Wednesday, 30 September 2015

The Shakespeare Code: Does a 400-Year-Old Portrait Offer a New Image of The Bard?

Historian and botanist Mark Griffiths claims to have cracked a centuries old code, revealing a brand new image of William Shakespeare.

The picture appears on the title page of the 1598 volume ‘The Herball or Generall Historie of Plantes’ by the horticulturist John Gerard.  Apparently, Griffiths was able to decode a Latin cipher “of the kind loved by the Elizabethan aristocracy” which then revealed the identity of the man in the picture as William Shakespeare.

If he is correct, then this picture is the only demonstrably authentic portrait of the famous playwright that exists from his lifetime. But remember, I said ‘if’ â€" Mr. Griffiths is by no means the first person to make such a sensational ‘discovery’.

It is a spectacular claim for sure, but one that is fast gaining currency in the international news media. The only accepted images of The Bard are the famous picture from the cover of Shakespeare’s First Folio and the effigy on his monument in Stratford-Upon-Avon, both of which were created some time after his death.

Griffiths, who is presently writing a book about Gerard, came across the picture whilst browsing a first edition copy of ‘The Herball’. The image appears to have been created by William Rogers, the first English engraver and a man of much renown in his own right. Copperplate engravings, such as the ones he made of Queen Elizabeth I, are key pieces of historical evidence for the study of England in Tudor times.

Rogers’ title page shows four male figures surrounded by flowers and symbols, so Griffiths decided to try and discern the identities of the four men.

One of the men is apparently Gerard himself, whilst the second image appears to depict the Flemish botanist Rembert Dodoens. The third man is assumed to be Lord Burghley, who was an adviser to the Queen and a patron of the book’s author. The three aforementioned men could be readily identified using existing portraits from the period. However, the identity of the fourth figure, clad in classical Roman garb, wearing a laurel wreath and holding a both an ear of sweetcorn and a fritillary flower, eluded him.

Griffiths began to read up on the sort of codes, ciphers and hidden messages frequently used in Tudor times and, from his research, he concluded that the identity of the fourth man had to be Shakespeare himself.

For Griffiths, there can be no doubt at all that this is the definitive image of William Shakespeare, “For me, it is not about doubt or supposition. I’m faced with a series of facts that I can’t gainsay, as much as I try. This is what these facts are, these are what the plants are, this is what they signify, this is what the symbol decodes as. All of that adds up to Shakespeare. I can’t make that â€" and believe me I’ve tried â€" add up to anybody else but Shakespeare.”

However, some of the ‘clues’ unearthed by Griffiths do seem to be somewhat strange, to say the least. For example, the image around the fourth man shows an arrowhead with an ‘E’ stuck to it, alongside a figure four. For Griffiths, this equates to the Latin word Quater, which was (apparently) a slang term for the number 4 in games of chance. Add the ‘E’ on the end of the word and it becomes quatere, which is the infinitive of the Latin verb quatior, meaning ‘ to shake’. Accordingly, Griffiths believes that the number 4 seen nearby can also be interpreted as a spear. Literally, this means ‘shake spear’.

Another ‘clue’ is the presence of the word ‘Or’. Apparently, Shakespeare’s father was presented with a golden coat of arms around the time that ‘The Herball’ was being written - and the heraldic symbol for gold is ‘Or’.

Elsewhere, he also points out references to various Shakespeare writings, particularly Venus and Adonis, in which a fritillary flower appears. He even goes as far as to suggest that the ear of sweetcorn is a reference to a single line of dialogue from Titus and Andronicus.

So, is it Shakespeare’s picture, or is Griffiths simply getting carried away looking for clues as to the identity of a so-far-unknown man who lived 400 years ago? Opinion is so far divided and, given the age of the text and the many-fold interpretations offered by the image, it seems doubtful that anybody will be able to either conclusively prove, or disprove, Griffith’s theory.

