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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.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Daily Drift

New Post: Fetishize me Captain!
I'm your captain ... Welcome Aboard! 

Today's readers have been in:
Dublin, Ireland
Maseru, Lesotho
Denpasar, Indonesia
Varna, Bulgaria
Cork, Ireland
Jakarta, Indonesia
Warsaw, Poland
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Singapore, Singapore
Johannesburg, South Africa
Vlissingen, Netherlands
Budapest, Hungary
Tonsberg, Norway
Sampaloc, Philippines
Bern, Switzerland
Hanoi, Vietnam
Groningen, Netherlands
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Liege, Belgium
Kiev, Ukraine
Islamabad, Pakistan
London, England
Edinburgh, Scotland
Karachi, Pakistan
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Marrakesh, Morocco
Glasgow, Scotland
Zurich, Switzerland
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Port-Of-Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Jerudong, Brunei Darussalam
Limerick, Ireland
Queenstown, Singapore

Today in History

Constantinople falls to Muhammad II, ending the Byzantine Empire.
Charles II is restored to the English throne, succeeding the short-lived Commonwealth.
South Carolina is formally incorporated as a royal colony of England.
Rhode Island becomes last of the original thirteen colonies to ratify the Constitution.
Wisconsin becomes the thirtieth state.
A patent for lifting vessels is granted to Abraham Lincoln.
Confederate general P.G.T. Beauregard retreats to Tupelo, Mississippi.
The first running of the Indianapolis 500.
The premier of the ballet Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) in Paris causes rioting in the theater.
U.S. forces invade the Dominican Republic.
Ecuador becomes independent.
The U.S. Supreme Court rules organized baseball is a sport not subject to antitrust laws.
The German Army completes its encirclement of the Kharkov region of the Soviet Union.
C. F. Blair becomes the first man to fly over the North Pole in single engine plane.
Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay become the first men to reach the top of Mount Everest.
President Richard Nixon agrees to turn over 1,200 pages of edited Watergate transcripts.
Boris Yeltsin is elected the president of Russia.

The truth be told

Thursday, May 24 
And you thought they did it scientifically?!

Tropical Storm Beryl nears southeastern US coast

This NOAA satellite image taken Saturday, May 26, 2012 at 1:45 a.m. EDT shows shows clouds off the Carolina Coast associated with Subtropical Storm Beryl.

The post title should read "Beryl slammed into the southeastern US coast and ..." And it was a big nothing. At least around here. The first storm of the season and it fizzled out which wasn't all that bad. But look on the bright side - there's a whole lot more where that one came from ...

George Will calls Donald Trump a "bloviating ignoramus"

From ABC News:
This past Sunday morning on “This Week,” ABC News’ George Will called Donald Trump a ”bloviating ignoramus,” questioning why presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney is associating with the real estate mogul, who once again falsely questioned President Obama’s birthplace this week.

“I do not understand the cost benefit here,” Will said on the “This Week” roundtable. “The costs are clear. The benefit — what voter is gonna vote for him (Romney) because he is seen with Donald Trump? The cost of appearing with this bloviating ignoramus is obvious it seems to me.

“Donald Trump is redundant evidence that if your net worth is high enough, your IQ can be very low and you can still intrude into American politics,” Will added. “Again, I don’t understand the benefit. What is Romney seeking?”
Wow! Never thought we'd see the day when we agreed with George Will ... Hell, hath surely frozen over!
Oh, and to answer that last question - Romney is seeking to lose the election something for which he has no need to worry he will lose.

UN counts 32 children murdered in Syria

Assad has been a thug for a while, but this is a new low even for him.

The Guardian:
Syria's fragile peace process is in shreds after what was claimed to be a regime-backed massacre left 32 children among more than 90 dead and triggered a wave of international revulsion. As UN observers in the central town of Houla confirmed one of the bloodiest death tolls of the 15-month revolt against President Bashar al-Assad, rebels said they were on the brink of abandoning a negotiated plan to end the conflict.

Videos uploaded to the internet and purporting to be from Houla show many dead and badly mutilated infants. Residents say some victims were killed with knives, while many more died from 18 hours of relentless shelling that left buildings wrecked and homes destroyed in a large residential area near the centre of town. Major General Robert Mood, head of the UN team in Syria, deplored the attack, which began at midday on Friday, as "indiscriminate and unforgivable" but did not say who had been to blame. Syrian state television blamed "terrorist gangs".

