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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.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

The Daily Drift

 Open invitation!
Some of our readers today have been in:
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei,
Cape Town, South Africa
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Hanoi, Vietnam
Konin, Poland
Ankara, Turkey
Oranjestro, Aruba
Jerudong, Brunei
Kathmandu, Nepal
Armenia, Colombia

And in Malaysia from Kuala Lumpur, Bayan Lepas, Shah Alam, and Klang

And in the Philippines in Manila, Makati, Meycauayan, Sampaloc, and Cebu City

And here in the USA in Atascadero, Kalamazoo, Ladysmith, Montpelier and Wyandotte

 Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1789   Robespierre, a deputy from Arras, France, decides to back the French Revolution.
1812   Great Britain signs the Treaty of Orebro, making peace with Russia and Sweden.
1830   Uruguay adopts a liberal constitution.
1861   Union and Confederate troops skirmish at Blackburn's Ford, Virginia, in a prelude to the Battle of Bull Run.
1877   Inventor Thomas Edison records the human voice for the first time.
1872   The Ballot Act is passed in Great Britain, providing for secret election ballots.
1935   Ethiopian King Haile Selassie urges his countrymen to fight to the last man against the invading Italian army.
1936   General Francisco Franco of Spain revolts against the Republican government, starting the Spanish Civil War.
1942   The German Me-262, the first jet-propelled aircraft to fly in combat, makes its first flight.
1971   New Zealand and Austrailia announce they will pull their troops out of Vietnam.
1994   In Buenos Aires, a massive car bomb kills 96 people.

McCartney and Springsteen told to shut up

The two singers had been performing in Hyde Park on Saturday evening when their microphones were cut off. 

Sir Paul had joined Springsteen on stage at the Hard Rock Calling music festival following a performance by the American rock star that had lasted more than three hours.

The US singer greeted Sir Paul saying “I’ve been waiting for this for 50 years.”

But after singing two Beatles hits both performers were forced to leave the stage in silence
after their sound equipment was turned off - meaning they were unable to thank the audience.

Man, It's one thing to screw up.

It's another thing to screw up when the whole world finds out about it.

Make Your Own Marinades and More

By Sara Ecke
  Why spend money on dressings, marinades and rubs when you probably have all the ingredients to make your own at home? Cookbook author and food blogger Jorj Morgan explains how. 


Salad dressing
A good rule is 1 part acid-such as orange juice, lemon juice, rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar-to 2 parts oil. Add a little scallion, garlic and fresh ground pepper and you have homemade dressing for half the cost of the store-bought variety. "The extra limes that you buy for your margarita party on Saturday will be perfect for your vinaigrette on Sunday," says Morgan.  
Beef or chicken marinade
Mix 3 parts tomato juice or sauce with 1 part lime juice, and season with soy and Worcestershire sauce. Add whatever fresh herbs are in your refrigerator or growing on your windowsill (Morgan likes thyme and rosemary) and a little garlic.
Rubs for grilling
Since spices last for only about four months, homemade rubs are a great way to beat the expiration date. Mix roughly equal parts of your favorite spices, like chili powder, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin and pepper, along with brown sugar. (Don't add salt, since it leaches moisture from meat.) "You'll have a rub that hasn't cost you anything," says Morgan. 

Pepsi Introducing New Flavors

Pepsi Next will be releasing two new fruit-flavored colas this month. Available in 12 oz and 20 oz sizes, Cherry Vanilla and Paradise Mango flavors are the first to be unveiled after the original.

Did you know ...

Not to blame technology for the shrinking middle class

That 6 million people can't vote due to felon disenfranchisement laws

That stoned mice leads to breakthrough in understanding memory

So Romney's campaign IS about Mormonism

 The NYT reports that for prominent Mormons who are bankrolling Mitt Romney's campaign, their support of Romney is about his being a Mormon, and more generally, about helping promote Mormonism in America and across the world.

But this election isn't about Romney's Mormonism, really.
[R]ecords show that roughly two dozen members of Mormon families provided nearly $8 million of the financing for the “super PAC” working to elect Mr. Romney, Restore Our Future, putting them in league with its Wall Street, real estate and energy donors. Prominent Mormons including the JetBlue founder David G. Neeleman and the Credit Suisse chief executive Eric Varvel are on his finance team.
But several of these donors say that their giving has nothing to do with their business interests. And while that is a common refrain among major financial supporters of both parties, in this case the candidacy they are backing represents something bigger as it draws new attention to their religion.

