On Saturn’s small moon Enceladus, perpetual fountains of alien seawater launch all sorts of curious stuff into space: water, salt, silica, and even simple carbon-containing compounds fly into the void—many of which are ingredients for life as we know it.
Now, scientists working with data from a dead spacecraft have discovered something even more potentially intriguing: heavy organic compounds containing hundreds of atoms arranged in rings and chains. These are the most complex organic molecules uncovered so far at Enceladus, and—sorry, Europa—they may make the moon the most promising place in our solar system to search for life beyond Earth.
“What we know today is telling us that Enceladus is an outstanding target to go look for life, and there may be microbes living in that ocean today,” says Cornell University’s Jonathan Lunine.
Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo sails into San Pedro Bay and claims the California coast for the king of Spain.
Spanish Catholic missionaries from the Jesuit order begin colonizing Baja California, beginning with Loreto. Sixteen more missions will follow in the next 70 years.
About 300,000 Indians live in Alta California, organized into about 80 autonomous groups, sustaining themselves mostly through hunting, gathering and fishing.
Spain expels the Jesuits from Baja California and gives control to another Catholic order, the Franciscans.
JULY 16, 1769
Spanish soldiers and Franciscan friars, led by 55-year-old Father Junípero Serra, found the first Alta California mission in San Diego. Spain’s king is eager to strengthen his hold on the region before Russian fur-traders can move south from Alaska. Once baptized, Indian converts (known as “neophytes”) are typically forced to remain and are taught farming, weaving, carpentry and leather-working.
As the missionaries advance up the coast, European diseases spread among Indians, killing thousands. A native group attacks the Mission San Diego, killing Father Luís Jayme.
Serra dies at age 70 in Carmel, having established nine missions. Father Fermín Lasuén takes over the chain. Friars and soldiers expand the network of farms and ranches, using Indian converts as captive laborers.
NEW YORK (AP) — As the audiobook market continues to boom, publishers find themselves both grateful and concerned.
The industry gathered over the past week for BookExpo and the fan-based BookCon, which ended Sunday at the Jacob Javits center in Manhattan. The consensus, as it has been for the past few years, is of a stable overall market: physical books rising, e-book sales soft and audio, led by downloaded works, expanding by double digits.
A decade ago, Frey’s addiction memoir “A Million Little Pieces” was revealed as being extensively fabricated and the author himself was chewed out on television by Oprah Winfrey, but not before her initial endorsement had helped the book sell millions. But Winfrey and Frey later reconciled, Frey now openly writes fiction and Gallery is openly promoting his old work, whether billing “Katerina” as “Written in the same percussive, propulsive, dazzling, breathtaking style as ‘A Million Little Pieces'” or highlighting the memoir in a billboard ad for his new novel.
“‘A Million Little Pieces’ is a beloved and brilliant book, regardless of the controversy, so we did not think twice about using it in our advertising,” Gallery spokeswoman Jennifer Robinson said.
But one change was made for the convention.
“The Javits Center did reject our first design for the billboard as it showed a bit too much flesh,” Robinson said. “We had to make a little less of ‘Katerina’ visible.”
If your cold, cold heart doesn’t melt at some point during Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, the documentary about Fred “Mister” Rogers, well, I don’t know what to do for you. Watching this movie is like freebasing sincerity — a scarce resource in our current entertainment hellscape. It’ll give you warm fuzzies for days.
Won’t You Be My Neighbor? takes us back to an honest-to-God simpler time, when the idea of a minister with an “abiding interest in children,” as one newscaster describes Rogers in the doc, didn’t immediately raise eyebrows. Early in the film, the late Rogers — whose legendary children’s show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,aired for more than thirty years starting in 1968 — expresses his desire to help children make sense of the world “through the mass media.” He made this comment back when television was still a fairly newfangled technology, and when a few well-intentioned folks like Mister Rogers thought to use “mass media” to spread wholesome education rather than dogged consumerism.
Through archival footage of Rogers both on and off the set of his iconic show, as well as interviews with his family, friends, and former crew members, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? draws a flattering yet complex portrait of its subject, who died of cancer in 2003. What is most remarkable is Rogers’s grasp, even in the medium’s nascent years, of how television can shape young minds. “What we see and hear on the screen is part of who we become,” he insisted. Rogers understood, earlier than most, that television — that oh-so-intimate medium that catches us at home, unguarded, the screen perhaps just inches away from our faces — profoundly alters the way we see one another and ourselves. “Television,” young Rogers argued, “has the chance of building a real community out of an entire country.”
