Wednesday, 24 June 2015

British Screen Icon Richard Attenborough Passes Away, Aged 90

British actor, director and screen legend Lord Richard Attenborough passed away last August, he was 90 years old.

The iconic performer, known for a plethora of memorable film roles over a career spanning an impressive six decades, leaves behind a majestic legacy. What follows is an overview of Attenborough’s film work, both as an actor and a director and, after that, a few words about his contributions outside of cinema.

Beginning his career in the 1940’s, the young actor started out in numerous stage plays before attending The Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), which he would later serve as president. His early film roles included the Noel Coward directed wartime film ‘In Which We Serve’ (1942), which starred John Mills, ‘A Matter of Life and Death’ starring David Niven (1946) and the original film version of ‘London Belongs To Me’ with Alastair Sim (1948).

Lord Attenborough’s big break came in 1947, when he starred as unscrupulous gang leader Pinkie Brown in the film adaptation of Graham Greene’s novel ‘Brighton Rock’ (which also stars future ‘Doctor Who’ actor William Hartnell). Attenborough’s portrayal was nothing short of mesmerizing in its coldness and cruelty and, by 1949, he was considered to be among the most popular British actors of the day.

Throughout the 1950’s, Attenborough starred in war films such as ‘Dunkirk’ â€" again with John Mills (1958) and comedies like ‘Private’s Progress’ (1956), he also dazzled as Stoker Snipe in the 1950 film adaptation of ‘Morning Departure’, a highly moving piece about a submarine crew stranded at the bottom of the sea, which also starred John Mills.

In 1960, Attenborough portrayed factory worker Tom Curtis in ‘The Angry Silence’, a British ‘kitchen sink’ movie that saw his character refuse to join his fellow workers on strike as himself and his family dealt with the consequences. He also appeared in the classic crime drama ‘The League of Gentleman’ in the same year.

In 1963, Attenborough starred in ‘The Great Escape’ playing Bartlett ‘Big X’ alongside an all-star cast that included Steve McQueen, James Garner, Donald Pleasence, Charles Bronson and James Coburn.

1965’s Oscar nominated ‘The Flight Of The Phoenix’ saw him playing alongside Hollywood screen legend James Stewart. In 1967, Attenborough portrayed Albert Blossom in the musical film ‘Doctor Dolittle’ and, in 1969, he directed his first feature, the musical ‘Oh, What A Lovely War!’

In 1971, Attenborough performed one of his most memorable roles as the serial killer John Christie, acting alongside John Hurt and Judy Geeson in ‘10 Rillington Place’. He was reluctant to take the part at first, but appears to have done so in order to take a stand against capital punishment.

In 1975, he starred alongside John Wayne in ‘Brannigan’. In 1977, he directed ‘A Bridge Too Far’, a war story that starred Sean Connery, Michael Caine, Gene Hackman, James Caan and Anthony Hopkins.

In 1981, Attenborough completed a true labour of love and his most noted work as a director, the epic biopic ‘Gandhi’, starring Ben Kingsley. The film earned Attenborough two Academy Awards, one for directing and one for producing. In 1987, he directed Denzel Washington in ‘Cry Freedom’, which celebrated the life of anti-Apartheid activist Steve Biko. He would next produce and direct a biopic in 1992, directing Robert Downey, Jr, Marissa Tomei, Dan Akroyd and Geraldine Chaplin in ‘Chaplin’, a film depicting the life of influential movie star Charlie Chaplin.

Attenborough’s two most famous late career roles occurred within one year of each other. In 1993, he portrayed impresario John Hammond in Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jurassic Park’ (a role he would reprise in the 1997 sequel ‘The Lost World: Jurassic Park’) and in 1994, he joyously appeared as Father Christmas in the re-make of ‘Miracle on 34th Street’, both roles won Attenborough critical acclaim, as well as an entire generation of new fans. In 1998, he appeared as Baron William Cecil in ‘Elizabeth’, an historical drama also starring Cate Blanchett, Christopher Eccleston and Geoffrey Rush, which focussed on the reign of Queen Elizabeth I.

Attenborough directed his last film, ‘Closing The Ring’ in 2007 and gave his final acting performance in 2004, lending his voice to the film ‘Tres En El Camino’.

Away from acting, Lord Attenborough was active in politics; he was appointed as a life peer (as Baron Attenborough) in 1993 and chose to sit on the Labour party benches at The House of Lords. He was a vocal opponent of South African apartheid and a lifelong advocate of racial equality. In 1983, he was awarded the Martin Luther King, Jr. Non-violence Peace Prize by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Centre For Non-violent Social Change.

