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

Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1580 Sir Francis Drake returns to Plymouth, England, aboard the Golden Hind, after a 33-month voyage to circumnavigate the globe.
1777 The British army launches a major offensive, capturing Philadelphia.
1786 France and Britain sign a trade agreement in London.
1820 The legendary frontiersman Daniel Boone dies quietly at the Defiance, Mo., home of his son Nathan, at age 85.
1826 The Persian cavalry is routed by the Russians at the Battle of Ganja in the Russian Caucasus.
1829 Scotland Yard, the official British criminal investigation organization, is formed.
1864 General Nathan Bedford Forrest and his men assault a Federal garrison near Pulaski, Tennessee.
1901 Leon Czolgosz, who murdered President William McKinley, is sentenced to death..
1913 The first boat is raised in the locks of the Panama Canal.
1914 The Federal Trade Commission is established to foster competition by preventing monopolies in business.
1918 German Ace Ernst Udet shoots down two Allied planes, bringing his total for the war up to 62.
1937 Bessie Smith, known as the 'Empress of the Blues,' dies in a car crash in Mississippi.
1940 During the London Blitz, the underground Cabinet War Room suffers a hit when a bomb explodes on the Clive Steps.
1941 The U.S. Army establishes the Military Police Corps.
1950 General Douglas MacArthur's American X Corps, fresh from the Inchon landing, links up with the U.S. Eighth Army after its breakout from the Pusan Perimeter.
1955 The New York Stock Exchange suffers a $44 million loss.
1960 Vice President Nixon and Senator John F. Kennedy participate in the first nationally televised debate between presidential candidates.
1961 Nineteen-year-old Bob Dylan makes his New York singing debut at Gerde's Folk City.
1967 Hanoi rejects a U.S. peace proposal.
1969 The Beatles last album, Abbey Road, is released.
1972 Richard M. Nixon meets with Emperor Hirohito in Anchorage, Alaska, the first-ever meeting of a U.S. President and a Japanese Monarch.
1977 Israel announces a cease-fire on Lebanese border.
1983 In the USSR Stanislav Petrov disobeys procedures and ignores electronic alarms indicating five incoming nuclear missiles, believing the US would launch more than five if it wanted to start a war. His decision prevented a retaliatory attack that would have begun a nuclear war between the superpowers..
1984 The UK agrees to transfer sovereignty of Hong Kong to the People's Republic of China.
1997 Two earthquakes strike Italy, causing part of the Basilica of St. Francis to collapse, killing four people and destroying much of the cycle of frescoes depicting the saint's life.
2008 Yves Rossy, a Swiss pilot and inventor, is the first person to fly a jet-powered wing across the English Channel.

Non Sequitur


Obamacare: It's Better Than You Think

by Dean Baker 
Doctor with patientIn just one week the main part of Obamacare will begin to kick in. This is the state level exchanges that will allow the uninsured to be covered. Beginning on October 1, people will be able to sign up to get insurance in their state regardless of their health.
Most people signing up on the exchanges will qualify for subsidies based on their income and family size. This means that the cost of insurance will be less than the advertised price.
This is good news. It means that tens of millions of people who are uninsured now will likely be insured in the next year or two as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). However this is actually the less important aspect of the program. The more important part is that those of us who now have insurance will have real health care insurance for the first time.
Most of the insured get covered through their job. This creates an obvious problem. If they develop a chronic illness, they may be unable to keep their job. Once they are no longer employed, workers will be left trying to buy insurance in the individual market.
Insurers don't want to insure people who are sick. If a person with a chronic health condition applies for insurance in the individual market, they would be facing premiums of tens of thousands of dollars a year, making it unaffordable for all but the very wealthy.
This situation will end with the start of the exchanges. Workers who lose their job because of an illness will still be able to find affordable insurance. This will provide a huge element of security that is currently lacking. In effect, most workers will have true health insurance for the first time.
Workers of all ages will benefit from this transformation of the insurance market but it will be especially important for older workers in poor health. There are a large number of older workers who struggle to stay employed despite bad health, because this is the only way that they will be able to afford insurance until they are old enough to qualify for Medicare.
Many of these people will now find insurance to be affordable with the subsidies on the exchanges even if they do not work. Some critics of Obamacare have argued that it will undermine incentives to work. In the case of older workers in poor health they are right, and this will be good.
There is much real basis for criticism of the ACA. Private insurers are the sole providers of insurance. Not only are we not getting universal Medicare, we did not even get a public option, the right to purchase a Medicare-type plan that would compete with private insurers.
The drug companies and medical equipment suppliers both end up as winners under Obamacare. They will be able to secure even greater profits from their government provided patent monopolies since the ACA does little to rein in costs.
As a result, we will still be paying close to twice as much for drugs and medical devices as people in other wealthy countries.
This is a guaranteed recipe for bad health care since the enormous profits provided by these patent monopolies give drug companies an incentive to push their drugs even when they may be harmful.
And we will still be paying twice as much for our doctors as people in other wealthy countries. These failures on cost controls will add hundreds of billions of dollars to the cost of health care each year.
The fact that so many states refused to go along with the expansion of Medicaid will leave millions of working poor uncovered. Undocumented workers were explicitly prohibited from being covered through the exchanges. And the plan will effectively penalize many workers who get insurance through union sponsored plans, since they will not be eligible for subsidies through the exchanges.
These are serious complaints about the inadequacy of Obamacare which will have to be addressed in the years ahead. But none of these problems changes the fact that the ACA is an enormous step forward. Most of the country will now have real security in their access to health care. The agenda now has to be to extend this security to the rest of the country and to squeeze the parasites out of the health care system.

