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

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Daily Drift

Fifty years ago today the wingnut lunatic fringe began the systematic destruction of the United States with the assassination of President John Fitzgerald Kennedy  ...!

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Today in History

After promising to go to the aid of the Fifth Crusade within nine months, Frederick II is crowned emperor by Pope Honorius III.
New laws are passed in Spain giving Indians in America protection against enslavement.
The Austrian army defeats the Prussians at Breslau in the Seven Years War.
In New York, the Astor Place Opera House, the city's first operatic theater, is opened.
A fire causes considerable damage to the unfinished Williamsburg bridge in New York.
The Anglo-Indian army, led by British General Sir Charles Townshend, attacks a larger Turkish force under General Nur-ud-Din at Ctesiphon, Iraq, but is repulsed.
A Labor conference committee in the United States urges an eight-hour workday and a 48-hour week.
British King George is confined to bed with a congested lung; the queen is to take over duties.
Pan Am inaugurates the first transpacific airmail service from San Francisco to Manila.
1,200 soldiers are killed in a battle between the Japanese and Mongolians in China.
Soviet troops complete the encirclement of the German Sixth Army at Stalingrad.
Ho Chi Minh's Democratic Republic of Vietnam requests admittance to the UN.
Lee Harvey Oswald assassinates President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, Texas. Lyndon B. Johnson becomes president.
Almost 40,000 people pay tribute to John F. Kennedy at Arlington Cemetery on the first anniversary of his death.
Great Britain announces a plan for moderate Protestants and Catholics to share power in Northern Ireland.
Eighteen Communist Party secretaries in 49 provinces are ousted from Poland.
President Ronald Reagan calls for defense-pact deployment of the MX missile.
Justice Department finds memo in Lt. Col. Oliver North's office on the transfer of $12 million to Contras of Nicaragua from Iranian arms sale.

Non Sequitur


Leonardo Da Vinci's wacky piano is heard for the first time, after 500 years

Take a bow ... the viola organista's strings are played in the same way as a cello. 
Take a bow: The viola organista's strings are played in the same way as a cello. 
A bizarre instrument combining a piano and cello has finally been played to an audience more than 500 years after it was dreamt up Leonardo da Vinci.
Da Vinci, the Italian Renaissance genius who painted the Mona Lisa, invented the ‘‘viola organista’’ - which looks like a baby grand piano – but never built it, experts say.
The viola organista has now come to life, thanks to a Polish concert pianist with a flair for instrument-making and the patience and passion to interpret da Vinci’s plans.
Full of steel strings and spinning wheels, Slawomir Zubrzycki’s creation is a musical and mechanical work of art.
‘‘This instrument has the characteristics of three we know: the harpsichord, the organ and the viola da gamba,’’ Zubrzycki said as he debuted the instrument at the Academy of Music in the southern Polish city of Krakow.
The instrument’s exterior is painted in a rich midnight blue, adorned with golden swirls painted on the side. The inside of its lid is a deep raspberry inscribed with a Latin quote in gold leaf by 12th-century German nun, mystic and philosopher, Saint Hildegard.
‘‘Holy prophets and scholars immersed in the sea of arts both human and divine, dreamt up a multitude of instruments to delight the soul,’’ it says.
The flat bed of its interior is lined with golden spruce. Sixty-one gleaming steel strings run across it, similar to the inside of a baby grand.
Each is connected to the keyboard, complete with smaller black keys for sharp and flat notes. But unlike a piano, it has no hammered dulcimers. Instead, there are four spinning wheels wrapped in horse-tail hair, like violin bows.
To turn them, Zubrzycki pumps a pedal below the keyboard connected to a crankshaft. As he tinkles the keys, they press the strings down onto the wheels, emitting rich, sonorous tones reminiscent of a cello, an organ and even an accordion.
The effect is a sound that da Vinci dreamt of, but never heard; there are no historical records suggesting he or anyone else of his time built the instrument he designed.
A sketch and notes in da Vinci’s characteristic inverted script is found in his Codex Atlanticus, a 12-volume collection of his manuscripts and designs for everything from weaponry to flight.
‘‘I have no idea what Leonardo da Vinci might think of the instrument I’ve made, but I’d hope he’d be pleased,’’ said Zubrzycki, who spend three years and 5000 hours bringing da Vinci’s creation to life.

