Welcome to ...

The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Daily Drift

4472 Flying Scotsman by lesthompson on Flickr. 
The Flying Scotsman

Some of our readers today have been in:
Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic
Lahore, Pakistan
Rue, France
Kluang, Malaysia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Barranquilla, Colombia
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Zagreb, Croatia
Claremont, South Africa
Minsk, Belarus
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
St, Petersburg, Russia
Kiev, Ukraine
Dublin, Ireland
Moscow, Russia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Johor Bahru, Malaysia
Thanh Pho Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Sampaloc, Philippines
Manama, Bahrain
Hanoi, Vietnam
Bangkok, Thailand

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

439   Carthage, the leading Roman city in North Africa, falls to Genseric and the Vandals.
1531   Bavaria, despite being a Catholic region, joins the League of Schmalkalden, a Protestant group which opposes Charles V.
1648   The signing of the Treaty of Westphalia ends the German Thirty Years' War.
1755   A British expedition against the French held Fort Niagara in Canada ends in failure.
1836   The match is patented.
1861   Western Union completes the first transcontinental telegraph line, putting the Pony Express out of business.
1863   General Ulysses S. Grant arrives in Chattanooga, Tennessee to find the Union Army there starving.
1897   The first comic strip appears in the Sunday color supplement of the New York Journal called the 'Yellow Kid.'
1901   Anna Edson Taylor, 43, is the first woman to go safely over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She made the attempt for the cash award offered, which she put toward the loan on her Texas ranch.
1916   Henry Ford awards equal pay to women.
1917   The Austro-German army routs the Italian army at Caporetto, Italy.
1929   Black Thursday–the first day of the stock market crash which began the Great Depression.
1930   John Wayne debuts in his first starring role in The Big Trail .
1931   Al (Alphonse) Capone, the prohibition-era Chicago gangster, is sent to prison for tax evasion.
1934   Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, called Mahatma or "Great Soul," resigns from Congress in India.
1938   The Fair Labor Standards Act becomes law, establishing the 40-hour work week.
1944   The aircraft carrier USS Princeton is sunk by a single Japanese plane during the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
1945   The United Nations comes into existence with the ratification of its charter by the first 29 nations.
1945   Vidkun Quisling, Norway's wartime minister president, is executed by firing squad for collaboration with the Nazis.
1952   Presidential candidate Dwight D. Eisenhower announces that if elected, he will go to Korea.
1970   Leftist Salvador Allende elected president of Chile.
2003   The supersonic Concorde jet made its last commercial passenger flight from New York City's John F. Kennedy International Airport to London's Heathrow Airport, traveling at twice the speed of sound.

Non Sequitur


Romney lied about the number of ships in 1917

Number of Ships 
Obama: 285
the shrub: 278
1916 (Romney, of course, made a mistake in quoting the lie, it’s 1916): 245

As you may all now know, Mitt Romney raised an odd complaint during last night’s debate: He claimed – falsely – that America’s Navy has fewer ships today than since 1917.
ROMNEY: Our Navy is old — excuse me, our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917. The Navy said they needed 313 ships to carry out their mission. We’re now at under 285. We’re headed down to the low 200s if we go through a sequestration. That’s unacceptable to me.
kaiser wilhelm
Mitt Romney, keeping America
safe from Kaiser Wilhelm. 
Except he’s wrong.
America has more ships now than in 1917.  From Politifact (Politifact notes that Romney also got his year wrong – the lie, traditionally told by repugicans on this point, claims 1916 as the year, not 1917):
We looked up the original data, and the Heritage report does reflect the trend line correctly (though Romney said 1917 rather than 1916, something we won’t quibble with). In 1916, the U.S. Navy had 245 active ships, a number that eventually peaked during World War II, then fell, then peaked again more modestly during the Korean War, followed by a slow, consistent decline over the next five decades.
In recent years, the number of active ships has fallen low enough to approach its 1916 level. In both 2009 (the most recent year of the Heritage report) and 2011, the number was 285.
And guess who had fewer ships than us today?  George W. Bush.
The same data set shows that during the years 2005 to 2008, the number of active ships was 282, 281, 278 and 282, respectively — each of which were below the levels of 2009, 2010 and 2011. In other words, each of the final four years under George W. Bush saw lower levels of active ships than any of the three years under Obama. The number of surface warships also bottomed out in 2005 under Bush, later rising by about 10 percent under Obama.
Such figures undercut Romney’s use of the statistic as a weapon against Obama.
Politifact goes on to explain that the number of ships doesn’t matter, it’s not an indication of relative military power, especially when comparing two different centuries.
But what do those numbers mean? Not much, a variety of experts told us.
Counting the number of ships or aircraft is not a good measurement of defense strength because their capabilities have increased dramatically in recent decades. Romney’s comparison “doesn’t pass ‘the giggle test,’ ” said William W. Stueck, a historian at the University of Georgia.
Consider what types of naval ships were used in 1916 and 2011. The types of ships active in both years, such as cruisers and destroyers, are outfitted today with far more advanced technology than what was available during World War I. More importantly, the U.S. Navy has 11 aircraft carriers (plus the jets to launch from them), 31 amphibious ships, 14 submarines capable of launching nuclear ballistic missiles and four specialized submarines for launching Cruise missiles — all categories of vessels that didn’t exist in 1916.
When will the media start asking Mitt Romney whether he’s incredibly sloppy or an incredible liar? Either way, it hardly passes the commander-in-chief test.

