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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.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The Daily Drift

And away we go ...

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Today is Curmudgeon's Day 

as well as Free Thinker's Day

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Today in History

1813   Jane Austin publishes Pride and Prejudice.
1861   Kansas is admitted into the Union as the 34th state.
1862   William Quantrill and his Confederate raiders attack Danville, Kentucky.
1918   The Supreme Allied Council meets at Versailles.
1926   Violette Neatley Anderson becomes the first African-American woman admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court.
1929   The Seeing Eye, America's first school for training dogs to guide the blind, founded in Nashville, Tennessee.
1931   Winston Churchill resigns as Stanley Baldwin's aide.
1942   German and Italian troops take Benghazi in North Africa.
1944   The world's greatest warship, Missouri, is launched.
1950   Riots break out in Johannesburg, South Africa, over the policy of Apartheid.
1967   Thirty-seven civilians are killed by a U.S. helicopter attack in Vietnam.
1979   President Jimmy Carter commutes the sentence of Patty Hearst.
1984   President Ronald Reagan announces that he will run for a second term.
1984   The Soviets issue a formal complaint against alleged U.S. arms treaty violations.
1991   Iraqi forces attack into Saudi Arabian town of Kafji, but are turned back by Coalition forces.

Non Sequitur


Americans largely back combat role for women

U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Sienna De Santis and U.S. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Heidi Dean, both with Female Engagement Team, India Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, Regimental Combat Team 2, greet children during a patrol in Sangin Valley, Afghanistan, in this October 29, 2010 DOD handout photo. REUTERS/David Hernandez/DOD photo/Handout 
The U.S. public largely backs the Pentagon's decision to lift restrictions on women in combat, a poll showed on Tuesday. Sixty-six percent of those polled said they support letting women serve in ground units that engage in close combat, while 26 percent are opposed, according to the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press and the Washington Post.
Opinion on the issue is little changed from a Washington Post/ABC News survey two years ago, Pew said in a statement.
The Defense Department lifted a longtime ban on women serving in front-line combat units on Thursday. The move marked a historic step toward sexual equality after 11 years of war in which women were increasingly on the battlefield.
The survey found that the public is split over whether the move represented a major change for the U.S. military. Forty-seven percent said it is, while an equal percentage said it is a minor change.
The poll was conducted from January 24 to 27 among 1,005 adults, after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ended the combat ban. The margin of error was 3.7 percentage points.
The poll found that 58 percent of Americans think that the policy shift will improve opportunities for women in the military.
Nearly half, or 49 percent, say allowing women to serve in combat roles will not make much difference to military effectiveness.
Among those who say it will have an impact, 29 percent say this will improve effectiveness, versus 15 percent who say it will make it worse.