Professor Michael Dobson, Director of The Shakespeare Institute at the University of Birmingham said that, “I can’t imagine any reason why Shakespeare would be in a botany textbook. It’s a lovely picture. Everybody is very fond of it. But that doesn’t mean that he had anything to do with it apart from the fact that he read it. (...) It’s a man in a toga, holding a little bit of a corn on the cob in one hand and a fritillary in the other.”

In his defense, Mr. Griffiths has posited that Shakespeare may have been patronized by Burghley and that he could potentially have worked with Gerard on the book, hence his appearance on the cover, but critics of the theory find this hard to swallow, especially due to the lack of any hard historical evidence to back it up.

World-renowned Shakespeare expert Stanley Wells took his disdain to Twitter, saying (slightly flippantly) “So apparently Shakespeare went around in fancy dress holding a fritillary in one hand and a cob of corn in the other.” Of course, the ‘fancy dress’ could be symbolic of the man’s connection to the theatre, but equally, it could be a romanticized portrait of a nature spirit.

As reported by The Guardian, Griffiths hit back at his critics, saying, “What we have here is a series of incontrovertible facts. I dare say people will think: ‘Oh no. It’s not him.’ But there is no other construction that can be placed on these facts. It is not an assumption that he is Shakespeare, it is algebra ... it is an equation.”



Erm...No it isn’t. It is a series of educated guesses, aided and abetted by what seems to be more than a little wishful thinking.

The image and indeed the story as a whole, may put science fiction fans in mind of the 2007 ‘Doctor Who’ adventure ‘The Shakespeare Code’, in which a young and handsome Shakespeare portrayed by Dean Lennox Kelly (and eerily similar to the man pictured in ‘The Herball’) aids The Doctor and his companion Martha Jones in expelling Carrionite witches from The Globe Theatre. Indeed, Griffiths himself compared the image of a young, good-looking Shakespeare to the appearance of a contemporary film star.

So, when we gaze upon this Elizabethan image, are we looking at the only authentic picture of William Shakespeare? Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t, however the fact that Mr. Griffiths is now claiming to have uncovered a new play by Shakespeare does suggest, that, whether he manages to convince us or not, we’ll be hearing more from him in the future.

The Need For Two Way Radios For Security

Two way radios are invaluable resource to any security team anywhere in the world. These radios ensure fast and efficient communication with one another in a secure and discrete manner. This helps in enhancing security as far as protecting people, their property, buildings and other valuable assets is concerned. Not only are two way radios important for security purposes but they are also useful for ensuring workplace safety is maintained especially in construction sites and other noisy workplaces. The following are the importance of two way radios for security:



Access Control To Different Areas 



Two way radios are very useful when monitoring the situation in various places within a building, a construction site or a highly sensitive area. It enables the security team to communicate seamlessly about the people entering or leaving the site or area. It gives you complete access control of who enters or leaves the building or site. You can easily inform a partner on who looks suspicious and what exactly is happening at the entrance or anywhere in the building.



High Profile Security 



Two way radios offer a high profile security and monitoring of what is happening at a particular place. For enhanced security, direct and prompt communication is vital. Two way radios are among the best communication gadgets that offer fast and immediate communication between security personnel. You do not have to wait for the call to be connected as is the norm with mobile phones and other communication gadgets; it is simply instant communication.



Covert Security



These radios offer covert security . You can easily monitor the movements of suspicious people in an area without them knowing that they are being watched. Due to instant communication offered by these gadgets, it is easy to monitor every step taken by a suspicious individual. Good security requires stealth or concealed monitoring of events in an area. This allows you to monitor the security concerns of an area without being noticed.



Asset Management 



Two way radios or walkie talkies are essential in asset management. They enable timely monitoring of equipment, cars and tracks, buildings and even when transporting the assets. Transporting high value assets require constant monitoring and communication between the owner and the people transporting the assets. Two way radios allow you to communicate and monitor the movement of the people transporting the assets.





Emergency Communications 



There are times when emergency situations in the workplace or building may prevent you from accessing help immediately. without putting your life in danger. On top of that, it facilitates evacuation of other people from the danger zone. You can communicate with the rest of the security team to ensure everyone is evacuated and is safe.