A passionate advocate of education at all levels, Attenborough served as Chancellor of the University of Sussex for 10 years (from 1998 until 2008) and he was a patron of University College, Leicester, where his father had served as principal.

He also worked tirelessly on behalf of several charities, including The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, The Richard Attenborough Fellowship Fund (which also aims to fund research into neuromuscular conditions) and UNICEF, for whom he served as Goodwill Ambassador and donated many of the proceeds from ‘Gandhi’ to. From ‘Gandhi’ alone, he raised in excess of a Million Dollars for the charity.

Lord Attenborough received a CBE (Commander of The British Empire) in 1967 and was fully knighted in 1976. From 1969 â€" 1982, Attenborough, a dedicated football fan, served as the director of Chelsea Football Club. Between 1993 and 2008, he was also the club’s Honorary Vice President.

Richard Attenborough’s career was truly groundbreaking in every sense of the word. He was unquestionably one of the greatest actors of all time as well as a man of moral courage and noble spirit. As an artist, philanthropist, educator and man of conscience, this world will be much poorer without him.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

BIG Changes Announced By DC Comics...Again

When veteran comic book publisher DC Entertainment announced that it was ending its entire line of comic books and starting everything again at Issue 1, the fans went crazy.

Some comics had been running, there or thereabouts uninterrupted, for 700 issues or more â€" and now it seemed that it was all over. Still, in 2011, when DC announced this major upheaval, naming their initiative ‘The New 52’, the first few issues actually sold rather well.

DC had started out by promising a company-wide ‘reboot’ of all their characters/stories, but then baulked at using the term after fan outcry became too great. Instead, it became seen as a ‘soft reboot’, or a ‘revamp’, which left fans â€" and creators too, evidently â€" scratching their collective heads regarding which major storyline events had still happened in the new timeline and which hadn’t.

Many fans, for their part, were upset that Frank Miller David Mazzuccelli’s ‘Batman: Year One’ was no longer the Bat’s official origin story, replaced instead by the gruelling, overlong ‘Zero Year’. In fact, fans were further annoyed when other classic texts such as Alan Moore Brian Bolland’s ‘The Killing Joke’ and Jeph Loeb Tim Sale’s ‘The Long Halloween’ also departed from Bat-continuity.

Elsewhere in the DCU, Superman was no longer after Lois Lane, instead striking up a romance with Wonder Woman. Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl â€" latterly the company’s only major disabled character as Oracle - was miraculously able to walk again and The Flash Mk III, AKA Wally West, was simply erased from continuity altogether.

As time went on, we learned that The Joker was probably immortal, that Dick Grayson gave up his crime fighting identity of Nightwing to become a spy, that Green Arrow was somehow a kid again and that Catwoman and Batman enjoyed regular ‘on the job’ sex. In costume.

Of course, there were good stories, too, but as far as many fans were concerned, the end result was, to borrow a line from Red Dwarf’s Kryten “garbled, confusing and quite frankly duller than an in-flight magazine produced by air Belgium”.

Now, just four years later, sales have apparently slumped again, so DC’s reaction has been to plan another, still more drastic, reboot of the company’s characters.

The starting gun will be a story called ‘Convergence’ and it is set to officially begin next month. After that, the company will take a two-month hiatus and return with a new and completely rebooted line. Again.

Well, you know what they say, if at first you don’t succeed...

DC has already teased a ‘new look’ for Superman and Wonder Woman, designs that, personally, I’m hoping are April fools’ jokes. Superman will now be fighting crime and injustice with a buzzcut hairdo and a jeans-and-t-shirt ensemble that makes him look like, to quote one commenter “a gym douche” and Wonder Woman now has a 90’s style armoured battlesuit.

By working within the continuity established by The New 52, but moving it to the ‘back burner’ as it were, DC Co-Publisher Dan DiDio hopes that “In this new era of storytelling, story will trump continuity as we continue to empower creators to tell the best stories in the industry.”

Launching 24 new number 1 issues in June (‘The Poor 24?’, ‘Less Is More, 24?’ â€" I’m just trying to come up with an angle for this), DC Entertainment is hoping to capture a funnier, sunnier feel with some of its characters. 25 successful series will be kept, but tweaked with new creative teams and whatnot.

