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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, August 28, 2012

The Daily Drift

Enough said.
Editor's Note: You may have noticed we are a tad late in posting today. We had a wonderful day weather-wise so we took advantage of it.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Lahore, Pakistan
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Dhaka, Bangladesh
Vienna, Austria
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Jakarta, Indonesia
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Cape Town, South Africa
Male, Maldives
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Guayaquil, Ecuador
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Kajang, Malaysia

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Today in History

1676 Indian chief King Philip, also known as Metacom, is killed by English soldiers, ending the war between Indians and colonists.
1862 Mistakenly believing the Confederate Army to be in retreat, Union General John Pope attacks, beginning the Battle of Groveten. Both sides sustain heavy casualties.
1914 Three German cruisers are sunk by ships of the Royal Navy in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, the first major naval battle of World War I.
1938 The first degree given to a ventriloquist's dummy is awarded to Charlie McCarthy–Edgar Bergen's wooden partner. The honorary degree, "Master of Innuendo and Snappy Comeback," is presented on radio by Ralph Dennis, the dean of the School of Speech at Northwestern University.
1941 The German U-boat U-570 is captured by the British and renamed Graph
1944 German forces in Toulon and Marseilles, France, surrender to the Allies.
1945 Chinese communist leader Mao Tse-Tung arrives in Chunking to confer with Nationalist leader Chiang Kai-Shek in a futile effort to avert civil war.
1963 One of the largest demonstrations in the history of the United States, the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, takes place and reaches its climax at the base of the Lincoln Memorial when Dr. Martin Luther King delivers his "I have a dream" speech.
1965 The Viet Cong are routed in the Mekong Delta by U.S. forces, with more than 50 killed.

Musical Notes

Natural Born Musical Prodigy? Maybe

A four-year-old from Hong Kong will blow your socks off with his piano playing. Is it just practice? Read more
Natural Born Musical Prodigy? Maybe

Four-Year-Old Pianist Wows Web

This young boy can play piano better than some at the top of their game. Read more
Four-Year-Old Pianist Wows Web: Gotta-See Video

Non Sequitur


Report of massacre near Damascus

The ugly civil war continues to decimate the Syrian population. And repugican candidate Mitt Romney is ready to send in US troops, despite fatigue among voters for more wars (and expenses from wars.) It's somewhat understandable on one level due to the horrible violence inflicted upon the people of Syria by the Assad regime, but what part of eleven years of war is Romney missing?
Candidate Romney fails to understand that the two primary causes of the budget problems today are the wars and the shrub tax cuts. We can't afford either, yet Romney can't comprehend this important reality. The budget-busting is about those two items, not social programs. As sympathetic as Americans are about the situation in Syria, it's not feasible to keep throwing troops and money at problems for years.

Meanwhile, the crisis in Syria is growing.

The Guardian:
The Syrian civil war reached new heights of brutality on Sunday with government troops accused of massacring civilians a few miles from Damascus on a weekend which saw one of the worst reported death tolls in 17 months of conflict.

Opposition groups claimed more than 200 bodies had been found in Daraya, a poor Sunni community on the south-west outskirts of the capital, after Syrian troops had stormed the town on Saturday, going door to door in what President Bashar al-Assad's regime described as a counter-terrorism operation. Opposition and human rights activists claimed many of the dead were civilians.

A New York Times employee in Daraya reported seeing "scores of bodies lined up on top of each other in long thin graves moist with mud".

Children die mining the tin for your smartphone

Businessweek publishes a feature on the hazardous work performed by poor people on an island in Indonesia to mine "The Deadly Tin Inside Your Smartphone." Some of them are 15 and under.

Poll: Raise taxes to save Social Security

The program that the repugican cabal wants to destroy remains popular among Americans. Bizarrely, the repugican cabal views Social Security as an entitlement despite Americans paying into the system during their working life. Regardless of what spin we hear from the repugican cabal this week, it's their mission to destroy Social Security. It's terrifying to think what would have happened to Social Security in 2008 had the Ryan plan (which the shrub also attempted in his second junta) been enacted and it was privatized.
Why do repugicans want to destroy something as popular and important as Social Security?
Most Americans say go ahead and raise taxes if it will save Social Security benefits for future generations. And raise the retirement age, if you have to.

