Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Yosemite as you've never seen it before

'Project Yosemite' is an attempt to film Yosemite National Park from a new perspective. The team writes:

Project Yosemite is a collaborative project by Sheldon Neill and Colin Delehanty. What started as an idea turned into an ongoing adventure to timelapse Yosemite in a extreme way.

We were complete strangers before it all started, but after we met on Vimeo our idea came into sight, and then began the challenge to make numerous trips to YNP where we would capture the beautiful landscape it offers for visitors every year.

There's more at the link. Here's the first fruits of their project: a time-lapse video made up of thousands of still images. It's worth watching in full-screen mode. Details of the music, etc. may be found at the video's home page.

And here's a 'making of' video showing how they did it.

That's pretty impressive! I look forward to future efforts by the project.


A genuine 'fish farm'?

A farmer in Northern Ireland might be forgiven for wondering whether the miracle of the loaves and fishes had come to one of his fields yesterday - although the loaves were conspicuous by their absence! The Daily Mail reports:

A farmer was understandably left fed up to the gills by the sight of fish after a staggering 20 tonnes [44,000 pounds] of mackerel spilled onto his land from an overturned lorry.

It was travelling towards Ardglass in County Down, Northern Ireland, last week when it appeared to have caught a grass verge, ploughed through 30 yards of hedge and fallen into a field belonging to Gordon Flinn, 71.

A digger and a crane were called in as 12 men worked for seven hours straight in a ‘large scale’ clean-up operation following the accident.

Mr Flinn, a sheep and cattle farmer, said the fish were piled up to two feet deep in places.

He said: ‘We had a call from the police about 3pm, saying there had been an accident down by my land and that there were fish everywhere.

‘The driver had hit a verge and the fish had come down on the hedge, destroying it and spilling them all into my field.

‘When I got down there I expected to see boxes of fish fingers or something - but there was a 20 tonne silver sea of fish. It was quite a sight.

‘There were thousands of the things all over my land. It was a bit of a shock to say the least.

‘It took them from about 7pm to 2am just to clear it all up. It was about ten metres in diameter - they were all over the place.

‘The one really bizarre thing was though, is that there wasn’t a smell of fish. I think there was more than enough to feed the 5,000. We could have fed the 5,000 five thousand times over.

‘I didn’t take some for dinner - I don’t think I could look another fish in the eyes for a long time.’

There's more at the link, including more (and much larger) pictures.

I understand fishmeal is used as a fertilizer; so in the farmer's shoes, I'd probably have plowed the fish into the field, and looked forward to a record harvest later in the year!


The 'modern Viking' is at it again . . .

We've met controversial 'explorer' Jarle Andhøy in these pages before. He led an (illegal, unauthorized) expedition to Antarctica last year, in which his support vessel, the yacht Berserk, was lost with all hands. He was heavily criticized at the time for failing to arrange the necessary permissions and follow normal safety precautions.

It seems he's at it again. Not only is he mounting another illegal expedition to Antarctica, he's violated New Zealand immigration law; and, to add insult to injury, in his flight from the authorities there, he appears to have kidnapped a marine worker as well! The New Zealand Herald reports:

A New Zealander is understood to have become an unplanned crew member on a yacht bound for Antarctica being skippered by a Norwegian adventurer.

The man, who does not have a passport with him, had been doing some work on the boat when it left New Zealand in a hurry after being told to go by immigration authorities, Norwegian public broadcasting company NRK reported.

Skipper Jarle Andhoey told NRK he and other crew members later discovered the Kiwi onboard the 16m yacht Nilaya after its rushed departure from Auckland.

When he entered New Zealand Mr Andhoey had failed to declare he had previously been deported from Canada.

. . .

Mr Andhoey has said he planned to sail to McMurdo Sound to find out what happened to his three crew who died when their yacht Berserk sank last year.

Customs officials spotted the yacht in international waters on Thursday night and made numerous attempts to hail it but there was no response.

There's more at the link.

This dumbass seems to be the kind of 'adventurer' who gives other, genuine adventurers a bad name. The small Royal New Zealand Navy will probably try to intercept his yacht, but they may not have ships nearby. Even if they manage to locate it, I doubt that Mr. Andhøy will co-operate, or come quietly if they try to arrest him and free his 'captive'. He appears to be willing to defy all authorities, violate every law and regulation in the book, and disregard all safety precautions, in order to get his own way. I think this latest incident confirms all the criticism heaped upon him for his previous antics. He's clearly a 'loose cannon' of the most unpredictable and volatile kind.

One can only hope that the hapless workman will be safely released in due course, and that Mr. Andhøy will be locked up for a sufficiently long period to teach him the error of his ways.


A cannibal falls in love with a vampire

No, I'm not making that up. The Local reports:

After meeting at a high security ward and chatting on the internet, “the Skara Cannibal” and the “Vampire Woman”, two infamous Swedish murderers, have found love and are hoping to get married.

”We got together on November 13th. 'Do you want to be my girlfriend?' he asked on MSN. Then we decided to get engaged, which we did on December 9th,” the “Vampire Woman” Michelle Gustafsson told Expressen.

The couple are fellow inmates at the Karsuddens psychiatric facility near Katrineholm in eastern Sweden. They are both being treated for highly unusual crimes, making huge headlines in Sweden.

Gustafsson is convicted of the murder of a father of four in Stockholm in 2010. She stabbed him to death with a knife, but claims she does not remember the incident at all.

On her personal blog she had been writing about killing people on the Stockholm underground and published pictures of herself as a vampire with a bloodied mouth, brandishing a knife and a power saw, according to the paper.

Isakin Jonsson, or ”the Skara Cannibal” was convicted in March 2011 of the gruesome killing of his then girlfriend, mother of five, Helle Christensen. After stabbing her to death with a knife, Jonsson cut off her head and other parts of her body, some of which he then ate.

Jonsson showed no remorse during his trial and was found to suffer from severe mental illness by a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation. He couldn't explain why he had killed his girlfriend.

. . .

The couple don’t know when they will be released from the clinic as they are both serving non-fixed sentences there. According to the clinic there are inmates who have spent more than 20 years within its walls.

There's more at the link.

Dare I say that this is one marriage made anywhere but in heaven? Still, I'm sure we'll all agree that the happy (?) couple clearly deserve each other! I just hope that when they argue, as they inevitably will at some stage, neither ever says to the other, "Bite me!" . . .


