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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.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Daily Drift

Amazing what you learn here at Carolina Naturally

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

OK, if you say so!  ...

Today is Red Hat Society Day
It also Happens to be World Penguin Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Tirana, Albania
Tripoli, Libya
Cape Town, South Africa
Bordeaux, France
Nicosia, Cyprus
Dhaka, Bangladesh
Ankara, Turkey
Copenhagen, Denmark
Belgrade, Serbia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Cardiff, Wales
Lilongwe, Malawi
Oxford and Leeds, England
Bialystok and Warsaw, Poland
Varazdin and Rijeka, Croatia
Lahore and Karachi, Pakistan
Jakarta and Makassar, Indonesia
Quezon City and Sampaloc, Philippines
Medellin, Chia and Bucaramanga, Colombia
Kota Kinabalu, Puchong, Petaling Jaya and Taiping, Malaysia

And across the USA in cities such as:
Tomah, Cayce, Revere, Apex and Omaha 

Editor's Note: Sorry about yesterday, but life got in the way and we were unable to post this blog. We will make it up to our readers.

Today in History

1590   The Sultan of Morocco launches a successful attack to capture Timbuktu.
1644   The Ming Chongzhen emperor commits suicide by hanging himself.
1707   At the Battle of Almansa, Franco-Spanish forces defeat the Anglo-Portugese forces.
1719   Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe is published in London.
1792   The guillotine is first used to execute highwayman Nicolas J. Pelletier.
1859   Work begins on the Suez Canal in Egypt.
1862   Admiral Farragut occupies New Orleans, Louisiana.
1864   After facing defeat in the Red River Campaign, Union General Nathaniel Bank returns to Alexandria, Louisiana.
1867   Tokyo is opened for foreign trade.
1882   French commander Henri Riviere seizes the citadel of Hanoi in Indochina.
1898   The United States declares war on Spain.
1915   Australian and New Zealand troops land at Gallipoli in Turkey.
1925   General Paul von Hindenburg takes office as president of Germany.
1926   In Iran, Reza Kahn is crowned Shah and chooses the name "Pehlevi."
1926   Puccini's opera Turandot premiers at La Scala in Milan with Arturo Toscanini conducting.
1938   A seeing eye dog is used for the first time.
1945   U.S. and Soviet forces meet at Torgau, Germany on Elbe River.
1951   After a three day fight against Chinese Communist Forces, the Gloucestershire Regiment is annihilated on "Gloucester Hill," in Korea.
1953   The magazine Nature publishes an article by biologists Francis Crick and James Watson, describing the "double helix" of DNA.
1956   Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" goes to number one on the charts.
1959   The St. Lawrence Seaway–linking the Atlantic Ocean to the Great Lakes–opens to shipping.
1960   The first submerged circumnavigation of the Earth is completed by a Triton submarine.
1962   A U.S. Ranger spacecraft crash lands on the Moon.
1971   The country of Bangladesh is established.
1980   President Jimmy Carter tells the American people about the hostage rescue disaster in Iran.
1982   In accordance with the Camp David agreements, Israel completes a withdrawal from the Sinai peninsula.
1990   Violeta Barrios de Chamorro begins a six year term as Nicaragua's president.

Non Sequitur


Being Black in China

Heather Greenwood Davis blogs about her family's year-long trip around the world at Globe Trotting Mama. In an article at NatGeo's Intelligent Travel blog, she tells what it was like to be a black tourist family spending a month in Beijing. They were the center of attention, as people photographed their every move and crowded around to touch them.
As we looked around, we realized that there were things about our family that made as many as 20 people at a time stand in line to get their photo taken with us:

1. Our skin color. We were in China for 30 days, but it wasn’t until our last week, in Yangshuo, that we saw another black person. The American mother-daughter duo said we, too, were the first they’d seen in the country. The sight of the six of us chatting in the street set off a camera frenzy big enough to draw shopkeepers out to gawk.

2. We’re tall. My husband Ish is about 6 foot, I’m 5′ 8”, and our sons are big for their age. There are tall people in China, but people seemed genuinely impressed with our height, sometimes even using hand gestures for emphasis. But being tall has its advantages. No matter how big the crowd, we could usually spot each other.

3. Our hair. The boys’ mini Afros may as well have been unicorn horns. People reached out to touch them all the time. Cameras were held so precariously close to my son’s hair that I’m sure there are photos out there in which you can count the strands.
From personal experience, I know that outside of China's biggest cities, white people get the same attention. Davis assures us they had a great time in Beijing, and it was a learning experience for their sons. Read the rest at Intelligent Travel.