Both options are preferable to cutting monthly benefits, even for people who are years away from applying for them.

Those are the findings of a new Associated Press-GfK poll on public attitudes toward the nation's largest federal program.

Did you know ...

That Occupy Wall Street has some special plans for the repugicanCabal

About the top 10 raunchiest strip club ads for the repugican cabal in Tampa

That a billboard greets rnc guests: welcome to Tampa, a city run by Democrats

And that Tampa's only gay-owned bath house offers repugicans free admission

Bill Nye on the dangers of creationism

Since today is the start of the Republican convention, it's probably a good idea that Bill Nye is speaking out. The repugican cabal extremists appear to believe that if they keep repeating nonsense, it will somehow make it true. The science deniers of the repugican cabal are dangerous to the health and future of America, so it's good to hear someone like Nye say it.

Anarchist militia inside Pentagon planned to kill Obama, overthrow government

Good thing the repugican cabal chairman and Mitt Romney aren't constantly telegraphing the crazies that some crazy, socialist black foreigner has taken over their country.

It is interesting that the same religious right hate used against gays - that we're the other, out for your children - is now being used against Democrats generally (that Obama is the other, he's the enemy, be it a secret Soviet socialist or a Muslim extremist - either one is out to literally kill you and destroy your country).  It's hate either way.  And it sends a clear signal to the crazies that "those people" need to be gotten rid of at all costs, since that is what we do with Soviets (and Islamic terrorists) who have token over the country - we eliminate them at all costs.

Chris Matthews tells'em RNC chair, Romney are playing race card over birtherism

And if you ever needed to see the face of the repugican cabal - white, male, arrogant and angry in all of its glory - just watch rnc chair Reince Priebus in this video. NBC's Chris Matthews takes Reince to task for Mitt Romney's birther comments last week.

Of course, it wasn't Romney's first paean to racism.

Watch the entire video, it's only 5 minutes long.  For all the criticism the left has laid on Matthews over the years, he takes no BS from Priebus over the repugican cabal's embrace of racism.  Watch this.  Here's a transcript of the exchange, but it's only one small bit:
rnc chair Reince Priebus: I think Obama's policies have created the sense that for whatever reason he's looking to guidance, as far as health care is concerned, as far as our spending is concerned, as far as the stimulus packages are concerned, he's looking to Europe for guidance.

Matthews: What?

Priebus: I mean that's the problem...

Matthews: Where do you get this from? This is insane....  What's this have to do with Europe? The foreignization of the guy.  You're doing it again now.  He's influenced by foreign influences? You're playing that card again.

What's this European thing of yours?  What are you up to with this constant [unintelligible] that he's not really domestic?

Priebus: I'm not gonna get into a shouting match with Chris, so you guys can move on.

Matthews: Cuz you're losing.... I'm not gonna sit here and listen to cheap shots about Obama being a foreigner - is the thing you're party's been pushing, Sununu pushed it, everybody's pushing it.

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Forbes publishes racist, nativist cover story attacking Obama

The article is from two years ago.  Still obnoxious.

Ryan Chittum of The Columbia Journalism Review does a great take down of the barely-coded racist and nativist piece, including the fact that the nativist author of the piece is a foreign-born immigrant who only visited America for the first time when he was 17 - but that let that stop him from accusing Obama of spending time outside of America before he was - what age? - 17!

But hey, he's a repugican, and they don't let facts get in the way of some good hate.
It’s all here but the birth certificate!

Let’s unpack that stuff a little bit. First of all, D’Souza perpetuates the Cokie Roberts idiocy—that Hawaii is somehow less American than the rest of the U.S. But hey—no problems with Alaska, which came into the Union the same year. Somehow, Sarah Palin always seem to be an examplar of “Real America.” Hmmm.

