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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The Daily Drift


Women railroad workers. 
Women railroad workers.

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Today in History

1350 John II, also known as John the Good, succeeds Philip VI as king of France.
1485 Henry Tudor defeats Richard III at Bosworth. This victory establishes the Tudor dynasty in England and ends the War of the Roses.
1642 Civil war in England begins as Charles I declares war on Parliament at Nottingham.
1717 The Austrian army forces the Turkish army out of Belgrade, ending the Turkish revival in the Balkans.
1777 With the approach of General Benedict Arnold's army, British Colonel Barry St. Ledger abandons Fort Stanwix and returns to Canada.
1849 The Portuguese governor of Macao, China, is assassinated because of his anti-Chinese policies.
1911 The Mona Lisa, the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, is stolen from the Louvre in Paris, where it had hung for more than 100 years. It is recovered in 1913.
1922 Michael Collins, Irish politician, is killed in an ambush.
1942 Brazil declares war on the Axis powers. She is the only South American country to send combat troops into Europe.
1945 Soviet troops land at Port Arthur and Dairen on the Kwantung Peninsula in China.
1945 Conflict in Vietnam begins when a group of Free French parachute into southern Indochina, in repsonse to a successful coup by communist guerilla Ho Chi Minh.
1983 Benigno Aquino, the only real opposition on Ferdinand Marcos' reign as president of the Philippines, is gunned down at Manila Airport.

Non Sequitur


Internet Habits Then And Now: 2002 Vs. 2012

We all know that technology is advancing super fast, but what about our Internet habits? Do you think those are evolving just as quickly? They are, although sometimes it's hard to notice it.

In 2002, there were 569 million Internet users, 9.1% of the world population. In 2012 there are 2.27 billion Internet users, 33% of the world population. In 2002 we spent an average of 46 minutes each day on the Internet. Today the average is 4 hours.

Middle Class more charitable than the rich

But wait, the rich are big jobs creators like Mitt Romney since he retired so how can this be? The rich do everything which is why they need taxes cut yet again so the Romney Class can pay even less than the 13% that Romney claims, but won't confirm.
Not only are the wealthy pushing to have lower taxes, the rich also show little compassion for anyone other than themselves.
A new study shows that middle-class Americans give a larger share of their income to charity than the wealthy.

The study, conducted by the Chronicle of Philanthropy using tax-deduction data from the Internal Revenue Service, showed that households earning between $50,000 and $75,000 year give an average of 7.6 percent of their discretionary income to charity.
That compares to 4.2 percent for people who make $100,000 or more. In some of the wealthiest neighborhoods, with a large share of people making $200,000 or more a year, the average giving rate was 2.8 percent.

We Are All Pussy Riot, We Are All Waiting To Happen


Pussy Riot’s battle in Russia has revitalized the political backbone of the punk community, but it has also transcended punk.

