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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.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Yeah, something like that ...! 
Carolina Naturally is read in 192 countries around the world daily.

Well, that is uncommon! ...
Today is Uncommon Instruments Awareness Day 

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

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Today in History

Today in History
904 Arabs capture Thessalonica.
1703 English novelist Daniel Defoe is made to stand in the pillory as punishment for offending the government and church with his satire The Shortest Way With Dissenters.
1760 Ferdinand, Duke of Brunswick, drives the French army back to the Rhine River.
1790 The U.S. Patent Office opens.
1882 Belle and Sam Starr are charged with horse stealing in the Indian territory.
1875 Former president Andrew Johnson dies at the age of 66.
1891 Great Britain declares territories in Southern Africa up to the Congo to be within their sphere of influence.
1904 The Trans-Siberian railroad connecting the Ural mountains with Russia's Pacific coast, is completed.
1917 The third Battle of Ypres commences as the British attack the German lines.
1932 Adolf Hitler's Nationalist Socialist German Workers' Party (Nazis) doubles its strength in legislative elections.
1944 The Soviet army takes Kovno, the capital of Lithuania.
1962 Federation of Malaysia formally proposed.
1971 Apollo 15 astronauts take a drive on the moon in their land rover.
1987 An F4 tornado in Edmonton, Alberta kills 27 and causes $330 million in damages; the day is remembered as "Black Friday."
1988 Bridge collapse at Sultan Abdul Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth, Malaysia, kills 32 and injures more than 1,600.
1990 Bosnia-Hercegovina declares independence from Yugoslavia.
1991 US and USSR sign a long-range nuclear weapons reduction pact.
1999 NASA purposely crashes its Discovery Program's Lunar Prospector into the moon, ending the agency's mission to detect frozen water on Earth's moon.
2006 Fidel Castro temporarily hands over power to his brother Raul Castro.
2007 The British Army's longest continual operation, Operation Banner (1969-2007), ends as British troops withdraw from Northern Ireland.

Non Sequitur

Daily Comic Relief

Couple born on same day, married for 75 years, died one day apart

Heartstrings Pulled
Their friends and family agree - if two people ever were “made for each other” it was Helen and Les Brown from Belmont Heights, California.

Both born on the same day, Dec. 31, 1918, Helen and Les were high school sweethearts who celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary this year. It would be their last - Helen died on Tuesday, July 16, and Les died the next day, July 17. They were 94.

They met at Huntington Park High School and eloped on Sept. 19, 1937. They were married against their own parents’ wishes. “It was a real love match, wasn’t it,” their oldest son, Les Jr., said. “They were together every day for 75 years.”

Daniel, the couple’s youngest son, agreed with his brother. He added: “My mom often said she didn’t want to see my father die, and he didn’t want to live without her.” A joint memorial service for Les, who had Parkinson’s disease, and Helen, who had developed stomach cancer, was held on Saturday.

Delicious Dishes Of America’s Past

Culinary DeLites

Harvey’s sawmill gravy

Harvey’s sawmill gravy was a favorite in Georgian homes and a staple of most breakfasts. Once you try it, you’ll see why—especially because it’s so simple to make.
Harvey's sawmill gravy
4 sausage patties
1 1/2 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1. Fry sausage patties in a saucepan, pour out all but about 2 tablespoons of grease and keep on low heat.
2. Mix in flour with the remaining grease and stir until brown.
3. Slowly add milk (or water) and mix well.
4. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer.
5. Crumble the sausage patties over the gravy and add salt and pepper.
6. Simmer for two minutes, serve over whatever you want—but hot, open-faced biscuits were the traditional counterpart.

