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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Israeli Leader Declares Victory in Gaza War

Israeli Leader Declares Victory in Gaza War


Israeli Leader Declares Victory in Gaza War

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 11:21 AM PDT

(JERUSALEM) — Israel’s prime minister has declared victory in the Gaza war against Hamas, saying a cease-fire deal gave nothing to the Islamic militant group.

In a news conference broadcast on national TV, Benjamin Netanyahu said Wednesday that “Hamas was hit hard” during the seven weeks of fighting.

He said that under the cease-fire deal, which took effect on Tuesday, Israel didn’t accept any of Hamas’ demands.

More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, and Israeli airstrikes and artillery fire destroyed thousands of buildings.

Netanyahu’s address appeared to be aimed at countering critics who have complained that the cease-fire failed to oust Hamas or stop its rocket attacks out of Gaza.

Hamas also has declared victory.

What Bronze Age Wine Snobs Drank

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 11:01 AM PDT

It's hardly news that the ancients drank wine—the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians all imbibed, as did pretty much any other civilization in which alcohol wasn't prohibited for religious reasons. "We have written records," says Brandeis University archaeologist Andrew Koh. "We've found jars marked 'wine.' We’ve found wine residues. It's pictured everywhere."

That being the case, you might think a cache of 40 wine jars unearthed from a room in the Bronze Age Canaanite palace at Tel Kabri, which stood more than 3,600 years ago in what's now modern Israel, would be no big deal.

But you’d be wrong. "In the past," says Koh, lead author of a paper describing the discovery in the latest issue of the journal PLOS ONE, "we wouldn't have been able to say much more than 'this is a bunch of containers that held wine.'"

Thanks to an unprecedentedly sophisticated analysis of the deposits inside those containers, however, Koh, who has a joint appointment in Brandeis’ Classical Studies and Chemistry departments, along with two colleagues, can conclude much more, specifically that the wine was flavored with—deep breath, now—honey, storax resin, terebinth resin, cedar oil, cyperus, juniper and possibly mint, myrtle and cinnamon as well.

Not only that: on one side of the room, the wine was mostly unflavored; in the middle, it contained about half that long list of ingredients and in a small adjoining room it contained them all. In fact, Koh and his colleagues think this wasn't really a storage facility at all. It was a sort of kitchen, where wine was brought in from the surrounding area—the jars were made from local clay—and a brewmaster of some sort subtly flavored them before they were served in the banquet hall next door.

"We've known about the existence of these complex wines for a long time," says Koh, "and we've even got recipes. But to find examples of the actual wines, that's what makes the science so compelling.”

The additives aside, the wine itself was the same from jar to jar. That, plus the fact that wine was generally not saved from one season to the next, led Koh and his co-authors to conclude that it was all from a single year’s vintage. And that particular vintage clearly never made it into the banquet hall—almost certainly because an earthquake collapsed the walls, breaking the jars and spilling what was inside.

Although this palace stood–and perhaps fell–on what is now Israeli soil, it wasn’t an Israelite palace. Biblical chronology suggests that the Jews were were slaves in Egypt at the time. During the Exodus, when Moses led his people to the Promised Land of milk and honey, it was people like these wine-makers they ended up conquering.

The excavations at Tel Kabri aren’t over. Koh and his team will return next year, and, he says, “we're confident we'll find other rooms, maybe with jars of olive oil. We might also find statues, jewelry, the kind of stuff the public likes.”

That’s not what the archaeologists care about, however. “We're more interested,” Koh says, “in knowing how people lived.”

The Government Wants to Buy 12 Acres of Marijuana—For Research

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 10:52 AM PDT

Calling all pot farmers: Uncle Sam is looking to buy.

An arm of the National Institutes of Health dedicated to researching drug abuse and addiction "intends" to solicit proposals from those who can "harvest, process, analyze, store and distribute" cannabis, according to a listing posted Tuesday night on a federal government website.

A successful bidder must possess a "secure and video monitored outdoor facility" capable of growing and processing 12 acres of marijuana, a 1,000 square foot (minimum) greenhouse to test the plants under controlled conditions, and "demonstrate the availability" of a Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Food and Drug Administration-approved vault to maintain between 400 and 700 kilograms of pot stock, extract and cigarettes.

Back-up plans in case of emergency required.

The NIH's National Institute on Drug Abuse is looking for growers who have the capability to develop plants with altered versions of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—the main psychoactive component of pot—and cannabidiol (CBD), which is known for its medicinal properties. NIDA "anticipates" awarding a one-year contract with four one-year options, according to the posting. The vendor would also have to register with the DEA to research, manufacture and distribute cannabis.

