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.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

The Daily Drift

A good one ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Yekaterinburg, Russia
Surabaya, Indonesia
Vancouver, Canada
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Miri, Malaysia
Cape Town, South Africa
Nizhny Novgorod, Russia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Vrbovec, Croatia
Novosibirsk, Russia
Georgetown, Guyana
Yerevan, Armenia
Hanoi, Vietnam
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Ljubljana, Slovenia
Bangalore, India
Kiev, Ukraine
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Istanbul, Turkey
Barquismeto, Venezuela
Panama City, Panama
Pretoria, South Africa
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Manila, Philippines
Athens, Greece
Zeven, Germany
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1666   The Fire of London is extinguished after two days.
1664   After days of negotiation, the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam surrenders to the British, who will rename it New York.
1792   Maximilien Robespierre is elected to the National Convention in France.
1804   In a daring night raid, American sailors under Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, board the captured USS Philadelphia and burn the ship to keep it out of the hands of the Barbary pirates who captured her.
1816   Louis XVIII of France dissolves the chamber of deputies, which has been challenging his authority.
1859   Harriot E. Wilson's Our Nig, is published, the first U.S. novel by an African American woman.
1867   The first shipment of cattle leaves Abilene, Kansas, on a Union Pacific train headed to Chicago.
1870   Author Victor Hugo returns to Paris from the Isle of Guernsey where he had lived in exile for almost 20 years.
1877   The great Sioux warrior Crazy Horse is fatally bayoneted at age 36 by a soldier at Fort Robinson, Nebraska.
1878   Bat Masterson, Wyatt Earp, Bill Tilghman and Clay Allison, four of the West's most famous gunmen, meet in Dodge City, Kansas.
1905   The Russian-Japanese War ends as representatives of the combating empires, meeting in New Hampshire, sign the Treaty of Portsmouth. Japan achieves virtually all of its original war aims.
1910   Marie Curie demonstrates the transformation of radium ore to metal at the Academy of Sciences in France.
1944   Germany launches its first V-2 missile at Paris, France.
1958   Martin Luther King is arrested in an Alabama protest for loitering and fined $14 for refusing to obey police.
1960   Leopold Sedar Sengingor, poet and politician, is elected president of Senegal, Africa.
1975   President Gerald Ford evades an assassination attempt in Sacramento, California.

Non Sequitur

Urban Farming

Urban farming (or Urban Agriculture) is the practice of cultivating, processing, and distributing food in or around a village, town, or city. Urban agriculture can also involve animal husbandry, aquaculture, agroforestry, and horticulture. These activities also occur in peri-urban areas as well.

Here are seven farms in cities from Hong Kong to Cairo. Learn more about their methods, and their outlook on the future of the industry.

And I Quote

Democrats platform backs gay marriage, abortion rights

Obama campaign logo is seen under the scoreboard hanging from the ceiling inside of Time Warner Cable Arena at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C., on Monday, Sept. 3, 2012. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Democrats unveiled a party platform at their national convention Monday that echoes President Barack Obama's call for higher taxes on wealthier Americans while backing same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Did you know ...

That lots of Romney supporters don't think he can win

About the story of canned laughter

About the gay student that  goes undercover to the national organization for marriage conference on families

That an anti-gay pastor was convicted of public masturbation

The truth be told

Thursday, August 30

Former repugican cabal chairman talks of branding President Obama with hot poker

Ah yes, branding a negro, just like Haley Barbour's racist Mississippi ancestors used to do to their black slaves.

The repugican cabal really is a racist piece of work.

Barbour offered a brief assessment of the repugican national cabal. “While I would love for [Chris] Christie to put a hot poker to Obama’s butt,” said Barbour of the rnc keynote speaker, “I thought he did what he was supposed to do.”
Not like former repugican cabal chair Haley Barbour doesn't have his own run in with the Klan and other racist leanings.

This is now part of a larger pattern of racist attacks from repugican leaders, including current repugican cabal chair Reince Preibus, who was called out for his racist comments last week.

