Monday, May 31, 2010

3,300 Year Old "Lost Tomb" of Egyptian Mayor Found

On Sunday, May 30, 2010, officials in Cairo, Egypt announced a most fascinating find.  The 3,300 year-old tomb of Ptahmes, mayor of the ancient Egyptian capital Memphis had been found since it had last been plundered in 1885 by treasure hunters. 

The tomb, located in a New Kingdom necropolis at Saqqara was plundered over 120 years ago and artifacts such as the decorative wall panels were removed and sold to museums.  After the ancient treasures were removed the tomb was all but forgotten.  Were it not for the artifacts that ended up in museums in the Netherlands, United States, Italy and even the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, Pthames and his tomb might have been forgotten forever.

In 2005, a team of archaeologists from Cairo University's archaeology department found the tomb while excavating in the area.  A vivid wall engraving of fishermen in papyrus reed boats, amulets and statue fragments were found in the discovered chambers.  The inner chambers and the mayor's mummy have not been discovered.

Pthames served as Mayor of Memphis, army chief, overseer of the treasury and royal scribe under the rulers Seti I and his son, Ramses II in the 13th century B.C. 

For more information and to view photographs of the outside of the tomb and an unfinished funeral painting please visit the article.  (Click on "view related photos" next to the picture of the funeral painting.)

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Sunday Funnies: What Gender is a Computer

(Who doesn't love a little bit of techie humor??)

A SPANISH Teacher was explaining to her class that in Spanish, unlike English, nouns are designated as either masculine or feminine.

'House' for instance, is feminine: 'la casa.'
'Pencil,' however, is masculine: 'el lapiz.'

A student asked, 'What gender is 'computer'?' Instead of giving the answer, the teacher split the class into two groups, male and female, and asked them to decide for themselves whether 'computer' should be a masculine or a feminine noun. Each group was asked to give four reasons for its recommendation.

The men's group decided that 'computer' should definitely be of the feminine gender ('la computadora'), because:

1. No one but their creator understands their internal logic;

2. The native language they use to communicate with other computers is incomprehensible to everyone else;
3. Even the smallest mistakes are stored in long term memory for possible later retrieval; and
4. As soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half your pay check on accessories for it.

The women's group, however, concluded that computers should be Masculine ('el computador'), because:

1. In order to do anything with them, you have to turn them on;
2. They have a lot of data but still can't think for themselves;
3. They are supposed to help you solve problems, but half the time they ARE the problem; and
4. As soon as you commit to one, you realize that if you had waited a little longer, you could have gotten a better model.

The women won.

Horned Dinosuar Possibly Moved From Island to Island Into Europe

There have been several great dinosaur stories in science news lately.  This latest discovery is just as exciting as the others recently reported.

Horned dinosaurs, known as ceratopsians, were plentiful during the late Cretaceous, roughly 100 million to 65 million years ago  (Ceratopsians include such well-known dinosaurs as Triceratops.)  It wasn't until scientists found a new small horned dinosaur, possibly a dwarf dinosaur, in Europe that they believed ceratopsians lived only in Asia and North America.

Three skull bones belonging to the horned dinosaur, Ajkaceratops kozmai, were unearthed in the summer of 2009 in a Hungarian quarry near the town of Ajka.  Fully grown, the newly discovered dinosaur grew to a tiny 3 feet long.  Dwarf dinosaurs did live in what we now know as Transylvania.

In 2007, scientists reported fossil teeth that could have been ceratopsian having been found in Sweden.  But the Hungarian find is the first clear discovery of a horned dinosaur in Europe.

The newly revealed small horned dinosaur lived roughly 85 million years ago and, at that time, much of what is now Europe was part of a complex series of island chains known as the Tethyan archipelago.  These islands were situated between the African and Eurasian land masses in the Tethys Ocean.  It is theorized that the small horned dinosaur moved from island to island thus eventually ending up in what we know as Europe.

For more information and to see a photo of a research team excavating the remains of the small horned dinosaur, please refer to this Technology and Science article.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

500 Million Year Old Mollusk Identified

It was discovered in British Columbia, Canada and looks like a cross between a shrimp and cartoon alien but it is actually one of the world's oldest and most primitive cephalopods. 

It's name is Nectocaris pteryx pushes the origins of cephalopods back at least 30 million years making them one of the longest lasting animal groups on Earth.  Cephalopods include modern octopi, squids and cluttlefish.

Martin Smith, a paleobiologist at the Royal Ontario Museum's Department of Natural History told Discovery News "modern cephalopods display a quite astonishing intelligence, and I like to think that Nectocaris may have been the smartest critter in the Cambrian sea."

Smith and his colleague, Jean-Bernard Caron studied at least 91 Nectocaris fossils found from the Burgess Shale, located in Yoho National Park near Field, British Columbia.  Thanks to the exceptional preservation of soft-bodied animals Burgess Shale is known for, the paleobiologists were able to get an idea as to what primitive cephalopods looked like.

Nectocaris did not have a hard shell contrary to what most scientists had thought for decades.  According to Smith, "shells evolved much later, probably in response to increased levels of competition and predation in the Late Cambrian."

Nectocaris was approximately 2 inches long, quite small by modern cephalopod standards, and swam using its large lateral fins.  It could accelerate to high speeds by using a nozzle-like funnel to squirt out water.  It was kite-shaped and flat from top to bottom with large, stalked eyes and a long pair of grasping tentacles. 

Other scientists have wondered why Nectocaris lacked such cephalopod features as a ring of tentacles around the mouth, a beak and a radula.  According to Smith, he and Caron were able to identify some possible mouthparts but that they weren't well preserved for them to describe in detail.

Highlights from the Royal Ontario Museum's Burgess Shale collection will go on display in its future Peter F. Bronfman Gallery of Early Life.  They will also be able to be seen on the Virtual Museum of Canada Burgess Shale website which will be launched in the spring of 2011.

For more information on this interesting mollusk and to see an artists rendition of what Nectocaris would have looked like you can read the Technology and Science article and find further information in the Vancouver Sun's Technology section.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Divers Exploring Cleopatra's Palace in Alexandria Harbor

On Tuesday, May 25, 2010 divers entered the waters of Alexandria harbor to explore the ruins of a palace and temple complex belonging to ancient Egyptian queen Cleopatra.  They had to swim over heaps of limestone blocks that went into the sea over 1,600 years ago because of earthquakes and tsunamis.

An international team of researchers led by French underwater archaeologist Franck Goddio are using advanced technology to survey the Alexandria Royal Quarters.  It is encased deep below the harbor sediment.  They are working to confirm  the accuracy of 2,000 year-old historical descriptions left by Greek geographers and historians.  Researchers have been doing topographical surveys of the area since the early 1990's.