“I think for Mormons, particularly for prominent ones who already feel widely accepted and admired individually, this feels like a chance to also see their church, which they love, accepted and admired institutionally,” said Richard Eyre, a Mormon and a best-selling author who lives in Utah and is a friend of the Romneys.
Bill Marriott, of Marriott fame, explains further about how this election is not about Mitt Romney's Mormonism.
But Bill Marriott, whose family built a single A&W Root Beer stand into one of the largest hospitality companies in the world, said it was not lost on him that Mr. Romney’s pending nomination is a major moment for his fellow Mormons.

“It is a great story, and we want the world to know about our religion,” said Mr. Marriott..."
We want the world to know about your religion too.

Romney outsourced US Olympic uniforms to Burmese dictatorship in 2002

Nice.  There was a controversy last week when it was discovered that the US Olympic Team had its uniforms made in China. Oddly, Mitt Romney refused to pile on. Now we know why. 

From Huffington Post:
Torchbearers, too, were shocked to see the “Made in Burma” label on their tracksuits. "When I looked at the label for the uniform, I went nuts,” said 2002 torchbearer Susan Bonfield in an interview with the Guardian. “When you are sending work representing the U.S. to a military dictatorship, I have an issue with that."

More than 10,000 runners wore the uniforms, which are pictured on the Daily Kos, while carrying the Olympic torch to the Winter Games.

Perhaps most embarrassing, after receiving emailed protests from more than 1,000 activists, the media relations department at the Salt Lake Organizing Committee confused Burma and Myanmar as two separate countries.

"The torch relay clothes were NOT made in Burma. They were manufactured in Myanmar," the organizing committee responded. "In fact they were made in the exact same factory that produces clothes for GAP, North Face and other major clothing labels."

Even Ann Romney's horse lives better than most Americans

 From Business Week:
"Rafalca, a 15-year-old German-born mare, lived under a vaulted, tile ceiling in a terrazzo-floored stable with brass fittings. She is one of the expertly trained and meticulously cared for horses representing the U.S. in dressage at the London 2012 Olympic Games. She is also the property of Ann Romney, wife of Republican presidential candidate Mitt."

What didn't McCain like in Romney's hidden tax returns?

Mitt Romney isn't against showing his tax return to repugicans. He just has a problem showing his tax return to the rest of us.
Remember, Romney handed over 23 years of returns to the McCain campaign when he was being considered as a possible vice presidential choice in 2008.  McCain's took a look at Romney's returns and decided to choose Sarah Palin instead (that has to say something, Sarah Palin was better than Romney's returns). Was the choice of Palin merely McCain's bad judgement or did McCain's people see a real problem with what they found in Romney's returns?

I am not a 0.01%-er like Romney, but I have done 'due diligence' for corporate acquisitions. If my employer or client was buying a company that someone else had passed on, I would want to have all the information the last potential buyer had before they backed out. Mitt Romney needs to come clean on what's hiding in his tax returns.

Romney campaign accuses Obama, on the record, of not being American

I guess that's one way to try to change the topic from your refusal to come clean on your tax returns, and on why you told the FEC one thing, and the SEC another, about your time at Bain, when it's a felony to lie to either.

We've been wondering for a few days what bombshell the Romney campaign would drop - what outrageous comment they could come up with - that could shift the media's attention away from Mitt Romney refusing to come clean on his taxes.  But this pandering to birtherism is a pretty good sign that the Romney campaign is desperate to change the story, at any cost.

Sony BMG issues takedown notice for Romney ad

A couple of days ago, the Obama campaign released this effective ad: Mitt's dreadful singing of America The Beautiful played over stock visuals of empty factories. But Romney's counter—an ad ridiculing Obama's singing of Al Green's Let Stay Together at a campaign stop—isn't working out. Why? Because BMG, the song's intellectual proprietor, issued a copyright claim. Romney's campaign claims that this is unfair, because their deployment of the Obama footage is fair use. You know what? Tough Titties.