The truth be told

Nine Romney Advisers You Need to Know About

Want to know what a Romney presidency would look like? 

Check out these guys' records.

One way to understand what a presidential candidate might do if elected is to look at his advisers. Here are nine advisers who are shaping Mitt Romney's views—and could end up shaping his presidency. You may not have heard of them, but you should know about them.

Cofer "head on dry ice" Black

Position: Foreign Policy Adviser
His Qualifications: Black was head of the CIA's Counterterrorism Center when Al Qaeda brought down the towers and is a former executive for the "private security" company Blackwater.
What You Need to Know: Black has long been associated with the shrub cabal’s "dark side," including torture and extraordinary rendition. He's also a fan of colorful speech, having said that he wanted to "Capture Bin Laden, kill him, and bring his head back in a box on dry ice." That didn't happen, but a 2005 CIA inspector general's report did chastise the CTC for not sharing information with other agencies that could have lead to the discovery of the 9/11 plot before it occurred.

Walid "LEbanese warlord advisEr" Phares

Photo courtesy of An-NaharPosition: Foreign Policy Adviser
His Qualifications: Phares has worked as a professor, counterterrorism adviser, author, and pundit for Fox News.
What You Need to Know: As Mother Jones first reported last year, Phares "was a high ranking political official in a sectarian religious militia responsible for massacres during Lebanon's brutal, 15-year civil war." Phares has tried to downplay his involvement in this messy war (which resulted in more than 100,000 fatalities) but according to RĂ©gina Sneifer, who served in the Lebenese Forces' Fifth Bureau, "Mr. Phares was aware of the crimes of Samir Geagea [a ruthless militia leader] and he was still close to him."

Robert "saturday night massacre" Bork

Position: Judicial Adviser
His Qualifications:  Bork was a failed Supreme Court nominee under President Ronald Reagan and played a controversial role in the Watergate scandal.
What You Need to Know: Bork, then solicitor general, agreed to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was close to cracking open Watergate. (Bork's colleagues, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus, had refused to fire Cox and resigned on principle.) Ted Kennedy later said that "Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids [and] schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution." Bork has also proposed reducing the scope of the 14th Amendment, and says it's "silly" to think: "Gee, [women are] discriminated against and we need to do something about it."

Wikimedia CommonsKris "birther flirter" Kobach

Position: Immigration Adviser
His Qualifications: Kobach is the secretary of state for Kansas.
What You Need to Know: Kobach is the intellectual architect behind harsh Arizona-style immigration laws all over the country. Kobach has flirted with birtherism and even sought to abolish birthright citizenship. But illegal immigration isn't Kobach's only hobby horse: At the repugican convention, he dipped his toe into Shariah panic by urging the adoption of an anti-Shariah plank to the repugican platform.

