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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1766   Britain repeals the Stamp Act.
1776   British forces evacuate from Boston to Nova Scotia.
1799   Napoleon Bonaparte and his army reach Mediterranean seaport of St. Jean d'Acra, only to find British warships ready to break his siege of the town.
1868   The first postage stamp canceling machine patent is issued.
1884   John Joseph Montgomery makes the first glider flight in Otay, Calif.
1886   Twenty African Americans are killed in the Carrollton Massacre in Mississippi.
1891   The British steamer Utopia sinks off the coast of Gibraltar.
1905   Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, marries Franklin D. Roosevelt in New York.
1910   The Camp Fire Girls are founded in Lake Sebago, Maine.
1914   Russia increases the number of active duty military from 460,000 to 1,700,000.
1924   Four Douglas army aircraft leave Los Angeles for an around the world flight.
1930   Mob boss Al Capone is released from jail.
1942   The Nazis begin deporting Jews to the Belsen camp.
1944   The U.S. Eighth Air Force bombs Vienna.
1959   The Dalai Lama flees Tibet and goes to India.
1961   The United States increases military aid and technicians to Laos.
1962   The Soviet Union asks the United States to pull out of South Vietnam.
1966   A U.S. submarine locates a missing H-bomb in the Mediterranean.
1970   The Army charges 14 officers with suppression of facts in the My Lai massacre case.
1972   Nixon asks Congress to halt busing in order to achieve desegregation.
1973   Twenty are killed in Cambodia when a bomb goes off that was meant for the Cambodian President Lon Nol.
1973   First POWs are released from the "Hanoi Hilton" in Hanoi, North Vietnam.
1985   President Ronald Reagan agrees to a joint study with Canada on acid rain.
1992   White South Africans approve constitutional reforms giving legal equality to blacks.

Non Sequitur

Sunday, March 17

Found: The Violin That Was Played As The Titanic Sunk

As the Titanic sank, the band famously played on. And more than 100 years after the tragedy, the violin owned by the band leader has been confirmed as a survivor. The instrument used by Wallace Hartley (photo above) was thought by some to have been lost in the Atlantic in the 1912 disaster.

But in 2006 the son of an amateur musician found it in an attic, complete with a silver plate showing its provenance. After seven years of testing, costing tens of thousands of pounds, the water-stained violin has now been proven to be the one played by Hartley.

Violinist Wallace Hartley was the leader of the band that performed on the RMS Titanic on its tragic voyage in 1912. The band famously played music to sooth the passengers as the ship went down. After years of research, a violin found in 2006 has now been authenticated as the instrument Hartley played aboard ship. Hartley's personal effects that were salvaged from the site were returned to his father, who gave them to Hartley's fiancee, Maria Robinson. Robinson had given Hartley the violin, inscribed for their engagement in 1910.  
She kept the jewellery and violin in the leather case as a shrine to her late fiance. She died from stomach cancer in 1939 aged 59 at her home in Bridlington, East Yorkshire.

In dealing with her estate, her sister, Margaret, found Hartley's leather valise that had his initials of 'WHH' on and the violin inside.

She gave the bag to the Bridlington Salvation Army and told its leader, a Major Renwick, about the instrument's association with Titanic.

The research shows Maj Renwick in turn gave the valise to one of his members, a local music and violin teacher.

In the early 1940s, the current owner's mother was a member of the Womens' Auxiliary Air Force stationed at Bridlington.

She met the music teacher who later dispatched the valise and violin to her.

A covering letter that has been found states: 'Major Renwick thought I would be best placed to make use of the violin but I found it virtually unplayable, doubtless due to its eventful life.'

The unnamed owner inherited the valise and its contents, including the violin and jewellery, years later and contacted Henry Aldridge and Son of Devizes, Wilts.
The violin will go on display at the Titanic museum in Belfast, and is expected to be auctioned later. More

The Chemistry of Alcohol and Hangovers

Anyone who needs a reason not to overindulge on St. Patrick’s Day — or on any other day of the year — can view a new American Chemical Society (ACS) video on alcohol’s effects on [...]