Palin thinks she's being punished by not being invited to speak at Romney's convention

From the DailyBeast/Newsweek:
The Romney campaign prides itself on a slavish adherence to script, and Palin cannot be trusted to avoid the impulse to go rogue. That is why, perhaps, the Romney campaign has not asked Palin to speak at the convention nor contacted her about even attending the party’s marquee event in Tampa. Queries to the Romney camp about any possible Palin role at the convention meet with a stony silence. Palin does not seem surprised. “What can I say?” she responded in an email from Alaska, when asked by Newsweek about the convention, just before heading to Michigan to deliver an Obama-thumping speech. “I’m sure I’m not the only one accepting consequences for calling out both sides of the aisle for spending too much money, putting us on the road to bankruptcy, and engaging in crony capitalism.”
Check out the Palin quote at the end of this segment - it's prima facie evidence of why the Romney people wouldn't want Palin saying a word at their convention - she's just nasty, and goofy, and can't help it.
Palin’s objections to Romney are not so much about the man himself—she speaks of him respectfully, as he does about her—but about who, and what, he represents. Romney was the choice of the party’s elites, whom Palin has regarded with open disdain ever since her rough treatment during the 2008 campaign. They are some of the same people who anonymously disparaged Palin as a clueless bumpkin, and some of them are now helping to run Romney’s campaign. When unnamed Romney aides tell reporters that Romney will likely go with a “safe” choice for vice president because of the 2008 “disaster,” Palin notices.

She noticed, too, that when the Romney camp reined in Fehrnstrom after his “not a tax” goof, the man assigned to take on a more public role as Romney spokesman was Kevin Madden, best known in Palin’s sphere for his appearance on a CNN news panel just days before the 2008 election. The subject was the latest piece of leaked Palin gossip—her $150,000 “shopping spree” (for which Palin later reimbursed the repugican national cabal)—and the damage Palin was perceived to have done to the McCain campaign. “That’s an indication just how unseasoned Sarah Palin is as a national candidate,” Madden opined, before laughing about Palin’s lack of knowledge about issues and declaring that “people who have done this before” know enough to choose running mates “that are nationally vetted.”

Palin says that she doesn’t know Madden and will not comment about him personally. However, she adds: “I assume he didn’t do his homework and his disparaging remarks were due to him actually believing the BS reporting on my record and reputation that began the day I was tapped to run for VP. I’ll assume and hope he’s evolved since then, perhaps understanding now the leftist media’s agenda against candidates they oppose.”
If the media were "leftist," then they surely opposed John McCain (by definition, since he's a rightie). Yet there was no effort by the media to paint McCain as a dingbat who can't even speak English correctly. That was reserved for Palin, because it's true.

Sarah Palin played a HUGE role in bringing down John McCain's run at the presidency. We can only hope that Mitt Romney makes a similar mistake, even if it only means letting Palin speak at the convention. Give the woman as much rope as she wants, as far as we're concerned. It's been far too long since Tina Fey had a good laugh.

Pepper-spray cop John Pike still on payrall at UC Davis

Remember him?
UC Davis Police Lt. John Pike
Wow. From Conor Friedersdort at the Atlantic we learn that the UC Davis cop who pepper-sprayed the peacefully protesting students last fall, at point blank range while they were simply sitting down, is still on the university payroll.
Late Monday, I called UC Davis to follow up on the case. To my chagrin, though not to my surprise, Lt. Pike remains on paid leave. The internal affairs process is "a lot more inexorable than anyone realized at the time," a university spokesman told me. "I don't know when that's going to get resolved."

Think about that for a minute.

This incident happened 8 months ago! In five months time, two independent bodies managed to complete an exhaustive investigation into every aspect of the incident. Yet even after an additional three months, the internal affairs process - the investigation, the hearings, and perhaps the appeals - is still not completed for one single individual, whose actions are on videotape.

Nor is there any word about when they'll be complete.
Someone, whether it's the university or its police department, needs to explain why this review isn't over and why this man is still on the university payroll. Two independent studies had enough time to reach a conclusion, but the Mayberry cops at UC Davis couldn't?

This is why cops get a bad rap, at least in part.  When one of their own do something wrong, it sure seems to take hell and high water to get anything done about it - and I know that personally, from a lot of work I did in DC on these issues.

TSA screening tray ad

Gareth Branwyn spotted an interesting ad placed in TSA screening trays—for a futuristic TV show where Americans violently defy their legitimate government. Apparently aliens are in charge, but, well ... never mind.

New laser will scan EVERYONE in airports from 164 feet away


I'm going to bring these to your attention without much comment for now, but will have more to say later. Needless to say, reading this should tell you we've entered a new phase.