Sadly, at least as far as online discussion is concerned, the overall feel is not one of ‘glorious new rebirth’ as much as it is ‘here we go again’. The image in the eyes of this long-time fan (and former ‘New 52’ apologist) is one of DC hitting the panic button in yet another sad attempt to appear ‘modern’ and ‘contemporary’ whilst actually revealing itself as stodgy and out of touch in the process.

Here’s Co-Publisher Jim Lee, usually one of the sharpest minds in comics, essentially blaming the audience for the failure of ‘The New 52’...

“It was really weird when we launched the New 52 -- there were so many fans focused on, "What happened between the five years, when this character showed up, and this character" -- it almost overshadowed what the original intent of it was, which was basically to put a fresh face on the universe, boldly go forward, tell new stories. This is an attempt to refocus the line, focus on story, focus on producing great stories that become canon, and letting the creators have some freedom to tell those stories, without necessarily being confined by the restriction of "continuity."

Of course, comic book creators have been working with continuity, in one form or another, for 75 years or more, so it actually just seems to be the current crop (and thus, a tiny percentage overall) of creators who find it to be a “restriction”. But I digress, here’s more from DC’s Co-Publisher.

“I'll just use one example -- there was a tweet I saw, someone complaining about "Throne of Atlantis," the DVD adaptation of the comic book. The complaint was, "Superman and Wonder Woman don't breathe underwater. You failed." Maybe the continuity proves that right, I don't know -- I'm pretty sure I've put Superman under water, and he was fine, and he's been to outer space, same with Wonder Woman -- when those things start overshadowing the story, and the emotional beats, I think there's something wrong with what's going on in the marketplace. That's my perspective”.



One might argue that being DC’s Co-Publisher, it’s actually his job to know everything there is to know about Superman, including whether or not he can breathe underwater, but that’s really just the tip of the iceberg here.

Anyway, love the idea or hate it (and I think I’ve made my own feelings pretty clear on the subject), DC’s new line will be launching in June. Make of it what you will.

For many fans, (including myself) the reaction is not one of excitement and glee, but is, in fact, more akin to Seinfeld’s J. Peterman being confronted with ‘The Urban Sombrero’.

“The horror...The horror”

Monday, 15 June 2015

Clinton Portrait Shows Famous Liar

Presidential portrait artist Nelson Shanks has revealed that he incorporated a hidden message into his painting of former US President Bill Clinton.

In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily News, the artist told the world (well, Philadelphia) that a curiously long shadow, apparently cast by the plant next to the Prez, was, in fact, cast by a mannequin in a blue dress that he had in his studio at the time he painted the portrait.

According to Mr. Shanks, he did this as an allusion to Clinton’s famous affair with White House Intern Monica Lewinski, the woman who famously, um, relieved The President’s stress levels - before using her highly prized oral skills to catapult herself into a career in shit telly, low-level celebrity and (I kid you not) fashion design.

“Have the same handbag that I put down on the Oval Office couch in order to sexually service our nation’s president! Just $9.99” the ad copy (probably) says, as the glass ceiling lowers to the point that it actually constricts the breathing of female professionals the world over.

The worst of it was that, although I’ll grant you that Monika was better looking than Hillary, she was still a bit of a minger.

Aaaaaanyway, getting back to the point somewhat, the inclusion of the blue dress hints at the DNA evidence (and I flat-out am not saying what kind of ‘evidence’, but I’ll pretend it was ‘spit’. Hell, maybe it was!) that was famously left on Lewinski’s blue dress. Basically, Shanks was trying to make a point about “the shadow” that Clinton cast on the office of President. Or something.

Eventually, after famously denying that he had enjoyed “sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinski” (possibly as much ashamed of her slightly minging appearance as the fact that he’d lied to the Nation), Clinton was forced to fess up, and America’s right-wing press had a field day.

Therefore, according to Mr. Shanks, Bill Clinton is “probably the most famous liar of all time”.

Apparently, Mr. Shanks was knocked quite severely on the head and was completely unconscious for the 8 f*cking years that George W. Bush treated America (and the rest of the world) like his own personal nymphomaniac intern.



During the course of this era of idiocy, Bush openly lied about “securing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq” and then used said disinformation to lead an illegal invasion/occupation of another country.

Oh yeah, he also rigged an election, too (probably).

Now, perhaps I should cut Mr. Shanks some slack, I mean, after all, during Bush’s reign of terror, Dubya could have been shagging every White House intern in the damned building five times a night, but nobody could tell because he was there were too many bombs whizzing about in a war that cost TWO TRILLION DOLLARS and resulted in 174,000 dead Iraqis (with 123,000 of that number being innocent civilians whose only crime was that they lived in Iraq), just so he could earn a bit of extra bank for his dad’s golf buddies.

