Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Pretty cool that @Lowes has Guest WiFi now. Good #customerservice!

#crunchbang #Linux on a #Dell #Optiplex GX100


So here is the Dell support site, so you can see the specs...

Yep, so now you understand why I'm using the Debian flavored #!

Wish me luck on this old beast :)

Tony Burkhart
Help build a better internet

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Jack #Nicklaus suggests using 12-hole #golf days per @EllingYelling report. What do you think? #opinion

Tony's take:

I understand the thought process by Jack... I really do. He wants to promote the sport commercially to appeal to a broader audience and have it compete with other televised sports, on the same level of excitement they are on. I think that thought process is wrong, based on one thing... this is Golf. It doesn't need to be a cut down version of the game, as its been agreed upon for decades. The PGA inherently IS different than other professional sports, like NASCAR, the NBANHL and NFL and it should be. It is the nature of the game. If you want minute after minute of hard hits and amazingly extreme bursts of athletic moments, watch the long drive competition, or watch MMA, like the UFC. It is some of my favorite sports television to watch, when I'm in the mood for a testosterone fueled, second by second, action packed, man vs man sport. That being said, I still like my coverage of the four round tourneys as is. Remember when they tried this with the NFL... and the XFL came about? I do... I loved it! I watched it and bought into it fully. Where is that league now? Exactly.

I do think there is room for an additional "something"/short-round-golf, but don't call it the the PGA call it the XGA or Extreme Golf Association, or something along those lines, but leave the sport we know and have loved for years alone. Create a branch, or a fork in the road here, with this new and exciting idea. Let players choose to go to the XGA and compete in 2, 12 hole tourneys on the weekends for big money, but make it exciting like the XFL and change the rules a bit, just bend em to be a little more explosive and exciting! I am all for that :)

Steve Elling's article:

Nicklaus poses heretical idea: Use 12-hole days

By Steve Elling

PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. -- The NFL has the three-hour game almost down to a science. Big-league baseball not so much,

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

A problem has been detected and #Windows has been shut down. #Fun

Penn Judge: Muslims Allowed to Attack People for Insulting Mohammad

Yahoo! News

COMMENTARY | Jonathon Turley, a law professor at George Washington University, reports on a disturbing case in which a state judge in Pennsylvania threw out an assault case involving a Muslim attacking an atheist for insulting the Prophet Muhammad.

Judge Mark Martin, an Iraq war veteran and a convert to Islam, threw the case out in what appears to be an invocation of Sharia law.

The incident occurred at the Mechanicsburg, Pa., Halloween parade where Ernie Perce, an atheist activist, marched as a zombie Muhammad. Talaag Elbayomy, a Muslim, attacked Perce, and he was arrested by police.

Judge Martin threw the case out on the grounds that Elbayomy was obligated to attack Perce because of his culture and religion. Judge Martin stated that the First Amendment of the Constitution does not permit people to provoke other people. He also called Perce, the plaintiff in the case, a "doofus." In effect, Perce was the perpetrator of the assault, in Judge Martin's view, and Elbayomy the innocent. The Sharia law that the Muslim attacker followed trumped the First Amendment.

Words almost fail.

The Washington Post recently reported on an appeals court decision to maintain an injunction to stop the implementation of an amendment to the Oklahoma state constitution that bans the use of Sharia law in state courts. The excuse the court gave was that there was no documented case of Sharia law being invoked in an American court. Judge Martin would seem to have provided that example, which should provide fodder for the argument as the case goes through the federal courts.

The text of the First Amendment could not be clearer. "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof-" It does not say "unless somebody, especially a Muslim, is angered." Indeed Judge Martin specifically decided to respect the establishment of a religion, in this case Islam.

That Judge Martin should be removed from the bench and severely sanctioned goes almost without saying. He clearly had no business hearing the case in the first place, since he seems to carry an emotional bias. He also needs to retake a constitutional law course. Otherwise, a real can of worms has been opened up, permitting violence against people exercising free speech.

It should be noted that another atheist, dressed as a Zombie Pope, was marching beside the Zombie Muhammad. No outraged Catholics attacked him.

Sent from my iPhone

My brain is almost ready to explode. I do not compute...

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

I used Shazam to discover Lateralus by Tool

I just used Shazam to discover Lateralus by Tool and thought I'd share it with you.
Buy on iTunes

Sent from my iPhone

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Google Chrome cleverly opens email links in Gmail using HTML5 | The Verge


A post on the Official Gmail Blog has announced that Google Chrome and Chrome OS users can now automatically open mailto links within Gmail, all thanks to HTML5. Content handlers are the web's way of dealing with non-webpage data — be it mailto, webcal, or even magnet links — and the former has a bugbear for Gmail web users. Up until now, they've needed to either install an extension or carefully avoid using the links to prevent the operating system's default mail app loading. It's also worth noting that for Internet Explorer and Firefox users this is nothing new, and it comes a surprise that it has taken Chrome this long to implement the feature.