The truth be told

The New repugican Class War

State Tax Hikes on the Poor to Fund Tax Cuts for the Rich
Jefferson class warfare
The idea of surrender after losing a defining battle is usually the course of wisdom to save the vanquished from annihilation, and one certainly would not expect the losing side to continue hostilities after a defeat and especially when the odds are stacked against them. After repugicans waged a class war against the people on behalf of the wealthy for two years, it seemed likely they would cease attacking the least fortunate Americans after being defeated in the November election, but apparently they decided to continue their class war by engaging the people in a new theatre; in states with repugican governors and legislatures. After the election, repugicans like Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal said his cabal had to appear friendlier to all the people to avoid the appearance of being the party of the one percent, but actions speak louder than a pleasant demeanor, and repugicans are still waging class war against poor Americans to benefit the rich.
The new front in the repugicans class war is just getting underway as Louisiana, Virginia, and Kansas governors are proposing new tax schemes that raise taxes on the poor to fund tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations. The idea of making the wealthy richer at the expense of the poor is not new, but instead of just cutting services and giving the savings to the rich as tax cuts, repugicans are following an ALEC-inspired tactic of “broadening the tax base” that is code for taxing the poor to pay the wealthy and corporations. Throughout the past year, Congressional repugicans Mitch McConnell and Eric Cantor suggested taxing those Americans struggling for basic survival and reducing rates for the wealthy, but they had little chance of success in a Democratic Senate or surviving President Obama’s veto pen. However, states with repugican governors and legislatures do not have constraints on their Draconian measures and are moving forward with ALEC’s plan to give the rich and corporations relief from what they label burdensome tax liabilities.
Jindal’s tax scheme typifies the ALEC model of broadening the tax base by totally eliminating income tax that corporations and the rich oppose, while increasing sales tax that inordinately affects the poor. It is a simple scam that, on first blush, seems innocuous and fair for all, but like anything ALEC  proposes, it is for the express purpose of providing entitlements for the wealthiest Americans. It is still class war, but with a slightly different means to a predictable repugican end; more income inequality, more poverty, and more wealth for repugicans’ favorite benefactors, the rich and corporations.
According to an analysis by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, Jindal’s plan increases taxes on the bottom 80 percent of Louisianans, while cutting them for the richest 1 percent by repealing personal and corporate income taxes and replacing them with a higher sales tax. In Jindal’s plan, the poorest 20 percent of taxpayers, those with poverty level income of $12,000 annually, would see an average tax increase of 3.4 percent of their income,  and the top 1 percent  with an average income of well over $1 million would get an average tax cut of 2.3 percent of their income. Increasing the sales tax disproportionately affects poverty level Americans because the lion’s share of their meager income is spent on basic living expenses as opposed to the rich whose enormous wealth makes the share of taxable expenditures incredibly lower. Jindal is not the only ALEC devotee implementing higher sales taxes that hurt the poor as Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is taking a similar approach to burden the poor.
McDonnell is touring Virginia promoting a plan to eliminate Virginia’s gas tax and replace it with an expanded sales tax that McDonnell says fixes the state’s dysfunctional transportation funding system, but it makes Virginia’s regressive tax system even worse; for the poor. McDonnell’s plan increases state sales tax that will hurt poverty level households whose share of income buying basic necessities of life like clothing, toiletries, and school supplies higher putting them deeper in poverty. Virginia’s current tax system is already tilted in favor of the richest 1 percent who pay a 5.2 percent effective tax rate, while Virginians making less than $19,000 pay 8.8 percent, and McDonnell’s plan would raise those rates, but in a way that broadens the gap between what the richest and poorest Virginians are paying in taxes. His plan also shifts the responsibility for funding Virginia’s highways from people who most use the roads and highways, including tourists, to poorer residents who are hardly affording a poverty existence, but that has been the goal of the repugican war on the least fortunate for years.
Similar ALEC schemes are being promoted by Governor Sam Brownback in Kansas, Governor Dave Heineman of Nebraska, and another ALEC alum, Nikki Haley in South Carolina as a way to burden the poor to enrich the wealthy and their precious corporations. This new line of attack on the poor is an ambitious experiment in tax reform that could spread to the national level in the Republican’s never-ending attempt to aggressively cut personal and corporate income taxes for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of the poorest Americans. The ALEC scheme of “an economically efficient tax system with a sensible, broad tax base and a low tax rate” is a repugicans’ dream because “broad tax base” is code for tax the poor and reduce rates for the rich and corporations. ALEC sells the scam as a way states with repugicans in charge can increase wealth and create jobs, but facts (as usual)  belie their claim and only create more wealth for the rich and corporations.
In a 2012 report, “Selling Snake Oil to the States: The American Legislative Exchange Council’s Flawed Prescriptions for Prosperity,” the authors conclude actual data finds Alec’s recommendations not only fail to predict positive results for state economies, the policies they endorse actually forecast worse state outcomes for job creation and paychecks. Why? Because when Americans struggling in a recovering economy and those barely subsisting on poverty level incomes have more of their income taken to support the rich and corporations, they spend less, and less spending means less revenue for business and less hiring. However, the rich and their corporations profit from lower taxes and the repugican cycle of economic despair continues without end as states face reduced revenue that results in defunding public goods such as education, assistance to the needy, and infrastructure improvements which play a major role in economic development for all the people; something so averse to repugicans and their mastermind ALEC, that they have embraced a new class war tactic.
The 2012 election should have been a wakeup call to repugicans that the American people will not abide being assaulted and driven deeper into poverty to enrich the wealthy elite and their corporations, but old habits die hard. At least repugicans have stopped their deeply entrenched abhorrence of tax increases of any sort, but they are still the party that will cut taxes for the rich and corporations to, as McConnell and Cantor said, unburden the job creators by “broadening the tax base” by increasing taxes on working families and those who can least afford it; the poor.

