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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, July 24, 2012

The Daily Drift

Enough said.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Sofia, Bulgaria
Cukai, Malaysia
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Cape Town, South Africa
Petaling Jaya, Malaysia
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Chelyabinsk, Russia
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Cairo, Egypt
London, England
Dhaka Bangladesh
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Male, Maldives
Islamabad, Pakistan
Thanih Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Bangkok, Thailand
Maribor, Slovenia

As well cities across the USA such as:
Alpharetta, Chetek, Cicero, Fort Huachuca, Hialeah and Mukilteo

 Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1505   On their way to India, a group of Portuguese explorers sack the city-state of Kilwa.
1567   Mary, Queen of Scots, is imprisoned and forced to abdicate her throne to her 1-year-old son James VI.
1701   Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac establishes Fort Ponchartrain for France at present-day Detroit, Michigan.
1704   Admiral George Rooke takes Gibraltar from the Spanish.
1766   At Fort Ontario, Canada, Ottawa chief Pontiac and William Johnson sign a peace agreement.
1791   Robespierre expels all Jacobins opposed to the principles of the French Revolution.
1847   The first members of Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons) arrive in Utah, settling in present-day Salt Lake City.
1862   The eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren, dies at the age of 79.
1897   African-American soldiers of the 25th Infantry Bicycle Corps arrive in St. Louis, Mo., after completing a 40-day bike ride from Missoula, Montana.
1941   The U.S. government denounces Japanese actions in Indochina.
1942   The Soviet city of Rostov is captured by German troops.
1950   The U.S. Fifth Air Force relocates from Japan to Korea.
1974   The Supreme Court rules that President Richard Nixon must surrender the Watergate tapes.

Former state Senator blames victims for Aurora shooting

This is really fucking unbelievable.

This guy, a former state senator from Arizona, wants to know why no one charged the gunman, with his four weapons shooting wildly.  Uh, because they were running for their lives?  He then invokes the famed Flight 93 from September 11.  Yeah, those guys on the plane were heroes, but they also had no way to escape other than charging the terrorist pilots.  In this case, the easiest escape, the safest escape, was the "Exit" door.

Then he trots out the old, they could have stopped it if they all had guns, canard.

Yeah, I suppose 500 people in a smokey movie theater could have opened fire at once.  That would have been interesting.  Hey, if the patrons simply had portable nukes they could have stopped the attack too.

Oh yeah...

Is this what gun nuts now believe, that whenever there's a crime we should all run at the gunman rather than get our butts out of there?  I suspect the police, who are actually experts on this kind of thing, would beg to differ.

Oh, and he's a republican/teabagger and a gun nut, of course.

From ThinkProgress:

Is it easier in America to buy a gun than French cheese?

Yes.  But.
The following graphic has been making its way around the Internet this weekend.

I was intrigued, but suspicious. I don't like to send things around, or post them on the blog, if something doesn't smell right (no pun intended, as we are talking about wonderfully stinky French cheese). So I did a little digging, and here's what I found.

The graphic is kinda right.

It seems that, of all things, an outbreak of Typhoid in Canada in the early 1940s was linked to Cheddar cheese made from raw milk (call her, Typhoid Elsie). Fast forward to 1950, and the FDA decides to do something about the dangers of stinky French cheese, and bans the sale of any imported cheese from raw milk that is not aged for a minimum of 60 days (a ban on domestically-produced cheese was, reportedly, instituted a few years before that).  The thinking was/is that the curing process kills the bacteria (and recent research suggests that even that may not always work).

And so began America's cheese panic.

So, the cheeses in the graphic are not banned per se.  They're only banned if they're made with raw milk that hasn't been aged a minimum of 60 days.  And if they're made with pasteurized milk, they're fine.  Thus, newer French Brie cheese made with pasteurized milk can be sold in the US (even though it's reportedly less tasty than the "real" French version - and part of the lost flavor of some French cheeses comes from the fact that their peak flavor comes at a time "less" than 60 days).  Sadly, there's a section of the site I link that appears to note some exceptions to the rule, but the section isn't written in complete sentences, so it makes no sense.  So I did some more research...

