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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, August 16, 2013

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Telling the truth ...! 
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Today in History

Today in History
1513 Henry VIII of England and Emperor Maximilian defeat the French at Guinegatte, France, in the Battle of the Spurs.
1777 France declares a state of bankruptcy.
1780 American troops are badly defeated by the British at the Battle of Camden, South Carolina.
1812 American General William Hull surrenders Detroit without resistance to a smaller British force under General Issac Brock.
1858 U.S. President James Buchanan and Britain's Queen Victoria exchange messages inaugurating the first transatlantic telegraph line.
1861 Union and Confederate forces clash near Fredericktown and Kirkville, Missouri.
1863 Union General William S. Rosecrans moves his army south from Tullahoma, Tennessee to attack Confederate forces in Chattanooga.
1896 Gold is discovered in the Klondike of Canada's Yukon Territory, setting off the Klondike Gold Rush.
1914 Liege, Belgium, falls to the German army.
1945 Lieutenant General Jonathan Wainwright, who was taken prisoner by the Japanese on Corregidor on May 6, 1942, is released from a POW camp in Manchuria by U.S. troops.
1965 The Watts riots end in south-central Los Angeles after six days.
1977 Elvis Presley dies of a heart attack in the upstairs bedroom suite area of his Graceland Mansion in Memphis, Tennessee.
1984 The safe of the sunken ocean liner Andrea Doria is opened on TV after three decades, revealing cash and certificates but no other valuables.
1986 Sudanese rebels shoot down a Sudanese Airways plane, killing 57 people.
1987 Astrological alignment of sun, moon and six planets marks what believers maintain is the dawning of a New Age.
1988 IBM introduces artificial intelligence software.
1990 Iraq orders 2,500 Americans and 4,000 British nationals in Kuwait to Iraq, in the aftermath of Iraq's invasion of that country.
2012 In South Africa police fire on striking mine workers, killing at least 34.

Non Sequitur

Daily Comic Relief
The 'Hey Watch This' Edition

Who knew cucumbers could do all this!

Did You Know ...
Spice up your 8 glasses per day of water with a slice or two of cucumber. It's wonderfully refreshing, but there are amazing benefits to cucumber as well. Cucumbers are cooler than you think ...

1. Fat busting: Do you ever wonder why women put cucumbers on their eyes to relieve puffiness? The photochemical in cucumbers makes the collagen in your skin tighten, thus the lack of puffiness. Did you know that you can rub a cucumber on a problematic spot of cellulite anywhere on your body to lessen the visibility of it? Did you also know that it has the same effect on wrinkles? Wow, it makes purchasing those fifty dollar creams seem a little silly, doesn’t it? You can also rub a little bit under your kiddo’s eyes after a long bout of crying to avoid that puffy ‘I cried for an hour straight’ look.

2. Defogger: Do you get annoyed when you get out of the shower and you have to fight the fog on the mirror? Who has time for that when the kids will be awake at any moment? Try rubbing a slice of cucumber on the mirror before you hop in and not only will you get a fog-free mirror, but you’ll have a nice smell that will boost your mood.

3. Headaches: If you suffer from headaches from chasing your babies all day (or pets or your husband), or had a little too much wine with dinner and want to avoid a hangover, eat half of a cucumber before bed. Cucumbers are high in B vitamins, sugar, and electrolytes, and they replenish the nutrients missing in your body to help you avoid a hang over or to beat that headache that’s been threatening to take over.

4. WD-40 replacement: Did you know you can get rid of a squeak by rubbing a cucumber on the hinge? Wow, now you don’t have to tear your garage apart looking for that little can with the red straw, and the baby won’t wake up when you slowly open the nursery door to check on him.

5. Crayon on the walls: Take an unpeeled cucumber and rub the crayon off of the walls in the event that your kiddo left you some art. You can also use this technique to erase a pen mistake.

6. Halitosis killer: Take a slice of cucumber and put it on the roof of your mouth. Hold it there with your tongue for 30 seconds. The photochemical that you love for cellulite and puff reduction will also kill the bacteria that is causing your bad breath.

7. Tarnish remover: If you’re finding tarnish on your stainless steel kitchen faucets and appliances? Rub it off with a cucumber slice. Not only will it remove years of tarnish, it will leave it streak free and your hands will thank you, and your kids won’t be put at risk from a dangerous chemical.

8. Energy booster: If you’re feeling tired in the afternoon, don’t give Starbucks your five bucks. Instead, grab a cucumber. There are just enough carbohydrates and B vitamins to give you a longer-lasting and healthier boost of energy than soda, coffee, or those health hazard energy drinks.

9. Munchy madness: Did you know that European trappers ate cucumbers for energy and to keep from starving to death? If those big burly manly men can eat a cucumber to keep from starving, you can eat one as a healthy choice when the munchies hit. Slice some up and take them in a small plastic container to the movies if your theater doesn’t offer healthy alternatives to munching on butter soaked popcorn.

10. Frugal facial: Slice up a cucumber and boil it in a pot of water. The chemicals inside of the cucumber will mix with the steam. Remove the pot from heat and lean over it, letting the steam hit you. Your skin will be more radiant and healthy, and you will feel relaxed and rejuvenated.

11. Shoe polish: Cut a slice off of your cucumber and rub it on your shoe. It will not only shine it up, but it will repel water.

12. Pest control: Put three or four slices of cucumber in a small pie tin and place them in your garden. The chemicals in the cucumber have a reaction that pests hate. You won’t smell it, but it will drive them from your garden all year long. Replace them periodically.

13. Sunburn: Sometimes sun block doesn’t always protect your little ones from sunburn. If you have burnt little kiddos you don’t have any aloe, rub some cucumber on them. Many doctors even use cucumber to treat patients with irritated skin and sunburns.

