Personal details of new head of MI-6 on Facebook – Har!

Personal details and photographs of the incoming head of Britain’s international spy agency have been posted on Facebook, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband has acknowledged.

The UK’s Foreign Office says foreign service staff should exercise caution on social-networking Web sites. But he insisted that no compromising information had been revealed.

“You know he wears Speedo, swim, swimming, swimsuit… I mean what is that? I mean, that’s not a state secret,” Miliband said on a BBC Sunday morning talk show.

The man in question, John Sawers, is currently the British ambassador to the United Nations.

His wife posted details about their family, vacations and residence on the social-networking site, British media reported Sunday. Her Web site has since been taken down, reports said…

Intelligence analyst Glenmore Trenear-Harvey said the leak was at least an embarrassment and possibly much worse…

Sawers, 53, is a career foreign policy expert. He was a foreign policy adviser to Tony Blair when Blair was prime minister, then became ambassador to Egypt and briefly represented Britain in Iraq. He was political director at the Foreign Office for four years before going to the United Nations in 2007, according to his biography on the Web site of the British mission to the U.N.

He is slated to replace John Scarlett in November as head of MI6.

With all that experience he’s either inured to international sleaze – or experienced at perpetuating it. Both useful to the British Foreign Secretary I suppose.

Was Leonardo da Vinci really Jesus of Nazareth? The shroud seems to say so!

“Damn! Who told?”

A study of facial features suggests the image on the relic is actually da Vinci’s own face which could have been projected into the cloth.

The artefact has been regarded by generations of believers as the face of the crucified Jesus who was wrapped in it, but carbon-dating by scientists points to its creation in the Middle Ages.

American artist Lillian Schwartz, a graphic consultant at the School of Visual Arts in New York who came to prominence in the 1980s when she matched the face of the Mona Lisa to a Leonardo self-portrait, used computer scans to show that the face on the Shroud has the same dimensions to that of da Vinci.

“It matched. I’m excited about this,” she said. “There is no doubt in my mind that the proportions that Leonardo wrote about were used in creating this Shroud’s face.”

Please read the details.  One wants so much for it to be true. Then the nutballs who insist that Jesus’ face appears on the shroud would have to accept Leonardo da Vinci as Lord! Har!

I always thought it looked like Bobby Fischer.

Blackest Black: Material absorbs almost 100% of light


It appears to be a paradox: ultra-thin material that absorbs all the incident light. Nonetheless, it does exist.

Two researchers, Eduard Driessen, MSc, and Dr Michiel de Dood, have demonstrated that at a thickness of 4.5 nanometer niobiumnitride (NbN) is ultra-absorbent. They have recorded a light absorption of almost 100%, while the best light absorption to date was 50%. This research brings the ideal light detector a step closer.

A cell made of this material can already collect light and convert it into an electrical signal…

This discovery gave Driessen and De Dood the idea for building a special detector. They want to use this detector to view individual light particles, photons. To date this has been very difficult because the absorption was not high enough. The most important part of the detector is a lattice of ultra-absorbent NbN filaments. When an s-light particle falls on the lattice, it is absorbed. A p-particle is reflected. This p-particle can then in turn be collected by a second detector so that all the light is detected.

Calculations show that the wavelength (colour) of the light particle has hardly any influence. The detector can therefore also be used for particles with completely different wavelengths, such as detection systems for telecommunications and infra-red equipment.

Yeah, I know – the military is always quickest with a buck to develop something this new with obvious capabilities. Still, think of the possibilities to be added to optics, astro-physics and more.

Toxic fumes poison flight attendant – may be daily occurrence

The last time Terry Williams can remember being headache-free was in December. A chronic migraine has plagued her ever since. So have balance and vision problems, a tremor in her left arm, a prickly sensation in her feet and a loss of childhood memories.

The ailments, she says, began April 11, 2007. Williams, then a veteran American Airlines flight attendant of 17 years, noticed a “misty haze type of smoke” on Flight 843 as it taxied toward a gate in Dallas, Texas.