I came to punk music in an era where the word “punk” had broadened, proliferated itself into culture in a million different ways. Unlike the era in which punk was born the scene had become less about political activism and more about the sound of the music and other, less significant, aspects of life. Punk was being used to describe any number of counter-culture aesthetics. Seeing the word used in a JC Penney was just as likely as on some photocopied poster for a show in a dive bar.
The band stood at the front of the church, bowed at the altar, crossed themselves and began to play a song imploring Mary, the mother of God, to drive Vladimir Putin out of Russia.
I didn’t bemoan this shift. The band I sang in for nearly five years did not resist this sea change. The sound was what I was interested in, and the lyrics I wrote were rarely political. Sure, there were political movements happening that angered me, George W. Bush’s elections being chief among those. But I showed my anger about that in non-musical ways. I wore a white t-shirt for days after we invaded Iraq and carried a Sharpie with me so people could sign the shirt, making me a living petition against the war.
The punk scene and I didn’t always co-exist on an obvious level. In my years of actively participating in the making of punk music I was criticized or ridiculed by other members of the community for not looking like a punk. I wore cargo pants and button-down plaid shirts. I had tattoos, but my ink did not include skulls or classic symbols of the scene.
This is exactly where the broadening definition of punk meant the most to me. Punk, in my opinion, has always been about doing things your way. Being true to yourself as a person whether aesthetically, musically, or politically. I wore the clothes I liked, got ink that meant something to me, and played the music I enjoyed: loud, fast, and sloppy.
Bob Dylan, in my opinion, is one of the greatest punks of all. He has always made the music he wanted to make. He didn’t allow himself to be pigeonholed into writing political folk songs. He went electric when the world didn’t want him to, and Christian when it couldn’t have alienated a casual audience any further. He made a Christmas album. The guy does what he wants.
Johnny Cash’s career revival was another great moment in punk music that will never be defined as such. He made some of the most powerful and lasting music of his career in his collaborations with Rick Rubin.
But politics will always be ingrained in punk, even when it is hidden below the surface. There will always be resistance and revolution. Contemporary punk bands have found their own ways to exemplify this. In 2004 pop-punk trio, Green Day re-invigorated politics in the scene with their magnum opus, American Idiot, a reaction to Bush’s election and the Iraq War.
In 2006 The Thermals released their third album, The Body, The Blood, The Machine. It is a scathing concept album that reflects on religiosity and fascism, and I would argue, one of the best punk albums of the last twenty years.
And punk bands have remained political through their actions if not their music. They are consistently partaking in benefit concerts and albums. They speak out for causes from veganism to voter registration. The bands with the most political messages in their music have remained below the mainstream, but they are there, too. They hustle to stand up for what they believe in.
But politics was always bound to find its way back to the forefront of punk music. And the Bush era certainly made strides. But while politics in the United States are divisive as ever, it has always seemed obvious to me that the loudest political statement in punk music in decades would come from outside the U.S., just as it once did during the 1970s in the United Kingdom.
In a move worthy of an article in ‘The Onion,’ the three were charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” The indictment ran nearly 3,000 pages.
On February 21, 2012 a day that will forever live in punk lore, Pussy Riot, a feminist punk collective in Russia, staged a performance protest in Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Saviour. The band stood at the front of the church, bowed at the altar, crossed themselves and began to play a song imploring Mary, the mother of God, to drive Vladimir Putin out of Russia. The band danced spastically in their “uniforms”: colorful tights, dresses, and balaclavas (ski masks). Within a minute they were escorted from the church by security guards.
In the United States this act would have passed for nothing more than a comical flash mob protest that failed to attract more than a few members and hadn’t practiced long enough to synchronize its eager scissor kicks. In Russia, where the line between church and state is deteriorating, it has been called blasphemous and witnesses of the protest have said they were physically disturbed by the display. And in a move reminiscent of China’s censorship of its citizens, three members of Pussy Riot were arrested in March, after a video of the protest was released.
Russia has long tried to cement its place among the world’s greatest countries. Unfortunately, more often than not they have done so in the least progressive, backward ways possible. In a move worthy of an article in The Onion, the three were charged with “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred.” The indictment ran nearly 3,000 pages.
The trial didn’t even begin until the end of July, and on August 17 the trio were found guilty and sentenced to two years in prison for having “crudely undermined the social order.” Two years of imprisonment for one minute of highjacking a church for a political protest.
The Pussy Riot case is not simply about music; in fact, it is barely about music at all. Pussy Riot has released barely more than a handful of songs. While they draw inspiration from the Riot Grrrl movement of the Nineties, their purpose is more focused on performance and new media protest of the Russian government. They do not have a record label, nor have they released any albums.
The collective contains at least ten members and has shown a great understanding of using new media for garnering attention for their message. Even the arrest and subsequent trial and conviction have done much to call attention to Pussy Riot’s cause, which the the three imprisoned members have acknowledged as a mixed blessing.
Pussy Riot’s battle in Russia has revitalized the political backbone of the punk community, but it has also transcended punk. Like the original wave of punk, the case has shed light on political and humanitarian injustice. Will that translate to a new wave of punk bands garnering attention for their political causes, for lyrics and actions that reflect those social concerns? Perhaps it will, but punk has become part of an assimilated vernacular, with a shapeshifting definition to fit everything from the actual music to Hot Topic stores in malls, flying in the very face of everything punk ever stood for.
Maybe we had forgotten what punk meant to the world the way people forgot what folk music once meant. Where folk was once the protest music of the people punk took up the cause decades after the Civil Rights Movement ended and Baby Boomers took to career tracks. The evolution of a generation can’t help but grow out of these movements. Those who held the Sex Pistols closest to their hearts may still enjoy the music but they have likely grown out of the anger and defiance.
Perhaps what is happening in Russia will remind those of all generations of what they once rose to protest. All of us have breaking points. All of us have limits of what we are willing to tolerate. All of us have a point where we are driven to action, to belief, disbelief, enragement, and defiance. This is why deep down we are all Pussy Riot, and why we have been waiting, unwittingly, for their arrival.

