November 19th

Image result for артиллерия и ракетные войскаOn November 19 Russia observes the Day of  Artillery, or, more elaborately named, the Day of Missile Troops (or Strategic Rocket Forcesand Artillery.

The first celebration of the Day of Artillery was established by the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR from 21 October 1944. The date was chosen because on November 19, 1942, following a powerful artillery preparation, the Red Army began the operation “Uranus”, the counter-offensive during the epic Battle of Stalingrad that was the beginning of radical change in the course of the Great Patriotic War and the World War II.

This tiny vehicle is a heavily armed war machine

Russia’s Strategic Rocket Forces have acquired a new weapon: a heavily armed robot. Chief of the Strategic Rocket Forces’ combat training department Evgeny Shchelkanov told the Interfax news agency about the latest acquisition. 

“Just this year we completed testing one such system of protection. Visually speaking it is a small tractor which is armed with machine guns and an automatic grenade launcher, it knows how to detect targets, and it leaves almost no distinct signs.” 

Shchelkanov added that the robot could detect targets even in the dark, and that it was almost “invisible.” (The Moscow Times)

Did You Know? More people in the world have a mobile phone than a toilet. Of the world’s seven billion people, six billion have mobile phones. However, only 4.5 billion have access to toilets or latrines – meaning that 2.5 billion people, mostly in rural areas, do not have proper sanitation.

Some Russian bloggers try to find a hidden meaning in this coincidence. I don’t. It is rather unlikely that the UN designated the World’s Toilet Day to coincide with the Battle of Stalingrad. Sometimes cigar is just a cigar.

Dearest Creature In Creation, Study English Pronunciation

knigaTo commemorate a belated International Literacy Day (September 8th), check your pronunciation skills in English.

In 1922, Dutch poet Gerard Nolste Trenité wrote a poem containing around 800 bizarre irregularities in the English language. It’s a tongue twister, a particularly useful exercise for bilingual people striving to master serviceable, if not excellent, English. If you can pronounce all the words in the poem then you’re verified as a master of the language. I must’ve made close to 500 mistakes on the first try. Here it is:

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
Pray, console your loving poet,
Make my coat look new, dear, sew it!

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word, Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it’s written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.

Hear me say, devoid of trickery,
Daughter, laughter, and Terpsichore,
Typhoid, measles, topsails, aisles,
Exiles, similes, and reviles;
Scholar, vicar, and cigar,
Solar, mica, war and far;
One, anemone, Balmoral,
Kitchen, lichen, laundry, laurel;
Gertrude, German, wind and mind,
Scene, Melpomene, mankind.

Billet does not rhyme with ballet,
Bouquet, wallet, mallet, chalet.
Blood and flood are not like food,
Nor is mould like should and would.
Viscous, viscount, load and broad,
Toward, to forward, to reward.
And your pronunciation’s OK
When you correctly say croquet,
Rounded, wounded, grieve and sieve,
Friend and fiend, alive and live.

Ivy, privy, famous; clamour
And enamour rhyme with hammer.
River, rival, tomb, bomb, comb,
Doll and roll and some and home.
Stranger does not rhyme with anger,
Neither does devour with clangour.
Souls but foul, haunt but aunt,
Font, front, wont, want, grand, and grant,
Shoes, goes, does. Now first say finger,
And then singer, ginger, linger,
Real, zeal, mauve, gauze, gouge and gauge,
Marriage, foliage, mirage, and age.

Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.

Pronunciation — think of Psyche!
Is a paling stout and spikey?
Won’t it make you lose your wits,
Writing groats and saying grits?
It’s a dark abyss or tunnel:
Strewn with stones, stowed, solace, gunwale,
Islington and Isle of Wight,
Housewife, verdict and indict.

Finally, which rhymes with enough —
Though, through, plough, or dough, or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!!!

Check how good you are:

 

Read To Live

knigaSurvey of more than 3,500 people finds that reading books -– markedly more than periodicals –- appears to deliver a noticeable ‘survival advantage.’ I suppose, internet browsing and reading text messages don’t count as well.  Novel finding, indeed.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The study, which is published in the September issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine, looked at the reading patterns of 3,635 people who were 50 or older. On average, book readers were found to live for almost two years longer than non-readers.

