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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.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Daily Drift

Autumn in the mountains ...

Some of our readers today have been in:
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Today in History

54   Nero succeeds his great uncle Claudius, who was murdered by his wife, as the new emperor of Rome.
1307   Members of the Knights of Templar are arrested throughout France, imprisoned and tortured by the order of King Philip the Fair of France.
1399   Henry IV of England is crowned.
1670   Virginia passes a law that blacks arriving in the colonies as Christians cannot be used as slaves.
1775   The Continental Congress authorizes construction of two warships, thus instituting an American naval force.
1776   Benedict Arnold is defeated at Lake Champlain.
1792   President George Washington lays the cornerstone for the White House.
1812   At the Battle of Queenston Heights, a Canadian and British army defeats the American who have tried to invade Canada.
1849   The California state constitution, which prohibits slavery, is signed in Monterey.
1903   Boston defeats Pittsburgh in baseball's first World Series.
1904   Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams is published.
1942   In the first of four attacks, two Japanese battleships sail down the slot and shell Henderson field on Guadalcanal, in an unsuccessful effort to destroy the American Cactus Air Force.
1943   Italy declares war on Germany. Allied Agony Anzio.
1983   The Space Shuttle Challenger, carrying seven, the largest crew to date, lands safely at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Non Sequitur


Spreading Wal-Mart strikes have huge potential for workers nationwide

In recent weeks there have been a series of wildcat strikes and work disruptions at Wal-Marts and Wal-Mart warehouses around the country. And workers are now threatening to strike on Black Friday, the largest shopping day of the year, right after Thanksgiving.
Read this post by Josh Eidelson for more background on the strikes. Matt Stoller at Naked Capitalism notes that Wal-Mart represents 2.3% of the US GDP, and has massive power in our political and economic space, making these strikes potential game changing.
He writes:
The company at this point isn’t just a key purveyor of lower labor standards and a globalized and concentrated supply chain, it is a key tell for policymakers. Walmart data was used by the Federal Reserve’s FOMC to understand labor markets, inequality, health care costs, supply chains, and inflation. As the global recession began to come into view, one FOMC member noted, ”It’s certainly disconcerting to hear that one of the largest private institutions in the world – Wal-Mart – is missing its growth targets fairly significantly.” It is as if the new maxim had become, what’s good for Walmart is good for America.
In the 1950s, the so-called “Treaty of Detroit”, an agreement between government, business, and labor for ever increasing wages at automakers, set the tone for the next twenty years of political economy. From the 1970s onward, the new social contract was increasingly set, not just by companies like Walmart, but by Walmart itself. As a new social contract, let’s call it the “Treaty of Walmart”, emerged as a deal cut between the US government, the Chinese government, and global trading corporations, American society began to reflect a race to the bottom. This strike is thus worth watching – if Walmart loses some pricing pressure because of tactics that impact the company’s supply chain or ability to sell, we’ll be in uncharted territory.
Wal-Mart’s workers are not unionized. The company has viciously fought off small-scale organizing efforts of the years, firing workers who attend to organize their shops and cutting hours of sympathetic workers. The work culture at Wal-Mart is one which is profoundly anti-worker and, as Stoller notes, they have driven a race to the bottom in terms of low-pay and non-existent benefits.
But Wal-Mart is a huge beast in the economy. And if workers are able to force them to concede better working conditions, pay, and benefits, it could have a massive ripple effect outward in the economy. The value would not be merely an economic one, though the prospect of tens or hundreds of thousands of workers getting significant pay raises would fire off potentially massive new economic growth. Rather the real value would be the highly visible statement of some of the lowest hourly wage earners in the country forcing the largest retail business to its knees would prove that any group of workers at any employer in the country can organize their shop.
People get inspired when they see people just like them achieving amazing things that were previously thought impossible.
That’s how Occupy Wall Street spread from an encampment in lower Manhattan to thousands of town squares around America – regular people saw that other regular people were taking over public spaces and felt compelled to go out and do it themselves. The same goes when workers try to organize themselves and succeed – the organizing can spread like wild fire.
While the Wal-Mart strikes are happening in a handful of cities around the country, you can bet that the company is pouring millions into anti-union “education.” But that won’t matter if these strikes spread, and workers win concessions from Wal-Mart.
As Stoller says, victories here would put us in uncharted territory. and the organizing opportunities could be revolutionary for workers.

