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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.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Daily Drift

Trains, Mountains, Rivers, and Trees, a few of our favorite things.

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

All for trees!  ...
Today is Arbor Day

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Today in History

757   Stephen II ends his reign as Catholic Pope.
1478   Pazzi conspirators attack Lorenzo and kill Giuliano de'Medici.
1514   Copernicus makes his first observations of Saturn.
1564   William Shakespeare is baptized.
1607   The British establish a colony at Cape Henry, Virginia.
1865   Joseph E. Johnston surrenders the Army of Tennessee to Sherman.
1915   Second Lieutenant Rhodes-Moorhouse becomes the first airman to win the Victoria Cross after conducting a successful bombing raid.
1929   The first non-stop flight from England to India is completed.
1931   New York Yankee Lou Gehrig hits a home run but is called out for passing a runner, the mistake ultimately costs him the home run record.
1937   The ancient Basque town of Guernica in northern Spain is bombed by German planes.
1941   The first organ is played at a baseball stadium in Chicago.
1968   Students seize the administration building at Ohio State University.
1983   The Dow Jones Industrial Average breaks 1,200 for first time.
1986   The world's worst nuclear disaster occurs at the Chernobyl power plant in the Soviet Union.
1994   Nelson Mandela wins the presidency in South Africa's first multiracial elections.

Non Sequitur


New US$100 bill in circulation 10/8

The new US$100 bill will go into circulation on October 8, 2013. New security features include a "3-D Security Ribbon" woven into the paper. The image changes from bells to 100s with the viewing angle, and "color-shifting" bell graphic that changes from copper to green, "an effect which makes the bell seem to appear and disappear within the (copper-colored) inkwell." "The Redesigned $100 Note"

Courageous Senators Stand Up to American People

From The Borowitz Report, a column at The New Yorker:
In the halls of the United States Senate, dozens of Senators congratulated themselves today for having what one of them called “the courage and grit to stand up to the overwhelming wishes of the American people.”

“We kept hearing, again and again, that ninety per cent of the American people wanted us to vote a certain way,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (r-Kentucky). “Well, at the end of the day, we decided that we weren’t going to cave in to that kind of special-interest group.”

“It was a gut check, for sure, but we had to draw a line in the sand,” agreed Senator Lindsey Graham (r-S. Carolina). “If we had voted the way the American people wanted us to, it would have sent the message that we’re here in Washington to be nothing more than their elected representatives.”

Reality Bites ...

Wednesday, April 24

The magnitude of the disastrous shrub junta told in 24 charts

In 24 charts, the Washington Post reveals how the shrub's junta screwed up the country and the rest of the world for many years to come. Health, employment, the GDP, public services, the Middle East, and almost every other measurable condition of civilization's health and welfare were severely damaged by the shrub's policies, all of which were enacted to make rich people richer. In achieving that goal, shrub's junta was a resounding success.
Even if you don’t blame the [debt] crisis on the shrub, at least half the debt is directly attributable to his policy choices. Racking up debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and some have even argued that surpluses can be economically dangerous, but for whatever it’s worth, Bush played a big role there. It’s also worth noting that the shrub was increasing the deficit at a time when the economy was expanding — which is exactly the opposite of what Keynesians believe makes sense, and which also made it more difficult for the country to respond to the recession.

Seven Other Ammonium Nitrate Disasters

vAmmonium nitrate is a volatile compound, but very useful as a fertilizer for enriching soil with nitrogen. Its only other use is as an explosive. A factory fire at a fertilizer plant in West, Texas, ignited a stockpile of ammonium nitrate and the resulting explosion killed 14 people and sent over a hundred to hospitals last Wednesday, but its only the latest of the many ammonium nitrate disasters. Oregon had a big one in 1959.
Truck driver George Rutherford parked his truck in front of the Garretsen Building Supply Company in downtown Roseburg, Oregon, on the night of August 6, 1959. He then retreated to the nearby Umpqua Hotel to get some rest before his morning delivery. The delivery never happened, because sometime between midnight and 1 a.m., the Garretsen Building Supply Company caught on fire. Shortly thereafter, the fire ignited the contents of Rutherford’s truck—two tons of dynamite and 4.5 tons of ammonium nitrate. All of the buildings in an eight-block radius were totally destroyed (pictured above) and 14 people died. Rutherford survived.
But that's just one explosion. There are plenty of other disasters caused by ammonium nitrate to read about here.

