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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.

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Daily Drift

If we all did this they would learn their lesson very quickly ...

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

Oh, sure that scale is accurate! ...

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Today in History

325   The Ecumenical council is inaugurated by Emperor Constantine in Nicea.  
1303   A peace treaty is signed between England and France.  
1347   Cola di Rienzo takes the title of tribune in Rome.  
1520   Hernando Cortes defeats Spanish troops sent against him in Mexico.  
1690   England passes the Act of Grace, forgiving followers of James II.  
1674   John Sobieski becomes Poland's first king.  
1774   Parliament passes the Coercive Acts to punish the colonists for their increasingly anti-British behavior. The acts close the port of Boston.  
1775   North Carolina becomes the first colony to declare its independence.  
1784   The Peace of Versailles ends a war between France, England, and Holland.  
1799   Napoleon Bonaparte orders a withdrawal from his siege of St. Jean d'Acre in Egypt.  
1859   A force of Austrians collide with Piedmontese cavalry at the village of Montebello, in northern Italy. 1861   North Carolina becomes the last state to secede from the Union.  
1862   President Lincoln signs the Homestead Act, providing 250 million acres of free land to settlers in the West.  
1874   Levi Strauss begins marketing blue jeans with copper rivets.  
1902   The U.S. military occupation of Cuba ends.  
1927   Charles Lindbergh takes off from New York for Paris.  
1930   The first airplane is catapulted from a dirigible.  
1932   Amelia Earhart lands near Londonderry, Ireland, to become the first woman fly solo across the Atlantic.  
1939   Pan American Airways starts the first regular passenger service across the Atlantic.  
1941   Germany invades Crete by air.  
1942   Japan completes the conquest of Burma.  
1951   During the Korean War, U.S. Air Force Captain James Jabara becomes the first jet air ace in history. 1961   A white mob attacks civil rights activists in Montgomery, Alabama.  
1969   In South Vietnam, troops of the 101st Airborne Division reach the top of Hill 937 after nine days of fighting entrenched North Vietnamese forces.  
1970  100,000 people march in New York, supporting U.S. policies in Vietnam.

Non Sequitur


Real Time

From Raw Story...

Maher: repugican cabal has moved beyond obstruction to treason

By David Ferguson

On Friday night's edition of "Real Time with Bill Maher," host Bill Maher and guests filmmaker Michael Moore, commentator S. E. Cupp and New York Times columnist Andrew Ross Sorkin discussed the obstructionist repugican Congress and its mission to take down the president by taking down the country. Moore opined that the repugican cabal is a "squealing dinosaur" whose time has come.

Maher began the segment by talking about how prices among top health insurers are falling since the implementation of Obamacare.

"They did a test and they put, you know, what insurance would cost if you were a 40-year-old, non-smoker and instantly, the two highest priced insurers went down," Maher said.

"This is the heart of Obama," he said. "This is the heart of capitalism. I'm wondering why the people who love the free market so much are not for this."

"And what about trying to repeal it for the 37th time?" he went on. "Is that a wise use of our time and resources? At some point, obstruction becomes, um, I dunno, treason."

He went on to list how repugicans are blocking the nominations of a new head for the EPA, a chief circuit court judge for the city of Washington, D.C. and dozens of other government posts that are going unfilled because repugicans won't let any of Obama's nominees get voted on in Congress.

"At some point," Maher said, "it becomes more about hating him than loving our country."

"No, they hate America," said Moore. "I think that's really what it is."

He went on to say that "repugicans and wingnuts," as much as they profess to love this country, "they hate it. They hate the government, they hate the people."

A repugican Senator worries Obama will create Hitler

The repugican Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa tweeted decided that Saturday morning would be a good time to tweet about Hitler. Seriously.
As Lisa M notes:

I have one question for Grassley.
How can President Obama create Hitler when he is Hitler?
drudge hitler stalin
There’s Drudge comparing President Obama to Hitler.
Tea party obama hitler guns
And the tea party comparing President Obama to Hitler. Tea Party compares Obama to Hitler
And more tea party.
 drudge hitler
And the time Drudge compared Obama doing a photo opp with kids to Hitler using kids in photo opps.

