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.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Today in History

1777   At Germantown, Pa., British General Sir William Howe repels George Washington's last attempt to retake Philadelphia, compelling Washington to spend the winter at Valley Forge.
1795   General Napoleon Bonaparte leads the rout of counterrevolutionaries in the streets of Paris, beginning his rise to power.
1861   The Union ship USS South Carolina captures two Confederate blockade runners outside of New Orleans, La.
1874   Kiowa leader Satanta, known as "the Orator of the Plains," surrenders in Darlington, Texas. He is later sent to the state penitentiary, where he commits suicide October 11, 1878.
1905   Orville Wright pilots the first flight longer than 30 minutes. The flight lasted 33 minutes, 17 seconds and covered 21 miles.
1914   The first German Zeppelin raids London.
1957   Sputnik 1, the first man-made satellite, is launched, beginning the "space race." The satellite, built by Valentin Glushko, weighed 184 pounds and was launched by a converted Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Sputnik orbited the earth every 96 minutes at a maximum height of 584 miles. In 1958, it reentered the earth's atmosphere and burned up.
1968   Cambodia admits that the Viet Cong use their country for sanctuary.
1972   Judge John Sirca imposes a gag order on the Watergate break-in case.
1976   In Gregg v. Georgia, the U.S. Supreme Court lifts the ban on the death sentence in murder cases. This restores the legality of capital punishment, which had not been practiced since 1967. The first execution following this ruling was Gary Gilmore in 1977.

Non Sequitur


Romney increasingly panned on substance, lies

While Mitt Romney was perhaps the more animated one last night (a shot of caffeine before going on TV will do that), on substance, the pundits are increasingly finding that the President won.  If only because Romney lied, a lot.
Here’s a look at some of the rulings.
“Romney sometimes came off as a serial exaggerator”
Chicago Sun-Times:
If you score Wednesday’s debate largely on the basis of which candidate for president exuded a rambunctious energy, it was Gov. Romney all the way.
If, however, you score Wednesday’s debate on substance — accurate facts and honest arithmetic — Obama more than held his own. He drove home the false promises and dangerous ramifications of Romney’s proposed tax cuts, which would surely raise taxes for the middle class by eliminating breaks, such as the home mortgage deduction, and require the elimination of essential programs, such as student loan subsidies.
Romney Goes On Offense, Pays For It In First Wave Of Fact Checks
And because Romney made more factual assertions, he’s getting dinged more — at least in the early hours after the debate — by the fact checkers.
Well, no, it doesn’t really work that way. Normal people don’t lie more, the more they speak. Liars lie more, the more they speak.
Gergen on CNN:
“Romney was flat-out lying.”

Huffington Post:
The [Obama] campaign has a good point: Romney’s policy explanations, particularly about how he was going to pay for $5 trillion in tax cuts, were vague, misleading and riddled with falsehoods. But he delivered them with conviction. Obama supporters will probably be asking themselves how their candidate failed to rebut Romney during the debate, rather than after, until the next meeting between the two on Oct. 16.
For all that Romney achieved during the evening, he probably generated future headaches with answers that questionably portrayed his own plans. He insisted, “I don’t have any plan to cut education funding” when his plan to limit domestic federal spending to 16 percent of the economy would require large reductions in all federal programs. And he doubled down on his commitment to a position that many analysts believe is mathematically impossible: that he can cut marginal tax rates by 20 percent for all earners without reducing the share of the tax burden paid by the rich, increasing the deficit, or raising taxes on the middle class. One of Obama’s best moments in a largely listless evening came when he argued that Romney was avoiding specifics on several of his key proposals because the public will not like them. That may be the one valuable theme that emerged from the debate for Obama.
The problem for Romney, as we noted in post in a post below, is whether Romney’s performance last night was enough since it failed to elicit a grand gaffe from president Obama.  As I wrote earlier:
Mitt Romney won the battle, but he may very well lose the war. Romney needed the President to make a huge gaffe last night.  And by being calm, controlled, and downright boring, the President avoided any big mistakes.  And he may have just won the election by so doing.
From Reuters:
And while debates are among the most memorable events of any presidential campaign, there is little evidence that they can change the outcome of an election.
Obama may have underwhelmed, but he avoided the sort of disastrous performance that can cause backers to reassess their support.
“Nobody is going to switch sides on the basis of this debate,” said Samuel Popkin, a political science professor at the University of California at San Diego.
Bloomberg concurs:
There is one big silver lining for Obama: The debates usually don’t do a lot to change how people vote. When they do matter, as with Gerald Ford in 1976, it’s usually because of a major blunder, not a broadly weak performance. Obama did himself no favors tonight, but his weakness probably had little impact on the number of votes he will receive.
In other words: It’s the gaffes, stupid. And there weren’t any.
Well, there weren’t any by Obama.  Back to Romney’s caffeine intake, on could argue that, in retrospect, Romney didn’t carry himself well at all.  When you review the videos, Romney was a bit of a bully

Romney lied about pre-existing conditions during debate

Surprise surprise surprise.