14. Blood pressure: Cucumber has been long used to treat high blood pressure. If you have it, add cucumbers to your daily diet. There is also ongoing research into the use of cucumbers for lowering cholesterol.

15. Constipation remedy: The seeds of a cucumber are a diuretic. If you’re constipated, try eating a cucumber. If you suffer from chronic constipation, add cucumber to your daily diet

Did you know ...

Did You Know ...
That the backlash against feminism seeks to preserve the 'manosphere'

About this American pie chart: wealth and inequality

These 6 ways rabid republicans are declaring war on America

About this dead walmart reborn as a library

Seniors Leaving The repugican cabal

News of the positive sort

And It's About Time, Too!

Why, it seems like only yesterday that the repugican cabal could count on the seniors! I'm sure you've heard about this, but if you haven't this is really big news. I've openly wondered for years why seniors were backing the tea party and repugican cabal since their plan is to raise the retirement age on all entitlements, cut benefits to Medicare and destroy Social Security. I believe some of this is getting through to many of them who aren't hard and fast ideologues. Check out this dispatch from Carville-Greenburg Memo:

Why Seniors Are Turning Against The repugican cabal
There’s something going on with seniors: It is now strikingly clear that they have turned sharply against the repugican cabal. This is apparent in seniors’ party affiliation and vote intention, in their views on the repugican cabal and its leaders, and in their surprising positions on jobs, health care, retirement security, investment economics, and the other big issues that will likely define the 2014 midterm elections.

—In 2010, seniors voted for repugicans by a 21 point margin (38 percent to 59 percent). Among seniors likely to vote in 2014, the repugican candidate leads by just 5 points (41 percent to 46 percent.)
—When repugicans took control of the House of Representatives at the beginning of 2011, 43 percent of seniors gave the repugican cabal a favorable rating. Last month, just 28 percent of seniors rated the repugican cabal favorably. This is not an equal-opportunity rejection of parties or government — over the same period, the Democratic Party’s favorable rating among seniors has increased 3 points, from 37 percent favorable to 40 percent favorable.
—When the repugican congress took office in early 2011, 45 percent of seniors approved of their job performance. That number has dropped to just 22 percent — with 71 percent disapproving.
—Seniors are now much less likely to identify with the repugican cabal. On Election Day in 2010, the repugican cabal enjoyed a net 10 point party identification advantage among seniors (29 percent identified as Democrats, 39 percent as repugicans). As of last month, Democrats now had a net 6 point advantage in party identification among seniors (39 percent to 33 percent).
—More than half (55 percent) of seniors say the repugican cabal is too extreme, half (52 percent) say it is out of touch, and half (52 percent) say the repugican cabal is dividing the country. Just 10 percent of seniors believe that the repugican cabal does not put special interests ahead of ordinary voters.
—On almost every issue we tested — including gay rights, aid to the poor, immigration, and gun control — more than half of seniors believe that the repugican cabal is too extreme.

A Cabal Gone Mad – Today’s repugicans are Yesterday’s Fascists

Lunatic Fringe
You shouldn't have to be a liberal to think fascism is a bad thing. Republicans should think so too, and once upon a time, they did. But those…
Conservatism's enemies - yesterday the Jews, today the Muslims, as an infection 
Wingnuttery’s enemies – yesterday the jews, today the muslims 
Growing up, I always wondered how an entire nation could go mad. I was thinking about Nazi Germany, and millions of good, decent Germans, seeming to lose their minds for Hitler and National Socialism and its repressive brutality. I never thought I was see it for myself. It would be a long time, I told myself, before a nation would lose itself again as Germany had in the 30s.
Then came the 2008 elections and the tea party. It is painful and shocking to witness people you would assume to be as rational as you flip on Faux News and – as Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar used to say on Wayne’s World – go “mental.”
It turns out people can absolutely believe impossible things and they can be quite fanatical about it. The facts are right there; I can see them plain as day. Why can’t they?
Faux News is absolutely part of the problem. Everywhere you go, it’s on. It’s like a national propaganda channel. Joseph Göbbels would have wet himself at having such power in his hands. People sit in restaurants all across the nation and listen to lie after lie – all unsubstantiated and invented out of whole cloth – pass the lips of Faux News commentators.
Imagine how much easier would have been Hitler’s job if he had been able to do the same, rather than standing on street corners giving speeches and passing out leaflets.
All the tea party represents is repackaged fascism. The message is the same: real Americans instead of real Germans and familiar enemies, like muslims instead of jews (they share a hatred of gays); out-of-control paranoia and conspiracy theories like stabs in the back and betrayal; the view of women (real American – aka white women) as breeders of a master race; and a mission from god to restore the nation’s greatness.
America for Americans is no different than Hitler’s Germany for Germans. They even have the same overblown sense of nationalism: Deutschland über alles and American exceptionalism share a low-brow wavelength.
Nor is it a coincidence that both National Socialists and tea partiers happen to be white and predominantly male.
I really thought I would get through my life time without seeing it for myself. I wish I had, because though it helps me understand how it could happen, it does not bode well for the world my children will inherit.
You have only to peruse sites like Right Wing Watch to see how bad things are. The idiocy of their claims come right out of the same adherence to 19th century pseudoscientific principles sprinkled with nods to the actual Bronze Age of 3500 years ago, give or take.
It is not so long ago that people assumed superstition would not make a comeback. But it has. Every time I hear some repugican pooh-pooh global warming – like Dana Rohrbacher (r-CA) a few days ago saying that global warming is a fraud and a plot to institute global government (remember what I said about paranoid conspiracy theories?), or Lush Dimbulb saying if you believe in god you can’t believe in global warming – I wait expectantly for the germ theory of medicine to get thrown under the bus.
After all, we have catholics in California worshipfully claiming liquid from a tree are god’s tears when what it actually is, is lice excrement.
And that’s not all: we already have gay animal demons explaining homosexual behavior in thousands of species of wild animals, and god, not tectonics, explaining earthquakes and volcanoes, while god, not global weather patterns, explain hurricanes and typhoons.
Goodbye germs. Welcome back the demon-haunted world Carl Sagan once warned us against. I never thought I’d see a major American political party get all Nazi either, so I’m not putting good money on the germ theory. Sorry guys.
No, Hitler didn’t like science either. He wanted “German” science just as today’s wingnuts want “christian” science.
Look, you shouldn’t have to be a liberal to think fascism is a bad thing. The repugicans should think so too, and once upon a time, they did. But those repugicans aren’t in power anymore. To the point they still exist at all they exist as rINOs (repugicans in name only) and like Dick Lugar – who, let’s face it, while hardly a moderate looked sane by comparison – find themselves suddenly without jobs.
There are perfectly sane christians out there and there have been perfectly sane christians all through history, folks who lived alongside their Pagan neighbors, and who nowadays live alongside their liberal neighbors, alongside their gay neighbors, alongside their muslim neighbors, and alongside their feminist neighbors.
Sadly, history has shown that the moderates seldom prevail. The reason is simple: they are not ruthless zealots. They’re average folks who just want to get along and so like all those same folks in Germany of the 1930s, they get trampled underfoot in the rush to kill the constructed Other of the moment. If theocracy does not prevail, some worldly power co-opting the cult prevails.
Even Hitler, after all, said he was doing the almighty’s work and whatever disparaging remarks he might have made about christianity, he made those same remarks about Paganism, and he paid his tithes to the catholic cult till the day he died.
Benjamin Franklin said of mobs, “A mob’s a monster; heads enough but no brains,” and we’ve seen that to be true of tea party rally after tea party rally. Not all of these people are ideologues just as not all Germans who cheered for Hitler were Nazis.
It turns out General George S. Patton was right in 1945 to compare the Nazi Party to the repugicans because there isn’t any difference between them as we would like to believe there is.
Patton was reprimanded, but who knew, after all, that in just a little more than half a century, the repugicans would themselves become Nazis?

