Sunday, 31 May 2009

Ancient Symbols: The Swastila

It comes as a surprise to some that it wasn't after all a strange little German man with a strange little moustache who invented the symbol that, had it not been for courageous men and women the world over, could have flown above every capital city in Europe. No, he purloined the use of the symbol which had historic roots going back millennia. Here, S Hayes explaines that there is much more to the swastika than Hitler.

From the article:
The Swastika is an ancient sacred symbol - upon first glance, the words “Sacred” and “Swastika” seem to contradict each other......we are all painfully aware of the negative Nazi association with this symbol, BUT, we should not forget that this symbol is ancient, it did not start with the Nazi’s and it would be a shame to let it end there, when potentially, analysis could provide a startling insight into human history.
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Saturday, 30 May 2009

Look, Look! There's Something on the Roof!

Architecture isn’t just about architects. It’s human, it’s organic – it’s all about add-ons! Here are a number that you may find questionable. Then again, you may find them wonderful, unique and a tribute to the individual in all of us. Get out of here!

In Portland they occasionally struggle against their image as staid and solid citizens. Here, they show that they can be as mad as the rest of the world. Each year for the Rose Festival, Jakes restaurant puts this giant inflatable crab on their roof. Why? Because they can!

Climate change is happening, and this must be the ultimate in photographic proof that it is becoming more and more of a danger to the environment. In fact, this shark, decorously poised in Oxford, England, was put there deliberately be the owner of the house. Years of argument with the local council ensued until, after it had become a local landmark, the council decided it could stay after all!

Here there be dragons! Don’t you really hate it when people don’t take Halloween seriously? Put a little effort in guys, come on!

Need auto repair, then why not get down to Andy’s in Washington State? There you can also take a very quick double take as you approach. Are those the…? Why are they…? Who cares? They look great and must give every passerby a lift! Or a breakdown!

The residents of Orange County may shake their heads and wonder why, but that is doubtful. It is California, after all! Three friends audition for the latest Disney film but while they certainly get themselves seen, they fail when it comes to he cute factor. The Moose is a snob, the goat thinks he is Sophocles and the bear is just a little too grizzly.

Is this urban art, making a statement about man’s condition and the loneliness of the thinker? Or is it just that someone in Salvador, Brazil thought it would be hugely entertaining to stick a show window mannequin on the top of a very tall building. With some generosity of spirit you could accept the former. Without, then it’s just a dummy on a roof, which if alive would probably be getting a grand case of the piles right now!

Behold, a giant am I! This great big symbol of all things American sits atop a rooftop in downtown Michigan. Nonchalant and indifferent, he doesn’t even notice that a bird has chosen to perch on his hat, from which to survey the wonders of the city (no irony, honestly!). Taken from the back because from the front, it seems, this gentleman leaves nothing to the imagination! Not so much of a gentleman then!

Who could leave LA without a visit to Randy’s Donuts? Not for the faint hearted (at least when it comes to the doughy stuff!), Randy’s boasts the largest ring with a hole in the city, quite possibly the whole state and perhaps the world! One can imagine it falling on a hapless Harold Lloyd who would miraculously survive the landing by a whisker and give the screen one of his slightly befuddled black and white looks!

Not something you would put on the list of local amenities if you wanted to sell your flat, these two tube carriages hover precariously over the road. It looks as if they are members of a club, recreating scenes from movies where hapless carriages must speed to the end of the line before hurtling in to oblivion. Only it never is oblivion, really. Look closely and you can see Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves in the carriage on the left. Gotcha!

Willow, Alaska, and Sarah Palin’s private jet awaits her next political move. Whether it is to New York or in to the more and more Polar Bear free wastes of her native state, this jaunty little number awaits her every whim. Small and petit, much like the lady, it only has enough fuel for internal flights and will not venture overseas. Much like the lady.