Road Signs for Seniors and Teenagers

Dan Piraro of Bizarro Comic created this panel that shows how road signs look like to senior drivers:

... and for teenage drivers:


Ma Nature sends huge storm to disrupt repugican cabal, second cabal in a row

As Hurricane expert, and former repugican presidential hopeful, Pat Robertson would say (you'll recall that Robertson said god caused Hurricane Katrina to punish us for abortion): god really doesn't want Mitt Romney to win the election.

For the second time in four years, Ma Nature has sent a hurricane to disrupt the repugican convention.  Last time, it was Hurricane Gustav during the repugican cabal in St. Paul in 2008:
With one eye on Hurricane Gustav and their plans still in flux, the repugicans opened their cabal here on Monday, conducting an abbreviated business session and appealing to delegates to help victims of the storm.
 And this time, it's possible Hurricane Isaac during the 2012 GOP convention in Tampa:
For three straight simulations, NOAA’s Global Forecast System (GFS) model has tracked a tropical system right over the Florida peninsula through or close to Tampa just as the repugican national cabal is ramping up. Assuming this system - presently a little swirl in the open Atlantic - strengthens some, it will be named Isaac.
Two cabals in a row.  ma Nature must be seriously annoyed with the repugican party.

Just fyi, but Robertson is also an expert on earthquakes.
Pat Robertson, natural disaster interpreter extraordinaire, said on Wednesday’s 700 Club that the earthquake that struck the Washington region Tuesday “means that we’re closer to the coming of the lord.”
As the t-shirt says, time to look busy.


Akin's Rape Comment Goes Meme

Analysis by Lori Cuthbert
Akin's Rape Comment Goes Meme: The reverberations of comments this week by Rep. Todd Akin, R-Mo., continue to ripple through the Interwebs and, as happens in these cases, a meme is born.

A Tumblr site has sprung up that riffs off the amazingly dumb comment Akin made about rape and a woman's supposed ability to fend off a pregnancy from such an encounter.

Here's what he actually said about pregnancies resulting from rape, in case you missed it: “It seems to me, from what I understand from doctors, that’s really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down."

The new tumblr, called fromtalkingtodoctors, applies that phrase to a mind-boggling array of situations, like the movie "Alien": "It seems to me, first of all, from talking to doctors, if it’s a legitimate alien, the female host has ways to shut the whole thing down." Or The Black Plague: "It seems to me, first of all, from talking to doctors, if it’s a legitimate plague, the pope has ways to shut the whole thing down."

You get the picture. Go check out the rest. via fromtalkingtodoctors.tumblr.com

The repugican party adopts Akin-type anti-abortion plank, no exceptions for rape, incest

This follows on the news that the repugican party permitted an officially-designated "hate group" to write the anti-gay language in the party platform.

The convenient untruth of repugican lies on abortion, climate change, tax cuts, and vote fraud

Common wisdom on the left is that Mitt Romney has decided to lie his way to the Presidency. But there is another explanation, one that is much worse: Romney may actually think he is telling the truth.
Ideologues don't live in the same world as the rest of us. If the facts don't fit the ideology, then the problem must be with the facts, as the ideology can never ever be wrong.

That idiot repugican congressman, and Senate hopeful, Todd Akin wasn't merely being sexist and stupid when he said that 'legitimate' rape can't cause pregnancy, he was repeating a falsehood that he believes as absolute fact - a convenient untruth that allows him to avoid the question of whether abortion should be available to women who are raped.

The problem is much bigger than Rep. Akin and the topic of rape.

The repugicans today have to believe the convenient untruth that lowering tax rates on the rich will increase revenues, the convenient untruth that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by corrupt scientists seeking grants, the convenient untruth that in-person voter fraud is a real problem and anything else Faux News tells them to believe.

Making policy is easy when you can change the facts to eliminate hard choices: Want to raise spending, cut taxes and eliminate the deficit - just change the laws of mathematics.

Akin's comment on 'legitimate rape' was monstrous and inexcusable, but it is only words. The convenient untruth, and the policy based on that untruth, that he proposed with Paul Ryan and 50+ other repugicans would have had real consequences.
The national battle over Todd Akin’s comments about “legitimate rape” has shed light on a “personhood” bill, co-sponsored by Akin and Paul Ryan, called the Sanctity of Life Act. Much of the chatter today has focused on whether Ryan opposes abortion in cases of rape. The Romney campaign confirmed today that Ryan does personally oppose it, while clarifying that a Romney-Ryan administration would not oppose it.

