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.

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Daily Drift


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

Man. that really does suck!  ...

Today is That Sucks Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

As if it wasn't enough that it is That Sucks Day it is also Tax Pay Day in the USA and that's what really sucks!

Today in History

1755 English lexicographer Dr. Samuel Johnson publishes his Dictionary of the English Language.
1784 The first balloon is flown in Ireland.
1813 U.S. troops under James Wilkinson siege the Spanish-held city of Mobile in future state of Alabama.
1858 At the Battle of Azimghur, the Mexicans defeat Spanish loyalists.
1871 'Wild Bill' Hickok becomes the marshal of Abilene, Kansas.
1861 President Lincoln mobilizes Federal army.
1865 Abraham Lincoln dies from John Wilkes Booth's assassination bullet.
1912 With her band playing on the deck, the ocean liner Titanic sinks at 2:27 a.m. in the North Atlantic.
1917 British forces defeat the Germans at the battle of Arras.
1919 British troops kill 400 Indians at Amritsar, India.
1923 Insulin becomes generally available for people suffering with diabetics.
1923 The first sound films shown to a paying audience are exhibited at the Rialto Theater in New York City.
1940 French and British troops land at Narvik, Norway.
1945 President Franklin D. Roosevelt is buried on the grounds of his Hyde Park home.
1948 Arab forces are defeated in battle with Israeli forces.
1952 President Harry Truman signs the official Japanese peace treaty.
1955 Ray Kroc starts the McDonald's chain of fast food restaurants.
1959 Cuban leader Fidel Castro begins a U.S. goodwill tour.
1960 The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) organizes at Shaw University.
1971 North Vietnamese troops ambush a company of Delta Raiders from the 101st Airborne Division near Fire Support Base Bastogne in Vietnam. The American troops were on a rescue mission.
1986 U.S. warplanes attack Libya.

Non Sequitur


An iPad survives after getting embedded in car bumper

An iPad remained intact and fully functioning despite being lodged in a car's bumper for more than an hour. Georgia woman Alexa Crisa was left stunned on realizing she'd been driving around Roswell and Marietta, near Atlanta, with the gadget sticking out the front of her Nissan.

"I went to Target and ran errands with this iPad hanging out of my bumper. I had no clue," the 23-year-old said. "I'm not even sure how I missed it, other than I don't check my bumper for random dislodged electronics," she added. Crisa said she was driving at 40 mph when the device, accidentally left on top of another car that was turning out, flew into her vehicle.

She hit the brakes but, feeling she hadn't run over anything, carried on with her day before going back home. Her dad Nick spotted the gadget when he returned, and set about knocking it out with a hammer. Incredibly, although the screen was smashed, it still worked and they were able to trace the owner so it could be returned.

"It was so remarkable that it was thrown from the roof of the car at 40 mph and still looked like that," Crisa added. "It looked like nothing had happened to the back of the iPad." The owner was able to get a new tablet through his Apple warranty plan, and offered to pay for a new bumper.

Did you know ...

That the food industry's over-use of salt contributes to over 100,000 deaths a year

That is it time to treat violence as a contagious disease?

