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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Monday, October 29, 2012

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Today in History

1618 Sir Walter Raleigh is executed. After the death of Queen Elizabeth, Raleigh's enemies spread rumors that he was opposed the accession of King James.
1787 Mozart's opera Don Giovanni opens in Prague.
1813 The Demologos, the first steam-powered warship, launched in New York City.
1901 Leon Czolgosz is electrocuted for the assassination of President McKinley. Czolgosz, an anarchist, shot McKinley on September 6 during a public reception at the Temple of Music in Buffalo, N.Y. Despite early hopes of recovery, McKinley died September 14, in Buffalo.
1927 Russian archaeologist Peter Kozloff apparently uncovers the tomb of Genghis Khan in the Gobi Desert, a claim still in dispute.
1929 Black Tuesday–the most catastrophic day in stock market history, the herald of the Great Depression. 16 million shares were sold at declining prices. By mid-November $30 billion of the $80 billion worth of stocks listed in September will have been wiped out.
1945 The first ball-point pen goes is sold by Gimbell's department store in New York for a price of $12.
1949 Alonzo G. Moron of the Virgin Islands becomes the first African-American president of Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia.
1952 French forces launch Operation Lorraine against Viet Minh supply bases in Indochina.
1964 Thieves steal a jewel collection–including the world's largest sapphire, the 565-carat "Star of India," and the 100-carat DeLong ruby–from the Museum of Natural History in New York. The thieves were caught and most of the jewels recovered.
1969 The U.S. Supreme Court orders immediate desegregation, superseding the previous "with all deliberate speed" ruling.
1972 Palestinian guerrillas kill an airport employee and hijack a plane, carrying 27 passengers, to Cuba. They force West Germany to release 3 terrorists who were involved in the Munich Massacre.

Non Sequitur


The truth hurts

Romney now flip-flopping on abolishing FEMA

Romney Flip-Flops on Abolishing FEMA
Mitt Romney today clarified – in only the way he can – that he would NOT abolish FEMA as he previously stated he would.  Maybe.
You’ll recall that Mitt Romney had previously said he might dismantle FEMA and devolve its responsibilities to the states.  The Romney campaign appeared to confirm these statements last night, and the campaign most certainly refused to issue a statement denying it.
Now, after much criticism in the middle of one of the largest natural disasters in American history, the Romney campaign is saying that he wouldn’t “abolish” FEMA, but would still partially dismantle it.  And they’re not even willing to give a real quote, with a real official’s name behind it, even though the rest of the statement from the campaign, about giving more of FEMA’s powers to the states, they do say on the record with a named official.

Then Romney Backs Off His Own Flip-Flop on FEMA

Note what happens here.  First, a named official gives Politico a quote that still  sounds like they’re going to tear FEMA apart.  Then, an unnamed official refuses to give an actual quote saying that they wont’t abolish FEMA.
Here’s Romney’s typically wish-washy “clarification” that doesn’t really clarify anything:
“Gov. Romney believes that states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions,” Romney spokesman Ryan Williams said in a statement. “As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most. This includes help from the federal government and FEMA.”
Now the unnamed campaign official and no longer a quote:
A campaign official added that Romney would not abolish FEMA.
See that.  First it’s Ryan William and a quote when the quote is somewhat anti-FEMA.  Then it’s no name and no quote when supposedly the content is pro-FEMA.
I’m a bit surprised that Politico didn’t find this odd, and didn’t frankly demand an on the record quote by a named official before they’d print the campaign’s claim that Romney won’t abolish FEMA.  It’s also odd that they didn’t push Romney on the clear implication in the quote that FEMA may be emasculated and partially dismantled by Romney should he win.

Romney Previously Said Funding FEMA Was “Immoral”

Politico also didn’t bother giving you the rest of the quite damning quote about FEMA Romney made during the repugican primaries:
“Including disaster relief, though?” debate moderator John King asked Romney.
“We cannot — we cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids,” Romney replied. “It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.”
The man said it’s immoral to keeping spending money on disaster relief while running a deficit. But we’re now supposed to believe that the latest Romney flip-flop, one that the campaign won’t even give an on-the-record quote about, is the “real” truth, the real Romney.
In the end, the Romney campaign doesn’t want to be held to this promise, so no one made it – there’s no quote, so if they end up abolishing FEMA they’ll say that Politico is crazy, they didn’t even have a source.
Latest view of the earth and Hurricane Sandy:

The truth be told

Obamacare repeal has insurance industry scared

Oh, so, now they’re worried.

The insurance industry did a lot of crying about Obamacare, even though we’ve known for a while it was going to be big business for them.  Now they’re crying because – heaven forbid! – a Romney victory, along with a repugican-controlled House, might mean chaos for their business as the repugican cabal attempts to follow through on its threat to repeal health care reform.

