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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, September 4, 2012

The Daily Drift

Some of our readers today have been in:
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 Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1260   At the Battle of Montaperto in Italy, the Tuscan Ghibellines, who support the emperor, defeat the Florentine Guelfs, who support papal power.
1479   After four years of war, Spain agrees to allow a Portuguese monopoly of trade along Africa's west coast and Portugal acknowledges Spain's rights in the Canary Islands.
1781   Los Angeles, first an Indian village Yangma, is founded by Spanish decree.
1787   Louis XVI of France recalls parliament.
1790   Jacques Necker is forced to resign as finance minister in France.
1820   Czar Alexander declares that Russian influence in North America extends as far south as Oregon and closes Alaskan waters to foreigners.
1862   Robert E. Lee's Confederate army invades Maryland, starting the Antietam Campaign.
1870   A republic is proclaimed in Paris and a government of national defense is formed.
1881   The Edison electric lighting system goes into operation as a generator serving 85 paying customers is switched on.
1886   Elusive Apache leader Geronimo surrenders to General Nelson A. Miles at Skeleton Canyon, Ariz.
1893   Beatrix Potter sends a note to her governess' son with the first drawing of Peter Rabbit, Cottontail and others. The Tale of Petter Rabbit is published eight years later.
1915   The U.S. military places Haiti under martial law to quell a rebellion in its capital Port-au-Prince.
1941   German submarine U-652 fires at the U.S. destroyer Greer off Iceland, beginning an undeclared shooting war.
1942   Soviet planes bomb Budapest in the war's first air raid on the Hungarian capital.
1943   Allied troops capture Lae-Salamaua, in New Guinea.
1944   British troops liberate Antwerp, Belgium.
1945   The American flag is raised on Wake Island after surrender ceremonies there.
1951   The first transcontinental television broadcast in America is carried by 94 stations.
1957   Arkansas governor Orval Faubus calls out the National Guard to bar African-American students from entering a Little Rock high school.

Non Sequitur


James Taylor's N.C. roots shaped 'unabashed liberal'

