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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.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Daily Drift

It makes one wonder it does.

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

To be or not to be!  ...
Today is Talk Like Shakespeare Day

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Today in History

1348   The first English order of knighthood is founded.
1500   Pedro Cabal claims Brazil for Portugal.
1521   The Comuneros are crushed by royalist troops in Spain.
1661   Charles II is formally crowned king, returning the monarchy to Britain, albeit with greatly reduced powers.
1759   British forces seize Basse-Terre and Guadeloupe from France.
1789   President George Washington moves into Franklin House, New York.
1826   Missolonghi falls to Egyptian forces.
1856   Free Stater J.N. Mace in Westport, Kansas shoots pro-slavery sheriff Samuel Jones in the back.
1865   Union cavalry units continue to skirmish with Confederate forces in Henderson, North Carolina and Munsford Station, Alalbama.
1895   Russia, France, and Germany force Japan to return the Liaodong peninsula to China.
1896   Motion pictures premiere in New York City.
1915   The ACA becomes the National Advisory Council on Aeronautics (NACA), the forerunner of NASA.
1920   The Turkish Grand National Assembly has first meeting in Ankara.
1924   The U.S. Senate passes the Soldiers' Bonus Bill.
1945   The Soviet Army fights its way into Berlin.
1950   Chiang Kai-shek evacuates Hainan, leaving mainland China to Mao Zedong and the communists.
1954   The Army-McCarthy hearings begin.
1966   President Lyndon Johnson publicly appeals for more nations to come to the aid of South Vietnam.
1969   Sirhan Sirhan is sentenced to death for killing Senator Robert Kennedy.
1971   The Soviet Union launches Soyuz 10, becoming the first in Salyut 1 space station.

Non Sequitur


Classic Southern Caramel Cake

Classic Southern Caramel Cake

1 cup butter (2 sticks)
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
3 cups flour, self-rising
1 cup buttermilk
2 teaspoons vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare three 9-inch cake pans by greasing them and adding optional parchment paper. Beat butter until light and fluffy and then add sugar and beat for about 5 more minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, and mix well after each. Add flour and buttermilk, alternately, beginning and ending with flour and mix well after each. Add vanilla and beat well. Divide among pans and bake for 25-30 minutes until set.

Turn out of pans onto cooling racks and allow to cool completely. Prepare Southern Caramel Icing as cakes are cooling then frost the cake.
Southern Caramel Frosting

2 cups sugar
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup Crisco
½ cup butter
1 teaspoon baking soda

Mix all ingredients in a 3-4 quart cast iron dutch oven.
Swirl pan to keep ingredients moving in the pan. Cook to softball stage 235º – 245º on a candy thermometer or when tested in a cup of cold water. Remove from heat and beat with a wooden spoon until creamy and ready to spread.

No thermometer? Do the cold water test:

Take a some of the caramel and drop it into a bowl or cup of cold water. Give it a few seconds to cool. Fish around in the bowl or cup of cold water and try to retrieve the caramel and make a little ball with it.

If you stick your fingers into the bowl, pull out a gooey mess and you can't do anything but smear the caramel, you need to boil the caramel some more. There is still too much water in your caramel and the concentration of sugar is too low. The caramel may even form little threads in the water, but if you cannot get the threads to form into a ball, you have some more boiling to do.

New privately-owned Antares rocket blasts off from Virginia, to space

"A privately owned rocket built in partnership with NASA to haul cargo to the International Space Station blasted off on Sunday for a debut test flight from a new commercial spaceport in Virginia. The 13-story Antares rocket, developed and flown by Orbital Sciences Corp, lifted off at 5 p.m. EDT from a Virginia-owned and operated launch pad at NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Wallops Island."
Here's the Orbital Sciences press release.

Did you know ...

About these 5 myths about the minimum wage

About these 4 reasons the gun control bills failed

That 70% say repugican cabal is out of touch with Americans

About the power of talking to your baby

TSA finally seeks public comment on pronoscanners

From Slashdot submitter Trims: "The TSA is now in the public comment stage of its project to roll out Advanced Imaging Technology (i.e. full-body X-ray) scanners. The TSA wants your feedback as to whether or not this project should be continued or cancelled. Now is your chance to tell the TSA that this is a huge porkbarrel project and nothing more than Security Theater. You can comment at http:///www.regulations.gov and reference the docket ID TSA-2013-0004." You've got until Jun 24.

The sad state of America

Monday, April 22

Koch Brothers, Wingnut Ideologues, Serious About Tribune, L.A. Times Bid

Koch Brothers, Right-Wing Ideologues, Serious About Tribune, L.A. Times Bid 
Hey Los Angeles, pay attention: Charles and David Koch are serious about buying the Tribune newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times, according to the New York Times. In a front-page article on Sunday, The New York Times confirms reports that the conservative Koch billionaire-brothers are expected to submit a bid to buy the Tribune Company's eight newspapers, including the L.A. Times, Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun and Orlando Sentinel.
The paper reported:
This month a Koch representative contacted Eddy W. Hartenstein, publisher and chief executive of The Los Angeles Times, to discuss a bid, according to a person briefed on the conversation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the conversation was private. Mr. Hartenstein declined to comment.
The Koch brothers are known for having funnelled multiple millions of dollars into wingnut and lunatic fringe political campaigns. They are wealthy, powerful ideologues with deep convictions that less government is better. They have used their money to fuel the tea party sedition and to fund wingnut and libertarian think tanks including The Cato Institute, the Heritage Foundation and the tea party-connected Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks.
This news should make anyone who cares about journalism, transparency and the pursuit of fact-based reporting, nervous. No city should desire a newspaper with the pedigree and reach of the L.A. Times in the hands of ideologues of any stripe.
And at this stage, they are the only known interested bidder for the group of newspapers owned by Tribune. A group of local billionaires, including Ron Burkle and Eli Broad, are investigating buying the L.A. Times only, which remains a profitable enterprise despite the challenged sector. Rupert Murdoch is another reportedly interested bidder on the L.A. Times, though not the entire newspaper group.
And as if this were to make anyone breathe easier, the Times reported:
One person who has previously advised Koch Industries said the Tribune Company papers were considered an investment opportunity, and were viewed as entirely separate from Charles and David Kochs' lifelong mission to shrink the size of government.
According to insiders, the sale of Tribune is meant to be completed in the next three months.

Fallout for states rejecting Medicaid expansion

Rejecting the Medicaid expansion in the federal health care law could have unexpected consequences for states where repugican lawmakers remain steadfastly opposed to what they scorn as "Obamacare."
In this April 16, 2013 photo, Arkansas House Majority Leader Rep. Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, signals his intention to speak against a Medicaid funding bill in the House chamber at the Arkansas state Capitol in Little Rock, Ark., Tuesday, April 16, 2013. The funding provision passed. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)It could mean exposing businesses to Internal Revenue Service penalties and leaving low-income citizens unable to afford coverage even as legal immigrants get financial aid for their premiums. For the poorest people, it could virtually guarantee that they will remain uninsured and dependent on the emergency room at local hospitals that already face federal cutbacks.
Concern about such consequences helped forge a deal in Arkansas last week. The repugican-controlled Legislature endorsed a plan by Democratic Gov. Mike Beebe to accept additional Medicaid money under the federal law, but to use the new dollars to buy private insurance for eligible residents.
One of the main arguments for the private option was that it would help businesses avoid tax penalties.
The Obama administration hasn't signed off on the Arkansas deal, and it's unclear how many other states will use it as a model. But it reflects a pragmatic streak in American politics that's still the exception in the polarized health care debate.
"The biggest lesson out of Arkansas is not so much the exact structure of what they are doing," said Alan Weil, executive director of the nonpartisan National Academy for State Health Policy. "Part of it is just a message of creativity, that they can look at it and say, 'How can we do this in a way that works for us?'"
About half the nearly 30 million uninsured people expected to gain coverage under President Barack Obama's health care overhaul would do so through Medicaid. Its expansion would cover low-income people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, about $15,860 for an individual.
Middle-class people who don't have coverage at their jobs will be able to purchase private insurance in new state markets, helped by new federal tax credits. The big push to sign up the uninsured starts this fall, and coverage takes effect Jan. 1.
As originally written, the Affordable Care Act required states to accept the Medicaid expansion as a condition of staying in the program. Last summer's Supreme Court decision gave each state the right to decide. While that pleased many governors, it also created complications by opening the door to unintended consequences.
So far, 20 mostly blue states, plus the District of Columbia, have accepted the expansion.
Thirteen repugican-led states have declined. They say Medicaid already is too costly, and they don't trust Washington to keep its promise of generous funding for the expansion, which mainly helps low-income adults with no children at home.
The remaining states are still weighing options. Concerns about the unintended consequences could make the most difference in those states.
A look at some potential side effects:
—The Employer Glitch
States that don't expand Medicaid leave more businesses exposed to tax penalties, according to a recent study by Brian Haile, Jackson Hewitt's senior vice president for tax policy. He estimates the fines could top $1 billion a year in states refusing.
Under the law, employers with 50 or more workers that don't offer coverage face penalties if just one of their workers gets subsidized private insurance through the new state markets. But employers generally do not face fines under the law for workers who enroll in Medicaid.
In states that don't expand Medicaid, some low-income workers who would otherwise have been eligible have a fallback option. They can instead get subsidized private insurance in the law's new markets. But that would trigger a penalty for their employer.
"It highlights how complicated the Affordable Care Act is," said Haile. "We wanted to make sure the business community understood."
—The Immigrant Quirk
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, a repugican, called attention this year to this politically awkward problem when she proposed that her state accept the Medicaid expansion.
Under the health law, U.S. citizens below the poverty line — $11,490 for an individual, $23,550 for a family of four — can only get coverage through the Medicaid expansion. But lawfully present immigrants who are also below the poverty level are eligible for subsidized private insurance.
Congress wrote the legislation that way to avoid the controversy associated with trying to change previous laws that require legal immigrants to wait five years before they can qualify for Medicaid. Instead of dragging immigration politics into the health care debate, lawmakers devised a detour.
Before the Supreme Court ruling, it was a legislative patch.
Now it could turn into an issue in states with lots of immigrants, such as Texas and Florida. It could create the perception that citizens are being disadvantaged versus immigrants.
—The Fairness Argument
Under the law, U.S. citizens below the poverty line can only get taxpayer-subsidized coverage by going into Medicaid. But other low-income people making just enough to put them over the poverty line can get subsidized private insurance through the new state markets.
An individual making $11,700 a year would be able to get a policy. But someone making $300 less would be out of luck, dependent on charity care at the emergency room.
"Americans have very strong feelings about fairness," said Weil. "The notion of 'Gee, that's just not fair' is definitely a factor in the discussion."

Reality Checked

Cool Tech: 3D Printed Sonograms for Blind Parents

How's this for a great use for emerging technology? Combine a sonogram that gives a 3D rendering of a fetus with 3D printing, and you produce a plastic model of the baby months before birth. This goes a long way toward allowing the vision-impaired to feel the shape and size of the baby, whether it's the mother or other family members. Industrial designer Jorge Roberto Lopes dos Santos is putting that technology to work.
His company Tecnologia Humana 3D has been developing new ways to build three-dimensional computer models using data from sonograms and other imaging techniques after initially setting out to enhance prenatal diagnostic tools.

The work took a new direction when dos Santos realized that printing these models would give visually impaired mothers-to-be a chance to meet their babies in utero.

“We work mainly to help physicians when there is some eventual possibility of malformation,” dos Santos said. “We also work for parents who want to have the models of their fetuses in 3D.”
Tecnologia Humana designs the models with sophisticated programs that produce highly detailed simulations of a fetus’ anatomy that doctors can examine virtually.
So of course the technology will also be available to those who don't need it but can afford it. Soon, when you ask an expectant father how his wife is doing, and he may pull out a tiny plastic fetus instead of the currently used sonogram printout. More

Doctors warn teens: Don't take the cinnamon challenge

Don't take the cinnamon challenge. That's the advice from doctors in a new report about a dangerous prank depicted in popular YouTube videos but which has led to hospitalizations and a surge in calls to U.S. poison centers.
The fad involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. But the spice is caustic, and trying to gulp it down can cause choking, throat irritation, breathing trouble and even collapsed lungs, the report said.
Published online Monday in Pediatrics, the report said at least 30 teens nationwide needed medical attention after taking the challenge last year.
This undated photo provided by Frederick Reed shows Dejah Reed, an Ypsilanti, Mich., teen who was hospitalized for a collapsed lung after trying the cinnamon challenge. A new report from doctors to be published Monday, April 22, 2013, advises against taking the challenge that involves daring someone to swallow a spoonful of ground cinnamon in 60 seconds without water. The fad depicted in wildly popular YouTube videos has led to hospitalizations and a surge in calls to U.S. poison centers. (AP Photo/Frederick Reed)The number of poison control center calls about teens doing the prank "has increased dramatically," from 51 in 2011 to 222 last year, according to the American Association of Poison Control Centers.
"People with asthma or other respiratory conditions are at greater risk of having this result in shortness of breath and trouble breathing," according to an alert posted on the association's website.
Thousands of YouTube videos depict kids attempting the challenge, resulting in an "orange burst of dragon breath" spewing out of their mouths and sometimes hysterical laughter from friends watching the stunt, said report co-author Dr. Steven E. Lipshultz, a pediatrics professor at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.
Cinnamon is made from tree bark and contains cellulose fibers that don't easily break down. Animal research suggests that when cinnamon gets into the lungs, it can cause scarring, Lipshultz said.
Dr. Stephen Pont, a spokesman for the American Academy of Pediatrics and an Austin, Texas pediatrician, said the report is "a call to arms to parents and doctors to be aware of things like the cinnamon challenge" and to pay attention to what their kids are viewing online.
An Ypsilanti, Mich., teen who was hospitalized for a collapsed lung after trying the cinnamon challenge heartily supports the new advice and started her own website — http://nocinnamonchallenge.com — telling teens to "just say no" to the fad.
Dejah Reed, 16, said she took the challenge four times — the final time was in February last year with a friend who didn't want to try it alone.
"I was laughing very hard and I coughed it out and I inhaled it into my lungs," she said. "I couldn't breathe."
Her father, Fred Reed, said he arrived home soon after to find Dejah "a pale bluish color. It was very terrifying. I threw her over my shoulder" and drove to a nearby emergency room.
Dejah was hospitalized for four days and went home with an inhaler and said she still has to use it when she gets short of breath from running or talking too fast. Her dad said she'd never had asthma or breathing problems before.
Dejah said she'd read about the challenge on Facebook and other social networking sites and "thought it would be cool" to try.
Now she knows "it's not cool and it's dangerous."

People smoking HIV medicine to get high

More than 1 in 270 people in the US are living with HIV and every 9.5 minutes someone is else is infected. The economic cost estimates associated with HIV/AIDS exceed 36 billion dollars a year. [...]

Health News

Most people know that the way to stay healthy is to exercise and eat right, but millions of Americans struggle to meet those goals, or even decide which to change first. Now, researchers at the [...]
New research published as an abstract in The FASEB Journal and presented at Experimental Biology 2013 (EB 2013) on Monday, April 22 ties mushrooms to positive health outcomes in the area of weight management. A [...]