Okay, two questions: Does this mean Governor Cuomo is making a grab for Poland?

The truth hurts


NYPD wrongfully seize SD card

And even then they seize the wrong SD card
Photography is not a Crime shares the story:
New York City police officers arrested a woman who was video recording them from a public sidewalk as they conducted some type of “vehicle safety checkpoint.” The officers apparently stole a memory card from a camera, which turned out to be the wrong one, allowing us to view the video.

Nutella Lawyers Hate That Fans Love Nutella

Sara Rosso loves Nutella. In fact, she loved it so much that seven years ago, the hazelnut chocolate spread superfan founded World Nutella Day, a celebration of all things Nutella.
Over the years, the event grew from a few food bloggers posting recipes to thousands of participants Tweeting, pinning recipes on Pinterest, making songs, poems, and short films.
It's not surprising, because, as you know, yummy Nutella goes with everything. Well, almost everything. There's one thing that doesn't mix well with Nutella and its fans: lawyers.
Sara Rosso wrote on World Nutella Day's website:
On May 25, 2013, I’ll be darkening the World Nutella Day site, nutelladay.com, and all social media presence (Facebook, Twitter), in compliance with a cease-and-desist I received from lawyers representing Ferrero, SpA (makers of Nutella).
Seven years after the first World Nutella Day in 2007, I never thought the idea of dedicating a day to come together for the love of a certain hazelnut spread would be embraced by so many people! I’ve seen the event grow from a few hundred food bloggers posting recipes to thousands of people Tweeting about it, pinning recipes on Pinterest, and posting their own contributions on Facebook! There have been songs sung about it, short films created for it, poems written for it, recipes tested for it, and photos taken for it.
The cease-and-desist letter was a bit of a surprise and a disappointment, as over the years I’ve had contact and positive experiences with several employees of Ferrero, SpA., and with their public relations and brand strategy consultants, and I’ve always tried to collaborate and work together in the spirit and goodwill of a fan-run celebration of a spread I (to this day) still eat.
I have hope that this is not a goodbye to World Nutella Day forever, for the fans’ sake, and hopefully it will live on in one form or another in the future.
Nutella dissing its fans? Now that's just plain nuts: More.

Reality is ...

Top UK government officials tamper with inquest into Brit assassinated by Russian spies in London, suppress evidence

Marina Litvinenko, widow of Alexander Litvinenko (a British citizen who was assassinated in London by two former KGB agents who poisoned him with radioactive polonium) has accused the British government, Secretary of State William Hague, and PM David Cameron of sabotaging the coroner's inquest into her husband's death. Hague and Cameron intervened in the coroner's hearing to seal key evidence that implicated the Russian government in Litvinenko's killing.
Sir Robert Owen, who is leading the inquest and who has seen the material, characterised it as "documents that examined whether UK officials could have done more to prevent his murder." 's widow says that this is part of "a secret political deal with the Kremlin." This comes against a charm offensive by the UK government to increase Russian investment in Britain.
The former Labor government severed all contacts with Russia's FSB spy agency in 2007 after concluding it had played a leading role in Litvinenko's assassination. Putin is the agency's former chief.
Mrs Litvinenko added: "This is a very sad day, a tragedy for British justice which has until now been respected around the world, and a frightening precedent for all of those who have been trying so hard to expose the crimes committed by a conspiracy of organized criminals who operate inside the Kremlin."
In his ruling (pdf), Owen said the inquest scheduled to take place later this year might now result in an "incomplete, misleading and unfair" verdict.
The coroner said he would consider inviting Theresa May, the home secretary, to hold a public inquiry instead. The inquiry could hear the sensitive evidence buried by Hague in secret sessions.

