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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 21, 2013

The Daily Drift

Yeah, what she said ...

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

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Today is Ugliest Dog Day 

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Today also happens to be The Summer Solstice

Today in History

217 BC Carthaginian forces led by Hannibal destroy a Roman army under consul Gaius Flaminicy in a battle at Lake Trasimenus in central Italy.
1314 The Scots, under Robert the Bruce, defeat Edward II's army at Bannockburn.
1377 Richard II, who is still a child, succeeds his grandfather, Edward III.
1667 The Peace of Breda ends the Second Anglo-Dutch War as the Dutch cede New Amsterdam to the English.
1675 Christopher Wren begins work on rebuilding St. Paul's Cathedral in London after the Great Fire.
1791 The French royal family is arrested in Varennes.
1834 C. H. McCormick patents the first practical reaper.
1862 Union and Confederate forces skirmish at the Chickahominy Creek.
1863 In the second day of fighting, Confederate troops fails to dislodge a Union force at the Battle of LaFourche Crossing.
1887 Britain celebrates the golden jubilee of Queen Victoria.
1900 General Arthur MacArthur offers amnesty to Filipinos rebelling against American rule.
1908 Mulai Hafid again proclaims himself the true sultan of Morocco.
1911 Porforio Diaz, the ex-president of Mexico, exiles himself to Paris.
1915 Germany uses poison gas for the first time in warfare in the Argonne Forest.
1919 Germans scuttle their own fleet at Scapa Flow, Scotland.
1939 Baseball legend Lou Gehrig is forced to quit baseball because of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–a disease which wastes muscles.
1942 German General Erwin Rommel captures the port city of Tobruk in North Africa.
1945 Japanese forces on Okinawa surrender to American troops.
1948 Dr. Peter Goldmark demonstrates his "long-playing" record.
1958 A federal judge allows Little Rock, Arkansas to delay school integration.
1963 France announces it will withdraw from the NATO fleet in the North Atlantic.
1964 Three civil rights workers disappear in Meridian, Mississippi.
1982 John Hinkley Jr. is found not guilty by reason of insanity for attempting to assassinate President Ronald Reagan.
1995 The U.S. Senate votes against the nomination of Dr. Henry W. Foster for Surgeon General.

Non Sequitur


A 16-year-old invents prizewinning clean algae-biofuel conversion process

Evie Sobczak, who is presently 16, appears to have invented a completely chemical-free process for turning algae into a biofuel. Along the way her process appears to be about 20% more efficient than current chemical-heavy (and thus potentially polluting) processes. Her project just took first place and best in category at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair.

Obesity is Now a Disease

Obesity is now officially a disease.
The American Medical Association has formally declared obesity as a disease, a move that effectively defined one third of adults and 17% of children in the United States as being sick.
The Los Angeles Times report:
The AMA's decision essentially makes diagnosis and treatment of obesity a physician's professional obligation. As such, it should encourage primary care physicians to get over their discomfort about raising weight concerns with obese patients. Studies have found that more than half of obese patients have never been told by a medical professional they need to lose weight — a result not only of some doctors' reluctance to offend but of their unwillingness to open a lengthy consultation for which they might not be reimbursed.
Past AMA documents have referred to obesity as an "urgent chronic condition," a "major health concern" and a "complex disorder." The vote now lifts obesity above the status of a health condition, disorder or marker for heightened risk of disease — as high cholesterol is for heart disease, for instance.
"As things stand now, primary care physicians tend to look at obesity as a behavior problem," said Dr. Rexford Ahima of University of Pennsylvania's Institute for Diabetes, Obesity and Metabolism. "This will force primary care physicians to address it, even if we don't have a cure for it."
The decision, which was voted for by the members of the AMA, was controversial - it overrode AMA's own committee who recommended against reclassifying obesity as a disease (it noted that many people with high BMI are actually quite healthy).
Would it lead to "medicalizing" obesity and lead to more reliance on drugs and surgery rather than lifestyle changes? Does this mean that you have a pre-existing medical condition that would lead to higher medical insurance costs or denial of coverage altogether?