About the pretend liberals

That B of A pays $36.8 mill to veterans families for improper foreclosures

Sheheen is back

South Carolina is going blue 

Moderate Democrat Vincent Sheheen, has announced that he’s going to give his pursuit of the South Carolina Governorship another go in 2014. He lost to Nikki Haley by 4 points in 2010. I know he’s running again because my Halifax Media-owned local wingnut newspaper revealed his intention in a minimal coverage story on page C-3. Had the situation been reversed and Sheheen was the sitting Governor, there would have been giant front-page headlines “HALEY TO CHALLENGE GOVERNOR.” A picture of Haley covering half the page would have been an imperative.
But this is South Carolina and Haley is a power player fully under the thumb of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the Club for Growth and other nationally powerful interest groups. Sarah Palin and the tea party love her. Such affection in itself is enough to eliminate her from consideration by any sensible voter. She’s a hideously awful Governor just as she was a hideously awful accountant for her families’ business, exotically named “Exotica International”, routinely paying EI’s taxes late; very late, as much as 19 months late on at least 3 occasions. You try that sometime. The company closed its doors almost exactly 5 years ago.
Her absurd penny-pinching led to such weak security (all about money) at the Department of Revenue that a hacker accessed tax returns and personal data of millions of residents. Haley believes in bringing giant anti-union companies into the state, then watching them get incentives that their taxes (if and when such taxes are ever paid) could never possibly cover. Boeing, the oft-fined (when you have an afternoon to spare, enter “Boeing fines” in your search engine) corporate huckster and huge backlog specialists, has bled the state for a billion in taxpayer incentives and is in the process of sucking another $120 million in a “bonding” plan to pay for expanding its North Charleston facility.
Just as a key vote is taken in the state Senate, Boeing announced that it plans to invest $1 billion and create 2,000 (at less than union wages) new jobs over the next eight years at its plant. They’ll start hiring as soon as they get that 787 scandal behind them. The so-called “Dreamliner” is still parked because of battery problems. And shame on the media. The 787 had a hell of a lot more problems (generally unreported) than just overheating lithium ion batteries. I’m not sure that the singular battery factor would result in the first grounding of an entire fleet since 1979 as Forbes reports.
Oh yes and Bloomberg calculates the delivery book value for the 787 at $190 billion. Boeing is the world’s largest manufacturer of combined commercial and military aircraft and also a giant defense contractor. Their orders are always in the billions. And they’ need a miserably poor state’s taxpayer money???
So keep shoveling money to a poorly run company of few ethics and keep underfunding the 25% of children 0-18, who live in households with incomes below the poverty level according to the most recent statistics available. “Remember how lazy them 4-year-olds is. All that drinking; driven’ them fancy cars! They don’t deserve a GD dime.” Sounds like a plan that only a wingnut could love.
While Nikki Haley governs with her corporate blinders fully in place, the state continues to trail in national unemployment statistics with the rate of 8.6% being almost a full point higher than the 7.7% national number. As I’ve chronicled many times on this site, South Carolina is morphing into a third-world state, trailing just about every state in the union in meaningful economic and quality of life statistics and Haley hasn’t moved the needle one Angstrom.
With full-on and harmful attacks on the mentally ill front and center of the gun debate and with the recent suicide of the son of famed pastor and author, Rick Warren, the issue of those suffering from mental health illnesses has become the topic du jour across the land. Haley has presided over two of the three years that the budget for the Mental Health Department has fallen by 39.3%. That’s a dollar total of $187.3 million down to $113.7 million affecting thousands of South Carolinians in desperate need of mental health intervention. That abhorrent insensitivity ranks #1 in the nation.
These figures come from a brilliantly revealing and deeply personal article on the subject by Mac McClelland in the latest edition of Mother Jones magazine. It should be must reading for every progressive in the country. Wingnuts won’t get even one word of what has been written; in fact the local repugicans were highly supportive of the budget cuts.
Just as in Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities”, there are millions of Dr. Manette’s out there, caught in their own solitary hell; trying to cobble their way to a practical level of sanity. God, how we don’t need the Haley’s of our world setting policy for the mentally ill. Policy based on dollars and cents, extremist politics and ambition. This is the same woman who brought in Bobby Jindal’s health care hatchet man, Tony Keck, to become Director of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services. His orders; destroy Obamacare. He’s off to a good start. When Haley refused to create a state-run health insurance exchange, Keck was quoted as saying, “It doesn’t make sense for a state to get involved.” Just the opposite is true of course, but this is South Carolina.
Sheheen has a chance to unseat Haley. If all of Haley’s shortcomings are brought into the open in one cohesive package, nobody of conscience and any degree of intelligence could vote for her. Some pundits claim she might not run because she wants to save herself as a possible Vice-Presidential nominee on the 2016 repugican ticket. Her chances of being the next Olympics women’s shot put champion are better than a spot on the ticket. In any event, she would want to keep a high profile and the governor’s office would do just that. And she could resign mid-term if she felt like it and go to work for Faux hosting a show called “Haley’s House.”
If the South Carolina’s Governor’s race were a sandlot baseball game, Sheheen would be picked first and Haley told to go home. But it’s not a sandlot game, it’s a game of huge money and low information nutbags. Haney already has in excess of $2 million to play with. Sheheen starts out with $500. He does have $92,310 in his state Senate campaign account, but every transfer over to a Governor’s campaign fund would require the donor’s permission.
So baring a big surprise on either side, it’s a 42-year-old (as of April 29) lawyer/State Senator from Camden, a community of 7,000 in South Carolina horse country vs. the current governor who has proven to fall woefully short as both an accountant and governor.
Back up the Brink’s truck, ALEC.

The 10 Most Corrupt Finance Ministers In History

Even - or especially - with the assets of entire countries at stake, some people just can't help dipping into the metaphorical cookie jar. Still, given how much access such politicians have to funds, plus the potential for significant bribes, temptation must be hard to ignore.