Daily Comic Relief

Did you know ...

That America isn't nearly as 'conservative' as wingnut politicians think

About the gun show host killed; the tin foil hats are being donned as we speak

Did you know that chained cpi is a middle class tax hike?

Here's photos of animals and their mini-me's

Well, what do you know

Percentage of the U.S. population that is foreign-born: 13
Percentage that was foreign-born in 1913: 15
Another repugican canard destroyed
All them pesky foreigners ain't there in reality as they are in the fevered delusions of the sick minds of repugicans.

Rand Paul Becomes The Latest CPAC Straw Poll Winner Destined to Not Be President

The votes are in, and Sen. Rand Paul has defeated Sen. Marco Rubio in the latest CPAC straw poll to determine which repugican won’t be president.
Except for the Iowa straw poll, (Hello, President Bachmann) there may not be a more meaningless political exercise than the CPAC straw poll. Some in the mainstream media will try to read the non-existent tea leaves and determine what this means for positioning within the repugican ranks in 2016, but the reality is that the only time the CPAC straw poll has ever been interesting was when Mitt Romney was so desperate for a win that he rigged the poll last year by buying votes.
The CPAC audience is always full of Paul supporters. It is estimated that 52% of CPAC’s audience was young libertarians, which demonstrates the problem with the CPAC straw poll. It doesn’t reflect who actually votes in repugican primaries. If repugican primary electorate was a majority young Libertarian, Ron Paul would have been a two time repugican presidential nominee. But the people who vote in repugican primaries are actually old and white.
Rand Paul is already more of a mainstream repugican that his father ever was, but the CPAC straw poll is a better indicator of who isn’t going to be president than who is. I suspect that Rand Paul will do equally well in 2014, 2015, and 2016 too, and it will mean absolutely nothing.
Paul finished with 25%, Rubio 23%, Rick Santorum 8%, Chris Christie 7%, Paul Ryan 6%, Scott Walker 5%, Dr. Ben Carson 4%, Ted Cruz 4%, Bobby Jindal 3%, and Sarah Palin 3%.
The two potential candidates that didn’t do well in the straw poll who are the most likely contenders for the 2016 nomination are Chris Christie and Paul Ryan. One can easily imagine Ryan thinking he is next in line for the Republican nomination, but Christie is more of a wait and see.
CPAC is not good at predicting eventual presidents. According to USA Today, “Since 1976, only Ronald Reagan and the shrub have won the CPAC straw poll and gone on to win the White House.” No one should be surprised if by 2017, CPAC is 2 for 40 in picking winners. The lesson here is that any repugican who wants to be president would be wise to avoid CPAC.