Weather vanes are not that rare in Brooklyn, but really! If you are going to kidnap someone and keep them, Fu Manchu style, in a glass container, wouldn’t it more discreet to keep your hapless prisoner indoors? This just looks like over confidence gone mad. Incidentally, is everyone in Brooklyn called Vinnie? Enquiring minds!

Staying in Brooklyn for a while, one must wonder whether its inhabitants have a fixation for putting stuff on the roof. Here, two young men await he arrival of their friend Homer, in the expectation of a beer or five. For the artist in you, yes, a third figure on the right would have given this bravura piece of something for no reason whatsoever a much greater sense of balance.

When Tom refused to continue the double act, Jerry went quickly and despondently to seed. Here he tries to put on a brave face for the visitors to a fireworks store in Wisconsin. Poor old Jerry. He was always the most vulnerable and sensitive of the pair, wasn’t he?

They don’t do their art by half in Vienna, Austria. This piece of installation art (and just how did they install it?) is something to take the breath away. Perched precariously on top of a museum of modern art, what sort of statement is it making? And where is Dorothy and the Munchkins? Probably not of this world any longer, as this would obviously have missed any wicked witch standing in the court yard!

Not quite Champion, but it’s a wonder that this horse got where it was! A homage to an old Guinness ad, perhaps? Nope, doesn’t seem to be a surfer anywhere to be seen in the vicinity! To those who thought the slightly saner variety of the American species could be found in Pennsylvania, think again!

Not many people know this but The Incredibles have a second home in the country. However, they spent so much on the purchase and refurbishment of their New England hideaway that when it came to readiness to fight crime and evil geniuses gone mad, they had to skimp a little on the peripherals. Still goes from zero to ninety in three seconds flat, though!

Elvis has left the building! Enough said!

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¡venga y explore!

Acronyms and Mnemonics : Learn More with Less

Have you ever been in the middle of doing something when you have forgotten what you are doing? There are ways to learn things that could help you to remember stuff easier. Take a look at this article by to see how. Have you ever been in the middle... never mind, the humour was weak.

From the article:
Better ways to remember lengthy lists of items or tasks to be performed are reconciled to a user-friendly acronym, a memorable word comprised of the first letter of each word. Or, another method is to use a ‘mnemonic’ which is a memorable sentencing phrase that contains the correct order of items or tasks.

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The World's Most Famous Archaeological Underworld

We all have a soft spot for ancient Egypt and for the rituals of burial associated with it. How many other cultures can be said to have inspired horror films millennia after their collapse. OK, well maybe one or two but it is always Egypt that comes out on top in my books. Here, Lauren Axelrod takes a look at the most famous underworld in the world.

From the article:
The Valley of the Kings in Egypt is located on the West Bank of the Nile River within “the heart of the Theban Necropolis”. This illuminated place is said to hold the wealth of Egypt where Kings and Queens were laid to rest and their treasure was buried with them. Many men have died risking their lives to discover the mysteries of this sacred place, some have never returned.

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Friday, 29 May 2009

Namib Desert: A Hauntingly Beautiful Place

One of the last places in the world that a lot of people would consider as a holiday destination is the Namib Desert. A wilderness? Perhaps by most people's definitions but there are things to see there that may surprise you.

From the article:
The Namib Desert is a wild, haunting, unique and beautifulplace that stretches some 1,200 miles along the Atlantic Ocean in Namibia and Southwest Angola and is home to the largest sand dunes in the world.

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What Did HD Ever do for You?

Conversations in bars can get a little surreal. Recently a group of friends and myself were talking about what High Definition could do for you. It got a little like a Monty Python film, to say the least. Do you remember the old line? What have the Romans ever done for us? Well, this was a similar conversation except the Romans hadn’t really invaded. Not yet anyway. But new technology and the Romans are different. The Romans left, new technology is here to stay. But like the Romans, HD can do a lot for you without you realizing.