Sadly ...


Did you know ...

About 12 ways a slave, a repugican cabal production

About the whitest jobs in America

That the rally to overthrow Obama draws slightly fewer than the millions expected

That youth football enrollment has dropped 10 percent

Obama Shreds repugicans For Calling Him a Socialist

POTUS Goes There
President Obama shredded repugicans who have called him a socialist by pointing to his record, and highlighting their love of big government programs like Medicare while fearing socialism.

The president said,
People call me a socialist sometimes, but you’ve got to meet real socialists, and you’ll have a sense of what a socialist is. I’m talking about lowering the corporate tax rates. My healthcare reform is based on the private marketplace. Stock market is looking pretty good last time I checked, and it is true that I’m concerned about growing inequality in our system. But nobody questions the efficacy of market economies in terms of producing wealth and innovation, and keeping us competitive.
On the flip side, you know most repugicans, even the tea party, one of my favorite signs during the campaign was folks hoisting a sign governments keep your hands of my Medicare. Think about that. Ideologically they did not like the idea of the federal government, and yet they felt very protective about the basic social safety net that has been structured.
My simple point is this. If we can get beyond the tactical advantages that parties perceive in painting folks as extreme and trying to keep an eye always on the next election, and for a while at least just focus on governing then there is probably seventy percent overlap on a whole range of issues.
President Obama broke it down, and explained to repugicans why their howls of socialism are laughable. This president is a centrist, not a socialist. It was refreshing to hear him summarize his own views and record. There is not a single policy that this president has advocated for that could be described as socialistic.
Obama is the opposite of a socialist. The only socialism that repugicans are able to attach to the president is what they dream up. President Obama did not nationalize or takeover the auto industry. He didn’t nationalize and stage a government takeover of healthcare, and raising taxes on the wealthy because they are paying less than their fair share is not socialism.
The ignorant people who call President Obama a socialist do not know what a socialist is. They are so extreme that they describe center left policies as socialism. It was nice to hear the president bluntly lay it out, and confront the ridiculous repugican delusion that he is a socialist.
The know nothings who do nothing in the repugican cabal have been making this bogus claim for too long. Barack Obama is not a socialist, and it was to see him treat the repugican allegations with the ridicule that they so richly deserve,

The repugicans Have Pushed Him Too Far and Now Harry Reid Is Ready to Go Nuclear

Harry Reid
After Senate repugicans blocked a third Obama judicial nomination this week, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has reached his breaking point and is ready to go nuclear.
The Washington Post’s Greg Sargent spoke to senior Senate Democratic leadership aide who told him,
“Reid has become personally invested in the idea that Democrats have no choice other than to change the rules if the Senate is going to remain a viable and functioning institution,” the aide says. That’s a long journey from where Reid was only 10 months ago, when he agreed to a toothless filibuster reform deal out of a real reluctance to change the rules by simple majority. Asked to explain the evolution, the aide said: “It’s been a long process. But this is the only thing we can do to keep the Senate performing its basic duties.”
Asked if Reid would drop the threat to go nuclear if repugicans green-lighted one or two of Obama’s judicial nominations, the aide said: “I don’t think that’s going to fly.”
Reid could change the rules to a simple majority requirement to break the filibuster on judicial nominees as soon as this week. The reaction among Democrats should be that it’s about time. This has been a progression for Sen. Reid. He has given repugicans numerous warnings as he has advanced towards his current position, but every time they refused to listen.
Senate repugicans brought Harry Reid to the point of going nuclear. There will be lots of talk about the history of the Senate and respecting the minority, but Mitch McConnell has left Reid no choice. Majority Leader Reid either had to change the rules, or watch President Obama’s constitutional power to appoint judges evaporate due to Senate repugican filibusters.
The repugicans are going to stomp their feet, whine, and howl, but they brought this on themselves by deciding that they would rather obstruct than govern.
The time has come.
Welcome to the reality of how repugicans have broken your beloved Senate, Sen. Reid.

