Thoughts Gallery April 2005
April 1
Image of the Day
Bikinis for Toddlers Spark Controversy
OSLO - A Swedish bikini-style top for toddlers will be withdrawn from sale amid criticism from a Norwegian cabinet minister that bra-like clothing was inappropriate for small girls. "It is remarkably daft to make bra-like bikinis for one-year-olds," Norwegian Minister of Children and Family Affairs Laila Daavoey was quoted as telling the Norwegian daily Verdens Gang Thursday.
"This is a terrible commercialization of childhood. Children are not women. Bikinis on small children are a way of linking children to sexuality. We must say 'No' to this," she said. Swedish clothes maker Lindex said it would withdraw one design of top, meant for girls aged 1-2, after an internal review. "It's a bit too similar to an adult top so we are choosing to withdraw it," spokeswoman Ulrika Danielson told Norway's NRK public radio. She said the decision was made independently of the Norwegian criticism.
Earlier this month, Norwegian Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik criticized Swedish furniture maker IKEA for showing few women assembling flat-packed goods in cartoon instruction leaflets. IKEA agreed to depict more women. Norway is celebrating 100 years of independence from Sweden in 2005.
April 2
Image of the Day
Whatever You Do, Don't Read This...
PROVIDENCE, R.I. - Tony Troiano grimaced as he was lifted off the floor by giant fishhooks pierced through the skin on his shoulders. Within minutes, he started to spin, swing his feet and declare the painful experience "the greatest thing" ever. "I was on Cloud Nine," the Wethersfield, Connecticut teenager said as he joined fellow body suspension practitioners at an annual convention over the weekend. "It was euphoric. It was spiritual. I'd do it again today if I wasn't so sore."
From tentative first-timers to the well practiced, more than a hundred aficionados celebrated their passion for body suspension at the three-day gathering, held in an old textile mill in Providence, Rhode Island.
To hang cost $100; just to watch cost $15 at what many say is the best such gathering for the hundreds, if not thousands, of people they estimate practice suspension across America. "Ever stand up too fast and feel like you're about to pass out?" said Dave Post, of Albany, New York explaining why he liked hanging from hooks. "It's like you're stuck at that point."
The practice requires three-inch (7.6-cm) steel deep sea fishing hooks freshly inserted under the skin for each suspension. A basic "suicide" hang uses hooks in the back, a chest suspension requires hooks in front, a knee suspension puts the body upside down, and the "Superman" pose requires hooks along the back and upper thighs. The hooks are attached to ropes, and pulleys slowly lift the body off the floor. Some people spin like acrobats, some play like children on a swing and others hang solemnly. Some giggle, some cry. "Some people have a spiritual experience, some people just have fun and some people don't like it and come right down," said Mike Giossi, a local mechanic and fan of the practice.
Jess Robins, a student from Canada, hung almost motionless from hooks inserted through the tops of her breasts. Blood poured down her belly, and her legs trembled. Nearby, two men played a game of tug-of-war, pulling at each other with wire cables attached through their elbows. "When I first got off the ground, I never felt pain like that in my life. But afterward, I was just filled with empowerment," said Giossi. "I've never been happier than when I came down."

