Saturday, February 27, 2016

Vertical Earth Kilometer

In Friedrichsplatz Park in Kassel, Germany, there is a public art installation of epic scale, but you can’t see it. The only visible sign of its existence is a small brass disk, two inches wide, embedded in a red sandstone plate, two meters by two meters square. That simple brass disk is actually the top-end of a one-kilometer long rod inserted vertically into the ground with the top lying flush to the surface of the earth.

The strange art piece was installed in 1977 by the famed American artist Walter De Maria who is known for his monumental sculptures and installation that combine the simplicity of minimalism and vast scale. Earlier, Walter had created “The Lightning Field” in New Mexico consisting of 400 stainless steel posts arranged in a 1 mile × 1 kilometer grid array. Another one of Walter De Maria’s creation, “The Broken Kilometer”, is composed of five hundred two-meter-long solid brass rods, each with the same diameter as the rod used for “The Vertical Earth Kilometer”, arranged in five parallel rows of one hundred rods each. That one is located in New York City.
But “The Vertical Earth Kilometer” is by far the most subtle and bizarre because of it’s near total absence, requiring only trust from the viewer to be aware of the work.

For Vertical Earth Kilometer, Walter hired a Texan drilling rig to bore a shaft that goes through six geological layers, and took seventy-nine days to reach the precise depth. The continuous metal rod is made up of 167 rods measuring 20 foot each, that are screwed tightly together. The privately funded project cost DM 750,000, which was a lot of money in 1977, and inevitably incited public outcry because the resulting art piece leaves so little to see. Particularly irritated were the neighboring residents who had to bear with the noise of drilling for nearly three months.

Friday, February 26, 2016

In Dubai You Can Have A House With An Underwater Room (7 pics)

The World Islands, a chain of artificial islands constructed in the shape of a world map, are located in the waters of the Persian Gulf, near the coast of Dubai. A part of this archipelago is called the Heart of Europe which represents Great Britain and belongs to Richard Branson. Soon, the Heart of Europe will have its first floating home named "Floating Seahorse." What special about it is the fact that it will have an underwater room. A lot of  these luxury pods are planned to be built afterwards.

It took over 200 designers and architects from all over the world and more than 5,000 hours of research and 13,000 hours of design and engineering to make this $2.8 million fantasy real.

The underwater part will be composed of a master bedroom and bathroom and will be about 270 square feet (25 m2). Outside the walls, people will have an amazing view on a 500-square-foot (46 m2) coral garden.

The company's intention is to set a new standard of living lavishly. They also hope to restore a natural habitat of seahorses, an artificial coral reef beneath the luxury homes which will be a protected area. Residents will be able to see seahorses and other marine life float through the Arabian Gulf.

The firm plans on launching the first 'Floating Seahorse' in a few days and completing its first phase of rollouts by October of 2016.

Super Cute Little Toy Animals Made From Wool (13 pics)

Skillful needle felter from Russia Tatiana Barakova creates these crafty toy animals from wool. The process is laborious, it takes Tatiana about two weeks to make one toy. But the result is amazing, the toys look very lifelike.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Urban Villages of China

Over the last four decades, China has experienced rapid urban growth and massive rural to urban migration. Between the late seventies to the early 21st century, more than 300 million people moved from rural areas to cities, increasing its urbanization rate from 17.9% (1978) to 39.1% (2002) over a period of 24 years. It took Britain 120 years, the United States 80 years, and Japan more than 30 years to accomplish this. In the past few decades, China’s urban population growth has been higher than that of Asia as well as the world. In 1982, some 210 million people lived in the urban areas accounting for 21% of the total population. By the end of 2015, China had a total urban population of 771 million or 56.1% of the entire population. By 2025, it is estimated that about 70% of China’s population will be living in the cities.

Such rapid urbanization has transformed the spatial and social landscapes of Chinese cities. One of the most visible product of this explosive growth are China’s urban villages or “chengzhongcun”, literally “villages within the city”.