What I found was that there seems to be another restriction, beyond the 60 day rule. This from an article in 2005:
According to John Sheehan of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition, in the 1980s both countries agreed that all soft cheeses from France would be made from pasteurized milk in plants certified by the French government. This followed the detection of the harmful listeria bacteria in some French Brie.
2005 was around the same time that the FDA cracked down on French cheese entering the US - previously they apparently had overlooked some of the "illegal" cheeses. Now they were cracking down even on some cheese aged over 60 days - possibly for legit reasons, possibly as retaliation for a trade dispute.

And there's talk of banning raw milk cheese all together:
But in recent months, two recalls involving e. coli in raw-milk cheese have brought that law into question: in November, at Bravo Farms, near Fresno, then in December, at Sally Jackson Cheese, in Washington State.

David Acheson, a former associate commissioner for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, says laboratory tests have suggested that e.coli O157, and possibly other microbes, as well, can survive the 60-day aging process.

“There’s real concern that the 60 days isn’t long enough,” he says.

On average, there are about 40 reported cases a year of people getting sick from raw-milk cheese, nationwide, according to the Centers for Disease Control. During a 15-year period between 1993 and 2008, two people died from those illnesses.

That's a small fraction of the outbreaks that have been traced back to ground beef, for example, and the number has stayed fairly constant. Still, the FDA says raw-milk cheese is a growing concern.
Two people died over fifteen years from eating raw milk cheese.  Significantly more died over that period from guns, about 450,000 people (that includes suicides, but hey, we don't let people intentionally kill themselves by eating French cheese, so why allow guns?).

In the end, I couldn't confirm that any of the cheeses listed in the graphic above are actually "banned" in the US, because there are versions of them - with pasteurized milk or aged over 60 days - that are permitted for several of them (I didn't check them all).  The graphic indicates, for example, that French roquefort (i.e., blue cheese) is not permitted into the US.  That's not true.  You can buy the French "President" brand blue cheese in the US - I  have.  The same goes for the graphic's mention of Camembert.  Obviously, the American versions are either pasteurized or aged over 60-days.

Now, the graphic would be correct if it got a little more specific and, say, added an asterisk noting that the original, "true," raw-milk-aged-under-60-day versions of these French cheeses are banned in the US.  Try this:

And that's our food science lesson for the day.  At least this explains why I have such a hard time finding a good tangy French chèvre at the market in the states.

Did you know ...

That more than 381,000 are infected in Chinese foot and mouth disease outbreak

Thar this is what passes for investigative journalism from the wingnuts

And for shits 'n giggles here's a girl doing her impression of all 151 pokemon characters

That the very first picture uploaded to the internet was of a comedy band of employees at the CERN large hadron collider. We couldn't make this up, folks.

The truth is ...

Romney lying about Obama

Lying for the Lord (google it). From the Washington Post's face checker:
In other words, this is an argument that Democrats have been making for decades, one that repugicans have every right to reject. Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, for instance, understood fully that Obama was talking about roads and still thought his logic was faulty.

Romney, however, descends into silly season when he extrapolates Obama’s quote and says that means Obama believes Steve Jobs did not build Apple Computers.

Here’s what Obama said when Jobs passed away earlier this year: “By building one of the planet’s most successful companies from his garage, he exemplified the spirit of American ingenuity. By making computers personal and putting the Internet in our pockets, he made the information revolution not only accessible, but intuitive and fun.”

That sounds like Obama believes that Jobs really did build his company. He did not mention the roads to Cupertino.
The Pinocchio Test

Obama certainly could take from lessons from Warren or Roosevelt on how to frame this argument in a way that is less susceptible for quote-snipping. And Romney certainly could answer Obama’s argument by engaging in a serious discussion about whether the wealthy should pay much more in taxes as a matter of social good and equity. That would be grounds for an elevated, interesting and important debate.

But instead, by focusing on one ill-phrased sentence, Romney and his campaign have decided to pretend that Obama is talking about something different — and then further extrapolated it so that it becomes ridiculous. That’s not very original at all.

Three Pinocchios

The truth hurts

Romney benefactor Sheldon Adelson and the Chinese mob

We've seen reports like this before (go here and read the paragraph starting "These days, Adelson's LVS").
But this one is quite recent, and includes additional documentation.

