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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.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
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Today in History

Today in History
1350 John II, also known as John the Good, succeeds Philip VI as king of France.
1485 Henry Tudor defeats Richard III at Bosworth. This victory establishes the Tudor dynasty in England and ends the War of the Roses.
1642 Civil war in England begins as Charles I declares war on Parliament at Nottingham.
1717 The Austrian army forces the Turkish army out of Belgrade, ending the Turkish revival in the Balkans.
1777 With the approach of General Benedict Arnold's army, British Colonel Barry St. Ledger abandons Fort Stanwix and returns to Canada.
1849 The Portuguese governor of Macao, China, is assassinated because of his anti-Chinese policies.
1911 The Mona Lisa, the famous painting by Leonardo da Vinci, is stolen from the Louvre in Paris, where it had hung for more than 100 years. It is recovered in 1913.
1922 Michael Collins, Irish politician, is killed in an ambush.
1942 Brazil declares war on the Axis powers. She is the only South American country to send combat troops into Europe.
1945 Soviet troops land at Port Arthur and Dairen on the Kwantung Peninsula in China.
1945 Conflict in Vietnam begins when a group of Free French parachute into southern Indochina, in repsonse to a successful coup by communist guerilla Ho Chi Minh.
1952 Devil's Island's penal colony is permanently closed.
1956 Incumbent US President Dwight D. Eisenhower & Vice President Richard Nixon renominated by Republican convention in San Francisco.
1962 OAS (Secret Army Organization) gunmen unsuccessfully attempt to assassinate French president Charles de Gaulle; the incident inspires Frederick Forsyth's novel, The Day of the Jackal.
1962 The world's first nuclear-powered passenger-cargo ship, NS Savannah, completes its maiden voyage from Yorktown, Va., to Savannah, Ga.
1968 First papal visit to Latin America; Pope Paul VI arrives in Bogota.
1969 Hurricane Camille hits US Gulf Coast, killing 256 and causing $1.421 billion in damages.
1971 Bolivian military coup: Col. Hugo Banzer Suarez ousts leftist president, Gen. Juan Jose Torres and assumes power.
1971 FBI arrests members of The Camden 28, an anti-war group, as the group is raiding a draft office in Camden, NJ.
1972 International Olympic Committee votes 36–31 with 3 abstentions to ban Rhodesia from the games because of the country's racist policies.
1975 US president Gerald Ford survives second assassination attempt in 17 days, this one by Sarah Jane Moore in San Francisco, Cal.
1983 Benigno Aquino, the only real opposition on Ferdinand Marcos' reign as president of the Philippines, is gunned down at Manila Airport.
1989 First complete ring around Neptune discovered.
1995 During 11-day siege at at Ruby Ridge, Id., FBI HRT sniper Lon Horiuchi kills Vicki Weaver while shooting at another target.
2003 Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended for refusing to comply with federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments from the Alabama Supreme Court building's lobby.
2005 Art heist: a version of The Scream and Madonna, two paintings by Edvard Munch, are stolen at gunpoint from a museum in Oslo, Norway.
2007 Most runs scored by any team in modern MLB history as the Texas Rangers thump the Baltimore Orioles 30-3.

Non Sequitur

Daily Comic Relief
The 'Self' Edition

Basement rec-room

Odds and Sods
Both sets of my grandparents had basement rec-rooms that were clearly grasping after this magnificence. But this is the Ur-room, the thing that casts the shadow upon the wall of Plato's cave. It is the rec-room none of us would ever be allowed to behold, for none of us is pure enough for a rec-room such as this. If you want proof of the lapsarian hypothesis, look no further: the world is in decline. Everything is worse than it was. Oh, rec-room, you were too good for this world of sin.

