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Archive for the 'on the web' Category

16 February

Harry Truman


I recently found this short audio clip on This I Believe.  Here is a short description below.  Follow the link to listen to the audio.

President Harry Truman explains the beliefs that influenced his two decades of public service, and he encourages Americans to correct the remaining imperfections in our democracy. [This I Believe]

Image credit:  Wiki Commons

14 February

Federal Air Marshals


Did you know you might have been sitting next to a person with a gun on your last flight?  What if I told you they had that gun on the flight legally.  Air Marshals have been flying with us since 1963.    On 9/11/2001 there were only 33 Federal Air Marshals active.  Now, although the official number is classified, the number is believed to be in the thousands.  The current budget for Air Marshals is 800 million annually.  Federal air marshals rollup under the TSA.

How many terrorists did the FAMs stop with this $800 million? Zero, according to a CNN Special Investigation (though agents did make four arrests last year – which averages some $200 million per arrest). OC Register

Read more about the federal air marshal program at wikipedia.

13 February

Vestmannaeyjar, Iceland



UPDATE:  This is one of the most popular post on my site here.  It seems that google has chosen the image above to display when users search for “Vestmannaeyjar”.  So if you’ve come from that search you are sondering about this particular island and less about the island chain.  First thats not Bjork’s house.  The above island is called Elliðaey.  Iceland has two islands by this name.  The island above is part of the Westman archipelago (Vestmannaeyjar in Icelandic) off of Iceland’s southern coast. In 1953 the Elliðaey Hunting Association built a lodge on the island for its members to use.  The lodge has no electricity or indoor plumbing. It does have a sauna. The water for the sauna comes from a rain collection system.

There are a few websites that claim that Iceland gave the island (and the lodge) to Bjork.  Well, it almost happened.  See the below from a 2000 article in The Independent (its no longer available online:

Title: Iceland balks at island freebie for Bjork

Author(s): Sonya Procenko

Source: The Independent (London, England). (Feb. 10, 2000): News: p15.

Document Type: Brief article

Full Text: COPYRIGHT 2000 Independent Print Ltd.

Full Text:

THE ICELANDIC singer Bjork may have put her nation on the map, but plans to grant her exclusive use of an uninhabited island off the west coast to reward her for her services have run into difficulties.

Earlier this week David Oddsson, Prime Minister, told parliament: “Bjork has done more for the popularity of Iceland than most other Icelanders. My view is that she may be given the use of this island [Ellidaey] as a royalty payment, as recognition from the state.”

But, amid an uproar in the country, the government has had to reconsider its generosity. Yesterday Mr Oddsson’s office denied Ellidaey had been sold or leased to the singer.

If sold, said a spokesman, it would be only to the highest bidder. Icelandic radio reported rumours that the musician was no longer interested in the island. She has neither confirmed nor denied reports and was not available for comment yesterday.

Despite her much-professed love for Iceland, Bjork is neither based there full-time nor does she sing in Icelandic.

Last year she approached the prime minister about living part of the year and building a home on Ellidaey, Mr Oddsson’s spokesman said. The state “might” permit the singer to live on the island rent-free or at a low rent, depending on “market interest”. In the event of a sale, she would not be given preferential treatment.

“Bjork is a very well-known person in the world, especially in the music world. She’s also an active player in the social life of Iceland … She is very focused on promoting her mother country. Knowledge of Iceland has risen dramatically since she began her successful career as a musician.” No one, he insisted, was queuing to rent or buy the two-mile-wide island. Ellidaey is one of two islands, along with Malmey, which Iceland may decide to sell this year. There are hundreds of islands, many uninhabited, off Iceland.

Source Citation   (MLA 7th Edition)

Procenko, Sonya. “Iceland balks at island freebie for Bjork.” Independent [London, England] 10 Feb. 2000: 15. Popular Magazines. Web. 24 June 2013.

Vestmannaeyjar is a small archipelago off the south coast of Iceland. The largest island, Heimaey, has a population of 4,036. The other islands are uninhabited, though two have single hunting cabins. Read more about it at

More information:


How to pronounce Vestmannaeyjar

Further Reading:

Vestmannaeyjar Westman Islands - The story of the volcanic eruption of 1973 and the attempt to resettle the island. Has before and after photos.