Next time you visit Gmail in Google Chrome, you'll be prompted by a bar at the top of the page to "Allow Gmail to open all email links," which will then associate the Gmail web interface with any email link. The content handlers also open up the potential for more web apps to integrate throughout Chrome, though for now there's no way to make Gmail the default mail app throughout your system without installing additional software.

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Man Walks All Day to Create Spectacular Snow Patterns - My Modern Metropolis by Katie Hosmer

Man Walks All Day to Create Spectacular Snow Patterns

Artist Simon Beck must really love the cold weather! Along the frozen lakes of Savoie, France, he spends days plodding through the snow in raquettes (snowshoes), creating these sensational patterns of snow art. Working for 5-9 hours a day, each final piece is typically the size of three soccer fields! The geometric forms range in mathematical patterns and shapes that create stunning, sometimes 3D, designs when viewed from higher levels.

How long these magnificent geometric forms survive is completely dependent on the weather. Beck designs and redesigns the patterns as new snow falls, sometimes unable to finish a piece due to significant overnight accumulations. Interestingly enough, he said, 'The main reason for making them was because I can no longer run properly due to problems with my feet, so plodding about on level snow is the least painful way of getting exercise. Gradually, the reason has become photographing them, and I am considering buying a better camera.” Spectacular art for the sake of exercise!

Simon Beck on Facebook
via [Inhabitat]

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

How Anonymous attacked the Vatican

How Anonymous attacked the Vatican

Imperva released a report that reveals details on an attack by hacktivist group "Anonymous" against a high-profile unnamed target - revealed as the Vatican and the church's World Youth Day site by the NYT - during a 25-day period in 2011.

“Our research shows that Anonymous generally mimics the approach used by for-profit hackers, leveraging widely known methods – SQL injection and DDoS – to carry out their attack. We found that Anonymous, although it has developed some custom attack tools, generally uses inexpensive, off-the-shelf tools as opposed to developing complex attacks,” said Amichai Shulman, Co-Founder and CTO of Imperva. “Our research further shows that Anonymous will try to steal data first and, if that fails, attempt a DDoS attack.”

Highlights from the study of the Anonymous attack include:

  • The attack was made up of three distinct phases: recruitment and communication, reconnaissance and application layer attacks and, finally, a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack.
  • Social media channels, especially Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, were the predominant means for suggesting a target and justifying the attack, as well as recruiting volunteers to participate in the hacking campaign, during the first recruitment and communication phase.
  • Sophisticated hackers made up only a small portion of the volunteers and were primarily active during the reconnaissance and application attack phase, tasked with probing for vulnerabilities and waging application attacks like SQL injection to attempt to steal data from the targets.
  • Laypeople were leveraged only in the third phase - to help carry out a DDoS attack - since the attempt to steal data through application attacks failed.
  • Anonymous has developed some custom attack tools – specifically the low orbit ion cannon (LOIC) and a tool to enable the launch of a DDoS attack from mobile browsers. However, the group also relies on widely available tools for finding and exploiting web application vulnerabilities during the reconnaissance and application attack phase.
  • Unlike for profit hackers, Anonymous rarely relies on common hacking techniques such as botnets, malware, phishing or spear phishing.
“Imperva’s Application Defense Center (ADC) was able to witness and report on an Anonymous attack from start to finish,” continued Shulman. “The analysis of this attack provides useful insight into how Anonymous recruits participants and wages an attack. We believe these details will help organizations prepare for and respond to a potential attack, as well as offer the greater security community a deeper understanding of how hacktivists operate.”

The Hacker Intelligence Summary Report –The Anatomy of an Anonymous Attack offers a comprehensive analysis of the attack, including a detailed timeline of activities from start to finish, an examination of the hacking methods utilized and insights on the use of social media to recruit participants and coordinate the attack.

The report can be downloaded here.

HII_The_Anatomy_of_an_Anonymous_Attack.pdf Download this file

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.4 #SoftwareUpdate #Apple

About MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update 2.4

This update fixes several issues to improve the stability of MacBook Air (Mid 2011) computers and is recommended for all users.

This update improves the reliability of booting from the network, addresses an issue that can prevent HDCP authentication after a reboot, and resolves an issue with boot device selection when a USB storage device is hot-plugged.


The MacBook Air EFI Firmware Update will update the EFI firmware on your computer. Your computer's power cord must be connected and plugged into a working power source. When your MacBook Air restarts, a gray screen will appear with a status bar to indicate the progress of the update. It will take several minutes for the update to complete. Do not disturb or shut off the power on your MacBook Air during this update.


Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Monday, February 27, 2012

Juan Pablo Montoya Roldán wrecks into the safety truck at the NASCAR Daytona 500 42 Car

Wow! I've never seen anything like this in a NASCAR race. Immediate fireball

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

#Awesome! Eastern Seaboard at Night by @NASA

Eastern Seaboard at Night

An Expedition 30 crew member aboard the International Space Station took this nighttime photograph of much of the Atlantic coast of the United States. Large metropolitan areas and other easily recognizable sites from the Virginia/Maryland/Washington, D.C. area are visible in the image that spans almost to Rhode Island. Boston is just out of frame at right. Long Island and the New York City area are visible in the lower right quadrant. Philadelphia and Pittsburgh are near the center. Parts of two Russian vehicles parked at the orbital outpost are seen in left foreground.