Security Guarding 



Security involves guarding people, building and property. Guarding people is not an easy process especially VIPs. It requires constant communication between the SIA security people. It requires you to communicate in the moment. This is only achieved by using two way radios because these gadgets allow instant communication between two or more people. In case of a problem you can easily request for backup immediately. The latest two way radios allow users to include or attach discrete acoustic earpieces and microphones for covert use. This is very important when guarding VIPs.



Enhances Store Security And Management 



If you own a store or a warehouse that requires constant monitoring, then you should consider getting your security team two way radios. Using these communication gadgets, you create your own store detectives as they will be able to monitor what comes in and leaves the store without other people knowing that they are being monitored.



Immediate Response 



When not sure of what to do in certain security situations, a second opinion regarding the situation is very important. If the situation does not permit you to leave your location to go and find another person, being able to get immediate response or backup by the help of a communication gadget can help you resolve the problem very fast.



In summary, whether it is a hospital, school, factory, security installation or building, home or workplace, security is very important. Security can only be enhanced and achieved through seamless communication between the security team. By the use of two way radios for security purposes, you will definitely enhance the security of your building, workers, store or any other place that requires constant monitoring and security.



Monday, 21 September 2015

Idiot In Venezuela Mutilates Himself In Order To Look Like Marvel Comics Villain

Created by writers Joe Simon and France Herron, together with artist Jack ‘King’ Kirby, Marvel Comics’ ‘Red Skull’ character first appeared as an antagonist for Captain America in 1941.

An unreconstructed Nazi supervillain, Red Skull’s plans post-1945 typically centred around world domination, the clever application of his ‘Cosmic Cube’ weapon and a membership in the evil organization ‘Hydra’.

As a result, he has been a popular antagonist in Marvel comic books for several decades and was even selected to be the main enemy of Captain America for the 2011 movie ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’.

One of the most unrepentantly evil Marvel Comics villains, Red Skull isn’t a tortured political idealist like Magneto, or the product of a lousy upbringing like Doctor Octopus. He’s just a Nazi douchebag, plain and simple.

...And now, Henry Damon, a husband and father from Venezuela, has mutilated himself in order to look like him.



How?

Well, he apparently has an appointment booked to have his entire head tattooed red.

Plus, he’s already had his eyeballs tattooed entirely black (which, I have to say I didn’t know was possible) and he has even had sub dermal implants placed under his skin so that his brow and forehead appear ridged and more ‘skull like’.

Next up, he’ll have silicon implants placed under his chin and his cheeks, which will give him the broad, skull-like grimace of the comic book character.

...But by far the most wince-inducing aspect of Mr. Damon’s transformation is that he has recently had most of his nose cut off.

The surgery was performed by Emilio Gonzales (you’ll not the absence of the word ‘doctor’ anywhere in that title), a medical school dropout who earns a living from extreme body modification. In response to critics, Gonzales has said that Damon is “physically and intellectually” a healthy person.

No joke. He really did say that.

OK, so this guy wants to be a Nazi supervillain. In fact, he wants to be a Nazi supervillain so badly that he’s willing to endure no small amount of pain (and spend what is probably a small fortune) on mutilating himself unrecognizably in order to achieve his goal of becoming a Nazi Supervillain from a comic book.

...Yeah, because that’s healthy.

Instead of being offered the psychiatric treatment he obviously needs, Damon apparently passed a number of ‘psychological tests’, but honestly, I can’t imagine any credible, certified psychiatric professional agreeing with that diagnosis, can you? More likely it was the ‘surgeon’, asking him to fill out a few forms in order to cover his ass in case of a lawsuit.

Whatever the reason behind this insanity, there are a great many jokes to be made about this particular idiot. Firstly, if he has no nose, how does he smell? Secondly, he’s cut off his nose to spite his face...And so on.

Joking aside, the really stupid thing is that once this idiot is done mutilating himself, he won’t even own the rights to his own face anymore.