Lonely Planet Iceland (Travel Guide)

Paradise Reclaimed - An idealistic Icelandic farmer journeys to Mormon Utah and back in search of paradise in this captivating novel by Nobel Prize—winner Halldor Laxness.  The quixotic hero of this long-lost classic is Steinar of Hlidar, a generous but very poor man who lives peacefully on a tiny farm in nineteenth-century Iceland with his wife and two adoring young children. But when he impulsively offers his children’s beloved pure-white pony to the visiting King of Denmark, he sets in motion a chain of disastrous events that leaves his family in ruins and himself at the other end of the earth, optimistically building a home for them among the devout polygamists in the Promised Land of Utah. By the time the broken family is reunited, Laxness has spun his trademark blend of compassion and comically brutal satire into a moving and spellbinding enchantment, composed equally of elements of fable and folkore and of the most humble truths.

Top Image from: Pixdaus: Popular Today Pics

Bottom Image from:  michael clarke stuff

12 February

Space Station Tour


The International Space Station represents a union of several national space station projects that originated during the Cold War. In the early 1980s, NASA planned to launch a modular space station called Freedom as a counterpart to the Soviet Salyut and Mir space stations, while the Soviets were planning to construct Mir-2 in the 1990s as a replacement for Mir. Because of budget and design constraints, Freedom never progressed past mock-ups and minor component tests. [wikipedia]

You can follow the astronouts on the space station via twitter now:  Soichi, Jeff, and TJ.  Watch a tour below:

10 February

New Video of Challenger Explosion


New video of the Challenger space shuttle explosion from 1986 was posted today to youtube.

09 February

Howard Zinn


Howard Zinn

Howard Zinn inspired me.  Reading his People’s History of the United States: 1492 to Present was eye-opening for me.  It was the first book that I had read that challenged the conventional history that you learn in high school.  It told me that history was not cut-and-dry.  It was not boring.  History was fascinating as long as you got the real story.

Howard Zinn pasted away into his own history on January 27, 2010.  He was traveling in Santa Monica when he suffered a fatal heart attack.  He was 87 years old.  You can find a list of some great articles on Dr. Zinn from HNN.    To learn more about this amazing historian read his autobiography You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times. I have yet to read it, but it is going on my reading list right now.  For those of you who have a Netflix subscription you can view his Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train [or buy it on] on watch instantly.

In 1997, Dr. Zinn slipped into popular culture when his writing made a cameo appearance in the film “Good Will Hunting.” The title character, played by Matt Damon, lauds “A People’s History” and urges Robin Williams’s character to read it. Damon, who co-wrote the script, was a neighbor of the Zinns growing up. -Boston Globe

There is a good short history of Dr. Zinn about half way through the Boston Globe article that I quoted above.  If you want more, read his autobiography (and his other books) and there is always Wikipedia.

Image credit: spleeney

06 December

The History of the Internet


From Six Revisions:

Here’s a brief history of the Internet, including important dates, people, projects, sites, and other information that should give you at least a partial picture of what this thing we call the Internet really is, and where it came from.

Click the link above to read the article.  Image from dalbera.

05 December

7 Vikings



It’s not exactly a startling, ground-breaking revelation to suggest that the  were pretty much the most face-rockingly hardcore bastards to ever beat a bunch of monks to death with their own iron church bells, throw them through a stained-glass window onto some pointy rocks, and carry off all of their valuable artifacts. We all know that these psychotic, axe-wielding Norsemen are more or less the epitome of everything it means to be tough as hell, what with their looting and pillaging and huge beards and all, but it never really hurts to drive home the point every once in a while that these guys totally kicked ass.

Image from infomatique.

04 December

Origins of Life


One of the best explanations of the origin of life on film. A 40 minute production.

03 December

Mount Hood Erupts


From Today’s History Lesson:

The mighty battleship HMS Hood was felled in 1941 in spectacular (and catastrophic) fashion.  Engaged in a fight with the Bismarck and Prinz Eugen, her aft ammunition magazine was pierced by gunfire from theBismarck.  The Hood exploded in a conflagration that split her in two, sank her in minutes with nearly all hands, and reverberated through the British Admiralty all the way to Number 10 Downing.

Image from: KM Photography...