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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, June 7, 2013

The Daily Drift


by Solitude GmbH
Oh, yeah!

Carolina Naturally is read in 192 countries around the world daily.

Duncan, who? ...

Today is Doughnut Day 

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Today in History

1498   Christopher Columbus leaves on his third voyage of exploration.  
1546   The Peace of Ardes ends the war between France and England.  
1654   Louis XIV is crowned king of France.  
1712   The Pennsylvania Assembly bans the importation of slaves.  
1767   Daniel Boone sights present-day Kentucky.  
1775   The United Colonies change their name to the United States.  
1863   Mexico City is captured by French troops.  
1900   The Boxer rebels cut the rail links between Peking and Tientsin in China.  
1903   Professor Pierre Curie reveals the discovery of Polonium.  
1914   The first vessel passes through the Panama Canal.  
1932   Over 7,000 war veterans march on Washington, D.C., demanding their bonus pay for service in World War I.  
1942   The Japanese invade Attu and Kiska in the Aleutian Islands.  
1968   In Operation Swift Saber, U.S. Marines sweep an area 10 miles northwest of Danang in South Vietnam.  
1981   Israeli F-16 fighter-bombers destroy Iraq's only nuclear reactor.  
1994  The Organization of African Unity formally admits South Africa as its fifty-third member. 

Non Sequitur


A $33.7 Million Rug

FILE - This undated file photo provided by Sotheby's shows a Sickle-Leaf Carpet, a Persian rug from Washington, D.C.’s Corcoran Gallery of Art, that was auctioned in New York on Wednesday, June 5, 2013 by Sotheby's. Sotheby's says it sold for $33.7 million, more than three times the previous auction record for a carpet. (AP Photo/Sotheby's, File)A Persian rug from the early 17th century has sold for $33.7 million in New York City.
Sotheby's auction house says Wednesday's price for the Clark Sickle-Leaf Carpet was more than three times the previous auction record for a carpet.
The Sickle-Leaf Carpet sold to an anonymous telephone bidder. The seller was the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
The carpet was part of a collection bequeathed to Corcoran in 1926 by William A. Clark, an industrialist and U.S. senator from Montana.
The previous record price for a carpet was $9.6 million for a Persian carpet sold by Christie's in London in April 2010.
The price includes the auction house's premium.

Did you know ...

That christians can't drink Starbucks

... including the IRS "scandal"

Hey, National Steampunk day is June 14!

The truth be told


The tea party's Whining Backfires as All Political Groups Could Lose Tax Exempt Status

earl blumenanuer
More lawmakers are beginning to call out the fact that social welfare groups should not be subsidized by the American taxpayers if they are violating the law with political activity.
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) excoriated repugicans for failing to understand the basic language of the laws governing 501(c) 4s. He explained that the statue says they shouldn’t have any political activity, and so the real scandal is why aren’t repugicans even bringing the statute up in their hearings and why isn’t the IRS following the law.
Appearing Tuesday night on the Last Word, Blumenauer said, “They shouldn’t be shielded from public disclosure by the 501(c)4 status where they get millions of dollars and not required to disclose…. They shouldn’t disguise political action behind the guise of social welfare. It is not healthy, it’s not right, it’s not legal, we should stop it.”
Watch here via NBC news:

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Transcript from MSNBC:
Lawrence O’Donnell: How lonely is it there when you have a hearing about abuse of law in the Ways and Means Committee and you cannot get republicans of the committee to actually read the very simple language of the 501(c) 4 law?
Earl Blumenauer: Well, it’s frustrating. Obviously there were some problems in inappropriate targeting. If it looks like there were confidential tax returns leaked, by all means, go after it, get to the bottom of it, we had the inspector general’s report, nothing is willful or criminal. There have been some mistakes made.
But as you’ve been getting to the underlying problem is that we shouldn’t have bureaucrats trying to evaluate how much social welfare versus how much political action they’re involved with. The statute says they shouldn’t have any. That Eisenhower era reinterpretation that allowed some permissible political activity was wrong, it is contrary to the statute, congress should fix it. If they want to play politics, they ought to organize a political effort.
They shouldn’t be shielded from public disclosure by the 501(c)4 status where they get millions of dollars and not required to disclose and they’re definitely principally organized like the National Organization for Marriage was organized to assault efforts in California for marriage equality. It is blatantly political and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise. We should stop it.
Lawrence O’Donnell: Congressman, has Janice Mays and those on the Ways and Means figured out how the IRS changed that word exclusively to the word primarily and why then the IRS relied on the word they made up instead of the word congress wrote?
Earl Blumenauer: Yeah, I am not familiar with anybody teasing out the history on that. It would be interesting. But actually I think a sideshow. The point is it is inappropriate, contrary to statute, and leads us down this never neverland path, and I don’t care if it is an organization on the right or the left, they shouldn’t disguise political action behind the guise of social welfare. It is not healthy, it’s not right, it’s not legal, we should stop it.
End transcript.

