Restoring historic neon signs in New Mexico

❝ There are nine new reasons to rediscover Route 66 in New Mexico. In 2003, nine vintage Route 66 neon signs have been restored to their former brilliance. From the wonderful TeePee Curio Shop sign in Tucumcari, to the wild and crazy neon Rotosphere in Moriarty, to the elegant Lexington Hotel sign in Gallup, the beauty and artistry of classic neon is once again dazzling and delighting Route 66 enthusiasts.

❝ There was a time when Mercury Meteors, Olds Rocket 88s, and the Pontiac Star Chiefs would trek through a galaxy of neon on Route 66. The streets with illuminated with a palette of ruby reds, sapphire blues, and emerald greens that broadcast promises of adventure, discovery, and gratification. Neon cowboys, Indians, sombreros, teepees, cactus, longhorn steers, thunderbirds, swallows, wiener dogs, ponies, and other critters and characters would come out at night to greet visitors. Places with neon lit names like the Bow and Arrow, the Royal Palacio, the Pig Stand, the Lariat, the Oasis, the Arrowhead, the Desert Sun, and the Trails West called out with invitations to stop and experience something unique.

RTFA. Just another reason traveling around our state remains fun. Sign restorations continue as do restorations on any old motel that comes up for sale.

Rare 1907 photos advertising the Southern Pacific Railroad show West Coast in color


Click to enlarge

❝ Check out these rare photos to follow the “road of a thousand wonders,” along the California coast on the Southern Pacific Railroad.

❝ The…images from 1907 start in Los Angeles, and work their way up to Oregon. There are over a hundred stops along the way, including Ojai, San Luis Obispo, Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara, and many of California’s missions, including San Juan Bautista. The trip also includes Carmel-By-The-Sea, Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, including images of the city’s resurrection from the 1906 earthquake.

❝ The images are from Sunset Magazine, shot for the Passenger Department of the Southern Pacific Company. The pictures of the West were meant to stimulate interest in the Rail Highway along the Pacific, joining California and Oregon, passing the spectacular Shasta, over the Siskiyous, to the Columbia River in Oregon.

Each image, which is in the style of a vintage postcard, is captioned as seen in the publication.

My kind of history. I love period photography. Still have my Italian grandfather’s wooden Eastman camera.

Put this article together with tales from the period, a legitimate contribution to our knowledge of where part of our American civilization comes from.

There are 500 sheep in this photo


Can you see them?

Saskatchewan, Canada farmer Liezel Kennedy took these photos earlier this month, saying she drove straight past the flock before realizing they were all there. She quickly doubled back to take a closer look. Kennedy told BuzzFeed she had to get within 50 feet before she could easily make them out. Lamboflauge is real!

Now click on the photo for an explanation.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Do your baby wipes smell bad — before you use them!

Baby Butts

A Pennsylvania company is recalling all 10 brands of baby wipes it makes, including those made for Walgreens and Diapers.com, as some packs may contain a bacteria known to pose a risk to people with certain health problems.

Nutek Disposables is recalling baby wipes it made that were sold under 10 brands: Cuties, Diapers.com, Femtex, Fred’s, Kidgets, Member’s Mark, Simply Right, Sunny Smiles, Tender Touch, and Well Beginnings. The products were distributed before Oct. 21 to Diapers.com, Family Dollar, Fred’s, Sam’s Club and Walgreens, according to an Oct. 25 statement from the company that was posted on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s website.

Nutek tested its products after…complaints about odor and discoloration, and found the presence of a bacteria called Burkholderia cepacia, or B. cepacia, in some products.

Nutek said it has received numerous complaints including fever, gastrointestinal issues, irritation, infections, rash and respiratory problems, but said the reports haven’t been confirmed to be related to its products. The company said it is still trying to find the cause of the problem and for now has stopped shipping baby wipes made at its facility.

The bacteria found in the wipes “poses little medical risk to healthy people,” but people with health issues such as weakened immune systems or chronic lung diseases, particularly cystic fibrosis, “may be more susceptible to infections with B. cepacia,” according to the company’s statement.

Bring ’em back to the store where they were purchased for a full refund. Or call the company at 855-646-4351 with questions, shouts, imprecations or rude noises.

Eeoough!