By David Perlmutt
Music James Taylor
Musician James Taylor also did several N.C. concerts when Barack Obama campaigned for the presidency in 2008.
James Taylor has never been one to hide his politics.
Since 1970, when the North Carolina-raised singer-songwriter became a star at 21, Taylor has lent his name and efforts to a variety of political causes, most notably the environmental movement and lately President Barack Obama’s re-election.
A self-proclaimed “unabashed liberal,” Taylor’s views have grown from more than 40 years of roaming the globe to perform his confessional songs.
Yet they began to take shape during his boyhood in Chapel Hill – where, long before the Affordable Care Act, his doctor father, Ike, launched a lifelong crusade for quality health care for everyone, and his New Englander mother, Trudy, was part of a movement to integrate local schools and facilities.
Over time he would be influenced by the state’s progressive politics of the 1950s and ’60s, which led to a renowned public university system and a research-based park. And watching future U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms on television, he learned to disdain divisive politics.
“All of us grew up with the idea that Chapel Hill, Durham and Raleigh – with UNC … Duke and N.C. State – were part of a commitment to the kind of progressive politics that were laying the future for the state,” said Taylor, who’ll perform at Monday’s CarolinaFest uptown, and Thursday at Bank of America Stadium before Obama accepts his nomination for a second term.
“My parents’ commitment to education and public health – to the civil rights movement – was something I was aware of at a very early age ... That kind of altruistic gene is something I’m very proud of. It rubbed off.”
Taylor was 3 when his parents moved their family from Boston – where Ike was chief resident at Massachusetts General Hospital – to Ike’s native North Carolina. There he joined a flood of young doctors and researchers on the faculty of the UNC Chapel Hill medical school as it was expanding from a two- to a four-year program.
Learning progressive politics
By then, the N.C. region known as The Triangle (Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill) was evolving into an important intellectual center.
At an early age, James and his four siblings learned about the power of progressive politics as a new breed of post-World War II leaders such as Bill Friday (former UNC System president) and the late Terry Sanford (an N.C. governor, U.S. senator and Duke University president) began to nudge the state in a new direction – away from an Old South economy dependent on tobacco, textiles and furniture.
The idea was to diversify the N.C. economy by harnessing the intellectual and research power of the three Triangle universities into a research park. It would not only stem a brain drain, but set up North Carolina as a leader in new knowledge- and research-based industries.
More than 50 years later, what became known as the Research Triangle Park is a model for similar research parks around the world.
“The success of the Research Triangle Park and its high-tech businesses was a real vindication of those who saw access to public education and research as being important to the state,” said Taylor, a Rock and Roll Hall of Famer who sings about his N.C. roots in “Carolina in My Mind” (the state’s unofficial anthem) and “Copperline.”
As the state advanced in the 1950s and ’60s, James saw his father in the middle of the evolution.
In 1964, Ike was named dean of the UNC medical school. At the time, there was an acute doctor shortage, particularly in rural North Carolina. Ike immediately set out to expand the medical school and its services.
A natural politician – tall, rugged and charming – he began raising money for medical school space and to recruit quality doctors.
He also pushed, with deans at Duke and Bowman Gray at Wake Forest, for medical schools to expand services into rural parts by forming Area Health Education Centers. They began using medical students to dispense care to those who had little access to it.
“Dad promoted socialized medicine back then as a moral calling,” said the youngest child, Hugh Taylor, an innkeeper on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass. “That had an impact on James. It did on all of us.”
The politics of ‘fear and division’
Yet soon the Taylor children would get an early lesson on the politics of division.
The advances weren’t embraced by everyone, including a young Raleigh TV journalist and executive named Jesse Helms.
When Helms, who would become a staunchly conservative U.S. senator, began delivering his early 1960s nightly commentaries on Raleigh-based WRAL-TV, the Taylor family was usually in front of a black-and-white Zenith TV to watch – and groan.
Helms often referred to their Chapel Hill as “Communist Hill” and UNC as “The University of Negroes and Communists.” He suggested the state build a wall around the UNC campus to prevent “liberal views” from infecting the rest of the state. Medicaid, passed with Medicare in 1965, was a leap “into the swampy field of socialized medicine.”
“Those early Jesse Helms commentaries made me aware of the political divisions and how counterproductive they can be,” Taylor said. “My father would get incredulous at the politics of fear and division, as opposed to the idea of public service and working together.
“Little has changed.”
He thought of his father, who died in 1996, when Obama signed into law the Affordable Care Act in March 2010.
“It would have meant so much to him – he’d find it a realization of his dreams and hopes,” Taylor said. “If he could be alive now, my father would be working overtime to see that Barack Obama gets his second term.”
‘A singer’ and ‘a citizen’
Now the son has traveled to Charlotte to work for the president’s re-election. He counts himself among those who wish Obama would push back harder against his critics: “He may not be that good at blowing his own horn.”
Taylor touts Obama’s efforts to expand access to health care through the Affordable Care Act, which Republican nominee Mitt Romney has vowed to repeal. Taylor also likes Obama’s support for equal pay for women and his commitment to higher education and children in need “in the face of such obstructionism.”
“This president represents the best instincts of America and Americans,” said Taylor, who performed a series of concerts for Obama across the state in 2008. “His administration took immediate action to minimize the damage they found.”
In addition to Monday’s hour-long CarolinaFest performance, Taylor is set to sing four songs at Bank of American Stadium on Thursday before Vice President Joe Biden, and then Obama, take the stage.
“I plan to claim my Tar Heel roots,” he said. “I’m not a political scientist or an expert.
“I’m a singer and basically I write personal stuff. I’m a citizen.”

And I Quote

A wise person compares repugican tactics to Nazi propaganda

The chairman of the California Democratic Party has compared Republican tactics during the presidential campaign to the "big lie" strategy most famously employed by Nazi propagandists.
Hey, If the shoe fits ...

Call'em what they are ...

The truth be told

Krugman on Medicare vs Vouchercare

Krugman [NYT] makes a key point on the repugican promise to "only" replace Medicare with VoucherCare for the under 50s, it's a promise that won't be kept:
Still, the repugican cabal promises to maintain Medicare as we know it for those currently over 55. Should everyone born before 1957 feel safe? Again, no.

For one thing, repeal of Obamacare would cause older Americans to lose a number of significant benefits that the law provides, including the way it closes the “doughnut hole” in drug coverage and the way it protects early retirees.