The truth be told

Did you know ...

The CBS snap poll finds Biden won the debate

That free birth control leads to fewer abortions

Hey, mitt: people do die because they don't have health insurance

The U.S. files mortgage fraud suit against Wells Fargo 

That jesus rifles threaten u.s. troops safety in middle east

How Romney is tanking the market

A lunatic upset that Obama might get re-elected kills his family and himself

A teacher is jailed for sending sexy texts to everyone on his contact list (including his students) when he didn't know how to use his new phone

and rip Mongo, football great/comic actor Alex Karras

The 10 excuses conservatives are already making for losing the election

The last native speaker of Scots dialect died

New Mexico repugican official caught teaching illegal voter suppression techniques

“The difference between Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan? Lipstick”

Paul Ryan came to Congress about the time Newt Gingrich left.
But while Ryan was a few Congress’ late for the infamous Class of 94, to this day he still reeks of the same arrogance, elitism and entitlement that initially was the hallmark of House repugicans, then polluted the Senate, and now infects the repugican cabal nationwide.
Paul Ryan is more than a Gingrich repugican, he’s a Faux repugican.  He’s part of the new generation of liars.  The Sean Hannity pretty-boys who pretend to play the everyman by putting lipstick on extremism.
Charles Pierce writes in Esquire about Paul Ryan’s debate performance last night. It’s masterful writing.  Here’s an excerpt.
There is a deeply held Beltway myth of Paul Ryan, Man of Big Ideas, and it dies hard. But, if there is a just god in the universe, on Thursday night, it died a bloody death, was hurled into a pit, doused with quicklime, buried without ceremony, and the ground above it salted and strewn with garlic so that it never rises again. On foreign policy, Ryan occasionally rose, gasping, to the level of obvious neophyte. (He was more lost in Afghanistan than the Russian army ever was.) On domestic policy, his alleged wheelhouse, he was vague, untruthful, and he walked right into a haymaker he should have seen coming from a mile off, when he started bloviating about Biden’s role in the “failed” stimulus program, only to have Biden slap him around with Ryan’s own requests for stimulus money for his home district back in Wisconsin. He also made it quite clear that a Romney-Ryan White House will do everything it can to eliminate a woman’s right to choose. This should make for some fine television commercials over the next few weeks.
He stammered. He vanished into his syntax. He gave Biden the chance to ask him if he preferred that American soldiers carry the fighting in the worst parts of the country rather than Afghan troops, a devastating comeback for which Ryan had no answer. He kept rambling about maintaining the country’s “credibility” until, if you closed your eyes, he started to sound like Robert McNamara in 1965. And when Raddatz asked him, deftly, what would be worse, another war in the Middle East or Iran with a nuclear bomb, he leaped in precipitously with the latter, while about 75 percent of the country, including the two other people on stage with him, looked at Ryan as though he’d lost his mind. He did, however, demonstrate a certain talent for pronouncing long foreign words that his briefers had taught him on Tuesday. Also, he explained winter.
For years, Paul Ryan has been the shining champion of some really terrible ideas, and of a dystopian vision of the political commonwealth in which the poor starve and the elderly die ghastly, impoverished deaths, while all the essential elements of a permanent American oligarchy were put in place. This has garnered him loving notices from a lot of people who should have known better. The ideas he could explain were bad enough, but the profound ignorance he displayed on Thursday night on a number of important questions, including when and where the United States might wind up going to war next, and his blithe dismissal of any demand that he be specific about where he and his running mate are planning to take the country generally, was so positively terrifying that it calls into question Romney’s judgment for putting this unqualified greenhorn on the ticket at all. Joe Biden laughed at him? Of course, he did. The only other option was to hand him a participation ribbon and take him to Burger King for lunch.
You know what’s the difference between Sarah Palin and Paul Ryan?