Mitt Romney’s camp is already flip-flipping over Romney’s promises during last night’s presidential debate.  Starting with health care reform and pre-existing conditions, a topic Romney already flip-flopped on four times in a single 24-hour period a month ago.
Which is a pretty amazing record, considering that Romney has never really given anyone any details as to just what his health care plan is.
Here’s Romney during last night’s debate, lying:
OBAMA: But the fact of the matter is that some of the prescriptions that he’s offered, like letting you buy insurance across state lines, there’s no indication that that somehow is going to help somebody who’s got a pre-existing condition be able to finally buy insurance. In fact, it’s estimated that by repealing Obamacare, you’re looking at 50 million people losing health insurance…
LEHRER: Let’s…
OBAMA: … at a time when it’s vitally important.
LEHRER: Let’s let the governor explain what you would do…
LEHRER: … if Obamacare is repealed. How would you replace it?
ROMNEY: Well, actually it’s — it’s — it’s a lengthy description. But, number one, preexisting conditions are covered under my plan.
And with regards to health care, you had remarkable details with regards to my pre-existing condition plan. You obviously studied up on — on my plan. In fact, I do have a plan that deals with people with pre-existing conditions. That’s part of my health care plan. And what we did in Massachusetts is a model for the nation state by state. And I said that at that time.
What they did in Massachusetts is ban discrimination based on pre-existing conditions. The same thing that happens in Obamacare. Mitt Romney plans on repealing that, and leaving it up to the states if they want to ban pre-existing conditions.
Brian Beutler of TPMDC:
After the first presidential debate at the University of Denver in Colorado on Wednesday night, one of Mitt Romney’s top advisers acknowledged that, as a result Romney’s plan to repeal Obamacare, people with pre-existing medical conditions would likely be unable to purchase insurance.
“With respect to pre-existing conditions, what Governor Romney has said is for those with continuous coverage, he would continue to make sure that they receive their coverage,” said Eric Fehrnstrom, referring to existing laws which require insurance companies to sell coverage to people who already have insurance, or within 90 days of losing their employer coverage.
Pressed by TPM’s Evan McMorris-Santoro, Fehrnstrom said those who currently lack coverage because they have pre-existing conditions would need their states to implement their own laws — like Romney’s own Massachusetts health care law — that ban insurance company from discriminating against sick people.

