Welcome to ...

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

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Daily Drift

The USS Constitution showing sails at the Charlestown Navy Yard by Boston Public Library on Flickr.
Old Ironsides

Some of our readers today have been in:

Moscow, Russia
Johannesburg, South Africa
Santiago, Chile
Cape Town, South Africa
Istanbul, Turkey
Orleans, France
Panama City, Panama
Warsaw, Poland
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Belgrade, Serbia
London, England
Nicosia, Cyprus
Ankara, Turkey
Erbil, Iraq
Kaunas, Lithuania
Bangkok, Thailand
San Pedro Sula, Honduras

And with increasing popularity in Malaysia we had readers today from:
Kual Lumpur
Kota Kinabalu
Subang Jaya
Johor Bahru
Petaling Jaya

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1017   Turks defeat the Byzantine army under Emperor Romanus IV at Manikert, Eastern Turkey.
1429   Joan of Arc makes a triumphant entry into Paris.
1789   The Constituent Assembly in Versailles, France, approves the final version of the Declaration of Human Rights.
1862   Confederate General Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson encircles the Union Army under General John Pope at the Second Battle of Bull Run.
1883   The Indonesian island of Krakatoa erupts in the largest explosion recorded in history, heard 2,200 miles away in Madagascar. The resulting destruction sends volcanic ash up 50 miles into the atmosphere and kills almost 36,000 people–both on the island itself and from the resulting 131-foot tidal waves that obliterate 163 villages on the shores of nearby Java and Sumatra.
1920   The 19th Amendment to the Constitution is officially ratified, giving women the right to vote.
1943   The United States recognizes the French Committee of National Liberation.
1957   Ford Motor Company reveals the Edsel, its latest luxury car.

Non Sequitur


Twilight: 15 Reasons to Watch

And No, not that insipid TV show ...

It's undeniable that twilight can create some of the most beautiful light, and sights on Earth. See just a few. Read more
It's undeniable that twilight can create some of the most beautiful light, and sights on Earth.

Disease Maps Pinpoint Origin Of Indo-European Languages

File:Anatolia Ancient Regions base.svg
Biologists using tools developed for a technique normally used to study the evolution and spread of disease say that they have solved a longstanding problem in archaeology: the origin of the Indo-European family of languages. The family includes English and most other European languages, as well as Persian, Hindi and many others.

English, Dutch, Spanish, Russian, Greek and Hindi might all sound very different, but there are many commonalities, such as the Dutch moeder, Spanish madre and Russian mat, all of which mean mother. On this basis, researchers have concluded that more than a hundred languages across Europe and the Middle East, from Iceland to Sri Lanka, stem from a common ancestor.

Scientist have found decisive support for an Anatolian (the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of Turkey) origin. Both the timing and the root of the tree of Indo-European languages fit with an agricultural expansion from Anatolia beginning 8,000 to 9,500 years ago.

The truth be told

The Classics

1952 Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto
1952 Abarth 1500 Coupe Biposto

FRC calls all of Islam "fanatical religion" - pot meet kettle


Faux News outs Navy SEAL who led bin Laden raid, possibly endangering him and his family


So Faux News has decided to name the anonymous Navy SEAL who authored an upcoming book about the rain on OBL.  Up until now the names have been kept secret out of fear for the lives of those SEALs.  They and their families would make perfect Al Qaeda targets now and in the future.  And now they are, thanks to Faux.
This of course is not long after Faux News - the same journalist who outed the SEAL, in fact - blasted President Obama for discussing the Navy SEAL raid that killed Osama bin Laden - Faux claimed at the time that leaking details of the raid like, oh I don't know, maybe the names of the guys who did the raid, might endanger their lives (Obama did not release their names).

Faux News is like the repugican cabal (like?) who will say anything on any day as long as it's the opposite of what a Democrat said.  And this situation is very much like the Valerie Plame situation in which the shrub cabal outed an undercover CIA agent, ruining her career and harming national security, in order to seek political retribution against anyone not buttressing repugican cabal talking points, like the Navy SEAL whose story could undercut repugican cabal talking points that America shouldn't not be proud of having killed Osama bin Laden.  So they outed him, broadcast his name to the world, including Al Qaeda, in order to silence him, permanently in the case of how Al Qaeda handles such things.

