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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.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Daily Drift


Snowy Spring day at the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Carolina Naturally is read in 190 countries around the world daily.

OK, we're back to full speed. In fact better than the 'full speed' we were used to - with the hardware meltdown and the hiatus that it caused last year and Monday's dying of the 'last modem from the 20th century' forcing us to upgrade everything we are now zipping along through cyberspace at a blinding clip.

Today is Word Book Day 

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Today in History

322 BC The Greek philosopher Aristotle dies.
161 On the death of Antoninus at Lorium, Marcus Aurelius becomes emperor.
1774 The British close the port of Boston to all commerce.
1799 In Palestine, Napoleon captures Jaffa and his men massacre more than 2,000 Albanian prisoners.
1809 Aeronaut Jean Pierre Blanchard — the first person to make the an aerial voyage in the New World — died on March 7, 1809, at the age of 56.
1838 Soprano Jenny Lind ("the Swedish Nightingale") makes her debut in Weber's opera Der Freischultz.
1847 U.S. General Winfield Scott occupies Vera Cruz, Mexico.
1849 The Austrian Reichstag is dissolved.
1862 Confederate forces surprise the Union army at the Battle of Pea Ridge, in Arkansas, but the Union is victorious.
1876 Alexander Graham Bell is granted a patent for the telephone.
1904 The Japanese bomb the Russian town of Vladivostok.
1906 Finland becomes the third country to give women the right to vote, decreeing universal suffrage for all citizens over 24, however, barring those persons who are supported by the state.
1912 French aviator, Heri Seimet flies non-stop from London to Paris in three hours.
1918 Finland signs an alliance treaty with Germany.
1925 The Soviet Red Army occupies Outer Mongolia.
1927 A Texas law that bans Negroes from voting is ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
1933 The board game Monopoly is invented.
1933 The film King Kong premieres in New York City.
1935 Malcolm Campbell sets an auto speed record of 276.8 mph in Florida.
1936 Hitler sends German troops into the Rhineland, violating the Locarno Pact.
1942 Japanese troops land on New Guinea.
1951 U.N. forces in Korea under General Matthew Ridgeway launch Operation Ripper, an offensive to straighten out the U.N. front lines against the Chinese.
1968 The Battle of Saigon, begun on the day of the Tet Offensive, ends.
1971 A thousand U.S. planes bomb Cambodia and Laos.
1979 Voyager 1 reaches Jupiter.

Non Sequitur


Holi - Festival Of Colors

If you live in a large, multi-ethnic city virtually anywhere in the world it is a possibility that in the next few weeks you will see groups of people in parks merrily spattering each other with paint. While you might be excused for thinking that it is a new form of corporate team building - and what a great one that would be - you would be wrong.

The throwing of multi-colored water and powder is in fact the Festival of Colors, also known as Holi.

Stronger Link of Sugar to Diabetes

New research has suggested that a person's high intake of sugar - more than any other factor like obesity and aging - is a big reason for diabetes:
The study's four authors, including Robert Lustig of the University of California-San Francisco, examined data on sugar intake and diabetes prevalence in 175 countries "controlling for other food types (including fibers, meats, fruits, oils, cereals), total calories, overweight and obesity, period-effects, and several socioeconomic variables such as aging, urbanization and income."
For each bump in sugar "availability" (consumption plus waste) equivalent to about a can of soda per day, they observed a 1 percent rise in diabetes prevalence. This is a correlation, of course, and correlation does not necessarily equal causation. On the other hand, as the authors note in a lay summary, this "is far stronger than a typical point-in-time medical correlation study."
"No other food types yielded significant individual associations with diabetes prevalence after controlling for obesity and other confounders," the PLoS article states. "Differences in sugar availability statistically explain variations in diabetes prevalence rates at a population level that are not explained by physical activity, overweight or obesity."
Michael Mechanic of Mother Jones reports: Here.

Did you know ...

Mayor Bloomberg bans food donations to homeless because the salt content can't be determined

Why does the wingnuts hate science so much?

That DC comics will kill off robin

That this is your brain on cookies

That one million moms claims new GEICO commercial promotes bestiality

That Swiss citizens voted in strict controls over executive pay

The U.S. luge team lost their sleds

That 2013 is comet-mania

What The Combined Wealth Of All 1,426 Billionaires Could Do

There are currently 1,426 billionaires in the world who are together worth a total of $5.4 trillion - a record sum. That number is so large that it's hard to grasp. Here's an infographic to help understand what $5.4 trillion really means, and what that kind of money could do if it were put to the same use.