This image was taken on Feb. 6, 2012.

Image Credit: NASA


Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Dont Talk to Police... as explained by a law professor

An law school professor and former criminal defense attorney tells you
why you should never agree to be interviewed by the police

Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

Adobe Photoshop Touch for iPad - iOS and Adnroid

What is Adobe Photoshop Touch?

The new Adobe® Photoshop® Touch app lets you quickly combine images, apply professional effects, share the results with friends and family through social networking sites like Facebook, and more — all from the convenience of your iPad or Android tablet.¹
Now available for iPad 2.

  • Work with core Photoshop tools designed for tablets.
  • Use your tablet camera to fill area on a layer.
  • Select part of image to extract by scribbling.
  • Perform Google searches and share images on Facebook right in the app.
  • Sync files to Adobe Creative Cloud and open in Photoshop.
  • System requirements


    • Operating system: Android™ 3.1 or higher
    • Display size: 8.9-inch or larger
    • Display resolution: 1280 x 800 minimum
    • Camera: Recommended


    • Operating system: iOS 5
    • Devices: iPad 2

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    Ikea Job Interview by @JaanaNystrom

    @deepmagicdns -> A searchable DB of all of the world's DNS

    Report: 4 hurt in Ohio high school shooting

    At least four students were injured in a shooting Monday morning at Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, according to Cleveland television station WKYC. Authorities say the alleged gunman is in custody. NBC's Chris Jansing reports.

    By NBC News, staff and news services

    At least four students were injured in a shooting Monday morning at Chardon High School in Chardon, Ohio, according to Cleveland television station WKYC.

    Authorities say the alleged gunman is in custody. A spokesperson for the sheriff's office would not confirm whether the shooter is male or a student.

    Some students told Fox 8 News they saw two gunmen.

    FBI agent Scott Wilson said after Monday morning's shooting that there was one suspected shooter. He wouldn't discuss the extent of the students' injuries.

    According to, police scanner traffic is reporting three victims are in critical condition and one is stable. Medical helicopters are converging on the Wal-Mart in Chardon, where a landing zone has been set up.

    The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported the shooting happened in the cafeteria, according to a waiting parent, Jessica Bryant, whose daughter had seen it and sent her a text message.

    Another parent, Jeannette Roth, said her son told her the shooting happened while students were eating breakfast and waiting for first period. She told the paper a student "stood up and started shooting, and then it was chaos." Nearly 1,200 students attend Chardon High School.

    Students fled and locked themselves in classrooms for safety.

    Civil deputy Erin Knife, of the Geauga County Sheriff's Office, says the shooting was reported around 7:30 a.m.

    Schools in the area are locked down.
    Chardon is located about 30 miles east of Cleveland.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    More content from and NBC News

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    Saturday, February 25, 2012

    White House announces Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

    White House announces Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights

    As the privacy of Internet user seems to be eroding with every passing day and online companies can't seem to guarantee them that their personal information will not be misused, the Obama Administration has stepped in to share their plane to protect privacy in this Internet age by adopting a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.

    "The Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights applies to personal data, which means any data, including aggregations of data, that is linkable to a specific individual," says the White House. "Personal data may include data that is linked to a specific computer or other device."

    The elements of the Privacy Bill of Rights are:

    • Individual control - Consumers have a right to exercise control over what personal data companies collect from them and how they use it.
    • Transparency - Consumers have a right to easily understandable and accessible information about privacy and security practices.
    • Respect for context - Consumers have a right to expect that companies will collect, use, and disclose personal data in ways that are consistent with the context in which consumers provide the data.
    • Security - Consumers have a right to secure and responsible handling of personal data.
    • Access and accuracy - Consumers have a right to access and correct personal data in usable formats, in a manner that is appropriate to the sensitivity of the data and the risk of adverse consequences to consumers if the data is inaccurate.
    • Focused collection - Consumers have a right to reasonable limits on the personal data that companies collect and retain.
    • Accountability - Consumers have a right to have personal data handled by companies with appropriate measures in place to assure they adhere to the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights.
    This Bill of Rights is only the first step a thought-out plan for defending the users' right to online privacy.

    The President expects the Commerce Department’s NTIA to convene stakeholders including industry and privacy advocates to develop enforceable codes of conduct that implement the principles in the Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights for specific industry sectors, and the FTC to enforce those agreed-upon rules.

    "U.S. companies doing business on the global Internet depend on the free flow of information across borders," points out the White House. "The Administration's plan lays the groundwork for increasing interoperability between the U.S. data privacy framework and those of our trading partners. The plan emphasizes mutual recognition of privacy frameworks, an international role for codes of conduct, and enforcement cooperation."