From Think Progress:
Things are getting awkward for Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who pledged to spend a “limitless” amount of money to get Mitt Romney elected.

Adelson’s latest woes stem from business practices surrounding his lucrative casino in Macau, the only Chinese city with legalized gambling.

The Macau operation has long been under scrutiny but a new in-depth investigation from ProPublica and PBS focused on allegations of improper, and perhaps in some cases illegal, business dealings by Adelson’s Las Vegas Sands company in China.

While focusing on the possibility that Sands violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act with a $700,000 payment to a Chinese associate, PBS also released documents that bolstered accusations of business ties between Adelson’s shop and Chinese organized crime figures.
The PBS report is here. There's more in the Think Progress article.

As you read, note that (a) the alleged ties are supported by documents; (b) tens of millions changed hands; (c) the men named are known to the U.S. government as Chinese mobsters; and (d) no one appears to be contesting the relationship.

PBS, first on the role of "junkets" in China:
William Weidner, president of Las Vegas Sands from 1995 to 2009, said he understood from the beginning that opening casinos in Macau meant dealing with “junkets” — companies that arrange gambling trips for high rollers.

Gambling is illegal in mainland China, as is the transfer of large sums of money to Macau. The junkets solve those problems, providing billions of dollars in credit to gamblers. When necessary, they [also] collect gambling debts, a critical function since China’s courts are not permitted to force losers to pay up.

Weidner said junkets are a natural result of China’s controls on the movement of money out of the country, channeling as much as $3 billion a month from the mainland to Macau.

“To Westerners, the junkets mean money laundering equated with organized crime or drugs,” he said. “In China where money is controlled, it’s part of doing business.”
Weidner resigned from the company after a bitter dispute with Adelson.
Now information on the ties between the Sands organization in Las Vegas and men with known mob ties. Note that "triad" is the term for "Chinese organized crime mob" according to PBS:
Nevada officials are now poring over records of transactions between junkets, Las Vegas Sands and other casinos licensed by the state, people familiar with the inquiry say. Among the junket companies under scrutiny is a concern that records show was financed by Cheung Chi Tai, a Hong Kong businessman.

Cheung was named in a 1992 U.S. Senate report as a leader of a Chinese organized crime gang, or triad. A casino in Macau owned by Las Vegas Sands granted tens of millions of dollars in credit to a junket backed by Cheung, documents show. Cheung did not respond to requests for comment.

Another document says that a Las Vegas Sands subsidiary did business with Charles Heung, a well-known Hong Kong film producer who was identified as an office holder in the Sun Yee On triad in the same 1992 Senate report. Heung, who has repeatedly denied any involvement in organized crime, did not return phone calls.
No one, including the Sands, is commenting, but the documents and money transfers are factual.

Sheldon Adelson runs a casino in a town (Las Vegas) that forbids doing business with organized crime. Sheldon Adelson is a making a good deal of money from deals in China that have raised serious questions about what, if any, role organized crime may have played in them.  And Sheldon Adelson's money is helping Mitt Romney run for president.

Stay tuned to this investigation. Remember, there are two — violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and violations of Nevada's anti-mobster laws.

This will be another interesting test of Rule of Law for those in the Big Boy Club.

Tick tick tick.

The truth be told

Oops: $77,615 Bottle Of 224-Year-Old Cognac Shattered By Clumsy Customer at Playboy's London Club

Here's something groan-worthy. A customer at London's Playboy Club recently managed to destroy a $77,615 (£50,000) bottle of historic Cognac, which dated back to 1788.

The Drinks Business tells us that the customer, a businessman with apparently expensive tastes and butter fingers, had ordered two glasses of the brandy for $7,839 (£5,000) a pop when he asked to look at the bottle. When he stood up, he sent it flying across the room. It broke into smithereens upon hitting the floor.

The bottle had previously been sold for $37,000 at a Paris auction in 2009. It was supposed to have been featured this week by mixologist Salvatore Calabrese in the making of the world's most expensive cocktail for Guinness World Records.