But D’Souza has some real nerve here: Obama is a native-born American and D’Souza is not. When he says “Here is a man who spent his formative years—the first 17 years of his life—off the American mainland,” he could be referring to himself. According to Wikipedia, anyway, he was born in India in 1961 and never came to the States until 1978. That adds up to about “the first 17 years of his life—off the American mainland.” Somehow the first-seventeen years thing raises questions about Obama’s Americanness but not about D’Souza’s qualifications to question somebody’s degree of native-born Americanness.

This is loathsome stuff. And, again, it’s the cover story of one of the three big mainstream financial magazines.
Of course, don't forget Romney's ongoing pitch to the nativist crowd and to racists as well - leading up to Romney's embrace of birtherism this past Friday (which is both racist and nativist).

Instant Karma

The truth be told

Isaac will hit the repugican cabal even if it misses

“Imagine the visuals of homes destroyed and peoples lives ruined while the repugicans are having their cabal.” “This will end up being a no-win public relations nightmare for the repugicans even thought the storm itself won’t hit that part of Florida.”

A repugican tea party Senate contender calls Hurricane Isaac a blessing

Sunday afternoon in Tampa, repugican Senate candidate from Texas, Ted Cruz (r-Texas), a tea party favorite, spoke at a faith & freedom coven event. Here's a transcript of the relevant portions, and here's the audio:
"You know, we have so many things to be thankful for, so many blessings — including even, we can be thankful for Hurricane Isaac. If nothing else, it kept Joe Biden away. (*applause*) I'm thrilled the rnc is gonna be paying to put Joe Biden on a national tour (*laughter*), because he truly is a wonderful spokesman for what this administration represents."

[five minutes omitted]

"There is a tidal wave coming. (*applause*) You know, a tidal wave often follows hurricanes (*applause*), and in November a tidal wave is coming."


An just in case you don't think wingnuts are insane - watch this:
Doctor attacked for not forcing 10-year-old mentally ill rape victim to birth child fathered by her uncle.

Paul Ryan Said Something That Should Force Him Off the Ticket, But You Probably Didn't Hear About It

Paul Slansky

Last week, Paul Ryan gave an interview in which, defending his position that there should be no excuses for abortion, he referred to rape as a "method of conception."
Wow, right? Talk about a benign euphemism. Rape -- RAPE! -- is now a "method of conception." You know, like love-making, just without the love.
There could be no greater testament to the utter abdication of responsibility by what passes for a "news" media in America in 2012 than that, despite the grotesquerie of this cavalierly callous comment, chances are better than good that this is the first you're hearing of it.
Here, watch it -- and try to figure out why this has gotten NO MAINSTREAM MEDIA play (not even here at the Huffington Post) despite it being, to my mind, a far more offensive remark than Todd Akin's imbecilic blurt of last weekend. What, are we tired of stupid remarks about rape now, so Ryan gets a free pass?

Given the demands for Akin's resignation from a mere Senate race when his musings on "legitimate rape" were publicized, what do you imagine the reaction would be if people were as familiar with VP wannabe Ryan's stunning statement? Might there be a cacophony of outrage? Might there be calls for his resignation from the ticket? Might there be a focus on how fundamentally oblivious these people who would make our laws are to not just women's but humans' rights and dignity? Sure, there might, but then of course people would have to have heard about it.
According to the man who would be the proverbial heartbeat away from the White House, and who in any event would -- given Romney's utter hollowness -- have an inordinate influence on the judicial appointments that will determine how much freedom our children get to live under, RAPE = "METHOD OF CONCEPTION." And yet, unless you're a frequenter of one of a dozen or so lefty blogs -- or my friend on Facebook -- you probably knew nothing about it.
I truly despair for the country my 14-year-old daughter is inheriting. That a remark this intensely revealing of the danger posed by this ticket can go basically unreported is as nauseating to me as the quote itself.

