Welcome to ...

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.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Daily Drift

Oh, Yeah!

Carolina Naturally is read in 191 countries around the world daily.

As you can see we did not make our 12Noon publish time today. It's Saturday and 'Mama' wants a garden this year so 'Mama' gets a garden this year and plowing a field takes a spell  ...

Today is Lips Appreciation Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

37   On a trip to the Italian mainland from his home on Capreae, the emperor Tiberius dies on the Bay of Naples.
1190   The Crusades begin the massacre of Jews in York, England.
1527   The Emperor Babur defeats the Rajputs at the Battle of Kanvaha, removing the main Hindu rivals in Northern India.
1621   The first Indian appears to colonists in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
1833   Susan Hayhurst becomes the first woman to graduate from a pharmacy college.
1850   Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter is published.
1865   Union troops push past Confederate blockers at the Battle of Averasborough, N.C.
1907   The British cruiser Invincible, the world's largest, is completed at Glasgow shipyards.
1913   The 15,000-ton battleship Pennsylvania is launched at Newport News, Va.
1917   Russian Czar Nicholas II abdicates his throne.
1926   Physicist Robert H. Goddard launches the first liquid-fuel rocket.
1928   The United States plans to send 1,000 more Marines to Nicaragua.
1935   Adolf Hitler orders a German rearmament and violates the Versailles Treaty.
1939   Germany occupies the rest Czechoslovakia.
1945   Iwo Jima is declared secure by U.S. forces although small pockets of Japanese resistance still exist.
1954   CBS introduces The Morning Show hosted by Walter Cornet to compete with NBC's Today Show.
1964   President Lyndon B. Johnson submits a $1 billion war on poverty program to Congress.
1968   U.S. troops in Vietnam destroy a village consisting mostly of women and children, the action is remembered as the My-Lai massacre.
1984   Mozambique and South Africa sign a pact banning support for one another's internal foes.
1985   Associated Press newsman, Terry Anderson is taken hostage in Beirut.

Non Sequitur


Lilypad City

A Floating Ecopolis

The Floating ecopolis, otherwise known as the Lilypad, is a model designed by Belgian (not French as the article says) architect Vincent Callebaut. The 'Floating Ecopolis for Climate Refugees' was a concept design proposed in 2008 to deal with the effects of global warming as the polar ice caps melt and oceans rise; displacing land fairing inhabitants along the coast.

The Lilypad doesn't just rise up and down with the tide. Callebaut wants the entire city to be able to float all around the world, moving on natural ocean currents. Callebaut says his lily pads can hold up to 50,000 people.

The truth be told

In the News

Reuters suspends employee accused of aiding Anonymous 

Earlier this week, 26 year old Reuters deputy social media editor Matthew Keys was indicted on charges he handed Tribune Co. network passwords to Anonymous, which were then used to deface the LA Times website for about 30 minutes. The alleged offense took place in 2010, before Keys was hired at Reuters. The DoJ press release mentioned a maximum penalty of up to 30 years in the case. Today, Reuters suspended him with pay

US to beef up missile defense along West Coast, to defend against possible North Korea attack 

Uh-oh. The NYT reports that the United States "will deploy additional ballistic missile interceptors along the Pacific Coast to increase the Pentagon’s ability to blunt a potential attack from North Korea in a clear response to recent tests of nuclear weapons technology and long-range missiles by the North." Guess the Dennis Rodman basketball diplomacy thing had its limits. 

CIA drone secrecy rejected by federal appeals court 

A federal appeals court today ruled the CIA cannot continue to “neither confirm nor deny” the existence of the drone war, in a court case prompted by a Freedom of Information Act request by the ACLU. Here's the ruling

Eco headline of the week: Disposable chopstick addiction destroying China's forests 

From the Washington Post: "China uses 20 million trees each year to feed the country’s disposable chopstick habit... 4,000 chopsticks per tree, that’s roughly 80 billion chopsticks per year." All those chopsticks have led to "rampant deforestation and forest quality far below the global average," and Greenpeace estimates the destruction rate at 1.18 million square meters of forest every year.

Did you know ...