Also, I sincerely hope that he never catches a cold...But that’s more out of concern for the rest of the community than it is for Mr. Damon.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Taking The .... Campaign To Urinate In The Shower (In An Effort To Save Water, Apparently), Goes National

Remember that episode of Seinfeld where George Costanza committed a major social faux pas by peeing in the showers at the gym? Well, it turns out that he wasn’t simply being lazy and disgusting. No, he was actively taking a stand to save the world’s water. Or something.

The Go With The Flow campaign, spearheaded by University of East Anglia students Debs Torr and Chris Dobson, is actively trying to encourage students to urinate in the shower as a way of saving water, apparently blissfully unaware that most students (the male ones, at least) probably already do.

In fact, male students have actually been ‘saving water’ for generations now. In addition to mastering the dubious art of shower urination, young men have also managed to ‘save water’ by urinating in other places, too.

Yes, that’s right, by spending literally decades peeing in places as diverse as the alley outside the pub, our mates’ mum’s carpet, empty beer bottles, abandoned port-a-loos The Download Festival and especially Swindon, male students in the UK will probably have saved the equivalent of the Atlantic ocean by the end of the year (possibly even the weekend, if the drinks are cheap enough).

You’re welcome, everyone.

Joking aside (not really), 20-year-old Chris Dobson, who has almost certainly destroyed his own chances of ever getting any female students to join him in the shower, reckons that if every student at his own Uni does just one ‘number one’ a day in the shower, they will save enough water to fill an Olympic sized swimming pool 26 times over.

Of course, even that isn’t particularly impressive, because, if that happened, all the water would just overfill the pool and flood the changing rooms and the car park, making the entire town centre stink of chlorine â€" and nobody needs that.

His findings also imply that nobody ever pees in public swimming pools. A fact which most of us know to be false.

In fact, according to ‘Pissy Chrissy’ if all UEA students accepted the challenge (as I said, not counting the 50% of them that probably already do), they’d save a combined £125,000 per annum. If the population of East Anglia joined in, they’d be looking at around £42.5 Million.

"We’ve done the maths, and this project stands to have a phenomenal impact”. Said Dobson, accidentally outing himself as a maths nerd as well as a dude that pees in the shower. Sexy prospect.

As you can extrapolate, the numbers would be amazing if the whole country took part in the ‘challenge’ of pissing in the shower once a day, but personally, I think it would be a shame if it was limited to just the shower. Let’s all find exotic places to pee and, when questioned, simply state that we’re doing it for the planet. The power is yours (a brand new no-prize for everyone that gets the reference).

Of course, the ‘Go With The Flow’ initiative only saves water if you flush after every trip to the loo, which is, in and of itself, a huge waste of water. But we already knew that. In fact, the entire thing would appear to be based on assumptions about other people’s urination habits, rather than any sort of quantifiable facts.



On a final note, I just hope some bright spark doesn’t confuse this latest viral campaign with the ‘ice bucket challenge’  â€" because, quite frankly, nobody needs that.

...And on that note, I’m off to take a quick shower.

PS â€" by the same logic, you can also save water by taking a dump in your local Sainsbury’s.

Beloved Wrestling Champion & Promoter Verne Gagne Passes Away, Aged 89

Philosopher Albert Camus once wrote, “What I know most surely about morality and the duty of man I owe to sport”. It is hard to find a more fitting epitaph for Verne Gagne, beloved wrestling champion and influential promoter, who passed away in April of this year.

Verne, who was 89 years old, had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and living in a health care facility in Minnesota. However, it would be wrong to dwell on the saddening end of a life as successful and pioneering as that of Verne Gagne, a man who helped to shape the landscape of professional wrestling forever.

At varying times during his life, Gagne was an NFL pro footballer (with both the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears), an alternate for the USA’s Olympic wrestling team, a multi-time amateur wrestling champion, a US marine, a World Champion professional wrestler, a hugely successful promoter and a devoted husband and father.