As calls mounted for international intervention, a peace plan negotiated in March by the former UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, appeared to be in ruins. Yesterday the main opposition Free Syrian Army, which, like regime troops had failed to abide by Annan's terms, told the TV station al-Jazeera that unless civilian safety could be guaranteed, the plan was "going to hell".

Non Sequitur

Sunday, May 27

Getting a Job

An unemployed man is desperate to support his family of a wife and three kids. He applies for a janitor's job at a large firm and easily passes an aptitude test.

The human resources manager tells him, 'You will be hired at minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Let me have your e-mail address so that we can get you in the loop. Our system will automatically e-mail you all the forms and advise you when to start and where to report on your first day.'

Taken back, the man protests that he is poor and has neither a computer nor an e-mail address.

To this the manager replies, 'You must understand that to a company like ours that means that you virtually do not exist. Without an e-mail address you can hardly expect to be employed by a high-tech firm Good day.'

Stunned, the man leaves. Not knowing where to turn and having $10 in his wallet, he walks past a farmers' market and sees a stand selling 25 lb. crates of beautiful red tomatoes. He buys a crate, carries it to a busy corner and displays the tomatoes. In less than 2 hours he sells all the tomatoes and makes 100% profit. Repeating the process several times more that day, he ends up with almost $100 and arrives home that night with several bags of groceries for his family.

During the night he decides to repeat the tomato business the next day. By the end of the week he is getting up early every day and working into the night. He multiplies his profits quickly.

Early in the second week he acquires a cart to transport several boxes of tomatoes at a time, but before a month is up he sells the cart to buy a broken-down pickup truck

At the end of a year he owns three old trucks. His two sons have left their neighborhood gangs to help him with the tomato business, his wife is buying the tomatoes, and his daughter is taking night courses at the community college so she can keep books for him.

By the end of the second year he has a dozen very nice used trucks and employs fifteen previously unemployed people, all selling tomatoes. He continues to work hard.

Time passes and at the end of the fifth year he owns a fleet of nice trucks and a warehouse that his wife supervises, plus two tomato farms that the boys manage. The tomato company's payroll has put hundreds of homeless and jobless people to work. His daughter reports that the business grossed over one million dollars.

Planning for the future, he decides to buy some life insurance.

Consulting with an insurance adviser, he picks an insurance plan to fit his new circumstances. Then the adviser asks him for his e-mail address in order to send the final documents electronically.

When the man replies that he doesn't have time to mess with a computer and has no e-mail address, the insurance man is stunned, 'What, you don't have e-mail? No computer? No Internet? Just think where you would be today if you'd had all of that five years ago!'

'Ha!' snorts the man. 'If I'd had e-mail five years ago I would be sweeping floors at Microsoft and making $7.25 an hour.'

A christian Jordanian woman sues her muslim employer

A christian Jordanian woman said Sunday she is suing her Gulf Arab employer for arbitrary dismissal after she refused a new dress code forcing her to cover her head.

No Dying Allowed!

It's The Law in Longyearbyen, Norway!
In the frozen Svalbard archipelago, far north of the Norwegian mainland, temperatures rarely rise above freezing. This became a problem during the influenza pandemic of 1917-1920 because the victims’ bodies did not decompose, the virus inside of them did not die. So officials in the settlement of Longyearbyen passed a clever law to prevent further destruction by the disease. They banned death:
The cold earth had preserved the corpses and, unfortunately, had also kept the influenza strain alive.
There is no reason to believe that anyone was infected by the resurrected influenza, but regardless, its discovery provided a warning to the town officials. Realizing that Longyearbyen, quite isolated from the rest of the world, had no way of handling its dead — and at risk to the living — its leaders simply declared that dying was not permitted in the town.
Enforcement, of course, cannot be done via punitive action — “don’t die, or else!” is a strange ultimatum, to say the least. Rather, Longyearbyen prevents people from dying in town by a system akin to an administrative hokey-pokey. The cemetery closed in 1930, accepting no future burials.

