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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The Daily Drift

True That ...

Carolina Naturally is read in 193 countries around the world daily.
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Today in History

1396 The last christian crusade, led jointly by John the Fearless of Nevers and King Sigismund of Hungary, ends in disaster at the hands of Sultan Bajazet I's Ottoman army at Nicopolis.
1598 In Sweden, King Sigismund is defeated at Stangebro by his Uncle Charles.
1775 British troops capture Ethan Allen, the hero of Ticonderoga, when he and a handful of Americans try to invade Canada.
1789 Congress proposes 12 new amendments to the Constitution.
1804 The 12th Amendment is ratified, changing the procedure of choosing the president and vice-president.
1846 American General Zachary Taylor's forces capture Monterey, Mexico.
1909 The first National Aeronautic Show opens at Madison Square Garden.
1915 An allied offensive is launched in France against the German Army.
1918 Brazil declares war on Austria.
1937 German Chancellor Adolf Hitler meets with Italian Premier Benito Mussolini in Munich.
1938 President Franklin Roosevelt urges negotiations between Hitler and Czech President Benes over the Sudetenland.
1942 The War Labor Board orders equal pay for women in the United States.
1943 The Red Army retakes Smolensk from the Germans who are retreating to the Dnieper River in the Soviet Union.
1959 President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Khrushchev begin Camp David talks.
1974 Scientists warn that continued use of aerosol sprays will cause ozone depletion, which will lead to an increased risk of skin cancer and global weather changes.
1981 Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice, is sworn in.
1983 Maze Prison escape, County Antrim, Northern Ireland; 38 IRA prisoners escape in the largest prison breakout in British history; known among Irish republicans as the Great Escape.
1992 NASA launches Mars Observer probe; it failed 11 months later.
1996 Ireland's last Magdalene laundry closes; begun as asylums to rehabilitate "fallen women," they increasingly took on prison-like qualities.
2008 China launches Shenzhou 7 spacecraft; crew performs China's first extra-vehicular activity (EVA).
2009 US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, and French President Nicolas Sarkozy jointly accuse Iran of building a secrecy nuclear enrichment facility.

Non Sequitur


The National Beard and Mustache Championships

Photographer Greg Anderson attended the National Beard and Mustache Championships in New Orleans to take portraits of the entrants. Those turned out so well, he's going to publish them in a book. Beard Team USA will be seen again at the World Beard and Mustache Championships in Germany. Anderson will also be there, as the official photographer of the event.

Did you know ...

That we have become the billionaire bail-out society

Sign the petition to tell NBC to apologize for Chuck Todd's refusal to correct repugican cabal lies

Holy Shit! There is an honest politician?!


In a Time of Rising Liberalism, religio-wingnuts Cling to Hope of religious revival