Calabrese, a Cognac expert with an antique spirits collection valued at more than $1.5 million, expressed his horror and sadness to The Evening Standard:

Mr Calabrese said: “We all just froze, then it sunk in. I’ve been heartbroken. Not because of the value of the bottle, but because it is a piece of history that has been lost.”

Unfortunately for all, the bottle of Clos de Griffier Vieux wasn't insured because it had already been open. But, it seems the clumsy customer, a club regular, has been forgiven. "Accidents happen," Calabrese told The Evening Standard.

Mom leaves baby behind at Florida Wal-Mart during botched theft

Allison Niemeyer, 19, and her sister allegedly shoved $57.12 worth of undershirts and bathing suits in the 1-year-old’s diaper bag, but when they were caught, they left the boy and ran, police say. A Florida mom who ditched her 1-year-old baby and escaped in the midst of an alleged theft at a Wal-Mart was apprehended the next night outside a dance club, according to reports.

Man claiming to be Jesus threatened neighbor with crowbar

Police in Florida say a man who calls himself Jesus Christ repeatedly threatened and attacked his neighbor after accusing him of being the Antichrist. Palm Bay Police Department officers received a complaint about 51-year-old Kenneth Peterson after he allegedly attacked his neighbor, Fred Padilla, on Charles Boulevard. "He told police that the reason he was attacking us was because he was the savior and I was Satan. I believe that was the word he used," said Padilla.
Officers said Peterson attacked Padilla, or damaged the neighbor's property, multiple times since February. Peterson is accused of shooting at Padilla with a BB gun. Officials said most recently, Peterson threatened Padilla with a crowbar. Padilla said he has a restraining order against Peterson and police have arrested him two times, but each time the state attorney's office has not pressed charges saying there was a lack of evidence.

Padilla installed surveillance cameras to catch Peterson in the act and said it worked, because over the weekend Peterson was arrested for the third time. Detectives were working on a ruse to get Peterson out of his home on Wednesday, but they say they apprehended him when he came out to get his mail instead. Peterson did try to retreat back into his home, but officers stopped him just short of the front door.

Officers said they seized multiple items from Peterson's home, after obtaining a search warrant. "He has to be removed from a position where he can do damage to us and other people. If he needs treatment, then take him somewhere where he can get that treatment," said Padilla. Police said Padilla never did anything to provoke Peterson's attacks. Peterson faces aggravated assault charges and stalking charges. He is being held on $150,000 bond at the Brevard County Jail.

Pakistani policeman kills his sister for wearing jeans

A Pakistani policeman in Lahore allegedly shot dead his sister for wearing jeans, officials said on Saturday. Constable Asad Ali was unhappy with his sister Najma Bibi, 22, for wearing what he considered were "men's clothes", especially jeans.
The siblings often quarreled over the issue and Ali allegedly shot and killed his sister on Friday. A few days earlier, Ali had warned his sister that he would kill her if she did not stop wearing jeans and trousers.

Subsequently, Najma filed a complaint against her brother at the police station in the residential neighborhood of Shahdara and sought protection. However, the police took no action against Ali.

According to the First Information Report filed after the crime, Ali followed Najma when she left the house on Friday and allegedly fired at her near Shahdara Morr, killing her instantly. Ali managed to escape and police are conducting raids to catch him, officials said.

Clash between Hindus, Muslims in India kills 1

Police imposed a curfew on Bareilly town in Uttar Pradesh, where the two sides had hurled stones at each other and a 22-year-old Muslim man was shot and killed.

Random Celebrity Photo

The Full Names Of 26 One-Name Celebrities

Did you know that Bono's real name is Paul Hewson? Or that Charo's real name is Maria Rosario Pilar Martinez Molina Baeza? That Enya's name is Eithne Ní Bhraonáin?

The Real Name: François-Marie Arouet
The Story: Is it any surprise that Voltaire liked wordplay? The Latinized spelling of his surname is “AROVET LI,” and “Voltaire” is an anagram of that.
A rose by any other name probably wouldn't smell as sweet, at least not in the cases of some of these one-named celebrities. From A-Z, here are the full names of some of your favorite mononymous stars, and the reasons they dropped the rest of their names.

Photo of Goatman!