A repugican Senate candidate from PA says pregnancy from rape is just like having kid of out wedlock

The repugican candidate for US Senate from Pennsylvania, Tom Smith, compares pregnancy resulting from rape and having a baby out of wedlock. He says that getting pregnant from being raped is "similar" to getting pregnant from being raped. And his daughter had a child out of wedlock, and he dealt with it, so women who get raped can deal with having their kids too, cuz his daughter dealt with it.
Just wow. And there's video,

Swing state female voters: Romney "out of step" on women's health issues

It's difficult to imagine why any woman would want to vote for a repugican these days. There will be a price to pay in November for their war on women.

The Hill:
The survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, lends credence to Democrats' argument that the presumptive repugican presidential nominee is on the wrong end of a steep gender gap, largely because of his opposition to abortion rights and his positions on issues such as contraception.

By a 20-point margin, women surveyed in the Planned Parenthood Action Fund poll said Romney is "out of step" on women's issues. That number increased as women heard "specific information about Romney's on-the-record statements about women's preventive and reproductive health," the Hart polling memo says.

After hearing those descriptions, 64 percent of respondents said Romney is out of step.

Four years ago the nation was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer

And interesting double-whammy from former Florida repugican Governor Charlie Crist and former repugican presidential candidate Ron Paul.  Neither of whom is terribly thrilled with Mitt Romney.

First Crist, who makes a valid point many have forgotten:
We often remind ourselves to learn the lessons of the past, lest we risk repeating its mistakes. Yet nearly as often, our short-term memory fails us. Many have already forgotten how deep and daunting our shared crisis was in the winter of 2009, as President Obama was inaugurated. It was no ordinary challenge, and the president served as the nation's calm through a historically turbulent storm.

The president's response was swift, smart and farsighted. He kept his compass pointed due north and relentlessly focused on saving jobs, creating more and helping the many who felt trapped beneath the house of cards that had collapsed upon them.
What Crist wrote matters, because it counters the latest repugican talking point, dutifully parroted by Faux's Greta Van Sustern on ABC's This Week this morning:
VAN SUSTEREN: [T]he flip side is, President Obama has now had almost four years. And frankly, if you aren't better off -- we know his economic strategy. And if you don't think it worked, if it didn't make your life better -- it doesn't matter whether you find someone sort of warm and fuzzy that you like, you're like, OK, well let's try something else.
Ah yes, the old "are you better off now than you were for years ago."

Four years ago we all had terminal financial cancer. We were on the verge of another Great Depression, financial death. And President Obama came in and stopped it from happening.

Now, has the patient fully recovered yet? No.

Did we feel better four years ago, just as we were diagnosed but the disease hadn't yet caused any real damage? Yup.

But America is a lot like the patient who underwent chemo. You feel like garbage, but that doesn't mean you were better off when you had cancer but hadn't yet felt the full brunt of the disease.

Then again, Faux is the repugican cabal propaganda organ. And the repugican cabal has never trusted the American people with the truth, because truth has a Democratic bias. So, repugicans have said things such as claiming, falsely, that the stimulus created unemployment because we had a stimulus and unemployment still went up (ignoring the obvious point that the increase in unemployment could have been cut in half by the stimulus (which is the convention wisdom)). So, I understand why Van Susteren is parroting repugican talking points, but as always, they're a convenient untruth.

And now Ron Paul, from the NYT:
Mr. Paul, in an interview, said convention planners had offered him an opportunity to speak under two conditions: that he deliver remarks vetted by the Romney campaign, and that he give a full-fledged endorsement of Mr. Romney. He declined.

“It wouldn’t be my speech,” Mr. Paul said. “That would undo everything I’ve done in the last 30 years. I don’t fully endorse him for president.”

A handwriting font for doctors

Created by Orion Champadiyil.

Uninsured comic artist with cancer draws the moment she opens first big medical bill

Chicago-based comic artist Laura Park (@llaurappark) was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She underwent surgery in June, and illustrated the moment she opened the first big bill in July.
I know that feel, bro. I know that feel.

