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.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Daily Drift


Photo by Allan Grant.
Drive-In Theater at San Francisco, 1948
Drive-In Theater at San Francisco, 1948
Carolina Naturally is read in 191 countries around the world daily.

Yeah, right!  ...

Today is Blah! Blah! Blah! Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Today in History

858   Benedict III ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1492   Christopher Columbus signs a contract with Spain to find a western route to the Indies.
1521   Martin Luther is excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church.
1524   Present-day New York Harbor is discovered by Giovanni Verrazano.
1535   Antonio Mendoza is appointed first viceroy of New Spain.
1758   Frances Williams, the first African-American to graduate for a college in the western hemisphere, publishes a collection of Latin poems.
1808   Bayonne Decree by Napoleon I of France orders seizure of U.S. ships.
1824   Russia abandons all North American claims south of 54' 40'.
1861   Virginia become eighth state to secede from the Union.
1864   General Grant bans the trading of prisoners.
1865   Mary Surratt is arrested as a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination.
1875   The game "snooker" is invented by Sir Neville Chamberlain.
1895   China and Japan sign peace treaty of Shimonoseki.
1929   Baseball player Babe Ruth and Claire Hodgeson, a former member of the Ziegfield Follies, get married.
1946   The last French troops leave Syria.
1947   Jackie Robinson bunts for his first major league hit.
1961   Some 1,400 Cuban exiles attack the Bay of Pigs in an attempt to overthrow Fidel Castro.
1964   Jerrie Mock becomes first woman to fly solo around the world.
1969   Sirhan Sirhan is convicted of assassinating Senator Robert F. Kennedy.
1970   Apollo 13–originaly scheduled to land on the moon–lands back safely on Earth after an accident.
1975   Khmer Rouge forces capture the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh.
1983   In Warsaw, police rout 1,000 Solidarity supporters.

Non Sequitur


Scottish Bowling

Scottish bowling(Photo: David Gray/Reuters)
Whatever you do, do it in a kilt for an optimal performance:
A competitor wearing a kilt & standing on a barrel throws a ball between his legs during the 'brigaball' contest at the 36th Bundanoon Highland Gathering held in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, on April 6. The annual festival showcases Scottish bands & a variety of highland games.

And why not?


Social media can support healthiness of older people

The use of social media by older people can offer valuable additional support in cases of sickness and diseases, new research from the University of Luxembourg has shown. In a new publication, Dr Anja Leist [...]

Did you know ...

About mass murders - the white guy problem

There's been more than 100 acts of terrorism since supreme court decision in 2008

That a California bill may punish boy scouts for gay ban

that our math deficit doesn't add up

Wow, 12 million Americans believe lizard people run the USA

From Public Policy Polling: "Do you believe that shape-shifting reptilian people control our world by taking on human form and gaining political power to manipulate our societies, or not?"
Do 4%
Do not 88%
Not sure 7%
And there you have it folks - the repugican ' base'

Mitch McConnell Breaks Federal Law(s)

