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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.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The Daily Drift

Life is like a naked ride. Ride it well.

Today some of our readers have been in:
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Johannesburg, South Africa
Poznan, Poland
Toa Alta, Puerto Rico
Montevideo, Uruguay
Shah Alam, Malaysia
Minsk, Belarus
Istanbul, Turkey
Medan, Indonesia
George Town, Cayman Islands
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Abucay, Philippines
Ankara, Turkey
Panevezys, Lithuania
Warsaw, Poland
Sampaloc, Philippines
Cape Town, South Africa
Seremban, Malaysia
Oxford, England
Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia
Manchester, England
Puchong, Malaysia
Surabaya, Indonesia

Just a typical day here.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

1649   Charles I of England is beheaded at Whitehall by the executioner Richard Brandon.
1844   Richard Theodore Greener becomes the first African American to graduate from Harvard University.
1862   The USS Monitor is launched at Greenpoint, Long Island.
1901   Women Prohibitionists smash 12 saloons in Kansas.
1912   The British House of Lords opposes the House of Commons by rejecting home rule for Ireland.
1931   The United States awards civil government to the Virgin Islands.
1933   Adolf Hitler is named Chancellor by President Paul Hindenburg.
1936   Governor Harold Hoffman orders a new inquiry into the Lindbergh kidnapping.
1943   Field Marshal Friedrich von Paulus surrenders himself and his staff to Red Army troops in Stalingrad.
1945   The Allies launch a drive on the Siegfried line in Germany.
1949   In India, 100,000 people pray at the site of Gandhi's assassination on the first anniversary of his death.
1953   President Dwight Eisenhower announces that he will pull the Seventh Fleet out of Formosa to permit the Nationalists to attack Communist China.
1964   The Ranger spacecraft, equipped with six TV cameras, is launched to the moon from Cape Canaveral.
1972   British troops shoot dead 14 Irish civilians in Derry, Ireland. The day is forever remembered in Ireland as 'Bloody Sunday.'
1976   The U.S. Supreme Court bans spending limits in campaigns, equating funds with freedom of speech.
1980   The first-ever Chinese Olympic team arrives in New York for the Winter Games at Lake Placid.

Non Sequitur


If it is not stopped, the repugican war on democracy will tear this nation apart

The repugicans can't win national elections anymore, having lost the popular vote in five of the last six, and with demographics shifts moving solidly against them , rather than try to better represent the will of the American electorate, they're instead going to try to break the system so that the will of the American electorate no longer matters.

The truth be told

The £100 million Banknote

Heard about that brouhaha over the trillion dollar coin? Well, the Brits beat us to it. Sort of.
The note above doesn't look like much, but you're looking at a real £1,000,000 banknote, nicknamed "giant" in the British currency system. And if you think that's big, it's nothing compared to its cousin "titan." That one is £100 million!
Chris Bowlby of the BBC has the story:
"When it comes to a £1m note, everybody thinks, 'What a fantastic thing'," says Barnaby Faull, head of the banknote department at the auctioneers Spink.
"What most people don't realise is they do actually exist."
But the £1m pound note - known as a "giant" - is not in circulation and it is inconceivable it will be made available from cashpoints. How many of us would risk carrying one around in our wallet, let alone have sufficient funds in our account to get one out?
And if you're wondering, there were 4,040 giants and titans printed with a total value of £8 billion. The titans are printed on A4 sized paper (a little smaller than a legal sized paper for us Yanks here in the United States), whereas the giants are smaller at A5 (about the size of two letter papers side by side).

American insurers charge reckless rich drivers less than safe poor drivers

The Consumer Federation of America did a mystery shopper review of several auto insurers and found that drivers with at-fault accidents paid lower premiums than drivers with spotless records -- provided that the careless driver was rich and well-educated and the careful driver was a single renter without an advanced degree.
Using two hypothetical characters the group compared premiums offered to two 30-year-old women. Both had driven for 10 years, lived on the same street in a middle-income Zip code and both wanted the minimum insurance required by whichever state the group was researching.
The imaginary woman who wasn’t married, rented a home, didn’t have coverage for 45 days but has never been in an accident or ticketed with a moving violation was compared to a married executive with a master’s degree who owns her home and has always had continuous insurance coverage. But she’d been in an accident (again, hypothetically) that was her fault and caused $800 in damage within the last three years.
The results were somewhat surprising, although there were differences across the five insurers. Farmers, GEICO and Progressive always gave a higher quote to the safer driver than the woman who’d caused an accident. Across all 12 cities in the study, State Farm offered the lowest or second lowest premiums.
“State insurance regulators should require auto insurers to explain why they believe factors such as education and income are better predictors of losses than are at-fault accidents,” said J. Robert Hunter, CFA’s director of insurance and former Texas insurance