Everything You Want To Know About The Animaniacs

*But were afraid to ask

The Warner siblings as ducks, before they became dogs
Kids love Animaniacs for the slapstick comedy, and adults like it for the well, surprisingly clever humor and wordplay (that or Hello Nurse ... Good night, everybody!).
Sadly, the cartoon series ended in 1998 after just 99 glorious episodes. So if you're jonesing for more Animaniacs, head on over to mental_floss where Rob Lammle has written the definitive "real story" behind Animaniacs, with a little help from creator Tom Ruegger.
In the Beginning
The history of Animaniacs actually begins with Tiny Toon Adventures, another animated show from Warner Bros. and executive producer Steven Spielberg. After Tiny Toons became a huge success, Spielberg asked producer Tom Ruegger and his team to work on a follow-up cartoon.

One idea Spielberg suggested was to make the popular Tiny Toons character Plucky Duck the star of the new show. Meanwhile, Ruegger had been developing characters based on the personalities of his three young sons. These two concepts were combined to create three brother ducks. However, the team soon realized that, between Disney’s Donald Duck, DuckTales, Darkwing Duck, and Warner Bros.’ own Daffy Duck, there were already plenty of animated waterfowl on the market. Spielberg agreed, but said they needed to come up with “a big marquee name” to help sell the show.
Ruegger was inspired by the large “WB” logo on the water tower at the Warner Bros. studio. He proposed a group of siblings drawn in an animation style reminiscent of anthropomorphized animal characters from the 1930s, and called them the Warner Brothers. Although they have dog-like characteristics, the exact type of animal the Warners are meant to be is unknown. According to the show bible – a book filled with background information for the creative team on a TV show – their species is labeled as “Cartoonus Characterus.”
For a brief period, there were four Warner siblings – Yakky, Smakky, Wakky, and little sister, Dot. As the studio artists honed the designs, Yakky became Yakko, and Smakky and Wakky were melded into Wakko. After getting clearance from the Warner estate to use the family name, the show was off and running.

Daily Video

Bandits seek cash posted on Facebook

Two masked bandits robbed the wrong Australian home hours after a teenager posted a photo on Facebook of a large pile of her grandmother's savings.

Why People Cheat and Lie

There are a few bad apples that cheat a lot, but surely most of us are honest people who'd never cheat, right? Not according to research study by Duke University Economics professor Dan Ariely. His study showed that almost everybody cheats just a little.
In a series of experiments, Ariely was able to increase or decrease the ratio of cheaters:
Much of what we have learned about the causes of dishonesty comes from a simple little experiment that we call the "matrix task," which we have been using in many variations. It has shown rather conclusively that cheating does not correspond to the traditional, rational model of human behavior—that is, the idea that people simply weigh the benefits (say, money) against the costs (the possibility of getting caught and punished) and act accordingly.
The basic matrix task goes as follows: Test subjects (usually college students) are given a sheet of paper containing a series of 20 different matrices (structured like the example you can see above) and are told to find in each of the matrices two numbers that add up to 10. They have five minutes to solve as many of the matrices as possible, and they get paid based on how many they solve correctly. When we want to make it possible for subjects to cheat on the matrix task, we introduce what we call the "shredder condition." The subjects are told to count their correct answers on their own and then put their work sheets through a paper shredder at the back of the room. They then tell us how many matrices they solved correctly and get paid accordingly.
What happens when we put people through the control condition and the shredder condition and then compare their scores? In the control condition, it turns out that most people can solve about four matrices in five minutes. But in the shredder condition, something funny happens: Everyone suddenly and miraculously gets a little smarter. Participants in the shredder condition claim to solve an average of six matrices—two more than in the control condition. This overall increase results not from a few individuals who claim to solve a lot more matrices but from lots of people who cheat just by a little.
Interestingly, increasing the payoff or the probability of being caught has no effect on making people cheat more.

Weird Home Remedies that Actually Work

by Lisa Collier Cool

Strange but true: you’ve probably got an amazing assortment of stuff in the kitchen, the tool box or the medicine chest that can do double duty as remedies for all kinds of common ailments. What’s more, there’s actual scientific research to back up some of these do-it-yourself treatments. Here’s a rundown on the most intriguing nine:

Didgeridoo for Sleep Apnea

Okay, so this probably isn’t something you’ve got lying around the house. You may not have heard of it either, but if you’ve got sleep apnea, this strange-sounding Australian wind instrument may be just what you need.
According to a study from Switzerland, four months of learning to play the didgeridoo worked well for patients with moderate sleep apnea, made for a better night’s sleep, and reduced daytime sleepiness. Even more, their bed partners slept better, too. Playing the instrument addressed sleep apnea by strengthening the upper airway, which prevents it from narrowing as you inhale.

