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Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Daily Drift


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

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Today in History

193   The Roman emperor, Marcus Didius, is murdered in his palace.  
1533   Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII's new queen, is crowned.  
1774   The British government orders the port of Boston closed.  
1789   The first U.S. congressional act on administering oaths becomes law.  
1812   American navy captain James Lawrence, mortally wounded in a naval engagement with the British, exhorts to the crew of his vessel, the Chesapeake, "Don't give up the ship!"  
1862   General Robert E. Lee assumes command of the Confederate army outside Richmond after General Joe Johnston is injured at Seven Pines.  
1864   The Battle of Cold Harbor, Virginia, begins as Confederate general Robert E. Lee tries to turn Union general Ulysses S. Grant's flank.  
1868   James Buchanan, the 15th president of the United States, dies.  
1877   U.S. troops are authorized to pursue bandits into Mexico.  
1915   Germany conducts the first zeppelin air raid over England.  
1916   The National Defense Act increases the strength of the U.S. National Guard by 450,000 men.  
1921   A race riot erupts in Tulsa, Oklahoma, killing 85 people.  
1939   The Douglas DC-4 makes its first passenger flight from Chicago to New York.  
1941   The German Army completes the capture of Crete as the Allied evacuation ends.  
1942   America begins sending Lend-Lease materials to the Soviet Union.  
1958   Charles de Gaulle becomes premier of France.  
1963   Governor George Wallace vows to defy an injunction ordering integration of the University of Alabama.  
1978   The U.S. reports finding wiretaps in the American embassy in Moscow.

Non Sequitur


The US faces brutal hurricane season, while Europe sees “the year without a summer”

More bizarre weather on the horizon as the US may see an unusually brutal hurricane season this year, while summer’s warm weather may skip western Europe entirely as forecasters there warn that this may be “the year without a summer,” Europe’s coldest in 200 years.And some are saying that we’re seeing the effects of climate change.

First, our Hurricanes

David Mixner points us first to NOAA’s (the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) Hurricane Season Outlook that just came out a week ago.  In it, NOAA says we should expect above-normal activity this year:
NOAA’s 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season Outlook indicates that an above-normal season is most likely, with the possibility that the season could be very active. The outlook calls for a 70% chance of an above-normal season, a 25% chance of a near-normal season, and only a 5% chance of a below-normal season….
Based on the current and expected conditions, combined with model forecasts, we estimate a 70% probability for each of the following ranges of activity during 2013:
  • 13-20 Named Storms
  • 7-11 Hurricanes
  • 3-6 Major Hurricanes
  • Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) range of 120%-205%
To fully appreciate what those estimates mean, check out the average number of storms each year:
Note that the expected ranges are centered well above the official NHC 1981-2010 seasonal averages of 12 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 3 major hurricanes.
At its max, that’s almost twice the number of storms possible.   NOAA also explains what that ACE is all about – basically, it means stronger, and longer, storms:
An important measure of the total overall seasonal activity is NOAA’s Accumulated Cyclone Energy (ACE) index, which accounts for the intensity and duration of named storms and hurricanes during the season. This outlook indicates a 70% chance that the 2013 seasonal ACE range will be 120%-205% of the median. According to NOAA’s hurricane season classifications, an ACE value above 120% of the 1981-2010 median reflects an above-normal season, and an ACE value above 165% of the median reflects a very active (or hyperactive) season.

The Coldest Summer in 200 years in Western Europe

Now to Europe.  As many of you know, our writer Chris Ryan lives in Paris, France.  This spring, if you can call it that, has been oddly cold in France, and much of Europe.  And that’s after colder than usual winters the last several years.
Well, now France’s main weather channel, Meteo, is reporting that there’s a 70% chance that the summer is going to be record-breaking cold and wet across much of western Europe.  Meteo says that it’s been the coldest spring in 20 years in France, and the forecast is looking so bad, there’s talk of this being “the year without a summer” across western Europe.  Europe hasn’t had one of those since the unusually brutal year of 1816, when Mary Shelley, reportedly stuck inside due to the bad weather, wrote “Frankenstein.”
European weather forecast for the summer (source: Meteo)
European weather forecast for the summer shows temperatures below normal in much of western Europe, and a rainier summer as well. (source: Meteo)

Is it Climate Change?