What the ban on unlocking phones means (worse than you think)

You will have heard that the US Copyright Office has lifted the temporary ruling under which you were allowed to unlock your phone. EFF explains in detail what this ruling means (it's not what you think -- and in some ways, it's worse):
First, the good news. The legal shield for jailbreaking and rooting your phone remains up - it'll protect us at least through 2015. The shield for unlocking your phone is down, but carriers probably aren't going to start suing customers en masse, RIAA-style. And the Copyright Office's decision, contrary to what some sensational headlines have said, doesn't necessarily make unlocking illegal.
Unlocking is in a legal grey area under the DMCA. The law was supposed to protect creative works, but it's often been misused by electronics makers to block competition and kill markets for used goods. The courts have pushed back, ruling that the DMCA doesn't protect digital locks that keep digital devices from talking to each other when creative work isn't involved. And no creative work is involved here: Wireless carriers aren't worried about "piracy" of the software on their phones, they're worried about people reselling subsidized phones at a profit. So if the matter ever reached a court, it might well decide that the DMCA does not forbid unlocking a phone.
Now, the bad news. While we don’t expect mass lawsuits anytime soon, the threat still looms. More likely, wireless carriers, or even federal prosecutors, will be emboldened to sue not individuals, but rather businesses that unlock and resell phones. If a court rules in favor of the carriers, penalties can be stiff - up to $2,500 per unlocked phone in a civil suit, and $500,000 or five years in prison in a criminal case where the unlocking is done for "commercial advantage." And this could happen even for phones that are no longer under contract. So we're really not free to do as we want with devices that we own.
All that said, if you were convicted, the maximum penalty under the law for unlocking your phone is now greater than the maximum penalty for turning it into an IED.

WTO gives Antigua the right to sell pirated American copyrighted goods

The WTO agreement is supposed to guarantee level playing fields for its member states, allowing each to sell into the others' markets. But US law bans online gambling, which is the major export from Antigua. Antigua has been going back and forth with the USA in trade court since 2003, and now the WTO has agreed that the US has violated its treaty obligations. By way of reparations, the WTO has given Antigua permission to set up a kind of legal pirate market, where American copyrighted works can be sold without permission or royalties. The initial ruling came in 2007, and was affirmed on Monday. Antigua has announced plans for a site for downloading US software, music and movies.
Antigua’s Finance Minister Harold Lovell said in a comment that the U.S. left his Government no other option than to respond in this manner. Antigua’s gambling industry was devastated by the unfair practices of the U.S. and years of negotiations have offered no compromise.
“These aggressive efforts to shut down the remote gaming industry in Antigua has resulted in the loss of thousands of good paying jobs and seizure by the Americans of billions of dollars belonging to gaming operators and their customers in financial institutions across the world,” Lowell says.
“If the same type of actions, by another nation, caused the people and the economy of the United States to be so significantly impacted, Antigua would without hesitation support their pursuit of justice,” the Finance minister adds.

Dutch Queen Beatrix announces she is to abdicate

The announcement, in a nationally televised speech, signaled an end to the reign of one of Europe's longest-serving monarchs, whose time on the throne was marked by tumultuous shifts in Dutch society and, more recently, by personal tragedy.