Beyond that, the promise of unchanged benefits for Americans of a certain age just isn’t credible. Think about the political dynamics that would arise once someone born in 1956 still received full Medicare while someone born in 1959 couldn’t afford decent coverage. Do you really think that would be a stable situation? For sure, it would unleash political warfare between the cohorts — and the odds are high that older cohorts would soon find their alleged guarantees snatched away.
Or to put it another way, Romney plans to break the Medicare promises made by previous repugican presidents to people born since 1957, so what is to stop the next repugican president doing the same thing and breaking the promise to those born before 1957?

Did you know ,,,

Mitt Romney is the guy who fired you

What is riskier than living poor in America?

Clint Eastwood gets cut from rnc video

Bill Moyers says: invisible Americans get the silent treatment

Romney's Bain Capital subpoenaed over taxes

Many private equity companies have been riding a fine line with taxes and they may finally be getting called on it. For this group, enough is never enough no matter how much they fleece their country or other businesses.

The Guardian:
The subpoenas, which were sent out in July, seek documents related to the conversion of fees these private equity firms charge for managing investors' assets into fund investments, the source said. This means the investigation predates the release last month of confidential Bain fund documents by Gawker that revealed such a practice.

The practice is known as a "management fee waiver." As fund investments, the income would be taxed as capital gains, which attract rates around 15%. Without the conversion, the fees would be ordinary income, taxed at rates around 35%.

Other firms that received subpoenas include Sun Capital Partners; Clayton, Dubilier & Rice; Crestview Partners; H.I.G. Capital; Vestar Capital Partners; and Providence Equity Partners.

US companies preparing for Greek Exit

It may still be possible for Greece to remain in the eurozone, but that is increasingly unlikely. If Greece stays, the financial terms are going to be more of the same, which means misery for Greece and favorable terms for the lenders who helped create the problem.
In the meantime, companies are preparing for a Grexit.

More from the NY Times:
Bank of America Merrill Lynch has looked into filling trucks with cash and sending them over the Greek border so clients can continue to pay local employees and suppliers in the event money is unavailable. Ford has configured its computer systems so they will be able to immediately handle a new Greek currency.

No one knows just how broad the shock waves from a Greek exit would be, but big American banks and consulting firms have also been doing a brisk business advising their corporate clients on how to prepare for a splintering of the euro zone. That is a striking contrast to the assurances from European politicians that the crisis is manageable and that the currency union can be held together. On Thursday, the European Central Bank will consider measures that would ease pressure on Europe’s cash-starved countries.

JPMorgan Chase, though, is taking no chances. It has already created new accounts for a handful of American giants that are reserved for a new drachma in Greece or whatever currency might succeed the euro in other countries.

Random Celebrity Photo


Scarlett Johansson
Scarlett Johansson

Organic Vs. Conventional

In the largest review yet of studies that compare conventional to organic foods, researchers found no major evidence that one type is healthier than the other. Read more

Teen opens mobile shower for grimy North Dakota oil workers

It took little more than a day for 18-year-old Evan Jensen to smell opportunity in North Dakota's booming oil patch.The recent high school graduate got a whiff of himself and his 21-year-old brother, Justin.

Strange Court Case For Burning Man Drug Suspects

After all, it's not every day a discussion about a plea deal for a pair of so-called "Burners" facing drug charges includes a defense lawyer scolding his client, or a judge playfully accusing a federal prosecutor of being a "killjoy." Robert Louis Ruenzel II and Lindsey Ann Neverisky, both 31, were looking at five years in prison or more after they ...

Social Media

  #socialmedia from ABOVE on Vimeo.
Could anything be more ironically hip than taking 9,000 photographs over five days to construct an animation of a painting that explains how people waste too much time on social media? The Parisian artist Above left a statement at the vimeo page:
People look at me like I’m from another planet when I tell them I don’t have social media like Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. In the eyes of social media I’m severely outdated, lost and not ‘connected’.

Not partaking in the aforementioned social media makes me an outsider looking in on how hyper frequent society uses its sacred social media. I can’t help but observe the people around me who appear to be consumed and addicted to trying to keep up to speed on their social media pages.