The researchers are have discovered such artifacts as coins, granite statues of Egyptian rules, sunken temples dedicated to Egyptian deities and every day objects.  Also among the finds is a massive stone head believed to be of Caesarion, son of Queen Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, two sphinxes, one of which most likely represents Ptolemy XII, the father of Cleopatra.  Their finds will be going on display at Philadelphia's Franklin Institute from June 5, 2010 to January 2, 2011 in the "Cleopatra:  The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt" display of more than 250 artifacts before going on the road to tour four other North American cities.

Cleopatra was from the last dynasty to rule Egypt as the country was annexed into the Roman Empire in 30 B.C. 

For more information on the Cleopatra:  The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt exhibit please visit the article.

For more information on the archaeological expedition and to see a photograph of a diver inspecting a quartzite block please read the article.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Space Shuttle Atlantis Finishes Final Flight

After 120 million miles, 25 years, 32 flights, 294 days in orbit 4,648 times circling the Earth, 189 astronaut passengers, 7 flights to Russia's Mir Station, 1 flight to the Hubble Space Telescope and 11 visits to the International Space Station, Atlantis, the fourth to fly in NASA's shuttle series, has finished its last flight.

While Atlantis might look old and worn out to the average eye, the trained eyes of NASA engineers believe the shuttle is still in its prime and could make at least one more flight. 

Twelve hundred guests stood by at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 26, 2010 to watch Atlantis gracefully touch down for the final time ending its 12-day journey to the space station.

Atlantis if the first of three shuttles going into retirement to eventually find homes in museums.  Discovery and Endeavour will be making one more flight each then they will join Atlantis in retirement.  Discovery is slated to fly in September and Endeavour in November.  Once the three shuttles have retired, the entire shuttle fleet will have retired.  Atlantis will be on stand-by as a rescue ship for the last shuttle flight then be moved to a museum.  It is possible Atlantis might be able to make one final supply run to the space station next summer provided no rescue mission is needed for Endeavour's flight.

By the end of June or July NASA officials should have decided which museum(s) Atlantis and Endeavour will eventually call home.  Discovery is headed to the Smithsonian Institution.

For more information:

USA Today Article Article

"Hell of a Year" for 2010 Atlantic Hurricane Season

Hurricane season is almost upon us again.  The season runs from June to November and, according to experts, this year is going to yield an above-average threat in the Atlantic.

In what experts are calling a "hell of a year" 18 named storms have been predicted, 10 hurricanes and five intense hurricanes rated as Category 3 with winds of 110-130 mph or greater.  Past averages from 1950-2009 have ranged around 10 named storms, 6 hurricanes and 3 intense hurricanes. 

Weather Services International has given the eastern coastal region of the United States from the Outer Banks of North Carolina northward to Maine as an area that should expect twice as likely the normal hurricane experience.

To date, the most active hurricane season in history was the 2005 Atlantic season which left more than 1,500 deaths and more than $115 billion in damages from hurricanes such as Katrina and Rita.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration releases its updated 2010 hurricane season forecast today.

For more information:
Weather Services International:
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: "Weather" article:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

BBC One Dramatic Series: "Luther", Behind the Scenes, Madsen's Fall

The BBC has put up a four and a half minute "behind the scenes" video of the Henry Madsen fall from the very first episode of Luther.  I found it rather interesting to see how this tense scene was filmed.

BBC One Dramatic Series: Luther, Episode 4

We are four episodes into the series now and there's been some time for viewers to start making comments about the show online.  I've read some these comments at various sites around the Internet and it seems that viewers either really love Luther or they really dislike it.  There is little middle ground.  Being someone who is used to the American style of television, I personally find this show quite refreshing.  I severely dislike reality programming preferring my entertainment to be of the scripted variety.  Sure, I love some flat-out nonsense fun entertainment but I also want some great drama in the mix as well.  I like a show that leaves me thinking long after it's over.  I like complex characters.

In my most humble opinion, this series just gets better and better.  I'm so very happy I started watching it as I've truly enjoyed all four episodes that have aired.  It's one of the best dramas I've had the pleasure of watching in a very long time.  The acting is superb and I greatly enjoy every single character.  Alice Morgan has got to be one of the best characters I've seen in a long time.  Even if you don't care for police dramas this show is worth watching for her alone.

Gamers Can Control Their Dreams?

I always knew the countless hours I love to wile away playing on or playing PC video games would eventually pay off!

Jayne Gackenbach, a psychologist at Grant MacEwan University in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada  has been interested in video games and how they affect those who play them since the 1990's.  For a decade, she has been involved in game-related research and that research has offered up several surprises.  However, it is important to note that the findings aren't definitive proof, just representations of suggestive associations.

Both lucid dreamers and gamers seemed to have better spatial skills, were less prone to motion sickness and demonstrate a high level of focus or concentration. 

Gackenbach surveyed dreams of hardcore gamers and non-gamers with two studies published in 2006.

Gackenbach's first study suggested that gamers were more likely to report lucid dreams, observer dreams and dream control.  Her second study attempted to narrow down uncertainties and focused more on gamers than non-gamers.  The second study revealed that lucid dreams were common but gamers never had control over anything beyond their dream selves.    They also changed between first person and third person view of themselves during dreams.

Gackenbach's studies have shown that gamers have been able to control nightmare situations during dreaming that, instead of providing fear, the nightmares were more of a fun situation.  Gamers also showed lower levels of aggression during dreams overall but Gackenbach found that when gamers did show agression in dreams, they really showed aggression.

Gackenbach is pursuing a new study with Athabasca University in Athabasca, Alberta, Canada to determine whether or not gaming could be of help to individuals suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD sufferers have used virtual reality simulators in the past to help manage the nightmares symtomatic with the illness.  If Gackenbach's theories prove true, PTSD sufferers might need to just spend some time playing on thier PC's or consoles before bed.

This week, Gackenbach is scheduled to discuss her studies at the Sixth Annual Games for Health Conference in Boston, Massachusetts.

For more information about this interesting study, read the Technology and Science article.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Stephen Fry in America, Episode One: The New World, New England

Yeah, I've gotten a tad side-tracked and it's taken me longer than I intended to get this up.  I know I promised this a while back, so, after too-long of a wait, here it finally is.  Mr. Fry packs so much into a single hour that it would take several pages to give you every single detail so I'm just going to be giving you a hit-and-miss review of all the places he goes and all the things he sees.

Stephen Fry in America
Episode One, New World, New England
The original air date for this episode on BBC One was October 12, 2008

In this, the beginning of Stephen Fry in America our fearless hero takes us on a guided tour of the eastern United States.  The eastern portion of the United States is best known for its picturesque views, stunning fall colors, never-sleeping big cities and colorful residents.  We see all of these things in this episode, plus.

The first stop on our journey is the state of Maine.  Maine is the northernmost, easternmost state in the continental United States.  It is widely known as the home of author Stephen King and setting for the large majority of his writings, moose and as one of the best places, if not the best place, in the United States to go for fresh seafood.  Following the latter, Stephen takes us to the city of Eastport where he goes lobster fishing with a local family of commercial fishermen.  Stephen goes out on the boat with them and, then once back on land, he learns how to "put a lobster to sleep" before enjoying a fresh lobster dinner.