    Many Internet giants such as Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL voiced their support of the Bill, and even Google stood behind it and announced that it will be including a "Do Not Track" option in the upcoming versions of its Chrome browser.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    Friday, February 24, 2012

    I used Shazam to discover The Beginning Of The End by Nine Inch Nails

    I just used Shazam to discover The Beginning Of The End by Nine Inch Nails and thought I'd share it with you.
    Buy on iTunes

    Sent from my iPhone

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    Methylene Chloride Related Deaths Linked To Bathtub Refinishing

    Methylene Chloride Related Deaths Linked To Bathtub Refinishing

    Editor's Choice
    Main Category: Public Health
    Article Date: 24 Feb 2012 - 13:00 PST

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    The Michigan Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation program, which is 1 of 9 state Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation programs funded by NIOSH, began an investigation in 2010 to determine the cause of death of a bathtub refinisher, linked to methylene chrloride-based paint stripper. The man who died used this stripping product, which was originally for use in aircrafts.

    While investigating his death, the program learned of two earlier deaths, also in Michigan, which were very similar to the death of this man.

    After learning of these deaths, the team notified CDC's National Institute for Occupational Safety, who then notified Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA found 10 additional deaths linked to the bathtub refinisher methylene chloride stripping agents, which had been investigated between 2000 and 2011.

    All of the deaths took place in home bathrooms which were not ventilated by the proper machinery to guard against methylene chloride vapor, which according to experts is extremely dangerous to workers in factories and furniture strippers, but until now no reports have told of deaths due to exposure to the vapor.

    During their investigation, OSHA and OSHA-approved State Occupational Safety and Health Plans discovered 12 deaths related to methylene chloride, in relation to bathtub refinishing between 2000 and 2011, in people from ages 23 to 57. Out of these people, 12 were males.

    The program determined that 10 products were related to the 13 fatalities, 6 of which were supposed to be used with aircrafts, and the others were meant for use with glass, wood, metal, and masonry. The prevalence of methylene chloride in these products was between 60% and 100%.

    Autopsy reports showed that the methylene chloride blood levels in 6 people who died and had autopsies performed were between 18 and 223 mg/L. An acceptable and expected level is <2 mg/L in someone who works in close proximity to methylene chloride fumes.

    Five of the people who died were examined in terms of their carboxyhemoglobin (COHb) levels, and the levels were between 0 and 5%. This means that carbon monoxide most likely had nothing to do with the people's deaths. However, the length of exposure to methylene chloride, and the amount of oxygen received during attempts to resuscitate the patients was unknown. These are two key factors which alter COHb levels.

    It was determined by the researchers that between 1979 and 1999, a mere 8% of methylene chloride related fatalities were due to exposure to bathtub refinishing. However, 75% of deaths linked to methylene chloride since 2000, 75% were due to bathtub refinishing.

    Written By Christine Kearney
    Copyright: Medical News Today
    Not to be reproduced without permission of Medical News Today

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    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    10 Non-Profits Leveraging Pinterest for Social Good

    10 Non-Profits Leveraging Pinterest for Social Good

    There’s no question that Pinterest is the hottest social network right now. From your friends and family to celebrities, athletes and designers, everyone’s pinning visually interesting content. But did you know that non-profit organizations are pinning, too?

    Non-profits, like other companies and brands, are flocking to Pinterest and utilizing its features to gain exposure. They want to show supporters more about their missions and how their work makes a difference in the world.

    We found ten non-profits that are particularly awesome at pinning. Which non-profits do you follow on Pinterest that aren’t listed here? Let us know in the comments.

    Amnesty International is the world's largest grassroots human rights organization, and it's growing even larger with the U.S. chapter's Pinterest page. With images of fair trade items, inspiring quotes and infographics on human rights, you'll definitely find something to repin.

    Noteworthy board: Human Rights Reading List — almost like your local book store's staff picks section, but these are titles that can help you make the world a better place.

    1 of 10
    View As One Page »

    Image courtesy of iStockphoto, mattjeacock.

    Print Story Email Story Reprints

    Topics to follow
    For more Social Good coverage

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    Wednesday, February 22, 2012

    Pizza coming to Weasel Boy Brewery @WezlBoyBrewing

    The only brewery in Zanesville is bringing something new to the table.

    Weasel Boy Brewing Company is famous for its hand-crafted beer, but owner Jay Wince is ready to try a new recipe.  He's installing a pizza oven in the brewery.

    "We'll try to source most or all of our toppings locally, working with local meat processors and produce suppliers," said Wince.  "We'll try to create something a little different."

    Unlike the lack of brewery competition, Wince said he realizes that there are a lot of pizza places in Zanesville.  He said Weasel Boy pizza will be baked fresh daily, and beer might even be cooked into the crust.

    "We knew we didn't want to do a full-scale restaurant, because it's not what we know how to do," said Wince.  "We know how to brew beer, but we wanted to pair some food options with our product.  Pizza and beer just seem to be a good marriage."

    Wince said he plans to open the pizzeria by this summer.