Autism is more than a parasite deficiency

The New York Times Sunday Review had an article this week linking autism with the hygiene hypothesis. Written by Moises Velasquez-Manoff, the piece is part of the Times' opinion coverage, not reported news. It was also one of those sort of stories that comes across as highly persuasive ... until you start looking at the details. About halfway through reading it yesterday, it occurred to me that Velasquez-Manoff was making a lot of big statements—"perhaps 1/3 of autism, and very likely more, looks like a type of inflammatory disease", for example—without citing the sources to back those statements up.
That's easy to do when you're writing a relatively short article summarizing the contents of a much bigger book, as Velasquez-Manoff seems to be doing here. But the problems go deeper than that, according to biologist and science writer Emily Willingham. In a must-read blog post, she goes through the NYT piece and points out many flaws in argument and detail. The main problem, though, is a pretty simple one: Moises Velasquez-Manoff presents what seems to be a largely speculative hypothesis as sure-fire truth. To make that case as persuasive as it is, he leaves out lots of evidence that doesn't match up with his thesis.
First, he appears to describe autism as a “parallel epidemic” with autoimmune diseases, even though a careful review of the literature shows that there likely isn’t an “epidemic” of autism. I'm also having trouble finding any data to confirm an epidemic of autoimmune diseases (he provides no sourcing), although I find that incidence rates in general seem to go up with improvements in diagnostic tools, a scenario that is common with application of new technologies in many diseases and disorders. Without that parallel or even confirmation of either "epidemic," his carefully constructed, fragile “if that, then this” scenario suffers from that point on.
...Velasquez-Manoff then asks, “What has happened to the modern immune system?” and goes on to assert that the concepts underlying the “hygiene hypothesis” also underlie autism and correlations between autism and maternal autoimmune disorders or asthma. An “evolutionary answer,” he says, is that we are no longer sufficiently riddled with parasites and microbes (we actually still have our microbes), so our immune system, twiddling its presumably heroic thumbs, casts its roving eye elsewhere--i.e., on ourselves. See, people who still live with parasites, he says, “don’t suffer from inflammatory diseases as much as we do” (italics mine). “We,” I assume, being the clean people of the western world. No sources given, and that assertion does not dovetail with, for example, what we know about asthma rates in Latin America (really high) versus Western Europe (not so high), although in places where things like leprosy, parasitic worm infections that include river blindness, and nasty bacterial eye infections are high, type 1 diabetes is low. Raise your hand if you're willing to make that tradeoff. And then he says, “Autism also follows this pattern” and “seems to be less prevalent in the developing world.”
... when you’re dealing with intestinal parasites and their friends, you and your government may not really have the time to go around carefully diagnosing developmental disorders. I suffered through his unsourced dismissal of epidemiologists who say as much, and I just about had a coronary when he cited “at least one (unnamed) Western doctor” (the best kind, you know) who had found autism was “nearly nonexistent” in a Cambodian population “rife with parasites and acute infections.” Um… if, as Velasquez-Manoff seems to argue, maternal infection sets the stage for maternal immune dysfunction and presumably autism, how is it that a population rife with acute infections evades autism? He doesn’t ever name the “Western doctor,” but autism does exist in Cambodia, and while we’re at it, here are a few other things Cambodian children must endure because they’ve got this great “evolutionary”-based existence that 'protects' them against autism.
Willingham's basic point: There is an atmosphere of desperation and panic surrounding autism, which has lead some parents to try a range of risky interventions in the hopes of "curing" it. Given that, maybe it's irresponsible to claim that a hypothetical factor in autism is the absolute cause. Especially when the proposed treatment—intentional infection with parasitic whipworms—comes with its own downsides, including growth retardation in children, anemia, and even rectal prolapse.
Read the New York Times op-ed
Read the rest of Emily Willingham's response

Curiosity Mars Rover descent footage interpolated from 4fps to 25fps

[Video Link] This is a magnificent thing.
YouTuber hahahaspam explains, "This is the Curiosity Mars Rover descent footage interpolated from ~4 frames per second to 25 frames per second. It is playing back in real time. This took me 4 days straight to put together, so I hope you enjoy it! Music: Kevin Macleod."

