Turkey wants Santa Claus’ bones back!


The bakelite version was my favorite

A Turkish archaeologist has called on his government to demand that Italy return the bones of St Nicholas to their original resting place.

The 3rd Century saint – on whom Santa Claus was modelled – was buried in the modern-day town of Demre in Turkey. But in the Middle Ages his bones were taken by Italian sailors and re-interred in the port of Bari…

While Christmas is by and large not celebrated in Muslim Turkey, the Christmas figure of Santa Claus certainly is in the Mediterranean town of his birth.

He was born in what was then the Greek city of Myra in the third century, and went on to become the local bishop, with a reputation for performing miracles and secretly giving gold to the needy – on one occasion being forced to climb down a chimney to leave his donation.

After his death he was canonised as Saint Nicholas, and venerated in much of the Christian world. But when Myra was occupied by Arab forces in the 11th Century, Italian sailors came and took the saint’s bones to the port of Bari, where they remain interred to this day.

I know, I know – everyone should have the right to get their favorite superstitious bones back.

Navajo Nation to build wind farm in Arizona

The Navajo Nation has announced plans to break ground on a $200 million wind farm late in 2010 on ranch lands about 80 miles west of Flagstaff.

If built, it would be the second large-scale wind farm in northern Arizona, following the construction of one south of Holbrook that is smaller.

The Navajo Nation, Foresight Wind Energy and Edison Mission Energy propose to build a 48-turbine array by December 2011, and to sell the electricity produced from the wind farm in Arizona.

The wind farm is proposed for the Big Boquillas Ranch, which stretches from the very windy Aubrey Cliffs northwest of Seligman to an area west of Valle and south of the Grand Canyon.

The utility called it a first large wind project for the Navajo Nation, and the first large-scale wind farm in the United States to be developed and have majority ownership by a Native American tribe.

“This is historic,” NTUA General Manager Walter W. Haase said, via a statement. “For the first time, the Navajo Nation is a majority owner of an energy project that will introduce a new economy to the Navajo Nation for the benefit of the Navajo people.”

There still are plenty of hogans that could use electricity; though, solar power makes more sense for families and clans as widely scattered as they are in the Navajo Nation.

And the operative words always are “if built”? That’s just personal experience living on the res talking.

Don’t try to buy an AT&T iPhone online – with a NYC zip code!


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

Consumers with Manhattan postal zip codes who attempted to purchase an iPhone through AT&T’s website today were told that the product was unavailable, according to a report on consumerist.com. Reuters received the same response when logging on with a New York zip code.

A representative of AT&T, the exclusive U.S. provider of the iPhone, said in an email that the company periodically modifies its promotions and distribution channels. “The iPhone is available in our New York retail stores and those of our partners.”

Sales representatives at Apple retail stores in Manhattan, reached by phone on Monday, said that the iPhone was available, and an Apple corporate spokesman was not immediately available for comment.

IPhone owners, who have some of the biggest appetites for mobile Internet use, in particular have criticized AT&T’s wireless network as being too slow.

Craig Mathias, a principal at wireless consulting firm Farpoint Group, said that all network carriers are struggling to cope with the rising popularity of wireless data services, which require more network capacity than standard voice calls.

He speculated that AT&T may be trying to ease congestion on its network in the wake of the holidays, when many consumers who received iPhones as gifts would start using the devices at the same time…

“We’re expecting our handsets now to do everything we do while in the office or at home,” said Mathias…

If AT&T is seriously out of gas and can’t service any customers in that area, that is a major problem,” he said.

AT&T has been intellectually out of gas for years. Any apparent motion is caused by brain farts.

p.s. There’s a rumor AT&T has been battered by so many complaints, they will resume online sales this afternoon.

Cities moving towards Gov 2.0

Craig Newmark, founder of Craigslist and a customer-service guru, was riding on a public train in San Francisco, California, recently when something common but annoying occurred: The railcar filled with people and became uncomfortably hot…

This was 2009, the age of mobile technology, so Newmark pulled out his iPhone, snapped a photo of the train car and, using an app called “SeeClickFix,” zapped an on-the-go complaint, complete with GPS coordinates, straight to City Hall.

“A week or so later I got an e-mail back saying, ‘Hey, we know about the problem and we’re going to be taking some measures to address it,’ ” he said.

Welcome to a movement the tech crowd is calling “Gov 2.0” — where mobile technology and GPS apps are helping give citizens like Newmark more of a say in how their local tax money is spent. It’s public service for the digital age.

A host of larger U.S. cities from San Francisco to New York quietly have been releasing treasure troves of public data to Web and mobile application developers.

That may sound dull. But tech geeks transform banal local government spreadsheets about train schedules, complaint systems, potholes, street lamp repairs and city garbage into useful applications for mobile phones and the Web.