Deer Breaks into Hair Salon, Trashes the Place

You think I'm joking, don't you?  This isn't Sunday and it isn't a Sunday Funny.  It could be, but it isn't.

In one of those "only in Kentucky" moments, Sunday, May 23, 2010 a deer jumped through the front glass of the Choppers Hair Salon in Benton, Kentucky (Benton is about 28 miles southeast of Paducah, Kentucky).  Apparently, the receptionist was in the bathroom and the deer saw that as its chance.  People in the salon thought the place was being robbed but they were astonished to see a deer in the salon instead.

For about 20 minutes the deer ran wild in the salon damaging the floors, breaking water lines and damaging salon product before leaving.  None of the shops occupants were injured but the deer was.  The animal was cut on the window glass and left blood and hair behind.

There are currently no damage figures available but expectations are in the thousands of dollars.

I guess the deer couldn't get an appointment so he had to take matters into his own hands, er, hooves.

Read the article from WPSD-TV in Paducah, KY for more information and to see a photo from the inside of the hair salon.

This reminds me of a story from 2007 where a coyote wandered into a Loop Sandwich Shop in Chicago, Illinois and spent some time in the drinks cooler.  I loved this story when it was on the news.  You can read more about it and see video at the site or at  You can bet that when I come across more "animal funnies" like this, I will surely be blogging about them.

Monday, May 24, 2010

57 Ancient Egyptian Tombs Containing Mummies Discovered in Lahun

Fifty-seven ancient Egyptian tombs, most of which contain sarcophagi have been unearthed by a team of archaeologists led by Abdel Rahman El-Aydi, according to Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.  The find is located at Lahoun, in Fayoum, approximately 70 miles (100 kilometers) south of Cairo.  This is the same area where, last year, 53 tombs dating to various periods of ancient Egypt were discovered.

The oldest of the 57 tombs dates back to approximately Egypt's first and second dynasties, 2750 B.C., with twelve dating to the 18th Dynasty during the second millennium.  We are familiar with the 18th Dynasty thanks to names such as Queen Hatshepsut, Tutankhamun and Akhenaten.

The 18th Dynasty ornately painted wooden sarcophagi contain mummies covered in linen decorated with religious texts from the Book of the Dead. 

According to Abdel Rahman El-Aydi, one of the oldest tombs discovered is almost completely intact.

Thirty-one of the tombs date to approximately 2030-1840 B.C. and contain painted scenes depicting ancient Egyptian deities like Horus, Hathor, Khnum and Amun.

Follow this link to see a photo of one of the wooden sarcophagi Lahun 20th Tomb 0-52.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sunday Funnies: The Southern Way of Doing Things

A group of Alabama friends went deer hunting and paired off in twos for the day. That night, one of the hunters returned alone, staggering under the weight of an eight-point buck. "Where's Henry?" the others asked. "Henry had a stroke of some kind. He's a couple of miles back up the trail," the successful hunter replied. "You left Henry laying out there and carried the deer back?" they inquired. "A tough call," nodded the hunter. "But I figured no one is going to steal Henry!"

The owner of a golf course in Georgia was confused about paying an invoice, so he decided to ask his secretary for some mathematical help. He called her into his office and said, "You graduated from the University of Georgia and I need some help. If I were to give you $20,000, minus 14%, how much would you take off?" The secretary thought a moment, and then replied, "Everything but my earrings."

A senior at Louisiana was overheard saying .... "When the end of the world comes, I hope to be in Louisiana . "When asked why, he replied, "I'd rather be in Louisiana because everything happens in Louisiana 20 years later than in the rest of the civilized world."

The young man from Mississippi came running into the store and said to his buddy, "Bubba, somebody just stole your pickup truck from the parking lot!" Bubba replied, "Did you see who it was?" The young man answered, "I couldn't tell, but I got the license number."

North Carolina
NEWS FLASH! - North Carolina 's worst air disaster occurred! A small two-seater Cessna 150 plane, piloted by two University of North Carolina students, crashed into a cemetery earlier today. Search and Rescue workers have recovered 300 bodies so far and expect the number to climb as digging continues into the evening. The pilot and copilot survived and are helping in the recovery efforts.

South Carolina
A man in South Carolina had a flat tire, pulled off on the side of the road, and proceeded to put a bouquet of flowers in front of the car and one behind it. Then he got back in the car to wait. A passerby studied the scene as he drove by and was so curious he turned around and went back. He asked the fellow what the problem was. The man replied, "I have a flat tire." The passerby asked, "But what's with the flowers?" The man responded, "When you break down they tell you to put flares in the front and flares in the back. I never did understand it neither."

A Tennessee State trooper pulled over a pickup on I-65.. The trooper asked, "Got any ID?" The driver replied, "Bout whut?"

The Sheriff pulled up next to the guy unloading garbage out of his pick-up into the ditch. The Sheriff asked, "Why are you dumping garbage in the ditch? Don't you see that sign right over your head." "Yep", he replied. "That's why I’m dumpin’ it here, ‘cause it says: 'Fine For Dumping Garbage."
You can say what you want about the South, but you never hear of anyone retiring and moving north.

A New Savior in the Gulf Oil Spill? Kevin Costner?

The situation in the Gulf of Mexico seems to get worse by the day, doesn't it?  They've tried capping the spill once and it failed.  Hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil has spilled, and continues to spill out into the waters threatening animal and plant life as well as the economy of those who live and work in the Gulf.

But, there may be new hope and it is from a rather unlikely source.  Kevin Costner.

Yes, you read that right.  Bull Durham, Robin Hood, Dances with Wolves.  That Kevin Costner.

No can deny that the situation in the Gulf is severe and something needs to be done ASAP before things get any worse.  And, yes, they can get worse.

British Petroleum (BP) recently enlisted the help of movie star Kevin Costner who, along with his older brother, Dan, a scientist invented a vacuum-like machine that works using a high-powered centrifuge to suck up polluted water then separate it into oil and heavier water.  Mr. Costner has spent 15 years and approximately $26 million of his personal fortune developing this machine with his brother.

In the mid 1990's, Mr. Costner founded the Costner Industries Nevada Corporation to fund eco-friendly research by his brother and a team of scientists.  The firm invented the water cleaning device as well as a non-chemical battery.

Currently, there are 26 machines in Louisiana waiting to be deployed to do their jobs in the Gulf waters.  Each machine can clean between 5 and 200 gallons of water per minute depending upon the size of the machine.  Theoretically, this means the machines could clean up the oil as fast as it is polluting the waters.  The water that is filtered out of the machines comes out 97% clean.

For more information on this ray of hope for the Gulf, you can read the article.