That the Koch brothers are spending millions to deny poor Americans healthcare

That J.C. Penny is to cut 2,200 jobs

Here's, Godwin on Godwin's law

That a missing Iditarod dog backtracks hundreds of miles of the race route to get back home

Five Guys Burgers and Lies

A franchise owner of the well-loved (until now) “Five Guys Burgers and Fries” burger joints says he may raise prices, fire some employees, or cut back their hours in order to allegedly pay for Obamacare next year.The franchise owner, Mike Ruffer of North Carolina (go figure), was the “star witness” at a political event at the uber-wingnut Heritage Foundation on Monday of this week.  Ruffer is only the latest businessman to aide the repugican war on health care.  He joins proud franchises like Olive Garden/Red Lobster, Whole Foods (where it was the CEO, not a franchise), Wendy’s, Taco Bell and even Papa John’s CEO in expressing public concern, or even scorn, about Obamacare these past few months.
But there really is a special place in hell for someone who’s willing to be used as fodder at a Heritage Foundation political event.  That’s about as political and partisan as you can get.
And while it’s all well and good that Five Guys’ corporate office is distancing itself from its repugican satellite in North Carolina, at some point these companies have to be held responsible for their nutty franchises.
Burger and fries via Shutterstock
It’s offensive how bad health insurance is in far too many companies in this country. I know of people personally who gave up on their own company’s health insurance plan, because it cost so much and provided so little, and went instead to the private market themselves, knowing that they were going to be fleeced by private insurers – but they didn’t have a choice.  Better to pay a lot for something than pay a lot for next to nothing, especially when the health of your family, and especially children, is concerned.
Health care costs in America continue to spiral out of control, while health coverage in American companies continues to drop.  All at the same time that politicians in Washington discuss cutting the safety net beneath those programs, Medicare and Medicaid.
The joke is that the biggest problem American companies face isn’t a requirement to provide health insurance for their employees, it’s the actual current cost of such insurance in this country because costs are simply out of control – and it’s hurting competitiveness:
The United States spends an estimated $2 trillion annually on healthcare expenses, more than any other industrialized country. According to data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United States spends two-and-a-half times more than the OECD average, and yet ranks with Turkey and Mexico as the only OECD countries without universal health coverage. Some analysts say an increasing number of U.S. businesses are less competitive globally because of ballooning healthcare costs. U.S. economic woes have heightened the burden of healthcare costs both on individuals and businesses. The U.S. healthcare reform law signed by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010 includes measures aimed at making health care less expensive and more accessible, including upgrades to government-run Medicare and Medicaid.
But far too many companies, and their henchmen in Congress, keep standing in the way of real reform to address the absurd cost of medical care in this country.  So, when we pass laws requiring them to actually provide a decent amount of insurance for their employees, they whine about the cost, but at the same time refuse to help do anything to reduce those costs.
So we continue to fiddle around the margins of a supremely broken health care system that, in my view, is a ticking time bomb.  We are not our parents’ generation.  A lot of them had decent coverage at work.  At lot of us don’t.  And as we age, the need for medical care increases, and a lot of us are just beginning to experience how insanely expensive normal, routine health care is in America today ($21,000 for heartburn, seriously?).  At the same time, our personal wealth decreases or stagnates, and our retirement looks more and more bleak as repugicans insist on saving money not by cutting costs, but by cutting benefits to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
If American politicians think today’s seniors are a scary bunch to take on politically, just wait until my generation hits retirement age with our lousy retirement plans, lousy savings, lousy insurance, and even fewer benefits in programs like Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security – as all the while health care costs continue to go through the roof.  The Gods help Washington when that finally happens.  Sadly, however, it will probably be too late to do anything about it.

When even repugicans start hating on the Big Banks, is it time to finally break them up?

In recent weeks, there have been a number of instances where the big Wall Street banks have been criticized as too-big-to-fail (TBTF), and even too-big-to-prosecute.The list of critics has grown and now includes Senators Elizabeth Warren and Sherrod Brown, a number of Fed chairs, and even Attorney General Eric Holder.
Surprisingly, even some on the right are coming around, including George Will, Peggy Noonan and right-wing Federal Reserve board member from Dallas, Richard Fisher.
Eric Holder
US Attorney General Eric Holder says America’s big banks are too big to prosecute. 

