Welcome to ...

The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Editorial Comment

Sorry for the lack of postings here at Carolina Naturally over the last few days. We have had a meltdown in the hardware of the mainframe used to post to this had her sister blog.
The tweeks to the format and transition to new sources is going on behind the scenes even as the computer gurus work to reslove the hardware issue and you or dear readers will like the results.
Again sorry for the lack of postings and we hope the issues are resloved soon and we shall be back better than before.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Moving from point A to point B will be very pleasant for you today -- motion and travel are looking good now.
Even if you just take a walk around the block, you will find plenty of fascinating sights and sounds along the way.
Art and music will also bring you a lot of joy today.
Instead of watching television or wandering around on the internet, put one of your favorite CDs in the stereo and give it a listen while you cook, clean, or do some other type of meditative activity.

 Some of our readers today have been in:
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Mexico City, Distrito Federal, Mexico
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Preston, Victoria, Australia
Rio De Janiero, Rio De Janiero, Brazil
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Crawley, England, United Kingdom
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Basauri, Pais Vasco, Spain
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Manila, Manila, Philippines
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Ashdod, Hamerkaz, Israel
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Delhi. Delhi, India
Munich, Bayern, Germany
Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Georgetown, Demerara-Mahaica, Guyana
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
San Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador
Cork, Cork, Ireland
Candiac, Quebec, Canada
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Vienna, Wien, Austria
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
London, England, United Kingdom
Tallinn, Harjumma, Estonia
Sibu, Sarawak, Malaysia
Cairo, Al Qaihra, Egypt
Kuwai, Al Kuwayt, Kuwait
As, Askershus, Norway
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

as well as Slovakia, Malta, Bulgaria, Israel, Finland, Austria, Norway, Georgia, Mexico, Peru, Kuwait, Serbia, Bangladesh, Latvia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Wales, Iran, Singapore, Poland, Taiwan, Sweden, Afghanistan, Belgium, Tibet, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Paraguay, Sudan, Vietnam, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, France, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Maldives, Qatar, Brazil, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Slovenia, China, Iraq, Ecuador, Nigeria, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Paupa New Guinea, Moldova, Venezuela, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Norway, Finland

and in cities across the United States such as Cottonwood, Kingstree, Southern Pines, West Palm Beach and more!

Today is:
Today is Saturday, December 3, the 337th day of 2011.
There are 28 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
Ear Muff Day.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


President Obama's Weekly Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
December 3, 2011
This week, we learned that our economy added another 140,000 private sector jobs in November. Despite some strong headwinds this year, America’s economy has now created private sector jobs for the past 21 months in a row – almost three million new jobs in all, more than half a million of them in the past four months alone.
We need to keep this growth going and strengthen it. That’s why we’ve been fighting to pass a series of jobs bills through Congress – bills that independent economists say will create more jobs and grow the economy even faster. Because now is the time to step on the gas, not slam on the brakes.
Unfortunately, too many Republicans in Congress don’t seem to share that same sense of urgency. Over the last few months, they’ve said “no” to most of these jobs bills. “No” to putting teachers and firefighters back to work. “No” to putting construction workers back on the job. And this week, they actually said “no” to cutting taxes for middle-class families.
You see, last year, both parties came together to cut payroll taxes for the typical middle-class family by about $1,000. But that tax cut is set to expire at the end of this month. If that happens, that same family will see its taxes go up by $1,000. We can’t let that happen. In fact, I think we should cut taxes on working families and small business owners even more.
And we’re going to keep pushing Congress to make this happen. They shouldn’t go home for the holidays until they get this done. And if you agree with me, I could use your help.
We’ve set up a simple tax cut calculator on WhiteHouse.gov so that you can see exactly what the stakes are for your family. Try it out. Then let your members of Congress know where you stand.
Tell them not to vote to raise taxes on working Americans during the holidays. Tell them to put country before party. Put money back in the pockets of working Americans. Pass these tax cuts.
We’re all in this together. The more Americans succeed, the more America succeeds. And if we remember that and do what it takes to keep this economy growing and opportunity rising, then I’m confident that we’ll come out of this stronger than before.

Super Saturday


'Tis the Season:

 Bree Olson Trashes Homeless People

Homeless people in Indiana are feeling the wrath of Charlie Sheen's former goddess Bree Olsen -- who's BEGGING her community to stop giving money to beggars.

Olsen ignited a firestorm on Twitter earlier today when she posted a photo of a beggar -- and wrote, "STOP giving then money Fort Wayne! The more you give them money this place is gonna start looking like Skid Row."

She added, "Fort Wayne has PLENTY of room in the shelters and almost every church has food shelter and placement. No excuse for him or the others here."

Olsen -- a former porn star -- was bombarded with insults from people who don't see things her way. One person wrote, "Some people are more comfortable asking for help than sucking di*k for money."

Teacher tells 2nd-graders there's no Santa

When the 7-year-olds told her they knew about the North Pole because of its white-bearded inhabitant, she reportedly responded that Santa did not exist and that Christmas presents were bought by their parents.The teacher is wrong.
And here's why:

"DEAR EDITOR: I am 8 years old.
"Some of my little friends say there is no Santa Claus.
"Papa says, 'If you see it in THE SUN it's so.'
"Please tell me the truth; is there a Santa Claus?