The repugicans paraded tea partiers in front of the cameras Tuesday to decry the “jackboot” of tyranny descending upon them via the IRS, never realizing that they are all in violation of the law. The tea partiers put on an embarrassing display of ignorance combined with a staggering sense of entitlement with the following hyperbolic claims:
“This is about tyranny on the field of our founding documents.”
“I feel our country turned a corner into tyranny.”
“I am not here as a vessel, I am not begging the lords for mercy.”

The repugicans made a huge miscalculation in bringing national attention to the blatant abuse of the statute by some social welfare groups. The law is very clear: The group must be engaged exclusively in social welfare.
Lawrence O’Donnell was pleased to report that more lawmakers are now talking about that scandal — the real scandal of the IRS, which is that the law is not being upheld in regards to social welfare groups. In the hearings Monday, the IRS auditors explained that one of the troubling things they found was a failure to review groups that were intervening in political campaigns.
Echoing Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA), who asked during Tuesday’s hearing why tea party groups were expecting the taxpayer to subsidize their political activity, Lloyd Doggett (D-TX) decried the expectation that taxpayers should fund political activity, “I don’t believe the Internal Revenue Service, the Treasury Department, should be providing tax subsidies to organizations that are not engaged exclusively in social welfare. This congress was very clear on that point. Clear on it in 1913. And in repeated recodifications of 501(c)4. it says they must be operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare.”
Not a single tea party group was silenced by the IRS. They have been able to operate subsidized by the American taxpayer even though they are in violation of the statute. No group from either side should be allowed to violate the law, and the IRS needs to get clear on what the statute actually says.
Political organizations fall under section 527 of the federal tax code, and should not be subsidized by the American taxpayer. The interpretation was changed in the regulation of the law by the IRS, not in the actual statute. One of the recommendations of the IRS audit was to make sure that political activity does not constitute the primary activity of these organizations. Given the recommendations to review more groups and the President’s directives to the IRS to enact all recommendations of the audit, “social welfare” groups engaging in political activity should expect more scrutiny.
Whether or not the IRS will actually enforce the entire statute is another story. You’d think that “law and order” repugicans who want less government interference would not want the IRS forced to determine how much is too much, but this is the modern day repugican cabal, and they’ve proven less than interested in following the law and actual small government. However, as more lawmakers demand that the actual law be upheld, the spotlight has turned onto social welfare groups expecting subsidies for their political work.

Hey tea party, it’s not “tyranny” when we expect you to follow the law, and it’s not “tyranny” just because we don’t want to fund your dark money political activity. This may be an unintended consequence of loud, ignorant hubris.