Poor babies, right?

Despite all of the talk by repugicans about how disruptive Democrats are for business, it sure sounds like it’s the repugicans who are the making life unpredictable for business.  This time for the insurance industry.
In truth, the repugicans are loose cannons and everyone knows it – remember, it was repugican threats not to pass the debt ceiling increase that caused the US’ credit rating to be downgraded.
From National Journal:
The big new element on Friday was an official outside recognition that U.S. creditworthiness is being undermined by a new factor: political insanity. S&P didn’t base its downgrade on a change in the U.S. fiscal and economic outlook. It based it on the political game of chicken over the debt ceiling, a game that repugicans initiated and pushed to the limit, and on a growing gloom about the partisan deadlock.   Part of S&P’s gloom, moreover, stemmed explicitly from what a new assessment of the repugican cabal’s ability to block any and all tax increases.
S&P was remarkably blunt that its downgrade was mostly about heightened political risks:  “The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed,” it said….
To be sure, S&P didn’t specifically single out repugicans. It criticized the overall $2.4 trillion deal as too limited, and it implicitly criticized both political parties for refusing to tackle their sacred cows – entitlements, in the case of Democrats; tax increases in the case of repugicans.
But it’s hard to read the S&P analysis as anything other than a blast at repugicansIn denouncing the threat of default as a “bargaining chip,” the agency was saying that the repugican strategy had shaken its confidence.  Though S&P didn’t mention it, the agency must have been unnerved by the number of repugicans who insisted that it would be fine to blow through the debt ceiling and provoke a default.
And now Big Insurance has suddenly woken up to the fact that repugican insanity is bad for business.  Maybe they should have thought about that before joining the repugican cabal in ripping Obamacare.
ABC via Yahoo:
baby health care
Although the industry hates parts of President Barack Obama’s health care law, major outfits such as UnitedHealth Group and BlueCross Blue Shield also stand to rake in billions of dollars from new customers who’ll get health insurance under the law. The companies already have invested tens of millions to carry it out.Were Romney elected, insurers would be in for months of uncertainty as his administration gets used to Washington and tries to make good on his promise repeal Obama’s law. Simultaneously, federal and state bureaucrats and the health care industry would face a rush of legal deadlines for putting into place the major pieces of what repugicans deride as “Obamacare.”
Would they follow the law on the books or the one in the works? What would federal courts tell them to do? Looking at the strange and destructive insanity of the repugican cabal, let’s take a guess how a repugican Congress might react.

Did you know ...


Burglary Suspect Sues Homeowner for Shooting Back

You know this country is overly litigious when even suspected criminals can sue their alleged victims for violence.

A suspected burglar and attempted murderer has brought a lawsuit against the man he allegedly tried to kill.
Apparently, the burglar did not like that his intended victim shot back at him, reports CBS News.
You know this country is overly litigious when even suspected criminals can sue their alleged victims for violence. The plaintiff/criminal suspect, Samuel Cutrufelli, allegedly kicked in the door of 90-year-old Jay Leone's California home. Leone was ordered not to move as Cutrufelli scoured the house for valuables.
After some time, Leone told the burglar that he needed to use the bathroom. But instead of a potty break, Leone went to retrieve his .357 revolver.
Leone allegedly emerged from the bathroom with the revolver and pointed it at the burglar. Cutrufelli then took the first shot and hit Leone in the cheek, reports CBS News. Leone, a former sheriff's deputy, returned fire as Cutrufelli begged for his life.
As Leone tells it, "I looked him straight in the eye. He says, 'Don't kill me. Don't kill me... I've got a daughter!' I said, 'F- you ... pow, pow, pow, pow!'"
While Leone hit Cutrufelli with three of the shots, the criminal suspect allegedly rushed Leone, wrestled him to the floor, and then tried to kill Leone with his own weapon. But when Cutrufelli pulled the trigger, his weapon was out of ammo.
Cutrufelli eventually escaped and called for medical treatment, claiming that he'd shot himself. However, police promptly arrested him for suspicion of burglary and attempted murder, reports CBS.
Perhaps smarting over being outsmarted by his 90-year-old victim, Cutrufelli filed a lawsuit claiming that Leone negligently shot him. Given California's self-defense laws, Leone likely had a pretty good reason to fire at the suspected burglar who'd already broken into his home and shot at him.
Leone may soon fire back at his alleged attacker yet again: He says he's going to file a countersuit against the suspected burglar.