In Memoriam: Jimmie Storie, Special Air Service (SAS)

I'm sure there's a wake going on at the headquarters of Britain's Special Air Service Regiment in Hereford tonight. The last surviving 'founding member' of the SAS in World War II died earlier this month. The Telegraph reports:

Jimmy Storie [shown in 1941, at left], who has died aged 92, was the last surviving member of “The Originals”, the handful of men who first joined “L” Detachment, the unit that under the leadership of David Stirling developed into the Special Air Service Regiment.

The force’s mission was to operate many miles behind enemy lines, attack airfields and convoys, blow up planes, destroy fuel dumps and derail trains. Based at Kabrit, near the Nile, they lacked even the most basic supplies and Storie took part in an unofficial raid on another camp in which tents, stores and rations were appropriated (together with a piano and easy chairs from an officers’ cinema).

There were, however, failures of equipment and on one occasion two men jumped to their deaths during parachute training. Storie said that he did not sleep much that night.

In November 1941, Storie took part in a raid on two German airfields at Gazala and Tmimi, Libya. The men parachuted into a sandstorm. As Storie said afterwards, one man who broke his back had to be left with a bottle of water and a revolver. There was no possibility of saving him.

Barely a third of the original strength returned to base; the rest were killed or captured. In attacks thereafter, L Detachment drove to its targets in Jeeps. Storie took part in numerous raids with David Stirling and Paddy Mayne, officers whose exploits became almost legendary. In one period of two weeks, 100 enemy aircraft were destroyed.

In one raid, they dodged sentries and crept on to an airfield, placing bombs with delayed-action fuses on the fighter aircraft lined up on each side. Then they got into the hangars, which were full of Junkers, and set more charges. The door of the guardroom was bashed open and grenades thrown in.

As they made their escape, there was a series of deafening explosions, flames were licking through the high roofs of the hangars, the planes on field were alight and their cannon shells were exploding with the heat.

To counter such raids, the Germans started to deploy guards beyond base perimeters. But Stirling and his men simply switched tactics. In July 1942, in a raid on the airfield at Sidi Haneish, L Detachment took part in one of its most spectacular missions.

“The planes were all parked up on either side of the field,” Storie said afterwards. “We drove our Jeeps in a line and went in with guns blazing. Each of us singled out an aircraft, brewed it up and then we swung around and went down the other side.” These raids proved Stirling’s theory that a few highly trained men deployed in unconventional style could do more damage than a whole regiment using more conventional methods.

Then-Major David Stirling (standing) greets a returning
Jeep-mounted SAS patrol in the Western Desert in 1942

The hazards, however, did not all come from the enemy. Lying up before a raid on Berka airfield, Storie found himself infested with fleas and could hardly close his eyes. Then, as night fell and they finally reached the airfield, an air raid siren sounded. He threw himself to the ground as the whole area was lit up by flashes from AA guns and shrapnel from RAF bombs crashed around him.

Storie had many close shaves. One evening, after dark on the Benghazi plain, his group, seven in number, ran into a fully manned enemy roadblock. A German NCO, swinging a red lantern, stepped out into the road. His demand for a password was met with a string of swear words from the German-speaking member of the SAS unit. They had been at the front for six weeks, the man was told, they were hungry, in need of a bath and in no mood for formalities. The SAS were all in uniform. A mile away, the fires were still smouldering from their raid the night before on an airfield, which had killed many Germans. The stakes could hardly have been higher.

Mayne cocked his revolver. Storie followed suit. The German sentry heard the clicks in the stillness. He knew the men were British but he also knew that if he gave the alarm he was a dead man. He let them through.

On another occasion, Storie was returning to his lines when his Jeep was shot up by a Stuka dive bomber. Two of his comrades were killed and he and one other SAS man were stranded in the desert. They walked back to camp but found it abandoned.

Setting off again they aimed for the coastal road but after several days dodging the enemy patrols they were captured. Storie was flown to Germany.

At an interrogation camp in Munich, he feared that he would be executed because Hitler had decreed that no quarter should be given to special forces engaged in sabotage.

He managed, however, to convince his captors that he was an RAF crewman who had been shot down and was sent to Stalag VIIIB in Silesia. He was liberated by the Americans in 1945.

There's more at the link.

The SAS was one of several special forces units that had their genesis in the Middle East during World War II (others included the Special Boat Service, Popski's Private Army, and the Long Range Desert Group, all of which had contact with and/or worked with the SAS from time to time). In the vernacular idiom, the men who founded, manned and led those units may truly be said to have had 'great big brass ones that clanked when they walked'. They set the tone for almost all special operations forces since that time. (I had the great privilege of getting to know several of the members of 'C' Squadron SAS, better known today as the Rhodesian Special Air Service, during the late 1970's and early 1980's. They were men of the same ilk, and I daresay Mr. Storie and his peers would have recognized them as kindred spirits.)

There are very few men of the caliber of special forces troops in this world. We are the poorer for the passing of any of them, and in particular for one of the 'founding fathers' of their breed such as Jimmie Storie. May his sins be forgiven him, and may he be reunited with his comrades in courage in the hereafter.


Monday, January 30, 2012

A building with a road through it!

I was intrigued and amused to read an article about the Gate Tower Building in Osaka, Japan. It's a 16-story office building with an expressway off-ramp driven clear through it! The Sun reports:

The fifth, sixth and seventh floors of the building are taken up by the Umeda Exit of the Ikeda Route of the Hanshin Expressway system.

The highway is the tenant of the floors and actually pays rent.

Gate Tower Building, Osaka, Japan (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

The lifts in the building pass through the floors without stopping, floor 4 being followed by floor 8.

The motorway does not make contact with the building and it passes through as a bridge, held up by supports next to the building.

There's more at the link. Here's what it looks like to drive through the building.

I have to admit, it's a neat way to make use of the space available for road transport . . . but the thought of a road paying rent to a building is a bit mind-boggling!


If this is 'fashion', I'm determined to stay unfashionable!

I can't for the life of me even begin to understand the so-called 'fashion' world. My astonishment, perplexity and downright disgust at this colossal waste of time and resources were renewed today when I came across an article about the latest fashion show by Italian designer Gianni Molaro. Just look at these examples of what he inflicted on the models who paraded them down the catwalk!

There are more pictures at the link.

I've heard it said that most fashion designers are sadists who hate women, and most of those who wear their 'creations' are masochists who hate themselves. Garments (?) like those illustrated above make me suspect that there may be more to that saying than humor alone!