These villages were once located on the fringes of huge cities, but as the cities grew, they encroached upon rural areas. Farmlands that were formerly cultivated by the villages were compulsorily purchased and turned into urban land by the government, while the villages themselves were left untouched because of the high economic cost to relocate and compensate the villagers. As a result, small pockets of rural areas surrounded by towering skyscrapers, transportation infrastructures, and other modern urban constructions exists in many large cities that have experienced significant expansion and received large numbers of migrants.

Hundreds of such urban villages exist in large cities such as Guangzhou, Beijing and Shenzhen. The largest urban village Shipai, in the middle of Tianhe District in Guangzhou, has over 50,000 residents within one square kilometer.

Teen With Terminal Cancer Gets A Wedding With His Sweetheart (7 pics)

Luke Blanock, an 18 year old basketball and baseball star in his high-school, was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer when he was only 16. After he learned that his cancer was terminal, he proposed to his high-school sweet heart Natalie Britvich.

Luke underwent 24 rounds of chemo, more than 100 radiation treatments and two surgeries. But despite all this, he still played through a full season of baseball and basketball.

On their wedding, February 19th, their community of Canonsburg, Pennsylvania went to celebrate this special day with them. Everything, from the flowers and catering to Natalie's dress and hair, came from donations.

Congratulations to the newlyweds!

4 Powerful Habits Every Christian Needs

ByPhilip Kosloski

 At about the same time I realized I needed a yearly retreat to rejuvenate my prayer life, I came across an article by Father John McCloskey called The Seven Daily Habits of Holy Apostolic PeopleIt was a game-changer for me and gave me the needed boost and motivation to commit to daily prayer. I knew I needed to incorporate more prayer into my daily life, but I didn’t know how to do it. The Seven Daily Habits of Holy Apostolic People became the key for me to open-up a new world of prayer.
However, the seven habits Fr. McCloskey suggests can seem daunting at times. That is why I suggest starting off with four daily habits that I believe every Christian needs to adapt to draw closer to God. Remember, Rome wasn’t conquered in a day; we need to gradually incorporate these habits into our lives to ensure a higher rate of success. Here are the essentials:
  1. Morning Offering
  2. 15 Minutes of Spiritual Reading
  3. 15 Minutes of Mental Prayer
  4. Nightly Examination of Conscience
These habits (along with three more that I will mention later) are aimed at deepening our relationship with God. Just like with any friendship or marriage, it will suffer if it is not sustained by regular conversation. I would have never been able to marry my wife if I never talked to her. It is simply common sense that if you want to get to know someone, you spend time with them.
So it is the same with God.
If we want to grow in our relationship with God, we must devote regular time to conversing with Him.When we reach the pearly gates of Heaven we want our experience to be a reunion of old-time friends, than a meeting of strangers. 
What are these habits? Let’s look at each one in turn:

Morning Offering

Fr. McCloskey describes the morning offering as, “when you kneel down and using your own words, or a formula, you briefly offer up all the day ahead for God’s glory.” You can choose whichever offering prayer you want. I personally use the “Serviam!” prayer right when I wake-up. It is simple, yet very powerful.
A very popular morning offering prayer is that of the Saint Therese of Lisieux:
“Oh my God!  I offer You all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of the Sacred Heart of Jesus.  I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to His infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them in the furnace of His merciful love.
Oh my God!  I ask of You for myself and for those dear to me the grace to fulfill perfectly Your holy will, to accept for love of You the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in Heaven for all eternity.  Amen.”
By praying a morning offering you dedicate the rest of the day to God, which then prepare you to tackle anything that comes at you during the day.

15 Minutes of Spiritual Reading

This is described as, “a few minutes of systematic reading of the New Testament to identify ourselves with the words and actions of our Savior, and the rest of the time spent on a classic book of Catholic spirituality recommended by your spiritual advisor. As [St.] Josemaria Escriva puts it, ‘Don’t neglect your spiritual reading. Reading has made many saints’ (The Way, 116).”
One way to accomplish this is to read the Gospel reading for today and then find a spiritual book will help you grow in your relationship with God. I have my own recommendations that I will be continually adding onto in the future.