VIRGINIA, your little friends are wrong. They have been affected by the skepticism of a skeptical age. They do not believe except [what] they see. They think that nothing can be which is not comprehensible by their little minds. All minds, Virginia, whether they be men's or children's, are little. In this great universe of ours man is a mere insect, an ant, in his intellect, as compared with the boundless world about him, as measured by the intelligence capable of grasping the whole of truth and knowledge.

Yes, VIRGINIA, there is a Santa Claus. He exists as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist, and you know that they abound and give to your life its highest beauty and joy. Alas! how dreary would be the world if there were no Santa Claus. It would be as dreary as if there were no VIRGINIAS. There would be no childlike faith then, no poetry, no romance to make tolerable this existence. We should have no enjoyment, except in sense and sight. The eternal light with which childhood fills the world would be extinguished.

Not believe in Santa Claus! You might as well not believe in fairies! You might get your papa to hire men to watch in all the chimneys on Christmas Eve to catch Santa Claus, but even if they did not see Santa Claus coming down, what would that prove? Nobody sees Santa Claus, but that is no sign that there is no Santa Claus. The most real things in the world are those that neither children nor men can see. Did you ever see fairies dancing on the lawn? Of course not, but that's no proof that they are not there. Nobody can conceive or imagine all the wonders there are unseen and unseeable in the world.

You may tear apart the baby's rattle and see what makes the noise inside, but there is a veil covering the unseen world which not the strongest man, nor even the united strength of all the strongest men that ever lived, could tear apart. Only faith, fancy, poetry, love, romance, can push aside that curtain and view and picture the supernal beauty and glory beyond. Is it all real? Ah, VIRGINIA, in all this world there is nothing else real and abiding.

No Santa Claus! Thank God! he lives, and he lives forever. A thousand years from now, Virginia, nay, ten times ten thousand years from now, he will continue to make glad the heart of childhood.

The original Sun piece:

New School Policy Forbids Teachers From Failing Students Caught Cheating

Caught cheating? In my days, that's an automatic fail.
But not anymore, at least not in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada! Teachers there are forbidden to fail a student caught cheating:
The school board had defended the policy change, on grounds that cheating students could still be disciplined — including a suspension from school — and that a failing grade did not resolve whether the student had actually learned an assignment.
But critics said the policy helped coddle students, and gave a signal that cheating does not have serious consequences.

One of the earliest known examples of math homework

It's stuff like this that makes me love archaeology. Turns out, we can trace the concept of math homework back to at least 2300 B.C.E., in ancient Mesopotamia.
In the early 20th century, German researchers found several clay tablets at the site of Ć uruppak. (Today, that's basically the Iraqi city of Tell Fara.) Some of the tablets appear to be the remains of math instruction, including two different tablets that are working the same story problem.
A loose translation of the problem is: A granary. Each man receives 7 sila of grain. How many men? That is, the tablets concern a highly artificial problem and certainly present a mathematical exercise and not an archival document. The tablets give the statement of the problem and its answer (164571 men - expressed in the sexagesimal system S since we are counting men - with 3 sila left over). However, one of the tablets gives an incorrect solution. When analyzing these tablets, Marvin Powell commented famously that it was, "written by a bungler who did not know the front from the back of his tablet, did not know the difference between standard numerical notation and area notation, and succeeded in making half a dozen writing errors in as many lines."
That comes from a site set up by Duncan Mellville, a math professor at St. Lawrence University in Canton, NY. He's actually got a whole collection of essays on Mesopotamian mathematics. I am certain, that by posting this, I've just ruined somebody's productivity for, like, a week.

Editor's Note:The image is not THE cuneiform tablet in question.

Nerd Music

House of the Rising Sun
From YouTube member bd594, the same geek who brought us “Bohemian Rhapsody” by The Gadget Orchestra (presented below) a couple of years ago, we now have the classic “House of the Rising Sun” played by various vintage electronic gadgets. The instruments:
a. HP Scanjet 3P, Adaptec SCSI card and a computer powered by Ubuntu v9.10 OS as the Vocals. (hey, the scanner is old)
b. Atari 800XL with an EiCO Oscilloscope as the Organ
c. Texas instrument Ti-99/4A with a Tektronix Oscilloscope as the Guitar
d. Hard-drive powered by a PiC16F84A microcontroller as the bass drum and cymbal
Can you get any geekier than Bohemian Rhapsody played by an orchestra of vintage gadgets? I think not. From the YouTube page:
Please note no effects or sampling was used. What you see is what you hear (does that even make sense?)
Atari 800XL was used for the lead piano/organ sound
Texas Instruments TI-99/4a as lead guitar
8 Inch Floppy Disk as Bass
3.5 inch Harddrive as the gong
HP ScanJet 3C was used for all vocals. Please note I had to record the HP scanner 4 seperate times for each voice. I tried to buy 4 HP scanners but for some reason sellers on E-Bay expect you to pay $80-$100, I got mine for $30.

Impatient people have lower credit scores

Is there a psychological reason why people default on their mortgages? A new study, which will be published in an upcoming issue of Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, finds that people with bad credit scores …
Continue Reading 

Why Can’t a Woman Shop More like a Man?

Not surprisingly, the way men and women shop online mirrors very closely how they shop offline, according to Andrew Robertson, CEO at advertising agency BBDO.

