weakening the planks or becoming a fire hazard.

In normal usage, the prism hangs below the ceiling and disperses the light sideways; the top is flat and installed flush with the deck, becoming part of the deck. A plain flat glass would just form a single bright spot below– not very useful general illumination– hence the prismatic shape. On colliers (coal ships), prisms were also used to keep check on the cargo hold; light from a fire would be collected by the prism and be made visible on the deck even in daylight.

December 16, 2010

Drug Policy of Portugal

The current drug policy of Portugal was put in place in 2000, to be legally effective from July 2001. The EU had in effect forced the Portuguese government to make radical measures to reduce Portugal’s record high incidence of HIV/AIDS. In 1999 Portugal had the highest rate of HIV amongst injecting drug users in the European Union.

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