15 Minutes of Mental Prayer

Mental prayer is very simple, though not without its many distractions. It consists of a “heart-to-heart” with God, leaving time for talking and listening. God is extremely interested in what troubles you and what is going on in your life. Similar to how a parent is interested in the day of their child after school. God wants to know (even though He already knows) everything about your life.
The reason He wants to know your deepest desires is because it helps you draw closer to Him. Just like any relationship, when you reveal to another person your feelings you start to share an invisble bond that can last a lifetime.

 Nightly Examination of Conscience

Fr. McCloskey explains how to do an examination of conscience before going to bed:
“You sit down, call on the Holy Spirit for light and for several minutes go over your day in God’s presence asking if you behaved as a child of God at home, at work, with your friends. You also look at that one particular area which you have identified with the help of spiritual direction in which you know you need to improve in order to become a saint. You may also take a quick look to see if you have been faithful to those daily habits that we have discussed in this article. Then you make an act of gratitude for all the good that you have done and an act of contrition for those areas in which you have willfully failed. Then it is off to your well-deserved rest, which you strive to make holy through your interior dialogue with the Holy Trinity and your mother Mary as you drift off to sleep.”
This is important and it helps prepare you for your next confession. It is healthy to examine your faults and failings and to ask God’s help to overcome them. The Divine Physician will then heal whatever we tell Him is wrong with our soul. Sometimes His medicine is not easy to swallow, but He gives us the remedy that speeds us along the path to Eternal Life.
The other three daily habits Fr. McCloskey suggests are: Daily MassRosary and praying theAngelus. I suggest starting out with the above four habits before tackling these three. They are sometimes harder to accomplish depending on our state in life.

The Myth of Optional Breastfeeding & Why You Might Not be Breastfeeding Long Enough