A repugican Arrested for Possession of Cocaine

Screen Shot 2013-11-19 at 4.29.28 PM
Another one bites the dust. Florida repugican Trey Radel was arrested on October 29 for possession of cocaine in DC, according to D.C. Superior Court documents obtained by Politico.
John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman of Politico broke the news this afternoon, “Radel, 37, was charged with misdemeanor possession of cocaine in D.C. Superior Court on Tuesday. He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday.”
Radel has represented Florida’s 19th congressional district since 2013. He was formerly a television reporter and wingnut radio host, as well as an actor who trained with Second City in Chicago.
Radel is infamous among wingnut circles for defending Rachel Maddow from inappropriate attacks on Twitter.
At least crack smoking Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is no longer alone.
Radel issued statement, “Believe me, I am disappointed in myself, and I stand ready to face the consequences of my actions.” Jake Sherman tweeted that Radel “says he’s going to get help, and is an alcoholic.” Apparently beer and coke is the new beer.

And the poor will be made poorer ...

Extension of Benefits for Jobless Is Set to End

Unless Congress acts, during the last week of December an estimated 1.3 million people will lose access to an emergency program providing them with additional weeks of jobless benefits. A further 850,000 will be denied benefits in the first quarter of 2014.

Congressional Democrats and the White House, pointing to the sluggish recovery and the still-high jobless rate, are pushing once again to extend the period covered by the unemployment insurance program. But with Congress still far from a budget deal and still struggling to find alternatives to the $1 trillion in long-term cuts known as sequestration, lawmakers say the chances of an extension before Congress adjourns in two weeks are slim.
As a result, one of the largest stimulus measures passed during the recession is likely to come to an end, and jobless workers in many states are likely to receive considerably fewer weeks of benefits.

Ten repugicans Who Cheered on Batkid, Want to Revoke His Obamacare

These assholes have been crusading to repeal the Affordable Care Act  
Leukemia survivor Miles, 5, dressed as BatKid, runs the bases as part of a Make-A-Wish foundation fulfillment at AT&T Park November 15th, 2013 in San Francisco, California

by Tim Dickinson

On Friday, a sick child in San Francisco stole the Twittersphere's heart after the Make-a-Wish Foundation helped him don superhero garb and "fight crime" on the streets of San Francisco as "Batkid." Even repugican politicians in Washington couldn't resist rooting him on. Ironically, these assholes – in particular Ted Cruz and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor – have been crusading for Obamacare's repeal, which would again make it legal for insurers to deny coverage to children like Batkid with preexisting conditions.
 1. Ted Cruz
The Texas ass-hat forced a government shutdown to fight the president's healthcare law and believes "we must repeal every word of Obamacare."

2.  Eric Cantor
The House majority leader calls Obamacare an "atrocity."
3. Justin Amash
The Michigan lunatic has taken to the House floor to demand that congress "repeal this unconstitutional law."

4. Darrell Issa
The California whack-job has declared that "ObamaCare is bad for all Americans."

5. Paul Cook
The California repugican wrote in October: "I remain opposed to Obamacare and continue to support its repeal."

6. Randy Webber
 The Texas repugican wants to "permanently delay" Obamacare.

7. Martha Roby
The Alabama two-bit whore brags of voting more than two dozen times to "completely repeal President Obama's health care law."

8. Jeff Duncan
The South Carolina repugican has vowed to "continue to fight until this horrible law is completely repealed."

9. Sean Duffy
During the government shutdown fight, the Wisconsin reptile was so hardcore he questioned Ted Cruz' commitment to battle to defund Obamacare.