Biting on a Pencil for Headache Relief

This won’t work for migraines, but if you get common tension headaches, the pencil trick may help prevent them. We tend to automatically clench our jaws and teeth when we’re anxious or stressed, and this is a subconscious reaction that can lead to a tension headache.
When you feel your jaw clench, put a pencil between your teeth (don’t bite down) and hold it there. This simple strategy will cause your jaw to relax, easing tension, forestalling the headache, and easing the pain.

Listerine for Blisters

You know it as a breath freshener and an antiseptic, but Listerine can also dry out blisters. Dab some on a cotton ball and apply it to your blister three times a day until it dries and the pain vanishes. Integrative medicine pioneer Andrew  Weil, M.D., recommends applying petroleum jelly on a blister for temporary pain relief.

Lemon Balm Tea for Cold Sores

Lemon balm is a member of the mint family and packs an anti-viral punch that can heal cold sores caused by the herpes simplex virus. A big study in Germany found that once treated with lemon balm, not a single cold sore recurrence occurred.

Duct Tape for Warts

This is not an old wives tale. Using duct tape to remove warts has been shown to work better than freezing them off. In one study, duct tape eliminated 85 percent of patients' warts in two months (freezing eradicated only 60 percent).
Here’s how it works: make sure the wart and surrounding skin are clean, then cut a piece of duct tape a bit larger than the wart and press into place. Remove the tape every three days, rub the wart with an emery board or pumice stone, and repeat until the wart is gone.

Ginger for Motion Sickness

Crystalized ginger, ginger tea, ginger syrup, or capsules of ginger powder can combat motion sickness and nausea in general (ginger ale or even ginger snaps may help, too). One study found that ginger worked better for motion sickness than anti-nausea medication, and Danish researchers report that ginger helped quell seasickness in susceptible naval cadets better than a placebo.

Papaya for Smoother Skin

The active ingredient is papain, an enzyme that dissolves dead surface cells that give skin a dull, rough look. Try this fruity facial to soften and smooth your skin: wash and peel a ripe papaya and swirl about two tablespoons in a food processor. Add a tablespoon of dried oatmeal and apply to your freshly washed face for 10 minutes. Remove with warm water or a wet washcloth.

Banana Bonanza

You can do a lot more with a banana than slice it on your cereal. Among the fruit's other uses: slap a banana peel (the inside part) on an itch caused by a bug bite or poison ivy; this will dial down the inflammation and relieve the itch. You can also use mashed banana as a facial--it’s great for moisturizing dry skin. Banana peel also has anti-acne properties: just rub the inside part of the peel over your clean face to get the anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial effects.

Mustard for Minor Burns

Slather mustard on seared skin. After an initial sting, the mustard will relieve the pain and prevent scarring and blistering. No science here, but lots of enthusiastic testimonials.

Light Left On For 77 Years Racked Up $17,000 Electricity Bill

This is what happens when someone forgot to turn off the light:
A long-forgotten neon lamp that was switched on during the Great Depression and left burning for about 77 years has been discovered hidden behind a dusty partition at Clifton's Cafeteria. The find was made amid an extensive renovation of the downtown eatery, according to the building's owner, Andrew Meieran.
The neon fixture is believed to have been installed in 1935 when Clifford Clinton purchased the lease to Boos Bros. Cafeteria on Broadway and 7th Street and converted the place into a forest-themed restaurant. [...]
In 1949, the nook was covered over with plastic and plywood when part of the restroom was partitioned off as a storage area.
But for some reason, workmen never got around to disconnecting the electricity. For the next 62 years the illuminated tubing was hidden within the wall. Meieran estimates that the neon tube has racked up more than $17,000 in electrical bills.

Ten Amazingly Old Things That Still Work

In the post above we shared the story of a light that was still going after 77 years, but if you think that’s impressive, then behold the one above that’s been going for 111. For more creations that have lasted amazingly long, check out this interesting Oddee article.