Of all the newspapers to say that all of this mess just might be a sign of climate change, is none other than Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal, in a story just published:
Mark Wysocki, a climatologist with New York state who works with the Northeast Regional Climate Center, said the jet stream functions like waves along the ocean. “Some of these waves are small choppy waves and they move by very quickly and sometimes you get caught in these big waves that gradually build and move by very slowly,” he said. “We seem to be stuck in a pattern that has these big waves that are moving by very slowly.”
As the wave of air rolls across the country, it causes several problems, he said. The larger waves carry greater temperature contrasts, exposing areas to more dramatic weather shifts.
When the air shifts temperatures dramatically, “that’s where the storm brews and you get heavy rain,” he said. The amount of rain already this month, at 8 inches, is more than double the historical average. He estimated that the world had been in a cycle of large waves for at least a year. Although the factors are complex, “There is enough science to indicate that warming climates could lead to these kinds of conditions,” he said.
His advice to New Yorkers? “Get used to it.”
England’s The Guardian newspaper says that part of the problem is melting sea ice, caused by climate change:
Climate scientists have linked the massive snowstorms and bitter spring weather now being experienced across Britain and large parts of Europe and North America to the dramatic loss of Arctic sea ice….
According to Francis and a growing body of other researchers, the Arctic ice loss adds heat to the ocean and atmosphere which shifts the position of the jet stream – the high-altitude river of air that steers storm systems and governs most weather in northern hemisphere.
“This is what is affecting the jet stream and leading to the extreme weather we are seeing in mid-latitudes,” she said. “It allows the cold air from the Arctic to plunge much further south. The pattern can be slow to change because the [southern] wave of the jet stream is getting bigger. It’s now at a near record position, so whatever weather you have now is going to stick around,” she said….
recent paper by the US government’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) also found that enhanced warming of the Arctic influenced weather across the northern hemisphere.

Did you know ...

That a man butt-dials 911 while discussing murder plans

That Hawaii may face federal prosecution over wildlife deaths

The 10 craziest things Michelle Bachmann ever said

About the colleges that are the biggest waste of money
About why the Boston PD spied on peace activists but ignored terror warnings