Paul "you're a taker" Ryan

Position: Domestic Policy Adviser/Vice Presidential Candidate
His Qualifications: Ryan is a repugican congressman from Wisconsin and the chairman of the House Budget Committee.
What You Need to Know: Technically he's the veep pick, but in choosing Ryan, Romney tied himself to Ryan's policy agenda. In the past, that agenda has included turning Medicare into a voucher system so that seniors have to pay more for their health care, slashing Medicaid so that states have less money to cover medical services for the poor, old, and disabled, and all while cutting taxes on the wealthy. Where does Ryan's plan make up that extra revenue? In part by raising taxes on the poor. There's no one on Romney's team who embodies the "half the country are moochers" mindset expressed by Romney on that 47 percent video more than Ryan does.

John "it's never a bad day to bomb Iran" Bolton

Position: Foreign Policy Adviser
His Qualifications: Bolton is a lawyer and diplomat who served under George W. Bush and George H.W. Bush.
What You Need to Know: It's never a bad day to bomb Iran if you're John Bolton, the walrus-mustachioed Bush-era ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton has been pushing for an Iran strike for years, he recently said he thought the Israelis should have bombed Iran "three and a half years ago." A favorite of anti-Muslim activists like Pamela Geller, Bolton likes a good conspiracy theory himself, recently warning that a UN small arms treaty could take Americans' guns away.

General Tommy "where's bin Laden?" Franks

Position: Military Adviser
His Qualifications: Franks, a retired commander of the US Central Command, led the 2003 invasion of Iraq…and came in at No. 4 on Foreign Policy's "worst general in American history" list. 
What You Need to Know: It's hard to know where to start with Franks: He didn't tell the American public he was planning on invading Iraq and then he helped spread the big fat lie that there were actually weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Once the war was over, he had no plan to deal with the aftermath. Oh, and he lost Osama bin Laden.  

Harold "drill baby drill" Hamm

Position: Energy Adviser
His Qualifications: He's a self-made American oilman worth $9.7 billion, as of September 2012.  
What You Need to KnowHamm would end federal control of drilling on government land, a policy Theodore Roosevelt ushered in to help protect wildlife and America's most beautiful places. Instead, states would have the authority to frack and mine government lands. The New York Times calls this "a radical shift from decades of policies under both Democrat and Republican presidents." According to Rolling Stone, Hamm has also given nearly $1 million to Romney's super-PAC. 

Kevin "Dow 36,000" Hassett

His Position: Economic Adviser
His Qualifications: Hassett was a senior economist for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System.
What You Need To Know: Hassett is your typical right-wing economist: He favors stimulus when repugican presidents are in office and austerity when Democrats are in office, and in that sense he's kind of a perfect adviser for Mitt Romney, who is known for changing his mind on big issues when it's convenient. Hassett is most infamous, though, for writing (with James K. Glassman) the 1999 book Dow 36,000, in which he predicted an ever-rising stock market. "Stocks are now in the midst of a one-time-only rise to much higher ground," Hassett and Glassman wrote, which is true if you ignore subsequent downturns including the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. With a track record like that, how can Hassett's assertion that Romney's jobs plan will create "millions of jobs" possibly be wrong?

An Avalanche of repugican Voter Suppression and Fraud is Threatening the Election