I truly hope Mr. Costner's machines do the trick in the Gulf.  He certainly has spent a great deal of time and money on this invention.  Something needs to be done and right now, this solution does seem to add a bit of hope to an otherwise dark situation.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

BBC One Dramatic Series: Luther, Episode 3

The strong writing and brilliant acting continues in episode three of the new BBC One dramatic series Luther.  In this episode, Luther must find an abducted young woman before she is killed while avoiding suspension due to something Alice Morgan caused to happen.  This episode is a tense and gritty one that has a lot going on from the first minute to the last.  The tension among the characters remains high and some situations seem to be getting even more complicated.   

With some shows you will occasionally have a scene that appears to be just filler to round out the episode.  I'm yet to see a scene in the three episodes that have aired thus far that doesn't have a purpose.  Everything that happens, in some way, has something to do with something else.  There are several story lines running parallel to one another throughout this episode and each one, in some way, has an effect on the others.

I think it is safe to say that after the first three episodes of Luther I am definitely a fan of the show and am greatly looking forward to each new episode.

On to the summary of episode three...

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Tutankhamun's Leftover Linens Give New Insight Into Mummification

Leftover linens used to wrap the body of King Tutankhamun are the highlight of the "Tutankhamun's Funeral" exhibition at New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.  The bandages run from 15.4 feet to 15.3 inches (4.70 meters to 39 centimeters) and consist of 50 linen pieces that were woven especially for King Tutankhamun upon his death and mummification.

Now, after a century of being stored in large ceramic jars at the museum's Department of Egyptian Art, the bandages have been put on permanent display at the museum's Egyptian galleries. 

Dorothea Arnold, curator of Egyptian art at the museum told Discovery News that the linens used on King Tutankhamun's actual mummy were decayed because of the excessive use of resins.  The linens on display at the museum were not exposed to the resins and are the best-preserved lot of Tutankhamun's wrappings.

The linens look a great deal like modern-day gauze bandages.  They bear an inscription containing the date the linens were woven.  One linen features the inscription "Year 8 of the Lord of Two Lands, Nebkheperure".  "Nebkheperure" was Tutankhamun's throne name and "Year 8" was the final year of his life (1341-1323 B.C.).

The jars containing the leftover linens were discovered in a pit 110 meters (360.8 feet) away from the undiscovered tomb of King Tutankhamun.  The jars also contained bits and pieces of pottery, animal remains, dried flowers, kerchiefs and embalming material leading the discoverer, Theodore M. Davis to believe he'd uncovered the tomb of a poor man.

For more information about the linens, their discovery and to see a couple of photos of them you can check out the Discovery article or the article from's Technology and Science section.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

114 Terracotta Warriors Excavated in China

In 1974 in Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, farmers drilling a well one and a half miles from the unexcavated tomb of China's first emperor, Qin Shihuang (259-210 B.C.) discovered terracotta soldiers and horses. Since that discovery, there have been three archaeological digs that have thus far unearthed more than one thousand of the estimated eight thousand terracotta soldiers guarding the tomb.

The latest group of unearthed soldiers, mostly infantrymen, were found at Pit 1, the largest of the three pits at the excavation site. The dig began in June 2009 and was concentrated to a 656 square foot area of the main pit.

The soldiers, considered to be an "Eighth Wonder of the World" are life-sized standing over six feet tall with black hair, black or brown eyes and green, white or pink faces.

Many of the warriors had burn marks and were broken into pieces. Liu Zhanchang, director of the Museum of Qin Shihuang Terracotta Warriors and Horses, the burn marks offer evidence that the pit was at one time set afire. Research is currently being done to determine the date of the blaze that marked the figures.

Archaeologists are estimating that when Pit 1 has been fully estimated they will have found as many as six thousand more terracotta warriors and 180 or more chariot horses.

For more information on this interesting find and to see photos of the terracotta warriors you can read the MSNBC article or the article.

New BBC One Dramatic Series: Luther

Discussing television shows isn't something I normally do on this blog. But sometimes, things come along that are very good and they deserve to be talked about.

Luther is a new dramatic series from the United Kingdom. It premiered on May 4, 2010 and airs on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on BBC One. The next episode of Luther airs on Tuesday, May 18, 2010.

John Luther is a complex man. It's obvious he has some issues he needs to work through. A man he let fall almost to his death is still in a coma and there's the ever-present threat that if he wakes up he could give evidence that could not only bring down Luther but the entire unit. His ex-wife, that he wants back, has moved on to someone else. There is a highly intelligent and highly dangerous killer fascinated with him.

Idris Elba does an excellent job portraying the title character, moving from moments of brilliance to fits of anger and then back again in a heartbeat. Viewers should recognize Elba as "Charles Miner" in The Office (US version) or "Russel 'Stringer' Bell" from The Wire. Ruth Wilson was very impressive as Alice Morgan and it appears she is going to be a recurring thorn in Luther's side. Alice Morgan is twisted and unpredictable. That's a good thing in a show like this because as long as the writing stays tight she will be able to keep a level of tension in there that should make for some good viewing.

Luther is an intelligent drama that doesn't rely on sensationalism to carry the show. You won't find anything extraordinarily gory or see any "A-HA!" or cutesy-chats-over-the-microscope CSI moments here. And there aren't any of those Scooby Doo the-guy-who-did-it-wasn't-even-part-of-the-story-until-the-end moments, either. It's a fast-paced psychological drama that is driven by a good story and a very complex main character. You know who committed the crime early on in the story and the journey is in watching DCI Luther bring them to justice--if he can--without succumbing to his own demons that are plaguing him.

If the quality of the writing stays consistent, the acting quality stays strong and the show doesn't end up become stereotypical or bowing to sensationalism I think this will end up being a show I'm going to greatly enjoy following.

Now, about the first two episodes.

Episode 1 (May 4, 2010)
The series starts with split action. We see the police arriving at a house then see a man being pursued by another at a different location. The man, Henry Manson, slips and falls and is left holding onto a beam for dear life. His pursuer stands over him and asks him where she is. Apparently, the man has abducted a little girl and has her hidden away. He has only two choices: tell where the little girl is or fall. He tells where she is but that still doesn't save him. Before his pursuer, a policeman, will help him up he wants to make sure the little girl is still alive. Even though the policeman learns the little girl is still alive, he lets the man fall. Fast forward seven months, DCI John Luther, is cleared of any wrongdoing because of the circumstances and he is free to go back to his job if he wants it--and he does. He is given "the rules" by his boss, DSU Rose Teller, a new partner, DS Justin Ripley and a new case: the home invasion murder of Douglas and Laura Morgan. Luther and his partner check the scene and know immediately that something isn't right about it. After interviewing the Morgan's daughter, Alice, Luther is convinced she murdered her parents. The hard part will be proving it. When she goes after Luther's ex-wife, things become personal.