By losing last night’s debate, Obama may have won the election

There’s been a lot of talk about how Mitt Romney “won” last night’s presidential debate.
But in fact, Mitt Romney didn’t win the debate, Barack Obama lost it.  There’s a difference.  And that difference may have just handed Barack Obama the election.
As Roger Simon from Politico put it:
It’s not that Romney’s performance was perfect or polished – - it wasn’t – - it’s just that Obama’s was so mediocre.
Romney won by default.
Why?  What happened?
Before we get into that, let’s define “winning.”
Unfortunately, who wins and loses a presidential debate isn’t really judged on substance. It’s judged on the look and feel of the entire thing.  Who handled themselves better.  And in that case, it was Mitt Romney.
As everyone’s noted, the President seemed slightly removed, while Romney was overly-engaged.  Romney’s rapid-fire speaking style throughout much of the debate was risky (never, ever have anything with caffeine right before you go on TV – and I don’t buy that his diet Cokes are caffeine free; I do a good deal of TV, that man had something caffeinated right before going on).
So, Romney was less boring than the President during an incredibly dull debate, and in American terms, that means Romney “won.”
But there are a few interesting wrinkles here.
1. Romney only won because the President lost.
2. Romney lost on substance.
Let’s deal with the first.  As Simon points out, Romney only won because the President’s performance was lackluster, and far below his perceived abilities.
[H]e let Romney get away with a lot.
“Mr. President, you’re entitled to your own airplane and your own house, but not to your own facts,” Romney said in one of the few zingers of the debate.
Couldn’t Obama have replied in kind? Obama could have said something like: “And you, Gov. Romney, think you’re entitled to car elevators and Swiss bank accounts!”
Too nasty? Too unpresidential? OK, you may be right.
It’s quite a knock on Romney, in fact, but most analysts don’t think he bested the President, but rather that the he only won because the President didn’t really try.  That means that whatever gains Romney gets from the debate, they don’t wipe out the underlying sense that he’s still not as presidential, as ready for the job, as Barack Obama.
Or to paraphrase: It says little about your qualifications when you win by default.  And this debate was supposed to prove that Romney had presidential merit.  I don’t think it did.  And that takes us to our second point… Substance.
On substance, the President won.  Oh, don’t get me wrong, Romney presented a boatload of facts, giving the impression that he’s well-versed in the kind of detail work necessary to be president.  (Though, in fact, Romney, again, did not provide much detail at all about WHAT he plans to do in office, including on health care, where we still don’t REALLY know his plan at all.)
The only problem: His details were wrong.
The most glaring error, right off, was Romney’s claim that his health care plan won’t leave people with pre-existing conditions behind.  Even Romney’s advisers had to admit after the debate that Romney was wrong.  Most people with pre-existing conditions are on their own when Mitt Romney repeals their existing protections under Obamacare.
Then there was Medicare.  Romney was happy to repeat the talking point, over and over again, with no challenge from the President, that Barack Obama “took” $716 billion from Medicare to pay for ObamaCare.
Actually, Barack Obama told hospitals, doctors and insurance companies that he was going to stop paying their exorbitant charges, and start paying them a more reasonable rate for the same services we’ve always been getting.  That’s it.  The only difference between Romney and Obama on this is that Obama wants to pay less for it, and Romney wants to pay more FOR THE EXACT SAME THING.  (And don’t even get into the fact that Romney’s running mate, Paul Ryan, adopted the same “cuts” as Obama.)
The President didn’t say any of this.  That’s why he “lost.”  By default, not by defeat.
Igor Volsky at ThinkProgress has another 27 important facts that Mitt Romney got wrong last night.
The larger question is why President Obama let Mitt Romney win.  I suspect because Obama was under orders to not sink to Romney’s level, not sully the Obama “nice guy” brand, and not elevate Romney by getting into a back and forth that would put the two on the same level, making Romney seem presidential in the public’s eye.
And in the end, perhaps Team Obama was right.  It’s often been said that debates don’t have a great impact on the race.  And in this race, where few people remain undecided, the impact may be even less.  From Nate Silver:
There may be some mitigating factors for Mr. Obama. First, although the conventional wisdom was that Mr. Obama had a lackluster performance throughout most of the debate — he certainly had an extremely cautious and defensive strategy — there were few obvious moments in which he said things that will make for compelling YouTube clips or cable news soundbites.
Second, head-to-head polls throughout the election cycle have been hard to influence for any reason. There are few undecided voters remaining — and undecided voters may be less likely than others to have actually watched the debates.
I suspect the Obama people told the President: You’re ahead, don’t screw up.  And the President didn’t screw up.  Mitt Romney needed a knock-out during this debate, and he didn’t get it.  More Nate:
My own instant reaction is that Mr. Romney may have done the equivalent of kicking a field goal, perhaps not bringing the race to a draw, but setting himself up in such a way that his comeback chances have improved by a material amount. The news cycle will be busy between now and Nov. 6, with a jobs report coming out on Friday, a vice-presidential debate next week and then two more presidential debates on Oct. 16 and Oct. 22.
According to one prominent offshore gambling site, Pinnacle Sports, Mr. Obama’s odds of winning the election declined to about 73 percent after the debate from around 80 percent beforehand.
That’s pretty consistent with my take.  Mitt Romney won the battle, but he may very well lose the war. Romney needed the President to make a huge gaffe last night.  And by being calm, controlled, and downright boring, the President avoided any big mistakes.  And he may have just won the election by so doing.

Did you know ...

