Aug 26

Pet parrot saves owners’ lives

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

It turns out that dogs may not be the only ‘man’s best friend.’ A parrot in Muncie, Indiana is being credited with saving the lives of its owners.

According to the owner 33-year-old Shannon Conwell along with his 9-year-old son were watching television when they both fell asleep on the living room couch when a fire began to spread through the house around 3:00 a.m. on Friday October 19.

The Amazon, yellow-headed Parrot named Peanut reportedly imitates the sounds of several objects and began to emit one very similar to a fire alarm, waking the family from their sleep.

“He was really screaming his head off. I grabbed my son and my bird and got out of the house,” said Conwell who also said that the fire alarm was also going off, but the bird woke her and her son. Conwell said that there were several pieces of medical equipment inside the house that also make a lot of noise. The equipment was there due to an accidental finger amputation which occurred only a few hours prior to the fire.

A bedroom, the kitchen and the dining room were all severely damaged in the fire, but no one was injured or killed. The fire department says that they are currently investigating the incident and have not said what the cause was.

Posted in Uncategorized
Aug 25

Australia’s richest man dies aged 68

Tuesday, December 27, 2005The Nine Network has announced the death of one of Australia’s richest men, Kerry Packer, aged 68.

Announcer Richard Wilkins said on the Today Show that he had just been handed official confirmation of Mr Packer’s death at 68.

He said a statement from Tony Ritchie, Nine head of news, said: “Mrs Kerry Packer and her children James and Gretel sadly report the passing last evening of her husband and their father Kerry. He died peacefully at home with his family at his bedside”.

Packer was the major shareholder in Publishing and Broadcasting Limited (PBL) which owns the Nine television network and Australian Consolidated Press, the producer of many Australian and New Zealand magazines.

Packer was also involved in the gambling and tourism industries and owned the Crown Casino in Melbourne.

In the 1970s, his World Series Cricket revolutionised cricket, bringing One-day cricket to the fore by introducing things such as coloured uniforms, white balls & day/night matches.

Business Review Weekly magazine estimated Packer’s net worth at AU$6.5 billion in 2004. Another famous rich Australian media magnate, who may have lost his Australian nationality, is Rupert Murdoch.

Posted in Uncategorized
Aug 25

How An I Pad Menu Revolutionizes The Dining Experience

How an iPad Menu Revolutionizes the Dining Experience

by

Jamie Hanson The revolutionary ideas of the technology have gone to the extent of to show the restaurant menus of your choice. It has made simple for many people to order and visit their selected restaurants and have their wanted orders. The iPad menus are in fact compatible and user friendly so that any person who is using the iPad can install the required applications and thereby function according to his/her choice. This feature in fact allows the provider\’s customer understanding and shows its capacity to provide the instructions in the time plan. While ordering your menu to any restaurant it is pertinent that you be specific about your items which are very easy and friendly in using the navigation system. You really are at liberty to field the pictures and description of the imperative ordered ingredients for the selection. The iPad allows the person to order by using the software of the respective restaurants. If the restaurant is compatible to the program then it will get more effective business because of internet. They will cater to the order of foods as well as wine and alcohols. When making a cafe cost-effective and prosperous it is advisable to substantiate about your food products and its contentment by typical people. However, there are several intricacies that one has to follow to discard unwanted restaurants and their food items. The cafe owner should at the same time be accountable to improve its items to entice more people. In fact the brand and the signature dishes can be vital for the prospect of the restaurant. On the other hand it is also pertinent that one should not get biased by the photos of food rather try them and settle on whether to approve it or not by deciding its hygiene. The definite choice is dependent on the eater who likes to know about the items and its taste and palatability including the healthiness of the food. Several items are established by recognized chefs but that doesn\’t necessarily mean a client will appreciate. The choice of food and its palatability is crucial for any restaurant. Nevertheless, unless a person dines on a certain restaurant and understand the quality of food and the acceptance of the dish, it cannot work out. Unless the restaurant has a good iPad menus and they can cater to their guest\’s requirement then the entire effort lands in a fiasco. Therefore, it is a essential thing for the firm and the buyer to appreciate each other well before going into the iPad ordering process.

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Aug 25

Camel Rock Festival held in Scilly

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

The August Bank Holiday weekend, as usual, played host to many festivals and musical events around the UK, not least the Camel Rock Festival held at Porthcressa on the Isles of Scilly. But will it be the last?

Local bands included those formed at the Five Islands’ School, the members of the Steamband under the temporary name Senile Shambles and the rhythm and blues band, Roadrunner. Bands imported from mainland England included Murdoch, from Manchester.

The event, deemed ‘unique’ in the local press, raises money for local musical projects on the islands. It’s future is, as always, in doubt due to the amount of work for organisers and volunteers, especially for the clean-up operation. Organiser Paul Lewis hopes that the event will return next year as long as there are still volunteers.

Posted in Uncategorized
Aug 24

UK car crash in Leicestershire kills six

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A car crash in the British region of Leicestershire has resulted in the deaths of six people: three men and three women. The incident, involving a lorry and a Ford Mondeo, occurred at around 01:00 UTC today (02:00 local time) on the A607 road.

Simon Adkin of the local police said that, “the black Mondeo was travelling towards Leicester and the lorry was travelling in the opposite direction.” He announced that the police “are appealing to anyone who witnessed the incident and saw either of these vehicles beforehand to get in touch.”

The driver of the Ford, who was killed in the incident, was a 23-year-old male. An 18-year-old man, 19-year-old woman and 18-year-old woman were also killed in the incident. The ages of the other two people are not yet known.

As a result of the crash, the A607 is expected to remain closed for most of today.

Posted in Uncategorized
Aug 24

Wikinews interviews biologist Chris Simon about periodical cicadas

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

In May, periodical cicadas with 17 years life cycle emerged on the East Coast of the USA after underground development as juveniles since 1996. Researchers and scientists worked to map and study the rare wave, and the locals prepared for the noisy event. First recorded in 1666, the Magicicada septendecim species recently emerged in 1979, 1996, this year, with a next wave due in 2030.