First, from Gizmodo:
Within the next year or two, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will instantly know everything about your body, clothes, and luggage with a new laser-based molecular scanner fired from 164 feet (50 meters) away. From traces of drugs or gun powder on your clothes to what you had for breakfast to the adrenaline level in your body—agents will be able to get any information they want without even touching you.

And without you knowing it. ...

Their plan is to install this molecular-level scanning in airports and border crossings all across the United States. The official, stated goal of this arrangement is to be able to quickly identify explosives, dangerous chemicals, or bioweapons at a distance.

....it can be used systematically on everyone passing through airport security, not just suspect or randomly sampled people....

Back in 2008, a team at George Washington University developed a similar laser spectrometer using a different process. It could sense drug metabolites in urine in less than a second, trace amounts of explosive residue on a dollar bill, and even certain chemical changes happening in a plant leaf....

In other words, these portable, incredibly precise molecular-level scanning devices will be cascading lasers across your body as you walk from the bathroom to the soda machine at the airport and instantly reporting and storing a detailed breakdown of your person, in search of certain "molecular tags".
Read it all — I dare you.

You could (read: "will") be scanned for drug molecules on your person at the airport from 150 feet away. That's a game-changer in the invasive Spook Wars, I would think.
The small, inconspicuous machine is attached to a computer running a program that will show the information in real time, from trace amounts of cocaine on your dollar bills to gunpowder residue on your shoes. Forget trying to sneak a bottle of water past security—they will be able to tell what you had for breakfast in an instant while you're walking down the hallway.
And guess what? It's likely not even safe:
How Terahertz Waves Tear Apart DNA

A new model of the way the THz waves interact with DNA explains how the damage is done and why evidence has been so hard to gather

Great things are expected of terahertz waves, the radiation that fills the slot in the electromagnetic spectrum between microwaves and the infrared. Terahertz waves pass through non-conducting materials such as clothes, paper, wood and brick and so cameras sensitive to them can peer inside envelopes, into living rooms and "frisk" people at distance. ...

The evidence that terahertz radiation damages biological systems is mixed. ... Now these guys think they know why.

Alexandrov and co have created a model to investigate how THz fields interact with double-stranded DNA and what they've found is remarkable. They say that although the forces generated are tiny, resonant effects allow THz waves to unzip double-stranded DNA, creating bubbles in the double strand that could significantly interfere with processes such as gene expression and DNA replication. That's a jaw dropping conclusion.
It took the Vietnam War to mobilize the 60s generation, to personalize the risk beyond the theoretical, and create a revolution with critical mass.

Do not underestimate how important critical mass for the Counter-Culture that created modern American life. (And never forget, by the way, that every Hippie-hating Republican openly has sex with his girlfriend without public shame. Only the radicals and Beats did that in the 50s. You would think these Young Libertarians would at least say Thanks to the enemies they so eagerly emulate.)

Now the drug-moralizers have the ultimate weapon — long-range molecular scanners and a no-permission-needed fear atmosphere. It only starts at the airport. With this weapon on the streets of America, another generation will be at personal risk of jail on a tired cop's whim.

By my calculation (carry the two) 2013 is just around the corner.

Game-changer, say I — both ways.

Credit card skimmers INSIDE gas pumps

From the StarTribune this week:
The devices, designed to copy and steal credit card information, were found installed last week in six of eight pumps at a New Hope gas station as part of an investigation that led to the arrest of a California couple. Sarkis Mkhsyan, 29, and Gohar Yesayan, 28, of Van Nuys, Calif., each were charged with nine felonies related to the scam...

A search of the couple's car uncovered elaborate software and a handwritten list of more than 100 local gas stations...

Goldstein said that older skimming devices used by criminals were visible if you knew where to look, but criminals now install the devices inside the pump. During a search of the couple's car, police found a screwdriver and cordless drill, along with a computer and the skimming software. "In short, it's very difficult for someone to know whether or not they are being victimized in this situation," he said...

Goldstein said it's safest for customers to pay for their gas inside the store, despite the inconvenience. If you do pay at the pump, he said, it's safer to use your credit card than your debit card; while money stolen from a debit account is gone, credit card companies often can stop illegal transactions.