Episode 2 (May 11, 2010)
The second episode of Luther jumps right into the action. Uniformed police respond to what appears to be a man beneath a bridge who possibly had been shot. When they get to him, he shoots them down in cold blood then calmly walks away after replacing his radio with one of theirs. Luther and Ripley get the case and Luther pegs it as an execution. Alice Morgan is back and she continues taunting Luther. She calls him from the hospital room of Henry Madsen to tell Luther she is investigating him. A viable suspect is found in the officer shootings as another officer is shot down. The situation doesn't feel right but by time Luther realizes they are dealing with a sniper, more officers are shot down and the shooter again gets away clean. The sniper puts a video online stating why he is killing police officers and warning that officers will continue to die until his demand is met. Alice steps up the intimidation by again calling Luther and pressing him for information. Luther calls his ex-wife and warns her to leave town but her new flame, Mark, convinces her Luther is just trying to control her. In an attempt to take the sniper, they police raid his home not knowing it is rigged with a bomb. Four more officers are killed and six injured. Alice visits Zoe Luther to question her about John's motives for doing his job. John makes himself a target for the sniper in hopes he can finally stop the violence.

For more information about Luther visit the following sites:
Internet Movie Database

Here's a trailer for Luther presented by BBC One:

Sunday Funnies: Murder at Wal-Mart

Tired of constantly being broke & stuck in an unhappy marriage, a young husband decided to solve both problems by taking out a large insurance policy on his wife with himself as the beneficiary, and then arranging to have her killed.

A 'friend of a friend' put him in touch with a nefarious dark-side underworld figure who went by the name of 'Artie.' Artie explained to the young husband that his going price for snuffing out a spouse was $5,000.

The husband said he was willing to pay that amount, but that he wouldn't have any cash on hand until he could collect his wife's insurance money. Artie insisted on being paid at least something up front, so the man opened his wallet, displaying the single dollar bill that rested inside. Artie sighed, rolled his eyes, & reluctantly agreed to accept the dollar as down payment for the dirty deed.

A few days later, Artie followed the man's wife to the local Super Wal-Mart store. There, he surprised her in the produce department & proceeded to strangle her with his gloved hands. As the poor unsuspecting woman drew her last breath & slumped to the floor, the manager of the produce department stumbled unexpectedly onto the murder scene. Unwilling to leave any living witnesses behind, ol' Artie had no choice but to strangle the produce manager as well.

However, unknown to Artie, the entire proceedings were captured by the hidden security cameras & observed by the store's security guard, who immediately called the police. Artie was caught and arrested before he could even leave the store.

Under intense questioning at the police station, Artie revealed the whole sordid plan, including his unusual financial arrangements with the hapless husband who was also quickly arrested.

The next day in the newspaper, the headline declared....

'ARTIE CHOKES 2 for $1.00 @ WAL-MART!'

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Preakness: And the Winner Is....

Two weeks ago today the Kentucky Derby was run in Louisville, Kentucky. The winner of the Derby was Super Saver. The Preakness Stakes was run today at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland. Was Super Saver able to pull a second win in the Triple Crown making him one win away from being the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed took the honor in 1978?

Lookin' At Lucky, ridden by 25 year-old Martin Garcia won the Preakness Stakes today. Five years ago, Garcia was new to the United States from Mexico and working in a deli. A customer asked him if, because of his small stature, if he'd ever considered being a jockey. Like the discovery of Lana Turner at the drugstore, Martin Garcia was discovered in a deli. Under the tutelage of Bob Baffert Garcia has achieved his very first Triple Crown win. Garcia was riding Baffert's horse Conveyance in the Kentucky Derby two weeks ago.

Lookin' At Lucky and Garcia completed the 1 3/16 mile Preakness Stakes in 1:55.47.

Super Saver couldn't get the win this time around. Super Saver finished ninth in today's race.

Congratulations to Lookin' At Lucky and Martin Garcia! May there be many more wins in your future!

Gray Whale Sighting--On the Wrong Side of the World

No, this isn't the plot for the next Free Willy movie. A good friend sent me the link to this article and I knew right away I'd have to talk about it!

When researchers from the Israel Marine Mammal Research and Assistance Center (IMMRAC) went out to study a whale last Saturday everything seemed normal at first. The whale wasn't behaving strangely and nothing seemed out of the ordinary. For almost two hours they observed the whale and, at first, believed it to be a sperm whale. That in itself would have been exciting as a sperm whale has never before been sighted in that area. However, things seemed a bit strange. The blowhole of the whale wasn't located where it should have been to be a sperm whale and the dorsal region wasn't wrinkled as it is on a sperm whale. The researchers took some photographs and returned to shore. After closely examining the photographs they learned they had been watching a gray whale all that time.

What is so remarkable about that?

Gray whales do not live near Israel, or the Mediterranean. There aren't any gray whales in the Atlantic and haven't been since the eighteenth century. Gray whales are known to live in the western and eastern Pacific and number roughly around 20,200. Neither location is anywhere near Israel or the Mediterranean.

Still, researchers say there is no doubt a gray whale was seen in waters off Israel. According to Phillip Clapham of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration there are two possible explanations for the whale sighting: a relict population in the North Atlantic that no one has noticed or that the whale came down through the ice-free Northwest Passage and is lost. The latter explanation seems most likely.

Clapham believes that with the Northwest Passage opening up in coming years due to warming temperatures that this gray whale will not be the last to make it from the waters where they normally live to new waters.

If you would like to read more about this amazing sighting and see three of the photographs of this gray whale taken by IMMRAC check out this article.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Swedish Fisherman Finds Rare 12-foot Oarfish

When 73-year old Swedish fisherman Kurt Ove Eriksson first saw it he thought it was a large piece of plastic floating near the shoreline. Upon closer inspection, he recognized the dead fish as a super-rare 12-foot long Giant Oarfish.

Eriksson took his find to The House of the Sea, an aquarium in Lysekil where Roger Jansson, a marine expert, positively identified the find. A Giant Oarfish was last seen in Sweden in 1879.

The Giant Oarfish, also known as the "King of Herrings" despite the fact they are not true herrings. Because of the immense size and serpent-like shape of the fish, it is believed that the Giant Oarfish possibly inspired tales of sea serpents. They can grow to a length of 39 feet and weigh up to 600 pounds and are the world's largest bony fish.

To read more and see an undated photo of the Giant Oarfish you can read the article

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rick Vito "Blues Town"

When it comes to music I have pretty eclectic tastes. I enjoy everything from The Bravery to Mozart depending upon the mood I'm in. One artist that I greatly enjoy is Rick Vito.

I was first introduced to Rick and his music when he became a member of the band Fleetwood Mac in 1987. He toured with the band on their Tango in the Night promotional tour then went on to record new music with the band for both the 1988 Greatest Hits record and the 1990 Behind the Mask record. He was a valued member of the band for the Behind the Mask promotional tour before embarking on his own solo career in 1992. Fleetwood Mac fans were wrong in dismissing Rick Vito as being simply a "replacement for Lindsey Buckingham".