10. Trey Radel
 The Florida freshman complained in April that House repugican newcomers had not been given a chance to vote for Obamacare's repeal. "I want a chance as a freshman to do that," Radel said, "even if it’s just symbolic."

It's the insurers not the Healthcare law

Unscrupulous insurers using Obamacare confusion to sell junk insurance

Democrats should not be panicking over the relatively tiny number of people losing their junk health insurance plans. They should be loudly and continuously beating up on the insurance companies using Obamacare to trick people into buying new ones. Case in point: USHealth Group.
The Affordable Care Act was designed to make sure all Americans had a certain level of insurance. But TPM has learned that USHealth Group is actively telling consumers that they don't need that minimum level. In fact, company representatives are telling people they'd be better off without it. And the company may be just one player in a larger industry trend, where companies see non-ACA compliant plans, like the so-called fixed benefit coverage marketed by USHealth Group, as a business opportunity.
Health care industry analysts have long derided the kinds of non-insurance health care coverage products the company is selling as "junk insurance."
"They were not intended to be health insurance," Sabrina Corlette, a research professor at the Health Policy Institute at Georgetown University, told TPM, speaking about fixed benefit plans. "They were intended to be what are called income replacement policies. ...
But over the years, these things have kind of morphed. And for many people, unfortunately, mainly because they come with a cheaper sticker price, they are marketed as and treated as health insurance. Even though the coverage is really crappy."

USHealth Group's pitch is three-fold, according to accounts provided to TPM by Mortimer and another prospective customer. First, it says, it is a misconception that everyone needs ACA-compliant insurance. Second, USHealth Group plans are cheaper than ACA-compliant policies, even after customers pay the tax penalty for failing to comply with the ACA's individual mandate. Third, Obamacare is scary.
What USHealth Group isn't telling would-be customers, what they are lying to them about, is that these fixed benefit coverage plans, in which the company reimburses customers a fixed amount of money for medical services, don't comply with the law.

Crimminal Profit

Who said crime doesn't pay

Thousands Sentenced to Life Without Parole for Nonviolent Offenses

At least 3,728 prisoners in the United States will spend the rest of their lives in prison for non-violent offenses according to an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) study published on Wednesday.

The study, “A Living Death,” features key statistics about these prisoners, an analysis of the laws that produced their sentences, and case studies of 110 men and women serving these sentences. Of the 3,278 prisoners, 79 percent were convicted of nonviolent, drug-related crimes such as possession or distribution, and 20 percent of nonviolent property crimes like theft.

Also revealed was a stark racial disparity: The ACLU estimates that, of the 3,278 serving life without parole for nonviolent offenses, 65 percent are Black, 18 percent are white, and 16 percent are Latino, evidence of extreme racial disparities. Of the 3,278, most were sentenced under mandatory sentencing policies, including mandatory minimums and habitual offender laws that required them to be incarcerated until they die.

Blacks, for example, make up 13 percent of the U.S. population but comprise roughly 45 percent of the state and federal prison population, according to statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Spanish environmental pie-hurlers could face lengthy jail terms

Four environmental activists who threw pies at Navarre’s regional president in 2011 are due to appear before a Madrid court on Monday in a case their lawyer has compared to the Spanish Inquisition.

The four men are members of Mugitu, a group formed to fight against the development of a high-speed train network which would run through forestland in the Pyrenees. They stand accused of "energetically hurling pies in the face of Yolanda Barcina Angulo", president of the north-eastern Spanish region of Navarre.

The wingnut Popular Party leader was attending a public meeting in Toulouse (France) in October 2011 when group leader Gorka Ovejero approached her with a pie concealed in a file. Spain’s Public Ministry reported Barcina was left “dazed and disoriented” when first Ovejero pummeled her in “an energetic fashion” and then the three attackers covered her face and clothes with white cream pies.