Democratic North Carolina State Senator Resigns From Office To Help People Get Voter ID

Doing What's Right!
Many Democrats talk about fighting back against voter suppression, but North Carolina state senator Ellie Kinnaird resigned from office today in order to work on a grassroots project to help people obtain voter IDs.
In a statement announcing her resignation, Sen. Kinnaird said:
What led me to this decision are the actions taken by the repugican majority in the legislature that has been a shocking reversal of the many progressive measures that I and many others have worked so hard to enact: measures that over the years had made North Carolina a model of moderate-to-progressive, pro-business but also pro-people public policy in the South. From the repugicans’ denial of health care security for our people to their failure to promote a vibrant work force through support for our education systems at all levels and from their tax cuts for the wealthy and their tax increases for the poor and middle class to their efforts to deny people their right to vote, they have been pursuing a divisive and, I think, immoral agenda. The needless pain and suffering the repugicans have brought upon us that I have written about add up to a huge setback for North Carolinians from all walks of life. My own personal sadness is the dismantling of my environmental, social justice and death penalty efforts.
I am heartened, however, by the many grassroots efforts to fight for the rights, the health and safety and the opportunities our people need and deserve from the Moral Monday movement to the many non-governmental organizations that advocate for the people of our state, not the special interests. It is here that I want and need to put my energy and efforts. I am working with others on a grass-roots project to make sure everyone in the state has a proper voter ID so that no votes are denied, even though the Voter ID bill is aimed at exactly that – repressing the vote. I am going to work for candidates in the next election who reflect our values. The values of all those who came to Moral Mondays and who have contacted me by emails, calls and letters expressing your dismay at what has happened to our progressive and forward-looking state. I look forward to working together to change this course and restore our state to the shining beacon it was for so long.
How many Democrats do you know that would resign from elected office to go help people obtain the proper identification so that they can vote? Sen. Kinnaird is standing up for what is really important. She could have stayed in office and continued to collect her salary, but she realized that she could make more of a difference on the ground by helping people get the proper identification.
Sen. Kinnaird is an example of why the repugican movement to suppress the vote is destined to fail. People will fight to make sure that their voices are heard. They will stand up in opposition to disenfranchisement. Instead of keeping voters at home, repugican voter ID laws motivate people to do what they have to do in order to vote. By turning voting into an act of defiance, repugicans are helping the movement to defeat them grow.
Which each movement to suppress the vote, repugicans are placing another shovelful of dirt on their political graves.

Did you know ...

Did You Know ...
About why the pro-choice movement needs to talk about children

That good science makes for good health care. only, not so much at huffpost

Has Putin ruined the Olympics for the rest of us?

About marijuana legalization in Washington state: the good, the bad, and the ugly

ACA Supporting Business Owner Trounces Obamacare Bashing House repugican At Town Hall