Romney got almost no bounce from the repugican convention

Funny that Paul Ryan's lies, Romney's robotic speech, and Eastwooding didn't appeal to more Americans. From Slate:
- Bob Dole in 1996: 52 percent positive (excellent/good); 7 percent negative (poor/terrible).
- George W. Bush in 2000: 51 percent positive; 4 percent negative.
- George W. Bush in 2004: 49 percent positive; 8 percent negative.
- John McCain in 2008: 47 percent positive; 12 percent negative.
- Mitt Romney in 2012: 38 percent positive; 16 percent negative.
And, fyi, the Democrats' positive marks have climbed (although we're dealing with an even smaller sample):
- Al Gore in 2000: 51 percent positive; 6 percent negative.
- John Kerry in 2004: 52 percent positive; 9 percent negative.
- Barack Obama in 2008: 58 percent positive; 7 percent negative.
Gallup also shows Romney with the smallest post-convention bounce in recent political history. Forty percent of those polled said they'd be more likely to vote GOP after last week's GOP convention, compared to 38 percent who said they'd be less likely. That 2-percent gain was one of only three among a list going back to 1984 with net gains in the single digits. The other two single-digit bounces: the 2008 (plus-5) and 2004 (plus-3) RNCs. Of course, George W. Bush still went on to win reelection in 2004, so a lackluster convention doesn't necessarily translate to a November loss.

Mitt Romney: Climate change is real, but addressing it would be wrong

Science Debate is a group that's working to get political candidates in the United States actually talking publicly about issues of science and technology policy. In 2008, they tried (and failed) to get Barak Obama and John McCain to agree to a live, televised science debate. But they did get both candidates to send in written answers to 14 key questions.
This election cycle, Science Debate sent out a new set of 14 questions—all chosen from a crowdsourced list. Today, they announced that they'd gotten answers back from both Obama and Mitt Romney. You can compare the candidates side-by-side at the Science Debate website. I have to say that, while I disagree with a lot of Romney's conclusions, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of thought and time his staff clearly put into writing some very long and detailed responses.
Perhaps most surprising was his response to a question about climate change. Instead of attempting to flatly deny the evidence, Mitt Romney has apparently moved on to acknowledging that climate change is happening—while simultaneously overplaying the uncertainty surrounding specific risks, and claiming that even if climate change is a big problem there's nothing we can really do about it anyway ... because China.
Personally, I think that's pretty interesting. Climate scientists, and the journalists who write about them, have been talking, anecdotally, about seeing this exact rhetorical shift happening in conservative circles. It seems that the Republican presidential nominee is now one of the people who acknowledge climate change exists, but would still rather not take any decisive steps to deal with it.
I happen to think that's a dumb position. After all, even if the United States can't stop climate change alone, the kinds of policies that would reduce our dependence on fossil fuels would also help us adapt and thrive despite climate shifts and fossil fuel depletion. But this is still a step in the right direction. As several climate scientists I've spoken with have said, we can disagree on the policy. But it's high time we stop pretending that we can't see the changes happening all around us.