Ryan’s “6 studies that prove Romney’s tax plan works” don’t

For a numbers guy, Paul Ryan sure has a lot of problems with numbers and the truth.
He appears to “borrow” a story about his daughter’s name from Kurt Cobain, he was called out as a “liar” over his marathon time, he claims to be a mountaineering superstar despite nothing to back up his story, and he tells a drooling media about his body fat content that is remarkably on par with the dopers of the Tour de France.
Nothing Paul Ryan says should be taken seriously because he’s been tangled in so many distortions.
During his debate with Vice President Biden, besides being caught red-handed requesting pork from the stimulus and Obamacare, he asserted that there were six studies that proved the Romney-Ryan tax plan was feasible. The only problem is, they don’t.  In fact, most of the “studies” are actually only blog posts.
Once again, Paul Ryan found it impossible to tell the truth.
Romney’s tax plan is a three-legged stool that doesn’t stand. Here’s how it works — or doesn’t. Romney wants to 1) cut tax rates across the board by 20 percent, 2) cut tax expenditures to pay for these tax cuts, and 3) maintain progressivity. The problem, as the Tax Policy Center pointed out, is there aren’t enough tax expenditures for the rich to pay for all the tax cuts for the rich. Romney’s plan only works if he cuts out the tax cuts for the rich, raises taxes on the middle class, or explodes the deficit. In other words, Romney can pick two, and only two, of his tax goals — what Matt Yglesias of Slate calls the “Romney Trilemma”.
That sound you hear is the three-legged stool falling down.
All this hasn’t stopped a fight against the tyranny of arithmetic. The defenses of the Romney tax plan generally fall into three broad categories. The first assumes the plan will set off magic growth of the monster variety; the second assumes Romney defines “middle-class” differently than he does; and the third assumes Romney would eliminate tax expenditures he has indicated he would not eliminate. Let’s briefly consider the six such “studies” that Ryan cited — most are actually blog posts — in turn.
Click through to The Atlantic for the details, but really, this pattern of lying has to stop.
Instead of breathlessly reporting on the gym workout program of the adult frat boy, how about the media focus on important issues such as facts, and Romney/Ryan’s penchant for lying? Oh, and that little issue of Mitt Romney’s full tax release and whether or not Mitt Romney sought IRS amnesty when he closed his secretive Swiss bank account (in other words, he broke the law).
What else can you say about a political party that believes it makes sense to have an anti-science crazy like Todd Akin on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology committee?

Biden was wrong ...

... Ryan sent 4, not 2, requests for stimulus funds

But he’s too cute to be a pig?

We’d reported earlier on Paul Ryan’s penchant for pork.  And especially his taste for forbidden pork – the stuff that he’d already publicly criticized (in Thursday night’s vice presidential debate Ryan called the stimulus bill “crony capitalism and corporate welfare), but then privately sought stimulus monies twice for his own constituents.
Ryan also sought Obamacare monies for his constituents, even though he’s repeatedly railed against Obamacare and promised to repeal it if given the chance.  (No word yet on whether Ryan will ask his constituents to give the money back.)
Well now the Huffington Post’s Sam Stein and Jason Cherkis have uncovered that Ryan didn’t just seek stimulus monies twice for constituents.  He did it four times.  Here’s HuffPo:
A Freedom of Information Act request for correspondence between Ryan’s office and the Environmental Protection Agency, filed by The Huffington Post, unearthed two additional instances in which the Wisconsin Republican petitioned for American Recovery Act funds. In addition, there were many other occasions in which the repugican vice presidential nominee asked the EPA for grant money for projects in Wisconsin’s 1st District, which encompasses Ryan’s hometown of Janesville and has a slight Democratic lean. Combined, the letters muddy Ryan’s claim that the stimulus wasn’t helpful and that government spending, more broadly, doesn’t assist small businesses.
As I noted in my earlier story, if Ryan thought the stimulus was such a waste of money, then why did he “waste” it on his own constituents?  The governors of Texas, Alaska and South Carolina all turned down stimulus money rather than “waste” it on their constituents.  Why didn’t Ryan do the same?
And just as troubling, as HuffPo notes, why are Ryan and Romney claiming that the stimulus didn’t help small business when Ryan knows first hand, via these letters, that it did?
In fact, during the vice presidential debate, Ryan claimed twice that the stimulus only went to “special interest groups.”
Yes, like his constituents.
RYAN: Was it a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like China and spend it on all these various different interest groups?
Apparently, according to Paul Ryan, it is a good idea to borrow all this money from countries like China so long as it’s his pork.