Woman unfazed after encountering circus tiger in bathroom

Jenna Krehbiel's first trip to the circus with her family is one she never will forget after she came face to face with a jungle cat in the women's bathroom. Krehbiel had finished watching the large cat show during the 7pm show at the Isis Shrine Circus on Saturday at the Salina Bicentennial Centennial Center in Kansas when she decided to step out go to the bathroom but instead got a close-up view of a tiger she had just seen perform in the arena.

"I went in to use the bathroom, and a lady came in to get her daughter out and said there was a tiger loose," Krehbiel said. "I didn't know it was in the bathroom, and I walked in the (open) door, which closed right after I had walked in. I saw the tiger; it was at most two feet in front of me, and I turned around calmly and walked back toward the door. Someone opened the door and said get out."
Krehbiel said the tiger "wasn't the biggest one" performing, but she estimated it was more than 250 pounds.

"It was the closest I have ever been to a tiger not in a cage," Krehbiel said. "You don't expect to go in a bathroom door, have it shut behind you and see a tiger walking toward you." Chris Bird, manager at the Bicentennial Center, said the tiger escaped during the show, and staff quickly barricaded off the concourse. He said the tiger veered off into an open bathroom and a security guard got people out, shut the door behind the tiger and barricaded the door. Krehbiel went in the opposite door.

Krehbiel said she has been asked why she didn't scream or run. She attributed that to her training as a social worker. "I'm always on alert, and it was easy to walk out; that's how I am trained," Krehbiel said. "Looking back, it was a scary ordeal. At the time, I was thinking I just needed to get out." She added that her 3-year-old had a different view of the event. "My daughter wanted to know if it had washed its hands," Krehbiel said. "That was her only concern. I think that shows the thoughts of children and that they wouldn't have known there was danger."

Bouncer escapes jail after 'vicious and cowardly' assault on woman

A bouncer in Australia who punched a woman in the face as part of a 'vicious and cowardly' attack has escaped with a suspended jail term. The fracas, which took place in August 2011, started when a patron ducked under a rope outside onesixone nightclub in Prahran, Melbourne.
He then put his arms around two bouncers but they retaliated by pulling him to the ground. When the young man's female friend tried to intervene, bouncer Ahmed Popal responded with a forceful slap and then a punch that sent her flying. He followed up by kicking her friend in the face.

Magistrate Charlie Rozencwajg was appalled and said: “Your actions were vicious and, I might add, cowardly." Mr Rozencwajg said he did not accept defense counsel Chris Dane's submissions that Popal felt threatened at the time. The magistrate said Popal was a professional security guard who had been trained to quell and avoid violent confrontations.

He said Mr Popal had since handed in his security license but questioned why the 25-year-old year old even had one - when he had a prior assault conviction. Mr Popal’s QC had expressed concerns that the publication of the CCTV video would humiliate his client. But the magistrate said publicity was key to open justice and accountability. He imposed a seven month suspended sentence and $10,000 fine, saying if it had not been for his guilty plea it would have been more.

Indonesian girls face juvenile detention for mixing Islamic prayer with dancing to Maroon 5

Five high school students in Tolitoli, Central Sulawesi, who recorded themselves dancing to a Maroon 5 song and praying, have been expelled from school and face time in juvenile detention for “tainting religion” after the video surfaced on the internet. Police did not give their ages but said they were being treated as minors.

The five were trying to kill time between an hours-long break from afternoon classes when they made the video. The headmaster of the school, Muallimin, said he decided to report the students to the police after consulting with the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) and Islamic Defenders Front (FPI).

“The students were performing Sholat [prayer] movement with dancing while alternately reciting [the] Koran and turning on ‘One More Night’ music,” Muallimin said, referring to the Maroon 5 song. The students have been expelled from school and were forbidden from taking last week’s high school national exam, which counts for 60 percent of a student’s final mark to determine whether they will graduate from high school.

Adj. Comr. Alhajat, the Tolitoli Police chief of detectives, said that the five students were charged with blasphemy against religion under article 156 of the Criminal Code. “Temporarily we use this law, but there’s a possibility that we’ll charge them with other articles during the process.” He said the girls, who are not in custody, could be jailed if found guilty but did not know what length of sentence they might face. Blasphemy in Indonesia carries a maximum sentence of five years, though minors usually face half the adult sentence.