So the question today is why does Faux News want to risk endangering the life of a Navy SEAL who risked his life for his country?

Maybe because Rupert Murdoch did not grow up in the US, so he doesn't understand our traditions, or care about the safety of military personal?  We've seen his birth certificate, and it's not red, white and blue.

While most other media outlets chose not to out the author of the new book about the mission against bin Laden, Faux decided to publish his details and put him at risk.

More from ThinkProgress:
Faux News today published the name of a U.S. Navy SEAL who led the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan last year that ended up in the al-Qaeda leader’s death. The SEAL under the pseudonym Mark Owen is the author of a book set to be released on Sept. 11 detailing the events of the raid. The book’s publisher says Owen “was one of the first men through the door on the third floor of the terrorist leader’s hideout and was present at his death.”

Faux News said that “multiple sources” told the news outlet Owen’s real name but Faux did not provide any details about its decision to publish it. The book seemingly provides some clues as to the SEAL’s real identity as, according to the New York Times, Owen “recalls his childhood in Alaska.”
And here's Faux last year discussing how dastardly it is to put our servicemembers at risk by discussing the raid:
Members of Navy SEAL team 6, the Special Operations unit responsible for killing Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan last Sunday, have expressed concerns about their safety and the safety of their families now that details of the mission have been made public.

OBL-killing Navy SEAL, outed by Faux, now targeted by Al Qaeda

It's not an overstatement to say that Faux News has endangered the life of a Navy SEAL and his family, an American hero who led the successful raid to kill Osama bin Laden.
It's now a real problem, with serious life-or-death consequences.

From NBC News:
Users on several militant Islamic websites affiliated with al-Qaida have posted the name and photo of a former Navy SEAL identified as the author of an upcoming book on the commando raid that killed Osama bin Laden. The posts called for his "destruction" in revenge for the al-Qaida founder’s killing.

"We pray to Allah for his destruction sooner rather than later," said one of the posts.

"Oh Allah, make an example of him for the whole world and give him dark days ahead," read another.

Among the website publishing the death threats was the "Al-Fidaa" web forum, which al-Qaida uses to distribute its media and public communications, said Evan Kohlmann, an NBC News consultant and a terrorism analyst at Flashpoint Partners, a global security firm.
And we have Faux News to thank for endangering this American heroes life:
Faux News on Thursday identified the author of the book, which is titled "No Easy Day: The Firsthand Account of the Mission That Killed Osama bin Laden," as a 36-year-old former SEAL from Wrangell, Alaska. The Associated Press later said it had confirmed the author’s identity. (NBC News is not identifying the former SEAL.)
Faux, which is a repugican cabal propaganda outfit, could have been motivated by a desire to help Mitt Romney (ya think?).

Romney decided recently to use the killing of bin Laden as a "negative" for President Obama. This is a typical repugican cabal election ploy - going after their opponent's strengths. An example was when repugicans mocked John Kerry, for having received a purple heart for being injured while saving a number of US service members in Vietnam, by putting fake little bandages on their faces during prime time at the repugican cabal - and no one in the repugican cabal stopped them, in fact they apparently facilitated it.

This time, Romney and the repugicans are mocking the killing of Osama bin Laden and how President Obama handled it (apparently, killing OBL, a few years into office, when the shrub couldn't pull it off (and basically gave up shortly after 9/11 - The shrub actually called off the hunt for bin Laden only six months after September 11) is a "bad" thing).

Keep in mind that Mitt Romney, following in the shrub's footsteps, said he would have never ordered the successful raid against bin Laden in Pakistan.

The only problem? This Navy SEAL, who led the raid on bin Laden, was writing a book about the raid that most likely would have shown the world exactly how President Obama handled the raid (excellently, per the admiral who oversaw the operation).  So the Navy SEAL, this American hero, had to be stopped at all costs, lest he undercut Mitt Romney's apparently embarrassment over the US - over President Obama - having killed bin Laden when Romney said he would have let bin Laden go.

