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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.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Daily Drift

Some days are just like that ... 

Some of our readers today have been in:
Mexico City, Mexico
Antalya, Turkey
Vancouver, Canada
Manila, Philippines
Fermont, Canada
Hanoi, Vietnam
Annecy, France
Bangkok, Thailand
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Tallinn, Estonia
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
San Jose, Costa Rica
Koszalin, Poland
Sampaloc, Philippines
Ankara, Turkey
Kiev, Ukraine
Cape Town, South Africa
London, England
Lahore, Pakistan
Skopje, Macedonia
Athens, Greece
Bogota, Colombia
Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
Lima, Peru
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1571   At the Battle of Lepanto in the Mediterranean Sea, the Christian galley fleet destroys the Turkish galley fleet.
1630   The town of Trimontaine, in Massachusetts, is renamed Boston, and becomes the state capital.
1701   England, Austria, and the Netherlands form an Alliance against France.
1778   Shawnee Indians attack and lay siege to Boonesborough, Kentucky.
1812   On the road to Moscow, Napoleon wins a costly victory over the Russians at Borodino.
1813   The earliest known printed reference to the United States by the nickname "Uncle Sam" occurs in the Troy Post.
1864   Union General Phil Sheridan's troops skirmish with the Confederates under Jubal Early outside Winchester, Virginia.
1876   The James-Younger gang botches an attempt to rob the First National Bank of Northfield, Minnesota.
1888   An incubator is used for the first time on a premature infant.
1892   The first heavyweight-title boxing match fought with gloves under Marquis of Queensbury rules ends when James J. Corbett knocks out John L. Sullivan in the 21st round.
1912   French aviator Roland Garros sets an altitude record of 13,200 feet.
1916   The U.S. Congress passes the Workman's Compensation Act.
1940   Germany's blitz against London begins during the Battle of Britain.
1942   The Red Army pushes back the German line northwest of Stalingrad.
1954   Integration of public schools begins in Washington D.C. and Maryland.

Non Sequitur


Fifteen Professions With Strange And Wonderful Names

Do you know what a weirkeeper does? Or a chandler? A haberdasher? Historical employment records are full of fantastic job titles that don't often show up in today's classifieds.
Here are 15 professions with very interesting names.

Don't Go to the U.S.A.

A Foolish and Backward Nation
That's how this Chinese microblog post, which has gone viral on Sina Weibo, China's Twitter, started. The anonymous post painted Americans as foolish, primitive and naive - but before you get offended, read it in its entirety to find who's really being criticized.

Tea Leaf Nation has the English translation:
Don’t Go to the U.S., A Foolish and Backward Nation
I’ve already been in the U.S. for a long time. I regret that choice. We’ve been [fooled] by Western media the whole time, making us think that the U.S. is a modernized country. Harboring hopes of studying American modern science in order to serve my motherland, I moved heaven and earth in order to make it over to this “superpower.” But the result has been very disappointing!
(1) The U.S. is actually a giant, undeveloped farming village. In middle school, teachers teach students that the more developed industry gets, the greater harm the natural environment suffers. For example, in an industrial city you should find chimneys everywhere, large factories everywhere, dust everywhere. That’s the symbol of industrialization! But the U.S.? You hardly ever see chimneys, occasionally you’ll see a few small ones but they’re just decorations for houses. Instead there are clear rivers and lakes everywhere, and there aren’t even paper factories or steel smelters by the riverbanks. The clean and fresh air is a symbol of primitive society. There’s not even a trace of industrialization!

Brain and money drain taking its toll on Spain

In predictable and understandable fashion, money and brainpower is leaving Spain. Just as we've been seeing in Greece (and the same for younger Italians), those who can leave, are leaving Spain. The bank withdrawals are large, but not large enough to disrupt the banking system. Long term the larger problem is losing the people who are needed to rebuild the economy.
Whether you're a young student, young graduate or even mid level manager who has the option to leave for a more stable environment, wouldn't you? The youth hardly even have any option considering the 50% unemployment rate but the same can be said of the mid level managers who have families. Why would you want to educate your children only to throw them to the wolves when they graduate from university?

