Friday, July 27, 2007

Friday Links And Your E-Mail

It's a gigantic mess o' stuff this week.

First off, several of you (Charlie Rosenbury was the first) e-mailed me about the story I posted this week about Jonathan Sullivan's daughter Chloe. Believe it or not, a fictional "Chloe Sullivan" is also a character on Smallville (a series about the adolescent life of Superman). Here's a note from Jess Moran:
Chloe Sullivan is a main character in Smallville, a TV drama about Clark Kent/Superman before he donned the cape and tights. In fact, Chloe is in love with Clark Kent through most of the show. That three year old Chloe doesn't like Superman at all struck me as funny. Also, Chloe develops superpowers of a sort due to exposure to Kryptonite.

I hope Chloe doesn't miss out on superpowers.

A very interesting e-mail, from someone who wishes to remain anonymous, contained some additional comments on the post I made about The Athens Affair last week. In short, it's not the first time something like that has happened, and the precedent was "The Black Chamber" in the 1920's. Here's an excerpt:
Funded by the Army and the State Department, MI-8, was disguised as a New York City company that made commercial codes for businesses. However, their actual mission was to break the diplomatic codes of different nations. A mission they were initially quite successful at completing, breaking codes from several foreign countries.

This organization was led by Herbert Yardley, who wrote a book about the program in 1931 (it had been shut down in 1929). It was an international bestseller and caused quite a scandal.

Here are a few links if you want to read further on this:
Wikipedia Entry
National Security Agency Museum
Yardley's Book (Amazon Link)

Devon Prescott sent me several links to the story of a man who almost no one in this country would recognize, even though he's done more to alleviate world hunger than almost anyone in the last century. His name is Norman Borlaug, and he both developed high-yield, disease-resistant varieties of wheat as well as founding the World Food Prize, which is the agriculture equivalent of the Nobel Prize.

In recognition of his achievments, Borlaug has won the Nobel Prize, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the Congressional Gold Medal--a hat trick that has only been accomplished by four other people.

How important has Borlaug been? He's been credited with saving the lives of as many as a billion people.

Links for more information:
Des Moines Register
The Man Who Fed the World (Amazon link)

Vahur Teller sent in a link to a singular event in Estonia: a festival that commemorates "The Singing Revolution," and if you've never heard of it, here's a description from Wikipedia:
Night after night, since 1987, a cycle of singing mass demonstrations eventually collected 300,000 Estonians (more than one-fifth of the population) in Tallinn to sing national songs and hymns that had been strictly forbidden during the years of Soviet occupation, as rock musicians played. The Singing Revolution lasted over four years, with various protests and acts of defiance. In 1991, as Soviet tanks were rolling throughout the countryside in an attempt to quell the Singing Revolution, the Estonian Supreme Soviet together with the Congress of Estonia proclaimed the restoration of the independent State of Estonia and repudiated Soviet legislation. Estonians stood as human shields to protect radio and TV stations from the Soviet tanks. As a result of the revolution, Estonia won its independence without any bloodshed.

How incredible is that?

The Singing Revolution is commemorated every few years with a festival, and here's a link to this year's event: Song Festival. 7% of the population of the country turned out for this.

Here's one more related link, to a 1989 demonstration called the Baltic Way. Here's a description:
"Baltic Way" (also Baltic chain, Estonian: Balti kett, Latvian: Baltijas ceļš, Lithuanian: Baltijos kelias) is the event which occurred on August 23, 1989 when approximately two million people joined their hands to form an over 600 kilometer long human chain across the three Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania). This original demonstration was organized to draw the world's attention to the common historical fate which these three countries suffered. It marked the 50th anniversary of August 23, 1939 when Soviet Union and Germany in the secret protocol of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact divided spheres of interest in Eastern Europe which led to the occupation of these three states.

600 kilometers long! The full Wikipedia entry is here.

Now, some quick hitters.

Sirius sends in a link (via Slashdot) to an article that describes, in algebraic terms, a Möbius strip. Read the abstract here, and if you don't want to get your math on, a more accessible explanation is here.

Sirius doubled up this week with a link--put down your lunch--to an article titled "Larvae Take Up Residence in Man's Head." The article is even more disgusting than the title, and you can read it here.

The best part? The infestation was caused by flies, and his wife's name--is Midge!

DQ reader Damon Caporaso, who saw my note on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, sent in a link to a review of the book at his site (Fantasy Book Spot). Read it here.

From Taylor Materna, a link to an article that explains what many people may have previously suspected: the Grim Reaper wears fur. His name is Oscar, he's a cat, and he can (seemingly) identify with unnerving accuracy when elderly patients in a nursing home are near death. Read about it here.

Lastly, Michael O'Reilly sends in a link to an article by an ex-Rockstar employee about life at the company. It's an interesting read, and it's here.

Site Meter