April 3
Image of the Day
Smiling ray : A ray swims in a five-meter depth aquarium at the Epson Aqua Stadium on a Tokyo's entertainment hotel.
April 4
Image of the Day
In this image released by the U.S. Border Patrol shows the legs of a five-year-old girl inside a party pinata that was discovered on Nov. 2, 2004 during a vehicle search at the San Ysidro, Calif., border station crossing along the U.S.-Mexican border. Smugglers and individual migrants have a long history of adapting their tactics to try to circumvent whatever barriers immigration officials put in their way. But they've shown more creativity in recent years as the government has launched repeated crackdowns along the frontier.
April 5
Image of the Day
The famous painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci, 'Mona Lisa,' sits in the completely renovated Salle des Etats at the Louvre following four years of work
April 6
Image of the Day
Fend Off Dementia with Sex, Crosswords and a Run
CANBERRA - Sex, cryptic crosswords and a good run could help ward off dementia and other degenerative conditions by stimulating new brain cells, an Australian researcher said. Perry Bartlett, a professor at the University of Queensland's Brain Institute, said mental and physical exercise helped create and nurture new nerve cells in the brain, keeping it functional and warding off diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. "Perhaps one should run a long distance and do the cryptic crossword, " Bartlett told Australian radio. He said a chemical called prolactin appeared to promote new cells in the brain and could be found in high levels in pregnant women. "Prolactin levels also go up during sex as well. So one could think of a number of more entertaining activities than running in order to regulate the production of nerve cells," Bartlett said.
April 7
Image of the Day
Sony Playstation Portable, as it shows the Yahoo homepage. The PlayStation Portable has capabilities that Sony neglected to tell you about: as a Web browser, a movie player and an electronic book reader.
April 8
Image of the Day
Cardinals, in red, bishops and dignitaries attend Pope's John Paul II funeral in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican, Friday April 8, 2005. Tens of thousands of people jammed St. Peter's Square to say a final farewell to Pope John Paul II in the presence of kings, queens, presidents and prime ministers for a funeral capping one of the largest religious gatherings in the West in modern times.
April 9
Image of the Day
Duck lays eggs under tight U.S. security
WASHINGTON - Security is tight in front of the White House for a new resident -- a Mallard hen sitting on nine eggs she laid at the foot of a sapling over the weekend. The mother duck chose for her nest a fresh heap of mulch on the sidewalk outside the heavily guarded entrance of the Treasury Department, next door to the presidential residence. Secret Service officers have erected metal stanchions around the tree to shield the incubating bird from passersby on the crowded pedestrian plaza in the heart of the U.S. capital.
The Pennsylvania Avenue fowl's reputation has grown, and it was featured on a national morning television show on Friday. "I'm getting more calls on this than on the Chinese currency," Treasury spokesman Rob Nichols said. Treasury staff have dubbed the bird "T-bill", "Duck Cheney", and "Quacks Reform", Nichols said. Treasury Secretary John Snow, who "had been briefed on the duck", paused to pay it a visit after testifying before Congress on Thursday, the spokesman added. The mallard chicks are expected to hatch at the end of the month.
April 10
Image of the Day
25-year-old Massachusetts Institute of Technology student has invented a revolutionary alarm clock 'clocky,' in this undated photo, that falls to the floor and rolls away on the first push of the snooze button. To turn it off, a person must get out of bed and find it. The clock features two rubber wheels and is covered in thick, 1970s-style shag carpet and other material to cushion it when it tumbles to the floor.
April 11
Image of the Day
Art Exhibit Featuring Bush Stamp Probed
 