So what happens next?  Faux "magically" gets the name of the SEAL and leaks it, knowing full well that Al Qaeda would threaten to kill this man and his family.  And voila, only 24 hours later, Al Qaeda has now threatened him.

Mitt Romney made this happen.  It was Romney's initial decision to let bin Laden go, and it was Romney's decision to mock the commander in chief, President Obama, for having caught bin Laden.  And as a result, the repugican cabal noise machine went into full gear to take down anyone who stood in the way of Romney's smear on the commander in chief and our troops.

So now an American hero and his family are in danger because Mitt Romney didn't have the guts to order the raid on bin Laden.

"No one's ever asked to see my tax returns"

What Obama should tell Romney  
Carmine Bello on Twitter nailed what Obama should say in response to Romney's comment that, "No one's every asked to see my birth certificate":
"No one's ever asked to see my tax returns."

Romney questions Obama's birth certificate at campaign event

"No one's ever asked to see my birth certificate, they know this is the place we were born and raised." - Romney at campaign event, via MSNBC.
They have asked, however, for your tax returns that every other presidential candidate for years has released but you odd continue to hide.

What are we supposed to do with this? Are we supposed to be as vulgar as Romney and take the bait and talk about a lot of Americans believing the Mormons are a cult, since Romney now wants this campaign to be about slurs (and racist ones at that)?

How low will Mitt Romney go in order to avoid talking about Todd Akin's anti-abortion nuttery that Paul Ryan agree with, and in order to avoid talking about the fact that he may not have paid taxes for ten years and that's why he's hiding his tax returns?

Sorry Mitt, we're sticking to the issues. Why do you continue to hide your tax returns from the American people? Is it because you haven't paid a dime in taxes in ten years?

Romney must be awfully scared about how his campaign is going if he's making birther comments at campaign events. This kind of negative campaigning is what you do when you're losing badly.

Dimbulb: Romney was 'test-driving' birther attack

Barely three hours after he spoke,  Mitt Romney's birther quip was the top campaign story on Google News with over 3,500 articles.
Rather than trying to walk back the comment, rnc communications director Sean Spicer went on the attack in an MSNBC interview: "Look, it's -- I mean, it's a light-hearted moment, he was stating a fact."

Lets take another look at what Romney said:
"No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate, they know that this is the place where both of us were born and raised."
What the rnc's Spicer said is literally true. Romney was stating a fact -- but he was not just stating a fact. He was also reminding his audience of the racist birther canard.

Lush Dimbulb believes that this is part of the Romney-Ryan game plan:
Dimbulb: Stay focused. Romney and Ryan in Michigan. Big, big crowd. And here is Romney, I'm convinced, test-driving something. I think this line is a test drive. 
So Ryan's out there talking about Obama and his bitter clinger quote. And Romney gets up to the microphone. It's his turn to speak, and he test-drives that line about nobody's ever had to ask to see his birth certificate.

I'm going to tell you what. You know, I'm gonna make a prediction for you. It's going to be fascinating to watch. The Obama-bashing at the repugican cabal is going to be delicious. It's going to be five-star-restaurant type stuff. I mean, you're going to love it.
So according to Dimbulb, the repugican cabal conference strategy is to spend the week calling Obama names and reminding everyone that he's black, and they're not supposed to like blacks. So much for wanting to get away from negative campaigning to have a real debate on the issues.

People can make the case for this being a clever, planned move on Romney's part, but I think they are wrong. The footage of the rally looks to me as if Romney got jealous watching Ryan getting a big reaction by throwing red meat to a willing crowd, so Romney decided to get some of that applause for himself.  And in so doing, Romney threw away the chance to set the media agenda the weekend before his convention -- rather than talking about the economy, which is supposedly a plus for Romney, everyone is talking about whether Romney intended his comments to be racist.

Romney really isn't a team player, he is a CEO who has to be the only star.

Before this story broke I was working on a post that began, "There is a large, dangerous mass of wind headed for the Republican nominating convention in Tampa. Unless tropical storm Issac forces the convention to be cancelled of course, in which case Donald Trump will have to make other plans."