That bad 'arrested development' reviews sink Netflix stock

That white people stopped by the NYPD have more drugs and guns than minorities

The Anatomy of a Bogus Scandal

The repugican cabal Knew of IRS Scrutiny But Stayed Quiet for a Year 

There is little doubt repugicans do very little in an honest and forthright manner, and whether it is claiming tax cuts for their rich supporters create jobs and a vibrant middle class, or that denying women contraception coverage protects their constitutionally guaranteed religious freedom, there is always an ulterior motive unrelated to their stated agenda. There has always been something out of sorts with the phony I.R.S. scandal wingnut political agitators and repugican organizations screamed about over the past few weeks claiming they were harassed with unsuitable questionnaires and persecuted for months as the I.R.S. delayed making a decision on their applications for social welfare organizations. The question of whether or not various wingnut campaign aagitatorss were unfairly targeted because of their political affiliation may be a valid issue in some quarters, but whether the I.R.S. was out of line in closely examining the groups’ applications for tax exemption cannot possibly be questioned as extreme or illegal by any semi-intelligent human being outside wingnut circles.  As it turns out, there is much more to the so-called scandal than a few ambitious I.R.S. employees picking on besieged teabaggers, and it is not primarily that the groups filed for 501(c)(4) statuses as social welfare organizations that is the issue although it is closely related.
It has been reasonably postulated that the overriding reason conservative groups applied for tax exemption with the I.R.S. was because under the 501(c)(4) designation they do not have to reveal their donors allowing them to spend hundreds-of-millions of dollars on elections using undisclosed dark money. What has been a nagging question is why repugicans and their “social welfare” donors knew of the increased scrutiny for well over a year and were silent until a month ago when the I.R.S. revealed they targeted conservative groups seeking the special tax exempt status. It is prescient that during a hotly contested presidential election, repugicans kept their faux outrage in check until a month ago, and it is apparent that something besides the I.R.S. apology lit up the right and drove their phony scandal outrage.
First, it is important to acknowledge that, according to Marcus S. Owens who headed the I.R.S.’s exempt organizations division until 2000, “I.R.S. agents are obligated to determine if a 501(c)(4) group is primarily promoting social welfare.” While such groups are allowed limited election involvement, it cannot be their primary activity and basing a judgment does not hinge on the proportion of funds the groups spend on campaigns, but on a mix of facts and circumstances. According to Owens, the I.R.S. was not out of line in asking “questions that have been found to be germane in court decisions,” and that it was appropriate to ask groups about their donors, or whether their leaders planned to run for public office, and he noted that such questions are not prohibited if relevant to an application under consideration. After two years of asking relevant questions and determining that a majority of approved and pending applications were worthy of extensive scrutiny, it appears the I.R.S. was on the verge of calling for serious reviews the groups could not withstand.
The I.R.S. was separately reviewing (auditing) around 300 allegedly tax-exempt groups that likely engaged in improper campaign activity in past years according to I.R.S. planning documents, and it is obvious that the wave of lawsuits and intense congressional criticism of the way the I.R.S. handled applications are for the sole purpose of derailing those audits to give wingnut 'nonprofits' a free hand to inject unlimited anonymous dark money into the 2014 midterm elections. Obviously, few of the wingnut groups could withstand audits of their organizations’ political activity without losing their social welfare status and being forced to reveal their secret donors’ and their connections to purely political campaign activity. The outraged wingnuts are crying foul as a public distraction and to ramp up pressure on the I.R.S. from congressional repugicans who have intimated they should defund the agency thus neutering the section charged with monitoring tax-exemption requests.
It is relatively common  knowledge at this juncture that many of the wingnut groups complaining the loudest that they were unfairly treated by the I.R.S. were clearly involved in election activities on behalf of repugicans or against Democrats. For example, one veterans’ group, CVFC, first applied for I.R.S. recognition in early 2010 and stated it did not plan to spend any money on politics. However, it listed an address with a political organization called Combat Veterans for Congress PAC that told the I.R.S. it only planned to e-mail veterans about ways to “engage in government” and provide “social welfare programs to assist combat veterans involvement in government.” But later in 2010, while awaiting an I.R.S. ruling, the organization spent $8,000 on radio ads backing a repugican for a House seat in San Diego according to Federal Election Commission records. The group failed to account for the campaign expense on its tax return, and checked the box marked “No” when asked if it had engaged in direct or indirect political activities on behalf of a candidate for political office. After two rounds of I.R.S. inquiries about the group’s donors and relationship with the CVFC PAC, the group still failed to report its campaign contributions and then complained loudly that the I.R.S. questions were inappropriate and “sweepingly overbroad,”  and claimed they answered them truthfully. A thorough review and audit would expose the group’s perjury and illegal practices, and by claiming intense partisan scrutiny, the agency is itself facing investigations for doing its due diligence and a comprehensive review of the CVFC will never reach fruition.
Considering the I.R.S. was reviewing 300 wingnut organizations for discrepancies in their tax returns, FEC filings, and social welfare applications, it makes sense why repugicans kept quiet and waited until the reviews were impending and are now in jeopardy of being scuttled as the agency faces congressional and FBI investigations for simply doing its job. The repugicans have used the so-called I.R.S. scandal to call for investigations into the I.R.S. practices, and their outrage is another form of obstructionism and is far more serious than their filibusters of every Democratic proposal in the Senate or the President’s nominees. A thorough, independent investigation will likely reveal that not only was the I.R.S. doing its job, it was on the verge of really doing its job and bringing an end to groups like the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity illegally spending tens-of-millions of secret donors’ dollars to influence elections in a clear violation of FEC  and I.R.S. statutes. However, Americans will likely never know the depth of secret dark campaign money because while Congress and the FBI investigate a few overly-zealous I.R.S. agents going about their due diligence, the real I.R.S. reviews and audits will be quashed and another midterm election will be bought and paid for by the very groups obstructing investigations that had the potential of ensuring a free and fair election that no repugican can comport or allow.