CHICAGO - The Secret Service sent agents to investigate a college art gallery exhibit of mock postage stamps, one depicting President Bush with a gun pointed at his head. The exhibit, called "Axis of Evil: The Secret History of Sin," opened last week at Columbia College in Chicago. It features stamps designed by 47 artists addressing issues such as the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal, racism and the war in Iraq.  None of the artists is tied to the college.
Secret Service spokesman Tom Mazur would not say Tuesday whether the inquiry had been completed or whom the Secret Service had interviewed, but he said no artwork had been confiscated. The investigation began after authorities received a call from a Chicago resident. "We need to ensure, as best we can, that this is nothing more than artwork with a political statement," Mazur said.
Two federal agents arrived at the exhibit's opening night Thursday, took photos of some of the works and asked for the artists' contact information, said CarolAnn Brown, the gallery's director. 
Brown said the agents were most interested in Chicago artist Al Brandtner's work titled "Patriot Act," which depicted a sheet of mock 37-cent red, white and blue stamps showing a revolver pointed at Bush's head.  Brandtner did not return a call to his design studio Tuesday.
The exhibit's curator, Michael Hernandez de Luna, said the inquiry "frightens" him.  "It starts questioning all rights, not only my rights or the artists' rights in this room, but questioning the rights of any artist who creates — any writer, any visual artist, any performance artist. It seems like we're being watched," he said.  Last spring, Secret Service agents in Washington state questioned a high school student about anti-war drawings he did for an art class, one of which depicted Bush's head on a stick.
April 12
Image of the Day
Picture taken by the US Defense Nuclear Agency in 1980, shows a huge dome, over top of a crater left by one of the 43 nuclear blasts on the island, capping off radioactive debris from nuclear tests over Runit Island in Enewetak in the Marshall Islands. A US study has found that the number of cancers caused by hydrogen bomb testing in the Marshall Islands is set to double, more than half a century after the tests were conducted in the tiny Pacific nation.
The study by the US governments National Cancer Institute (NCI) estimated 530 cancers had already been caused by the tests, particularly the explosion of a 15 megaton hydrogen bomb codenamed Bravo on March 1, 1954.
It said another 500 cancers were likely to develop among Marshall Islanders who were exposed to radiation more than 50 years ago. "We estimate that the nuclear testing program in the Marshall Islands will cause about 500 additional cancer cases among Marshallese exposed during the years 1946-1958, about a nine percent increase over the number of cancers expected in the absence of exposure to regional fallout," the NCI study said.
The study said because of the young age of the population when exposed in the 1950s, more than 55 percent of cancers have yet to develop or be diagnosed. At the time of the Bravo test at Bikini Atoll, US officials played down the health implications for islanders. Bikini Islanders were not evacuated despite their land's being engulfed in snow-like radioactive fallout for two-to-three days after the Bravo bomb, which was equivalent to 1,000 Hiroshima bombs.
Although many islanders developed severe radiation burns and had their hair fall out as their land was engulfed in fallout, US Atomic Energy Commission authorities issued a statement following the test saying "there were no burns" and the islanders were in good health. US officials later allowed islanders to return home to live in radioactive environments without performing any cleanup work on their islands. The US paid 270 million dollars in a compensation package in the mid-1980s part of which went to the Majuro-based Nuclear Claims Tribunal.

April 13
Image of the Day
Benedict's Age, Health Prompt Concern

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI predicted a "short reign" in comments to cardinals just after his election, and his brother said Wednesday he was worried about the stress the job would put on the 78-year-old pontiff.
Joseph Ratzinger has had ailments in the past, including a 1991 hemorrhagic stroke, that raise questions about how long his papacy will last — and whether the world will watch another pope slowly succumb to age and ailments on a very public stage. Benedict was the oldest pontiff elected in 275 years.
German prelates have expressed concern about Ratzinger's health. One young priest from Cologne, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press in Rome that Benedict has trouble sleeping and has a "delicate constitution." The pope's brother expressed a similar concern in a television interview.

April 14
Image of the Day
A cloned foal named Pieraz-Cryozootech-Stallion runs in a field near Cremona, Italy. The foal, born in Feb. 2005, is the first horse clone produced from a castrated endurance champion with the purpose of preserving its parent's genetic heritage. Its father, Pieraz, was the winner of the endurance world championships in Den Haag, Netherlands in 1994 and again in Fort Riley, U.S., in 1996. The cloning was done by Italian company, Ltr-Ciz, using the nuclear transfer technique on cells provided by France's Cryozootech.
April 15
Image of the Day
A woman leaves a cookie store in Los Angeles. People with a waistline of one meter (39.3 inches) or more are at serious risk of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes and heart disease, according to a study published on Saturday in the British Medical Journal
April 16
Image of the Day
Bristol Zoo Gardens, of 'Kintana', the first captive bred aye-aye, an arboreal nocturnal lemur, Daubentonia madagascariensis, a native to Madagascar, to be born in the United Kingdom. Bristol Zoo Gardens announced that it is the first UK zoo to successfully breed and hand-rear an aye-aye, the largest nocturnal primate in the world and one of the strangest mammals on the planet.
April 17
Image of the Day
Gas prices hover over the $3.00 mark at a gas station in San Francisco, Friday. It sounds hard to believe, but gasoline retailers' profit margins are at a 20-year low. Even more surprising _ their troubles have been exacerbated by high pump prices, which make motorists avoid premium-grade gas and pay more often with credit cards. Coupled with rising competition from Wal-Mart, Costco and other discounters, it's time for gas stations to sell more snacks and sodas.
April 18
Image of the Day
Cardinals attend a midmorning Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican. Representing 52 countries, the 115 crimson-robed cardinals were celebrating a midmorning Mass in the basilica before sequestering themselves in the Sistine Chapel for their conclave. Cardinals from six continents began their secret sessions behind the massive doors of the Sistine Chapel on Monday, convening the new millennium's first conclave to elect a pope who will guide the world's 1.1 billion Roman Catholics into a new era. The doors to the chapel decorated with frescoes by Michelangelo and wired with electronic jamming devices to thwart eavesdropping were shut, leaving the 115 voting "princes" of the church to decide whether to hold their first round of voting Monday or wait until Tuesday.