One of LA’s oldest community gardens thrived for decades. Then the water wars began
By Joe Mozingo
For more than 40 years, Italian, Mexican, Croatian, Filipino, Indonesian and Laotian gardeners have built productive mini-farms on the parcels. Jason Neubert / Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES — The old Italian men pass their mornings near the top of the hill, tending thick grape vines and rows of fava beans, smoking crumbling Toscano cigars, staying out of the house. If you try to call Francesco “Frank” Mitrano at home, his wife will brusquely tell you that he’s at “the farm.”
The farm is a patch of soil by the 110 Freeway, where he harvests enough tomatoes from his crop to make spaghetti sauce for his family’s weekly Sunday dinner. “Twenty-one people,” he exclaims.
A half-century ago, Filipino seafarers re-created a piece of the old country on this weedy hillside in San Pedro.
Italian fishermen quickly joined them, as did others with horticultural skills honed all over the world — Mexico, Laos, India, Japan, Indonesia, Croatia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Arizona and Lawndale.
More than 250 parcels are connected by a maze of trails and pipes and hoses. Avocado trees soar as high as 60 feet. Giant banana leaves, ratoons of sugar cane and bright orange guavas — set amid a jumble of sheds, trellises, fences and retaining walls — give the hill the look of a rural village carved from jungle.
The community garden — thought to be the oldest in Los Angeles — grew quietly and off the grid, with unlimited water and little oversight.
But now, in a time of drought, it faces an existential crisis after the city drastically cut its water supply.
Though the heavy rains helped last year, the plots they have nurtured for decades are getting thirstier every day.
Mitrano, 83, barrel-chested with a burl of a nose and a sail rigger’s forearms, sneered at the hose that dribbled at his feet.
“No hay presion,” said Mitrano, using Spanish, the lingua franca of the garden. There is no water pressure.
Anthony Bourdain was almost inconceivably high-functioning; the gap between public triumph and private despair is treacherous. Photograph by Mike Coppola / Getty
The pattern of highly accomplished and successful people committing suicide is transfixing. It assures the rest of us that a life of accolades is not all that it’s cracked up to be and that achieving more will not make us happier. At the same time, it reveals the fact that no one is safe from suicide, that whatever defenses we think we have are likely to be inadequate. Kate Spade’s handbags were playful and fun. Her quirky look was unmistakable and bespoke exuberance. Anthony Bourdain was almost inconceivably high-functioning, and won so many awards that he seemed ready to give an award to his favorite award. High-profile suicides such as these cause copycat suicides; there was a nearly ten-per-cent spike in suicides following Robin Williams’s death. There is always an upswing following such high-profile events. You who are reading this are at statistically increased risk of suicide right now. Who knows if Bourdain had read of Kate Spade’s suicide as he prepared to do the same thing? We are all statistically more likely to kill ourselves than we were ten years ago. That increased vulnerability is itself depressing, and that depressing information interacts with our own unguarded selves. If life wasn’t worth living for people such as Bourdain and Spade, how can our more ordinary lives hold up? Those of us who have clinical depression can feel the tug toward suicide amped up by this kind of news. The gap between public triumph and private despair is treacherous, with the outer shell obscuring the real person even to those with whom he or she had professed intimacy.
There has long been an assertion popular in mental-health circles that suicide is a symptom of depression and that, if we would only treat depression adequately, suicide would be a thing largely of the past. We learn of Kate Spade’s possible marital woes as though marital woes rationalized a suicide. It is true that, in someone with a significant tendency to suicide, external factors may trigger the act itself, but difficult circumstances do not usually fully explain someone’s choice to terminate his or her own life. People must have an intrinsic vulnerability; for every person who kills himself when he is left by his wife, there are hundreds who don’t kill themselves under like circumstances.
The “building blocks” for life have been discovered in 3-billion-year-old organic matter on Mars, NASA scientists announced Thursday.
Researchers cannot yet say whether their discovery stems from life or a more mundane geological process. However, “we’re in a really good position to move forward looking for signs of life,” said Jennifer Eigenbrode, a NASA biogeochemist and lead author of a study published Thursday in the peer-reviewed journal Science.
The findings were also remarkable in that they showed that organic material can be preserved for billions of years on the harsh Martian surface.
The material was discovered by the Mars Curiosity rover, which has been collecting data on the Red Planet since August 2012. The organic molecules were found in Gale Crater — believed to once contain a shallow lake the size of Florida’s Lake Okeechobee.
It was the first day of June, the unofficial beginning of summer, and a maroon car was careening across a Little League baseball field in Sanford, Maine’s Goodall Park. Players rushed to get out of the way as the driver—police later identified her as 52-year-old Carol Sharrow— barely missed them, curving toward home base then away again. She was looking for an exit and spotted a gate. More kids were in danger on the other side.
A witness named Justin Clifton later told a Maine news station what happened next. He said he “saw the car pull out of the […] and this guy had some kids with him.”