The differences in how men and women shop online mirror very closely how they shop offline, says BBDO CEO Andrew Robertson.
The differences in how men and women shop online mirror very closely how they shop offline, says BBDO CEO Andrew …
Men tend to be very task-focused when they shop online, Robertson said. "They don't shop, they hunt," he said, adding that they tend to make purchases at night.

Women, however, tend to think of shopping as "a journey" and they are more likely to buy during their lunch breaks between noon and 1 p.m., he said.

The result: When it comes time to make a purchase, men shop online for an average of 10 minutes before they complete their purchase, while a woman may take about 14 minutes or so - or about 40 percent longer.

So why can't a woman shop more like a man? The answer is: she can. But that tends to occur when the pressure is on to make a speedy purchase. For example, on a day like Black Friday or Cyber Monday the gender gap narrows, according to Robertson.

He thinks retailers need to ...

Art News

RembrandtLost Rembrandt portrait revealed

An unfinished self-portrait by the Dutch master Rembrandt is discovered under another painting using advanced scientific techniques.

Olympic Pole Dancing

There's new push to make a practice most commonly seen at nightclubs and some fitness gyms an Olympic sport.

Daily Comic Relief


Jobs number out and very disappointing

UE went "down," but job growth was far too slow 

ADP was predicting 206,000 new jobs but the official number today is a mere 120,000 though the unemployment rate did drop. That does show you how bogus some of the numbers are because the jobs increase was well below the "break even" number for the month (i.e., below the number need to make the unemployment rate drop). As we can see from the UK example, harsh austerity isn't the answer, but maintaining the status quo isn't the answer either.

We can't afford the same old, same old but that's what we're stuck with today.
Job creation remained weak in the U.S. during November, with just 120,000 new positions created, though the unemployment rate slid to 8.6 percent, a government report showed Friday.

The rate fell from the previous month's 9.0 percent, a move which in part reflected a drop in those looking for jobs. The participation rate dropped to 64 percent, from 64.2 percent in October, representing 315,000 fewer job-seekers.

The actual employment level increased by 278,000. The total amount of those without a job fell to 13.3 million.
Note from John: The Atlantic's Derek Thompson explains how the unemployment rate could drop when the number of new jobs added wasn't enough to decrease the unemployment rate. The quick answer: They use two different metrics to measure the unemployment rate and the number of new jobs added:
There are about 150 million people with jobs in the U.S., so it's impossible to measure every hiring and firing perfectly. The government relies on two imperfect surveys. To get the jobs-added figure, we count hirings and firings on payrolls. To get the unemployment rate and the employment/population rate, we conduct a survey of U.S. households.

The household survey says we added 300,000 jobs last month. The other survey says the private sector added only 140,000 jobs in November. Half of those jobs came from retail (it's shopping season) and health care (which is always growing). Meanwhile, the government lost 20,000 jobs. The result was a 120,000 net gain.
So the "unemployment rate" is based on the household survey, which says we added 300,000 jobs last month, more than the break-even point (which is, depending who you talk to, somewhere between 200k and 300k jobs added in one month) - thus the unemployment rate went down.

But the official "jobs added" figure is based on the number of hirings and firing on payrolls that month. And the number for last month was an anemic 120,000 new jobs added, not enough to decrease the unemployment rate.  So, the numbers are a bit bogus.

Did you know ...

Occupy vs. tea party: what their twitter networks reveal.

Elvis Costello says don't buy my records, buy Satchmo instead.

Does anyone really think more tax cuts will cause executives to create more jobs?

Have you ever wondered why they get away with it?

This is why Faux News, Lush Dimbulb and their ilk aren't behind bars where they should be - but they will commit a criminal offense soon enough (OK, so maybe not quite soon enough for decent people) and will be silenced doing hard time in prison.

Krugman on why Europe is headed towards economic disaster, and we’re close behind

It's got to be frustrating to be a Paul Krugman or a Joe Stiglitz.  "Told you so" is only so much fun when the price for being right is the demise of the world economy.  In his latest NYT column, Krugman explains how it was the European Central Bank, and governments' misplaced notion that during a recession you cut back spending, that put Europe in the mess it's in - and we're following on their heels, fast.
I hope, for our sake as well as theirs, that the Europeans will change course before it’s too late. But, to be honest, I don’t believe they will. In fact, what’s much more likely is that we will follow them down the path to ruin.

For in America, as in Europe, the economy is being dragged down by troubled debtors — in our case, mainly homeowners. And here, too, we desperately need expansionary fiscal and monetary policies to support the economy as these debtors struggle back to financial health. Yet, as in Europe, public discourse is dominated by deficit scolds and inflation obsessives.

So the next time you hear someone claiming that if we don’t slash spending we’ll turn into Greece, your answer should be that if we do slash spending while the economy is still in a depression, we’ll turn into Europe. In fact, we’re well on our way.
We're in a bit of a bind, folks. The Republicans have convinced the country that we simply must cut spending or else (and they don't quite enunciate what the "or else" is), while the President and Democrats in Congress gleefully jumped on the GOP budget-cutting bandwagon a good two years ago. And now we're all heading towards a worldwide economic disaster, and few government leaders, in any country, are acknowledging the cause.