This week, Wikinews interviewed Chris Simon, an ecology and evolutionary biologist at University of Connecticut, about the cicadas.

((Wikinews)) What caused your initial interest in periodical cicadas?

Chris Simon: As an undergraduate student, I was interested in the formation of species so when I went to graduate school I looked for a study organism that was likely to be in the process of forming new species. I chose periodical cicadas because they are broken up into reproductively isolated broods (or year classes). Reproductive isolation leads to speciation so I planned to study biochemical differences among the broods.

((WN)) You study the emergence of the periodical cicadas. What do you study? What observations are you making?

CS: We record exactly where each cicada population emerges (using GPS automated mapping and crowd sourcing). We record the presence or absence of each of the three morphologically distinct species groups of periodical cicadas (Decim group, Cassini group, and Decula group). We collect specimens for DNA analysis. We look for cicadas coming up one and four years early and late. We dig up cicada nymphs and monitor their growth rates.

((WN)) What equipment do you use?

CS: Nets, shovels, automated GPS recorders, cameras, laptop computers, automated DNA sequencers.

((WN)) Do you study the periodical cicadas with anyone else? What is their role?

CS: Yes, there are a large number of people studying periodical cicadas in my lab and in other labs. My lab is made up of Research Scientists, Postdoctoral Researchers, a technician, graduate students, and undergraduates. Research Scientist John Cooley is the leader of the GPS mapping project; he invented the automated GPS recorder; he built our crowd-sourcing website, and he is instrumental in public outreach. Postdoctoral research David Marshall also participates in the mapping project and leads the part of the research related to the mapping of stragglers. John and Dave and Technician Kathy Hill all study periodical cicada mating behavior and conduct mating and hybridization experiments. One of my graduate students Beth Wade has participated in the nymph collections and will soon start genetic work involving genome wide association mapping designed to locate genes related to life cycle. My graduate student Russ Meister is studying the genes of the bacterial endosymbionts of cicadas. My current undergraduate honors student Erin Dwyer is also studying the development of Magicicada nymphs and is helping to design a lab exercise for college students around the eastern US to do the same. Many of my past undergraduate students have studied the biochemical genetics and development of periodical cicadas. See the Simon Lab website.
CS: We are collaborating with Teiji Sota at the University Kyoto and Jin Yoshimura at Shizuoka University in Japan. They are studying the phylogeography of Magicicada. We are collaborating with John McCutcheon of the University of Montana who is studying the endosymbiont genomes.
CS: We are also collaborating with ecologists Rick Karban and Louie Yang, both professors at UC Davis who have an interest in cicada population dynamics and nutrient cycling in the ecosystem.

((WN)) You studied the periodical cicadas in 1979 and 1996 too. What changes with time?

CS: I have studied periodical cicadas since I was a student back in 1974. What changes with time is increased human development constantly shrinking the patch size of cicada populations.

((WN)) What are your thoughts on the long life span of the periodical cicadas? Why could it be so? What advantages and what disadvantages does it have?

CS: Most or all cicadas have long life cycles compared to your typical annual insect. Examples have been found of two-year to 9-year cycles in different species. Periodical cicadas evolved an even-longer life cycle and I think that part of this relates to the evolution of their synchronized life cycles and peculiar safety-in-numbers strategy for survival. To become synchronized, periodical cicadas had to evolve an exact length life cycle and all adults would have to appear in the same year. Because the nymphs grow at different rates underground, a longer life cycle and a way of counting years must have evolved so that the individuals that get to the last nymphal (underground juvenile) stage first would wait long enough for all other individuals in the population to become ready to emerge.

((WN)) News reports mention this is ‘Brood II’ of the periodical cicadas. What are the distinctive features of this specific species and what is its full scientific name?

CS: The same species exist in multiple broods. No species is restricted to Brood II. The three species present in Brood II are: Magicicada septendecim, M. cassini, and M. septendecula. These same three species are found in every 17-year brood (except the farthest north which only has M. septendecim).

((WN)) At what depth do the cicadas juveniles live underground?

CS: Most live within the top foot of soil but some have been found deeper. We do not know if they go deeper in winter. We need to do much more digging to understand the nymphs.

((WN)) How do people prepare for the cicada emergence?

CS: Of course various people prepare in different ways. Ideally, everyone prepares by studying information available on the web (especially on our websites Magicicada Central and Magicicada.org).

((WN)) Do cicadas affect transport in the local area?

CS: No, not really. Occasionally individuals can be seeing flying across highways and sometimes they smash into cars.

((WN)) Do cicadas usually stay outside or do they also invade houses too?

CS: They stay outside. One might accidentally fly in through an open window but that would be rare.

((WN)) What do the cicadas eat?

CS: Cicadas suck xylem fluid (the watery fluid coming up from the roots of plants) in deciduous forest trees and herbs. Essential amino acids in the cicada diet are supplied by their bacterial endosymbionts. There are two species of endosymbionts. One makes 8 essential amino acids and one makes two essential amino acids.

((WN)) Do cicadas damage crops or city vegetation? What damage?

CS: Cicadas do not chew leave so they do not damage crops like other insects. They can inflict some damage by their egg laying. Cicadas lay eggs in pencil-sized tree branches. If there are not enough branches available, too many female cicadas may lay eggs in a single branch weakening it and making it susceptible to breakage by wind. This can sometimes cause damage in fruit orchards. If the branches break, the eggs die so this behavior is selected against by natural selection.

((WN)) Thank you.

CS: You’re welcome. I am happy to have this opportunity to communicate with your readers!