You check your Facebook page while driving. Tweet a message that you ‘just took a shower’. Instagram a photo of your double soy macchiato with extra foam and so it continues ad infinitum.
You can read the rest. Link

Young Iraqis face religious fashion crackdown

By Lara Jakes Iraqis shop at a marketplace in northern Baghdad's Kazimiyah neighborhood , Iraq, Sunday, Sept 2, 2012. A new culture rift is emerging in Iraq and, largely, at the seat of one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites as young women doff their shapeless cover ups and men strut around in revealing slacks and edgy haircuts. This has prompted clerics to mobilize the fashion police in the name of protecting the Islamic nation's heritage. (AP Photo/Karim Kadim) 
Iraqis shop at a marketplace in northern Baghdad's Kazimiyah neighborhood , Iraq, Sunday, Sept 2, 2012. 

For much of Iraq's youth, sporting blingy makeup, slicked-up hair and skintight jeans is just part of living the teenage dream. But for their elders, it's a nightmare. A new culture rift is emerging in Iraq, as young women replace shapeless cover-ups with ankle-baring skirts and tight blouses, while men strut around in revealing slacks and spiky haircuts. The relatively skimpy styles have prompted Islamic clerics in at least two Iraqi cities to mobilize local security guards as a "fashion police" in the name of protecting religious values.
"I see the way (older people) look at me — they don't like it," said Mayada Hamid, 32, wearing a pink leopard-print headscarf with jeans, a blue blouse and lots of sparkly eyeliner Sunday while shopping at the famous gold market in the northern Baghdad neighborhood of Kazimiyah.
She rolled her eyes. "It's just suppression." So far, though, there are no reports of the police actually taking action.
This is a conflict playing out across the Arab world, where conservative Islamic societies grapple with the effects of Western influence, especially the most obvious — the way their young choose to dress.
The violations of old Iraqi norms have grown especially egregious, religious officials say, since the Aug. 20 end of Ramadan, Islam's holy month. In the last two weeks, posters and banners have been hanging along the streets of Kazimiyah, sternly reminding women to wear an abaya — a long, loose black cloak that covers the body from shoulders to feet.
A similar warning came from Diwaniyah, a Shiite city about 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of the capital, where some posters have painted a red X over pictures of women wearing pants. Other banners praise women who keep their hair fully covered beneath a headscarf.
Religious officials speculate young Iraqis got carried away in celebrating the end of Ramadan and now need to be reined in.
"We support personal freedoms, but there are places that have a special status," said Sheik Mazin Saadi, a Shiite cleric from Kazimiyah, home to the double gold-domed shrine that is one of Shiite Islam's holiest sites.
He said the area's residents lobbied Baghdad's local government to ban unveiled women from walking around the neighborhood, including its sprawling open-air market that attracts people from across Iraq.
"The women started to follow to this order," Saadi said.
Government leaders in Baghdad say they've issued no such ban and ordered some of the warning posters removed. The rule "is only for the female visitors who go inside the shrine itself," said Sabar al-Saadi, chairman of the Baghdad provincial council's legal committee. "We think that wearing a veil for women in Iraq is a personal decision."
Muslim women generally wear headscarves or veils in public out of modesty, and female worshippers are required to wear an abaya or other loose robes in shrines and mosques.
But over the last several years, following the 2003 U.S.-led invasion and the fall of dictator Saddam Hussein, Western styles have crept into Iraq's fashion palate. Form-fitting clothing, stylish shoes and men's edgy hairstyles are commonly seen on the street. Some younger women have even begun to forgo the hijab, or headscarf.
Their parents — and their parents' parents — fear Western influence will drown out Iraq's centuries of culture and respect for religion.
"We as Iraqis do not respect our traditions," said Fadhil Jawad, 65, a gold seller near the Kazimiyah shrine. He estimated his profits have dropped by 10 percent in the last two weeks since authorities posted warnings about improper dress codes at the entrance to the market. He called the financial loss worth the lesson being imposed.
"Legs can be seen, there are low-cut shirts," Jawad lamented. "And all, very, very tight. I think these Iraqis who are wearing these things have come back from Syria, Dubai and Egypt. They probably spent too much time in nightclubs. The families in Kazimiyah are conservative. These young people — nobody can control them. They should be given freedoms, but they should know their limits."
Several young adults strolling the Kazimiyah gold market on Sunday accused the religious class of trying to pull Iraq back to the dark ages, a sentiment that human rights activist Hana Adwar echoed.
"It is an aggression on the rights of not only religious minorities, but also on secular Muslim women who do not want to wear veils," said Adwar, head of the Baghdad-based Iraqi Hope Association.
Men, too, have been targeted in the fashion flap: Edgy haircuts, tattoos and body piercings have angered religious authorities. But Hassan Mahdi, 22, said he does not care.
"No, hell no, nobody can tell me what to do," said Mahdi, sporting a tight turquoise Adidas tracksuit and a trendy moptop hairdo at the Kazimiyah market.
So far, it appears, the fashion police have stopped short of taking any real steps. Guards at two security checkpoints in Kazimiyah said they have not been ordered to stop daring dressers from entering the market, and 17-year-old Ali Sayeed Abdullah said his slicked-up pompadour didn't prevent him from going into the shrine. "Nobody objected," he said. "But if there is a ban on this, I will change it," referring to his hairstyle.
But some women have been handed tissues at Kazimiyah checkpoints and told to wipe off their makeup before entering the market, said resident Hakima Mahdi, 59.
"This is very good," she said, smiling broadly, sheathed in a black cloak with an extra abaya covering her head. "It's respect to the imam, respect to this holy place."