The EU may be dumping $125 billion into the Spanish banking system, but that won't change the ugly economic dynamics.

Is staying really even an option for those who have the skills to work elsewhere?
More disturbing for Spain is that the flight is starting to include members of its educated and entrepreneurial elite who are fed up with the lack of job opportunities in a country where the unemployment rate touches 25 percent.

According to official statistics, 30,000 Spaniards registered to work in Britain in the last year, and analysts say that this figure would be many multiples higher if workers without documents were counted. That is a 25 percent increase from a year earlier.

“No doubt there is a little bit of panic,” said José García Montalvo, an economist at Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. “The wealthy people have already taken their money out. Now it’s the professionals and midrange people who are moving their money to Germany and London. The mood is very, very bad.”

Junk DNA Actually Not Junk

You'd be surprised to learn that 98% of human DNA actually don't encode for anything. Some bits and parts act as gene regulators and switches, but for the most part, they're just there because they're there. In 1972, geneticist Susumu Ohno coined the term "junk DNA" for the noncoding part of our genetic material, and the term stuck.
But new studies show that junk DNA is anything but junk:
As scientists delved into the “junk” — parts of the DNA that are not actual genes containing instructions for proteins — they discovered a complex system that controls genes. At least 80 percent of this DNA is active and needed. The result of the work is an annotated road map of much of this DNA, noting what it is doing and how. It includes the system of switches that, acting like dimmer switches for lights, control which genes are used in a cell and when they are used, and determine, for instance, whether a cell becomes a liver cell or a neuron.
“It’s Google Maps,” said Eric Lander, president of the Broad Institute, a joint research endeavor of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In contrast, the project’s predecessor, the Human Genome Project, which determined the entire sequence of human DNA, “was like getting a picture of Earth from space,” he said. “It doesn’t tell you where the roads are, it doesn’t tell you what traffic is like at what time of the day, it doesn’t tell you where the good restaurants are, or the hospitals or the cities or the rivers.”
The new result “is a stunning resource,” said Dr. Lander, who was not involved in the research that produced it but was a leader in the Human Genome Project. “My head explodes at the amount of data.”
Gina Kolata of The New York Time explains: here.

Man Infects Self with Hookworm to Treat Immune-Related Disorders

Hookworms are nasty parasitic nematodes, which larva infect humans through our skin, then travel to the lungs via the bloodstream and enter our airways. The hookworm larva are subsequently swallowed and made their way to the small intestines. There, the parasites grow up to be worms half an inch long and live for years, while causing abdominal discomfort and other nasty symptoms like anemia in some people.
So, why would anyone in their right mind want to get infected - on purpose - with hookworms?
Meet science writer Moises Velasquez-Manoff. He explains the benefits of being infected with parasites in this intriguing interview with Wired's Brandon Keim:
According to Velasquez-Manoff and the scientists he writes about, it’s no coincidence. A fast-growing body of research suggests that immune systems, produced by millions of years of evolution in a microbe-rich world, rely on certain exposures to calibrate themselves. Disrupt those exposures, as we have through modern medicine, food and lifestyle, and things go haywire.
Velasquez-Manoff, who has several immune-related disorders, including food allergies and alopecia, had heard about the “hookworm underground” — people who infect themselves with parasites in the hopes of restoring immune balance. Though it’s something he now recommends against doing, it marked the beginning of a reportorial journey into a frontier of science and health.

Bad sleep may predict Alzheimer's

Man sleeping Is there a link between sleeping patterns and dementia?

Problems sleeping may be an early sign of Alzheimer's if a study in mice also applies to people, say researchers.
Clumps of protein, called plaques, in the brain are thought to be a key component of the illness.
A study, published in the journal Science Translational Medicine, showed that when plaques first developed, the mice started having disrupted sleep.
Alzheimer's Research UK argued that if the link was proven it could become a useful tool for doctors.
The hunt for early hints that someone is developing Alzheimer's is thought to be crucial for treating the disease.
People do not show problems with their memory or clarity of thought until very late on in the disease. At this point, parts of the brain will have been destroyed, meaning treatment will be very difficult or maybe even impossible.
'Detectable sign' It is why researchers want to start early, years before the first symptoms.