For the easily corruptible, at least. From money caches hidden in bathrooms to fraud and bribery, there are various ways these 10 finance ministers found to land themselves in hot water - making them prime examples of what not to do in the world of money.

Denying Equal Pay is the Latest repugican Revenge Tactic Against Women

gop devalue women
In the legal system when there is a lawsuit against a business for negligence that caused death or disability, it is a standard practice to put monetary value on the life that was lost or forever changed. The concept of putting an arbitrary value on life is beyond comprehension, but it is more prevalent than the average American realizes and is part and parcel of repugican policies, especially when women’s lives are involved. American women have made progress since they earned the right to vote, to serve on juries, and own property, but regardless their hard-won advancements, they are still little more than second-class citizens at the mercy of the latest repugican assault on their rights. This past week the nation barely noticed it was the 50th anniversary of “Equal Pay Day,” the day John F. Kennedy signed the  Equal Pay Act of 1963, and declared the end of the “unconscionable practice of paying female employees less wages than male employees for the same job.” Despite the 50 year-old law, the “unconscionable practice” is still in force and if repugicans have their way it will remain that way in perpetuity.
The idea that women are worth less than men informs that as far as their relative usefulness to society, The repugicans hold them in the same regard as breeding livestock or house servants. Women have always been held in contempt by repugicans, but for the past two years their attacks were not reserved to assaulting their reproductive rights. Last June, repugicans in the Senate blocked a Democratic bill calling for gender equity in pay, and three years earlier they opposed, vehemently, the Lily Ledbetter Act with all but 8 repugicans in the House voting against gender equity in pay.
Women still only earn 77-cents on the dollar for doing the same job as a man, and in many areas of the country women are earning between 62 and 67 cents on the dollar for the same job. Not surprising, in congressional districts where women earn much less than the national average (77-cents), Republican representatives voted against both the Lily Ledbetter Act and opposed the Fair Pay Act of 2012. In January on the anniversary of President Obama signing the Lily Ledbetter Act, Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) introduced the Fair Pay Act which would build on that legislation and help ensure equal pay for equal work by requiring employers to provide equal pay for jobs that are comparable in skill, effort, responsibility and working conditions, as well as give women information to determine when jobs are undervalued. The bill has gone nowhere like Senator Barbara Mikulski’s Fair Pay Act (2013) did that was meant to strengthen the Fair Labor Standards Act protections against pay inequities based on gender.
The repugican opposition to gender equity in pay is not confined to congressional obstruction to equal pay; the assault on unions in repugican-controlled states primarily targets women in the form of attacks on teachers’ unions. The repugicans dream of destroying unions in the states, but they exempt professions like law enforcement and correction officers’ unions and pensions when they take a greater share of state funds than teachers, and yet teacher unions and education are the primary targets. Why? Because in the teaching profession, 87% of teachers are women, and while male-dominated unions are taking a bigger share of state’s resources, women are targeted as draining resources repugicans earmark for corporate tax cuts and reduced tax rates for the rich.
Between 2009 when the recession ended and August of 2012, over 300,000 teachers lost their jobs to education cuts and hundreds of thousands more took pay cuts, benefit cuts, pension cuts, and furlough days. That works out to well-over three-quarters of a million women with University, graduate-level or higher, degrees being sent into unemployment lines or to work part-time, minimum-wage jobs at WalMart or McDonalds. In nearly every state in the Union, correctional officers earn a higher mean wage than school teachers with no experience required and a high-school diploma (or equivalent) the only education necessary, and yet like law enforcement, correctional officers’ unions are spared repugicans’ wrath and it is impossible to believe it is anything other than gender-related.
One of the reasons repugicans oppose the Affordable Care Act was it eliminated gender healthcare cost inequity, and why repugicans’ first-line spending cuts always target women’s programs whether it is Planned Parenthood or Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program providing supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education for low-income pregnant, breastfeeding, and non-breastfeeding women. As reported here, repugicans launched 694 attacks on women’s reproductive rights in 3 months, and besides treating them like breeding stock, the economic damage of forcing women to become birth machines is immeasurable because not only are they taken out of the labor market, they are relegated to providing precious resources for unplanned children for at least 18 years.
The repugicans have been on a crusade to put women in their biblical-assigned roles as subservient to men with a vengeance since they took control of the House and several states in 2010, and despite their electoral beating at the hands of women in 2012, their assaults are increasing in 2013. The repugican attacks on women are purely ideological because despite women as an electoral force, the repugican cabal made it clear their assaults will be unrelenting regardless the consequences in the last, or the next, election, and what they fail to accomplish nationally, state repugicans achieve locally. The attacks on women’s reproductive rights is more about control than abortion and contraception rights, and it informs the declining value repugicans put on over half the population. The anniversary of the Equal Pay Day was a stark reminder that after 50 years, repugicans devalue women and consider them as worthless today as they did in 1963, and the past four years’ opposition to paycheck fairness is only matched by their attempt to control when women give birth revealing that they place the same value on women as they do breeding stock.