At a time when wingnut christianity seems to have hit an all-time low in America, agitator Billy Graham is thinking that not only is it time for a religious revival, but as Troy Anderson revealed over at Wingnut Daily, “In nearly a dozen interviews with WND, prominent national faith leaders, pollsters and others said they are witnessing what appear to be early signs of a spiritual awakening.” Um…yeah…about that:
  • Just 7 percent of Americans are evangelicals, though up to 25 percent may belong to evangelical denominations;
  • 43 percent of children raised as evangelicals stop going to cult rituals when they become adults
  • Pew Forum revealed in 2011 that “U.S. evangelical leaders are especially downbeat about the prospects for evangelical christianity in their society; 82% say evangelicals are losing influence in the United States today.”
  • A year later (2012) Pew Forum revealed that Nones were on the rise, that “One-fifth of the U.S. public – and a third of adults under 30 – are religiously unaffiliated today, the highest percentages ever in Pew Research Center polling.”
  • “In the last five years alone, the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults,” Pew Forum reported in 2012.
  • 13 million Americans (6 percent of the population) said in 2012 that they are atheists or agnostics, reported Pew Forum.
  • 33 million people (14 percent of the population) said in 2012 that they “have no particular religious affiliation,” reported Pew Forum.
  • 20 percent of Americans in 2013 do not consider themselves part of any particular cult, according to Sociologists from the University of California, Berkeley, and Duke University reported HuffPo.
  • “[T]hree out of every five young christians (59%) disconnect either permanently or for an extended period of time from cult life after age 15,” reports Barna Group.
Why are people losing their religion?
  • Apparently, kids and young adults are tired of all the hating. According to the Barna Group: “One-quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said “christians demonize everything outside of the cult” (23% indicated this “completely” or “mostly” describes their experience).
  • Young adults have a problem with the cult’s anti-science attitudes: “christians are too confident they know all the answers” (35%). Three out of ten young adults with a christian background feel that “cults are out of step with the scientific world we live in” (29%).
  • And then there is the exclusive nature of wingnut christianity: “One-fifth of young adults with a christian background said “cult is like a country club, only for insiders” (22%).” What’s funny is that this “insiders group” insists that whether we join or not, we have to obey their rules.
Bob Russell wrote earlier this year about proper responses to a survey that showed, “Among millennials (those under 34 years of age) only 17% could be classified as religious wingnuts, 23 % as liberals and 22% nonreligious.”
As Russell observed, “America’s religious views are becoming more liberal.”
He asked, what should we do?
The answer for some is to hope for the end times, like Billy Graham:
In an exclusive interview with WND exploring the reasons behind My Hope America, Graham explained he believes the world is coming to the “end of the age, not the end of the world or the earth but the end of the age – the period that god has set aside for this particular time.”
“There’s a great deal to say in the bible about the signs we’re to watch for and when these signs all converge at one place we can be sure that we’re close to the end of the age,” Graham said. “And those signs in my judgment are converging now for the first time since jesus made those predictions.”
So, apparently, does wishful thinking:
Banning Liebscher, director of jesus culture, an international christian indoctrination youth cult based out of Bethel cult in Redding, Calif., said he’s now seeing what he believes are the initial signs of a spiritual awakening among a segment of today’s youth, too.
“It may be in seed form,” Liebscher said. “It may not be a full, mature awakening, but it’s happening. In every city we go to, there are thousands of young people who come out whose hearts are awakened to the love of jesus and the power of god. I would say absolutely an awakening is happening.”
Oh if I had a dollar for every time christians thought jesus was coming back.I could have retired centuries ago. The years 1000 and 2000 are far from the only “certain” dates in history. These folks have been waiting with baited breath for 2,000 years, even though jesus said the event would take place in his own life-time and Paul of Tarsus said the same thing.
This obsession with the end-times is a real head-scratcher. Here we have a perfectly good planet (a little damaged, sure) and lives here on this world – right now – but these people can think of nothing else but some ephemeral existence that can’t be proven to exist.
I’m not pooh-poohing afterlifes – Heathenism (Ásatrú) has its own belief in the afterlife – but it seems from the data – and the evidence of my own eyes – that young people are more interested in the real world than in heaven or in a “kingdom of god” on earth.
These people are tired of the negativity and the exclusion. They are tired of the culture wars that demonize their friends and family. They are tired of hate. They want to live their lives. They want to enjoy it.
Is it any wonder that religious people are more depressed than other folks? Ask any former fundamentalist and they will tell you. I was raised a Lutheran and that was my experience too. I felt a cloud had lifted from over my head when I left the cult. The doom and gloom, the sin and the guilt over every little thought is soul-devouring.
People don’t want their souls devoured. People want to live their lives. They want to actually enjoy them with friends and family they are instructed to demonize.
It is no surprise, given all of the above, that fundamentalists feel the U.S. is ripe for a religious revival.
That doesn’t mean it’s going to happen.

Rabid Dog Ted Cruz Urges The repugican cabal to Defund the Military in Order to Stop Obamacare

The depth of repugican madness was revealed when  Ted Cruz suggested shutting down the military if President Obama and Democrats fail to acquiesce and kill the ACA.…

This repugican Says Illegal Immigrants Have Killed More People than Multiple 9/11s

Steve King's vicious racism and xenophobia is a far greater threat to our nation's safety and security than are the immigrants he is so fond of attacking.… steve-king