Romney's gaffe probably means that Trump, the high priest of birtherism, will be making different plans for the cabal this week. Assuming Romney realizes the errors of his ways, and understands that his birther joke wasn't a gotcha, it was a gaffe, we might be spared the 'hilarious' surprise video where Donald Trump fires an Obama impersonator.

Unless that is, Romney wants to double down on and go full birther.

Romney considering 1 term, wants to enact Ryan's Medicare-eliminating budget

Via Politico we learn why the Romney people don't like doing media - because their candidate is a little unhinged.
ARTICLE OF THE DAY -- JON WARD in Huffington magazine (available today on iPad; article posts Monday), “The One-Termer? Thinking Bold Thoughts With Team Romney”: “Matt Rhoades is guarded and intense … [W]hen I met him in mid-July, in a bohemian coffee shop in Boston’s North End, the 37-year-old manager of Mitt Romney’s campaign was hesitant to speculate about what the Republican candidate would do as president, and how. … But when I asked Rhoades … what Romney might do with the budget and entitlement reform plans Ryan had already outlined, Rhoades’ eyes lit up. He gave me a name: James Polk. … Rhoades and the rest of the members of Romney’s inner circle think a Romney presidency could look much like the White House tenure of the 11th U.S. president.
“Polk, who served from 1845 to 1849, presided over the expansion of the U.S. into a coast-to-coast nation, annexing Texas and winning the Mexican-American war for territories that also included New Mexico and California. He reduced trade barriers and strengthened the Treasury system. And he was a one-term president. Polk is an allegory for Rhoades: He did great things, and then exited the scene, and few remember him. That, Rhoades suggested, could be Romney’s legacy as well. … Multiple senior Romney advisers assured me that they had had conversations with the candidate in which he conveyed a depth of conviction about the need to try to enact something like Ryan’s controversial budget and entitlement reforms. Romney, they said, was willing to count the cost politically in order to achieve it.”

Is Romney going to the NRA "Shoot Out" at the repugican cabal this week?

Would make a great photo opp, the repugican cabal candidate having a ball at a "shoot out" only four days after a shoot out.  Someone should ask Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan if they're attending the NRA-sponsored "Shoot Out" - they actually called it that - at the repugican cabal on Tuesday.*

*That is if Issac permits.

The repugican cabal is a cabal of WASPs led by 70-year-old impotent white guys


More on the Ryan-Akin plan for women, plus a bonus point about the hostile takeover of the Republican Party.
Mike Papantonio gets what Rachel Maddow gets, that the Ryan-Akin understanding of the female body is either cynical and dishonest or dreadfully "dumb."

But he gets something more — there's a lot that's purely personal in the war on woman, especially when it's coming from power-crazed, wealthy, hyper-entitled males who now need Viagra and Cialis to "look good" for the ladies.

Think about that in human terms — power-crazed and impotent, the white-shoes Cialis crowd. Among people for whom power is a fetish, this is deeply shameful. That must be driving them nuts.

This explains the leaders, as Papantonio points out below (starting 2:00 in the clip). Now add "stupid" (Papantonio says "dumbed-down") and you see why their high-level water-boys, the Todd Akins of the party, act and sound like they do. It's stupid doing the bidding of the impotent.

The Paul Ryan part starts at 5:00. Be sure not to miss (at 7:20 and following) Papantonio's claim that it was the "ten billionaires" who decided that "Paul Ryan should be the VP," not the rest of the party.

I've heard Papantonio make this claim before — that the Koch crowd forced Paul Ryan on Romney when all the party regulars wanted someone who could actually help them win. I'll have more on that point below.

Watch the clip; it's both an excellent analysis and a righteous rant.

Back to that point about the billionaire takeover of the Republican Party. You're watching history, folks. Papantonio said it one way on his Ring of Fire radio show (sorry, no public link, but the show was this one if you're a subscriber).

Mike goes less far than I do. This is entirely my own:
The Koch-like billionaires are running a coup on the Republican Party, taking control away from party regulars. "Tea Party"–branded politicians are their heavily financed foot soldiers.