Faux's talking heads bear uncanny resemblance to Kids in the Hall

From Backdrops R Us, a grid of Faux News talking heads alongside classic shots of scenes from Canadian comedy show Kids in the Hall (particularly members of the troupe in drag). The resemblances are uncanny.
FAUX News Figures Strangely Resemble Kids In The Hall Characters

The Wingnut Obsession with Liberal Media Bias is Wingnut Propaganda

We have covered this subject in this space before. But never in the depth you’re about to witness. The “Liberal Media”, is a tiresome and wholly inaccurate screed that is the centerpiece of wingnut propaganda.
Of course the fact that Beyonce’ lip-synching the Star Spangled Banner was the preferred and obsessive media takeaway from Barack Obamas’ splendid inauguration speech is ironclad proof of a “Liberal Media.” Not to mention the virtual absence of editorial support from any major media for the President’s thoughtful gun initiatives
And we mustn’t forget UCLA political science professor Tim Groseclose’ book “Left Turn”. Groseclose claims that “all” mainstream news outlets have a liberal bias in their reporting as proved by quoting a report in which so-called mainstream reporters headquartered in Washington declared that they voted for the Democratic presidential candidate 93 percent of the time compared to 7 percent repugican, while the nation was split about 50-50. As a result, Croseclose concludes that most reporters write with a liberal filter.
Not so fast, prof. The numbers are from the 1996 Media Studies Center and Roper Report. It’s a small point, but the actual higher number was 89%, not 93%. The percentage differential reflected third-party candidate Ross Perot. The report was based on 139 responses out of a mailing of 323 questionnaires to D.C. Bureau Chiefs and Congressional Correspondents. When you consider the report was based on the 1992 election it’s actually 20 plus years old.
And further studies demonstrated that regardless of political leanings back then, content analyses showed that in 2 of the 3 Presidential races of the period (’88, ’92 and ’96) there were no discernible differences in coverage for Democrats and repugicans. The only exception was a Clinton race when he was painted favorably 54% of the time. Pew research had a rather interesting last minute contradictory finding in a 1992 poll response. This response was where 39% of the voters indicated they had heard the most about Ross Perot in the last week of the campaign as compared to 26% who named Clinton and 22%, the elder shrub.
Another fascinating finding, a 1996 American Society of Newspaper Editors found that all the presidential votes aside, editorial writers were more likely to be wingnut or independent than staffers. So, those who could mold opinion were in fact, not liberals.
My challenge is to fast-forward 20 years and prove that,indeed, there is a media bias but it’s weighted heavily, yea, overwhelmingly, in favor of the right. And it has nothing to do with the vote. Nowhere in my research was I able to find any writings or verbiage from the 139 media types back in the day that indicated their alleged biases were reflected in their work in the same percentage as their votes. In other words, unlike the irrefutable proof I’m about to present, there is nothing to back up the professor’s assertions.
An obvious starting point indicative of massive political bias on the part of the media is talk radio. This medium is well over 90% right-wing, or more accurately, extremely right-wing. The 2010 (the year of the repugican massive increases in the House) Pew Research Center’s “State of the News Media” identified the top 14 radio talkers in the nation. None were liberal. NONE! There were 10 arch wingnuts along with a finance guy, a libertarian and 2 independents (mostly general topics with actor and athlete guests). Cumulatively, the top five hosts reached a weekly total (with some duplication) of 56 million listeners.