The Serfs Are Rebelling As Ronald Reagan Statue Gets Torched in California

Arsonists set fire to a life size Ronald Reagan statue at a California sports park. Interestingly, only the Reagan statue was damaged.
According to The Press-Enterprise:
The life-size statue of Ronald Reagan, at his namesake sports park in Temecula, was damaged by vandals in an apparent arson fire, authorities said Friday, Sept. 20.
The bronze likeness of the 40th president was blackened by the blaze.
“It’s an insult to the president as well as to the community,” said Perry Peters, founder of the nonprofit Friends of Ronald Reagan Sports Park, which donated the statue to the city.
A park worker discovered the damage about 7 a.m., said Sgt. Terry Jones of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department. Jones said there was unrecognizable burned debris near the base of the statue. Inscribed granite tiles from the decorative wall behind it had fallen to the ground, apparently due to the heat from the fire. The landscaping and lighting were also damaged.
Jones said they don’t know who started the blaze or why.
I would guess that the person/people who started the blaze is/are not big fans of Ronald Reagan. Sports parks are magnets for vandals. It doesn’t matter whether you live in a small town or a big city. If you have a community sports park, baseball fields, football fields, or basketball courts vandals will target them. Arson is a crime, and whoever did this deserves to be prosecuted, but the real oddity here is that the statue of Reagan was targeted.
Maybe this was a symbolic political attack on the repugican founding father of trickle down income inequality? Could it be that the attack on the statue was motivated by politics? It is delicious irony that after House repugicans voted to deny healthcare to tens of millions of Americans and cut off food assistance for an additional 3.8 million people, Ronnie goes up in flames. People aren’t stupid. They see what the repugican cabal is doing.
Many of those who are among the have nots in repugican cabal’s two Americas have had enough.
Ronald Reagan has taken on a god like status within the repugican cabal since his death, and repugicans have honored his legacy by adopting an ideological cruelty that the former president could not have imagined. The fire could have been the work of apolitical firebugs, but the karma is unmistakable.
The repugicans are pushing people too far, and pretty soon they aren’t going to take it anymore.

The Average American Family Pays $6,000 a Year in Subsidies to Big Business

That's over and above our payments to the big companies for energy and food and housing and health care and all our tech devices. It's $6,000 that no family would have to pay if we truly lived in a competitive but well-regulated free-market economy.

The $6,000 figure is an average, which means that low-income families are paying less. But it also means that families (households) making over $72,000 are paying more than $6,000 to the corporations.

1. $870 for Direct Subsidies and Grants to Companies

The Cato Institute estimates that the U.S. federal government spends $100 billion a year on corporate welfare. That's an average of $870 for each one of America's 115 million families. Cato notes that this includes "cash payments to farmers and research funds to high-tech companies, as well as indirect subsidies, such as funding for overseas promotion of specific U.S. products and industries...It does not include tax preferences or trade restrictions."

It does include payments to 374 individuals on the plush Upper East Side of New York City, and others who own farms, including Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, and Ted Turner. Wealthy heir Mark Rockefeller received $342,000 to NOT farm, to allow his Idaho land to return to its natural state.

It also includes fossil fuel subsidies, which could be anywhere from $10 billion to $41 billion per year for research and development. Yet this may be substantially underestimated. The IMF reports U.S. fossil fuel subsidies of $502 billion, which would be almost $4,400 per U.S. family by taking into account "the effects of energy consumption on global warming [and] on public health through the adverse effects on local pollution." According to Grist, even this is an underestimate.

2. $696 for Business Incentives at the State, County, and City Levels

The subsidies mentioned above are federal subsidies. A New York Times investigation found that states, counties and cities give up over $80 billion each year to companies, with beneficiaries coming from "virtually every corner of the corporate world, encompassing oil and coal conglomerates, technology and entertainment companies, banks and big-box retail chains."

$80 billion a year is $696 for every U.S. family. But the Times notes that "The cost of the awards is certainly far higher."

3. $722 for Interest Rate Subsidies for Banks

According to the Huffington Post, the "U.S. Government Essentially Gives The Banks 3 Cents Of Every Tax Dollar." They cite research that calculates a nearly 1 percent benefit to banks when they borrow, through bonds and customer deposits and other liabilities. This amounts to a taxpayer subsidy of $83 billion, or about $722 from every American family.

The wealthiest five banks -- JPMorgan, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., Wells Fargo & Co. and Goldman Sachs -- account for three-quarters of the total subsidy. The Huffington Post article notes that without the taxpayer subsidy, those banks would not make a profit. In other words, "the profits they report are essentially transfers from taxpayers to their shareholders."