Mitt Romney: I am not a scientist myself, but my best assessment of the data is that the world is getting warmer, that human activity contributes to that warming, and that policymakers should therefore consider the risk of negative consequences. However, there remains a lack of scientific consensus on the issue — on the extent of the warming, the extent of the human contribution, and the severity of the risk — and I believe we must support continued debate and investigation within the scientific community.
Ultimately, the science is an input to the public policy decision; it does not dictate a particular policy response.
President Obama has taken the view that if global warming is occurring, the American response must be to slash carbon dioxide emissions by imposing enormous costs on the U.S. economy. First he tried a massive cap-and-trade bill that would have devastated U.S. industry. When that approach was rejected by Congress, he declared his intention to pursue the same course on his own and proceeded through his EPA to impose rules that will bankrupt the coal industry.
Nowhere along the way has the President indicated what actual results his approach would achieve — and with good reason. The reality is that the problem is called Global Warming, not America Warming. China long ago passed America as the leading emitter of greenhouse gases. Developed world emissions have leveled off while developing world emissions continue to grow rapidly, and developing nations have no interest in accepting economic constraints to change that dynamic. In this context, the primary effect of unilateral action by the U.S. to impose costs on its own emissions will be to shift industrial activity overseas to nations whose industrial processes are more emissions-intensive and less environmentally friendly. That result may make environmentalists feel better, but it will not better the environment. So I oppose steps like a carbon tax or a cap-and-trade system that would handicap the American economy and drive manufacturing jobs away, all without actually addressing the underlying problem. Economic growth and technological innovation, not economy-suppressing regulation, is the key to environmental protection in the long run. So I believe we should pursue what I call a “No Regrets” policy — steps that will lead to lower emissions, but that will benefit America regardless of whether the risks of global warming materialize and regardless of whether other nations take effective action.
For instance, I support robust government funding for research on efficient, low-emissions technologies that will maintain American leadership in emerging industries. And I believe the federal government must significantly streamline the regulatory framework for the deployment of new energy technologies, including a new wave of investment in nuclear power. These steps will strengthen American industry, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and produce the economically-attractive technologies that developing nations must have access to if they are to achieve the reductions in their own emissions that will be necessary to address what is a global issue.
Also, it's worth noting that we've used a cap and trade system in the United States before. When we did, it not only worked well, it did the job way more cheaply than anyone had guessed.
Remember acid rain? That's caused by sulfur dioxide emissions, produced largely by burning coal. We drastically reduced those emissions (making our air cleaner, people healthier, and ecosystems safer) through a cap and trade system that went into effect in 1995. At the time, according to management consulting firm McKinsey and Company, analysts thought it would cost between $3 and $25 billion to clean up America's skies. Instead, it cost about $1.4 billion.
That's because things like cap and trade aren't really about the government choosing winners and losers. Instead, it's about letting government do what it does best—i.e., setting national priorities that allow us to take long-term action on issues that affect all Americans—and then letting industry do what it does best. When government sets the priorities, industries will find ways to meet those priorities cheaply.


America's Best Places for a Raise

Although much still needs to be done to create good jobs for the many out of work or under-employed Americans, there is some cause to celebrate this Labor Day , as workers in some areas of the country took home substantial raises, according to the most recent data.

Daily Comic Relief

"The Overview Effect" and the interconnectedness of all humans

In February, 1971, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell experienced the little understood phenomenon sometimes called the “Overview Effect”. He describes being completely engulfed by a profound sense of universal connectedness. Without warning, he says, a feeing of bliss, timelessness, and connectedness began to overwhelm him. He describes becoming instantly and profoundly aware that each of his constituent atoms were connected to the fragile planet he saw in the window and to every other atom in the Universe. He described experiencing an intense awareness that Earth, with its humans, other animal species, and systems were all one synergistic whole. He says the feeling that rushed over him was a sense of interconnected euphoria. He was not the first—nor the last—to experience this strange “cosmic connection”...

Their experiences, along with dozens of other similar experiences described by other astronauts, intrigue scientists who study the brain. This “Overview Effect”, or acute awareness of all matter as synergistically connected, sounds somewhat similar to certain religious experiences described by Buddhist monks, for example. Where does it come from and why? ...

Mitchell believes that perhaps both the theologians and scientists have missed the mark.
“All I can suggest to the mystic and the theologian is that our gods have been too small; they fill the universe. And to the scientist all I can say is that the gods do exist; they are the eternal, connected, and aware Self experienced by all intelligent beings."

The eyes have it: Men do see things differently to women

The way that the visual centers of men and women’s brains works is different, finds new research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal Biology of Sex Differences. Men have greater sensitivity to fine detail and rapidly moving stimuli, but women are better at discriminating between colors. In the brain there are high concentrations of male sex hormone (androgen) receptors throughout cerebral cortex, especially in the visual cortex which is responsible for processing images. Androgens are also responsible for controlling the development of neurons in the visual cortex during embryogenesis, meaning that males have 25% more of these neurons than females.
Researchers from Brooklyn and Hunter Colleges of the City University of New York compared the vision of men and women aged over 16 from both college and high school, including students and staff. All volunteers were required to have normal color vision and 20/20 sight (or 20/20 when corrected by glasses or contact lenses).
When the volunteers were required to describe colors shown to them across the visual spectrum it became obvious that the color vision of men was shifted, and that they required a slightly longer wavelength to experience the same hue as the women. The males also had a broader range in the center of the spectrum where they were less able to discriminate between colors.
An image of light and dark bars was used to measure contrast-sensitivity functions (CSF) of vision; the bars were either horizontal or vertical and volunteers had to choose which one they saw. In each image, when the light and dark bars were alternated the image appeared to flicker.
By varying how rapidly the bars alternated or how close together they were, the team found that at moderate rates of image change, observers lost sensitivity for close together bars, and gained sensitivity when the bars were farther apart. However when the image change was faster both sexes were less able to resolve the images over all bar widths. Overall the men were better able to resolve more rapidly changing images that were closer together than the women.
Prof Israel Abramov, who led this study commented, “As with other senses, such as hearing and the olfactory system, there are marked sex differences in vision between men and women. The elements of vision we measured are determined by inputs from specific sets of thalamic neurons into the primary visual cortex. We suggest that, since these neurons are guided by the cortex during embryogenesis, that testosterone plays a major role, somehow leading to different connectivity between males and females. The evolutionary driving force between these differences is less clear.”