Even if the Republicans were right, and they're not, cutting government regulations isn't going to get the economy back on its feet.  A recent analysis by the Associated Press showed that government regulations caused a whopping 0.2% of all layoffs in the past three years.  So the  Republicans are pushing spending cuts, which will depress the economy further, and the repeal of regulations, that will do next to nothing to help the economy, but will probably hurt workers, food safety and the environment.  And all the while, Democrats will be too afraid to tell voters the truth - that we need to create demand, fast.

It's Math Folks

For those unable to grasp the concept of math (i.e., repugicans) it means that you get the most 'bang for your buck' when you spend on programs to directly benefit people and on new infrastructure and maintaining/repairing existing infrastructure - for every $1.00 spent, $1.75 is returned or to put it another way you make a profit of $.75 ... or a net surplus.

Spending that $1.00 on unemployment insurance & food stamps, etc., direct aid to states, and tax cuts to low and middle income individuals all net surpluses of $1.45, $1.25 and $1.05 respectively.

On the other hand doing like repugicans love to do - spending that $1.00 by giving tax breaks to wealthy individuals nets you $.40 ... in other words a NET LOSS of $.60 or a deficit.

Also, spending that $1.00 in the other way the repugicans love to do is an even more abysmal financial (and mathematical) folly ... for every $1.00 spent in giving tax breaks to corporations you net $.20 which is a NET LOSS of $.80 - not smart in any circumstance [and would get you a failing grade in Econ 101, which is exactly what the current crop of idiots (pardon ... repugicans) running to lose to President Obama in November 2012 got from Economic professors around the world when they unveiled their 'economic plans' of how they would handle the economy if the American people were so stupid as to vote for them.]

More on former AIG CEO suing government, claiming bailout not generous enough

In any sane legal system this suit would be tossed immediately and the plaintif's lawyers disbarred for wasting the court's time. AIG is the insurer that the US government spent $182 billion bailing out because there was absolutely no way that it could possibly meet its obligations.

Greenberg’s Starr International Co. sued the government Nov. 21, calling the public assumption of 80 percent of stock in the insurer in 2008 an unconstitutional “taking” of property that requires $25 billion in compensation.
The correct amount of compensation for AIG shareholders was zero. Allowing them to keep 20% of a bankrupt company after the government bailed it out with $182 billion was a farce.

Greenberg's firm is represented by David Boies, a lawyer who has made a career out of losing high profile cases with tenuous legal arguments. He lost Napster, SCO and the Florida recount. He did get a district court to declare Microsoft a monopoly, but only after the judge had shown such a remarkable degree of incompetence and bias that the decision was thrown out by the Appeals court.

Note from John: I'd be remiss not to mention that Boies has done an amazing job fighting the Prop 8 case in court, including this delicious destruction of the head of the hate group Famiky Research Council, Tony Perkins, on Face the Nation a while back.

Chase executive: we tricked naive borrowers into taking out subprime loans

An award-winning Chase vice-president has gone public with accusations that his bank deliberately tricked naive borrowers into taking out high-commission loans they could never pay back (his team wrote $2B in loans during the subprime bubble), putting the lie to the narrative that subprime was about greedy borrowers taking money they knew they shouldn't:
One memory particularly troubles Theckston. He says that some account executives earned a commission seven times higher from subprime loans, rather than prime mortgages. So they looked for less savvy borrowers — those with less education, without previous mortgage experience, or without fluent English — and nudged them toward subprime loans.
These less savvy borrowers were disproportionately blacks and Latinos, he said, and they ended up paying a higher rate so that they were more likely to lose their homes. Senior executives seemed aware of this racial mismatch, he recalled, and frantically tried to cover it up.
Theckston, who has a shelf full of awards that he won from Chase, such as “sales manager of the year,” showed me his 2006 performance review. It indicates that 60 percent of his evaluation depended on him increasing high-risk loans.
In late 2008, when the mortgage market collapsed, Theckston and most of his colleagues were laid off. He says he bears no animus toward Chase, but he does think it is profoundly unfair that troubled banks have been rescued while troubled homeowners have been evicted.

Dutch copyright group accused of pirating its anti-piracy anthem

And music collecting society boss seeks 33% finders' fee for getting musician paid

A musician called Melchior Rietveldt was commissioned by the Dutch copyright-lobbying group BREIN to compose an anthem for an "anti-piracy" video. According to Rietveldt, BREIN licensed his work for a single use. However, the film industry has gone on to use the music in those crappy anti-piracy ads they run at the start of DVDs telling you off for being a pirate when you've just bought the DVD you're watching. Rietveldt's representatives claim that tens of millions of Dutch DVDs contain his composition, and that he's owed more than EUR1M.
Soon after he discovered the unauthorized distribution of his music Rietveldt alerted the local music royalty collecting agency Buma/Stemra. The composer demanded compensation, but to his frustration he heard very little from Buma/Stemra and he certainly didn’t receive any royalties.
Earlier this year, however, a breakthrough seemed to loom on the horizon when Buma/Stemra board member Jochem Gerrits contacted the composer with an interesting proposal. Gerrits offered to help out the composer in his efforts to get paid for his hard work, but the music boss had a few demands of his own.
In order for the deal to work out the composer had to assign the track in question to the music publishing catalogue of the Buma/Stemra board member. In addition to this, the music boss demanded 33% of all the money set to be recouped as a result of his efforts.
It gets worse. Click through to read how Gerrits was recorded making this demand, and what happened next.