What? What I mean is that a lot of people do go on about the expense that they think the transfer from what hey get now to High Definition will cost them. The answer, of course, is not a great deal, but you can only find out by doing a little bit of research. High-definition television yields a better-quality image than standard television does, because it has a greater number of lines of resolution. The visual information is some 2-5 times sharper because the gaps between the scan lines are narrower or invisible to the naked eye. Of course, if you do your research and take advantage of then you might find it a lot cheaper that you thought. OK, it may not be the Romans, but in this day and age we don’t need them to watch Gladiator how we want!

It may not be for everyone, of course. If you are just out to watch the TV for the news of for five minutes in a morning then HD channels – and there are over 130 on D offers – then carry on the way you are. However, if you like your satellite TV delivered in high quality that is up to the minute and, coincidentally, beats the systems that the Romans next door have, do a little research.

only come around once in a blue moon. So if you like to see your special films and shows with a screen resolution which is almost five times as sharp as conventional broadcasts you should look in to something like . The Romans may not have discovered that high definition has double the lines of resolution when compared to a traditional analog television set – and it may not have meant much to them either. However, the chances are that if you like your home entertainment systems, it will mean a lot to you in the near future.

Strangely Sharky Sharks: Shocking Shark Species

Thanks to a certain Mr Spielberg a number of people think that sharks are restricted, species wise, to a great white man eating variety. However, as points out here, there is more to the whole genus than necessarily meets the eye at first glance. They come in all shapes and sizes - and they don't always eat us either!

From the article:
The small but scary-looking Tropical Sawshark that is native to Australia is a recently described species of sawshark. It can be found at a depth of 246-405 meters (810-1,330 ft). Its specific epithet delicatus is Latin for "delicate", referring to the fine teeth on its saw-like rostrum.

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Thursday, 28 May 2009

10 Awesome Flash-Animated Interactive Websites

Phew! That title is a bit of a mouth full. However, it does describe well the 10 websiteS below. They are awesome, use flash for the animations and are interactive. So, this does what it says on the label - enjoy!

From the article
Take a set of stunning panoramic views and from them create an awesome multi-resolution flash virtual tour. This seems to have been the brief in the development of this site and it pays off superbly. The first shot of Central Park and the ambient music set the tone for the whole experience. This is a bird's eye view of the city which you have to see to believe. If Google Earth is Grandma Walton then this is Marilyn Monroe (if you see what I mean). You can control the direction of the panorama and zoom in and out. This really is New York as only few see it.

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Bamboo: The Miracle Crop From the Past and a Hope for the Future

OK, so we all thought it was just Panda food. Turns out that there are a lot more uses for bamboo than meets the eye. It seems it can be turned to, well, just about anything. Take a look - this may surprise you.

From the article
Bamboo is being used in a number of innovative ways. Both old and new which include of course food, building material, environmental uses, decorative and functional objects of everyday need. This material is multi-functional, fast-growing and renewable. If ever there was an environmental product that could call itself "green" it would have to be bamboo.

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The Flower Within a Flower

A gorgeous plant that some people have trouble spelling, the Bougainvillea is out in force this year. gives us an insightin to the history of the plant, alongside some stunning pictures.

From the article
The Bougainvillea is a genus of flowering plants native to South America. It was named after French Navy admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville, who discovered the vine in Brazil in 1768 together with French Botanist Philibert Commercon, during their voyage to the Pacific Ocean.

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Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Graffiti, Stencils, Street: 10 Cutting Edge Urban Art Websites

Not to everyone's taste but certainly here at Webphemera we like our urban art. So, if you too are a fan of Banksy and Blek le Rat, then take a look at these ten distinct websites. Various artists and collectives are represented here and you are almost certain to find at least one that you will want to bookmark.

From the article
A look at 10 websites that feature the work of collectives or individuals engaged in cutting edge urban art. If you like graffiti, stencils and art in the street, take a look at these sites and enjoy the experience.