As I’ve written before, reprising the Fairness Doctrine should have been an imperative for the President. It wasn’t. In the words of his press secretary in June of 2008; “Senator Obama does not support reimposing the Fairness Doctrine on broadcasters”. Barring an unanticipated House turnaround, repugicans have a stranglehold on virtually all of his initiatives and a Fairness Doctrine in useless tatters is one of key reasons for our current legislative gridlock.
On TV, Faux News is extraordinarily wingnut to the point of providing a stage to further the fortunes of repugican Presidential candidates by hiring them as commentators.
Lies and misrepresentations are the coin of the media realm on Faux. Just as Sarah Palin is probably not fully forthcoming when saying it was her decision to leave her $1 million yearly stipend at the Network. Whoever turned the knob, she might benefit from leaving what appears to be a sinking ship. Ratings have plummeted over the last few years with the nosedive especially impacting the vital 25-54 year old demographic. The prime benefactor? MSNBC.
MSNBC is not nearly as left-wing as Faux is right, only they don’t have to repeatedly lie and distort to objectively present the issues and they broadcast conservative fare as well. Current TV, just sold to Al Jazeera English, also leans heavily to the left and has never denied it. How about giving Palin a go with the newbie for a little fairness and balance?
So let us examine a real averment of bias, compliments of a citizen investigative reporter who dug into a local newspaper’s agenda and provided more highly credible and applicable bias conclusions that all the other studies I’ve sited put together. My friend, whom I shall not identify, spend 17 months from April 1, 2011 to August 21, 2012 tracking the number of times conservative and liberal nationally syndicated columnists appeared in the local paper. The totals are impossible to refute. The conclusion is impossible to justify as objective journalism.
Here are the numbers as compiled and I will quote them exactly. As for wingnut columnists; Cal Thomas was featured 106 times, George Will 73, David Brooks 72, Charles Krauthammer 53, Richard Lowry 42, Ross Douthat 41, Kathleen Parker 32, Michelle Malkin 29 (an insult to those who seek factual accuracy), Walter Williams 25, Paul Greenberg 18 and Mona Charen 14.
Liberal columnists who somehow found their way onto the wingnut Editorial page of the paper were; Thomas Friedman 65, Nicholas Kristof 47, the redoubtable Maureen Dowd 26, the closest pen we have to Molly Ivins; that’s a huge compliment. Molly will have been gone six years come January 31st. I do miss her musings. Other liberals given occasional space were Paul Krugman, another great, 24 and Clarence Page 15. Simple addition reveals the total number of conservative columnists given guest spots to be 505. For the liberals that number was 177 or 74% vs. 26 percent. That’s three-fourths for right-wingers; one-fourth for liberal/progressives. How embarrassing and anti-American.
Most egregious was the tally based on Obama cartoons. Pro-Obama 3; Anti-Obama 90. There’s also an ongoing “Other Voices” feature that reproduces invariably right-wing editorials from a handful of other reliably conservative newspapers from around the country.
The local paper is owed by Halifax Media Group. Its two big dogs are both hard-core repugicans. The major investor is a big supporter of Karl Rove’s American Crossroads. Halifax purchased 16 New York Times properties (mostly Southern-based) in January of 2012 and announced the acquisition of another 10 papers (in North Carolina and Florida) from Freedom Communications in June of last year.
There’s your “Liberal Media.”