Posted in Uncategorized
Aug 24

Category:Iain Macdonald (Wikinewsie)/Aviation

Aviation articles by Wikinewsie Iain Macdonald.
  • Rescue helicopter crash kills six in Abruzzo, Italy
  • UK Civil Aviation Authority issues update on Shoreham crash response
  • Nigerian jet attacks refugee camp, killing dozens
  • Fighter jet crashes during Children’s Day airshow in Thailand
  • Plane carrying 92 crashes into Black Sea near Sochi
  • Hijackers divert Libyan passenger jet to Malta
  • Pakistan International Airlines sacrifices goat, resumes ATR flights
  • Judge rules Air Canada Flight 624 victims can sue Transport Canada
  • PIA flight crashes near Havelian, Pakistan
  • Indonesian police plane crashes near Batam, fifteen missing
  • Investigators blame pilot error for AirAsia crash into Java Sea
  • New Polish government takes down findings on Russian air disaster
  • Pakistani female fighter pilot Marium Mukhtiar dies in jet crash
  • Investigators blame pilot error for deadly jet crash near Boston
  • Airshow collision kills one in Dittingen, Switzerland
  • Vintage plane crashes into road during Shoreham Airshow in England
  • Planes carrying parachutists collide, crash in Slovakia
  • Indian army helicopter crash kills two in Jammu and Kashmir
  • Divers retrieve 100th corpse from Java Sea jet crash
  • Taipei plane crash toll reaches 40
  • AirAsia disaster: Bodies, wreckage found
  • AirAsia jet vanishes over Indonesia, 162 missing
  • Inquiry finds proper maintenance might have prevented 2009 North Sea helicopter disaster
  • Ryanair sue Associated Newspapers, Mirror Group
  • Ryanair sack, sue pilot over participation in safety documentary
  • Ryanair threaten legal action after documentary on fuel policy, safety
  • US Marine Corps blame deadly Morocco Osprey plane crash on pilots
  • Kenyan helicopter crash kills security minister
  • Indonesians retrieve missing recorder from crashed Russian jet
  • Report blames New Zealand skydive plane crash that killed nine on overloading
  • Russian passenger jet crashes on Indonesian demonstration flight
  • European Commission clears British Airways owner IAG to buy bmi from Lufthansa
  • US Air Force upgrades F-22 oxygen system after deadly crash
  • Cypriot court clears all of wrongdoing in Greek air disaster
  • Boeing rolls out first 787 Dreamliner to go into service
  • Air France, pilots union, victims group criticise transatlantic disaster probe
  • South Korean troops mistakenly attack passenger jet
  • 27 believed dead in Indonesian plane crash
  • Russian police say Moscow airport bomber identified
  • ‘Unacceptable’ and ‘without foundation’: Poland rejects Russian air crash report
  • Serb pilots defend colleague in Air India Express disaster
  • Investigation into US Airways river ditching in New York completed
  • Reports issued after jets collided twice in same spot at UK airport
  • Final report blames London passenger jet crash on ice
  • Concorde crash trial begins
  • Iranian air politician blames pilot error for yesterday’s jet crash
  • US charges homeless man after plane stolen and crashed in Maryland
  • German jet bound for US searched in Iceland after suitcase loaded without owner
  • Mexican helicopter crash leaves soldier dead
  • Indonesian court overturns Garuda pilot’s conviction over air disaster
  • Zimbabwean cargo plane crashes in Shanghai; three dead
  • Italian Air Force transport wreck kills five
  • UK lawyer comments on court case against Boeing over London jet crash
  • Victims of London jetliner crash sue Boeing
  • Family seeks prosecution over loss of UK Nimrod jet in Afghanistan
  • British Airways and Iberia agree to merge
  • At least nine missing after Russian military plane crashes into Pacific
  • Search continues for nine missing after midair collision off California
  • Russian military cargo jet crash kills eleven in Siberia
  • Nine missing after US Coast Guard plane and Navy helicopter collide
  • Jet flies 150 miles past destination in US; pilots say they were distracted
  • Airliner crash wounds four in Durban, South Africa
  • Cypriot court begins Greek air disaster trial
  • Japan blames design, maintenance for explosion on China Airlines jet
  • Lockerbie bomber Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi released on compassionate grounds
  • Lockerbie bombing appeal dropped
  • Australian receives bravery award for rescues in Indonesian air disaster
  • Fighter jets collide, crash into houses near Moscow
  • Abdelbaset Ali al-Megrahi moves to drop Lockerbie bombing appeal
  • Iranian passenger jet’s wheel catches fire
  • Tourist plane crash in Papua New Guinea leaves thirteen dead
  • UK’s BAA forced to sell three airports
  • Scotland denies bail to terminally ill man convicted of Lockerbie bombing
  • Pilot error blamed for July crash of Aria Air Flight 1525 in Iran
  • Plane carrying sixteen people vanishes over Papua, Indonesia
  • Airbus offers funding to search for black boxes from Air France disaster
  • 20 years on: Sioux City, Iowa remembers crash landing that killed 111
  • Two separate fighter jet crashes kill two, injure two in Afghanistan
  • Helicopter crash kills sixteen at NATO base in Afghanistan
  • U.S. investigators probe in-flight hole in passenger jet
  • Four Indonesian airlines allowed back into Europe; Zambia, Kazakhstan banned
  • Brazil ceases hunt for bodies from Air France crash
  • Airliner catches fire at Indonesian airport
  • Garuda Indonesia increases flights, fleet; may buy rival
  • False dawn for Air France flight; debris not from crash, search continues
  • US investigators probe close call on North Carolina runway
  • Spanish general, two other officials jailed for false IDs after air disaster
  • Indonesian court jails Garuda pilot over air disaster
  • Pilots in 16-death crash jailed for praying instead of flying
  • New Zealand pilots receive bravery awards for foiling airliner hijack
  • US, UK investigators seek 777 engine redesign to stop repeat of London jet crash
  • Schiphol airliner crash blamed on altimeter failure, pilot error
  • Marine jet crash into San Diego house attributed to string of errors
  • Fatal US Army helicopter collision in Iraq blamed on enemy fire
  • Brazil’s Embraer plans to cut around 4,200 jobs
  • Virgin Atlantic jet fire investigation finds faulty wiring in A340 fleet
  • Six indicted over jet crash at New Jersey’s Teterboro Airport
  • Man arrested in India after mid-air hijack threat on domestic flight
  • British Airways plans to cut carbon dioxide emissions by 50% by 2050
  • US Airways jet recovered from Hudson River
  • Mount Everest plane crash blamed on pilot error
  • Cyprus charges five over 2005 air crash that killed 121
  • 20 years on: Lockerbie victims’ group head talks to Wikinews
  • US, UK investigators collaborating after US 777 incident similar to London crash
  • Brazil blames human error for 2006 midair airliner collision
  • NTSB continues investigation of near-collision in Pennsylvania, United States