Respondents were separated into those who read for 3.5 hours or more a week, those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week, and those who didn’t read at all, controlling for factors such as gender, race and education. The researchers discovered that up to 12 years on, those who read for more than 3.5 hours a week were 23% less likely to die, while those who read for up to 3.5 hours a week were 17% less likely to die.

Overall, during follow-up, 33% of non-book readers died, compared to 27% of book readers, write the academics Avni Bavishi, Martin Slade and Becca Levy from the Yale University School of Public Health, in their paper A Chapter a Day: Association of Book Reading With Longevity.alexej ravski1

“When readers were compared to non-readers at 80% mortality (the time it takes 20% of a group to die), non-book readers lived 85 months (7.08 years), whereas book readers lived 108 months (9.00 years) after baseline,” write the researchers. “Thus, reading books provided a 23-month survival advantage.”

It seems that the more that respondents read, the longer they lived, but — get this! —  “as little as 30 minutes a day was still beneficial in terms of survival”.

Some 3 years back, yet another study concluded that Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy.

Well, then. Read a novel. Read and live longer.

 

Canadian Cranberry Bogs

Оригинал взят у в Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде

Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде (Richmond, BC)

If you feel like a bit of color in the National Geographic style, move briefly to the New India. New India in the east of Richmond, the suburbs of Vancouver, on the opposite bank of the Fraser River, that is. Here you’ll find  cranberry fields — the red berry sea spilled right under your feet.

Richmond is cranberry central, supplying some 38 per cent of B.C.’s total output to grower co-op Ocean Spray. The province’s 6,500 acres of cranberry bogs put B.C. fourth in Ocean Spray’s North American production, after Wisconsin, Massachusetts and Quebec.

Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде

Cranberry is a bog plant, grown on a dry soil in the lowlands, along irrigation canals. There are two ways to harvest cranberries. The dry method is to pluck berries off the bushes, and a much smarter method — to flood the bushes.Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде

Cranberries have one important feature: they are hollow inside. When put in water, they float rather than drown.Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: ягоды клюквы имеют одно важное свойство — они не тонут.

In mid-October the cranberry harvesting in the Fraser River Valley begins with flooding the field  up to a depth of about half a meter — the water level just above the height of the bushes.Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: В середине октября клюквенные поля в долине реки Фрейзер затапливают на глубину около полуметра — чуть выше уровня кустов.

Next show up the harvesters, up to their waists in the water, equipped  with the threshers. These wheeled machines, called beaters,  work their way around a flooded Richmond cranberry bog.Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: отряды наемной силы проходят по пояс в воде с молотилками и оббивают кусты, чтобы сбить с них ягоды.

Сбор урожай клюквы в Ричмонде: отряды наемной силы проходят по пояс в воде с молотилками и оббивают кусты чтобы сбить с них яходы.

Richmond cranberry harvesters look very colorful. Here’s New India for you.Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: отряды наемной силы проходят по пояс в воде с молотилками и оббивают кусты, чтобы сбить с них ягоды.

Note that workers wear life jackets. Well, as we all know, one can drown even in a glass of water.Обратите внимание, что рабочие одеты в спасательные жилеты — как известно, утонуть можно и в стакане воды — в прошлом году на сборе клюквы в Ричмонде утонул один рабочий.

Last year, one of the Richmond cranberry harvesters actually drowned. It is unknown whether or not he had a life jacket on.Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: сбитые с кустов ягоды лежат сплошным слоем на поверхности воды.

Knocked off the bushes berries float in a thick layer on the surface of the water.Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: сбитые с кустов ягоды лежат сплошным слоем на поверхности воды.

After the beating, more water is pumped in to float the cranberries. Wading workers use plastic booms to gather the fruit, the way fishermen use nets to gather fish.Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: сбитые с кустов ягоды лежат сплошным слоем на поверхности воды. Осталось только их собрать.

Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: рабочие при помощи бонов — плавучих заграждений — отсекают часть ягод и буксируют их наиболее удобному для их подъема берегу.

Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: рабочие при помощи бонов — плавучих заграждений — отсекают часть ягод. По частям они перетягивают все больше и больше ягод к месту погрузки.

Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде: Рабочие по частям они добавляют больше и больше ягод в месте погрузки, также ограниченном боном чтобы ягоды не расплывались.

Mechanical berry pumps are used to fire the fruit into waiting semi-trailer trucks.Грузовик с урожаем клюквы

Unlike the berries harvested using the dry method, cranberries harvested in the bogs are not suitable for long-term storage and should be immediately processed or frozen.Более 90% клюквы в Северной Америке собирается именно таким способом и, в отличие от сухого сбора, ягоды, собранные в болоте, не пригодны к длительному хранению и должны быть сразу обработаны или заморожены.

Over 90% of Northern American cranberries harvested using this method.

And from all the Canadian harvest cranberries 95% falls on the Fraser River Valley in British Columbia – about 17 million kilograms per square 1150 hectares (11.5 km2).

The total area of all the cranberry bogs in North America is only 12 thousand hectares (120 km2)

The plant received its name for the shape of its flowers reminiscent of the long crane necks with long beaks.95% всего канадского урожая клюквы — это около 17 миллионов килограммов — приходится на долину реки Фрейзер в Британской Колумбии.

If not crane than a  heron is seen en flight against a red background.

В английском языке название cranberry растение получило за форму цветов, напоминающую длинную журавлиную шею с длинным же клювом.

Клюква на вкус — кисловата и чем-то напоминает яблоки (я выловил пару жмень из болота). Вообще, это — одна из самых питательных ягод, богатая витамином С, калием и железом, органическими кислотами и антиоксидантами.

When America became independent, US Navy ships carried stashes of cranberries as a source of vitamin C to maintain healthy immune system of ships’ crew. The British, at the time, carried lime fruits aboard.

Одно из специфических свойств клюквы – способность усиливать действие антибиотиков в несколько раз. Она также обладает бактерицидными и противомикробными свойствами. Эти ягоды являются природным аналогом аспирина.

One of the specific properties of cranberries is the ability to enhance manyfold the effect of antibiotics on human bodies.Одно из специфических свойств клюквы – способность усиливать действие антибиотиков в несколько раз. Она также обладает бактерицидными и противомикробными свойствами. Эти ягоды являются природным аналогом аспирина.

Одно из специфических свойств клюквы – способность усиливать действие антибиотиков в несколько раз. Она также обладает бактерицидными и противомикробными свойствами. Эти ягоды являются природным аналогом аспирина.

These berries are a natural analogue of aspirin.

Одно из специфических свойств клюквы – способность усиливать действие антибиотиков в несколько раз. Она также обладает бактерицидными и противомикробными свойствами. Эти ягоды являются природным аналогом аспирина.

The bogs of Richmond yield anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 pounds of cranberries per acre.Некоторые города Британкой Колумбии отмечают урожай клюквы как, например, Форт Лэнгли где каждый год в выходные Дня Благодарения проходит жрачный фестиваль клюквы.

If you want to see the cranberry harvest in Vancouver, you may do so from mid-October to early November. Times may vary slightly from year to year.  Here are the addresses of several cranberry farms in the area:

  1. 3362 No 7 Rd Richmond, BC V6V 1T3
  2. Maybog Farm, 15411 Cambie Rd Richmond, BC V6V 1T3
  3. Jagbar Farms Ltd, 3011 Nelson Rd Richmond, BC V6W 1G3
  4. B K Ranch Ltd, 21551 Westminster Hwy Richmond, BC V6V 1B3

Most of the material and all the pictures are courtesy of the article  Сбор урожая клюквы в Ричмонде (in Russian.)

A Ride

A young man is driving a car on a dark and stormy night. Like in this picture. We”ll leave a stormy night to our imagination.

We''ll leave a stormy night to our imagination

Suddenly, he sees three people desperately trying to catch a ride. Again, keep in mind, it is a dark and stormy night. These are the following three people:kogo podvesti

  1. A sick old woman looking as though she is about to pass out;
  2. A longtime friend, a super-nice guy who once saved this young man’s life;
  3. An exceptionally attractive young woman (she must be glowing in the dark, for as we all remember, it is a dark and stormy night.) The young woman truly looks like a girl of his dreams.