Human beings are programmed with a need to control their environment whether it is in their place of abode, their job, or their community. There are countries in the world where government is chosen by military might, religious institutions, or by royal birth, but the people have little control of their own lives. America’s founders did not believe every resident had a right to choose their representatives, and it has taken over two hundred years to give every citizen a voice in choosing their representatives in government. When America invaded Iraq, one of the first tasks the military accomplished was providing Iraqi citizens with free and fair elections for the first time in decades, and it was a watershed moment for the people who suffered under the oppressive regime of Saddam Hussein. It is ironic then, that in America, the prospect of free and fair elections is being threatened by an avalanche of reports of voter suppression and fraud by the repugican cabal.
The repugicans are notorious for projecting their beliefs and practices on their opponents, and for the past two years their state legislative arm, the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) passed restrictive and harsh voter ID laws to combat what they claimed was massive voter fraud. Over the past few months, reports of voter suppression and registration fraud have built up to the point that, like Iraq, this country’s election will be monitored by an international group to stop fraud and intimidation. The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) is a United Nations affiliate that will deploy 44 observers around the country on Election Day and an additional 80 to 90 members of parliament from nearly 30 countries to monitor American elections. The OSCE election monitors are from its human rights office that focuses on democratization, and they will be looking for voter suppression activities by conservative groups.
Americans should be embarrassed the country best known for promoting democracy around the world requires human rights monitors to ensure free and fair elections at home. The founder and leader of True the Vote, a conservative group seeking to crack down on election fraud was outraged and said, “activist groups sought assistance not from American sources, but from the United Nations,” but after months of reporting fraud, and repugican leaders refusing to follow court orders, there was little choice but to appeal to an outside source. The Justice Department cannot possibly keep up with the overwhelming number of cases committed exclusively by repugican groups who claimed voter fraud had reached epidemic proportions, but as usual, it is repugicans committing fraud.
OSCE is monitoring the elections after reports of “coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities” that makes it a civil rights as well as an election issue. It has been widely reported (in liberal blogs) that the RNC hired a known repugican strategist with a reputation of voter registration fraud and attempts to suppress Democratic voter turnout for $3.1 million. Reports of destroying voter registration forms in Virginia last week drew minor attention from local media, and on Friday in Ohio, a repugican election official blamed a computer glitch for sending out notices to three precincts with improper polling places and news the election was Thursday, November 8 instead of Tuesday, November 6. There are myriad reports of voter suppression and fraud that one expects in young democracies like Iraq, and over the weekend two Iraq combat veterans noticed a parallel between elections in America and Iraq.
The young men served in Iraq leading up to the nation’s first free and fair elections, and it was their only source of pride at having served in Iraq. Although they felt betrayed and deceived at being sent to war over a lie, they said it was worth it to see Iraqis participating in their first fair election. Both men felt betrayed that after fighting to give Iraqis the right to participate in a fair election, their party was guilty of suppressing the vote and wondered if they should be deployed to protect Americans’ right to vote. They had heard a World War II veteran was purged from voter rolls in Florida, and opined that the President should send a squad of Rangers to guarantee the veteran was allowed to vote.
Americans should be outraged at repugican attempts to suppress votes, but the media has been negligent by not reporting the rampant voter suppression. In a large newspaper in Central California, there has not been one article or story reporting voter registration fraud or suppression efforts throughout the campaign. The paper said it was not “that big of a deal” and that it would cast unfair aspersion on repugicans so close to the election, so they would not report on it. Recently, it was brought to their attention the repugican chair of the Committee on Legislative Ethics committed voter fraud and faces removal from the ballot, but they demurred again because “it was a Southern California senator and not that big of a deal.”
Therein is the problem, and why repugicans continue flaunting the law, suppressing votes, and committing fraud; because “it’s not that big of a deal.” However, it is a big deal to the American people who lose their right to vote, and it is a big deal to an international human rights organization or they would not send monitors to stop “a coordinated political effort to disenfranchise millions of Americans — particularly traditionally disenfranchised groups like minorities.”
It is a sad commentary when America needs an international organization to monitor a general election, but it is crucial to save our democracy from repugican malfeasance.  The founders believed only wealthy land owners deserved the right to vote, and after valiant struggles and Constitutional amendments, instead of celebrating every American’s right to vote, repugicans are suppressing voting rights. Hopefully with international monitors in place, every American who wants to vote will get the opportunity, but at the rate the repugican cabal has suppressed the vote, it does not look very likely. It is a shame that the country that sent its soldiers to protect Iraqis right to vote cannot deliver that assurance to its own people; maybe the United Nations will do the job and save America’s democracy.

This is fraud....election fraud

And it is done on purpose.

 It is un-American. people need to go to jail for this crap.
2,300 voters in the northern Ohio county of Ottawa received the notice informing them the election was November 8 and that their precinct was relocated to a different building. the deputy director called it a “costly mistake,” and said they were reissuing the mailer with the correct information. President Obama won Ottawa county in 2008 with 52 percent of the vote.

Did you know ...