Man robbed teenager before making appointment to rob him again the next day

A terrified teenager was forced to hand over his savings to a robber not once but twice in two days, according to the Seattle Police Department.
According to the police report for the incident, a 15-year-old was on the way to the ATM at the Ballard Safeway to deposit some money in his savings account at around 4:30pm last Sunday when he was accosted by a stranger in the parking lot.

The teen later told officers the stranger put his arm around his shoulders and said, "I want you to take money out of your account. If you don't take money out of the ATM, I will hurt you." The man walked the teen to the door and waited outside while the teen withdrew $160 from his savings account.

According to the report, the teen handed over the money, and the man told him to meet him there the next day to give him more money, adding that he knew where the teen lives. The teen went back at 6:30pm the next day and gave the man another $80 from his savings account, according to the report. The teen eventually told a relative what happened a few days later, and the relative called police.

Faith-Healing Parents Arrested for Death of Second Child

A Pennsylvania couple who lost a second child after choosing prayer over medical treatment may face criminal charges.

Ricin letter case enters higher realm of surreality

The Elvis impersonator "framed" for sending poison-tainted letters to top policians? BB reader Jonathan Grubb writes to inform us that the case has entered a surreal world which "includes a taekwondo instructor with a band called Dusty & the RoboDrum". Meanwhile, authorities are investigating the "fellow entertainer" while the now-freed former suspect heads off on an interview tour.
He appeared with his attorney Wednesday on CNN. During his detention, he said, investigators "treated me like gold, but they intensely interrogated me for hours. It was nerve-wracking." Then, at the prompting of a mischievous interviewer, Curtis began to sing a Randy Travis tune, "On the Other Hand," and hugged his laughing attorney, Christi McCoy of Oxford, Miss.

NRA is Al-Qaeda

Wednesday, April 24

In the News

Putin: US and Russia security services should "combine efforts" in wake of Boston bombing 
In a move absolutely no one expected because things like this never happen after high-profile incidents of mass violence, Russian President Vladimir Putin today "urged closer cooperation between other countries' security services after the Boston Marathon bombings," reports CNN, Said Putin, "If we combine our efforts, we will not suffer blows like that." 

Report: Salaries of mining union leaders in South Africa paid by mining companies
Just one year after the "Marikana massacre," an investigative report in South Africa's Daily Maverick reveals "a furtive conflict of interest, with mining houses footing the bill for top National Union of Mineworkers office bearers’ salaries...unionists are being paid high salaries by the very people from whom they are supposed to protect their members. The 'arrangement' is just about to end, in spite of union leaders' unhappiness and an unpredictable labour and political backlash." 

Odds and Ends

We are all star stuff 
How scientists study the fossils of ancient bacteria to find clues to a 2.6-million-year-old supernovae. Jennifer Ouellette explains how the the bacteria incorporated elements from an exploding star into their bodies, and how those elements can still be found today.

Nevada bans counties from gouging Burning Man
M Otis Beard says, "The Nevada State Assembly has passed a bill that forbids the counties from charging permit fees to Burning Man and other festivals. . . but has anything really changed?"

Richest Americans grow richer (and, spoiler alert: poor grow poorer) 
A Pew Research Center study out today shows that the modest economic growth following the so-called "Great Recession" has increased wealth inequality in America. The top 7% of American households enjoyed a 28% increase in net worth; the wealth of the other 93 percent declined. [Washington Post]

How Are Humans Going To Become Extinct?
What are the greatest global threats to humanity? Are we on the verge of our own unexpected extinction? An international team of scientists, mathematicians and philosophers at Oxford University's Future of Humanity Institute is investigating the biggest dangers. And they argue in a research paper, 'Existential Risk as a Global Priority', that international policymakers must pay serious attention to the reality of species-obliterating risks.
So what are the greatest dangers?

Debunking pirate myths

 Pirates never made people walk the plank -- that came from Peter Pan. Pirates didn't have treasure maps -- that came from Treasure Island. Pirates didn't talk like pirates, either -- that came from Treasure Island actor Robert Newton. Want more of the sad truth about real pirates? Watch Museum Secrets on the History Channel. The good news? Pirates really did fly Jolly Roger flags!