A man hiking in Ogden, Utah snapped this photo of a fellow who apparently was wearing a goat suit and socializing with a herd of real goats. The Division of Wildlife Services is concerned for the man's safety. From KSTU:
 2012 07 Goatman1-1 “He was clumsy, working his way down the cliff trying to catch up with the rest of the herd,” said hiker (Coty) Creighton. “With the binoculars I could clearly see it was a guy dressed up in a homemade goat suit.”
Creighton says the suit was big and furry and the man also wore heavy gloves so he could crawl on his hands and knees.
"Photographer says ‘Goatman’ was descending peak to join herd"

Royal Olympians

Queen Elizabeth’s granddaughter Zara Phillips is part of the British equestrian team participating in the London Olympics this year. She is far from the first member of European royalty to compete in the games, though. Spain’s royal family is especially known for sailing events. Prince Albert II of Monaco was part of his country’s bobsled team five times -and then he married an Olympic athlete from South Africa! But there were other Olympians in his family, as in other royal families of Europe. Meet them in a gallery at The Daily Beast. Pictured here is Great Britain’s Princess Anne, who competed in the 1976 Summer Games. More

The Wildest Hairstyles of the Daguerreotype Days

It was the 60s, man. The 1860s. People got wild, did crazy things with their hair and wore weird clothes. You might not believe it, if the Retronaut hadn’t rounded up daguerreoptype photographs of people from the 1850s through the 1870s.

Language X is Essentially Language Y Under Conditions Z

There are about 6,000 languages in the world, but according to this long list compiled by John Cowan, all languages are basically the same.
Here's "Language X is essentially language Y under conditions Z":
English is essentially Low German plus even lower French minus any sense of culture. -- Danny Weir
Scots is essentially English, only funnier. -- Thomas Leigh
Danish is essentially drunken Norwegian. -- John Cowan
Spanish is what happened when Moors tried to learn Latin and said "screw it." -- Charles Lavergne
Cantonese is essentially what everyone else in China calls swearing. --Kiri Aradia Morgan

World’s First Portable Computer

Back in 1975, engineers at IBM created the world's first commercial portable computer, the IBM 5100 Portable Computer. Super light (for its time), the computer weighed in at 55 lb and cost about $20,000!
The Next Web has more about this grandaddy of all laptops: More

Staying Dry In The Rain

Should You Run Or Walk?
Which will keep you drier, running through the rain or walking? Alessandro De Angelis, a physicist at the University of Udine, Italy, calculated some years ago that 'a sprinter racing along at 22.4 miles an hour does get less wet, but only 10 percent less wet, than a hasty stroller.'

Now, physicist Franco Bocci, reporting in the European Journal of Physics, has put forth new ideas in the long-running question of how best to keep dry when moving in the rain. If you run, you are out in the rain for less time, yet you run into more drops. In most cases, the answer depends on the shape and orientation of the moving body and on wind direction and intensity.

TV Doctors: Good Entertainment, Bad Medicine

We couldn't have said it better than the Los Angeles Times: " Television is great for sports, reality shows and reruns of 'The Big Bang Theory,' but if you're getting your health information from TV, you might not be as well-informed - or as healthy - as you could be." We would add that you also might be courting harm.

Woman Had A Pen In Her Stomach For 25 Years

It’s a story you hear every day- woman goes in to see her doctor due to rapid weight loss, and an x ray reveals that she’s had a felt tip pen stuck in her stomach for the last 25 years.
Here’s more:
On subsequent questioning, she recalled unintentionally swallowing a pen 25 years earlier. While she was interrogating a spot on her tonsil with the pen she slipped, fell and swallowed the pen by mistake. Her husband and general practitioner dismissed her story and plain abdominal films done at the time were reported as normal. A gastroscopy demonstrated a plastic felt-tip pen sitting in the lumen of the stomach without evidence of any gastric damage [...] The pen was still in working order (figure 2). This case highlights that plain abdominal x-rays may not identify ingested plastic objects and occasionally it may be worth believing the patient’s account however unlikely it may be.
They should use this story to advertise those pens, because if it can still write after 25 years in somebody’s stomach that’s one heck of a quality pen!