Did you know ...

That economic inequality is preventing a recovery

About the geometry of gun murder

About how the food industry is enabling the obesity epidemic

That a gun kept in the home is 43 times more likely to kill than to be used in self-defense a household member

That Rand Paul blocks treaties that would help find tax cheats

That a creationist attacks 17-year-old for brainwashing our youth with science

That corporate profits soar under Obama

That pinball is alive and well in (some parts of) New York City

States force jobless to pay needless fees

In this Thursday, Dec. 13, 2012 photo people use a Bank of America ATM in Boston. Banks including JPMorgan Chase, U.S. Bancorp and Bank of America seized on government payments for unemployment compensation  as a business opportunity and pitched card programs to many states. However to cover the costs of the programs, banks have  hit all card users with a plethora of new fees. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) 
And of course BofA is leading the pack

Jobless Americans are paying millions in unnecessary fees to collect unemployment benefits because of state policies encouraging them to get the money through bank-issued payment cards, according to a new report from a consumer group. People are using the fee-heavy cards instead of getting their payments deposited directly to their bank accounts. That's because states issue bank cards automatically, require complicated paperwork or phone calls to set up direct deposit and fail to explain the card fees, according to a report issued Tuesday by the National Consumer Law Center, a nonprofit group that seeks to protect low-income Americans from unfair financial-services products. An early copy of the report was obtained by The Associated Press.
Until the past decade, states distributed unemployment compensation by mailing out paper checks. Some also allowed direct deposit. The system worked well for people who had bank accounts and could deposit the check without paying a fee.
It also cost states millions of dollars each year to print and mail the checks.
Banks including JPMorgan Chase & Co., U.S. Bancorp and Bank of America Corp. seized on government payments as a business opportunity. They pitched card programs to states as a win-win: States would save millions in overhead costs because the cards would be issued for free. And people without bank accounts would avoid the big fees charged by storefront check cashers.
However, most of the people being hit with fees already have bank accounts. The bank-state partnerships effectively shifted the cost of distributing payments from governments to individuals. The money needed to cover those costs is deducted from people's unemployment benefits in the form of fees.
Consumer advocates like NCLC are focused on ensuring access to the direct-deposit option so that people can avoid the card fees.
The trouble, the new report says, is that many states make it difficult for people to sign up for direct deposit. The rate of people using direct deposit ranges from a national high of 82 percent in Minnesota to a low of 16 percent in Arizona, the report says.
Minnesota offers direct deposit to people when they apply for benefits, and allows them to change their payment method online or over the phone, the report says.
In Arizona, by contrast, people are automatically enrolled in the card program. After they receive the card, they must find a paper form, fill it out, and submit it by mail. There is no way to change payment methods online or over the phone.
"The difference in direct-deposit rates among states seems primarily due to how hard or easy the state makes it for workers to choose direct deposit," the report says.
In five states — California, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland and Nevada — unemployed people aren't offered direct deposit at all. The report says that setup is illegal under a federal law that bars states from requiring benefits recipients to open an account at a particular bank.
The federal government recommended in 2009 that people with bank accounts receive payments via direct deposit. Nearly four years later, the report says, "there is no excuse for any state not to be offering direct deposit as the first choice for payment of unemployment benefits."
Banks make more money when more people use the cards. In the past, some of their deals with states prevented states from offering direct deposit, or required states to promote the card program as a first option.
To cover the cost of issuing cards and running the programs, banks charge a plethora of fees, including charges for balance inquiries, phone calls to customer support, leaving an account inactive for a period of months, or making a purchase using a personal identification number.
Many states have eliminated some fees and improved consumer protections in the two years since NCLC published its first comprehensive review of state unemployment payments. Banks no longer charge overdraft fees, which skimmed up to $20 from the benefits of card users whose spending exceeded the balance on the card.
Pennsylvania was singled out for praise in the report. Residents of that state will save $5.2 million in card fees each year because the state switched to a lower-fee card.
In part because of the recent improvements, the report says, prepaid cards often are the best option for people who don't have bank accounts. Those people would often pay even bigger fees to storefront check cashing services.
"A well-designed prepaid card is safer, cheaper and more convenient than paying to cash a paper check," said Lauren Saunders, one of the report's authors, in a prepared statement. But she said "it is no substitute for direct deposit to an account of your own choosing."

US government displays growing appetite for Twitter users' personal data

On the heels of reports that Google and Yahoo require probable-cause warrants to give authorities e-mail and cloud-stored content belonging to users, "despite federal law not always demanding that," Twitter said today that only 19 percent of federal and state government requests for user data were accompanied by probable-cause search warrants during the six months ending in December 2012. David Kravets at Wired News has more. During that period, there were 815 demands for Twitter account-holder data.
"Twitter did not say what type of user data was sought in those 815 requests," explains Kravets, "but it likely includes a mixture of e-mail addresses associated with accounts, IP logs, tweets and direct messages."

Talking to Reporters Is Not A Crime: new leak investigation threatens press freedom in US

At the The Freedom of the Press Foundation blog, Trevor Timm digs deeper into disturbing news (covered here in Saturday’s Washington Post) of an FBI investigation of a large number of government officials suspected of leaking classified information to the press, which "engulfs an unknown group of reporters," along the way. Trevor writes, "The investigation includes data-mining officials’ personal and professional communications to find any contact with journalists. Just to be clear: It seems officials are being targeted for just talking to the press."