Obama Speaks Bluntly and Honestly About How repugicans Have Damaged America

The Truth Be Told 
For over four years many on the left have wondered, sometimes aloud, when President Obama would abandon diplomacy and desire for bipartisanship and tell the American people what they need to hear about why they are not sharing in the nation’s economic recovery that is enriching the wealthy and their corporations. Whether it was to appease repugicans to encourage them to work with Democrats for the good of all the people, or to avoid appearing combative, the President has been remiss to speak bluntly about why Washington is ineffective when he, and anyone with a pulse, knew repugican obstruction was borne of their opposition to him as President as much as their 30-year crusade to transfer the nation’s wealth to their corporate paymasters. However, in an interview with the New York Times, the President gave an accurate assessment of the repugican cabal, the state of the economy, and reiterated his four-year economic agenda that repugicans have opposed every step of the way.
The President did not reveal any new initiatives to boost the economy he has not already shared during two campaigns for the presidency, but he finally called for a cessation of the repugican’s austerity frenzy that is retarding economic growth, killing millions of jobs, and sending more Americans into poverty. In fact, the President accurately cited the devastating effects of austerity he called “a damaging framework in Washington.” He said, “I want to make sure that all of us in Washington are investing as much time, as much energy, as much debate on how we grow the economy and grow the middle class as we’ve spent over the last two to three years arguing about how we reduce the deficits.” Instead of slashing spending on social safety nets and domestic programs, the President called for spending on education, research and development, clean energy, and infrastructure that repugicans claim depresses economic recovery because it does not shift all the wealth to their campaign donors fast enough.
Widening income inequality in favor of the rich, the repugicans primary goal, is one of the President’s main economic concerns and he noted it is “fraying the country’s social fabric and undermined Americans’ belief in opportunity.” He said that the concept, once a reality, of upward mobility was “part and parcel of who we are as Americans,” but that it has been eroding “over the last 20, 30 years, well before the financial crisis.” It was the first time in recent memory anyone in Washington openly acknowledged that since the Reagan junta, repugicans worked tirelessly to transfer the nation’s wealth directly to the rich. In a direct swipe at repugican intransigence and austerity to benefit the wealthy, the President said “If we don’t do anything, then growth will be slower than it should be. Unemployment will not go down as fast as it should, and income inequality will continue to rise; that’s not a future that we should accept” and cited the effect income inequality has on racial tensions plaguing America.
The President explained how the repugican economic agenda, particularly opposition to job creation, promoting austerity to create poverty, and refusal to invest in America to enrich the wealthy contributes to racial strains that are inexorably linked to people’s fear that financial stability is unattainable. He said that as long as “people feel they’ve got to compete with some other group to get scraps from a shrinking pot,” there will be racial animus that extends to immigrants, Hispanic Americans, and African Americans. The solution, the President said, is that “if the economy is growing, everybody feels invested. Everybody feels as if we’re rolling in the same direction,” but a nation working toward the same goals is anathema to Republicans who thrive on divisiveness and creating suspicion of “the other” whether it is African Americans, Hispanics, or the President of the United States. In fact, maybe for the first time in his Presidency, Obama noted that repugican opposition to sound economic policies that are proven to grow the economy, create jobs, and contribute to national unity is based on the fact he was elected President.
In highlighting the constant repugican criticism that he usurps his authority in calling for and supporting legislation to invest in America, spur job creation, grow the economy, and reduce crippling income inequality,  Mr. Obama said “there’s not an action that I take that you don’t have some folks in Congress who say that I’m usurping my authority. Some of those folks think I usurp my authority by having the gall to win the presidency.” The President may not realize the importance of that one statement, but it encapsulates the entirety of repugican opposition to everything he has proposed or supported throughout his tenure regardless it is jobs bills, gun safety, gay rights, women’s rights, or tax hikes on the richest Americans. Republican denial that he is the legally elected President is also a major contributing factor to the racial animus raging in conservative ranks that is impeding immigration reform as well as driving repugican success at assaulting minority voting rights in repugican cabal-controlled states.
If the American people take anything away from the President’s remarks in the NYT interview, and recent speeches about the economy, it is that it appears he has had it with repugicans and the devastation they have caused this nation over the past two-and-a-half years. It is true repugicans have been on a thirty year crusade to transfer wealth to their wealthy campaign donors and install a theocracy to control American society, but they have taken extraordinarily extreme measures since they took control of the House and several states in the 2010 midterm elections. Their obvious denial that he won the presidency twice is evident in their opposition to policies and agendas the President, the majority of Americans, and even repugicans support, and their continued push, and threats to continue, austerity in spite of the devastation to the economy and American people is evidence they have no regard for the health of the nation. Now, at long last, President Obama is taking up the cause of the people like never before by openly calling out repugicans as the source of America’s economic and social woes.
The repugicans can never say the President did not make every attempt to compromise with them (but they will), or that he failed to slash the debt and deficit, or that he did not save the economy after they ravaged it with tax cuts for the rich, two unnecessary wars, and rampant deregulation during the shrub junta. However, it appears they have pushed the President too far and punished the people too severely, because he is finally speaking honestly against repugicans’ damage to Americans, the economy, and the social fabric and calling for an end to austerity and income inequality driving American racism.

Did you know ...

Did You Know ...
That wingnuts are terrified by America's rising tide of Liberalism

That a study finds women happier than men after divorce

The (un)American (anti)Family Association: Americans have a patriotic duty to worship god

That social media can help stave off senility

Glenn Beck Displays Hitler’s Blood Next to Anne Frank’s Diary

Lunatic Fringe 
There’s something seriously wrong in our country when a national media figure (yes, his site The Blaze was recently awarded the Charles Darwin prize) like Glenn Beck can put on a display honoring the Nazis with awe-inspiring sadism and we don’t bat an eye.
During Beck’s “Man on the Moon” rally, Beck rented a few rooms at the Grand America Hotel in Salt Lake City to display his “Independence Through History” exhibit.
According to Alexandra Karl — a descendant of survivors of the Holocaust who attended the exhibit — in one room, Tea Partier and rabid extremist (pardon the redundancy) David Barton contributed to Beck’s exhibit, which included sculptures of simian slaves and 18th century Bibles. Barton’s extremism has found a comfy home in the tea wing of the repugican cabal; repugican Mike Huckabee wanted to force us all at gunpoint to learn from David Barton.
But it’s Beck’s personal collection that is the most disturbing. From KKK robes to Hitler’s blood, Beck let his not-so-hidden, sadistic white supremacist out. Alexandra Karl detailed for the Salt Lake Tribune:
The adjoining room contained objects from Glenn Beck’s personal collection. This included a hooded KKK cape and a swastika banner which had been used at Nuremberg. Underneath was an illuminated vitrine containing a copy of Mein Kampf signed by Adolf Hitler, a stack of love letters by Hermann Göring, and a satin handkerchief browned with Hitler’s blood. Nearby was an early edition of Anne Frank’s Diary.
Ms. Karl pointed out that the survival of such memorabilia can only be achieved with help from Nazi sympathizers, “More than 70 old, most of the detritus of Germany’s Nationalsozialisten was destroyed after the war and continue to be banned to this day. The survival of such “memorabilia” can only be achieved with help from Nazi sympathizers wishing to pass on the torch.”
The writer wondered if the apathy with which her fellow citizens met this macabre display is the same kind of apathy that allowed the Nazis to mushroom out of control, “To add insult to injury, Beck’s displays were met with complete apathy by the citizens of Salt Lake City.”
This kind of “insensitivity” is actually not insensitivity at all. It is a deliberate choice to inflict pain on others. It indicates a derivation of pleasure at the hand of cruelty. It’s the calling card of a sadist.
Speaking of “insensitivity”, suffering from what Jon Stewart termed “Nazi Tourettes”, Beck has accused many people of being a Nazi, including comparing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to a Nazi during Beck’s address to the National Rifle Association. Bloomberg is Jewish. Beck has also accused the first black President of being a Nazi, and compared Al Gore and the Peace Corp to Hilter and the Nazis. These are not the statements of a mentally well grown up.
Beck, who at one time led the tea party teamed up with Sister Cruel Heart Sarah Palin, has an unhealthy obsession with the Nazis. While he accuses anyone he disagrees with of actually being a Nazi, and doesn’t seem to grasp the political history behind the Nazis, at the same time he harbors a personal collection of Nazi memorabilia that is banned in the country where these atrocities happened. He chose to display Hitler’s blood near Anne Frank’s diary.
The Nazis killed over 6 million Jews in conservative estimates, and utilized systematic state-sponsored murder to kill millions of others they considered “inferior” for being disabled, Polish, gay, Romani people, etc. Many died being subjected to slave labor in concentration camps while others were murdered in mass shootings. The Nazis used extermination camps to murder millions in the gas chambers. The Nazis justified the killings, saying the Jews were life unworthy of life, “Lebensunwertes Leben”.
It’s time we just admit that the tea party, who cheer executions and the deaths of the uninsured, were led by greedy, parasitic and willfully ignorant egomaniacs into the pit of Hell, replete with an ugly hatred for anyone who doesn’t join in their vicious taunting.
No, the tea party hasn’t committed mass murder. One could argue that their beloved ALEC’s Stand Your Ground laws coupled with unregulated gun purchases and a constant dehumanizing of the “others” are creating an environment where murder is more likely, but that isn’t the same thing as systemically engaging in direct mass murder.
But they embody much of the twisted contempt for humanity that is required in order for the death of another human to be less disturbing. These are not adolescent children laughing because they are uncomfortable; these are grown ups, leading a fringe political party that has taken over one of the two major political parties in this country.
Nazi memorabilia. Dressing African Americans up in slave outfits. Dressing up in KKK capes, knowing that the KKK murders black people for no reason other than the color of their skin. Devoting energy and time to collecting Hitler’s blood. It’s all “good fun” for some people, but deeply troubling for the descendants of the victims and for anyone who understands that we must always remember history lest we repeat it.
glenn beck
Beck has the freedom to do this, but we as a culture have the right to shame him for it and I’d suggest, the moral duty to shame him for it.

Senator requests NASA investigation of Space Vikings

Yes, he's a repugican ... imagine that
This photo, taken by astronautics grad student and photographer Ved Chirayath, was meant to be a bit of free promotion for NASA and space exploration. It's part of an art exhibition called Physics in Vogue, which combines real science with the style of fashion photography. With the help of a Viking re-enactment troupe and some of his colleagues from the Ames Research Center, he put together a shot that was meant to connect current NASA projects to the exploration-oriented Viking culture. What if two of Earth's greatest explorers met face-to-face?
The photo was done on Chirayath's own time, using funds from two arts grants that had nothing to do with NASA. But it has become the center of an extensive investigation initiated by Senator Chuck Grassley, aimed at discovering whether dastardly NASA scientists were using taxpayer money to make whimsical photos. They weren't. Ironically, though, the investigation did use taxpayer money. More, Chirayath estimates, than it would have cost him to get such a photo done by a professional.

You don't say ...

Daily Comic Relief
Friday, July 19

Man Born without Arms Designs NASCAR Components with His Feet

News of the positive sort

Every step of the way in life there have been people who said that I can't do things. Said that I couldn't ride a bicycle. Said that I couldn't live on my own. Couldn't get a good job and support myself or I couldn't go to college and graduate. I don't listen too much to people when they tell me I can't do something.
Charlie Parker was born without arms. But that hasn't stopped him from becoming an engineer at Hendrick Motorsports, a top tier NASCAR race car design firm. Watch how Mr. Parker's drive made him successful.

How We Got Hooked on Vitamins

Once upon a time, people suffered from vitamin deficiencies which caused anemia, rickets, and other conditions we rarely hear about anymore. The truth is, the average modern American diet has the vitamins we need. However, half of all Americans take vitamin supplements. Research shows that they aren't necessary, and can actually shorten our lives. An article at the Atlantic cites many studies on vitamin supplements and their effects, but also contains the fascinating story of how we became so enamored with vitamin supplements. All it took was one man advocating their use, because that one man was the esteemed scientist and Nobel laureate Linus Pauling.  
The turning point came in March 1966, when Pauling was 65 years old. He had just received the Carl Neuberg Medal. "During a talk in New York City," recalled Pauling, "I mentioned how much pleasure I took in reading about the discoveries made by scientists in their various investigations of the nature of the world, and stated that I hoped I could live another twenty-five years in order to continue to have this pleasure. On my return to California I received a letter from a biochemist, Irwin Stone, who had been at the talk. He wrote that if I followed his recommendation of taking 3,000 milligrams of vitamin C, I would live not only 25 years longer, but probably more." Stone, who referred to himself as Dr. Stone, had spent two years studying chemistry in college. Later, he received an honorary degree from the Los Angeles College of Chiropractic and a "PhD" from Donsbach University, a non-accredited correspondence school in Southern California.

Pauling followed Stone's advice. "I began to feel livelier and healthier," he said. "In particular, the severe colds I had suffered several times a year all my life no longer occurred. After a few years, I increased my intake of vitamin C to ten times, then twenty times, and then three hundred times the RDA: now 18,000 milligrams per day."

From that day forward, people would remember Linus Pauling for one thing: vitamin C.
Pauling's 1970 book about vitamin C was a bestseller, and kicked off the supplement craze. Add in consumers who want easy ways to make themselves healthier and suppliers who stand to make profits, and it's no wonder people buy so many supplements. Read more about it at the Atlantic.

Hating On Fat People Just Makes Them Fatter

Did You Know ...
The roots of obesity are complex and include genetics and other factors beyond individual choice, research shows.
The roots of obesity are complex and include genetics and other factors beyond individual choice, research shows.

Don't try to pretend your gibes and judgments of the overweight people in your life are for their own good. Florida researchers have evidence that discriminating against fat people only makes them fatter.
"People often rationalize that it's OK to discriminate based on weight because it will motivate the victim to lose pounds," , a psychologist at the Florida State College of Medicine in Tallahassee, tells Shots. "But our findings suggest the opposite."
Sutin and a colleague checked survey data from more than 6,000 American men and women age 50 and older who were asked how often in their daily lives they experienced different types of discrimination. Examples ranged from discourtesy or refusal of restaurant service to not getting a job or promotion.
The survey then asked the respondents why they thought the discrimination happened. Was it was because of their race or age, for example, or their sex, age or weight? Researchers also measured the participants' weight and height.
Four years later, a follow-up survey asked the same questions and checked for changes in weight.
Overweight people who said they'd experienced discrimination based on weight were more than twice as likely to be obese four years later than people who didn't mention such discrimination. And those who started out obese were three times more likely to remain so if they'd been harshly targeted because of their weight. Other types of discrimination showed no effect on weight.
Sutin's , published in the latest issue of the online journal PLOS One, wasn't designed to get at why weight discrimination led many fat people to pack on even more pounds. But other research suggests that increased rates of depression, emotional eating and low-self esteem likely play a role. So does increased stress (and the associated hormonal surges that can trigger even more hunger and eating), as well as the avoidance of exercise.
"If someone's mean to you at the gym because of your weight or acts like you don't belong there," Sutin says, "you're less likely to go back."
The roots of obesity are and include genetics and other factors that go well beyond individual choice. "Trying to promote healthy behaviors is a good thing," she says, but shaming someone has no place in the solution.
Unfortunately, and discrimination persists in many spheres and among employers, teachers — and .

Daily Comic Relief

Daily Comic Relief
Tuesday, July 30

Fake cops robbing Detroiters turn out to be real cops

Bad Cops
They did it in uniform. Amy Lange reports:
A Good Samaritan snapped photos of what appeared to be two men impersonating police officers involved in a pistol-whipping and robbery outside a Citgo gas station on Detroit's east side on July 21. Once Fox 2 aired those photos, an even more disturbing picture developed. ... Now under arrest are two police sergeants, a 47-year-old officer and 20-year veteran.
Don't worry, everything will be OK, they have a Robocop statue.

Police seek 'Buddy Holly Bandit' over power tool thefts

Dumb Crooks
Police in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, are looking for a man who has been dubbed the “Buddy Holly Bandit,” accused of stealing more than $1,700 in power tools from two home-improvement stores.

Investigators have released photos of the suspect who they say resembles the famous singer.

He stole the power tools from two Lowes’ stores. The thefts happened on three occasions over about a 10-day period at the stores in Greensburg and Latrobe.


He told employees that he was taking the tools outside to show his wife, then drove off in a black 2007 Pontiac Grand Prix. Authorities traced the license plate number, but it came back as belonging to a different vehicle.

Pro-tip for jurors: don't write on Facebook about your intent to convict defendant

Helpful Hints
Two jurors in England will spend August in jail after one asserted a defendant's guilt on Facebook—"I've always wanted to Fuck up a pedophile & now I'm within the law!"—and the other blabbed to co-jurors about researching their case online.


Daily Comic Relief
Tuesday, July 30

Korean News Station Pokes Fun at American News Station by Giving American Pilots Fake Names

You may remember that two weeks ago, an Asiana airliner crashed in San Francisco. Local news station KTVU gave the flight crew fake and obscene names. It was a public relations disaster for the station and led to the firing of at least 3 employees.
Last week, a Southwest airliner crashed in New York City. Thankfully, there were no fatalities. According to Slothed, a Korean news program mocked KTVU by giving the airliner's pilots and passengers fake names:
It looks like a Korean news agency is having some fun at KTVU’s expense. After the landing gear failure of the Southwest flight at LGA they showed this graphic with American pilot names “Captain Kent Parker Wright”, “Co-Captain Wyatt Wooden Workman”.
They even went as far as making up fake names for people to interview. Flight instructor “Heywood U. Flye-Moore” and skeptical passenger “Macy Lawyers”.
Please note that at the time that I wrote this post, I could not verify this story through other sources.

The Dangerous Job of Being a British Prince


Life will probably be quite rosy for the newborn Prince George of Cambridge, but back when the title of king meant real power, it was quite dangerous to be a prince, especially a crown prince. There was always someone who wanted you dead. Pictured here are the princes Edward and Richard, sons of King Edward IV. They were kept in a tower by their uncle, who became King Richard III.
Edward senior went boating one day in 1483 and soon after became ill and died (in a rather prolonged way which to some suggests foul play) when junior was only 12.  Senior managed to make his youngest brother Richard (yes, that Richard) Protector of the young uncrowned king and that was exactly what he did, placing his nephew in the Tower of London for his own protection.  He was soon joined by his younger brother, Richard.  The coronation would secure Junior’s position as the crowned King of England never came.  Dear old Uncle Richard had the pair declared illegitimate by Parliament and was then crowned Richard III.  However, despite this, the two princes still disappeared.

History has pointed an accusing finger directly at Richard III who, as the next in line to the throne, had the most to gain by disappearing the boys. Yet he was already king and the boys' mother later allied herself to him, hardly a sign that a doting mother might give that she believed the boys' uncle to also be their executor.  There are other names in the frame for the disappearance of the princes but my personal favorite is Margaret Beaufort, Countess of Richmond and Derby.
Read the rest of that complicated story, plus those of five other young princes who would have been better off born as commoners. More  

American Officer Writes a Letter to His Son on Hitler's Personal Stationery

Did You Know ...
Richard Helms was a US Navy officer during World War II and later the Director of the CIA. At the end of the war in 1945, he wrote a letter to his young son on Hitler's personal stationery:
“Dear Dennis,” reads the letter from Helms, then a spy stationed in Germany. “The man who might have written on this card once controlled Europe – three short years ago when you were born. Today he is dead, his memory despised, his country in ruins. He had a thirst for power, a low opinion of man as an individual, and a fear of intellectual honesty. He was a force for evil in the world. His passing, his defeat – a boon for mankind. But thousands died that it might be so.  The price for ridding society of bad is always high.  Love, Daddy."
Dennis Helms found the letter among the family papers in 2002. He donated it to the CIA Museum, where it is now on display.

Why Do We Say: "It's A Doozy"?

Did You Know ...
I was at the Ford Museum in Detroit recently and they had a couple Duesenberg Model J cars from the 1930s on display. As I was standing in awe of these cars, two women were standing next to me talking about how the phrase, "It's a doozy," meaning, something awesome, extraordinary or powerful, comes from Duesenberg's nickname, "Duesy." Duesenbergs were ridiculously expensive in their day, with some costing as much as $25,000 when the average U.S. physician earned less than $3,000 a year.
The women's attribution didn't seem accurate to me, but I was really curious as to the origin so I started poking around online and discovered that no one actually knows for certain where the phrase comes from. But there are some theories.
1) Doozy could be an alteration of an older slang, "It's a daisy," meaning something beautiful.
2) It could have originated around a popular Italian actress during the late 1800s, early 1900s, Eleonora Duse, who often simply went as Duse.
3) According to this video over on Webster, doozy originally appeared as "dozy" in eastern Ohio in 1916 -- four years prior to the production of the first Duesenberg vehicles. They also claim there is little evidence connecting the Duesenberg and doozy during the '20s and '30s, when the car was most popular. "Dozy" is akin to the verb "dozen" that is semantically and etymologically related to "daze."
4) Finally, many people DO, indeed, attribute it the majesty of the Duesenberg car after all, which after doing my research, does seem the most interesting at least, despite what Webster says.

Historical Photos

Historical Photos

Maud Stevens Wagner ‘The Tattooed Lady’ Utah, 1909
Maud Stevens Wagner ‘The Tattooed Lady’ Utah, 1909

A 1000 year old story uncovered

Scientific Minds Want To Know
Boat burial of Viking warrior in Scotland
An intact Viking age grave has been discovered by archaeologists working on the west coast of Scotland in the remote Ardnamurchan Peninsula. The team believes that this is the first intact pagan Norse grave to have been excavated in mainland Scotland for 30 years.

The 5m-long boat burial contained the remains of what has been described as a high status Viking, buried with an axe, a sword with a beautifully decorated hilt, a spear, shield boss and bronze ring-pin. The man had been buried in a small boat, which was recognizable from the 200 iron rivets found on the site.

The unexpected find on a rocky cliff top was made by the Ardnamurchan Transitions Project (ATP) led by a team from the Universities of Manchester and Leicester, along with staff members from CFA Archaeology Ltd and Archaeology Scotland. The significance of what they had found was only full realized once the material was examined in greater detail.

The site has now been fully excavated and recognizable finds include a knife, the tip of a bronze drinking horn, a Norwegian whetstone and an Irish bronze ring pin as well as typical Viking period pottery. Dozens of pieces of iron have yet to be identified from the site.

A Viking boat burial is an incredible discovery, but in addition to that, the artifacts and preservation make this one of the most important Norse graves ever excavated in Scotland.

Signs of Stranded Amelia Earhart in Old Photos?

Curious Minds Want To Know
Recently recovered archival photos may contain signs of Amelia Earhart and her navigator after an emergency landing.

Mystery deepens in coffin-within-a-coffin found at Richard III site

Scientific Minds Want To Know
Archaeologists have unearthed a mysterious coffin-within-a-coffin near the final resting place of Richard III. The University of Leicester team lifted the lid of a medieval stone coffin this week – the final week of their [...]

The Hottest Place on Earth

Scientific Minds Want To Know

Whaddaya know -while we're relying on weather stations and meteorologists to tell us how hot it is outside, NASA's Terra and Aqua satellites scan the whole planet for temperature! Using this data, MinuteEarth explains where the hottest spot on the Earth's surface is.

The Incredible Shrinking Lake

Planet Earth
Satellite images capture the dramatic changes to New Mexico's largest reservoir after more than a decade of drought.

Planet Earth

Planet Earth
A series of UK government reports doesn't find any less reason to worry about climate change.
Earthquakes could be contributing greenhouse gases to the atmosphere, according to a new study of a vast methane release in the Arabian Sea.
Earth gets enough sunshine to turn into another inhospitable Venus. It's our dry atmosphere and low levels of greenhouse gases that save us.

Tracking the rapid evolutionary rise of ray-finned fish

Scientific Minds Want To Know
Mass extinctions, like lotteries, result in a multitude of losers and a few lucky winners. This is the story of one of the winners, a small, shell-crushing predatory fish called Fouldenia, which first appears in the fossil record a mere 11 million years after an extinction that wiped out more than 90 percent of the planet's vertebrate species.
Tracking the rapid evolutionary rise of ray-finned fish
The first-known shell-crushing ray-finned fish, Fouldenia, is shown swimming along the bottom of a tropical freshwater floodplain about 348 million years ago. The Fouldenia fossils came from a site in Scotland that also produced the earliest-known post-extinction tetrapods, four-limbed creatures that later crawled ashore and evolved into amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals. An early tetrapod is shown at the top of the image [Credit: Painting by John Megahan]
The extinction that ended the Devonian Era 359 million years ago created opportunities quickly exploited by a formerly rare and unremarkable group of fish that went on to become -- in terms of the sheer number of species -- the most successful vertebrates (backboned animals) on the planet today: the ray-finned fish.

A University of Michigan evolutionary biologist and a colleague have shown that the previously known but misclassified Fouldenia was the first recorded shell-crushing ray-finned fish. This long-extinct fish, and a handful of its relatives, demonstrate that in the immediate aftermath of the end-Devonian extinction, ray-finned fish had already acquired a diversity of forms that gave them an evolutionary edge, enabling them to fill the ecological vacuum left by the demise of most major fish groups.

"This event 359 million years ago is called the Hangenberg extinction, and it nearly wiped out vertebrate life, which at the time was limited to the water," said Lauren Sallan, an assistant professor in the U-M Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. "The ray-finned fish come to the fore after that event. They not only recover from this extinction, but they go from being a few minor lineages to dominating all the oceans."

Sallan and Michael Coates of the University of Chicago also were able to identify juveniles of Fouldenia, a rare find that allowed them to show that the body shape of these fish changed dramatically as they developed. The relatives of Fouldenia, shell-crushers all, apparently took advantage of this developmental quirk to produce new forms. This diverse band of survivors spread worldwide and persisted for nearly 100 million years.

A study by Sallan and Coates was published online July 22 in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society.

"These early, post-Devonian ray-finned fish provide the first glimpse of what is to come: an evolutionary profusion of body forms, fin shapes, and extraordinary jaws and teeth. The ray-finned fish really do exemplify Darwin's comment about 'endless forms most beautiful and wonderful,'" Coates said.

There are around 30,000 species of ray-finned fish today, comprising nearly 99 percent of all fish species. Think of the word "fish" and the image that pops into your mind will likely be a ray-finned fish, members of a ubiquitous class that includes everything from tuna to trout, catfish to cod, swordfish to sunfish, perch to piranha, goldfish to goby.

Tracking the rapid evolutionary rise of ray-finned fish
Styracopterus, a later relative of Fouldenia that appeared alongside a host of fish with new body forms about 338 million years ago, is shown at a near-shore reef not far from the site where the Fouldenia fossils were collected [Credit: John Megahan]
After re-evaluating fossils from sites in Scotland dating to 348 million years ago, Sallan and Coates concluded that Fouldenia and its relative Styracopterus, which previous researchers had classified as the same species, are in fact separate genera. A genus is the category of biological classification between the family and the species.

Sallan and Coates determined that Fouldenia had massive tooth plates on its upper and lower jaws, suitable for preying on hard-shelled animals. It resembled modern-day jacks, which include the Japanese amberjack, or yellowtail, familiar to sushi lovers. Styracopterus was an early mimic of modern deep-bodied fish such as the angelfish. Both of these primeval fish were less than 10 inches long.

"Those Scottish fossil beds have four or five known genera of ray-finned fish in them. They all look completely different, and they all do completely different things," Sallan said.

The same sites have also produced some of the earliest post-Devonian tetrapods, four-limbed creatures that included some of humanity's earliest relatives, filling a post-extinction lull in their diversity known as Romer's Gap.

New branches on the tree of life had sprouted, setting the stage for an explosive diversification of forms that evolutionary biologists call an adaptive radiation. These events often occur in response to new ecological opportunities -- when habitats are unoccupied by competitors, for example. That's what happened when a much later extinction killed off the dinosaurs and allowed mammals to take over those reptiles' ecological roles.

Something similar happened to ray-finned fish, which have fins supported by long, bony rods arranged in a ray pattern. Before the extinction, fish were dominated by two groups: the armor-plated, predatory placoderms and the lobe-finned fish, whose fins are borne on a fleshy, scaly stalk extending from the body.

Placoderms were eliminated by the end-Devonian extinction, and most of the lobe-finned fish perished as well, though survivors live on today in the lungfish and the coelacanth. In addition to a few ray-finned fish, some sharks and tetrapods survived the Hangenberg event. Tetrapods later crawled ashore and evolved into amphibians, reptiles, birds and mammals.

Other survivors of the Hangenberg event included sea urchins, sea lilies and shelled invertebrates called brachiopods. With most other predators now out of the picture, early sharks and ray-finned fish like Fouldenia used their crushing jaws to dine on these spiny, stalked and hard-shelled creatures.

"Because the ecosystem's been decimated, the only thing left to prey on are shelly animals," Sallan said. "So in this vacuum left by the mass extinction event, a bunch of different animals are going into these vacated niches and taking over those jobs."

The Hangenberg event was the final blow in a series of mass extinctions that ended the Devonian, which is often called the Age of Fish. The Hangenberg extinction is associated with a warming period when sea levels rose and the amount of oxygen in the water plummeted, followed by a cooling period that spread glaciers as far as the tropics.

Evolution picks up hitchhikers

Scientific Minds Want To Know
In a twist on "survival of the fittest," researchers have discovered that evolution is driven not by a single beneficial mutation but rather by a group of mutations, including ones called "genetic hitchhikers" that are simply along for the ride. These hitchhikers are mutations that do not appear to have a role in contributing to an organism's fitness and therefore its evolution, yet may play an important role down the road.
Evolution picks up hitchhikers
The diagram shows an evolving population of yeast, starting from a single yeast cell at the far left of the diagram in which a genetic mutation occurs (red). As the yeast cell reproduces, the mutation is passed to its descendants over several generations, as shown by the widening red area indicating the increase in the number of individuals with the red mutation. At some point another mutation (orange) occurs in one of the yeast carrying the red mutation. When the yeast cell reproduces, it passes both the red and orange mutations to its offspring. After a few more generations, another mutation occurs (yellow) in one of the red/orange-mutation yeast cells, bringing the total number of mutations that it carries to three (red, orange and yellow). The study shows that multiple (in this case, three) mutations helped the yeast adapt to its environment. In this particular population, another mutation (green) occurred (in yeast that carried the red mutation) that was far more beneficial for the yeast and the individuals with the orange and yellow mutations were forced to extinction while the cells descended from the yeast with the green mutation took over the population. This is one of 40 fully sequenced populations published in this paper that together provide detailed picture of how organisms adapt to their environments [Credit: Gregory Lang]
Researchers from Princeton University found in a study of 1,000 generations of adaptation in 40 yeast populations that about five to seven specific mutations, rather than just a one, are needed for an organism to succeed. The knowledge of how mutations drive evolution can inform our understanding of how tumors resist chemotherapeutics and how bacteria evolve resistance to antibiotics. The study was published July 21 in the journal Nature.

Evolution occurs when an individual experiences spontaneous beneficial mutations in its genome that improve its ability to adapt to its environment. The common view was that a single mutation could boost the survival of an individual, which would then reproduce and pass on the mutation to its offspring.

Instead, the Princeton researchers found that rather than just one mutation causing enhanced survival, about five to seven mutations are required. These extra mutations are termed hitchhikers because they don't appear to contribute to the enhanced fitness of the organism.

"Our study indicates that evolution is more of a group effort," said Gregory Lang, first author on the paper and an associate research scholar in the laboratory of David Botstein, the Anthony B. Evnin '62 Professor of Genomics at Princeton University's Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics. The research team included co-first author Daniel Rice at Harvard University, who made key contributions to the bioinformatics and data analysis; Michael Desai, an assistant professor at Harvard University and a former Lewis-Sigler Fellow at Princeton; Mark Hickman at Rowan University; and Erica Sodergren and George Weinstock at the Washington University School of Medicine.

"The finding goes against the traditional view of evolution being determined by individual mutations that provide a large fitness advantage by themselves," Desai said. "We found that small groups -- which we call cohorts -- of mutations were associated with increased survival. No single mutation is driving adaptation. The whole group, which includes hitchhikers, drives adaptation together."

The study helps expand our understanding of how evolution arises from a combination of genetic mutations, which are thought of as occurring spontaneously, and environmental pressures, said Botstein. "We've shown that this first component, the genetics, involves not just one gene mutation but several that need to co-exist before evolution can happen."