But what about the other legal implications of the bill Ryan and Akin co-sponsored? In an interview just now, Dem Rep. Louise Slaughter, one of the leading pro-choice voices in Congress, raised two startling possibilities.

“One of the questions around this legislation is, Could a rapist who impregnated a victim sue that victim if she decided not to carry that baby and to have an abortion?” Slaughter said. “Another question: Could in vitro fertilization be outlawed?”

It’s unclear how this legislation would work. The bill affirms that from the moment of fertilization onward, “every human being shall have all the legal and constitutional attributes and privileges of personhood.” It then says that Congress and the states have the “authority” to protect all human beings — again, defined as human life from fertilization onward — residing in their jurisdictions.
Making 'faith based' policy is easy. Cleaning up the mess is not. It isn't an accident that the shrub left the country with a ballooning deficit, two unfinished wars and a fiscal crisis: Those outcomes were the direct and predictable consequence of his policies in office.

The shrub cabal failed because policy was based on beliefs that were demonstrably untrue. And now Romney is desperately tying to prove to us that he wants to make the same mistake.

Officially designated hate group supports Todd "forcible rape" Akin


His only defender is an officially-designate hate group. Any questions?
The Family Research Reptile Council offered strong support for Todd Akin on Monday afternoon.

“This is an effort to try to direct attention away from … Claire McCaskill, who has been supportive of Planned Parenthood — an organization that’s been under investigation for criminal activity,” FRC President Tony Perkins said in between meetings of the rnc platform committee.
Speaking of "under investigation," the FEC investigated and fined a campaign run by Perkins for hiding a payment to former Klansman David Duke. From the Nation:
Four years ago, Perkins addressed the Louisiana chapter of the council of conservative citizens wingnut lunatics (CCC), America's premier white supremacist organization, the successor to the white citizens wingnuts councils, which battled integration in the South. In 1996 Perkins paid former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke $82,500 for his mailing list. At the time, Perkins was the campaign manager for a right-wing Republican candidate for the US Senate in Louisiana. The Federal Election Commission fined the campaign Perkins ran $3,000 for attempting to hide the money paid to Duke.
If the FRC wants to play "guilt by investigation," then let's.

So, the entire repugican party is up in arms of Akin's comments, and the FRC publicly weighs in on Akin's behalf.  Real pulse of the nation, FRC has.  Let's hope the repugican party takes all of their advice all the way to election day.  And in fact, it seems they are.  The repugican party let the FRC write the anti-gay language for the repugican party platform.  The language also includes, of course, a swipe at judges - you'll recall that repugican party attacks on judges in the past caused Sandra Day O'Connor to admonish repugicans for possibly inciting violence.

There really is no limit to how extreme the repugican party has become.

Mike Huckabee, in defense of rape babies (seriously)

Shorter repugican party line: Time for America's women to make some rape lemonade.

Keep in mind that this is the guy a lot of republicans wanted as their presidential candidate.  And according to the Village, he's the "nice" one.

Just wow.  Via Gawker:
This is what Mike Huckabee said today, as transcribed by the Los Angeles Times' James Rainey, about the upside of being raped and then getting pregnant:
"Ethel Waters, for example, was the result of a forcible rape," Huckabee said of the late American gospel singer. One-time presidential candidate Huckabee added: "I used to work for James Robison back in the 1970s, he leads a large christian organization. He, himself, was the result of a forcible rape. And so I know it happens, and yet even from those horrible, horrible tragedies of rape, which are inexcusable and indefensible, life has come and sometimes, you know, those people are able to do extraordinary things."
Anyway, stop being so racist against rape-babies, everyone.

The repugican party is now trying to oust "forcible rape" congressman from Senate race

There's no way he's not pulling out of the race.*  First the background from CBS:
The question he faced was simple: Should abortion be legal in the case of rape?

"From what I understand from doctors - that's really rare. If it's a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down," Akin said.
NYT has more:
Amid an uproar over provocative comments on rape and abortion that Mr. Akin made in an interview broadcast on Sunday, the national repugican senatorial cabal declared that it would withdraw financial and organizational support for Mr. Akin, including $5 million in advertising already reserved for the fall. In the interview, Mr. Akin said victims of “legitimate rape” rarely got pregnant.