The Business Community Finally Realizes repugicans Are Screwing Them Over

The Light Bulb Comes On
tea party shut down govt
Guess who’s sorry they fell for the Koch brothers baloney? Oh, none other than the “U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Federation of Independent Business, and other business interests”. See, it turns out that what is good for the Koch brothers isn’t necessarily good for the rest of the business community, the country or Wall Street.
I know, you already knew that. But the business community has been following along behind repugicans for so long that they never noticed when the party went pro-chaos, post-policy, anti-law wingnut anarchists. And those things are not good for business.
Back in 2010, the business community blindly championed the infamous know-nothings running under the tea party banner (and it was clear then that the majority of these folks are beloved precisely for their ignorance, not in spite of it) – the same people who are now ruining our economy with their hubris, greed and stupidity.
Jill Lawrence at the National Journal reported that business is not too happy with the tea party. They are “bemused and in some cases frustrated by the way some presumed congressional allies are handling their jobs.”
“You don’t really know what they’re going to do or why,” says NSBA President Todd McCracken, a 20-year Washington veteran. “It used to be there were not many rewards for obstruction. Now there are no consequences.”
Tough to excuse not seeing that one coming. The cabal whose base showed up to townhalls armed with machine guns and consistently threatened to kill lawmakers over ObamaCare aren’t reasonable? Gosh, what a shock.
“They don’t like brinkmanship on budget and debt issues, or the more routine dysfunction that has stalled transportation and agriculture legislation important to both parties and much of the private sector.”
The business sector hates ObamCare but they are not interested in repugican showboating and don’t support blocking any bill that relates to funding ObamaCare. They can see that it’s law and they’d rather focus on tweaking the law to work better for their constituency.
What are the odds that the repugican cabal will be able to function pragmatically enough to actually participate in the process of legislating to that degree? Slim indeed.
Business leaders express pity for John Boehner over the unruly tea party caucus of wild children, but they do nothing to demonstrate that it’s possible to lead these parasites to water. They helped to create this mess but now their hands are tied, according to them.
They lament the lack of infrastructure rebuilding, something Obama and the Democrats have been pushing because it’s widely accepted that in the middle of a recession, spending on investments like infrastructure is a smart move that provides jobs and stimulates the economy. Business relies on competitive infrastructure. Try telling that the to modern day repugican cabal who see infrastructure as socialism.
If the business community were really the grownups they are rumored to be, they would acknowledge their mistake and realize that it came from not properly analyzing the current political landscape.
If all they really care about is the excessive, irresponsible deregulation that the repugican cabal pushes, this is what they get – because careless is as careless does. There won’t be smart, good tempered, reasonable, pragmatic, morally decent people who will push zero regulations and oversight and then turn around and demand that the taxpayers subsidize big oil during record profits. To get someone willing to do that, you get all that comes with a tea partier – unwillingness to legislate, anarchy, petulance, stupidity, arrogance, and most of all personal greed.
On the other hand, the business community could choose to try running responsible, morally accountable businesses that both earn a profit and give back to the community with decent wages and attempts to mitigate poisoning the air and water for their own profit. That is all the Democratic Party is asking for, and in return they are offering things that help business like consistency, growth, infrastructure – oh, and a quickly dwindling deficit.
The problem is that the business community is just as greedy as the parasitic fringe they got elected. They are not separate from the Randian narcissism that’s overtaken the repugican cabal. And greedy people are never the smartest people in the room because they only see the short term. To wit, the reason they cite for not getting behind infrastructure bills when they desperately need infrastructure is that it is seen in “federal budgetary terms as incurring an expense rather than as creating an asset.” It’s as if these folks never took a business class.
This is the problem with modern repugicans – they’re choking on their own rhetoric. This country can’t stay competitive without reinvestments and the companies that operate here rely on those investments (aka, infrastructure) which is just another reason why they should pay their fair share of taxes like grown ups do.
Sure, they want less regulation, and workers want better pay. Who’s to say business is automatically entitled to what they want, or that it’s even good for them to get it? They haven’t shown themselves to be very good at self-regulating and the market isn’t taking care of it either, or we wouldn’t be subsidizing big business with tax breaks and socialized losses.
“CEOs and business lobbyists have sat down with lawmakers to explain what it means to them—and the economy writ large—for Congress to be so polarized and paralyzed.”
Yes, but did they get their blanky before bedtime story? Wait until the business community figures out that the tea party (which is nothing but a rebranding of the wingnutts and has taken over the repugican cabal) doesn’t CARE that this is problematic. They don’t care that anarchy isn’t good for business. Anarchy is what got them to DC, and got them a great salary and excellent healthcare on the taxpayer dime. They’re hardly going to grow up if it means losing entitlements.
Maybe the real issue is that the business community is not served well by the party of Big Business. Small businesses have different needs than the Koch Brothers, and perhaps that is the real problem here. The repugican cabal is not really the party for small business. It’s the cabal of billionaire business.
So I’ll say to the business community what repugicans have been saying to poor people forever: We’ll help you when you help yourself. Get off the tea party crack, go to rehab, deal with reality, and take responsibility for your choices.
You got these clowns elected, now fix it. And don’t come crying to Democrats when you finally realize that the repugican cabal won’t give you immigration reform or infrastructure because they can’t. Get it? They can’t because your denial helped elect amoral, irresponsible extremists who do not care about this country, and they win when we all – and that includes business – lose.