If sleep abnormalities begin this early in the course of human Alzheimer's disease, those changes could provide us with an easily detectable sign of [the disease]”
Prof David Holtzman
One large area of research is in plaques of beta amyloid which form on the brain.
Levels of the beta amyloid protein naturally rise and fall over 24 hours in both mice and people. However, the protein forms permanent plaques in Alzheimer's disease.
Experiments at Washington University showed that nocturnal mice slept for 40 minutes during every hour of daylight. However, as soon brain plaques started to form the mice were sleeping for only 30 minutes.
One of the researchers, Prof David Holtzman, said: "If sleep abnormalities begin this early in the course of human Alzheimer's disease, those changes could provide us with an easily detectable sign of [the disease]."
"If these sleep problems exist, we don't yet know exactly what form they take, reduced sleep overall or trouble staying asleep or something else entirely."
However, findings in mice do not always apply to people as there are many reasons for disrupted sleep.
Dr Marie Janson, from the charity Alzheimer's Research UK, called for more studies in people to see if there was a link between sleeping patterns and Alzheimer's.
She added: "There has already been research linking changes in sleep patterns to a decline in thinking skills, but these results suggest that disrupted sleep may also be a warning sign of Alzheimer's.
"If research confirms specific sleep changes as a possible early marker of Alzheimer's, it could prove a useful strategy for doctors to identify patients at risk of the disease."

Does Childhood Obesity Affect Brain Development?

Children with an obesity-linked syndrome are shown to score lower in math and spelling.  
Read more
Does Childhood Obesity Affect Brain Development?

Food Prices to Soar Due to Climate Change

Staple food prices may double within the next two decades due to climate change and an increase in extreme weather said Oxfam. Read more
vegetable market

Nearly 15 Percent Going Hungry

Also, 5.7 percent of American households didn't have enough to eat at some point last year. Read more

Potato thief forgot to close back door of stolen trailer

A bungling thief made a right mash up of trying to steal 13 tons of potatoes from a farm trailer when he forgot to close the back door.

The crook had jumped behind the wheel of an unattended tractor and tried to flee from the farm in Eßleben, Germany, before pickers had had the chance to secure the trailer.

"He was pretty easy to follow because he left this huge trail of potatoes behind him," explained one farm hand.

The hapless crook eventually fled empty handed when the trailer overturned, bursting one of the tractor's rear tires causing it to crash into an electricity pylon.

CNN suppresses its own award-winning doc on human rights abuses in Bahrain; has commercial ties to the regime

CNN sent its investigative correspondent Amber Lyon to produce an expensive documentary on the Arab Spring, including human rights abuses in Bahrain. Lyon and her crew were violently detained by Bahraini security forces, but soldiered on and made "iRevolution: Online Warriors of the Arab Spring," which went on to win awards and acclaim after its sole airing on CNN.
But CNN International, "the most-watched English-speaking news outlet in the Middle East," has never aired the doc. While cutting the doc, Lyon was pressured to include statements from the Bahraini government that she knew to be lies. And CNN itself under-reported the ongoing abuses in Bahrain. Now, CNN has threatened Lyon with sanction for her continued work to uncover the reason that her doc was blackballed by the international arm of her former employer. CNN itself has been remarkably friendly to the Bahraini regime, with which it has close financial ties.
Here's more from Glenn Greenwald in The Guardian:
On 16 August, Lyon wrote three tweets about this episode. CNNi's refusal to broadcast "iRevolution", she wrote, "baffled producers". Linking to the YouTube clip of the Bahrain segment, she added that the "censorship was devastating to my crew and activists who risked lives to tell [the] story." She posted a picture of herself with Rajab and wrote:
"A proponent of peace, @nabeelrajab risked his safety to show me how the regime oppresses the [people] of #Bahrain."
The following day, a representative of CNN's business affairs office called Lyon's acting agent, George Arquilla of Octagon Entertainment, and threatened that her severance payments and insurance benefits would be immediately terminated if she ever again spoke publicly about this matter, or spoke negatively about CNN.
Why didn't CNN's international arm air its own documentary on Bahrain's Arab Spring repression?