Yes, there are Tea Party citizens in the world, with actual tea-bag beliefs.

But "Tea Party" politicians are a Koch Bros Joint, running a hostile takeover against the Boehners and McConnells, the Romneys and McCains.

No party regular who just "wants to win the next election" will have a place in the new Republican Party. They have to serve daddy first, the party second.
"Daddy" has plans. Those "ten billionaires" are playing the long game, not the short one.

Why did the Koch crowd not care that they lost the Senate in 2010 by running Sharon Angle and Christine O'Donnell? Why do they not care what Paul Ryan does to Mitt Romney's chances this year?

Because for now, the government isn't the prize. The Republican Party is. It sure looks like they're taking it step by step, consolidating each territory first before invading the next.

They'll take the government (Bob Rubin, watch out; your Midwest billionaire brothers are acing you out of the game). But not quite yet; they're getting their pieces in place, their ducks in a row.

This is exactly like their recent takeover of the already-slavish Cato Institute. The illusion of independence is meaningless to them — they now want direct control.

Which means they're preparing for a bigger move down the road. Trust me.

As to their "Tea Party" soldiers — these men are not just operatives; they're cruel human beings. Hate-the-ladies cruel. Alan Simpson cruel.

As operatives, they feel strong and effective, so long as they do daddy's bidding. As humans though, they're an angry, powerless lot. An irony on both fronts if you think about it.

Study Finds 75% of Propecia Users Who Report Side Effects Also Suffer Depression

by Tracy Ray
The anti-baldness medication Propecia (finasteride) has long been linked to erectile dysfunction and other sexual disorders. Now a retrospective study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry has found that 75% of patients who experience side effects resulting from Propecia use also suffer from depression.
The study was conducted by endocrinologist Dr. Michael S. Irwig of George Washington University. Dr. Irwig studied the rate of depression among 61 former patients who had reported experiencing side effects resulting from Propecia for a minimum of three months. Dr. Irwig also noted the rate of depression in a control group of participants who had never taken Propecia and did not have psychiatric symptoms.

Some patients with Propecia side effects have suicidal thoughts

The study found that in the group of patients with side effect resulting from Propecia, 75% reported that they suffered depression; 64% said they suffered moderate to severe depression; 39% had suicidal thoughts; and 5% agreed with the statement “I would like to kill myself.”
In contrast, only 10% of the people in the control group experienced symptoms of depression, and only one man had thoughts of suicide.

Does Propecia cause depression?

The study results indicate that men who have experienced side effects resulting from Propecia are more likely to suffer depression than men who have never taken Propecia. But correlation does not always mean causation, and many questions remain: Did Propecia (finasteride) itself cause the depression? Did these men experience sexual side effects from Propecia and then become depressed because their sex lives had suffered? Or, conversely, did they suffer depression which in turn resulted in sexual dysfunction? It’s a chicken-and-egg conundrum that will require further study to unravel.
Finasteride does cross the blood brain-barrier, and it is possible that it may affect the gamma-aminobutyric acid neurotransmitter, which could cause depression and anxiety. If further study proves conclusively that Propecia causes depression, then many more Propecia lawsuits against manufacturer Merck would certainly be filed in future.
Dr. Irwig has done a number of studies about the effects of Propecia. His 2011 study found that 20% of men who suffered sexual side effects from Propecia continued to have these side effects five years after discontinuing the drug, leading Dr. Irwig to speculate that in these cases, the side effects may be permanent.

Mexico Shooting: Federal Cops Open Fire At U.S. Embassy Vehicle

Mexican authorities are trying to sort out why a U.S. Embassy vehicle was shot up by federal police on a rural back road in mountains south of the capital, leaving two U.S. government workers wounded.

Drunk Driver Caught on Motorized Picnic Table

Hand over the keys to that picnic table. You're in no condition to drive.
An Ontario man is facing charges after he and his buddies constructed a motorized picnic table and drove it around town.
Police said they attached a lawnmower motor and four customized wheels to the picnic table and took it for a spin on Sunday evening. [...]
When officers found the table parked on a sidewalk, they charged a 46-year-old South Huron, Ont., man with having an open container of liquor in a public place.