    POSTED BY: Kelly Choate
    Tuesday, February 21, 2012 - 04:47 PM

    Pizza Coming to Weasel Boy Brewery | WHIZ News.pdf Download this file

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    Another Verizon Outage: 4G LTE Network Is Down

    Another Verizon Outage: 4G LTE Network Is Down

    Verizon 4g lte outage

    Verizon is currently experiencing an outage, however, this doesn’t affect all subscribers. According to several reports, the 4G LTE network doesn’t work anymore as many people have said that they cannot send messages, call their contacts, send an email, or browse the web using the 4G LTE network.

    Although Verizon hasn’t acknowledged the outage for the moment, we are pretty sure that the company is gathering more details about the problems. It’s a necessary step, and the carrier will probably address the issues once it gets to the bottom of this.

    Several users said that the Verizon 4G LTE outage affects people living in Ohio, Pheonix, Indianapolis, Pennsylvania, and Milwaukee among others. Some people even reported that they can no longer connect to the 4G LTE network on their compatible device.

    Verizon has been hit by outages a number of times in the past so this is nothing new. Maybe the company is implementing some new features or fixes some older problems, and it didn’t have enough time to complete the changes. All-in-all, the network should go back up soon unless something worse happens.

    Let us know where do you live and if the Verizon outage is affecting you right now. Oh, please inform us what smartphone or tablet you own!

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    Tuesday, February 21, 2012

    Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Had Deep Access Inside Nortel for Nearly a Decade | SecurityWeek.Com

    Report: Suspected Chinese Hackers Had Deep Access Inside Nortel for Nearly a Decade

    Reports of yet another significant incident of international corporate espionage surfaced this morning, with the Wall Street Journal reporting that for nearly a decade, hackers had widespread access to the corporate computer network of former telecom giant Nortel Networks Ltd.

    According to the Wall Street Journal, using just seven passwords taken from Nortel executives, including that of their CEO, the hackers penetrated Nortel's systems at least as far back as 2000. 

    Nortel HackedBrian Shields, who spent 19-year with the company and headed up an internal investigation, told the Journal that over the years the hackers—suspected to be from China-- downloaded technical papers, company R&D reports, business plans, employee emails and other documents.

    The hackers also embedded malicious spyware so deeply on some systems that it took years to realize the extensiveness of the problem, according Shields and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. They "had access to everything," Shields told the Journal. "They had plenty of time. All they had to do was figure out what they wanted."

    The Journal quotes an internal report, saying that Nortel "did nothing from a security standpoint" to keep out the hackers, other than resetting the seven passwords.

    Nortel, once North America's largest telephone equipment maker with over 32,00 employees, filed for bankruptcy in January 2009. The company's market cap was over $300 billion in 2000, making it one of the most valuable companies globally by market cap.

    Commenting on the Nortel breach, Neil Roiter, research director at Corero Network Security, believes the incident is both disturbing and instructive. "Organizations need to ensure they have the proper tools at the perimeter and within their networks, and aggressive monitoring to detect outbound traffic and suspicious activity in the event of a breach," Roiter said. "The Aurora attacks, the RSA breach and others demonstrate that Fortune 500 companies and other large enterprises are under constant threat from nation states such as China seeking shortcuts to technological advances."

    Read the full Story at the Wall Street Journal here.

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    Trend Micro makes HijackThis open source

    Trend Micro makes HijackThis open source

    Trend Micro released HijackThis as an open source application. The code, originally written in Visual Basic, is now officially available at SourceForge.

    HijackThis scans your computer to find settings changed by spyware, malware or other unwanted programs. It generates an in-depth report to enable expert users to analyze and fix an infected computer. Several security communities use HijackThis log files to help users evaluate and eradicate infections.

    "This means that other people can build on a solid base to create or improve their own anti-malware tools," said Merijn Bellekom, the original creator of HijackThis.

    Trend Micro will continue to maintain the original source code and will update the base code on SourceForge as developers make modifications that are essential and positive to the continued improvement of this code.

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    Monday, February 20, 2012

    New Life, From an Arctic Flower That Died 32,000 Years Ago -

    Dead for 32,000 Years, an Arctic Plant Is Revived

    Living plants have been generated from the fruit of a little arctic flower, the narrow-leafed campion, that died 32,000 years ago, a team of Russian scientists reports. The fruit was stored by an arctic ground squirrel in its burrow on the tundra of northeastern Siberia and lay permanently frozen until excavated by scientists a few years ago.

    This would be the oldest plant by far that has ever been grown from ancient tissue. The present record is held by a date palm grown from a seed some 2,000 years old that was recovered from the ancient fortress of Masada in Israel.

    Seeds and certain cells can last a long term under the right conditions, but many claims of extreme longevity have failed on closer examination, and biologists are likely to greet this claim, too, with reserve until it can be independently confirmed. Tales of wheat grown from seeds in the tombs of the pharaohs have long been discredited. Lupines were germinated from seeds in a 10,000-year-old lemming burrow found by a gold miner in the Yukon. But the seeds, later dated by the radiocarbon method, turned out to be modern contaminants.

    Despite this unpromising background, the new claim is supported by a firm radiocarbon date. A similar avenue of inquiry into the deep past, the field of ancient DNA, was at first discredited after claims of retrieving dinosaur DNA proved erroneous, but with improved methods has produced spectacular results like the reconstitution of the Neanderthal genome.