So yeah, nicely done.

Now, I’m not defending Clinton for scoring a BJ outside the confines of his marriage (however, if even half the stuff I’ve heard about marriage is true, then that’s the only place he was likely to find one!), I’m just saying that Clinton’s ‘dark shadow’ concerned an extra marital affair, the worst consequence of which was the rise of Monica Lewinski as a quasi-celebrity â€" his wife didn’t even chuck him over it. Whereas, if we’re playing the ‘blame game’ here, his successor’s portrait should feature him snorting cocaine off of a Guantanamo prisoner and wiping his arse with the US flag, whilst at the same time dancing naked atop an oil tower crudely fashioned from hundreds of dead Iraqi civilians. That’s all.

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Digital radio – which way will South Africa go?

Radio technology has seen very little innovation and development since FM stereo was introduced in the 1960s.  It was the sound revolution of the time, but little has happened since FM took over local broadcasting. It caused the demise of AM stations and the shortwave services of the SABC and LM radio.

The Southern Africa Digital Broadcasting Association (SADIBA) issued a report in 2002 in which it said “to remain commercial attractive, radio as a medium will have to deliver improved quality service, greater choice, interactivity and multi-media. Digital radio technologies must rise to the challenge and deliver the multimedia radio of the future.”

In the document SADIBA made recommendations on the critical aspects to be considered in order to allow for the introduction of digital radio in South Africa.   Little seems to have happened since 2002 until last month when the subject was extensively discussed at the SADIBA Conference where the 2002 paper re-emerged and digital radio mondiale (DRM), one of the technologies, came into the limelight with international speakers and a demonstration of DRM by the BBC transmitting DRM from their  shortwave relay station on Ascension Island with CD clarity â€" no noise, no interference.

Discussing the advantages of DRM, Ruxandra Obreja, head of digital radio development at the BBC world service and chairman of the DRM Consortium said that DRM and DRM+ have proved to be the obvious choice for digital radio. But not everyone would agree with that.

Let us consider some of the various digital radio technologies available.

IDAB is based on in-band-on channel (IBOC) technology which looks at inserting the digital signal within the existing FM and AM channels without affecting other FM or AM transmissions.  FM IBOC is designed to operate in a 200 kHz FM channel allocation. It would have been very impractical to introduce FM IBOC into South Africa without re-engineering the current  FM frequency plan based on 100 kHz channel.

According to the 2002 SADIBA paper the most established of all the digital radio technologies is the Eureka 147 system.  The technology is based on an open standard defined in a range of the European Telecommunications Standards Institute (ETSI) documents. But it requires different frequency bands which in itself is problematic given the scarcity of spectrum oin the UHF bands which are demanded by satellite communication channels (VSat) and wireless broadband. The so-called digital dividend will also not provide the required spectrum as that process will take a long time to materialise.

Obreja believes that DRM and DRM+ is the obvious solution. DRM,  the acronym for digital radio mondiale, is promoted by a consortium of broadcasters, manufactures’ research institutes and stakeholders that have endeavoured to work toward a world-standard for digital broadcasting in the frequencies initial below 30 MHz, operating on the AM and shortwave broadcasting bands.  Since the original development engineers have moved ahead and DRM+ emerged, the name applied to the DRM standard when used on the VHF frequencies.

“The initiative to extend DRM began with a vote at the 2005 General Assembly to begin the design, verification and testing of the parameters needed to allow DRM to operate in the VHF broadcasting bands between; primarily band I and band II,” said Obteja.

The design process began shortly afterwards and key decisions were made to ensure that the extension completely shared the successful design philosophy of DRM â€" it is “DRM but at higher frequencies”.



Its spectrum usage parameters are determined from the internationally agreed norms in the FM band (88 to 108 MHz). Therefore it has an occupied bandwidth of 96 kHz and a frequency grid of 100 kHz.

DRM+ provides bit rates from 35 kbps to 185 kbps at SNRs from 2 dB to 14dB and, like DRM, permits up to four services. It is therefore a flexible solution allowing single or small numbers of audio services to be broadcast together.