Woman faces manslaughter charges after leaving elderly mother on toilet for two days

A woman has been charged with six counts of manslaughter after her 91-year-old mother died after she was left on the toilet for two days.
Sharon Caslow, 65, of Cockeysville, Baltimore County, was indicted by a grand jury after her mother Audrey's death was ruled a homicide.

Her mother was found by Baltimore County medical workers in the bathroom of the home she shared with her daughter on January 17.

Police say Sharon Caslow told officers she knew her mother had been in the bathroom for two days, but that she did not call for help. Audrey Caslow died of acute renal failure 10 days later after being transferred to a hospice. Sharon Caslow has since been released on a $100,000 bond.

Drug-smuggling granny 'did it to stay active'

A German granny who smuggled a ton of cannabis into the country over five years starts a jail sentence this weekend – despite her argument that the trips to Holland and back were keeping her active in her old age. The Düsseldorf judge who jailed the 76-year-old for two-and-half years on Thursday rejected the image of her as a sick old lady, saying she was robust, and should go to prison.

The woman confessed to having a regular run, collecting cannabis in the Dutch border town of Venlo, near North Rhine-Westphalia, and dropping it with dealers in Düsseldorf and Dortmund. She delivered around 1,000 kilos over five years in a drug smuggling career which she said started accidentally in 2006. Her car had broken down near Venlo and two men stopped and helped her get up and running - before asking whether she would take some washing powder containers over into Germany.

Initially the men reimbursed her for fuel, but once the drug runs had become regular, they paid her up to €700 per trip. She said she usually took between two and three kilos of cannabis which had been hidden in boxes and gym bags. “My client was acting under no criminal impetus,” the woman's lawyer told the judge.

Not only had members of the drugs ring put so much pressure on her to carry on making the journeys, meaning she found it almost impossible to break free, but the driving kept her mobile in old age, the lawyer argued. The judge dismissed this argument, saying the woman was “a really robust pensioner,” who suffered from manageable conditions. Due to the fact that she was knowingly smuggling drugs, the idea of giving her a suspended sentence to spare her prison would give “completely the wrong signal,” she said.

Black teenager who was stopped-and-searched 50 times between 14 and 17 will sue London cops for harassment

A 17 year old black teenager in London is tired of being busted for walking while black. He says he's been stopped-and-searched without cause fifty times since he was 14, and that on a number of occasions this has included bullshit charges (later dropped), wild accusations, strip searches, and detention in police cells. None of these stops has led to a conviction -- his most recent one almost did. PC John Lovegrove arrested the teenager during a stop-and-search, alleging that he assaulted the cop during a stop-and-search. The case went to court, but then collapsed when the footage showed that the teenager "[lay] there like a dead fish" during the search, and did not roll over or spit, as was alleged by the constable.
The Met won't comment on the case. The teenager will sue the London Metropolitan Police for harassment.
The youth had been stopped by police in Sidcup, south London, on 11 February this year, after reports on the police radio that a named white suspect had threatened his father with a knife and had then run off. The police description was later amended to black or mixed race male.
Although no weapon or drugs were found on the youth, he remained handcuffed while the police forced him to the ground. He was then strip-searched at the police station. He had cigarette papers in his pocket and torn up cardboard that PC Lovegrove said could be used as a filter when smoking cannabis. No drugs were found during the strip search.
The youth said: "I can't think of any other reason why the police keep doing this to me apart from racism. I've been stopped and searched so many times I've lost count, I think it's about 50 times."
The Met police is 11 times more likely to stop and search black people than white ones, according to Equalities and Human Rights Commission research published earlier this year. It has accused the Met of racial profiling.
Black teenager 'stopped 50 times' plans to sue Met police for harassment

