So it’s finally happened. Breaking news (and so likely to change as the day goes on), reported by the New York Times:
Hundreds of police officers early Tuesday cleared the park in Lower Manhattan that had been the nexus of the Occupy Wall Street movement, arresting dozens of people there after warning that the nearly two-month-old camp would be “cleared and restored” but that demonstrators who did not leave would face arrest.
The protesters, about 200 of whom have been staying in the park overnight, initially resisted with chants of “Whose park? Our park!”
The massive operation in and around Zuccotti Park was intended to empty the birthplace of a protest movement that has inspired hundreds of tent cities from coast to coast. On Monday in Oakland, Calif., hundreds of police officers raided the main encampment there, arresting 33 people. Protesters returned later in the day. But the Oakland police said no one would be allowed to sleep there anymore, and promised to clear a second camp nearby.
The police action was quickly challenged as lawyers for the protesters obtained a temporary restraining order barring the city and the park’s private landlord from evicting protesters or removing their belongings. It was not immediately clear how the city would respond. The judge, Justice Lucy Billings of State Supreme Court Judge in Manhattan, scheduled a hearing for later Tuesday.
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, who scheduled a news conference for Tuesday morning, had issued a statement explaining the reasoning behind the sweep. “The law that created Zuccotti Park required that it be open for the public to enjoy for passive recreation 24 hours a day,” the mayor said in the statement. “Every since the occupation began, that law has not been complied with” because the protesters had taken over the park, “making it unavailable to anyone else.”…
The interwebs are buzzing with conspiracy theories regarding mysterious lines in China’s Gobi Desert seen from space. Ted Thornhill reports for the Daily Mail:
A Google Maps satellite has spotted a series of bizarre structures during a sweep of the Gobi desert in China.
The internet is buzzing with theories about what their purpose is, with suggestions ranging from giant QR readers to practise targets for military satellites.
To add to the intrigue, they are located on the borders of Gansu province and Xinjiang in northwestern China – an area that the superpower uses to build military, space and nuclear equipment.
In fact, some of the sites are less than 100 miles from Jiuquan, where China’s space programme headquarters and launch pads can be found.
Some internet users have been trying to overlay one of the strange structures on to various U.S. city maps, worried that there may be a sinister military purpose behind them.
Others have pointed out that if China wanted to attack a U.S. city, it doesn’t need a practise map in the desert.
However, upon zooming in, planes and burnt-out trucks can be seen on some of the photographs, which hints that they may indeed be targets of some kind…
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The New York Times‘ lead music critic Jon Pareles has written an excellent account of the three-day festival, which you can read here, but I thought fans of Moog music might enjoy the liner notes written in 1999 by Bob for the first (and only) disinformation CD, Best Of Moog: Electronic Pop Hits From The 60’s & 70’s:
We began making electronic music instruments in 1964 and began calling them “synthesizers” in 1967. Back then, most of our customers were experimental composers in universities and conservatories. Their music was “at the fringe”, to say the least. Meanwhile, out in the mainstream of our musical culture, record producers and performing musicians tended to think of the Moog Synthesizer as an instrument that could make funny sounds, but you couldn’t make “real music” with it.
But not all musicians were so shortsighted. Moog’s second synthesizer customer ever was Eric Siday, a New York composer who specialized in radio and television commercials. Siday’s “five-second compositions”, which he performed on his Moog Synthesizer, were heard by millions of listeners and viewers across the land. During the same period, in midtown Manhattan, Jean-Jacques Perrey and Gershon Kingsley were working out the moves to produce music directly on multi-track tape, using conventionally recorded sounds along with their Moog Synthesizer. And, just a few blocks away, Dick Hyman was applying his formidable keyboard skills to his brand new Moog synth. Hyman’s record “MOOG”, and Perrey/Kingsley’s record “The In Sound from Way Out” were two of the earliest albums that demonstrated that, yes, you could indeed make “real music” with a Moog Synthesizer.
Meanwhile, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones were enjoying enormous popularity, the Grateful Dead were rising fast, and listeners everywhere were developing a taste for new sounds. By the end of 1968, Columbia Records had introduced a whole series of experimental and electronic music. They called the series “M.O.O.T.”, for “Music Of Our Time.” Included in that series was Switched-on Bach, a recording of the music of J. S. Bach, realized by W. Carlos entirely on the Moog Synthesizer. Switched-on Bach went on to become one of the largest-selling classical albums of all time.
