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Ostracon: a fragment of pottery or masonry with writing (as opposed to a potsherd, which describes any pottery fragment). Pottery fragments have been found at ancient settlements going back thousands of years, but finding ones with writing are a rarer occurence. When ostracons are found it's a big deal, like this 3,000-year-old example of Hebrew, believed to be the oldest in existence. #

Just spreadin' the lovin' around: Expensive Mistakes and Cheap Thrills gave "I Am..." a shout-out recently -- for a weird little website I created over 8 years ago, I'm always pleased when it attracts the right person's attention. Too bad traffic has fallen off so much...but it's still there for those who want it, and it probably will be for some time. #

Buying art at the second-hand store: King David Praying for Solomon, a woodcut print from sometime in the last 20 or 30 years. Found at the Salvation Army in Moorhead; $15 is a lot for us to spend on a single thrift shop item, but D was smitten by it, and I can't see anything wrong with some nicely done amateur fine art. #

Are you a photographer who thinks they're good enough for National Geographic? It's not a quick weekend job, if that's what your thinking. David Griffin, Director of Photography for NG, lays out the editorial process, from start to finish. #

Poisoned foodstuffs from China may still be one of the worst things, but items from India are going to become a close second in fear-causing shortsights. Elevator buttons manufactured in India have been contaminated by the radioactive material cobalt-60, making them detectably radioactive, but not dangerously so. High-rise dwellers may not have to worry that pushing their floor number daily will give them cancer, but the employees in Europe who handled and installed the buttons may have recieved 3 times the recommended dosage of radiation. #

Was the Soviet Union more prepared for its collapse than the U.S.A. is for its impending collapse? In many ways, yes, according to this side-by-side comparison. It also reinforces what I've been saying over the past couple weeks: the flyover states, which still make much of their income from production rather than services and have greater 'community' foundations, will survive far better than cities. #

Need a security camera? Print one out, courtesy of Nude Magazine. #

They recommend leaving no stone unturned when purchasing a new home, but a few stones went untouched until sewer workers started digging around. Under sidewalk pavers at a home in Ann Arbor, MI, workers discovered the evidence of a person's death under each of 60 paving stones. No foul play is expected: the previous homeowner was a tombstone manufacturer, and it seems they decided to get some use out of the blank backs of damaged or unclaimed tombstones. The unmarked back faced up, while "Beloved Wife, Mother Viola T. Bagnasco, 1901-1969" faced into the earth. #

The world's oldest full-body insect fossil has been found -- in a wooded area behind a Massachusetts strip mall. The imprint isn't a corpse-void fossil, but rather the imprint left by an insect that landed on a muddy spot over three hundred million years ago. #

Walking in the footsteps of CNN's useless inside-joke-product-creation process, Fark now lets you buy T-shirts with 'witty' headlines on them, but without the ability to know what the headline refers to. As Fark goes, the more obscure the headline, the funnier it is, so you've got a paradox where the shirts you think are the funniest are the least funniest to the people around you, while the direct headlines remain unfunny. The greatest, most significant t-shirt you can order? T-shirts about me. Sadly, the time 11111001111 was linked at Fark (search for 'Derek') is too old to qualify for a t-shirt. #

Over the past few days the Wifey and I got to play 'professional media' again -- this time at the Plains Art Museum's Trash or Treasure event, wearing our Collector's Quest badges in order to chat with real-life History Detective Wes Cowan, and have him look at some of our crap. #

Jim Stafford is easy to mock for devoting his time to cute, lightly naughty, humorous songs with a southern feel -- and, heck, for just being a product of the seventies -- but he can really, really play a mean guitar. #

On his 15th birthday, George Millitt fell on a scraper while evading being kissed by several girls. He lies in Woodlawn Cemetery, and his tombstone documents his demise. #

Terrifying controversy abounds in numerous states whose voter registration departments are purging "invalid" voters at an enormous -- and apparently illegal -- rate. Welcome to the only state that does not have voter registration, reads the North Dakota Secretary of State informational page on voting registration. The normal requirements (18, no legal impedment to vote, a resident) stand, but you simply have to prove residence for more than 30 days. No rigamarole. No forms. If you bring acceptable proof of residence to the polls you get to vote. Even if the poll operators decline to accept the proof, you can complete the affidavit and continue with your vote. If only more states would take this lead -- the only thing messy registration processes gain is disenfranchisement of voters, and that's a horrible thing. If so much fraud comes before and after, through bureaucratic nonsense, worries about people arriving at the polls fraudulently are rather moot. #

A deer is born in the UK. The deer is so small it can fit in the palm of a person's hand. WIN: Best Week Ever takes this opportunity to go freakin' insane: This deer is so cute I literally want to put him in between two pieces of bread, stick him in a panini machine, and eat the entire thing in 2 bites. HIS LEGS ARE LIKE LITTLE PRETZEL STICKS DIPPED IN POWDERED SUGAR. #

Property values are dropping -- Saginaw, MI sells unclaimed property on eBay, and in this case it was an entire house and lot. High bid: $1.75. The buyer has to pay back taxes and perform yard clean-up, but otherwise it's a great deal. Sadly, the buyer wasn't a family who needs a home (although I doubt the city will let anyone live there until it's fixed up) -- the buyer is a property speculator. #

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