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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.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Daily Drift

Good question!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Karachi, Pakistan 
Makati, Philippines
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Panevezys, Lithuania
Albertslund, Denmark
Jakarta, Indonesia
Kajang, Malaysia
Tunis, Tunisia
Amman, Jordan
Monterrey, Mexico
Kuanas, Lithuania
Butterworth, Malaysia
Caracas, Venezuela
Haifa, Israel
Cape Town, South Africa
Paka, Malaysia
Islamabad, Pakistan
Ankara, Turkey
Batu Pahat, Malaysia
Bogota, Colombia
Minsk, Belarus
Vancouver, Canada
Kingston, Jamaica
Novi Sad, Serbia
T, Philippines
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Kiev, Ukraine
Al Jizah, Egypt
Subang Jaya, Malaysia
Manila, Philippines
Nicosia, Cyprus
Sidi Bel Abbes, Algeria
Sialkot, Pakistan
Taytay, Philippines
Belgrade, Serbia
Seremban, Malaysia
Kuwait, Kuwait
San Pedro, Philippines
Algiers, Algeria
Pekanbaru, Indonesia
Slavutich, Ukraine
Tirana, Albania
Sofia, Bulgaria
Jawa, Indonesia

Today is National Disc Jockey Day

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Today in History

1327 Edward II of England is deposed by his eldest son, Edward III.
1616 The French explorer Samuel de Champlain arrives to winter in a Huron Indian village after being wounded in a battle with Iroquois in New France.
1783 Britain signs a peace agreement with France and Spain, who allied against it in the American War of Independence.
1908 The Sullivan Ordinance bars women from smoking in public facilities in the United States.
1930 Charles Lindbergh arrives in New York, setting a cross country flying record of 14.75 hours.
1935 Belgium arrests some Nazi agitators who urge for a return to the Reich.
1941 Hitler meets with Mussolini and offers aid in Albania and Greece.
1942 Nazi officials meet in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee to decide the "Final Solution of the Jewish Question."
1944 Allied forces in Italy begin unsuccessful operations to cross the Rapido River and seize Cassino.
1945 Franklin D. Roosevelt is inaugurated for his fourth term.
1945 The Allies sign a truce with the Hungarians.
1946 France's Charles DeGaulle hands in his resignation.
1952 British troops occupy Ismalia, Egypt.
1954 Over 22,000 anti-Communist prisoners are turned over to UN forces in Korea.
1977 President Jimmy Carter is sworn in and then surprises the nation as he walks from the U.S. Capitol to the White House.
1981 Ronald Reagan is sworn in as president at the same time 52 American hostages are released from their captors in Tehran, Iran.

Non Sequitur


Basic Barbecue Dipping Sauce


Makes 2 cups of sauce.
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • ½ cup tomato puree
  • ½ cup tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 2 teaspoons light brown sugar
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 6 ounces water
BBQ-SauceCombine all ingredients in a 2-quart saucepan. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down, and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove pan from heat, then let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Oh, by the way ...

In the last 32 years ...
Just who raised the debt ceiling, how many times
And another thing ...

He tripled the debt, but...he was White, so it's OK.