The Canadian government turns the national science agenda over to incumbent big businesses

Apparently the wingnut government has decided that government research labs should be concentrating on science in the public interest ... oops, I mean, science in *industry's* interest. A major overhaul of national science policy requires these labs to begin "Conducting collaborative R&D projects with private industry, sharing the costs and the risks."
Notice, that's research in the service of *existing* industries. So government labs can help the current rich get richer, but may not create whole new industries. An applied mathematician might describe this as: you are allowed to climb toward the top of the hill you are on now, but not allowed to jump to other hills which may reach much higher. ...And your applied mathematician consultant would tell you that this is not a way likely to find a global maximum, merely a local one. Maybe the Conservative government should listen to some scientists before ruining science policy.
Unfortunately, this is just the latest in a series of wingnut government attacks on science in Canada, which has included muzzling scientists and shutting down the Experimental Lakes Area -- "Canada's LHC," the world's leading site for critical research on freshwater systems.

Alabama city destroying ancient Indian mound for Sam's Club

City leaders in Oxford, Ala. have approved the destruction of a 1,500-year-old Native American ceremonial mound and are using the dirt as fill for a new Sam's Club, a retail warehouse store operated by Wal-Mart.{C}A University of Alabama archaeology report commissioned by the city found that the site was historically significant as the largest of several ancient stone and earthen mounds throughout the Choccolocco Valley. But Oxford Mayor Leon Smith -- whose campaign has financial connections to firms involved in the $2.6 million no-bid project -- insists the mound is not man-made and was used only to "send smoke signals."
"The City of Oxford and its archaeological advisers have completed a review and evaluation of a stone mound that was identified near Boiling Springs, Calhoun County, Alabama, and have concluded that the mound is the result of natural phenomena and does not meet the eligibility criteria for the Natural [sic] Register of Historic Places," according to a news release Smith issued last week.
In fact, the report does not conclude the mound is a result of "natural phenomena" but says very clearly it is of "cultural origin." And while the University's Office of Archaeological Research does not believe the site qualifies for the National Register of Historic Places, the Alabama Historical Commission disagrees, noting that the structure meets at least three criteria for inclusion: its "association with a broad pattern of history," architecture "embodying distinctive characteristics," and for the information it might yield to scholars.
The site is also significant to Native Americans. The Woodland and Mississippian cultures that inhabited the Southeast and Midwest before Europeans arrived constructed and used these mounds for various rituals, which may have included funerals. There are concerns that human remains may be present at the site, though none have been found yet.
United South and Eastern Tribes, a nonprofit coalition of 25 federally recognized tribes from Maine to Texas, passed a resolution in 2007 calling for the preservation of such structures, which it calls "prayer in stone." Native Americans have held protests against the mound's demolition, and last week someone altered a sign for the Leon Smith Parkway that runs past the development to read "Indian Mound Pkwy."
A local resident named Johnny Rollins told the Anniston Star how his Native American grandmother taught him that when she died he could "go to that mountain" to talk to her:

"It seems like it's taking part of you away," he said of the demolition. "I always felt I had ties to that there."
Since the media began reporting on the site's demolition, city officials have revised their story and are now claiming that dirt from the mound is not being used as fill, despite earlier statements to the contrary. But eyewitnesses say they have seen workers hauling dirt from the mound to the Sam's Club development.
"I mean really, I went there, saw the giant trucks deliver the earth straight from the mound to the construction site, and I still can't believe what they are doing," writes the seventh-generation Alabamian behind the blog Deep Fried Kudzu. She shared the photo above showing roads for construction vehicles now cut to the top of the mound and has other photos and her story of visiting the site at the website.
'More prettier' than an Indian mound
Deepening the development's controversy is how the contracting has been handled. The force behind the project is Oxford's Commercial Development Authority, a public board that uses taxpayer money to lure businesses to the area. The CDA owns the land where the mound is located.
Alabama law exempts CDAs from bid requirements, which means contracts can go to whomever the board chooses. A recent Anniston Star investigative series about the CDA  revealed among other things that the group has awarded nearly $9 million in contracts since 1994 but has taken bids for none of them.
The newspaper also detailed the financial ties between the CDA, firms it does business with, and Mayor Smith's political campaign.
For example, the $2.6 million contract for preparing the Sam's Club site went to Oxford-based Taylor Corp., with the money for that coming in part from the sale of city property to Georgia-based developers Abernathy and Timberlake. Taylor Corp. owner Tommy Taylor, who has received thousands of dollars in city contracts for non-CDA work, donated $1,000 to Smith in 2004 and $1,000 in 2008, while Abernathy and Timberlake donated $1,000 to Smith's re-election campaign in 2004, the paper reports.
The Anniston Star also found that the CDA paid engineering firm Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood of Montgomery, Ala. $45,000 in engineering contracts for the Sam's Club project, with part of that money paying for the archaeological study. The firm contributed $500 to Smith in 2004.
An Alabama Ethics Commission official said the relationships could violate state law "depending on facts," but the mayor said he's done nothing wrong.
Meanwhile, the controversy over the damaged mound's fate rages on. After getting an earful from alarmed preservationists, Alabama Gov. Bob Riley (R) forwarded their concerns to the state Historical Commission -- but said his office has no intention of getting involved. According to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, Tommy Taylor contributed $1,000 to Riley's 2006 gubernatorial campaign, while Goodwyn, Mills and Cawood contributed $1,500.
For now, it appears Oxford officials are pressing ahead with the project. As Mayor Smith said in its defense, "What it's going to be is more prettier than it is today."

The ship graveyard ... ahem ... salvage yard

"This is the biggest ship graveyard in the world - where huge tankers and cruise liners are scrapped on the shorefront by teams of laborers using little more than hand tools. The job is considered one of the most dangerous in the world with workers earning a pittance of just £2.25 a day. But amazingly there is no shortage of willing recruits."

The truth be told

Death, be not infrequent

The oldest person in the world died this year. But don't worry if you missed the event. The oldest person in the world will likely die next year, as well. In fact, according to mathematician Marc van Leeuwen, an "oldest person in the world" will die roughly every .65 years. 

‘Brainstorm’ device could wirelessly detect brain bleeding

New technology developed at the University of California, Berkeley, is using wireless signals to provide real-time, non-invasive diagnoses of brain swelling or bleeding. The device analyzes data from low energy electromagnetic waves that are similar [...]

Vintage behind-the-scenes photos at the American Museum of Natural History

PicturingMuseum diorama 1958 From the American Museum of Natural History's excellent photo archive. Seen above, a millipede installing a model of a man in "The Forest Floor" diorama, 1958. 

What People Eat For Breakfast Around The World

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, keeping us healthy and sharp. But breakfast foods vary wildly from place to place. Take a look at some classic breakfast choices from countries around the world.

Fifteen Wonderful Hilltop Towns And Villages

Hilltop towns and villages are picturesque settlements nestled into the hillsides or on top of hills. They often date from the Middle Ages, and the most common reason for such geographical position is the protection from the invaders.

Fairy-tale look, medieval buildings, narrow winding streets and beautiful views of the surrounding valleys are just some of the reasons why these hilltop destinations are offered by many travel agencies.

The Truth About Why We Laugh

Plato and Aristotle saw it as a tool to topple the mighty. It often accompanies gruesome acts of cruelty. Most of us will use it more routinely - to win friendship and love. So what lies behind the apparent spontaneity of laughter?

The Strange Story of Marie Antoinette's watch

vFamed Swiss watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet made a beautiful and complex watch for Marie Antoinette. The works were mostly gold, and its value is hard to estimate not only because of its history, but because of its workmanship. But Marie Antoinette never wore the watch that eventually became known as the Queen.
The watch ultimately took 44 years to complete. In the interim, the French Revolution and the resulting European upheaval led to the death of both the man who likely commissioned the watch and its intended owner. (Marie Antoinette, of course, fell under the guillotine. Seventeen years after her death, an incensed crowd, convinced that von Fersen had conspired to assassinate Sweden’s would-be king, beat him to death in a Stockholm square.) Breguet died in September 1823. His son, a talented horologer in his own right, finished the masterpiece in 1827. It traveled in the coat pockets of a French nobleman and later ended up in the collection of Sir David Lionel Salomons, a British polymath who brought the first car shows to England and patented an idea for buoyant soap. Salomons left his watch collection to his daughter Vera, a globe-trotting nurse who settled in Jerusalem after World War I and later used her father’s money to build the museum—and to house his collection of watches.