The repugicans Admit They Are Too Scared to Cut Social Security

President Obama Called Their Bluff: And They Blinked!
You may have missed it, but over the weekend congressional repugicans admitted that they are terrified that any Social Security cuts will lead to their defeat.
If you are paying attention to the politics of Obama’s chained CPI offer, you may have noticed that repugicans have been running away like their hair’s on fire away from his proposal.
The reason why is that repugicans are afraid that the president is setting them up. Roll Call reported, “The debate Walden’s remarks has set off inside the repugican cabal shows many repugicans harbor deep-seated fears about publicly supporting the entitlement cuts they supposedly back and have demanded Obama and other Democrats embrace since taking control of the House in 2011…Many repugican cabal operatives fear Obama’s embrace of chained consumer price index, a mechanism to slow the growth of Social Security benefits over time, is a trap — a means of getting repugicans to support the policy on the record only to see Democrats savage them for it down the line.”
The repugican strategists who suspect this are partially correct. President Obama is using Chained CPI to set up a win/win/win situation for Democrats. The repugicans have to choose between raising taxes in order to get the Chained CPI, arguing for Chained CPI without the tax increase, or rejecting Chained CPI. If repugicans express any desire to cut Social Security, Democrats will savage them for it during next year’s election. If repugicans agree to raise taxes at all, the base of their party will erupt in rage. If repugicans split and some of them reject Chained CPI, it will never become law. (Chained CPI probably won’t become law anyway, because Harry Reid and many Senate Democrats have promised to oppose any changes to Social Security.)
While the activists on the left continue to completely ignore the political realities unfolding before them, it is looking more and more like Obama’s Chained CPI offer was designed to call the repugican bluff on Social Security.
The truth is that outside of the wingnut ideologues, many repugicans see real political danger in messing with Social Security. In plain English, repugicans will get nothing on Social Security unless they agree to raise taxes. Since they will never raise taxes, Chained CPI is pretty much DOA.
Democrats have constructed an elaborate political trap for repugicans. If they go on record as supporting Social Security cuts, President Obama his party will snap it closed.

The Wingnuts Are Having A Conniption Because Boehner May Allow Votes On Guns And Immigration

After Speaker John Boehner suggested that he may allow the House to vote on gun and immigration reform bills, the wingnuts have dissolved into complete hysteria.
Speaker Boehner has sent the wingnuts into a frenzy by suggesting that he may ignore the “Hastert Rule” when it comes to guns and immigration. The Hastert Rule is the belief that no legislation should be allowed to come up for a vote without the support of a majority of the House repugican caucus. Boehner said, “Listen: It was never a rule to begin with. And certainly my prerogative – my intention is to always pass bills with strong repugican support.”
Boehner’s comments suggest that he is planning on allowing votes on gun legislation and immigration reform without the support of a majority of his caucus. Leadership definitely wants immigration reform passed, so it looks like the Speaker will once again rely on majority Democratic support to get a major piece of legislation through the House.
Hot Air is already nervous and warning that Boehner could set off a rebellion among the base, “He’s violated the Hastert Rule several times on budgetary matters, most notably the fiscal-cliff deal (and as recently as two days ago), but caving on cultural hot-buttons like background checks and amnesty has the makings of a Category Five shinolastorm among the base.”
On his radio show, the perpetually in puberty sounding Mark Levin called Boehner a political coward for allowing these votes to happen.
Audio from Media Matters:
Levin said, “The Speaker of the House has enormous power determining what votes take place in that body. And he’s made it clear, he’s made it clear that he is prepared to allow the Democrats to have a victory by bringing a bill to the floor, not only on the Second Amendment, but on illegal immigration, and on the budget, and he’s done this time and time and again. They talk about regular order. Do you know what regular order is ladies and gentleman?…Turns out he’s a coward, a political coward.”
What the right is melting down about is the fact that Boehner is willing to allow the House to act like a democratic institution by voting on something. The wingnut movement is outraged because the House will likely get a chance to vote on legislation where there is broad public support for the Democratic position on the issue.
According to the folks on the fringe, John Boehner is a caving political coward because he may allow the House of Representatives to reflect the will of a majority of the people on guns and immigration.
The wingnut movement and their media are completely oblivious to the fact that they have lost the majority of the country on almost every major issue. All it took was the suggestion that legislation relating to these issues may be voted on to trigger an extremist backlash.
For much of the Republican rank and file and their media leaders obstruction is governance.
The Republican Party is drowning in quicksand of its own creation, and this time John Boehner might not be able to save them from going under.