Assad's overthrow "red line" for Iran

A senior aide to Iran's supreme leader warned against the overthrow of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, saying his fate was a "red line", in one of the Islamic state's strongest messages of support for the Damascus government.Iran has steadfastly backed Assad's rule since an uprising against his rule began almost two years ago and regards him as an important part of the axis of opposition against arch-foe Israel.
"If the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is toppled, the line of resistance in the face of Israel will be broken," Ali Akbar Velayati, who is seen as a potential contender in Iran's June presidential election, said in an interview broadcast on Sunday.
"We believe that there should be reforms emanating from the will of the Syrian people, but without resorting to violence and obtaining assistance from the (United States of) America," he told Lebanon's Al-Mayadeen satellite television.
Asked if Iran sees Assad as a red line, Velayati said: "Yes, it is so. But this does not mean that we ignore the Syrian people's right in choose its own rulers."
More than 60,000 people have died in the uprising against Assad, part of the Arab Spring protests that have swept aside four heads of state since 2011.
Iran, a regional Shi'ite Muslim power which backs Lebanon's Hezbollah group, describes many Syrian opposition groups as "terrorists" who are backed by Western and Arab states. Assad follows an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.
Velayati blamed what he called "reactionary" Arab states for the violence in Syria and singled out Qatar, accusing it of bringing in fighters from Somalia and Afghanistan to help topple Assad.
Velayati said all parties linked to the crisis in Syria needed to negotiate.
"Anyone who comes to the talks cannot negotiate on the table and support the armed elements, but must enter the negotiations and stop supporting the armed elements," he added.
The Islamic Republic has sought international backing for its six-point plan to resolve the Syrian conflict. The plan calls for an immediate end to violence and negotiations between all parties to form a transitional government, but does not call for Assad to step down.
As if we give a rats ass what the Iranians think or want.
Except maybe this particular Iranian.

And I Quote

Three wounded at shooting at Dixie Gun & Knife Show

No personal gun sales when Dixie Gun & Knife show reopens Sunday

One of the region’s largest gun shows will reopen Sunday at the N.C. State Fairgrounds under new rules following an accidental shooting that injured three people the day before.
Police say a security guard and two others were wounded Saturday afternoon at the Dixie Gun & Knife Show after a shotgun went off as it was being checked in. The gun owner was planning to sell the weapon at the show, which attracts thousands of people to the fairgrounds in West Raleigh.
Police said that private gun sales will not be allowed at the show Sunday. Personal guns will not be allowed on property. Gun sales will be allowed only by licensed dealers within the Jim Graham Building.
“If we thought it was a problem, or it was a hazard, or it was dangerous, we would not have this show,” Joel Keith, police chief of the state Agriculture Department, said at a news conference at the fairgrounds. “Let’s keep in mind, as I said before, this was an accident, and I’m sure there’s nobody hates this any more than the guy that owned that weapon. But it’s also a responsibility of us to evaluate what we are doing and see what we can do better.”