  • Turbulence likely cause of Mexico jet crash that killed ministers
  • Bomb ruled out in Mexico plane crash that killed twelve
  • Afghan president Hamid Karzai opens new terminal at Kabul International Airport
  • Cyprus to charge five over 2005 plane crash that killed 121
  • India’s Jet Airways posts biggest quarterly loss in three years
  • Indian aviation sector hit by financial trouble; domestic traffic at five-year low
  • Spanish airline LTE suspends all flights
  • Spanair mechanics to be questioned under criminal suspicion over Flight 5022 crash
  • Oscar Diös tells Wikinews about his hostel within a Boeing 747
  • Preliminary report released on Spanair disaster that killed 154
  • Dozens injured by sudden change in altitude on Qantas jet
  • Soldier dies as military helicopters collide in Iraq
  • No evidence of engine fire at Aeroflot-Nord Flight 821 crash site
  • Indonesian parliament approves privatising of three major state firms
  • Controversy after leak of preliminary report into Spanair disaster
  • Researcher claims unmarked grave contains 1950 Lake Michigan plane crash victims
  • Interim report blames ice for British Airways 777 crash in London
  • Service held in Nova Scotia on tenth anniversary of Swissair crash that killed 229
  • UK government sued over deaths in 2006 Nimrod crash in Afghanistan
  • Four British Airways executives charged with price fixing
  • Unprecedented review to be held on Qantas after third emergency in two weeks
  • British Airways enters merger talks with Iberia
  • EU maintains ban on Indonesian airlines amid accusations of political motivation
  • US military confirms three deaths after B-52 crash off Guam
  • One-Two-Go Airlines cease operating over fuel costs as legal action begins over September air disaster
  • US FAA to make airliner fuel tank inertion mandatory over 1996 air disaster
  • British Airways give medals to Flight 38’s crew
  • Honduran capital’s main airport reopens six weeks after jetliner crash
  • Death toll in Arizona helicopter collision at seven as only survivor dies
  • Continental Airlines to face charges over Air France Concorde disaster
  • Nine oil workers die as helicopter crashes in Siberia
  • Boeing 767 cargo plane seriously damaged by fire at San Francisco
  • Cargo plane crashes near Khartoum; at least four dead
  • Cargo plane crash in Sudan leaves seven dead with one survivor
  • Air safety group says airport was operating illegally without license when Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 crashed
  • Sudan Airways grounded
  • Peacekeeping helicopter crash kills four in Bosnia
  • Report finds LOT Airlines plane was lost over London due to pilot error
  • Indonesian police hand over Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 report to prosecutors
  • US B-2 bomber crash in Guam caused by moisture on sensors
  • Silverjet ceases operations and enters administration
  • Nine killed as Russian cargo plane crashes in Siberia
  • Boeing pushes back 737 replacement development
  • Airliner hijacker found working for British Airways
  • Five of six accused over 9/11 to be tried; charges against ’20th hijacker’ dropped
  • British Airways Flight 38 suffered low fuel pressure; investigation continues
  • Ex-head of Qantas freight operations in US jailed for price fixing
  • Search for Brazilian plane with four UK passengers called off after seven days
  • Spectator killed and 10 injured in German airshow crash
  • Japan Airlines fined US$110 million for price fixing
  • Indonesia angered as nation’s airlines all remain banned in EU airspace
  • Airbus parent EADS wins £13 billion UK RAF airtanker contract
  • Final report blames instrument failure for Adam Air Flight 574 disaster
  • Indonesia grounds Adam Air; may be permanently shut down in three months
  • Adam Air hits severe financial problems; may be shut down in three weeks
  • Alitalia conditionally accepts joint bid by Air France and KLM
  • One year on: IFALPA’s representative to ICAO, pilot and lawyer on ongoing prosecution of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot
  • Adam Air may be shut down after string of accidents
  • Five injured as Adam Air 737 overruns Batam island runway
  • Northrop Grumman and Airbus parent EADS defeat Boeing for $40 billion US airtanker contract
  • Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot released on bail
  • Concern as Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 pilot arrested and charged
  • 16-year-old arrested over alleged plot to hijack US airliner
  • 2007 was particularly good year for aviation safety
  • No injuries after Antarctica research station support plane crashes
  • Indian Air Force jet catches fire and crashes after refuelling at Biju Patnaik Airport
  • Cathal Ryan, early board member and son of co-founder of Irish flag carrier Ryanair, dies at 48
  • Indonesia’s transport minister tells airlines not to buy European aircraft due to EU ban
  • Indonesian air industry signs safety deal ahead of EU ban review
  • Australia completes inquest for victims of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200
  • Five injured as Mandala Airlines 737 overshoots runway in Malang, Indonesia
  • Calls made for prosecution in light of Garuda Indonesia Flight 200 report
  • Four killed as helicopter escorting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf crashes
  • Dozens killed in Congo plane crash, transport minister fired
  • Death toll in One-Two-Go crash reaches 90
  • American Airlines MD-80 engine fire prompts emergency landing
  • Aircraft crashes during mock dogfight at Shoreham Airshow, United Kingdom
  • Adam Air ticket sales revive after post-crash slump
  • Comair Flight 5191 co-pilot, pilot’s widow sue FAA, airport, chart manufacturer
  • Four Boeing 737’s found with similar fault to China Airlines plane; inspection deadline shortened
  • Pakistan test fires nuclear-capable cruise missile
  • Black boxes retrieved from lost Indonesian airliner after eight months
  • EU bans all Indonesian airlines as well as several from Russia, Ukraine and Angola
  • Indonesia shuts down 4 airlines and grounds 5 others over safety concerns
  • Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission to review Pan Am Flight 103 conviction
  • European Union to fund scheme to reduce aircraft emissions and noise pollution
  • Air Independence and Libyan Airlines place orders for Bombardier aircraft valued at $190 million
  • Cessna to display seven aircraft and new cabin concept at Paris Air Show
  • Light plane flips over during landing at air show in Worcester, UK
  • Aeroflot negotiates purchase of 22 new Boeing 787 Dreamliner aircraft
  • Aer Lingus buys twelve new long-haul Airbus jets
  • NTSB announces safety recommendations to be made in aftermath of Comair Flight 5191 disaster
This Category ‘sub-page’ will display up to 500 articles which one of the project’s contributors has written on a specific topic.

