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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Daily Drift


Carolina Naturally is read in 191 countries around the world daily.
Man, that's astronomical!  ...
Today is Spring Astronomy Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Tbilisi, Georgia
Panama, Panama
Manila, Philippines
Amsterdam, Netherlands
Accra, Ghana
Jakarta, Indonesia
Colombo, Sri Lanka
Cairo, Egypt
Luxembourg, Luxembourg
Doha, Qatar
Tirana, Albania
Algiers, Algeria
Bangkok, Thailand
Skopje, Macedonia
Warsaw and Bialystok, Poland
Islamabad and Lahore, Pakistan
Rosebank and Cape Town South Africa
Dnipropetrovsk, Kiev and Kharkiv, Ukraine
Puchong, Kuala Lumpur, Taiping, Ipoh, Petaling Jaya and Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia

Editor's Note: We're a wee bit late posted today - we spent the morning doing this:

Today in History

1139   The Second Lateran Council opens in Rome.
1657   English Admiral Robert Blake fights his last battle when he destroys the Spanish fleet in Santa Cruz Bay.
1769   Ottawa Chief Pontiac is murdered by an Indian in Cahokia.
1770   Captain Cook discovers Australia.
1775   British troops begin the siege of Boston.
1792   France declares war on Austria, Prussia, and Sardinia.
1809   Napoleon defeats Austria at Battle of Abensberg, Bavaria.
1836   The Territory of Wisconsin is created.
1841   Edgar Allen Poe's first detective story is published.
1861   Robert E. Lee resigns from the U.S. Army.
1879   The first mobile home (horse-drawn) is used in a journey from London to Cyprus.
1916   Wrigley Field opens in Chicago.
1919   The Polish Army captures Vilno, Lithuania from the Soviets.
1940   The first electron microscope is demonstrated.
1942   Pierre Laval, the premier of Vichy France, in a radio broadcast, establishes a policy of "true reconciliation with Germany."
1945   Soviet troops begin their attack on Berlin.
1951   General MacArthur addresses a joint session of Congress after being relieved by President Truman.
1953   Operation Little Switch begins in Korea, the exchange of sick and wounded prisoners of war.
1962   The New Orleans Citizens Committee gives free one-way ride to blacks to move North.
1967   U.S. planes bomb Haiphong for first time during the Vietnam War.
1999   Two students enter Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado and open fire with multiple firearms, killing 13 students and teachers, wounding 25 and eventually shooting themselves.

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

That Boston pols and business leaders create a fund to help victims of the marathon bombing. you can donate here

Here's one problem that goes unnoticed: suicide among the elderly

And here are the twitter handles of the senators who voted against the background check gun safety bill

About the growing threat of wingnut violence

About how Obama wants to prevent future Romneys from avoiding taxation

Did Alaskan newborns suffer repercussions from the Fukushima fallout?

Just maybe Reinholt and rogoff could use some help from Clippy to figure out how to use excel

That the fertilizer plant that exploded in Texas had no alarms, shut-off system or firewall

New Rule

MIT student raises funds for young Boston bomb victim's family

Catherine says,

On Monday, the Boston Marathon was bombed. On Monday night I was feeling blessed and thankful to not know anyone directly affected by the bombs. But on Tuesday morning I woke up to an email from my colleague Chris Peterson at the MIT Center for Civic Media. Chris's family are friends with the family who lost their son Martin in the attack. He sent us photos of he and his brothers playing with their children and the reality was all too close. It is devastating. This family will have a long road of healing in front of them that most of us cannot even begin to imagine.
My friends at MIT and I have spent the past couple of days helping Chris build a site to raise money for the Richard family. We are coordinating with St Marks Area Main Street, a non-profit community organization based in Dorchester, MA, where the family lives. The site is made with the support of the family and their spokesperson. 100% of funds raised goes to the family. Please give what you can. It's the very least we can do to come together in solidarity with these innocent people and help them to rebuild their lives in the wake of senseless violence. In the photo on the site Martin is holding a sign he made in school that says "Peace". Let us spread that peace.

The truth be told

Friday, April 19

In the ultimate case of irony ...