Keith said no decision has been made yet whether private gun sales will be permanently banned.
He said private gun sales represent a “minuscule” amount of the market at the Dixie Gun & Knife Show, a quarterly event at the fairgrounds for decades.
‘We see … an accident’
Sunday’s new rules affect people such as Paul Milligan of Raleigh, who planned to sell three guns at the show to a dealer. Milligan, who said he wanted to sell the guns to help pay his bills, said police are overreacting by implementing the new rules.
He said the gun owner never should have brought a loaded weapon into the show.
“This is just a mess,” he said. “One guy gives all of us a bad reputation because he can’t follow fifth-grade safety rules.”
The 12-gauge shotgun discharged shortly after 1 p.m. inside the Jim Graham Building when its owner unzipped its case on a table for a security officer to check it at the main entrance, Keith said. The police chief emphasized that the gun went off before the security officer had a chance to examine the weapon.
Keith said birdshot pellets hit Janet Hoover, 54, of Benson, in the right torso; Linwood Hester, 50, of Durham, in the left hand; and Jake Alderman, a retired Wake County sheriff’s deputy from Wake Forest, in the hand. Hoover and Hester were taken to WakeMed, where an official said both were in good condition Saturday night and expected to be released soon.
Alderman, who was working security at the show, was treated and released at WakeMed North Healthplex.
Gary Lynn Wilson, 36, of Wilmington, who brought the shotgun, is being questioned by the Wake County Sheriff’s Office, which Keith asked to handle the investigation. Sheriff Donnie Harrison said investigators will consult with the district attorney’s office about whether charges should be filed.
“Right now, what we see is an accident,” Harrison said. “If there’s something he may be charged with, we’ll find that out.”
The shooting takes place amid a time of heightened tension about gun control following last month’s school shooting in Connecticut in which a gunman killed 20 children and six school staff members. Gun-rights supporters fear that new gun control restrictions will be implemented.
Protest at Capitol
As part of Saturday’s national Gun Appreciation Day, gun-rights supporters marched around the Legislative Building in downtown Raleigh. State Capitol Police estimated the crowd numbered around 200 people.
Protesters held signs such as “The Reason We Have a Constitution Is To Protect Us from Presidents like Barack Obama” and “I (Heart) My AK-47.” One sign had the words “Come and Take It!” over the image of an assault rifle equipped with a scope and bayonet.
Over at the fairgrounds, people faced long lines of an hour or more at the gun show, which closed early because of the shooting.
“I didn’t even get in the door,” said Christopher Kent of Tarboro. “I have been looking forward to this for a while.”
There were two other shootings at gun shows Saturday, The Associated Press reported. In Indianapolis, a man unloading his .45-caliber semi-automatic handgun shot his hand, and in Medina, Ohio, a gun dealer checking out a semi-automatic handgun he had bought accidentally pulled the trigger. The bullet ricocheted off the floor and struck a friend’s arm and leg.