Sums it up nicely ...

Did you know ...

About the 5 ways Americans are progressive on taxes

About how the 40-year "long recession" led to the great recession

That the new NASA-backed fusion engine could cut trip to mars to 30 days

The truth hurts

The US was the largest global importer of raw goods and the largest exporter of finished goods.
The US set global Education standards.
The US set global manufacturing standards.
Education was either free or very affordable for the middle class.
Workers earned a living wage including pensions and insurance.
30% of the work force was unionized.
The US had an actual energy policy that included investments in renewable energy.

The US is the largest importer of finished goods and the largest exporter of raw goods.
The US ranks 14th in reading, 17th in science and 25th in math.
The US trails most first world countries in manufacturing.
The US has sold or given its tech edge to China, India and other second world countries.
Education is becoming privatized for profit, putting profit before performance.
Only 9% of workers are unionized.
Workers lost homes and pensions to gambling banks which profited from the workers' loses.
The US has no energy policy except to continue to promote 19th century energy, making energy more expensive and oil companies richer.
So tell us again why this clown wasn't the worst presidential pretender in all of US history - that is until the shrub junta who stole their way into the oval office in 2000.

Anti-Drug Lawmaker Caught with Wacky Tobacky

Why do morons who talk-the-talk but can't walk-the-talk seem to rise to levels of prominence?

From Crooks and Liars

Moronic repugican NY Assemblyman Steve Katz has talked tough about the war on drugs. He voted against medical marijuana legalization just last summer. But remember, he is a repugican. So is it any surprise he was busted for speeding, and after the officer noticed a distinctive odor emanating from the car, possession of marijuana? Ooops.

    State police said that a suspicious odor was noticed in Assemblyman Steve Katz's vehicle when they pulled him over for driving around 80 mph in a 75 mph zone at around 10 a.m. Thursday morning.

    "After noting the odor of marijuana, a New York State Trooper found Katz in possession of a small bag of marijuana," a statement from state police said, according to the Times Union.

I'm sure he's got a good excuse to deprive ill and terminal patients the small comforts that he does not deny himself, right?

Deep In The Heart of Texas ....