Profiles in Scourges

Pablo Escobar
You know the name, but you probably don’t really know much about drug lord Pablo Escobar. Now you can read the short version of how he clawed his way up the ladder in the cocaine business.
The profits were astronomical at every step. In 1978 each kilo probably cost Escobar $2,000 but sold to Lehder and Jung for $22,000, clearing Escobar $20,000 per kilo. In the next stage they transported an average of 400 kilos to south Florida (incurring some additional expenses in hush money for local airport authorities) where mid-level dealers paid a wholesale price of $60,000 per kilo; thus in 1978 each 400-kilo load earned Escobar $8 million and Lehder, Ochoa, and Jung $5 million each in profits. Of course the mid-level dealers did just fine: after cutting the drug with baking soda each shipment retailed on the street for $210 million, almost ten times what they paid for it.
Soon Lehder was hiring American pilots to fly a steady stream of cocaine into the U.S., paying them $400,000 per trip. At one trip per week, in 1978 this translated into wholesale revenues of $1.3 billion and profits of $1 billion.
The profits and risks soared after that. The Jung in the quote is American George Jung, whose story was told in the 2001 film Blow. Read the rest of Escobar’s astonishing biography at mental_floss.

Car Talk

Car buyer livid over bizarre arrest
Jacoline Lipharama has had a rough week. First she paid R33 000 for a second-hand car.
Full Story

Awesome Pictures


The Disappearing USA

The U.S. landscape is home to many unique natural formations that took thousands and thousands of years to develop, but as our population -- and need for more space -- grows, there's a risk some may be lost to future generations. For your next trip, consider these Top 5 disappearing places and enjoy them before they disappear.
5) The Everglades, Florida: The Everglades is the "largest subtropical wilderness" in the country, but because of human encroachment, rare animals are losing their homes. The national park covers about 1.5 million acres and provides all sorts of outdoorsy adventures: camping, kayaking, boating, hiking and bird watching, to name a few.
4) Sunset Cliffs, San Diego, California: These rugged cliffs run along the Southern California coast, with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. It's popular area with surfers, whale watchers and weddings. The sandstone bluffs, which feature arches and sea caves, are slowly being eaten away by runoff from developments and irrigation.
3) Coral Reefs of Biscayne National Park, South Florida: These delicate reefs, the only living coral feel in the U.S.,  are must for avid divers, snorkelers and boaters; the park also features an underwater "trail" that allows visitors to explore various shipwrecks within the park. However, the reef's popularity is also contributing to its disappearance: Some of the coral has declined by 90%, partly due to overfishing.
2) Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings, Colorado: Pueblo Indians built these 600 cliff dwellings hundreds of years ago, carving them into the sheer sandstone walls. The well-preserved structures range from one-room dwellings to a 150-room "palace." Despite its remote location, pollution, invasive plant species and runoff are just a few of the environmental issues that the park is battling.
1) The Glaciers of Glacier National Park, Montana: In addition to namesake glaciers, the park is also home to bears, gray wolves, golden eagles and lynx. It also features more than 740 miles of trails, so don't forget your hiking boats. In 1850, this national park boasted 150 giant glaciers; today, only 27 remain. By 2030, even those may be gone.

Space Invaders Take Over California

Space invaders -- from the video game, not from Mars -- are taking over a city in Sacramento County, Calif.
The latest graffiti to splatter itself across the stores, buildings, and street signs is from an Atari 2600. 
The Space Invaders are back.



The Bomb Buried In Healthcare Reform Explodes - Hallelujah!

Well, worth the read - and posted at Forbes!

Editor's Note: Actually it exploded yesterday December 2, 2011 and it was not the 'bomb' the health insurance companies and their lackeys the repugicans have been lying about for months ad nauseum - it did not go off in the faces of the American people but in the faces of the insurance companies. And what pray tell was the 'bomb'? ... Read the article and see why the insurance companies are crying ... an the American people will be celebrating!

Healthy Living

The Gene for Short Sleepers

Scientists discovered that people who need only a few hours of sleep each night before waking up refreshed and full of energy (no coffee required!) owe this ability to a single gene:
The Europe-wide study saw 4,000 people from seven EU countries fill out a questionnaire assessing their sleep habits. The researchers then scanned the genomes of the volunteers and looked for variations in their genes that correlated with their answers about their sleep patterns.
They discovered that people who had two copies of one common variant of ABCC9 slept for significantly shorter periods than people with two copies of another version.
The finding, described in the journal Molecular Psychiatry, could explain why light sleepers are able to get by on just a few hours of shut-eye a night, says Toronto-based sleep expert Dr. Colin Shapiro.
"This tells us that we are programmed in some way to need a certain amount of sleep, just as some people are programmed to be taller and others are programmed to be shorter," he told CTV's Canada AM Tuesday morning.