Sad, but true

SWAT standoff in Georgia uncovers dismembered body

This December 2012 handout photo provided by the Effingham County Sheriff's Office shows Chad Moretz. A SWAT team sniper shot 34-year-old Moretz on Jan. 11, 2013, ending a four-hour standoff when Moretz emerged from his Effingham County home armed with an assault rifle. (AP Photo/Courtesy of the Effingham County Sheriff's Office)
Police went to Chad Moretz's home to ask him about a friend who had gone missing and quickly found themselves in a tense standoff when a relative answered the door and whispered: "He's got a rifle. He's going to kill y'all."
It was at least the fourth time in 18 months deputies had gone to see Moretz. Neighbors and relatives had accused him of chasing his wife with a machete, threatening to kill a man with a handgun and stabbing a dog with a pocket knife. But none of that prepared investigators for what they found Jan. 11 after Moretz walked onto his front porch with an assault rifle and was killed by a SWAT team sniper.
Inside the home, amid filth and roaches and foul odors, police found the missing man's severed head and two hands hidden behind a kitchen cabinet inside a hole in the wall. The rest of the body, dismembered by a power saw and wrapped in bags, was discovered in a storage locker a half-hour away in neighboring South Carolina.
"I don't believe there was a motive," said David Ehsanipoor, an investigator for the Effingham County Sheriff's Office. "It wasn't a drug deal gone bad or a love triangle. Chad was just crazy."
Medical examiners confirmed the body belonged to Charlie Ray, 35. Ray had been a friend of Moretz, and his family had been searching for him since New Year's Eve.
An autopsy showed Ray was stabbed more than 40 times and had been dead more than a week before his remains were found. Moretz's wife told investigators her husband and Ray had been drinking and talking, then started arguing. She said Moretz grabbed a knife and started repeatedly stabbing Ray in their kitchen, Ehsanipoor said. Investigators suspect Ray's body was dismembered to make it easier to hide.
Ray's mother, Sandi Ray, said in a brief phone interview her son struggled with Tourette's syndrome.
Megan Edgerly, a friend of Ray's since childhood, said the debilitating brain disorder left him unable to drive or to hold down a job. She said he handled his tics — flailing arms and vocal outbursts — with grace and humor and treasured friends who accepted him in spite of it.
"Charlie never had a frown on his face," Edgerly said. "He was dealt a bad hand, but he always maintained a real positive attitude throughout all of it."
Moretz lived about 20 miles from where Ray lived with his parents. Moretz had moved there from southwest Florida, where violence devastated his own family a year and a half ago.
His father is scheduled to stand trial in April for the slaying of Moretz's mother in Naples, Fla. Police said Jeffrey Moretz, 55, followed his estranged wife, Christine Moretz, to a hospital and fatally shot her while she was visiting a friend on July 5, 2011. He then shot himself, but survived. Court records show Jeffrey Moretz filed for divorce in Collier County, Fla., two weeks before his wife's slaying.
One of Chad Moretz's neighbors, Ross Maruca, said Moretz didn't work and let his grass grow knee-high before Maruca decided to cut it himself. He said Moretz once showed up at his door and asked his wife for food and money. She gave him $20, he said, and Moretz later paid it back.
"You could look at him and tell something was wrong, just the look he had," Maruca said. "He looked like he was dazed all the time."
Deputies jailed Moretz on July 23, 2011 — not quite three weeks after his mother was killed — when his brother-in-law told police he'd received a frantic phone call from his sister saying Moretz was chasing her with a machete. Moretz's wife denied the story. Deputies charged Chad Moretz with trespassing when they found him hiding by a shed in a neighbor's yard.
Last May, neighbors called the sheriff's office when they said Moretz stabbed a dog that had gotten loose after he was bitten several times. In November, a friend told police Moretz asked for a ride, and when he refused, he pointed the gun at him and threatened to kill him and his family.
Deputies arrested Moretz on charges of making terroristic threats on Dec. 22. Jail records show he was released on $3,500 bond the same day.
Almost two weeks later, Maruca called police after seeing a TV news report that Charlie Ray was missing. Maruca knew Ray because he had lived at Moretz's house for two or three months the previous summer. The neighbor said he saw Ray at the house Jan. 2.
Police initially talked to Moretz's wife, who said Ray wasn't there. Days later, they decided to return to the suburban neighborhood of modest brick homes talk to Moretz himself. His brother-in-law, Kevin Lambert, met detectives at the door and whispered a warning.
"He said, 'Chad's in here, he's got a rifle, he's going to kill y'all,'" Ehsanipoor said.
Detectives dragged Lambert out of the house and retreated. Moretz, armed with an assault rifle, refused to come out or to let his wife leave. A hostage negotiator and a SWAT team were brought in.
After more than four hours, Moretz's wife ran outside through the front door and collapsed in the yard. Then Moretz emerged with an AR-15 rifle. Ehsanipoor said he was raising the gun when a sniper shot him.
Though investigators say they believe Moretz alone killed Ray, his wife and brother-in-law have been charged with helping conceal the death. Kimberly Moretz did not immediately return a message left at a phone number listed for her on a police report. Lambert did not have a listed phone number.
Investigators said it was one of the siblings who told authorities during the standoff that Ray's remains were hidden in a storage locker in nearby Jasper, S.C.
"Everybody's still in a state of shock," said Edgerly, Ray's longtime friend. "This isn't supposed to happen."