Well, then, this is a dilemma: To whom of the three the young man should offer a ride? Say, his car is a two-seater, thus only one passenger can get an offer of a ride.a young man1What is your choice?

Should the young man choose an old lady? To deny a sick old woman a ride is cruel:  the woman is so frail, she might die without immediate medical attention.

It would feel really great to offer a ride to an old friend who once saved the young man’s life — an excellent chance of a small payback. On the other hand, what a pity it would be to loose his one in a lifetime chance to meet a soulmate…

This moral and ethical dilemma has been actually proposed during a job interview at one respectable international company.

Of the 200 applicants, only one candidate had no problem with the answer, and he was eventually hired. His solution was as follows: a young man

 “I would give the car keys to my friend and asked him to take the old woman to the hospital. And then see what a dark and stormy night has in stock for me and a girl of my dreams.”

Moral: Sometimes a non-standard thinking and creative approach us the key to a solution.

 

 

March Of Dinosaurs

Here they are, on order of appearence:  Shuvuuia, Sinosauropteryx, Compsognathus, Microraptor, Caudipteryx, Microceratus,
Hypsilophodon, Ornitholestes, Masiakasaurus, Psittacosaurus, Velociraptor, Laeallynasaus
Stegoceras, Troodon, Oviraptor, Protoceratops, Dromaeosaurus, Stygimoloch, Coelophysis
Dracorex, Dryosaurus, Deinonychus, Scelidosaurus, Herrerasaurus, Ornithomimus,  Kentrosaurus, Gigantspinosaurus, Pachycephalosaurus, Dilophosaurus, Gastonia, Concavenator,
Utahraptor, Euoplocephalus, Sauropelta, Miragaia, Chasmosaurus, Magyarosaurus,
Einiosaurus, Camptosaurus, Diabloceratops, Styracosaurus, Cryolophosaurus
Tuojiangosaurus… and the rest of them:
Ceratosaurus
Edmontonia
Plateosaurus
Ankylosaurus
Baryonyx
Wuerhosaurus
Gallimimus
Neovenator
Pachyrhinosaurus
Carnotaurus
Ichthyovenator
Maiasaura
Iguanodon
Dacentrurus
Gigantoraptor
Gorgosaurus
Melanorosaurus
Majungasaurus
Ouranosaurus
Stegosaurus
Olorotitan
Triceratops
Deinocheirus
Corythosaurus
Amargasaurus
Allosaurus
Parasaurolophus
Therizinosaurus
Albertosaurus
Suchomimus
Edmontosaurus
Saurophaganax
Acrocanthosaurus
Lambeosaurus
Tyrannosaurus
Carcharodontosaurus
Giganotosaurus
Shantungosaurus
Spinosaurus
Cetiosaurus
Diplodocus
Camarasaurus
Apatosaurus
Giraffatitan
Alamosaurus
Dreadnoughtus
Brachiosaurus
Sauroposeidon
Mamenchisaurus
Puertasaurus
Argentinosaurus

Happy Birthday, Black Death

The Triumph of Death is an oil panel painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1562). Image courtesy Museo del Prado, Madrid

The Triumph of Death is an oil panel painting by Pieter Bruegel the Elder (1562). Image courtesy Museo del Prado, Madrid

 Black Death is created, allegedly, on March 20th, 1345.

Plague is a bacterial infection found mainly in rodents and their fleas. But via those fleas it can sometimes leap to humans. When it does, the outcome can be horrific, making plague outbreaks the most notorious disease episodes in history.

All the citizens did little else except to carry dead bodies to be buried […] At every church they dug deep pits down to the water-table; and thus those who were poor who died during the night were bundled up quickly and thrown into the pit. In the morning when a large number of bodies were found in the pit, they took some earth and shovelled it down on top of them; and later others were placed on top of them and then another layer of earth, just as one makes lasagne with layers of pasta and cheese. (As related by a Florentine chronicler.)

Most infamous of all was the medieval pandemic that swept through Asia and Europe. It reached Europe in the late 1340s, killing an estimated 25 million people. And, mind you, there wasn’t quite as many Europeans in those times as there are now — merely 70 million.