Man survives shooting self in brain while cleaning harpoon

A Brazilian man has miraculously survived after shooting himself in the head with a harpoon.

Bruno Barcellos de Souza Coutinho, 34, was cleaning fishing equipment in the city of Petropolis when the speargun accidentally fired and lodged 15 centimeters into his head, through his left eye and deep into his brain.

However, he did not seek medical attention until the next day when a relative encouraged him to go to hospital. He arrived for treatment completely lucid and underwent emergency surgery.

De Souza Coutinho lost his eye but incredibly avoided suffering any brain damage.

Say it sister ...

Sunday, April 21

The World's First E-Commerce Transaction Was a Drug Deal

According to John Markoff in his 2005 book What the Dormouse Said: How the Sixties Counterculture Shaped the Personal Computer Industry, the first online eCommerce transaction was a drug deal:
In 1971 or 1972, Stanford students using Arpanet accounts at Stanford University's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory engaged in a commercial transaction with their counterparts at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Before Amazon, before eBay, the seminal act of e-commerce was a drug deal. The students used the network to quietly arrange the sale of an undetermined amount of marijuana.
Mike Power of The Guardian has more: Here.

The Baseball Player Who Tried to Steal Third, Only to End up Stealing First Base

Who's on first?The wackiest night in baseball since the Abbot and Costello skit occurred Friday night during the Brewers-Cubs game, where Jean Segura tried to stole third but ended up stealing first base!
Jayson Stark of ESPN explains:
I think we just found baseball's version of Leon Lett.
I'm talking about Brewers shortstop Jean Segura, who, like the mixed-up grandma who made a U-turn on a one-way street, performed an act of baserunning madness Friday that he'll be seeing, on scoreboard video-screen blooper reels, for the rest of his life.
To even try to describe this adventure is almost as challenging as actually doing it. And all the jumbled online play-by-play accounts out there are living proof.
But here's the simplest way to sum it up:
This guy stole second. Then he tried to steal third but somehow wound up on first. Then he got thrown out trying to steal second again. All in a span of five pitches.
More | Here's the play in question over at MLB.com

The Ten Most Bizarre Branches Of Parapsychology

Parapsychology is a remarkably broad discipline, and it is difficult to study when the area itself deals with the unknown potential of the human mind. At this time, there is no definitive way to prove phenomena like telepathy or telekinesis, and observation by no means provides unambiguous proof.

Here are 10 of the most prominent branches of parapsychology. The very nature of so-called psi phenomena is such that they cover the unknown, and it is only by critical dissection that we can get to the truth.

Random Celebrity Photo

Ava Gardner

The Most Fascinating Abandoned Mansions From Around The World

There's something particularly spectacular about witnessing the decay of a once-grand building. Lavish trappings fall into disrepair, once proud halls play host to insects and dust, and elegantly constructed architecture is exposed to time and the elements.

Here are 9 crumbling mansions that are fascinating to look at and come with some intriguing backstories.

The Mystery Of Puma Punku

Puma Punku is part of a large temple complex or monument group near Tiwanaku, Bolivia. The Puma Punku complex consists of an unwalled western court, a central unwalled esplanade, a terraced platform mound that is faced with megalithic stone, and a walled eastern court.

Determining the age of the Puma Punku complex has been a focus of researchers since the discovery of the Tiwanaku site. Some scientists say Puma Punku is 5,000 years old but others claim it could be between 10,000 en 15,000 years old. Today, researchers still don't understand how Puma Punku was built.

Random Photo

The Craziest Environmental Ideas (That Could Work)

If you're looking for simple ideas to help the environment this Earth Day, these aren't them.