Crossroads GPS, a repugican advocacy group that had already spent more than $5 million to weaken Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, considered the Senate’s most endangered incumbent, announced that it was withdrawing from the state.

At the same time, repugican candidates like Mitt Romney and Senator Scott P. Brown of Massachusetts either called for Mr. Akin to step aside or strongly indicated that he should. In a radio interview, the wingnut host Sean Handjob pleaded with Mr. Akin to drop out. “Sometimes an election is bigger than one person,” he said.

But Mr. Akin said on Monday that he would not drop out. “I’m not a quitter,” he said on Mike Huckabee’s radio program.
Romney and McConnell have abandoned the guy too. It's only a matter of time now.

*Update: we were in error - the moron is too stupid and stubborn to do the proper thing:

The Todd Akin controversy has shed a light into the powerful repugican political machine. Author Craig Unger tell us that Karl Rove’s super PAC had "put in more than $5 million into the Akin campaign, which was twice as much as the Akin campaign put in. So he was responsible for Akin's lead over [Claire] McCaskill more than anyone.” However, Akin's rape comment is "[Rove’s] nightmare, and he was doing everything he could to pull the plug immediately." Despite Rove cutting ties, Akin vows to stay in the senate race.

Social justice in the classroom? That's crazy talk

It's no secret that American education is in crisis.

So you'd think people would welcome any creative way to give our kids a break, as budgets get squeezed, teachers are laid off, class sizes grow and critical thinking skills give way to rote learning by textbook and standardized test. In fact, creativity is actually flourishing against the odds.

In Chicago, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has embraced the prestigious International Baccalaureate program in high schools as a way of expanding the educational horizons of the city's best and brightest. And rightly so: U.S. high schools offering the IB program often find themselves on lists of the best schools in the country.

Something else that's no secret, though, is that certain wingnuts love a good culture war and rarely miss an opportunity to trumpet ignorance over learning -- on the basis, presumably, that being dumb as dirt is more authentically American than actually knowing anything.  And so, the repugican party of Minnesota recently decided that it opposes any state or federal funding for IB. And in Idaho, the Coeur d’Alene School District has decided to pull the IB program altogether.

Why? A leading opponent, lawyer Duncan Koler, told the school board last week that the IB is full of “concepts that are politically charged, such as social justice, sustainability. These are code terms." Code for what? Social justice, that is some crazy talk.

What's really going on is a backlash against creativity in education. The International Baccalaureate, we are told, is some sinister UN-backed plot that promotes totalitarian concepts and seeks, in the words of one anti-IB activist, to “program our children’s minds with new loyalties.” Nicky Kram Rosen, the principal of PS 368 in Hamilton Heights in New York City who is putting Arabic on the curriculum next year, is -- according to one scathing local critic -- part of "a cesspool for panderers and anarchists with an international agenda".

The mindset here is so 2003, that miserable year when Arabs were all terrorists, the French -- originators of the Baccalaureate -- were surrender monkeys, and congressmen preferred freedom fries for their lunch. You could even say it's so 1856, when nativists and Know-Nothings fought against the immigrant melting pot in America's growing cities because they thought that foreigners had nothing to contribute but disease, corruption and suspect ideas. They were wrong then and they are wrong now.

The fact is, the IB program has won wide international recognition for its exacting standards and the breadth of knowledge and critical thinking it demands of its students. High-schoolers who participate are taught a second language -- really taught a second language. They are encouraged to engage in community service and develop understanding and respect for other cultures, not as an alternative to national identity, but as an essential part of life in the 21st century.

A recent University of Chicago study showed that students in the IB program were 40 percent more likely to go to college. Tell that to the New Hampshire legislature, which made a short-lived attempt earlier this year to introduce an anti-IB bill banning any public school curriculum "subject to the governance of a foreign body or organization". The bill passed the New Hampshire State House but died, thankfully, in the Senate.

To be against the International Baccalaureate is to be against learning itself, because that's the beginning and the end of what it offers. More than 1000 universities -- including the US Air Force Academy, the US Naval Academy, and institutions like Brown University, Columbia University, and Stanford University -- recognize the IB Diploma as a mark of academic excellence.

Last time I checked, these were pretty highly regarded national institutions. The repugican party, less so.

Did you know ...