Ten Unusual Spas for Alternative Tranquility

Flavorwire has compiled a collection of wonderful places to relax, unwind, and take in the scenery while you release the stress of your life. There are spas set up in boats, mountaintops, islands, jungles, and other neat spots all over the world -even under the ocean! Me, I'd want to try out this hot springs spa called The Blue Lagoon in the lava fields of Grindavik in Iceland. How about you? More

A Heat Stroke of Genius

Khakis khaki
The British Army's fancy scarlet tunic looked sharp, but was agonizingly uncomfortable in the heat. The soldier's warm-weather option was a dazzling white uniform -spiffy but impractical for daily use. How to solve the problem?
Legend has it that a British colonial officer dabbled with the idea of creating his own lightweight, light-colored clothing to wear while he was stationed in India. What began as an off-duty ensemble evolved into military attire when it proved to be more comfortable and sensible than the existing uniform.
LumsdenThat officer was Lieutenant Harry Lumsden, the son of a British colonal. After schooling in England and Scotland, by age 17 Lumsden was serving in the infantry in India. In 1846, when he was just 25, he was tapped for the duty that would lead to his greatest claim to fame.
Serving in Peshawar in what was then northwestern India (now Pakistan on the Afghanistan border), Lumsden was given the task of forming the Corps of Guides, a new regiment of infantry and cavalry soldiers. The 300 handpicked men were to serve as guides and scouts as well as fighting forces. Irregular cavalry regiments such as the Corps of Guides were allowed to wear what they wanted, within reason. Lumsden had an idea about what that should be. He'd been experimenting with loose-fitting cotton garments patterned after the local men's attire and dyed a muddy tan color, which hid the dirt and made the wearer less conspicuous in the dusty landscape of the battlefield. Locals dubbed the duds khaki, from the Hindi and Urdu word khak, meaning dust. Fellow British soldiers started calling the Corps of Guides the "mudlarks" because of the muddy color of their uniforms.