It works both ways

Inside the corpse-harvesting industry

The Sydney Morning Herald published a fascinating investigation into the global trade in human remains for medical purposes, from surgical glue made from ground-up bone to cadaver skin used in nose enhancements. 
From SMH:
 2012 07 17 3462397 Af Body2-20120717123426330099-300X0 Despite its growth, the tissue trade has largely escaped public scrutiny. This is thanks in part to less-than-aggressive official oversight — and to popular appeal for the idea of allowing the dead to help the living survive and thrive.
An eight-month, 11-country investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists has found, however, that the tissue industry's good intentions sometimes are in conflict with the rush to make money from the dead.
Inadequate safeguards are in place to ensure all tissue used by the industry is obtained legally and ethically, ICIJ discovered from hundreds of interviews and thousands of pages of public documents obtained through records requests in six countries.
Despite concerns by doctors that the lightly regulated trade could allow diseased tissues to infect transplant recipients with hepatitis, HIV and other pathogens, authorities have done little to deal with the risks.
In contrast to tightly monitored systems for tracking intact organs such as hearts and lungs, authorities in the US and many other countries have no way to accurately trace where recycled skin and other tissues come from and where they go.

We already have socialist health care in America, and it's the most expensive option

America already guarantees free health care (kind of) to everyone. By law, hospitals have to give care to everyone who enters their emergency departments.  

From Voices of San Diego:
It's called EMTALA, short for the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. President Ronald Reagan signed it into law in 1986. It's regularly cited as one of the greatest unfunded mandates our government ever passed.

EMTALA mandates not only that hospitals take care of anyone who enters their emergency departments — anyone — but that they not discharge those patients unless they're safe and stable.
To recoup their losses, hospitals simply pass the costs to insurers, and the rest of us, through higher rates. Though some of that sounds like more justification for simply gouging the rest of us.
"To recoup their losses," Roberts wrote, "hospitals pass on the cost to insurers through higher rates, and insurers in turn pass on the cost to policy holders in the form of higher premiums."
And hence to me, as I gulp at our employees' health care bill.

The numbers really are brutal. In 2011, Sharp Healthcare had to give $287 million in so-called "uncompensated care." For Scripps, the number was $268 million. For UCSD? $80 million.
Uncompensated care is a bit of a misnomer. The hospitals don't just absorb that loss and pout. Not all of it.

They have people to pay. Doctors aren't cheap and their supply is controlled.

No, they pass those costs onto people with insurance. It's an unfair burden for employers committed to providing health care to their employees. It certainly doesn't make it easier to hire people.
The entire health care system in our country is one big ponzi scheme. The hospitals charge more for the uninsured, and more importantly, for the insured.  Hospitals can charge ridiculous rates and insurance companies, after negotiating them down to a less-but-still-ridiculous rate pay them.

For my recent cataract surgery, the charge to use the hospital facilities for the 20 minute surgery was $14,000 per eye. That's ridiculous. The insurance company got them "down" to $5000 an eye - again, just for the facilities, the surgeon and anesthesiologist was extra, as was the laser they used to cut my eye (that alone was $1100 out of my pocket, that I had to pay BEFORE they'd do the surgery).  That's an absurd amount to pay for cataract surgery, but I needed to see this particular doctor as I'm at a much higher risk of a detachment and blindness as a result of the cataract surgery, because of my past retinal problems.  And that's what the hospital charges.

I saw a video the other day of Krugman on CNBC in which he notes that if we simply got the cost of American health care down to the prices they charge in France, we'd likely solve our deficit problem.

Our problem is the cost of health care is bankrupting all of us.  And our healthcare system is so corrupt, so ponzi, so inbred, that it reinforces the high prices.

So while I'm willing to accept that a portion of the higher prices comes from having to pay the medical bills of the uninsured, that's not the only reason hospitals and doctors and insurance companies charge so much. They charge so much, as the old joke goes, because they can.

Health News

Biological Clock Chemical Offers New Way to Treat Diabetes

Biologists at UC San Diego have discovered a chemical that offers a completely new and promising direction for the development ...
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Could a larger waistline be a result of too much TV as a child?

As a youngster, remember your mother warning you that watching too much television would give you square eyes? That might ...
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Sodium buildup in brain linked to disability in multiple sclerosis

A buildup of sodium in the brain detected by magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) may be a biomarker for the degeneration ...
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2 biological risk factors for schizophrenia

Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered a cause-and-effect relationship between two well-established biological risk factors for schizophrenia previously believed ...
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Is Chewing This Piece Of Rubber The Same As Brushing Your Teeth?