Doofus Of The Day #565

Today's award goes collectively to the senior managers and policy-makers at the New York City Department of Education, for allowing this state of affairs to exist (let alone continue!).

In a defiant raspberry to the city Department of Education — and taxpayers — disgraced teacher Alan Rosenfeld, 66, won’t retire.

Deemed a danger to kids, the typing teacher with a $10 million real estate portfolio hasn’t been allowed in a classroom for more than a decade, but still collects $100,049 a year in city salary — plus health benefits, a growing pension nest egg, vacation and sick pay.

Mayor Bloomberg and Gov. Cuomo can call for better teacher evaluations until they’re blue-faced, but Rosenfeld and six peers with similar gigs costing about $650,000 a year in total salaries are untouchable. Under a system shackled by protections for tenured teachers, they can’t be fired, the DOE says.

. . .

Accused in 2001 of making lewd comments and ogling eighth-grade girls’ butts at IS 347 in Queens, Rosenfeld was slapped with a week off without pay after the DOE failed to produce enough witnesses at a hearing.

But instead of returning Rosenfeld to the classroom, the DOE kept him in one of its notorious “rubber rooms”, where teachers in misconduct cases sat idle or napped. As The Post reported, Rosenfeld kept busy managing his many investment properties and working on his law practice. He’s a licensed attorney and real-estate broker.

. . .

Rosenfeld could have retired four years ago at 62, but his pension grows by $1,700 for each year he stays — even without teaching. If he quit today, his annual pension would total an estimated $85,400 ... Rosenfeld will also get paid for 100 unused sick days when he leaves.

New York has no mandatory retirement age for teachers.

That let rubber-room granddaddy Roland Pierre make a mockery of the system. He finally retired at age 76 last year — 14 years after he was yanked from PS 138 in Brooklyn and never taught again. Criminal charges in 1997 that he molested a sixth-grade girl were dropped. He got $97,101 a year.

There's more at the link.

I can't even begin to understand why New York City's taxpayers and ratepayers haven't risen up in outraged revolt, to demand the sacking of everyone responsible for this monstrous fraud perpetrated at their expense!


Multiple blasts from the past!

I was intrigued (and amused) to come across the Questionable Advice and Advertisements blog on Tumblr. It reproduces old (sometimes very old) advertisements and snippets of advice from newspapers, illustrating how society once saw its needs and priorities. I've interspersed a few examples with the text below.

The author describes it thus:

Although the specifics change over time, the tendency to use shared cultural references to connect with the people in our lives isn’t a new one, and vintage advertisements are a great source of these references - they have a wide audience that crosses many class divisions and are recognizable to people that may not have been familiar with the latest novels, plays or music. In addition, due to the longevity of some products, advertisements can “cross time” and reach out to people a century after they were first relevant: an ad for cigarettes can speak to someone born in 1895 as well as someone born in 1995, although it will say something different to each.

Advertisements can also be viewed as a form of societal advice. For example, the number of advertisements for deodorants and soaps increased over the twentieth century as cultural standards for personal hygiene changed. By ignoring the increase in these ads a person would in effect be ignoring society’s “advice” in this area and which would have resulted in real life consequences. But of course society has been handing out advice a lot longer than it’s been advertising face cream, and publications such as cook books, fashion magazines, and almanacs are good places to find examples of advice from older time periods.

This British advertisement dates from World War I - hence the
"German aspirin", "Howitzer headache" and "Front" references

One type of advice that seems to have existed in all time periods refers to an earlier period as the “good old days” while predicting that recent changes will result in the Destruction of Society. In just about any time period you can find examples of people bemoaning the antics of the “younger generation” and worrying that the newest changes will result in the disintegration of society. Predictions that society is “going to hell in a handbasket” have resulted from dancing the waltz, reading novels, roller skating, playing the harp, coeducation in higher education, women’s suffrage, reading the sports page, solving crossword puzzles, singing in church, reading comic books and drinking tea, among other things. In particular, as Steven Pinker notes (below), new forms of mass media always seem to give rise to doom-saying, and just within the last century the end of society has been predicted as resulting from radio, television, movies, video games and the internet.

In the end, both advice and advertisements give us a way to understand that while the specifics of culture change over the generations, in the end humans have always been interested in, and worried about, the same things: raising healthy children, getting old, being popular, finding love, conforming to cultural norms, etc. The details may change, but the big picture stays the same.

There's a lot to enjoy at Questionable Advice & Advertisements. Entertaining and recommended reading.


Sunday, January 29, 2012

A time-lapse view of Earth from space

This video is a time-lapse series of photographs taken from the International Space Station between August and October last year. It gives a very different perspective on our lives down here on this little mudball.

If you'd like to learn more, a full list of the shooting locations is given at the video's home page (scroll down to view it).


Oh, boy! A gun blog meme!

Via Tamara, I learned of a challenge from Robb Allen over at Sharp As A Marble. Robb asks:

What 5 firearms would I purchase, should price nor practicality be an issue?

He gives his list, then challenges his readers:

What about you? What 5 guns do you lust after?

Well, how can I resist a challenge like that? Of course, my answers are going to seem rather strange to those who get excited about 'plastic fantastic' pistols and 'poodle-shooters'. If practicality and price are of no concern, I'm going to get historical - and expensive! Here are my five selections, in order of their history.

1. An Elizabethan 'minion' cannon.

Elizabethan ships such as Sir Francis Drake's Golden Hind mostly carried small, relatively lightweight cannon known as minions, along with even smaller falconets (although larger ships were already beginning to carry newly-developed heavier weapons such as sakers, demi-culverins, culverins and demi-cannon). Minions fired a cannonball weighing up to 5 pounds, which was too light to inflict much damage on the hulls of opposing ships, but could destroy masts, rigging and sails. Also, the light weight of cannon and ammunition, and its wheeled carriage, allowed for a much higher rate of fire than the heavier guns found, for example, on ships of the Spanish Armada. (An interesting archaeological perspective on the cannon of both sides during the Armada battles may be found here.) Furthermore, the basic design of the minion and its carriage would be 'scaled up' to become the pattern for almost all future muzzle-loading cannon of the Royal Navy, until the advent of breech-loading weapons in the 19th century.