Political Shooting in Montreal

We're exporting this now!?
A man fired shots that seemed to target a Separatist Party leader in Montreal.
Read more

Sri Lankan police arrest man who allegedly swallowed $13,000 diamond at exhibition

A Chinese visitor to a gem exhibition in Sri Lanka has been arrested for swallowing a diamond said to be worth $13,000 (about £8,200), police say. The 32-year-old man swallowed the gem after taking it from a display cabinet as the annual exhibition opened on Wednesday in the capital, Colombo.
"He appeared to be appraising it and suddenly put it in his mouth," an unnamed police officer said. He said the man was taken to hospital to be given laxatives. It is not yet clear whether the diamond has been recovered from the man, who was also arrested for attempted theft. Police say that the suspect asked diamond owner Suresh de Silva for a close inspection of the gem.

Mr de Silva said that he complained to police after seeing the visitor put the precious stone in his mouth and then swallow it. He said that said the man, who had an accomplice, operated by swapping real gemstones with forged ones. The stone which was swallowed might have been the false one and specialist tests will need to be conducted to ascertain which it is, Mr de Silva said.

Mr de Silva said the accomplice, who is also Chinese, had tried to distract him. But the diamond owner saw the would-be thief brush his hand over his face and then panic, apparently after being spotted. Mr de Silva said he had never known such a case before - swallowing a diamond was very risky, he said, because its point could damage the intestines.

Police officer denied bribe drove motorbike on vegetable vendor's chest

A police officer has been caught on camera riding his motorbike on the chest of a vegetable vendor in Allahabad, northern India, as other policemen and bystanders stood and watched. The incident took place outside the Rambagh railway station. The vendor, Rohit Kesarwani, claims that constable Bechu Singh Yadav had asked him to move his cart and demanded a bribe. He alleges that when he refused, the officer assaulted him, beat him with a stick and threw him to the ground.

The vendor alleges that the officer then rode the front wheel of his bike on his chest. Mohit Rastogi, one of the witnesses, recorded this on his mobile phone. On camera, the vendor is seen lying on the ground wearing only a vest and the police officer holding the motorbike, the front wheel of which is on the vendor’s chest. The photographer also claimed he was asked to delete the picture. He said, “When the cops saw me clicking pictures they started threatening me. They said I should not interfere. But I refused to bow down.”

Despite the visual evidence, the police has said that no such incident took place and that a photographer present there staged the incident for the camera. “There was an argument between the two of them. A photographer, who was also present there, told him to lie down under a motorcycle parked nearby. Then he took photos and leaked them to the media,” said AK Pandey, Superintendent of Police, Allahabad (Crime).

The Allahabad High Court has issued notice to the state government and senior police officials after a Public Interest Litigation was filed on the incident. The police have now begun to take action. The Allahabad Senior Superintendent of Police Mohit Aggarwal said the constable has been suspended and the police is investigating who the other officers present were. Mr Aggarwal promised tough action. The case will come up for hearing on September 5.

Mystery surrounds French Alps slayings, four people killed

http://www.dailystar.com.lb/dailystar/Pictures/2012/09/07/97873_mainimg.jpgFrench authorities struggled Thursday to uncover the mystery of the "savage" slayings in the French region of Alps, which the prosecutor in charge of the case said bore the marks of a professional assassination.

The secret history of the St. Louis Post Office and its amazing pneumatic tube

In 1905, the St. Louis post office built a two-mile pneumatic tube system to deliver mail between the train station and the post office. It was expensive to maintain ($17,000 per year per mile of tube) and ruined a lot of mail.
From Aimee Levitt's article in the Riverfront Times:
St. Louis's tubes ran a little less than two miles; by contrast, New York's system, the largest in the U.S., was 27 miles, not counting the tube that ran under the East River to Brooklyn. It was also the least efficient: Most of the time, the tubes, which were open from 4 a.m. to midnight six days a week, ran at only 26 percent capacity, except between 7 and 9 a.m. when the two big mail trains arrived. Then it was overwhelmed and the mail would be delayed for as long as 20 minutes. That was about five times as long as it took normally for the capsules to whiz their way from the train station to the main post office.
The tubes themselves were eight inches in diameter. The capsules were seven inches in diameter and 22 inches long; they could each hold about 600 letters. They didn't look much different from the capsules that are still used in banks. (Why mess with good technology?) Underground, they traveled at 30 miles per hour, propelled along by a system of fans and pumps that would either blow them forward or suck them backward.
Here's USPO's pro/con list of the system:

1. High rate of speed between stations for limited quantities of mail.
2. Freedom from surface congestion.
Limitation and disadvantages:
1. Only five pounds of mail could by carried in each container; and all classes of mail could not be carried.
2. The minimum time between dispatches is 15 seconds allowing only 20 pounds of letter mail each minute. Therefore, vehicle service would be required to carry mail during heavy volume times.
3. The inability to carry special delivery parcels due to the size of the carriers.
4. The relays at station are built in delays but they are unavoidable requiring all stations to be manned and open during operation.
5. The inability to dispatch between intermediate stations during continuous transmission between any two points.
6. Inability to dispatch to railroad companies without additional handling.
7. Complaints resulting from careless locking and accidental opening of container in transit causing damaged mail.
8. Dampness and oil damage to mail.
9. Service interruptions block an entire line.
10. Congestion from heavy mail volumes.
11. Equipment takes up rented building space.
12. Excessive costs.
By 1916 it was obsolete, replaced by mail trucks.
NewImage Too bad they shut it down. How cool would it be to get mail with a stamp that says: "Received through Pneumatic Tubes in bad order?"
The secret History of the St. Louis Post Office and its amazing pneumatic tube

Iraq veteran volunteers at DNC for the experience

A California Army vet says the Democrats are going out of their way to make veterans feel welcome and appreciated with meetings, councils, speakers and buttons.

President Obama: Voters face 'clearest choice' in a generation

If you reject the notion that our government is forever beholden to the highest bidder, you need to stand up in this election.

President Obama framed his election bid as a clear choice "between two different paths for America" Thursday night. He closed the Democratic National Convention by contending his roadmap to right America was better suited to a broader cross-section of the country than that of repugican Mitt Romney.

Why Does the repugican cabal Make Ridiculous Claims?

They are literally saying here, vote for us because things were SO bad when we left office that Obama has not been able to get things back to normal yet. 
The repugicans said Obama "tripled the deficit" but they were talking about Bush's last budget year. They said Obama massively increased spending, but shrub did that and Obama did not. They said Obama raised taxes, but he cut taxes. And now they say that we have fewer jobs because of Obama, when jobs are up by millions from the trough resulting from the shrub crash. What is going on, and why do they continue to make ridiculous claims?

Did Haley Barbour make an assassination joke about Obama?

The other day we reported that former repugican cabal chairman Haley Barbour, of Mississippi, made a sick racist comment about phsyically abusing President Obama:
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.”
A reader pointed out something far worse than the already-incredible racism that underlies a southerner with a history of racist problems suggesting that a black man be branded. A reader writes:
Politico has completely missed the disgustingly homophobic angle on Haley Barbour's comment to donors that Chris Christie should have "put a hot poker to Obama’s butt."
How obsessively bigoted is this man? A hot poker shoved into the anus and bowels is the reputed method used to assassinate King Edward II of England because he had a male lover.
How does an infamous method of murdering a gay man centuries ago make it's way into that man's working vocabulary?
Not just a notorious method of murdering a gay man, but the method of murdering a head of state, otherwise know as assassination.

Did former repugican cabal chair Haley Barbour intend to joke about assassinating the President of the United States or was he simply being viciously racist, and following in the footsteps of Mitt Romney's recent birther joke and the current rnc chair Reince Priebus trying to paint the President as "foreign"?

These are the people who want the keys to the national car. Apparently they haven't matured any since the last time they wrecked it.

UPDATE: Barbour apologized for the comment. Too late - Damage done.