    The new report is by a team led by Svetlana Yashina and David Gilichinsky of the Russian Academy of Sciences research center at Pushchino, near Moscow, and appears in Tuesday’s issue of The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

    “This is an amazing breakthrough,” said Grant Zazula of the Yukon Paleontology Program at Whitehorse in Yukon Territory, Canada. “I have no doubt in my mind that this is a legitimate claim.” It was Dr. Zazula who showed that the apparently ancient lupine seeds found by the Yukon gold miner were in fact modern.

    But the Russians’ extraordinary report is likely to provoke calls for more proof. “It’s beyond the bounds of what we’d expect,” said Alastair Murdoch, an expert on seed viability at the University of Reading in England. When poppy seeds are kept at minus 7 degrees Celsius, the temperature the Russians reported for the campions, after only 160 years just 2 percent of the seeds will be able to germinate, Dr. Murdoch noted.

    The Russian researchers excavated ancient squirrel burrows exposed on the bank of the lower Kolyma River, an area thronged with mammoth and woolly rhinoceroses during the last ice age. Soon after being dug, the burrows were sealed with windblown earth, buried under 125 feet of sediment and permanently frozen at minus 7 degrees Celsius.

    Some of the storage chambers in the burrows contain more than 600,000 seeds and fruits. Many are from a species that most closely resembles a plant found today, the narrow-leafed campion (Silene stenophylla).

    Working with a burrow from the site called Duvanny Yar, the Russian researchers tried to germinate the campion seeds, but failed. They then took cells from the placenta, the organ in the fruit that produces the seeds. They thawed out the cells and grew them in culture dishes into whole plants.

    Many plants can be propagated from a single adult cell, and this cloning procedure worked with three of the placentas, the Russian researchers report. They grew 36 ancient plants, which appeared identical to the present day narrow-leafed campion until they flowered, when they produced narrower and more splayed-out petals. Seeds from the ancient plants germinated with 100 percent success, compared with 90 percent for seeds from living campions.

    The Russian team says it obtained a radiocarbon date of 31,800 years from seeds attached to the same placenta from which the living plants were propagated.

    The researchers suggest that special circumstances may have contributed to the remarkable longevity of the campion plant cells. Squirrels construct their larders next to permafrost to keep seeds cool during the arctic summers, so the fruits would have been chilled from the start. The fruit’s placenta contains high levels of sucrose and phenols, which are good antifreeze agents.

    The Russians measured the ground radioactivity at the site, which can damage DNA, and say the amount of gamma radiation the campion fruit accumulated over 30,000 years is not much higher than that reported for a 1,300-year-old sacred lotus seed, from which a plant was successfully germinated.

    The Russian article was edited by Buford Price of the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Price, a physicist, chose two reviewers to help him. But neither he nor they are plant biologists. “I know nothing about plants,” he said. Ann Griswold, a spokeswoman for the National Academy of Sciences, said the paper had been seen by an editorial board member who is a plant biologist.

    Tragedy has now struck the Russian team. Dr. Gilichinksy, its leader, was hospitalized with an asthma attack and unable to respond to questions, his daughter Yana said on Friday. On Saturday, Dr. Price reported that Dr. Gilichinsky had died of a heart attack.

    Eske Willerslev, an expert on ancient DNA at the University of Copenhagen, said the finding was “plausible in principle,” given the conditions in permafrost. But the claim depends on the radiocarbon date being correct: “It’s all resting on that — if there’s something wrong there it can all fall part.”

    If the ancient campions are the ancestors of the living plants, this family relationship should be evident in their DNA. Dr. Willerslev said that the Russian researchers should analyze the DNA of their specimens and prove that this is the case. However, this is not easy to do with plants whose genetics are not well studied, Dr. Willerslev said.

    If the claim is true, then scientists should be able to study evolution in real time by comparing the ancient and living campions. Possibly other ancient species can be resurrected from the permafrost, including plants that have long been extinct.

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart

    “That Time We Beat the Americans” by Stephen Marche | The Walrus | March 2012

    That Time We Beat the Americans

    Illustration by Lauchie ReidFort York, Toronto
    Canada exists
    for no natural reason
    Let’s begin with an obvious fact no one will admit: Canadians and Americans are more or less the same people. A Torontonian in New York does not stick out, while a Kentuckian well might. Neither does a resident of Medicine Hat, Alberta, feel out of place in Butte, Montana, though a Vancouverite definitely would. Which is not to say that no significant differences exist between Canadians and Americans — just that our shared national border, unlike those of Europe, was not shaped by linguistic and ethnic variations. The War of 1812 made all the difference here. A complicated and unpleasant struggle, mostly forgotten, sundered our two countries. And that struggle is now 200 years old, which makes this as good a time as any to start remembering.

    Canada exists because of
    the War of 1812
    Military historians generally describe the War of 1812 as a stalemate. After two and a half years of fighting, not much changed between the United States and England, nor between the United States and Canada. But the war — as much as the more decisive battle of the Plains of Abraham, the American Revolution, and the Civil War — foretold North America’s political shape, its current reality. For the US, the war confirmed its status as a sovereign state and tested the limits of manifest destiny. On this side of the border, the matter is much simpler: if we hadn’t won the War of 1812, we wouldn’t be Canadian.