Paul Ryan, King of Pork

We learned during the vice presidential debate that Paul Ryan thinks the President’s stimulus package was a total waste of money.
They passed the stimulus. The idea that we could borrow $831 billion, spend it on all of these special interest groups, and that it would work out just fine.

Ryan went on to call the stimulus bill “Crony capitalism and corporate welfare.” VP Biden responded, of course, that Paul Ryan tried to carve out some of that crony capitalism and corporate welfare for his own constituents in two letters he penned to the vice president seeking stimulus pork for his own voters.
And AP reports, having gone through thousands of pages of Ryan’s congressional correspondence, that Ryan also sought stimulus funds for environmental projects, even though he criticized “green” stimulus funds in last night’s debate.
Ryan also wrote to the EPA in 2009 on behalf of a small town trying to secure $550,000 in stimulus money for utility repairs. Ryan, whose staff requested meetings with the EPA about the matter, said the rescinding of the grant “would be economically devastating” to Sharon, Wis., since it already began spending the money. (The EPA said project costs were incurred before October 2008, making the project ineligible for stimulus cash.) Ryan has also voiced support for millions in EPA grant money to clean up abandoned building sites in Wisconsin towns.
 Even better, AP found that Ryan sought funds under the evil Obamacare, another program he wants to repeal because it’s allegedly so “bad.”
A Kenosha health center’s request to use money under Obama’s new health care law to help meet health care needs of “thousands of new patients” who lack coverage. Ryan’s December 2010 letter to the Department of Health and Human Services, first reported by the Nation magazine and also obtained by the AP, appears at odds with his pledge to repeal “Obamacare.”
Interestingly, during the debate Ryan tried to pass all of this off as something that every congressional office does. Well, yes, and it’s called “pork.”
But of course, it’s really not something that every politician does. You’ll recall that repugican Governor Rick Perry didn’t try to carve out stimulus pork for his constituents, he turned the money down. Sarah Palin turned the money down too, as Governor of Alaska. And so did the repugican governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford.
When faced with the decision as to whether they should try to carve out stimulus “pork” for their constituents, a lot of repugican politicians said “no.” Paul Ryan, however, said YES!
Is Paul Ryan now saying that Sarah Palin, Rick Perry, and Mark Sanford went too far? If those politicians were willing to forgo stimulus monies for their constituents, why couldn’t Paul Ryan?

The truth hurts

FBI in Philadelphia reports theft of new $100 notes

This undated image provided by FBI shows the newly designed $100 bill. The FBI is reporting an unusual heist of some of the bills, which aren't going into circulation until next year. Agent Frank Burton Jr. says the cash was stolen from a plane that arrived at Philadelphia International Airport around 10:25 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 11, 2012, from Dallas. (AP Photo/FBI)
The FBI is reporting an unusual heist of some newly designed $100 bills that aren't going into circulation until next year.
Agent Frank Burton Jr. says the cash was stolen from a plane that arrived at Philadelphia International Airport around 10:25 a.m. Thursday from Dallas.
Investigators said these Benjamins are easy to spot. The new bills have sophisticated elements to thwart counterfeiters, like a disappearing Liberty Bell in an orange inkwell and a bright blue security ribbon.
The FBI said a "large amount" of bills were stolen, but agents aren't giving specifics.
The theft was reported by a courier service transporting the C-notes when the shipment arrived Thursday afternoon at the Federal Reserve Building in East Rutherford, N.J. Officials then discovered some of the money was missing.