The repugicans Disguise Their Economic Abuse of the American People as Debt Hysteria

GOP austerity
Human beings with an ounce of intelligence look at their mistakes and successes, learn from them, and do their best to avoid bad decisions while repeating what they know is successful to spare themselves needless misery. In the 1930s, a Great Depression racked the world’s economy and Americans were fortunate their leaders took steps to protect the people with the New Deal, implemented a massive public works project, and passed regulatory laws to ensure economic disaster never threatened the survival of the nation again, but it took years for the people and the economy to recover. Despite the devastating effects of the Great Depression, the richest industrialists emerged with greater wealth than  they could possibly imagine as the rest of the population struggled to survive and if not for the New Deal, it is doubtful working Americans would ever recover, much less prosper. Fast forward to 2007 and deregulation, Wall Street malfeasance, and uninhibited greed created a Great Recession that decimated the economy and destroyed millions of Americans’ jobs, and like the Great Depression, the richest industrialists emerged with increased wealth beyond their wildest dreams as the economy recovered.
For two years after the Great Recession, President Obama and a Democratically-controlled Congress followed FDR’s path and passed financial reforms, created a tiny public works project (stimulus), and the economy slowly recovered. However, that is where the similarities between the Depression’s recovery and the Recession’s ended because repugicans obstructed every single attempt to jump-start the economy, implement financial reforms, or create jobs, and have been unrelenting in their attempts at eliminating New Deal provisions that protect the people. However, repugicans have fiercely protected the financial sector and assisted the richest Americans to increase their wealth by preventing them from contributing to recovery through tax cuts paid for with remorseless assaults on programs to assist struggling Americans, and through it all, they had overwhelming support from the wealthy that crashed the economy, and profited from the recovery.
Yesterday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached a new all-time high, corporate profits are soaring, and Americans are still struggling with declining wages and a new round of job losses repugicans celebrated with enactment of indiscriminate sequestration cuts. The wealthiest Americans who have grabbed 94% of wealth from recovery have been staunch supporters of repugican’s phony debt reduction rhetoric and campaigned vigorously to implement steep cuts to New Deal programs such as Social Security and anti-poverty programs they claimwe can’t afford” any longer. The sequestration cuts wingnuts and Wall Street titans claim are necessary to grow the economy and create jobs have no effect on the rich, and yet groups such as “Fix the Debt” clamor for deeper cuts in a well-funded fright-inducing campaign to convince Americans that without massive cuts to Medicare, Social Security, safety nets, and Medicaid, America is doomed.
First, there is no crushing debt, or deficit, and making relentless cuts that kill jobs and take money out of the economy will not, have not, and can not grow the economy or hasten recovery. Still, repugicans parrot the “deficit reduction” meme with frantic alarm and particularly the blatant lie that cutting Social Security will affect the debt, or deficit, by one penny. Besides deliberately killing jobs, repugicans complain President Obama’s “out of control spending” is crushing the economy when the reality is reduced spending reduced fourth quarter GDP by .7% and the Koch brothers sequester threatens to cut up to 1.7% more in seven months of a ten year slash-and-burn campaign guaranteed to kill millions of jobs, create a recession, and increase poverty to levels unseen since the Great Depression.
There are those who ask; what do wealthy industrialists like the Koch brothers, Wall Street CEOs, and repugicans have to gain by killing jobs and creating a recession, and it reveals their ignorance of the after effects of the Great Depression and Recession. Remember, that after both of America’s flirtations with economic demise that created massive unemployment and widespread poverty, the richest Americans increased their wealth by unimaginable amounts, and they see another opportunity to emerge from an economic recession with greater wealth and power  to control the direction of the country for years. The Koch brothers, for example, became richer by billions of dollars during President Obama’s recovery, and yet they funded attempts to defeat his re-election bid so Willard could enact  deep austerity that has driven double and triple-dip recessions across Europe. A recession to enrich the wealthy explains the repugican cabal’s austerity drive because they learned from living examples that the quickest way to create a wealth-producing recession is austerity that kills jobs, cuts domestic programs, and increases poverty among already embattled working-poor Americans.
Americans can hardly take much more economic abuse from repugicans, Wall Street CEOs, or Libertarian teabaggers panting to cut spending under the guise of debt or deficit reduction just to enrich wealthy industrialists. Barack Obama has presided over the sharpest cut in spending in 60 years, and the phony deficit is being reduced at levels that threaten to undo the meager recovery by starving the government of much-needed revenue better spent investing in infrastructure, renewable energy, and education, but that would mean a thriving economy that repugicans will never allow, not when there is wealth for their supporters in a recession.