What made Breguet’s work so significant was his skill as both a watchmaker and a designer. His creations have pristine faces, delicate hands that end in apple-shaped tips, and movements that appear as complex as a computer circuit. The Queen was at once immensely complicated—it had all the features of a cathedral clock in the space of a pocket watch—and beguilingly elegant. Breguet even made a clear crystal face that allowed the owner to see the movement of the gears underneath.
Skip ahead to 1983, and the watch is stolen from the museum, along with other valuable watches. The investigation led nowhere for 23 years. But then, it gets really interesting again. Read the saga of the watch at Wired.

Historical Photo


Early diving suit
Early diving suit

Science News

Deep sea 'gold rush' moves closerNautilus operation

The prospect of a deep sea "gold rush" opening a controversial new frontier for mining on the ocean floor has moved a step closer. 261

Woodland; Buckinghamshire, UK (Image: BBC)Expert issues UK tree threat warning

A tree expert says the biggest threat facing UK trees is likely to come from a disease currently unknown to science.

Japan 2011 tsunamiGPS 'improves early tsunami alerts'

GPS data could provide faster and more accurate early warning systems for tsunamis, a German team of scientists suggest.

The Ice Age giants of North America

Scientists get their hands dirty as they attempt to unravel the mystery of giant Ice Age beasts like the sabretooth cat.

Exploding things for science

Earlier this month, volcanologists blew 12 holes in an otherwise peaceful meadow in Ashford, New York. It's not that they had anything against the meadow, per se, it's just that it was a convenient place to do some real-world experiments in how explosions affect the Earth and what we can do to monitor and predict volcanic eruptions. 

Bright Explosion On The Moon

For the past 8 years, NASA astronomers have been monitoring the Moon for signs of explosions caused by meteoroids hitting the lunar surface. And they've just seen the biggest explosion in the history of the program.

On March 17, 2013, an object about the size of a small boulder hit the lunar surface in Mare Imbrium. It exploded in a flash nearly 10 times as bright as anything ever seen before.

How Much Would It Cost To Build The Starship Enterprise?

So you want to build the Enterprise? Well good news: according to some quick, messy, napkin math, it's possible. Kind of. The bad news? It's going to be stupid expensive. But not unfathomably so!

Since we can't predict the future, or even come close to gauging the cost of development for revolutionary new inventions or substances like warp and impulse drives, shields, and teleporters, we're going to stick to what we know. It might not make us a real Enterprise, but it's about as close as you're going to get.



Draco volans in flight.

Okay, technically, this is a "gliding lizard" not a flying dragon, and it's only 8-9 inches long, but wow.

Chinese sheep gets metal heart made with rocket science

A sheep implanted with a new type of artificial heart developed by Chinese scientists using cutting-edge aerospace technology has lived for 62 days thus far, the heart's developers announced on Monday.

The development of the heart was jointly conducted by scientists from the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology and TEDA International Cardiovascular Hospital in north China's Tianjin Municipality. The sheep, nicknamed "Tianjiu," is in sound condition after receiving the blood pump on March 14, said Liu Xiaocheng, president of the hospital.

He said researchers used magnetic suspension and hydrodynamic bearings - both examples of aerospace technology - to design and produce an implantable third-generation ventricular assist device (VAD), a mechanical pump used to support heart function and blood flow in people with weakened hearts.

The device is the first of its kind to be fitted with a battery and controller. The sheep experiment is similar to a clinical implantation, the scientists said. Once the device is marketed, it may end suffering for the 16 million people in China with failing hearts, as many patients are waiting for heart transplants.

Animal Pictures

Drivers test question: In the picture above - who has the right of way?