Retired Navy SEAL Comes Out as Transgender, “Patriots” Freak Out

by Manny Schewitz
Kristin Beck 

Tuesday morning, I came across the story of Kristin Beck, the retired Navy SEAL who just announced that they were now living and dressing as a woman, and were preparing for a gender reassignment surgery. I was truly saddened, (but not surprised) at the comments I saw below the story as it appeared on a number of websites.
The absolute vitriol and hatred which spewed forth from these people — the same people who slap Chinese-made flags and yellow “Support The Troops” decals on their vehicles — was truly disgusting. These are the same folks who casually dismiss the deaths of thousands of foreign civilians, but God forbid a retired member of an elite military unit decide to finally be truthful with themselves and others about who they really are.
The one thing I wanted to ask each and every one of these keyboard commandos is, “Why the hell should you care?” Honestly, what difference does it make whether or not it is Chris Beck who looked like a member of “Duck Dynasty” or it’s Kristin Beck, who in my heterosexual opinion is pretty attractive as a woman? Therein may be the problem for a lot of people, especially men who cannot fathom the idea that a person they find attractive currently or previously possessed male genitalia. To them, this is even more confusing and threatening to their fragile sense of masculinity than a stereotypical gay man making a pass at them. Not to mention that this is a woman that could probably kill them in a dozen ways in less than 5 seconds. I’m sure that severely messes with their heads as well.
In addition to all of the above, this is a huge blow to their conceived notion of the SEALs as a hyper-masculine, lead slinging unit. Just two years ago, the SEALs eliminated the most wanted man in history and in 2012, the movie “Act of Valor” further lauded what is considered to be the most elite force out of all four branches of the military.
Over and over again, commenters enjoying the protections of hurling transphobic and homophobic slurs from behind the safety of their computer screen reminded me how far we have yet to come as a country when it comes to transgender issues. Even other SEALs were supportive of Kristin, which really makes me wonder who the real patriots are? The delusional gun nuts with Rogaine and Cialis prescriptions, or the members of the military who have put their lives on the line repeatedly?
The one place where support or polite indifference seems to have been SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) was on sofrep.com which is a site that is geared towards members of the Special Forces community and not armchair patriots.
Even as society becomes more tolerant of gays and lesbians, there is still a serious lack of acceptance — or even just minding your own damn business — when it comes to the attitude towards the transgender community. If I were to make a guess, I’d say that they’re 3 or even 4 decades behind gays and lesbians on the path to equality, and that’s a damn shame.

Lip Gloss and Rouge

UN makes the connection between surveillance and free speech

Frank La Rue, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression and Opinion, has tabled a report (PDF) to the UN Human Rights Council that makes a connection between surveillance and free expression. This is a first in the UN, and the meat of it is that it establishes the principle that countries that engage in bulk, warrantless Internet surveillance are violating their human rights obligations to ensure freedom of expression:
La Rue reminds States that in order to meet their human rights obligations, they must ensure that the rights to free expression and privacy—and metadata protection in particular—are at the heart of their communications surveillance frameworks. To this end, the Special Rapporteur urges states to review national laws regulating surveillance and update and strengthen laws and legal standards:
Communications surveillance should be regarded as a highly intrusive act that potentially interferes with the rights to freedom of expression and privacy and threatens the foundations of a democratic society.
Legislation must stipulate that State surveillance of communications must only occur under the most exceptional circumstances and exclusively under the supervision of an independent judicial authority.
At present, access to communications data has been conducted by a variety of public bodies for a broad range of purposes, often without judicial authorization and independent oversight. Such overbroad access threatens basic democratic values.

Time for total war on patent trolls

Writing in The New Yorker, Tim Wu calls for "total war on patent trolls" and lays out a roadmap for attacking the extortionists who are costing the US economy a reported $30B/year by extorting license fees for patents that never should have been issued and don't cover what the patent trolls say they cover.
There are good laws in place that could fight trolls, but they sit largely unused. First are the consumer-protection laws, which bar “unfair or deceptive acts and practices.” Some patent trolls, to better coerce settlement, purposely misrepresent matters such as the strength of their patents, the extent of other settlements, and their actual willingness to litigate. Second, there are plenty of remedies available under the unfair-competition laws. Some trolls work by aggregating an enormous number of patents, and then present the threat that one of their thousands of patents might actually be valid. The creation of these portfolios for trolling may be “agreements in restraint of trade” under Section 1 of the Sherman Antitrust Act, or they may “substantially lessen competition” under the Clayton Antitrust Act. More generally, the methods of the trolls are hardly what you would call ordinary methods of competition; they should be considered, rather, what the Federal Trade Commission calls “unfair methods of competition” under Section 5 of the F.T.C. Act. The Commission has the power to define and punish methods of business that are inherently harmful with few or no redeeming benefits, and that’s what trolling is. Finally, it is possible that the criminal laws barring larceny and schemes to defraud may cover the conduct of some trolls.

The World's Ten Most Remote Airports

Humans like to be able to reach every point of the planet, don't we? That sometimes means going by car or, even, by foot with a machete. To go further into the globe we still have to use some trusty planes, which means we need remote airports. Here are ten locations around the globe that make you take a good look at the pilot before takeoff.

The Water Witch Of Wyoming

  ... And How Dowsing Works (Or Doesn't)

Dowsing is a type of divination employed in attempts to locate ground water, buried metals or ores, gemstones, oil, gravesites, and many other objects and materials, as well as so-called currents of earth radiation, without the use of scientific apparatus. There is no accepted scientific rationale behind dowsing, and there is no scientific evidence that it is effective.