Mali secures retaken towns, donors pledge funds

French troops, aboard an armoured vehicle, guard the Timbuktu airport in this January 28, 2013 picture provided by the French Military audiovisual service (ECPAD) January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Arnaud Roine/ECPAD/Handout 
French-backed Malian troops searched house-to-house in Gao and Timbuktu on Tuesday uncovering arms and explosives abandoned by Islamist fighters, and France said it would look to hand over longer-term security operations in Mali to an African force.
An 18-day offensive in France's former West African colony has pushed the militants out of major towns and into hideouts in the deserts and mountains.
French and Malian troops retook the two Saharan trading towns of Timbuktu and Gao at the weekend virtually unopposed.
Doubts remain about just how quickly the African intervention force, known as AFISMA and now expected to exceed 8,000 troops, could be fully deployed in Mali to hunt down and eradicate retreating al Qaeda-allied insurgents in the north.
International donors meeting in Addis Ababa pledged just over $455 million for the Mali crisis, but it was not clear whether all of this would go directly to AFISMA, which African leaders have estimated will cost almost $1 billion.
"You will certainly understand that it is not sufficient. But I think it is only the beginning. We hope that it will continue, and that the money we need will come," Malian interim President Dioncounda Traore told reporters in Addis Ababa.
He earlier announced his government would aim to organize "credible" elections for July 31 in response to demands from major western backers of the anti-rebel action.
Malian soldiers combed through the dusty alleys and mud-brick homes of Gao and Timbuktu. In Gao, they arrested at least five suspected rebels and sympathizers, turned over by local people, and uncovered caches of weapons and counterfeit money.
Residents reported some looting of shops in Timbuktu owned by Arabs and Tuaregs suspected of having helped the Islamists who had occupied the world-famous seat of Islamic learning, a UNESCO World Heritage site, since last year.
Fleeing Islamist fighters torched a Timbuktu library holding priceless ancient manuscripts, damaging many.
After the reports of reprisals by civilians and soldiers, France called for the swift deployment of international observers to ensure human rights are not abused.
Malian army sources told Reuters pockets of armed Islamist fighters, on foot to avoid French air strikes, were still hiding in the savannah and deserts around Gao and Timbuktu and near main roads leading to them, parts of which were still unsafe.
The West African country has been in political limbo since a March 2012 coup triggered the rebel takeover of the north.
France has sent around 3,000 troops to Mali at the request of its government but is anxious not to get bogged down in a messy counter-insurgency war in their former Sahel colony.
The French have also made clear that while the first phase of liberating the biggest north Mali towns may be over, a more difficult challenge to flush the Islamist desert insurgents from their lairs remains.
"We will stay as long as necessary. We want to make sure there will be a good handover between France and AFISMA. There is no question of us getting stuck in the mud," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said in Addis Ababa.
The leading donors pledging funds in Addis Ababa were Japan, the European Union and the United States. But African Union officials could not immediately break down how much was intended for the African intervention force, how much for Mali's army and how much for broader humanitarian purposes.
"The participants are of the view there is a need to continue to work together to mobilize further resources," said AU Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra.
Ivory Coast President Alassane Ouattara, who chairs the West African bloc ECOWAS that is contributing the most troops for the African Mali force, estimated its cost at more than $950 million.
The United States and European governments are backing the French and African military operation against the Islamist rebels with logistical, airlift and intelligence support, but they are not sending combat troops.
They see the intervention as vital to root out an al Qaeda-allied insurgency in West Africa that could threaten African governments and western interests from Mauritania to oil-producing Nigeria, as well as strike directly in Europe.
The head of the U.N. mission in Libya, Tarek Mitri, told the Security Council the French-led military intervention could worsen a "precarious" security situation inside Libya by pushing fighters and arms across its porous Saharan borders.
The bulk of the planned African intervention force for Mali is still struggling to get into the country, hampered by shortages of kit and supplies and lack of airlift capacity.
Around 2,000 troops are already on the ground to fight the retreating Islamist rebels, who have pulled back to the rugged northeast mountains of the Adrar des Ifoghas range on the border with Algeria.
Burkina Faso, Benin, Nigeria, Senegal, Togo, Niger and Chad are providing soldiers. Burundi and other nations have pledged to contribute. Hundreds of soldiers from Chad and Niger with desert warfare experience have already crossed into the country.
The commander of the Chadian forces in Mali, Abdu Aziz Hassan Adam, told Reuters in Gao his forces were ready to "sweep the terrorists out of the north of Mali". "They are a threat for all the countries of the world," he added.
Britain said on Tuesday up to 240 soldiers could take part in missions to train troops in Mali in addition to at least 90 already taking part in logistical operations.
The United States also extended deployment of surveillance drones that could track down rebel bases and columns in the Sahara desert. Mali's neighbor Niger on Tuesday gave permission for U.S. drones to fly from its territory.
Besides Gao and Timbuktu, another major Malian Saharan town, Kidal, had also been in Islamist insurgent hands but MNLA Tuareg rebels said on Monday they had taken control there after the Islamists left.
The MNLA's Tuareg leaders, whose pro-independence rebellion last year was hijacked by Islamist radicals leading to the current crisis, said their desert fighters were ready to join the French-led campaign against "terrorist organizations" - a reference to al Qaeda and its allies.
But they also asked for direct negotiations with the Malian government about their autonomy demands. Chadian troops were expected to deploy up to Kidal in the northeast to secure it, officials in Niger said.