Since his first solo release, King of Hearts in 1992, Rick has released a total of eight solo records, including one greatest hits release and has had one solo DVD release, 2003's Rick Vito in Concert.

Rick's style of playing is influenced by the great old blues standards as well as a little bit of rock and roll and a little bit of country. He is a strong singer/songwriter and pens most of the music appearing on his solo releases.

Rick Vito's second solo album was originally supposed to include a song titled "Blues Town". As work progressed on the record, Blues Town eventually was put aside. Upon release, the album was titled Pink & Black and Blues Town was no where to be found. It did appear later on the 2003 release Band Box Boogie. However, the mix and overall style of the song was much different.

Now, thanks to Mr. Michael Killen, fans of Rick Vito and his music are finally able to hear the original mix of Blues Town. Mr. Killen has uploaded to YouTube a never-before-released music video for Blues Town that he and Rick Vito shot in the city of Nashville, Tennessee in 1996.

Not only do we get to hear the awesome original version of Blues Town but we get to see some of the many fantastic sights the city of Nashville has to offer. As you watch the video, you will see some landmarks that are world-famous including the Wildhorse Saloon and the "Batman Building" (yes, some locals really do call it that, it's really the AT&T Building).

In light of the struggles Nashville is currently dealing with, it's nice to see the city back in happier days.

So, set back and for the next three minutes and twenty-six seconds enjoy Ricks original version of Blues Town and a few sights around Music City.

Thank you, Michael Killen for sharing the video and thank you to Rick Vito for writing and performing this fantastic song!

Monday, May 10, 2010

2000 Year Old Ptolemaic-Era Statue Found near Alexandria, Egypt

I find few periods in history as fascinating as I do Ancient Egypt. The sands of Egypt have been hiding secrets for centuries and slowly but surely archaeologists are finding the bits and pieces of the lives of the ancient Egyptians.

One of the most recent discoveries is of a statue from an unknown Ptolemaic-era king.

Excavations were being done at the Borg al-Aram site, west of Alexandria, Egypt when the headless statue was found at the royal temple of Taposiris Magna. Archaeologists were searching for Cleopatra's tomb when they uncovered this statue which dates back more than two thousand years.

The statue is 53 inches (135 centimeters) tall and 22 inches (55 centimeters) wide at the shoulders.

Egyptian archaeologist, Egyptologist and Secretary General of the Egyptian Supreme Council of Antiquities Zahi Hawass said "the well-preserved statue may be among the most beautiful carvings in the ancient Egyptian style" and that there was a possibility the statue could belong to Ptolemy IV.

For more information and to see the read the article at or read the article at

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Flooding in Kentucky & Tennessee: Photos

As promised day before yesterday, here are some photographs that were taken of the flooding in the state of Tennessee at Paris Landing State Park on May 7, 2010. They aren't professional quality and aren't as close up as I would have liked them to be but there were limitations in getting them.

A good portion of Paris Landing Park is cordoned off due to the severe flooding. Areas that are usually packed with tourists and picnicking locals must be roped off because of the deep water that is covering them. Not only is the water very deep but it is also filthy and littered with debris. Poisonous snakes are also in the water. The water poses a huge safety hazard and state officials have taken every possible measure to protect park visitors.

You can click on the thumbnails for larger images.

Both of the following pictures were taken at Gray's Landing. Gray's Landing is an informal boat ramp of sorts. Boaters can back their boat trailers into the water and put their boats in the lake from here. The dirt ramp is much longer than in these photos. You can see the Ned McWherter Bridge (Paris Landing bridge) in the background of the second photograph.


The next two photographs show the lake level from Highway 79. Usually, the water is several feet below the guard rail. Fishermen often stand on the bank and the rocks there to fish. The water level is so high right now that they cannot do that.


The following five photographs are of the Paris Landing Marina. The first three photos were taken from Highway 79, as was the fifth photograph. The fourth was taken inside the Marina entrance near the information station. The light poles are half submerged in water and virtually all of the walkways leading to the boats are under water. There is always a United States Coast Guard vessel at Paris Landing. It can be seen in the right middle of photographs 1-3 between the boats and the blue/green roof. The last photograph shows the marina and someones SUV in the marina parking lot that is almost entirely covered by the flood waters.





The following two pictures were taken from Highway 79 overlooking the Paris Landing State Park Marina. There is a dark blue vehicle almost completely submerged in the flood waters. When I first saw the car I could see there was something on the roof but I couldn't quite make it out. When I got a bit closer I could finally see what was on the roof. At the very least, ten to fifteen turtles were taking a break from the flood waters on the roof sunning themselves. Some of the turtles were small and clustered in around the larger turtles but about five of them were almost as large as dinner plates. It's kind of hard to see the small turtles in the photo but they're there! As my car pulled away from the railing, I could see a couple of the large turtles jump off the roof of the car and into the water and start swimming. As disastrous as this flood is, that was a sight I greatly enjoyed. In all this mess, filthy water and looming mosquito problem come summer these little guys were having a ball. The three dark spots in the muddy water at the left of the vehicle are turtles that were already in the water swimming.


This photograph was taken from Highway 79 and shows the lake entrance to the marina. A limestone structure currently being built by the park service to control water traffic is underwater. Its shadow can be seen just in front of the trees near the center of the photograph. To the left, you can see the old Paris Landing bridge that is on display and the road that circles around it to the marina parking lot. That area is blocked off due to the flooding.

This photograph was taken at the entrance to the marina by the information station off of Highway 79. There is usually a much larger grassy area and a large parking area that can be seen from here.

Both of the next two photographs show the entrance to the marina parking lot that is completely flooded. The sign that you can barely see in the first photograph says "Absolutely No Alcoholic Beverages Allowed".


The following three photographs were taken in a picnic area on the marina side of the park. As you can see, the water is so high that half of the tables and grills are inaccessible. The ducks that live at the park are most certainly enjoying all the water they have to play in right now.



The following photograph is a concrete boat ramp that is located on the "lodge side" of the park. The ramp extends down past the sign that is almost covered by water in the center of the photograph.

The following three photographs were taken on the "lodge side" of the park. The area you are seeing here is usually full of tourists and locals spending the day having picnics, family get togethers or just spending a relaxing afternoon outdoors. Joggers also frequently use this area. The park rangers have most of it cordoned off.



Sunday Funnies: Pet Diaries


Excerpt from a Dog's Diary
8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!
10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
12:00 pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
1:00 pm - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!
3:00 pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
5:00 pm - Milk Bones! My favorite thing!
7:00 pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
8:00 pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
11:00 pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!

Excerpt from a Cat's Diary
Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets.

Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength.

The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously insane.

The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicating with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For now.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Flooding in Kentucky & Tennessee

The rain started around 3 a.m. on Saturday, May 1, 2010. At times, the rain was so heavy you literally couldn't see ten feet in front of you. The storms were severe and brought with them tornadoes and flooding rains. Flood watches and warnings and tornado watches and warnings were in effect pretty much 24/7 until the rains finally stopped. In some areas, the flood watches and warnings are still in effect. The waters rose so fast they caught people off guard even though they were fully aware of how serious the situation could become.