The Senate has been slow to move – there are plenty of campaign coffers stuffed full of Wall Street money – and progress there won’t be easy. It was just last month that the Senate approved Wall Street’s man Jack Lew to run the US Treasury. The White House has also been reluctant to side with Americans who have been left behind by Wall Street.
On the other side of the fight are Wall Street lobbyists, full of cash and still very much in control of Washington. Today’s Bloomberg editorial pushes back on the problem of the big banks relying too much on taxpayers. As Bloomberg reported recently the big banks receive$83 billion per year in federal handouts to Wall Street though according to another analysis, the amount is closer to $780 billion per year, equal to the entire stimulus bill every single year forever.
Despite the normal whining from Wall Street and its defenders, any business that takes billions of dollars from Uncle Sam should be subjected to more regulation and more inquiries about what they’re doing with that money. If they don’t want the questions, they shouldn’t take the money. But of course, their “profits” are dependent upon taxpayer money – the $780 billion annual subsidy is equal to ten times the banks’ annual profits – so they won’t be giving up the federal teat any time soon.
Bloomberg has also reported on the banks behavior related to the infamous “London whale” losses.
The largest U.S. bank “mischaracterized high-risk trading as hedging,” and withheld key information from its primary overseer, sometimes at Dimon’s behest, according to a report today by the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. The 301-page document also shows how managers manipulated internal risk models and pressured traders to overvalue their positions in an effort to hide growing losses in a “monstrous” credit derivatives portfolio in London.
“We found a trading operation that piled on risk, ignored limits on risk taking, hid losses, dodged oversight and misinformed the public,” Chairman Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, told reporters today after his investigators spent nine months combing through 90,000 documents and interviewing current and former executives.
This hardly sounds like an organization that is even trying to cooperate with government officials. It also sounds like an organization that cares little for the financial obligations of taxpayers who have been there to back up the bank in the past. According to these reports, JP Morgan has problems in its management at the highest levels.
I once ran a bank that was THIS big. JP Morgan's Jamie Dimon (photo by Steve Jurvetson)
I once ran a bank that was THIS big.

JP Morgan’s Jamie Dimon As the largest US bank, the risk to the country from JP Morgan is much too high. While Simon Johnson has a great read in the NY Times about how the banks’ special status may finally be in trouble because of pressure from so many critics, I’m inclined to be on the other side. Like they’re saying at Zero Hedge, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon ought to be taken away in handcuffs, but sadly he won’t be going anywhere.
There will be plenty of big talk about banks being too-big-to-regulate, but in the end, nothing will change. The Senate may take down a sacrificial lamb or two, to prove they’re “tough on banks” (former JP Morgan risk director Ina Drew may be one of them).
If Drew is to take the fall, don’t forget that she already walked away with a fat retirement after being pushed out the door – so any “punishment” will be mitigated. Having said that, there are very few women on Wall Street at the higher levels – it might be nice to take down some of the old boys too.

That Cave Pig Lush Dimblub Blames The Emotional Decisions of Women for Ruining TV