The “Fairer” Sex: Underrepresentation of Women in Clinical Trials

By Suchita Nety
 Even in the 21st century, women are consistently underrepresented in clinical trials involving drug therapy, medical devices, and behavioral interventions.
Although various US federal agencies have made improvements to legislation regarding women’s participation in clinical trials over the past few decades, recent studies demonstrate that the underrepresentation of women remains a persistent problem that raises both scientific and ethical concerns.

Rape victims suffer traumatic brain damange

By Yun Suh-young

Local researchers have found that victims of sexual assault who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) not only suffer psychologically but also physically.

According to a recent report on the physiological effects of the disorder in victims of sexual assault, they complained of memory deficiencies, sleep disorders and uncontrollable fear.

Researchers from Ajou University School of Medicine and Ewha Womans University School of Medicine published “Resting cerebral glucose metabolism and perfusion patterns in women with posttraumatic stress disorder related to sexual assault” in the August edition of Psychiatry Research: Neuroimaging, a global psychiatry journal published by the International Society for Neuroimaging in Psychiatry.

This is the first time that PTSD patients were evaluated on their cerebral perfusion (blood flow to the brain) and glucose metabolism.

Twelve women between 19 and 51 suffering from the disorder were chosen as the experimental group and were compared to two different control groups of healthy women. Ten from the control group, aged from 26 to 50, underwent single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) and 15 other women in the control group between ages 32 to 53 had positron emission tomography (PET). The PTSD patients underwent both tests.

The patients were all women who had suffered from sexual assaults, and had been diagnosed with the stress disorder over nine months ago. It is usually diagnosable six months after the psychological trauma.

Results showed that the PTSD patients showed decreased perfusion and glucose metabolism in the hippocampus which is responsible for memory and fear control activities.

“This means sex crime victims suffer from memory deficiencies and have a hard time controlling their fears. The decrease in memory function comes from their efforts to erase the traumatic incident from their memories,” said An Young-sil, professor at the Department of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging at Ajou University who participated in the research.

The PTSD patients also showed significantly higher glucose metabolic activities in the cerebellum than the control group. The increased functional activity in the cerebellum causes a hyper-aroused state which causes symptoms such as increased heart rate variation, exaggerated startled responses and sleep abnormalities.

“Simply put, the patients are overly awake and react extremely sensitively even to small external stimulus,” said An.

To treat these PTSD patients who are victims of sex offenses, medication goes side by side with psychological treatment.

“The treatment of the disorder of sex crime victims depends on their symptoms. Usually they take medication while going through counseling. There are, however, more victims who are still unknown. Although more women see themselves as victims and are coming out with their problems and asking for help, there are still so many women who try to conceal their problems due to shame,” said Kim Shin-young, a doctor who participated in the study.

Stress may harm your brain - but it recovers

It would be unethical to intentionally subject people to extreme psychological duress in the name of science.

Chocolate May Protect The Brain From Stroke

Eating chocolate may reduce the long term risk of stroke, research has shown. Dark chocolate has previously been associated with heart health benefits, but this time it's the milk variety.

The difference was small, but significant. Study participants who ate the most chocolate, equivalent to about one third of a cup of chocolate chips, reduced their stroke risk by 17 per cent. A total of 37,103 Swedish men aged 49 to 75 took part in the study. The difference was small, but significant. Study participants who ate the most chocolate reduced their stroke risk by 17%.