The 9 most racist moments of the 2012 election

That you don't have to worry about the huge fines Wall Street banks have to pay: the banks can write them off

That's no primate, that's a fish

That the FBI had a file on Hunter S. Thompson

And rest in peace Native American activist turned actor Russell Means

Ann Coulter's backward use of the 'r-word'

Wingnut talking head Ann Coulter lit up the Twitterverse after last night's presidential foreign policy debate with the comment that she approved of "Romney's decision to be kind and gentle to the retard," in an apparent response to critiques of Mitt Romney's performance.
What can one say when a retard gets it backward? The shrill shrew has never been correct about anything and neither is she (it?) now.

Good Question

So, do I call an electrician or a plumber? Electrician or plumber

NYPD officers beat homeless man to a pulp

Radley Balko says: "And it wouldn’t be a police beating without the obligatory charge against the victim for assaulting the police officer’s fist with his face."
Two officers from the 71st precinct, one male and one female, arrived and woke the man. Confused as to why he was being accosted by police, the man refused the officers’ attempts to escort him outside, insisting that he had permission to be there and asking that they allow him to prove it.
His pleas fell on deaf ears, and they proceeded to place him under arrest.
When he resisted arrest, the male officer flew into a rage and began to beat the defenseless man. As can be seen in the video below, the officer assumed a boxing stance and then lurched towards his victim, pummeling him from all sides.
Over the next couple of minutes the man is also pepper-sprayed and beaten with a truncheon by the female officer, all while posing no threat to the officers’ well-being whatsoever.
Cops Beat Homeless Man

Man found with drugs in pocket claimed trousers weren't his

A neighborhood beat deputy patrolling an area in Grove City, Florida, in which had recent burglaries had been committed stopped a man on a bike, James Edwin White, whom he did not recognize, according to a news release from the Charlotte County Sheriff's Office.

White’s hands were shaking; he was also trembling and stuttering, according to the deputy.

White gave the deputy permission to search him for any illegal weapons or drugs and denied having any contraband on his person. Twice. The deputy then reportedly found a cellophane wrapper with nine Oxycodone pills inside his right side pocket.

Just as the deputy discovered the pills, the 30-year-old Englewood man allegedly stated, “Oh, wait, these aren’t my pants!” explaining the pants belonged to his uncle and he had no knowledge of the pills. The deputy also found a blue straw, commonly used to snort drugs narcotics, which had a powdery residue inside.

Bank robber caught after returning to complain he'd been shortchanged

A bank robber was quickly captured on Monday morning when he returned to Alliance Bank, the scene of the crime, after discovering the teller had not given him the full $20,000 he had demanded, Syracuse police said.

Arthur Bundrage, 28, of East Syracuse, New York, was charged with fourth-degree grand larceny. He is being held in the Onondaga County Justice Center pending arraignment in Syracuse City Court.

Police say that at about 9 am, Bundrage entered the Alliance Bank at 1001 James St., walked up to a teller and demanded $20,000 in cash. The teller told him no. When Bundrage demanded again, the teller gave him an undisclosed amount of cash. Bundrage then left and the bank immediately called 911.

As officers were responding, Bundrage discovered the teller had not given him the full $20,000 amount he had asked for. Officers found him standing at the front door attempting to get back in. He was taken into custody without incident.

Woman burned down house because of attic noises

A Carlsbad, New Mexico, woman was arrested on Friday after a nearly six-month investigation into an arson fire at her home. Carlsbad police say Valerie Hernandez, 33, burned down her home on May 18. Hernandez moved into the home in March and told police she never liked living there because she believed someone was living in the attic, though a police investigation earlier in the year revealed no such thing. Hernandez said she felt like someone was constantly watching her and had bugged the house to listen to all of her conversations. She repeatedly asked Sgt. Blaine Rennie if the person in the attic had died during the fire.

Police and fire officials say Hernandez gave them several stories about how her house caught on fire. She first told an officer she had walked to a convenience store not far from where she lived, to buy a soft drink. On her way back, she heard a loud explosion and saw smoke coming from her house. Sgt. Adrian Rodriguez attempted to confirm her story at the store, but receipt records showed she had purchased a bottle of lighter fluid instead of a soda. Hernandez then admitted that she indeed purchased the lighter fluid, but she said it was for a barbeque. She was on her way to her friend's house for a cookout when she heard the explosion and ran home to find her bedroom on fire. But Hernandez's neighbours denied hearing any type of explosion.