Smog thick enough to cancel flights hits Beijing

Extremely high pollution levels shrouded eastern China for the second time in about two weeks Tuesday.(Source: Tim Johnson)   Obscenely high pollution levels shrouded eastern China for the second time in about two weeks Tuesday, forcing airlines in Beijing and elsewhere to cancel flights because of poor visibility and prompting government warnings for residents to stay indoors. The outlines of buildings in the capital receded into a white mist as pedestrians donned face masks to guard against the thick, caustic air, which stranded passengers during the first week of the country's peak, six-week period for travel surrounding the Chinese New Year on Feb. 10.
The U.S. Embassy reported a peak level of PM2.5 - 1 of the worst pollutants - at 526 micrograms per cubic meter, or "beyond index," and more than 20 times higher than World Health Organization safety levels over a 24-hour period.

Toe Wrestling

The Bizarre Sport Sweeping the World Off its Feet
Offering the prospect of broken toes and tough competition (with even tougher sounding names), toe wrestling is a little-known sport that certainly isn't for wimps! More

Washington vows to try to keep weed in state ... but how?

But Governor Jay Inslee insists there are ways to prevent the bulk smuggling of the state's newest cash crop into the black market, including digitally tracking weed to ensure that it goes from where it is grown to the stores where it is sold.


A history of Brooklyn's infamous cocaine bar Kokieeeee
In the late 1990s, Kokie's Place was a legendary Williamsburg, Brooklyn bar where a guy would sell you cocaine from a closet in the back. A few years ago, Vice magazine presented an oral history of this vibrant, strange Puerto Rican dive bar where salsa dancers, hipsters, bikers, and addicts played in the snow. It's a fascinating, funny article that also touches on the insanely-fast gentrification of Williamsburg. By the way, the name of the bar isn't a reference to cocaine but rather to the coquí, a frog endemic to Puerto Rico. 

From Vice:
JERRY P: The coke was stepped on like crazy. I think it was cut with meth, because it lasted so fucking long. I personally didn’t mind it. BRIAN F: It was convenient living nearby because the coke was so awful. As soon as I did a bump I would run home, shit my brains out, and then come back refreshed and ready for more.
MEG SNEED: The coke there was pretty bad, true, but it was such a pleasant place to be. A real positive atmosphere and community feeling. I even thought about hanging out there without drugs once or twice. Of course I never did.
LUCY P: I don’t know if I ever talked to anybody there who I didn’t know, but I felt as though I could’ve. And it wasn’t just the drugs. There was a sense that everybody was there to enjoy some sort of desperate eked-out freedom. As though a line had been crossed into comity. You know, the purity of purpose people shared.
STEVE L: The first time I walked in there, I could see that all the action was in the disco room, where a crowd of mostly middle-aged Puerto Rican mamis were dancing around to what sounded like electro-Merengue. One of them, in a hot-peach tube top, bleached cut-offs, and espadrilles dragged me out on the floor to get down with her. I must have pranced with every orange-haired lady in the place.