There are volumes written about exactly what ethics are, but generally ethics refer to well-based standards of right and wrong that prescribe what humans should do in terms of rights, obligations, benefits to society, fairness, and specific virtues. Politicians are rightly expected to display the highest ethics because their actions directly impact society, and citizens deserve representatives who conduct the people’s business fairly and that they never misuse taxpayer dollars for personal gain. There are mechanisms in the United States Congress to hold senators and representatives accountable for misusing public funds, and last Thursday, a watchdog group filed an ethics complaint against a repugican senator who, by all accounts, violated Senate ethics standards and committed at least one federal crime; possibly two.
In February, during a private meeting at his 2014 reelection campaign headquarters in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and several campaign aides met to discuss opposition research collected on potential challengers. The discussion centered around actress and activist Ashley Judd, and one could argue the subjects discussed were unethical from a fairness standpoint, but repugican politicians are notorious for unfairly characterizing their political opponents as a matter of course, and campaigns are messy affairs. However, the ethics violation charges are not about what McConnell’s aides said about Judd, but about McConnell illegally using paid congressional staff time or resources for his re-election campaign.  According to Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), McConnell did use “taxpayer-funded resources to pay staffers to dig up dirt on political opponents,” and CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan charged “it isn’t just an ethics violation, it’s a federal crime.” CREW filed an ethics complaint with the Senate Select Committee on Ethics to investigate whether McConnell spent taxpayer dollars to dig up dirt on potential opponents, and a separate complaint with the FBI to investigate McConnell for violating two federal laws.
In the tape recording at McConnell’s headquarters, the speaker leading the discussion clearly said details contained in the opposition research “reflects the work of a lot of folks: Josh, Jesse, Phil Maxson, a lot of [legislative assistants], thank them three times, so this is a compilation of work, all the way through.” Phil Maxson is a legislative assistant, Josh may refer to Josh Holmes, McConnell’s chief of staff, and Jesse may be Jesse Benton, McConnell’s campaign manager. McConnell claimed the tape was recorded illegally and asked the FBI to investigate who taped the secret meeting, and if they broke the law they should face the consequences, but that is a rank deflection away from the real crime. Using taxpayer dollars is against federal law and congressional rules barring lawmakers from using congressional staff or resources, which are paid for with taxpayer funds, for campaign purposes.
According to 18 USC § 641, “Whoever embezzles, steals, purloins, or knowingly converts to his use or the use of another… money, or thing of value of the United States or of any department or agency thereof, with intent to convert it to his use or gain, knowing it to have been embezzled, stolen, purloined or converted shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years.” In 1993 a former House employee pleaded guilty to a charge of theft of government property after it was discovered he did campaign work at the same time he said he was conducting official business. Also, according to 18 USC § 1341 – Frauds and swindles, paying congressional staff for campaign work may constitute mail fraud, and in 1979 another former House member was prosecuted for mail fraud for putting campaign workers on his congressional payroll. If McConnell used anyone on his legislative staff to do opposition research, or paid campaign workers from his Senate payroll, he broke federal law on two separate counts and is in violation of Senate ethics rules.
McConnell’s spokesman said the taped recording was erroneous and that the aide leading the meeting did not say thank legislative aides three times for their work compiling research on Judd, but that they engaged in research “in their free time.” The tape recording is clear, and the aide did not say “in their free time,” but it is not unusual for repugicans to tell people what they heard was not what they really heard, and in McConnell’s case, the contention is an attempt to deflect attention away from his activities by alleging the recording may have been illegal. In fact, when McConnell’s office was questioned by reporters about misusing taxpayer dollars for this campaign, they refused to comment, but days later after realizing they were in violation of federal law and Senate ethics rules, told reporters they did not hear what the tape recording clearly revealed.
CREW executive director said McConnell should “welcome both an FBI and ethics committee investigation into his conduct,” but doubtless the ranking repugican in the Senate welcomes an FBI or Senate ethics investigation. Especially damning in the tape recording is naming Phil Maxson who has been in McConnell’s employ as a legislative aide since early in 2011, but according to reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission, he was never paid by McConnell’s campaign committee or leadership PAC. McConnell’s request for the FBI to investigate the recording will also necessitate the Bureau to fully inquire whether he violated federal law(s), and coupled with the complaint filed by CREW detailing the U.S.C. violations and an impending Senate inquiry, he may rue the day he felt he was above the law and that he made enemies emboldened to tape a secret strategy meeting. It is not clear that the recording was even remotely illegal.
McConnell is a bad Senate representative for doing nothing but obstruct the U.S. Senate over the past four years, but these charges are serious and demand a thorough investigation by the FBI and the Senate Select Committee on Ethics. The account also demands that the Federal Elections Commission conducts their own investigation to determine why McConnell’s legislative aide was working on his re-election campaign without filing a report with the FEC. Doubtless, McConnell will claim ignorance of the sordid affair and tap the legislative aides and his chief of staff to take the fall and shield him from prosecution, but the fact remains he was at the secret campaign meeting and plainly heard what the tape recording reveals; that he used taxpayer dollars for personal gain. Because McConnell did not immediately alert the FBI and FEC that a crime had been committed, and failed to tell the Senate Select Committee his paid legislative staff worked for his campaign, he is culpable for concealing the malfeasance and deserves to be prosecuted as if he directed the entire affair that is more than possible, it is entirely plausible.