Hernandez's neighbour, Cody Grady, said he did not know her well, but he remembers some strange activity across the street during the weeks leading up to the fire. "She (Hernandez) would knock on my door five or six times a day and then just walk back to her house." According to the police report, the fire originated on a mattress near the southwest wall of the home. Maxwell said there was no heat source located near the area of origin, and therefore the fire had been caused by an accelerant. Police looked outside Hernandez's bedroom window to find several documents and clothes lying on the ground which appeared to have been purposely saved from the fire.

During a second meeting with police, Hernandez again admitted to buying the bottle of lighter fluid, but this time she said she returned home after buying it, staying in her room because she was scared of the person living her attic. When she gained courage, she ran out of the house and dropped the lighter fluid by the front door. Hernandez denied setting fire to her house, and she suggested that perhaps the old Christmas lights and ceiling fan in her closet could have started the fire. Hernandez's mother, Elia Hernandez, said she purchased the residence along with her daughter but moved to Clovis to get away from her. Hernandez will appear before a judge on Thursday. And as for her house, police say it is a total loss.

Superman Quits Newspaper Job to Become a Blogger

Clark Kent learns how marketable his skills are.
DC Comics is planning major changes for the life of Superman/Clark Kent. For example, he's going to quit writing for the Daily Planet and engage in independent journalism. Comic book writer Scott Lobdell explains:
"Rather than Clark be this clownish suit that Superman puts on, we're going to really see Clark come into his own in the next few years as far as being a guy who takes to the Internet and to the airwaves and starts speaking an unvarnished truth."
Entertainment reporter Cat Grant also quits the Planet with him, and Lobdell says she'll be bringing "a whole other set of skills" to their next venture. It probably won't be at another media outlet in Metropolis, though.
"I don't think he's going to be filling out an application anywhere," the writer says. "He is more likely to start the next Huffington Post or the next Drudge Report than he is to go find someone else to get assignments or draw a paycheck from.
Yeah, he'll make a fortune in the blogging business. Once again, DC is appealing to unrealistic fantasies.

Random Photo


Photograph by Liz Ham

The Wheel of Urine

wheel of urine
Feeling ill? Urine luck! Spin the Wheel of Morality Urine. Doctors in the Fifteenth Century used it to evaluate a patient's health:
The Urine Wheel was used for diagnosing diseases based on the color, smell, and taste of the patient’s urine in the early 16th century....Many diseases affect metabolism and many changes in metabolism can be detected in the urine. For example, diabetics will excrete sugar in their urine–sometimes enough sugar that it can be fermented into whisky. There are many other diseases that change the smell of a person’s urine, including the very descriptively named Maple Syrup Urine Disease or Sweaty Feet Syndrome, now much more likely to be diagnosed by electronic sensor arrays than actually tasting the urine.

Amino acid necklace spells out "we are star-stuff"

Colette Taylor is a molecular biologist and crafter who makes some rather lovely pieces, including the amino-acid inspired necklace shown here (which I saw in person tonight), which reads "We are star-stuff."
There are certain phrases or ideas which sometimes need reminding. Just to keep us sane, to remind us what is important. This is We Are Star Stuff in Amino Acids. This is a big one for me, a reminder from Carl Sagan that we are all made of the same building blocks, and the same amazing pieces. Not only are we made of the same stuff, it is particles of the universe. This is a reminder of not just how insignificant an individual is, it’s a reminder that every individual is a beautiful and brilliant thing. It’s so awesome that a person, made of the same thing as everyone else, manages to carve out a unique and original existence. This is a reminder that being is pretty much the coolest thing ever, and should never be taken for granted.
The Efforts of a Scientist and Compulsive Crafter

Exercise Your Brain

Brains have a tendency to shrink as people get older, but regular exercise can help to prevent that from happening. Read more
exercise helps old brains

Watermelon shown to boost heart health, control weight gain in mice

Eating an apple a day may keep the doctor away, but eating watermelon may just keep the cardiologist at bay.
Continue Reading

Hyenas and humans live in harmony

Pack of spotted hyenas preparing to attackHyenas and humans live in harmony

Large hyena populations are living alongside human communities in Africa without coming into conflict, a study finds. BBC Nature