The repugicans Want To Impeach Obama For the Crime of Being President While Black

Lunatic Fringe
For the record, being twice-elected is not an impeachable offense, and being Black while President does not qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors.…
When a topic excessively preoccupies a person’s mind, or they have a fanatical and neurotic concern with something they are obsessed, and if the condition is left untreated the afflicted person can become dangerous to themselves and those around them. An obsession can manifest itself in a variety of ways, but as the severity of fixation increases, the affliction may be identified as a psychosis and require psychiatric and pharmacological intervention. However, when an ideologically-driven segment of the population is fixated on one topic, the ensuing mass hysteria is untreatable and represents a threat to a society. For over four years, all manner of wingnuts including libertarians, repugicans, and teabaggers have been obsessed with one topic and they have spent every waking minute preoccupied with how to turn back time and pretend Barack Obama was never elected as President of the United States.
It is unclear if the conservative obsession with the President is borne of their belief that a certain race shares attributes which make that group as a whole less desirable and inferior, or if they just cannot accept that the majority of Americans chose an African American man to lead the Executive Branch of government, whatever their dysfunction’s cause they are a danger to the nation and its people. The danger, of course, is that Republicans’ obsession has made governing this country nearly impossible that in 2011 alone cost a million jobs, over $19 billion, and a credit downgrade according to rating agency S&P, and yet repugicans and their supporters remain fixated on the President and anything connected to his administration.
Over the weekend a Texas repugican Blake Farenthold, told constituents that repugicans have enough votes in the House to impeach President Obama in response to a birthers’ question. It is another indicator that repugicans and their dysfunctional supporters consider an African American as President an affront to their racist sensibilities that drives their obsession with nullifying the results of two elections. The reason repugicans have not impeached the President is they have absolutely nothing to indict him for and they know it. For the record, being twice-elected is not an impeachable offense, and being Black while President does not qualify as high crimes and misdemeanors regardless assertions by conspiracy theorists (birthers).
The repugicans have gone to great lengths to portray the President as a failure, but saving the economy, creating millions of jobs, killing terrorists, and promoting the Constitution’s guarantee of equal rights do not qualify as failures or the President would not have won re-election. The repugicans are so obsessed with erasing the Presidency of Barack Obama that last year a certifiable racist Steve King (r-Iowa) proposed introducing a bill that would repeal everything the President had signed into law during his first term. King is a lunatic, but his idea of repealing every law President Obama signed is a widely-held goal of repugicans from the lowliest teabagger fanatic to the repugican cabal leadership. Remember, just three weeks ago Speaker of the House John Boehner said repugicans would be judged by the laws they repealed and not those they enacted. Boehner is right about one thing; repugicans will be judged by their futile efforts to repeal laws the President signed for the waste of taxpayer dollars and time spent that earned the 112th Congress the distinction of most dysfunctional Congress in history, and the 113th session is shaping up to be even worse regarding repugican obstruction and inability to govern inherent in wingnuts suffering Obama-obsession syndrome.
Whether it is the Affordable Care Act, financial reform, ending DADT, or environmental regulations, repugicans have sought some means of wiping the laws the President signed from the record books. When they aren’t attempting to repeal laws, they spend every waking minute obstructing legislation the President supports including normally bipartisan measures like the Violence Against Women Act, farm bill, transportation bill, and raising the debt limit without offsetting cuts to domestic programs Republicans routinely support.
The repugican obsession is so overwhelming that they oppose long-standing wingnut policies such as the President’s recent corporate tax reform proposal with very generous corporate tax cuts. They also conflicted with the President on gun safety measures they agreed were reasonable and that their man-god Ronald Reagan supported. Where the President wanted, and many repugicans supported, simple background checks for future weapons purchases, repugicans opposed them as an attack on the Constitution because the Black President supported them. It is interesting that their oft-cited paragon of wingnuttery, Ronald Reagan, backed a ban on assault weapons, and yet simple background checks became an attack on the 2nd amendment and incited calls for civil war and impeaching the President for “shredding the Constitution.” The persistent claims this President in any way violates the Constitution is repugicans projecting their actions on the President.
There is a concerted repugican effort to shred the Constitution and it is a subject Democrats are remiss to cite but bears repeating. Every repugican attempt to ban abortion, deny gays equal rights, assault women’s right to choose their own reproductive health, and insert religious dogma into public schools is a violation of the 1st Amendment’s Separation Clause. The repugican supporters, libertarians, and teabaggers are wont to claim the President violates the Constitution as a matter of course, and yet they have not offered one shred of proof or instance and no; the Affordable Care Act is not a violation of the Constitution any more than the minimum wage, child labor laws, or expecting elected representatives to do their jobs is regardless what repugicans contend.
The repugicans and their iterations (libertarians, teabaggers) may think their obsession with impeaching, delegitimizing, or thwarting Barack Obama is hurting him and his Presidency, but their real victims are the people; all the people. Whether or not any American supported this President the Republican obstruction, futile repeal attempts, and efforts to defund the government creates distress for the people and not Barack Obama. If repugicans truly believe they have a legitimate reason to indict the President, they should offer them up and proceed to trial in the Senate. However, they know there is nothing whatsoever that remotely resembles high crimes and misdemeanors or violations of the Constitution under the President’s leadership. The repugicans are guilty of violating their oath of office, Constitutional mandate in Article 1 Section 8, and especially legislating from the christian bible should lead to calls for removing them from elected office.
This neurosis and exceptional preoccupation repugicans have with the President has already borne drastic consequences for the people and the nation, and history will not be kind to them for their four-year and counting obsession to obstruct the President. Regardless it is threats of impeachment, obstruction, attempts to repeal every law President Obama signed, or shutting down the government and defaulting on the nation’s debt obligations, the repugican’s fixation with damaging an African American President has only hurt the nation and its people. The repugicans are so blinded by their extreme preoccupation with damaging President Obama that they are oblivious to the rising criticism from long-time wingnuts, senior citizens, and formerly dyed-in-the-wool repugicans who are beginning to equate their obsession with what it really is; extremism and racial animus.

Neighbors want family's handicap ramp removed as it may harm the value of their home

Bad Neighbors - Behaving Badly
A handicap ramp in front of a family's house in Fountain, Colorado, is in the middle of a neighborhood squabble. Vincent and Heidi Giesegh say their neighbors are threatening legal action if they don't remove the ramp.

They say the next door couple are worried that the ramp will hurt the value of their home. The Giesegh's say they need it for their 16 year old daughter Kirsten who has cerebral palsy. "As she goes into her spastic modes, we could just tumble down the stairs and both of us could get massively hurt," said Heidi Giesegh.
The family says the City of Fountain told them it was okay to install the ramp and widen their driveway for a handicap van. "It's kind of irritating," said Vincent Giesegh. "I mean we're trying to do our best to assist our daughter with her daily needs to get in and out of the house."

The Giesegh's home is part of a community under construction. The home's builder say they've also received complaints from the neighbors. The Giesegh's say they've contacted the Rocky Mountain American Disability Center for help. The next door neighbors have refused to comment.

'No Muslim' parking signs removed from outside Texas shopping center

Lunatic Fringe 
New parking signs posted outside a Houston-area mosque sparked outrage on Thursday. The posters lined the street near the El Farouq Mosque. The signs read, "No Muslim parking in the Westview Shopping Center. Your car will be towed."
Many Muslims heading to worship services were offended. The mosque sits across the street from the shopping center. Store employees did not want to go on camera, but admit they get angry when mosque members park in their lot, taking up spots meant for customers.

With the Muslim month-long fast for the holy month of Ramadan ending, and a crowd expected at the mosque, the signs anonymously appeared. No shopping center employees would take credit. One worker said the shopping center owner, Steve Kwon, posted the signs. "I did not put up the signs," said Kwon.

The owner says they will be calling a tow company to try to get all of the cars that shouldn't be parked here out. And he says he'll be checking the property to make there are no more of the offending parking signs

Random Photos

Pictures say a thousand words

Spring’s back!
And we say, Thank You.

The story of America's oldest solved cold case

Criminal Minds 
In 1957, Maria Ridulph disappeared from a street corner in her Illinois hometown. She was later found dead — stabbed, stripped, and left under a log miles away. In 2012, a man went to prison for her murder. CNN has a long and well-put-together story about how this killing was solved after so many decades, and the questions people are asking about facts and scenarios that still don't quite add up. 

Four men held in connection with theft of sandwich from car

Criminal Minds 
Four men were arrested in Newport Beach, California, on Sunday on suspicion of stealing a bag containing a sandwich from a parked car.

Oscar Iglesias, 25, of South Gate, Daniel Godinez, 23, and Edwin Yhuit, 27, both of Cudahy, and Daniel Garcia, 28, of Chula Vista, were arrested on suspicion of vehicle burglary and conspiracy, Newport Beach police spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella said.
Police received a call at about 5:55pm that a man, later identified by police as Iglesias, was seen removing a bag from a parked vehicle, according to Manzella. The car was locked but a window had been lowered, she said.

After grabbing the bag, Iglesias immediately got into a waiting vehicle, Manzella said, adding that Godinez, Yhuit and Garcia were in the car. The caller described the vehicle and gave a licence plate number. Police stopped the vehicle, where the bag was recovered and the four men were arrested.

Russian surgeon arrested for stealing heroin from suspected drug courier's stomach

Criminal Minds 

A surgeon suspected of helping himself to a packet of heroin that he found in a patient's stomach during surgery is facing 15 years in prison.
The incident took place in the Bogotol hospital in the Krasnoyarsk region, during surgery on a man suspected of being a drug courier, who happened to be concealing a batch of drugs in his stomach.
After the operation "police searched the surgeon and confiscated a packet containing five grams of heroin, which he had hidden in his clothes," the police said in a statement.

The surgeon has been charged with unlawful purchase, stealing and possessing narcotic substances in large quantities.

Swiss town bans asylum seekers from public places

Paranoia Strikes Deep 

Switzerland’s local authorities have introduced draconian restrictions which ban asylum-seekers from frequenting public places such as school playgrounds, swimming pools and libraries in a move angrily denounced by human rights groups as intolerable and racist.
In the town of Bremgarten west of Zurich, where a new center for asylum-seekers opened last month, officials said refugees would not be allowed to “loiter” in school playgrounds and would be banned from visiting public swimming pools, playing fields and a church. A total of 32 “exclusion zones” have been drawn up. Raymond Tellenbach, the town’s mayor, said: “We have decided on security grounds not to allow access to these areas, to prevent conflict and guard against possible drug use.”
Mario Gattiker, the head of Switzerland’s Federal Office of Immigration which endorsed the apartheid-style restrictions, justified the move, saying: “We need rules to ensure a peaceful and orderly coexistence of residents and asylum-seekers.” However a spokesman for Switzerland’s non-governmental Refugee Council described the restraining orders as “intolerable and inhuman” and demanded that the authorities suspend the measures.

“It is up to the authorities to create an atmosphere of openness,” the spokesman added. The human rights group Solidarité Sans Frontières said the restrictions were “blatantly discriminatory.” However Roman Staub, the mayor of the nearby town of Menzingen said he fully supported banning asylum seekers from the vicinity of schools: “This is certainly a very difficult area, because asylum-seekers could meet our schoolchildren – young girls our young boys,” he remarked.

The Golden Age Of Radio

Odds and Sods
Long before videos or DVDs, even before television, families used to gather nightly for their favorite programs. They'd sit around the family radio and listen to popular comedies, dramas, and variety shows. Here's how it all started.
Have you ever heard this joke about Alexander Graham Bell? "When he invented the phone, who did he talk to? He was the only guy with a phone!" It was the same with radio when it started out. The only people who owned radios were hobbyists who built their own sets. There were no radio stations as we now know them -these radio amateurs, or "hams," built their own transmitters and receivers so they could talk to each other. They were enthusiastic about their hobby and spent a lot of time talking on their radios: what kind of equipment they had, how much power they were using, and how well they were receiving each other's signals. But even dedicated hams got a little tired of the conversation after a while.
One day in October 1919, Frank Conrad, a ham in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, got so bored with talking that he pushed a phonograph up to his microphone and played a record of the Stephen Foster song "Old Black Joe." In the past, Conrad's transmissions had always been directed toward one particular person. This time, he sent "Old Black Joe" out over the air waves to no one in particular …and made radio history. He called his new form of communication "broadcasting."


Conrad continued to play records over the air and was soon deluged with letters from other radio operators thanking him an requesting specific songs. He couldn't honor them all, so instead he announced he would play records on Wednesday and Saturday nights, from 7:30 to 9:30 PM. After he'd gone through his own record collection a few times, a local record store offered to lend him more. Conrad returned the favor (and made history again) by telling his listeners that the records were for sale at the store. It was the first commercial ever aired.


Over time Conrad's regular broadcasts became so popular that the local Joseph Horne department store began selling $10 ready-made crystal radio receivers to people who wanted to listen to Conrad's broadcasts but didn't want to build their own radios. The store advertised its radios in local newspapers.

Taking out newspaper ads might not sound like a very big deal, but it made all the difference. Although a few other people had played music over the air even earlier than Conrad (Reginald Fessenden, the man credited with inventing AM radio, played Christmas music and read Bible verses to ships at sea on Christmas Eve, 1906), nothing had come of those early broadcasts. Conrad worked as an engineer at Westinghouse, a company that manufactured electrical equipment for power plants, and he had been urging his company to get into the radio broadcasting business. But it wasn't until Harvey P. Davis, a Westinghouse vice president, saw the crystal radios advertised in the paper that someone in a position to do something about it finally realized that radio had potential far beyond the small pool of hams who built their own sets.


Davis figured the big money in radio would come from manufacturing and selling receivers, but he also knew that people had to have more to listen to than Conrad's records two nights a week.  He decided that Westinghouse should build its own radio station, one that would broadcast every night.

The 1920 presidential election was less than a month away- why not start the new service with a bang, by broadcasting the results of the race between Warren G. Harding and James M. Cox? Davis put Conrad to work building a radio station on the roof of the Westinghouse plant in east Pittsburgh; he finished with time to spare. The station received its license -with its call letters, KDKA- on October 27, 1920, and began broadcasting election returns at 6PM on election day, November 2. Listening audience: between 500 and 1,000 people. During the broadcast, Conrad stayed home and manned his own station, ready to take over in case KDKA went off the air. But it didn't -the broadcast continued without a hitch until noon the following day (Harding won in a landslide). The station is still on the air today.


Radio started slowly at first and then exploded. In 1921, only eight more radio stations received licenses to broadcast; by the end of 1922 another 550 stations around the country were on the air. Now that there was something to listen to, Americans began buying radios as fast as manufacturers could make them. Sales went from almost none in 1920 to $60 million in 1922; they more than doubled in 1923 and doubled again in 1924, and kept climbing after that. By 1926 radios were a $500 million business.

Another important development paralleled the tremendous growth in radio sales: the linking of individual radio stations- first into regional "chains," as they were called, and them into national networks. AT&T started the trend in 1923 when engineers figured out how to link the company's 18 radio stations by telephone lines so that a program originating in one station could be broadcast simultaneously over every station in the network. By 1924, AT&T was broadcasting from coast to coast.
In 1926, AT&T sold its radio stations to the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), which combined them with its own stations to form the National Broadcasting Company (NBC). The founding of NBC is considered the start of the golden age of radio.

The Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) network was formed in 1927, and a third network -Mutual Broadcasting- went on the air in 1934. In the early 1940s, an anti-trust decision by the Supreme Court forced NBC to split into two independent companies. One part was sold off to Lifesavers president Edward J. Noble in 1943 and was renamed the American Broadcasting Company (ABC).


Radio offered numerous advantages over phonographs in 1920s: Listeners weren't limited to the records in their own collection, and they didn't have to get up every five minutes to flip the record over and wind the record player back up. (Long playing, or "LP" records, which had about 30 minutes of playing time on each side instead of four and a half minutes, weren't introduced until 1948.) Even better: radio broadcasts were free. Yet as early as 1926, opinion polls began showing that listeners were hungry for something to listen to besides music. The networks responded by developing a variety of shows for every member of the family.


Comedies: Comedy shows were some of the earliest hits on radio -it was easy for vaudeville stars like Jack Benny, Eddie Cantor, and the husband/wife teams of George Burns and Gracie Allen to move their acts to the new medium. At first these comedians did their usual standup routines, but over time they pioneered the "situation comedy" format that's still being used on TV today. A situation is set up at the beginning of the episode -Jack Benny has to go to the doctor, for example- then it's milked for jokes for the rest of the show.

Kiddies Shows: These shows were on in the afternoon when kids got home from school, in the early evening, and on Saturday mornings. Established movie and comic-strip characters like Superman and Little Orphan Annie were quickly adapted for radio. In later year the trend reversed itself, as characters created for radio -like Captain Midnight, Sergeant Preston of the Yukon, and Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy- moved on to comic books, movies, and eventually television.

Soap Operas: Soaps appealed primarily to housewives, and dominated the daytime. The soap opera format came about only by chance in 1932, when NBC moved a show called Clara, Lu 'n' Em from its evening prime time slot to the middle of the day because that was the only place for it in the schedule. Clara, Lu 'n' Em was more of a satire than a soap, but it did so well that NBC began programming other shows for women during the day. Soaps proved to be the most popular shows; by 1940 the four networks offered more than 60 hours of soap operas a week.

Dramas: One of the nice things about radio is that you can transport the listener anywhere using only sound effects. You want to tell a story about space colonists on Mars? About cops in L.A.? Maintaining order in Dodge City, Kansas? You don't need fancy costumes or sets -you just need the right background sounds. Police and detective shows came early to radio. They were easy to produce because they were dialogue-heavy, filled with characters who spent a lot of time standing around trying to solve crimes. And they were polar with audiences.

Surprisingly, science fiction shows and Westerns targeted at adults appeared relatively late in radio and never really caught on. All four networks introduced science fiction series for adults in the 1950s, but only two of them, 2000 Plus (Mutual 1950-52) and X Minus One (NBC, 1955-58) lasted longer than two years.

Gunsmoke, the first adult-themed Western, didn't appear until 1952, but it fared much better than science fiction shows. It became one of the most popular programs on the air and ran until the summer of 1961. (The TV version ran for twenty years, from 1955 to 1975, making it the longest-running drama in history.)


What ended the Golden Age of Radio? TV, of course. In retrospect, it's amazing that radio lasted as long as it did -both NBC and CBS began making experimental television broadcasts from their New York stations in 1939, and both stations were issued commercial licenses in 1941. Were it not for World War II, TV might have swept the country over the next few years. But when the United States entered the war, further development was halted as the stations cut their broadcasts back to nothing and TV manufacturers switched over to making electrical equipment for the war effort.


When World War II ended in 1945, fewer than 10,000 American households had a television, and most of the sets were in the New York area. The industry got a boost in 1947, when the World Series was broadcast on television for the first time. It's estimated that of the nearly 4 million people who watched the game, at least 3.5 million of them watched on sets in their neighborhood taverns. Many of these patrons then went out and bought TVs for their own homes -and when curious neighbors came over to watch, they wanted TVs, too. The TV craze was on.

BY 1951 television broadcasts were available coast to coast and six million homes had TVs. People were buying them as fast as manufacturers could make them. By the end of the decade more than 60 million homes had TVs, and as American abandoned their radios in favor of television, so did advertisers, and so did the stars. The most successful radio shows like Gunsmoke and The Jack Benny Show moved to TV (Gunsmoke stayed on radio for a time as well); less successful shows just went off the air.

As the big advertising dollars left radio, big-budget shows became impossible to air. Many radio stations with hours of programming to fill and little money to do it went back to what radio had been in the beginning: a single person, sitting alone in a booth, playing records for anyone who happened to be listening.


Today the classic shows of the Golden Age of Radio are largely absent from AM and FM radio, but thanks to satellite radio and the internet, they're more widely available now than they've been since they originally aired. Both XM Radio and Sirius offer channels that play classic radio shows 24 hours a day; and you can buy collections of old shows in bookstores or download them on iTunes. If you've never heard them, you're in for a treat.

An 1830s Depiction Of What's Inside A Woman's Heart

Odds and Sods
In the 1830s, D. W. Kellogg (and his brother) became prominent producers of decorative prints, which often took the form of creative map-making. Here's a creation called 'A Map of the Open Country of a Woman's Heart,' a 'map' showing the different places contained within a lady's heart.

While it's certainly a sweet idea and obviously beautifully executed, the faux topography doesn't do much to counter female stereotypes when one can 'visit' places like 'Love of Dress,' the 'Province of Deception,' or the 'Land of Selfishness.'

Forty Maps That Explain The World

Map Crazy

Maps can be a remarkably powerful tool for understanding the world and how it works, but they show only what you ask them to.

The Washington Post has put together 40 maps that explain the world. Some of these are pretty nerdy, but they're no less fascinating and easily understandable.