"This case reveals the very worst side of the Spanish judicial system and its total lack of contact with reality,” defense lawyer Gonzalo Boye told The Guardian. “It shows a corrupt judicial and political class prepared to use public resources to try people that have done nothing more than demonstrate their opposition to the destruction of the forest. If these people are convicted, the court will look like a tribunal during the Inquisition rather than a modern court of law."

Pick axe-wielding thieves smashed way into store twice in a week to steal beef jerky

A store in Weber County, Utah, has suffered two smash-and-grab burglaries in the past week, and deputies are trying to track down the two people responsible. The damage from the burglaries cost the owner of Sinclair Country Corner in Warren more than the actual items stolen, deputies said.

Hippodrome Casino advertises for Door Dwarfs

The Hippodrome Casino in London has some vacancies for Door Dwarfs.
The advert says: "The Hippodrome is seeking to create a team of Britain's smallest bouncers - Door Dwarfs - for its new entrance in Cranbourn Street, Leicester Square. Duties include door control and customer relations. We welcome applications from those under 4ft 10 inches."
They hope to have their Door Dwarf team in place by December. Hippodrome Casino owner Simon Thomas said: "We wanted to add some extra spectacle to Leicester Square.

"The Hippodrome is a building with a rich tradition of theatrical innovation with a history of dwarf acts appearing here. It fits perfectly with the way we do things here – differently, with a lot of fun involved, and we think they will be very effective on the door."



Florida spring yields 'amazing' artifacts

To the untrained eye, many of the hundreds of artifacts pulled in recent months from a Florida spring in the Chassahowitzka River look like stuff nobody wanted to buy at a yard sale: old bottles, an antler, broken pieces of a plate, a toy cap gun, a bowl, a fishhook, pins.
Florida spring yields 'amazing' artifacts
The oldest of the stone tools recovered was a Suwannee projectile point. Dating from the Paleo-Indian period (10,000 - 8,000 BC), Suwannee points are lanceolate in shape and measure between 7.5-12 cm on average. Although found across much of Florida, Suwannee points are most commonly found in the Ichetucknee and Santa Fe Rivers [Credit: CNN]
But to archaeologist Michael Arbuthnot, who oversaw a five-month project that pulled hundreds of such items from a 2 1/2-acre field of muck as deep as 25 feet below the surface of the spring, they are much more.

"We found an amazing array of artifacts that basically represent every period of human occupation in Florida," he told CNN in a telephone interview.

The finds were a side benefit of a project funded by the state to clean the spring -- located 90 minutes north of Tampa -- and thereby improve its flow and water quality.

The spring in the Chassahowitzka, which is Seminole for "place of the hanging pumpkins," attracts tourists, canoeists and fans of fishing.

But over the years, it has also attracted gunk -- from septic tank effluent to runoff from the surrounding watershed -- that contributed to algal growth that made it less attractive.
Florida spring yields 'amazing' artifacts
Bone pins were used for clothing, hair and body jewelry, and, as may be the case
at the springs, spearing fish [Credit: CNN]
"This thick organic deposit was basically choking out the spring," said Philip Rhinesmith, senior environmental scientist with the Southwest Florida Water Management District.

"All around the vent are these accumulated organics," said Arbuthnot, who oversaw the salvage effort for SEARCH, a cultural resources management company. "As the divers were basically scooping it into their 6-inch dredge, they were keeping their eyes peeled for artifacts that might show up."

He described as "phenomenal" the preservation of the finds, whose location as many as 5 feet deep in oxygen-free sediment had protected them from decay.

They include a Suwannee projectile point -- a spear point -- whose estimated age of 10,000 years puts it "right at the cusp of the end of the Ice Age," Arbuthnot said. The person who lost it may have been hunting a mammoth.

A fish hook made of bone dates back centuries B.C. and also could have been used to catch alligators, he said.
Florida spring yields 'amazing' artifacts
Bone fishhooks were used from the Archaic period until
European contact [Credit: CNN]
A variety of bone pins -- used for piercings, fish hooks, awls and fastening clothing -- was also unearthed.