Replica 'minion'-style cannon aboard a replica of the Golden Hind in Brixham, England
(image courtesy of the replica ship's Web site)

I'd love to own a copy of the type of cannon that sailed round the world with Sir Francis Drake between 1577 and 1580, and fought the Spanish Armada in 1588! It would satisfy all sorts of piratical historical longings; and, being a small cannon, I could probably load and fire it myself (although I'm sure I'd have lots of friends coming out of the woodwork to help!).

2. The Puckle gun.

The Puckle gun was an early attempt to produce a repeating firearm before breech-loading technology was developed. It suffered from the indifferent metallurgy of the early 18th century, but appears to have been a perfectly feasible design.

Replica Puckle gun (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

Intriguingly, it could be modified to take account of the religion of its targets! Wikipedia reports:

Puckle demonstrated two versions of the basic design: one, intended for use against Christian enemies, fired conventional round bullets, while the second variant, designed to be used against the Muslim Turks, fired square bullets. The square bullets were invented in part by Kyle Tunis and were considered to be more damaging. They would, according to the patent, convince the Turks of the "benefits of Christian civilization".

There's more at the link.

I don't know about shooting square bullets at Turks . . . I've rather liked the few Turks I've met! I'd prefer not to shoot anything at them! Still, the Puckle gun has long interested me as a technological antiquity. Its fictional employment in the Belisarius series of alternate-history novels has cemented that.

3. The Baker rifle.

The Baker rifle was developed at the dawn of the 19th century, and armed the famous Rifle Brigade in the Peninsular War from 1807-1814. It played a major role in the long struggle to defeat Napoleon Bonaparte. Its adoption was partly inspired by British experience of the deadly effectiveness of rifles in the hands of American rebels during the Revolutionary War.

The Baker rifle, third pattern of 1806 (image courtesy of Military History Encyclopedia)

In recent years the Baker rifle has been exposed to a wider audience through the Richard Sharpe novels of Bernard Cornwell and the made-for-TV movies based on them. A number of excellent (albeit non-firing) replica Baker rifles were produced for the TV series, and some have come onto the market for private sale. I don't want one of them, though - I want something I can shoot! Original Baker rifles are sometimes available, although they tend to cost many thousands of dollars for a good specimen. Still, if money's no object, I can dream, can't I?

4. Holland & Holland Royal Grade double rifle.

As a former African boy, I have a high regard for double rifles as defensive weapons when dangerous game is around. The instant availability of a second shot, and the ability to use the largest and heaviest cartridges ever developed for hunting, made them a natural choice for many generations of sportsmen and professional hunters. I've had the privilege of shooting three specimens in Africa, made by Westley Richards, Rigby and Purdey. Any one of them would have cost me several years' salary at the time, so it's a good thing I was introduced to people who already owned them! As it was, each cartridge cost the equivalent of $5-$10!

That said, I'd love to own one; and if, as Robb Allen posits, money is no object, why not go for the best? Rather than buy a new rifle, I'll pick this one for its provenance and historical interest.

Holland and Holland Sidelock Non Ejector - Toplever Hammerless "Royal" Grade Double Rifle in .500 3¼ “ N.Ex. 26” chopper lump barrels. Concealed third bite. Strap over comb. "Nizam of Hyderabad's" rifle. Cased in new brass bound oak and leather with canvas/leather outer and all accessories.

Restocked and refinished in the highest standard to as new and remains in that condition (100%). Number 1 of a pair. Made in 1905. Lettered. Serial 19XXX. $45,500

Holland & Holland's 'Royal Grade' double rifles are absolutely magnificent - the very peak of firearms craftsmanship. For that matter, everything sold by the company simply oozes that 'British upper class' snootiness - although the quality of their products entitles them to it, I guess! Here's a promotional video from H&H to give you some idea of what I'm talking about.

The .500/450 Nitro Express cartridge was developed by Holland & Holland during the transition from blackpowder to cordite as a propellant. It's one of the classic African 'safari calibers', and for historical reasons I think it would be just about perfect for my collection. Of course, it's a classic Indian 'tiger cartridge' as well, as evidenced by the Nizam of Hyderabad specifying it for this rifle and its twin.

5. Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver.

The intriguing - and, let's be honest, just plain weird! - Webley-Fosbery was developed in the late 19th century, and produced in the early 20th century, in an attempt to increase the rate of fire and ease of use of a revolver. It was intended to rival the first generation of semi-automatic pistols, such as the Borchardt C-93 and the Mauser C96.

Webley-Fosbery Automatic Revolver (image courtesy of Wikipedia)

When the revolver was fired, recoil forces cocked the hammer while half-turning the cylinder. As the gun came down from recoil, the cylinder moved forward, completing its rotation to bring the next round into line with the barrel. A more detailed description of its operation may be found here.

The Webley-Fosbery was never adopted as a service sidearm, but it was an intriguing attempt to bring the perceived advantages of semi-automatic pistols to the older revolver platform. As an historical oddity, I'd love to have one in my collection.

So, there you have it. Five guns, selected without regard for practicality or price. They'd be enough to give me warm fuzzies for months! How about you, readers? Which five guns would you select in response to Robb Allen's challenge? Let us know in Comments.


"The State of Surveillance Technology"

That's the title of a long and very interesting article over at Casey Research. The author goes into detail about various surveillance technologies, many of which you'll probably already have heard about: but what struck me particularly was his analysis of the costs involved in surveillance, and how technology has made it much more affordable to keep tabs on our past activities, as well as what we're doing now. Here's an excerpt.

It is already technologically feasible for governments to record nearly everything that is said or done within their borders – every phone conversation, electronic message, social media interaction, the movements of nearly every person and vehicle, and video from every street corner.

Before long, it'll also be financially feasible to archive it, according to a sobering report published last December by the Brookings Center for Technology Innovation.

The report concludes that: "Plummeting digital storage costs will soon make it possible for authoritarian regimes to not only monitor known dissidents, but to also store the complete set of digital data associated with everyone within their borders. These enormous databases of captured information will create what amounts to a surveillance time machine, enabling state security services to retroactively eavesdrop on people in the months and years before they were designated as surveillance targets. This will fundamentally change the dynamics of dissent, insurgency and revolution."

Emphasis mine. Consider the implications.

The key, according to the Brookings report: "Over the past three decades, [data] storage costs have declined by a factor of 10 approximately every 4 years, reducing the per-gigabyte cost from approximately $85,000 (in 2011 dollars) in mid-1984 to about five cents today." Using GPS, mobile phone and WiFi inputs, "identifying the location of each of one million people to [a 15-foot] accuracy at 5-minute intervals, 24 hours a day for a full year could easily be stored in 1,000 gigabytes, which would cost slightly over $50 at today's prices." Fourteen cents a day to archive the collective movements of any selected million of us.