Time=Money=Less Happiness

What does “free time” mean to you? When you’re not at work, do you pass the time — or spend ...
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Crimes Against Grilling

Big Bob Gibson's Chicken with White Barbecue Sauce. 
By Emily Thelin

"A lot of people marinate raw food in barbecue sauce, because they're thinking, Oh, I want barbecued chicken," says grilling expert Elizabeth Karmel. The problem is that sauce often contains sugar, which burns quickly, resulting in a lackluster version of the classic dish. Here, the Hill Country Barbecue chef identifies more ways to ruin a cookout, and how to avoid those mistakes.

1. COOKING WITHOUT HEATING THE GRILL Just like you'd heat a sauté pan before you put food in it, it's very important to preheat the grill to cook any foods properly. Preheating also sterilizes the grill by burning off any residue.

2. LEAVING THE LID OPEN You would never bake a cake with the oven door open, right? Just like preheating is essential to proper cooking, so is temperature control while grilling.

3. IGNORING THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN DIRECT AND INDIRECT HEAT I've got a couple of good rules of thumb: If something takes 20 minutes or less to cook, use direct heat. If it takes more than 20 minutes, use indirect. And if you don't know how long something takes to cook: The bigger it is, the denser it is, the heavier it is, the longer it takes.

4. INCINERATING YOUR FOOD The hotter the fire does not mean the better you'll cook your food. Most food is delicate and needs a gentle heat after you sear it. You're going to get a better result and coax the love out of the food by treating it gently and with respect.

5. SLATHERING FOOD EARLY AND OFTEN WITH SAUCE A lot of people marinate raw food in barbecue sauce, because they're thinking, "Oh, I want barbecued chicken." Sugar burns quickly. You want to make sure that the inside of your food is done and juicy at the same time that the outside is browned. It takes 45 to 60 minutes to grill bone-in chicken pieces and only 5 to 10 minutes for sweet barbecue sauce to set and caramelize. So brush your food with sauce at the end of the cooking time.

6. OILING THE GRILL GRATES This is one of my mottos: "Oil the food, not the grates." A thin layer of oil on the food holds in moisture. Many grilling authors tell people to take a rag or a paper towel, dip it in oil and coat the cooking grates of your lit grill with it. Number one, that is literally a torch waiting to be lit; that's a big fire hazard. Number two, oil has a very low smoking point; you only have to oil the grates once to know that the oil will burn instantly.

7. USING SUPER LONG TONGS People think the longer the tongs are the better, but the truth is the longer the tongs, the less control you have. Our wrists aren't that strong. If the tongs splay open too much (and a lot of them open to 12 inches or more), you can get a cramp from having to hold them closed. I use tongs like an extension of my hand. The best are 12-inch locking chef's tongs that don't open more than six inches.