The Highest Credit Score in the US

bThe highest possible credit score is 850. But apparently, no one ever gets that score. Tom Pavelka of Westlake, Ohio, recently was congratulated by a credit bureaus for having a credit score of 848, which "ranks higher than 100 percent of U.S. consumers." How did he do it?
He has a few simple rules:

1. Never charge something without having something to show for it.

2. Never spend money without knowing when you can repay it.

3. Pay your bills on time.

You might think you have to have no debt to have a really high credit score, but that's not true. Credit scores are formed in part based on your payment history. If you never have debt, you have no track record for repaying it.

In fact, the Pavelkas have a mortgage (with four years left,) an equity line that he usually uses to buy cars and then pays off, four credit cards with amounts due this month (they pay the bills in full each month) and a total of eight credit cards with available credit exceeding $120,000.
But here's what might be the biggest factor in building such a reputation for financial responsibility: the Pavelkas have no children. More

Random Celebrity Photo


Gene Tierney c. 1940’s
Gene Tierney c. 1940’s

Fake gold bars infiltrate precious metals market

Warning: some of your $18,000 10-ounce gold bars might actually be filled with tungsten. Gold goes for about $1800/ounce; tungsten is $1/ounce.
Chemical engineer Ibrahim Fadl, who owns a business in Manhattan's Diamond District, strips away the outer layer of a 10-ounce bar of what he thought was pure gold, sold to him by a customer at his gold refinery business.
The shell peels off like foil on a chocolate bar.
"It's got to be somebody really, really professional," said Fadl. "When I analyzed them, it showed they are tungsten."
Tungsten is a metal used to make military weaponry, drilling equipment and even jewelry. Gold and tungsten have almost the exact same density, so a substitution of metals would be difficult to detect.

Fire Station Fire

yA fire station in Lanzhou, Gansu province, China, was gutted by a fire recently, causing chagrin for the local fire department. It was first announced as a "training exercise," but later fire officials had to admit that a welding spark ignited a nearby can of gasoline, and the resulting blaze spread out of control. The improperly-stored gas can led at least one blogger to ridicule fire officials.
"They're forever telling other people what to do, how many extinguishers to have and closing down businesses because they don't meet fire regulations.

"How about we close them down now?" said one local blogger.

Old Family Photos

Man Sued Wife for Ugly Baby

I'm a firm believer that no babies are ugly, but a man named Jian Feng from China apparently believed that there are such a thing, and that his own baby is one.
Because his wife is beautiful and he considered himself to be hunky, Feng immediately thought that his wife cheated. But the truth was much, much darker:
As it turns out, his wife didn’t cheat, but did gloss over the fact that she had spent $100,000 on intense plastic surgery to severely change how she looked before she met him. It’s the kind of thing that can slip your mind on the first date. After his wife revealed this to him, Feng took the only right-minded course of action and divorced and sued her, claiming that she got him to marry her under false pretenses. The false pretense presumably being that she was good looking.
Feng sued and, incredibly, he won $120,000 in judgment against his ugly-turned-beautiful ex-wife: More

Librarians Found a Gun in a Donated Book

Image: Valparaiso Police Department
Hiding a gun inside a hollowed-out book seems like something you'd only find in mystery books or at the movies, so employees at an Indiana public library were surprised to find it in real life:
The book, which carries the title "Outerbridge Reach," was hollowed out and contained a historic-looking handgun, according to Valparaiso police.
"Somebody just opened it up and said, 'Oh my,' " said Assistant Library Director Phyllis Nelson.
The weapon was described by police as a gold, wooden handle, A.S.M. brand, .31-caliber, single shot, black powder gun.
Nelson said she contacted police and told them the book had been donated to the library.
Bob Kasarda of The Times of Northwest Indiana has the story: Here.

Mystery Celebrity Photo

Scary Costume

At Least One Office Will Remain Open During the Hurricane

Tomb of the Unknowns
Hurricane Sandy is about to hit the eastern coast of the United States. But the guards at the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington, Virginia have sworn:
Through the years of diligence and praise and the discomfort of the elements, I will walk my tour in humble reverence to the best of my ability.
They have stood continuous watch since April 6, 1948. They will continue.

HMS Bounty Sinks in Sandy

HMS Bounty Sinks in Sandy; Crew rescued, two missing

Crew rescued, two missing

The 180-foot wooden ship HMS Bounty sank in high seas off the coast of North Carolina. Read more

Ye olde hurricane analysis

The above is an excerpt from the entry on hurricanes in A New and Complete Dictionary of Arts and Sciences, published in 1763 by the delightfully named "A Society of Gentlemen".
The entry contains information on how natives of the Caribbean were said to be able to predict hurricanes — portents that center around the color of the sky and the phases of the Moon. I'm curious whether any meteorology fans and experts out there can offer insight on that. Read the full entry. (It's short.) And let me know. Does this sound like stuff that would line up with what we know about hurricanes today?
Also: Helpful tip. "F" is pronounced "S" here.