Reeking of Obama Hate and Desperation, Sarah Palin Was the Joke at CPAC

At CPAC, Sarah Palin stepped straight out of 2008 and offered America the same desperate, cartoonish, Obama hate that has made her a national joke.
It is safe to say that if you have seen Sarah Palin speak for more than two minutes over the past five years, you’ve already seen this speech. Even the people who are usually kind to her in the mainstream media are calling her speech “disjointed,” and pointing out that this is stark reminder of how far Palin has fallen since the heady days when a certain repugican nominee’s presidential campaign thought vetting a running mate was something that should be limited to a Google search.
It was ironic that Palin complained that Washington repugicans are, “being too scripted, too calculated. They’re talking about rebuilding the party, how about rebuilding the middle class?” First of all, Sarah Palin couldn’t wait to bolt from Alaska in order to cash in on her fifteen minutes of fame, so the only thing she knows about the middle class is that she wouldn’t be caught dead in it. Secondly, Palin whined about Washington repugicans being too scripted and calculated while she was a delivering a pre-scripted and heavily calculated speech.
This speech also featured all of her Obama hate classics. Palin worked in a joke about Obama and his teleprompter, even though she can’t string two sentences together without one and made a not too veiled birther joke, “More background checks? Dandy idea Mr. President. Should’ve started with yours.”
Palin continued her years old feud with Karl Rove, “If these experts keep losing elections, keep raking in millions, if they feel that strongly about who should run in this party they should buck up and run or stay in the truck. The architects can head on back to the Lone Star State and put their name on the ballot.” (More irony here, as Palin has been taking money from the rubes on the right for years by teasing a presidential run without ever putting her name on the ballot.) Seriously, this feud with Rove goes the whole way back to 2010, but the mainstream media is acting like this is something new.
Sarah Palin was high on her own supply and dishing out her memorized zingers like it was 2008 all over again.
Too much shouldn’t be read into the fact that Palin had the CPAC crowd in stitches. Paul Ryan, Rand Paul, and Wayne LaPierre each had them rolling in the aisles. Saying anything bad or hateful about Democrats and Obama is all it took to send this crowd into hysterics.
From a potential heartbeat away from the presidency to willing to be the wingnuts' rodeo clown for a buck, Sarah Palin is living on the Skid Row of American politics.
CPAC may have been laughing with her, but the rest of the country is laughing at the idea that the repugican cabal once tried to sell this wigged out clown as presidential material.
Sarah, stick to Facebook.

The truth be told

They are getting richer while you get poorer

What Can Be Done with Albania's 750,000 Cold War-Era Bunkers?

During the reign of Communist dictator Enver Hoxha (r. 1944-1985), Albania built 750,000 bunkers. That's 1 bunker for every 4 citizens. They're still around and are something of a nuisance. Wired's Pete Brook reports:
Today, Albanian authorities are at a loss for what to do. The reinforced concrete domes are as difficult to repurpose as they are to destroy. Tourists are fascinated by the bunkers strewn like confetti across scenery, but for locals they’re a largely uninteresting, if obstructive, part of the landscape.
They're eyesores and obstruct new construction. Still, some Albanians have tried to find some value from the old concrete and iron slabs. Expatica's Briseida Mema writes:
Some Albanians have tried to remove them on their own, but their efforts usually end in vain, leaving them resigned to living with the structures they refer to as "mushrooms.”

Some have converted them into sheds, toilets or even "zero-star hotels" for lovers, as they sometimes call the bunkers. 

How Chinese (secret) police talk about their jobs when they think the camera isn't rolling

When a Sky News reporter broadcasting live from Tiananmen Square mentioned the 1989 protests, Chinese secret police swooped down on his and hustled him and his cameraman into the back of a van, and kidnapped them to a distant park where they were polite but Orwellian in their explanation for their deeds (they didn't realize he was still broadcasting, and thought it was all going to disc or tape whence it could be scrubbed):
At this point, the police do something Orwellian in its brilliance. An officer who speaks English informs Stone that they have to stop filming because they don’t have official permission. Stone disagrees, saying that they sought and received permission to film in Tiananmen Square. But the officer counters that they’re not in Tiananmen anymore. They’re in a park where the police have brought Stone against his will, and he doesn’t have permission to record in that park, so regrettably the police have no choice but to insist the camera be switched off. Who could have possibly foreseen that little complication?
The officer then takes the Orwellianism to the next level by explaining that Stone and his team are neither being detained nor are they free to go. They can do whatever they like, except that they must go sit in an empty classroom and wait for some unnamed officials to show up.
This reminds me of nothing so much as the DHS checkpoint officials who won't tell you if you're being detained, won't tell you if you're legally required to answer their questions about your citizenship, but also won't let you go.