Random Photos




Leaked document shows USA has started an Internet War

Bruce Schneier points out that the leaked top-secret list of electronic attack targets picked by the Obama administration is tantamount to a declaration of Internet War on foreign powers, and shows the US government planning attacks that make the much-vaunted Chinese attacks on the USA look tame by comparison.
That's the key question: How much of what the United States is currently doing is an act of war by international definitions? Already we're accusing China of penetrating our systems in order to map "military capabilities that could be exploited during a crisis." What PPD-20 and Snowden describe is much worse, and certainly China, and other countries, are doing the same.
All of this mapping of vulnerabilities and keeping them secret for offensive use makes the Internet less secure, and these pre-targeted, ready-to-unleash cyberweapons are destabalizing forces on international relationships. Rooting around other countries' networks, analyzing vulnerabilities, creating back doors, and leaving logic bombs could easily be construed as an act of war. And all it takes is one over-achieving national leader for this all to tumble into actual war.
It's time to stop the madness. Yes, our military needs to invest in cyberwar capabilities, but we also need international rules of cyberwar, more transparency from our own government on what we are and are not doing, international cooperation between governments and viable cyberweapons treaties. Yes, these are difficult. Yes, it's a long slow process. Yes, there won't be international consensus, certainly not in the beginning. But even with all of those problems, it's a better path to go down than the one we're on now.
We can start by taking most of the money we're investing in offensive cyberwar capabilities and spend them on national cyberspace resilience.

Did you know ...

That a Kansas school board approved standards for evolution and climate change to be taught in grades k through 12

Hey by the way, sign the petition to tell kickstarter not to fund sexual assault manual

The best politicians money can buy

Excerpts from a Salon article about the influence of Big Money on national policies:
[A]mong the Washington press corps, though, there is mostly silence about the connection between the private industry and the public policy. Indeed, few in D.C. are willing to say that the policy debate may be, in part, driven by the private industry and almost nobody dares mention that politicians’ attacks on surveillance critics may actually have nothing to do with principle, and everything to do with going to bat for their campaign donors...

Simply put, there are huge corporate forces with a vested financial interest in making sure the debate over security is tilted toward the surveillance state and against critics of that surveillance state. In practice, that means when those corporations spend big money on campaign contributions, they aren’t just buying votes for specific private contracts. They are also implicitly pressuring politicians to rhetorically push the discourse in a pro-surveillance, anti-civil liberties direction — that is, in a direction that preserves the larger political assumptions on which the profits of the entire surveillance-industrial complex are based.

The success of that pressure is exemplified by the title of today’s congressional hearing with the head of the NSA, Gen. Keith Alexander. The hearing doesn’t ask why Alexander lied to Congress or whether the NSA has engaged in illegal acts. No, a Congress bankrolled by firms like Booz Allen predictably calls the hearing “How Disclosed NSA Programs Protect Americans and Why Disclosure Aids Our Adversaries,” the two preconceived assumptions being that 1) the NSA’s surveillance programs, which generate huge profits for companies like Booz, are beneficial to Americans’ security and 2) critics of those programs hurt the country.

From Middle Class To Peasant Class: How repugicans Made America A Top Poverty Creator

