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Saturday, May 19, 2007Da Vinci Is Everywhere
Leonardo Da Vinci, considered to be one of the greatest creative minds of all time, lived a pretty darn good life. Born a bastard, his talents led him to be supported and befriended by many of the most powerful men of his time. He wasn't just one of history's greatest artists, he was also one of history's greatest engineers. The man pretty much mastered whatever he put his mind to. Much admired, not just for his huge intellect, but also for his handsomeness, his physical strength, and his singing voice, the guy pretty much had it figured out. If that doesn't make you green, he also had a heart, his love for animals the reason for his vegetarianism. He died at 67 years of age, which in 15th century Italy probably equates to 90 now.
If there are guys like this walking around, why do we even bother? Well, take heart, you too can live the way Leonardo lived because he left his secret in his notebooks, and it's finally been published.
Da Vinci’s Prescription for Life (reprinted from Dave Dewitt's Da Vinci’s Kitchen: A Secret History of Italian Cuisine) :
If you want to be healthy observe this regime.
Do not eat when you have no appetite, and dine lightly,
Chew well, and whatever you take into you
Should be well-cooked and of simple ingredients
He who takes medicine is ill advised.
Beware anger and avoid stuffy air.
Stay standing a while when you get up from a meal.
Make sure you do not sleep at midday.
Let your wine be mixed with water, take little and often,
Not between meals, not on an empty stomach.
Neither delay nor prolong your visit to the toilet.
If you take exercise, let it not be too strenuous.
Do not lie with your stomach upward and your head
Downward. Be well covered at night,
And rest your head and keep your mind cheerful.
Avoid wantonness and keep to this diet.
About 25,000 inventors from all walks of life entered this annual contest, which is run by the History Channel and the National Inventors Hall of Fame. I was among the six judges who were asked to declare a winner from among the 25 finalists still standing.
The grand prize ($25,000) went to something called the Enertia house, which was invented by an engineer and former log-home architect, Michael Sykes. It’s a design for a home that heats and cools itself, with benefits both the homeowner and the environment.
Two factors contribute to this effect. First, the entire house is made of southern yellow pine. According to Mr. Sykes, this wood is especially efficient at maintaining a constant temperature; it absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night.
Second, air circulates in a convection cycle from top to bottom of the house, constantly redistributing the heat. Interviewed Mr. Sykes by e-mail.
DP: What is the “sunspace?” It looks like a sort of windowed atrium the full height of the house, but how does it play into the envelope concept?
MSS: The sunspace is always on the south, or the side that’s within 35 degrees of south. It connects to the attic, which connects to the space between the double north walls, which connects to the basement. There are metal grilles in the sunspace floor to complete the convection loop.
The space in the north double wall is also a great place to put pipes and wires, which would otherwise be a problem, since the walls are solid glulams [glued wooden blocks].
DP: How did you get into this? Where did you pick up all the science?
MS: I built houses to pay my way through engineering school, and I was asked to build a log house for a friend. We used the resinous local southern yellow pine; everybody else used white pine or cedar, which are lighter. To my amazement, it was more energy-efficient than anything I had built — but it was getting too hot on the sunspace side. I could have put in ducts and fans to move the heat, but that takes energy.
At the Equator, the sun creates what’s called a Hadley cell; the weather equalizes temperatures, rushing warmth to the polar regions. What I needed was a Hadley cell [for the house], and that required an atmosphere. The house already had a sunspace, an attic, and a basement; simply add a space in the north wall, and you have an atmosphere. Short-wave sun comes in, but long-wave heat energy cannot get back out. It’s like the greenhouse effect that warms the earth, but in miniature.
A Chinese dog has become the surrogate mother of tiger triplets born at a zoo in the country's eastern Shandong province.
The mongrel bitch called Huani is suckling the tiger cubs, imaginatively named One, Two and Three by staff at Jinan Paomaling Wild Animal World, because their mother rejected them shortly after birth 10 days ago.
The zoo manager, Chen Yucai, said Huani is expected to nurse the tigers for about a month, or until their appetites outpace her milk supply.
Mr Yucai said it was common for Chinese zoos to use dogs as surrogate mothers for rejected tiger cubs.
Zoo staff have previously put dog urine on the fur of rejected cubs to make the surrogate think she is nursing her own pups.
However, this time the zoo did not need to because Huani, who has nursed tigers before, did not seem to mind caring for the cubs.
"The family is getting along well and seems to enjoy each other," Mr Yucai said.
A spokeswoman for London Zoo said staff try to match an abandoned animal with a mother of the same species with young of a similar age wherever possible.
In the 1990s, an Asiatic lion at the zoo abandoned her cub and staff successfully placed it with another lion that had given birth to two cubs.
The spokeswoman said the cub was placed in the surrogate mother's litter so it would acquire her smell and be accepted by her.