That “fume event,” as it is known, and the physical maladies she felt afterward drove Williams, 40, to file a product liability lawsuit late Tuesday in Seattle, Washington, against Boeing and McDonnell Douglas, aircraft manufacturers linked to the MD-82 aircraft she was on. Her claim: Toxins in the cabin’s air made her sick, and a design flaw — the lack of filters and sensors — left her unprotected.

They “knew or should have known that toxic nerve agents, contaminates, and dangerous fumes could bleed into the plane’s ventilation system, causing serious and irreversible health effects,” her attorneys said in a written statement…

Within several weeks, Williams says, she had to make repeated visits to emergency rooms before a neurologist told her she’d been the victim of toxic exposure.

Continue reading

Farewell to an India I Hardly Knew

The first thing I ever learned about India was that my parents had chosen to leave it.

The country was lost to us in America, where I was born. It had to be assembled in my mind, from the fragments of anecdotes and regular journeys east.

Now, six years after returning to the country my parents left, as I prepare to depart it myself, the mind goes back to the beginning, to my earliest pictures of it.

India, reflected from afar, was late-night phone calls with the news of death. It was calling back relatives who could not afford to call you. It was Hindu ceremonies with saffron and Kit Kat bars on a silver platter.

India, consumed on our visits back, was being fetched from the airport and cooked a meal even in the dead of night. It was sideways hugs that strove to avoid breast contact. It was the chauvinism of uncles who asked about my dreams and ignored my sister’s…

I moved to India six years ago in an effort to understand it on my own terms, to render mine what had until then only belonged to my parents.

India was changing when I arrived and has changed dramatically, viscerally, improbably in these 2,000 days: farms giving way to factories; ultra-cheap cars being built; companies buying out rivals abroad. But the greatest change I have witnessed is elsewhere. It is in the mind: Indians now know that they don’t have to leave, as my parents left, to have their personal revolutions.

It took me time to see. At first, my old lenses were still in place — India the frustrating, difficult country — and so I saw only the things I had ever seen.

But as I traveled the land, the data did not fit the framework. The children of the lower castes were hoisting themselves up one diploma and training program at a time. The women were becoming breadwinners through microcredit and decentralized manufacturing. The young people were finding in their cellphones a first zone of individual identity. The couples were ending marriages no matter what “society” thinks, then finding love again. The vegetarians were embracing meat and meat-eaters were turning vegetarian, defining themselves by taste and faith, not caste…

The shift is only just beginning. Most Indians still live impossibly grim lives. Trickle down, here more than most places, is slow. But it is a shift in psychologies, and you rarely meet an Indian untouched by it.

An enjoyable read. First-person narrative from one of the journalists who makes reading the International Herald Tribune a pleasure. Still.

The crowd at the NY Times are messing with the how and where of content online; but, that content is still great and useful reading. As is this piece.

Salmonella contamination forces recall of Malt-O-Meal products – again!

Malt-O-Meal Company is voluntarily recalling oatmeal that contains instant nonfat dry milk that may be contaminated with salmonella. The instant nonfat dry milk came from Plainview Milk Products Cooperative of Minnesota, which is recalling products made over the past two years because of the possible contamination. Many of Plainview’s products were sold to other food makers.

Malt-O-Meal, based in Minneapolis, is recalling Maple & Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal sold in cartons and variety packs with best-if-used-by dates of June 30, 2009 to Oct. 28, 2010. The oatmeal is sold nationally under numerous brands.

This is not the biggest deal in the world of recalls of American food products that might kill you or your granny; but, it’s only been about fifteen months since the last salmonella scare – courtesy of Malt-O-Meal.

Malt-0-Meal is voluntarily recalling unsweetened puffed rice and unsweetened puffed wheat cereals after it found salmonella in a product produced on March 24, 2008…

Privately held Malt-O-Meal said it found the source of the salmonella and applied corrective measures to ensure against a reoccurrence.