In the dredging operation, which began last May and ended in September, the underwater archeologists vacuumed up the sediment on the floor of the basin, put their finds into a floating screen platform and then picked through the clutter, Arbuthnot said.

It wasn't always clear what was worth a second look. For example, the bowl didn't look like anything special when it was spotted. "Divers first thought it was a coconut, because it was upside down," he said.

But the coconut turned out to be the bottom of a bowl, stained black by years of exposure to tannins in the water. It proved to be a 2,000-year-old, intact ceramic bowl with an earthen brown interior -- in good condition. "That's a big surprise," he said. "They're extraordinarily rare."

The discovery of fragments of a 17th century plate -- a Spanish ceramic -- also surprised the investigators, given that Citrus County is far from the nearest Spanish colonial settlement.
Florida spring yields 'amazing' artifacts
Pasco Plain pottery appears in the Woodland through Mississippian periods. This one is the only known fully intact Pasco Plain bowl to be recovered in Florida. The Woodland period is characterized by a mixed subsistence pattern consisting of hunting, fishing and collecting wild resources. Mississippian period subsistence consisted largely of estuarine fish and shellfish. Artifacts from both periods include pottery, stone tools and bone tools [Credit: CNN]
"I'm guessing that it was probably either intentionally dumped there or accidentally dropped in some sort of a trade route with the Native Americans." A more remote possibility is that a Spanish explorer may have visited the area and traded it to Native Americans there, he said.

The plate, which would have been nearly 14 inches in diameter when it was intact, "has an exquisite, painted decoration on the surface of it." Years under water had stained blue its original vibrant colors, he said.

Arbuthnot said a shard of brushed pottery dated to the 1700s and showed that the Seminole Indians were connected to the spring.

The antler was probably used by Native Americans to help fashion stone tools, he said.

The cap gun -- a Hubley Long Barrel Texan Jr. from the mid-1900s -- was made when gun manufacturers were transitioning from cast-iron to die-cast cap guns and, like all Hubley toys, it was hand-painted.
Florida spring yields 'amazing' artifacts
As cleanup crews were restoring this Florida spring to pristine condition, underwater archeologists sifting through the detritus that was pulled from the depths discovered artifacts that track the history of humans in the state [Credit: CNN]
That there would be finds under the surface was not a surprise. "We know from past experiences that there's generally a treasure trove of artifacts to be found" in the muck around springs, said Arbuthnot, whose underwater work includes an expedition to the Titanic in 2005. "It was pretty obvious from the start that this was going to be a hot spot."

But it was also full of plain, old-fashioned, modern trash -- Budweiser bottles, old car parts. Anything younger than 50 years does not meet Florida's definition of an artifact and was not saved.

The salvage part of the cleanup cost Florida taxpayers $180,000. "What that paid for was having a certified marine archeologist on the job when that dredging was happening," Rhinesmith said.

That meant the cleanup project didn't have to stop every time an artifact was found, which sped its completion. Time was an important factor, he said, because the work had to be completed between May 1 and September 30, when the region's water temperatures begin to drop and West Indian manatees -- a federally protected species -- seek out the warmer waters of the spring, he said.

Because the finds were made on state-owned land, they belong to Florida. Some of the finds are to be displayed at the Old Courthouse Heritage Museum in Inverness. For now, they're neatly labeled on racks in a laboratory in Gainesville -- a cornucopia of history.

Oldest Mayan 'fresco' mural found in Guatemala

Guatemalan and Spanish archaeologists have discovered the earliest Mayan mural fresco was discovered in northern Guatemala, near the Mexican border.
Oldest Mayan 'affresco' mural found in Guatemala
The Mayan mural painted with 'affresco' technique that dates back to the 8th century
from the La Blanca archaeological site [Credit: AFP/Guatemala
Ministry of Culture]
The mural is executed in the painting technique called 'fresco' which involves painting on a freshly laid lime plaster coat before it has dried said Cristina Vidal, Scientific Director of the archaeological site La Blanca, where the painting was discovered.

