I am a retired high school and college teacher. I have taught forensics, biology, chemistry, ecology, and Earth science.. Long Island has been my home for 60 years.
If you are looking for an "other worldly" experience on Long Island, there is no better place than its Coastal Plain Pondshores. When you step into this world, the first thing you notice is the eerie silence. Then you feel as though you aren't in suburbia at all but in some remote corner of this planet reserved for your tranquillity. A low hanging mist pervades the scene and you are imbued with the scent of raw nature. Snapping turtles sun themselves on a log reaching above the shallow pond. At your feet are some of the rarest plants in the world. You have entered a place that is a remnant of glacial modification, a piece of the tundra left thousands of years ago.
The Last and Only Eastern Prairie
It is hard sometimes to remember when you live in suburbia, that there are mysterious and haunting nooks and crannies. Hempstead Plains is one such place. It seems impossible, for those of us who were there before the mega stores and shopping centers, that everyone appears to have forgotten the old Long Island. Lindbergh's flight across the Atlantic is commemorated by a sign, right in front of Macy's in Roosevelt Field Mall. That sums up our history from the developer's side. Today, we must make a stand to preserve what remains of the only true prairie east of the Appalachians.
The death of StumbleUpon was a difficult dilemma for me. I received most of my reads from this site, so what to do, what to do? I turned to my nemesis, Reddit. I don't say this lightly - Reddit can be a bear. Readers complain about everything from your grammar to your content, even when you are posting an article written by someone else. I submitted an article on some ancient bones discovered in Israel, and they literally lowered a boom on my head because the title of the article claimed those bones would rewrite the timeline of evolution. My bad. Over time, I have become a Reddit whiz kid, and I would like to share my insights in the hope that you will become Reddit submitters. There is currently no better place to submitt your endeavors. I have tried all forms of social media from Flipboard to Twitter, and nothing comes close to the killing you can make on Reddit. I write narratives mostly in the sciences, so my audience is small. One post to Reddit got me 800 reads in one day.
A New York Yankee in Georgia
Cultural whiplash! Don't let the pictures of New York City and Atlanta fool you. They may both be bustling cities and represent the best each area has to offer, but living in the south for a New York Yankee is very different. We are a family of four extremely diverse people who, looking for a less expensive lifestyle, chose to move a little north of Atlanta. Among us, we encompass the Caucasian, Hispanic, and African American races, but one thing we have in common is a distinctly northern ideology. Don't get me wrong. We like it here. But there are differences.
Whom to give to? Everybody wants donations. Church? Private schools? The poor? Those sad-eyed dogs on TV? What is behind some donations? A leg up, perhaps? This is where my world turns black and white. Donating money is serious business for me. I don't have a lot, but when I give—I give with my heart. Donating to private schools and pet projects is all well and good, but these are not what you think of when you hear the word "charity."
Everyone knows guns are dangerous. The fact that guns haven't changed much over the last 100 years will attest to that. But there is a lot more going on than just a hole in your body when you get shot. A 9mm handgun is a typical self-defense weapon and is often used by police departments. Bullets from these guns travel at 900 mph and all of that energy is absorbed by the target hit. The shock wave of the bullet greatly expands the area hit and then as the bullet passes through, the area hit collapses on itself. This effect causes major damage to the body, even where the bullet doesn't come into contact. This video demonstrates the shattering properties of a bullet, and the fluid-filled containers clearly show what happens to fluid-filled organs, like the bladder or heart. Most bullets do not go straight through a body. They ricochet around the body causing damage until they stop. Even bullets that do exit the body will ricochet, putting the exit wound in a completely different area than the entrance wound. The entrance wound will usually be smaller than the exit wound because the bullet has to punch its way out. The exit wound may be star-shaped.
The External Nose
Some are tiny and button-like, some look like a ski jump, others have bumps in the middle or wide nostrils, but they are all sone of the biggest mysteries in evolution. Why do we have an external proboscis that protrudes from our faces? This should be an easy question to find an answer to, but nothing could be further from the truth. A lot of research has been done on the shape of the nose and that is determined by the climates our ancestors lived in. In a paper published in PLOS Genetics, "Investigating the case of human nose shape and climate adaptation" byArslan A. Zaidi, Brooke C. Mattern, Peter Claes, Brian McEvoy, Cris Hughes, Mark D. Shriver, the authors put forth the idea that wide noses with larger nares are selected for in warm, wet environments, and long, narrow noses are selected for cold, dry climates. They examined nose measurements from a total of 140 women who were of West African, East Asian, northern European or South Asian ancestry. One doesn't have to leave Africa to find exceptions to their findings. Northern Ethiopians and Eritreans have narrow noses, and genetics have shown little admixture from Europeans or Arab groups, and instead have a common cluster of Y chromosome E3b, a haplogroup unique to the horn of Africa. Then there are the Fulani people of West Africa. They live in a warm, humid climate, but have narrow noses. This is the largest tribe in Africa, and they do not fit the mold these researchers have determined.