Editor Ben Marks of Collectors Weekly tracked down the family of a Wyoming water witch. They shared with him stories of going out dowsing with their father

Mother Goose's French Birth And British Afterlife

Unlike the Brothers Grimm, Charles Perrault's name remains generally unrecognizable. Yet, his stories, first published in 1697 as the Histoires ou Contes du temps passé (Stories or Tales of The Past) are anything but.

Most readers no doubt know the titles of Perrault's books in English, not French and, in that sense, are familiar not with Perrault's stories per se, but with the healthy tradition of English translation, inaugurated in 1729. Precious little has been said about those published words - the language of the eighteenth century that turned Cendrillon into Cinderella.

Strength in numbers when resisting forbidden fruit

A new study from the University of British Columbia helps explain how people become obsessed with forbidden pleasures. The study, which will appear in an upcoming edition of Cognitive, Affective and Behavioral Neuroscience journal, shows [...]

Substitute teacher ordered off school campus after hearing strange voices

A second-grade substitute teacher was told not to return to a Deltona, Florida, elementary school after she claimed there were people outside her classroom yelling obscenities but it was all in her head, sheriff's officials said. The principal of Pride Elementary School ended up removing the substitute teacher, Robin Forde, 51, from the school campus after Forde started rambling about the CIA and the FBI, and saying she was calling the president of the United States.
A deputy made contact with Ford in the principal's office after 9am on Friday. Forde said she called the Volusia County Sheriff's Office because she could hear people screaming and cursing outside her classroom. Forde said she could not see anyone, just hear them, the investigating deputy said. On further questioning, Forde said in the past she has called the CIA, FBI and the President in reference to drug dealers following her around and cursing at her. On Friday, Forde saw no one but she said she heard the voices.

The principal spoke with the students but none of them said they heard an altercation and no one heard anything in the second-grade classroom. Forde denied having a mental issue and said this type of incident has happened in the past and that she has called the Sheriff's Office to report the incident. The deputy checked Forde's history with the Sheriff's Office but found no record of her. Forde insisted she heard the voices in her head and claimed after some time these subjects were also trying to steal her identity but she does not know when, how or why.

Forde got very upset several times with the deputies on scene and kept saying she was going to call the President of the United States about this incident again as she claims to have spoken with him before about this. Forde claimed the drug-dealing, identity-stealing suspects followed her from Georgia. The security officer for the school began to speak with Forde and the substitute teacher accused her of using her walkie-talkie to make the voices in her classroom. It was determined that Forde was no danger to herself and the school. A taxi was called for her.

More Fresh Air in Classrooms Means Fewer Absences

If you suspect that opening windows to let in fresh air might be good for you, a new study by scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has confirmed your hunch. Analyzing extensive data [...]

Clues to cancer origins

Cast of a Neanderthal skull at a museumNeanderthal clues to cancer origins

A Neanderthal living 120,000 years ago had a cancer that is common today, according to fossil evidence.

Fat is a Great Source for Stem Cell

Hooray for fat! Scientists at the University of California, Los Angeles, discovered that human fat is an excellent source for stem cells that can potentially develop into cures for many diseases:
Stem cells were discovered in human fat in 2001, and called adipose stem cells (ASTs). The cells described by the UCLA scientists, led by Gregorio Chazenbalk, in the journal PLOS One, are different.
Unlike ASTs, these cells, dubbed MUSE by Mari Dezawa, leader of the Japanese team that first discovered them in bone marrow, appear to be pluripotent, more like embryonic stem cells rather than so-called “adult” stem cells. That means they can develop into any kind of tissue in the body.
MUSE stands for Multilineage-differentiating Stress-Enduring cells, and their ability endure stress is how Chazenbalk found them in fat, by accident.
“I was doing ASC isolation,” he said in an NBCNews.com interview, late at night when a critical machine stopped working. Because it was late, Chazenbalk couldn’t borrow a machine from another lab. So his cells received no nutrients, hardly any oxygen, and most died. “Then, instead of throwing them all away, I decided to see if some survived.”
Some did, and eventually formed what looked like clusters of cells typical of embryonic stem cells. These turned out to be MUSE cells.
Take that, skinny people! More

New research shows cheese may prevent cavities

Consuming dairy products is vital to maintaining good overall health, and it’s especially important to bone health. But there has been little research about how dairy products affect oral health in particular. However, according to [...]