Mirror, Mirror OFF the Wall

Woman Went Mirror-Free for 1 Year
 When she was shopping for a wedding gown, bride-to-be Kjerstin Gruys realized how she was stressed over her body image. So the 29-year-old PhD student in sociology decided to embark on an experiment of sorts: to go mirror-free for an entire year to boost her self-esteem. In her 20/20 interview, Kjerstin said:
"I thought I was going to find a dress that somehow fulfilled every dream, and that I'd enjoy the process of shopping for dresses, I'd feel my most beautiful. I'd find this perfect dress that complimented my body."
But instead, Gruys says dress shopping was a source of stress.
"I saw myself in the mirror and was being critical," she says. "I thought, Well, maybe I should lose a little weight before the wedding, always a bad thing to focus on when you have a history of an eating disorder.... I wasn't afraid of relapsing into my eating disorder, but I felt like a hypocrite because of how far I'd come."
Then Gruys read a passage in the book "Birth of Venus," describing an order of nuns in Renaissance Italy who had severe restrictions against vanity. "They didn't have mirrors in their lives. They were forbidden to look at each other when undressing. They were actually forbidden to look at themselves while they undressed."
For the first time in her life, Gruys said she was tempted to follow suit.
Kjerstin documented her experience on her blog Mirror, Mirror OFF the Wall: here

Pregnant Woman Relieved To Learn Her Rape Was Illegitimate

Though she was initially upset following the brutal sexual assault last month that left her pregnant, victim Martha Byars told reporters she was relieved Sunday to learn from Rep. Todd Akin (r-MO) that her ability to conceive her unwanted child proves she was not, in fact, legitimately raped.
“Being violently coerced into having sex was the worst thing that’s ever happened to me, so I take comfort in knowing it wasn’t actually rape,” Byars said of the vicious encounter in which she was accosted in an alleyway by a stranger, pinned to the ground, and penetrated against her will for 25 minutes.

The never-ending rape of our oceans

From the BBC:
Police in Peru have seized more than 16,000 dried seahorses which were to be exported illegally to Asian countries...

Police chief Victor Fernandez told the BBC the cargo could have fetched up to $250,000 (£160,000) abroad. Seahorse fishing is illegal in Peru, but the high prices paid for seahorse powder abroad make it difficult for the authorities to enforce the ban...

"They are sent to Asian countries and used as aphrodisiacs. In China this product is also used to cure asthma," he told the BBC's Mattia Cabitza in Lima.

The marine fish, which finds northern Peru's warmer waters a perfect breeding ground, is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (Cites).  But Mr Fernandez said that last year a total of 20 tonnes of dried seahorses were seized across the world - half a tonne in Peru alone.
Just like rhino horns, harvested for the sake of some pitiful penises somewhere.  Sad just sad.

An 11-Set Venn Diagram

You've never seen the Venn Diagram like this before: a flowery diagram for 11 sets of objects, made by Khalegh Mamakani and Frank Ruskey at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada:
One of the sets is outlined in white, and the colours correspond to the number of overlapping sets. The team called their creation Newroz, Kurdish for "the new day". The name also sounds like "new rose" in English, reflecting the diagram's flowery appearance.
To find the rose-like diagram, the pair had to comb through myriad potential diagrams, represented as lists of numbers corresponding to the way the curves cross. Sifting through all of the possibilities for an 11-set diagram would be an impossible task even for the combined might of Earth's computers, so the researchers narrowed the options by restricting the search to diagrams with a property called crosscut symmetry, meaning that a segment of each set crosses all the other sets exactly once.
New Scientist has the post (and the gallery of more sets of Venn Diagrams): here

Why Is The Night Sky Turning Red?

The idea of a red sky at night used to invoke beautiful images of vibrant sunsets, the product of warm sunlight bathing the sky near the horizon. The adage of 'red sky at night, sailor's delight' refers to a calm night ahead; a red sunset suggests a high-pressure system in the west is bringing calm weather.

But red skies at night have taken on a new meaning in recent decades. As outdoor lighting become increasingly prominent, our night skies are gradually turning from black to red.