For us, 1969 was the year of “The Moog Record”. The popularity of Switched-on Bach, plus other synthesizer records that had been released, captured the attention of the mainstream record producers. We received dozens of orders for large synthesizers. At one point, we had a nine-month order backlog. The “Moog Records” began to hit the street: Moog Groove; Moog Plays the Beatles; Moog Power; Country Moog; and on and on. Our small factory was *very* busy. We were invited to stage a synthesizer concert in the garden of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, which was attended by some four thousand listeners. We were commissioned to build four programmable performance synthesizers for Gershon Kingsley’s First Moog Quartet. And of course, our company made it onto the pages of several national news magazines.
Most of the cuts on this CD come from the short but exciting period from 1968 to 1970. They’re from selected “Moog Records” of the late sixties. They’re part of the white-hot musical-cultural revolution that characterized the period. At the time they were released, they were strikingly novel. Today, we’re accustomed to hearing synthesizers, so the cuts sometimes tend to sound, well, quaint. But they’re all authentic late ’60’s, pure and simple. I hope you enjoy them.
Photographer Sally Davies has stirred up a lot of interest in the weird science that goes into making McDonald’s “food” resistant to decay. She has an amazing series of photos at her flickr site where you can see daily progress, or lack thereof, of an ageing McDonald’s Happy Meal (example below).
According to New York Magazine’s Grub Street blog, Davies plans to keep the experiment going “until something happens, but she’d better be ready for a long haul: A twelve-year-old McD’s burger surfaced a few years ago looking shockingly well-preserved”!
Australian scientists have built device that generates a tractor beam, commonly considered a figment of alien abduction scenarios and Star Trek. The researchers’ creation thus far is capable of transporting small objects distances of up to five feet, using only a beam of light, Popular Science reports:
Using only light, Australian researchers say they are able to move small particles almost five feet through the air. It’s more than 100 times the distance achieved by existing optical “tweezers,” the researchers say.
Not quite a simple grabby tractor beam, the new system works by shining a hollow laser beam at an object and taking advantage of air-temperature differences to move it around.
It works by shining a hollow laser beam around small glass particles, as Inside Science explains. The air around the particle heats up, but the hollow center of the beam stays cool. The heated air molecules keep the object balanced in the dark center.…
Here’s an article on Stephen Hawkings new documentary. I don’t agree entirely with what he says but it is interesting to see one of the worlds leading physicists saying that Aliens exist. The comment at the end by Lord Rees is far more accurate I think.
THE aliens are out there and Earth had better watch out, at least according to Stephen Hawking. He has suggested that extraterrestrials are almost certain to exist — but that instead of seeking them out, humanity should be doing all it that can to avoid any contact.
The suggestions come in a new documentary series in which Hawking, one of the world’s leading scientists, will set out his latest thinking on some of the universe’s greatest mysteries.
Alien life, he will suggest, is almost certain to exist in many other parts of the universe: not just in planets, but perhaps in the centre of stars or even floating in interplanetary space.
Hawking’s logic on aliens is, for him, unusually simple. The universe, he points out, has 100 billion galaxies, each containing hundreds of millions of stars. In such a big place, Earth is unlikely to be the only planet where life has evolved.
“To my mathematical brain, the numbers alone make thinking about aliens perfectly rational,” he said. “The real challenge is to work out what aliens might actually be like.”
The answer, he suggests, is that most of it will be the equivalent of microbes or simple animals — the sort of life that has dominated Earth for most of its history.
One scene in his documentary for the Discovery Channel shows herds of two-legged herbivores browsing on an alien cliff-face where they are picked off by flying, yellow lizard-like predators. Another shows glowing fluorescent aquatic animals forming vast shoals in the oceans thought to underlie the thick ice coating Europa, one of the moons of Jupiter.
Such scenes are speculative, but Hawking uses them to lead on to a serious point: that a few life forms could be intelligent and pose a threat. Hawking believes that contact with such a species could be devastating for humanity.
He suggests that aliens might simply raid Earth for its resources and then move on: “We only have to look at ourselves to see how intelligent life might develop into something we wouldn’t want to meet. I imagine they might exist in massive ships, having used up all the resources from their home planet. Such advanced aliens would perhaps become nomads, looking to conquer and colonise whatever planets they can reach.”