America Pushes Back Against the Koch Brothers Plan to Buy Tribune Newspapers

The Koch Brothers’ plan to buy their own media machine has hit a snag in the form of a day of action by unions and activists designed to put the heat on any potential sale.
The Koch Brothers are attacking another institution of our society by trying to buy their own media empire. The Koch Brothers are believed to be the only group willing to buy all eight Tribune newspapers together, and a coalition of activists isn’t about to let that happen without a fight. The coalition known as Save Our News is holding protests across the country.
Writers Guild of America East President Michael Winship said, “The Kochs have already demonstrated their inclination to use their enormous wealth to silence independent journalism. At a time when thoughtful, independent filmmaking is more critical than ever to the public conversation, this kind of checkbook censorship is simply not acceptable.”
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumpka said, “It is hard to imagine how the Tribune newspapers would continue to provide quality, independent journalism to the communities they serve if they were under the control of the Koch brothers. As reported by the New York Times, the Kochs’ political strategy includes changing the way the media covers conservative causes. We need newspapers that are dedicated to providing objective and high quality reporting, not another Fox-news style propaganda machine.”
Dan Cantor, executive director of the Working Families Party said, “Journalism is too important to be left in the hands of the Koch brothers, and when they get their hands on something, bad things happen.”
In a statement, the Koch Brothers tried to preemptively paint the opposition as lying, “As an entrepreneurial company with 60,000 employees around the world, we are constantly exploring profitable opportunities in many industries and sectors. So, it is natural that our name would come up in connection with this rumor. We respect the independence of the journalistic institutions referenced in the news stories, but it is our long-standing policy not to comment on deals or rumors of deals we may or may not be exploring. Setting aside for a moment the fact that we don’t own the L.A. Times and that the protests are about pure speculation in the media, we encourage people to learn the truth about Koch Industries.”
The Koch Brothers are sticking to their modus operandi of trying to maneuver in the shadows. They don’t want protests and public attention to expose their agenda to the American people.
The left has had success in fighting against ALEC, Glenn Beck, and Lush Dimbulb, but those were/are advertiser/member boycotts. It will be interesting to see of the Save Our News coalition can transfer those successful tactics to stopping the sale of the newspapers.
The Kochs are trying to create a propaganda arm for their extremist agenda, and it is up to the left to stop them. The corporate owned media isn’t going to say boo about any potential sale, so the resistance must be built from the ground up.
The Koch Brothers are already trying to buy the government. They can’t be allowed to own the media too. Corporate control has muted our free press, but Koch control will destroy it.

Free Speech Is an Unclear Concept to the tea party

Well lookey here!  The repugicans found out the constitution has more provisions aside from the second amendment. Of course, like most things including the second amendment, the tea party wing of the repugican cabal has a special way of understanding those other provisions – especially the first amendment.
Exhibit 1.
The tea party is suing the IRS alleging that the IRS violated their right to free speech, and that they were punished.
Ummm….. the first thing I wonder is how does additional scrutiny to make sure that the tea party isn’t really a political movement dressed in social welfare clothing before eventually granting them 501c status violates their right to free speech. 
The tea party and its other wingnut fiends claimed they qualified for tax exempt and donor anonymity as a 501c group.  While the criteria that the IRS used to further examine their claims was not the correct criteria it doesn’t mean these groups shouldn’t have been scrutinized.  In fact, if we look at the original intent of a 501c group, they shouldn’t have been granted 501 \c status at all.
Lawrence O’Donnell was the first to explain how congress originally intended 501c groups to be exclusively involved in social welfare activities and how the IRS changed the word “exclusively” to “primarily” in 1959.  The President was also aware of that point when he alluded to necessary fixes in the law during his press conference on the IRS matter.  I wouldn’t hold my breath of this happening under the tea party controlled House of Representatives. After all, 501c status is such a cash cow for the Koch Brothers, and others who outspent their liberal counterparts by a ratio of 34:1.
One doesn’t have to be a policy wonk or a law wonk to understand that keeping the word exclusively intact, would have clarified things and definitely would have made it impossible for dark money to slither into anonymity with tax free status to boot. When you don’t have ideas, you better have lots and lots of dark money to run attack ads that are no more factual than what passes for news on Faux.
The point is that granting or denying tax exempt and donor anonymity status is not in itself instrumental in whether a group has free speech.  The inference that additional scrutiny was somehow intimidating is a different matter, as repugicans know firsthand from when they used the IRS to intimidate individuals and groups who didn’t goosestep with the shrub junta.  It’s very difficult to feel sympathy for the hypocrites who won’t think twice of using the IRS to say, intimidate the AARP. Oh right, that’s different because the AARP actually is a social welfare group.
As difficult as it is to have sympathy for the teapocrites. I will maintain that while the wrong criteria was used by the IRS, groups with 'party' as part of their name whose raison d’etre is to support one political party, should have to undergo additional scrutiny when they’re trying to present themselves as social welfare groups.
Let’s remember, that 501c groups like Crossroads, Americans for Prosperity and the tea party are pushing their agenda on our dime. When organizations like the above get the tax breaks that come with 501c status, it means the rest of us have to make up the short fall.  In that sense, these political organizations are really getting subsidized by we, the taxpayers.
Exhibit #2.
The madman governor of Maine, Paul LePage,  offered his two cents on Wednesday:
The minute we start stifling our speech, we might as well go home, roll up our sleeves and get our guns out,’
The context of this quote illustrates that LePage doesn’t have a clue what he’s talking about.  After the state house’s appropriations committee refused to let him address the committee, LePage claimed to all who would listen that his first amendment rights were violated.
The free speech provision is intended to protect speech by individuals, from government oppression.
Unlike the average citizen, Le Page is part of the government.  So what we really have here is the executive branch claiming his first amendment rights were denied by the legislative branch.
He went so far as to suggest that this is comparable to the IRS “censoring” the tea party, which of course, isn’t true. In fact, the average citizen is typically arrested if they disrupt committee meetings or other legislative sessions.  Le Page was merely denied permission to speak to the committee, which is a far cry from censorship.  The fact that he left freely after he was denied an opportunity to speak to the committee, and spoke freely to the press about it, illustrates that point.
More fascinating is the fact that Le Page thinks the way to persuade people that they’re missing out by refusing to hear his pearls of wisdom is at the barrel of a gun.  Yep, that’s freedumb all right.