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The Coolest Way to Wear Your Hair

Hair. Sometimes you just have to admit that it is downright silly. takes us through a number of hair-don'ts that Mother Nature herself has provided for our entertainment. Oh, and one that She didn't!

From the Article
Hairdos can be very expensive and many people spend a lot of time and money trying to achieve the most natural and stylish looks. All of these happened naturally, with the exception of one which baffles me totally.

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What a Find!

I recently wanted to buy a as a present for a young relative. Now, call me old fashioned, but when I did my shopping in places called, er, shops, I used to visit a number of stores in pursuit of the cheapest possible price for a single product. Now that I shop a lot online for I try to do that. However, the speed of my PC is not that great and so when I am looking for a the best price for , for example, my patience tends to wear a little thin.

Buying a game like or does involve some hunting as prices can vary hugely from site to site. Fortunately, I have now found this brilliant site called ShopWiki which does something quite brilliant. For me, at least. When you look for the game that you want on this site, whether it is or sonic, this site will tell you where to find the best deals on the internet.

Something else too. If you know little about these games but are looking to but as a gfit, then the site will allow you to learn a little too. So, if you are a grandma or grandpa looking for that present that will get the grandkids all excited, but don’t know anything about these games then there is a for a and a Video which makes it all so much easier. Fantastic! You can make yourself look ever so clever by doing a little homework on the site. So, if you need to get the 'gen' on the or , you can find east to understand information on ShopWiki.

You will also get the low down on and consoles. The site is so easy to use and will tell you what you need to know without getting patronizing!

Insects In Flagrante

The diversity of insects on this planet is astonishing and should be a source of continual wonder for us all. It can only be hope that these incredible creatures can be left to survive and continue their species for many millennia to come. Of course they do everything we do - sometimes with much more aplomb! You may think this is mother nature at is rawest or a kind of bug porn! Choose for yourself, but ready or not - here we go!

A pair of Migrant Hawkers mates, the fantastic coloring of their bodies coordinating so well with each other. Found in Sweden, this dragonfly is known there as Höstmosaikslända which translates to “Fall Mosaic”. A rather beautiful name for a rather beautiful creature.

The appropriately named Assassin Bug which looks as if it would give any Ninja a run for its money! They feed mainly off other insects but have been known to have a go at other species, including birds and, oh, us! Found in tropical regions, they are making inroads in to Europe and North America as the climate becomes warmer.

These Cicada Parasite bugs may look as if they belong to different species but it is quite usual for male and female insects to be startlingly different from one another. The larger one is the female and the brown one doing the work is the male. Found in the USA, they are otherwise known as Cedar Beetles.

The sex of the Southern Green Stink Bug, however, is almost indistinguishable to the untrained eye. Fortunately they have no problem with recognizing each other. They are so called because, yes, their smell can only be described as malodorous. Classified as a pest, these bugs attack many important food crops and are thought to have originated in Ethiopia. They are becoming common in Europe, Asia and the Americas.

The much-maligned mosquito has many different species all over the world. Noted for their slender body and long legs they are the Size Zero of the insect world. As a vector agent they carry parasites and diseases from person to person and so are not the most popular insect on the planet. Blissfully unaware of their reputation among the higher mammals, this pair carries on the circle of life quite blithely.

The Lady Bug or as it is known in the UK, the Ladybird should have a worse reputation than the mosquito as it is a voracious killer and devourer of its prey, the greenfly. However, its primary coloring (although red should signify danger even to us!) has given it a much gentler public image than it deserves.

Caddis flies are closely related to moths and butterflies and as such mate in a very similar way with each partner facing away from the other. Their larvae are, however, aquatic and can live in extremely cold climates. Their cocoons are spun from silk, just like butterflies. They emerge en masse to ensure that a male and female can find each other easily. Anglers take advantage of this by matching their flies to whatever species is emerging on the day they are fishing.