He concludes that trying to make contact with alien races is “a little too risky”. He said: “If aliens ever visit us, I think the outcome would be much as when Christopher Columbus first landed in America, which didn’t turn out very well for the Native Americans.”
The completion of the documentary marks a triumph for Hawking, now 68, who is paralysed by motor neurone disease and has very limited powers of communication. The project took him and his producers three years, during which he insisted on rewriting large chunks of the script and checking the filming.
John Smithson, executive producer for Discovery, said: “He wanted to make a programme that was entertaining for a general audience as well as scientific and that’s a tough job, given the complexity of the ideas involved.”
Hawking has suggested the possibility of alien life before but his views have been clarified by a series of scientific breakthroughs, such as the discovery, since 1995, of more than 450 planets orbiting distant stars, showing that planets are a common phenomenon.
So far, all the new planets found have been far larger than Earth, but only because the telescopes used to detect them are not sensitive enough to detect Earth-sized bodies at such distances.
Another breakthrough is the discovery that life on Earth has proven able to colonise its most extreme environments. If life can survive and evolve there, scientists reason, then perhaps nowhere is out of bounds.
Hawking’s belief in aliens places him in good scientific company. In his recent Wonders of the Solar System BBC series, Professor Brian Cox backed the idea, too, suggesting Mars, Europa and Titan, a moon of Saturn, as likely places to look.
Similarly, Lord Rees, the astronomer royal, warned in a lecture earlier this year that aliens might prove to be beyond human understanding.
“I suspect there could be life and intelligence out there in forms we can’t conceive,” he said. “Just as a chimpanzee can’t understand quantum theory, it could be there are aspects of reality that are beyond the capacity of our brains.”
All images: Azillphotos
When confronted with the issue of what to do with an ex-Soviet bunker in the countryside, an enterprising Lithuanian decided that some things should be left the way they are…
Welcome to 1984: Išgyvenimo Drama, otherwise known as Survival Drama in a Soviet Bunker.
Built near Vilnius in 1980, when Lithuania was still a part of the USSR, the bunker’s past life includes protecting a television transmitter and acting as a secure outpost for Soviet troops. Encompassing 4,000 cubic meters and buried 5 meters deep, the bunker is a remnant of Soviet occupation, which the Lithuanians have found more difficult to get rid of than the army.
Instead of letting the building fall into complete disrepair, some lucrative Lithuanians decided to put the bunker to some use, so, concerned about young Lithuanians lack of understanding about their country’s past, producer Ruta Vanagaite was prompted to create a re-enactment project, demonstrating the experiences of the previous generation.
Išgyvenimo drama opened in early 2008 to some controversy. Tourists pay 120 LTL ($US 220) each to step back into 1984 as a temporary USSR citizen for 2.5 hours. On entry, all belongings, including money, cameras and phones, are handed over and under the watchful eye of guards and alsatians, tourists change into threadbare Soviet coats and are herded through the bunker.
Experiences include watching TV programs from 1984, wearing gas masks, learning the Soviet anthem under duress, eating typical Soviet food (with genuine Soviet tableware) and even undergoing a concentration-camp-style interrogation and medical check.
The Soviet Bunker is not a theme park for the faint-hearted; all of the actors involved in the project were originally in the Soviet army and some were authentic interrogators, however there are tailored specifically for school groups so they know when to cool it, too.
Before heading back into the real world, participants are treated to a shot of vodka. They leave with a better understanding of life under Soviet occupation and, no doubt, a new respect for their elders past.
DENVER, Colorado (AP) — In the beginning, there was a long line for Judgment Day ale.
An entrepreneur peddles T-shirts emblazoned with, “WWJB: What Would Jesus Brew?”
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the doors opened on the 27th Great American Beer Festival, a crowd
congregated at the booth offering that and other pours from The Lost
Abbey of San Marcos, California, where the tap handle is a Celtic cross
and the legacy of beer-brewing monks endures.
Standing under a
banner promising “Inspired beers for Saints and Sinners Alike,”
proprietor and former altar boy Tomme Arthur had a confession: He’s
using God to sell some beer.
“It’s the oldest story ever told –
the struggle between good and evil,” said Arthur, 35, a product of
Catholic schools in his native San Diego. “There is a battle being
waged between those who make good beer and those who make evil beer.”