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Posted in Uncategorized
Aug 22

Latest trial of the One Laptop Per Child running in India; Uruguay orders 100,000 machines

Thursday, November 8, 2007

India is the latest of the countries where the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) experiment has started. Children from the village of Khairat were given the opportunity to learn how to use the XO laptop. During the last year XO was distributed to children from Arahuay in Peru, Ban Samkha in Thailand, Cardal in Uruguay and Galadima in Nigeria. The OLPC team are, in their reports on the startup of the trials, delighted with how the laptop has improved access to information and ability to carry out educational activities. Thailand’s The Nation has praised the project, describing the children as “enthusiastic” and keen to attend school with their laptops.

Recent good news for the project sees Uruguay having ordered 100,000 of the machines which are to be given to children aged six to twelve. Should all go according to plan a further 300,000 machines will be purchased by 2009 to give one to every child in the country. As the first to order, Uruguay chose the OLPC XO laptop over its rival from Intel, the Classmate PC. In parallel with the delivery of the laptops network connectivity will be provided to schools involved in the project.

The remainder of this article is based on Carla G. Munroy’s Khairat Chronicle, which is available from the OLPC Wiki. Additional sources are listed at the end.

Contents

  • 1 India team
  • 2 Khairat
    • 2.1 The town school
  • 3 The workplace
  • 4 Marathi
  • 5 The teacher
  • 6 Older children, teenagers, and villagers
  • 7 The students
  • 8 Teacher session
  • 9 Parents’ meetings
  • 10 Grounding the server
  • 11 Every child at school
  • 12 Sources
  • 13 External links
Posted in Uncategorized
Aug 21

John Vanderslice plays New York City: Wikinews interview

Thursday, September 27, 2007

John Vanderslice has recently learned to enjoy America again. The singer-songwriter, who National Public Radio called “one of the most imaginative, prolific and consistently rewarding artists making music today,” found it through an unlikely source: his French girlfriend. “For the first time in my life I wouldn’t say I was defending the country but I was in this very strange position…”

Since breaking off from San Francisco local legends, mk Ultra, Vanderslice has produced six critically-acclaimed albums. His most recent, Emerald City, was released July 24th. Titled after the nickname given to the American-occupied Green Zone in Baghdad, it chronicles a world on the verge of imminent collapse under the weight of its own paranoia and loneliness. David Shankbone recently went to the Bowery Ballroom and spoke with Vanderslice about music, photography, touring and what makes a depressed liberal angry.


DS: How is the tour going?

JV: Great! I was just on the Wiki page for Inland Empire, and there is a great synopsis on the film. What’s on there is the best thing I have read about that film. The tour has been great. The thing with touring: say you are on vacation…let’s say you are doing an intense vacation. I went to Thailand alone, and there’s a part of you that just wants to go home. I don’t know what it is. I like to be home, but on tour there is a free floating anxiety that says: Go Home. Go Home.

DS: Anywhere, or just outside of the country?

JV: Anywhere. I want to be home in San Francisco, and I really do love being on tour, but there is almost like a homing beacon inside of me that is beeping and it creates a certain amount of anxiety.

DS: I can relate: You and I have moved around a lot, and we have a lot in common. Pranks, for one. David Bowie is another.

JV: Yeah, I saw that you like David Bowie on your MySpace.

DS: When I was in college I listened to him nonstop. Do you have a favorite album of his?

JV: I loved all the things from early to late seventies. Hunky Dory to Low to “Heroes” to Lodger. Low changed my life. The second I got was Hunky Dory, and the third was Diamond Dogs, which is a very underrated album. Then I got Ziggy Stardust and I was like, wow, this is important…this means something. There was tons of music I discovered in the seventh and eighth grade that I discovered, but I don’t love, respect and relate to it as much as I do Bowie. Especially Low…I was just on a panel with Steve Albini about how it has had a lot of impact.

DS: You said seventh and eighth grade. Were you always listening to people like Bowie or bands like the Velvets, or did you have an Eddie Murphy My Girl Wants to Party All the Time phase?

JV: The thing for me that was the uncool music, I had an older brother who was really into prog music, so it was like Gentle Giant and Yes and King Crimson and Genesis. All the new Genesis that was happening at the time was mind-blowing. Phil Collins‘s solo record…we had every single solo record, like the Mike Rutherford solo record.

DS: Do you shun that music now or is it still a part of you?

JV: Oh no, I appreciate all music. I’m an anti-snob. Last night when I was going to sleep I was watching Ocean’s Thirteen on my computer. It’s not like I always need to watch some super-fragmented, fucked-up art movie like Inland Empire. It’s part of how I relate to the audience. We end every night by going out into the audience and playing acoustically, directly, right in front of the audience, six inches away—that is part of my philosophy.

DS: Do you think New York or San Francisco suffers from artistic elitism more?

JV: I think because of the Internet that there is less and less elitism; everyone is into some little superstar on YouTube and everyone can now appreciate now Justin Timberlake. There is no need for factions. There is too much information, and I think the idea has broken down that some people…I mean, when was the last time you met someone who was into ska, or into punk, and they dressed the part? I don’t meet those people anymore.