French Woman Gets $15 Quadrillion Phone Bill

A French woman "nearly had a heart attack" after she opened her latest phone bill and found that she was being charged the equivalent of 15 quadrillion U.S. dollars, French newspaper Sud Ouest reported .

A 15-year-old boy arrested for using foul language in park while singing along with MP3 player

Steve Pierce of   Port St. Lucie, Florida, is not proud of what his child did, but he says it wasn't criminal. "I think the arresting officer's actions were just as abhorrent as the language used by my son,” said Pierce.
His 15-year-old son was sitting with friends under a tree at Port St. Lucie’s McChesney Park last week. Police say it appeared he was singing along with an MP3 player. Then, all of a sudden, he screamed out two curse words and a racial slur. "We reserve arrest as the last resort, but in this particular case, a point needed to be made,” said Port St. Lucie Police Chief John Bolduc .

A parks officer says there were children on the playground. He arrested the teen, citing a St. Lucie County ordinance. It says no person shall engage in insulting or indecent language or behavior that breaches public peace. "I have a big problem with criminalizing a 15-year-old boy over a mistake that wasn't directed in animosity or meant to assault anybody in any way,” said Pierce. Pierce says criminalizing language is a slippery slope. Police Chief John Bolduc defends the arrest. He says the teen's behavior was unacceptable.

"The intent there was to disturb and breach the peace, and we take that very serious because we've had some incidents in our parks recently,” said Chief Bolduc .Pierce says he wishes the officer just called him after the cursing incident, so he could discipline his son without the help of the law. Pierce plans to have the non-violent misdemeanor charge heard in teen court. That way, it won’t be on his son's record, as an adult. Meanwhile, police have banned the teen from all city parks for a year.

The Classics

1954 Mercury by raddad! on Flickr.

It's a Fact: 2012 likely to be hottest year on record in US

Not that the extremist repugicans will care or be alarmed, but there’s obviously a problem. Praying to jesus won’t solve it and tax cuts for the rich won’t help either. Until the US pushes the religious extremists who hate science out of the picture, it will only get worse. NBC News:
January-September was already the warmest first nine months, according to temperature data released Tuesday by the National Climatic Data Center.
Moreover, six of eight scenarios charted by the center have 2012 ending warmer than any other year in records that go back to 1895. The only scenarios where that would not happen are if the last quarter is among the 10 coldest on record.
Last month was the 23rd warmest September on record and, more significantly, marked “the 16th consecutive month with above-average temperatures for the Lower 48,” the center said in its monthly State of the Climate Report.
None of this will stop Faux News and their drooling idiot commentators from asking where the global warming is the next time there’s a snow storm in Nebraska, because that’s all part of their game. Since they don’t want to talk about science, they will appeal to their home audience with even more stupidity and ignorance. Quite a business model, isn’t it?

Why We Cry: The Science Of Sobbing And Emotional Tearing

The human body is an extraordinary machine, and our behavior an incessant source of fascination. Take, for instance, the science of what we call 'crying,' a uniquely human capacity - a grab-bag term that consists of 'vocal crying,' or sobbing, and 'emotional tearing,' our quiet waterworks. Why do we cry?

Is Life a Giant Computer Simulation?

That's not just the premise of many Hollywood movies, it's also a serious physics questions. And now, theoretical physicists have come up with a way to test whether we're all living inside a simulated universe:
First, some background. The problem with all simulations is that the laws of physics, which appear continuous, have to be superimposed onto a discrete three dimensional lattice which advances in steps of time.
The question that Beane and co ask is whether the lattice spacing imposes any kind of limitation on the physical processes we see in the universe. They examine, in particular, high energy processes, which probe smaller regions of space as they get more energetic
What they find is interesting. They say that the lattice spacing imposes a fundamental limit on the energy that particles can have. That's because nothing can exist that is smaller than the lattice itself.
So if our cosmos is merely a simulation, there ought to be a cut off in the spectrum of high energy particles.
It turns out there is exactly this kind of cut off in the energy of cosmic ray particles, a limit known as the Greisen–Zatsepin–Kuzmin or GZK cut off.
Read more over at MIT's Technology Review: Here.