Inspired by the Black Death, The Dance of Death or Danse Macabre, an allegory

Inspired by the Black Death, The Dance of Death or Danse Macabre, an allegory

The chronicler Agnolo di Tura ‘the Fat’ relates from his Tuscan home town that

… in many places in Siena great pits were dug and piled deep with the multitude of dead […] And there were also those who were so sparsely covered with earth that the dogs dragged them forth and devoured many bodies throughout the city.

7" version of The Black Death released by Dark Descent Records.

7″ version of The Black Death released by Dark Descent Records.

The Black Death lingered on for centuries, particularly in cities. Outbreaks included the Great Plague of London (1665-66), in which one in five residents died.

The cause of plague wasn’t discovered until the most recent global outbreak, which started in China in 1855 and didn’t officially end until 1959. The first breakthrough came in Hong Kong in 1894 when researchers isolated the rod-shaped bacillus responsible—Yersinia pestis. A few years later, in China, doctors noticed that rats showed very similar plague symptoms to people, and that human victims often had fleabites.

A historical turning point, as well as a vast human tragedy, the Black Death of 1346-53 is unparalleled in human history.

It’s a boy! No, wait…

Babies born apparently female in Salinas, Dominican Republic, are turning into men at puberty due to a genetic deformity. Above, Catherine and his cousin Carla, who is currently undergoing the transition

Babies born apparently female in Salinas, Dominican Republic, are turning into men at puberty due to a genetic deformity. Above, Catherine and his cousin Carla, who is currently undergoing the transition

This condition of gender transition is so common that the children of Salinas afflicted with it are referred to as Guevedoces, or ‘penis at 12 years’.

Around two per cent - or one in 90 - babies from Salinas, marked above on the map, are thought to be born with the condition, which occurs due to a missing enzyme during pregnancy

Around two per cent – or one in 90 – babies from Salinas, marked above on the map, are thought to be born with the condition, which occurs due to a missing enzyme during pregnancy

This unusual condition was first discovered and described in the 1970s when a scientist from Cornell visited the island.

Babies usually form male sex organs after around eight weeks in the womb, with the change triggered by hormone dihydro-testosterone. A handful of babies, however, do not have the enzyme that triggers the hormone surge and consequently they will not form male genitalia until they reach puberty, when there is another surge of testosterone.

BBC Two’s Countdown to Life – The Extraordinary Making of You explores this remarkable example of human diversity and admits that sometimes even the most complex, crucial to our species processes can occasionally go wrong.

Histography: Everything About Everything

5681769_original.gifHistography is interactive timeline that spans across 14 billion years of history, from the Big Bang to 2015.
The site draws historical events from Wikipedia and self-updates daily with new recorded events.
The interface allows for users to view between decades to millions of years.
The viewer can choose to watch a variety of events which have happened in a particular period or to target a specific event in time. For example you can look at the past century within the categories of war and inventions. prt_430x345_1441667274Take a look. It might seem tricky at first, but if you get a handle of it, you might find that the Matan Stauber’s site really delivers on its promise.
prt_430x348_1429383866

 

 

Drought

drought

The growing risk of worldwide water shortages is worse than scientists previously thought, according to a new study.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

More than 70 percent, which is 4 billion people, of the world’s population lives without sufficient access to fresh water for at least one month of the year, according to a new paper published Friday in the journal Science Advances.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Artist Joel Krebs envisions a disastrous drought that leaves world landmarks without water. Krebs imagines a complete climate shift, where an epic drought dries up the world’s great landscapes. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

drought3Evgeny Kazantsev presents a surreal look at what our cities and surroundings might look like in catastrophic conditions. The series imagines a pattern of extreme weather changes, forcing the earth’s natural and urban landscapes into ruin and disrepair. Beloved landmarks, towns and touristic sites are afflicted by heat waves, ice storms and droughts, leaving each in a state of decay and degeneration. Mesmerizing images. Follow the link above to see them. I selected two images related to drought:

Venice’s world-celebrated canals are envisioned without water

Venice’s world-celebrated canals are envisioned without water

Barcelona’s landmark Sagrada Familia is in near ruins, as a result of an extreme dust storm.

Barcelona’s landmark Sagrada Familia is in near ruins, as a result of an extreme dust storm.

Articles — only a few of many — about water shortage and research on the subject: