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

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Octophant mural in east London

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Today in History

657   Mu'awiyan defeats Caliph Ali in the Battle of Siffin in Mesopotamia.
1526   Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon and colonists leave Santo Domingo for Florida.
1529   Francisco Pizarro receives a royal warrant to "discover and conquer" Peru.
1758   British forces capture France's Fortress of Louisbourg after a seven-week siege.
1759   The French relinquish Fort Ticonderoga in New York to the British under General Jeffrey Amherst.
1775   The Continental Congress establishes a postal system for the colonies with Benjamin Franklin as the first postmaster general.
1790   An attempt at a counter-revolution in France is put down by the National Guard at Lyons.
1794   The French defeat an Austrian army at the Battle of Fleurus, France.
1830   King Charles X of France issues five ordinances limiting the political and civil rights of citizens.
1847   Liberia becomes the first African colony to become an independent state.
1848   The French army suppresses the Paris uprising.
1886   William Gladstone is replaced by Lord Salisbury as Prime Minister of England.
1918   Britain's top war ace, Edward Mannock, is shot down by ground fire on the Western Front.
1920   The 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is ratified.
1948   In an Executive Order, President Harry Truman calls for the end of discrimination and segregation in the U.S. armed forces.
2005   The shuttle Discovery launches on mission STS-114, marking a return to space after the shuttle Columbia crash of 2003.

Non Sequitur


You are here

A Little Perspective, Please 
Distant space probes capture extraordinary new images of Earth
NASA has released new color and black-and-white photographs of Earth captured by two interplanetary spacecraft on July 19. The images show our home planet and moon as bright beacons seen from millions of miles away in space. Earth is 898 million miles (1.44 billion kilometers) away in this image. We're that blue dot at center right; our moon is off to that dot's right side.

 From the NASA announcement:
NASA's Cassini spacecraft captured the color images of Earth and the moon from its perch in the Saturn system nearly 900 million miles (1.5 billion kilometers) away. MESSENGER, the first probe to orbit Mercury, took a black-and-white image from a distance of 61 million miles (98 million kilometers) as part of a campaign to search for natural satellites of the planet.
Larger image here, with more of the wonderful story behind it.
In this rare image taken on July 19, 2013, the wide-angle camera on NASA's Cassini spacecraft has captured Saturn's rings and our planet Earth and its moon in the same frame. It is only one footprint in a mosaic of 33 footprints covering the entire Saturn ring system (including Saturn itself). At each footprint, images were taken in different spectral filters for a total of 323 images: some were taken for scientific purposes and some to produce a natural color mosaic. This is the only wide-angle footprint that has the Earth-moon system in it. The dark side of Saturn, its bright limb, the main rings, the F ring, and the G and E rings are clearly seen; the limb of Saturn and the F ring are overexposed. The "breaks" in the brightness of Saturn's limb are due to the shadows of the rings on the globe of Saturn, preventing sunlight from shining through the atmosphere in those regions. The E and G rings have been brightened for better visibility.

The 10 Youngest People Ever to Achieve a Doctorate

Now that's Interesting
It's quite impressive to know that Alex Santoso received his PhD at only 25. But it's not a world record. There are outliers, childhood prodigies, who skipped grades left and right to get a doctorate at unbelievably young ages, like Ruth Lawrence.
In 1985, at the tender age of 13, Ruth Lawrence graduated from Oxford University with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics. The next year, she got a second degree, this time in Physics, which was followed by a PhD in Mathematics in 1989 when she was just 17. After spending some time at Harvard as a junior fellow and working at the University of Michigan as an associate professor, Lawrence moved to Israel. There, she became an associate professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
But she wasn't the youngest ever. Read about ten such young doctors: Here.

How Much is That Job Seeker in the Window?

On The Job
Finding a job is tough in today's economy. And if sending hundreds of resumes don't work, what's a job seeker to do? How about putting oneself on display? Hey, if it works for prostitutes in Amsterdam's red-light district, why not this?
After pounding the pavement for two years in some cases, highly trained professionals—ranging from lawyers to former CEOs to tax experts—are standing in line to get a seat in the "exhibit."
"I'm willing to try anything," said Hannibal Camel Holt, an unemployed political scientist, as he took his place in the window one afternoon. Armed with a laptop computer and wearing a dark blue button-down shirt, Mr. Holt has been "kicking doors in and chasing leads," as he puts it, on and off for four years, striking out despite qualifications that include speaking six languages. For him, sitting-in represented a necessary, albeit awkward step.
"I feel like a monkey…in a cage as people walk by and just stare at me," the former tax ministry employee said as he sat behind a desk and occasionally glanced at passersby. After he had recently missed out on a job that had attracted 265 applicants, he realized that "there comes a point when your CV is, like, dead." A résumé, in other words, doesn't necessarily do the trick.
John D. Stoll of The Wall Street Journal has the story: Here.

Believe It Or Not Jimmy Carter Is The Most Threatened Ex-President in US History

Did You Know
Here is something you might have never guessed in a million years. According to a new book by Larry Sabato, Jimmy Carter is the most threatened ex-president in US history. The Washington Examiner reported that:
In “The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination, and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy,” Carter told author Larry J. Sabato that he has faced at least three home-grown assassination attempts since returning to Georgia and is constantly warned by the U.S. Secret Service of personal threats during his frequent overseas travel.
“I have had two or three threats to my life after I came home from the White House,” Carter said in the highly-anticipated book due out October 22. “When I go on an overseas trip almost invariably, I get a report from the Secret Service that where I’m going is very dangerous,” he added in the book provided in advance to Secrets.
Carter also told Sabato: “Sometimes they [Secret Service] ask me not to go, and I go anyway. They and I both just laugh about it. So I have been more concerned about my safety in doing the Carter Center’s business overseas than I ever was in the White House.”
Carter has been targeted by both US and foreign assassins, and the threats it seems are still coming at him today. The foreign assassins are understandable because of all of the international work that former President Carter does, but three homegrown attempts on his life since he left office is a bit mind boggling. There have been former presidents that were much more controversial than Carter. It is difficult to comprehend how Carter could be more threatened than Nixon. Carter’s comments about Israel’s apartheid being worse than South Africa’s is just one example of how the former president has made his opinions known. However, Carter didn’t commit crimes like Nixon, tank an economy like Bush, or have a sex scandal like Clinton.
It is a little hard to believe that Jimmy Carter is America’s most threatened ex-president, but this is why all former presidents need Secret Service protection. Just because the president has left office, it doesn’t mean that the threats stop.

The truth be told

It’s Time to Investigate Boehner, Issa, and the repugican Criminal Conspiracy

Lunatic Fringe 
A conspiracy is an agreement to perform together, an illegal, wrongful, or subversive act, and according to legal statutes is a crime in and of itself. Beginning on Inauguration night in 2009, repugicans conspired to deliberately obstruct any and all attempts by new President, Barack Obama, to reverse the devastation of their economic malfeasance that led to the worst recession since the Great Depression, and whether or not it was an illegal act, it was certainly wrongful and subversive. Over the past four-and-a-half years, repugicans have systematically conspired to abrogate their duty as legislators, and between swearing oaths to violate Article 1, Section 8, of the U.S. Constitution, to fabricating false scandals to take down President Obama, or serving corporate interests, it is high time to demand an investigation into Republicans in Congress and take appropriate action to remove them from office.
On a Sunday talk show, House Speaker John Boehner stated, without reservation and with pride that repugicans “ought to be judged on how many laws we repeal,” and it illustrates that throughout President Obama’s tenure as leader of the Executive branch of government, they have been guilty, at least, of dereliction of duty and at most, conspiring to inflict damage on the federal government. The list of attempts by repugicans to prevent the federal government from operating according to the Constitution is exhaustive, but there are instances that demand an accounting for the certain, and potential, damage they have caused this nation and its people. The repugicans most egregious offenses involve starving the government of resources, and it involves violating their oath of office as well as a well-planned conspiracy to defund the Treasury Department’s ability to collect revenue, and it appears the man charged with providing oversight of the government is at its center.
Last week repugicans proposed defunding the Internal Revenue Service for doing its due diligence in scrutinizing bogus tax-exempt “social welfare” applications of conservative groups, and according to testimony from the Treasury Department’s inspector general for tax administration, the IRS was asked by House Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa (r-CA) “to narrowly focus on tea party organizations.” Besides wasting time on a Rrpugican-fabricated scandal, Issa’s campaign profited by raising nearly $450,000 more than his previous quarter for the largest fundraising effort since he took office eleven years ago. There is a petition to demand a Congressional Ethics Committee investigation into Issa for his manufactured IRS scandal, if for no other reason than House repugicans are using the so-called scandal to slash the IRS budget and starve the government of much needed revenue that repugicans have made their primary goal throughout President Obama’s tenure.
Despite swearing an oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States…and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter,” all repugicans in Congress have violated their oath by swearing to anti-tax, and un-American, Grover Norquist, to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses.” The oath violates every congressional representative’s oath under Article 1, Section 8, that mandates Congress “lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” The repugicans have fulfilled their oath to Norquist and opposed any and all attempts “lay and collect taxes.”  Besides slashing the IRS budget to restrict them from collecting $1 trillion in taxes from their wealthy supporters and corporate masters due to the phony IRS scandal, they used greater tax cuts for their wealthy supporters as a ransom to pay the debts they created during the shrub junta.
It is a crime to hold a hostage for ransom, and repugicans committed an $18.9 billion crime in 2011 when they ransomed the debt limit increase in exchange for maintaining tax breaks for the rich and severe spending cuts that cost the people services as well as raising the unemployment rate and creating stagnation in job growth according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The repugicans admitted they held the full faith and credit of the United States hostage, and promised they would repeat the crime when the limit needed to be raised again. For the record, repugicans raised the debt ceiling several times during the shrub junta as “necessary to keep the United States’ economy healthy and running smoothly,” and it proves they deliberately damaged the economy, growth, and credit rating with their criminal conspiracy.
When repugicans swept into the House after the 2010 midterm elections, they promised their constituents creating jobs was their highest priority, and besides not creating even one job over the past two-and-a-half years, they successfully obstructed 17 jobs bills as of one year ago. Each time repugicans claimed “America is broke” and could hardly afford putting millions of Americans back to work, but each and every jobs bill was deficit neutral. However, throughout the time they blocked those bills, they fought for more unfunded tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy despite adding to the deficit they claimed was unsustainable. Besides keeping Americans desperate for jobs, they successfully starved the federal government of tax revenue employed Americans would generate.
Throughout the President’s first term in office, repugicans made little secret their goal in preventing economic recovery and killing jobs was to deny Obama a second term. However, their criminal activity has continued unabated well into the President’s second term and it is further proof the not-so-secret conspiracy is emasculating the economy to allow their wealthy Wall Street and corporate donors the ability to privatize the federal government. On Sunday Speaker Boehner claimed repugicans were serving the will of the American people, but at no time in the nation’s history have the people supported any party’s attempt to destroy the economy or prevent economic growth. Whether it is the repugican adherence to Libertarian ideology or portraying Barack Obama as incompetent, their four-year conspiracy is criminal. Every policy and agenda repugicans put forth is in direct opposition to the will of the people and borders on criminal conspiracy to destroy the federal government’s ability to function, and for their efforts and to preserve the Union, they deserve investigations, prosecutions where possible, and removal from office as the criminals they have proven to be over four-and-a-half conspiratorial years.

Despite Several Fatal Shootings, NC Passes Law Allowing Guns at Bars

Lunatic Fringe
guns in bars 
Both chambers of the North Carolina legislature have passed a bill that would allow residents with a concealed handgun permit, to carry their gun into bars and nightclubs that serve alcohol.  If repugican Governor Pat McCrory signs the bill into law, North Carolina residents will be able to carry concealed handguns into the state’s bars and nightclubs, unless those clubs expressly prohibit admitting anyone with a concealed handgun. Guns, alcohol and crowds of people under the influence, what could possibly go wrong?
Surely somewhere Wayne LaPierre is smiling and thinking to himself, “the only thing that stops a drunk guy with a gun, is a drunker guy with a gun”. Of all the things the North Carolina lawmakers could have been thinking, one wonders why the idea that bars and night clubs need more guns was one of them.
After all, the bill was passed on the one month anniversary of the shooting death of 22-year old Alejandro Alavarez who was murdered outside Skandalo’s Nightclub in Charlotte, when an ordinary fight escalated into the fatal shooting. Nine days earlier, Cedric Miller was shot to death outside Duke’s Nightclub, also in Charlotte. Earlier in the year Paul Anthony Fyffe Jr. was shot and killed outside Club 935 in Charlotte. In April an altercation turned deadly in Wilson County, North Carolina when Christopher Barnes shot and killed Travis Hilliard and wounded Antonio Montreal outside Oscar’s Lounge with a 9 mm handgun. In February, one man was fatally shot and three others wounded at the Nitty Gritty Restaurant and Nightclub in Winston-Salem. At least, three of the four men were shot inside the club, while the fourth may have been wounded in the parking lot.
A Goldsboro strip joint, Teaser’s Night Club, had its alcohol permit pulled by the North Carolina ABC Commission late last year after a fatal shooting in the rest room. The club also had a previous shooting incident which occurred inside the bar in 2011. In May of this year, three people were shot and wounded inside the Boom Boom Room nightclub in Elizabethtown. An April shooting at Flyer’s Bar in Havelock claimed the life of  Todd North, an ex-Marine who served as the head of Security for the bar. North was killed trying to prevent a teenager who had been thrown out of the bar earlier from returning. Though North was armed and able to return fire he apparently failed to connect while his assailant delivered a fatal bullet wound to North during the altercation.
In a shooting that began as an argument between two woman over a man, Krystal David opened fire in a Smithfield Sports Bar that seriously wounded four bystanders. Like most of the nightclub shootings in North Carolina that incident took place in the early morning hours, when people who have been drinking all evening are most likely to be fortified with alcohol and poor judgement. The lethal cocktail of guns and alcohol is now being served, pending the Governor’s signature, courtesy of the North Carolina legislature, despite the fact that the state has already had multiple fatal night club shootings in 2013.
Despite this series of murders, North Carolina’s repugican dominated legislature has decided that allowing more guns in bars is actually a good idea. While lawmakers have argued that permit holders are not a threat because they have passed gun safety courses, one has to wonder how many of them passed those courses after powering down a six-pack of beer and a couple shots of Bourbon. Alcohol impairs judgment and allowing bar patrons to carry guns is a recipe for more arguments and fist fights to become deadly gun battles.
In addition, the Charlotte Observer found that in Mecklenburg County alone, sixty convicted felons  hold legal handgun permits including five who were convicted of armed robbery, three who were convicted of manslaughter and one that was convicted of second-degree murder. Over two hundred permit holders in the county had drug crime convictions. If Pat McCrory signs the bill into law, these convicted felons will be legally permitted to carry a concealed handgun into a bar in North Carolina.
In the same bill, the legislature also permits guns on playgrounds, at parades and in funeral processions. Perhaps, gun owners have reason to be especially pleased with the right to carry at a funeral procession, because after a Saturday night at the club goes awry, they may find themselves attending a funeral for a fallen buddy. After your friend gets gunned down after a bar room brawl turns deadly, the best way to honor him is to bring a gun to his funeral. You had just better hope they are not serving alcohol.

‘Responsible Gun Owner’ Opens Fire On Car Full Of Kids Because Dad Tried To Turn Around In Her Driveway

Paranoia Strikes Deep 
Maybe she thought she was in Florida. Times-News shares the story: "'We got out of there pretty well as fast as we could. I still don’t really know what her problem was. I don’t know what’s happened to her in the past, but me, my wife and five kids weren’t doing anything wrong. I know you can’t shoot at somebody for turning around in your driveway.'" 
  Margie Rhea Ramey's mugshot photo, courtesy WBIR
Margie Rhea Ramey’s mugshot photo
You know how sometimes you get lost and you just don’t have anywhere to turn around except by using someone’s driveway? Well, don’t ever let that happen to you in the backwoods of Tennessee.
Oscar Scott and his family of seven decided to go out for a nice Sunday visit to Bays Mountain Park in northeastern Tennessee. When it was time to go home, they thought it’d be nice to take the scenic route. After enjoying some scenery, they came across Bays Mountain Road and took it, curious to see if it would take them back to the park. After going a ways down the road, they noticed that the road became very narrow and turned in to what Scott described as “an old log road.” Figuring it was best to turn around, he put the car in reverse, and chaos ensued.
Margie Rhea Ramey saw the car go into reverse from her front porch, where she’d been sitting with a few other people. Sick of people who were “tearing up her driveway,” Margie started yelling. Before they even touched her driveway, Scott’s son asked “Does she got a gun?” and Margie opened fire on the SUV carrying five children, ages four to twelve. She fired two shots, one hitting close to where the children were seated in the car. Scott’s wife yelled to her that they were simply turning around, but ol’ Margie wasn’t having it. Scott put pedal to the metal and got them out of there as fast as he could and called the police.
Ramey was arrested and released on a $1,000 bond Sunday night. She is charged with seven counts of reckless endangerment.
When a little old lady has a gun to defend herself and her home, that’s fine. When she uses that gun to keep people off her driveway like the old man who shakes his cane telling those kids to get off his lawn, then we have a problem. This is not ‘responsible gun ownership’ by any stretch of the imagination. This is an angry old lady who decided to take it out on a car full of kids. But, you see, this is ‘Murica, land of the free-to-have-a-gun-even-though-you’re-a-batshit-crazy-psycho-idiot-with-no-regard-for-human-life.
‘Murica, where the motto is ‘Fuck you, I’ve got mine.’

Attention Gun Nuts

NSA: We lack the capability to search our own email

Just the News
The NSA turned down a ProPublica Freedom of Information Act request because it says it lacks the ability to search all the email within its internal network, so it can't answer a question like "What conversations took place between the NSA and National Geographic in the lead-up to a positive story about the Agency?" It can only search one user's mail at a time, not all 30,000 NSA employees.
"There's no central method to search an email at this time with the way our records are set up, unfortunately," NSA Freedom of Information Act officer Cindy Blacker told me last week.
The system is “a little antiquated and archaic," she added.

Eolas, the grandaddy of patent trolls, has its ass handed to it by a court, finally

Just the News
After a reign of terror lasting nearly two decades, the patent troll Eolas has been brought low. Its bullshit patent on "interactive features" of the Web -- which was filed six years after Tim Berners-Lee actually invented the stuff it laid claim to -- was used to suck millions out of companies from Microsoft to Yahoo and Amazon. A judge has ruled what everyone knew -- the patents were without merit and the lawsuits were just money-spinners for "inventors" whose only product was litigation. Good riddance, Eolas, and see you in Hell.
Under Doyle's conception of his own invention, practically any modern website owed him royalties. Playing a video online or rotating an image on a shopping website were "interactive" features that infringed his patents.
And unlike many "patent trolls" who simply settle for settlements just under the cost of litigation, Doyle's company had the chops, the lawyers, and the early filing date needed to extract tens of millions of dollars from the accused companies.
Eolas had kept filing lawsuits even after its trial loss, with cases against Disney, ESPN, ABC, Facebook, and Wal-Mart on hold awaiting the outcome of this appeal; those are all but doomed. Those lawsuits had asserted the two invalidated patents as well as two new ones, but the two newer patents both incorporate Eolas' first patent.

TV station that aired racist joke-names for Asiana crash pilots now misusing copyright to censor evidence of its stupidity

Idiocy Abounds
KTVU, the San Francisco TV station that displayed a bunch of jokey, racist pilot names on a newscast about the Asiana crash at SFO, is now misusing copyright law to censor clips that record its mistake for posterity. They say that "everyone has seen the clips" and that it was an "accidental mistake" (as opposed to all those deliberate mistakes), and that this somehow justifies multiple acts of copyfraud against services around the Internet and their users. As always, Techdirt brings the scathing critique:
First things first. If you're not taking it down for copyright reasons, then why the hell are you using the DMCA takedown system? Noah H. Webster, it's got "COPYRIGHT" right in the frickin' name! Wouldn't a polite note to the YouTube account holders stating the above accomplish the same thing (i.e., a minimal level of compliance)?
As for the arguing it should be removed because "most people have seen it," I don't even know where to go with that. Continuing to show the video isn't "offensive." Only the original act is. Pretending this has something to do with making amends for an earlier error is just kind of sad, especially when the station manager tries to drag viewers into his Shame Circle with "thoughtless repetition of the video by others."