Ten Of Weirdest World Championships Around

Did you know there is a World Championship for stone skipping? For mobile phone throwing? For bog snorkeling? Want to win a worldwide competition, but aren't too good at any of the things that might get you in the Olympics or other major sporting events? Well then, perhaps you could try your hand at one of these odd specialty competitions.

Magical appliance turns hamburger meat into hot dogs

Billions of years from now, in the final seconds before the heat death of the universe snuffs out life for all eternity, the last living creature can take comfort in the fact that we didn't fade away before creating the Ham Dogger. You can experience its magic today for $6.77

The Spice is Right: Origins of Your Favorite Seasonings

A pinch of history here, a dash of fact there -the origin of seasonings always turns out perfect, any way you spice it.

1. Pepper

p(Image credit: Flickr user Dennis Wilkinson)
If you eat enough pepper you’ll start to sweat, which explains why the ancients thought the stuff made an excellent medical treatment. The Chinese employed it as a treatment for malaria, cholera, and dysentery, while Indian monks used it as a sort of PowerBar: they swallowed small amounts of the stuff in hopes that it would help them survive their long treks through the rough countryside. Later, pepper became so valuable that it served as a de facto form of currency; it was used for centuries in Europe to pay rent and taxes. In one exceptional case, it was also used for ransom: Attila the Hun is said to have demanded about 3,000 pounds of the stuff in 408 C.E.; in exchange, he promised to lay off the city of Rome and stop sacking it.

2. Salt

b(Image credit: Flickr user niznoz)
It’s probably been the most valuable food additive in all of history, mostly because it did such a good job of preserving foods in the centuries before the refrigerator was invented. Salt mines in Chehr Abad, Iran, also testify to the stuff’s ability to preserve people. Four “salt men” have been discovered there, eerily mummified by what they were digging for; two of them may date as far back as 650 B.C.E. But the use of salt far predates the Iranian salt men. In China, writings that are something like 4,700 years old testify to its value; the Peng-Tzao-Kan-Mu, the earliest known treatise pharmacology, mentions more than 40 kinds of salt. And a tragic piece of Chinese folklore that has probably been around since the time of the Peng-Tzao-Kan-Mu tells a story of how the phoenix, that majestic mythical bird, first brought salt to the attention of a lowly peasant – who was accidentally put to death by a temperamental emperor before anyone realized the value of what he had found.

3. Cinnamon

b(Image credit: Flickr user Dennis Wilkinson)
Although it’s originally from the hard-to-reach island of Ceylon (a.k.a. Sri Lanka), cinnamon has been a global sensation for millennia. It first appears in Chinese writings that date to 2800 B.C.E. (they called it kwai). Cinnamon was also used by the Egyptians in embalming, perhaps, as with salt, for the same reason that it became a popular cooking spice – its warm aroma and antibacterial properties could hide the stench of food starting to go bad. The Romans had attachments to cinnamon, too, both medical and sentimental. Pliny the Elder records the stuff as being worth about fifteen times its weight in silver. And the Roman Emperor Nero, known for both his evil tendencies and his extravagance, sacrificed a year’s supply of the stuff as an apologia for murdering his wife – although we’re guessing Roman spice merchants failed to appreciate the gesture.