The HistoMap

Map Crazy
The HistoMap - Four thousand years of world history. The relative power of contemporary states, nations and empires. This Histomap, created by John B. Sparks, was first printed by Rand McNally in 1931. The map summarizes world history in a giant chronology.

Random Celebrity Photos

Pictures say a thousand words

Lana Turner, Judy Garland, & Hedy Lamarr on the set of Ziegfeld Girl (1941)
Lana Turner, Judy garland and Hedy Lamarr on the set of Ziegfeld Girl (1941)

Science Deniers And the Stupidity Caused by Being Blinded By Faith

Lunatic Fringe 
It is mind boggling there are so many Americans opposed to science and steeped in myth and superstition in the 21st century.…

Can Fame Be Measured Quantitatively?

Scientific Minds Want To Know

by Eric Schulman

1. Introduction
Although "fame" is an important concept, most previous studies of fame have been almost purely qualitative in nature. The reason for this is that fame was very difficult to quantify until recently. However, with the advent of the World-Wide Web, it is now possible to measure fame quantitatively.
In this paper we will introduce a method of quantitatively measuring the fame of an individual, show the results of this method for eight selected individuals, suggest a new unit of measurement for fame, and draw some conclusions.
2. Methods
We used the AltaVista Search Engine (http://www.altavista.com/); searches were performed on March 9, 1999) to determine how many web pages mention the eight people chosen for our study. For example, searching on "earle spamer" resulted in 43 web pages being found, while searching on "jesus christ" resulted in 389,351 web pages being found.
3. Results
The number of web pages that mention each of the eight people in our study can be found in Table 1. This table also includes two more parameters: the fame of each person and an estimate of how many people would immediately recognize each person's name. These parameters are discussed in the next section.
4. Discussion
Because this new method is the first to offer a quantitative definition of fame, none of the standard systems of units--mks (meters-kilograms-seconds), cgs (centimeters-grams-seconds), or fsf (furlongs-slugs-fortnights)--includes a unit of fame.
We propose to remedy this problem by suggesting that the standard unit of fame be called the Lewinsky (Lw), where 1 Lewinsky is the number of web pages that mention Monica Lewinsky. In this system, Earle Spamer has a fame of 840 microLewinskys, while Jesus Christ has a fame of 7.6 Lewinskys.
Note that the fame listed above is a relative--not absolute--quantity. So while we know that Jesus Christ is 9054.7 times more famous than Earle Spamer, we don't really know how famous either of these individuals is in isolation. We can, however, overcome this disadvantage by making the reasonable assumption that about 80% of the people on Earth would immediately recognize the name "Jesus Christ." We can then estimate how many people on Earth would recognize any of the other people on our list.
The referee suggested to us that the relationship between a person's fame and the number of web pages that mention that person isn't necessarily linear. However, since a linear theory is more elegant than a theory that predicts a more complicated relationship, we concluded that the linear theory must be correct.
5. Conclusions
Fame is not constant with time, but by using the method we have presented here, one can determine the relative and absolute fame of any individual at any given time simply by using AltaVista to make three searches: a search on "monica lewinsky", a search on "jesus christ," and a search on the individual's name.
In this paper we introduced a method of quantitatively measuring the fame of an individual, showed the results of this method for eight selected individuals, suggested a new unit of measurement for fame, and drew some conclusions.

Who’s afraid of the amygdala?