All hitherto known Mayan murals were done with secco or 'dry' mural painting techniques, said the archaeologist.

The mural, which was found in a Mayan palace built in the Late Classic period (600-900 AD), depicts a ceremonial offering gifts to an important person. We see many male characters, women, children and servants, with a band of hieroglyphs.

Vidal acknowledged the novelty of the discovery, but does not rule out that further findings in the older unexplored areas of the region could unearth more lost treasures of the Mayan civilization.

The Ward Charcoal Ovens Of Nevada

Ward Charcoal Ovens are a collection of six 30 feet high, beehive-shaped charcoal ovens located inside the Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park in the Egan Mountain Range in Nevada, USA.

Between 1876 and 1879, the Charcoal Ovens were built to produce charcoal from pinyon pine and juniper. After their function as charcoal ovens ended, they served diverse purposes, such as sheltering stockmen and prospectors during foul weather and even serving as a hideout for stagecoach bandits. Today they're the main attraction in Ward Charcoal Ovens State Historic Park.

What Is the Farthest One Human Being Has Ever Been from Another?

Randall Munroe, the roboticist and artist behind the webcomic xkcd, operates the blog “What If?” In it, he responds to strange scientific queries by readers. Most recently, reader Bryan J. McCarter asked Mr. Munroe:
What is the furthest one human being has ever been from every other living person? Were they lonely?
Mr. Munroe suspects that it was either Mike Collins, Dick Gordon, Stu Roosa, Al Worden, Ken Mattingly or Ron Evans. These are astronauts who stayed in the Apollo command module in lunar orbit while other astronauts landed on the surface of the moon. While on the opposite side of the moon, these men would have been 3,585 kilometers from any other human.
But, Mr. Munroe explains, there are also other possible candidates. An individual Polynesian during the migration of those peoples across the Pacific Ocean might have become isolated at a great distance from other human beings. A hypothetical shipwrecked sailor in the Eighteenth Century south Atlantic Ocean might also qualify.
But these are speculations. We can be sure about only the isolation of Apollo astronauts.
Were they lonely? Probably not. Mike Collins from the Apollo 11 mission described his experience:
Far from feeling lonely or abandoned, I feel very much a part of what is taking place on the lunar surface ... I don't mean to deny a feeling of solitude. It is there, reinforced by the fact that radio contact with the Earth abruptly cuts off at the instant I disappear behind the moon.
I am alone now, truly alone, and absolutely isolated from any known life. I am it. If a count were taken, the score would be three billion plus two over on the other side of the moon, and one plus who knows what on this side.

Physics is not interested in your delusions of grandeur

It's impossible to dive in front of a bullet and play the hero. Likewise, you can't really dodge a bullet either (unless you get a big lead on the fact that it's heading towards you). Kyle Hill explains why the stuff that looks fancy and flashy on TV doesn't work in the real world

The Worst Jobs In Science

The things scientists do range from accepting a Nobel Prize to schilling for corporations to collecting samples in the field. Every generation of newly-minted Phds clamor for the available positions, even when they are unpleasant because, hey, it's science! PopSci lists some of those jobs that you may find yourself in, such as collecting data in dangerous places, poking through roadkill, or analyzing biological waste products.
Just remember, if you pay your dues, you might eventually supervise other young scientists, put your name on papers in which they did the hard work, and someday that Nobel Prize could be yours! To cleanse the palate, PopSci has included three really awesome science jobs as well as the awful ones in this slideshow.