DS: Everything is fusion now, like cuisine. It’s hard to find a purely French or purely Vietnamese restaurant.

JV: Exactly! When I was in high school there were factions. I remember the guys who listened to Black Flag. They looked the part! Like they were in theater.

DS: You still find some emos.

JV: Yes, I believe it. But even emo kids, compared to their older brethren, are so open-minded. I opened up for Sunny Day Real Estate and Pedro the Lion, and I did not find their fans to be the cliquish people that I feared, because I was never playing or marketed in the emo genre. I would say it’s because of the Internet.

DS: You could clearly create music that is more mainstream pop and be successful with it, but you choose a lot of very personal and political themes for your music. Are you ever tempted to put out a studio album geared toward the charts just to make some cash?

JV: I would say no. I’m definitely a capitalist, I was an econ major and I have no problem with making money, but I made a pact with myself very early on that I was only going to release music that was true to the voices and harmonic things I heard inside of me—that were honestly inside me—and I have never broken that pact. We just pulled two new songs from Emerald City because I didn’t feel they were exactly what I wanted to have on a record. Maybe I’m too stubborn or not capable of it, but I don’t think…part of the equation for me: this is a low stakes game, making indie music. Relative to the world, with the people I grew up with and where they are now and how much money they make. The money in indie music is a low stakes game from a financial perspective. So the one thing you can have as an indie artist is credibility, and when you burn your credibility, you are done, man. You can not recover from that. These years I have been true to myself, that’s all I have.

DS: Do you think Spoon burned their indie credibility for allowing their music to be used in commercials and by making more studio-oriented albums? They are one of my favorite bands, but they have come a long way from A Series of Sneaks and Girls Can Tell.

JV: They have, but no, I don’t think they’ve lost their credibility at all. I know those guys so well, and Brit and Jim are doing exactly the music they want to do. Brit owns his own studio, and they completely control their means of production, and they are very insulated by being on Merge, and I think their new album—and I bought Telephono when it came out—is as good as anything they have done.

DS: Do you think letting your music be used on commercials does not bring the credibility problem it once did? That used to be the line of demarcation–the whole Sting thing–that if you did commercials you sold out.

JV: Five years ago I would have said that it would have bothered me. It doesn’t bother me anymore. The thing is that bands have shrinking options for revenue streams, and sync deals and licensing, it’s like, man, you better be open to that idea. I remember when Spike Lee said, ‘Yeah, I did these Nike commercials, but it allowed me to do these other films that I wanted to make,’ and in some ways there is an article that Of Montreal and Spoon and other bands that have done sync deals have actually insulated themselves further from the difficulties of being a successful independent band, because they have had some income come in that have allowed them to stay put on labels where they are not being pushed around by anyone.
The ultimate problem—sort of like the only philosophical problem is suicide—the only philosophical problem is whether to be assigned to a major label because you are then going to have so much editorial input that it is probably going to really hurt what you are doing.

DS: Do you believe the only philosophical question is whether to commit suicide?

JV: Absolutely. I think the rest is internal chatter and if I logged and tried to counter the internal chatter I have inside my own brain there is no way I could match that.

DS: When you see artists like Pete Doherty or Amy Winehouse out on suicidal binges of drug use, what do you think as a musician? What do you get from what you see them go through in their personal lives and their music?

JV: The thing for me is they are profound iconic figures for me, and I don’t even know their music. I don’t know Winehouse or Doherty’s music, I just know that they are acting a very crucial, mythic part in our culture, and they might be doing it unknowingly.

DS: Glorification of drugs? The rock lifestyle?

JV: More like an out-of-control Id, completely unregulated personal relationships to the world in general. It’s not just drugs, it’s everything. It’s arguing and scratching people’s faces and driving on the wrong side of the road. Those are just the infractions that land them in jail. I think it might be unknowing, but in some ways they are beautiful figures for going that far off the deep end.

DS: As tragic figures?

JV: Yeah, as totally tragic figures. I appreciate that. I take no pleasure in saying that, but I also believe they are important. The figures that go outside—let’s say GG Allin or Penderetsky in the world of classical music—people who are so far outside of the normal boundaries of behavior and communication, it in some way enlarges the size of your landscape, and it’s beautiful. I know it sounds weird to say that, but it is.

DS: They are examples, as well. I recently covered for Wikinews the Iranian President speaking at Columbia and a student named Matt Glick told me that he supported the Iranian President speaking so that he could protest him, that if we don’t give a platform and voice for people, how can we say that they are wrong? I think it’s almost the same thing; they are beautiful as examples of how living a certain way can destroy you, and to look at them and say, “Don’t be that.”

JV: Absolutely, and let me tell you where I’m coming from. I don’t do drugs, I drink maybe three or four times a year. I don’t have any problematic relationship to drugs because there has been a history around me, like probably any musician or creative person, of just blinding array of drug abuse and problems. For me, I am a little bit of a control freak and I don’t have those issues. I just shut those doors. But I also understand and I am very sympathetic to someone who does not shut that door, but goes into that room and stays.

DS: Is it a problem for you to work with people who are using drugs?

JV: I would never work with them. It is a very selfish decision to make and usually those people are total energy vampires and they will take everything they can get from you. Again, this is all in theory…I love that stuff in theory. If Amy Winehouse was my girlfriend, I would probably not be very happy.

DS: Your latest CD is Emerald City and that is an allusion to the compound that we created in Baghdad. How has the current political client affected you in terms of your music?

JV: In some ways, both Pixel Revolt and Emerald City were born out of a recharged and re-energized position of my being….I was so beaten down after the 2000 election and after 9/11 and then the invasion of Iraq, Afghanistan; I was so depleted as a person after all that stuff happened, that I had to write my way out of it. I really had to write political songs because for me it is a way of making sense and processing what is going on. The question I’m asked all the time is do I think is a responsibility of people to write politically and I always say, My God, no. if you’re Morrissey, then you write Morrissey stuff. If you are Dan Bejar and Destroyer, then you are Dan Bejar and you are a fucking genius. Write about whatever it is you want to write about. But to get out of that hole I had to write about that.