The science mystery behind a psychedelic HIV/AIDS drug

Some patients taking antiretroviral medications for HIV/AIDS receive the efavirenz, marketed under the commercial names Sustiva and Stocrin. According to a report in the LA Times by Melissa Healy, it has an "LSD-like interaction" with brain receptors governing serotonin activity.
That may explain why roughly half of patients taking efavirenz at the prescribed dose have reported neuropsychiatric side effects that include suicidal depression, night terrors, hallucinations, paranoia, psychosis and delusions. And it may also explain why efavirenz tablets are reportedly being ground up and smoked by drug abusers looking for a hallucinogenic high.
Read more at latimes.com.

Clench Your Fist to Get a Grip on Memory

Simple body movements might improve memory.

Superhuman Feats Performed by Senior Citizens

You've heard it said age is just a number, and these people are proof.
With these 15 Superhuman Feats Performed by Senior Citizens, you, too, may believe in superheroes.

Science News

Grassy lawns may be more gassy than grain fields. Residential lawns released more carbon dioxide than corn fields in a recent study, but blades of grass might not be the carbon culprits.
Earthquakes, tidal waves, climatic chaos are just a few of the possible outcomes of losing the moon. Good thing this is just science fiction.

Random Photo

The 8 Types Of Shovels Everyone Should Know

Humans have been digging in the Earth since the dawn of the Neolithic Revolution, some 12,000 years ago. While the earliest agriculturalists had to make do with shovels crudely fashioned from animal bones, later material advances led to the development of modern shovel designs and their specialized heads are purpose-built.

Today, shovels and spades come in a myriad of shapes, sizes, and functions. Here are a few of the most common types of shovels you'll find in your local home improvement store and what they're used for.

The Construction Of NYC's New Subway

There are large, damp, labyrinthine caves and hulking monsters beneath the borough of Manhattan. However, they are not the kind that feature in B movies, but rather are the product of human industry.

These vast caverns have been bored, drilled and blasted to create New York's newest subway, the Second Avenue Subway. Inside the cavities are bright yellow 'monsters,' the heavy machinery required for such a massive undertaking.

Gargoyles And Grotesques Around The World

In architecture, a gargoyle is a carved stone grotesque, usually made of granite, with a spout designed to convey water from a roof and away from the side of a building thereby preventing rainwater from running down masonry walls and eroding the mortar between.

Gargoyles are usually an elongated fantastic animal because the length of the gargoyle determines how far water is thrown from the wall. Here's a collection of gargoyles and grotesques from around the world.


Entire Village Placed On Special Architectural or Historic Interest List
The village of Bourton-on-the-Water is one of those quintessentially English places - you might not be surprised to bump in to a Downton Abbey cast member on its quaint streets. It is considered so important that this week the entire village was designated Grade II Listed by English Heritage, the body which advises on the care of the historic environment in England.

Located in the Cotswolds range of hills in the county of Gloucestershire, the village is a perfectly preserved slice of the British way of life during the early decades of the twentieth century. Yet look a little closer. Is there something not quite right about Bourton-on-the-Water?
For a start - where are the people?

Incredible Ancient Cliff Dwellings

Long before there were high-rise buildings and residential skyscrapers, people still managed to live far above ground, at sometimes dizzying heights. Like modern city inhabitants, these ancestors of ours enjoyed pleasant breezes and great views.

Cliff dwellings have existed in many different parts of the world. In many cases basic homes could be made simply by utilizing the existing walls and roofs of caves. Rock could be tunneled into rather than having to be carved out in great quantities for use as building materials. Take a look at 10 places where these cliff dwellings can be found.

Archaeology News

Site yields evidence of nearby cemetery, corral and potential slaughter areas, and lots of animal bones.

Meanwhile *Cough* in Beijing *Cough*

A foggy day in Beijing, China? Nope! Just smog. Redditor jdk shares some photos of how bad the air pollution has become over there: Here.

Plant News

Researchers pinpoint how trees play role in smog production After years of scientific uncertainty and speculation, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill show exactly how trees help create one of society’s [...]
ntral America, and part of northwestern South America (Colombia and Ecuador). The genus was thought [...]