US may soon become world's top oil producer

Driven by high prices and new drilling methods, U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons is on track to rise 7 percent this year to an average of 10.9 million barrels per day. This will be the fourth straight year of crude increases and the biggest single-year gain since 1951.
The boom has surprised even the experts.
"Five years ago, if I or anyone had predicted today's production growth, people would have thought we were crazy," says Jim Burkhard, head of oil markets research at IHS CERA, an energy consulting firm.
The Energy Department forecasts that U.S. production of crude and other liquid hydrocarbons, which includes biofuels, will average 11.4 million barrels per day next year. That would be a record for the U.S. and just below Saudi Arabia's output of 11.6 million barrels. Citibank forecasts U.S. production could reach 13 million to 15 million barrels per day by 2020, helping to make North America "the new Middle East."
The last year the U.S. was the world's largest producer was 2002, after the Saudis drastically cut production because of low oil prices in the aftermath of 9/11. Since then, the Saudis and the Russians have been the world leaders.
The United States will still need to import lots of oil in the years ahead. Americans use 18.7 million barrels per day. But thanks to the growth in domestic production and the improving fuel efficiency of the nation's cars and trucks, imports could fall by half by the end of the decade.
The increase in production hasn't translated to cheaper gasoline at the pump, and prices are expected to stay relatively high for the next few years because of growing demand for oil in developing nations and political instability in the Middle East and North Africa.
Still, producing more oil domestically, and importing less, gives the economy a significant boost.
The companies profiting range from independent drillers to large international oil companies such as Royal Dutch Shell, which increasingly see the U.S. as one of the most promising places to drill. ExxonMobil agreed last month to spend $1.6 billion to increase its U.S. oil holdings.
Increased drilling is driving economic growth in states such as North Dakota, Oklahoma, Wyoming, Montana and Texas, all of which have unemployment rates far below the national average of 7.8 percent. North Dakota is at 3 percent; Oklahoma, 5.2.
Businesses that serve the oil industry, such as steel companies that supply drilling pipe and railroads that transport oil, aren't the only ones benefiting. Homebuilders, auto dealers and retailers in energy-producing states are also getting a lift.
IHS says the oil and gas drilling boom, which already supports 1.7 million jobs, will lead to the creation of 1.3 million jobs across the U.S. economy by the end of the decade.
"It's the most important change to the economy since the advent of personal computers pushed up productivity in the 1990s," says economist Philip Verleger, a visiting fellow at the Peterson Institute of International Economics.
The major factor driving domestic production higher is a newfound ability to squeeze oil out of rock once thought too difficult and expensive to tap. Drillers have learned to drill horizontally into long, thin seams of shale and other rock that holds oil, instead of searching for rare underground pools of hydrocarbons that have accumulated over millions of years.
To free the oil and gas from the rock, drillers crack it open by pumping water, sand and chemicals into the ground at high pressure, a process is known as hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."
While expanded use of the method has unlocked enormous reserves of oil and gas, it has also raised concerns that contaminated water produced in the process could leak into drinking water.
The surge in oil production has other roots, as well:
— A long period of high oil prices has given drillers the cash and the motivation to spend the large sums required to develop new techniques and search new places for oil. Over the past decade, oil has averaged $69 a barrel. During the previous decade, it averaged $21.
— Production in the Gulf of Mexico, which slowed after BP's 2010 well disaster and oil spill, has begun to climb again. Huge recent finds there are expected to help growth continue.
— A natural gas glut forced drillers to dramatically slow natural gas exploration beginning about a year ago. Drillers suddenly had plenty of equipment and workers to shift to oil.
The most prolific of the new shale formations are in North Dakota and Texas. Activity is also rising in Oklahoma, Colorado, Ohio and other states.
Production from shale formations is expected to grow from 1.6 million barrels per day this year to 4.2 million barrels per day by 2020, according to Wood Mackenzie, an energy consulting firm. That means these new formations will yield more oil by 2020 than major oil suppliers such as Iran and Canada produce today.
U.S. oil and liquids production reached a peak of 11.2 million barrels per day in 1985, when Alaskan fields were producing enormous amounts of crude, then began a long decline. From 1986 through 2008, crude production fell every year but one, dropping by 44 percent over that period. The United States imported nearly 60 percent of the oil it burned in 2006.
By the end of this year, U.S. crude output will be at its highest level since 1998 and oil imports will be lower than at any time since 1992, at 41 percent of consumption.
"It's a stunning turnaround," Burkhard says.
Whether the U.S. supplants Saudi Arabia as the world's biggest producer will depend on the price of oil and Saudi production in the years ahead. Saudi Arabia sits on the world's largest reserves of oil, and it raises and lowers production to try to keep oil prices steady. Saudi output is expected to remain about flat between now and 2017, according to the International Energy Agency.
But Saudi oil is cheap to tap, while the methods needed to tap U.S. oil are very expensive. If the price of oil falls below $75 per barrel, drillers in the U.S. will almost certainly begin to cut back.
The International Energy Agency forecasts that global oil prices, which have averaged $107 per barrel this year, will slip to an average of $89 over the next five years — not a big enough drop to lead companies to cut back on exploration deeply.
Nor are they expected to fall enough to bring back the days of cheap gasoline. Still, more of the money that Americans spend at filling stations will flow to domestic drillers, which are then more likely to buy equipment here and hire more U.S. workers.
"Drivers will have to pay high prices, sure, but at least they'll have a job," Verleger says.
 Graphic shows crude oil production