This spiky piece of rubber that resembles a sea anemone is the Rolly, a product that claims to be just as effective as giving your teeth a good brushing when you’re on the go.
Here’s how it works:
Besides reaching into every nook and cranny of your mouth, and gently stimulating your gums while you chew it, the Rolly contains Xylitol and Fluoride which are claimed to fight plaque and strengthen tooth enamel. And using the small disc doesn’t require toothpaste, a mirror, or even water to rinse your mouth out afterwards. When you’re done, you just spit it into the garbage like a piece of gum.
It looks like a scary little squid creature to me, but if it works I guess I’d give it a go. Would you?

Warning labels can act as nocebos

Remember the nocebo effect? It's the flip side of placebos. Placebos can make people feel better or even relieve pain (to a certain extent). Nocebo happens when a placebo causes negative side-effects—nausea, racing heart, dizziness, etc. And here's one more weird thing to add to this veritable bonfire of weirdness: When we tell people about the possible negative side-effects of a real drug, that might make them more likely to experience those side-effects.
In one study, 50 patients with chronic back pain were randomly divided into two groups before a leg flexion test. One group was informed that the test could lead to a slight increase in pain, while the other group was instructed that the test would have no effect. Guess which group reported more pain and was able to perform significantly fewer leg flexions?
Another example from the report: Patients undergoing chemotherapy for cancer treatment who expect these drugs to trigger intense nausea and vomiting suffer far more after receiving the drugs than patients who don’t.
And, like placebos and classic nocebos, this isn't just "all in their head"—at least, not in the sense that they're making it up or deluding themselves. There are measurable physical effects to this stuff.
As science writer Steve Silberman says in the article I've quoted from above, what we're learning here is that the feedback we get from other people ("That might make you feel yucky" or "You look tired today") has a physical effect on us. It's a little insane. It's also worth thinking about when we talk about medical ethics. Full disclosure of what treatments you're getting and what the risks and benefits are is generally regarded as the ethically right way to practice medicine. And that's probably correct. But how do you balance that with what we know about placebo/nocebo? What happens when transparency keeps you from using a harmless placebo as a treatment? What happens when transparency makes you more likely to experience negative health outcomes? It's a strange, strange world and it's not always easy to make the right ethical choices.

Daily Comic Relief

Remembering The Great California Cycleway

Over a hundred years ago bicycles ruled the day, and highways were being built just for them. The California Cycleway, opened in 1900, was an elevated tollway built specially for bicycle traffic through the Arroyo Seco, intended to connect the cities of Pasadena and Los Angeles, in California, United States.

The inventor and promotor of the cycleway was Pasadena resident Horace Dobbins, who attracted ex-California governor Henry Harrison Markham to join him in the scheme. The toll was 10 cents one-way, or 15 cents round trip. Due to the end of the bicycle craze of the 1890s and the existing Pacific Electric Railway lines connecting Pasadena to Los Angeles, the cycleway never made a profit. In the first decade of the 20th century, the structure was dismantled, and the wood sold for lumber.


Life Beyond the Destruction of the Giant 1,500-Year-Old Buddhas
Band-a Amir Dam, BamiyanColorful bicycle, BamiyanDry landscape, BamiyanGirl in scarf, BamiyanBlue door, BamiyanOld walls, Bamiyan
Although probably best known for the ancient Buddha statues destroyed by the Taliban, there is much more to the Afghan town of Bamiyan than this one blot on its history. More

“Godverdikke! Ken a kapmes in me kop!”

Long, long ago–almost before humans had devised writing–there was a tradition among the people of Usenet of translating the phrase “My God, there’s an axe in my head!” into different languages. The title of this post is just that in the Ostend dialect of Flemish.
At the link, you can find one of the oldest and most comprehensive archives of this sacred tradition, featuring hundreds of different translations of this phrase. Preserve it and pass it on to your children, so that the ways of the ancients are not lost to the ravages of time.

Silo House

They needed to expand her log cabin home. So they decided that an old grain silo would be just the right structure to attach to the house:
Radiant floor heating. stamped and stained concrete floor, spray foam insulation, 7 windows and soon plaster walls along with a 6?x6? living wall. After finding a silo on a near by farm we moved it over to our house, cut out one wall and attached it to the side of our house for a much needed dining room.
You can see a large interior photo here.

The Real Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin

Christopher Robin was a real little boy and Winnie the Pooh was a real stuffed bear. The UK’s National Portrait Gallery has many pictures of him as a young boy. Some of them include his father, A.A. Milne, the author of the Winnie the Pooh stories.