GOP PovertyCreatorsNational exceptionalism is when citizens perceive that their home country is extraordinary, special, and the best place on the planet to live, and in many Americans’ minds is based on absolutist ideology and gross lack of knowledge of comparative circumstances. There may have been a time that America was exceptional over thirty years ago when white people had the opportunity to attain the American dream of a middle class income through hard work and perseverance, and could live out their golden years with the knowledge their children would at least accomplish as much as their parents. However, about thirty years ago a b-movie actor ushered in the era of America’s decline when his directors gave him a script to convince ignorant Americans that handing over the nation’s wealth and assets to the rich and their corporations was the key to success and the results have been that America is no longer exceptional, or even mediocre, and is rapidly deteriorating into inferior and second-rate status compared to the rest of the developed world. It is true that America is the richest nation on Earth, has the most powerful military in the world, and is home to the most millionaires and billionaires of any country on the planet, but that is where the exceptionalism ends. In just about every other category, America is inferior and that is being extremely generous. However, there are millions of ignorant Americans arming themselves to maintain the status quo and prove their belief that the United States is number one and it is down to their ignorance and acceptance that if it is American, it is the best. Many Americans are led to believe the country’s storied “great middle class” is proof positive the nation is exceptional, but according to the “Global Wealth Databook 2012″ the great middle class ranks 27th in the developed world behind poorer nations such as Spain, Ireland, France, and Cyprus. Even in countries struggling with double and triple-dip recessions, the middle class holds four times the wealth as the average middle class American who is watching what little they have left transferred to the richest one-percent due to thirty years of repugican policies.
Just a few of repugicans’ favorite policies that are creating a second-rate nation and a population of peasants are weak labor laws that give corporations and big business the ability to pay poverty wages without any benefits. In fact, the woefully inadequate poverty level minimum wage is 13th among developed nations, and in nearly every industrialized country, every job provides at least a month of guaranteed paid vacation and as many paid sick days as one needs to recover from illness or injury. The repugicans are busy passing laws making it illegal to provide paid sick leave, suggest eliminating worker compensation rules for on-the-job injuries, and panting to abolish the pitiful minimum wage to put American labor on par with peasants in Communist China. The repugican House of Representative just passed legislation eliminating overtime pay, and ALEC’s repugican right-to-work states have more poverty-level residents while the states’ corporations haul in record profits.
America has the worst healthcare system in the world because few can afford it, and even if they can this country’s people have the worst health outcomes of “all other industrialized countries” on Earth. In the event of a serious health issue or injury, Americans are guaranteed to join the poverty ranks and it makes repugican and health insurance industry’s drive to destroy the Affordable Care Act all the more Draconian and informs keeping Americans sick and impoverished is their ultimate goal. In many repugican states, at the behest of the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, Medicaid expansion is out of the question and the repugican cabal is desperate to make senior citizens’ Medicare a thing of the past regardless they paid into it their entire working lives.
In nearly every country on Earth a college education is virtually tuition-free and yet in America, repugicans decry spending on any education and are driving college students into life-long unsustainable debt to enrich the banking industry. In most repugican states, ALEC templates are diverting public school funds to the private religious schools to enrich corporations and create the next generation of ignorant Americans claiming the nation is exceptional as they reject established science to assist their precious oil industry decimate the environment.
America is at the end of its thirty year slide into second-rate status and it is all down to the repugican drive to give every last bit of wealth to the richest one-percent that controls the fate of this nation. It began with Reagan-repugican deregulation of the financial industry that gave Wall Street power to transfer wealth from the middle class into the wealthy’s coffers they hide offshore to avoid paying taxes. America’s social programs and safety nets are among the worst in the world, and instead of bolstering them to help Americans claw out of poverty, repugicans slash them to provide tax breaks for the rich and corporations. Last week House repugicans passed legislation to deregulate derivative trading again that resulted in the 2008 Great Recession killing tens-of-millions of Americans’ jobs, bankrupting retirement accounts, and causing millions of middle class Americans to lose their greatest assets; their homes.
America became an exceptional nation with the rise of the great middle class, and it is sliding into a nation of peasants as repugicans thirty year effort to destroy the middle class is reaching fruition. Nearly a quarter of America’s children are living in poverty, millions of Americans earn a pathetic minimum wage insufficient to put a roof over their heads, and the idea of ever achieving anything more is being thwarted by repugicans in all areas of government, but particularly the states. Right to work laws, banning minimum wage, eliminating healthcare, prohibiting paid sick leave, robbing food and housing assistance for seniors and the poor to provide more of the nation’s wealth for the rich and their corporations are all part of the repugicans’ three decade effort to destroy the middle class and still, repugicans have convinced a large segment of the population that America is number one. Well it is number one; number one in guns, number one in prison population, number one in billionaires and millionaires, number one in military might, and after thirty years of repugican economic policy and deregulation, it is the number one poverty creator and nothing whatsoever to be proud of or consider exceptional.