The Lush Dimbulb Advertiser Boycott Ends Up Costing Sean Handjob His Radio Hate Talk Show

The Good Guys Win - At Least Partly
The Lush Dimbulb advertiser boycott has cost Cumulus Media so much money that in order to keep Dimbulb they had to let go of Sean Handjob.
According to Radio Ink:
Industry sources very close to the negotiations confirmed to Radio Ink late last night that Lush Dimbulb will not be leaving Cumulus stations when his contract is up at the end of this year. The one exception will be in New York City where Dimbulb will switch from WABC to Clear Channel’s WOR-AM. A deal between Cumulus and Limbaugh, who is syndicated by Clear Channel owned Premiere Radio Networks, was struck when Premiere agreed to unbundle Dimbulb and Sean Handjob, according to sources.
In 2014 Cumulus will try to drive revenue with Michael Savage in Handjob’s slot. Handjob was just too expensive for Cumulus, according to sources, and when Premiere finally agreed to negotiate Handjob and Lush separately, Cumulus saw that as an opportunity to move Savage in. Cumulus syndicates Savage, who can be very hard-core to the right of most other syndicated talkers. How will advertisers accept Savage? Cumulus has most likely calculated that it can generate more profit from a show it distributes itself compared to paying a price it considered too high for the number two talker, Sean Handjob.
Before the advertiser boycott, Cumulus would have been able to resign Dimbulb and Handjob without blinking an eye. Thanks to the boycott Cumulus was forced to choose, and they chose Dimbulb. The fact that Premiere unbundled the two shows reveals a great deal about how far Sean Handjob’s star has really fallen. Handjob lost his slot on Faux News following Swill O’Really, and now his bundled slot with Dimbulb is gone.
Handjob will be moving to Clear Channel, where may have to directly compete with Dimbulb for listeners. It will be interesting to see how much drawing power Sean Handjob really has. Handjob’s career has been made by paired with the top rated shows in both talk radio and cable news. We are about see what Handjob can do on his own, but Cumulus’s confidence in replacing him with Michael Savage speaks volumes about Handjob’s perceived lack of solo drawing power.
I don’t know what makes Cumulus Media think that advertisers who have refused to have their ads played on Dimbulb and Handjob shows will be fine with having them air on Savage’s show. Michael Savage is banned in Britain for hate speech. It won’t take long for advertisers to turn their backs on Savage’s equally dangerous to their image brand of radio.
The Lush Dimbulb advertiser boycott is still changing the landscape of talk radio. Dimbulb survived this round, but if he keeps having to air shows that don’t contain ads from major sponsors his next contract will find him paired with local public access radio shows in after Cumulus decides that it needs to cut costs even more.
Wingnut hate talk radio is dying off and being replaced by sports talk radio. Lush Dimbulb may be the biggest dinosaur, but he and his entire genre, are still facing extinction.

Egyptian constitution to ban all religious groups from politics?

Getting It Right
Egypt’s new constitution may ban all religious political parties, sources told Ahram Online, as the army-backed interim government hints that it may declare the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization after clashes that have left over 800 dead.
The new draft constitution is expected to be announced Wednesday, Ali Awad Saleh, head of the committee drawing it up and a constitutional aide to the interim president, said in a Sunday press conference.
Wow, what a great idea. The rest of the world should do this. Imagine how great the world would be!


Daily Comic Relief
The 'That's about the size of it' Edition

Burning Man drone rules

Events and Happenings
This year, the Burning Man Organization has set out rules for drone operation on the playa, developed in concert with drone-hobbyist/burners who attended a summit at BMOHQ on July 17. The rules include a common-sense safety code, parameters on where/when/who can be videoed; fire safety rules; spectrum management procedures; and guidance on elevation and wind.
1. Be safe! Avoid flying over large crowds or densely populated areas. If you crash into a crowd you can seriously injure people. Follow the AMA safety code when flying any RC device. If you injure someone, you are responsible.
2. If your RC/UAV has a camera and you will record video/still photos from it, you need be aware of the video and photography guidelines in Black Rock City. Additionally, all RC/UAV with cameras need to register with Media Mecca*.
3. Don't fly near the airport. The airport is located at 5:00 and the trash fence. (See map)
4. Don't fly near the emergency helipad - Located near Point 1, and another by the airport, usually set up quickly (for emergencies, duh) so stay away from that whole area.
5. On the day of the Man burn (Saturday, September 1, 2013), RC/UAV, helicopters (be they full sized or models) or any other aircraft shall not be flown within the borders of the Great Circle (around the Man) from 7 AM until after the conclusion of the show.
i. The primary reasoning for this is that the pyrotechnics can be set off by static electricity which is caused by any aircraft, therefore creating a very hazardous environment for the pyrotechnics crew working on, in, and around the structure.
ii. Secondarily the possibility of loss of control of the aircraft could cause damage to the structure, Man Base, or harm the working personnel in the area.