8. PLACING FISH DIRECTLY ON THE GRILL When fish skin scorches on the grill it can give the fish that awful fishy flavor (just think if you opened a capsule of cod liver oil and burned it). One my favorite ways to make salmon is to take a deboned, skin-on side of salmon and cook it at 325°F indirectly on a wet, water-soaked cedar plank. I like that temperature because it's really important to me to get a nice crispiness-- good color on the outside, still juicy and perfectly cooked on the inside. Because it's sitting on the wood, you can very easily slide your spatula between the flesh and the skin, and it'll easily come off, leaving the skin on the board.

9. COOKING RIBS UNTIL THEY FALL APART Pick up the ribs and give it a bend: If it's nice and flexible but not springy or rubbery, then it's generally done. If it falls apart immediately, then it's probably overcooked.

10. BUYING THE WRONG CUT FOR BRISKET A lot of people cook only the flat or the lean part of brisket, which often comes out tough and dry. You always want to cook the whole muscle. A cross-section of a brisket would reveal three parts: Two pieces of muscle (one called the flat or lean, and one called the deckle or point) and a fat cap. People should go to their butcher or their grocery store and say, "I want a whole, untrimmed brisket." The butcher will say, "Oh, no you don't! Here, you want this nice trimmed brisket." You tell the butcher you know what you're talking about, and that you want the whole fat cap on it, because that will keep the meat moist and protected during the long, slow cooking time.

Minnesota casino cooks up record 1-ton cheeseburger

A Minnesota casino has cooked up a world-record bacon cheeseburger that's 10 feet in diameter and weighs more than a ton.

Blue Moon Around the World

Skywatchers all over the world jumped at the chance to view and photograph Friday's full moon, the last so-called "blue moon" until July 2015. Read more
blue moon

Early Movie Character Concept Art

Look what Shrek was originally conceived to look like - before he was altered to more resemble Mike Myers. How different would the movies have been! Screen Crush looked up the early concept art for many of the film characters we know and love, so we can see what might have been. Yoda originally looked like a cross between Santa's elves and a garden gnome, the Mad Hatter looked nothing like Johnny Depp, and Azazel resembled Tim Curry playing Satan. However, Hagrid changed not at all from the first sketches. More

The Accidental History of the @ Symbol

atThe symbol, @, that most younger people know only from email addresses and Twitter, has a long history. Its medieval origin is a little fuzzy, but there are several possible explanations of its birth. When I was young, it was shorthand for "at," which always seemed silly to me, because why abbreviate such a short word?
The symbol later took on a historic role in commerce. Merchants have long used it to signify “at the rate of”—as in “12 widgets @ $1.” (That the total is $12, not $1, speaks to the symbol’s pivotal importance.) Still, the machine age was not so kind to @. The first typewriters, built in the mid-1800s, didn’t include @. Likewise, @ was not among the symbolic array of the earliest punch-card tabulating systems (first used in collecting and processing the 1890 U.S. census), which were precursors to computer programming.

The symbol’s modern obscurity ended in 1971, when a computer scientist named Ray Tomlinson was facing a vexing problem: how to connect people who programmed computers with one another.
The rest is history, and if you want to read that history, you'll find it at Smithsonian. Here.

Ten awe-inspiring American castles

By Justin Ocean  
Castello di Amorosa
Who doesn't go a bit giddy at the sight of a castle? The good news is that you don't have to head to Europe for honest-to-goodness ones of the Cinderella variety—we have plenty right here in our own backyard. Railroad barons commissioned most of these estates, but at least one housed a legitimate king and queen (bet you didn't know this country had its own history of royalty!). Each is an engineering wonder in its own right, with some even constructed out of old-world castles that were shipped across the ocean. And each is open to tours should you decide to make a trip (a select few will even let you spend the night). Read this and you might just discover a side of America you never knew existed.
See all Ten here.