About the brigadier general charged with forcible sodomy on subordinates in Afghanistan

About mitt Romney, unstuck

That upon re-examination, the government has found 386,000 new jobs over the last year

That the newly discovered comet could be the brightest ever

Man in a "drunken blackout" bought 69 percent of the global market in oil futures

In 2009: "Between the hours of 1:22 a.m. and 3:41 a.m., [Steve Perkins] gradually bought 69 percent of the global market [7 million barrels of crude oil], while driving prices up from $71.40 to $73.05, by bidding higher each time. At 6:30 a.m., presumably sobering up and realizing what he’d done, he sent a message to his managing director claiming an unwell relative meant he would not be able to make it into work."
'Drunken' Broker Sent Oil to 8-Month High in 2009

Pot dealer tried to hide evidence by eating marijuana plant

An pot dealer got a case of the munchies when police raided his Scranton, Pennsylvania home on Monday.
Police caught Jeremiah Carmody, 33, trying to destroy evidence by eating a marijuana plant in his possession when Scranton and South Abington Twp. police officers served a warrant on him, according to a news release.

Police also seized four pounds of marijuana, the munched-on marijuana plant, four digital scales, $2,600 in cash and drug paraphernalia from the residence.

Mr. Carmody was charged with manufacturing, delivery and possession with the intent to deliver marijuana, criminal use of a communication facility, possession of body armor and other drug-related offenses. Mr. Carmody is in Lackawanna County Prison awaiting arraignment.

Man in court for cocaine possession arrested again after turning up to hearing with cocaine

A man heading into the Kane County courthouse for allegedly violating his probation on a cocaine delivery charge was arrested again — for trying to take cocaine into the courthouse.

Alex Robinson, 37, of Aurora, Colorado, emptied his pockets at the courthouse metal detector and dropped a bag with three grams of cocaine into a bin, authorities said. “I don’t know how you forget,” Kane County Sheriff’s Lt. Pat Gengler said. “It’s not like you don’t know there’s a checkpoint coming up.”

Robinson was in the security line to get into the courthouse on a probation violation from a 2006 cocaine delivery charge when the metal detector sounded, Gengler said. Security guards asked him to step back and make sure there was nothing in his pockets that might be setting off the detector. Robinson emptied his pockets and dropped the cocaine into the tray to be scanned.

He tried to leave, but was arrested, Gengler said. Robinson was charged with felony possession of a controlled substance. He was originally charged with delivery of cocaine in 2006. He was sentenced to 180 days in the county jail and two years probation. In 2011, he was re-arrested for violating his probation in those cases.

Random Photo

Adore this forever. 

Runner Falls, Gets Trampled, Stands Up, Starts Running Again and Wins Third Place

Alicia Follmar, a student at Stanford University, fell hard early in a race. Then several runners ran over her. Most people would then quit. But Alicia Follmar is not most people. She stood up and, though bloody, bruised and in great pain, started running again:
As she powered her way from 10th to third over the remaining two laps, she ran into Internet-lauded fame. There's far more to the two-event All-American than that one race, but no pictures of her are anywhere near as memorable.
“I wouldn't say it was as bad as it looks . . . . I can't say it really hurt, there was so much adrenaline,” says Follmar, now a senior. “There was a feeling that I had in my head—like a sensation in my head—so I felt my head with my hand and looked at it, and there was blood on it. At that point, I was already running. I kind of panicked, but I still kept running.” Stanford finished third.

Why The Fall/Autumn Season Has Two Names

Ever wondered why the third season is sometimes called autumn and sometimes fall? The word autumn comes from the Old French word autompne (automne in modern French), and was later normalised to the original Latin word autumnus.

The alternative word fall traces its origins to old Germanic languages. The exact derivation is unclear, with the Old English fiæll or feallan and the Old Norse fall all being possible candidates.

The surface of Venus

I love rediscovering cool things. I'm sure I learned, at some point, that the Soviet Union had once sent probes to land on the surface of Venus. But I had completely forgotten this fact until today.
This photo comes from Venera 9, which landed on Venus on October 22, 1975. The lander remained operational for 53 minutes, which isn't bad considering we're talking about a planet with hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid in the atmosphere, and a surface temperature (as measured by Venera 9) of 905° F.
The photo — at three different phases of processing — comes from the website of Don Mitchell, an enthusiast of Soviet space history. Mitchell did the processing that resulted in the clear, bottom image in this stack.
The upper image is the raw 6-bit data. The center images include the telemetry brust replacements, with remaining bursts blacked out. The 6-bit values have been transformed to linear brightness, using the published photometric function of the camera, and then converted to sRGB standard form (gamma 2.2). In the final version, I filled in missing regions, using Bertalmio's inpainting algorithm.
Read more about these photos at Don Mitchell's website
Read more about the Venera landers and how they survived on Venus