Did you know ...

That Nome Alaska: the first U.S. city to run on geothermal energy

That a government shut down will cost us billions

That Medicare part D, which polls favorably today, had even less support when it started than Obamacare does now

Salvador Dali illustrates the zodiac

Women In The Workplace Responsible For Gun Violence, Claims repugican Whack-job

No repugican war on women?
On September 18th, just days after a mass shooting at the Washington Navy Yard left 12 Americans dead, BuzzFeed reported that repugican Jim Rubens seized the opportunity to express his anti-woman, anti-equality views, by placing the blame for this type of violence, not on guns, but on women in the workplace.
In an interview with BuzzFeed, Rubens was asked about previous statements he made on his blog, in which he attempted to connect gun violence to women in the workplace. Rubens stood by his statements, claiming that female equality has led to an increase in violence among men.
“The collaborative, flexible, amorphously-hierarchical American economy is shutting out ordinary men who were once the nation’s breadwinners in living-wage labor and manufacturing jobs… Because status success is more vital to the male psychology, males are falling over the edge in increasing numbers.”
Jim Rubens is a former US Senator who is expected to announce his candidacy for the New Hampshire Senate seat, currently occupied by Senator Jeanne Shaheen. Rubens removed his blog post after realizing that his statements had drawn negative attention of the national kind. He might as well not have bothered. His views about women in the workplace are already widely known, considering he authored a book in 2008 titled “Oversuccess,” in which he made many similar claims.
For example:
“The collapsing number of male jobs in the increasingly female-centric economy just adds to the already harsher impact of OverSuccess on males.”
and another all time favorite:
It’s a tiny fraction of males that become stressed for whatever reason and engage in acts of extreme violence. If you look through individual psychology of mass shooters over the past 10-20 years, you can see that in the profile. Often it’s a person who has been subjected to extreme stress in the form of social rejection, job loss and associated mental health issues.”
Actually, no. The Navy Yard shooter had a job as a civilian contractor and was enrolled in college, as well. He was scheduled to start work the same week he went on his killing rampage. There is absolutely no evidence that the shooter had any of the assumed stresses Rubens alleges such as job loss or social rejection. Even if you want to reach into his past and say that he lost job as a Navy Reservist, the evidence there clearly shows that he lost his job as a Navy Reservist because of his violent behavior. That’s exactly the opposite of what Rubens alleges, when he suggests that he became violent because he lost his job.
Not that is there is any shred of evidence that any of Rubens’ interpretations are rational. His statements take two completely unrelated types of data, and then embrace the fantasy that is some kind of connection. Basically he says “More women are working” and “More people are getting shot” and “therefore the two things must be related.”
If we use this type of logic, we can relate gun violence to just about anything we want. “More people are eating ice cream” or “More people are using the internet” or “More people are planting vegetable gardens.” Following Rubens’ line of reasoning, any or all of the above “facts” could be the real cause of gun violence in the United States.
Also using this same line of reasoning we could suppose that more people having guns might somehow be related to more people getting shot, but since Rubens has an A rating from the NRA, he obviously doesn’t get rewarded if he makes that connection. Plus, we all know that more guns couldn’t possibly be related to more shootings, right?
On his blog post Rubens points to a New York Times article that shows that 82% of job losses during the recession affected men. He mourns the loss of the male dominated society which, no doubt, benefited himself, at the expense of others. Yet, he conveniently ignores the fact that the repugican cabal have long opposed policies that would enforce equal pay for women. He somehow manages to just overlook the reality, that being able to pay women less to do the same work as men, is a hiring incentive for employers. The very policies Rubens supports do nothing more than allow women to undercut the wages of their male counterparts, putting more women to work at an unfair wage and sending more men to the unemployment line.
Republicans like Rubens love to place the responsibility for their terrible policies on others. They have a unique ability to ignore relevant facts while at the same time managing to make the totally irrelevant appear relevant. The absolute ignorance of this guy’s statements should not be allowed to fly under the radar. And yet he’s just another example of the same type of white, male supremacist that the repugican cabal represents. The repugican cabal backs candidates like Rubens for one reason only. Their single goal is to drag the country back to the days when society was controlled entirely by white men.