There are 18 states that have decriminalized pot, 23 states with laws allowing access to medical marijuana, and two states—Colorado and Washington—that have legalized the drug for recreational purposes. Federal law still classifies marijuana as a drug on par with heroin, acid and ecstasy.

The NIH did not respond to a request for comment.

-Additional reporting by Mark Thompson

30-Second Tech Trick: Write Better Papers with Google Scholar

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 10:37 AM PDT

Here’s What’s New on Netflix for September

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 10:24 AM PDT

Before TV’s fall season starts, you’ll be able to binge on the most recent seasons of some of your favorite shows on Netflix. Here are some highlights from Netflix’s new offerings this coming month:

Scandal Season 3

Available: Now

Upcoming: Season 4 premieres on ABC on Sept. 25 at 9 p.m. EST

Sherlock Season 3

Available: Now

Upcoming: Season 4 premieres on PBS at a time still TBD

Parenthood Season 5

Available: Now

Upcoming: Season 6 premieres on NBC on Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. EST

Once Upon a Time Season 3

Available: Aug. 29

Upcoming: Season 4 premieres on ABC on Sept. 28 at 8 p.m. EST

Revenge Season 3

Available: Aug. 29

Upcoming: Season 4 premieres on ABC Sept. 28 and 10 p.m. EST

Bones Season 9

Available: Sept. 16

Upcoming: Season 10 premieres on CBS on Sept. 15 at 9 p.m. EST

New Girl Season 3

Available: Sept. 16

Upcoming: Season 4 premieres on Fox on Sept. 16 at 9 p.m. EST

Parks and Recreation Season 5

Available: Sept. 26

Upcoming: Season 6 premieres on NBC at a time still TBD

The Walking Dead Season 4

Available: Sept. 29

Upcoming: Season 5 premieres on AMC on Oct. 12 at 9 p.m. EST

Portlandia Season 4

Available: Nov. 1

Upcoming: Season 5 premiers on IFC at a time still TBD

Mozzarella Is the Best Pizza Cheese, According to Science

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 10:22 AM PDT

Mozzarella is the best pizza cheese because it melts, bubbles and browns better than any other cheese, according to a new study published in the August issue of the Journal of Food Science, titled “Qualification of Pizza Baking Properties of Difference Cheese and Their Correlation with Cheese Functionality.”

Researchers in New Zealand compared pizzas using mozzarella, cheddar, Edam and Gruyere cheese using software specifically designed to measure browning, blistering and oil. Mozzarella, they found, was stretchier than other cheese, which allowed bigger bubbles to form when water evaporated from the pizza. And since mozzarella isn’t as oily or as filled with moisture as, say, Gruyere, it browned more easily.

The scientists concluded that these factors make mozzarella the most appealing to both the eye and the taste buds.

 

Texas Brewery Unveils 99-Pack of Beer

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 10:21 AM PDT

Don’t mess with Texas, especially when it comes to beer.

Austin Beerworks has partnered with Helms Workshop to launch “the world’s first and only 99-pack” of its Peacemaker Anytime Ale.

Moving it will take a few friends because the 99-pack is over 7 ft long (2.13 m) and weighs 82 pounds (37 kg), according to the brewery. Inside the box are three rows of 33 cans of the pale ale, which, if you drank them all, would amount to over 15,000 calories.

“What started out as a joke became very real when we realized how much people love the idea of 99 beers for $99.99!" Austin Beerworks co-founder Michael Graham says on the website.

A limited supply of 99-packs are expected to hit selected stores this week.

“Good luck and remember,” the 99-pack creators warn on the website, “lift with your legs, not your back.”

 

Happy 29th Birthday to What Is Believed to Be The Oldest Wombat in Captivity

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 10:13 AM PDT

Patrick, the oldest wombat in captivity, according to Ballarat Wildlife Park, turned the ripe old age of 29 on August 25.

His longevity is not the norm. In the wild, wombats tend to live only five years, while those in captivity average a lifespan of around 20 years.

Patrick — who was named the “3rd best city mascot” by CNN — is an Australian legend who has been greeting visitors to the wildlife park for decades. He was hand-raised by zookeepers after he was orphaned as a joey, as marsupial babies are called. According to Tourism Australia, "the team at the park tried releasing Patrick back into the wild a couple of times but he couldn't defend himself against other wombats."