The Final Journey of USS Iowa

Photo: Don Bartletti/LA Times | Don't miss the Large version
Los Angeles Times photographer Don Bartletti snapped this wonderful photo of the battleship U.S.S. Iowa passing underneath the Golden Gate Bridge on its final journey.
Steve Chawkins of the LA Times has the story:
Coincidentally, the 69-year-old ship's stately passage occurred as tourists thronged San Francisco for Memorial Day and for a citywide celebration of the bridge's 75th birthday.
"It's so fitting that this great warship goes out for her last time on the bridge's 75th anniversary," said Bob Rogers, a spokesman for the Pacific Battleship Center, the nonprofit that is funding the ship's move and transformation into a museum.
"So many battleships and destroyers left for the Pacific out of San Francisco Bay," he said. "There were very emotional feelings as they passed under the bridge to go out and very happy feelings when they passed under it to return."

The Top Four Forgotten Conflicts in American History

On Memorial Day, we remember those who lost their lives in wartime. But there have been more wars and conflicts in U.S. history than you covered in history class at school, as the school year only allows time to touch the big ones. For example, you may have learned that the Revolutionary War ended with Cornwallis’ surrender at Yorktown in 1781. However, fighting actually continued for another 13 months!
October 1781 to November 1782 saw General “Mad” Anthony Wayne’s campaign to fully recover Georgia from British Loyalists and their Native American allies and saw incessant guerrilla warfare in the Ohio Country periodically flare up into larger- scale actions , with George Washington’s associate Colonel William Crawford being killed in one such battle. In addition, British Loyalists and their Native American allies parlayed military successes in Ohio into repeated excursions eastward and southward, with large- scale actions at Blue Lick, KY and elsewhere before being driven back.

The Lost Battalion

They weren’t really lost, but a series of command failures and tactical errors kept them trapped for days while the whole world wondered what would happen to them.

The final campaign of World War I was set for H-hour, 5:30AM on October 4, 1918. General John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, commanding the U.S. Expeditionary Force in Europe, had ordered the left wing of the U.S. 1st Army to push forward into the Argonne Forest on September 29. German artillery hidden in the forest had been clobbering American and French forces, and Pershing wanted the guns silenced before the massive Allied advance. Major General Robert Alexander’s 77th Infantry Division drew the assignment; his orders were to push forward “without regard to losses.”

Major Charles W. Whittlesey
The Argonne was different from other battlefields. A few trails meandered through the woods, but the enormous size of the forest and the density of the trees made it difficult to organize cooperative action among units, some of which quickly became separated. Brigadier General Evan Johnson, commanding the 154th Brigade, made it clear to the battalions under his command that “Any ground gained must be held… If I find anybody ordering a withdrawal from ground once held, I will see he leaves the service,” meaning dishonorably. Major Charles W. Whittlesey’s 1st Battalion of the 308th Infantry Regiment was part of Johnson’s brigade and received the same message.
Whittlesey’s composite battalion consisted of Companies A, B, C, E, G, and H from the 308th Infantry, Companies C and D from the 306th Machine Gun Battalion, and Company K from the 307th Infantry, which accidentally joined them later. All the companies were depleted from earlier losses when they entered the Argonne Forest. Whittlesey had been told not to worry about safeguarding his flanks because an American battalion with the French infantry would be on his left and two American battalions would be on his right. On October 2, he and his roughly 670 men plunged into the foggy, rain-drenched Argonne Forest, lost contact with the units on his flanks, but kept pressing forward.
By accident, Whittlesey’s battalion found a gap in the German line, but lost about 90 men before resistance subsided. With nightfall approaching, Whittlesey moved the battalion in to a ravine that ran along the side of a steep and rocky slope about 300 yards long and 60 yards wide with good defensive ground and protection from mortar fire. Whittlesey then waited through the night for the other units to make contact.

The other units never arrived, and on the morning of October 3, German mortars opened fire. Whittlesey sent 50 men back through the forest to find General Alexander and wait for reinforcements. An hour later, 18 men returned and said they had been ambushed about a mile away. They also reported a more serious problem. The Germans had strung wire defenses between their battalion and the 77th Division -they were trapped. Whittlesey’s only communication system was carrier pigeons; he handed a message to Private Omar Richards, the pigeon keeper, who sent the first of six birds off to division headquarters to report the battalion’s position and to request reinforcements and supplies. They wouldn’t know for hours if the message had reached headquarters.