Well, since you mentioned it ...

Friday, April 12

Major Disneyland attractions shut over OSHA violations

California Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) has served notice on Disneyland over three attractions, which led to their shut-down yesterday. In 2006, Disney agreed to make changes to the staff areas at the park, and the OSHA notice apparently related to lack of progress on these promises.
The citations were related a 2006 agreement to make improvements and to inspections following recent accidents such as the man who was seriously injured while cleaning the outside of Space Mountain. The findings include simple failures like not having a charged fire extinguisher and more serious ones like failure to protect employees from unsafe ladders or lack of railings preventing a fall hazard. Serious fines of up to $70,000 for each infraction could be levied if Disneyland does not comply immediately with the requests (although appeal is also an option). Total penalties for just the Space Mountain citations could reach over $230,000.
These are the same sort of hazards that forced Disneyland to close Alice in Wonderland until temporary scaffolding could be erected with guardrails. The park still hasn’t made permanent fixes there.
There were a lot of violations listed in the citation, here are a few of those listed as Willful Serious:
“Disneyland Resort failed to correct the unsafe work practice of employees of both Disneyland Resort and HSG Inc. accessing upper exterior platform of a building (Space Mountain) to change lights, and perform other maintenance tasks without the protection of guardrails or personal fall protection...”

Canadian government demands a 10-page questionnaire & CV in order to seek permission to comment on oil pipeline

Under Canada's newly gutted environmental laws, members of the public who want to comment on the upcoming hearings on the new Enbridge oil pipeline must beg for permission by fillling in an obscure, ten-page questionnaire and submitting a CV. It's as though the Harper government has fingerpainted FUCK OFF AND DIE on Parliament in heavy crude.
“The new rules are undemocratic. They attempt to restrict the public’s participation in these hearings and prevent a real dialogue about the environmental impacts of the Line 9 pipeline project,” said Adam Scott of Environmental Defence. “Canadians should not have to apply for permission to have their voices heard on projects that carry serious risks to their communities.”
Under the new rules, any Ontario resident who lives along the 639-km pipeline route who wants to send in a letter about their concerns must first apply to the NEB for permission to send in a letter. As of today, the public will have just two weeks to fill out a 10-page form which asks for a resume and references.
“Since when does someone’s resume determine if they have the right to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community?” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. “Anyone who lives and works in southern Ontario could be affected by a spill and everyone is affected by climate change. The right to send a letter of comment and have it considered by public agencies is part of the basic rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy.”
Line 9 runs directly through the most populated part of the country, through backyards, under farms and next to schools. The pipeline crosses every Canadian river flowing into Lake Ontario, threatening the drinking water of millions.

Father and son brandished AK-47 in dispute over missing order of chicken wings

A Frayser father and son are facing serious charges after police say the two flashed an AK-47 after a worker forgot their order of chicken wings.

Police say, on Thursday night Antonius Hart Sr. (45), and Antonius Hart Jr. (19), wanted some chicken from Jack Pirtle's Chicken Restaurant in Memphis, Tennessee. After driving away with their order, they returned 10 minutes later angry that a worker had forgotten their order of chicken wings.

According to court records, the two demanded their forgotten wings, with a witness telling police one of the men said to the worker to give them, "8 pieces of chicken and another four pieces for making them have to drive back." The report goes on to say one of the men demanded the chicken saying, "gimme my mother (expletive) chicken" while raising what appeared to be an AK-47.

Both men were arrested after the police were called to the scene. The police recovered the weapon and twenty-four live rounds. Antonius Hart Sr. is charged with aggravated assault and Antonius Hart Jr. is charged with facilitation of a felony to wit aggravated assault.

With news video. There's an additional news video here.

Police ticket man for running backwards

A Miami Beach man received a ticket for running backwards through the streets. Alex Mesa, 44, said he's been jogging backwards for six years and has never had a problem until someone called authorities on Saturday.