Ancient Mayan Theater Was Political Tool

A newly found 1,200-year-old theater in Mexico appears to have been used by the elite to establish their dominance. Read more
Ancient Mayan Theater Was Political Tool

Rare Photo of Emily Dickinson Found

Until now, only one authenticated image (shown above) of the poet and author Emily Dickinson is known to exist. But now, Amherst College in Massachusetts thinks it may have a 1859 daguerreotype of Dickinson in her mid-20s, sitting with her friend, Kate Scott Turner. Professor Susan Pepin of Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center ran the image through some tests to try to confirm whether it was indeed Dickinson.
For example, she compared the measurement of eyelid and facial features of Dickinson in the 1847 image with the one from 1859.
Pepin told The Guardian, "Other similar facial features are evident between the women in the daguerreotypes. The right earlobe is higher on both women. The inferonasal corneal light reflex suggests corneal curvature similarity, allowing us to speculate about similar astigmatism in the two women. Both women have a central hair cowlick. Finally, both women have a more prominent left nasolabial fold."
Pepin thinks that if the image is confirmed to be real, it could change the public's perception of Dickinson from a teenager to a young woman with a "striking presence, strength, and serenity."

This daguerrotype is believed to be a photograph of Emily Dickinson in her mid-20s, seated with her friend Kate Scott Turner in 1859.

Ancient Syrian tools came from volcano in Turkey

Ancient sites and cultural heritage are under threat in Syria due to the current conflict. An interdisciplinary research team hopes ...
Continue Reading

King Richard III's Grave (Possibly) Discovered Under a Parking Lot

Archaelogists announced today that they believe they have uncovered the site of King Richard III's grave, inside a long-lost friary buried beneath the Leicester City Council offices.
The hunt for King Richard III's grave is heating up, with archaeologists announcing today (Sept. 5) that they have located the church where the king was buried in 1485.
"The discoveries so far leave us in no doubt that we are on the site of Leicester's Franciscan Friary, meaning we have crossed the first significant hurdle of the investigation," Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the dig, said in a statement.
The dig is located in a parking lot in Leicester, England, which covered the church believed to house the body of King Richard III since 1485. The church was lost to history and only recently tracked down by Buckley's team. More

The Classics


Dawn craft to depart asteroid for dwarf planet

After racking up 1.7 billion miles journeying to Vesta, Dawn has another 930 million miles to reach Ceres, where it will arrive in early 2015.
After spending a year gazing at Vesta, NASA's Dawn spacecraft was set to cruise toward the most massive space rock in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter a voyage that will take nearly three years.

How Fungi Creates the Amazon's Rainclouds

What makes a rainforest? Millions of things, living and dead and inanimate, but perhaps most importantly of all, rain. Rain, obviously, comes from clouds, and clouds come from.... fungi? Maybe so, according to an essay in TIME based on research published recently in the journal Science, which explores the intricate relationship between a rainforests's unique weather and the flora and fauna that rely on it.
When you mess with the Amazon rainforest you mess with a lot of things — 2.5 million species of insects, 40,000 species of plants, 1,300 species of birds, and those are only the known ones. The 1.4 billion of acres of thriving, sprawling biology that cover the Amazon help drive the very metabolism of a continent. And now it appears that the rainforest is at least partly responsible for something else: the Amazonian clouds themselves. Clear-cut the land and you could, in effect, clear-cut the sky.
More about the tenuous link between land and sky, on Time.

Astronauts fix the Space Station with a toothbrush

When NASA's Sunita Williams and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide couldn't seem to get a bolt attached to the outside of the space station, ground crews came up with a clever solution: Fix the problem with a toothbrush. At Space.com, Denise Chow explains the details:
On Aug. 30, Williams and Hoshide completed a marathon spacewalk that lasted more than 8 hours, but the astronauts were thwarted by a stubborn bolt and were unable to finish connecting the so-called main bus switching unit (MBSU). The stuck bolt forced NASA to add [yesterday's] extra spacewalk.
But, following last week's unsuccessful attempt, flight controllers, engineers and veteran spacewalkers worked around the clock at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston to devise a solution to the problem. Using only the supplies available on the space station, the teams came up with creative new tools for Williams and Hoshide to use to install the MBSU.
One was a modified toothbrush that was used to lubricate the inside of the bolt's housing after debris and metal shavings from inside had been removed. Another improvised instrument included a cleaning tool that had been made from wires that were bent back to form a brush, explained Kieth Johnson, lead spacewalk director at the Johnson Space Center.
Read the rest of the story at Space.com

