an exercise in miscellany

Archive for May, 2011|Monthly archive page

People’s Park

In history, places on May 28, 2011 at 7:25 am

People’s Park in Berkeley, California,  is a park near the University of California, Berkeley. The park was created during the radical political activism of the late 1960s.  The local South Campus neighborhood was the scene of a major confrontation between student protesters and police in May 1969. A mural near the park, painted by Berkeley artist O’Brien Thiele and lawyer/artist Osha Neumann, depicts the shooting of James Rector, a student who died from shotgun wounds inflicted by the police on May 15, 1969.

via People’s Park


Large Binocular Telescope

In technology & innovatons on May 28, 2011 at 7:13 am

Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) is an optical telescope for astronomy located on Mount Graham (10,700-foot (3,300 m)) in the Pinaleno Mountains of southeastern Arizona, and is a part of the Mount Graham International Observatory. The LBT is currently one of the world’s most advanced optical telescopes; using two 8.4 m (27 ft) wide mirrors can give the same light gathering ability as a 11.8 m (39 ft) wide single circular telescope and detail of 22.8 m (75 ft) wide one, according to the BBC. Either of its mirrors would be the largest optical telescope in continental North America. The strangely named
LUCIFER Telescope has two multi-object infrared spectrographs.

via Large Binocular Telescope

Kerry Wendell Thornley

In people on May 28, 2011 at 6:58 am

Kerry Wendell Thornley (April 17, 1938–November 28, 1998) is known as the co-founder (along with childhood friend Greg Hill) of Discordianism. In 1961, while living in New Orleans  he began to write about his experiences as a peacetime Marine in a book which used Lee Harvey Oswald as the template for its main character, Johnny Shellburn. In February 1962 , Thornley completed The Idle Warriors , which has the historical distinction of being the only book written about Lee Harvey Oswald before Kennedy‘s assassination. Due to the serendipitous nature of Thornley’s choice of literary subject matter, he was called to testify before the Warren Commission in Washington DC on May 18, 1964.  The Commission subpoenaed a copy of the book and stored it in the National Archives. In 1965, Thornley published another book titled Oswald, generally defending the “Oswald-as-lone-assassin” conclusion of the Warren Commission, which met with dismal sales. In his later years, Thornley became convinced that Oswald had in truth been a CIA asset whose purpose was to ferret out suspected Communist sympathizers serving in the Corps. Thornley came to believe that he had been a subject of the CIA‘s LSD experiments in MK-ULTRA.

via Kerry Wendell Thornley


In words & phrases on May 14, 2011 at 6:17 am

Bric-à-brac (origin French), first used in the Victorian era, refers to collections of curios such as elaborately decorated teacups and small vases, feathers, wax flowers under glass domes, eggshells, statuettes, painted miniatures or photographs, and so on. Bric-à-brac was used as ornament on mantelpieces, tables, and shelves, or displayed in curio cabinets.

via Bric-a-brac

Operation Abolition & Operation Correction

In operations and projects on May 14, 2011 at 6:09 am

Operation Abolition, a 1960 documentary produced by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (a.k.a House Un-American Activities Committee or HUAC), focused on an incident on May 13, 1960 when the Committee convened in San Francisco’s City Hall. While the committee met, students protested in the hallways and outside the building, leading to clashes with the police and the arrest of 64 students. Operation Abolition shows footage of the incident taken from subpoenaed San Francisco TV station newsreels, using that footage to allege that the students were Communists and/or instigated by Communist agents. The film’s narrators, Representative Francis E. Walter, Chairman of HUAC, and Fulton Lewis III, son of a prominent anti-communist radio commentator, suggest that the protesters were members of and/or “duped” by groups whose ultimate goal was to destroy the committee, weaken the FBI, and reduce the enforcement powers of the Federal government. Despite being a newsreel produced by a government agency, Operation Abolition was surprisingly popular. According to Time Magazine, an estimated 15 million people saw this film.