In The News

In The News

Scientifically accurate "Finding Nemo" 

In which Nemo's mother dies, his father switches sex, and Nemo grows up into a male in order to mate with his now-female living parent. It's the ciiiiirrrrrcle of liiiiffffe! 

Some cute animals photos may have not-so-cute back stories 

A photo analysis written in Chinese and translated by photographer Jenn Wei claims that a lot of ostensible nature photos featuring cute frogs, lizards, and snails are actually staged shots. The animals are likely to be pet store critters and, in some cases, were probably even manipulated in abusive ways, such as hanging up a frog's arms and legs with string to force it into a clever pose.

The chemistry behind Walter White's famous meth

At Popular Mechanics, an analytical chemist uses clues from Breaking Bad to explain both the real science behind Walter White's meth formula, and the key flaw that either means the show's writers are taking a little artistic license or Walter is even more of a chemistry genius than anybody thought. 

Your right brain is not creative

Creativity is actually more than one thing, it happens in many different parts of your brain, and it is DEFINITELY NOT confined to the brain's right hemisphere. At Beautiful Minds, Scott Barry Kaufman talks about the complex processes that get glossed over in our pop-sci understanding of creative thinking

A proper Victorian poop table

Odds and Sods
This table is not for pooping. It's for tea. But it is made of poop — specifically fossilized hunks of fish poop, encased in a crunchy shell of clay and rock. The fossilized poops — called coprolites, which is basically just fancy Latin for "fossilized poop" — are the spiny-looking bits in the center of each circular inlay on the table top. (Technically, the name translates as "dung stone".)
The table belonged, appropriately, to the Rev. William Buckland, the man who gave coprolites their fancy name and proved that they were, in fact, fossilized poops.
The table resides at England's Lyme Regis Museum. You can read more about Buckland's work and the details of the craftsmanship and restoration behind the table at their website. Earth Magazine also has a lovely article on coprolites, including important information that will help you distinguish between fossilized poop and stuff that just looks like fossilized poop.

How to Edit a Dictionary

Odds and Sods
Every year, lexicographers--people who write dictionaries--have to delete words from newer editions of dictionaries. How do they decide which words to eliminate? Jen Doll of The Atlantic explains:
To determine which words are most relevant today, editors comb through a variety of sources (Google Books, LexisNexis, other dictionaries, the entire Internet). A word that’s still widely read—a thee or a thou—should stay, even if it’s not used by contemporary English speakers. To survive in the Collegiate Dictionary, Stamper says, a defunct word must appear in books that the average high-school or college student is aware of. So an archaic word found in Shakespeare or Milton gets a reprieve, but one favored by Samuel Pepys or Anthony Trollope may not. [...]
As for those words now facing an unhappy fate—landlubberliness!—preservationist types should use them whenever possible. Take the case of snollygoster, a noun meaning “an unprincipled but shrewd person,” which was removed from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary in 2003. When news got around that it had been dropped, Stamper says, people took up its banner: “We have, oddly enough, seen more unironic and unself-conscious use of snollygoster in print in the last few years.” Principled or not, the ploy has been shrewd. Stamper says that if the word really takes off, Merriam-Webster will “certainly consider adding it back.” Perhaps it only takes a crowd of snollygosters to save a snollygoster.
It would be tragic if a word as fine as snollygoster would be extinguished. I'll start using it.