    Canada exists because of
    taxes (and tax breaks)
    In a continental irony, after the revolution the new American government had to raise taxes far higher than British authorities had ever dreamt of doing, to finance the overthrow of Westminster rule. Across the border, the British suddenly realized colonists could easily grow alienated. So they lowered taxes and offered prospective settlers of Upper Canada 200 acres of free land. Loyalists and late Loyalists, followed by tax exiles and land speculators from the newly united States, quickly populated what would become the province of Ontario. Upper Canada’s settler population ballooned, from 6,000 in 1785 to 14,000 in 1791, with men and women looking for opportunities and willing to wink at their US citizenship — just as British officials willingly welcomed them back from their flirtation with liberty, without too many questions.

    Major General Sir Isaac BrockIllustration by Lauchie ReidHe was born on October 6, 1769, to an upper-class family from the Channel Island of Guernsey. Although he purchased each of his ranks, except for his captaincy, his tactical brilliance and empathy drew praise from his superior officers. Brock was assigned to Canada in 1802, but he disliked the colony. He regarded it as a backwater and would have rather been fighting, and dining, in Europe.

    He played a primarily administrative role in Montreal, until the governor general, Sir George Prevost, appointed him Upper Canada’s military leader and acting lieutenant-governor, in 1811. Brock’s defining moment, the battle of Queenston Heights, took place on October 13, 1812. With his captains busy commanding the grenadiers, he led the charge against American forces embedded atop the Niagara Escarpment. The general was shot in the chest at close range, and died on a battlefield just north of Niagara Falls.

    But Brock lives on across the country — most of which wasn’t even part of Canada when he was alive. Consider the countless roads, towns, and institutions that bear his name: Vancouver has General Brock Elementary School; Saskatchewan has the village of Brock; Newfoundland has Brock’s Head Path. In Ottawa, steps from Parliament Hill, a bust of him can be found at the Valiants Memorial, which honours fourteen of Canada’s war heroes, three of them from the War of 1812. There, a bronze inscription quotes Virgil: “No day will ever erase you from the memory of time.”

    — Barry Chong

    So in the days leading up to the war, it was optimistic but not preposterous for Representative John A. Harper of New Hampshire to predict that Canadians would greet American soldiers as liberators: “They must sigh for an affiliation with the great American family — they must at least in their hearts hail that day, which separates them from a foreign monarch, and unites them by holy and unchangeable bonds, with a nation destined to rule a continent.” They would not, after all, be invaded by a foreign people. Canadians would be brought back into the fold of American Revolutionary ideals.

    What occurred two centuries ago was more or less a family feud. The Pulitzer Prize–winning historian Alan Taylor titled his 2010 survey of the conflict The Civil War of 1812 — a phrase that captures the profound connection between the combatants, and the unstable relationship between the Empire and the Republic. “Brother fought brother in a borderland of mixed peoples,” he writes. Those on both sides instantly recognized, and noted, the unique horror of firing on people so like themselves.

    Canada exists
    because of Hubris
    The reasons the United States invaded Canada were, and remain, contentious and unclear. Officially, residues of the revolution — unresolved issues of maritime law, military conscription, and possession of the Ohio Country — led to the declaration of war on June 18, 1812. But the unofficial reasons — the prize and the odds of success — were grubby, petty. “United States,” then as now, was something of a misnomer, and the war emerged out of squabbling between the majority Jeffersonian Republicans, who hungered for expansion, and the minority Federalists, who benefited from close economic ties with Britain. By declaring war, the Republicans intended to make the Federalists look anti-patriotic and undemocratic. Both parties, however, believed the conquest of Upper and Lower Canada would be a cakewalk. At sea, the Royal Navy, though sixty times the size of the fledging US Navy, was distracted by Napoleon’s ships; on land, nearly eight million Americans would square off against just 300,000 Canadians. In August 1812, former president Thomas Jefferson declared, “The acquisition of Canada, this year, as far as the neighborhood of Quebec, will be a mere matter of marching.”

    Canada exists because of
    a series of lucky breaks
    The comedy of errors began immediately. Even though the United States declared war, which should have given its soldiers the advantage of surprise, a messenger carried the news to Canadian military outposts on the Niagara River before it reached the New York side. British soldiers quickly detained several important — and unsuspecting — American personages on our side of the river. The initial blunder served as a telling prequel to subsequent disasters.

    Illustration by Lauchie ReidBattlefield Park, Stoney Creek, Ontario
    Canada exists because of
    blundering Americans
    The grand view of history has traditionally offered two paths for the interpretation of events. The first imagines social trends rising up from below to sweep humanity along in their irrepressible, all-powerful waves. The other dreams of iconic figures who shape history through their own vision and will. In the case of the United States during the War of 1812, we find neither. Instead, a third way emerges: history dominated by stupidity and impulse. From the revolution to the present moment, hardly a single generation of Americans has passed without giving rise to a bona fide military genius. The Civil War alone produced half a dozen. To Canada’s good fortune, the post-revolution US Army was stacked with bunglers and officers past their prime. It might have taken Canada easily, if not for the miraculously systemic idiocy among the top brass.