Lush Dimbulb is claiming that the emotional decisions of women, and shows like HBO’s Girls are ruining television.
Transcript from Lush Dimbulb:
“As a female news editor on a TV newscast deciding what to show and what not to show. The chickification of the news. In fact, in the stack I have a story about that. Some guy, I think his name is Nolte, I have to find this. It’s in the stack here and it’s not a very big stack today, I’ll get to it, about the chickification of television and how more and more women are determining what everybody watches on TV.
This guy cites this rave show on HBO, starring Lena Dunham. Is that her name? The woman did the commercial for Obama saying, “Your first time is really important”? Yeah. First time. Don’t just do it with any guy. You know, pick from five or six. And she was talking about your first vote. Well, she’s got this show on HBO called Girls. That show. Now, if you knew nothing other — and let me do a test, Snerdley, you react. What do you know of that show? So you watched 20 minutes, fine. What is your impression of that show, as you listen to media buzz, Lena Dunham’s all over the place. She’s a guest on Letterman. She’s apparently the architect for what young women ought to be today. What is the impression that you have? The show is huge, right? Is that the impression you get in the media?
Everybody’s watching, everybody. And that show’s cutting edge. Only 600,000 viewers. That is this guy’s point, not even a million. Fewer viewers than The Daily Show. This has been my point all along about media buzz, how they go out and create this notion that something’s hotter and more popular than anything in the world, when it isn’t. And his point is that you’ve gotta be very careful in assessing what really is popular and what really isn’t and how things that aren’t popular are kept on the air by virtue of buzz or bias or what have you. And his point was that it’s because women are making programming decisions on an emotional basis. I am just telling you what he said.”
Lush’s rant was based one of the most poorly researched pieces of ratings comparison ever written. Over at Breitbart, one of their crack geniuses is contending that reruns of “The O’Reilly Factor” are more popular than HBO’s Girls. His conclusion is that the success of “Girls” is nothing but left wing hype by the mainstream media. Of course, this wingnut “intellectual giant” doesn’t bother to tell his readers that HBO is pay channel with 25-30 million US subscribers while Faux News is available in 90 million American homes. Faux News is in more than twice as many homes, so they should have twice as many viewers. Something would be seriously wrong if they didn’t. In the facts optional conservative mind O’Reilly beats all, so the “liberal mainstream media” are a bunch of liars.
Dimbulb is blaming the decline of television on the fact that women are getting some limited opportunities to put their visions on the small screen. “Girls” is a great show. It speaks volumes about Rush Limbaugh as a man that he is so intimidated by it. Tina Fey's “30 Rock”  just concluded a great and innovative run.
What Lush Dimbulb, the wingnuts, and the mainstream media all don’t seem to understand is that having more diversity makes your product stronger. The repugican cabal is at one of their lowest points because they are being dominated by the views of white men.
Women are the majority in this country, but you wouldn’t know it from listening to repugicans, their media, or even watching television. Old guard relics like Lush Dimbulb are being phased out as new, younger, and hopefully more female minds populate our television and media.
More women in executive positions in media and television aren’t the problem. They’re the future.

Wayne LaPierre Claims That Guns Prevent Rape

Wayne LaPierre has adopted a new strategy to oppose any changes in gun laws that would prevent mass shootings. LaPierre is now claiming that arming women will prevent rapes.
LaPierre delivered his usual Obama is coming to take your guns conspiracy theory rant, “That’s their answer to criminal violence? Criminalize 100 million law-abiding gun owners in a private transfer? Build a list of good people? As if that would somehow make us safer from violent criminals and homicidal maniacs? That’s their answer? Are they insane? What’s the point of registering lawful gun owners anyway? So newspapers can print those names and addresses for criminals and gangs to access? So that list can be hacked by foreign entities like the Chinese, who recently hacked Pentagon computers? So that list can be handed over to the Mexican government that, oh by the way, has already requested it. In the end, there are only two reasons for government to create that federal registry of gun owners — to tax them and to take them.”
The NRA head’s desperate attempt to kill off any law that might reduce mass shootings included a new and despicable tactic,
I see a lot of young women here today. Here’s some more advice from political elites who know what’s best for you:Some members of the Colorado State Legislature think women are too emotional to deal with a violent attack. Senator Jessie Ulibarri said that, instead of using a firearm, you would be better off using “ballpoint pens” to stab an attacker when he stops to reload.
A ballpoint pen?
At the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, officials recommend that women defend themselves against a rapist with quote, “passive resistance.”
Passive resistance? The one thing a violent rapist deserves to face is a good woman with a gun!
They call me crazy, yet the people doing the finger-pointing are saying things that are absolutely bizarre.
Let’s take this to it’s logical conclusion. A woman who is in the process of being attacked by a rapist is supposed to be armed, have access to the weapon, have it loaded, and shoot their rapist.
This is the same fantasy scenario that the NRA claims would prevent school shootings if only all teachers were armed. The problem with this scenario is that rapists don’t usually announce their intentions in advance, so unless a woman has their weapon loaded, pointed, and ready to fire at every man they encounter all day long, I don’t see how a gun will prevent a rape.
What LaPierre was suggesting was that he would rather see women face potential murder charges for shooting their rapists than new laws about guns.
The NRA tried to use protecting children to advance their agenda. That didn’t work, so they have now moved on to women and rape.
Yes, we call Wayne LaPierre crazy, because that is exactly what he is.