Kind of sounds like the opening to an old pulp novel, doesn't it? But that wasn't fiction. The southern United States saw extremely severe rain and flooding conditions beginning on May 1, 2010. The states of Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi were the hardest hit. Of the three, Tennessee suffered the most.

For days after the storm ended the capitol city of Tennessee, Nashville, was fighting flood waters of the likes that were either never-before-seen or hasn't been seen in decades. Even as you read this, there are parts of the Music City that are still under water. The storms took at least thirty lives with them and left thousands either homeless or in dire straits. The heavy rains even drenched the Kentucky Derby this year.

I've done several posts on various things around Kentucky before and I no doubt will be talking about Kentucky more in the future. Kentucky has its problems: way too many bugs (ticks!!!) and the summers can be very hot and miserable. But despite the bloodsuckers and July days that make you feel like you're in a pottery oven Kentucky is a gorgeous state. The winters are usually mild, the scenery is breathtaking in most parts of the state, there is virtually every kind of wildlife you would ever want to have the privilege of getting to see, the people are generally very easy to get along with and it's actually a very inexpensive place to live. The neighboring state of Tennessee isn't much different.

I've lived in the state of Kentucky for twenty-eight years now and I've made frequent trips to Tennessee. I've been here long enough and seen enough to know what is normal for both states and what isn't. Trust me, "normal" isn't exactly the right word to use now, especially in Tennessee.

In Western Tennessee there is a beautiful state park called Paris Landing State Park. It is an 841 acre park named for a steamboat and freight landing on the Tennessee River that dates back to the mid 1800's. It borders both Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River. The park has a lodge, marina and a very large picnic area as well as tennis courts, a golf course, playgrounds and several rangers stations. The park hosts an annual professional crappie and bass fishing tournament that fishermen from all over the world travel to attend. A state highway goes through the park and is connected to a one-mile long bridge that crosses the Tennessee River linking the park proper to another section known as "Grays Landing" then on to the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. More than anything, Paris Landing is a beautiful and relaxing place to spend your free time.

Later tonight or tomorrow I will be posting some flood photographs I took on May 7, 2010 at Paris Landing State Park and of the Tennessee River. Photographs can never truly do justice to the flooding situation in Tennessee. It truly is something you must see to believe. To anyone unfamiliar with the area it may just look like a lot of water. But for those who visit these areas on a regular basis and live there it's something many of them have never seen in their lives before. It has taken them by surprise. And as the waters appear to get a bit higher every day due to water being released from area dams and from run-off they still are in disbelief that this has happened here, to them. And to the people in Nashville, it's their whole lives, everything they've worked for, gone in the blink of an eye.

Where I live, I saw flooding but I didn't see it as severely as did the people of Tennessee and especially Nashville. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones or everything they've worked hard their entire lives for. The "Unbridled Spirit" of Kentucky will get the residents through this disaster the same way it did the ice storm in 2009. Those in the "Volunteer State" of Tennessee will pull together to help their neighbors through this truly disastrous time. In a few weeks time the water will be gone and the debris cleaned up but this is something the locals will be talking about for years to come and even telling their grandchildren about.

For more information (including flood information) on both the states of Tennessee and Kentucky visit their official web sites:

The State of Tennessee

The State of Kentucky

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rare Oryx Born at the National Zoo in the United States

The National Zoo's Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Virginia recently welcomed a new and extremely rare, and I must say undeniably adorable, addition to their family.

A female oryx calf was born on April 9, 2010 to 3-year old Jena and 13 year-old Dr. Bob. This is the first birth of its kind at the National Zoo in 13 years.

Oryx are extinct in the wild. The National Zoo is working to breed the oryx to help the numbers grow. The Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute currently has 16 and there is one at the zoo in Washington.

You can see a photo of the new calf here. You can read a bit more about the calf at the web site of the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Another Outrage in the Gulf: Sea Turtle Deaths

I really, really had no intention of blogging about the oil spill in the Gulf because, love them or hate them, I feel the news agencies have been doing a splendid job keeping us up to date on the situation there.

I don't think anyone, regardless of how they feel about the welfare and conservation of the environment, can say that the situation in the Gulf isn't extraordinarily serious. When you have thousands of gallons of oil spilling out into the waters endangering the plant and animal life there are few other words to describe it other than extraordinarily serious. It's an environmental disaster.

The clean up crews certainly have their hands full with the monumental job that is ahead of them.

But, this post isn't about the clean up crews, the oil companies or the economy. It's about sea turtles.

As of right now, at least 35 endangered sea turtles have washed up dead onto the shores in the Gulf coast. Yes, you read that right, a whopping 35! Necropsies have shown that the turtles are not ingesting the oil that is spilling into the waters they call home. They aren't sure what is killing them but they do have one possible suspect that they are investigating: the nets of "aggressive shrimpers or other fisherman".

The shrimp beds off the Gulf coast are currently in eminent danger from the oil spill. Shrimpers have been working overtime on "emergency shrimping sessions" to harvest as much of the shrimp as they can before the oil spill potentially wipes most or all of it out.

Investigators are currently looking into whether or not shrimpers and fishermen have removed the turtle excluder device built into their nets in their hurry to grab as much from the sea as they can before the oil puts a damper on them.

Kemp's Ridley sea turtles are some of the most endangered sea turtles in the world and they are being found dead. Investigators are gathering tissue samples and other evidence and holding in it "the chain of evidence" in the event this issue ends up in court. Marine investigators as well as state and federal investigators are working on this mystery.

There is some speculation that the turtles have possibly eaten fish that were tainted by the oil spill.

Seeing as how there isn't any solid proof the shrimpers and fishermen are responsible for the sea turtle deaths I don't want to jump to any conclusions. If time does prove the fishing industry is the culprit, I feel they have no defense. Shrimp harvesting or fishing for the seafood industry is no excuse for the deaths of these gorgeous and endangered turtles. The plants and animals in the Gulf have enough working against them as it is without even more human interference in their lives.

For more information on this you can check out the following articles: & also has a write up about this issue. (Please note that these articles contain photos of deceased sea turtles.)

I Vant To Talk Dinosaurs...

O.K. I sincerely apologize for the title. It was a bad joke, I know, but it had a purpose!

I've got another post for you about dinosaurs today and I think this one is very cool.

In the area of the world we know today as Transylvania, Romania (yes, the same place famous for Vlad the Impaler and Dracula, hence the bad title joke) there once lived a dwarf dinosaur around 70-75 million years ago.

For years, scientists have debated the remains of the dinosaur, Magyarosaurus dacus, as to whether they were really a dwarf species or if they were simply babies that had yet to grow into adulthood. What made the debates even more important was that Magyarosaurus dacus belongs to a species of dinosaurs known as titanosaurs which were giant plant-eating dinosaurs or sauropods.