The repugican cabal turns to “Chick-fil-A model” to woo younger voters


CNN sat down with the new chair of the repugican cabal of South Carolina, Matt Moore, who’s 31, and talked about how the repugican cabal can attract younger voters. Moore’s suggestion: hire Chick-fil-A’s marketing team because the brand is so “inviting.”
Chick-fil-A is considered by many – certainly by gay-Americans and their allies, who just happen to be – who? – young voters – one of the most bigoted, hateful brands in America.
So it only figures that the repugican cabal thinks the way to woo younger voters – a solidly-Democratic voting bloc who are turned off by the repugican cabal’s intolerance and fixation on religion – is to follow the model of a company that preaches intolerance because of its corporate fixation on religion.
First, here’s Moore talking to CNN:
CNN: How does the repugican cabal attract young voters after President Obama won almost two-thirds of voters under the age of 30?
Moore: It’s a multi-step process. We are certainly well aware that Barack Obama won five million more votes among people under 30 than Mitt Romney. Of course, Governor Romney won the over-30 vote by two million people.
I think it begins with our message, which is we have to have a positive message that attracts voters. We’ve got to tell voters why they have to be with us instead of against the other guys. The line is that we’ve got to hire Chick-fil-A as our marketing team.
CNN: What do you mean by that?
Moore: We always joke here that the repugican cabal needs Chick-fil-A to do its marketing because we have got to have an inviting message that tells people why they ought to vote for their product instead of against the other guy’s product. Chick-fil-A doesn’t send out fliers that say “McDonald’s stinks.” They send out a picture of a great-looking chicken sandwich and we eat it.
A great-looking chicken sandwich with a side of gay-bashing.  Yummy.
Lindsay Graham chick-fil-a
Lindsey Graham celebrating the anti-gay Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day. 

Chick-fil-A, you see, got caught giving nearly $2 million to anti-gay and officially-designated hate groups, including lead gay-bashing religious right groups Focus on the Family, Eagle Forum, the Family Research Council, FRC is an officially-designated “hate group”, and Exodus International, a group that claims it can “cure” gay people of their sickness, and a group that just announced  that it’s shutting down, and which apologized to gay people everywhere.  So can we be expecting an apology from Chick-fil-A too?
Because nothing says “youth vote” like curing gays, and palling around with officially-designated hate groups.
When asked last year by the Los Angeles Times about its reputation for being anti-gay, Chick-fil-A’s president Dan Cathy had this to say:
Chick-fil-A is “very much supportive of the family,” according to Dan Cathy, president of the popular fast food chain. That is, “the biblical definition of the family unit,” he said.
And that doesn’t include Adam and Steve, suggests Cathy, whose father S. Truett Cathy founded the Atlanta-based company.
In a new interview with Baptist Press, Cathy puts on the record what critics say his company’s actions have indicated for years. “Well, guilty as charged,” he said in the interview when asked about Chick-fil-A’s backing of families led by a man and a woman.
Yeah, a real messaging genius, that one.  ”Join the repugican cabal: The cabal that doesn’t include Adam and Steve, their sister, their inter-racial child, or their Mexican cousin.”
Good luck with that in 2016.

Forget the repugican cabal, House repugicans Are Re-branding Wombs

by Crissie Brown
House repugicans proved they’ve had more than enough of that rebranding nonsense, thankyouverymuch.
Yes, it was pure political theater, because President Obama already announced he would veto House Resolution 1797, the so-called “fetal pain” bill that would ban abortion after 20 weeks. The president won’t have to veto it, as the companion bill offered by Sen. Mike Lee (r-UT) stands no chance of passing. But similar bills have been offered in state legislatures across the country, as Guttmacher Institute policy analyst Elizabeth Nash told the New York Times:
These laws are flying through. The attention has really been at the state level around abortion issues. Now what you also see at the federal level is very disturbing, and it shows that abortion opponents are very emboldened.
These bills openly defy the Supreme Court’s holding in Roe v. Wade that states cannot unduly restrict a woman’s health care choices before the point of fetal viability, for which data show the 50% survival rate is 24 weeks. Most women don’t know they’re pregnant until they’re several weeks along, and the hormones that home pregnancy tests detect peak at 7-10 weeks after implantation.
That’s a narrow window, and repugicans want to narrow it still more by invoking the junk science of ‘fetal pain’ in the second trimester. While most researchers agree that the parts of the brain that register physical pain are not mature until 24-26 weeks, Rep. Michael Burgess (r-TX) says he’s seen sonograms with male fetuses with their hands Down There at just 15 weeks.
And if a male fetus has its hands Down There, then said fetus must be Walking Willy Up The Hill … so mom is now an incubator.
Alternatively, fetuses – male and female – reach and kick randomly until their brains develop enough to control movement. But why let neurological development get in the way of male privilege?
And that’s what this is about. These are the same repugicans who refuse to appoint members to the Independent Payment Advisory Board – a panel of medical experts created by Obamacare to report on health care costs and most effective treatments, but explicitly barred from denying or rationing care – because they say the IPAB would be “standing between you and your doctor.”
So government standing between a patient and a doctor is bad … unless the patient is a woman and her doctor performs abortions. Then government standing between a patient and a doctor, and even requiring the doctor to perform a trans-vaginal ultrasound that the woman neither needs nor wants, is just fine.
We can’t have medical experts reviewing treatment histories and reporting that Profytyx, while lucrative for the drug company that created it, does nothing to improve patient outcomes. That would be Big Government Run Amok. But politicians forcing women to have probes shoved up their Down Theres – based on junk science – is Government Ensuring Informed Consent.
House repugicans want government small enough to fit in your womb. And we need to make sure women remember that in 2014.