Lumsden achieved that characteristic mud color by dunking the fabric in mud. In another version of the tale, he took his clothes to the local bazaar and had them colored with a dye made from the local mazari palm. When khaki caught on, Lumsden tried unsuccessfully to obtain drab uniform fabric from England. So he had the dying done locally, either by soldiers themselves or by civilians. While other regiments scoffed at the mudlarks initially, they soon adopted khaki as well, especially during the Indian Rebellion of 1857, which took place primarily during the summer months. Even then, the troops were left to color their own garments using mazari, coffee, tea, or even tobacco juice.
Fortunately, the rise of khaki uniforms coincided with the growth of the textile industry and the use of synthetic dyes. Khaki wasn't the first synthetic dye color developed in England -that distinction goes to aniline purple, better known as mauve, which was patented in 1856- but a patent for khaki dye was registered in England in 1884. It wasn't long before the British discovered it made more economic sense to import dye from Germany (which was leapfrogging ahead of other nations in the synthetic dye game). And that's where thing became awkward: By World War I, the British army was importing all the khaki dye for its uniforms from Germany, whom it happened to be fighting in the Great War. Color them embarrassed. (Before Americans start feeling smug, consider this: about 90 percent of the khaki dye used for U.S. uniforms in World War II was produced by the General Aniline and Film Corporation -better known as GAF- a German-owned company until the U.S. seized it in 1942.)
The U.S. military began wearing khaki during the Spanish-American War of 1898, but it didn't work for all purposes. In Guadalcanal's tropical jungles during World War II, khaki was deemed too conspicuous, so Army and Marine combat troops were issued green twill fatigues that blended better with their surroundings. The same was true for ground troops in the Vietnam War.
Of all the branches of the U.S. military, the Navy may have the closest association with khaki. It was first worn by Navy aviators in 1912, and a short time later, regulations required that ships carry enough khaki dye for "two suits of clothing for each man of the landing force," so the men could dye their "undress" white uniforms "when, in the opinion of the commanding officer, it is advisable to do so." (Generally, that would be when white uniforms would be dangerously obvious to the enemy, or when they became unduly soiled.) Khaki uniforms became standard issue for sumariners in 1931, but khaki is best known as naval officer's attire, so much so that the word "khaki" became a euphemism for "officer."
katherine hepburnIt didn't take long for military-style khaki to become a fashion statement on the home front. After the Second Boer War in South Africa, which ended in 1902, shops in England began showing khaki clothing and accessories for dapper Victorian gents, who liked its sportsmanlike, heroic connotations. In America, the hard-wearing khaki that served U.S. soldiers so well in World War I was adapted for Depression-era civilian work clothing. In the 1940s, movie stars like Katherine Hepburn and John Wayne wore khakis on-screen and off; in the 1950s, khakis were standard issue for young American males, from the Leave It To Beaver boys to James Dean.
In spite of changing fashion trends, khaki hung on in civilian life, with a reputation that ranged from conservative or square in the late 1960s and early 1970s, to preppy in the early 1980s, to fashionable in the mid-1980s, when the Levis Dockers brand was introduced and the rise of casual Fridays for office workers made khaki sales skyrocket.
navyMeanwhile, the miltary's endorsement of khaki continues. In July 2008, the U.S. Navy introduced a new khaki dress uniform inspired by the dress khakis worn from World War II through the Vietnam War, which officers may wear in place of formal dress blues, dress whites, or service khakis. And a new service uniform was introduced for enlisted personnel, with a khaki shirt and black trousers. The idea, Navy spokepeople explain, is to reduce the number of uniforms a sailor has to carry when deployed. Whites are fine for the tropics, and dress blues work well for cooler climates, but khaki goes with everything, everywhere -and that's the point.

A Day In Pompeii

August 24, 79 AD. The day started like any other day.
An animated film depicting the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

YouTube link

Drought and Fire

Severe summer drought recalls damaging dust bowl days. - Over the past six weeks, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has designated 1,821 counties in 35 states as disaster areas, at least 1,692 of them due to drought. the agency is calling it the worst drought in more than 50 years.

Red Dust Devil

A man in Brazil captures an incredible orange dust devil. The funnel's hue was caused by clay in the area's soil.

Is There A Limit To How Tall Buildings Can Get?

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is 828 meters tall. Bold builders in China want to go 10 meters higher later this year with a 220-story pre-fab tower that can be constructed in a baffling 90 days. And then, in 2018, the Kingdom Tower in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia will go significantly farther, with a proposed height of at least 1,000 meters.

Will this race ever stop? Not in the foreseeable future, at least. But there has to be some sort of end point, some highest possible height that a building can reach. There will eventually be a world's tallest building that is unbeatably the tallest, because there has to be an upper limit.

Why Does Inhaling Helium Make Your Voice Squeaky?

Sucking a lungful of helium out of a balloon makes your voice sound hilarious. But contrary to popular belief, the switch from air to helium gas doesn't actually increase the pitch of your voice (at least not very much).

Instead, it affects a much more mysterious property of the sound, called 'timbre.' Rather than chirping high notes like Tweety Bird, you start quacking words like Donald Duck. Why does your voice get that reedy tone?

How Images Were Manipulated Before Photoshop

The New York Metropolitan Museum of Art is hosting an exhibition made up of 200 photos which were altered or manipulated in some way between 1840 and 1900, well before the advent of digital image manipulation via programs like Photoshop.
They should have called the exhibition Ye Olde Way To Shoppe A Photo!

Microscopic scale measures mass of single molecule

 Science Files 2012 08 Molecule
This is a microscopic scale that can measure the mass of a single molecule. The scale was manufactured with the same semiconductor fabrication technology used to make computer chips. From Smithsonian:
As described in a paper published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology, the tiny apparatus is built around a bridge-like structure that vibrates at a specific frequency based on the mass of the molecule on top of it. By precisely tracking the vibrating frequency of the bridge, they can determine the exact mass of the molecule.