Unfair pay for women and people of color

unfair pay
Click on the graphic for a personal view

American women who work full time, year round are paid only 77 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts. But the wage gap is even larger for many women of color working full time, year round, as African-American women are paid only 64 cents, and Hispanic women only 54 cents, for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

These gaps translated into a loss of $18,650 for African-American women and $24,111 for Hispanic women in 2012. Closing the wage gap is, therefore, particularly important for African-American and Hispanic women, who are already more likely to have lower incomes and to be in poverty than virtually all other groups.4 Although enforcement of the Equal Pay Act and other civil rights laws has helped narrow the wage gap over time, addressing the significant disparity that remains is critical for women and their families.

The wage gap for African-American and Hispanic women [.pdf] working full time, year round persists even when the effect of race or sex is considered alone.

• The typical African-American woman working full time, year round is paid roughly 83 cents for every dollar paid to her white, non-Hispanic female counterpart. The gap is larger for Hispanic women working full time, year round, who are paid just 69 cents for every dollar paid to their white, non-Hispanic female counterparts.

• The typical African-American woman working full time, year round is paid roughly 88 cents for every
dollar paid to her African-American male counterpart. The gap is the same for Hispanic women working full time, year round, who are also paid 88 cents for every dollar paid to their Hispanic male counterparts.

RTFA for example after example of death by a thousand cuts if you ain’t white and male.

Not so incidentally, if you are white and male don’t get smug. Although you may not have confronted pay cuts directly, part of the discrimination that adds to profit – is that white men also receive less than they might because “Hey, look. You’re better off than they are, eh?” And that’s good enough for plenty of guys who haven’t looked at what they might be earning if they got together and joined forces with the rest of their class.

Thanks, Mike

Scientists uncover essentially invisible motion in magnified video

A 30-second video of a newborn baby shows the infant silently snoozing in its crib, his breathing barely perceptible. But when the video is run through an algorithm that can amplify both movement and color, the baby’s face blinks crimson with each tiny heartbeat.

The amplification process is called Eulerian Video Magnification, and is the brainchild of a team of scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.

The team originally developed the program to monitor neonatal babies without making physical contact. But they quickly learned that the algorithm can be applied to other videos to reveal changes imperceptible to the naked eye. Prof. William T. Freeman, a leader on the team, imagines its use in search and rescue, so that rescuers could tell from a distance if someone trapped on a ledge, say, is still breathing…

The system works by homing in on specific pixels in a video over the course of time. Frame-by-frame, the program identifies minute changes in color and then amplifies them up to 100 times, turning, say, a subtle shift toward pink to a bright crimson…In one video presented by the scientists, a stationary crane sits on a construction site, so still it could be a photograph. But once run through the program, the crane appears to sway precariously in the wind, perhaps tipping workers off to a potential hazard.

It is important to note that the crane does not actually move as much as the video seems to show. It is the process of motion amplification that gives the crane its movement.

The program originally gained attention last summer when the team presented it at the annual computer graphics conference known as Siggraph in Los Angeles.

Since then, the M.I.T. team has improved the algorithm to achieve better quality results, with significant improvements in clarity and accuracy.

First, it’s great knowing that Siggraph still rocks, still a regular part of the future of computing.

Second, we’re witnessing one more of an endless stream of concepts that become more than daydreams with the sort of computing horsepower it is possible to put into motion. What’s next?

Milestone: most American children under 1 are now minorities

U.S. minorities now represent more than half of America’s population under the age of 1, the Census Bureau said, a historic demographic milestone with profound political, economic and social implications.

“2011 is the first time the population of infants under age 1 is majority minority,” said Robert Bernstein, a Census Bureau spokesman.

The latest statistics — which also count the national population younger than 5 as 49.7% minority in 2011, an increase from 49% in 2010 — portend a future of a more racially diverse America, with new and growing populations playing more important roles politically and economically in years to come, analysts say.

Like other analysts, Kenneth M. Johnson, senior demographer at the Carsey Institute and professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire, isn’t surprised at the trend. “We’ve known it was going to come, but the question was what year the “crossover point” would happen, he said…

Johnson sees the trend as an opportunity for more Americans to embrace diversity. More children are going to be exposed to a more diverse group of classmates, and that will affect attitudes and outlook…

Mention it that way to your friendly neighborhood Tea Party commissar. Then, duck and run!

Jeff Passell, senior demographer at the Pew Hispanic Center, called the Census numbers “a cumulative effect of 35 to 40 years of immigration” bringing large numbers of Latinos, Asians and other immigrants into the United States.

