Thursday, May 27, 2010

It was close...

A large fire broke out in a grove on Mount Carmel Wednesday night, near the community of Ein Hod. At one point the fire threatened residents of the community, but firefighters managed to gain control of the flames after several hours. Students at the nearby Yemin Orde boarding school were evacuated safely.

חוג קדרות בקיץ בעין הוד

חוג קדרות בקיץ
למבוגרים וילדים מגיל 12
בימי שלישי ורבעי
בוקר 10-12.30
אחר"צ 16-18.30
מחיר 100 ש"ח לשיעור
לימוד טכניקות באובניים בחומר צביעה בגלזורות ושריפה בתנור גז
נעמי וזאב ורכובסקי. טל 9841107 04

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

An Irredeemable Honk of Shit...nice review

Without dwelling on the complex socio-economic factors that can render a person homeless, really, Seasick Steve should have a bath, get a job and shut the fuck up. Of course, you can’t not dwell on such details; Steve’s shtick is singing about his time on the streets. Yet, 66 years old and four albums in, the former hobo ignores the abuse, the horror and the desolation that comes with not having a roof above you. Instead, Steve sings about life on the open road with no-one but his trusty hound for company.

In doing so – just like this review’s tasteless opening sentence – he makes a bad joke out of the misery faced daily by over 100million people worldwide. Despite this, you can’t open a music periodical without being engulfed with lashings of praise about Seasick Steve. And why does no-one offer anything other than unswerving praise (ie: lies) about him? Because we live in an age where so many people pretend to like music, obsessed with not falling behind the hum of the blogosphere

Seasick Steve - aka Steven Wold - is hysterically popular in the UK, where his first solo CD, Dog House Music, has sold 150,000 copies, and his second album, I Started Out with Nothin and I Still Got Most of It Left, debuted at number nine in the charts. Earlier this year, I saw 5000 adults of every age - but mostly the middle one - packed into a sold-out Hammersmith Apollo, dancing like drill bits, and howling back when Wold barked like a dog. It was like a revivalist meeting full of epileptic dentists.
When Wold came to Australia last year to play the Byron Bay Bluesfest, the crowd greeted him like they'd been waiting all day for a greybeard granddad with black tattoos to fingerpick songs on a one-string guitar while sitting on a chair. He returns to Byron next month, backed by enough record-company money to build a small hostel for the homeless, and his label, Warner, flew me to London to show me why.(read more...)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Juggler of Mathematics

If you meet any mathematicians this week, please be extra nice to them as they're going to be a little bit teary. On Saturday night, Martin Gardner died.
There are very few mathematicians who wouldn't cite Gardner as an influence while they were growing up. He certainly lived a long and rewarding life. In fact he was so old his age was the largest number with only two factors, where the two numbers below it also have only two factors each.
Some people reading this are now trying to work out how old he must have been. If you're not one of them, you won't mind me spoiling it by revealing that he was 95. He spent 95 years coming up with interesting puzzles and fascinating pieces of mathematics. Like a forerunner to sudoku, Gardner spent 25 years writing a weekly column about maths puzzles for Scientific American. This is as well as authoring over 70 books. It was actually an old copy of his second book, Mathematics, Magic and Mystery, that first got me interested in mathematical magic tricks. Most mathematicians over the past half a century would have a similar story.
Interestingly though, Gardner was not a mathematician himself. When he started working for Scientific American in 1956 he hadn't done any maths beyond the normal high school classes. He was purely a populariser of what became known as Recreational Mathematics.(read more...)

Friday, May 21, 2010

The Force is with Him

Potentially historic news, awaiting replication by the scientific community, from famous biochemistry entrepreneur J. Craig Venter. From the abstract, published today in AAAS Science, of what may someday prove to be one of the most important papers in ths history of biochemistry:

We report the design, synthesis, and assembly of the 1.08-Mbp Mycoplasma mycoides JCVI-syn1.0 genome starting from digitized genome sequence information and its transplantation into a Mycoplasma capricolum recipient cell to create new Mycoplasma mycoides cells that are controlled only by the synthetic chromosome. The only DNA in the cells is the designed synthetic DNA sequence, including “watermark” sequences and other designed gene deletions and polymorphisms, and mutations acquired during the building process. The new cells have expected phenotypic properties and are capable of continuous self-replication.
The original cell was not completely “synthetic,” but its DNA was. So this is not quite the ultimate realization of the project of organic chemistry, i.e. to create living matter from completely lifeless matter, but it is a giant step in that direction.

Georgian Cognac and ...

The special love of Georgians for wine is not accidental. If you talk to just about any good winemaker, you will come away with the feeling that he or she has a vast wealth of winemaking knowledge to draw from, and that the winemaker consistently fine-tunes his or her approach to meet the requirements of a given wine. It is much like man fine tuning his approach to meet beautiful women. If you ask any Georgian about which is the best wine in the world, their immediate answer will be ‘Georgian’. They may also specify whose wine exactly – his, his uncle’s, brother’s, neighbor’s, etc. The Georgian wine is often compared to the company of beautiful women. Some winemakers out there who don't operate this way; they get by with a rigid, 'recipe' approach to winemaking. But this philosophy is not the best in the long run.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Udmurts or Votyaks sing Beatles

The self-appellation of this people is udmurt, vudmurt, odmort, udmort, ukmort (in plural, -joz is added, e.g. udmurtjoz). The name for the Udmurts propagated by the use in the Russian language and now outdated is Votyak, which the Udmurts consider disparaging and offensive.
The Udmurts live in an area between the rivers Vyatka and Kama in the Republic of Udmurtia (capital city Izhkar, in Russian Izhevsk). About 2/3 of the Udmurts live in their Republic (42,100 sq. km.). The rest live mainly in the Perm Province, Bashkortostan, Tatarstan, in the provinces of Kirov and Yekaterinburg of the Russian Federation, and in the Mari Republic. Occasional Udmurt settlements are also in Siberia, Kazakhstan and the Far East.