Fourteen Senators Decide the Oil Industry, Not Obama, Should Make the Keystone XL Decision

Game Over
At America’s founding, the Constitution’s framers set up the government with checks and balances to prevent any branch from dictating the direction of the nation without input and participation from all parties that is necessary in a representative democracy. Over the past four years, repugicans have attempted to neuter the Executive Branch through various obstructive measures to assert their dominance over the President from a minority position, and to make governing nearly impossible. The repugicans are not really in control because they answer to the corporate world, and of all their masters, the oil industry holds the greatest sway over repugicans, the nation’s energy policy, and if 14 Senators have their way, the President of the United States.
For four years, repugicans have attempted to force President Obama to approve a Canadian oil company’s permit to build a pipeline across America because it is too environmentally dangerous to cross Canada’s frontier. Last week, a State Department report prepared by the oil industry (Koch brothers, ExxonMobil, TransCanada, and BP) claimed the pipeline posed no threat to the environment and repugicans demanded instantaneous Presidential approval to build the pipeline shipping tar to the Gulf Coast on its way to Europe and South America. The oil industry’s appraisal that the pipeline is environmentally friendly is in stark contrast to every environmental scientist in the world that says the pipeline means “game over for Earth’s environment.” For the record, America will get not get any of the refined tar sands, but it did not stop a bipartisan  group of Senators who decided that the oil industry, not the President, makes decisions reserved for the Executive Branch and they introduced a bill giving Congress supremacy over the President.
On Monday, in an op/ed a repugican shill, Tim Walberg, perpetuated the mountain of lies John Boehner has repeated over the past two years, and said, “President Obama has run out of excuses to deny job-creating Keystone XL pipeline,” but when coupled with the Senate bill taking  control of the Executive branch’s purview the message is blunt; the President will either toe the line and do as he is told, or the oil industry’s surrogates in Congress will seize State Department and presidential power and approve the pipeline themselves. White House spokesman Jay Carney responded to the Senators’ power-grab and informed them that “the approval process for pipelines crossing international borders belongs to the State Department,” but the oil industry and repugicans already knew that and are proceeding according to their masters’ demands.
There are myriad reasons the President can cite for not approving TransCanada’s permit to send Canadian tar sand to refineries on the Gulf Coast, but they are not excuses as repugicans have parroted the past three years. But instead of debunking what repugicans claim are excuses for not approving the ecological disaster-in-waiting, it is easier to cite the repugican and oil industry’s excuses for approving the KeystoneXL  pipeline. However, repugicans are remiss to cite the facts surrounding the pipeline, and none lesser than the pipeline is prone to ruptures and the oil is already slated for export to Europe and South America, and that America will not profit or benefit from protecting Canada’s environment.
The repugican excuses for building the pipeline include creating about 35 permanent jobs, enriching the Kochs’ 25% share of tar sand refining, boosting profits for Canada’s oil industry, raising the price of gas by 20 cents/gallon, increasing CO2 emissions to planetary environment destroying levels, jeopardizing water for 20% of the nation’s agriculture and millions of Americans’ drinking water, driving up share prices for John Boehner’s investment in 7 Canadian tar sand companies, spares Canada’s western frontier from ecological disasters, and raises Canada’s standing as a major producer and exporter of fossil fuels. Those excuses for building the pipeline do not acknowledge that KeystoneXL’s construction provides South America and Europe with Canadian oil, gives ConocoPhilips and Koch refineries steady profits for decades, rewards Kochs, ExxonMobil, TransCanada, and BP for their proxy’s glowing (but false) environmental impact report, indicates America has not had enough ecological disasters, and proves America is indeed oil independent. the repugicans will never admit their excuses for building the Keystone pipeline are solely to benefit the oil industry, or that they have lied prodigiously to boost campaign donations from the oil industry, but of course they would not because it proves that big oil has controlled American energy policies for decades.
Regardless what the oil-whores in the Senate do, or say, or which bills they attempt to pass, Presidential approval means just that; President Obama is the sole voice in approving TransCanada’s permit to send tar across America’s agricultural heartland. The State Department said that “when EPA officially posts this draft, which will take about a week, we will begin a 45-day comment period, a public comment period,” and that gives the public ample time to express their opinion on the Keystone pipeline. Once Americans are armed with the facts and truth about allowing Canada to send its tar across America on its way to Europe and South America, maybe then the State Department, Democrats, and President Obama will take the time to finally speak the truth, and explain to the people that repugicans have lied, and that there is no benefit to this country in building what is nothing more than a dirty money-making scheme for the oil industry.
NOTE: The public is welcomed to submit their comments for the next 45 days HERE.

