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Probably the oldest mask in the world

From the collections of the Musée "Bible et Terre Sainte" - This stone mask from the pre-ceramic neolithic period dates to 7000 BCE and is probably the oldest mask in the world.

Minnesota considering ban on neonicotinoids

This summer the StarTribune carried a long feature article on the possible role of neonicotinoids in the delcine of bees.

Solar eclipse as seen from space

From NASA's series of APOD photos, this one taken from the Mir space station. The shadow of the moon can be seen darkening part of Earth.

The Yazidis

The plight of the Yazidis achieved international attention several months ago: Fears are growing for the 300 Yazidi women reportedly kidnapped by Islamic State fighters last week amid claims they would be used to bear children to break up the ancient sect's bloodline.

The epitome of "cheerful"

YouTube link. I created a "cheerful" category for blog posts (now with 200+ entries) because some days after surfing the internet for news and stories, one needs some lighter fare.

The "Pillar portrait" of the Bronte sisters

"Anne is on the left with Emily in the centre and Charlotte on the right. Originally, their brother, Branwell, had begun painting himself in the picture but ultimately decided to paint himself out by replacing his image with a 'pillar'.

Dunes on a comet

Not something I would have expected to see.  Embedded image cropped from the original for emphasis of the dunes feature.

Eagle-eye view

"A white-tailed eagle, extinct in France for over 50 years, soared from the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris and flew over the Seine with a Sony camera mounted on its back."From a gallery at The Guardian.  Credit Sony/

King Tut's poor health

Dozens of websites have posted the results of Tutankhamun's virtual (CT-scan) autopsy.  The best (most concise, least sensational) I've found has been the report at National Geographic's Education Blog: What have these CT scans revealed about King Tut’s life and death?

Sunlight reflected onto a brick wall

Looks like chromosomes in metaphase.  Found at Reddit.

The world asks the U.S. to end its embargo of Cuba

(Reuters) - The U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday voted overwhelmingly for the 23rd time to condemn the decades-long U.S.

"Catcalling." What it's like being a girl in New York City

YouTube link. This young woman volunteered to walk around the streets of New York for ten hours, walking behind a companion who had a GoPro camera mounted on his backpack.  She is holding a microphone in both hands to record the comments directed at her during her walk, which have been clarified with captions in the 2-minute video.  The video is edited; she received about ten unsolicited comments per hour of walking.

Firefighters' rescue masks

From France "between the mid-1800s and World War I." I see adapters designed to fit onto some type of tubing, presumably leading either to fresh (?

A closer look at the "Disabled Veterans National Foundation" - Updated x2

This elaborate "desk set" (calculator, pen, note pad) arrived unsolicited in the mail this week, from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation.  Because our family does donate money to charities, and because I know they exchange (or sell) names of donors to one another, I'm never surprised when new appeals arrive in the mail.

This is an average American man

"Todd is the most typical of American men. His proportions are based on averages from CDC anthropometric data.

A "hundred" used to mean 120

A reminder that the English language evolved at a time when the counting system involved a "long hundred" equal to 120.

Iraqi girls on their way to school

Credit: Ahmad Al-rubaye/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian.

Salamander traffic jam

Posted because this photo brings back pleasant memories of my childhood in Minnesota.  Every fall tiger salamanders by the dozens would accumulate at the base of our outside basement stairwell.  It was my not unpleasant chore as a youngster to corral them before they desiccated, and transfer them back to the nearby woods.

Some old books had feet

Erik Kwakkel explains: When medieval binders knew that the object they were processing would be placed on a lectern, for example in a chained library, they often added tiny feet like the ones seen here.

What was in Edgar Allan Poe's head?

Many years ago I spent a lot of time studying the life and works of Edgar Allan Poe (see this manuscript), but do not remember previously having read this account of his exhumation: When Poe died, he was buried, rather unceremoniously, in an unmarked grave in a Baltimore graveyard.