Why Do Our Voices Sound Different To Us Than To Other People?

For many of us, there are few things more painful than hearing a recording of our own voices. They don't sound like we think they should. They're tinnier, higher and just not right. The tape doesn't lie, though, and the way we think we sound isn't how we really sound to everyone else. This is a cruel trick that happens because of the ways that sounds can travel to our inner ear.

Twenty-Seven Of History's Strangest Inventions

'If at first an idea is not absurd,' Albert Einstein famously said, 'then there is no hope for it.' Sometimes, however, absurd is just absurd - yet, even so, it's a fascinating slice of history's collective direction of curiosity and experimental innovation.

After those vintage versions of modern social media and yesteryear's visions for the future of technology, here come some of history's most weird and wonderful inventions, from wooden swimwear to spectacles for reading in bed, captured in archival public domain images by the Netherland's National Archive.

The Earliest Seal of the President of the United States

Millard Fillmore's sketch
When you watch a President of the United States give a formal speech, you'll probably see a plaque bearing the Presidential seal on the podium. This was not always so. In 1850, President Millard Fillmore thought that the office of the President should have its own seal, so he sketched out this design and sent it to Edward Stabler, a sealmaker:
The heavy lifting was definitely done by Stabler. Born in Maryland in 1794, Edward Stabler was self-taught and began his career engraving jewelry at the age of 16.  By the time he retired in 1863, Stabler had designed seals for nearly every department in the Federal Government, several states, cities, and many businesses.
Read more about the history of the Presidential seal here.

Humble nickel from 1913 likely to fetch millions

This image provided by Heritage Auctions shows an authentic 1913 Liberty Head nickel that was hidden in a Virginia closet for 41 years after its owners were mistakenly told it was a fake. The nickel is one of only five known and expected to sell for $2.5 million or more in an auction conducted by Heritage Auctions in the Chicago suburb of Schaumburg, Ill., on April 25, 2013. (AP Photo/courtesy of Heritage Auctions.)  
A humble 5-cent coin with a storied past is headed to auction and bidding expected to top $2 million a century after it was mysteriously minted.
The 1913 Liberty Head nickel is one of only five known to exist, but it's the coin's back story that adds to its cachet: It was surreptitiously and illegally cast, discovered in a car wreck that killed its owner, declared a fake, forgotten in a closet for decades and then found to be the real deal.
It all adds up to an expected sale of $2.5 million or more when it goes on the auction block April 25 in suburban Chicago.
"Basically a coin with a story and a rarity will trump everything else," said Douglas Mudd, curator of the American Numismatic Association Money Museum in Colorado Springs, Colo., which has held the coin for most of the past 10 years. He expects it could fetch more than Heritage Auction's estimate, perhaps $4 million and even up to $5 million.
"A lot of this is ego," he said of collectors who could bid for it. "I have one of these and nobody else does."
The sellers who will split the money equally are four Virginia siblings who never let the coin slip from their hands, even when it was deemed a fake.
The nickel made its debut in a most unusual way. It was struck at the Philadelphia mint in late 1912, the final year of its issue, but with the year 1913 cast on its face — the same year the beloved Buffalo Head nickel was introduced.
Mudd said a mint worker named Samuel W. Brown is suspected of producing the coin and altering the die to add the bogus date.
The coins' existence weren't known until Brown offered them for sale at the American Numismatic Association Convention in Chicago in 1920, beyond the statute of limitations. The five remained together under various owners until the set was broken up in 1942.
A North Carolina collector, George O. Walton, purchased one of the coins in the mid-1940s for a reported $3,750. The coin was with him when he was killed in a car crash on March 9, 1962, and it was found among hundreds of coins scattered at the crash site.
One of Walton's heirs, his sister Melva Givens of Salem, Va., was given the 1913 Liberty nickel after experts declared the coin a fake because of suspicions the date had been altered. The flaw probably happened because of Brown's imprecise work casting the planchet — the copper and nickel blank disc used to create the coin.
"For whatever reason, she ended up with the coin," her daughter, Cheryl Myers, said.
Melva Givens put the coin in an envelope and stuck it in a closet, where it stayed for the next 30 years until her death in 1992.
The coin caught the curiosity of Cheryl Myers' brother, Ryan, the executor of his mother's estate. "He'd take it out and look at it for long periods of time," she said.
Ryan Myers said a family attorney had heard of the famous 1913 Liberty nickels and asked if he could see the Walton. "He looked at it and he told me he'd give me $5,000 for it right there," he said, declining an offer he could not accept without his siblings' approval.
Finally, they brought the coin to the 2003 American Numismatic Association World's Fair of Money in Baltimore, where the four surviving 1913 Liberty nickels were being exhibited. A team of rare coin experts concluded it was the long-missing fifth coin. Each shared a small imperfection under the date.
"The sad part is my mother had it for 30 years and she didn't know it," Cheryl Myers said. "Knowing our mother, she probably would have invested it for us. She always put her children first."
Since its authentication, the Walton nickel has been on loan to the Colorado Springs museum and has been publicly exhibited nationwide.
The coin will be up for grabs at a rare coin and currency auction.
Todd Imhof, executive vice president of Heritage, said the nickel is likely to attract lofty bids that only a handful of coins have achieved at auction. A 1933 double eagle, a $20 gold coin, holds the U.S. record: $8 million.
Imhof expects the Walton nickel to generate some buzz.
"This is a trophy item that sort of transcends the hobby," he said. "It's an interesting part of American history and there are collectors who look for something like this."
Ryan Myers said he's not keen on selling the nickel.
"First of all, it had been in the family for so long," he said. "It's not like something you found in a flea market or something you just found."
Cheryl Myers said they're often asked why they held on to the coin for a decade after they learned it was authentic instead of immediately cashing it in.
"It was righting a 40-year-old wrong," she wrote in an email. By allowing the American Numismatic Museum to display it for the past decade, it was honoring Walton's wishes.
"It has been quite a ride," she said.