4. $350 for Retirement Fund Bank Fees

This was a tough one to calculate. Demos reports that over a lifetime, bank fees can "cost a median-income two-earner family nearly $155,000 and consume nearly one-third of their investment returns." Fees are well over one percent a year.

However, the Economic Policy Institute notes that the average middle-quintile retirement account is $34,981. A conservative one percent annual management fee translates to about $350 per family. This, again, is an average; many families have no retirement account. But many families pay much more than 1% in annual fees.

5. $1,268 for Overpriced Medications

According to Dean Baker, "government granted patent monopolies raise the price of prescription drugs by close to $270 billion a year compared to the free market price." This represents an astonishing annual cost of over $2,000 to an average American family.

OECD figures on pharmaceutical expenditures reveal that Americans spend almost twice the OECD average on drugs, an additional $460 per capita. This translates to $1,268 per household.

6. $870 for Corporate Tax Subsidies

We've heard a lot about tax avoidance and tax breaks for the super-rich. With regard to corporations alone, the Tax Foundation has concluded that their "special tax provisions" cost taxpayers over $100 billion per year, or $870 per family. Corporate benefits include items such as Graduated Corporate Income, Inventory Property Sales, Research and Experimentation Tax Credit, Accelerated Depreciation, and Deferred taxes.

Once again, it may be even worse. Citizens for Tax Justice cite a Government Accountability Office report that calculated a loss to the Treasury of $181 billion from corporate tax expenditures. That would be almost $1,600 per family.

7. $1,231 for Revenue Losses from Corporate Tax Havens

U.S. PIRG recently reported that the average 2012 taxpayer paid an extra $1,026 in taxes to make up for the revenue lost from offshore tax havens by corporations and wealthy individuals. With 138 million taxpayers (1.2 per household), that comes to $1,231 per household.

Much More Than an Insult

Overall, American families are paying an annual $6,000 subsidy to corporations that have doubled their profits and cut their taxes in half in ten years while cutting 2.9 million jobs in the U.S. and adding almost as many jobs overseas.

This is more than an insult. It's a devastating attack on the livelihoods of tens of millions of American families. And Congress just lets it happen.

Senator Bernie Sanders: 'Do You Want to Know Why People Are Angry?'

A middle-class American family made less last year than in 1989, according to a new Census Bureau report released on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Forbes magazine this week reported that the 400 wealthiest Americans doubled what they were worth a decade ago and “finally gained back all that they lost” in the 2008 economic collapse.

“You want to know why the American people are angry and disgusted and frustrated?” Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT)asked in a Senate floor speech on Wednesday. “That's why,” he thundered.
The Census Bureau also reported that:
- The typical middle class family has seen its income go down by more than $5,000 since 1999 after adjusting for inflation.
- Average male workers made $283 less last year than they did 44 years ago.
- Average female workers earned $1,775 less last year than they did in 2007.
- A record breaking 46.5 million Americans lived in poverty last year.
- 16 million children in America (21.8% of all kids in America) lived in poverty last year.
- A higher percentage of American kids lived in poverty last year than in 1965.
- A higher percentage of African Americans lived in poverty last year than 15 years ago.
- 9.1% of seniors lived in poverty last year, higher than in 2009.
- More American seniors were living in poverty last year than in 1972.
- 48 million Americans are uninsured, 3 million more than in 2008.

This repugican Whose Family Received Millions in Farm Subsidies Mocks People on Food Stamps

Often the words “hypocritical” and “Republican” go hand and hand.  After all, these are the people who talk often about “small government” while massively growing government, and claim to be “fiscally conservative” yet seem to always drastically grow our national debt when they control the White House.
So when Kansas Republican Representative Tim Huelskamp mocked people who receive food stamps while his family received millions of dollars in government farm subsidies, I wasn’t shocked.
Rep. Huelskamp had some choice — and tasteless — words for those who rely on food stamps to help feed their families:
“Go pick up trash in a road ditch–you got to do something.  There are 3.5-4 million American adults who are able-bodied, have no dependence and what do we require them to do to get a free check for food?  Nothing.”

And I Quote

Emerging economies urged to go green

Emerging economies urged to go greenStock exchange, Kuala Lumpur (Image: BBC)

To move up the world's financial rankings, emerging economies need to invest in green energy, education and research, says a US expert in economic growth.