Captain George G. McMurtry
Meanwhile, the men were hungry and thirsty. To reach water, they had to crawl 50 yards to a stream running along the base of the ravine -but the stream was covered by a German machine gun. Too many men had been hit trying to reach it, so Whittlesey posted guards with orders to shoot anyone attempting to fill their canteens.
During a mortar barrage, both Whittlesey and Captain George G. McMurtry had been hit by shrapnel. McMurtry’s knee began to fester, but both officers continued to hobble among the men, stopping at each foxhole to assure the men that help was on the way. The men knew their major would never surrender. Newspaper correspondents hanging around headquarters learned about the trapped unit and started writing daily accounts about the “Lost Battalion.”
On the morning of October 4, a mortar bombardment and firefight did more damage. The major sent a second pigeon, again asking for help and reporting 222 casualties, with 82 men dead. His machine gun crews were decimated -only five were left with little ammunition, and the medics were running out of bandages. General Alexander detached two companies, but they were stopped by the enemy and turned back after losing more than half their men.

Cher Ami
October 5 opened with another German mortar attack on the remaining machine gun positions. Whittlesey sent another pigeon requesting artillery support -but with the wrong coordinates. American artillery opened at 1:15PM, and for four hours shells rained down on the Lost Battalion instead of the Germans. There were only two pigeons left, but when Private Richards opened the cage, one escaped. The other, Cher Ami, carried this brief message from the major: “Our own artillery is dropping a barrage directly on us. For heaven’s sake, stop it!” The pigeon flew to a nearby tree and settled on a branch. When throwing stones failed to dislodge the bird, Richards dodged howling artillery shells, climbed the tree, and shook the branch until the pigeon flew off and disappeared. No one expected much to come of it, but Cher Ami reached division headquarters at 4:00PM, with one leg and one eye missing.
Finally, on October 6, artillery fire began to fall on the Germans, taking pressure off Whittlesey’s battered men. Germans still lurked around the perimeter but were too busy to attack. New enemies intruded on morale- hunger, thirst, cold, battle fatigue, and the stench of putrefying corpses. With all the pigeons gone, Private Richards ate the birdseed.
Later in a the day, a reconnaissance plane spotted the battalion and reported its position. An hour later, planes from the 50th Aero Squadron dropped supplies, dehydrated soups, and ammunition, all which landed on the Germans. Whittlesey’s men heard the enemy rejoicing over the bungled airdrop. Nine desperate men from the battalion were captured trying to rescue the parcels.

On the morning of October 7, Private Lowell B. Hollingsworth lay in his foxhole with a slight wound, weak with hunger, and feeling hopeless. When told that Whittlesey wanted eight volunteers to infiltrate through the German lines to contact nearby friendly forces who were searching for the battalion, Hollingsworth knew it could be his last chance to find food. Seven more volunteers stepped forward, including Private Carl Rainwater, a full-blooded Indian from Montana, who the volunteers chose as their guide and leader. The eight men worked silently through the forest, stopping frequently to let the wounded rest. After less than a mile, Rainwater halted and raised his hand for the others to stop. A machine gun opened fire, and Hollingsworth fell unconscious. When he came to, there was a German gun pointed at his head. Four of his buddies were dead and the other three wounded.
Hollingsworth was taken prisoner and fed, then the Germans returned him to his battalion with a note encouraging Major Whittlesey to surrender. Whittlesey read the note but didn’t reply. When the men learned of the contents of the message, they shouted rude things in German back across the lines.

The survivors of the Lost Battalion
Early in the evening, elements from the 77th Division broke through the German lines and located the Lost Battalion. Of Whittlesey’s original 600 men, only 191 were able to walk. Five men from the battalion received the Medal of Honor, including Whittlesey and McMurtry, and 26 men were awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
The carrier pigeon, Cher Ami, was awarded the French Croix de Guerre for heroic services delivering 12 important messages to his headquarters in Verdun. His stuffed body is on display in the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Black Magic in Roman Curses

Photo: Museo Archeologico Civico di Bologna
There ain't no curse like black magic curse! Newly deciphered tablets revealed the use of black magic in 1,600-year-old Roman curses:
One of the curses targets a Roman senator named Fistus and appears to be the only known example of a cursed senator. The other curse targets a veterinarian named Porcello. Ironically, Porcello is the Latin word for pig.
Celia Sánchez Natalías, a doctoral student at the University of Zaragoza, explained that Porcello was probably his real name. "In the world of curse tablets, one of the things that you have to do is to try to identify your victim in a very, very, exact way."
Sánchez Natalías added that it isn't certain who cursed Porcello or why. It could be for either personal or professional reasons. "Maybe this person was someone that (had) a horse or an animal killed by Porcello's medicine," said Sánchez Natalías.
"Destroy, crush, kill, strangle Porcello and wife Maurilla. Their soul, heart, buttocks, liver ..." part of it reads. The iconography on the tablet actually shows a mummified Porcello, his arms crossed (as is the deity) and his name written on both of his arms.