Awesome Pictures


2587 by *KariLiimatainen

Flu season fuels debate over paid sick time laws

In this Friday, Jan. 18 2013 photo, activists hold signs during a rally at New York's City Hall to call for immediate action on paid sick days legislation in light of the continued spread of the flu. An unusually early and vigorous flu season is drawing attention to the cause that has both scored victories and hit roadblocks in recent years: mandatory paid sick leave. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer) 
Sniffling, groggy and afraid she had caught the flu, Diana Zavala dragged herself in to work anyway for a day she felt she couldn't afford to miss.
A school speech therapist who works as an independent contractor, she doesn't have paid sick days. So the mother of two reported to work and hoped for the best — and was aching, shivering and coughing by the end of the day. She stayed home the next day, then loaded up on medicine and returned to work.
"It's a balancing act" between physical health and financial well-being, she said.
An unusually early and vigorous flu season is drawing attention to a cause that has scored victories but also hit roadblocks in recent years: mandatory paid sick leave for the 40 percent of American private-sector workers — more than 40 million people — who don't have it.
Supporters and opponents are particularly watching New York City, where lawmakers are weighing a sick leave proposal amid a competitive mayoral race.
Pointing to a flu outbreak that the governor has called a public health emergency, dozens of doctors, nurses, lawmakers and activists — some in surgical masks — rallied Friday on the City Hall steps to call for passage of the measure, which has awaited a City Council vote for nearly three years. Two likely mayoral contenders have also pressed the point.
The flu spike is making people more aware of the argument for sick pay, said Ellen Bravo, executive director of Family Values at Work, which promotes paid sick time initiatives around the country. "There's people who say, 'OK, I get it — you don't want your server coughing on your food,'" she said.
Advocates have cast paid sick time as both a workforce issue akin to parental leave and "living wage" laws, and a public health priority.
But to some business owners, paid sick leave is an impractical and unfair burden for small operations. Critics also say the timing is bad, given the choppy economy and the hardships inflicted by Superstorm Sandy.
Michael Sinesky, an owner of seven bars and restaurants around the city, was against the sick time proposal before Sandy. And after the storm shut down four of his restaurants for days or weeks, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars that his insurers have yet to pay, "we're in survival mode."
"We're at the point, right now, where we cannot afford additional social initiatives," said Sinesky, whose roughly 500 employees switch shifts if they can't work, an arrangement that some restaurateurs say benefits workers because paid sick time wouldn't include tips.
Employees without sick days are more likely to go to work with a contagious illness, send an ill child to school or day care and use hospital emergency rooms for care, according to a 2010 survey by the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center. A 2011 study in the American Journal of Public Health estimated that a lack of sick time helped spread 5 million cases of flu-like illness during the 2009 swine flu outbreak.
To be sure, many employees entitled to sick time go to work ill anyway, out of dedication or at least a desire to project it. But the work-through-it ethic is shifting somewhat amid growing awareness about spreading sickness.
"Right now, where companies' incentives lie is butting right up against this concern over people coming into the workplace, infecting others and bringing productivity of a whole company down," said John A. Challenger, CEO of employer consulting firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.
Paid sick day requirements are often popular in polls, but only four places have them: San Francisco, Seattle, Washington, D.C., and the state of Connecticut. The specific provisions vary.
Milwaukee voters approved a sick time requirement in 2008, but the state Legislature passed a law blocking it. Philadelphia's mayor vetoed a sick leave measure in 2011; lawmakers have since instituted a sick time requirement for businesses with city contracts. Voters rejected a paid sick day measure in Denver in 2011.
In New York, City Councilwoman Gale Brewer's proposal would require up to five paid sick days a year at businesses with at least five employees. It wouldn't include independent contractors, such as Zavala, who supports the idea nonetheless.
The idea boasts such supporters as feminist Gloria Steinem and "Sex and the City" actress Cynthia Nixon, as well as a majority of City Council members and a coalition of unions, women's groups and public health advocates. But it also faces influential opponents, including business groups, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who has virtually complete control over what matters come to a vote.
Quinn, who is expected to run for mayor, said she considers paid sick leave a worthy goal but doesn't think it would be wise to implement it in a sluggish economy. Two of her likely opponents, Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Comptroller John Liu, have reiterated calls for paid sick leave in light of the flu season.
While the debate plays out, Emilio Palaguachi is recovering from the flu and looking for a job. The father of four was abruptly fired without explanation earlier this month from his job at a deli after taking a day off to go to a doctor, he said. His former employer couldn't be reached by telephone.
"I needed work," Palaguachi said after Friday's City Hall rally, but "I needed to see the doctor because I'm sick."

Daily Comic Relief


Do we really need deodorant?

New research shows that more than 75 per cent of people with a particular version of a gene don’t produce...
Continue Reading 

In The News

The Science of Flu Season

Flu season is in winter. Okay, great. But why? (Consider this an open thread for all your favorite humidifier recommendations.) 

How chili peppers can kill 

In the latest "dose makes the poison" news: If you consume enough chili peppers (or even chili powder), it can act as a neurotoxin

Great moments in pedantry: Canada puts the wrong maple leaf on its $20 bill 

Hey, that's not a Canadian sugar maple leaf! That is very clearly the leaf of the invasive Norway maple

Tree and human health may be linked

Evidence is increasing from multiple scientific fields that exposure to the natural environment can improve human health. In a new ...
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Can The Plague Rise Again?