New stem cell method makes lots of liver, pancreas precursors

Scientists in Canada have overcome a key research hurdle to developing regenerative treatments for diabetes and liver disease with a technique to produce medically useful amounts of endoderm cells from human pluripotent stem cells.
Continue Reading 

Engineering cartilage replacements

A lab discovery is a step toward implantable replacement cartilage, holding promise for knees, shoulders, ears and noses damaged by osteoarthritis, sports injuries and accidents.
Self-assembling sheets of mesenchymal stem cells permeated with tiny be…
Continue Reading 

The Green Man


Science News

Pellet of plutonium  (Credit: SPL)New elements' names are unveiled

Scientists suggest Flerovium and Livermorium as names for the newest additions to the periodic table.


Europe ends calls to Mars probePhobos-Grunt (AFP)

The European Space Agency says it is ceasing efforts to try to contact Russia's wayward Mars probe, Phobos-Grunt, after a week-and-a-half of silence.



Upping the cute factor


Dancing Deep Sea Denizens

Careful lookout for acorn worms has revealed nine new species thriving in the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

Animal Pictures


Friday, December 2, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Sometimes, it isn't totally obvious when you have made progress in a relationship.
The other person doesn't give out grades, so it can be hard to tell if you've become more important to them or not.
There are only, from time to time, little tests.
Today, you'll be feeling good when you are able to come to the rescue for a friend at the very last minute.
You will prove that you are dependable and generous -- in short, you'll prove what a good partner you can be.

 Some of our readers today have been in:
Red Deer, Alberta, Canada
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Candiac, Quebec, Canada
Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Rio De Janiero, Rio De Janiero, Brazil
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Paris, Ile-De- France, France
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
London, England, United Kingdom
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Dortmund, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Wellington, Wellington,New Zealand
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
Canterbury, England, United Kingdom
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Quezon City, Manila, Philippines
Crawley, England, United Kingdom
Cardiff, Wales, United Kingdom
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden
Windsor, Ontario, Canada
Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India
Canberra, Australian, Capital Territory, Australia
Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
Manila, Manila, Philippines
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Ashdod, Hamerkaz, Israel
Oxford, England, United Kingdom
Delhi, Delhi, India
Ballarat, Victoria, Australia
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Georgetown, Demerara-Mahaica, Guyana
Gosford, New South Wales, Australia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Lille, Nord-Pas-De-Calais, France
San Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador
Munich, Bayern, Germany
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Basauri, Pais Vasco, Spain
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Waterloo, Ontario, Canada
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

as well as Slovakia, Malta, Bulgaria, Israel, Finland, Austria, Norway, Georgia, Mexico, Peru, Kuwait, Serbia, Bangladesh, Latvia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Wales, Iran, Singapore, Poland, Taiwan, Sweden, Afghanistan, Belgium, Tibet, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Paraguay, Sudan, Vietnam, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, France, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Maldives, Qatar, Brazil, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Slovenia, China, Iraq, Ecuador, Nigeria, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Paupa New Guinea, Moldova, Venezuela, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Norway, Finland

and in cities across the United States such as Fawn Grove, Long Beach, Martins Ferry, Thorndale and more!

Today is:
Today is Friday, December 2, the 336th day of 2011.
There are 29 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Mutt Day.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Editorial Comment

Some of the links to stories provided on this blog have not been maintained by the primary source recently and it has caused consternation among the staff here at Carolina Naturally as to what to do about it.

With the thought that we read somewhere that the average life of a link on the web these days is 1 hour we have toyed with the idea of more or less dropping some sources that do not maintain their links and replacing them with those that do.
We plan to do this while maintaining the commitment to diversity in the stories we post that we have made so our readers more than likely will not notice any changes in content or in source material.

This move to better sources (as well as format tweaks, but more on that later) was planned to begin in 2012 but it looks like December, 2011 will be the time.

Far-Out Friday


Perhaps it depends on how you define "fraud" ??

From an article by Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone:
Last week, a federal judge in Mississippi sentenced a mother of two named Anita McLemore to three years in federal prison for lying on a government application in order to obtain food stamps... The total "cost" of her fraud was $4,367.

She has paid the money back. But paying the money back was not enough for federal Judge Henry Wingate... He ultimately gave her three years, saying, "The defendant's criminal record is simply abominable …. She has been the beneficiary of government generosity in state court."

Compare this court decision to the fraud settlements on Wall Street. Like McLemore, fraud defendants like Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, and Deutsche Bank have "been the beneficiary of government generosity." Goldman got $12.9 billion just through the AIG bailout. Citigroup got $45 billion, plus hundreds of billions in government guarantees.

All of these companies have been repeatedly dragged into court for fraud, and not one individual defendant has ever been forced to give back anything like a significant portion of his ill-gotten gains. The closest we've come is in a fraud case involving Citi, in which a pair of executives, Gary Crittenden and Arthur Tildesley, were fined the token amounts of $100,000 and $80,000, respectively, for lying to shareholders about the extent of Citi’s debt. Neither man was forced to admit to intentional fraud. Both got to keep their jobs...

This is the reason why all of these settlements allowing banks to walk away without "admissions of wrongdoing" are particularly insidious. A normal person, once he gets a felony conviction, immediately begins to lose his rights as a citizen. But white-collar criminals of the type we’ve seen in recent years on Wall Street – both the individuals and the corporate "citizens" – do not suffer these ramifications. They commit crimes without real consequence, allowing them to retain access to the full smorgasbord of subsidies and financial welfare programs that, let’s face it, are the source of most of their profits... 