Cute Aggression

Ever saw something so cute you want to hug it and kiss it and love it and SQUEEEZE it into itty-bitty pieces? Well, you're not alone (Elmyra Duff notwithstanding).
In the Philippines, there's a word "gigil" that's translated as "the urge to pinch or squeeze something that is unbearably cute." But as no such word exists in the English language, Yale researchers came up with their own: cute aggression.
Turns out not only is cute aggression real, it's also quantifiable:
The researchers began by showing 109 online participants images of animals considered either cute, funny or neutral. Cuteness was based on a general consensus from previous studies to include qualities such as round features; big, wide-set eyes; and high head-to-body size ratio. Participants were provided phrases like “That’s cute!”, “I can’t handle it!” and “I want to squeeze something!” and asked to rate the relevance of these reactions to their own (on a scale of one to 100). The results were clear: the cuter the animal, the more “cute aggressive” the response.
But expressing aggression or a loss of control is very different than acting on it. So the researchers expanded the study to include a second phase. And they probably didn’t have too much trouble coercing people to participate.
For part two the researchers brought 90 participants into the lab, provided them with bubble wrap and showed them pictures of cute, funny or neutral animals. The metric in this part was the number of bubbles popped while watching. Viewers of funny animals popped an average of 80 bubbles during a session and members of the neutral group popped about 100 each. But the people who saw cute animals popped a whopping 120 bubbles!
Breanna Draxler of Discover's 80beats explains: Here.

Forty Years in Isolation

Talk about living off the grid! In 1936, Karp Lykov, a Russian of the Old Believers sect, escaped Soviet religious persecution by moving his family deep into the rugged Siberian taiga, near the border of Mongolia. They settled in a spot 150 miles from the nearest village and lived alone, cut off from the outside world until 1978. That's when a group of geologists, looking for a spot to land their helicopter, noticed what they believed to be a farm. Curious, they went to the cabin and found Lykov and his four adult children. The youngest two had never seen any person outside their own family. Over time, the geologists learned how the Lykov family survived all those years.
Isolation made survival in the wilderness close to impossible. Dependent solely on their own resources, the Lykovs struggled to replace the few things they had brought into the taiga with them. They fashioned birch-bark galoshes in place of shoes. Clothes were patched and repatched until they fell apart, then replaced with hemp cloth grown from seed.

The Lykovs had carried a crude spinning wheel and, incredibly, the components of a loom into the taiga with them—moving these from place to place as they gradually went further into the wilderness must have required many long and arduous journeys—but they had no technology for replacing metal. A couple of kettles served them well for many years, but when rust finally overcame them, the only replacements they could fashion came from birch bark. Since these could not be placed in a fire, it became far harder to cook. By the time the Lykovs were discovered, their staple diet was potato patties mixed with ground rye and hemp seeds.
Karp Lykov, then in his 80s, knew nothing of World War II or the moon landing. But he believed the news of satellites, because he had noticed that in the 1950s, “the stars began to go quickly across the sky.” The family was amazed by television, but tried to adhere to their religious beliefs about living simply. They were very grateful for salt, however, as they had none for decades. Read the astonishing tale of the Lykov family at Past Imperfect.

A postscript to the story appeared in the news just last week. Here.
For 40 years, this Russian family was cut off From all human contact, unaware of World War II
In 1978 a team of Russian geologists took a helicopter to a remote part of Siberia and encountered a family that had not had contact with anyone for 40 years. The family were Old Believers -- members of a "fundamentalist Russian Orthodox sect, worshiping in a style unchanged since the 17th century." They fled to Siberia in 1936 to escape persecution.
The sight that greeted the geologists as they entered the cabin was like something from the middle ages. Jerry-built from whatever materials came to hand, the dwelling was not much more than a burrow—"a low, soot-blackened log kennel that was as cold as a cellar," with a floor consisting of potato peel and pine-nut shells. Looking around in the dim light, the visitors saw that it consisted of a single room. It was cramped, musty and indescribably filthy, propped up by sagging joists—and, astonishingly, home to a family of five.
Led by Pismenskaya, the scientists backed hurriedly out of the hut and retreated to a spot a few yards away, where they took out some provisions and began to eat. After about half an hour, the door of the cabin creaked open, and the old man and his two daughters emerged—no longer hysterical and, though still obviously frightened, "frankly curious." Warily, the three strange figures approached and sat down with their visitors, rejecting everything that they were offered—jam, tea, bread—with a muttered, "We are not allowed that!" When Pismenskaya asked, "Have you ever eaten bread?" the old man answered: "I have. But they have not. They have never seen it." At least he was intelligible. The daughters spoke a language distorted by a lifetime of isolation. "When the sisters talked to each other, it sounded like a slow, blurred cooing."

