Archive for the ‘History’ Category

My family roots are one or two levels up from what would be the Italian equivalent of hillbillies.



Mountain people. Peasants, as it were. Honest, good, godly people who were… at least until they left for the New World… always screwed by those above them.


A few months ago, I ran into a song entitled “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.” It has stuck with me ever since.


The people of this song… the coal miners of eastern Kentucky and their families… have almost no connection to me or my family. And yet, this song gripped me.


Like a lot of people whose roots are in the hills, my family knows what it’s like to live somewhere where the sun comes up at 10 in the morning.

(“You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” – Music & Lyrics by Darrell Scott)

Poverty crosses all kinds of lines. So does a feeling of helplessness. Of being stuck and not being able to find a way out.


Knowing in the pit of your stomach that you are doomed and that your future is all laid out for you, no matter what.


Thank goodness, my family was able to get away to a new place where they could build a new life.

May the Almighty bless and protect those who have not or cannot do the same.



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For those of you who are curious as to how and when we (and by we, I mean anatomically modern humans) got to where we are.


This is a map that sets out the migration pattern of modern humans out of east Africa and across the world.


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Every once in a while, fashion – like art, music, food, children and other aspects of one’s life – goes through an unfortunate phase.


One such phase occurred in the 19th century.


The bustle.


I’m not sure if this fashion tort will ever again inflict its beasty society upon right-thinking members of society.


We cannot, however, become too complacent about this issue.


Our watchword must be, “Ceaseless Vigilance!”


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I have to hand it once again to the intrepid geeks and nerdlings over at ScienceDaily.com!

Actor Johnny Depp Immortalized in Name of Fossilized Creature With ‘Scissor Hand’ Claws

The article begins, “A scientist has discovered an ancient extinct creature with ‘scissor hand-like’ claws in fossil records and has named it in honour of his favourite movie star.”

The 505-million-year-old fossil called Kooteninchela deppi (pronounced Koo-ten-ee-che-la depp-eye), which is a distant ancestor of lobsters and scorpions, was named after the actor Johnny Depp for his starring role as Edward Scissorhands — a movie about an artificial man named Edward, an unfinished creation, who has scissors for hands.

Kooteninchela-deppi-4(What a cutie. Just like its namesake!)

Kooteninchela deppi is helping researchers to piece together more information about life on Earth during the Cambrian period when nearly all modern animal types emerged.

David Legg, who carried out the research as part of his PhD in the Department of Earth Science and Engineering at Imperial College London, says:

“When I first saw the pair of isolated claws in the fossil records of this species I could not help but think of Edward Scissorhands. Even the genus name, Kootenichela, includes the reference to this film as ‘chela’ is Latin for claws or scissors. In truth, I am also a bit of a Depp fan and so what better way to honour the man than to immortalise him as an ancient creature that once roamed the sea?”


It lived in shallow seas off the coast of what is now British Columbia, Canada, although in those days, the area was closer to the equator.

It was approximately four centimetres long with a trunk for a body and millipede-like legs and large eyes which it used to search for food along the sea floor, according to research published in the Journal of Palaeontology.

The researcher believes that Kooteninchela deppi would have been a hunter or scavenger. Its large Edward Scissorhands-like claws with their elongated spines may have been used to capture prey, or they could have helped it to probe the sea floor looking for sea creatures hiding in sediment.

lobster(Kooteninchela deppi – a distant relative of lobsters & scorpions)

It also had large eyes composed of many lenses like the compound eyes of a fly. They were positioned on top of movable stalks called peduncles to help it more easily search for food and look out for predators.

The researchers discovered that Kooteninchela deppi belongs to a group known as the ‘great-appendage’ arthropods, which includes spiders, scorpions, centipedes, millipedes, insects and crabs.

Mr Legg said: ‘Just imagine it – the prawns covered in mayonnaise in your sandwich, the spider climbing up your wall and even the fly that has been banging into your window and annoyingly flying into your face are all descendants of Kooteninchela deppi.’

‘Current estimates indicate that there are more than one million known insects and potentially 10 million more yet to be categorised, which potentially means that Kooteninchela deppi has a huge family tree.’

Legg now wants to study the fossils from the Ordovician period, when species diversity increased.

The research was published in the Journal of Palaeontology 2 May 2013.


Journal Reference:

  1. David Legg. Multi-Segmented Arthropods from the Middle Cambrian of British Columbia (Canada)Journal of Paleontology, 2013; 87 (3): 493 DOI: 10.1666/12-112.1

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On 29 November 1947, the United Nations General Assembly recommended the adoption and implementation of the partition plan of  Mandatory Palestine.


On 14 May 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and president of the Jewish Agency for Palestine, declared “the establishment of a Jewish state in Eretz Israel, to be known as the State of Israel,” a state independent upon the termination of the British Mandate for Palestine, 15 May 1948.

May the Almighty continue to bless and protect Israel.


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I’m a bit of a sword nut.

So is my son, really.

My apartment has been described as ‘bristling with weaponry!’


Judge my delight, then, when I ran across this little chart.

Love it. Had to share it!


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I visited Israel this year for the first time from February 11th to the 25th. It was a mind-blowing experience.

One of the top, if not THE top, “must see” sights is the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

This is the view most people have in mind when they think of the Western Wall.

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What most people fail to realize is that section of the Western Wall is only about the top 55 feet or so. It continues down underground for another 100 feet! This is because the section of the Western Wall Plaza you see above was built on a series of arches extending up from true ground level.

In order to more fully appreciate all of the Western Wall, you really need to take what is known as the Tunnel Tour.

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Once you get underground, you can see how the Plaza above rests on top of huge arches leading up to the Wall.

The first thing you encounter when you reach the Wall is what is known as the Western Stone.

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It’s big. REALLY big. The stone is 13.6 meters (44.6 feet) long and 3 metres (9.8 feet) high and has an estimated width of 3.3 meters (10.8 feet).

This single stone is about the size of a modern day bus. It is one of the largest building stones in the world. It weighs 570 tons!!

last 032(Right section of the Stone)

It starts here at the right…

last 033(Centre section of the stone)

… continues on… and on… for almost 45 feet..

last 034(Left section of the Stone)

And ends at the left of this frame.

last 053(Me obstructing the view of the Western Stone)

No one knows how the Jews were able to place a block this big in this spot!

There is not a crane in modern day Israel today that is capable of lifting this stone.

me-wall-01s(Me at the Western Wall)

So if you are ever looking at The Wall from the Plaza, think of the depth (in all senses of the word) of that structure.

May the Temple be rebuilt, speedily and in our time.


All photos taken by Daniel Ventresca using a Canon PowerShot A2400 IS digital camera. Last image taken by Tomer Aharon.

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