"Four police officers for someone who's jogging backwards? Someone who is doing the right thing? That's uncalled for. That's a waste of manpower," said Mesa. A driver said Mesa was running in between cars. "He was jogging in between cars. A concerned citizen called 911.

"Officers were dispatched to that area. They observed this behaviour and advised them that he couldn't do it. He said he's always done it and will do it again," said Miami Beach Police spokesman Robert Hernandez. Police cited him for obstructing traffic and issued him with a ticket for $77.50. But Mesa says he doesn't think he did anything wrong.

"I'm not doing anything different from somebody roller skating, skateboarding or riding bicycles in the middle of the street," he said. Mesa refuses to stop running backwards and plans to fight his ticket in court. He thinks he was only ticketed after police found out about a past drug charge.

There are news videos here and here.

Eight Cures That Did More Harm Than Good

vOnce upon a time, and not all that long ago, the medicine you took had more to do with advertising and wishful thinking than with scientific testing of its effectiveness. The latest miracle cure would be discovered, sweep the country, and then die out when it turned out to not work. But worse, many of the cures could kill you.
“The Radium Water Worked Fine Until His Jaw Came Off” has to be one of the best Wall Street Journal headlines of all time. The “radium water” in question was called Radithor, and the jaw in question belonged to one Eben Byers: industrialist, socialite, and amateur golf champion.

Radium and radiation were all the rage around the turn of the 20th century. People who went to natural hot springs seemed “invigorated and renewed,” and scientists noted that many of these natural springs were high in naturally-occurring radon. The radon seemed to be to water what oxygen was to air; without it, water was “dead.” Looking to profit off of this discovery, companies first bottled water directly from the springs, and later produced “invigorating” crocks (containing internal radon discs or coatings) to irradiate water. Just fill the crock before you go to sleep, and have healthy, stimulating water all day long!
Things did not work out well for Eben Byers, who drank three bottles of radon water every day. Read about his case and seven other dangerous "cures" at mental_floss.

Daily Comic Relief

Friday, April 12

Living beyond the Dark Side of the Moon

Could the Skylab II concept turn a rocket fuel tank into a human habitat in deep space? 


Sunday, April 14

The Babson Boulders Of Dogtown

Roger Babson had a problem. His family thought he was crazy or felonious or both. He had started to carve mottoes in to the boulders which lay in the fields near the long abandoned settlement of Dogtown close to his home in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

Babson was later to write in his autobiography: My family says that I am defacing the boulders and disgracing the family with these inscriptions, but the work gives me a lot of satisfaction, fresh air, exercise and sunshine. I am really trying to write a simple book with words carved in stone instead of printed paper.

The 4.5 Billion Year Old Fukang Meteorite

The Fukang meteorite is a 1 kilogram (2,211 lbs) meteorite that was found in the mountains near Fukang, China in 2000. It is a pallasite - a type of stony-iron meteorite with striking olivine crystals. Pallasites are extremely rare and Fukang has been hailed as one of the greatest meteorite discoveries of the 21st century.

The Fukang pallasite is believed to originate from deep inside intact meteors created during the formation of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago and very few specimens are thought to have survived their descent through Earth's atmosphere.