Teenage brother and sister arrested after car thefts, spider killing and poo smearing at school

Elberta and Foley police in Alabama have said two teenage siblings were arrested after going on a bizarre crime spree early on Monday morning. The spree began after authorities said the brother and sister duo, who are only 13 and 14 years old, ran away from home after their mother had confiscated their cell phones as punishment.
“We got a call at about 5 o'clock on Monday morning of a pair of runaway brother and sister; 14 and 13,” said Elberta Police Chief, Stanley DeVane. “Sgt. Scott Tart went to that address and started working the report.” Police said in just six hours, the siblings stole a vehicle before driving it to another location where they stole a second car.

Police said an investigation revealed the two had also broken into Saint Benedict Catholic School in Elberta where they proceeded to damage property, and steal electronics and smaller items like candles and crosses. Authorities said, to make matters worse, the teens spread human waste throughout the school. “One of the individuals had defecated on top of the desk and in a chair and then wiped it over the computer,” said Chief DeVane.

“There were some crosses with Jesus on the walls and they had wiped it on those crosses. They rummaged through the desks and scattered stuff on the floor.” Investigators claim the pair also killed a class pet tarantula and placed it in a pencil box before fleeing the scene. According to authorities, neither teen is connected to the school and are said to be home-schooled. Police estimate the siblings racked up nearly $10,000 in damage or stolen property at St. Benedict Catholic School alone.

Fifteen Generations of a Single Family Have Slept In This Bed

Now that's craftsmanship! A 400-year-old bed has been identified as the oldest piece of furniture that has remained in continuous use by the same family the longest. It has been slept in by 15 generations of the Berkeley family:
The antique four-poster with its ornate carved headboard has been providing a good night's rest for residents of the Berkeley Castle estate in Gloucestershire since 1608.
Far from being roped off into retirement like many pieces of historic furniture, John Berkeley, 81, and his wife Georgina, 73, still use the bed in the castle's Great State Bedroom.

Twenty Haunting Ghost Towns of the World

Abandoned communities exist all over the world, and the reasons they are empty are quite varied. Some were abandoned because of natural disasters, others because of war, disease, or economic decline. Butugichag, Russia, was home to thousands of people in its time, but no one wants to go back.
The atrocities of the former Soviet Union’s gulags are forever enshrined in world history; Butugichag, a corrective labour camp open for a decade between 1945 and 1955, forced its prisoners to mine dangerous nuclear materials and experimented on them mercilessly. It’s estimated that up to 400,000 people perished in these horrific conditions, mostly through exposure to radiation. The Russian government still refuses to recognise Butugichag on its list of abandoned settlements, shamelessly attempting to avoid investigating the tragedies which occurred in this remote corner of eastern Russia. Today, the sparse, icy camp is barely reachable by road, its abandoned workhouses, mines and experimental facilities hidden away by a nation which wants to forget its brutal past.
Butugichag is just one of twenty fascinating stories of ghost towns from all over, which you can read at Urban Ghosts.

Grapefruit + prescription drug = overdose

There are 44 prescription drugs on the market today that should never be combined with grapefruit. That's because the sour fruit (and some other, closely related, kinds of citrus) contain chemical compounds called furanocoumarins that prevent your body from metabolizing certain prescription drugs. Essentially, the grapefruit creates an artificial overdose where one tablet packs the power (and side effects) of 20. The CBC has a full list of the drugs, which includes cancer drugs, cholesterol-lowering drugs, and drugs to treat problems of the urinary tract. Wikipedia has more about why this interaction happens.

What's For Dinner

Chemicals - it's what's for dinner

Excerpts from the story in Vice:
Rob Rhinehart – a 24-year-old software engineer - ...found himself resenting the inordinate amount time it takes to fry an egg in the morning and decided something had to be done. Simplifying food... Rob has come up with an odourless, beige cocktail that he calls Soylent...

