How hot is hot?

I’ve just wrapped up a business article on the Middle East and came across this piece of trivia while researching it. The hottest temperature recorded on earth was in El Azizia in 1922, on the northern part of the African continent.

Apparently on a Tuesday afternoon in September, scientists recorded ground temperatures of 136° F/57.8° C. That’s seriously hot.

Just thought you’d be interested.

Some nice video of Nikko

A friend of mine shot and posted this very beautiful piece of video on vimeo. It’s of the mountain town of Nikko in Japan, a famous tourist attraction a few hours north of Tokyo. I go there a fair bit when I’m visiting that country as it serves as a sort of antidote to the concrete modernity of Tokyo itself.

It’s also possible to just get lost in the woods and hear nothing but birds and insects, and know you’re not in a city park surrounded by Starbucks outlets and high speed trains.

Thanks Roger!

You’d have to be insane

I’m researching a story on skiing at the moment, and came across this video of Corbet’s Couloir in North America on youtube. This is a crevice beloved by lunatics as it appears to be bottomless until the point where you jump off it. What I want to know is who figured that out for the first time? It’s not related to my subject matter directly, but holy crap, check this out:

You’d have to be totally insane to do this. It’s like watching some kind of human/lemming cross breeding experiment. I’ve been skiing exactly once and was shocked at just how dangerous standing still on a flat surface is, let alone jumping off cliffs. Insane.

Book review: Never suck a dead man’s hand

Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand. By Dana Kollmann, Merlin, €13
Published Sunday, September 07, 2008 in The Sunday Business Post

With CSI and Cold Case among the most popular shows on TV, the public’s voracious appetite for police procedural stories shows no signs of abating. We seem to be endlessly fascinated with what goes on behind the police tape at the scene of a crime, but where once the detective was the hero, today it’s crime scene investigators who hog the fictional limelight.

Except real life isn’t like TV. In Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand, veteran crime scene investigator Dana Kollmann shares the story of her ten year stint in Baltimore as the person the cops call to asses crime scenes before the bodies are taken away and the blood is hosed off the footpath.

Kollmann’s book is extremely entertaining, but not for the faint hearted or weak stomached. It’s got car-crash appeal — you don’t want to look but somehow can’t quite stop yourself. Written in the form of a memoir, the book gives the reader a fascinating look behind the scenes, giving an insight not just into the day to day techniques used by forensic investigators but also into the mindset necessary to sustain normality in the face of this type of day to day horror.

Unlike the characters in the TV shows Kollmann has been there, and she wants you to know that reality is not just stranger than fiction, it’s frequently ickier as well. From collecting tissue samples from decomposing bodies to dealing with a crime scene in which a man shot himself and bits of brain got stuck on a rotating ceiling fan, going to work in this job takes a special kind of character.

Kollmann herself makes the point that there are two ways to deal with witnessing traumatic events on the job — you can laugh or cry, and those that can’t laugh don’t last. The book reflects the kind of gallows humour necessary for her to leave what she saw on the job behind at the end of each shift.

While the stories in the book are often extreme, perhaps more interesting are the titbits of forensic science Kollmann shares. For example, did you know there are several different kinds of rigor apart from rigor mortis? Or that wearing latex gloves doesn’t stop criminals from leaving fingerprints?

Interestingly, according to Kollmann the degree of interest in forensic matters generated by TV shows and popular fiction isn’t entirely a good thing. She points out that many of these shows portray forensic evidence as the star witness in criminal trials and as a result, members of the public called to serve on juries often have unrealistic ideas about what forensics is and what can and cannot be proved.

If forensic science doesn’t play a prominent role in a trial or no forensically valuable evidence was collectable from the crime scene, then jurors often come to the misguided assumption that the prosecution case must be weak or that the police and crime scene investigators must not have looked properly. She makes the point that forensic evidence is not always there, does not always solve the crime and is not always infallible.

Never Suck a Dead Man’s Hand is certainly a unique book, and if you’re a fan of police procedural TV shows and want an idea of what the real thing is like, then you’ll be hooked from the first page. It’s not pretty, but then Kollmann would say that nether are the things people do to each other at crime scenes.

There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.

Woke up to read this fantastic story on the BBC News website.

Bendy-buses with the slogan “There’s probably no God” could soon be running on the streets of London.

The atheist posters are the idea of the British Humanist Association (BHA) and have been supported by prominent atheist Professor Richard Dawkins.

The BHA planned only to raise £5,500, which was to be matched by Professor Dawkins, but it has now raised more than £36,000 of its own accord.

It aims to have two sets of 30 buses carrying the signs for four weeks.

The complete slogan reads: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.”

As the campaign has raised more than anticipated, it will also have posters on the inside of buses as well.

The BHA is also considering extending the campaign to cities including Birmingham, Manchester and Edinburgh.

Professor Dawkins said: “Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride – automatic tax breaks, unearned respect and the right not to be offended, the right to brainwash children.


via BBC NEWS | England | London | ‘No God’ slogans for city’s buses

Underneath The Stars 2008

The new cure album is out later this month – the first in four years. It’s called 4:13 Dream and it seems to be an epic return to form following ten years of muddling mediocrity.

They played the opening track off the new album at a gig in New York a little while ago and some decent video has made it’s way onto Youtube. This track is called Underneath the Stars and it’s fabulous.

(Check out Porl Thompson’s mental head art – amazing tattoos. It must be a novelty for Robert Smith not to be the weirdest looking guy in his band!)

How long could you watch TV for?

Man, I like movies, but this is taking things a little far. Just how much espresso would you need?

2 people watch 123 hours of movies in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) — You may want to try this at home.

Suresh Joachim of Toronto, and Claudia Wavra of Germany, claim to have broken the world record for continuous movie watching, after seeing 57 films in 123 hours in a plastic-glass house in New York’s Times Square.

A Guinness World Records spokesman said it appears the non-dynamic duo have broken the record but said it will take two weeks to officially verify.

The attempt began Oct. 2 when eight challengers started watching “Iron Man.” After 72 hours, only two remained. They watched “Thelma and Louise” until the end on 3:10 p.m. Tuesday.

Susan Sarandon, a star of that film, dropped off the final film.

The rules: Each movie had to be viewed until the last credit rolled, and competitors couldn’t divert their eyes from the screen. They were allowed 10-minute breaks between movies.

via The Associated Press: 2 people watch 123 hours of movies in NYC.