Phone calls? "The audio for all of the telephone calls made by a single person over the course of one year could be stored using roughly 3.3 gigabytes. On a per capita basis, the cost to store all phone calls will fall from about 17 cents per person per year today to under 2 cents in 2015."

Video storage takes far more space, of course, and there are also major logistical problems involved in managing such a huge amount of data. But the point is made. Technological innovation will provide the tools. And as soon as government can do something, they invariably will do it.

There's more at the link. Highly recommended reading.

That's an angle on surveillance I hadn't thought about - and it makes a lot of sense. Not only totalitarian governments, but totalitarian wannabes within democratic governments (TSA, anybody?) will love this potential capability. Yet another nail in the coffin of our privacy and Fourth Amendment rights, I guess . . .


Around the blogs

There's another bumper crop of entertainment out there.

We'll kick off with Tanker over at Mostly Cajun, who has a fascinating video clip of - of all things - a sheep-herding rabbit! I'm astonished that Warner Bros. Cartoons never thought of that angle for their favorite character . . . (Warning: Tanker's site has been difficult to load tonight - it may be having some server problems. If you can't view the video there tonight, try again tomorrow, or go direct to the video on YouTube.)

Congratulations are in order to Shooter, blogging at Parallax Adjustment. After three years of trying, he's finally been hired as a police officer in Texas. Great going, blogbuddy! Your perseverance in the face of so many disappointments and obstacles does you proud. (You can read more about his search in his blog archives.)

Dustbury informs us of a new snack food in Australia with a . . . er . . . um . . . rather distinctive name. Sounds very Australian to me!

The Mellow Jihadi reminds us that yesterday was (unofficially) National Kazoo Day.

In honor of the occasion, he links to a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel's Messiah, played by massed kazoos! (That wobbling, scraping sound you may hear over the video soundtrack is doubtless caused by Handel himself, spinning like a top in his grave in Westminster Abbey . . . )

Chris Byrne, who (with his wife Melody) blogs at The AnarchAngel, points out the lies and myths perpetrated by those who want to 'control guns' and limit (if not altogether destroy) the Second Amendment to the US Constitution. Here's an excerpt.

There are two specific fraudulent claims that were frequently made by gun control advocates, and then endlessly (and mindlessly) repeated by the media, and by defrauded people who don't know better.

"You are 14 times more likely to be injured by a gun in your own home, than if you don't have one"


"Thousands of children are killed by guns in the home every year"

Let's talk a bit about those claims.

First of all, neither are remotely close to true, or have any basis in fact. They were essentially entirely made up on the spot by gun control advocates; and have been thoroughly and publicly disproven. Thus, most gun control organizations no longer make specific claims like that, only saying "much more likely", "many times more likely" etc...

However, media reports very frequently reference those two claims even today; as they are very easy to find in a quick google search.

The reality is very much different.

Excluding suicides, injuries or deaths among the general population from their own firearms are very rare; almost always self inflicted, almost always while abusing drugs or alcohol, and in the majority, with firearms that are possessed unlawfully; which even then constitute a tiny fraction of a percent of all gun owners.

When taking only lawfully possessed firearms, by clean and sober people, the incident rate drops to even tinier fractions of a percent... Essentially so close to zero as to be statistically insignificant, and well within the margin of error of any statistical analysis.

There's more at the link. Worth reading.

The Silicon Graybeard has an interesting tale of historic technological innovation . . . including several names, of individuals and companies, that may surprise you. To a geek like me, this was great fun to read. Recommended.

The Lost Goat 'translates' an appeal from a wannabe beneficiary of Obamacare, and points out the false reasoning and self-delusional fantasies of the person concerned. It's a perfect illustration of the entitlement mentality in operation.

Finally, I forgot to post this link last week, but it's still fresh and funny; so, if you haven't seen it, check out this conversation between my cyberspace and meatspace buddies, Ambulance Driver and Matt G., about the choice of wines for . . . shall we say, less conventional (make that much less conventional!) methods of imbibing.


Saturday, January 28, 2012

Some great aviation footage

This video clip, taken from the cockpit, shows Airbus airliners landing and taking off at various South American airports. It's a fascinatingly different look at the process, particularly the vista of the towns and cities spreading out as the aircraft nears the airfields, and the way the pilots use the side-mounted control sticks of the Airbus to maneuver the plane. You can see clearly how even large movements of the stick are translated by the flight control computer into relatively smooth aircraft movements. (I'm not at all happy to think that the computer can override pilot input to that extent, but that's the way Airbus makes its planes, I'm afraid . . . ) It's worth watching the video in full-screen mode.

The music is 'Sail' by the group Awolnation. I'd rather have no music at all, but I'm afraid most people who put up such video clips on YouTube think that music's an essential part of the package. Pity, that . . .


Remembering a hero of the French Resistance

I was greatly moved to read a BBC interview with Raymond Aubrac, one of the heroes of the French Resistance during World War II. The subject of the interview wasn't M. Aubrac, however; it was perhaps the greatest of French Resistance leaders, a man very little known outside France, but whose courage and leadership rival anyone else in the pantheon of heroes of the world. That man was Jean Moulin.

Jean Moulin and the Cross of Lorraine, symbol of the French Resistance
(image courtesy of Wikipedia)

I've known of M. Moulin since my teens, when I first came across a book describing his achievements. He was a man almost unique among French wartime leaders. He overcame his own left-wing political views to become an ambassador for unity among all wartime factions, groups and ideologies. As André Malraux would later eulogize him:

Each Resistance group could claim its legitimacy from the ally that armed and supported it; or even from its courage alone. General de Gaulle alone could call upon the Resistance movements to unite and to form one with all the other struggles ... That was why Jean Moulin carried with him, in the false bottom of a box of matches, a microfilm of the following extremely simple order: "Mr. Moulin's task is to bring about, within the zone of metropolitan France not directly occupied, unity of action by all elements resisting the enemy and his collaborators." Unwearyingly, he pointed out to group leaders the danger of the Resistance being torn apart between different influences. Each major event - Russia's entry into the war, then America's, the landings in North Africa - further strengthened his position. In the wake of the landings, it began to seem likely that France would once again become a theatre of operations. The clandestine press and the intelligence service (even when backed up by the infiltration of public services) were geared to Occupation, however, and not to war. Although the Resistance might be well aware that it could not liberate France without the Allies, it was equally aware of the military aid that its unity could contribute to the Allied cause. Gradually the Resistance learned that, while it was relatively easy to blow up a bridge, it was no less easy to repair it; if, however, the Resistance could blow up two hundred bridges, it would be difficult for the Germans to repair them all at once. In short, the Resistance realised that if they were to provide effective aid to Allied armies on landing, they would have to have an overall plan. It was vital that, on every road and on every railway line in France, clandestine groups should methodically disrupt the concentration of German armoured divisions. And such an overall plan could only be devised and executed by a united Resistance.