That the "anti-occupy" law destroys your first amendment right to protest

About five fortunes found at thrift shops

A Tale of Three CEOs: Romney, Bain, and a Crooked Executive's Overlooked Story

In the annals of Mitt Romney's days at Bain Capital, one story seems to have escaped our collective memory. 

It involves Bain's acquisition of a New York City drug store chain during Mitt Romney's tenure there, and the hiring of a new president who would turn out to have pronounced criminal tendencies. When the story of Duane Reade's Anthony Cuti is put together with the better-known story of Bain's relationship with a Medicare-defrauding lab testing company, it becomes a tale of two criminal CEOs - and of the presidential candidate who was involved in choosing them both.

Now Banks Can Legally Steal Retirement Accounts

Financial institutions have suddenly taken precedence over segregated customer funds, including their largest customers of all—pension funds
"If you don't understand what 'get the hell out' means, there's not much I can do for you," Ann Barnhardt passionately told blogger Warren Pollock, as she warned viewers of systemic failure in the U.S. financial system, as well as the certainty that American savers will be robbed of their retirement, brokerage and savings accounts in the process.

Bank of Canada Redesigned Banknote Because It Was "Too Asian"

The Bank of Canada's new $100 banknote design included a picture of a woman using a microscope and a bottle of insulin to celebrate Canadian's medical innovation. Focus groups engaged by the bank to critique the initial design, however, complained that the woman was "too Asian":
"Some have concerns that the researcher appears to be Asian," says a 2009 report commissioned by the bank from The Strategic Counsel, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act.
"Some believe that it presents a stereotype of Asians excelling in technology and/or the sciences. Others feel that an Asian should not be the only ethnicity represented on the banknotes. Other ethnicities should also be shown."
A few even said the yellow-brown colour of the $100 banknote reinforced the perception the woman was Asian, and "racialized" the note.
The banknote got redesigned so the woman has a "neutral ethnicity," but the move got slammed by Chinese Canadian National Council as "bending to racism":
Victor Wong, the group's national executive director, called on the bank to amend its policy of not depicting visible minorities. "You're erasing all of us," he said from Toronto. "Your default then is an image with Caucasian features."
The Strategic Counsel conducted the October 2009 focus groups in Calgary, Toronto, Montreal and Fredericton, at a cost of $53,000. The Toronto groups were positive about the image of an Asian woman because "it is seen to represent diversity or multiculturalism."
In Quebec, however, "the inclusion of an Asian without representing any other ethnicities was seen to be contentious." One person in Fredericton commented: "The person on it appears to be of Asian descent which doesn't rep(resent) Canada. It is fairly ugly."

Funny Pictures

Little known fact

Odds and Ends

World's Oldest Marijuana Stash Found in China
The world's oldest stash of marijuana was found in a tomb in China. According to the Journal of Experimental Botany, the cannabis is about 2,700 years old.

A federal appeals court has blocked Alabama schools from checking on the citizenship status of new students.

At Monday's close of trade, Apple shares need to settle at $657.50 for the record to be set on a closing basis as well, according to S&P Dow Jones indices.

Man Fights to Keep Wife Buried in His Front Yard

James Davis of Alabama fulfilled his wife Patsy's wish of being buried outside their home, and now, he's in a fight with the City Council to keep her there:
"Good Lord, they've raised pigs in their yard, there's horses out the road here in a corral in the city limits, they've got other gravesites here all over the place," said Davis. "And there shouldn't have been a problem."
While state health officials say family burial plots aren't uncommon in Alabama, city officials worry about the precedent set by allowing a grave on a residential lot on one of the main streets through town. They say state law gives the city some control over where people bury their loved ones and have cited concerns about long-term care, appearance, property values and the complaints of some neighbors.
"We're not in the 1800s any longer," said city attorney Parker Edmiston. "We're not talking about a homestead, we're not talking about someone who is out in the country on 40 acres of land. Mr. Davis lives in downtown Stevenson."
The heart of the issue is what constitutes a cemetery, which the government can regulate, and a family burial plot, which is not uncommon in Alabama: More