He said the Hispanic population in particular is very young, much more concentrated in child-bearing years, and has a higher fertility rate than the white, non-Hispanic population. Lately, he says, there are a lot more births among native Hispanics in the United States than new Hispanic immigrants, a “cumulative effect” of immigration. Also a cumulative effect of poor education, machismo and religion-based culture.

Michael White, professor of sociology at Brown University, said the rise of minorities fits into a longer-term evolution of the U.S. population…truly a “melting pot,” he said.

White says it’s hard to say how the changes will affect politics and that one can’t assume that ethnic patterns will determine voting patterns. Local economic issues, for example, will evolve differently in different states and cities, and there are economic benefits of having a younger population, he said.

Ain’t he naive? Aside from essential economic issues, cultural divisions that reflect class assignment by ethnicity and color – he makes no mention of the traditional WASP leaders of American conservatism and their even more bigoted cousins in the Tea Party.

Wander through the comments following this CNN article. If you thought you didn’t live in a racist nation you’re in for a sad awakening. The semantics range from patent leather rationales for bigotry to straight-up racism. The more things change, the more some fools fight harder to remain the same.

Stem cells induce the natural hair growth cycle in hairless mice


A previously hairless mouse following an implantation of bioengineered
hair follicles recreated from adult tissue-derived stem cells

Researchers lead by Professor Takashi Tsuji from the Tokyo University of Science have successfully induced the natural hair growth and loss cycle in previously hairless mice. They have achieved this feat through the implantation of bioengineered hair follicles recreated from adult-tissue derived stem cells. While these results offer new hope for curing baldness, the work has broader implications, demonstrating the potential of using adult somatic stem cells for the bioengineering of organs for regenerative therapies…

Far more importantly, the implanted follicle germs developed all the proper structures and formed correct connections with the surrounding host tissues, including epidermis, arrector pili muscle and nerve fibers. Also, the stem and progenitor cells along with their niches were recreated in the bioengineered follicles, making a continuous hair-growth cycle possible.

The method has been shown to work with all types of hair follicles, regardless of function, structure and color (depending on the type of the origin follicle). In fact, some features of the hair shaft, such as pigmentation, may be controlled – fancy a new permanent hair color?

I admit it. I chose this article to post because I think the wee mouse is cute – with his silly hair.

Cave paintings depicted Stone Age horses in their true colors

About 25,000 years ago, humans began painting a curious creature on the walls of European caves. Among the rhinos, wild cattle, and other animals, they sketched a white horse with black spots. Although such horses are popular breeds today, scientists didn’t think they existed before humans domesticated the species about 5,000 years ago. Now, a new study of prehistoric horse DNA concludes that spotted horses did indeed roam ancient Europe, suggesting that early artists may have been reproducing what they saw rather than creating imaginary creatures…

A small number of caves, including 25,000-year-old Pech Merle in southern France, feature horses painted white with black spots. Some archaeologists have argued that this leopard-like pattern was fanciful and symbol laden rather than realistic. Indeed, in a 2009 analysis of DNA from the bones of nearly 90 ancient horses dated from about 12,000 to 1,000 years ago, researchers found genetic evidence for bay and black coat colors but no sign of the spotted variety, suggesting that the spotted horse could have been the figment of some artist’s imagination. Although researchers can only speculate on what prehistoric artists were trying to express, hypotheses range from shamanistic and ritualistic activities to attempts to capture the spirit of horses and other animals that ancient humans hunted.

But in a new paper…in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the same team reports finding that spotted horses did indeed exist around the time that cave artists were doing their best work. The researchers, led by geneticists Arne Ludwig of the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research in Berlin and Michael Hofreiter of the University of York in the United Kingdom, analyzed DNA from an older sample of 31 prehistoric horses from Siberia as well as Eastern and Western Europe, ranging from about 20,000 to 2,200 years ago. They found that 18 of the horses were bay, seven were black, but six had a genetic variant — called LP — that corresponds to leopard-like spotting in modern horses. Moreover, out of 10 Western European horses estimated to be about 14,000 years old, four had the LP genetic marker, suggesting that spotted horses were not uncommon during the heyday of cave painting.

If so, the team argues, prehistoric artists may have been drawing what they saw rather than creating imaginary creatures. Prehistoric horses came in at least “three coat color[s],” Ludwig says, “and exactly these three [colors] are also seen in cave paintings. Cave art is more realistic than often suggested…”

Not that any of the research will distract any scientist who thinks he’s also expert in the thought processes of artists.