Goths of Kenya

Middle-class Kenyan teens are inventing a local version of goth subculture, and are at the center of a moral panic about kids-gone-wild -- according to an article in Think Africa Press. The article is shy on details or photographic evidence, but I hope its true about the subculture (and not about the moral panic). Anyone have more evidence of this?
The negative public image of the goth scene also extends beyond the general public and is apparent in the attitudes of local authorities, at times with dramatic consequences. David used to have long hair, another way to stand out in a country where men tend to wear it very short. A couple of weeks before I met him, he was walking in town at dusk, waiting for the bus back to Nakuru, when a police car pulled over in front of him. The police approached him and asked to see his passport, which he was not carrying, before they accused him of looking like ‘an al-Shabaab’ – a Somali militant Islamist group responsible for several terrorist attacks in the region.
David denied this, stating that he was a Kenyan. The police then challenged him as to why he had untidy hair and facial piercings, preposterously claiming that these are hallmarks of Somali terrorists. They put him in their car and drove him to a nearby barber where they forced him to shave his head. They said that this would "stop confusing them", and they told him to "dress like a decent person" in future.
When I first met David one of the first things I asked was whether he wore his preferred clothes all the time. I asked most of the goths this question and generally they admitted to travelling incognito, blending into the crowd. David, however, looked vaguely insulted at my question before replying, simply, “Me, I even wear this in Church”.



How Credit Card Numbers are Determined

For Your Information

If you've been around for a while, you probably know that all Mastercard credit cards start with 5, and all Visa cards start with 4. Beyond that, there's more math than you realized in credit card numbers. They are not randomly generated. For example, the last number is what's called a "check digit." It's there to make sure the other numbers are correct.
You don’t select this last digit, it is deterministic. The exact mathematic formula for its generation was invented by Hans Peter Luhn, an engineer at IBM in 1954. Originally patented, the algorithm is now in the public domain and a Worldwide standard ISO/IEC 7812-1
Obviously, with just a single check digit, not all errors can be detected (there’s a one in ten chance of a random number having the correct check digit), but the Luhn algorithm is clever in that it detects any single error (getting a single digit wrong), such as swapping the 9 with a 6 in the above example. It also detects almost all* pair-wise switching of two adjacent numbers. These errors are typical common errors people make when transcribing card numbers, so the check digit does a good thing.

An added side benefit is that, as discussed above, there is only a one in ten chance that a randomly generated number has the correct check digit. This provides a small amount of protection from hackers or poorly educated crooks who might attempt to randomly generate and guess credit card numbers.
See the formula for the check digit in action at DataGenetics, and more about how credit card numbers work: Here.

Jane Austen Banknote

Now that's Interesting
After an outcry of protest that the banknotes of the British currency are mostly filled with faces of men, the Bank of England is going to release a new £10 note featuring Jane Austen:
Jane Austen certainly merits a place in the select group of historical figures to appear on our banknotes. Her novels have an enduring and universal appeal and she is recognised as one of the greatest writers in English literature," [Mark Carney] the new governor said.
Pound and Prejudice, it seems: More

The World's Most Beautiful Libraries

For Your Information
 This one above is the Trinity College Library in Dublin, Ireland:
Aside from being absolutely gorgeous, with two story dark wooden arches, this is also the largest library in all of Ireland. It serves as the country’s copyright library, where a copy of all new books and periodicals must be sent when they apply for copyright protection. The library is also home to the famous Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript created by Celtic monks around the year 800.

There Are Only 2 Escalators in Wyoming

For Your Information
In the 97,100 square miles that constitute the State of Wyoming, there are only two escalators: one at a mall in Jackson and another at an airport in Casper. That's it. Megan Garber of The Atlantic explains why:

Escalators may be magical machines, the stuff of literature and comedy and epic, epic poetry; they are also, often, less practical than their fellow vertical people-movers. "There are code issues involved with escalators, which make them somewhat less popular," Mason noted. "The code does not want openings between adjacent floors that are unprotected." Say there's a fire: stairways offer people enclosed ways to escape buildings, while escalators generally don't. If you're an engineer thinking about the best ways to move people between floors, escalators often lose the contest. Plus, escalators tend to be more expensive to install and maintain than their counterparts.
Whereas "elevators," Mason said, "are pretty much foolproof."
The dearth of escalators in Wyoming could also have to do with the particularities of the state's buildings themselves. "I think a lot of it has to do with some of the buildings being older," Sue Goodman said -- and older buildings with multiple stories tend to rely on stairways and elevators for their inter-floor transport. Two of the most common settings for escalators are malls and larger airports, and places like Sheridan have neither: their stores tend to be standalone structures. Plus, "in the Great Out West, I think land is probably cheaper," Goodman said. So rather than build up, "we spread out."