Random Photo

Lab-made rat kidneys raise hopes for dialysis patients

The collagen scaffolding of a kidney, left behind after removing the cells, is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters April 12, 2013. REUTERS/Ott Laboratory, Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine/Handout 
 by Sharon Begley 
Scientists have discovered yet another way to make a kidney - at least for a rat - that does everything a natural one does, researchers reported on Sunday, a step toward savings thousands of lives and making organ donations obsolete.
The latest lab-made kidney sets up a horse race in the booming field of regenerative medicine, which aims to produce replacement organs and other body parts.
Several labs are competing to develop the most efficient method to produce the most functional organs through such futuristic techniques as 3D printing, which has already yielded a lab-made kidney that works in lab rodents, or through a "bioreactor" that slowly infuses cells onto the rudimentary scaffold of a kidney, as in the latest study.
The goal of both approaches is to help people with kidney failure. In the United States, 100,000 people with end-stage renal disease are on waiting lists for a donor kidney, but 5,000 to 10,000 die each year before they reach the top of the transplant list.
Even the 18,000 U.S. patients each year who do get a kidney transplant are not out of the woods. In about 40 percent the organ fails within 10 years, often fatally.
If what succeeded in rats "can be scaled to human-sized grafts," then patients waiting for donor kidneys "could theoretically receive new organs derived from their own cells," said Dr. Harald Ott, of the Center for Regenerative Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He led the research reported on Sunday in the online edition of Nature Medicine.
That would minimize the risk of rejection and make more organs available.
Ott's group used an actual kidney as its raw material, but competing labs are using 3D bioprinters to create the starting material, the scaffold or framework of the organ.
"With a 3D bioprinter, you wouldn't require donor organs," said Dr. Anthony Atala, director of the Institute for Regenerative Medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine in North Carolina and a pioneer in that technology.
"The printer also lets you be very precise in where the cells go" on and in the scaffold. But he hailed the Massachusetts General Hospital work as "one more study that confirms these technologies are possible."
Ott and his team started with kidneys from 68 rats and used detergent to remove the actual cells. That left behind a "renal scaffold," a three-dimensional framework made of the fibrous protein collagen, complete with all of a kidney's functional plumbing, from filter to ureter.
The scientists then seeded that scaffold with renal cells from newborn rats and blood-vessel-lining cells from human donors. To make sure each kind of cell went to the right spot, they infused the vascular cells through the kidney's artery - part of the scaffold - and the renal cells through the ureter.
Three to five days later, the scientists had their "bioengineered" kidneys.
When the organs were placed in a dialysis-like device that passed blood through them, they filtered waste and produced urine.
But the true test came when the scientists transplanted the kidneys into rats from which one kidney had been removed. Although not as effective as real kidneys, the lab-made ones did pretty well, Ott and his colleagues reported.
Ott said he thinks using different kinds of cells to build up a kidney on the scaffold could work even better, since the immaturity of the renal cells they used might have kept the lab-made transplant from performing as well as nature's.
If the technology is ever ready to make kidneys for people, the cells would come from the intended recipient, which would minimize the risk of organ rejection and reduce the need for lifelong immune suppression to prevent that.
Although the technique requires human kidneys to provide the scaffold, the organs do not have to be in as good working order as those for transplant.
"That gives you the potential to make use of kidneys offered for transplant that would otherwise be discarded," said Atala, perhaps because they have a viral infection or other disease.
Atala himself is nevertheless forging ahead with 3D printing. He and his colleagues have used that technique to make not only kidneys but also mini-livers which, implanted in lab rodents, made urea and metabolized drugs like a natural one.
They are now trying the more difficult feat of making larger, pig-sized kidneys, as a stepping-stone to human kidneys.

Elephant Poop Beer

elephant beerDo you remember the coffee made from coffee beans that have been, uh, organically processed by elephants? For April Fools' Day, Sankt Gallen, a brewery in Kanagawa, Japan, briefly sold a stout made from that coffee. The staff at Rocket News 24 snagged a few bottles before they sold out. Here's how it tastes:
I cracked open a bottle of Un, Kono Kuro to give it a try. I sniffed at the bottle’s neck and my nostrils were greeted with a faint bitter aroma, a little like roasted coffee just giving me a sense of what’s to come.
When I poured it into a glass the coffee-like aroma continued to build it was relaxing like an easy Sunday morning. After taking my first sip there was an initial bitterness that got washed over by a wave of sweetness. Following that, a mellow body rolled in and spread out through my mouth. [...]
Usually people talk about aftertaste when drinking beer but with Un, Kono Kuro the word afterglow is much more appropriate.
After downing the last drop, slowly rising from my throat and mouth was that afterglow. The combination of bitter and sweet stayed fresh and lingered in my head. It was a familiar aroma that accompanied me through the entire beer.

Modern Armor for Police Horses

horseAccording to some redditors, these are Chilean police officers. Their horses are armored, like those ridden by medieval knights. But the armor is thoroughly modern. A 2012 article from the Chicago Sun-Times describes that city's police horse armor:
The solicitation specifically requests: leather nose guards — 22 inches long and five inches wide — with “impact-absorbing foam”; clear, wrap-around visors to protect the horse’s eyes; 17-inch-long rear leg shields and 11-inch-long front leg shields, both made of “high-impact plastic” and soft foam; and “training aids” for horses, including a “crowd control training ball set.”
The mounted unit has 30 horses, 30 officers and an annual budget of nearly $2.7 million.
Police Department spokesperson Melissa Stratton said all 30 horses will be equipped with the new riot gear. She noted that the horses are “great crowd control tools” expected to provide “significant support to officers on the ground” during the summits.

Upping the Cute Factor

couldn’t help it.

Ducklings Fly for the First Time

first flight
The photographer behind a Swedish-language photo blog captured this image two Common Goldeneye ducklings flying for the first time. Flap harder, baby ducks!