Soylent contains all of the nutritive components of a balanced diet, but with just a third of the calories and none of the toxins or cancer-causing stuff...
"Everything the body needs – that we know of, anyway – vitamins, minerals and macronutrients like essential amino acids, carbohydrates and fat. For the fat, I just use olive oil and add fish oil. The carbs are an oligosaccharide, which is like sugar, but the molecules are longer, meaning it takes longer to metabolise and gives you a steady flow of energy for a longer period of time, rather than a sugar rush from something like fructose or table sugar...

I think it's possible to use technology to make healthy food very cheap and easy, but we'll have to give up many traditional foodstuffs like fresh fruits and veggies, which are incompatible with food processing and scale.
I don't think we need fruits and veggies, though – we need vitamins and minerals. We need carbs, not bread. Amino acids, not milk. It's still fine to eat these whenever you want, but not everyone can afford them or has the desire to eat them. Food should be optimised and personalised. If Soylent was as cheap and easy to obtain as a cup of coffee, I think people would be much healthier and healthcare costs would be lower. And I think this is entirely possible."

Olive oil the key to feeling full?

Reduced-fat food products are gaining in popularity. More and more people are choosing “light” products in an attempt to lose weight, or at least in the hope that they will not gain any pounds. But [...]

Health News

Vitamin E helps heal
Researchers have identified an elusive anti-cancer property of vitamin E that has long been presumed to exist, but difficult to find. Many animal studies have suggested that vitamin E could prevent cancer, but human clinical [...]

For the first time, a UCLA team has used a technique normally employed in treating brain aneurysms to treat severe, life-threatening irregular heart rhythms in two patients. This unique use of the method helped stop [...]
College-age kids who don’t consume at least three servings of dairy daily are three times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than those who do, said a new University of Illinois study. “And only one [...]

MRSA here to stay

The drug-resistant bacteria known as MRSA, once confined to hospitals but now widespread in communities, will likely continue to exist in both settings as separate strains, according to a new study. The prediction that both [...]

The Cannonball Tree

It's the case with a number of plants that they are given popular names which reflect how they look or what they do. So it is with the Cannonball Tree whose fruit is so large that they look like cannonballs. Not only that, when they fall to the ground a large noise is created similar to... you guessed it.

The fruit will of course fall when it's good and ready. So you will not find a Cannonball Tree near a public pathway or a road. One of these fruit, weighing in at several pounds and often up to ten inches in diameter could kill you. So, you really want to avoid standing directly under them when they are in fruit.

Burgess shale find pushes fossil record back 200 million years

Canada’s 505 million year-old Burgess Shale fossil beds, located in Yoho National Park, have yielded yet another major scientific discovery – this time with the unearthing of a strange phallus-shaped creature. It’s a discovery that [...]

Higgs Boson is Now Official!

After the big announcement last year, physicists have made it official. They have indeed found the Higgs boson:
Physicists announced on July 4, 2012, that, with more than 99 percent certainty, they had found a new elementary particle weighing about 126 times the mass of the proton that was likely the long-sought Higgs boson. The Higgs is sometimes referred to as the "God particle," to the chagrin of many scientists, who prefer its official name.
But the two experiments, CMS and ATLAS, hadn't collected enough data to say the particle was, for sure, the Higgs boson, the last undiscovered piece of the puzzle predicted by the Standard Model, the reigning theory of particle physics.
Now, after collecting two and a half times more data inside the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) — where protons zip at near light-speed around the 17-mile-long (27 kilometer) underground ring beneath Switzerland and France — physicists say the particle is a Higgs.
Jeanna Bryner of LiveScience has the full story: Here.

Possible support for panspermia

From MIT Technology Review:
On 29 December 2012, a fireball lit up the early evening skies over the Sri Lankan province of Polonnaruwa. Hot, sparkling fragments of the fireball rained down across the countryside... officials forwarded the samples to a team of astrobiologists at Cardiff University in the UK for further analysis.

The results of these tests, which the Cardiff team reveal today, are extraordinary.  They say the stones contain fossilised biological structures fused into the rock matrix and that their tests clearly rule out the possibility of terrestrial contamination...