Victims of Gun Violence Subjected to Background Checks by Senate
Message to you people from the corporate puppets of America.  You can watch the mostly repugican cowards spit in 90% of America’s faces but calling the out will result in a background check. Don’t you dare believe that the First Amendment applies to you, while sitting in the Tea House or the NRA owned Senate.
It’s okay to invade a woman’s privacy or personal autonomy, but hey, if you want to buy a military assault weapon your privacy matters.
After voting against expanded background checks to buy deadly weapons, our Senate added insulted to Patricia Maisch and Lori Haas, both VICTIMS of guns violence because they uttered 3 words:  “Shame on you!”
Maisch and Haas, who said what sane America was thinking at the time, were promptly ushered out of the gallery. After that, they underwent more scrutiny for exercising their First Amendment rights than someone would undergo to buy a gun.
ThinkProgress reports,
As they left the Senate gallery, a police officer approached and asked them to follow him. The three walked downstairs to a public hallway, where they were peppered with questions: “What’s your name?” “Where are you from?” “What are your Social Security numbers?” The officer left to run a background check on the women, who were instructed to sit on a bench. Another uniformed officer watched over them, even escorted Haas to the bathroom and told her she couldn’t lock the stall door.
This is reminiscent of Maria Meecham’s experience in the gallery of the House of Representatives, after two repugican Congressmen from her state high-fived, each other following a vote that denied a minor pay raise for the troops that repugicans like to use as props when professing how much they support our troops.
Words by victims of gun violence warranted a background check, but doing the same in the name of keeping deadly weapons out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have guns is seen to be an infringement on their Second Amendment rights. Corporate profits trump everything. The Second Amendment trumps the First Amendment and for that matter, our right to not be shot.
The irony wasn’t lost on Lori Haas, who told Think Progress:
“Very ironic that an hour and a half investigation into two women shouting in the Senate gallery takes place and yet real criminals and other prohibited purchasers get willy nilly access to fire arms.”
In another Onionesque moment, the Voter (no)Integrity Project of North Carolina wants voters to be fingerprinted  before they can exercise their franchise because it’s so much easier than voter ID and cheaper too.  As for the idea that it would be an invasion of privacy (as the right wing argued against background checks to buy guns) here is their response. “ Since the name of the voter is already a matter of public record, that too would be a tough objection to deliver while keeping a straight face.”
So there it is, people. The freedom fighting corporatists think speaking warrants a background check, fingerprints should be mandatory for voting, but knowing anything about someone who wants to buy a military assault weapon – that’s treading corporate America’s freedom to profit from rapists, domestic abusers and violent criminals.  In other words it’s guns over people, speech, voting, women’s personal autonomy and anything else resembling freedom for we, the people.

The truth hurts

Friday, April 19

Viacom gets its ass handed to it again by a court in its YouTube lawsuit

For years, Viacom has been embroiled in a bizarre lawsuit against Google, asserting that Google had a duty to figure out exactly which videos uploaded by it users infringed on Viacom's copyrights and stop them from showing (Viacom's internal memos showed that they themselves had paid dozens of companies to secretly upload Viacom videos disguised to look as leaked internal footage to YouTube, and that the company's executives had viewed the suit as a way to seize control of YouTube from Google and run it themselves). Now, yet another court has told Viacom that its legal theory about the duty of online service providers to proactively police its users' uploads is totally, unequivocally WRONG. Viacom has pledged to appeal.
In a ruling released today, the court gave a total victory to Google/YouTube, granting it summary judgment, saying that YouTube was protected from claims of infringement via the DMCA's safe harbors, and mocking Viacom's legal theories at the same time. Might as well jump right in with some quotes, including the money quote that Viacom's legal theory is "extravagant." Elsewhere the judge calls it "ingenious."
Viacom's argument that the volume of material and "the absence of record evidence that would allow a jury to decide which clips-in-suit were specifically known to senior YouTube executives" (Viacom Opp. pp. 9-10) combine to deprive YouTube of the statutory safe harbor, is extravagant. If, as plaintiffs assert, neither side can determine the presence or absence of specific infringements because of the volume of material, that merely demonstrates the wisdom of the legislative requirement that it be the owner of the copyright, or his agent, who identifies the infringement by giving the service provider notice. 17 U.S.C. § 512(c)(3)(A). The system is entirely workable: in 2007 Viacom itself gave such notice to YouTube of infringements by some 100,000 videos, which were taken down by YouTube by the next business day. See 718 F. Supp. 2d 514 at 524.
Thus, the burden of showing that YouTube knew or was aware of the specific infringements of the works in suit cannot be shifted to YouTube to disprove. Congress has determined that the burden of identifying what must be taken down is to be on the copyright owner, a determination which has proven practicable in practice.
This was the crux of Viacom's argument. That because they could show a lot of infringement, and here and there point to some evidence that some people at YouTube might have known of general infringement, then the burden should be on YouTube. But the court clearly calls them on this, noting that's not what the law says, nor does it make sense. Instead, under the law, the burden is on Viacom and that makes sense.
YouTube Wins Yet Another Complete Victory Over Viacom; Court Mocks Viacom's Ridiculous Legal Theories