Watch the Sun "burp"

Check out this great NASA video showing a coronal mass ejection—a burst of plasma thrown off the surface of the Sun—from several different perspectives. It happened on August 31 and it's really gorgeous. It's also rather huge, as far as these things go. Luckily, it wasn't pointed directly at Earth. Coronal mass ejections can affect our planet's magnetic field. There's a risk of large ones screwing with everything from our electric grid to radio waves.
Read more about coronal mass ejections 

Are Solar Storms Dangerous To Us?

Throughout 2012, the sun has been in an active part of its 11-year cycle of activity. Dark spots have been seen at sun's surface. Space observatories have been detecting short-lived but brilliant and powerful solar flares - intense bursts of radiation and our solar system's largest explosive events.

Occasional, powerful coronal mass ejections - giant bubbles of gas and magnetic fields from the sun, containing up to a billion tons of charged particles that can travel up to several million miles per hour - have been released into the interplanetary medium. This solar material has streamed out through space, and sometimes has struck Earth. Is this dangerous? Should we be worried?

Random Celebrity Photo


Alice White, 1933
Alice White, 1933

Hurricanes Harm Swamp Rats and Baby Dolphins

Clean-up crews are removing the rotting nutria carcasses with pitchforks and front-end loaders. The smell is reportedly terrible.
Creatures from manatees and alligators to rodents and dolphins all endure extreme weather, but not all survive. Read more

Dog Archaeologist Digs for Bones

(No! Not That Kind)
Meet Migaloo, the world's first dog trained to dig up ancient human bones.  
Read more
migaloo, archaeology dog, dogs

Painting elephant fetches $2,000 for artwork in Czech Republic

Original paintings from an elephant in the Czech Republic are selling for a starting price of $2,000 apiece and may go up in value soon. At the encouragement of her handlers, Shanti, a female elephant at the Prague Zoo took up painting last year.

Her handlers had seen other elephants do the same on TV and thought Shanti might have a creative streak too. Shanti has produced twelve paintings so far of which half sold at a gallery in Prague before she stopped.

It is thought a move to a new enclosure at the zoo threw off her routine. "We just have to wait for her next wave of creativity," said Marek Slidberski, curator at Marthi Gallery Prague.

If Shanti does not pick up the brush again soon, her prints have the potential of becoming limited release and could go up in value. Prague Zoo intends to use the money raised so far selling Shanti's paintings to help an elephant sanctuary in Sri Lanka.

Cheetah cub and puppy are BFFs!

Uzpo Michelle Curley runs online media for the Cincinnati Zoo. This is what she saw when she arrived at work today. "Best morning of my Zoo career!" she said. Photo from Michelle's @CincinnatiZoo Twitter feed. More photos at her Google+ page!

Water bear hunter

[Video Link] Presenting the tardigrade. As you aware, tardigrades (the scientific name is water bear) came to Earth from outer space.
Spaced Out is Vice's show about space on Earth. In the new episode, Motherboard travels to the Virginia wilderness to visit self proclaimed naturalist Mike Shaw on his hunt for the tardigrade, a "water bear" that can survive in situations that almost no other living organism can... and could have totally come from another planet.
Vice: First Animal to Survive in Space

Pyrenean Desman

On The Trail Of Europe's Weirdest Beast
The Pyrenean desman (Galemys pyrenaicus) is a small semiaquatic mammal that lives in the Pyrenees to the Iberian Peninsula. It inhabits mountain streams and has been described as 'Europe's weirdest beast.'

The Pyrenean desman was once thought to be widespread across mountain ranges in France, Spain and Portugal. But now Catalonia's Alt Pirineu Natural Park is one of the last strongholds for this species. It's about the size of a hamster, with a glossy grey coat. It has a huge nose framed with long whiskers and beady little eyes. Its front paws are tiny, but its back feet are huge - and webbed. It's topped off by a thick, scaly tail.

Animal Pictures


Domination by Ronceval :)