The plus-sized Common Wombat may also be the world’s largest, tipping the scale at 88 lbs (40kg). He’s so big that Ballarat Wildlife Park curator Julia Leonard used to push the lovable wombat around in a wheelbarrow just "to keep a check on what is going on," according to the organization's website. He’s now been retired from active park duty, preferring to hang (and eat) in his pen.

Oldest and largest aren’t the only titles that Patrick has earned during his long life. According to Australia.com’s Facebook post, he may have earned another slightly more ignominious title as well. "Given that Patrick has never had children, or any partners in general, probably makes him the oldest living wombat virgin as well!,” said the post. “Congrats mate!"

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Kinect for Xbox One by Itself Will Set You Back $150

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 09:59 AM PDT

When Microsoft launched its Xbox One games console in November 2013, it cost $500: $100 more than Sony’s PlayStation 4, and $150 to $200 more than Nintendo’s Wii U.

That steep price tag arguably cost Microsoft launch sales as well as momentum heading into 2014. Sony now claims over 10 million PlayStation 4 units sold worldwide, a record for any games console in a similar period, whereas at last check (in April, the last time we saw a formal number), Microsoft said its Xbox One had shipped to stores (distinct from sold to consumers) some 5 million units.

Surely because of that lack of momentum, Microsoft dropped the Xbox One’s price from $500 to $400 in early June, but at the expense of removing its Kinect motion-control sensor from the system.

Since June, you’ve been able to buy the Xbox One without Kinect, but if you wanted to buy the Kinect sensor separately, you couldn’t because here wasn’t a standalone Kinect SKU.

Microsoft never intended to sell Kinect as a standalone SKU, because Kinect was supposed to inextricable from the Xbox One experience. It’s removal was the boldest sea change in a series of philosophical reversals the company’s made since the system debuted.

The standalone Xbox One Kinect SKU finally has a price tag and a launch date: Microsoft announced it’ll cost $149, and you can buy it on October 7. That $149 includes a copy of Dance Central Spotlight, an upcoming music video game in the Dance Central series due out on September 2.

Yes, the math seems wonky at first blush. I suspect most assume that if the Xbox One was $500 with Kinect and $400 without, Kinect by itself ought to be $100. But there’s packaging to consider, plus intangibles like the development value of being able to depend on Kinect’s presence in a given home. And of course there’s Microsoft’s right to jack up the price any way it likes. This is a company that, for years, managed to sell a proprietary Wi-Fi USB dongle for the Xbox 360 at two to three times the asking price for similar PC parts, after all.

Microsoft says, “Kinect remains an important part of the Xbox One experience.” Never mind that claim: how important is going to come down to evidence in the coming years. Either the company’s going to release groundbreaking games and media center features or it won’t. If it doesn’t, Kinect becomes like any other secondary peripheral in the annals of console-dom: somewhat interesting, occasionally amusing, and utterly niche.

Note that Microsoft currently sells a Windows version of Kinect as well, a part that launched in July for $200 without a pack-in game. So at least from a PC gamer’s standpoint, you could argue console gamers are getting a pretty good deal.

Why It’s Legal for a 9-Year-Old to Fire an Uzi

Posted: 27 Aug 2014 09:58 AM PDT

The deadly shooting in which a nine-year-old girl accidentally killed her firing range instructor with an Uzi on Monday is the kind of incident that seems almost inconceivable. How can someone so young be allowed to fire such a high-powered weapon? The answer: Because she was accompanied by an adult.

"I think you'll find that state laws provide for those under a certain age, usually 18, to shoot when under adult supervision or instruction," says Michael Bazinet, a spokesperson for the National Shooting Sports Foundation. “Youth shooting sports are generally extremely safe activities, enjoyed by millions of Americans.”

Bazinet says he knows of no federal legislation that restricts minors from shooting range activities, leaving it up to the states and the ranges themselves to determine who's too young to shoot.

Bullets and Burgers, a shooting range in the Arizona’s Mojave Desert where the incident took place Monday morning, allows children as young as eight to shoot as long as they're accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Under Arizona law, minors as young as 14 can shoot at a range without adult supervision.

The fatal shooting occurred about 10 a.m. Monday morning when Charles Vacca, a 39-year-old firearms instructor, was demonstrating how to fire the gun. The nine-year-old, whose name hasn’t been released but was accompanied by her parents, can be seen taking an initial shot in a video released by authorities. Vacca then appears to switch the gun to automatic. The video shows the gun recoiling as it points toward Vacca, who was shot in the head according to the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office. (That portion is not seen in the video.)

Vacca was pronounced dead Monday evening.

Below is the video released by police, and while it does not depict the moment of the shooting, it may still be disturbing to some viewers; caution is advised.

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