As people age, they rely on supernatural more

Reliance on supernatural explanations for major life events, such as death and illness, often increases rather than declines with age ...
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A 9,500-Year-Old Lucky Charm

Image: Yael Yolovitch / Israel Antiquities Authority
Archaeologists in Israel discovered this 9,500-year-old cultic figurine of a ram with spiral horns, carved out of limestone:
The animal figurines were found near the remains of an ancient round building, dating back to a dynamic time in the region's history when humans were transitioning from a hunter-gatherer lifestyle to one of farming and settling in villages.
"It is known that hunting was the major activity in this period," Hamoudi Khalaily, co-excavator of the site for the IAA, said in a statement. "Presumably, the figurines served as good-luck statues for ensuring the success of the hunt and might have been the focus of a traditional ceremony the hunters performed before going out into the field to pursue their prey."
Khalaily added that the archaeological evidence from this time period, called the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B, including these animal figurines, "teaches us about the religious life, the worship and the beliefs of Neolithic society.
LiveScience has more: here.

An Ancient City And Its People

Bukhara is one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia located in Uzbekistan. The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia, and the city has existed for half that time. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. Let us look at some details of the city and meet its people. More

Awesome Pictures


yosemite park

Odd Jobs: Deer Urine Farmer

Hunters often use deer urine to attract their prey. Specifically, they use the come-hither-smelling urine of does in heat. And where do hunters get this urine? From professional urine farmers like Judi Collora:
The key to success as a urine farmer, she says, is understanding that different seasons bring a fluctuating urine supply. “It all depends on how thirsty the deer are,” she says. “In the summer when it’s hot, they drink way more than in the winter when it’s cold.” And the less they drink, the less they pee, and the less profit a urine farmer makes. [...]

The one question they get asked most often, Mr. Collora says, is how they know the best time to harvest estrus urine. “Hey, it ain’t rocket science,” he laughs. “You put a buck in there. When he starts riding the doe, and she lets him, they’re in heat. When they’re done, you collect their urine. That’s our whole business model.”

Vote Bison

This election season, you can "vote for bison," thanks to a newly launched campaign to make the North American bison the national mammal of the United States. Read more