A repugican cabal Official Launches Racist Attack Against His Own Black repugican Candidate

GOP candidate forum An Illinois county repugican cabal chairman launched a racist attack against a female African American repugican congressional candidate who he called a street walker whose pimps are party leaders.
Montgomery County repugican cabal Chairman Jim Allen launched a viciously racist attack against Erika Harold, a former Miss America and Harvard Law grad who is running for the repugican nomination in the 13th congressional district. The fact that Harold is African-American inspired Allen to write racist email about her.
Here is Allen’s email from repugican News Watch:
Rodney Davis will win and the love child of the D.N.C. will be back in Shitcago by May of 2014 working for some law firm that needs to meet their quota for minority hires.
The truth is Nancy Pelosi and the DEMOCRAT party want this seat. So they called RINO Timmy Johnson to be their pack mule and get little queen to run.
Ann Callis gets a free ride through a primary and Rodney Davis has a battle.
The little queen touts her abstinence and she won the crown because she got bullied in school,,,boohoo..kids are cruel, life sucks and you move on..Now, miss queen is being used like a street walker and her pimps are the DEMOCRAT PARTY and RINO REPUGICANS…These pimps want something they can’t get,,, the seat held by a conservative REPUGICAN Rodney Davis and Nancy Pelosi can’t stand it..
Little Queenie and Nancy Pelosi have so much in common but the one thing that stands out the most.. both are FORMER QUEENS, their crowns are tarnished and time has run out on the both of them..
In case you couldn’t tell, Allen is a supporter of the white incumbent Rep. Rodney Davis.
The message that Allen was sending couldn’t be more clear. African-Americans aren’t welcome in his party. Every African American is to be regarded with suspicion. Many of Allen’s comments about Harold echo the kind of language that the repugican cabal has directed at President Obama for years. Allen’s email was full of racist stereotypes such as Harold will benefit from Affirmative Action, and that she a prostitute who is being controlled by pimps.
The repugicans continue to insist that their opposition to Barack Obama has nothing to do with race, but emails like the one Allen sent make it clear that there is a racist presence within the repugican cabal. Originally, repugicans were using race based politics as a way to delegitimize President Obama, but their racist tactics have transformed into full blown racism against their own candidates.
Racism isn’t just an email from one county repugican cabal chairman. It’s also in the arguments that repugicans are using against immigration reform. It is the fact that for many repugicans the phrase cabal purity equals white.
The insidious racism that repugicans hoped to use to destroy Barack Obama has backfired. Instead of destroying Obama, repugicans are destroying themselves with their own racism.

Another Major Advertiser Dumps Lush Dimbulb ...