Daily Funny

Spontaneous combustion of towels blamed for restaurant fire

Spontaneous combustion is being blamed for a Thursday morning fire at Chipotle Steak and Seafood Grill in the town of Saugerties, Barclay Heights, New York, according to a fire official.
Glasco Fire Chief Michael Sasso III said the blaze, reported at about 6:45am, was contained primarily to the kitchen but that the rest of the restaurant sustained substantial smoke, heat and water damage. The restaurant was closed at the time and there were no injuries.

The chief said the Ulster County Arson Task Force’s preliminary conclusion was the fire was caused by the spontaneous combustion of towels that had been laundered and placed in a plastic bag.

Sasso said firefighters from the Glasco, Saugerties, Ulster Hose and Mount Marion departments fought the blaze, was which under control in about 10 minutes.

Newborn baby fell onto road after woman on motorbike gave birth without noticing

A newborn baby fell from a motorbike in Bangkok, Thailand, on Tuesday morning, reportedly after the rider gave birth without noticing – and without stopping to pick up the baby.

Fortunately a passenger in a bus behind the motorbike noticed the baby falling to the ground, and alerted the bus driver to stop – and the newborn was reportedly reunited with its mother by the police.

The bus passenger, Ancharee Mookta, said she was sitting on the front seat of the bus, when she saw something from the motorbike had fallen on the ground. She told the bus driver to stop, and ran from the bus to find the naked baby with blood and fatty residue covering its body. The baby was still alive, and it was taken urgently to Bangkok’s Wachira hospital by a volunteer on a motorbike.

Police told a reporter that the baby’s mother had felt pain as she was about to give birth, and so she had decided to ride her motorbike to get to the same hospital. But the baby was born during the motorbike ride, with the mother apparently not aware that she had given birth. Police say they will investigate further to find the exact cause of this incident.

Rare brain condition leaves woman seeing upside down

Bojana Danilovic has a unique worldview. Due to a rare condition, she sees everything upside down, all the time. The 28-year-old Serbian council employee uses an upside down monitor at work and relaxes at home in front of an upside down television stacked on top of the normal one that the rest of her family watches.

"It may look incredible to other people but to me it's completely normal," Danilovic said. "I was born that way. It's just the way I see the world."

Experts from Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have been consulted after local doctors were flummoxed by the extremely unusual condition. They say she is suffering from a neurological syndrome called "spatial orientation phenomenon."

"They say my eyes see the images the right way up but my brain changes them," Danilovic said. "But they don't really seem to know exactly how it happens, just that it does and where it happens in my brain. They told me they've seen the case histories of some people who write the way I see, but never someone quite like me."

The Classics

1957 CADILLAC Eldorado.
1957 CADILLAC Eldorado.

Could the Potato Famine Strike Again?

Late blight, the disease that ruined the Irish potato crop during the mid-1800s, still mashes potato crops worldwide.

Rail project finds 'Black Death' pit

Rail project finds 'Black Death' pitCrossrail excavations at Charterhouse Square

Excavations for the Crossrail project in London reveal 13 bodies in a burial ground believed to date from the early days of the Black Death. 320

Remains unearthed of 13 people are thought to be victims of the plague.

Awesome Pictures



Whale Songs Found in Seismic Recordings

A rich, but untapped trove of whale calls hides in decades of recordings collected by geologists surveying the ocean floor.

How the Aurora Borealis Nearly Started World War III

vIn 1962, at the height of Cold War tensions, Air Force Captain Charles Maultsby flew a U2 spy plane on Arctic missions to collect high-altitude air samples that the military would test to determine what other countries were testing nuclear weapons. His October 27 mission was supposed to take him to the North Pole and back, but his navigation by the stars was disrupted by the Aurora Borealis. So he decided to turn back. His return did not go as planned.
By 8 a.m., though, Maultsby was starting to get worried. He should have reached Barter by then but his radio remained silent. He also noticed that Orion wasn’t where it ought to be.