A 9,000-Year-Old Mask from the Neolithic era

A 9,000-year-old mask is set to be auctioned off at Christie’s June 8. The 9,000-year-old limestone mask will be the oldest art piece to ever grace the famed auction house, reports Yahoo.
It’s estimated that the 9,000-year-old mask could fetch upwards of $600,000. The mask is Neolithic and is meant to represent a human skull and resembles a modern-day hockey mask.
The 9,000-year-old limestone mask found in the Judean dessert, estimated to be from around the 7th millenium B.C., is about 9 inches long and resembles a human skull, according to the listing on the website of auction house Christie’s.
Molly Morse Limmer, head of Christie’s Antiquities department in New York, believes that the mask was one of the first attempts to connect with the spiritual world.
This sort of mask is particularly rare. Although others were thought to have existed at some point in time, very few remain intact. Molly Morse Limmer, head of Christie’s Antiquities department in New York, says that the Judean desert’s dry climate is what helped preserve the item for so many years. However, nobody seems to know what purpose the mask served upon its creation.

Timing was crucial in the evolutionary shift from dinosaurs to birds

At first glance, it’s hard to see how a common house sparrow and a Tyrannosaurus Rex might have anything in ...
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Awesome Pictures

Grand Teton National Park by rosinberg on Flickr.


The Super Trees

Photo: Michael Nichols/National Geographic
That sure looks high off the ground! National Geographic photographer Michael "Nick" Nichols snapped the photo of botanist Marie Antoine passing a core sample of a 350-foot, 750-year-old redwood tree, to ecologist Giacomo Renzullo.
View more fascinating photos and story over at National Geographic's 2009 story about California redwoods by Joel Bourne, "The Super Trees" | Photo Gallery by Michael Nichols

The Plant That Hunts Its Prey

Think that plants are just sitting around photosynthesizin’, think again: some
plants like the parasitic dodder vine actually hunt.
Consuelo De Moraes of Penn State University discovered that the parasitic plant can even
sniff out its prey:
Dodder is a parasite—it lives off of other plants. Instead
of waiting around for a suitable host, the vine hunts one down. Conseulo
De Moraes of Penn State University planted a young dodder near a tomato
plant and continuously filmed the pair for several days. Her time-lapse
video reveals a growing dodder flailing around, tasting the air like
a snake, until it finally brushes the tomato’s stem and begins to encircle
its victim. Eventually it would sink tiny nozzles into the tomato plant
to suck out vital juices.

De Moraes discovered something surprising about the dodder: it
can smell. The vine sniffs out its hosts, growing toward telltale chemicals
released by its neighbors. And it is picky. Dodder prefers juicy tomato
plants to slender wheat and healthy plants to sick plants.

A Naked Lady

Yes it's a plant. Yes it is called 'A Naked Lady'
Disappointed? Oh, well I ...

She ran all the way hme

She's going home with the cyclist she followed to Tibet.
After graduating, 22-year-old Chinese student Zhang Heng and his friends decided to ride his bike from Wuhan to Lhasa. Along the way, he met a lonely homeless dog on a highway, and decided to feed her ... and the dog decided to go along with the team all the way: she ran over 1,000 miles and climbed 12 mountains!
The team named her Xiao Sa (Little Sa) and decided to keep her and give her a permanent home.

Dog holds world record for having biggest eyes

Guinness World Records announced on Friday that 4-year-old Bruschi the Boston terrier holds the record for dog with the largest eyes. Each one measures 28 millimeters in diameter.
According to the Guinness World Records website, Bruschi’s owner, Victoria Reed, didn’t really notice her pooch’s enormous eyeballs until many of her friends and family started commenting on their size. That’s when she submitted an application for a Guinness World Records title.

Reed thinks Bruschi would be delighted if he understood the title he holds.

“I honestly feel like he would be really happy about it,” Reed said. “Some people do make fun of him for his looks, but I feel like he would go up to them and say: 'Haha, look where I am now, I've got a record for my looks!’"

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