... And America Rejoices

Well, it’s a good day. Another major sponsor has pulled their advertising from the Lush Dimbulb Show which is part of Clear Channel Radio’s am ‘Hate Parade.’ Over 2600 national and local companies have succumbed to the Lush Dimbulb boycotts and petitions. Thousands of everyday people, as well as activists, have jumped on board to protest and put an end to Dimbulb’s blatant racism, sexism and gay-hating bigotry which he spins three hours a day, five days a week.
This time, the bailing company is SodaStream. SodaStream has been disregarding the boycotters for months, sending ambiguous replies to concerned consumers who have been reaching out to the company via messages, tweets, facebook-posts, phone calls and faxes. The mammoth soda maker finally buckled and the public couldn’t be more pleased.
It’s amazing that SodaStream even started sponsoring Lush this year, knowing the public’s outrage. One has to wonder if they did it as a publicity stunt. Sadly for them, the public remembers. Dimbulb personally endorsed the company during his broadcasts. So it’s hard to thank or give any credit to SodaStream, at this point. The credit belongs to the boycott groups who will be watching to see if SodaStream will keep their word. Radio stations across the country are being monitored daily as many companies like Angie’s List, Quicken Loans and ProFlowers, have gone back and forth in their support of Dimbulb’s show.
Here are some of the companies that have been the most loyal to Lush Dimbulb during 2012/2013:
Angie’s List, Lear Capitol, Lifelock, Dish, Stamps.com, Cox, Amberen,  Safelite, 800GotJunk, 800DonateCars, Blinds.com, ProFlowers, 800Flowers, Bayer  Crop Science, Advance Auto Parts, Ageless Male, D&B Credibility, Total  Transformation, LegalZoom, Regus, SweetJack, Income At Home & iHeart  Radio.
It’s baffling to see companies holding on to a show, that promotes sexism, gay hatred, racism and bigotry.
Lush Dimbulb is slowly becoming an AM Radio ‘thing’ of the past. His own repugican cabal seems to be distancing themselves from his lies and misogyny, more and more. The repugican cabal consultants have called Dimbulb ‘problematic’ to the cabal. According to a Pew study, Dimbulb’s listening audience, is mostly made up of white wingnut males in their late 60’s. I suspect they will also start bailing as they begin to lose face in supporting a hate monger.
Lush Dimbulb’s vile commentary is finally catching up with him, and the American public is doing a big ol’ happy dance. There are many ways to join/support the protest. Here are a few:
There is a ThinkContext Dimbulb Sponsor Browser App, along with Poems, Quote Lists, and a new Dimbulb Petition to the Military/AFN. Some of the larger groups who support the protests include: Media  MattersUniteWomen.orgDaily Kos, and Liberals Unite.

The truth hurts

Thursday, June 20

Dolce and Gabbana Sentenced to Jail

Dolce and GabbanaTis more serious than the fashion police! Fashion designers Dolce and Gabbana have just been found guilty of tax evasion by an Italian court and sentenced to more than a year in jail:
Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana were accused of having transferred control of their brands to a shell company in Luxembourg in 2004 and 2005 to avoid paying Italian taxes.
Prosecutors had argued that setting up the Luxembourg company Gado -- an acronym of the surnames of the two designers -- while the company was operating out of Italy was a bid to defraud the state.
In her closing speech, prosecutor Laura Pedio said there was "rock-solid proof" that the duo had committed "sophisticated tax fraud".
Well, perhaps they'll come up with a new and chic line of prisonwear: More

London's exploding pavements*

Underground power-boxes nestled beneath the pavements* of London keep blowing the hell up. In its defense, UK Power Networks reminds us that there's a lot of these boxes, and only a few of them explode catastrophically every year, blowing huge, dramatic holes in the streetscene. I'm reassured!
The risk is growing said the HSE, with 12 explosions in 2010, rising to 29 last year, following a slight drop to 8 blasts in 2011. Worryingly, in less than six months of this year there have already been 12 blasts.
In May 2012, three women were injured when a cable pit blew up on Edgware Road and back in August 2011, 76 year old Colin Wingate was confined to a wheelchair for three months following a pavement blow out in north-west London.
*Note for Canadians and Americans: this usage of "pavement" is equivalent to the North American "sidewalk"

Comedians Who Gained College Degrees Before They Made it Big

The 10 famous comedians featured on this list cracked open books on everything from electrical engineering to law before changing course and joining the comedy world - but that doesn't mean their studies weren't worthwhile. ABC World News anchor and correspondent David Muir put it this way: 'The curiosity and the willingness to adapt are more important than what the degree is in.'

Conversation Rules for Gentlemen

37 Conversation Rules for Gentlemen (1875)

The Art of Manliness has reprinted "37 Conversation Rules for Gentlemen" from a 1875 book entitled, A Gentleman’s Guide to Etiquette by Cecil B. Hartley. The rules are still valid!
33. When asking questions about persons who are not known to you, in a drawing-room, avoid using adjectives; or you may inquire of a mother, “Who is that awkward, ugly girl?” and be answered, “Sir, that is my daughter.”