The truth hurts

Wednesday, May 29

The Today Show busts rent-a-disabled-guide/skip-the-lines services in Disneyland

Remember the New York Post story about disabled people renting themselves out to rich New York families in order to skip the lines at Walt Disney World?
The Today Show followed up on this, investigating the phenomenon of rent-a-disabled-guide services across the country in California's Disneyland. They found people advertising openly on Craigslist, offering to rent out their company and the use of their disabled pass. They sent an undercover crew out with one such guide, and then confronted her in the parking lot and asked her if she felt bad about abusing the system of disabled passes.
Disney has promised to crack down on the practice, threatening lifetime bans from the parks for anyone caught offering the use of their disabled passes.
On ads we found on Craigslist, tour guides brag about their disabled passes: "Let's cut the Disney lines together," "access to ... special entrances." So we had our producer and his family go undercover with home video cameras, hiring two of those disabled guides to show them around Disneyland.
First up was a guide named Mara, who said she got her pass after a car accident. "I'm here to make sure everyone has fun at Disneyland and we get on as many rides as possible," she told us.
"And you have a secret weapon that's going to help us?" our producer asked.
"I do. I have a special card that's going to help us beat the lines," Mara replied with a wink.
And she charged $50 an hour to do it. We started at the Mad Tea Party ride. The long line was no problem for us: We skipped ahead, and got right in through a side door.
Our second disabled guide, Ryan, charged our family $200 and got them right through another side door at Star Tours, an attraction inspired by "Star Wars." "I cant believe we're getting past everybody," our producer exclaimed.

What you should know - What they tell you

Tech Savvy

Schools and the Cloud ...
Will schools allow students to be profiled and advertised to in the course of their school-day?
Kate says, "Technology companies are moving rapidly to get tools like email and document creation services into schools. This link to a recent survey of schools in the UK shows that use of such technology is expected to bring significant educational and social benefits. However, it also reveals that schools have deep concerns that providers of these services will mine student emails, documents or web browsing behaviour to build profiles for commercial purposes, such as serving advertisements. When data mining is done for profit, the relationship between the data miner and the consumer is simply a market transaction. As long as both parties are free to choose whether and when they wish to engage in such transactions, there is no reason to forbid them or place undue obstacles in their path. However, when children are using certain services at school and can neither consent to, control or even properly understand the data mining that is taking place, a clear line against such practices must be drawn, particularly when their data will be used by businesses to make a profit."

Schneier: The FBI's new plan to wiretap the internet is great. For criminals. 

Bruce Schneier in Foreign Policy magazine writes about the new law proposed by the FBI that will make wiretapping the internet easier. "This law will result in less-secure Internet products and create a foreign industry in more-secure alternatives. It will impose costly burdens on affected companies. It will assist totalitarian governments in spying on their own citizens. And it won't do much to hinder actual criminals and terrorists." 

First looks at Windows 8.1 

An incrementally new edition of Microsoft's Windows operating system, the eighth pointh oneth version, launched today. Mat Honan at Wired has a detailed hands-on, and Wilson Rothman at MSNBC does a fine job at explaining the new features here

Teju Cole on Image Search: Google’s Macchia 

"Google tried to do everything. It proved itself the deepest and fastest of the search engines. It stomped the competition in email. It made a decent showing in image hosting, and a good one in chat. It stumbled on social, but utterly owned maps. It swallowed libraries whole and sent tremors across the copyright laws. It knows where you are right now, and what you’re doing, and what you’ll probably do next. It added an indelible, funny, loose-limbed and exact verb into the vocabulary: to google. No one bings or yahoos anything. And it finishes your sen... All of a sudden, one day, a few years ago, there was Google Image Search."—"Google’s Macchia", Teju Cole, The New Inquiry. 