The secret history of shipping pallets

Tom Vanderbilt's "The Single Most Important Object in the Global Economy," in Slate is an absolutely fascinating look at the role that pallets play in the modern world, starting with their origin in the long US supply lines for the Pacific theater in WWII (and the "four way pallet" innovation by Norman Cahners of the Navy Supply Corps) to the modern fights over standardization, innovation, and product design. Ikea optimized one of its products, a mug, three times, for pallet packing, ending up with a product that cost 60% less to ship -- and shortly after abandoned pallets altogether in favor of the "Optiledge."
It's a story about the knapsack problem, a P=NP kind of secret history, and it's right up my alley
As USDA Forest Service researchers Gilbert P. Dempsey and David G. Martens noted in a conference paper, two factors led to the real rise of the pallet. The first was the 1937 invention of gas-powered forklift trucks, which “allowed goods to be moved, stacked, and stored with extraordinary speed and versatility.”
The second factor in the rise of the pallet was World War II. Logistics—the “Big ‘L’,” as one history puts it—is the secret story behind any successful military campaign, and pallets played a large role in the extraordinary supply efforts in the world’s first truly global war. As one historian, quoted by Rick Le Blanc in Pallet Enterprise, notes, “the use of the forklift trucks and pallets was the most significant and revolutionary storage development of the war.” Tens of millions of pallets were employed—particularly in the Pacific campaigns, with their elongated supply lines. Looking to improve turnaround times for materials handling, a Navy Supply Corps officer named Norman Cahners—who would go on to found the publishing giant of the same name—invented the “four-way pallet.” This relatively minor refinement, which featured notches cut in the side so that forklifts could pick up pallets from any direction, doubled material-handling productivity per man. If there’s a Silver Star for optimization, it belongs to Cahners.
As a sort of peace dividend, at war’s end the U.S. military left the Australian government with not only many forklifts and cranes, but about 60,000 pallets. To handle these resources, the Australian government created the Commonwealth Handling Equipment Pool, and the company eventually spawned a modern pallet powerhouse, CHEP USA, which now controls about 90 percent of the “pooled” pallet market in the United States. Pooled pallets are rented from one company that takes care of delivering and retrieving them; the alternative is a “one-way” pallet, essentially a disposable item that is scrapped, recycled or reused when its initial journey is done. You can identify pooled pallet brands by their color: If you see a blue pallet at a store like Home Depot, that’s a CHEP pallet; a red pallet comes from competitor PECO.
The Single Most Important Object in the Global Economy

The Backbone of America

The Mississippi River Mississippi River
The Mississippi River has been providing water, transportation, and blues songs to us for hundreds of years. The river was essential in building trade, agriculture, and settlements in the United States. And it continues to be crucial in ways we rarely think about. In combination with the Missouri River, which flows into the Mississippi, it's the fourth longest river on Earth. Learn more about the mighty Missisippi at Environmental Graffiti.

Retro Photo


Wilmette, IllinoisFall 1964

Giving Babies Antibiotics Could Lead to Obesity

Giving babies antibiotics before the age of six months could cause them to be chubby children due to the killing of both good and bad gut bacteria. Read more
Giving babies antibiotics before the age of six months could cause them to be chubby children due to the killing of both good and bad gut bacteria.

Stem Cells, Nanoparticles, Neurotransmitters and Toxic Byproducts

Stem cells can become anything – but not without this protein

How do stem cells preserve their ability to become any type of cell in the body? And how do they ...
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Nanoparticles added to platelets double internal injury survival rate

Nanoparticles tailored to latch onto blood platelets rapidly create healthy clots and nearly double the survival rate in the vital ...
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‘Alzheimer protein’ seems to slow down neurotransmitter production

How abnormal protein deposits in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients disrupt the signalling between nerve cells has now been reported ...
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Specific toxic byproduct of heat-processed food may lead to increased body weight and diabetes

Researchers at Mount Sinai School of Medicine have identified a common compound in the modern diet that could play a ...
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Replacement Parts

roboheartOrgan transplants saves lives, but there aren't enough suitable and available organs for those who need them. There just aren't enough donors. Two doctors, Joseph Vacanti of Boston Children’s Hospital in Massachusetts and David Cooper of the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa, are looking at ways around the human organ shortage problem.
Faced with this common problem, Vacanti and Cooper have championed very different solutions. Cooper thinks that the best hope of providing more organs lies in xenotransplantation—the act of replacing a human organ with an animal one. From his time in Cape Town to his current position at the University of Pittsburgh, he has been trying to solve the many problems that occur when pig organs enter human bodies, from immune rejection to blood clots. Vacanti, now at Massachusetts General Hospital, has instead been developing technology to create genetically tailored organs out of a patient’s own cells, abolishing compatibility issues. “I said to myself: why can’t we just make an organ?” he recalls.
Grow your own organs or use organs from animals? Ed Yong of Not Exactly Rocket Science writes about the research going on in both areas, and how they might possibly end the organ shortage, at TheScientist. More

Twenty Odd Inventions That Might Secretly Be Awesome

One man's junk is another man's brilliant invention. How many of these products are simply novelties and how many of them are actually useful?