This was the end towards which Jean Moulin toiled, day after day, difficulty after difficulty, from one Resistance movement to another: "And now let us try to calm tempers on the other side . . . ". Inevitably, there were problems of clashing personalities; worse still, there was the poverty of fighting France, the maddening certainty for each maquis or free group that it was being despoiled for the benefit of another group, which in turn was equally prey to the same illusion. Who now can tell what relentless efforts it took to speak the same language to radical or reactionary teachers, to reactionary or liberal officers, to Trotskyists or Communists fresh out of Moscow, all destined for the same deliverance or the same prison; what rigour was required of this supporter of the Spanish Republic, once a "Prefect of the left", driven out by Vichy, to insist that even former members of a secret far-right organisation, the "cagoulards", should be welcomed into the common struggle!

Jean Moulin had no need to usurp the glory of others: it was not he who created Combat, Libération, Franc-tireur, it was Frenay, d'Astier, Jean-Pierre Lévy. It was not he who set up the many movements in the northern zone whose names are now remembered in history. It was not he who created the regiments, but it was he that created the army. He was the Carnot of the Resistance.

Inevitably, the amount of travel involved in this Herculean task, and the fact that his identity as an "ambassador of Resistance" inevitably became widely known, meant that M. Moulin became a priority target for the German occupation forces. Let M. Aubrac describe what happened, and what followed.

... the end came on 21 June 1943 at a doctor's house in Caluire, a suburb of the south-eastern city of Lyon. A clandestine meeting of Resistance leaders had been called to make arrangements following the arrest of a senior colleague.

But someone had tipped off the Gestapo and its notorious local chief Klaus Barbie. Moulin was arrested with seven others. After prolonged torture, he died on a train to Berlin.

Extraordinarily, some 70 years later, the man who walked with Jean Moulin across Lyon to take part in that ill-fated meeting - who actually stood next to him in the doctor's waiting-room as they were handcuffed by Barbie's men - is still alive to tell the tale.

Raymond Aubrac is France's last survivor from the senior ranks of the Resistance. He is 97 and slightly stooped, but otherwise hale and more than happy to relive those extraordinary times.

"What you have to remember is that when you are living your life on the run, as we were, you are constantly worrying about being arrested," he says.

"So when the Gestapo burst into the house, it was a shock but not a surprise. I was sitting beside Moulin and when the Gestapo burst in, he told me: 'I have a piece of paper in my pocket. Make it disappear.'

"So I put my hand in his pocket and took out the paper and swallowed it - which is not easy. I have no idea what was written on it.

"After the war, I came back to the house in Caluire - and there on the mantelpiece in the waiting-room was my pipe. Exactly where I had left it when the Gestapo came!"

. . .

By that time Aubrac had met Moulin on several occasions and, like everyone else, he had fallen under his spell. "He is very difficult to describe, because in physical appearance he was very normal - except perhaps his eyes," says Aubrac today.

"But it was his way of discussing matters that was so interesting. Never once did he use the way of authority. Don't forget he had real power - over money, over communications, over all the agents.

"And many in the Resistance could have seen him as an enemy. But he never forced his ideas on people. Instead he used a kind of Platonic discussion method, so that all views were aired.

"He was indeed a remarkable man. And do you know for the last 70 years, every time that I find myself confronting a problem I always ask myself what Moulin would have advised me to do. That was the kind of person he was."

After the Caluire arrests, Aubrac saw Moulin only one more time. It was at the Montluc prison in Lyon, were they were taken after the arrests.

"My cell was on the first floor. There were eye-holes in the doors which were meant for the guards, but we could also use them to look out. And the last time I saw Moulin, he was being carried down the stairs outside my cell by two SS men.

"He was in a very bad state. Only later did I learn that he was being taken to Paris, and from there on to Berlin. But he died on the way."

. . .

Aubrac's subsequent story is another chapter of courage and derring-do. Within weeks of his arrest, he was sentenced to death by a court in Paris.

"But luckily they did not shoot me straightaway. That was standard practice. They would wait because they thought we could still be useful to them in some way." The delay gave Aubrac's wife Lucie time to come up with an escape plan.

How Lucie and her Resistance group sprung Aubrac from the clutches of the Nazis is today one of France's best-known stories from the war - as uplifting for the French as the Caluire episode is grim.

Somehow Lucie managed to persuade the German commander that she was a) pregnant by the prisoner Aubrac (this was actually true) and b) unmarried to him.

By feigning horror at the prospect of the child being born out of wedlock, she got the commander to agree to a pre-execution marriage.

And so on 21 October, the convoy taking Aubrac back to Montluc jail from his "marriage" ceremony at police headquarters was attacked by a heavily-armed Resistance gang. Three Germans were killed and 14 prisoners escaped.

"One of the Resistance cars overtook the truck in which I was being transported, and when the two vehicles were level they shot the German driver," recalls Aubrac, who received a ricochet bullet in the side of the face.

There's more at the link.

Jean Moulin displayed his greatest heroism in captivity. As "ambassador of the Resistance", he alone among its leaders knew virtually everything there was to know about that organization: its member groups, their leaders, their plans, the nature and location of their weapons and supply dumps, the names of many of the British and Free French agents sent to help them organize against the Germans and the names and addresses of those who concealed them. If the Gestapo were ever desperate to break anyone, to make him talk, it was Jean Moulin: but he never broke, not even while enduring endless days and weeks of their most brutal, sadistic and vicious tortures. He took his secrets with him to the grave, to the future mortal peril of Nazi Germany, when the Resistance he helped to organize assisted in the liberation of France in 1944.