The truth be told


College admission questions rarely identify criminal behavior

A new study shows that neither criminal background checks nor pre-admission screening questions accurately predict students likely to commit crime on college campuses. “In an effort to reduce campus crime, more than half of all [...]

Loud cries for help that prompted 911 call turned out to be a goat

When Deputies in Putnam County, Tennessee, responded to 911 call recently they thought they were going to find a man trapped under a car, but it was actually a goat.
A neighbor arriving home stepped out of her car to hear someone yelling what she thought were the words 'help.' Not knowing who was in trouble, she picked up the phone and called 911.

When officers arrived, they found a goat tied up to a post yelping at the top of it's lungs. Even the officials who responded to the call admitted the yelling goat, sounded distinctly like a human.

"He's used to being with the other goats and we separated him, I guess he didn't want to be alone so he wanted to get back with the other goats," explained Carlos Mendez who owns the one-year-old goat named Charcoal.

Six-year-old Goes Out for Chinese Food

vMotorists were surprised to see a child driving along the road in Lapeer, Michigan, early Saturday morning. According to Sgt. Andy Engster of the local sheriff's office, motorists boxed in the child and his car and called police. They found a 6-year-old who had taken the family car.
The boy had taken the keys off the counter at home and told the responding officer that he had never driven before and nobody had taught him how.

"He said he'd never even sat on his dad's lap to steer the car or anything," said Engster.

When police asked the boy why he took the car, he told them he was going to get Chinese food. He had hit a "no left turn" sign on Park and Pine streets near his home and, seeing the damage to the car, decided he needed to head to the dealer to get it repaired.
The unnamed boy's father was called to retrieve him. The parents had been asleep, and were unaware that the child had left the house. No one was injured. More

Ain't that always the way ...


Yet another reason why jargon sucks

Yes, it's useful for communicating within your group, but as soon as you step outside that circle jargon becomes a problem. That's true even for scientists trying to communicate between disciplines and sub-disciplines of a field. At Ars Technica, John Timmer talks about jargon acronyms that look the same, but mean totally different things depending on what science you do. One of his examples: CTL. If you study flies, this can refer to a specific gene. For people who work with mice, it's a reference to curly tails. For immunologists, it's a type of white blood cell — cytotoxic T lymphocyte. — 

Why Are We Afraid Of The Dark?

Having noticed that many people still sleep with a light on even as adults, the creators of the Online Alarm Clock website thought it would be informative to research the subject of just how many people suffer from a fear of darkness. Achluophobia and Nyctophobia are two scientific terms used to describe phobias involving a fear of darkness or, respectively, a fear of the night.

Here's an infographic that explains why we are afraid of the dark.

Amateur astronomers find lost Russian Mars probe

Combining NASA data with the eyes of citizen scientists might have turned up evidence of Mars 3 — a Soviet probe that was the first to make a soft landing (as opposed to a hard crash) on the planet's surface. Mars 3 has been lost since it stopped working, approximately 15 seconds after its successful landing. — 

Mayan Calendar End Date Confirmed

Dating of an elaborately carved wooden beam from a temple in an ancient Maya city confirms the calendar ended last December.

Random Photo


fraspi: Brooklyn Decker
featuring clothing…

Yeah for yeast

The Oregon state House has voted unanimously to make Saccharomyces cerevisiae — brewer's yeast — the official State microbe. The bill now heads to the state Senate.