Schoolboy rich after finding piece of whale vomit

His find doesn’t look very exciting and most people would probably walk straight past it, mistaking it for a stone. But Charlie was curious enough to pick it up and, after a bit of research, he and his family discovered it is worth between £10,000 and £40,000. Charlie, of Station Road, Christchurch, is a pupil of St Katharine’s school in Southbourne and has been on nature walks with his class in the area.

He is now trying to decide what to do with it and quite fancies using the profits to build a house for animals. His dad, Alex, said: “He is into nature and is really interested in it. We have discovered it is quite rare and are waiting for some more information from marine biology experts.” The piece of ambergris, which weighs 600 grams, could have been floating in the sea for decades before being washed up on the beach.

The family has been told it is unlikely that more ambergris will be found in the same area. Ambergris is a waxy substance from the intestines of a sperm whale, which is used to prolong the scent of perfume. It initially has a foul smell but after years of floating on the ocean, exposure to sun and salt turn it into a smooth lump of compact rock which feels waxy and has a sweet smell.

Nepalese man shot son dead after mistaking him for monkey

A farmer in southern Nepal mistook his son for a monkey trying to steal his crops and shot the 12-year-old dead, police said on Sunday. Chitra Bahadur Pulami had been climbing a tree to chase away macaques that had become a nuisance to the family.

But his father Gupta Bahadur, 55, spotted the boy and opened fire, wrongly believing him to be one of the animals. "The son was hiding in a tree at their farm to chase away monkeys that used to come searching for food in the maize field," said Arun Poudel, deputy superintendent of police in the remote Arghakhanchi district

"The son died on the spot after Gupta Bahadur mistakenly thought there was a monkey in the tree and opened fire. Our preliminary investigation shows that the father was unaware that his son had gone to the maize field to chase the monkeys. Both Gupta Bahadur and the gun that he used in shooting his son are now under the custody of the police."

The three species of monkey native to Nepal, the rhesus and Assamese macaque and the common langur, are considered sacred and farmers normally try to scare them away from their crops without injuring the animals. "I realized my mistake only when my son fell down and got stuck in one of the tree's branches," the farmer told police.

Man on toilet break bitten by crocodile

An Indonesian construction worker was bitten by a crocodile during a toilet break by a river in Malaysian Borneo, but fought off the huge reptile and escaped with his life.

Pai punched the two-meter (6.5-foot) crocodile in the eye after it bit him while he squatted, just above his right buttock, and despite being in incredible pain and soaked in blood managed to summon help. The attack happened early on Friday, when the 32-year-old decided to take his chances by the river in Sarawak state despite knowing it was infested with crocodiles.

Pai, who works at a nearby construction site, had just finished relieving himself under a bridge when the animal bit him from behind. "Fortune favored me when the crocodile let go after I punched it in the eye," he said. "After being freed from the jaws of the crocodile, I found extraordinary strength to run and call for help even though my waist was extremely painful."

Pai, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, was taken to Sarawak General Hospital with bites to his waist and hip area. He also suffered puncture wounds on the left side of his ribs. His condition is not critical.

Jumping Stick Insect Looks Like a Sci-Fi Character

Photo: Alex Wild
Alex Wild  took this photo of an Apioscelis jumping stick insect in the Jatun Sacha reserve, Napo, Ecuador, that looks straight out of a sci-fi movie.

House Cat Plays the Piano

This kitty plays the piano along with her piano-teacher owner.  
House Cat Plays the Piano: Gotta-See Video

Beautiful jellyfish photography

Alexander Semenov's lovely photos make jellyfish look completely amazing—masses of ethereal tissue surrounded by thousands of strands of iridescent embroidery floss.
This shot is part of a series of photos taken in the deep, dark, cold waters of the Arctic Circle.

Animal Pictures

Orating bear