Artists Are Happier at Their Jobs Than The Rest of Us

Many parents I know privately cringe when their children want to go to art school. And for good reasons: It's expensive and job prospects afterwards aren't exactly bright.
But there's one bright side to being starving artists: they're actually happier than the rest of us.
Researchers analyzed job data in Germany, which included information on how fulfilled people felt in their current positions. On a scale of 1 to 10, artists—those whose principal occupation involves performance or visual art—ranked their job satisfaction at 7.32 to 7.67 on average, while nonartists averaged 7.06. The root of this satisfaction remains unclear. More artists than nonartists reported being self-employed, which suggests that autonomy influences job satisfaction, but data linking fulfillment to other predicted variables—such as a wide diversity of available jobs and high levels of on-the-job learning—were statistically inconclusive.

Fists fly as Chinese estate agents brawl in the street

Competition is fierce in China's real estate market. So fierce, it sometimes gets out of control.

Staff from rival real estate agencies have been caught slugging out their differences in a bloody brawl on the streets of the capital Beijing.

Fists rained down as more than 20 real well-dressed men came to blows outside the office of one estate agency on a busy street. The fight was caught on camera by an onlooker.

Several combatants nursed bloody noses and torn shirts after the altercation, which petered out as police sirens could be heard in the distance.

Random Photo

Roman Curses Appear on Ancient Tablet

More than a dozen people were summarily cursed on a Roman-era lead scroll, unearthed in the U.K. Read more
Roman Curses Appear on Ancient Tablet


The Great Wall Of India
Built during the course of the 15th century, Kumbhalgarh is a fortress in the Rajsamand District of Rajasthan state in western India. Long overshadowed by its lengthier neighbor to the east, this is the second largest continuous wall on the planet. Some call it by the name of the fort it surrounds - Kumbhalgarh.

Others simply refer to it as The Great Wall of India. Yet bewilderingly, it is still little known outside its own region.

Astronomical News

Halo of neutrinos alters physics of exploding stars

Sparse halos of neutrinos within the hearts of exploding stars exert a previously unrecognized influence on the physics of the ...
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WiggleZ confirms the Big Picture of the Universe

We know that stars group together to form galaxies, galaxies clump to make clusters and clusters gather to create structures ...
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This is a "pendulite"

"Pendulites... form when a stalactite reaches a seasonal cave pool. Successive thin layers of calcite build up as the pool dries out each year, creating this odd-shaped formation."

Everything Water

Ocean Tides Shake Up Antarctica

Thousands of earthquakes occurring in rapid succession in less than a year under an Antarctic glacier may have been linked to ocean tides. Read more

tidal quakes

Excellent Idea of the Day: Umbrellas for Corals

Underwater umbrellas are proposed in a study of how to protect coral reefs from climate change. Read more
great barrier reef, umbrella, global warming, climate change

U.S. Tidal Power Ready for Prime Time

The nation's first commercial tidal power plant is going online near Eastport, Maine. Read more
tidal power, alternative energies, wind, solar, fuels

Sinking Tomatoes! Where Did the Farm Go?

Globally, humans are consuming 3.5 times more groundwater than aquifers can support. Read more
Sinking Tomatoes! Where Did the Farm Go?

Sea life facing major extinction ‘shock’

Sea life facing major extinction ‘shock’Life in the world’s oceans faces far greater change and risk of large-scale extinctions than at any previous time in ...
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Animal News

Sluggish Aliens at the Bottom of the Sea

No, this isn't a scene from a modern re-make of "The Abyss" and they're certainly not alien... at least not in the "we come from outer space" sense. Read more

Sea Otter is Cup-Stacking Pro

With the help of her trainer, Nellie the sea otter can stack cups with the best of them. Read more
Sea Otter is Cup-Stacking Pro: Gotta-See Videos

Madagascar's New Animal Haven

Hundreds of unique species live in the northeastern part of the island nation. Read more

Animal Pictures