Hawaii Volcano's Lava Lake Threatens to Overflow

The lava lake inside Halema'uma'u crater, at the top of Mount Kilauea in Hawaii, is closer than ever to spilling out over the crater floor. Read more

Awesome Pictures

How The Octopus Got Its Rings

Imagine for a moment that you're snorkeling in the exquisite cerulean waters off the coast of Australia, when you notice amidst the rocks a small octopus. It's well camouflaged against its background, but, upon seeing you, the startled cephalopod's body suddenly lights up in a brilliant pattern of blue rings.

Instead of recognizing what is obviously the animal's colorful warning display and backing off, you move in to get a closer look, at which point the panicked animal promptly bites your outstretched hand. You've just been bitten by the blue-ringed octopus - one of the more venomous creatures in the Pacific Ocean.

Ancient Armored Fish Had The First Teeth

Around 430 to 360 million years ago, fierce-looking armored fish called placoderms roamed the world's oceans. Most illustrations show them with jaws and teeth. But whether or not they actually had what we'd now describe as teeth has long been the subject of intense debate among scientists.

Now, using a particle-accelerator called a synchrotron, a UK-led team of researchers from the University of Bristol has discovered that these early jawed fish did indeed have pearly gnashers. And probably sharp ones at that.

Live shark found wriggling around on 12th tee of golf course

A 2-foot-long shark was spotted thrashing about on the 12th tee box of at San Juan Hills Golf Club, California, on Monday. The shark was discovered at around 4 pm by an on-duty course marshal, who immediately called the clubhouse to report the displaced fish.
“It was just wriggling around,” Director of Club Operations Melissa McCormack said. “Honestly, this is the weirdest thing that’s happened here.” The marshal picked up the shark, placed it in the back of his golf cart and drove it back to the clubhouse.

There, staff placed the shark briefly in some fresh water before an employee drove it out to Dana Point, where it was released back into the ocean. McCormack believes the shark was picked out of the water by a predatory bird and was dropped onto the course, which is less than 4 miles away from the Pacific Ocean.

The shark was found bleeding from puncture wounds near its dorsal fin. “It had a little blood on it, but it was still alive,” McCormack said. “We didn’t want to waste any time. Poor guy, he got dropped onto a golf course.” McCormack said the shark was light brown in color with black spots and could have been a leopard shark.

Animal News

The Great Chimp Tech Boom

Chimp tech isn't at the level of the iPad Mini, but some clever primates are innovating and spreading their methods. Read more
Ant Fishing

Why Dung Beetles Like to Chill on Poop Balls

Dung beetles use their balls of feces to protect their tootsies from the hot sands of the South African desert. Read more
dung beetles have a poop plan

Bigfoot Vandalizes a Winnebago

A long history of people have blamed the hairy humanoid for attacking personal property. Read more
A Pennsylvania man who accused Bigfoot of vandalizing his 1973 Winnebago earlier this month is just one of a long history of people who have blamed the hairy humanoid for attacking personal property and dwellings.

Animal Pictures