During the process of gaining endorsement from the ITU for DRM’s extension to the VHF bands, test results from various field trials conducted around the world were submitted.  One of the interesting trials was carried out in December 2011 by Vatican Radio carrying out broadcasting tests of DRM+1 in the VHF band II at 103, MHz. The aim of the tests was to verify the performance of DRM+ in a difficult interference scenario such as the FM VHF band II in Rome and to check the compatibility of the digital technology with existing antenna arrays having complex RF coupling systems such as the one located in the Vatican. The frequency used was assigned to the Vatican in the GE84 Agreement and was chosen for two main reasons: it is not used during a few timeslots in the morning and it suffers from some strong interference coming from stations operating at 103,7 MHz and 104,00 MHz located close to Rome. The tests were carried out taking into account the normal programme schedule. During the tests the digital transmitter was connected to the antenna feeder via a changeover, leaving the analogue transmitter in stand-by. The antenna array is a complex system: four FM transmitters at different power levels share the same antenna with elliptical polarisation and omni-directional horizontal radiation pattern. The results were great. Acceptable stereo coverage under mobile reception conditions has been verified in areas where predicted field strength is comparable with 44 dBmV/m and interference is negligible. Using the most robust configuration for DRM+, it was possible to achieve better coverage in full stereo  than an analogue FM signal; the overall subjective listening experience was better than that of FM interfered with by splashes coming from adjacent stations.

With South Africa’s poor performance in changing from analogue to digital TV, it may be some time before government will applies its mind to take a decision on digital sound radio. The first step have however been taken by commercial enterprises.  Pulpit Radio is conducting a DRM pilot from their transmitting station  at  Kameeldrift near Pretoria. The 50 kW transmitter was installed by Broadcom International and made history with the first DRM audio broadcast in the Southern African region on 1440 kHz AM. “The results were very good. The station was received in Botswane some 400 km away with CD quality audio,” Obreja said.

One of the issue is however the availability of receivers but Ruxandra Obreja said that experience from elsewhere where DRM was introduced local industry began manufacturing. “This will be a great opportunity to grow South Africa’s electronic manufacturing industry.”

There is software available to decode the DRM signals using a sound card and a dongle is under development that can be used on a laptop or even other devices that have a USB port.

With DRM, the use of medium and shortwave will open up many new radio channels. Each DRM channel can carry three radio programmes and one data channel requiring very narrow bandwidth of less than 5 kHz. Another advantage is that the system is also more energy efficient.

It is very true that we’ve not seen much innovation in the two way radio industry, Here we have seen the Digital revolution in the past few years, but it is far more complex in Africa. Larger coverage area and less technological advancement. You can find the original news story on this website.

Friday, 5 June 2015

Now Hear This

Advances in circuitry and Bluetooth have made hearing-aid alternatives cheaper and more powerful 

One night in June 2010, New York composer Richard Einhorn went to bed in a motel feeling stuffy and woke up almost completely deaf. At the time, Einhorn, who wrote the oratorio Voices of Light, had limited ways to deal with his nightmare condition, known as sudden sensorineural hearing loss. He visited an audiologist and bought a hearing aid for $3,000. (His insurance plan, like most, didn’t cover it). Unhappy with the expense and the limits of the earpiece’s technology, which struggled to adapt to different noise levels, Einhorn began searching for alternative gadgets that could restore more of his hearing for less money.

Today, he has a backpack full of them. To supplement his old-school hearing aid, he favours a $350 iPhone-linked earpiece made by Sound World Solutions, a hearing-h ardware maker in Illinois, for whom he’s begun to consult. With the Sound World device on, he can amplify phone calls and streaming music as well as his surroundings. A third, $500 earpiece was custom-made by Ultimate Ears in California, to help him detect a wider range of musical tones while composing. For restaurants and theatres, he has a $45 directional microphone that pairs with a $5 app to isolate desired voices. And for especially cacophonous places, he has spare $700 microphones, made by Etymotic Research in Illinois, that he can strap to companions.

Einhorn credits the audio patchwork with saving his career and his life. “It’s incredible”, he says over lunch in a busy restaurant, as he toggles the proper setting on his phone.

The Bluetooth-connected earpieces aren’t classified as hearing aids by the US Food and Drug Administration. They’re called personal sound amplification products, or PSAPs. Basic versions of such devices have existed for more than a decade in lonely RadioShack aisles and a handful of other places. But in the past 18 months, advances in circuitry and low-energy Bluetooth transmission have helped developers radically improve the designs to make high-quality, long-lasting alternatives to hearing aids while keeping prices at a fraction of the industry standard.