The nature of Jean Moulin's death remains uncertain. The Nazis claimed he committed suicide while being transferred from France to Germany. Klaus Barbie, the so-called 'Butcher of Lyon' who commanded the Gestapo in that city, almost certainly interrogated and tortured M. Moulin personally; many believe he murdered him. Other sources state that M. Moulin died of the injuries he suffered under torture. After so many years, and the death of almost everyone who was involved, the truth will probably never be known.

Memorial to Jean Moulin at Chartres (image courtesy of Stephen McParlin)

M. Moulin's remains were transferred to the Panthéon in Paris on December 19th, 1964, to join those of other distinguished French citizens in that place of national honor. The speech given on that occasion by André Malraux has become one of the most famous in French history. Let's close with some more of his words.

Leader of the Resistance martyred in hideous cellars, behold through eyes now closed for ever all these black-clad women who watch over our companions: they are in mourning for France, and for you. Behold the dwarf oak forests of Quercy through which, under a flag made from knotted strips of muslin, flit members of the maquis that the Gestapo will never find because it believes only in tall trees, not those closer to the earth. Behold the prisoner who enters the luxury villa and wonders why he has been provided with a bathroom - he has yet to hear of the bath torture. Poor tortured king of shadows, behold your people of shadows rise up in the June night disfigured by torture.

Hear the roar of the German tanks, racing back towards Normandy, over the plaintive cries of sheep and cattle disturbed by their passing: thanks to you, the tanks will arrive too late. And, Prefect, as the Allied breakthrough begins, see the commissioners of the republic rise up from every town and city in France - all those that have not been killed. Like us, you envied Leclerc's epic tramps: now, Resistance fighter, behold your ragged tramps crawl from their forest hiding-places, laying their farmers' hands to bazookas to bring to a halt one of the finest armoured divisions of Hitler's empire, the Das Reich division.

As Leclerc entered the Invalides with his cortège of honour from the hot suns of Africa and the battles of Alsace, enter now, Jean Moulin, with your terrible cortège. With all those who, like you, died in the cellars without breaking; or even, perhaps more atrocious still, those who did break; with all those in the striped garb and shaven heads of the concentration camps, with the last stumbling body from the monstrous lines of Night and Fog, falling prey at last to the rifle-butts; with the eight thousand French women that never returned from the prisons, with the last woman who died in Ravensbrück for having sheltered one of ours. Enter here, accompanied by a people born of the shadow and who disappeared with that shadow - our brothers in the order of the Night. Commemorating the anniversary of the Liberation of Paris, I said, "Listen tonight, you the young people of my country, listen to these anniversary bells that will ring as they did fourteen years ago. May you hear them on this occasion: they will ring for you."

The accompaniment most fitted to today's tribute is the song that will now be sung, the song of the partisans that I have heard murmured like a chant of complicity, then intoned in the mists of the Vosges and the woods of Alsace, mingling with the lost cries of the hill-sheep as the bazookas of the Corrèze advanced against von Rundstedt's tanks, turned once more on Strasbourg. Young people of France, listen today to what was for us the song of misfortune. It is the funeral march of these ashes you see before you. Alongside those of Carnot with the soldiers of the Year II, those of Victor Hugo with his Misérables, and those of Jaurès under the guardian eye of justice, may they rest here with their long cortège of disfigured shadows. Today, young people of France, may you think of this man as you would have reached out your hands to his poor, unrecognisable face on that last day, to those lips that never let fall a word of betrayal: on that day, his was the face of France . . .

Nobly spoken words, in honor of a man who lived nobly and died heroically.

You can read more about Jean Moulin here. I think you'll find it worth your while.


Friday, January 27, 2012

Italians versus Europeans

According to the video clip below, they have an interesting partnership.

It definitely seems to be an . . . ah . . . adversarial relationship, doesn't it?


Jenny has moved

Those of you who've enjoyed my friend Jenny's blogging at A Call To Wings may have noticed that things came to a halt there some weeks ago. Jenny's moved from Alaska to Massachusetts to be with the man she loves. Hopefully both of them will 'emigrate' to a free state as soon as possible!

Anyway, Jenny will now be blogging at HedgeRoot. Click on over to take a look around her new online home, and welcome her back to the blogosphere in her new finery.


An expensive mistake!

Proof that it pays to use an expert when selling family heirlooms has been provided by a court case in Germany.

A Bavarian auctioneer who priced the world’s most expensive rug at €900 [about US $1,190] has escaped paying damages to its former owner. The woman sued the Augsburg auction house after her rug reached €7.2 million [more than US $9.5 million] at a Christie’s auction in 2011.

The woman received €19,700 [just over US $26,000] for the 17th century Persian carpet when it was auctioned by the Augsburg house.

She told the court that if he had spent more than “a few seconds” examining it and had done some background research, he would have identified the carpet as an exceptional piece of art.

But the auction house was let off from compensating the woman, as the court ruled that the antiques dealer neither intentionally violated his professional duty nor had he been negligent while inspecting the piece.

The auctioneer claimed as a general dealer he was no expert in carpets and put it in his catalogue without a picture, with an estimate price of €900.

“Had I known what it was, I would have rejected it,” he told the court. His lawyer said he generally dealt with household items and had never heard of the “Survey of Persian Art” by Arthur Upham Pope, a standard reference book for collectors in which the carpet was pictured.

Shortly after the verdict, the woman’s lawyer Hannes Hartung said she is likely to appeal to the Bavarian state court in Munich. “We will carefully analyze the written verdict and very probably appeal,” he told reporters.

Hartung said that the court had missed a vital point in its verbal ruling. “The auctioneer should have informed his client that he didn’t know anything about this carpet,” he said. He said if the written verdict did not address this point, an appeal would be inevitable.

Dating from the 17th century, the rug may look unremarkable to an untrained eye. It measures 3.39 by 1.53 metres [roughly 11 x 5 feet] and is adorned with a motif of leaves and flowers.

Made by weavers in the Kirman region of Persia, the carpet once belonged to 19th century society host the Countess Martine Marie-Pol of Béhague, who boasted a large collection of Iranian art.

There's more at the link.

So the original auctioneer's estimate was almost eight thousand times less than the price ultimately obtained by a subsequent owner! Yeah, I can understand how the original seller might have been just a little bit miffed by that discrepancy . . .


Thursday, January 26, 2012

Doofus Of The Day #564

Today's winner comes from Brazil. The video report is self-explanatory.