    Canada exists because of
    William Hull
    Every Canadian city should build a statue to Brigadier General William Hull, because it is largely thanks to the American officer’s poor planning and cowardice that our provinces and territories do not number among a Star-Spangled constellation. Taylor describes Hull as “tall, strong, and courtly, he looked the part of a war hero, but he lacked substance, alternating an imperious manner with chronic indecision.” He drank. He bragged. His subordinates despised him. President James Madison, at Hull’s urging, made the terrible decision to divide the already weak army into three and attack Upper Canada from Detroit. If the United States had decided to strike straight at Montreal — a strategy confused by backroom dealings with a political heavyweight from Ogdensburg, New York, who didn’t want his land trampled on — it might well have been “a mere matter of marching,” as Jefferson predicted.

    TecumsehIllustration by Lauchie ReidHe belongs to a tradition of misappropriated heroes, whereby one-time enemies are whitewashed as icons of a popular history. Canadians have named streets and schools after him, and the Friends of the Tecumseh Monument are now raising $5 million to honor his legacy in Southwestern Ontario. At the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, midshipmen rally around a bronze likeness, in the aptly named Tecumseh Court, which they cover in war paint for Commissioning Week, during exams, and before they face football rivals.

    In life, Tecumseh fought for the survival and continued sovereignty of the Shawnee people. Born in the Ohio Country in 1768 and killed on October 5, 1813, near Moraviantown, Upper Canada, he campaigned for a confederacy of Indigenous nations. He urged Aboriginal leaders, from the Great Lakes to Georgia, to affirm pan-tribal ownership of the land — to reject settler-imposed boundaries.

    During the War of 1812, he allied with the British to fight a common enemy. As Isaac Brock declared, “A more sagacious or more gallant Warrior does not I believe exist. He was the admiration of everyone who conversed with him.” Yet British actions in the battle of the Thames were not as gallant. Despite plans to fight side by side, Major General Henry Proctor retreated, leaving Tecumseh’s vastly outnumbered men to face the Americans alone. Tecumseh’s Confederacy was overwhelmed; its leader died and, along with him, the last, best chance for Aboriginal self-governance.

    — Bronwen Jervis

    But Canadians can thank William Hull for much more than his dreadful advice to the president. In person, he was a military buffoon and an accidental nation maker. On July 5, 1812, he arrived in Detroit with orders to take the small town of Amherstburg, just across the river. He found the town well fortified, so he sent his men instead to the undefended settlement of Sandwich, whose inhabitants immediately fled. At Sandwich (now Windsor, Ontario), he made one of the most important pronouncements in Canadian history, declaring, “No white man found fighting by the side of an Indian will be taken prisoner. Instant destruction will be his lot.” Since every Canadian militiaman and British regular served alongside Aboriginal allies, the edict effectively promised death to any farmer or shopkeeper who resisted invasion. Then Hull allowed his soldiers to plunder homes, shops, and farms, and he continued to avoid a battle at Amherstburg, even though his men outnumbered the British and Canadian troops by two to one. His cowardice proved as sizable as his malice.

    Spurred on by American incompetence, the residents of Upper Canada chose to fight, where before they had been rather ambivalent and resigned to retreat. Hull squandered his military dominance and achieved the worst possible outcome. He was unnecessarily brutal, cowardly and, worst of all, totally ineffective. The major outcome of his campaign was that he left behind settlers — who may or may not have been Loyalists and late Loyalists before — who were now self-conscious possessors of a territory and a recognizable identity.

    William Hull ineffectually assaulted a disparate group of people. He left behind a cohesive, distinct Canadian community.

    Canada exists because of
    Aboriginal allies
    Tecumseh was a Shawnee leader and one of the great military minds of all time. Outside the walls of Fort Detroit, he marched his men around and around, out of sight and back again, making his force appear five times larger than it was. The sleight of hand worked. Terrified, Hull liquored up and neglected his troops. The soldiers and militiamen under his command, both humiliated and scared, plotted mutiny. Major General Sir Isaac Brock, military commander and acting Lieutenant-Governor of Upper Canada, had fewer men, and Hull held the fort. But all Brock had to do was threaten further use of Tecumseh’s force — the terror of all American soldiers. Hull’s men deserted, and he surrendered without a fight. Brock and Tecumseh were so disgusted by their opponent that they didn’t even grant him the customary honours of war.

    Mohawks, Oneidas, Onondagas, Tuscaroras, Cayugas, Senecas, and other First Nations fought alongside British detachments and Canadian militias throughout the war, and they played pivotal roles at the battles of Queenston Heights, the Thames, and Stoney Creek, all up and down the Niagara Peninsula. Yet we rarely recognize this fact.

    Sent from my iPhone

    Posted via email from Tony Burkhart