The Truth Be Told

The (anti)Family Research Council Says Starving Children is christian Thing to Do

Ken Blackwell of the (anti)Family Research Council  says there is "nothing more christian" than cutting food stamps…
White Nationalist Jesus
More than a few people have pointed out that if repugicans were the christians they claimed to be, they would not be cutting food stamps. You will remember that this sorry event saw 210 repugicans who make $175,000 per year say poor people ought to starve to death, stripping food stamps from 3.8 million Americans, including 170,000 veterans. It included Kevin Cramer (r-ND) reaching an all-time repugican low (right up there next to putting children back to work in factories) when he said, “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
Doesn’t sound very christian, does it? Many christians didn’t think so. Some christian leaders opposed the cuts. The Associated baptist Press reported last week that “Roy Medley, general secretary of American baptist cults USA, wrote House members Sept. 5. ‘Instead, this type of bill will punish those struggling to get by.’”
And on September 9, Sojourners’ Jim Wallis wrote, “These immoral cuts are incongruent with the shared values of our nation They demonstrate the triumph of political ideology and self-interest over sound public policy and concern for the general welfare.”
These leaders were far from alone. Back in May, The Huffington Post reported that,
The U.S. Conference of catholic bishops, evangelical lutheran cult in America, jewish Federations of North America, and dozens of religious and secular organizations signed a letter to Congress last week urging members to oppose food stamp cuts. “If SNAP is weakened, our nation will see more hunger and food insecurity, worse health and educational outcomes, and higher health costs,” it said.
Surely NOBODY would suggest the cuts WERE a christian thing to do.

Oh wait…Former Ohio Secretary of State Ken Blackwell of the (anti)Family Research Council  says there is “nothing more christian” than cutting food stamps.
Think about this for a minute.
Their jesus is suppoesed to have said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these” (matthew 19:14). 
Are repugicans trying to get the kids to jesus more quickly? It seems like it.
Is that what Blackwell was trying to say?

Not exactly. Blackwell, like most so-called christians, wasn’t thinking about jesus or the new testament, and probably not even the old. He was thinking about his anti-government views and probably that if Barack Obama wants these kids to eat, then they should certainly not be allowed to eat.
Speaking to The christian Post, Blackwell said,
I think through empowering others and creating self-sufficiency…there within lies the path to sense of worthiness. When I was growing up, there was fundamental belief, that there were times in people’s life when they needed a hand up…there were temporariness to those programs, where they were structured so that they didn’t breed so that they didn’t breed dependency.
According to The christian Post,
Blackwell also suggested that there was “nothing more christian” than “not locking people into a permanent dependency on government handouts, but making sure they are participants in their own upliftment and empowerment so that they in fact through the dignity of work and can break from the plantation of big government.”
This is more of the “freedom of the grave” repugicans so badly want to sell us. The facts of the shared reality repugicans find so distasteful are that if you don’t eat, you die, and that people who make only a couple of thousand dollars a year can’t afford food.
The calculus of repugican “freedom” is grim and it is undeniable. In the guise of freeing people from “liberal slavery” they will tell them instead that their children have a right to starve to death.
Mike Conaway (r-Texas), a southern baptist, said this spring that, “I read this chapter of matthew 25 to speak to me as an individual. I don’t read it to speak to the United States government. And so I would take a little bit of umbrage with you on that. Clearly, you and I are charged that we do those kinds of things but [our government is not] charged with that.”
Funny. I see jesus loving children and preaching their place in the kingdom of god. I don’t see him preaching against dependency on the federal government.
So is Conaway going to make up this shortfall created by his fellow repugicans in the House? Certainly not. He can’t. Nobody has a spare $4 billion lying about. And that’s the point. Only the federal government does. Just as only the federal government has the means to provide disaster relief for victims of hurricanes and floods. Can we assume that were Texas to be hit by hurricanes that Conaway would decry disaster relief as promoting dependency?
I would not count on that. Colorado’s House repugicans opposed providing relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy, but faced with their own floods and fires, they sure think disaster relief is a good idea now.
Nobody is more morally relative than a wingnut christian.
And speaking of christians, what about jesus says, “starve the little children to death”?
You’re wondering about Mike Conaway’s matthew 25? I think this is worth quoting in full,
“But when the son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. All the nations will be gathered before him; and he will separate them from one another, as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats; and he will put the sheep on his right, and the goats on the left.
“Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of my father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry, and you gave me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited me in; naked, and you clothed me; I was sick, and you visited me; I was in prison, and you came to me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘lord, when did we see you hungry, and feed you, or thirsty, and give you something to drink? And when did we see you a stranger, and invite you in, or naked, and clothe you? When did we see you sick, or in prison, and come to you?’ The king will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.’
“Then he will also say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels; for I was hungry, and you gave me nothing to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave me nothing to drink; I was a stranger, and you did not invite me in; naked, and you did not clothe me; sick, and in prison, and you did not visit me.’ Then they themselves also will answer, ‘lord, when did we see you hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not take care of you?’ Then he will answer them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
The repugicans have proven they can and will starve little children to punish our first black president and minorities like him for daring to be brown-skinned in a christian white nationalist state. But they have also proven they have no right and no relation to the man known to history as jesus of Nazareth, and to their own religion as jesus christ, the son of god.

The repugicans Starve The Poor While Handing $20 Billion to Corporate Welfare Bums

As millions of Americans go hungry, federal government pays about $20 billion in cash annually to farmers and farmland owners that primarily benefit corporate agriculture.…
corporate subsidies 
The repugicans hate the idea of helping Americans struggling to survive in an economy they persist in sabotaging, and their reasoning is based on lies that America is broke or that aid to the poor creates a nation of takers. President Obama has proposed raising the minimum wage and offered Congress several job programs that would lift the poor out of poverty and reduce the number of Americans in need of assistance, but repugicans claim it is unfair to take taxpayer dollars to fund programs that would reduce the necessity for assistance to the least fortunate among us. However, repugicans do not think it is unfair to take taxpayer dollars to give to their wealthy benefactors or pass legislation to hand more of Americans’ hard-earned money to those who need it least.
Last week, House repugicans voted to slash $40 billion from the SNAP program (food stamps) over the next ten years because, they claim, America is too broke to help seniors, working families, and children eat, but they preserved agriculture subsidies in the farm bill because America in not too broke to give welfare to corporate agriculture or repugican House members voting to cut food stamps. In fact, according to repugicans America is never too broke to give tens-of-billions of taxpayers’ dollars annually to three specific industries that are raking in record profits, and if they were brought to an end America could afford to help the poor, repair the crumbling infrastructure, and put the economy on a sound footing. The repugican’s abhorrence of helping the poor or growing the economy aside, it is their adherence to wasteful subsidies that benefit no-one but corporations that sets them apart as fiscal morons.
Subsidies are a form of financial support extended to an economic sector (institution, business, or individual) with the aim of promoting beneficial economic outcomes for the subsidy recipients. Americans are likely unaware how much of their hard-earned tax dollars repugicans give to institutions and businesses that are reporting record profits, and all the while repugicans claim America cannot afford to assist hungry Americans, repair crumbling roads and bridges, or fund education. According to the Cato Institute, American families are paying an average of $6,000 per year to corporations that have doubled their profits while cutting 2.9 million American jobs. It works out to approximately $100 billion a year in corporate welfare, and that does not include some of the biggest and most wasteful subsidies in the nation. It is no small coincidence that the industries receiving the most taxpayer-funded welfare are also repugicans’ favorite donors in the oil, banking, pharmaceutical, and agricultural industries, which are why they bristle at the suggestion the subsidies must end.
One of the worst uses of taxpayer dollars are fossil fuel subsidies that experts estimate are anywhere from $10 billion to $41 billion annually according to the International Monetary Fund. This year marked the 100th anniversary of America’s gifts to the oil industry, and congressional repugicans have refused to consider eliminating big oil’s free money because they receive a disproportionate amount of oil and gas industry campaign contributions. To add insult to injury, the five largest oil companies raked in $118 billion in profits while Americans paid record-high gas prices. Two years ago the CEO of one of the largest oil companies issued a statement saying it was “un-American” to end subsidies to the 5 biggest oil companies, and a repugican Senator, Pat Roberts (KS) defended the statement and told Senator Chuck Schumer that “I’d call that un-American.” What is un-American is handing out about the same amount of taxpayer dollars to the oil industry in a couple of years that House repugicans just cut from food stamps for ten years, but keeping oil industry profits soaring at the expense of hungry children, seniors, and working poor families is what keeps repugican campaign coffers full.
The subsidy that is an affront to common decency and millions of hungry Americans on pace to lose $40 billion over ten years in food assistance is those going to the agriculture industry. According to The Environmental Working Group the federal government presently pays about $20 billion in cash annually to farmers and farmland owners that primarily benefit corporate agriculture as well as several of the House repugicans who voted for cuts to the food stamp program. Like oil industry subsidies, two years’ worth of farm subsidies would replace the $40 billion in food stamp cuts, but then ending farm subsidies would end farmer’s incentive to overproduce to push down prices and create political demands for more subsidies.  The conservative Cato Institute said that subsidies “hinder farmers from innovating, cutting costs, diversifying their land use, and taking the actions needed to prosper in a competitive global economy.” However, the agriculture industry is already prospering to the tune of $122.2 billion in 2012 that is up 3.7% in 2011 according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, so farmers really have no incentive to innovate, cut costs, and diversify their land.
Despite the insanity of taking taxpayer dollars and handing them to the oil and agriculture industry, at least those industries produce something consumers can purchase and use. One of the largest, and most offensive, subsidies taxpayers fund is the $71 billion going to religious organizations and cults. The $71 billion is over and above the $1.2 billion in the clergy’s tax exemption for their parsonage allowance, capital gains tax exemption, and an exemption for donations and grants. For the record, the $71 billion figure is just what taxpayers are expected to pay for lost property taxes churches avoid paying.
If Americans are not bothered that every taxpayer is paying the government to subsidize religion, they should be outraged that the practice is blatantly unconstitutional. It is always risky to utter that churches should lose the tax-exempt status, but religion is a business and churches, like the oil, agriculture, and banking industries get tax breaks they do not deserve and this nation ‘s people would benefit if they paid their fair share and quit mooching off hardworking taxpayers. Where cults are not like big oil and agriculture is that just one year of their $71 billion taxpayer gifts would replace the ten-year $40 billion food stamp cuts and still have $31 billion left in the first year to repay Americans for picking up the tab for firefighters, law enforcement, roads, and public schools churches benefit from every day.
The repugicans cannot say that America is too broke to feed hungry children, senior citizens, and disabled Americans any more than the country cannot afford to repair and rebuild the crumbling infrastructure. Last year President Obama begged Congress to put up $50 billion for infrastructure improvements and job creation, and repugicans dismissed his request out of hand as being too exorbitant for a nation that is broke. The nation is not too broke to give corporate welfare worth  tens-of-billions of dollars each year to banks, oil companies, pharmaceutical companies, and religious enterprises because they are loyal repugican contributors.
The repugicans are wont to say helping Americans in need creates a nation of people dependent on government, but for generations this government has created industries that are not only dependent on government for free money, they are outraged at the suggestion that reaping record profits is reason to stop their taxpayer-funded welfare payments. It is time for repugicans to be honest with the American people and tell them the truth that they can afford to create jobs, feed the poor, and grow the economy, but that they would rather spend taxpayer dollars on their campaign contributors.