Climate Change May Lead to Fewer — But More Violent — Thunderstorms

Researchers are working to identify exactly how a changing climate will impact specific elements of weather, such as clouds, rainfall ...
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Lightning Kills Two Texas Soccer Players

Two soccer players died and a third was injured when lightning struck a tree that they were standing beneath to get out of a storm Sunday in Houston.

Random Photo

Astronomical News

After Mars Landing, NASA May Have Anxious Wait

Due to a glitch with a primary communications satellite, we may be in for a nail-biting wait to hear from Curiosity after it lands on Aug. 6. Read more
After Mars Landing, NASA May Have Anxious Wait

Using Lasers and Antimatter to Trek to the Stars

The VARIES concept will use powerful lasers to excite a quantum phenomenon, generating antimatter fuel from the vacuum of space. Read more
Using Lasers and Antimatter to Trek to the Stars

How Pluto Got Its Moons

Astronomers found Pluto's fifth moon 34 years after finding its first. Read more
How Pluto Got Its Moons

Not a Dwarf: Is Pluto a Binary Planet?

Pluto really has only four moons if the largest moon in the system, Charon, is considered a "binary planet" companion to Pluto. Read more
Not a Dwarf: Is Pluto a Binary Planet?

Herschel Spots a Hot Young Star-Forming Butterfly

ESA's Herschel Space Observatory images the intricate structures that form a stellar nursery, 2300 light-years from Earth Read more
Space butterfly

Science and Environment News from the British Perspective

Solomons 'launders' exotic birdsYellow-crested cockatoo. Image: Olivier Caillabet / Traffic

The Solomon Islands is exporting thousands of wild birds each year claiming they are captive-bred, concludes an investigation by wildlife trade experts.

Agouti with collarRodent thieves 'forest saviours'

Rodents that steal seeds from each other are filling the seed-dispersing role of extinct giant mammals, research suggests.

Rodents Pass Huge Seeds Like Olympic Torches

Muscular rodents called agoutis move giant seeds similar to the way we humans move the Olympic torch.  
Read more Rodents Pass Huge Seeds Like Olympic Torches
The cute cat-sized agouti above is much more than a lowly jungle creature. In fact, it is very much the Robin Hood of rodents.

The furry bandit hides and buries black palm seeds, which it finds delicious. What it doesn't eat sprout into new plants. When other agoutis find the hidden cache, they steal and rebury the seeds at a different place, thus helping the plant spread!

Glaucus Atlanticus

The Glaucus atlanticus is a planktonic animal that belongs to the oceanic group known as Nudibranches. This amazing-looking creature is a sea slug that floats freely on open seas feeding on jellyfish including the Portuguese Man o' War.

Chickens facing censorship in Iran

The rising cost of chicken in Iran has prompted the country's police chief to urge broadcasters to censor it from television screens in the interests of social harmony. Against a backdrop of lengthening food queues, Esmail Ahmadi-Moghaddam, the head of Iran's law enforcement forces, has warned that films depicting scenes of chicken dinners could provoke the underprivileged classes to attack the rich.
"They show chicken being eaten in movies while somebody might not be able to buy it," Mr Ahmadi-Moghaddam, brother-in-law of Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, told a law enforcement officers conference in Tehran. "Films are now the windows of society and some people observing this class gap might say that we will take knives and take our rights from the rich. IRIB [Iran's state broadcaster] should not be the shop window for showing all which is not accessible."

The warning is the latest sign of official alarm over the strains being caused by rampant inflation and international sanctions aimed at curbing Iran's nuclear program, which the West suspects is intended to produce an atom bomb, despite Tehran's denials. Rising chicken prices have come to symbolize the privations being endured by ordinary Iranians amid this increasingly grim landscape. In recent weeks, shoppers have had to fork out 70,000 rials (£3.67) for a kilogram of chicken, around three times last year's price.

Farmers and retailers have blamed a shortfall of imported livestock feed – partly caused by sanctions – leading in turn to a drastic rise in the price of domestically-produced feed. Similar increases have been witnessed in the costs of red meat, fruit and vegetables. With chicken forming a core part of the meat-rich national diet, long-queues have been reported at state food distribution centers, where it has been sold in rationed quantities at lower, government-fixed, prices. Perhaps with a view to stemming negative reporting, the Caspian Sea province of Gilan even took the novel step of offering discounted chicken to accredited journalists.

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