Whatever regulators or insurers call them, PSAP manufacturers are angling to expand the $6 billion global market for hearing technology. Largely due to the cost, 75 per cent of the 34 million Americans with hearing loss don’t use aids, says David Kirkwood, the editor of industry blog Hearing Health Technology Matters. “A lot of people will continue to pay for traditional hearing aids,” he says. “But there are now inexpensive, easy-to-get alternatives.”



Part of the reason PSAPs are cheap is that they’re unregulated. Hearing aid fittings and audiological calibrations account for much of the cost of aids from the big six makersâ€"Siemens, Sonova, Starkey Hearing Technologies, William Demant, GN ReSound, and Widex. A midlevel pair that retails for $4,400 costs about $440 to manufacture, according to AARP. Research and development spending is also a factor: Unlike the free Bluetooth standard used by upstarts such as Sound World, oldschool hearing aids run on proprietary signal processing and transmission technology. Siemens, Sonova, and Widex declined to comment; GN ReSound, Starkey, and William Demant didn’t respond to requests for comment.

Still, being kept out of doctors’ offices has been a huge problem for PSAP makers, says Venkat Rajan, who tracks medical devices for researcher Frost Sullivan. While the size of the market can be difficult to gauge given the lack of regulation, anecdotal evidence suggests sales have been soft, he says. It doesn’t help that, according to industry journal the Hearing Review, the average American buying a hearing aid is 71 years old. “Trying to find that customer base has been difficult,” Rajan says.

The origin of this article can be found here, why are hearing aids so expensive, it is a old technology! In 2011 10 million people had hearing loss and it's expected that 14 and a half people will be suffering. This is a market that is being exploited.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Microsoft Co-Founder Discovers Last Resting Place Of Legendary Japanese Warship

More than 70 years after American forces sank it, the legendary Japanese battleship Musashi has been discovered resting on the seafloor at a depth of 3,280 feet (1KM) below the water’s surface.

The expedition, headed up by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, discovered the wreck of the Musashi off the coast of The Philippines.

Allen’s private yacht, the 414-foot-long (125 meters) M/Y Octopus located the wreck in the Sibuyan Sea earlier this month, but the team has declined to offer details regarding the ship’s exact location.

Mr. Allen is known to have been fascinated by the riddle of the lost battleship and has been searching for its final resting place for 8 years.

The Mushashi met its end during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, and it is thought that over a thousand men, almost half of the ships 2,399-strong crew compliment was killed during the sinking.

The Musashi is a well-known battleship of the era because it was considered to be one of the largest â€"and most technologically advanced- warships ever built at the time. The Musashi was 862 feet long and weighed in the region of 66,225 metric tonnes. However, despite her immense size and reliable eyewitness accounts of her sinking, the precise location of the wreck remained unknown for over 7 decades.

The Musashi’s sister ship, The Yamato, met its end in 1945. The wreck was lost until the 1980’s, when shipwreck hunters discovered her remains 180 miles southwest of Kyushu. The ship was split in two and was found at a depth of 1,120 feet (340 m).

Some underwater footage of the Musashi has been released to the public already. The footage reveals the catapult system once used to launch planes, a 15-ton anchor and the turret from a naval gun.

The ship took her name from the famous Japanese samurai, philosopher and artist Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi was known for his psychological approach to duelling, as well as his unorthodox fighting style. His ‘Book of Five Rings’ (Go Rin No Sho) is considered a classic text on the subject of conflicts and personal discipline.

Musashi made his first kill at just 13 and won his most famous bout by killing the renowned samurai Sasaki Kojiro on the island of Funajima (using a modified oar that he had taken from the boat that carried him to the island). He is the founder of the Niten Ichi-ryu (‘the school of the strategy of two heavens as one’ â€" loose translation) School of swordsmanship. Musashi partook in around sixty duels, many of then to the death. He retired undefeated and died in 1645, probably from cancer.

Returning to the present, a statement on Paul Allen’s website says that, by discovering the legendary battleship, his team hopes to “bring closure to the families of those lost”.

Mr. Allen has further pledged that he and his team plan to work closely with the Japanese government in order to ensure that the wreck of The Musashi is treated "respectfully and in accordance with Japanese traditions."

Did Someone Say Walkie Talkie Earpiece?