 

April 19
Image of the Day
Auto enthusiast Paul Piscopo stands in front of his 6,000-square-foot garage next to his home in Troy, Mich.. Piscopo wanted a home for his nine cars with plenty of space left over for other vehicles he might buy down the road. So, as part of the construction of his new home, he built a garage but not just any garage. Piscopo constructed the 150-foot-long, 60-foot-wide and 20-foot-tall building, which covers more than three times the ground of the home next to it. But to some of his Troy neighbors, it's an eyesore.
April 20
Image of the Day

Guerrilla Art Group Mocks L.A. Enclaves
LOS ANGELES - In a city where fame is an industry and privacy is a mark of privilege, guerrilla artists have erected mock guard towers to protest what they see as a disturbing proliferation of gated communities. Heavy Trash, a coalition of anonymous architects, designers and urban planners, erected the bright orange, 12-foot viewing platforms outside the gates of three upscale Los Angeles neighborhoods. "Walling off one section of the city from another section is not the right solution," said a Heavy Trash member who identified himself as Jake, an inner-city developer. "We feel that gated communities are becoming popular at a very alarming rate, and that 10 to 20 years from now, people will realize that the gates are an anathema to a democratic, open society, and that they instead make for a more fearful society."
Early on Sunday morning, members of the group dressed in orange vests and driving construction trucks delivered the platforms to the gates of Brentwood Circle, Park La Brea and Laughlin Park, said group member Susan, an architect. The artists' Web site, www.heavytrash.blogspot.com, says that people "do not want walled fortresses dividing their neighborhoods or blocking off what would otherwise be public streets and sidewalks."It also cites poet Robert Frost: "Something there is that does not love a wall/That wants it down ..."
Passersby said on Tuesday they did not understand the wooden towers' purpose until it was explained, and there was little evidence of anyone trying out the platforms. "It was very puzzling to me," said Ed Vane, 77, a resident of the Laughlin Park subdivision near Griffith Park. "The first time I saw it, I thought it was some kind of street expression. Then I thought it was for cutting tree limbs, but that didn't hold up either." He added that although there are gates and walls outside the community's private streets, one doesn't need a tower to see the houses on the other side. He said his homeowners association planned to have the tower removed.
Passerby Gail Smith, who lives near the gated community, said she thought the large orange tower was part of a construction project, "but then it wouldn't go away. "I'm not sure I agree with putting stuff down on somebody else's property," Smith said, adding she doesn't care if some communities build gates. This isn't the first time the artists have mocked what they see as urban elitism. In 2000, Heavy Trash erected eight billboards touting a fictional "Metro Aqua" subway line that would reach the beach, various museums and Beverly Hills.
And in 1997, Heavy Trash installed a 2,000-pound staircase providing temporary access to a park that city officials walled off to keep out the homeless.
This symbolism of wealth and security is so pervasive that there are now even faux gated communities, called 'neighborhood entry identities' in Simi Valley that sport walls and guardhouses but no locked gates or guards. -Setha Low