The weird, black, spidery things of Mars

See those weird, black, spidery things dotting the dunes in this colorized photo taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter in 2010? Yeah. Nobody knows what the hell those things are.
What we do know about them just underlines how incredibly unfamiliar Mars really is to us. First spotted by humans in 1998, these splotches pop up every Martian spring, and disappear in winter. Usually, they appear in the same places as the previous year, and they tend to congregate on the sunny sides of sand dunes — all but shunning flat ground. There's nothing on Earth that looks like this that we can compare them to. It's a for real-real mystery, writes Robert Krulwich at NPR. But there are theories:
Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey, from Hungary, from the European Space Agency have all proposed explanations; the leading one is so weird, it's transformed my idea of what it's like to be on Mars. For 20 years, I've thought the planet to be magnificently desolate, a dead zone, painted rouge. But imagine this: Every spring, the sun beats down on a southern region of Mars, morning light melts the surface, warms up the ground below, and a thin, underground layer of frozen CO2 turns suddenly into a roaring gas, expands, and carrying rock and ice, rushes up through breaks in the rock, exploding into the Martian air. Geysers shoot up in odd places. It feels random, like being surprise attacked by an monstrous, underground fountain.
"If you were there," says Phil Christensen of Arizona State University, "you'd be standing on a slab of carbon dioxide ice. All around you, roaring jets of carbon dioxide gas are throwing sand and dust a couple hundred feet into the air." The ground below would be rumbling. You'd feel it in your spaceboots.
Read the rest of Robert Krulwich's post — and check out some spectacular photos of the things — at NPR

New Fanged Dwarf Dinosaur Found

This dinosaur looks like some taxidermist is trying to pull a fast one, but it's a model of what scientists think Pegomastax africanus may have looked like. And it's tiny -only about two feet long. You'd hate to get nipped with those teeth!
Covered in porcupine-like quills and sporting a blunt, parrot-like beak, P. africanus would've looked like a "strange little bird," said Sereno, a paleontologist with the University of Chicago.

But its fangs, Sereno argues, were more like those of the piglike peccary (picture) or fanged deer, or water chevrotain (video)—modern-day, plant-eating mammals that use their teeth for self-defense and foraging.

The species, he added, would have lived along forested rivers in southern Africa around the time the supercontinent Pangaea had just begun to split into the northern and southern landmasses.
Read more about P. africanus at National Geographic News

Man charged with cutting off puppy's ears and trying to sew them back on again

The Lubbock County Criminal District Attorney’s office charged an Amarillo, Texas, man with a felony count of cruelty to an animal after police suspect he cut off a puppy’s ears and attempted to sew them back on.

Juan Chavira, 30, is charged with causing serious damage to a white pit bull puppy, who police say witnesses heard whimpering in the trunk of Chavira’s vehicle on Aug. 19.

His case will go to a Lubbock County grand jury on  Oct. 9. Police arrived to find the dog with mangled ears and a body covered in blood and, after interviewing witnesses, arrested Chavira.

The dog was taken by Lubbock Animal Services, which confirmed the male dog named “Major” is in good spirits and remains at the shelter in special protection.

Beauty In The Right Eye Of The Beholder

It's said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but that's only half-true for the Gouldian finch. The Gouldian finch, found in northern Australia, looks like a bird painted by Gauguin.

Jennifer Templeton from Knox College, Illinois has found that these beautiful birds only display their famous fussiness over mates if they're looking with their right eye.

Black Mambas are Good for Something

mThe black mamba snake is a very fast and dangerous snake that can strike before you ever know what hit you. Its venom can be deadly, but scientists have found it also has a surprisingly beneficial painkiller in it, which might turn out to be a new miracle drug.
The researchers looked at venom from 50 species before they found the black mamba's pain-killing proteins - called mambalgins.

Dr Eric Lingueglia, from the Institute of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology near Nice, told the BBC: "When it was tested in mice, the analgesia was as strong as morphine, but you don't have most of the side-effects."

Morphine acts on the opioid pathway in the brain. It can cut pain, but it is also addictive and causes headaches, difficulty thinking, vomiting and muscle twitching. The researchers say mambalgins tackle pain through a completely different route, which should produce few side-effects.

He said the way pain worked was very similar in mice and people, so he hoped to develop painkillers that could be used in the clinic. Tests on human cells in the laboratory have also showed the mambalgins have similar chemical effects in people.
The testing his in its earliest phase, so don't look for mambalgins at your pharmacy any time soon. More

Animal Pictures


Lion Splash by james Haskins