Daily Comic Relief


The Man Who Gets The Science Right On 'The Big Bang Theory'

David Saltzberg (right) hosts his "Geek of the Week," UCLA student Andrew Peck, on the set of The Big Bang Theory.
David Saltzberg (right) hosts his "Geek of the Week," UCLA student Andrew Peck, on the set of The Big Bang Theory.
Sure, Bob Newhart may have won his first Emmy for guest-starring as Professor Proton on the hugely popular show The Big Bang Theory, about four young scientists at Caltech. But behind the scenes is a real-life professor, David Saltzberg of UCLA.
Saltzberg studies high-energy particle physics and high-energy neutrino astronomy, using radio-detection techniques when he's not working as The Big Bang Theory's science consultant.
"It's just like a physics lab!" Saltzberg exclaims as he maneuvers around the show's sprawling set. "You have to watch where you walk. There are cables and everything everywhere."
Every week, Saltzberg attends the show's live taping at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, Calif. He makes sure the whiteboards are correct. For every new episode, they're covered by a fresh scrawl of formulas dreamed up by Saltzberg and admired by physicists for their scrupulous accuracy — and occasional shoutouts to what's happening in the world of science.
"The whiteboards have dozens of fans," Saltzberg jokes.
Saltzberg also reviews scripts in progress. They arrive with unfinished dialogue and brackets reading, "Insert Science Here." He fills in the blanks, as in an episode where Dr. Sheldon Cooper, a puffed-up theoretical physicist, keeps bumming rides from a neighbor.
"She couldn't understand why Sheldon never got a driver's license," Saltzberg explains. When she asks what Sheldon was doing at age 16, when everyone else was learning to drive, he answers, as per Saltzberg, "Examining perturbative amplitudes in N=4 supersymmetric theories, leading to a reexamination of the ultraviolet properties of multiloop N=8 supergravity, using modern twistor theory."
As it happens, that's "a real, important project that one of my friends is working on," Saltzberg says.
If the science that's so exciting to Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is right, it's because of David Saltzberg.
If the science that's so exciting to Sheldon (Jim Parsons) is right, it's because of David Saltzberg.
The scientist got involved with The Big Bang Theory in 2007, when the show was little more than a theoretical construct. The set designers asked him to show them some real graduate students' apartments, so they could see how young scientists really live.
"And they did a nice, faithful re-creation of their apartments," he said, adding that after CBS tested the show, the sets were scrapped, because, Saltzberg thinks, the sets were too depressing.
Saltzberg gets backup from actress Mayim Bialik, who happens to have a PhD in neuroscience. (Her character, Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler, is also a neuroscientist.) She helps Saltzberg fine-tune the show's scientific details.
"Like, what kind of microscope would they be using, or how thin should these slices be," she offers as an example.
For his part, Saltzberg has gotten in front of the camera exactly once. He was an extra in a scene in a university cafeteria, when the nebbishy Howard Wolowitz shares a thrilling milestone: He finally has a girlfriend. Saltzberg describes his acting technique thusly: "I just looked at him like, what's your problem? Why are you bothering me? I'm a physicist. I have other things to think about."
Executive producer Bill Prady says it's useful to have Saltzberg around for last-minute questions — like the time the show needed him to calculate how fast a bottle would fall if it were dropped from a four-story window. He can also check the accuracy of jokes made up on the fly.
"We shoot in front of a live audience," Prady says. "And if a joke dies, the writers gather and we pitch new jokes, and when we get one, we go teach it to the actors and we do the scene again."
That happened in the very first season, when Sheldon and another scientist have a fight. Saltzberg pitched a joke: When one of the characters describes the fight as "a little misunderstanding," Sheldon is furious. "A little misunderstanding?" he cries. "Galileo and the pope had a little misunderstanding!"
It's the only joke Saltzberg has ever gotten on the show.
"The writers were very kind," he says. "But it's a little bit like if I'm at a party and having drinks and someone says, well, they have a new theory of gravity they want to tell me about."
Ultimately, Saltzberg says, creating comedy is not that different from experimental science. At the end of the day, it either works or it doesn't. But he adds that he thinks this sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, is more important than his work in the lab.
"This has a lot more impact than anything I will ever do," he says. "It's hard to fathom, when you think about 20 million viewers on the first showing — and that doesn't include other countries and reruns. I'm happy if a paper I write gets read by a dozen people."
Saltzberg says he became a scientist partly because of popular culture, such as Isaac Asimov's science fiction and the '70s TV show Space: 1999. He believes the rigor and passion for science he brings to The Big Bang Theory might inspire kids in the audience to one day become scientists, too.