Mont-Saint-Michel from space

 Wpf Media-Live Photos 000 567 Overrides Space204-Mont-Saint-Michel 56721 600X450
France's Mont-Saint-Michel island and commune as seen from the Pléiades satellite.

Sally Ride, first American woman in space, has died

Dr. Sally Ride, an American physicist and former NASA astronaut, has died of pancreatic cancer. She joined NASA in 1978, and in 1983 became the first American woman to travel into space.

What Space Smells Like

When astronauts return from space walks and remove their helmets, they are welcomed back with a peculiar smell. An odor that is distinct and weird: something astronauts have described as 'seared steak,' 'hot metal,' and 'welding fumes.'

Space, astronaut Tony Antonelli has said, definitely has a smell that's different than anything else. Three-time spacewalker Thomas Jones has put it, 'carries a distinct odor of ozone, a faint acrid smell.' And now, NASA is trying to reproduce that smell for training purposes - the better to help preemptively acclimate astronauts to the odors of the extra-atmospheric environment.

The Pioneer Anomaly: a Wild Goose Chase?

The Pioneer Anomaly is a case study where it's best to bank on the simplest explanation for a weird observation.  
  The Pioneer Anomaly: a Wild Goose Chase?

Back in the Day

Environmental News

Dry as a bone: Drought's wide impact is likely to last for years. - of all natural disasters, drought is the most common and the least understood. around Kansas city, drought creeps — first claiming the Missouri crop grower, then the Kansas cattleman who can’t afford grain to feed livestock.

Scientists discover pacific ocean contains higher than normal levels of caffeine. - if you've ever fancied a quick pick me up at the beach, you may not have far to look. scientists said they have found elevated levels of caffeine at several sites in the pacific ocean off the coast of Oregon.

Record summer temperatures, by the numbers. - the weather this summer has been so extreme that it has rivaled the most destructive and unbearable summers in u.s. history, years that are infamous in weather lore. those years include 1988, which was the year that nasa scientist james hansen first warned the u.s. senate about the consequences of manmade global warming.

Drought affects large swaths of U.S. - a devastating drought has taken over areas of the rocky mountains and midwest. author and conservationist william debuys tells renee montagne that one of the shocking things has been the number of new high temperature records. - morning edition npr

Lobster catch bottoms out. - prior to a massive die-off in 1999, Connecticut's lobster fishery was worth more than $100 million a year. now, it's a fraction of that, and researchers from the state department of energy and environmental protection are embarking on another study looking at the effect pesticides may have played in the die-off.

Worlds biggest flower blooms in Germany

Thousands flocked to Bonn University’s Botanical Gardens last week as one of its prized Titan Arums entered a brief period of blossoming. The bloom's odour is reminiscent of rotting flesh, earning it the nickname "corpse flower."

Researchers at the Botanical Gardens have speeded up video footage to reveal how it blossoms.

Biologist Erwin Grill said: "People want to know if it really does smell as badly as its reputation, and I can tell you it does. It’s something like the smelling of rotting carcasses."

The Bonn University flower, which is native to Sumatra, was entered into the Guinness Book of Records in 2003 as the tallest bloom in cultivation, having reached 8ft 11in high. It has since been beaten by one on display at Winnipesaukee Orchids in Gilford, New Hampshire, US, which measured 10ft 2in.

Retro Photo

Quarter to half of species on earth may die from global warming

We promised to write about James Hansen's new paper "The Climate Dice" (pdf) — which has been making the rounds (for example, here and here). Hansen is the head of the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, and is a lead — if not "the" lead — American voice on the dangers of impending climate change.
You really should read his paper. And yes, it has started, the climate catastrophe.

How can you tell we're passing the tipping point on climate change? The climate rubes in Texas have been switching from eager denial to eager seekage of Federal dollars to offset the disaster they caused. Watch as they double up on last year's request for Federal aid. Watch as they duke it out for control of not-enough water.

Later this week I'll quote from Bill McKibben's piece on the same subject. McKibben has called it "the most important thing I've written in many years."