DS: There are two times I felt deeply connected to New York City, and that was 9/11 and the re-election of George Bush. The depression of the city was palpable during both. I was in law school during the Iraq War, and then when Hurricane Katrina hit, we watched our countrymen debate the logic of rebuilding one of our most culturally significant cities, as we were funding almost without question the destruction of another country to then rebuild it, which seems less and less likely. Do you find it is difficult to enjoy living in America when you see all of these sorts of things going on, and the sort of arguments we have amongst ourselves as a people?

JV: I would say yes, absolutely, but one thing changed that was very strange: I fell in love with a French girl and the genesis of Emerald City was going through this visa process to get her into the country, which was through the State Department. In the middle of process we had her visa reviewed and everything shifted over to Homeland Security. All of my complicated feelings about this country became even more dour and complicated, because here was Homeland Security mailing me letters and all involved in my love life, and they were grilling my girlfriend in Paris and they were grilling me, and we couldn’t travel because she had a pending visa. In some strange ways the thing that changed everything was that we finally got the visa accepted and she came here. Now she is a Parisian girl, and it goes without saying that she despises America, and she would never have considered moving to America. So she moves here and is asking me almost breathlessly, How can you allow this to happen

DS: –you, John Vanderslice, how can you allow this—

JV: –Me! Yes! So for the first time in my life I wouldn’t say I was defending the country but I was in this very strange position of saying, Listen, not that many people vote and the churches run fucking everything here, man. It’s like if you take out the evangelical Christian you have basically a progressive western European country. That’s all there is to it. But these people don’t vote, poor people don’t vote, there’s a complicated equation of extreme corruption and voter fraud here, and I found myself trying to rattle of all the reasons to her why I am personally not responsible, and it put me in a very interesting position. And then Sarkozy got elected in France and I watched her go through the same horrific thing that we’ve gone through here, and Sarkozy is a nut, man. This guy is a nut.

DS: But he doesn’t compare to George Bush or Dick Cheney. He’s almost a liberal by American standards.

JV: No, because their President doesn’t have much power. It’s interesting because he is a WAPO right-wing and he was very close to Le Pen and he was a card-carrying straight-up Nazi. I view Sarkozy as somewhat of a far-right candidate, especially in the context of French politics. He is dismantling everything. It’s all changing. The school system, the remnants of the socialized medical care system. The thing is he doesn’t have the foreign policy power that Bush does. Bush and Cheney have unprecedented amounts of power, and black budgets…I mean, come on, we’re spending half a trillion dollars in Iraq, and that’s just the money accounted for.

DS: What’s the reaction to you and your music when you play off the coasts?

JV: I would say good…

DS: Have you ever been Dixiechicked?

JV: No! I want to be! I would love to be, because then that means I’m really part of some fiery debate, but I would say there’s a lot of depressed in every single town. You can say Salt Lake City, you can look at what we consider to be conservative cities, and when you play those towns, man, the kids that come out are more or less on the same page and politically active because they are fish out of water.

DS: Depression breeds apathy, and your music seems geared toward anger, trying to wake people from their apathy. Your music is not maudlin and sad, but seems to be an attempt to awaken a spirit, with a self-reflective bent.

JV: That’s the trick. I would say that honestly, when Katrina happened, I thought, “okay, this is a trick to make people so crazy and so angry that they can’t even think. If you were in a community and basically were in a more or less quasi-police state surveillance society with no accountability, where we are pouring untold billions into our infrastructure to protect outside threats against via terrorism, or whatever, and then a natural disaster happens and there is no response. There is an empty response. There is all these ships off the shore that were just out there, just waiting, and nobody came. Michael Brown. It is one of the most insane things I have ever seen in my life.

DS: Is there a feeling in San Francisco that if an earthquake struck, you all would be on your own?

JV: Yes, of course. Part of what happened in New Orleans is that it was a Catholic city, it was a city of sin, it was a black city. And San Francisco? Bush wouldn’t even visit California in the beginning because his numbers were so low. Before Schwarzenegger definitely. I’m totally afraid of the earthquake, and I think everyone is out there. America is in the worst of both worlds: a laissez-fare economy and then the Grover Norquist anti-tax, starve the government until it turns into nothing more than a Argentinian-style government where there are these super rich invisible elite who own everything and there’s no distribution of wealth and nothing that resembles the New Deal, twentieth century embracing of human rights and equality, war against poverty, all of these things. They are trying to kill all that stuff. So, in some ways, it is the worst of both worlds because they are pushing us towards that, and on the same side they have put in a Supreme Court that is so right wing and so fanatically opposed to upholding civil rights, whether it be for foreign fighters…I mean, we are going to see movement with abortion, Miranda rights and stuff that is going to come up on the Court. We’ve tortured so many people who have had no intelligence value that you have to start to look at torture as a symbolic and almost ritualized behavior; you have this…

DS: Organ failure. That’s our baseline…

JV: Yeah, and you have to wonder about how we were torturing people to do nothing more than to send the darkest signal to the world to say, Listen, we are so fucking weird that if you cross the line with us, we are going to be at war with your religion, with your government, and we are going to destroy you.

DS: I interviewed Congressman Tom Tancredo, who is running for President, and he feels we should use as a deterrent against Islam the bombing of the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

JV: You would radicalize the very few people who have not been radicalized, yet, by our actions and beliefs. We know what we’ve done out there, and we are going to paying for this for a long time. When Hezbollah was bombing Israel in that border excursion last year, the Hezbollah fighters were writing the names of battles they fought with the Jews in the Seventh Century on their helmets. This shit is never forgotten.

DS: You read a lot of the stuff that is written about you on blogs and on the Internet. Do you ever respond?