Canadian Military Developing Stealth Snowmobile

Odds and Sods
Menacingly, during the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812, Canada is working on a super quiet snowmobile design:
The Canadian military has been secretly test-driving a $620,000 stealth snowmobile in its quest to quietly whisk troops on clandestine operations in the Arctic.
The Canadian Press has learned that soldiers have taken the new hybrid-electric snowmobile prototype on trial runs to evaluate features such as speed, noise level, battery endurance and acceleration.
The Department of National Defence even has a nickname for its cutting-edge, covert tool: “Loki,” after the “mythological Norse shape-shifting god.”

BSA to Hacker Scouts: change your name or be sued

Corporations Behaving Badly
The Hacker Scouts is an organization "that focuses on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) education, skill building and community engagement with the aspiration to help our children develop skills in the areas they are truly interested in, abilities that would allow them to dream big and create big." They filed for a trademark on the name "Hacker Scouts" and got a legal threat from lawyers for the Boy Scouts of America. After a protracted back-and-forth by mail, the Hacker Scouts have gone public, because the BSA won't soften its position: call yourselves the ____________ Scouts, and we'll sue.
This is a difficult situation for us. We believe in our name and our right to use the word "scouts". The BSA's main argument is that they have a constitutional charter that they interpret to mean they have the right to use and trademark any word they choose. We disagree. We believe the charter itself may be unconstitutional, and that "scouts" is a world-wide connotation for a youth organization that existed before them and will exist long after them. We have also tried to be very clear in our message that we are not affiliated with the Boy Scouts nor are we trying to replace them. We do not offer the same experience, nor do we have a similar model as they do. We did not base our organization on them.
Our board will be making a decision soon, based on advice from our lawyers and our own sense of duty. Our primary responsibility is to act in service of our mission and the kids we serve. We have been thinking a lot about our core values and what path models those values to the community we care so deeply about; moving on when it is necessary or standing up for what is right. Thinking about this situation in that context has been powerful and meaningful for us.

UK intel officials enter Guardian offices, destroy hard drives with Snowden docs

Nations Behaving Badly
Glenn Greenwald, left, with David Miranda, who was held for nine hours at Heathrow under schedule 7 of Britain's terror laws. Photograph: Ricardo Moraes/Reuters
The Guardian's editor-in-chief, Alan Rusbridger, explains that he is now forced to work on stories about the US National Security Administration from New York City, because UK intelligence officials went into the Guardian's headquarters and destroyed hard drives that had copies of some of documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden.
The mood toughened just over a month ago, when I received a phone call from the center of government telling me: "You've had your fun. Now we want the stuff back." There followed further meetings with shadowy Whitehall figures. The demand was the same: hand the Snowden material back or destroy it. I explained that we could not research and report on this subject if we complied with this request. The man from Whitehall looked mystified. "You've had your debate. There's no need to write any more."
During one of these meetings I asked directly whether the government would move to close down the Guardian's reporting through a legal route – by going to court to force the surrender of the material on which we were working. The official confirmed that, in the absence of handover or destruction, this was indeed the government's intention. Prior restraint, near impossible in the US, was now explicitly and imminently on the table in the UK. But my experience over WikiLeaks – the thumb drive and the first amendment – had already prepared me for this moment. I explained to the man from Whitehall about the nature of international collaborations and the way in which, these days, media organizations could take advantage of the most permissive legal environments. Bluntly, we did not have to do our reporting from London. Already most of the NSA stories were being reported and edited out of New York. And had it occurred to him that Greenwald lived in Brazil?
The man was unmoved. And so one of the more bizarre moments in the Guardian's long history occurred – with two GCHQ security experts overseeing the destruction of hard drives in the Guardian's basement just to make sure there was nothing in the mangled bits of metal which could possibly be of any interest to passing Chinese agents. "We can call off the black helicopters," joked one as we swept up the remains of a MacBook Pro.