Comparing Apes to Early Hominins
Sociologists, anthropologists, psychologists, and other scientists often use data collected by field researchers to draw comparisons between humans and apes. Jane Goodall's research with chimpanzees is legendary. Diane Fossey researched gorillas. Primate centers from around the world have given us reams of data—enough to last several lifetimes of compilation. Their groundbreaking research gave science all it needed to interpret this data to model early hominin evolution, instead of seeing it for what it was: a detailed view of ape life today. The data is valuable in that we now know apes almost as certainly as we know ourselves. The problem is, it is often used to extrapolate "facts" about the LCA (last common ancestor). The truth is simple; apes have been evolving for 5-8 million, as have we. Apes bear no more resemblance to the LCA than we do. We don't think the LCA had agriculture, architecture, or dashing commuters, so why do some researchers insist that apes give us insight to early hominins? Apes are not primitive. They are the current apex of their individual species, as we are of ours. It took millions of years for apes to get where they are. We evolved to speak, walk on two legs, and see the abstract. They evolved to be quadrupedal tree climbers that can live in their environment without destroying it.
All That Glitters
There have been all types of famous crimes, from the Great Train Robbery to Jack the Ripper, but nothing captures the imagination like a diamond heist. Maybe it's because ice is so beautiful, or that diamonds are so valuable, or perhaps it's the extreme planning of the crime or the fact that while the thieves might get caught, the diamonds almost never turn up. From December 2009 until May 2011, a gang of diamond thieves ran through eight states, stealing millions from more than two dozen jewelry stores. Like something out of Netflix's Money Heist, they had nicknames and used disposable phones so the director of the crimes, who never went into the crime scenes, can guide them through the heist. They targeted older female sales representatives because they were less likely to take the hero route. In one robbery, they used a cute little chihuahua to distract the employees, and in another, they used wave runners to escape. Every move was scripted, as were the conversations they had with the salespeople. They had background stories, expensive clothing to play out the script, and the Risk Reducer, AKA the director, who would correct mistakes made. When one of the robbers left his prints on the door of a jewelry store, the Risk Reducer went back when the cops were swarming the store and wiped the door clean. They were caught when someone identified a participant caught on CCTV and the evidence was enhanced by their antics on social media where they posted pictures with the cash they got after fencing the diamonds. The money was never recovered, nor were the diamonds. Not a bad outcome for snatch and grab robbers considering most got less than ten years.
4 Impersonators You Won't Forget
Most of us know about Frank Abagnale, one of the greatest impersonators of all time. His crimes were chronicled in the Spielberg movie Catch Me If You Can, where he is portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio. He eventually made millions as a white collar crime consultant for the FBI. But, there have been other famous criminal impersonators who didn't have a successful endgame. David Hampton was a 19-year-old kid when he and a friend were denied admittance to a ritzy Manhattan nightclub. He returned to the line, and when he got up to the front, he told the bouncer he was the son of Sidney Poitier. This began a career for Hampton. He would show up at first-class restaurants without a reservation and claim he was there to meet his father. He would finish his meal, feign disappointment with his father's no-show, and sign for the meal, charging it to Poitiers. Then, as David Poitier, he began setting up wealthy and famous New Yorkers. He would claim he was mugged, had given up all his money, and beg for a place to stay. His victims included Calvin Klein and Gary Sinise, among others. In 1990 he was immortalized in the film, Six Degrees of Separation, where he is portrayed by Will Smith. His David Poitier ploy was blown. He continued to impersonate others until 1993 when he died of AIDS.
We all know what the oldest profession is, but pickpocketing is probably the second oldest. For as long as there have been pockets and crowds there have been people around who can relieve you of your money and valuables without your even noticing. Literature, like Dicken's Oliver Twist, movies like Ocean's 11, and TV shows like Sneaky Pete all show our fascination with pickpockets. Being the victim of a pick is not in the least bit romantic.