What To Do After You've Been Hacked

While being hacked may be increasingly familiar, it isn't getting any less stressful or confusing. It's hard to know what to do, or where to begin, immediately afterward. Whether you were hacked, phished, had malware installed or just don't know what happened but there's somebody all up in your e-mail, here are a few good first steps to take following an incident.

Godfather, Meet The Godfather

Even if you've never heard of Rocco Musacchia, if you're a fan of gangster films like Prizzi's Honor, Donnie Brasco, and Mickey Blue Eyes, you're familiar with his work. Musacchia works as a 'technical advisor' on mob films. He teaches Hollywood actors how to act like gangsters. He grew up around such real-life characters in Brooklyn and has maintained his contacts over the years.

In the summer of 1989, Musacchia was working on The Freshman, starring Marlon Brando and Matthew Broderick. In the film, Brando parodies his role in The Godfather by playing a mobster named Carmine Sabatini, who just happens to look and even dress like The Godfather's Vito Corleone.

Random Celebrity Photo

Inside San Francisco's Vintage Streetcar Boneyard

The San Francisco Railway Marin Division Yard is home to San Francisco's derelict streetcar storage facility - a kind of purgatory for old streetcars as they await either restoration or piecemeal destruction as parts-donors for the active streetcars in Muni's thriving vintage streetcar fleet.

Most of the old streetcars here are streamlined PCCs built roughly between 1940 and 1952. Some survive as spooky time capsules of the day when they were removed from service.

Behind The Gates Of Chios's Abandoned Leper Colony

Although a sense of melancholy surrounds many abandoned institutions, the atmosphere that permeates this one, on the Greek island of Chios, is mixed. The word leprosy may evoke immediate feelings of horror and disgust; even today, centuries of superstition and prejudice have clouded our understanding of the condition.

Notwithstanding, this deserted leper colony, surrounded by nature, has been a scene of death and catastrophe but also spirituality.

The Tulous Of Fujian Province

Around the 12th century the people of the Fujian Province in China decided that their homes did not offer them sufficient protection in times of civil strife and from the armed bandit gangs which plagued the area for hundreds of years. Groups of families combined their incomes to provide their community with something more substantial - a tulou - that could safeguard their property and their lives in this mountainous area on the southeast coast of China.

Like any good idea, the idea of large, enclosed fortified buildings had already been around for centuries. Yet advances in technology enabled communities to create a safe space, encircled by thick load bearing walls and up to five floors high.

The Unique Burial Customs Of Tana Toraja

The Toraja Tribe of South Sulawesi, Indonesia, is known for the cheerful way of treating death, and its unique burial grounds carved in sheer rock. Most tribe members are Christians, converted during Dutch colonization, but traces of their old beliefs still remain and are most visible during funeral festivities and burial customs.

The Toraja are obsessed with death, but not in a tragic sense; to them funerals are a lot like going-away parties celebrated by sacrificing dozens of buffaloes and pigs for a feast enjoyed by the entire community. Their bodies are stored under the family home for years after their death. Tourists are welcome to attend the festivities, as long as they don't wear black or red.

Gnarly Mummy Head Reveals Medieval Science

A skullcap and brain of a man from the 1200s shows how much more advanced medieval medicine was than thought.

Fluid Knots

I have enough trouble making tying knots with my shoelaces, so this is doubly awesome: researchers at the University of Chicago, Illinois, have created a 3D knot in a fluid.
To investigate, Dustin Kleckner and William Irvine of the University of Chicago, Illinois 3D-printed strips of plastic shaped into a trefoil knot and a Hopf link. Crucially, the strips had a cross section shaped like a wing, or hydrofoil (see picture).
Next, the researchers dragged the knots through water filled with microscopic bubbles. Just as a wing passing through air creates a trailing vortex, the acceleration of the hydrofoils created a knot-shaped vortex that sucked in the bubbles. The result was a knot-shaped flow of moving bubbles – the first fluid knot created in a lab – which the team imaged with lasers.
Jacob Aron of NewScientists has the video clip of the fluid knot: Here.