It's the Climate, Stupid

iceSlowdown 'central' to climate report

A 15-year slowdown in temperature increases is said to be at the heart of a key report on climate change being discussed at a conference in Sweden.

Rajendra PachauriHuman role in warming 'more certain'

Scientists are more certain than ever that greenhouse emissions from human activities are heating the planet, the UN's climate panel chief says.

Universal Flu Vaccine Closer to Reality

Researchers say that targeting T-cells may be the key to developing a vaccine that would protect against all types of flu.

Why it's risky to be a bad-ass

At Matter, physical therapy professor Eric Robertson writes about a very rare condition called rhabdomyolysis — it's what happens when chronically overworked muscle cells rupture and overload your kidneys with massive amounts of protein. The results are painful, reasonably disgusting, and potentially deadly. Rhabdomyolysis used to be something you only had to worry about if you were, say, part of an elite military squad or a professional athlete. But as more average folks have gotten into elite physical training regimens through programs like CrossFit, the profile of people damaged by rhabdomyolysis is changing. Training like a bad-ass can bring along some of the physical risks of being a bad-ass.

The voices in your head are culturally specific

I'm utterly fascinated by the way culture affects the outcomes of mental illness — whether that's in terms of prevalence of specific disorders, how we interpret and treat those disorders, or even how seemingly innate symptoms express themselves in wildly different ways. Case in point: The voices that schizophrenics hear. In the US, those voices seem to talk a lot about violence — what a person should to do themselves, or to others. In Chennai, India, on the other hand, schizophrenic patients report that voices most commonly command them to do household chores. The disturbing content comes in the form of sexual comments or directions to drink from the toilet.

First evidence that fears can be reduced during sleep

A fear memory was reduced in people by exposing them to the memory over and over again while they slept. It’s the first time that emotional memory has been manipulated

Binge-eating linked to lifelong impairments

Binge-eating disorder, designated only months ago by the American Psychiatric Association as a diagnosis in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, is associated with substantial lifelong impairments comparable

Believe it or not


Patent for a Fire Escape Parachute

Strangely, this clever invention by Benjamin Oppenheimer never became popular. It looks like an excellent way to escape a burning building. The system consists of a parachute strapped to the head and padded shoes to ease the impact with the ground. What could possibly go wrong?

The Lost World Of The London Coffeehouse

In contrast to today's rather mundane spawn of coffeehouse chains, the London of the 17th and 18th century was home to an eclectic and thriving coffee drinking scene.

London's coffee craze began in 1652 when Pasqua Rosée, the Greek servant of a coffee-loving British Levant merchant, opened London's first coffeehouse (or rather, coffee shack) against the stone wall of St Michael's churchyard in a labyrinth of alleys off Cornhill.

Designs For Great Architectural Landmarks That Were Never Built

If you're writing an alternate history, these would be the buildings you'd want to include. They're the discarded designs for famous landmarks. Imagine if the Lincoln Memorial were a pyramid! It almost was... (picture above) and these other buildings were almost dramatically different too.

The Art Of The Romanian Haystack

At this time of year the fields of the Romanian countryside are full of new haystacks. Over the centuries this particular method of haystack building has become more refined to the point where the haystacks of Romania have their own unique characteristics. Haystacks like this are found nowhere else on earth.

Astronomical News

The moon is quite a bit younger than scientists had previously believed.
Enjoy some of the most inspiring, beautiful and down-right stunning photos from our adventures in space this past week.
Space is a rough place. It's freezing, there's no air, and the weather is terrible! Trace explains what that 'weather' in space is doing to our satellites.
About 5 billion years from now, our sun will look like the glowing remains of sun-like star in the constellation Cygnus.

Bizarre and Delightful Animals In Vintage Photos

Find more of them at io9.

Protective dog rushed to stop crawling baby from getting too close to the sea

A Cocker Spaniel-type dog proved to be a baby's best friend on a Turkish beach last week.
As the baby's mother threw a ball for the dog at a beach at Kabak Koyu on Turkey's south-western coast, her attention was distracted from her child who began to crawl towards the sea.

As the baby got close to the water, the dog instinctively realised the danger and ran to the child, lying between it and the waves, preventing it from entering the water, before the mother rushed over to rescue her child.

Animal Pictures