Anonymous funeral director explains the big con behind the industry, coffins, and embalming

Greed and Avarice
An anonymous commenter who identifies her/himself as a funeral director has posted a magnificent rant to a Reddit thread, explaining all the ways that funeral directors con bereaved families into paying for things they don't need, like $5000 painted plywood boxes and "barbaric," environmentally degrading "mutilation" (embalming), which are often described as legal requirements (they aren't). The post is full of great intel and advice, including mention of the FTC funeral rule, which sets out your rights in clear, simple language. I didn't know that US law requires funeral directors to accept your own coffin, which you can get at your local big-box discount store or have delivered from a variety of sellers through Amazon.

I’ve seen funeral directors force-feed families absolute horseshit – saying anything – to get them to sign a contract. Here’s a hint: don’t sign any pre-printed “form” contracts. Most of the contracts we use are super vague, so we can charge you for just about anything and justify it by pointing to your signature on the dotted line. It is in your best interest to only agree to specific itemized charges – i.e., have the hearse but no limousines. Or have hair/makeup done without any embalming. The law is very specific and on your side, but we count on your ignorance and vulnerability.
Even better, find a trusted friend or family member who is more emotionally stable right now and appoint them as your lawyer/detective. You know that bitchy sister-in-law everyone has who makes major holidays a nightmare? I can spot her a mile away and will do everything I can to keep her out of financial discussions – because I know she will take that obnoxious nagging and throw it at me for every single penny I’m trying to get out of your family. See my co-workers standing around looking somber and respectful? They’re not there to just have a presence of authority, they are studying you. They are watching the family dynamic and will report back to me with any potential angles I can play to manipulate your emotions, which family members are taking it the hardest and will therefore be the easiest prey, and their estimation of your financial well-being. If, by the way, you appear to be less affluent, I’ll tell you to take your business elsewhere. This is not a hospital and I don’t provide a service – this is a business. If you aren’t paying me (in full and up front, generally), all you’re getting is my sympathy.

A McDonald's Hamburger Is the Cheapest, Most Nutritious Food in Human History?

Say, What?!
When starvation, rather than obesity, is your problem, then McDonald's has the solution. Economist Stephen Dubner, one of the authors of Freakanomics, argues that the McDonald's McDouble (pictured above) is the most nutritious food ever devised:
Stephen Dubner, who co-authored the best-selling book, hosted a debate on his blog after a reader suggested the McDouble packed a better nutritional punch for the penny than is often assumed.
The double cheeseburger provides 390 calories, 23 grams of protein – half a daily serving – seven per cent of daily fibre, 19 grams of fat and 20 per cent of daily calcium, all for between $1 and $2, or 65p and £1.30,The Times reported. [...]
Mr Dubner added: “The more I thought about the question, whether the McDouble is the cheapest, most bountiful, and nutritious food ever, the more I realised how you answer that question says a lot about how you see the world, not only our food system and the economics of it, but even social justice.”

Do Hamburger and Salmon Cause Cancer?

Scientific Minds Want To Know

by Stephen Drew

Hamburger and Salmon are highly correlated with cancer. The association lay largely unsuspected until late 2005, when Ian Davis of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, in Melbourne Australia, identified ten especially suggestive published reports. These are:

Hamburger, A.W. and Salmon, S.E.: “Primary Bioassay of Human Tumor Stem Cells,” Science, vol. 197, 1977, pp. 461-3.

Hamburger, A.W., Salmon, S.E., and Alberts, D.S.: “Development of a Bioassay for Ovarian Carcinoma Colony-forming Cells,” Progress in Clinical and Biological Research, vol. 48, 1980, pp. 63-73.

Hamburger, A.W., Jones, S.E., and Salmon, S.E.: “Soft-agar Cloning of Cells from Patients with Lymphoma,” Progress in Clinical and Biological Research, vol. 48, 1980, pp. 43-52.

Hamburger, A.W. and Salmon, S.E.: Development of a bioassay for human myeloma colony-forming cells. Prog Clin Biol Res 48:23-41, 1980

Hamburger, A.W., Kim, M.B., and Salmon, S.E.: “The Nature of Cells Generating Human Myeloma Colonies in vitro,” Journal of Cellular Physiology, vol. 98, 1979, pp. 371-6.