The Shadow of Surface Tension

surface tension
But..there's nothing to cause the shadow! What's going on here? Biologist Joe Hanson explains:
An insect like a wasp or a water strider can rest atop the water, held up by surface tension. This means that the cohesive force of the water molecules sticking to each other is stronger than the force of the bug being pushed down by gravity. This works because it spreads its weight out over a large surface area (like snowshoes).
That creates a slight indentation in the top of the water, changing the direction that the light coming down is refracted and re-directing it slightly sideways (that’s where the bright halos around the dark areas come from). And what’s the absence of light? 
A shadow! You can see Hanson's illustrative diagrams at the link.

The Cartographic Panorama

Heinrich Caesar Berann (1915 - 1999) the father of the modern panorama map, was born into a family of painters and sculptors in Innsbruck, Austria. He taught himself by trial and error. Winning first prize at a competition for a panorama map created great enthusiasm in him.

Using his artistic heritage and new self-discovered techniques he invented a new way of painting landscapes for tourist purposes. Berann's meticulous attention to land-surface detail is marvellous.

Tunnel of Ice Crystals

"Even in Siberia there is happiness," Russian writer Anton Chekhov once said, but all I can see is snow. Lots of it. But there's a certain desolate beauty amidst all that coldness, as gallery over at The Atlantic's In Focus with Alan Taylor shows us.
This one above is captioned:
A man walks through a tunnel formed by ice crystals from surrounding permafrost, outside the village of Tomtor in the Oymyakon valley in northeast Russia, on January 28, 2013. The coldest temperatures in the northern hemisphere since the beginning of the 20th century were recorded in the Oymyakon valley, known as the northern "Pole of Cold", reaching a temperature of -67.8 degrees Celsius (-90 degrees Fahrenheit) in 1933.

North Pole a Major Shipping Lane by 2040

By mid-century, ships could be plowing across the North Pole during the summer, according to models of Arctic sea ice losses .

Astronomical News

The discovery of magnesium sulfate salts in Europa's ice is further evidence that suggests minerals are cycling in and out of the sub-surface ocean.
Earth microbes have been found able to survive in the low pressures found on the surface of Mars. 

Waves Generated By Russian Meteor Recorded Crossing The U.S.

A network of seismographic stations recorded spectacular signals from the blast waves of the meteor that landed near Chelyabinsk, Russia, as the waves crossed the United States. The National Science Foundation- (NSF) supported stations are ...

A Meteor Mashed Ancient Iowa

An ancient meteor gouged a 5.5 kilometer (3.4 mile) crater into was it now northeast Iowa.

Random Photo

The Split Head of Old Billy

A horse's normal lifespan is around 25-30 years, but Old Billy was an outlier. In fact, when Old Billy died at age 62, he became the longest-living horse ever known.
Old Billy was born in 1760 in Woolston, Lancashire and worked as a barge horse, dragging barges in the canals from the shore for Mersey and Irwell Navigation. (This was a common job for horses prior to the arrival of boat engines.) As he passed his life expectancy and continued to live even as his back became bent and his bones protruded from his thinning flesh, he become something of a local celebrity.
When Old Billy finally bought the farm, so to speak, some of his remains were preserved. In fact, his head is in two places: the skin was mounted on a taxidermy head, and his skull was displayed separately. Part of Billy is now in Manchester, the other in Bedford. Read more about the horse at Atlas Obscura .

Almost half of Africa’s lions facing extinction

A new report published today concludes that nearly half of Africa’s wild lion populations may decline to near extinction over the next 20-40 years without urgent conservation measures. The plight of many lion populations is ...

Mysterious Beasts Discovered Near Loch Ness

A creature with a long, snake-like body, many legs and a voracious appetite was recently discovered near Loch Ness in northern Scotland.

Animal News

The western Pacific gray whale once seemed destined for extinction. Now it supports a booming tourism trade.
Emperor penguins gain body heat using convection from the surrounding air. 
The giant camel was at least 30 percent bigger than camels are today.
A staggering 62 percent of all forest elephants have been killed for their ivory over the past decade.
Entomologist Steven Kutcher makes paintings that enable us to experience insect and arachnid movement in a different way.
More than 22,000 great apes are estimated to have been lost to illegal trade between 2005 and 2011.

Animal Pictures

Rin Tin Tin.
Rin Tin Tin.