April 21
Image of the Day
In June 1997, Heavy Trash installed their first project -- a 2,000-pound stair providing temporary access to Triangle Park at Santa Monica and Bundy. A 7'-high fence had been erected around the park to prevent the homeless from using the grassy enclave. The City solved the "problem" by using $28,000 of tax-payer funds to fence off the park and permanently remove it from the public realm. For three weeks, the stair allowed the local community to use the park again.
April 22
Image of the Day
The Aqua Line is the installation of "Coming Soon" signs that suggest the construction of a subway line that would connect the Westside to downtown and the rest of the Los Angeles metro system. On August 13, 2000, Heavy Trash installed 8 signs along the 15-mile route in an attempt to promote civic dialogue about the need for better transportation in Los Angeles
April 23
Image of the Day
This undated illustration provided by Purdue News Service shows the 16-inch-wheel bicycle, designed by Scott S. Shim, assistant professor of visual and performing arts at Purdue University. The new bicycle design created at Purdue University could erase the need for parents to hold on to the back of a two-wheel bicycle as their child learns how to ride. The bike, called SHIFT, was created by Shim and two students. Their design topped 853 entrants from 56 countries to win the $15,000 first prize in the 9th International Bicycle Design Competition in Taiwan.
April 24
Image of the Day
Eatery Offers New 15-Pound Burger
CLEARFIELD, Pa. - The burger war is growing. Literally. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub, which lost its crown as the home of the world's biggest burger earlier this year, is now offering a new burger that weighs a whopping 15 pounds. Dubbed the Beer Barrel Belly Buster, the burger comes with 10.5 pounds of ground beef, 25 slices of cheese, a head of lettuce, three tomatoes, two onions, a cup-and-a-half each of mayonnaise, relish, ketchup, mustard and banana peppers — and a bun. It costs $30. "It can feed a family of 10," said Denny Liegey Sr., the restaurant's owner. Denny's Beer Barrel Pub had offered a 6-pound burger — with 5 pounds of toppings.
In February, a 100-pound female college student became the first to eat the burger within the three-hour time limit. Kate Stelnick, of Princeton, N.J., was awarded a special certificate, a T-shirt and other prizes and Leigey picked up the $23.95 tab for the burger.
One month later, the Clinton Station Diner in Clinton, N.J., introduced a 12.5-pound burger dubbed Zeus. So Liegey responded, and the Belly Buster was born. Over the weekend, four men took the challenge, but couldn't get through the entire burger. They opted for doggie bags, instead. "It's a little too much for me to handle," said Steve Hepburn, of Clearfield. "It's like trying to eat half a cow."
April 25
Image of the Day
A 2,300-year old mummy is displayed after it was found by the Sakkara pyramids south of Cairo. Egyptian antiquities officials say the mummy is possibly the 'most beautiful' found so far. They believe more mummies may be found in the same area.
April 26
Image of the Day
Crazy People in Chicago
A family lights a candle at a section of the Kennedy Expressway underpass in Chicago, Illinois where a yellow and white stain on the concrete underpass has left what many believe to be an image of the Virgin Mary
April 27
Image of the Day
 

Ancient pre-Columbian Tiahuanaco (AD 200-600) ceramic vessel in the form of a llama. Burnished a rusty red and decorated with black polychrome decorative stripes. Tiahuanco is on the south shore of Lake Titicaca in what is now Bolivia. Thermoluminesence test confirmed age of piece. Restoration to neck and side areas; originally from the Wagner collection of Switzerland.

April 28
Image of the Day
 

A pre-Columbian terracotta vessel in the shape of a dog. This piece is protoclassic Colima (100 BC- AD 250) and came from an old estate collected between 1938-1960. There has been restoration to the ears.

April 29
Image of the Day
A Veracruz Stone Head Hacha, Late Classic period A.D. 550-950 Height: 8-1/2 in. of slender form boldly carved with open mouth and sharply defined cheek bones and eye sockets. The ears carved in shallow relief, pierced eye and head.
April 30
Image of the Day
A stone Teotihuacan Mask. Classic period AD 450-650 Height 6"  A wonderful mask carved out of rare translucent tecali stone. The almond shaped eyes embellished with circular pupils and lightly carved brows. Two suspension holes on the upper sides. The majority of these masks were made for suspension on other figures. The stone shows good signs of age with mineral deposits. Due to the brittle nature of this stone,  the top left corner and the nose have been broken and repaired.