Illegal News

CIA whistleblower's astounding letter about his prison life 

A fascinating letter about prison life, written by John Kiriakou, the former CIA agent who was sent to prison for blowing the whistle about the federal government's secret torture campaign.

Man shot and killed during FBI interview was unarmed

Ibragim Todashev, an associate of the Boston Bombing suspects, was unarmed when shot and killed during an FBI interview. Officials had earlier claimed that Todashev was armed with a knife. 

Miami police choke 14-year-old and hurt his puppy after receiving 'dehumanizing stares' 

Police in Miami-Dade slammed a 14-year-old child on the ground, then placed him in a chokehold. Why? Because he gave them a "dehumanizing stare." When asked about his puppy, injured during the arrest, Miami-Dade Police Detective Alvaro Zabaleta told CBS: "We are not concerned with a puppy. We are concerned with the threat to the officer."

Toronto mayoral disaster: illegal deletion of staffers' email?

More news from the embattled mayor of Toronto, Rob "Laughable Bumblefuck" Ford: after two of his senior staffers walked out on him following questioning by Toronto homicide detectives, it appears that someone illegally ordered the destruction of their archived city emails and call-records -- as well as the archived electronic communications of Ford's former chief of staff, whom Ford fired under mysterious circumstances.
The Star heard concerns at city hall Wednesday afternoon over the potential destruction or hiding of the records of three staffers who resigned or were fired during the ongoing crack cocaine scandal. Sources told the Star the records were in danger after city employees were directed to delete them.
The Star sent a request late Wednesday to the city asking for email and phone records of the three staffers in question for the time period during which the video at the heart of the scandal has been discussed.
Emails sent by city employees, including political staffers, are automatically preserved by the city, though emails related to “personal” business are exempt from freedom of information requests.
Two people familiar with the system said the emails of specific political staffers cannot be permanently erased from the system.p

The Saddest City in America ...

According to Twitter
If you're sad and you know it, don't cry a tear. Tweet instead!
A new study by researchers at the Vermont Complex Systems Center analyzed 80 million words from more than 10 million geotagged tweets in 2011 to find America's saddest city: Beaumont, Texas.
Using that list, researchers then collected tweets from more than 300 separate cities and towns across the United States and created an algorithm to assess how frequently "happy" words occurred vs. how frequently "sad" words occurred in different places. For example, people in Napa were much more likely to tweet the word "hope" than were their counterparts living along the Gulf Coast.
"The differences in the words people used told us a lot about the cities themselves," says Lewis Mitchell, a mathematician and the study's lead author. "Essentially we were able to create a geography of happiness." [...]
"The people at the bottom of our list live in states that are more socioeconomically depressed and where more natural disasters occur," he says. "There are higher rates of poverty, and the median incomes are lower."
This might explain why places like Beaumont and Shreveport, Louisiana, have sadder tweets.
Melody Kramer of National Geographic has the post: Here.


Thursday, May 30

Why lie?

Here's an excerpt from Judge Alex Kozinski's opinion in US v Xavier Alvarez (PDF), in which the judge describes some of the reasons that people lie:
Saints may always tell the truth, but for mortals living means lying. We lie to protect our privacy ("No, I don't live around here"); to avoid hurt feelings ("Friday is my study night"); to make others feel better ("Gee you've gotten skinny"); to avoid recriminations ("I only lost $10 at poker"); to prevent grief ("The doc says you're getting better"); to maintain domestic tranquility ("She’s just a friend"); to avoid social stigma ("I just haven't met the right woman"); for career advancement ("I'm sooo lucky to have a smart boss like you"); to avoid being lonely ("I love opera"); to eliminate a rival ("He has a boyfriend"); to achieve an objective ("But I love you so much"); to defeat an objective ("I'm allergic to latex"); to make an exit ("It's not you, it's me"); to delay the inevitable ("The check is in the mail"); to communicate displeasure ("There's nothing wrong"); to get someone off your back ("I'll call you about lunch"); to escape a nudnik ("My mother's on the other line"); to namedrop ("We go way back"); to set up a surprise party ("I need help moving the piano"); to buy time ("I'm on my way"); to keep up appearances ("We're not talking divorce"); to avoid taking out the trash ("My back hurts"); to duck an obligation ("I've got a headache"); to maintain a public image ("I go to church every Sunday"); to make a point ("Ich bin ein Berliner"); to save face ("I had too much to drink"); to humor ("Correct as usual, King Friday"); to avoid embarrassment ("That wasn't me"); to curry favor ("I've read all your books"); to get a clerkship ("You're the greatest living jurist"); to save a dollar ("I gave at the office"); or to maintain innocence ("There are eight tiny reindeer on the rooftop")….
An important aspect of personal autonomy is the right to shape one’s public and private persona by choosing when to tell the truth about oneself, when to conceal, and when to deceive. Of course, lies are often disbelieved or discovered, and that, too, is part of the push and pull of social intercourse. But it’s critical to leave such interactions in private hands, so that we can make choices about who we are. How can you develop a reputation as a straight shooter if lying is not an option?