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Just a whiff of a woman close to ovulation is enough to stimulate another woman's testosterone levels.

Canceled Wedding Turns into a Heartwarming Event for the Homeless

When Carol and Willie Fowler learned that their daughter Tamara's wedding had been called off just 40 days before the big day, they were shocked. They also had an important decision to make - what to do about the deposit that had already been paid to the venue, Villa Christina, for the 200-guest reception. Instead of letting the money go to waste, Willie suggested they turn the wedding into an event for the homeless. The next day, Carol reached out to a local charity, Hosea Feed the Hungry, and asked if they could donate the dinner. "At first, I thought it was a prank call because it was such an amazing offering," Elisabeth Omilami, CEO of Hosea Feed the Hungry, said in a radio interview. "And then she said she wanted to focus on women and families… 70 percent of the homeless in Atlanta are children."

With the plan in motion, Omilami and her team reached out to other charities in the area - Nicholas House, Metro Atlanta Task Force for the Homeless, and Mary Hall Freedom House - and told them, "The Fowler family is going to have a party for you. Then they said, what do you mean? Then we said, it's just for you. There's no cost. All you have to do is get there."

On the day of the event, the Fowlers' daughter Tamara joined in on the celebration with her family. "We're very pleased that she's handling it so well," said Carol. "She was also very delighted to see and know that others had an opportunity to enjoy something rather than just allow it to go to waste."
Carol Fowler (in blue) and Elisabeth Omilami greeting guests 
But it wasn't just a party for the kids; it provided a learning experience as well, like teaching them proper table etiquette. "The passed hors d'oeuvres were very interesting because the children were wondering, could we take the whole tray, or do we just take one off of the tray?" Omilani shared. "So this was an educational opportunity as well, because now they all know how to eat at a four-course meal and the etiquette involved in that."

The event was named the First Annual Fowler Family Celebration of Love, and the family hopes to host an even larger event next year. Hosea Feed the Hungry is also entered into a contest where, if they win, they'll receive $30,000 to host a similar event this Xmas.

"Events are cancelled, and sometimes for unknown reasons. Do not allow that opportunity to go to waste. Call up your favorite charity. Give them an opportunity to use that for people that will not have an opportunity perhaps in life," said Carol. 

Holland's Technicolor Tulip Fields

Arranged in perfectly neat rows along the northern countryside of the Netherlands in springtime are extraordinary flower fields that are just a treat to the eyes. More than 9 billion fresh, bulbous, and multicolored tulips spring up in neatly lined rows giving the countryside a splash of color like gamma pixels on a computer screen.