The short answer is: Yes!

There's no doubt that the plague has staying power. The deadly bacterium has probably been infecting people for 20,000 years. And, its genes have hardly changed since it killed nearly half of Europe's population during The Black Death.

Now microbiologists have evidence that strains of the plague may be able to reactivate themselves and trigger new outbreaks - even after lying dormant for decades. That's the conclusion of a study just published in Emerging Infectious Diseases, which looked at recent plague outbreaks in Algeria and Libya.

Rare tropical disease close to eradication

A rare tropical disease called Guinea worm is closer to being eradicated, according to former President Jimmy Carter and other experts.

Bats are Reservoir for Ebola Virus in Bangladesh

EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit organization that focuses on local conservation and global health issues, released new research on Ebola virus ...
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Colorful People

The colorful faces of Kathmandu’s Yomari Puni festival
The colorful faces of Kathmandu’s Yomari Puni festival

The Caucasus

The Caucasus are associated with snowy peaks, turbulent mountain rivers, Narzan (local mineral water), glaciers and old double-peak Elbrus. It's where you constantly hear rockfalling sounds, crackling glaciers and see the stars which seem to be so close that you can touch them with your hands. More

The History Behind Singapore's Only Surviving WWII Bomb Shelter

For some 70 years, the tunnels and chambers of Singapore's last remaining WWII air raid shelter have gathered dust, only recently to be rediscovered. More

'Astonishing' Ancient Amazon Civilization Discovery Detailed

Recently, new satellite imagery detected a hidden kingdom in the Amazon that had eluded explorers for nearly 500 years.
Some called it El Dorado, others, like Colonel Percy Harrison Fawcett (a British version of Indiana Jones) cryptically named it the "City of Z."
The jungle swallowed them all, and no evidence has ever been produced that such a place existed.
Now the satellite imagery of deforested sections of the upper Amazon Basin revealed more than 200 geometric earthworks. Sculpted from the clay rich soils of Amazonia as perfect circles and squares,
these structured earth mounds, or "geoglyphs," are located on the east side of the Andes and span a distance of 155 miles. Built long before Christopher Columbus set foot in the new world — the sites date from 200 to 1283 A.D.– the earthworks are the remains of roads, bridges and squares that formed the basis for a lost civilization, according to a study published in the journal Antiquity.
Denise Schaan, co-author of the study and anthropologist at the Federal University of Pará, in Belém,
Brazil, talks about this intriguing finding.
Denise Schaan: The geoglyphs are an astonishing discovery. They do not represent the ancient city full of gold long sought by the early explorers of the Amazon, but they are indeed an El Dorado to archaelogists: they are the vestiges of a sophisticated pre-Columbian monument-building society.
According to Schaan and colleagues Martti Parssinen from the University of Helsinki and Alceu Ranzi from the Federal University of Acre, Rio Branco, Brazil, the structures are formed by ditches about 36 feet
wide and several feet deep, lined by earthen banks up to 3 feet high.
Denise Schaan: We are talking of enourmous structures, with diameters ranging from 100 to 300 meters, connected by straight orthogonal roads. They are strategically located  on plateaux tops above the river valleys. Their builders took advantage of the natural topography in order to construct spaces that were full of symbolic meaning.
But who built the structures and what functions they had remains unclear.
Denise Schaan: They were probably villages, ceremonial centers, gathering places and point to a society of a complex nature. Indeed, to build these structures you need organization, planning, and large labor force. Amazingly, this suggest that quite substantial population was living in an area long believed to be too harsh to sustain permanent settlements.
Schaan and colleagues estimated at least 300 people would be needed to build a geoglyph. This points to a regional population of around 60,000 people, which was then wiped out by diseases brought by European conquistadores in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Denise Schaan: We were used to find vestiges of large populations along the main rivers, in the Amazon floodplain. Now we see that the interfluvies were also highly populated. We are finding new structures every week, and I got the impression this is just the tip of the iceberg.
The researchers believe that the sites already found make up only 10 percent of what is actually there.
Denise Schaan: Actually, there may be another 2,000 structures hidden in the jungle. It is clear for us that the search does not end here. We will carry out extensive excavations to investigate more deeply the activities that took place in these places.

