Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The New High

"Everybody will know somebody who 
has been into space in the 
next 20 years," Mr Stinemetze said."

Book now.

The Female Oskar Schindler

"Irena Sendler successfully smuggled almost 2,500 Jewish children [out of the Warsaw Ghetto] to safety and gave them temporary new identities.

Some children were taken out in gunnysacks or body bags. Some were buried inside loads of goods. A mechanic took a baby out in his toolbox. Some kids were carried out in potato sacks, others were placed in coffins, some entered a church in the Ghetto which had two entrances....

But the Nazis became aware of Irena's activities, and on October 20, 1943 she was arrested, imprisoned and tortured by the Gestapo, who broke her feet and legs. She ended up in the Pawiak Prison, but no one could break her spirit. Though she was the only one who knew the names and addresses of the families sheltering the Jewish children, she withstood the torture, that crippled her for life, refusing to betray either her associates or any of the Jewish children in hiding. Sentenced to death, Irena was saved at the last minute when Zegota members bribed one of the Gestapo agents to halt the execution. She escaped from prison but for the rest of the war she was pursued by the Nazis."

She passed away in 2007 at the age of 98.

The Wearable Robot


From Berkeley Bionics....

Coming soon to wheelchair users, soldiers...

Maybe you...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Moving Pictures

"Silent Screen"
A spellbinding performance tonight at
UNC's Memorial Hall 
by the Netherlands Dance Theatre.

Music: "Glassworks" by Philip Glass

Monday, March 28, 2011

Paging Dr. McCoy...

The VScan from GE

Eric Topol felt a twinge of nostalgia when he stopped carrying around his trusty stethoscope.
Dr. Topol, a cardiologist in San Diego, carries with him instead a portable ultrasound device roughly the size of a cellphone. When he puts it to a patient's chest, the device allows him to peer directly into the heart. The patient looks, too; together, they check out the muscle, the valves, the rhythm, the blood flow. I

The Artificial Bird

From a company called Festo

It actually flies....

It's hard to believe this is real....


From a 1961 fashion shoot at Disneyland....

(Via Boingboing)

"The Electronic Brain"...of 1952?

Do Judges Deserve 'Honest' Money?

A fascinating column about a suit filed by a coalition of federal judges seeking pay raises....

"Their aim is limited: to force Congress to reinstate the automatic pay adjustment. To understand the scale of what one is talking about, consider the pay of but one of the plaintiffs, Judge Silberman. I don’t know his exact salary. But at the time he was assigned to the District of Columbia Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals, the salary of a federal appeals judge—$83,200—was worth 258 ounces of gold. Since then, the value of the pay of a judge of one of the Appeals circuits—$184,500—has been diminished to 139 ounces of gold.

At this very hour, the judges’ petition in their pay case is before the United States Supreme Court. And while I believe the justices have been wronged by Congress, I hope they lose on the question of whether a suspension in the automatic pay adjustment is unconstitutional. That should get them angry enough to come back and look legal tender in the face. They could force Congress to pay them in the gold or silver equivalent of a federal judge’s salary at the time they were appointed to the bench. It would move judges closer to the kinds of salaries the lawyers before them are receiving....
It may be that the judges will lose their pay case, just as Susette Kelo lost her house, or that they will win a partial victory and the Supreme Court will shy away from confronting legal tender. But we know from Mrs. Kelo’s case that this needn’t be the end of things. People began to see the logic and think about property rights, and now at least 43 states have passed laws to make it harder for state and local jurisdictions to use the power of eminent domain to seize private land for someone else’s private use.
Could such a thing happen with money? Well, there is a part of the Constitution called Article I, Section 10. It is the section that lists the things that states can never do. And one of these prohibited activities is making legal tender out of something other than gold or silver coin. So what is happening now is that a growing number of states, watching the sickening plunge in the value of federal money, are starting to explore how they can set up monetary systems based on gold or silver coins. The most recent effort was launched in Virginia, where there is a bill before the General Assembly to set up a joint committee to study the question. There have been early stirrings—just stirrings—in the legislatures of several other states."

Sunday, March 27, 2011


A burning
Old lion face high
In a cornflower sky,
Yet by turning
Your head we find
You wear a girl’s
Bonnet behind.

--John Updike


Ah, Sun-flower

Ah, Sun-flower! Weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveler’s journey is done:

When the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sun-Flower wishes to go.
        --William Blake

Saturday, March 26, 2011

The Explorers

 Henry, 18, is hiking the Appalachian Trail 
near Roanoke over spring break.

Meanwhile, newly 14-year-old sister Margaret
has flown to Quebec with her French class.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

China's Ghost Cities

Completely empty cities in China.

Whole cities.

A report from Australian television.

64 million empty apartments.

"They're building stuff for which
there's no demand."

Via Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis: "China's growth is nothing more than a credit bubble on steroids. Cities are vacant, yet China keeps building, and building and building.

The true state of affairs is China's banks are insolvent. China is building units for which there is little demand and few can afford. China will have to print money to pay for all of this malinvestment. The idea the Yuan is undervalued fails to take into consideration any of this."


I saw a challenging evening of music Saturday at Duke.
The Kronos Quartet premiered a Steve Reich 
composition inspired by 9/11. 
Oddly, they played it twice. I'm not sure why.
Perhaps because there were two towers.

Here is the group performing something 
a bit more familiar....

New Growth--Roanoke

Scenes from the new old Farmer's Market 
in downtown Roanoke.

Lovely on a warm March day,
the pear trees blossoming all around.

Folks seem to like life
in Roanoke.
And for good reason.

Missing "Link" Found

From 1955 to 1960, photographer 
O. Winston Link documented 
the last days of steam rail travel on the 
N&W Railway in Virginia and West Virginia.
Working with the N&W, Link meticulously 
prepared his tableaus in advance, sometimes 
using dozens of flashbulbs to capture 
the "decisive moment."

His work is celebrated at
in the converted passenger train station.

I remember seeing his work in a photo 
magazine in the early 1980s.
Ah, to have bought one of his prints then...

 Johnny Cash, Orange Blossom Special, 
San Quentin Prison

Mr. Roy Acuff, The Wabash Cannonball,
The Opry

An engine rolling behind
the museum...

Art of Roanoke

 Swooping and jutting. Piercing.
 Designed by architect Randall Stout.

Thomas Hart Benton

 A Thomas Eakins portrait.

A Judith Leiber egg-shaped 
Faberge-type purse. 
The tsar would be jealous.

Roanoke...Get...Lucky...1 Hour