The most startling claims, however, are based on electron microscope images of structures within the stones. Wallis and co. say that one image shows a complex, thick-walled, carbon-rich microfossil about 100 micrometres across that bares [sic] similarities with a group of largely extinct marine dinoflagellate algae.

They say another image shows well-preserved flagella that are 2 micrometres in diameter and 100 micrometres long. By terrestrial standards, that’s extremely long and thin, which Wallis and co. interpret as evidence of formation in a low-gravity, low-pressure environment.
Claims similar to this have been made before; it will be interesting to see how this one pans out.  Panspermia explained.

Eleven Unusual Caves Around The World

A cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. Caves form naturally by the weathering of rock and they often extend deep underground. Because of their uniqueness and beauty, some caves have become very interesting places for tourists and photographers worldwide.

Awesome Pictures

Half Dome and Clouds by Thomas Hawk on Flickr.

Revival of Extinct Species

Since we saw Jurassic Park in 1993, research on DNA and cloning has brought the idea of bringing back extinct species forward from fantasy to practical possibility. Cloning livestock is easier than ever. Scientists delivered a clone of the extinct Pyrenean ibex, using living cells of the last specimen years after it died. Frozen mammoth DNA holds promise, and there are other schemes to reverse-engineer DNA from thylacines and passenger pigeons. The process of bringing back extinct species is called de-extinction. Considering the scientific progress, it's only a matter of time before success. The question is: should we be doing this?
“If we’re talking about species we drove extinct, then I think we have an obligation to try to do this,” says Michael Archer, a paleontologist at the University of New South Wales who has championed de-extinction for years. Some people protest that reviving a species that no longer exists amounts to playing God. Archer scoffs at the notion. “I think we played God when we exterminated these animals.”

Other scientists who favor de-extinction argue that there will be concrete benefits. Biological diversity is a storehouse of natural invention. Most pharmaceutical drugs, for example, were not invented from scratch—they were derived from natural compounds found in wild plant species, which are also vulnerable to extinction. Some extinct animals also performed vital services in their ecosystems, which might benefit from their return. Siberia, for example, was home 12,000 years ago to mammoths and other big grazing mammals. Back then, the landscape was not moss-dominated tundra but grassy steppes. Sergey Zimov, a Russian ecologist and director of the Northeast Science Station in Cherskiy in the Republic of Sakha, has long argued that this was no coincidence: The mammoths and numerous herbivores maintained the grassland by breaking up the soil and fertilizing it with their manure. Once they were gone, moss took over and transformed the grassland into less productive tundra.
Some are leery of the idea, because if those animals went extinct because of changes in their environment, how will they ever thrive again? Others believe resources spent on de-extinction would be better aimed at preventing endangered animals from disappearing. National geographic magazine looks at the progress we've made in de-extinction, and the ethics of the practice. More

New multi-colored long-horned beetle from Yunnan, China

The beetle family Cerambycidae, also known as long-horned beetles or longicorns, is characterized by emblematic extremely long antennae, which are usually longer than the total body length of the animal. The family is rather rich in [...]

Cannibal crocodile spotted eating smaller croc

A large crocodile in Queensland, Australia, has been caught on film cannibalizing a member of its own kind. Passengers on a Solar Whisper wildlife cruise on the Daintree River earlier this month first spotted the two-meter saltie, known as "Eric", fishing for food along the river bank.

But when it reappeared later in the cruise, the seven-year-old croc had a smaller crocodile hanging from its jaws. Solar Whisper Wildlife Cruise owner David White said "Eric" appeared to be struggling with his over-sized meal. "He was having a lot of trouble getting it down and eventually he swam off with it in his mouth," he said.

Mr White said crocodiles were known to eat other crocodiles but it was rare to witness such behavior. "In 15 years’ experience, I’ve only seen this kind of thing three times," he said. Mr White said passengers aboard the boat had found the scene "pretty horrible", but the cruise operator told them they were lucky to catch a glimpse of such a rare event.

He said the crocodile would have eaten the juvenile simply because “he was hungry” and not for any territorial reason. Since Eric's hefty meal, Mr White said the reptile been showing off an enlarged belly and spending more time in the sun to aid its digestion.

Animal Pictures