Daily Funny

Yearly Exam

During my yearly physical examination, my doctor asked me about my physical activity level.

I described a typical day this way:

"Well, yesterday afternoon, I took a five hour walk, about 7km, through some pretty rough terrain.
I waded along the edge of a lake.
I pushed my way through brambles.
I got sand in my shoes and my eyes.
I climbed several rocky hills.
I took a few 'leaks' behind some big trees.
The mental stress of it all left me shattered.
At the end of it all I drank a bottle of wine".

Inspired by the story, the doctor said, "You must be one hell of an outdoors person!"

"No," I replied, "I'm just a crap golfer".

It's Caligula's 2000th birthday this week

It’s the day before the Kalends of September and you know what that means: it’s the birthday of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, aka the emperor Caligula... His father dressed little Gaius in a miniature army outfit, including child-sized versions of caligae, the hobnailed sandal boots worn by common soldiers. That’s how he got his nickname, Caligula, meaning little caliga
His ascent to power was fueled by cutting taxes, which unfortunately led to the bankrupting of the country, to which he responded by starting a brothel staffed by the senators' wives and daughters.

More details at The History Blog.

Great depressing moments in history

Philippe Lebon and the streetlights of Paris
At his blog, Kafka's Mouse, author P.D. Smith details the history of lighting infrastructure in cities—a story that begins with the dawn of gas lights.
London was the first city to get gas-powered street lamps, in 1812. But it was not the first city to hear such an idea proposed. In fact, in an alternate reality, Paris could have been the first illuminated city — had they only listened to tragically hip engineer Philippe Lebon, who was into gas street lamps before they were cool.
It was the French engineer Philippe Lebon (1767-1804) who had the ingenious – though as it turned out premature – idea of using the gas produced from burning wood for heating and lighting cities. He was utterly convinced that he had discovered a new power source for what he called ‘thermolamps or stoves that heat cheaply’. But like many inventors, he found it difficult to convince others that his ideas could work. The French government rejected his proposal to illuminate Paris with gas lights.
So, in 1801, Lebon rented a house in the heart of Paris and, using his invention, spectacularly illuminated its rooms and even the grotto in the garden. Despite this shining example, the French press poured scorn on his idea and manufacturers remained sceptical. Poor Lebon was ruined and his idea faded with the turning out of the last gas-lamp in his show-house. Lebon had spent his entire family fortune on the idea and died in 1804, a bitter man.
But the very next year, William Murdock – who had also invented an ingenious pneumatic urban message system – began installing coal-gas lighting in mills in Manchester and Halifax. Murdock had started experimenting with coal-gas a few years earlier, after hearing of Lebon’s gas-lit house. The age of gas lighting had finally dawned, but sadly without its pioneer, Lebon, ever seeing its light.

The Lancashire Witches 1612-2012

Four hundred years ago in northwest England, twenty people were arrested on witchcraft charges.
We know so much about the Lancashire Witches because the trial was recorded in unique detail by the clerk of the court, Thomas Potts, who published his account soon afterwards as The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster. I have recently published a modern-English edition of this book, together with an essay piecing together what we know of the events of 1612. It has been a fascinating exercise, revealing how Potts carefully edited the evidence, and also how the case against the ‘witches’ was constructed and manipulated to bring about a spectacular show trial. It all began in mid-March when a pedlar from Halifax named John Law had a frightening encounter with a poor young woman, Alizon Device, in a field near Colne. He refused her request for pins and there was a brief argument during which he was seized by a fit that left him with ‘his head … drawn awry, his eyes and face deformed, his speech not well to be understood; his thighs and legs stark lame.’ We can now recognize this as a stroke, perhaps triggered by the stressful encounter. Alizon Device was sent for and surprised all by confessing to the bewitching of John Law and then begged for forgiveness.
Much like the later witch trials of Salem, Massachusetts, the hysteria surrounding the accusations spread as those accused started naming names, while others took advantage of the proceedings for their own ends. Read an account of the trial itself and the commemoration of it 400 years later at The Public Domain Review.