A Giant Mystery

A Giant Mystery: 18 Strange Skeletons Found in Wisconsin
The dig site at Lake Delavan was overseen by Beloit College and it included more than 200 effigy mounds that proved to be classic examples of 8th century Woodland Culture.

Should We Clone Neanderthals?

Given the advances in biotechnology, it's just a matter of time before humanity can bring the Neanderthals back from the dead. Whether we should is a completely different story, according to genomics and synthetic biology pioneer George Church of Harvard University.
In this intriguing interview with Der Spiegel, Church explained that using synthetic biology to bring the Neanderthals back from extinction may actually benefit society:
SPIEGEL: Wouldn't it be ethically problematic to create a Neanderthal just for the sake of scientific curiosity?
Church: Well, curiosity may be part of it, but it's not the most important driving force. The main goal is to increase diversity. The one thing that is bad for society is low diversity. This is true for culture or evolution, for species and also for whole societies. If you become a monoculture, you are at great risk of perishing. Therefore the recreation of Neanderthals would be mainly a question of societal risk avoidance.
But first, you'd need an "extremely adventurous female human" to serve as a surrogate mother:
SPIEGEL: Setting aside all ethical doubts, do you believe it is technically possible to reproduce the Neanderthal?
Church: The first thing you have to do is to sequence the Neanderthal genome, and that has actually been done. The next step would be to chop this genome up into, say, 10,000 chunks and then synthesize these. Finally, you would introduce these chunks into a human stem cell. If we do that often enough, then we would generate a stem cell line that would get closer and closer to the corresponding sequence of the Neanderthal. We developed the semi-automated procedure required to do that in my lab. Finally, we assemble all the chunks in a human stem cell, which would enable you to finally create a Neanderthal clone.
SPIEGEL: And the surrogates would be human, right? In your book you write that an "extremely adventurous female human" could serve as the surrogate mother.
Church: Yes. However, the prerequisite would, of course, be that human cloning is acceptable to society.
Read the full interview over at Der Spiegel

Random Photo


Wow. Nice. Dress.

Manchurian robots rising from the ocean floor

(OK, they're "non-lethal")
The US Department of Defense is launching a research effort to develop underwater robots/sensor platforms that would hibernate on the ocean floor until they "wake up when commanded, and deploy to surface providing operational support and situational awareness." DARPA has dubbed the research effort the Upward Falling Payloads program. (The image below, from the DARPA press release, seems to be illustrating, um, a robot's-eye-view as it's surfacing.) From their announcement:
NewImageDepending on the specific payload, systems would provide a range of non-lethal but useful capabilities such as situational awareness, disruption, deception, networking, rescue, or any other mission that benefits from being pre-distributed and hidden. An example class of systems might be small unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that launch to the surface in capsules, take off and provide aerial situational awareness, networking or decoy functions. Waterborne applications are sought as well.


Spots Of Color Beside The Sun
A sundog (scientific name: parhelion) is an atmospheric phenomenon that creates bright spots of light in the sky, often on a luminous ring or halo on either side of the sun. Sundogs may appear as a colored patch of light to the left or right of the sun, 22° distant and at the same distance above the horizon as the sun, and in ice halos.

They can be seen anywhere in the world during any season, but they are not always obvious or bright. Sundogs are best seen and are most conspicuous when the sun is low.

Yaks may be on the comeback

A team of American and Chinese conservationists from the Wildlife Conservation Society and University of Montana recently counted nearly 1,000 ...
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Facts About Seahorses

The best part of this video is that all the facts presented in it are in fact true - as far as we can tell.

Animal Pictures