A collaboration of plant and soil scientists from across the UK has shown a grass hybrid species could help reduce the impact of flooding. The BBSRC-funded scientists, from Rothamsted Research, the James Hutton Institute, Institute [...]

What Are Star Trails?

A star trail is a type of photograph that utilizes long-exposure times to capture the apparent motion of stars in the night sky due to the rotation of the Earth. A star trail photograph shows individual stars as streaks across the image, with longer exposures resulting in longer streaks.

Typical exposure times for a star trail range from 15 minutes to several hours, requiring a 'bulb' setting on the camera to open the shutter for a longer period than is normal. Star trails have been used by professional astronomers to measure the quality of observing locations for major telescopes.

Entire galaxies feel the heat from newborn stars

When galaxies form new stars, they sometimes do so in frantic episodes of activity known as starbursts. These events were commonplace in the early Universe, but are rarer in nearby galaxies. During these bursts, hundreds [...]

Astronomical News

A small but incredibly bright comet heading toward the sun could do more than dazzle Earth’s skies when it arrives later this year.
In a galaxy, far, far away (6 billion light-years away to be precise), the most efficient star "factory" has been discovered. 
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.

A Squirrel Waiting For A Peanut

"Every morning the lady of the house feeds this squirrel a peanut, so every morning it shows up at her door. This was him today"

Dinosaur News

Some dinosaurs became more bird-like as they grew larger arms and a crouching stance.

The 120-million-year-old dinosaur was found with a stomach full of fish.

Animal News

Great white shark teeth have been found in ancient artifacts, but they aren't native.
They're a healthy alternative to pesticides.
The children’s story Peter Pan famously ends with kids shouting, “I do believe in fairies!” and now they, and adults, can truly believe in Tinkerbell the fairyfly, just discovered by scientists.

Sperm Whales vs. Orcas

"Basically, the sperm whales had huddled together like logs, creating a protective wall
against the orcas."
- Shawn Heinrichs
Photographer Shawn Heinrichs of Blue Sphere Media was on a boat off the southern coast of Sri Lanka when he saw something you don't see every day: a pod of sperm whales battling a pack of killer whales.
“We saw the water churning on the horizon,” said Shawn Heinrichs, a photographer and filmmaker who was in the area looking for blue whales. Heinrichs and his colleagues steered their boat toward the patch of white water. As they got closer, they saw an enormous dorsal fin slicing through the water — a killer whale trademark — and then noticed the group of sperm whales, clustered together in a defensive stance.
At that point, Heinrichs did what many of us would not do: He jumped in.
“I grabbed my camera and slid off the side of the boat,” he said. “There was a frothing, dark pile of shapes ahead of me. When I drifted away from the boat, the largest orca in the pod made a beeline for me but veered off at the last moment and dove deep.”
Nadia Drake of Wired has more: Here.

Undersea Predator Tag Team

vGroupers hunt for small fish in open water, but sometimes they will beckon to a moray eel or a  humphead wrasse to go hunting with them. Morays and wrasses will grab fish out of crevices and places a grouper can't reach -and if it flushes more of them out, the grouper can catch them. But what is weird is how the grouper recruits an eel, as observed by Alexander Vail from the University of Cambridge.
The groupers always summoned the wrasses and morays with a vigorous shimmy, but they also used a second, much rarer signal—a headstand, combined with head-shaking. Vail thinks it was a signal, one that said: “The prey’s in here, guys!”

When doing their headstands, the groupers always swam over the location of hidden prey that they had failed to catch. They only used the move when a moray or wrasse was nearby, continued to do so until one arrived, and stopped as soon as one did.

Most morays and all wrasses headed towards the grouper’s location when they saw the signal, causing the prey to break their cover. (The fact that the prey didn’t abandon their hiding spots beforehand shows that the headstand itself isn’t a hunting tactic.) And when the morays ignored the headstand, the groupers actually swum after their partner and either performed their “recruitment shimmy” or forcibly tried to push the eels in the right direction.
The researchers were impressed, but they caution that such cooperative behavior doesn't necessarily mean these fish have high intelligence. See videos of the tag teams in action at Not Exactly Rocket Science.

Animal Pictures


Footloose by Ashley Vincent.
“An orphaned four month old male Lion cub at The Big Cat Reserve (Limpopo, South Africa) frolicking around on an early morning walkabout.”
Thank You, Ashley!
Source: 500px.com