Random Photo

Study says leafy greens top food poisoning source

A big government study has fingered leafy greens like lettuce and spinach as the leading source of food poisoning, a perhaps uncomfortable conclusion for health officials who want us to eat our vegetables.
"Most meals are safe," said Dr. Patricia Griffin, a government researcher and one of the study's authors who said the finding shouldn't discourage people from eating produce. Experts repeated often-heard advice: Be sure to wash those foods or cook them thoroughly.
While more people may have gotten sick from plants, more died from contaminated poultry, the study also found. The results were released Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
FILE - In this Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007 file photo, a lettuce worker washes romaine lettuce in Salinas, Calif. Leafy green vegetables were the leading source of food poisoning over an 11-year period, federal health officials say, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. However, the most food-related deaths were from contaminated chicken and other poultry. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)Each year roughly 1 in 6 Americans — or 48 million people— gets sick from food poisoning. That includes 128,000 hospitalization and 3,000 deaths, according to previous CDC estimates.
The new report is the most comprehensive CDC has produced on the sources of food poisoning, covering the years 1998 through 2008. It reflects the agency's growing sophistication at monitoring illnesses and finding their source.
What jumped out at the researchers was the role fruits and vegetables played in food poisonings, said Griffin, who heads the CDC office that handles foodborne infection surveillance and analysis.
About 1 in 5 illnesses were linked to leafy green vegetables — more than any other type of food. And nearly half of all food poisonings were attributed to produce in general, when illnesses from other fruits and vegetables were added in.
It's been kind of a tough month for vegetables. A controversy erupted when Taco Bell started airing a TV ad for its variety 12-pack of tacos, with a voiceover saying that bringing a vegetable tray to a football party is "like punting on fourth-and-1." It said that people secretly hate guests who bring vegetables to parties.
The fast-food chain on Monday announced it was pulling the commercial after receiving complaints that it discouraged people from eating vegetables.
Without actually saying so, the CDC report suggests that the Food and Drug Administration should devote more staff time and other resources to inspection of fruits and vegetables, said Michael Doyle, director of the University of Georgia's Center for Food Safety.
FILE - In this Aug. 16, 2007 file photo, a worker harvests romaine lettuce in Salinas, Calif. Leafy green vegetables were the leading source of food poisoning over an 11-year period, federal health officials say, Tuesday, Jan. 29, 2013. However, the most food-related deaths were from contaminated chicken and other poultry. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)
Earlier this month, the FDA released a proposed new rule for produce safety that would set new hygiene standards for farm workers and for trying to reduce contact with animal waste and dirty water.
Meanwhile, CDC officials emphasized that their report should not be seen as discouraging people from eating vegetables.
Many of the vegetable-related illnesses come from norovirus, which is often spread by cooks and food handlers. So contamination sometimes has more to do with the kitchen or restaurant it came from then the food itself, Griffin noted.
Also, while vegetable-related illnesses were more common, they were not the most dangerous. The largest proportion of foodborne illness deaths — about 1 in 5 — were due to poultry. That was partly because three big outbreaks more than 10 years ago linked to turkey deli meat.
But it was close. CDC estimated 277 poultry-related deaths in 1998-2008, compared to 236 vegetable-related deaths.
Fruits and nuts were credited with 96 additional deaths, making 334 total deaths for produce of all types. The CDC estimated 417 deaths from all kinds of meat and poultry, another 140 from dairy and 71 from eggs.
Red meat was once seen as one of the leading sources of food poisoning, partly because of a deadly outbreak of E. coli associated with hamburger. But Griffin and Doyle said there have been significant safety improvements in beef handling. In the study, beef was the source of fewer than 4 percent of food-related deaths and fewer than 7 percent of illnesses.

Smoked Sausage Recipe


Smoked Sausage

  • 5 pounds lean pork
  • 1 tablespoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon Splenda
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 3¼ teaspoon majoram
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1½ teaspoon sage
  • 1½ teaspoon caraway seed
  • ¾ teaspoon nutmeg
  1. Cut the pork into cubes or squares adding in the salt, garlic and Splenda. Refrigerate overnight.
  2. Grind the pork skin through the medium plate (3/8” or 10 mm) and then twice through the fine plate (3/16” or 4.5 mm).
  3. Mix well, adding in the remaining ingredients.
  4. Grind the mixture once more through the fine plate (3/16” or 4.5 mm). You should have a finely minced paste.
  5. Stuff into large 38 mm hog casings and tie off into 6 inch lengths. Try to make each sausage about ¼ lb.
  6. Hang the sausages at room temperature until the casings are dry to the touch.
  7. Smoke at 85 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes. Then cook at 130 degrees Fahrenheit for 3 hours. Next raise the temperature to 180 degrees Fahrenheit and cook to an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
  8. To eat, sausage should be warmed to 175 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes (or grilled).