Nanosponge Soaks Up Toxins From Bloodstream

Got toxins in your bloodstream? Soak 'em up with science!
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego, have created a nanosponge that can remove a broad class of dangerous toxins from the bloodstream:
These nanosponges, which thus far have been studied in mice, can neutralize "pore-forming toxins," which destroy cells by poking holes in their cell membranes. Unlike other anti-toxin platforms that need to be custom synthesized for individual toxin type, the nanosponges can absorb different pore-forming toxins regardless of their molecular structures. In a study against alpha-haemolysin toxin from MRSA, pre-innoculation with nanosponges enabled 89 percent of mice to survive lethal doses.

Freezing Nerves to Alleviate Chronic Pain

If you've got chronic nerve pain, a new treatment may be able to eliminate the pain by literally freezing the nerves with tiny ball of ice:
More than 15 million Americans and Europeans suffer from neuralgia, in which nerves are damaged by diabetes, surgery or traumatic injury, Moore noted. Sufferers often rely on pain medications, which have side effects and may not provide enough relief. Cryoneurolysis uses a small probe that is cooled to minus 10 to minus 16 degrees Celsius, creating a freezer burn along the outer layer of the nerve. This interrupts the pain signal to the brain and blunts or eliminates the pain while allowing the damaged nerves to grow over time, explained [William Moore, M.D., medical director of radiology at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in Stony Brook, N.Y.].
Science Daily has the post: Here.

Potential food source from non-food plants

A team of Virginia Tech researchers has succeeded in transforming cellulose into starch, a process that has the potential to provide a previously untapped nutrient source from plants not traditionally thought of as food crops. [...]

Tulip trees are 'molecular fossils'

Tulip tree canopy (Image: BBC)Tulip trees are 'molecular fossils'

The "extraordinary level of conservation" of the tulip tree's mitochondrial genome redefines our understanding of flowering plants' evolution, say researchers.

Awesome Pictures


Rampart Lakes | Washington (by Jeremy Jonkman)

What does ambergris look like?

Ambergris is often referred to as "whale vomit", but that's not really correct. A more accurate analogy would be to say that ambergris is like the whale equivalent of a hairball. It's produced in the whale digestive tract, possibly to protect intestines from the sharp, pointy beaks of squid — you'll often find squid beaks embedded in the stuff. Most of it gets pooped out. But the big chunks of ambergris have to exit the other direction. In the human world, these lumps — which have the consistency of soft rock or thickly packed potting soil — are famous because we use them to make things like perfume. The ambergris washes up on beaches, people collect it, and sell it to make cosmetics.
Anyway, that's what usually happens. Recently, a dead sperm whale washed up on a beach in Holland and the conservationists who dissected it found a huge quantity of ambergris in the animal's intestines.
That news made me realize that I'd never actually seen a picture of ambergris before, so I went hunting around to see what the stuff looked like. That's a photo of a lump of ambergris, above. But it's not really indicative of what ambergris looks like all the time. In fact, as far as I can tell, the stuff comes in a wide variety of shapes and colors — ranging from stuff that looks like small brown pebbles to yellow-green globs covered in bubbly nodules. The diversity is worth perusing. This website, for a company that buys and sells ambergris, has several nice photos. And Google image search turned up a plethora of pics that really capture how different one lump of ambergris can be from another.

Sun Hives: pollination and health before honey

The Sun Hive is a hanging honeybee hive designed by Günther Mancke and which is growing in popularity in the UK and elsewhere. It was designed around the needs of pollinating bees and colony health and preferences, and not around prioritizing honey production. As such, it's thought to be much better for sustaining bee populations. It's also quite beautiful.
There's also a Sun Hive book, that you can read or download (4.5Mb), and which gives the background on natural beekeeping and instructions on how to construct one.

Dinosaur Swam a Strong Doggy-Paddle

Claw marks on a 100-million-year-old riverbed in China reveal how some dinosaurs doggy-paddled over long distances.

Sharks Dive By the Moon

Lunar cycle and water temperature affect when the creatures will go deep.

Animal Pictures


Yellowstone Coyote by Jacques-Andre Dupont