Dr. Darcia Narvaez is a moral developmental psychologist at the Univ. of Notre Dame.  Moral developmental psychologists study what goes into raising kids who are able to resist negative peer pressure and make good choices throughout their lives.  As I argue in Beyond the Birds and the Bees:  Raising Whole and Holy Kids, my book about what it takes to raise moral, godly kids,  breastfeeding plays a special role in laying the foundation for moral reasoning in the infant and toddler’s brain.
Dr. Narvaez has a tremendous article at her Psychology Today blog, Moral Landscapes, addressing both why breastfeeding shouldn’t be optional in the first place and how long parents might want to nurse to give their children the full psychological, relational and moral benefits nursing can offer.
Here is a sample followed by a link to a terrific follow-up article where she responds to many objections and questions sent to her by readers.  I guarantee you’ll want to read the whole thing.
Breastfeeding is optional for a mother these days. She can choose not to do it. And without social support and pressure to be a “true” feminist, this seems like the “right” thing to do. Baby will usually stay alive with infant formula (despite its many risks including that it is the only consistent link to SIDS).
Breastfeeding is not an option for a child who wants to grow optimally, and what baby does not want that?
The recent book, Lactivism (link is external), with sloppy reporting and by misreading the evidence, argues that breast milk makes no difference for the healthof the child. It became very popular despite the inaccuracies(link is external). It’s astounding to anyone who knows anything about breast milk. Maureen Minchin has an excellent critique(link is external).
How is this determined? By experiment of course. Randomized, controlled trials are presumed to be the only source of “truth.” (Of course it’s experiment-focused scientists who want you to believe this.) Obviously evolutionary science is dismissed here.
Experiment-focused science assumes we cannot know anything until a “proper” experiment is done. We cannot rely on the natural world to be intelligent –only experimental scientists know anything for sure (tell that to our ancestors and the billions of other creatures that missed out on experimental science). So for child raising, anything goes until we have an experiment. Of course you cannot ethically do experiments on babies. So, anything goes. Whoever has a stronger soap box or microphone or make-my-life-easy story will win.
Getting Baselines Right
It’s amazing that people who think themselves so smart and superior to everyone else, can be so, shall we say, ignorant. They fail to understand other types of knowledge gathering, like observation. Or, how with evolutionary processes, the natural world has “done the experimenting” over eons and provided us with many adaptations that are very intelligent. Nature provides many baselines for making judgments.
Do we really have to take baby birds away from their nests and see what their parents do? (Ignore them). Or feed them some other food instead of the food their parents bring? (Which kills them.) See Derrick Jensen’s(link is external) forthcoming 2016 book, The Myth of Human Supremacy, for a scathing review of scientific arrogance and mistreatment of the natural world.
We have baselines for human nests too (see more below in footnote). And one of these is breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is what mammals do. Social mammals emerged more than 30 million years ago with extensive breastfeeding. Apes have on average four years of breastfeeding. Humans, as the most immature of apes at birth (25% of braindeveloped and more like a fetus in many ways), need the most intensive parenting for the longest duration to reach maturity (3 decades). This requires lots of good caregiving.
Subnote: Some people mistakenly think that relying on nature’s “experiments” is a “naturalistic fallacy.” A naturalistic fallacy is when a person takes a fact, something that “is,” and makes it a “should” (e.g., females bear babies so females should bear babies). Taking a bunch of facts together, converging evidence, is not the same thing as the so-called fact-value distinction as there are multiple points of evidence used to support the “should.”
Which brings us back to breastfeeding. Anthropologists have studied small-band hunter-gatherer communities around the world, the type of society in which the human genus spent 99% of its history (more below in footnote). They have noted the norms for early childhood. For breastfeeding, it’s 2-8 years, with an average weaning age of 4 years (Konner, 2005). Studies measuring only breastfeeding initiation (one attempt) or for 3 months of time are not going to provide the information needed for a true experiment (which, again, cannot be done—can you imagine randomly assigning mothers to children or assigning 8 years of breastfeeding?)
The average length for our ancestors (and small-band hunter-gatherers) is shocking for mothers in advanced nations where societies are built around work and workplaces and not families and child development.
But breastfeeding is what helped our ancestors survive, thrive and reproduce.
Misunderstanding breastfeeding
Breastfeeding is not just about food. Why might several years of breastfeeding matter? Just to mention one thing here (see the links below to much more information): breast milk provides all the immunoglobulins needed for immune system development, which takes around 5 years to develop.
But there are other misunderstandings. Breast milk has thousands of ingredients and these are tailored to the particular child at the time of breastfeeding. Yes! (See Katie Hinde’s blog, Mammals…Suck(link is external).) This is why doing experiments with pumped milk is not going to work. Or doing experiments at all. Every child is different, developing at their own pace. Every feeding is different. It’s an interaction between mom’s science-laboratory breasts and the child’s needs.
Myth of formula as “safe”The safety of formula is often touted as “we have clean drinking water, unlike some other nations, so formula is safe.” Safe from what? Not SIDS. Formula is linked to all if not virtually all SIDs deaths…. READ THE REST HERE
And  please be sure to read Dr. Narvaez’s response to critics here in To Doubters of the Importance of Breastfeeding.  
The science is there for those who are willing to look at it.  Breastfeeding is a moral issue. God gives moms breastmilk to hold in trust for their babies.  Don’t take away your baby’s inheritance.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Old Mill of Vernon

The Old Mill (Le Vieux-Moulin, in French) in the commune of Vernon, in northern France, is a 16th century flour mill constructed on top of an ancient bridge that once spanned the Seine River. Originally the bridge had five mills that ground corn grown in the nearby Vexin Plateau. The underside of the mills were equipped with a waterwheel that could be lowered or raised depending on the water level. The bridge is mostly gone now —only a couple of piers remain standing. The Old Mill, the last remaining flour mill, straddles across the two extreme piers of the bridge on the right bank of the Seine.

The stone bridge was built in the 12th century by King Philip II, also known as Philippe Auguste, so that he could move his troops easily. King Philip was at war with English king, Richard I who reigned over the western half of France. The bridge was protected by a bridgehead on the bank —a simple square structure flanked by four 20-meter high towers, and surrounded by a moat and linked to the stone bridge by a wooden drawbridge.