One of the largest titanosaurs, Argentinosaurus, was as large as 10 African Elephants. Their weight could reach as much as 220,000 pounds. Magyarosaurus dacus tipped the scales at a mere 230 pounds and was about the size of a horse. That's quite a difference in size there!

Scientists have been studying the bone structure of the Magyarosaurus dacus remains and they have determined that the bones did come from fully grown animals and they have solid evidence to back that up.

Small bones were discovered in 1895 on a Transylvanian estate by the sister of paleontologist Franz Baron Nopcsa. Then, Nopcsa determined the bones came from a dwarf dinosaur. About the same time as the Nopsca bones were discovered, another paleontologist had turned up dwarf mammals, such as tiny elephants and hippopotamuses, on a Mediterranean island. The name Magyarosaurus dacus was given to the bones by Franz Baron Nopcsa in honor of his home country. Other titanasaur bones were found at later dates but those bones belonged to the larger variety. These discoveries led to the belief that Magyarosaurus dacus was a young dinosaur.

Isn't it fascinating that, without modern technology, a paleontologist in 1895 was able to determine what took our modern scientists years to figure out? Franz Baron Nopcsa was truly very good at what he did.

You can see an artists sketch of the dwarf dinosaur here at and read more about the dino itself here in MSNBC's Tech and Science Section.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stephen Fry in America: An Introduction

"I was so nearly an American. It was that close. In the mid-1950s my father was offered a job at Princeton University – something to do with the emerging science of semiconductors. One of the reasons he turned it down was that he didn’t think he liked the idea of his children growing up as Americans. I was born, therefore, not in NJ but in NW3."

So begins Stephen Fry in America.

When a documentary is made about a particular country or state usually you see the normal tourist highlights. When one thinks of the United States places like Washington D.C., Miami Beach, Hawaii, Chicago, Detroit and St. Louis might come to mind. Stephen shows you those things in this documentary, but he also focuses on the roads less traveled in America. He doesn't just show the beautiful side of life in America, he shows a part of American life that is gritty, depressing, violent and heartbreaking. He sugar coats nothing and you get to see parts of America for all they are worth--both good and bad.

I'd wager that even people who were born and raised their entire lives as United States citizens will be seeing some things that they've never seen before. Mr. Fry is able to take viewers places the average traveler wouldn't be able to go or wouldn't care to go such as inside a home built by Marjorie Merriweather Post, on a tour of a U.S. Navy submarine, to a "body farm", sitting in on a Pardons and Paroles session in Alabama, inside Angola State Penitentiary, to the factory where the Oscars are made and a home once lived in by Edith Wharton.

Stephen Fry in America was presented in the United Kingdom in six, sixty-minute segments on BBC One in October and November of 2008. Viewers in the United States were able to see the documentary on HDNet. Stephen drove a black London cab, "albeit hired in the U.S." to all 50 of the States (he couldn't take his little cab to Alaska and Hawaii). Each segment comprised one section of the United States.

He meets a wide variety of people in his travels: barbers, deer hunters, prisoners, celebrities, Native Americans, distillers and amateur musicians. The people themselves are often as colorful and unique as their surroundings. I mean, how many people would really have the state of Kentucky tattooed on their posterior? That's being unique!

Episode One, New England saw Stephen visiting Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York City, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania.

Episode Two, The Deep South took Stephen through Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida and Alabama.

Episode Three, The Mississippi River brought Stephen to Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Iowa, Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Episode Four, Mountains and Plains took our host through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas

Episode Five, True West continues the journey to New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and Nevada

Episode Six, Pacific completes the journey by visiting California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and Hawaii

Fans of Stephen Fry in America, myself included, have been hoping for a long time that extra footage Stephen and his crew obtained during his travels in America would be compiled into a second series. The original series and a companion book, Stephen Fry In America, was released onto DVD in the United Kingdom. Fans in the United States are still awaiting the release of this brilliant documentary of their country to be released on DVD.

For more information about this amazing six part documentary series please visit Stephen Fry's official site. While you are there, why not enjoy the rest of the great content on Stephen's site? You might even want to join Club Fry so you can leave comments for Stephen and discuss all things Fry (and even things non-Fry) with other Stephen Fry fans.

Over the course of the next several days I will be discussing each of the six parts in greater detail. To start off with, enjoy a brief introduction to Stephen Fry in America from You Tube presented on the BBC's Official YouTube channel:

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Sunday Funnies: The 16 oz. Sausage Roll

People are passionate about the things they really care about. Some people are extraordinarily passionate about those things. Here's a fella from Texas who is extremely passionate about his beliefs regarding the way Jimmy Dean packages their products.

In all my years I don't think I've ever been this passionate about sausage and I know I never will be. Still, it gave me a good chuckle.

Note: This recording contains strong language.

I follow the fantastic Roger Ebert on Twitter and this link was in one of his Tweets posted Friday, April 30, 2010.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Super Saver Wins 136th Kentucky Derby

Despite a massive amount of rain that fell in Louisville, Kentucky this wet May 1, 2010, Super Saver, ridden by jockey Calvin Borel came in first place to win the 136th annual Kentucky Derby. This makes the third Derby win for Borel in the past four years. The horse and jockey covered the 1 1/4-miles in 2:04.45.

Numerous celebrities such as Pete Wentz and his wife Ashley Simpson-Wentz, Diane Lane, Travis Tritt and several sports figures, among others, attended the rain-soaked Derby. It's unlikely they had to deal with the rain the way the hardcore Derby fans, the ones with the bad seats had to deal with it. More than 155,000 spectators attended this years Run for the Roses, a figure up from last year.

But the real kudos go to the jockeys and the horses themselves. They braved conditions that could have been dangerous to both man and beast.

Congratulations to Super Saver, jockey Calvin Borel and trainer Todd Pletcher!

(Note: I will include a replay video of the 136th Derby once it has been posted by the official Derby YouTube channel. Until the video does appear on YouTube, it can be viewed at the official Kentucky Derby web site.)

A Very Wet Derby Day In Kentucky

Well, it's finally here. The Kentucky Derby is going to be run today at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.

Mother Nature isn't quite as excited about the Derby as everyone else is, though. The entire state of Kentucky has been deluged by near-flooding rains since the wee hours of the May 1st morning. Despite the heavy rains, it appears the Derby will still run as scheduled.

Morning workouts on the track for the horses were postponed and the trainers opted instead to run the horses in their barns.

If Mother Nature doesn't completely throw a cog in the wheel of the Derby (which I can't see happening unless so much rain comes down that Churchill Downs is completely flooded whichever horse wins this years Derby will most certainly have to be one of the best "mudders" in the world!

The wettest Derby Day on record was May 11, 1918 when 2.31 inches of rain fell. With about another five hours yet to go it remains to be seen if this years rainfall will break the 1918 record.