... Lies and Coverups Surround Fertilizer Plant Explosion
Let the cover-ups, excuses, lies and CYA charades begin. The horrific and deadly Boston Marathon blasts have dominated recent media coverage and for good reason considering it’s an iconic historic event and the twin-bombings carried out by 2 brothers had grave terrorists implications. The pair of Marathon explosions took place Monday, April 22.
There was another explosion two days later roughly 1,800 miles distant in a tiny town of 2,800, 20 miles outside of Waco, Texas. The name of the town was West, Texas and it was home to two companies owned by Donald Adair. There was the Adair Grain Co. and West Fertilizer Company.
At 6:30 in the evening local time, a fire was discovered in the Fertilizer facility. Local volunteer fire fighters rushed to the scene knowing that anhydrous ammonia and fire make a potentially lethal mix. They might have known something else that would have motivated them even more.
According to authorities, as late as last year (and I suspect possibly this year) the plant housed an incomprehensibly high quantity of ammonium nitrate as well; some 540,000 pounds of the stuff. This exceeded the quantity of Tim McVeigh’s Oklahoma City ANFO (Fuel oil) fertilizer bomb by a factor of 100. To put that amount in further perspective, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is supposed to be notified when plants hold a minimum of 400 lbs POUNDS of ammonium nitrate. The West Co. housed 270 TONS! That’s 1,350 times the red flag amount.
The company only filed its total tonnage with the Texas Department of State Health Services (TDSHS). In turn that agency and Adair both said “screw the feds” and didn’t pass along that information to Homeland Security as, at least, Adair was legally required to do. Wouldn’t you think TDSHS, whether they were legally obligated to report to Homeland Security or not, would be responsible enough to alert DHS to such an obviously unsafe imbalance?
Apparently no federal agency has darkened West Fertilizer’s doors for many years. I’ve heard conflicting reports that OSHA hadn’t inspected for anywhere from 5-25 years. The state has essentially locked Washington out of its regulatory affairs. But when the president called from Air Force One, Governor Rick Perry jumped at the chance to spend federal money to sweep up the deadly remnants of the explosion. Remnants that included the collapsed roof and walls of an apartment complex, the destruction of at least 50 homes and other damage to church buildings, businesses, schools and infrastructure. Ever concerned, the president plans to attend a Thursday memorial service at Baylor University.
You’ll recall that Perry spent 90% of his time as a repugican Presidential aspirant ripping Barack Obama’s stimulus initiative and other spending requests. But, of course, that spending included poor people. Now that Perry needs to pick up the political pieces from his state’s vehement anti-regulation posture that will likely be directly implicated in the West tragedy, it’s a different story.
I’m mighty suspicious of the casualty numbers. Not the injured particularly. I believe there were around 200 people banged up from an explosion felt 40 to 50 miles away. I also believe there were more than 14 deaths, a number that Texas officials cling to tenaciously. I base my skepticism on two factors; early estimates and extensive damage. The initial estimates were higher than the final count. The first number I heard was 15, including 10 first-responders. Then the mayor of West said the death toll could reach 30 or 40. The local EMS Director put the number at as many as 60-70. Another source said there were 60 people who had abandoned their homes and had not been heard from. In fairness, that was a day or so ago, so they might have been in contact since then.
So after the 6:30 PM fire report, the explosion followed at 7:50 PM, give or take a minute or two. If these are accurate times, there’s no way in hell you could evacuate the surrounding area to the extent that only 4 residents would have died, given the initial count of 10 first-responders. Claims were made that 133 were evacuated from a nursing home and yet there were several people from that home treated after the blast. There were some people who didn’t get the word and, using your common sense, if the area was evacuated, how could there be as many as 200 people be injured? Again, I think some officials are being less than candid.
As ‘luck’ would have it, all files and documents relating to the fertilizer company were destroyed in the explosion. We know this about Donald Adair. We know he’s willing to stow a huge quantity of extraordinarily dangerous crap in his buildings. And was the ammonium nitrate in place for just one year? Or was it still there in some quantities last Wednesday? Not only was that part of the Oklahoma City mixture, but some might remember the 2001 French chemical plant explosion of the same mix that killed 31. The quantity of ammonium nitrate was about the same as that stored at West.
I would counsel Texas right-wingers not to get their panties in a wad. I went back and read the online comment section of a Dallas-Fort Worth TV station Website. Out of a total of 143 comments, I could find only 5 even mild rebukes of the state. One self-identified college student questioned why a “bomb-making plant would be within a few hundred yards of a daycare center, school and senior citizen’s complex. He was immediately called a moron for calling it a bomb-making center and told to get off his mom’s computer. Another contributor said “What a time in our history to have a boy president…” Most of those commenting called for prayer, but there was not a single mention of regulation review.
These typical responses in the wake of totally unnecessary death, destruction and serial regulatory irresponsibility on the part of state and national Texas elected officials are why Texas Senators John Cornyn and Ted Cruz can be perfectly comfortable in their oversight indifference and saying they would “wait for more information about the explosion before considering whether there should be more regulation of anhydrous ammonia.”
There won’t be a single syllable changed in current state regulations and the national safety overseers will continue to be ignored, no matter the death count, because we’re “DEEP IN THE HEART OF TEXAS!”

The sad state of America

Tuesday, April 23

The $800 Heart Surgery

If you need a heart surgery but don't have medical insurance and can't afford the tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket bill, India may have the solution for you: heart surgery for $800.
Indian cardiac surgeon Devi Prasad Shetty built a "no-frills" Narayana Hrudayalaya clinic in Mysore, southern India, at a fraction of the cost of building equivalent hospitals in the West, and pass on the savings to his patients:
Air-conditioning is restricted to operating theatres and intensive care units. Ventilation comes from large windows on the wards.
Relatives or friends visiting in-patients undergo a four-hour nursing course and are expected to change bandages and do other simple tasks.
In its architecture, Shetty rejected the generic multi-storey model, which requires costly foundations and steel reinforcements as well as lifts and complex fire safety equipment.
Much of the building was pre-fabricated off site and then quickly assembled. [...]
By running the operating theatres from early morning to late at night, six days a week, it is inspired by low-cost airlines which keep their planes in the air as much as possible.
The British-trained surgeon sniffs at the output of Western counterparts who might do a handful of operations a week. Each of his surgeons does up to four a day on a fraction of the wages of those in the West.
Read the rest over at Globalpost.

Why Do Some People Faint When They See Blood?

Getting dizzy and fainting at the sight of someone else's blood doesn't seem to be the most evolutionarily appropriate response. How's that going to help you when you're trying to take down a buffalo?

And despite it being relatively common the symptoms of it are totally different from most phobias: phobics' blood pressure and heart rate will rise then drop when they see blood, as opposed to the just-heart-racing caused by most fears. So what gives?