The relatively small subset of gene mutations that were found to enhance survival, Botstein said, suggests that there are only a limited number of ways in which organisms can substantially increase their fitness. "Understanding the basic process in yeast translates to other organisms," he said.

The study explored how the process of mutation and selection unfolded over time at the genetic level. To look at mutations and survival, the researchers observed 40 different yeast strains that reproduced asexually for 1,000 generations. Over time the researchers noted the appearance of specific mutations that conferred a survival advantage, allowing certain yeast colonies to thrive. As time progressed, additional mutations cropped up, until researchers found that all of the best survivors contained the same group of five to seven mutations.

Although the researchers refer to the groups of mutations as containing drivers and hitchhikers, Desai said that additional research is being done to explore which mutations are necessary for adaptation and which ones are along for the ride. He noted that the mutations are not located near each other, nor do they appear to have similar functions.

Previous evidence suggests that yeast may experience beneficial mutations that inactivate genes they no longer need. For example, Lang and Botstein in collaboration with Andrew Murray at Harvard University reported in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2009 that, if grown in conditions where the yeast can only reproduce asexually, mutations that inactivate genes for proteins involved in sexual reproduction boost survival because the organisms do not waste metabolic energy producing unneeded proteins. The team plans to explore whether the mutations identified in the new study confer specific survival advantages.

"By following genomic changes across cell populations over time, this study allows a rare glimpse of evolution in progress," said Stefan Maas of the National Institute of Health's National Institute of General Medical Sciences, which partially funded the research. "This systems biology approach yields insights that could help us understand how mutations spread through other evolving systems, such as cancer cells or disease-causing microbes."

Microbes can influence evolution of their hosts

Scientific Minds Want To Know
You are not just yourself. You are also the thousands of microbes that you carry. In fact, they represent an invisible majority that may be more you than you realize.
Microbes can influence evolution of their hosts
The tree of life made out of Nasonia microbes [Credit: Robert Brucker/Vanderbilt University]
These microscopic fellow travelers are collectively called the microbiome. Realization that every species of plant and animal is accompanied by a distinctive microbiome is old news. But evidence of the impact that these microbes have on their hosts continues to grow rapidly in areas ranging from brain development to digestion to defense against infection to producing bodily odors.

Now, contrary to current scientific understanding, it also appears that our microbial companions play an important role in evolution. A new study, published online on July 18 by the journal Science, has provided direct evidence that these microbes can contribute to the origin of new species by reducing the viability of hybrids produced between males and females of different species.

This study provides the strongest evidence to date for the controversial hologenomic theory of evolution, which proposes that the object of Darwin's natural selection is not just the individual organism as he proposed, but the organism plus its associated microbial community. (The hologenome encompasses the genome of the host and the genomes of its microscopic symbiotes.)

"It was a high-risk proposition. The expectation in the field was that the origin of species is principally driven by genetic changes in the nucleus. Our study demonstrates that both the nuclear genome and the microbiome must be considered in a unified framework of speciation," said Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Seth Bordenstein who performed the study with post-doctoral fellow Robert Brucker.

They conducted their research using three species of the jewel wasp Nasonia. These tiny, match-head sized wasps parasitize blowflies and other pest flies, which make them useful for biological control.

"The wasps have a microbiome of 96 different groups of microorganisms," said Brucker. Two of the species they used (N. giraulti and N. longicornis) only diverged about 400,000 years ago so they are closely related genetically. This closeness is also reflected in their microbiomes, which are quite similar. The third species (N. vitripennis), on the other hand, diverged about a million years ago so there are greater differences in both its genome and microbiome, he explained.

The mortality of hybrid offspring from the two closely related species was relatively low, about 8 percent, while the mortality rate of hybrid offspring between either of them and N. vitripennis was quite high, better than 90 percent, the researchers established.

"The microbiomes of viable hybrids looked extremely similar to those of their parents, but the microbiomes of those that did not survive looked chaotic and totally different," Brucker reported.

The researchers showed that the incompatibilities that were killing the hybrids had a microbial basis by raising the wasps in a microbe-free environment. They were surprised to find that the germ-free hybrids survived just as well as purebred larvae. But when they gave the germ-free hybrids gut microbes from regular hybrids, their survival rate plummeted.

"Our results move the controversy of hologenomic evolution from an idea to an observed phenomenon," said Bordenstein. "The question is no longer whether the hologenome exists, but how common it is?"

Walrus Bones Found in Old London Burial Ground

Animal News
Fragments of a Pacific walrus were found in a coffin containing a grisly mix of bones from at least eight human bodies.

The blue glow of death

Animal News
Nematode worms glow blue as they die — in fact, scientists can watch the blue glow spread throughout a worm's body in the hours before its death. And the glow begins in the intestine. 

The Incredible Climbing Mountain Goats

Animal News
Living in mountainous regions around North America, mountain goats can be found at altitudes of up to 13,000 feet, climbing cliffs all day long, in search of food. Thanks to their cloven hooves, each featuring two widely-spaced toes that provide great balance, mountain goats can challenge any seasoned climber and probably best him.

Their double-layered, thick white coats provide camouflage in snowy settings, but the altitude they can reach provides enough protection from most predators. And if they happen to run into trouble, mountain goats can jump 12 feet in one leap, and reach a safe point.

Animal Pictures

Animal Pictures