Woman washed and dragged naked corpse around for three weeks thinking she was tending to the remains of Osama bin Laden

A woman lived with the decaying body of her pensioner friend for up to three weeks following his death because she thought she was tending to the remains of Osama bin Laden. Mentally ill Jane Cappleman washed and dragged around the naked corpse of 75-year-old Anthony Sherman after he died from unknown causes. Worried neighbors eventually called the police after spotting her burning his clothes in the garden of the south London flat, Southwark Coroner's Court heard.

After officers battered down the door, Ms Cappleman told them she thought she had been tending to the remains of Osama bin Laden. In a police interview, Ms Cappleman, thought to be aged in her 60s, said she had known Mr Sherman, described by neighbors as a 'well-spoken quiet man', for around 10 years after meeting him in church. The pair had never been romantically involved, she said, adding that she lived with him and he gave her £20 a week as 'pocket money'.

Summarizing her account, Detective Constable Andy Faiers said Ms Cappleman claimed to have been at the flat for three weeks but was 'adamant the deceased was not Mr Sherman.' She variously claimed she thought he was former Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, or that he 'must have been Australian or American because they're nudists'. DC Faiers added: "She knew he was dead but didn't know what to do.

"There appeared to be drag marks on the floor, indicating the body had been moved, and she said she moved him so she could wash him every day. She cleaned his face, chest and upper back with a flannel." By the time it was discovered, Mr Sherman's body was too badly decomposed to shed light on how he died. An analysis of insects that had hatched on his body concluded he had been dead for around three weeks. Recording an open verdict, Assistant Deputy Coroner Belinda Cheney said it was impossible to know how Mr Sherman died.

Random Photo

Nine Scientific Breakthroughs That Happened Totally By Accident

You may recall that inventions like the microwave and Play-Doh were mere happy accidents. And of course you've heard of Alexander Fleming's penicillin jackpot. But there are so many more scientific breakthroughs that came about through sheer dumb luck that you may not have heard of. Here are nine, including a few that you use every single day.

Yellowstone Megavolcano May Blow Without Warning

While currently there are no signs of an impending eruption, previous eruptions came fast.  

A Mystery Underwater

"A scuba divers swims under thick ice covering a flooded former quarry. The rays of sunshine can be seen bursting through a hole cut into the ice. The light also radiates along a series of lines on the surface of the ice, created by clearing away some of the settled snow. Divers use the circles and lines above to help them find their way back to the hole in Ekaterinburg, Russia."

Brahin Pallasite: The Oddest Meteorite

No, Not a "brain parasite"!

The Brahin Pallasite meteorite from the Gomel region of Belarus:

(image credit: Steve Jurvetson)

Believed to be 4.2 billion years old, this unique find has a most incredible history. Steve Jurvetson writes:

"It is the result of the violent destruction of what would otherwise have been a planet during the formation of our solar system. It comes from the boundary between the silica rich mantle and the iron-nickel core of a now extinct planet, torn away by a catastrophic impact with another planet or asteroid. A mix of solid stone forming olivine crystals (37% by weight) in suspension in liquid metal (iron-nickel) was flung into space to cool over millions of years in a vacuum and zero gravity, forming this beautiful mixture (which could not be created on Earth).

This is a 3 kg end piece (cut and polished) of the Brahin meteorite fall that was first discovered in 1807 by farmers and sent to the local university scientists. During World War II, German soldiers stole samples in Kiev, and others disappeared in Minsk."

Night-Shining Clouds Get Glow from Meteor Smoke

A key ingredient in noctilucent clouds appears to be "smoke" from meteors as they burn up. Read more
noctilucent clouds

Three Pictures

Monorail Locomotive?

This photo shows the "monorail locomotive" built for the Bradford and Fosterbrook Railway. "Despite looking like a regular four wheeled locomotive, in reality the cylinders drove two gears which drove a large roller type wheel":

"Cumulonimbus Incus" anvil cloud, seen in Mykonos, Greece:

The lightning strike in Omsk, Russia:

The Story Behind the Baby Gorilla and the Cold Stethoscope

Photo: David Caird
Brrr, that is cold! Recently, the viral photo of a newborn baby gorilla reacting to the coldness of the stethoscope went viral after it was posted to Twitter by @christianmunthe. But in reality, the "baby" is now a 13-year-old gorilla.
The Herald Sun has the story:
Adorable images of Yakini squishing his face up as a vet listened to his heart with a stethoscope were beamed around the world back in 1999, prompting "Awwws" from people everywhere. [...]
Many were duped into believing the gorilla had just had a check-up at Melbourne Zoo.
The photos are actually almost 13 years old and were taken by Herald Sun photographer David Caird.
"He had a very difficult start to life and had to have a lot of intensive care treatment from zoo keepers and specialists that came in," Melbourne Zoo spokesperson Judith Henke said. "The photographs were taken during a brief media opportunity at the gorilla nursery back in 1999. I remember the photos were very big internationally at the time."