The truth be told

Etiquette Tips from the 1950s

vAmy Vanderbilt wrote books on etiquette and published a newspaper column to answer questions. The rules were a bit different then. For example, being "pinned" was somewhere between "going steady" and being "engaged," but it was okay to date other people? And what about a business lunch -is it okay for a woman to pick up the check when she's dining with her firm's client?
“Yes you may, saying something such as ‘This is business—you’re the firm’s guest.’ If the bill is to be paid at the desk, quietly put money to cover it on the check and ask your customer to take care of it. Either leave the tip yourself or ask him to take care of it out of the change. Try to avoid passing any money yourself, for other diners in the restaurant would not necessarily understand the circumstances.”‘
So it's okay for a woman to pay, as long as no one sees her. Gotta protect the man's dignity, after all. Read more at Death and Taxes.

The Birth Of The Dishwasher

Josephine Garis Cochrane was a wealthy socialite from Shelbyville, Illinois, USA. She gave a lot of dinner parties and was very proud of her china, which had been in the family since the 17th century. But her servants weren't particularly careful with the priceless china when they washed them after each party. Cochrane felt that the only way to protect her treasures was to wash them herself... but she hated the job.

Why should a rich 44-year-old woman be doing this menial job? Why wasn't there a machine that could wash the dishes for her? Well, there was, sort of. The first dishwasher was patented in 1830 by Joel Houghton. It was a wooden machine that splashed water on dishes when a hand-turned wheel was rotated. It didn't work very well, so Cochrane decided to invent a better one.

Reality is ...

Tuesday, April 23

Ten Signs Climate Change Is Already Happening

The following list provides a sampling of some of the key pieces of evidence that climate change is not just a prediction, it is already underway.

It's getting hot out there ...

Earth’s climate has heated up more between 1971 and 2000 than during any other 30-year period in the last 1,400 years, according to new temperature reconstructions covering all seven continents. This period of manmade global [...]

Random Photo


The First Queen of Wndsor

See photos of the excavation of a 4,400-year-old female skeleton that may be the first Windsor queen.
A 4,400-year-old female skeleton adorned with some of Britain’s earliest gold jewels could be the remains of the first queen of Windsor.

Archaeological News

The extensive complex contains animal and human bones.
Tiger Cave in Sumatra holds the 3,000-year-old burials. 

Project Hermes

When the United States imported Nazis after WWII, the government put them to work

India's Centuries-Old Astronomical Observatory

We've posted about Jantar Mantar last year but this article comes with some fascinating photos. The Jantar Mantar is located in the modern city of New Delhi. It consists of 13 architectural astronomy instruments. There's a mystical feel to its 18th-century architecture, resplendent in shades of yellow and orange.

To those unaware of its purpose, the strange angled and curved structure might be conceived of as an ancient temple full of religious symbolism. Yet while it was constructed with the heavens in mind, the inspirations were the Sun, Moon and stars rather than any mythological or spiritual beings.

Astronomical News

A black hole and an ill-fated red dwarf star make for the fastest binary orbit ever observed, with the star traveling at a staggering two million kilometers per hour.
Last week’s announcement of two “super-Earth” type planets sharing the habitable zone around Kepler-62 ratcheted up our optimism that life-bearing planets are all over the galaxy.

Using Black Holes to Measure the Universe’s Rate of Expansion

A few years ago, researchers revealed that the universe is expanding at a much faster rate than originally believed — a discovery that earned a Nobel Prize in 2011. But measuring the rate of this [...]

Awesome Pictures


(by Nader B.)

The men who tickle rats

Apparently, if you tickle a rat it will respond with vocalizations that scientists have good reason to interpret as happy ones. Basically, it's the rat equivalent of laughter, only at ultrasonic frequencies that the human ear can't detect on its own. What's more, tickling rats on a regular basis appears to reduce the negative effects of stress in their lives. Scicurious' write up of this research includes the amazing quote: "For the “tickling treatment”, rats were tickled once daily, in two sessions of two minutes each, for two weeks." Also, there is video of this. 

Asian Elephants Frolicking in Camera Trap Video

Elephant families get the home movie treatment, in new video from a protected forest in Cambodia.

The Top 10 Mightiest Birds Of Prey In The World

There is something about birds of prey that make us pay attention - maybe it's the inherent fear we all have that one will attack us - or perhaps it's just because they are seldom seen by most westerners.

Regardless, birds of prey are fascinating to all. Here's a list of some of the largest, mightiest and most spectacular raptors from around the world.

Animal Pictures

morning stretches.
Just hanging around ... and you?