Experts find new evidence in submarine mystery

FILE - The Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sits in a conservation tank after a steel truss that had surrounded it was removed in this Jan. 12, 2012 file photo taken at a conservation lab in North Charleston, S.C. Scientists say a pole on the front of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley designed to plant explosives on enemy ships may hold a key clue to its sinking during the Civil War. The experts are to release their findings Monday Jan. 28, 2013 at the North Charleston lab where the hand-cranked sub is being preserved and studied. (AP Photo/Bruce Smith, File)  
Researchers say they may have the final clues needed to solve the mystery of the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, which never resurfaced after it became the first sub in history to sink an enemy warship, taking its eight-man crew to a watery grave.
Scientists said Monday that the Hunley apparently was less than 20 feet away from the Housatonic when the crew ignited a torpedo that sank the Union blockade ship off South Carolina in 1864. That means it may have been close enough for the crew to be knocked unconscious by the explosion, long enough that they may have died before awakening.
For years, historians thought the Hunley was much farther away and had speculated the crew ran out of air before they were able to return to shore.
The discovery was based on a recent examination of the spar — the iron pole in front of the hand-cranked sub that held the torpedo.
The Hunley, built in Mobile, Ala., and deployed off Charleston in an attempt to break the Union blockade during the Civil War, was finally found in 1995. It was raised five years later and brought to a lab in North Charleston, where it is being conserved.
Conservator Paul Mardikian had to remove material crusted onto one end of the spar after 150 years at the bottom of the ocean. Beneath the muck he found evidence of a cooper sleeve. The sleeve is in keeping with a diagram of the purported design of a Hunley torpedo that a Union general acquired after the war and is in the National Archives in Washington.
"The sleeve is an indication the torpedo was attached to the end of the spar," Mardikian said. He said the rest of the 16-foot spar shows deformities in keeping with it being bent during an explosion.
Now it may be that the crew, found at their seats when the sub was raised with no evidence of an attempt to abandon ship, may have been knocked out by the concussion of an explosion so close by, said Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, a member of the South Carolina Hunley Commission.
"I think the focus now goes down to the seconds and minutes around the attack on the Housatonic," he said. "Did the crew get knocked out? Did some of them get knocked out? Did it cause rivets to come loose and the water rush into the hull?"
The final answers will come when scientists begin to remove encrustations from the outer hull, a process that will begin later this year. McConnell said scientists will also arrange to have a computer simulation of the attack created based on the new information. The simulation might be able to tell what effect the explosion would have on the nearby sub.
Maria Jacobsen, the senior archaeologist on the project, said small models might also be used to recreate the attack.
Ironically, the crucial information was literally at the feet of scientists for years.
The spar has long been on display to the public in a case at Clemson University's Warren Lasch Conservation Lab where the Hunley is being conserved. With other priorities on the sub itself, it wasn't until last fall that Mardikian began the slow work of removing encrustations from the spar.
Scientists X-rayed the spar early on and found the denser material that proved to be the cooper sleeve. But Jacobsen said it had long been thought it was some sort of device to release the torpedo itself.
Finding evidence of the attached torpedo is "not only extremely unexpected, it's extremely critical," she said. "What we know now is the weapons system exploded at the end of the spar. That is very, very significant."