Mystery of pair of trousers found inside century-old tree

It's A Mystery 
For decades, residents of Shelbyville, Indiana, have heard the story of the "Old Linden Tree." Legend has it, the site of what's now Shelbyville used to house a Miami Indian village. From now on, they'll have a story about some old-fashioned trousers to add to it. On July 16, the employees at Shelby Tire and Auto Care removed a branch from the tree that stands in front of the auto center's parking lot.

When owner Brent Montgomery bought the building 27 years ago, all seven branches were still intact. Until last week, there were four remaining on the 100-plus-year-old tree. The tree has suffered some in the past few decades and had to be trimmed. "The brick wall we built around the tree has moved about a foot in the last year or so," Montgomery said. "When one of my employees stood on the wall, it collapsed." At that point, the leaning branch became a safety concern, so he decided to cut it down, he said.

"About halfway up the tree, there was about an eight-foot hollow patch," Montgomery said. "I was standing underneath it looking up and I said, ‘Well what's that?'" He said it looked like a brown bag from the ground, but when he got a closer look, he realized it was actually a pair of pants. Very old pants. "It's not like there's a knot where someone might have stuck them in there," Montgomery said. "They grew in it." Grover Museum Director Candy Miller rushed to see the pants, which she described as "very coarse."

The bottoms, which the local history authority claims were probably sewn during the 1800s, have a button but no zipper. The letters "HCRAFT" can be made out on the small, rusted button, but the rest is faded. The pants, which are still connected to the tree, are stained with what looks to be white paint. "We may solve a mystery here. We need to solve the mystery," Miller said. Montgomery agrees, which is why he reached out to her. "Somebody lost their pants and I don't know why," Montgomery joked.

Full story here.

Random Photos

Coastal Antarctic permafrost melting faster than expected

It's Only The Environment After All

For the first time, scientists have documented an acceleration in the melt rate of permafrost, or ground ice, in a section of Antarctica where the ice had been considered stable. The melt rates are comparable [...]

Ancient snowfall likely carved Martian valleys

Scientific Minds Want To Know

Valley networks branching across the Martian surface leave little doubt that water once flowed on the Red Planet. But where that ancient water came from — whether it bubbled up from underground or fell as [...]

Does dangerous Middle East coronavirus have an African origin?

Scientific Minds Want To Know

The MERS-coronavirus is regarded as a dangerous novel pathogen: Almost 50 people have died from infection with the virus since it was first discovered in 2012. To date all cases are connected with the Arabian [...]

Post-Biological Aliens

Scientific Minds Want To Know

While we speculate on what biological forms any extraterrestrials may take, several experts believe that we are more likely to encounter advanced forms that can reach out to us. Maybe even artificial intelligence. When any intelligent species reaches the point of space travel, it shouldn't be too long -on a cosmic scale- before they can build machines that are smart enough to both replicate and improve themselves. And travel through space.
“If we build a machine with the intellectual capability of one human, then within 5 years, its successor is more intelligent than all humanity combined,” says Seth Shostak, SETI chief astronomer. “Once any society invents the technology that could put them in touch with the cosmos, they are at most only a few hundred years away from changing their own paradigm of sentience to artificial intelligence,” he says.

ET machines would be infinitely more intelligent and durable than the biological intelligence that created them. Intelligent machines would be immortal, and would not need to exist in the carbon-friendly “Goldilocks Zones” current SETI searches focus on. An AI could self-direct its own evolution, each "upgrade" would be created with the sum total of its predecessor’s knowledge preloaded.
Read what other minds are thinking along these lines at The Daily Galaxy.

Extraordinary trout have tolerance to filthy water

Animal News

New research from the University of Exeter and King’s College London has shown how a population of brown trout can survive in the contaminated waters of the River Hayle in Cornwall where metal concentrations are [...]

Dolphins have names

Animal News
Rebecca Morelle: "Research has revealed that the marine mammals use a unique whistle to identify each other. A team from the University of St Andrews in Scotland found that when the animals hear their own call played back to them, they respond." 

Animal Pictures


Wojtek Kwiatkowski photography