Flu Fighting Ice Cream?

Four Foods to Ease Flu Misery
There's no cure for the flu--once you have it, you have it, which is why it's always good not to get it in the first place.

But if you've been felled by the flu and have no choice but to deal with it, there just may be some good-for-you foods that can help ease your symptoms and make you feel better while you wait it out. Like...this sorbet, for example?

Influenza Sorbet by Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams is made with cayenne pepper, ginger, citrus juice, Maker's Mark bourbon, and honey, and is meant to clear nasal passages and ease sore throats.

The sorbet may be onto something: experts say that the iciness in popsicles can indeed help dry throats, while also keeping you hydrated. Be sure to choose a chilly treat that has real fruit juice in it so that you get some nutrients instead of just sugar:

Chicken soup
isn't just an old wives' tale--the broth is hydrating, and studies have shown that the ingredients may actually help with healing and have mild anti-inflammatory effects.

A low-sodium vegetable juice is filled with nutrients (including vitamins A and C, both of which help give the immune system a boost).

Yogurt can feel nice and cool on your throat, and it may deliver a bacterium called Lactobacillus reuteri that researchers say can block other viruses from invading your sick body.

Eating bright-colored fruits and vegetables may prevent or delay ALS

New research suggests that increased consumption of foods containing colorful carotenoids, particularly beta-carotene and lutein, may prevent or delay the onset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
The study, published by Wiley in Annals of Neurology, a journal of the American Neurological Association and Child Neurology Society, found that diets high in lycopene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and vitamin C did not reduce ALS risk. Carotenoids give fruits and vegetables their bright orange, red, or yellow colors, and are a source of dietary vitamin A. Prior studies report that oxidative stress plays a role in the development of ALS. Further studies have shown that individuals with high intake of antioxidants, such as vitamin E, have a reduced ALS risk. Because vitamin C or carotenoids are also antioxidants, researchers examined their relation to ALS risk.
800px Culinary fruits front view 300x199 Eating bright colored fruits and vegetables may prevent or delay ALS 
According to the National Institutes of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) roughly 20,000 to 30,000 Americans have ALS—also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease—and another 5,000 patients are diagnosed annually with the disease. ALS is a progressive neurological disease that attacks nerve cells (neurons) in the brain and spinal cord, which control voluntary muscles. As the upper and lower motor neurons degenerate, the muscles they control gradually weaken and waste away, leading to paralysis.
“ALS is a devastating degenerative disease that generally develops between the ages of 40 and 70, and affects more men than women,” said senior author Dr. Alberto Ascherio, Professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, Mass. “Understanding the impact of food consumption on ALS development is important. Our study is one of the largest to date to examine the role of dietary antioxidants in preventing ALS.”
Using data from five prospective groups: the National Institutes of Health (NIH)–AARP Diet and Health Study, the Cancer Prevention Study II-Nutrition Cohort, the Multiethnic Cohort, the Health Professionals Follow-up Study, and the Nurses’ Health Study, researchers investigated more than one million participants for the present study. A total of 1093 ALS cases were identified after excluding subjects with unlikely food consumption.
The team found that a greater total carotenoid intake was linked to reduced risk of ALS. Individuals who consumed more carotenoids in their diets were more likely to exercise, have an advanced degree, have higher vitamin C consumption, and take vitamin C and E supplements. Furthermore, subjects with diets high in beta-carotene and lutein—found in dark green vegetables—had a lower risk ALS risk. Researchers did not find that lycopene, beta-cryptoxanthin, and vitamin C reduced the risk of ALS. Long-term vitamin C supplement intake was also not associated with lower ALS risk.
Dr. Ascherio concludes, “Our findings suggest that consuming carotenoid-rich foods may help prevent or delay the onset of ALS. Further food-based analyses are needed to examine the impact of dietary nutrients on ALS.”

