As a child in the South, I can remember many a neighbors' yard adorned with a tree with Blue Bottles instead of leaves. I never thought much of it until much later, after they seem to have disappeared from the American landscape.
The concept of these long forgotten icons of Southern Culture is actually very, very old. It dates back to the days when glass bottles were first invented, back in the early Iron Age. People developed a folk tradition that evil spirits could be trapped in these bottles. It is this tradition that started the whole Genii in a bottle belief as well. It was most prevalent in Africa, but also to a lesser extent in Europe. The European form mostly took shape as the "Witch's Balls" currently found in many gardens (e.g. gazing balls). It was thought the trapped spirit would be contained in the bottle during the night, and would be destroyed by sunlight when the sun came up.
These quaint bottles were a fixture of Southern life in America until about forty years ago. They were very common to find in most regions of the South, the tradition having been brought by the slaves and their descendants. Seen by many to be part of the charm of the South, they are rapidly disappearing as the Old Ways are being overtaken by Ipods, Cell Phones, and our culture of immediate consumer gratification.
I have a new fascination. Liz McGrath and her band, Miss Derringer. Her art kicks butt, but so does the band. Where else can you hear goth-rockabilly-death-retro surf music in this day of bands that seem to sound the same. Anyone who knows me knows I have a HUGE soft spot for this kind of stuff.
Enjoy. This video is not the best, but I LOVE the song!
On the island of Flores, in Indonesia, there are many stories and tales of a small race of squat human-like cave dwelling creatures, much like the Irish leprechaun or fairies. They had similar nasty habits, such as baby-snatching and stealing food and crops. Many stories exist where small children have been stolen by them, only to have the children escape by trickery. In many ways, they seem to draw a parallel to the stories of the Irish "little people", and may represent a folk memory of the native inhabitants displaced by the current residents long ago. This is also what is suspected by many to be taking place in the Irish folk tales.
There is something else at hand. Not only do the stories exist, giving clues to a possible mysterious race of small people, but they have also found anomalous skeletal remains on this island that seem to support these stories, at least in theory.
Homo Floresiensis, or Flores Man, was found on this island in a cave in 2003. Flores Man, or "the Hobbit" as it has been nicknamed, was a diminutive subspecies of human standing only about 3 feet tall. This alternative human species was still alive 10,000 years ago, when all other human species except for modern man had long died out. The cause of their demise was said to be a nearby volcanic cataclysm.
Whether the Flores Man is the same as the Ebu Gogo, we will never know. The local stories all say the Ebu Gogo were hunted out of existence by the island's current human population, but they give a much more recent date - as recent as the 19th century.
Is it possible this ancient human ancestor survived into the world of modern man? Does he survive to this day, deep in the largely unexplored Indonesian jungle?
In the 1960's, the great superpowers were engaged in a costly "space race", trying to beat each other to the moon. Much has been made of the cost of this space race, compared to the actual scientific discoveries made once we beat the Russian's, and finally reached the moon. The list of discoveries is vast, but most relate to technology we created to reach our desolate neighbor in space. The question remains; What is the most important discovery we found on the Moon?
The answer to this question might lie in a very overlooked piece of Lunar trivia. One of the early Lunar probes, Surveyor 3, carried traces of the bacterium Streptococcus mitis to the moon on it's metallic skin. Several years later, the astronaughts Pete Conrad and Alan Bean found these bacteria to be alive and well, living in the vacuum of space on the remains of this space probe. These bacteria lived in the vacuum and radiation environment of space for about 940 days, with no food or water. They are the only known living things to have ever done this.
At the time, it was considered a simple contamination problem, and was swept under the carpet. The implications of a common ordinary microbe such as Streptococcus being able to live in the environment of outer space for extended periods is momentus. It means that our ideas of what life requires to survive need to be re-examined. It also opens up the possibility that our Earth has been "contaminated" by life from beyond at some point in time, influencing the genetics of life on Earth.