The Curious Case of the Nonexistent Turtle

With all the stories about "de-extinction" of animal species lately, there's one method that doesn't get much notice -when scientists decide that an extinct species never existed in the first place. That applies to the case of Pelusios seychellensis, which, according to specimens collected by German naturalist August Brauer over 100 years ago, lived in the Seychelles off the east coast of Africa. Curiously, these turtles closely resembled turtles on the west coast of Africa, Pelusios castaneus. But they couldn't be the same, because they lived so far apart. So the separate species name was coined in 1983. But even more curious, no one could find any specimens of Pelusios seychellensis in the Seychelles, and scientists concluded that the species had gone extinct during the 20th century. Not only that, they assumed that humans had caused the extinction. But wait…
Brauer took the trip during which he was supposed to have collected the turtles between May 1895 to January 1896. But he didn’t immediately give his finds to a museum. Specimens from his private collection didn’t get transferred to the Zoological Museum Hamburg until five years after the Seychelles trip, and those turtles soon went on to Vienna’s Natural History Museum. Somewhere in all that shuffling, the west African turtles might have been lumped in with the Seychelles reptiles or otherwise confused. Whatever happened, though, a prominent clue indicates that the turtles were not collected from the wild. One, and possibly two, of the turtles have a perforation through their shells identical to the sort that turtle purveyors have traditionally used to tie turtles together until they are sold for food. Wherever Brauer got the turtles from, he seems to have purchased them.
Oops. On the bright side, this means that humans did not cause the extinction of a turtle species, because Pelusios castaneus is still around -on Africa's west coast. Read the saga of the disappearing turtles at Laelaps. More

Tortoise dug up alive after 10 months underground

A tortoise that vanished ten months ago has been found alive – after being dug up from its garden by a JCB. Paul and Yvette White found mud-caked Sydney,  a Horse Field tortoise, lying in a pile of rubble dug out for their new extension. The couple last saw their five year-old pet in June last year and spent two weeks in vain looking for him. They even called in a gun dog to see if he could sniff him out but to no avail.

But Paul, 50, thinks the pet dug himself into the garden as much as ten months ago – mistaking last year’s cool summer outside his heated vivarium for winter. The reptile then had even more earth piled on top of him as the couple carried out renovations to their ongoing barn conversion. Paul says his pet might have struggled to dig himself free without the JCB ploughing five feet down in the earth to lay the foundations for the couples’ new build in Wisbech, Cambs.

Paul said: “He’s normally kept in about a 25 or 26 degree controlled environment and we never let him hibernate. So when he got out last June there is every chance he mistook the cool summer for winter and burrowed his way underground. That would explain why we couldn’t find him – we even had my step-father’s gun dog out trying to sniff him out but we didn’t have any luck. Then about three weeks ago we got planning permission for a four-bedroom extension and started digging up the land to place the foundations.

“I started going through it all and spraying some pesticide when I ended up spraying Sydney. I wasn’t sure what to do at first because I thought he was a stone. He was absolutely caked in mud. I’m amazed how long he has managed to survive for. And I can’t believe he survived being dug up by the digger. It’s a miracle, I suppose. My wife is over the moon but she is working in London so still hasn’t seen him. She is absolutely delighted now.” Sydney has now been washed and returned to his heated vivarium after his extended winter. He has been checked over by a vet and given the all-clear.

Chihuahua adopts rejected meerkat

A baby meerkat which was expected to die after being shunned at birth has been saved thanks to a pet dog who has taken the animal under its paw.

Tiny Wilson the meerkat was born on January 20 but was immediately abandoned by his mother as the runt of the litter. Animal sanctuary owner Dennis Drew, 30, who runs Mablethorpe Seal and animal Sanctuary, in Lincolnshire, hand-reared the little animal but Wilson still only had a slim chance of survival.

But when he overheard staff member Leanne Clark, 22, talk about her pet Chihuahua who was going through a phantom pregnancy Dennis had a bright idea. He introduced Wilson to Leanne’s dog Kimi – who was lactating as part of her phantom pregnancy – and was amazed when the meerkat fed from her.

Within days Wilson became bigger and stronger and Kimi took over as mother believing the meerkat was her own puppy. After nearly two months together, the pair have forged an inseparable bond. Wilson now follows 18-month-old Kimi around wherever she goes, hitches a ride on her back – and the pair can often be seen curled up in a dog basket together.

Animal Pictures


“Will pose for treats” by Danny Beattie ~ Happy Sunday lovely friends :)
Say What?!