Now Hansen, truly one of the bigs in this field. His new paper begins (my emphasis and paragraphing throughout):
"Climate dice", describing the chance of unusually warm or cool seasons relative to climatology, have become progressively "loaded" in the past 30 years, coincident with rapid global warming.
Not just "global warming" — "rapid global warming." It's coming fast.

Let's pause. "Loaded dice" is not just a general metaphor. Hansen is saying something very specific.

The "chance of unusually warm or cool seasons relative to climatology" (i.e., climate norms) refers to the odds of swings, or deviations, from the norm.

In other words, it's not statistically significant that one summer is hot, another cooler, another very hot, and so on — as long as the swings don't stray too far from the norms in too many cases.

Once wide swings from the norm become regular, something else is going on — the "norms" are being redefined. His metaphor for that is unloaded dice versus loaded dice — dice with weights in them that force certain numbers to come up far more often that statistics would dictate.

Note: Not more often; far more often — often enough that crooked gamblers can count on making money on the weighted outcomes. In other words, there's now a new norm.

He continues, saying what I just said, but in math-prettier language:
The distribution of seasonal mean temperature anomalies has shifted toward higher temperatures and the range of anomalies has increased.

An important change is the emergence of a category of summertime extremely hot outliers, more than three standard deviations (σ) warmer than climatology. [See below for definition.]

This hot extreme, which covered much less than 1% of Earth's surface in the period of climatology, now typically covers about 10% of the land area.

We conclude that extreme heat waves, such as that in Texas and Oklahoma in 2011 and Moscow in 2010, were "caused" by global warming, because their likelihood was negligible prior to the recent rapid global warming. We discuss practical implications of this substantial, growing climate change.
That's his first paragraph, his "executive summary." (See why I break it out for you? It's a paper, not a blog post.)

By the way, a "standard deviation" is a statistical measure of how much the data normally varies over a period of time. Three standard deviations is a lot of variance from what would normally occur.

The rest of his piece supports his conclusion. He adds:
The greatest barrier to public recognition of human-made climate change is the natural variability of climate. How can a person discern long-term climate change, given the notorious variability of local weather and climate from day to day and year to year?

This question assumes great practical importance, because of the need for the public to appreciate the significance of human-made global warming.

Actions to stem emissions of the gases that cause global warming are unlikely to approach what is needed until the public perceives that human-made climate change is underway and will have unacceptable consequences if effective actions are not taken to slow the climate change.

Early recognition of climate change is critical. Stabilizing climate with conditions resembling those of the Holocene, the world in which civilization developed, can only be achieved if rapid reduction of fossil fuel emissions begins soon (1).
A perfectly reasonable problem — Assuming George "It's just summertime" Will is an honest questioner, how does one respond? Hansen's piece has the answer.

That takes you through his first three paragraphs. The rest is explanation and verification — the math et al. A great read, and not all that long (17 pp). We do recommend it.

For example, he talks about the importance of summertime, "the season when most biological productivity occurs." Hadn't thought of that, but it's true.

Then he lets loose with this whooper towards the end:
Although species migrate to stay within climate zones in which they can survive, continued climate shift at the rate of the past three decades is expected to take an enormous toll on planetary life. If global warming approaches 3°C by the end of the century, it is estimated that 21-52% of the species on Earth will be committed to extinction.
The piece is loaded with great charts (and fun statistics). I want to tease you with this graphic. Obviously the whole world isn't undergoing these anomalies, and the parts that are, are undergoing different anomalies than others.

But this caught our eye (ahem, Texas) from Fig 8:

Fig. 8 (part). Jun-Jul-Aug and Dec-Jan-Feb temperature anomalies (°C) for area shown on the right.

Two standard deviations above the norm in 2011. And notice the trend; there's clearly more where that came from (and again, less water where that came from as well).

We're willing to bet that the eagerly fooled in Texas (technical term: "Daddy-seeking climate rubes") will want us to pay for their mistake in following David Koch to the cleaners.

We're also willing to let Texas secede ... retroactively. But maybe that's just us.

Hey, Juan Carlos ...