Quantum Vibration in Your Nose

The nose knows, but how exactly is a matter of scientific debate. The conventional theory on olfaction is that olfactory receptors bind to odor molecules and that binding sends a signal to the brain about a particular smell.
But there's a different and competing theory in the wings: rather than binding, olfaction works through quantum vibrations. In a sense, fancy and exotic physics occur with every odor that you smell:
Yet here's a twist: odorant molecules typically contain many hydrogen atoms. And hydrogen comes in multiple forms, each very chemically similar to the others. But those different isotopes of hydrogen do strongly affect how a molecule vibrates. So deuterium, containing a hydrogen nucleus that has both a proton and a neutron (as opposed to plain-old-hydrogen that has just a proton), might help scientists discriminate between the proposed vibration and standard chemical binding theories of olfaction.
According to new research published today in PLoS ONE, human noses can sniff out the presence of at least some kinds of deuterium. Specifically, experimenters found regular musk molecules smelled different from ones that contain deuterium. "Deuterated" musks, says researcher Luca Turin of the Alexander Fleming Biomedical Sciences Research Center in Greece, lose much of their musky odor and instead contain overtones of burnt candle wax.
The finding represents a victory for the vibration theory, Turin says. And, he adds, it makes some sense, when you consider the purpose of our olfactory ability—whatever its mechanism is. The natural world contains millions of types of molecules. Some are good for us, and some are bad. The nose helps to distinguish one from the other. "Olfaction is trying to be like an analytical chemist," Turin says. "It's trying to identify unknowns." Chemists identify unknowns using spectrometers. Olfactory receptors, according to the vibration theory, act like little wetware spectrometers.
Take a whiff at the new study over at Scientific American: Here.

Here Are 2012's Biggest Moments in Science

The year 2012 was another biggie for scientists and science freaks around the globe. This infographic recaps on the stories that got brains buzzing and tongues wagging. More

Sun Launches a Beautiful Arc of Plasma

We are currently experiencing a very exciting time in the 11-year cycle of our sun and there’s no better better way of observing the twisted magnetic fury of “solar maximum” than through the eyes of NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. In a spectacular video posted by the SDO’s rubber chicken mascot, Camilla Corona SDO, a huge arc of “cool” solar gas can be seen being flung high into the sun’s atmosphere — the solar corona. Watch the full video here.
Every 11 years or so, the sun’s internal magnetic field becomes increasingly stressed. This is all driven by the non-uniform rotation of the star — the sun’s equator rotates faster than its poles, ‘winding-up’ its internal magnetism. When the magnetic field becomes stressed, like a tightly coiled elastic band, the field pops through the solar surface, producing coronal loops and sunspots. Active regions also become sites of potential explosive events such as coronal mass ejections (CMEs) and flares. Solar maximum is expected to peak some time this year.
In addition to all this, cooler plasma from the sun’s “surface” can be launched by an erupting loop of plasma resulting in a prominence, as shown above.
Prominences such as this aren’t rare, but they do provide us with a wonderful means of understanding the inner turmoil the sun is currently experiencing. This particular prominence “launch” occurred over a 7 hour period. The dark silhouette of the prominence (pictured above) can be seen just before the feature speeds away from the sun. Prominences often appear dark — also known as filaments — against the brighter disk of the sun’s hotter coronal plasma. The plasma contained within the prominence originates from the 10,000 degree chromosphere (below the corona).

A 50-meter asteroid will come within 17,000 miles of Earth on 2/15/2013

"Since regular sky surveys began in the 1990s," says Don Yeomans of NASA's Near Earth Object Program says, "we've never seen an object this big get so close to Earth." That's about 5% of the average distance between the Earth and the Moon.

See the Andromeda Galaxy in a Cool New Light

The European Herschel Space Observatory has stared deep into the famous Andromeda galaxy, exposing the intricate beauty of its cool spirals of gas and dust.

Awesome Pictures

Bigfoot Blamed for Strange Shrieks

New recordings claim to be vocalizations made by the mythical Sasquatch.
Do new recordings from Oregon's Blue Mountains offer good evidence of the mysterious bipedal creature known as Bigfoot? That's what some are claiming after hearing a recording of strange roars and shrieks given to The Oregonian newspaper.
When people think of Bigfoot evidence, casts of big footprints and blurry photos and films often come to mind. But some of the more interesting bits of evidence are sound recordings of alleged vocalizations.

Animal Pictures