Without question, unholy excess is in evidence anytime 18,000 gallons
of alcohol is served to 46,000 people over three days. See: women in
Bavarian maid outfits and “Beer Pong” tables.
surprisingly, God could be found at last week’s Great American Beer
Festival — in the crassly commercial, in homage to religion’s long
history in brewing, in needling faiths that turn a suspect eye on
drinking, and (if the prophet of home-brewing is to be believed) at the
bottom of every glass.
While alcohol and religion don’t always
mix, no less a figure than Benjamin Franklin once said: “Beer is living
proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”
Papazian, author of “The Complete Joy of Homebrewing,” the undisputed
bible of the craft, can cite many intersections of beer and the divine.
Mayan and Aztec priests controlled the brewing of beer in pre-Columbian
days, monks in Bavaria brewed strong bocks for sustenance during Lent
and the first brewery in the Americas was founded by Belgium monks in
Ecuador in 1534.
Before Louis Pasteur pinpointed yeast as the culprit in the 1850s,
brewers didn’t know what caused fermentation, said Papazian, president
of the Boulder, Colorado-based Brewers Association. So they invented
one run-on word to describe the mysterious stuff at the bottom of the
“As you drain a glass of beer, look at the
yeast at the bottom and be reminded that God is good, because that’s
the way it feels,” Papazian said.
Like most business owners,
brewers tend to avoid politics and religion out of fear of alienating
customers. At the same time, microbrewing has become an intensely
competitive industry, so putting a saint on a bottle can help a guy
When Brock Wagner was looking to name his new brewery
in Houston 14 years ago, his search took him to the library of a local
Catholic seminary. There, he found the story of St. Arnold of Metz, the
French saint of brewers and one of many patron saints of the brewing
As the tale goes, Arnold (580-640) urged his people,
“Don’t drink the water, drink beer” because he believed water boiled in
beer was safer than tainted water sources.
Centuries later, St.
Arnold Brewing Co. became Texas’ first craft brewery, with a “divine
reserve” single-batch beer and 21 fermenters named for different saints.
“One purpose of religion is the formation of communities, and our
brewery kind of has that effect, of bringing people together,” said
Wagner, who describes himself as spiritual but wary of organized
religion. “Some of our regulars say going on our brewery tour is going
Jeremy Cowan, the marketing mind behind He’Brew (the
chosen beer), was absent from his company’s booth on the festival’s
first day; it was Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of atonement.
Established in 1996 (or 5757), Cowan’s Schmaltz Brewing Co. uses Jewish
humor, scripture and imagery in packaging its beers, all of them
kosher. There’s Genesis Ale (“our first creation”) Messiah Bold (“the
one you’ve been waiting for”) and Jewbelation (“L’Chaim!”).
am passionately Jewish,” Cowan said. “I don’t get as caught up in the
legal minutiae. I’m more fascinated in the project of Judaism as a
civilization. This is the way I participate.”
traditions reject alcohol as an intoxicant that invites bad behavior
and abuse. Observant Muslims and Mormons, among others, abstain from
drinking on religious grounds.
Last year, an evangelical church
targeting young adults in the St. Louis area got in trouble with the
Missouri Baptist Convention for holding a church ministry at a
microbrewery. (The Southern Baptist Convention opposes making,
advertising, distributing and consuming alcohol).
Great American Beer Festival, four ex-Mormons who met at Utah State
University ran a booth selling “X-Communicated Mormon Drinking Team”
T-shirts, sweatshirts and other products.
“Our business model is
to sell enough T-shirts to pay the cost of a group of our friends
getting together and having fun for the weekend,” said Mike Hansen, 36,
of Whitefish, Montana.
Another entrepreneur peddled “WWJB: What
Would Jesus Brew?” T-shirts, with an image of a smiling Jesus with a
mash paddle in one hand and a pint glass in the other.
Cilurzo of Russian River Brewing Co. in Santa Rosa, California, brews a
series of religion-themed beers that began with “Damnation.” A strong
golden ale, the beer’s name is a nod to the great Belgian beer Duval,
which comes from the Flemish word for devil.
A restaurant around the corner from Cilurzo’s brewery refused to stock it.
“It all started with ‘Damnation,”‘ said Cilurzo, who has no religious
affiliation. “I felt like if we started with ‘Damnation,’ we needed to
be redeemed. We needed ‘Salvation.”‘
Cilurzo’s latest creation,
Consecration, was a festival hit and an answered prayer — a richly
textured sour ale aged for nine months in Cabernet Sauvignon barrels
with black currants.