4. Nutmeg

u(Image credit: Flickr user Lee Coursey)
Like cinnamon, this one’s been a popular spice since the days of, yep, Pliny the Elder, who writes about a curious plant that bears two spices: Nutmeg is the plant’s seed; mace is made from a fleshy covering around the seed. Nutmeg’s distinctive scent (think eggnog) has made it consistently popular throughout the ages; Emperor Henry VI reportedly had workers blanket the streets of Rome with the aroma in celebration of his crowning. The vast majority of the world’s nutmeg now comes from the tiny Caribbean island of Grenada – in fact, the local economy is based almost entirely on tourism and nutmeg exports, and the spice is the centerpiece of the country’s flag – but that’s not where the plant originated. In fact, nutmeg didn’t even exist in Grenada until British sailors brought it there in the early 1800s; it’s from the East Indies, not the West Indies. The British had good reason for introducing an invasive species, though: The combination of a blight, political upheaval, and Dutch merchants who burned nutmeg warehouses to keep the prices high had pretty much wiped out the world supply of nutmeg at that point.

5. Ginger

v(Image credit: Flickr user heath_bar)
There’s plenty of debate over whether Marco Polo brought back pasta from his trip to China, but one thing is certain: he did bring back ginger. Hugely popular in the Roman Empire, ginger suffered roughly the same fate as said empire; by Polo’s days, it was barely known in the West. Polo and company reintroduced it as a rare luxury, and it stayed that way for centuries. In fact, Queen Elizabeth was a noted enthusiast, and some historians think she may have invented the gingerbread man.

6. Horseradish

d(Image credit: Flickr user Judy Baxter)
Anything that tastes as strong as horseradish has got to have a history of use in medicine – and indeed, horseradish does; in the 3,500 years that humans have been eating it, they’ve used it to treat everything from rheumatism to tuberculosis, from lower back pain to low libido. Hippocrates wrote about it (along with the 400 other spicy medicines he recommended), and the oracle at Delphi was a big fan, too; he supposedly told Apollo that “the radish is worth its weight in lead, the beet its weight in silver, and the horseradish its weight in gold.” Horseradish had a bit of a renaissance during, well, the Renaissance; as a food fad, it spread all over Europe and Scandinavia, and by the late 1600s, it was a British staple, eaten alongside beef and oysters and made into pungent cordials. Which is all fine and good (we like the stuff too), but why is it called horseradish? The answer has very little to do with horses. The Germans call the stuff “meerrettich,” or “sea radish,” since that’s where it grows. English-speakers may have picked up the word and bastardized it to “mare-radish,” which then became not-necessarily-a-female-horse radish. We, however, prefer the more descriptive name that some American settlers used for it; they charmingly (and accurately) called it “stingnose.”

Random Photo

Garden planter turns out to be Roman antique

Auction appraiser Guy Schwinge was visiting a Dorset, England home when he noticed an unusual planter in the garden. It turned out to be a Roman sarcophagus from the 2nd century. According to the Antiques Trade Gazette, research revealed that the family had purchased it a century ago from auction house Hy. Duke & Son. Now, Duke & Son have just sold it again, for £80,000.

Spot Where Julius Caesar Stabbed Discovered

A concrete structure was likely erected by Caesar's successor to condemn the Roman leader's assassination. Read more
Julius Caesar

Understanding Stonehenge: Two Explanations

Was the prehistoric monument built to unite a land or as a destination to heal the sick? Recent research supports both ideas. Read more

Skulls From Sacrificial Rituals Found in Temple

Remains suggest more than 50 people were sacrificed at an Aztec temple in brutal rituals more than 500 years ago. Read more
Skulls From Sacrificial Rituals Found in Temple

Awesome Pictures


Jurassic Park Won't Happen: Dino DNA Dead

Based on the newly discovered decay rates for DNA, dinosaurs have been extinct too long to revive as clones. Read more
egale attacks an extinct moa

Eagle nabs crocodile

Wildlife guide Mark Sheridan-Johnson snapped this thrilling photo on a Tanzania river bank. The eagle nabbed the juvenile Nile crocodile while the reptile was lunching on some fish. "Amazing Image: Eagle Snatches Crocodile From Riverbank

Animal Pictures

Lynx 7 by Dan Newcomb Photography on Flickr.