Group kicks off planting of ancient tree clones

In this photograph taken April 18, 2013, Jake Milarch holds coastal redwood clones developed in the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive lab in Copemish, Mich. Milarch and other members of the nonprofit group hope to plant millions of redwood clones to reforest the planet and fight climate change. (AP Photo/John Flesher)  
A team led by a nurseryman from northern Michigan and his sons has raced against time for two decades, snipping branches from some of the world's biggest and most durable trees with plans to produce clones that could restore ancient forests and help fight climate change. Now comes the most ambitious phase of the quest: getting the new trees into the ground.
Ceremonial plantings of two dozen clones from California's mighty coastal redwoods were taking place Monday in seven nations: Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, Germany and the U.S.
Although measuring just 18-inches tall, the laboratory-produced trees are genetic duplicates of three giants that were cut down in northern California more than a century ago. Remarkably, shoots still emerge from the stumps, including one known as the Fieldbrook Stump near McKinleyville, which measures 35 feet in diameter. It's believed to be about 4,000 years old. The tree was about 40 stories high before it was felled.
"This is a first step toward mass production," said David Milarch, co-founder of Archangel Ancient Tree Archive, a nonprofit group spearheading the project. "We need to reforest the planet; it's imperative. To do that, it just makes sense to use the largest, oldest, most iconic trees that ever lived."
Milarch and his sons Jared and Jake, who have a family-owned nursery in the village of Copemish, Mich., became concerned about the condition of the world's forests in the 1990s. They began crisscrossing the U.S. in search of "champion" trees that have lived hundreds or even thousands of years, convinced that superior genes enabled them to outlast others of their species. Scientific opinion varies on whether that's true, with skeptics saying the survivors may simply have been lucky.
The Archangel leaders say they're out to prove the doubters wrong. They've developed several methods of producing genetic copies from cuttings, including placing branch tips less than an inch long in baby food jars containing nutrients and hormones. The specimens are cultivated in labs until large enough to be planted.
In recent years, they have focused on towering sequoias and redwoods, considering them best suited to absorb massive volumes of carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas primarily responsible for climate change.
"If we get enough of these trees out there, we'll make a difference," said Jared Milarch, the group's executive director.
Archangel has an inventory of several thousand clones in various stages of growth that were taken from more than 70 redwoods and giant sequoias. NASA engineer Steve Craft, who helped arrange for David Milarch to address an agency gathering, said research shows that those species hold much more carbon than other varieties.
The challenge is to find places to put the trees, people to nurture them and money to continue the project, Jared Milarch said. The group is funded through donations and doesn't charge for its clones.
"A lot of trees will be planted by a lot of groups on Arbor Day, but 90 percent of them will die," David Milarch said. "It's a feel-good thing. You can't plant trees and walk away and expect them to take care of themselves."
The recipients of Archangel redwoods have pledged to care for them properly, he said. The first planting of about 250 took place in December on a ranch near Port Orford, Ore. Others were being planted during Earth Day observances Monday at the College of Marin in Kentwood, Calif., and in parks and private estates in the other six countries.
"I know the trees will thrive here," said Tom Burke, landscape manager at the College of Marin.

The Fly Orchid

Agent Provocateur Of The Plant World
It may not be the most attractive orchid on the planet - at least to our eyes. Yet the Fly Orchid (Ophrys insectifera) has come up with an ingenious way to ensure that it is pollinated. Its flowers look like flies and its scent mimics sexual pheromones.

This combination attract hordes of male insects, themselves simply attempting to ensure the continuation of their species. These unwitting insects are enticed in to performing the act of reproduction - on a flower. The fly orchid is the agent provocateur of the plant world.

An Amazing Ice Cave in Russia

ice cave
ice cave
A hot spring near the Mutnovksy volcano in Russia's Kamchatka peninsula cut a path through the ice of a glacier. The roof of the resulting cave is close to the surface of the glacier. In photos of it, you can see the sunlight penetrating the ice.

How to Form a Star Near a Black Hole

Black holes get a bad rap -- but it looks like the black hole in the center of our galaxy may be stimulating the birth of stars, rather than killing them. 

Animal Pictures

Golden Eagle By Ronald Coulter