Scientific Minds Want To Know

Research blows away "fear center" myth

New revelations about your brain’s so-called “fear center” explain why it’s misleading to say “this part of the brain does x”. Maggie Koerth-Baker talks to neuroscientist Paul Whalen and learns that there’s more to fear than fear, itself.
Back in the 19th century, practitioners of phrenology traveled the country toting white, ceramic head models. Instead of hair on top, the bald mannequins sported a grid of lines and labels — like a “cuts of beef” chart for the brain. Scanning the head, phrenologists could easily see which parts of the brain were responsible for destructiveness, benevolence, wonder, or even weight.
Naturally, it all turned out to be bunk. But the idea that you can trace an abstract emotion or type of thought to activity in one specific corner of the brain is still very much with us. If you’ve read anything at all about neuroscience in the last few years, you’ve been introduced to chemicals that cause love, a hemisphere of the brain responsible for creativity, and the part of the brain that creates the sense of fear. Unlike phrenology, this isn’t bunk, but such pronouncements are oversimplified to the point that they mislead us about what’s actually going on in our heads.
Paul Whalen studies the amygdalae— two little lumps of grey matter, one in each hemisphere of the brain, that are frequently described as the places where our fears are born. Understanding the amygdala is definitely important to understanding fear responses, Whalen told me. But fear isn’t the only thing the amygdala does. In fact, as scientists have started to get a better idea of how the amygdala works that information has actually changed the way we think about fear, and anxiety disorders in particular.
I recently spoke with Whalen about why the amygdala gets labeled as the brain’s “fear center”, what it’s actually doing, and how this research could lead to new treatments for people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and other anxiety problems.
Psychologists who wanted to study emotion had to pick one, and fear is the easiest to study in a human or animal. It’s difficult to know how to make a rabbit happy. It’s easier to know how to make organisms afraid.
Maggie Koerth-Baker: Your research shows that the amygdala does a lot more than just make us afraid. In fact, your research suggests that the idea of “fear” involves a lot more than just reacting to something scary. But where did these ideas come from, to begin with? Why do we think of the amygdala as a “fear center”?
Paul Whalen: In the early 1980s, the psychologists who wanted to study emotion had to pick one, and fear is the easiest to study in a human or animal. It’s difficult to know how to make a rabbit happy. It’s easier to know how to make organisms afraid. People were doing Pavlovian fear conditioning. You have a tone that tells the animal it’s about to receive a mild shock. Then you can study all the brain areas that react to that. You immediately realize that you have a model for how and why we get anxious and how we begin to predict what will happen to us next. And the amygdala ended up being one of those brain areas.
That’s why we started with fear. Now, the big push is to study happiness, but what we mean is reward systems, there, as well — the processes that predict good outcomes.
You can end up being reductionist about what an emotion is. And that leads to misleading ideas about what part of the brain does what. Nobody understands better than we do that this is a naive heuristic. We’re not really talking about the feeling of fear or what you mean when you say you’re feeling afraid. But that’s a very difficult thing to study systematically. We're not actually trying to understand emotions, we're trying to understand the basis of a neural system.
MKB: Is it reasonable to link the amygdala and fear, then? I mean, is any part of the brain really a single-function tool … like a pie-crust crimper you’d buy from Williams Sonoma? Or are they more like, say, a food processor, able to do multiple jobs?
PW: There’s two answers to that. The first is that you have to start somewhere. Nobody believes that fear is the amygdala’s sole function and we know it can’t teach you everything you need to know about being afraid. But we do know it’s an older area of the brain and it’s reactive. It’s picked up on these things like facial expressions and it tells the brain, “the last time we saw that facial expression something bad happened.” It sends that signal to the prefrontal cortex, where decisions get made. The amygdala produces an alarm reaction and the prefrontal cortex is in charge of cancelling or corroborating the alarm.
Say you’re looking at a snake. That shape could mean danger. But it might not. The amygdala sends the same alarm despite the context, whether you’re in a field or in a zoo. The prefrontal cortex can cancel the alarm call in a zoo. [If the communication between the two parts of your brain is happening and the prefrontal cortex is working properly] the same stimulus should give very different outcomes based on context. We believe that circuitry is critical to how well people regulate anxiety and whether they will succumb to an anxiety disorder.
MKB: But what the amygdala does isn’t just about fear and anxiety, right? That seems to be what your research is showing.
PW: That’s the other answer. As you do more research, the next thing you realize is that the amygdala doesn’t just do anxiety. It’s not the fear center of the brain. Instead, it responds to things, and calls up other areas of the brain to pay attention to them. It makes the rest of the brain better at learning.
S.M is a patient whose amygdalae don't work. She can be afraid. But she’s bad at learning about the things that cause fear.
MKB: So, the amygdala is actually about how we pay attention to anything — not just stuff that makes us anxious or afraid — but anything?
PW: At the end of the day, it’s an attentional area of the brain. It tells us to be more vigilant, to be more aware of our surroundings right now. With that signal from the amygdala, your visual system or auditory system might see something or hear something that it would have missed otherwise. The amygdala sends the initial signal that tells the other parts of the brain to be better at what they do.
Here’s a human example. S.M. is a patient with bilateral amygdala lesions. She can be afraid. But she’s bad at learning about the things that cause fear. We show people these very exaggerated pictures of faces, some fearful, some not, and people give us a number for how afraid they should be. S.M, she’ll say something is a “2” on faces that other people say is a “5”. If I were to show you a fearful face, you’d look straight at the eyes. That’s where we get a lot of our information. But S.M. doesn’t. She stays focused on the middle of the face, or even goes to the mouth and chin. Her attention doesn’t go to the place where she should know you learn best. Now, if you tell her to look at the eyes, her ratings are normal. The amygdala wasn’t her source of the ability to be afraid. It was the source of her ability to know where to look to learn whether she should be afraid. The amygdala just facilitates that. It makes you better at learning what signals to pay attention to.
MKB: Does paying attention come first, or does the amygdala kick in and make you pay attention?
PW: It’s always monitoring on idle. It’s never off, the engine is always warm. It’s very automatic. We’ve used studies with backward masking — we’ll show people fear faces, but really quickly and cover them with a neutral expression face. People report only seeing the neutral face. But their amygdala still activates because of the fear face. So you’re not even consciously always privy to what the amygdala is privy to. It snaps to that attention without your permission. It can automatically react to something that you don’t necessarily “see” in the environment — the look of someone’s eyes, the shape of a snake — and once it goes, the vigilance level across your brain just changes. You might not even be aware of why that is, but now you start searching the environment much more carefully. This can be part of how you end up with panic attacks. But it’s also that healthy sense of wariness that we all have and should have. But the amygdala isn’t the voice in your head asking, “Is everything okay?” It’s the system that gets the voice going.
MKB: How does knowing this help us better understand what’s happening the brains of individual people?
PW: One front to our current research is watching differences in normal levels of anxiety, looking for translation to disorders. Part of what interests me in studying undergrads is that we’re hoping to pick up on something that will help people understand normal fluctuations and disorders. The idea is that people with anxiety disorders don’t recruit the prefrontal cortex as well as they should, and the degree to which they can recruit it predicts their symptom severity. So if you can recruit the prefrontal cortex a little, you’ll have fewer symptoms of PTSD than someone who can’t. We know there are problems with this system [the connections between the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex] in kids raised in neglectful situations. Those kids search for threats too often. We know hypervigilance is a key symptom of anxiety. The problem with anxiet disorders isn’t hyper fear. It’s hypervigilance.

Science News

Scientific Minds Want To Know

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Tidbits of Science

Scientific Minds Want To Know
People toss around the word phobia a lot ... but what separates a fear from a legitimate phobia? Trace expounds on some of the weirdest and most common fears and phobias.
Tipping can be a touchy topic. And it's a great power we wield when eating out: Give us good service, or get a bad tip. Laci explains how this power trip works and the psychology behind tipping.
What compels some people to strip and dash out in front of sometimes thousands of spectators?
The diets wealthy Americans can afford means they build up more heavy metals in their bodies than lower earners.
We may have been influencing the ground under our feet for thousands of years longer than suspected.
A deadly bat disease has been detected for the first time in Minnesota and shows no sign of slowing its spread.