What Your Egg Preference Says about You

"You like things predictable and are slowly turning into a curmudgeon." Wow, this chart is surprisingly accurate! Another alternative for boiled is that you cook eggs by the dozen on your day off so that you don't have to cook in the morning. That's efficiency!

Eleven of the Weirdest Fads Through History

If you think planking, condom snorting, the cinnamon challenge and other modern trends are a statement about the stupidity of modern man, then you need a history lesson. Amongst some of the stupidest trends in history are purposefully making teeth look terrible, arsenic medical treatments, and year-long dance marathons.
The photo above features a few young, hip guys hunkering together, which at least wasn't a dangerous past time like many of the others on this list.
Warning: Some of the language is NSFW.

Random Photo


Adriana Lima

Sonar Anomaly May Be Wreckage of Amelia Earhart's Plane

The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery (TIGHAR), which has long been investigating the disappearance of legendary aviator Amelia Earhart, may have discovered the wreckage of her plane:
... the images show an "anomaly" resting at the depth of about 600 feet in the waters off Nikumaroro island, some 350 miles southeast of Earhart's target destination, Howland Island.
According to TIGHAR researchers, the sonar image shows a strong return from a narrow object roughly 22 feet long oriented southwest/northeast on the slope near the base of an underwater cliff. Shadows indicate that the object is higher on the southwest (downhill side). A lesser return extends northeastward for about 131 feet.
"What initially got our attention is that there is no other sonar return like it in the entire body of data collected," Ric Gillespie, executive director of TIGHAR, told Discovery News.
"It is truly an anomaly, and when you're looking for man-made objects against a natural background, anomalies are good," he added.
Rossella Lorenzi of Discovery News has the post: Here | TIGHAR's post

The 'Mary Rose'

More than 30 years after it was raised from the seabed - and almost 500 years since it sank - the secrets of Henry VIII's flagship, the Mary Rose, are being revealed to the public - along with the faces of its crew. Find out more  here.

The 2,000-Year-Old Computer Used By Ancient Greeks

In 1901, divers looking for sponges in the Antikythera area between Crete and Greece came upon one of the most mysterious discoveries the world has ever seen - the Antikythera Mechanism. The device was being carried on a Roman ship that was wrecked between 80 and 60 B.C.

After the device was found, it wasn't until 50 years later that an Australian archaeologist using X-rays began to discover that there was a lot more to the mystery piece than was originally thought. However, the actual function of the Antikythera Mechanism wasn't known until decades later.

Upping the Cute Factor


Police found man's body lying among 46 snakes

German police looking for a missing man discovered him dead in his home surrounded by nearly 50 snakes. His size, experts said on Wednesday, stopped the animals from eating his corpse, as he was too wide to be swallowed whole.

Heiko R, an avid 40-year-old snake collector, had 46 serpents living in his house in Straubing, Bavaria. He had begun collecting them at the age of 16. His colleagues called the police after the caretaker had failed to turn up for work for a week. Officers found his body on the floor, decomposed due to the high temperatures from the animals' terrariums.

There were an eight-meter long anaconda and four pythons up to nine meters long slithering free around the house. “One was as thick as a human thigh,” said a fireman present at the scene. Forty-one other snakes including tiger pythons and king pythons, were in tanks – all were registered and legally allowed to be kept as pets. None of the animals were poisonous.

The snakes have a new home at a reptile home in Munich. The reptile center's boss, Markus Baur, said that the snakes did not eat the body because “they like to eat their prey whole and the average European is too long and too wide for that.” An autopsy is scheduled and police confirmed that the death appeared neither suspicious nor like suicide. He most likely died of natural causes.

The Indian Bullfrog

Guys, if you need some help attracting the ladies, this suave gentleman can offer you a few tips. Just turn yellow and start bellowing your vocal sacs. Then just wait. Soon enough, the females will come your way. Well, maybe.

Unknown Creatures ...

... Fact, Fiction, or Possibility? 
 by Tina Elliott
 INSIDE EDITION goes under the sea with a fearless real life mermaid who glides through water and goes swimming with the sharks.