House Panel Subpoenas Jon Corzine To Testify About MF Global Scandal

A congressional panel has voted to subpoena former Sen. Jon Corzine to compel him to testify at a hearing next week about his role leading the investment firm MF Global, which collapsed after a disastrous bet on European debt.

The repugicans kill the payroll tax cut extension to protect the rich

They choose to raise taxes on the middle class instead

Here's a statement from the President:
Tonight, Senate Republicans chose to raise taxes on nearly 160 million hardworking Americans because they refused to ask a few hundred thousand millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share. They voted against a bill that would have not only extended the $1,000 tax cut for a typical family, but expanded that tax cut to put an extra $1,500 in their pockets next year, and given nearly six million small business owners new incentives to expand and hire. That is unacceptable. It makes absolutely no sense to raise taxes on the middle class at a time when so many are still trying to get back on their feet.

Now is not the time to put the economy and the security of the middle class at risk. Now is the time to rebuild an economy where hard work and responsibility pay off, and everybody has a chance to succeed. Now is the time to put country before party and work together on behalf of the American people. And I will continue to urge Congress to stop playing politics with the security of millions of American families and small business owners and get this done.

The repugican Senators in turmoil ...

The majority vote against repugican’s own plan to extend payroll tax cut

Who says the tea party only runs the House repugicans.
A majority of repugican Senators just voted against the repugican plan to extend the payroll tax cut by cutting the pay of the federal workforce.
It was the repugican's own legislation and a majority of repugicans voted AGAINST it.

The repugican ambivalence toward any extension of the payroll tax cut was evident in the Senate as a majority of the party's 47 senators voted against the repugican plan.
So a majority of repugicans voted against the Democratic plan to extend the payroll tax cut, and a majority of repugicans voted against even the repugican plan to extend the payroll tax cut.

In other words, the repugicans don't want to extend the payroll tax cut at all.  They want to raise taxes on every single working American. Not just the middle class - if you have a job, the repugicans just voted to raise your taxes for Christmas.

What's hard to figure out is what the repugicans are thinking here.  Wouldn't repugicans in Congress want to cut taxes for everyone?  Isn't that what they're always telling us they're for?  Or are they making an exception in this case - an exception that might cost the economy 1.5 percentage points of GDP next quarter - simply because this was Barack Obama's idea, and the repugicans want Obama to lose, so they're willing to hold every single working American hostage.

Merry Christmas to you too.

And PS, what to make of Boehner and McConnell?  It seems their word, and wishes, don't mean much in the repugican caucus.

"President" Bachmann vows to close non-existent US embassy in Iran

When people wonder why the political class is such a failure, look no further than the tea party's "leader" in Congress.
In light of the British Foreign Ministry pulling all U.K. nationals out of the British embassy in Tehran after students stormed the building in protest, repugican presidential candidate Michelle Bachmann told a crowd in Waverly, Iowa, today that she would close the U.S. embassy in Iran.

One small, tiny note: The U.S. hasn’t had an embassy in Tehran since 1980. Following the Iranian Hostage Crisis, where 52 Americans were held for 444 days, the United States cut all diplomatic ties.

According to reports, Bachmann applauded the U.K.’s move, adding, “That’s exactly what I would do [if I were president]. We wouldn’t have an embassy in Iran. I wouldn’t allow that to be there."

And I Quote


Dentist makes threat over negative review

Robert Lee went into Dr.Stacy Makhnevich’s New York dentist office for a sore tooth, but the year that followed turned into what one Public Citizen senior lawyer called an “unconscionable practice.”
The controversy began in 2010, when Lee went into Makhnevich’s office for a scheduled dentist’s appointment. Bleary from pain, Lee claimed he was told he had to sign several papers, including a “Mutual Agreement to Maintain Privacy,” before being treated. The form required Lee to agree not to publish any commentary or write anything disparaging about his experience with Makhnevich.
While Lee said he was hesitant to sign such a form, he claimed he was in severe pain and, therefore, gave in to the requirements.
Lee received a bill for $4,766 for the dental work, according to Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy organization. Lee reportedly asked the dentist to send the necessary paperwork to his insurance company, but she sent it to the wrong company. When he asked for the forms to submit them himself, Makhnevich’s office apparently refused to hand them over and referred him to a third party that required five percent of the total bill for its services.
Fed up, Lee wrote negative reviews about Makhnevich and her practice on Yelp and DoctorBase.
Lee then received a letter from the dentist demanding that he delete the post, warning him that he violated the agreement and threatening to sue for breach of contract. Makhnevich also reached out to both websites, asking for Lee’s comments to be removed, according to Public Citizen.
The sites refused to take down the negative reviews, but Makhneich reportedly claimed that a copyright clause gave her ownership of the harsh words. She then sent Lee an invoice for $100 for each day the criticism remained online.
Makhnevich did not immediately return requests for comment.
“We are now seeking a declaratory judgment from the judge to show that my client was not doing anything wrong,” said Paul Levy, Lee’s lawyer, a senior attorney at Public Citizen. “Doctors and dentists are expected to behave in an ethical manner, and to impose this sort of requirement on people who are having emergencies is unethical.”
The suit argues that the forms that Lee signed should be deemed null and void.
“Facing criticism comes with the turf of these jobs,” Levy said. “If they defame you, then that’s something else. A doctor can sue for that.”
A North Carolina company known as Medical Justice sells the agreement forms to health care providers. The company claims about 3,000 doctors and dentists use the forms, according to Public Citizen.
In response to the lawsuit Public Citizen filed Tuesday night, Medical Justice spokespeople announced the company would stop recommending medical professionals have patients sign such forms, Public Citizen announced.
“This is a form of bullying, and it’s absurd that this could possibly be an enforceable contract,” said Arthur Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.  ”It infringes upon free speech and you can’t just have that waived away on a silence contract.”