Maybe microbes and viruses, which now appear to be able to tolerate the rigors of the outer space environment, are commonplace, and blown about the universe much like the solar wind from our Sun. If this is true, then they are truly the greatest space traveller we shall ever see.
Twenty years ago, a census was undertaken to determine the number and demographic of our non-christian/Jewish/Islamic citizens. It gave an interesting view of the rise of modern Paganism in the 1990's. Researcher and author, Helen Berger, has decided it is time to revisit this census to see how we now stand.
Way back in 2007, this Shreveport police officer was questioning a 38 year old woman in a video taped interrogation room. He stops the interview, walks over to the camera, and shuts it off. The camera then comes back on, and the woman is lying on the floor in a pool of blood. It is obvious what happened, and the officer gets fired. Now flash forward a few years... due to a "technicality", the officer is to be re-instated with full back pay. His Police Officer Civil Rights were apperantly violated during the investigation.
If you wish to feel what it would be like when we are assimilated by our future robotic overlords, you can rent a powered robotic exoskeleton in Tokyo for only $2300 dollars a month. The exoskeleton is controlled by electrical pickups that sense impulses across the skin, and the suit is powered by a rechargeable battery.
A tidbit of history, unknown to the average American, is that Blackbeard and Benjamin Franklin may have deserve equal credit for much of our Democratic value system. Pirates shared the same beliefs, principles, and organizational structure that America later developed.
The Pirate Assembly was very much like Congress. Many of the checks and balances later placed into our system appear to have started with their system. Everyone was entitled to a vote, and the Captain served more like a President, than a domineering tyrant. Everyone was entitled to due process, and compensation if wronged. Nobody was forced to do anything against their will, unless they violated their written law. It was very much a democratic enterprise, with personal freedom and freedom from oppression valued above all.
These men were drawn from the ranks of people oppressed by the Britain or Spain, either by slavery, unfair taxes, or worse. They were, by and large, just men seeking to fight against their oppressors, and may have been more like revolutionaries than cut-throats. Hollywood has painted a far different picture.
Most were ordinary people. Many were ex-slaves, American Indians, or sailors pressed into duty. It was their only way to make an impact against their oppressors. Pirates played a role in several pivotal battles in American history. Even as late as the War of 1812, and the Civil War, their effects were being felt. America would have lost the battle of New Orleans and Britain would have gained a foothold in the South had it not been for Pirates making up the bulk of the American troops.
Another point to consider... If not for the Pirates, Spain would have gained more territory and eventually taken over from Britain. Then the United States, as we know it, might never have been born.
The following article was originally posted on Huffington Post: While many American retailers are just one lackluster back-to-school season away from disaster, the malingering recession has been very good to some retail manufacturers—especially in China. American shoppers at Wal-Mart have made investors in Hong Kong very wealthy. By one estimate, in 2006 every Wal-Mart store in the United States caused the loss of about 77 American jobs due to Wal-Mart’s trade deficit with China. Without knowing it, millions of American consumers have been shopping at Fung-Mart. A Chinese global conglomerate little known in this county has been ‘living better’ off of Wal-Mart’s sales. Li & Fung is not a household word in Kansas or Arizona—but it’s one of the main beneficiaries behind the Wal-Mart sales numbers. Described as the biggest supplier of clothes and toys to companies like Wal-Mart, Target and Kohl’s, Li & Fung has been one of the fireworks of the Hang Seng Index, and its stock has more than doubled this year. Li & Fung describes itself as “one of the premier global consumer products export trading companies managing the supply chain for high-volume, time-sensitive consumer goods including garments, fashion accessories, toys, sporting goods, promotional merchandise, handicrafts, shoes, travel goods and household items.” Its products are sourced through a network of offices in nearly 40 countries for customers in the US, Europe, Asia and the Southern Hemisphere.” Read the rest of this story ...
Scientists at the University of the West of England are currently engaged in a project to develop robots from mold. Yes, you heard that right. Mold. Like on a piece of bread. These guys don't seem to think it is as odd as I do. They call them Plasmabots.