Operation Correction shows the same footage as Operation Abolition, interspersed with added commentary by Ernest Besig, the Executive Director of the ACLU of Northern California. Through his narration, Besig illustrates what he believes are the film’s inaccuracies, misrepresentations of the incident’s chronology, and propagandistic points. The national ACLU, however, was hesitant to endorse this film. Memoranda within the records of the ACLU call the film “useful” to “raise serious questions” about “what happened in San Francisco,” as well as the underlying civil liberties issues. Despite those qualifications, the same correspondence and memoranda in the ACLU Records, Box 903, Folder 9 warn that films such as Operation Correction must be viewed within a larger civil liberties context, especially as related to the ACLU’s stated goal of abolishing the HUAC.

via The Reel Mud

Operation Green Quest

In operations and projects on May 14, 2011 at 5:49 am

Operation Green Quest was a United States Customs Service-sponsored interagency investigative unit formed in October 2001 after the September 11 attacks, and concerned with the surveillance and interdiction of terrorist financing sources. Operation Green Quest was disbanded in June 2003 pursuant to an agreement between the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice. Led by the U.S. Customs Service, and included agents and analysts from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Secret Service, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, and the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Federal prosecutors from the U.S. Justice Department‘s Criminal Division also formed an integral part of Operation Green Quest. The director of Operation Green Quest was a senior special agent from U.S. Customs and the deputy director is a senior special agent from the IRS. According to Customs, by its fourth month of operation Operation Green Quest had initiated more than 300 probes into terrorist finances, seizing about $10.3m in smuggled US currency and $4.3m in other assets. Its work resulted in 21 searches, 12 arrests and four indictments.

via Operation Green Quest


In science & nature on May 1, 2011 at 7:30 am

A system of agriculture involving the simultaneous cultivation of plants and aquatic animals such as fish in a symbiotic environment. In a traditional aquaculture, animal effluents accumulate in the water, increasing toxicity for the fish. It is a closed system in that the only water introduced into the system is done to replace the amount lost by evaporation. No chemical fertilizers or insecticides are used. In an Aquaponics system the water from the fish is pumped through a filtration system which consists of a sump to collect the solids and a bio filter which, through the use of helpful bacteria, turns the ammonia into nitrites which is then turned into nitrates, fertilizer. This water is then pumped to a hydroponic system where the nitrates are filtered out by the plants as vital nutrients. Then to complete the cycle, the clean water is then circulated back to the aquaculture system. The term aquaponics is a portmanteau of the terms aquaculture and hydroponic. Aquaponic systems vary in size from small indoor or outdoor units to large commercial operations. The systems are most always fresh water, as salt water systems are not very plausible because of the lack of edible vegetation that can be produced in saltwater.

via Aquaponics


In science & nature on May 1, 2011 at 7:18 am

Permaculture is an approach to designing human settlements and agricultural systems that are modeled on the relationships found in natural ecologies. Permaculture is sustainable land use design. This is based on ecological and biological principles, often using patterns that occur in nature to maximize effect and minimize work. Permaculture aims to create stable, productive systems that provide for human needs, harmoniously integrating the land with its inhabitants. The ecological processes of plants, animals, their nutrient cycles, climatic factors and weather cycles are all part of the picture. Inhabitants’ needs are provided for using proven technologies for food, energy, shelter and infrastructure. Elements in a system are viewed in relationship to other elements, where the outputs of one element become the inputs of another. Within a Permaculture system, work is minimized, “wastes” become resources, productivity and yields increase, and environments are restored. Permaculture principles can be applied to any environment, at any scale from dense urban settlements to individual homes, from farms to entire regions.

via Permaculture


In places on May 1, 2011 at 7:08 am

Saint-Sulpice  is a Roman Catholic church in Paris, France, on the east side of the Place Saint-Sulpice, in the Luxembourg Quarter of the VIe arrondissement.  Smaller than Notre-Dame, Saint-Sulpice is the second largest church in the city. It is dedicated to Sulpitius the Pious. During the 18th century, an elaborate gnomon, the Gnomon of Saint-Sulpice, was constructed in the church.  The gnomon designed in this case to indicate the exact date of Easter.  The Marquis de Sade and Charles Baudelaire were baptized in Saint-Sulpice.

via Église Saint-Sulpice