Mermaids, Bigfoot, Nessie…OH MY!! The belief of the possible existence of mythological creatures has existed since early man. But why so little proof? To be honest, we have much to learn about our world and we truly only know less than a third of our oceans and what they hold. Why am I talking about such a controversial subject? Well, recently we have been hearing a lot more about new evidence of Bigfoot and especially mermaids lately. I too am curious on whether such creatures can exist, but I am also curious about the factual psychological information of misidentification of known species and what the human mind may do when it runs wild with imagination and possibilities.
We even had official statements given by our military and NOAA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, that mermaids do not exist. But way waste time to even address this to the public as well? It is really hard to say, but it does make people wonder why these governmental units even care to discount these creatures if they truly do not exist?
There is a real theory called the ‘Aquatic Ape Theory’, that suggests that some of our ancestors may have lived in aquatic environments. A film was released called, ‘Mermaids: The Body Found’ last year and was shown again last night on ‘Animal Planet’ along with an interview of one of the previous NOAA scientists. What is interesting to see is that NOAA is known to address such things on occasion, but nobody really knows why they feel they have a need to if they do not exist?
Many explanations have been given, and one psychological one comes from when men are at sea for lengthy periods of time. It is said that sometimes men at sea become so lonely that they start to imagine lovely humanoid creatures that live in the sea. These men have become so desperate for the company of women they start to misidentify everyday creatures such as seals, dugongs, and manatees as mermaids. This in turn is also called the ‘Sea Mammal Theory,’ when people misidentify sea creatures for mythological or cryptic creatures.
What is a cryptic creature? It is a part of a scientific study called cryptozoology, but not to be confused with the study of mythological creatures. It is the study of living creatures that may exist now or have existed once but are not known formally. Bigfoot and Nessie being a few of them, but it does seem that mermaids are now being thrown into this group of possibilities. The film I discussed above is noted by the scientists that were interviewed as science fiction, but quote that such possibilities could exist although very little evidence exists and some may be fabricated. Personally I have to admit, that the documentary-like film I saw last night was impressive, if not creepy. But doubts will continue to come into my mind until it can be proven logically. As a shaman, I can see such things as probable spiritual beings (although another controversial subject to some), but physically there just isn’t enough to go on yet.
Personally I have dealt with many people over the years in misidentifying the most common of creatures. Such as when someone calls me up on a wildlife rescue, tells me over the phone the animal is a baby eagle, but in reality it ends up being a pigeon! Yes, this kind of situation happens a lot and it really can be pretty funny. We are creatures with such a high intelligence, it really is pretty easy to misidentify creatures when we think we have found something special, or even think we have seen something that what considered nonexistent because of how imaginative our brains can be.
So why do we continue to have possible beliefs that such creatures may exist? Well, recently we have found enormous new species of whales we have never seen that helps to explain why there could be a possibility that certain creatures could possibly exist. Again, we only know a small fragment of our oceans.
I think by looking at probable evidence, sightings etc. it gives us hope that such things can exist, that our world is much more special than people give credit for. Other times it is someone so desperate for attention and recognition they will go as far as possible to convince others that certain things do exist. An extraordinary example is when a few crafty anthropologists have literally found or bought artifacts/remains and place in them in a special location away from the original location in order to get recognition for their findings. To this day some anthropological findings are still being discovered but misused in these self-empowerment struggles for fame and recognition. These types of things can give the true scientists and science as a whole a bad name sadly. And when it comes down to scientists that are strongly suggesting certain creatures do exist, they do take on an extreme threat to their profession and personal lives as well.

Hot pink slugs

NewImage This fantastically pink slug, Triboniophorus aff. graeffei, is only found on Mount Kaputar, a mountaintop in New South Wales, Australia. According to scientists, the slugs and several other strange species are from the days when this region was a damp rainforest. When Mount Kaputar erupted 17 million years ago, it preserved a very unusual ecosystem. "A series of volcanos and millions of years of erosion have carved a dramatic landscape at Mount Kaputar National Park, creating a fascinating world with some very colourful locals," writes the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service on its Facebook page. More info in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Odd Animal News

Missing shark found in South Dakota 

"Rapid City police said an anonymous tip lead them to the 12-foot shark that was found in an open field next to the old Pizza Hut in Box Elder." 

Beavers bite Belarusian, who bleeds to death 

"The fisherman wanted his photo shot with a beaver. The beaver had other ideas: It attacked the 60-year-old man with razor-sharp teeth, slicing an artery and causing him to bleed to death." Beavers are attacking people in Belarus

Animal Pictures