Clifton said that when the car “came to the gate, the older guy pushed the kids right out of the way. He took the hit for the kids.”
So, Douglas Parkhurst, age 68, died taking that “hit for the kids.” The Vietnam vet was the hero of the moment and a tragic one at that. A man who in photos appeared ruddy, fit for his age, with a winning smile. It was a moving, powerful story.
For the second time in five years, Douglas Parkhurst’s name was in the news along with the phrase “hit-and-run driver.”
Kate Spade, the designer who built a billion-dollar brand of luxury handbags and accessories, was found dead in her Park Avenue apartment in Manhattan on Tuesday. She was 55. Bebeto Matthews/AP
New York Police Department officials said that police received a call around 10:30 a.m. and that officers found Spade unconscious and unresponsive in the bedroom of her Park Avenue apartment. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
“It was a suicide,” NYPD spokeswoman Arlene Muniz told NPR, without providing further details.
The exact cause of Spade’s death will be determined by a medical examiner.
Fashion icon Diane von Furstenberg is ready for her third act
Photo: Photo For The Washington Post By Jesse Dittmar
NEW YORK – After more than 45 years in fashion, Diane von Furstenberg has been looking for a graceful exit. She is 71, and she has designed a lot of frocks. But the one that matters most is the classic wrap dress, a few yards of slinky jersey that manage to flatter not all but most figures. It’s not cheap, but it isn’t terribly expensive. It has a knack for being appropriate in a multitude of situations. And it comes with its own empowering narrative: that women can have dominion over their own reality with a single sexy, authoritative dress.
That’s a heck of a lot more than most fashion brands have done for women.
The dress landed her on the cover of Newsweek in 1976. It made von Furstenberg – who married and divorced a European prince and dazzled this city’s disco society – even richer and more famous. It gave her independence.
But now, von Furstenberg is ready to be done with fashion. “I don’t want to do another color palette,” she says. “I’ve had three acts. The first was the American Dream, the young girl coming to New York, the wrap dress, blah, blah, blah. The second: I started over. Now, I’ve been thinking, now is the time for the third act. How do I turn this into a legacy, so the legacy will last after me?”
Virginia Pair Witherington holds a photo of herself in her younger days during her 105th birthday party on Sunday. Wayne Crenshawwcrenshaw@macon.com
MACON, GA – Virginia Pair Witherington puts it simply when asked her secret to living to 105, and not looking near her age to top it off.
“Because I take care of myself,” she said among a din of noise as she celebrated her birthday with friends at La Parrilla Mexican Restaurant on Sunday. She turns 105 on Monday.
She worked 30 years as a bookkeeper for the Macon Water Authority, among other places. Her late husband, Joe Witherington was Macon’s first engineer, said Mary Ussery, who says Witherington “adopted” her about 12 years ago. They have been close friends ever since.
“Nana gives really good advice,” Ussery said. “She lives by her philosophy. She’s kind to everyone. She’s the most graceful person I’ve ever met.”
Ussery said Witherington has previously credited her long life to living well and eating a lot of chocolate. She also loves Whopper Juniors and pizza.
How Jesus Died: Rare Evidence of Roman Crucifixion Found
By Tom Metcalfe
This cross was erected inside the Roman Colosseum as a monument to the suffering of early Christians in Rome. The Christian Bible describes the crucifixion of Jesus Christ as occurring in Jerusalem under Roman rule at the beginning of the Christian era.
Credit: Jared I. Lenz Photography/Getty
The body of a man buried in northern Italy 2,000 years ago shows signs that he died after being nailed to a wooden cross, the method used for the execution of Jesus described in the Christian Bible.
Although crucifixion was a common form of capital punishment for criminals and slaves in ancient Roman times, the new finding is only the second time that direct archaeological evidence of it has been found.
A new study of the skeletal remains of the man, found near Venice in 2007, reveals a lesion and unhealed fracture on one of the heel bones that suggests his feet had been nailed to a cross. [8 Alleged Relics of Jesus of Nazareth]
Need a little extra money? You’ll soon be able to sell and rent your DNA
By Gary Robbins
A technician at a Colorado Department of Public Health & Environment lab in Denver extracts DNA for whole genome sequencing. Such testing could revolutionize everything from medical care to agriculture. (P. Solomon Banda / AP)
Feel like earning a little extra money and maybe improving your health at the same time?
Consumers will soon be able to sell or rent their DNA to scientists who are trying to fight diseases as different as dementia, lupus and leukemia.
Bio-brokers want to collect everything from someone’s 23andMe and Ancestry.com gene data to fully sequenced genomes.
The data would be sold or rented to biomedical institutes, universities and pharmaceutical companies, generating money for consumers who share their genetic secrets.