Uh-huh. If you show off with guns, that sort of thing can happen all too easily . . . although I'm sure the police were delighted by his doofidity!


We're a nation of coffee addicts!

An article in National Geographic titled 'How Coffee Changed America' has all sorts of interesting information. Here's a brief excerpt.

Coffee ... has a rich cultural history, both in areas where it is grown and in the wider world. Prized seeds were smuggled into remote jungles to jumpstart illicit plantations, and coffeehouses evolved as centers for alternative gatherings. The coffeehouse has often become a lightning rod for debate about globalization, corporate responsibility, and local ownership. (Activists picketing the first Starbucks in my college town once screamed, “Is your coffee worth it?” at me, although they looked bewildered when I told them I had ordered hot chocolate. A week later the large glass windows of the storefront were smashed.)

There's more at the link, along with a very interesting infographic providing all sorts of facts and figures - for example, that US coffee consumption went up by no less than 700% (!) from 1995 to 2000, almost exclusively as a result of the rise of coffee houses like Starbucks.

I'm more of a tea drinker (the fruits of a colonial heritage, I'm afraid), but I've learned to enjoy a good cup of coffee. Trouble is, thanks to getting to know Miss D. and her Alaskan friends, I've never tasted a finer cup of coffee than that served by Kaladi Brothers in that state. It makes Starbucks coffee look (and taste) like dishwater by comparison! Definitely something I miss . . . I'm going to have to import some Kaladi's 'Red Goat' blend for my lower 48 friends! If you haven't tried it yourself, I recommend it unreservedly. (And no, they're not compensating me to advertise for them: I just like their coffee!)


EDITED TO ADD: I've just read that US workers spend about $1,000 per year on coffee as a 'work-related expense'! That seems a bit mind-boggling, until you remember that it costs up to $3 for a cup of coffee-house java (it varies from region to region, and by cup size, so that's an average). A specialty coffee (e.g. a latte, 'frappucino', etc.) can easily cost up to double that price; so that total amount translates to about one coffee every working day. Logical . . . but expensive! I think I'd rather take a jar of halfway decent instant coffee to work with me, and save the $1K for more important things!

Photographic portraits of cities

I'm intrigued to find that well-known art publisher Taschen has begun a series of books about major cities. The first of them was 'New York: Portrait of a City'. Here are a few pictures from its almost 600 pages.

Here's a video report where some of the photographers involved comment on the book, and discuss what it (and its successors in the series) tries to achieve.

The second book in the series is 'Los Angeles: Portrait of a City'. Here are a few of its many images.

At a published price of $69.99 apiece, these books aren't cheap: but they're probably unique in the scope of their visual history. I'm going to add both to my "wouldn't mind owning if I win the lottery" list, along with any more books published in the series. Congratulations to Taschen for taking the commercial risk to publish them, when the size of the potential market is anything but certain in these recessionary times. I hope their gamble pays off.


"Top 5 Regrets of the Dying"

That's the title of an article on the Huffington Post's Good News Web page. Here's an excerpt.

For many years I worked in palliative care. My patients were those who had gone home to die. Some incredibly special times were shared. I was with them for the last 3 to 12 weeks of their lives.

People grow a lot when they are faced with their own mortality. I learnt never to underestimate someone's capacity for growth. Some changes were phenomenal. Each experienced a variety of emotions, as expected, denial, fear, anger, remorse, more denial and eventually acceptance. Every single patient found their peace before they departed though, every one of them.

When questioned about any regrets they had or anything they would do differently, common themes surfaced again and again. Here are the most common five:

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

This was the most common regret of all. When people realise that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made.

There's more at the link. Recommended reading.

As a pastor and chaplain, I've spent more than a little time with those who aren't long for this world. I'd have to say that in my own experience, the author's five points are pretty common, along with a few that she hasn't mentioned (perhaps because, as a pastor, I'd be used to hearing about more spiritual concerns, but a palliative care professional might not be taken into her patients' confidence in the same way).

I certainly think that all five points make worthwhile food for thought for all of us - while we're still young and healthy enough to do something about them!


It looks like Native Americans really did originate in Asia

I've long found the argument compelling that Native Americans originated in Asia, crossing the so-called 'Bering land bridge' from what is today Siberia to what is today Alaska, umpteen thousand years ago. However, there's long been a dispute among scientists and researchers about it.

Now, according to an article in the Daily Mail, that dispute may be over.

Altai in southern Siberia sits right at the centre of Russia. But the tiny, mountainous republic has a claim to fame unknown until now - Native Americans can trace their origins to the remote region.

DNA research revealed that genetic markers linking people living in the Russian republic of Altai, southern Siberia, with indigenous populations in North America.

. . .

'Altai is a key area because it's a place where people have been coming and going for thousands and thousands of years,' said Dr Theodore Schurr, from the University of Pennsylvania in the US.

Among the people who may have emerged from the Altai region are the predecessors of the first Native Americans.

Roughly 20-25,000 years ago, these prehistoric humans carried their Asian genetic lineages up into the far reaches of Siberia and eventually across the then-exposed Bering land mass into the Americas.

'Our goal in working in this area was to better define what those founding lineages or sister lineages are to Native American populations,' Schurr said.

The region lies at the intersection of what is now Russia, Mongolia, China and Kazakhstan.

Dr Schurr's team checked Altai DNA samples for markers in mitochondrial DNA which is always passed on by mothers, and Y chromosome DNA which sons inherit from their fathers.

Because of the large number of gene markers examined, the findings have a high degree of precision.

'At this level of resolution we can see the connections more clearly,' Schurr said.

Looking at the Y chromosome DNA, the researchers found a unique mutation shared by Native Americans and southern Altaians in the lineage known as Q.

Mitochondrial DNA is found in tiny rod-like 'powerplants' in cells that generate energy.

Both kinds of DNA showed links between Altaians and Native Americans.

In the Y chromosome DNA, the researchers found a unique mutation shared by Native Americans and people from southern Altai.

The findings are published today in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

Calculating how long the mutations they noted took to arise, Schurr's team estimated that the southern Altaian lineage diverged genetically from the Native American lineage 13,000 to 14,000 years ago, a timing scenario that aligns with the idea of people moving into the Americas from Siberia between 15,000 and 20,000 years ago.

There's more at the link.

I'll be interested to see how various Native American advocacy groups react to this news . . . not to mention the Mormon Church, which has a rather different theory about the origins of Native Americans! I daresay that right now, science appears to have trumped theology . . .