Ridiculous Startup Company Ideas That Were Completely Successful

Michael Wolfe
What are some of the most ridiculous startup ideas that eventually became successful?
That question was posted on Quora. Michael Wolfe, an entrepreneur, responded by pointing out that some of the most successful startup companies and projects of the past 20 years seem pretty stupid at first:
Ask yourself, if you were a venture capitalist pitched one of these ideas, what would your reaction have been?
  • Facebook - the world needs yet another Myspace or Friendster except several years late. We'll only open it up to a few thousand overworked, anti-social, Ivy Leaguers. Everyone else will then join since Harvard students are so cool. [...]
  • iOS - a brand new operating system that doesn't run a single one of the millions of applications that have been developed for Mac OS, Windows, or Linux. Only Apple can build apps for it. It won't have cut and paste. [...]
  • Instagram - filters! That's right, we got filters!
  • LinkedIn - how about a professional social network, aimed at busy 30- and 40-somethings. They will use it once every 5 years when they go job searching.

Siri keeps data for "up to two years", but only anonymously

Robert McMillan explains what happens to the data generated and stored with Siri queries: "Once the voice recording is six months old, Apple “disassociates” your user number from the clip, deleting the number from the voice file. But it keeps these disassociated files for up to 18 more months for testing and product improvement purposes."

FedEx Invented the Tracking Number

The tracking number, that string of digits that tell you where your package is and when it's going to be delivered, is so ubiquitous today that you'd probably never believe that there was a time before its existence.
Yet, this obvious piece of information didn't exist before FedEx (then Federal Express) created it forty years ago:
One of FedEx’s great contributions was the tracking number, which has become a standard in shipping. By entering a numeric string into FedEx.com, you can find out exactly where your package is as it works it way toward you. It’s immensely convenient, but that is but a pleasant side-effect. The tracking number was initially an internal process for quality control.
The system, launched in the late 1970s, was created to improve efficiencies. It worked so well that, in 1979, the system was offered to customers as COSMOS (Customers, Operations and Services Master Online System). When the system went online it included early prototypes of handheld computers that scanned package barcodes with wands. FedEx was aware that of the importance of all this data. FedEx founder Fred Smith is famous for saying, “The information about the package is as important as the package itself.”
Roberto Baldwin of Wired has the post: Here.

Elephantine Colossus

Brooklyn's Most Unusual Hotel
The Elephantine Colossus, otherwise known as the Elephant Hotel, was a tourist attraction located on Coney Island that was built in the shape of an elephant. The hotel opened in 1885, a 12-storey pachyderm with 31 organ-themed guest rooms that faced the ocean and featured an observation deck and a cigar store in its leg.

An example of novelty architecture, the seven-story tall structure designed by James V. Lafferty stood above Surf Avenue and West 12th Street from 1885 until 1896, when it burnt down in a fire. During its lifespan, the thirty-one room building acted as a hotel, concert hall, and amusement bazaar.

Ghostly 1970s couple haunt woman's photo of nephew

A Texas woman said a failed attempt to snap a cellphone photo of her nephew instead captured the images of two figures she believes to be ghosts. Marcella Davis took the photo on April 15 at Cleveland High School, Cleveland, where she was trying to get a shot of her nephew, who attends the school. "He spun around so I couldn't take his picture, so I got the back of his head," she said.

"I didn't try to take no more because he didn't let me." Davis, the mother of two teenagers, said she doesn't understand much about the smart phone she used to take the photos, so that evening, her daughter was showing her how she could zoom in and out. As her daughter zoomed in on the photo of her nephew, she could see more detail. "She goes, 'Mom, look at this.' I was like, 'What?' and she showed me the picture of the ghost," Davis said. "You could see straight through it."

A man in a light-colored suit with bell-bottom pants and a dark shirt is standing near the chain-link fence, and a woman, who is less distinct, can be seen behind him. Because of the man's clothing and hair style, he appears to be from the 1970s, Davis said. A life-long resident of the Cleveland area, Davis said she has never had any other encounters with ghosts, but believes it could be possible. "To me, it's not something that's not normal," she said.

"People pass away all the time. Until you're the one who passes away, you don't honestly know what happens to you." While some people might think she made up the story, Davis said she wouldn't know how to alter the photo. "I can promise you I did not make that picture up," she said.

A resurgence in LSD research

It's drug week at Popular Science and Shaunacy Ferro would like you to know why doctors can't give you LSD — and why they maybe ought to be 

Tidbits for hypochondriacs

If you would like to avoid catching somebody's cold, you should attempt to remain at least six feet away from them. That is the distance respiratory droplets can travel through air. 

Health News

Community gardeners have lower BMIs and a smaller chance of being overweight or obese, a new study suggests.
The virus is spreading to people who haven't had contact with birds or poultry, report Chinese health officials.

Ahem ...