The aim is to let citizens report problems to their governments more easily and accurately; and to put public information, which otherwise may be buried in file cabinets and Excel files, at the fingertips of taxpayers.

I see a bit of this coming my way. Our county government has an application in for stimulus/broadband money – and has a useful and navigable website designed to aid residents.

True – I don’t have to worry long about potholes since an exec in our highway department lives just down the road and doesn’t want to tweak his Corvette. 🙂 But, immediate access to several departments would aid ordinary citizens to support better service for us all. IMHO.

Xbox thief gets himself busted online


Dumb Crook of the Day?

Another video game-loving thief was caught online! Police nabbed a careless electronics thief who used a stolen Xbox for online play — allowing investigators to uncover a stockpile of pilfered goods he had allegedly stowed away in his grandmother’s house.

On the day of the burglary, the victim used another Xbox to go online and spotted his videogame console in use, according to the Post. Investigators then tracked the IP address to a Pelham home where 22-year-old Jeremiah Gilliam is accused of hiding the goods he stole from as many as 200 car break-ins and burglaries in Westchester County.

The suspect purportedly used his grandma’s residence as a stash house for dozens of video games, laptops, GPS devices, Xboxes, PlayStations and credit cards.

Guess his grandma thought he had lots of gift-giving friends, eh?

Feds investigating lawmakers in bed with Allen Stanford


Stanford and Sessions together in the middle – in Antigua

U.S. federal authorities are investigating millions of dollars contributed by fraud suspect Allen Stanford and his staff to U.S. lawmakers in the past decade, the Miami Herald reported.

The newspaper said the Justice Department investigation aimed to determine whether the banker received special favors from politicians while he was operating his alleged $7 billion Ponzi scheme centered on fraudulent certificates of deposit issued by his offshore bank in Antigua and Barbuda…

It said Stanford, who has pleaded not guilty and is awaiting a trial set for January 2011, also spent $5 million on lobbying since 2001. It said he successfully lobbied in 2001 to kill a bill that would have exposed the flow of millions into his secretive offshore bank on the Caribbean island of Antigua.

The following year he helped block legislation that would have led to more government scrutiny of his now disgraced Antigua bank, the Miami Herald said…

The Miami Herald said that on the day federal agents raided Stanford’s offices in the United States, February 17, the financier received an e-mail message from Peter Sessions, the chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee.

The newspaper said the message was found on Stanford’s computer servers and reads: “I love you and believe in you.

“If you want my ear/voice — e-mail,” the Miami Herald quoted the message as saying, adding it was signed “Pete.”

Isn’t it amazing the elasticity of Family Values when dollars are involved.

Outflow from melting glaciers adding ancient carbon to the water

Glaciers along the Gulf of Alaska are enriching stream and near shore marine ecosystems from a surprising source — ancient carbon contained in glacial runoff, researchers from four universities and the U.S. Forest Service report in the December 24, 2009, issue of the journal Nature.

In spring 2008, Eran Hood, associate professor of hydrology with the Environmental Science Program at the University of Alaska Southeast, set out to measure the nutrients that reach the gulf from five glaciated watersheds he can drive to from his Juneau office. “We don’t currently have much information about how runoff from glaciers may be contributing to productivity in downstream marine ecosystems. This is a particularly critical question given the rate at which glaciers along the Gulf of Alaska are thinning and receding” said Hood.

Hood then asked former graduate school colleague Durelle Scott, now an assistant professor of biological systems engineering at Virginia Tech, to help analyze the organic matter and nutrient (nitrogen and phosphorus) loads being exported from the Juneau-area study watersheds. “Because there are few reports of nutrient yields from glacial watersheds, Eran and I decided to compare the result from a non-glacial watershed with those of a watershed partially covered by a glacier and a watershed fully covered by a glacier,” said Scott.

Hood and Scott’s initial findings, reported in the September 2008 issue of the journal Nature Geoscience, presented something of a mystery. As might be expected, there is more organic matter from a forested watershed than from a fully or partially glacier-covered watershed. With soil development, organic matter is transported from the landscape during runoff events. However, there was still a considerable amount of organic carbon exported from the glaciated landscape…

“We found that the more glacier there is in the watershed, the more carbon is bioavailable. And the higher the percentage of glacier coverage, the older the organic material is — up to 4,000 years old,” said Scott.

Hood and Scott hypothesize that forests that lived along the Gulf of Alaska between 2,500 to 7,000 years ago were covered by glaciers, and this organic matter is now coming out. “The organic matter in heavily glaciated watersheds is labile, like sugar. Microorganisms appear to be metabolizing ancient carbon and as the microorganisms die and decompose, biodegradable dissolved organic carbon is being flushed out with the glacier melt,” said Scott.

A little bit of positive news as part of climate change. Fisheries may improve. Some fisheries.