Why the Tomato Was Feared in Europe

After tomato plants were taken back to Europe from the New World in the early 1500s, people in various places considered the fruit poisonous for the next two centuries. The reasoning behind the fear of tomatoes came from several sources:

1. Rich people ate tomatoes and then died. Their fancy pewter plates were later found to be the reason.

2. Scientists of the time classified the tomato as a deadly nightshade and a mandrake -both scary terms.

3. Tomato leaves smell awful, so one researcher pronounced the entire plant toxic.

4. Scary-looking worms infested tomato plants.

An article at Smithsonain's Food and Think blog explains each of these concerns, which lingered far into the 1800s, plus a bonus video containing a scene from Attack of the Killer Tomatoes. More


Thursday, June 20

Twelve Lonely Negative Words

Are you disgusted, disgruntled or disheveled? Well, unfortunately you're never going to be gusted, gruntled or sheveled. Disgusted, disgruntled and disheveled are what you might call 'lonely negatives.' They're negative words whose positive partners have vanished or never existed in the first place.

What's In A Name?

The correct use of formal scientific names of organisms is key to accurate communication, but despite the simplicity of the system, it is rarely done right. Everyone is familiar with at least a few of these, even if they don't realize it.
Homo sapiens, Tyrannosaurus rex, Boa constrictor and Geranium arboreum are all likely recognizable no matter how limited your biological knowledge. You might well know these as 'Latin names' and while many are in Latin, there are those in Ancient Greek, Aztec, Mongolian, Xhosa and others and thus the general preference these days is to call them 'scientific names.'

Stink Onions

U.S. Map of Literal Names

Tennessee, Idaho, Minnesota -to us, they are just place names, but in the Native American languages they were derived from, they meant something. Even names like York and Carolina that were imported from Europe once meant something concrete. Cartographers Stephan Hormes and Silke Peust of The Atlas of True Names created a map of the US that translate all the state names, and the larger cities, into their original meanings. Most describe the land or people who once lived there, but some are quite amusing, like Chicago, which translates to Stink Onions, and New Mexico, seen here as New Navel of the Moon (which, of course, means Mexico is the Navel of the Moon). How accurate are they? In 7th grade state history class, I was taught that Kentucky means "bloody battleground," but here it is labeled Meadowland. The exact origin is undetermined. See the zoomable interactive map at Slate.

Lost Cities and Historic Sites

Will the legend of Ciudad Blanca spell doom or salvation for a threatened Honduran forest?
From lack of funding to erosion to threats of demolition, these historic landmarks may not stand the test of time for much longer.

The Wonders Of The Solar System

Did you know there's There's ice in Mercury? That it snows metal on Venus and that Mars has the tallest mountain in the entire Solar System? Here are some of the wonders of the Solar System.

Astronomical News

Over the last twenty years, astronomers have found that almost all galaxies have a huge black hole at their centre. Some of these black holes are growing by drawing in matter from their surroundings, creating [...]

Mars' atmosphere could have been rich in oxygen four billion years ago - well before Earth's air became augmented with the gas.
Europe is designing a rover that will use a direct approach to finding Mars life.
The HiRISE camera aboard NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter can produce incredible topographical models of the Martian surface, changing the way we view the alien landscape.
To celebrate the new 1.3 billion-pixel image of Mars, we scrolled, panned and zoomed to find these amazing faces.
If you were in any doubt as to Curiosity's photography prowess, this 1.3 billion pixel panorama of Gale Crater should allay your concerns. 

Animal News

Working at the Paleontology museum, I am often inundated with children; screaming, excited, growling (at the T-Rex) children who are thrilled at the very thought of the giant chickens we call dinosaurs. Chasing after them are exhausted smart-phone [...]

The protected area network in Tanzania is playing a vital role in the survival of savannah bird species as they move west in response to climate and environmental changes, according to new research led by [...]

Snail genes reveal human migration

Brown lipped snail (Cepaea nemoralis)Snail genes reveal human migration

A genetic similarity between snail fossils found in Ireland and the Eastern Pyrenees suggests humans migrated from southern Europe to Ireland 8,000 years ago.

Animal Pictures