Thursday, April 18

Threat to Brazil tribe not lifted

Awa tribeThreat to Brazil tribe not lifted

The Brazilian government is accused of ignoring a legal deadline to remove settlers from the territory of a highly endangered tribe.

Scientists sequence the coelacanth genome

The coelacanth is one of a small handful of living fishes that are probably closely related much more ancient, extinct creatures — including, the first fish to haul itself up onto land. Now scientists have sequenced its genes and are digging through the data in search of genetic clues to how fish and land-dwelling animals are connected to one another. Among the finds so far, a gene that seems to be connected to how animals grow placentas. Coelacanths don't have placentas, but they do have eggs that hatch inside their own bodies.

Yellowstone's Volcano Bigger Than Thought

Yellowstone's underground volcanic plumbing is bigger and better connected than scientists thought, geologists reported at the Seismological Society of America's annual meeting.

The Gulf Stream in Infrared

It looks like an abstract painting or layers of oil, but that's the Gulf Stream, the swift Atlantic ocean current that originates at the tip of Florida, follows the eastern coastlines of the United States, then crosses the Atlantic Ocean towards Europe and then dipping down to the east coast of Africa.
The image above is infrared photo by NASA's Suomi NPP Satellite:
The infra-red image, covering an area about 180 miles east of Atlantic City, New Jersey, shows the warmest waters in dark orange. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the temperature of these waters is an astounding 86 degrees F. Lighter colors indicate cooler waters, as low as 50 degrees. And the black areas in the image are clouds.
Tom Yulsman of Discover Magazine's ImaGeo blog has the post: Here.

Kepler 62, a planetary system like our own

Two of the five planets seen circling a distant star may be capable of supporting life, reports the team operating the Kepler Space Telescope. Relatively close to Earth's size and within their sun's habitable zone, the worlds—1200 light years away—are the most tantalizing yet in a search that began in 2009. [The Atlantic]

Monster Hawaiian Telescope Approved

The summit of Mauna Kea on Big Island, Hawaii, already plays host to 13 observatories -- now a new, monster addition the telescopic family is one step closer to reality.

Astronomical News

Herschel captures a 'cosmic horse'Herschel and Hubble view the Horsehead Nebula

Europe's Herschel space telescope has imaged one of the most popular subjects in the sky - the Horsehead Nebula - and its environs.

Artist's impression of Kepler-62 system'Most Earth-like' worlds detected

Scientists say Nasa's Kepler space telescope has found distant planets that may be the most Earth-like it has yet discovered. 369

Random Photo


Catrinel Menghia

Couple greeted by 12-foot, 1,000 lb alligator on front porch

A 12-foot alligator kept a South Carolina couple practically hostage in their home for nearly five hours on Saturday before it was captured and taken away. Diana Andrews opened the front door of the Hilton Head Island home she shares with her husband, Arthur, at around 5:30am to take the couple's Scottish Terrier for a walk. Instead, she found herself face-to-snout with an alligator.

"I was in bed and heard her open the door and then scream and then heard the door slam," Arthur Andrews said. "I went running out and looked outside. The dog couldn't have been two feet from the gator's mouth when my wife grabbed him by his tail and pulled him back into the house, so she had to get that close too," he said. The Andrews called the security officer of their gated community who arrived in his pickup truck and attempted to scare the gator back into the lagoon that neighbors the couple's home. When that only made the gator more agitated the guard told the Andrews they'd have to "Call the professionals."

For the next two hours the Andrews watched the gator from the safety of their front window, as he continued to "kind of case the house," according to Andrews, until "professionals" from Critters Management Inc. arrived. Believing that Andrews' over-the-phone description of the gator as "about 10 feet" would be a typical situation, in which the gator is actually about two feet but the homeowner is scared, the company only sent one man, Joe Maffo, to chase the gator away. "When he saw it, he said there was no way," Andrews recalled, adding that Maffo estimated the gator to weigh about 1,000 pounds.

Maffo first used a snare to try to coax the gator but when the gator snapped the steel cable he turned to a second approach, using both a snare and ropes to secure the gator to a nearby tree. He then left and came back to the couple's home with reinforcement - six additional colleagues - who taped and tied the gator's mouth and legs shut so they could remove the animal from the Andrews' lawn. "It was five hours minimum from the time we saw him to the time they took him away," Andrews said. Andrews believes the alligator was euthanized because its size and aggression prevented it from being released. A representative for Critter Management confirmed that the alligator was harvested by the company.

Animal News

Finding any severed animal or human body part can be creepy and gruesome, but it's not always bad news.
A new meat-loving dinosaur, "Lonely Small Bandit," fills a gap in Madagascar's dinosaur records.

Animal Pictures