Library hopes to encourage more people to borrow books by holding pole dancing class

A pole dancing class is being held in a library in a bid to get more people to borrow books. The idea is aimed at encouraging people to visit their local library as part of “Love your Library Day” on Saturday February 2. Pole dance instructor Nikki Clark will offer a free, 90-minute pole fitness session on the day at Mayfield Library in Dalkeith, Midlothian.
Nikki, 33, said:  “I go to the library quite a lot and the library manager asked me about a month ago if I would be interested in doing a pole dancing lesson there – I thought it was quite funny 
to start with and I wondered how they were going to put 
it into the Love your Library Day.

“But they just want to promote the library so it’s not just for reading books – they already do small music classes for kids and arts and crafts.” Nikki, who has been pole dancing for five years, will take one pole along to the library to demonstrate moves and allow residents to have a go. And from beginners right up to the more experienced pole dancer, she said there is “a move for everyone”.

Midlothian Council said the lesson would be a one-off to capture imaginations and encourage residents to use their local libraries and borrow books. Councillor Bob Constable, Cabinet Member for Public Services and Leisure, said: “The pole fitness session is a fun and interesting way of encouraging more people into our libraries, trying out all the services on offer and ultimately borrowing more books.”

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Random Photo



Lion-headed Figurine

This carved mammoth tusk, from Hohlenstein-Stadel in Germany, was crafted 32,000 years ago.  It is presently among the holdings of the Ulmer Museum, with copies in four other museums in Europe and the U.S.
[It is] the oldest known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world and one of the oldest known sculptures in general. The sculpture has also been interpreted as anthropomorphic, giving human characteristics to an animal, although it may have represented a deity...

Originally, the figure was classified as male by Joachim Hahn. From examination of some additional parts of the sculpture found later, Elisabeth Schmid decided that the figure was a woman with the head of a "Höhlenlöwin" (female cave lion). Both interpretations lack scientific evidence. European cave lions, male and female, lacked the distinctive manes of the African male lion, and so its absence here cannot lead to an interpretation as a 'lioness'. Recently the ancient figurine has more often been called a lion-headed figurine, rather than a 'lion man'. The name currently used in German, Löwenmensch—meaning "lion-human"—similarly, is neutral.

The Wolf fish

The ferocious-looking wolf fish gets its name from the sharp, protruding teeth.
The wolf fish are a family, Anarhichadidae, of perciform fish. They are native to cold waters of the northern Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, where they live on the continental shelf and slope, to depths of about 600 m (2,000 ft). They are bottom-feeders, eating hard-shelled invertebrates such as clams, echinoderms and crustaceans, which they crush with strong canine and molar teeth. The longest species, Anarrhichthys ocellatus, grows to more than 2 m (6.6 ft) in length.
There are four species in the Anarhichas family: the Northern wolf fish, the Atlantic wolf fish or sea wolf, the Spotted wolf fish, and the Bering wolf fish.
The wolf fish has a ferocious look. It can live for more than twenty years and when you meet one while diving it's very normal to get a little bit nervous.

Animal Pictures