He trained, or helped to train, many of the biggest and most successful names in professional wrestling history, including future World Champions Ric Flair, Ricky ‘The Dragon’ Steamboat, The Iron Sheik, Bob Backlund, Dick The Bruiser, Sgt. Slaughter, Blackjack Mulligan and ‘Mr. Perfect’ Curt Hennig (father of current WWE wrestler Curtis Axel), as well as industry legends such as ‘Cowboy’ Bill Watts, Larry ‘The Axe’ Hennig (father of Curt), Blackjack Lanza, Baron Von Raschke, Jimmy Valiant, Ken Patera, Ole Anderson, Jim Brunzell and, of course, his own son, Greg Gagne.

Verne Gagne’s story begins on a little farm near Corcoran, Minnesota. He was born in 1926, into a very different world than the one we live in today. As a child, Verne would sit on his grandfather’s lap and listen to wrestling on the radio, as there was no television. As Greg Gagne recalled in the WWE’s 2006 ‘Spectacular Legacy of the AWA’ DVD, it was during one such session that Verne announced his intentions to become a professional wrestler.

Gagne’s amateur wrestling accomplishments speak for themselves, Verne was named the Northwest AAU Champion in 1942, Minnesota High School Champion in 1943 and ‘Big Ten’ Champion in 1944, 1947, 1948 and 1949. He was also crowned National AAU Champion in 1948 and 1949 and was selected for 1948’s US Olympic Team (although he didn’t compete). Gagne also won the NCAA Championship in 1949.

As a promoter, Verne was famous for his emphasis on realistic, ‘scientific’ wrestling, a view that contrasted sharply with the then-WWF’s more cartoonish, family-orientated approach to the sport.



After he turned pro, Verne Gagne became one of the first stars of the early TV era of wrestling, becoming the NWA (National Wrestling Alliance) Junior Heavyweight Champion in the process. In an era of more serious, credible and ‘straight-laced’ wrestling, Verne Gagne exhibited a special kind of charisma, which was backed up by his great work-rate and wholly believable matches. He was also among the first wrestlers to seek endorsements outside of the wrestling world, a move which paid off handsomely at the time and hinted at a high level of business acumen.

Eventually, as Gagne’s popularity with wrestling audiences increased, he became frustrated at the NWA’s apparent unwillingness to allow him a run with the World’s Heavyweight Championship, at that time held by Lou Thesz. Later, when Pat O’Connor was World Champion, the NWA again refused Gagne a title run. Because of this, largely political, limitation, Gagne and his partner Wally Karbo purchased the Minneapolis territory and seceded from the NWA, taking several other territories with them and forming the bedrock of the American Wrestling Association (AWA) in the process.

The AWA proved to be a successful venture and ran between 1960 and 1991. During that time, the company expanded outwards into traditional NWA territories, in a similar (albeit less aggressive) manner to the way that Vince McMahon Jr’s WWF would expand in the 1980’s. Vince Jr has even gone on record to say that if he hadn’t taken wrestling national when he did, Verne Gagne would have done so.

Whilst still an active competitor, Verne drew criticisms in some quarters for constantly booking himself as the AWA World Champion, including one run that lasted from 1968 until late 1975 (he eventually lost the belt to Nick Bockwinkel). However, it should be noted that Verne was undeniably the promotion’s biggest star and that the company was effectively built around his star power. As AWA World Champion, Verne feuded with some of the all-time greats of pro wrestling, stars like Bockwinkel, Fritz Von Erich, Gene Kiniski and The Crusher.

In the 1980’s, the AWA found itself going head-to-head with Vince McMahon’s WWF, a promotion which had been mainly built around the acquisition of Hulk Hogan, a man who had been the AWA’s biggest drawing card not long before. McMahon sought to dominate the wrestling industry by expanding his New York-based territory via cable television. Almost overnight, the AWA’s top talent abandoned Verne’s outfit for the greater exposure offered by McMahon’s WWF and the AWA suffered for a lack of credible main event stars.

Despite this, Gagne’s AWA still offered a very different product to McMahon’s WWF. Where the WWF promoted bodybuilders and super heavyweight ‘big man’ bouts as its top attractions, the AWA was still offering classier, more traditional wrestling matches.

Even under diminished circumstances, the AWA was still an important starting point for many wrestlers to polish their performances and ‘round out’ their ring work and personas.