The gorgeous Queen Butterfly (living in South and North America) do not have a problem recognizing each others’ gender as the male has an endocrinal patch on its dorsal hind wings which releases scent to attract females. It uses a technique called Mullerian Mimicry to protect itself. That is, it adopts the mannerisms of the more populous Viceroy butterfly which is poisonous to birds and other animals. Funnily enough, the Queen is also poisonous but it imitates the Viceroy as the latter is much more numerous. Where the mimic is not poisonous, this is known as Batesian Mimicry.

Two rotting bananas do it on a lead. This awesomely ugly creature is known as Lixus angustatus but we would call it a weevil. They are also, unsurprisingly, known as Snout Beetles and look as if they are some long lost relative of the Ant Eater. There is such an abundance of Weevil species and diversity that their classification is in a constant state of flux but you are most likely to meet one at home if you open a bag of flour! A good job that home baking is on the decline, then!

The incredibly elegant creature pictured above is the Ischnura elegans or the Blue-Tailed Damselfly and is found over much of the European continent. As its English name suggests, it has a large amount of blue coloring. Its eighth segment, however, is entirely blue and it is this which gives this insect its stunning look. The female has diversified in color and can come in pale green, violet and pink.

The Robber Fly, which not many people find terribly attractive, has some fun in the sun. They can be recognized by their furry moustache and each has a group of three primitive eyes nestling between the larger two compound ones. It injects its victims through its proboscis and the enzyme it produces liquefies it victim. The resulting mush can then be sucked through the proboscis.

Pennsylvania Leather-wings are a beneficial insect. The larva enjoy nothing more than as many grasshopper eggs as they can get through. Some species that are native to the Great Plains in the USA are used to control Corn Earworm caterpillars which can damage crops enormously. This pair uses the natural camouflage of a Tickweed Sunflower to produce the next generation of the species.

Another pair of Stink Bugs gets busy with the job nature intended. Although they are known to occasionally eat other insects, they mostly suck the sap from plants by piercing them with sharp mouth parts. Stink Bugs (from the Hemiptera order) use their stink to warn off predators. The stink is an aldehyde, which is similar to a pheromone (chemically at least).

The European Praying Mantis is one of the more popular insects because of its alien appearance. The female is renowned for eating the male after mating. This is certainly true – and the male knows it. Little known is the fact that many males manage to make a quick getaway after they have secured continuance of their genetic material!

The Praying Mantis is the Kama Sutra Kid of the insect world. Whole books could be written about the positions in which they are found in coitus!

Always beware the little guys! Ambush bugs are usually about twelve millimeters in length but they take on prey which is significantly larger than they are! They are found mostly in tropical Asia and America and hide among plants from which they pounce on their prey when it gets close enough. The upper part of each foreleg has structures like teeth that mesh in to the thicker leg section. It grasps its victim in its pincers and, piercing the victim with its short beak, it sucks out the fluids. One can only hope the male, above, decides not to do it to the female!

These Anacua tortoise beetles are so named because of their superficial resemblance to the tortoise. However, unlike a tortoise, what you can see here is not a carapace or shell. It is known as an elytron and is a hardened forewing. It is a protective cover for the delicate hind wings which are used for flying. In some species the fore and hind wings have become fused, which renders the beetle flightless.

A pair of Shield Bugs – which is another name for the Stink Bug family. What is exceptional about this species is the orange and black strip of danger signals it has at the base of its ‘shield’. How often does mankind unwittingly imitate the insect world?

The Desert Forktail, found in the USA has found its mate. The remarkable microphotography enlarges this pair to a scary level. The Aliens and the Predators of the movie world would not stand a chance if these were to be enlarged to a much greater size! Humor aside, the unearthliness of this photo is breathtaking.

What selection of insects would be complete without the inclusion of the Grasshopper? This image manages to be beautiful, scary and creepy all at the same time.

Come and explore

¡venga y explore!

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