New York's new environmental 'hero' - the oyster

By Verena Dobnik In this Wednesday, Aug. 22, 2012 photo, an airplane approaches LaGuardia Airport for landing as Ray Grizzle, left, Kerstin Kalchmayr, second from left, Allison Fitzgerald, second from right, and Loren Coen collect data at an oyster bed at Soundview Park in the Bronx borough of New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) 
On a summer morning, marine biologist Ray Grizzle reaches into the waters of the Bronx River estuary and pulls up an oyster. The 2-year-old female is "good and healthy." He grabs another handful and gets more good news. "This is a really dynamic area: Live oysters, reproducing!" the University of New Hampshire scientist says. Grizzle holds up a glistening mollusk. He is standing waist-deep in the murky estuary littered with old tires, bottles, shopping carts and rank debris. A gun was once found.
Marine scientists like him, planners and government officials say millions of mollusks planted in waters off New York and other cities could go a long way toward cleaning up America's polluted urban environment. The oyster and other shellfish can slurp up toxins and eliminate decades of dirt.
Landscape architect Kate Orff has a name for the work she does at her Scape firm: Oyster-tecture. Orff is designing a park and a living reef for the mouth of Brooklyn's Gowanus Canal, where oysters could take hold and help filter one of the nation's most polluted waterways.
"My new hero is the oyster, with its biological power," Orff says.
Oyster-tecture is a 21st-century approach to creating new waterfront infrastructures where long-gone shellfish can be brought back.
Construction has begun on a new pier area that is to host Orff's reef. In her Manhattan office, she holds up a tangle of fuzzy black ropes that will be attached to the Brooklyn pier and filled with shellfish, which need to latch onto something to survive — whether a rock, dead shell or synthetic object.
The Oyster Restoration Research Project, a New York-based nonprofit umbrella group, partners with the NY/NJ Baykeeper ecology advocate working at the Bronx site, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers that built an oyster reef on Governors Island off Manhattan.
While oysters are cultivated around the world, the United States has some of the best regeneration programs, says Bill Goldsborough, director of fisheries program at Chesapeake Bay Foundation in Annapolis, Md. The bay is a center of natural oyster growth, and regeneration is thriving just outside urban Annapolis and in Baltimore harbor.
Scientists also are trying to rejuvenate the oyster population in the Hudson River near Yonkers, north of New York, where explorer Henry Hudson spotted oysters in 1609.
"Having oysters improves the whole aquatic habitat, attracting fish and other marine life to the area," says Dennis Suszkowski, the science director of the nonprofit Hudson River Foundation.
The story of the black bivalve in New York is key to the history of America's biggest city.
When the Dutch arrived in Manhattan in the 1600s, the island was surrounded by mammoth oyster beds that fed the Lenape Indians. They covered hundreds of square miles underwater — so important as a major export that today's Ellis and Liberty islands were called Little Oyster Island and Great Oyster Island in colonial times.
Rich and poor New Yorkers and visitors dined on them in a maritime metropolis filled with vessels and street vendors hawking roasted oysters, long before hot dogs. But they slowly died out by the turn of the 19th century, overwhelmed by industrial waste, sewage, diseases and the dredging of the harbor to make room for shipping and development.
Now, new beds of oysters for New York's broken-down ecosystem are budding in more than a half dozen locations in the area. If the water temperature, currents, chemistry and other conditions are right, the bivalve can break down the pollution and thrive. But while suitable for cleanup work, they should not be eaten and poachers should not harvest polluted oysters and sell them for profit.
Under Gov. Chris Christie, New Jersey banned oyster restoration in 2010 in waters classified as contaminated for shellfish, citing public health.
In New York City, oyster restoration projects were started about seven years ago, with the city Department of Parks initiating the one in the Bronx — a 30-foot-long artificial reef made of rubble, old shells and hundreds of mollusks.
"It's so shocking that we're out there in the South Bronx and oysters are thriving — shocking to people who wouldn't put their little toe in the water for fear of how polluted it is," says Marit Larson, a water management expert at the department's Natural Resources Group.
Larson says the aim of what she calls "ecological engineering" is to create hundreds of acres of reefs in the next decades, populated with mollusks that form naturally spawning colonies. Funding for the projects comes from private and government sources. A 1-acre bed with up to 1 million oysters costs at least $50,000 to plant and manage.
Some new plantings in New York Harbor failed because the oysters were swept away by currents and boat wakes. So close attention must be paid to the beds that have succeeded.
"The question is 'how can we use the natural processes of organisms that were once here in abundance,'" she says. If oyster regeneration can be sustained and expanded, "it's the ultimate success story for one of the most urban and heavily used harbors in the world."
Grizzle says the oyster is the perfect aquatic engineer for the job. It pumps water to feed, retains any polluted particles and releases the rest — purified. Each one filters about 50 gallons of water a day.
"There's no human engineering substitute for these living things that clean the water," he says as he wades hundreds of feet back to the South Bronx shore.
Behind him, a plane takes off from LaGuardia Airport, low over Rikers Island jail.

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Great White Shark Washes Ashore; Officials Close New England Beaches

abc gma shark 0713 jt 120902 wblog Great White Shark Washes Ashore; Officials Close New England Beaches
A massive shark washed up on a New England beach this weekend, prompting officials to close down two nearby beaches.
The Great White weighing about 1,600 pounds was discovered on the border of Rhode Island and Massachusetts.
When fisherman Gary Severa first spotted the 13-foot predator Saturday morning, he thought it was driftwood but after getting a closer look there was no mistaking what he found.
“It was pretty scary standing next to that thing…it made your adrenaline go cause he’s stone dead, but my God, it has jaws written all over it,” Severa said.
Officials are not sure why this great white died or how it ended up here. Taking no chances, they closed the two nearby beaches – South Shore Beach and Goosewing Beach– for swimmers.
Officials closed nearly 10 miles of Cape Cod beaches because it was “not safe to go back in the water,” after that stretch of Massachusetts sand was the scene of a feeding frenzy caught on tape last month.
Summer of the Shark
A video taken on Aug. 22 shows another great white feasting on a seal just inches from a family’s boat, as they looked on in horror.
Last Thursday, seven sharks were spotted off the coast of two other Cape Cod beaches, some just feet from the shore.
“I’m glad summer is over.  Don’t think I’ll go back in the water…,” said beach goer Kristin Allder.
Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries told ABC News affiliate WCVB that they will conduct test to find out what caused the shark’s death.
“We’re going to look at the stomach — what it’s been eating,” Skomal told WCVB.

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