Gone are the days of having to actually hold a walkie talkie while using it, thank goodness. Today’s world is one of convenience and I am so glad that it has translated over to walkie talkies in the form of an earpiece. When everyone in your vicinity can hear what your conversation is about, or hear other conversations that just happen to be on the same station as you, it can get annoying. Not just when I get those side glances when the person “calling” speaks there mind, but it must be pretty aggravating for those having to hear my (sometimes) loud conversations, but not anymore! walkie talkies aren’t just something I can benefit from, but my family can too (kids love to play with the things, but the Two Way Radios help parents to keep a check on them).

Although walkie talkies can be used on a daily basis for different things, I use mine primarily at work. My best friend, and partner on the job, takes his on family vacations so that he and his wife can keep up with everyone. Sure, cell phones are all the rage, but when you are out relaxing on the beach or snowboarding down a mountain, who wants to keep up with a phone? Just stick that little earpiece in and take off. Plus the kids, and the elderly parents, can all use them with ease.

Like I said, I use mine mostly at work. I need my hands to help my customers, so I do not have the extra hands to fiddle with a phone or the whole 2 Way Radio. Also, they help to keep sensitive information private. The speaker volume is easy to manoeuvre and the mic picks up words without getting all the background sounds. If the weather is nice, the walkie talkie earpiece is great to wear while on the motorcycle. The earpiece fits comfortably under my helmet, so if an emergency signal is sounded from work, I can still get it. This is also great for when my husband and I go on motorcycle road trips. We can always easily talk to one another while always keeping both eyes on the road.



In addition to the ways I use the walkie talkie now, kids seem to really love these things. My partner’s kids love to play on them around the house, but also during games of paintball and airsoft when they need to covertly communicate with other kids on their team. the walkie talkie earpiece is also convenient if your kids ever venture off on their own. For example, my parents owned horses when I was a kid. They were always paranoid about my sister and I off riding horses throughout their land with no one around to help us if something went wrong. Thankfully, we had walkie talkies so we could radio them periodically to let them know we were fine and having fun. This situation could also apply to kids running around the neighborhood or out camping in the yard.

The good thing, technologically speaking, about 2 Way Radios is that they have been around for many years, and tech teams have worked to make them all the better. No longer do they just reach a couple of feet, but many miles depending on which set you get and the purpose of them. The new earpieces are amazingly convenient and easy to use, at a low cost. How you will be using a walkie talkie is something that you should keep in mind when looking for purchase one and the same goes for the earpiece. Although many can be used for multiple purposes, some 2 Way Radios work better further distances than others. Along the same line, some earpieces work better to keep out background noises (if you are on a motorcycle, per say) and some are more comfortable under a helmet. It is all about how you are going to use them, but they are all convenient and fun to use!

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Can constantly wearing headphones cause baldness?

No, wearing headphones, no matter how often you do it, will not cause hair loss.

This idea is tied in to the same popularly held falsehood that states that constantly wearing a hat can cause hair loss (and even premature baldness). This is, of course, completely untrue.

Here, from Health Central.com, is a particularly good rebuttal to this old wives' tale, it deals with a case study of a man named Mark.

“One of the myths surrounding hair loss is that wearing hats will cause or contribute to premature baldness. Fortunately, for men like Mark, this is not true. There is no scientific research that shows wearing a hat contributes to hair loss. In order for a hat to cause hair loss, it would need to be tight enough to cut off circulation to the hair follicles”.  

However, you may wonder why there is hair in your hat when you take it off (and sometimes rather a lot of it)? Well, according to Health Central,

“One of the reasons many people believe that hats cause hair loss is because of the amount of hair left inside a hat when you take it off. Whenever you see this, you might worry that your hair is quickly falling out. But we lose hair every day, as much as 80 to 100 strands daily. Usually, you will see this as you comb and brush your hair or when you shower. However, your hats may catch some of this hair and as it builds up over time, it may seem as if there is a lot of hair in your hat”

We suspect it also has to do with the psychological reactions to natural conditions like male pattern baldness (or androgenetic alopecia). For example, the person believes that there must be an outside factor causing his hair loss, because it can't be that he is simply going bald for no visible reason. Our hypothetical man tells himself that he's strong, he's virile and he's still a young man â€" he can't possibly be going bald, there must be some other reason for it. Hair loss can be quite traumatic and damaging to a person's self image and baldness is often (wrongly) associated with getting older and less attractive.

In fact, the statistics concerning alopecia are actually quite alarming.

40% of American men experience hair loss by the age of 45, while 65% encounter this problem by age 60 and by age 85, a whopping 80% of American men will have nothing left to comb over. They can't all be wearing headsets.