Old Timey Medical treatments Inspired by Your Nightmares

A hundred years ago, the state of medical knowledge was a bit thin by our standards, but it was much better than what came before. A list at Cracked makes us glad to live in the time we do, despite the price of health insurance. You are probably familiar with some of the frightening treatments on the list, but some may be new to you, like the practice of stuffing balls into a person's lung. I am not making this up.
It was a procedure called plombage, which was the process of collapsing a person's lungs with acrylic balls to allow them to "rest" and heal the lesions caused by tuberculosis. The drawback to this therapy was that sometimes the balls were never taken back out, which led to infection, sepsis and other serious complications related to having your lung tissue inundated with balls made of the same material used to craft RuPaul's fingernails.
There are other treatments that are illustrated with pictures that may be disturbing. More

The legend of Sleepy Hollow

The entire 1949 Disney work that was banned.

The Great New England Vampire Panic

vAlthough European vampire panics died out in the 1700s, America had its share of scares in the 1800s, particularly in New England, and particularly during outbreaks of tuberculosis. Some of the dead were dug up and killed a second time, just to make sure.
The particulars of the vampire exhumations, though, vary widely. In many cases, only family and neighbors participated. But sometimes town fathers voted on the matter, or medical doctors and clergymen gave their blessings or even pitched in. Some communities in Maine and Plymouth, Massachusetts, opted to simply flip the exhumed vampire facedown in the grave and leave it at that. In Connecticut, Rhode Island and Vermont, though, they frequently burned the dead person’s heart, sometimes inhaling the smoke as a cure. (In Europe, too, exhumation protocol varied with region: Some beheaded suspected vampire corpses, while others bound their feet with thorns.)

Often these rituals were clandestine, lantern-lit affairs. But, particularly in Vermont, they could be quite public, even festive. One vampire heart was reportedly torched on the Woodstock, Vermont, town green in 1830. In Manchester, hundreds of people flocked to a 1793 heart-burning ceremony at a blacksmith’s forge: “Timothy Mead officiated at the altar in the sacrifice to the Demon Vampire who it was believed was still sucking the blood of the then living wife of Captain Burton,” an early town history says. “It was the month of February and good sleighing.”
Yes, it happened in several states, a lot more often than one would suspect in 19th-century America. Read about these incidents in Smithsonian magazine's extensive article about American vampires. More

Extremely Silly Photos of Extremely Serious Historical Figures

It's always nice to catch a glimpse of VIPs doing things everyday normal people do. This image of Tsar Nicholas II playing airplane made me wonder whether the guy supporting him was really a "friend" or a subject forced to carry him -but the source gallery at Retronaut labels him as a fellow royal. Other celebrities in the list at Flavorwire include Albert Einstein, Joe Stalin, Richard Nixon, Franklin Roosevelt, and more. More

Four Stories Of Alleged Time Travelers

Is it possible to travel through time? Time travel could hypothetically involve moving backward in time to a moment earlier than the starting point, or forward to the future of that point without the need for the traveler to experience the intervening period (at least not at the normal rate).

Although time travel has been a common plot device in science fiction and the theories of special and general relativity allow methods for forms of one-way travel into the future via time dilation, it is currently unknown whether the laws of physics would allow time travel into the past. We may never know, but in the meantime we can at least enjoy a good laugh at those who would have us believe they've cracked the code.

The Stark Beauty of Arizona’s Petrified Forest

From the painted desert badlands to the rainbow-colors of petrified wood, the Petrified Forest is one national park you won't want to miss. More

Thai man caught with 16 tiger cubs in truck

Thai authorities have arrested a lorry driver after 16 tiger cubs were discovered in the back of his vehicle. The man was stopped near the border with Laos after avoiding a police checkpoint.

The driver told police he had been paid 15,000 baht ($490; £300) to transport the cubs. Thailand is one of the centers of the illegal trade in tigers. Tiger body parts are prized in many parts of Asia for their reputed medicinal properties.

The cubs were found packed into eight plastic crates. The driver now faces the possibility of a four-year jail term or a fine of 40,000 baht ($1,300; £800) on wildlife-smuggling charges. The animals are now in the care of wildlife officials.

Only six subspecies of tiger remain in the wild, with fewer than 1,000 tigers thought to be left in each group. Earlier this year, heads of police and customs from 13 countries with wild tiger populations agreed to tighten controls and improve cross-border co-operation to combat smuggling.

Hermit Crabs Socialize To Evict Their Neighbors

Social animals usually congregate for protection or mating or to capture bigger prey, but a University of California, Berkeley, biologist has found that the terrestrial hermit crab has a more self-serving social agenda: to kick another crab out of its shell and move into a larger home.

Animal Pictures