Salmon, S.E., Durie, B.G., and Hamburger A.W.: “A New Basis for Treatment of Multiple Myeloma,” Schweizerische medizinische Wochenschrift, vol. 108, 1978, pp. 1568-72.

Hamburger, A.W., Salmon, S.E., Kim, M.B., Trent, J.M., Soehnlen, B.J., Alberts, D.S., and Schmidt, H.A. “Direct Cloning of Human Ovarian Carcinoma Cells in Agar,” Cancer Research, vol. 38, 1978, pp.438-44.

Salmon, S.E., and Hamburger, A.W.: “Immunoproliferation and Cancer: a Common Macrophage-derived Promoter Substance,” Lancet, vol. 1, 1978, pp. 1289-90.

Salmon, S.E., Hamburger, A.W., Soehnlen B., Durie, B.G., Alberts, D.S., and Moon, T.E.: “Quantitation of Differential Sensitivity of Human-tumor Stem Cells to Anticancer Drugs,” New England Journal of Medicine, vol. 298, 1978, pp. 1321-7.

Hamburger, A., and Salmon, S.E.: “Primary Bioassay of Human Myeloma Stem Cells,”
Journal of Clinical Investigation, vol. 60, 1977, pp. 846-54.

Do Hamburger and Salmon Cause Cancer?

It would be premature, and perhaps foolish, to conclude that Hamburger and Salmon cause cancer. No investigator has publicly made such a statement. Correlation, they point out, does not imply causation.

Yet -- in the absence of experimental evidence -- it may be impossible to rule out the possibility.

Sadly, one of the key figures in the very specialized field of Salmon-Hamburger cancer research is no longer available to work on the question.

Dr. Sydney E. Salmon passed away several years ago. He was Founding Director of the Arizona Cancer Center, University of Arizona College of Medicine in Tucson. During his lifetime, Dr. Salmon published more than 200 cancer research studies. One of his most frequent collaborators was Anne W. Hamburger. Dr. Hamburger is Professor of Pathology at the University of Maryland’s Greenebaum Cancer Center, in Baltimore.

The Salmon Mystery
There is a statistical oddity to Dr. Salmon’s demise. His passing is strange, because:

1) Dr. Salmon died in 1999, according to a November, 1999 press release issued by the University; and

2) Dr. Salmon died in 2002, according to a June 30, 2005 press release issued by the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota.

Awesome Pictures

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Spontaneous Human Combustion?

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A young boy in India was said to suffer burns from spontaneous combustion -- but officials are skeptical.

Does Believing in god Make You Dumb?

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The very non-surprising answer is yes
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The Moon's mysterious dust

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At the Life, Unbounded blog, Caleb Scharf writes about the Moon dust you can see clinging to Cernan, describing it as sticky, abrasive, and gunpowder-scented. It's also not something we totally understand yet — at least, we still have a lot to learn about how Moon dust behaves on the Moon. On September 6, NASA is launching a satellite to study this very phenomenon. One thing it might figure out: Whether electrically charged particles of Moon dust might form an extremely thin and vanishingly temporary "atmosphere" that hovers and falls over the Moon's surface.

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The World's Widest Tree

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The Acharya Jagadish Chandra Bose Botanical Garden near Kolkata, India, is home to the Great Banyan Tree. You may know that banyan trees spread by growing branches down to the ground that tunnel into the earth and become roots, which in turn support more branches. This spreading habit makes the banyan look like a forest when it is one single tree. The Great Banyan covers an area of over 14,400 square meters -and it is still growing!
It's taken it over 250 years to reach this staggering stretch, and not without a few natural disasters that almost did in the whole giant arboreal wonder. In the 19th century, two cyclones hit the tree, breaking it open and exposing its main trunk which led to a damaging fungal attack. By 1925, the main trunk, which once measured over 50 feet wide, had to be removed. Yet as the sign at the tree states: "interestingly enough, the tree now lives in perfect vigor without its main trunk."
Read more about the Great Banyan and see more pictures at Atlas Obscura .

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