There are, however, some things that are proven to cause both hair loss and baldness. The following things can cause hair loss:



  • Stress.


  • Hormonal issues like hypo-thyroidism.


  • The side effects of certain medications.


  • Wearing tight hairstyles like pigtails or cornrows.


  • Some chemicals found in various hair products (e.g. permanents or relaxers).


  • Fungal infections.




To date, we don't think anyone has ever gone bald from wearing headphones (although we certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility that many a balding person has blamed it on them!)



If you are worried about losing your hair, a good piece of advice is to look at your grandfather. Why? Well, before we sign off, here is a final piece from Health Central.

“According to an article in ScienceDaily, the gene that is sometimes responsible for male baldness is inherited from the mother because this particular gene is found on the X chromosome. For men whose fathers became bald, this could be good news. It seems you should look to your grandfather, on your mother's side, to find out if you have a higher risk of baldness due to genetics”.

Monday, 1 June 2015

In the Early Years: Technology improved for Oneonta police in 1935

Criminals in 1935 would not find Oneonta to be a “pushover” town when it came to law enforcement.

“The Oneonta Police department is preparing to meet the modern gangster on even ground,” The Oneonta Star reported on Monday, Jan. 21, that year. “In the near future, Chief Frank N. Horton announced yesterday, the department will be equipped with a sub-machine gun and a two-way radio-telephone service.”

 These were state-of-the-art technology upgrades for the time and Oneonta appeared to be proud of them, approved by Common Council in the 1935 budget and said to “bring Oneonta’s Police department on a par with other cities in the state, and will materially aid in preventing crime.”


Officers were ready to be trained to use the machine gun, which could fire a 50-shot drum in three seconds, a rate of 800 shots per minute. It weighed nine pounds loaded, so the weapon could be used with one hand like an ordinary revolver for single-shot fire.

To the best of my knowledge, there was never a time or crime in that era that required such firepower in Oneonta. The other new crime fighting tool, the two-way radio, was handy and useful.

By April, the radio equipment had arrived and been installed at police headquarters (then found at the Oneonta Municipal Building, today’s 242 Main St.), as well as the two “prowl” cars used on the streets. Tests were made all over the city and outside the limits, and all transmissions were strong and clear.

Prior to this new technology, The Star reported that officers had to watch for a red light at the top of the municipal building, indicating an emergency was in progress. Instead of awaiting the arrival of a prowl car to pick up the emergency information at headquarters and go, officers could now be dispatched and head to the scene immediately.

Another advance in police work in Oneonta came in March 1935. The department sought supplies used for fingerprinting individuals who wanted to have their fingerprints on file for personal identification purposes.

“Several months ago the department of Justice advocated national fingerprinting,” said M.L. Thomas, a fingerprint expert in the department. “Many Oneontans responded and their records are now on file at Washington, D.C.” It appears the program was tried earlier and was now becoming a permanent part of Oneonta’s police work.

Outreach to young people was part of crime prevention in 1935, just as it is today. On Thursday, Feb. 14, Police Attorney Joseph P. Molinari was a guest speaker at Oneonta High School.

“Crime does not pay and the life of a gangster is short,” Molinari told the students, himself a 1919 graduate of OHS. He pointed out the short careers of John Dillinger, “Pretty Boy” Floyd and “Baby Face” Nelson, stating that “these criminals could never have enjoyed life on their ill-gotten gains, as their luck could not go on forever. In the end they were killed and society was avenged.”

Molinari was in his early career at the time in Oneonta. It was only about a month later, Thursday, March 7, when Molinari announced he was seeking the post of Otsego County district attorney, a job he was elected to. In 1943, Molinari became Otsego County judge, and in 1951 New York’s Sixth Judicial District Supreme Court justice.

While police work was becoming more high-tech in 1935, the routine tasks still needed to be done, which many area residents of 2015 might identify with.

“Stop does not mean slow,” Chief Horton declared on March 25 while announcing that motorists must observe the various stop signs about the city. Police opened a campaign that day to compel motorists to observe the signs and had issued four summonses to drivers failing to stop. Those drivers were set to appear before Judge Frank C. Huntington in city court.

Interestingly, the signs were triangular in shape and made of iron, but the article in The Star didn’t tell what the color was at the time.

On Monday: The region went in front of the cameras for production of “Susquehanna Stories.”

Mark Simonson is Historian of Oneonta City, Twice a week he writes for the thedailystar.com, including this article. What he outlines in this article is more about Two way radios, but also early 20th century crime prevention techniques.