JV: No, and I would say that I read stuff that tends to be . I’ve done interviews that have been solely about film and photography. For some reason hearing myself talk about music, and maybe because I have been talking about it for so long, it’s snoozeville. Most interviews I do are very regimented and they tend to follow a certain line. I understand. If I was them, it’s a 200 word piece and I may have never played that town, in Des Moines or something. But, in general, it’s like…my band mates ask why don’t I read the weeklies when I’m in town, and Google my name. It would be really like looking yourself in the mirror. When you look at yourself in the mirror you are just error-correcting. There must be some sort of hall of mirrors thing that happens when you are completely involved in the Internet conversation about your music, and in some ways I think that I’m very innocently making music, because I don’t make music in any way that has to do with the response to that music. I don’t believe that the response to the music has anything to do with it. This is something I got from John Cage and Marcel Duchamp, I think the perception of the artwork, in some ways, has nothing to do with the artwork, and I think that is a beautiful, glorious and flattering thing to say to the perceiver, the viewer of that artwork. I’ve spent a lot of time looking at Paul Klee‘s drawings, lithographs, watercolors and paintings and when I read his diaries I’m not sure how much of a correlation there is between what his color schemes are denoting and what he is saying and what I am getting out of it. I’m not sure that it matters. Inland Empire is a great example. Lynch basically says, I don’t want to talk about it because I’m going to close doors for the viewer. It’s up to you. It’s not that it’s a riddle or a puzzle. You know how much of your own experience you are putting into the digestion of your own art. That’s not to say that that guy arranges notes in an interesting way, and sings in an interesting way and arranges words in an interesting way, but often, if someone says they really like my music, what I want to say is, That’s cool you focused your attention on that thing, but it does not make me go home and say, Wow, you’re great. My ego is not involved in it.

DS: Often people assume an artist makes an achievement, say wins a Tony or a Grammy or even a Cable Ace Award and people think the artist must feel this lasting sense of accomplishment, but it doesn’t typically happen that way, does it? Often there is some time of elation and satisfaction, but almost immediately the artist is being asked, “Okay, what’s the next thing? What’s next?” and there is an internal pressure to move beyond that achievement and not focus on it.

JV: Oh yeah, exactly. There’s a moment of relief when a mastered record gets back, and then I swear to you that ten minutes after that point I feel there are bigger fish to fry. I grew up listening to classical music, and there is something inside of me that says, Okay, I’ve made six records. Whoop-dee-doo. I grew up listening to Gustav Mahler, and I will never, ever approach what he did.

DS: Do you try?

JV: I love Mahler, but no, his music is too expansive and intellectual, and it’s realized harmonically and compositionally in a way that is five languages beyond me. And that’s okay. I’m very happy to do what I do. How can anyone be so jazzed about making a record when you are up against, shit, five thousand records a week—

DS: —but a lot of it’s crap—

JV: —a lot of it’s crap, but a lot of it is really, really good and doesn’t get the attention it deserves. A lot of it is very good. I’m shocked at some of the stuff I hear. I listen to a lot of music and I am mailed a lot of CDs, and I’m on the web all the time.

DS: I’ve done a lot of photography for Wikipedia and the genesis of it was an attempt to pin down reality, to try to understand a world that I felt had fallen out of my grasp of understanding, because I felt I had no sense of what this world was about anymore. For that, my work is very encyclopedic, and it fit well with Wikipedia. What was the reason you began investing time and effort into photography?

JV: It came from trying to making sense of touring. Touring is incredibly fast and there is so much compressed imagery that comes to you, whether it is the window in the van, or like now, when we are whisking through the Northeast in seven days. Let me tell you, I see a lot of really close people in those seven days. We move a lot, and there is a lot of input coming in. The shows are tremendous and, it is emotionally so overwhelming that you can not log it. You can not keep a file of it. It’s almost like if I take photos while I am doing this, it slows it down or stops it momentarily and orders it. It has made touring less of a blur; concretizes these times. I go back and develop the film, and when I look at the tour I remember things in a very different way. It coalesces. Let’s say I take on fucking photo in Athens, Georgia. That’s really intense. And I tend to take a photo of someone I like, or photos of people I really admire and like.

DS: What bands are working with your studio, Tiny Telephone?

JV: Death Cab for Cutie is going to come back and track their next record there. Right now there is a band called Hello Central that is in there, and they are really good. They’re from L.A. Maids of State was just in there and w:Deerhoof was just in there. Book of Knotts is coming in soon. That will be cool because I think they are going to have Beck sing on a tune. That will be really cool. There’s this band called Jordan from Paris that is starting this week.

DS: Do they approach you, or do you approach them?

JV I would say they approach me. It’s generally word of mouth. We never advertise and it’s very cheap, below market. It’s analog. There’s this self-fulfilling thing that when you’re booked, you stay booked. More bands come in, and they know about it and they keep the business going that way. But it’s totally word of mouth.

Posted in Uncategorized
Aug 21

Google launches Google Mars

Monday, March 13, 2006

If you thought Google Maps, Google Earth and Google Moon was enough, then meet Google Mars.

Google officially launched the new Google Mars yesterday as another add-on to Google Maps. The service offers three different ways to view Mars: elevation, visible landscape, and infrared view. The images come from two different NASA missions, Mars Global Surveyor and 2001 Mars Odyssey, and the data was prepared in collaboration with NASA researchers at Arizona State University.

The color-coded elevation data is a shaded-relief map taken by the Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) on NASA’s Mars Global Surveyor spacecraft. The visible data is made from black and white images taken by the Mars Orbiter Camera (MOC), which is also located onboard the Mars Global Surveyor, and the infrared images were produced by the Thermal Emission Imaging System (THEMIS) on NASA’s Mars Odyssey spacecraft. The THEMIS data is the sharpest map of Mars made so far, as it shows colder areas in darker colors and warmer regions in brighter colors, and as they are infrared images dust and clouds are transparent.

Google has added various bookmarks showing points of interest such as landings of spacecraft, locations of mountains, and craters.

The data is not currently available through Google’s Google Earth client.

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