Suddenly, the crackling voice of a rescue pilot came over the radio.Concerned that he didn’t have a visual on Maultsby, the rescue pilot started firing signaling flares before asking the U-2 pilot to identify stars. Maultsby radioed that he saw Orion 15 degrees to the left of his nose. A quick check of his own star charts had the rescue pilot instruct Maultsby to turn 10 degrees to the left, but this advice was immediately contradicted by another voice ordering him to turn 30 degrees to the right. Maultsby had no reason to distrust either order; both had used a correct call sign.

The conflicting orders added to the Maultsby’s growing concern. He didn’t know exactly where he was, but he did know that he was running out of fuel. He’d left Eielson with nine hours and 40 minutes of fuel and had been airborne for over eight hours. If he couldn’t get his bearings and get back to the base soon, he’d have to bail out of the U-2, and that wasn’t an appealing prospect. The best advice he’d been given about bailing out of a U-2 flying above the Arctic Circle was to not pull the cord on his chute: it was a better way to go than freezing to death on the ground.
You guessed it: one of the voices directing Maultsby was Soviet. The USSR had no reason to think that Maultsby wasn't carrying nuclear bomb into their territory. The Americans who were also tracking Maultsy knew what the Soviets were thinking, and had to find a way to get him back. Read what happened at The Crux.

Twenty Breathtaking Snapshots Of Supercell Storms

There's a rolling boom of thunder. Dark clouds gather overhead and begin to rotate slowly in a strange, ominous fashion. If it were a movie, this is the point where the giant UFO would break through the clouds.

Yet while nothing quite that exciting really happens during a supercell storm, these immense thunderstorms certainly create enough drama for most people.

Astronomical News

A newly discovered star system, made up of a pair of tiny brown dwarfs, is just 6.5 light-years away - this makes it the closest to be found since 1916, and the third closest star system to the sun!
Although there appears to be a mysterious dearth of exoplanets smaller than Earth, data from NASA's Kepler space telescope suggest that nearly a quarter of all sun-like stars in our galaxy play host to worlds 1-3 times the size of our planet.

Random Photo

Scientists Resurrect Extinct Frog That Gives Birth through Its Mouth

Australia's gastric-brooding frog doesn't just hold its young in its mouth, but actually incubates the eggs in its stomach. Or, rather, it did. The species has been extinct since the 80s. But that didn't stop scientists from cloning an embryo from frozen remains:
Even though the gastric-brooding frog has been extinct for decades, it's possible to do this because individual specimens were kept preserved in, believe it or not, everyday deep freezers. When going through somatic-cell nuclear transfer, the eggs began to divide and form into the early embryo stage.
The embryos didn't survive much longer than that, but it was confirmed that these embryos contain genetic information from the gastric-brooding frog--that yes, in fact, they have brought it back to life. The researchers are confident that this is a "technical, not biological" problem at this stage to breed gastric-brooding frogs to adulthood. This is a big step forward for the worldwide attempts to revive extinct animals--the Lazarus Project researchers will soon meet with those working to revive the woolly mammoth, dodo, and other extinct beasties to share what they've learned.
Oh, and in case you were wondering: the gastric-brooding frog lays eggs, which are coated in a substance called prostaglandin. This substance causes the frog to stop producing gastric acid in its stomach, thus making the frog's stomach a very nice place for eggs to be. So the frog swallows the eggs, incubates them in her gut, and when they hatch, the baby frogs crawl out her mouth. How delightfully weird!

Animal News

There's only one place in the world to escape bat-catching spiders: Antarctica.
Invasive species have found their way to the Emerald Isle. Here are 10 of the most destructive.
Pygmy elephants are losing habitat to palm oil plantations, as consumers seek out 'green' baked goods.

Bovine Water Skiing

Kerala's Insane Bull Racing Festival
Every year (when the event isn't banned), teams of bull racers in Kerala gather to pit their mighty animals against one another in a very muddy arena. More

Animal Pictures

(via perhapsthenok)
Low Blow, Man!