A great shot of a lenticular cloud

This is a nice lenticular cloud (lens-shaped) example, photographed at Mauna Kea, Hawaii.  It is presumably colored by the setting sun.   From a gallery of cloud photos at The Guardian

The Past and Future of Wind Power

Two experiments demonstrate what wind power can do: a sailing trip around the coast of Africa, and Kite Gen, who aim to supply the grid with huge kites flying in the sky. More

Grave of Richard III May Be Under Parking Lot

The grave of the king who died in battle in 1485 could be under a city council parking lot. Read more
Richard III

A manticore and "fire stones"

Two selections from a nicely-done website: The Medieval Bestiary; Animals in the Middle Ages.
The manticore is a composite beast from India, with a blood-colored lion's body, the face of a man with blue eyes, and a tail resembling the sting of a scorpion. It can leap great distances and is very active. It eats human flesh. Its voice is a whistle that sounds like a melody from pipes. Some say it can shoot spines from its tail.

Pliny the Elder [1st century CE] (Natural History, Book 8, 30): Pliny quotes Ctesias as saying that the mantichora has the face and ears of a human being, grey eyes, a triple row of teeth that meet like the teeth of a comb, a lion's body of a blood-red color, and a voice like a pan-pipe blended with a trumpet. It stings with its tail like a scorpion. It is very fast and has a special appetite for human flesh.
Found in the East, fire stones are either male or female. As long as they are kept apart, they are safe, but if a male and female stone are brought together, they ignite a fire that burns everything.

Aberdeen Bestiary [c. 1200 CE]: "On a certain mountain in the east, there are fire-bearing stones which are called in Greek terrobolem; they are male and female. When they are far from each other, the fire within them does not ignite. But when by chance the female draws near to the male, the fire is at once kindled, with the result that everything around the mountain burns. For this reason, men of God, you who follow this way of life, stay well clear of women, lest when you and they approach each other, the twin flame be kindled in you both and consume the good that Christ has bestowed upon you. For there are angels of Satan, always on the offensive against the righteous; not only holy men but chaste women too."
You can spend hours exploring this online bestiary.

Ten Bizarre Medical Treatments Involving Animals

From snake massages to ant mandible sutures, check out this awesome list of 10 Bizarre Medical Treatments Involving Animals. More

Incredible Migrating Monarch Butterfly Pictures

monarch butterflies Each Monarch butterfly is beautiful, but when they swarm by the millions, it's an amazing sight! Learn some facts about these amazing butterflies, and see wonderful photographs at Environmental Graffiti.

Animals Are as With It as Humans

A prominent group of scientists signs a document stating that animals are just as "conscious and aware" as humans are. This is a big deal. Read more
A prominent group of scientists signs a document stating that animals are just as

Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay Remains at Large

As Tampa boosts security for the repugican national cabal this week, one primate remains at large.. Read more
Mystery Monkey of Tampa Bay Remains at Large

A mountain lion in a casino?

Don't roulette out
An underage mountain lion has been caught after trying to slip into a casino in downtown Reno, Nev., ahead of the breakfast rush.Nevada Department of Wildlife spokesman Chris Healy says the young male cat's behavior was "almost the equivalent of being a stupid teenager."Healy says coming-of-age cougars often end up where they shouldn't after being ... (more)

Squid Skin Busts a Move

The skin of a squid is covered in cells that can change color to the beat -- in this case the beat of "Insane in the Membrane." Read more
Squid Skin Busts a Move: Gotta-See Video

Glowing South American Roaches

glowing roachesThese insects look scary enough in daylight, then they glow in the dark!
This remarkable species of South American cockroach, Lucihormetica luckae, owes its fluorescence to bacteria. The spots on the dark brown area of its carapace are pits inhabited by microbes that glow under fluorescent light.

A recent analysis of these creatures’ bioluminescence demonstrates that they and their cousin species glow at the same wavelengths as a toxin-producing beetle that lives in their area, suggesting that the roaches are mimicking a deadly neighbor to avoid getting picked off by predators.


Hellbender salamanders are huge, slimy salamanders that have the ability to breathe through their skin! They're also an endangered species. When Nick Baker went searching for them in the Ozarks, he found a few that were disturbingly mutated - check it out in this video.

Ozark hellbender populations are dwindling, but the causes are as murky as the salamanders' future.

Animal Pictures