Irish annals reveal volcanic impacts

MonasteryIrish annals reveal volcanic impacts

Researchers have been able to trace the impact of volcanic eruptions on the climate over a 1,200 year period by assessing ancient Irish texts.

Meteor Map

500 Years Of Witnessed Meteors

An interactive map of 500 years of witnessed meteors made by Adam Pearc. You can mouse-over and click the map for details

Life on Earth shockingly comes from out of this world

Early Earth was not very hospitable when it came to jump starting life. In fact, new research shows that life on Earth may have come from out of this world. Lawrence Livermore scientist Nir Goldman [...]

Animals and humans — a false divide?

We don’t just share our lives with animals; we are animals – a reality that we often choose to forget in modern Western culture. Research published in the June special issue of SAGE journal, Social [...]

Meet your distant cousin

This undated handout artist rendering provided by Xijun Ni, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences shows a reconstruction of Archicebus achilles in its natural habitat of trees. One of our earliest primate relatives was a hyperactive wide-eyed creature so small you could fit a few of them in your hand, if they would just stay still long enough, new fossil evidence shows. (AP Photo/Xijun Ni, Institute of Vertebrate Paleontology and Paleoanthropology, Chinese Academy of Sciences)  
New fossil evidence of the earliest complete skeleton of an ancient primate suggests it was a hyperactive, wide-eyed creature so small you could hold a couple of them in your hand — if only they would stay still long enough.
The 55-million-year-old fossil dug up in central China is one of our first primate relatives and it gives scientists a better understanding of the complex evolution that eventually led to us. This tiny monkey-like creature weighed an ounce or less and wasn't a direct ancestor. Because it's so far back on the family tree it offers the best clues yet of what our earliest direct relatives would have been like at that time, according to a study published Wednesday in the journal Nature.
"It's a close cousin in fact," said study author Christopher Beard, curator at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History in Pittsburgh. He said it is "the closest thing we have to an ancestor of humans" so long ago.
Primate is the order of life that includes humans along with apes, monkeys, and lemurs. Humans and other primates are set apart from other mammals because of our grasping five fingers and toes, nails, and forward-facing eyes. And this new species called Archicebus achilles fits right in, Beard said.
Among primates there are three suborders: anthropoids, which include apes, monkeys and us; and two other suborders that include lemurs and the lesser known tarsiers. This new species is in the same grouping as tarsiers, but close to the offshoot branch in the family tree where humans come from. The fossil includes anthropoid-like features.
"It's a cute little thing; it's ridiculously little," Beard said. "That's one of the more important scientific aspects of the whole story."
With a trunk only 2.8 inches long, the furry creature was about as small as you can get and still be a mammal, Beard said. Just like elephants and horses, the farther back in time you get for some of today's bigger mammals, the smaller they get, Beard said.
Because it was so small and warm-blooded, it had to eat bugs and move constantly to keep from losing internal heat, Beard said.
That means, Beard said, our earliest primate relatives were "very frenetic creatures, anxious, highly caffeinated animals running around looking for their next meal." They lived in a tree-lined area near a Chinese lake, swinging around trees in a hotter climate, Beard said.
Outside experts praised the study as significant, confirming what some thought about our primate ancestors. Rick Potts, director of the human origins program at the Smithsonian Institution, said this fossil's mix of different features illustrate the fascinating and crucial changes that occur around major evolutionary branch points in our family tree.
The study also bolstered another theory that early primates first developed in Asia, even though humans evolved nearly 50 million years later in Africa, Beard said.

Bookworm Gorillas

It's study time! The cute photo of the studious mama and baby gorillas was submitted by Lynnette Fortin to the National Geographic's 2013 Traveler Photo Contest (deadline to enter is June 30, 2013): Here.

Why raindrops don't kill mosquitoes

For a mosquito, every summer storm is like a million Volkswagen Beetles falling from the sky. How do they survive the deadly deluge? Meghan Cetera explains at Popular Science.

New scorpion species in Ecuadorian Andes

A new species of scorpion Tityus (Atreus) crassicauda has been discovered from the extraordinarily biodiversity rich region of the Ecuadorian Andes. The intriguing new species is classed as medium sized, but still around the Impressive [...]

Animal Pictures

Kiddie pool