The Netherlands is world-famous for its tulip fields. Since its firs blossom emerged from Dutch soil in 1593, the tulip has become the country's most adored flora, top grossing export, and national symbol for the years to come. Billions of tulips are grown annually every year from March to May, and more than 60% of these flowers are exported worldwide, especially to the USA and Germany.

On The Far Side

The Alien Cult that Hacked British TV

A British TV station was beginning its local newscast on the night of November 25, 1977. In the broadcast studio, nothing unusual happened. But in homes, the video signal of the regular newscast was accompanied by a strange voice that did not make sense.
    "This is the voice of Vrillon, a representative of the Ashtar Galactic Command, speaking to you."

It was now ten past five in the evening. With the news report still continuing on the screen, the deep, oscillating voice continued with his message.

    "For many years you have seen us as lights in the skies."

None of the evening staff at Southern Television were aware of the intrusion to their signal. International Broadcasting Authority engineers in Croydon, Surrey did not hear the rogue signal, nor was it detected at the main transmitter site in Southampton.

The message from “Vrillon” continued for nearly six minutes as stunned families across South-East England tried to comprehend what they were hearing. Some panicked, believing that aliens really were communicating through the television.
In all the years since that stunt, no one has come forward to take responsibility, and clues point to anyone in particular. But there were a couple of UFO cults gaining followers in the 1970s, and the word Ashtar pops up now and then in their beliefs. Read about the broadcast incident, and the cults it may have referenced, at The Kernel.
The goddess of love and beauty found with some chipping on her nose and face.

Ten Credible Mermaid Sightings?

Mermaids have been a subject of fascination for centuries. Cultures from all over the world, that had no contact with each other, have mermaids in their folklore, all with very similar descriptions. From these stories and modern movies everyone know what mermaids are, but few people have been able to provide evidence to testify to their existence.

Skeptics are many, but there are also those who believe. For those intrigued by the question of whether or not mermaids exist, here are a handful of documented mermaid sightings - then decide what you believe.

Awesome Pictures


Dog Mummy Infested with Bloodsucking Parasites

A dog mummy has revealed the first archaeological evidence of bloodsucking parasites plaguing Fido's ancestors in Egypt.

Deer Patiently Waits at Crosswalk for the Traffic Signal

The deer in Nara Park in Nara, Japan are famously polite. They even bow to visitors respectfully. They also obey the law. A tourist snapped photos of this deer, which approached the crosswalk. It stopped until the signal turned green, then crossed. You can see more photos: Here.

Humans face fines for crossing animal-only bridges

Germany is living up to its environmentally-friendly image by spending millions of euros on building bridges just for animals. Humans caught crossing them face a €35 fine. More than a hundred wildlife bridges are to be built in the next decade. Gerhard Klesen, a forester employed by the Ruhr Regional Association, spent a decade campaigning for an animal-only bridge to be built over a motorway in the town of Schermbeck in North Rhine-Westphalia.
Man-made barriers such as roads and canals restrict animals' natural movement, he said. That limits genetic diversity, which in turn leads to an increase in disease and shortened lifespans. The ‘Green Bridges’ are designed to counteract this effect. "The area of land east of the motorway at Schermbeck is much smaller than that on the western side," Klesen said. That's led to a decrease in species diversity on the eastern side, prompting Klesen to launch his ten-year campaign, which culminated in the opening of the "green bridge" - Germany's 35th - exactly a year ago.

It usually takes a year before an animal dares to cross the green bridge," Klesen said. But the animals of Schermbeck are a plucky bunch. "One red stag traversed the bridge just three days after it was opened," Klesen said. Others followed suit and within a few days, boars were making the journey too. Cameras set up along the bridge have captured a variety of creatures, including rabbits, foxes and bats, making their way across the specially-designed terrain.
"There are strips of sand just for insects, as well as grass, shrubs and other vegetation providing food and shelter to some of the smaller creatures," said Klesen. Some animals, like mice, take to life in transit so much that they set up their permanent homes on the bridge. Others travel back and forth. Stags in particular often make the journey in search of a mate. Although it will take decades to assess whether the bridge is managing to promote genetic diversity and health among bigger animals, the effects on smaller animals with shorter lifespan could be studied soon.

Man asked to leave farmer's market for carrying live chicken in protest against gun laws

A few carried guns. Mark Scheffler carried a calm, brown hen named Winnie, short for Winchester, like the rifle. Scheffler was asked to leave the Downtown Appleton Farm Market in Wisconsin, and it was precisely the point he and a group of protesters wanted to make at the popular Saturday gathering.
Chickens are far safer than firearms and laws allowing for open carry need to change, said Scheffler of Appleton. “Carrying a loaded assault weapon in downtown Appleton, the fine is zero dollars,” he said. “The fine for carrying a loaded chicken - and she is loaded - is $263.50.” This follows an incident a few weeks ago where police allowed two men to walk around the farmer's market openly carrying AR-15 rifles.