The Elephant Hunt, Not a Good Move, Old Bean
King Juan Carlos has been the honorary president of the Spanish branch of the World Wildlife Fund since 1968. But that title has been stripped away since the king returned from an elephant hunting safari.
Many Spaniards were dumbfounded when news broke in April that the king had made a secret journey to hunt elephants in Botswana even though it was widely known he was president of the Spanish branch of the fund.
Such an opulent indulgence also angered Spaniards at a time when national unemployment hovers around 25 percent, the economy is contracting and there are fears the country may need an international financial bailout.
The Spanish public learned of the safari only after the king had to fly back in a private jet to receive emergency medical attention for a broken hip suffered during the trip.
In an unprecedented act of royal contrition, a sheepish Juan Carlos apologized, saying as he left the hospital: “I am very sorry. I made a mistake. It won’t happen again.”

Edward Scissorhands goose saved from Hampstead Heath deportation

An unfortunate looking goose named Edward Scissorhands has narrowly survived being shipped off from his home on Hampstead Heath in London to a swan sanctuary. Park rangers had been considering whether to deport Canada goose Eddie from his home on Sanctuary Pond after a gaggle of concerned walkers warned that he had been mauled by pet dogs on the beauty spot. Eddie, named after the nightmarish character, has a genetic condition known as angel wing which causes his feathers to stick out sideways and renders him totally flightless.
The pond dweller had also been suffering from a bad case of malting in recent weeks, making him look even more ruffled and battered than usual. Wildlife enthusiast and photographer Ron Vester had been concerned that rangers were set to remove the well-known local character and stepped in at the 11th hour to plea for a stay of deportation on Eddie’s behalf. “His wings stick out like spikes, they’re not beautifully flowing feathers and this poor little creature has been living on that pond for five years,” said Mr Vester. “So many people had called in to say he had been attacked, but people who know him said: ‘No that’s just Eddie, he’s fine’. It was all just a little mistake.”

Officials from the Swan Sanctuary in Shepperton, Middlesex, paid a visit to Eddie last week and decided it was safe for the Canada goose to stay. A spokesman from the City of London Corporation, which manages the Heath, said: “Our rangers had taken calls over the last three weeks from concerned members of the public – thinking he had been attacked by a male swan or a dog. The Swan Sanctuary advised us to leave him where he is because the pond is fenced and protected from dogs.” Eddie was born on the Kenwood Ponds alongside eight other goslings, but straight away wildlife watchers could tell that there was something strange about him.

“We all just thought he wouldn’t last because of his condition and not being able to fly,” said Mr Vester, from Aspern Grove in Belsize Park. “But someone picked Eddie up and moved him down to Sanctuary Pond where he has been happily ever since.” Angel wing has been linked to geese who enjoy a high calory diet such as white bread. Adrian Brooker, an ecologist for the City, said: “Angel wing can be caused by a high-calorie diet, especially one high in proteins and/or low in vitamin D or vitamin E. Indeed we actively encourage Heath users not to over feed wildfowl with bread, nuts or seeds.”

Man hit by flying turtle

A Chinese noodle seller was almost killed by a turtle when it fell from a window of a 45-storey building.
Yao Chen was chatting to customers outside his restaurant in Chongqing, southwest China, when the foot-long amphibian reptile fell around 40 feet from a flat above, hitting him on the foot and breaking his big toe.

The 34-year-old restaurateur said: "If I had been standing just a fraction more to the left then it would have hit me on the head. The size of it and the speed it was falling at means I probably would have been killed."

The turtle, which had crawled out of its cage and over the window ledge of its owner’s sixth floor flat, had to be put down due to its injuries. Mr Yao added: "Customers were telling me to make a soup with it, but I didn’t want any more bad luck. It probably would have poisoned my guests or something."

Artificial Jellyfish Made From Rat Cells

It looks like a jellyfish. It swims like a jellyfish. But, the tentacled artificial creature above, dubbed the "Medusoid," is actually created by scientists at Caltech and Harvard with rat cells:
It is able to mimic the swimming movement of a jellyfish thanks to muscle cells from rat hearts which were implanted onto its silicon frame and grown into a pattern similar to the muscles of a real jellyfish.
By applying an electric current to a container of conducting liquid, the scientists demonstrated they could "shock" the muscles into contracting so that it began to move through the water.
Nick Collins of The Telegraph has the story: here

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