Although the cub was initially reluctant to take on the new mother, the 'adoption' proved successful.
If a mother of the same species cannot be found, staff at London Zoo will try to find a companion animal for the abandoned young.
Staff once placed an abandoned tiger cub called Harry with an Akita hound, which he lived with for about nine months.
The spokeswoman said it was preferable for the abandoned cub to imprint - the process by which an animal learns the characteristics of its parents - on a four-legged animal rather than a human being.
Jacqueline Gagne has had 10 once-in-a-lifetime experiences in less than four months.
Since Jan. 23, the 46-year-old from Rancho Mirage, Calif., has hit 10 holes in one, or just eight fewer than were hit on the entire Ladies Professional Golf Association tour last year.
Her local paper, the Desert Sun of Palm Springs, Calif., has corroborated Ms. Gagne's feat, running notes alongside articles from editors saying they're just as skeptical as readers, but everything has checked out.
The paper also asked a local statistician, Michael McJilton of the College of the Desert, to compute the odds against the feat. The result, which headlined the article: 113,527,276,681,000,000 to 1. And that was after just seven aces. I asked Mr. McJilton to repeat the computation after Ms. Gagne hit three more in the following couple of weeks, over a total of just 75 rounds. He returned the astronomical number of roughly 12 septillion (12 followed by 24 zeroes) to 1. Such an unlikely event should never happen. It's like winning the lottery four straight times.
Roland S. Martin is a CNN contributor and a talk-show host for WVON-AM in Chicago.
(CNN) -- Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was declared the winner of Tuesday's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, largely for his smack down of Texas Rep. Ron Paul, who suggested that America's foreign policy contributed to the destruction on September 11, 2001.
Paul, who is more of a libertarian than a Republican, was trying to offer some perspective on the pitfalls of an interventionist policy by the American government in the affairs of the Middle East and other countries.
"Have you ever read about the reasons they attacked us? They attack us because we've been over there. We've been bombing Iraq for 10 years," he said.
That set Giuliani off.
"That's really an extraordinary statement," said Giuliani. "As someone who lived through the attack of September 11, that we invited the attack because we were attacking Iraq; I don't think I've ever heard that before and I've heard some pretty absurd explanations for September 11."
As the crowd applauded wildly, Giuliani demanded that Paul retract his statements.
Paul tried to explain the process known as "blowback" -- which is the result of someone else's action coming back to afflict you -- but the audience drowned him out as the other candidates tried to pounce on him.
After watching all the network pundits laud Giuliani, it struck me that they must be the most clueless folks in the world.
First, Giuliani must be an idiot to not have heard Paul's rationale before. That issue has been raised countless times in the last six years by any number of experts.
Second, when we finish with our emotional response, it would behoove us to actually think about what Paul said and make the effort to understand his rationale.
Granted, Americans were severely damaged by the hijacking of U.S. planes, and it has resulted in a worldwide fight against terror. Was it proper for the United States to respond to the attack? Of course! But should we, as a matter of policy, and moral decency, learn to think and comprehend that our actions in one part of the world could very well come back to hurt us, or, as Paul would say, blow back in our face? Absolutely. His real problem wasn't his analysis, but how it came out of his mouth.
What has been overlooked is that Paul based his position on the effects of the 1953 ouster by the CIA of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh.
An excellent account of this story is revealed in Stephen Kinzer's alarming and revealing book, "Overthrow: America's Century of Regime Change from Hawaii to Iraq," where he writes that Iran was establishing a government close to a democracy. But Mossadegh wasn't happy that the profit from the country's primary resource -- oil -- was not staying in the country.
Instead, the Anglo-Iranian Oil Company (now known British Petroleum, or BP) was getting 93 percent of the profits. Mossadegh didn't like that, and wanted a 50-50 split. Kinzer writes that that didn't sit too well with the British government, but it didn't want to use force to protect its interests. But their biggest friend, the United States, didn't mind, and sought to undermine Mossadegh's tenure as president. After all kinds of measures that disrupted the nation, a coup was financed and led by President Dwight Eisenhower's CIA, and the Shah of Iran was installed as the leader. We trained his goon squads, thus angering generations of Iranians for meddling in that nation's affairs.
As Paul noted, what happened in 1953 had a direct relationship to the takeover of the U.S. Embassy in 1979. We viewed that as terrorists who dared attack America. They saw it as ending years of oppression at the hands of the ruthless U.S.-backed Shah regime.
As Americans, we believe in forgiving and forgetting, and are terrible at understanding how history affects us today. We are arrogant in not recognizing that when we benefit, someone else may suffer. That will lead to resentment and anger, and if suppressed, will boil over one day.
Does that provide a moral justification for what the terrorists did on September 11?
Of course not. But we should at least attempt to understand why.