Hunting Practice Helps Spread Bird Flu

The practice of raising millions animals for hunting is contributing to the spread of disease through bird populations.  
game hunting

Giant mutant pigs were Highland Cattle

Two prime Scottish highland bulls have been shot dead by a short-sighted Danish hunter who thought he had spotted a pair of giant wild pigs. The farmer who owned the cattle and had allowed the hunters onto his remote property at Morlunda near Hultsfred in southern Sweden said he was stunned when he saw hunter Nicklas Mikkelsen, 58, take aim and fire three shots from a high powered hunting rifle.

The shots downed the two 800 kilogram Highland bulls instantly. Farmer Tobias Soederberg said: "The man insisted he had shot dead two giant pigs even when I told him they were cattle, it was only when he got nearer that he realized his mistake." The Danish hunter took an alcohol test that showed he was sober at the time but he is still likely to face charges once the police investigation has been completed for breaching hunting laws - and a claim for compensation.

The man had apparently been discussing with fellow hunters about the legend of pigzilla when he suddenly spotted what he thought were the giant wild boar. Police spokesperson Reinhold Liljedahl confirmed: "A Danish citizen has shot two bulls he thought were wild boars. The mystery is that he should have been able to see the difference. Wild boar rarely weigh more than 200 kilograms, so the bulls were quite a bit larger."

He added that it had been getting darker, which may have been a factor in the mishap. The remote area where the hunt takes place had only recently introduced the Scottish cattle perfect for local conditions because of the rugged nature of their native Scottish Highlands, with high rainfall and strong winds.

Poo-sniffing dog on a mission to save the whales

A black Labrador mix named Tucker with a mysterious past as a stray on the streets of Seattle has become an unexpected star in the realm of canine-assisted science. He is the world’s only working dog, marine biologists say, able to find and track the scent of Orca scat, or feces, in open ocean water — up to a mile away, in the smallest of specks.

Through dint of hard work and obsession with an orange ball on a rope, which he gets to play with as a reward after a successful search on the water, Tucker is an ace in finding something that most people, and perhaps most dogs, would just as soon avoid.

And it is not easy. Scat can sink or disperse in 30 minutes or less. But it is crucial in monitoring the health of the whales here, an endangered group that is probably among the most studied animal populations in the world.

Most of the 85 or so Orcas, or killer whales, that frequent the San Juans, about two hours northwest of Seattle, have been genotyped and tracked for decades, down to their birth years and number of offspring. And none of this could happen as easily as it does without Tucker and his wet, black nose — or the new tricks that he taught the scientists.

Full story, with additional video, here.

Injured endangered sea turtle lays 6 eggs at Florida hospital

An injured endangered sea turtle has laid six eggs after being brought a turtle hospital in the Florida Keys.

Bette Zirkelbach is the administrator of the hospital. She says staff was able to harvest the eggs and they have been put in an incubator with sand from the U.S. Virgin Islands. That way if the eggs hatch, the hawksbill sea turtles will be familiar with their native sand.

White Tiger!

Too Cute! White Tiger Cubs

Three white tiger cubs were born in a Czech zoo, and they are adorable.  
Read more
Three white tiger cubs were born in a Czech zoo, and they are adorable.

Cute Baby White Tiger Cubs

These three rare white tiger cubs and their mother are too adorable to miss.  
Read more
Cute Baby White Tiger Cubs: Gotta-See Video

A Rumble in the Jungle

A Lion and Tiger Fight
When these "Kings of the Jungle" step up and fight, who wins?  
Read more
Watch a Lion and Tiger Fight: Gotta-See Video

Animal Pictures


King of the Kalahari Desert by Ania Photography ✿ on Flickr :)