Scheffler and the group felt it was time to prove how ridiculous open carry laws are, but others feel this stunt isn't helping. Appleton police asked the Scheffler to leave with his chicken because bringing animals to the farmer's market violates city rules. They say they are just enforcing the state ordinances. "It's our job to make sure that the laws are enforced and in this case open carry is legal," said Appleton deputy police chief.

Charles Branstrom walked through the farmer's market carrying his loaded pistol, but just a few weeks ago he was the one of the men stopped by police for having a rifle. He thinks this chicken protest isn't comparable. "That can be a health hazard, there's food being prepared down here and it's illegal," said Branstrom. Appleton police are not issuing a fine for Scheffler and his chicken as long as they stay out of the farmer's market area from now on.

Cloned cow attacked scientist who created it

A cloned cow attacked its “creator” last week, inflicting injuries on the world-renowned embryologist, who will need eight weeks of medical treatment.

Prof. Park Se-pill at Jeju National University in South Korea had five of his ribs broken and injured his spine in the attack. “Park was video-recording a black cow, which he cloned from species indigenous to Jeju four years ago, and all of a sudden, it charged and attacked him for 15 minutes,” a school official said.
“The 800-kilogram black cow is very strong because its cell donor was the best available. Park could not escape easily because he wore a special suit and long boots. He is now being treated at the university hospital.”

In 2009, Park cloned the black cow from a frozen cell, which was taken from a deceased animal as part of cloning work to technically “revive” the dead cow through the newly born clone. The 54-year-old said that the cow is now in a barn and no special measure will be taken despite the incident. “We didn’t have the cow neutered because we have to check its virility. Hence, it often gets very restless,” Park said.

Man strung-up mouse that ate his wages

A Palestinian man has retaliated against a mouse that chewed through some of his wages by suspending the animal by its limbs and posting an image on Facebook.

The man, who lives in Gaza but is originally from the city of Hebron in the West Bank, tied the mouse to ropes to avenge the mouse’s actions in sneaking into the Palestinian’s closet and eating three 200 Israeli Shekel banknotes (£105, $170) of the man’s pay.

The man claimed he had just received his weekly salary and had hidden it from view for safety. His actions come amid extreme and unprecedented economic conditions faced in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories, the West Bank and Gaza.
The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) has delayed cashing in public worker salaries for several months in the West Bank due to shortages brought about in part by Israeli withholding of Palestinian funds.

Swamp wallaby resuscitated with mouth-to-mouth

An Australian holidaymaker has resuscitated a swamp wallaby by giving it mouth-to-mouth. Mick Hussin, from Frankston in Victoria, was having a beer on Belongil Creek near Byron Bay in New South Wales when he noticed a pack of dogs chasing a small animal on the opposite bank. Seconds later the helpless creature was swimming for its life to escape the hungry hounds.
Springing into action, Mr Hussin raced down to the creek and leapt in just as the struggling animal was sinking beneath the water. It was limp and unconscious by the time he fished it out. Mr Hussin had done a first aid course as part of his job and decided to use it. "My girlfriend (a nurse) was saying 'There's no way you're going to get it back," he said.
"It was pretty much gone," he said. "I don't know why I kept going. I just felt like it was a possibility; I just felt so bad for it." And his instinct was right. After 10 minutes he was almost ready to give up when one little paw stirred and then the other. "I was rapt," he said. Holding the joey close to his chest in a makeshift pouch, he phoned WIRES hotline and the miracle survivor was soon picked up.

The little swamp wallaby weighs just 1.6kg and is now in the care of WIRES volunteers. Mr Hussin seems destined to cross the path of animals in need. Ten years ago Mr Hussin found an abandoned puppy the size of a tennis ball collapsed in a puddle with its paws literally worn down to the bone. After $600 of injections, the pup came good and Mr Hussin named him Lucky. "Little" Lucky turned out to be a great dane-rottweiler cross and today the Hussins' pet weighs 68kg.

There's an audio interview with Mr Hussin here.


5 Fascinating Facts

Echidnas belong to the family Tachyglossidae in the monotreme order of egg-laying mammals. The four species, together with the platypus, are the only mammals that lay eggs. The echidnas are named after a monster in ancient Greek mythology. They live in Australia and New Guinea.

The echidna is one of the strangest animals that exist on Earth today. And to celebrate this bit of mammalian weirdness, here are five fascinating facts about echidnas.

Animal News

Humans aren't the only primates that whisper, according to a study that finds cotton-top tamarins whisper too.
A rare death match between a golden eagle and a young deer was inadvertently captured by a camera trap.

Animal Pictures


pine marten