Over the years, Gagne’s promotion gave a start to many talents that are now regarded as legends within the wrestling industry, including WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan, Shawn Michaels, ‘The American Dream’ Dusty Rhodes, ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, Scott Hall, Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura, The Road Warriors and even announcer ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, as well as many other stars including Big Van Vader, The Nasty Boys, ‘Mad Dog’ Vachon, Marty Jannetty and Rick ‘The Model’ Martel.

The AWA hung on for as long as it could, but in the wake of the WWF onslaught and an ongoing legal dispute concerning some land he owned along Lake Minnetonka, Verne was effectively forced out of business, going bankrupt in 1991 and later selling his company (and its entire video library) to the WWF.

Despite the ultimate demise of the AWA, Verne Gagne remained one of the most recognised, respected and beloved professional wrestlers of all time. In his 2013 book ‘The 50 Greatest Professional Wrestlers of All Time’, former ‘Wrestling at the Chase’ announcer Larry Matysik ranked Gagne at number 11, saying “As much as his ownership of the AWA leads to criticism that he was its champion, the reality of the promotion’s huge profitability for more than two decades demonstrates that the audience bought him as that champion. And AWA shows drew well even when Gagne was not working”.

Gagne’s legacy as one of the greatest professional wrestlers of all time is already assured. By the time he retired, he was a 15-time World Champion (10 time AWA World Heavyweight Champion, 5 time Omaha World Championship), as well as a Champion in Japan.

He was an inductee into the WWE Hall of Fame, as well as the WCW, Professional Wrestling and Wrestling Observer equivalents. In addition to his incredible in-ring exploits, Verne Gagne should also be remembered as one of the most successful wrestling promoters ever, as well as one of the best teachers the industry ever produced.

For his talent, charisma and freewheeling entrepreneurial spirit, Verne will always be remembered as one of the very best. He was, to quote his son Greg, “a special man”.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Taking a closer look at the DP3400 Earpiece

Anyone who is looking for a reliable, robust and high quality earpiece that boasts incredible depth of sound and clarity will be hard pressed to find something better than the DP3400 from Motorola. Given the fact that this is a high quality push to talk earpiece built specifically to deliver crystal clear sound, any instructions delivered even by people suffering from laryngitis or those with very coarse voices are going to sound crisp to the ear.



Transparent design

However, there are a lot more great things to say about this earpiece. While other earpieces on the market are fitted with a visible tube, the one on the DP3400 is transparent and therefore it's very hard to notice . In fact, the transparent design was considered in order to improve discretion and make it as less noticeable as possible. On top of that, there's even a micro-speaker that is hidden away at the base of the middle of the push to talk switch. Talk about ingenuity in design.

Durability and weight



While a lot of similar products of this caliber are indeed available for great prices, they seem to have nothing on the DP3400 not only in terms of quality, but also in terms of weight. This earpiece is so light that you'll barely even feel it when you wear it and given the fact that the push to talk housing/microphone clips to your vest, it's hard for it to be displaced. On top of that, you don't need to grab a hold of the earpiece in order to press it.

Great for anyone working in the security industry

If you're someone who plans on working as a guard at a private security company or are already working as a store detective, covert police, security office, a doorman or maybe a close protection officer, having a high quality earpiece is mandatory in order to do your job as best as possible. In this case, the DP3400 is definitely one of the best choices out there not only because its performance and build quality are great, but because it's also very light.

The wire length is 110 centimeters plus ear tube and microphone.

Compatibility

Anyone who is serious about their job and wants to get their hands (or ears) on the best earpiece out there should certainly get the DP3400. Compatibility wise, the earpiece can be used with many Motorola radios, such as the DP3401, DGPTM 6150, but also DP3600, mth850s and the motorola dp4400 and many others.

All in all, this is by far one of the best earpieces you can currently get and given the fact that it has a functional and cool design makes it a much more attractive option for anyone working in the security industry. Pricewise, you won't have to worry about breaking the bank to get it and it's definitely quite affordable for what it offers. In fact, most people are so satisfied with the DP3400 that after they start using it they're going to wonder why they didn’t get it earlier.