While Caplan acknowledged that doctors or dentists can indeed get “bum raps” from bad write-ups online, “someone who is put off by one negative review isn’t a patient you’d want anyway. If there’s a pattern of bad reviews, that’s a different story.”

“This doctor is overreacting and attempting to muzzle patients,” added Caplan. “It is not a desirable reaction at all.”
She thinks she had a negative review before ....

Crabby Road


Has Da Vinci's Lost Work Been Found at Another's Expense?

Has Da Vinci's Lost Work Been Found at Another's Expense?
Researchers have drilled a hole into a frescoed wall which they believe hides a long lost Da Vinci masterpiece known as the "Battle of Anghiari."  

The Twist Bridge Over The Vlaardingse Vaart, The Netherlands

This bicycle and pedestrian bridge, alled 'The Twist' bridge for its contorted and sculptural lines, connects the Holy-Zuid district and the Broekpolder in the city of Vlaardingen in the Netherlands. The visitor enters the bridge through a rectangular frame, while the space evolves dynamically into a double-height diamond-shaped tube, through the bridge's centre.

Constructed largely onsite, prefabricated in a temporary shed, the Twist bridge was made of 400 steel tubes, welded together, galvanized and painted red for maximum visual effect.

It came from the sky

The owners of a Plymouth, Mass., furniture warehouse want to know the origin of a chunk of metal that plunged through the roof. No one was hurt when the six-inch, cylindrical piece of metal weighing about five pounds came through the roof Wednesday or Thursday.

The chunk punched a small hole in the warehouse roof over a storage closet and scattered ceiling-tile debris on the floor.

Federal Aviation Administration inspectors say the piece of metal, broken at both ends, was not an airplane part.

An FAA spokeswoman says the chunk likely came from a piece of heavy machinery, possibly a wood chipper. That still doesn't explain how it came crashing through the roof.

Police are also stumped.

The owner of Michael's Furniture Warehouse says someone could have been killed.

Past Decade Ties for World's Hottest

hot sun
Thirteen of the warmest years recorded have occurred within the last decade and a half.  

Record drought on the Danube exposes sunken WWII battleships, causes water shortages

The waters of the mighty Danube are so low that dozens of cargo ships are simply stuck, stranded in ghostly fog or wedged into sand banks on what is normally one of eastern Europe's busiest transport routes.

Massive Piece Of Driftwood Washed Ashore

A massive piece of driftwood washed ashore recently in La Push, a small community on the northwest coast of Washington's most westerly peninsula. This piece of driftwood is actually called a drift log.

It wasn't measured, but finding trees in the forest between 5 and 10 feet in diameter and a couple hundred feet tall isn't uncommon. Powerful winds accompanied by high tides are required to bring these monsters ashore.

The Hipster's Dictionary


Hipsters are a subculture of young, recently settled urban middle class adults and older teenagers with musical interests mainly in alternative rock that appeared in the 1990s. Hipster culture has been described as a 'mutating, trans-Atlantic melting pot of styles, tastes and behavior.'

The term itself was coined during the jazz age, when 'hip' emerged as an adjective to describe aficionados of the growing scene. 'Hip' eventually acquired the common English suffix -ster (as in spinster and gangster), and 'hipster' entered the language.

Here's a copasetic compendium of hep cat hype and swing-era slang.

Words with no etymological roots

In looking at The History of English one finds that some rather common words have an unknown etymology:
A good example is the word dog, etymologically unrelated to any other known word, which, in the late Middle Ages, suddenly and mysteriously displaced the Old English word hound (or hund) which had served for centuries. Some of the commonest words in the language arrived in a similarly inexplicable way (e.g. jaw, askance, tantrum, conundrum, bad, big, donkey, kick, slum, log, dodge, fuss, prod, hunch, freak, bludgeon, slang, puzzle, surf, pour, slouch, bash, etc).

Words like gadget, blimp, raunchy, scam, nifty, zit, clobber, gimmick, jazz and googol have all appeared in the last century or two with no apparent etymology, and are more recent examples of this kind of novel creation of words. Additionally, some words that have existed for centuries in regional dialects or as rarely used terms, suddenly enter into popular use for little or no apparent reason (e.g. scrounge and seep, both old but obscure English words, suddenly came into general use in the early 20th Century).

Sometimes, if infrequently, a "nonce word" (created "for the nonce", and not expected to be re-used or generalized) does become incorporated into the language. One example is James Joyce's invention quark, which was later adopted by the physicist Murray Gell-Mann to name a new class of sub-atomic particle, and another is blurb, which dates back to 1907.
English language enthusiasts will want to browse further down the page at the link to learn about words created by adoption, truncation, fusion, imitation, back-formation, and errors ("refudiate.")