The Bizarre History of Our Obsession with Unicorns

The oldest description we've found of a unicorn was in 398 BCE, when the Greek Ctesius wrote about an animal from India, which he only knew from reading Persian accounts. Many early references to unicorn-like animals were products of accounts passed along until they were complete nonsense, like the game of telephone. Even the Bible suffered from this confusion, when a unicorn was inserted into places in which an animal unknown to the translators was mentioned. Out of these accounts, a mythology grew up around the nonexistent unicorn. And to this day, we cannot get enough of unicorns. Read more about the history of unicorns, or at least unicorns in myth and literature, at io9.

Daily Comic Relief


Glass sound barrier proves fatal for flock of Swedish birds

Eighty birds flew into a glass sound barrier in western Sweden on Sunday, in a mishap that proved fatal for the vast majority of the flock. "It was awful and tragic," Kirsten Ekholm of the Bird Center in Partille said. "It's sad because it's so unnecessary. We know how to avoid this." Ekholm was at the Bird Center, an organization near Gothenburg which rehabilitates injured wild birds, when a couple came in with several shaken Bohemian Waxwings. Ekholm accompanied them back to a glass sound barrier near a highway, where she was shocked to see nearly eighty bird bodies strewn about.
"We have never seen so many at one time," Ekholm recounted. "And most of them were very young birds. It was a terrible sight." Ekholm spent her Sunday gathering the bodies and examining the dead. Seventy-two of the birds were already dead when she arrived, and one died of its injuries during the night. Seven were still alive on Monday morning, but she said there was no guarantee they would make it. "It's difficult to say if they will live. Many of them have internal bleeding, and one had its eye completely smashed," Ekholm said. Bohemian Waxwings, which are common in the northern parts of Sweden, Finland, and Russia, desert their nests in the winter to seek berries further south.

This flock landed in a group of trees near the sound barrier to enjoy rowan berries, one of the species' favorite foods, and then proceeded to fly straight into the glass wall separating a bike path from a highway. "This is nothing new," said Ekholm. "We’ve known about this for years. Birds can’t see the glass and fly to their deaths. And if you build glass walls and then plant fruit trees there, you’re just luring them to a deathtrap." Tommy Järås, who runs the Bird Center in Partille, agrees. "It’s a massive problem," Järås said. "This many at a time is unusual, but birds fly into glass every day. We’re talking about millions of birds in Sweden every year."
If cities must build with glass, Ekholm said, there are ways to make it less fatal for birds. Glass walls can be patterned, featuring squares or lines that discourage birds from flying into them. Otherwise cities can simply use other materials. "It can’t be the most economical or environmentally-friendly choice to build with glass," she mused. "It’s expensive and often needs to be cooled in summer and heated in winter. People just think it’s prettier." But aesthetics take a toll, and the price is high. "This glass wall runs along a bike path, and there have been so many dead birds there that no wants to bike there anymore," Ekholm remarked. "So is it in even worth it to build with glass? It’s a question of if the public really wants this."

Tongues aren't just for smelling

After you spent all that time in grade school conditioning yourself to know that snakes stick out their tongues in order to smell things, it turns out that those tricky animals were also tasting with their tongues, all along. 

Worms in Wendy's BLT salad forced nauseous woman to go to hospital

A South Florida woman said she found worms in the BLT salad she and her boyfriend ordered at a Wendy’s – but the restaurant manager brushed off the nauseating find. The customer, who only wanted to give her first name of Ivette, said she immediately regretted making a drive-thru run at the Wendy's on Hollywood Boulevard on Nov. 7. She and her boyfriend Ahmed said they ordered the salad to share on their ride home, but she could only get through one bite.

The catch of a 900-pound sunfish creates stir in Jamaica

'At first I thought it was an alien, and I was somewhat frightened,' Desmond Phillips says of bizarre-looking catch, which lured dozens to the beach
Desmond Phillips (left) and Michael Grant pose with giant sunfish.
The massive sunfish was so bizarre looking that Desmond Phillips, one of two Jamaican fishermen who caught the estimated 900-pound behemoth on Sunday, thought it was from another world.
“At first I thought it was an alien, and I was somewhat frightened,” Phillips told the Jamaica Gleaner. “It was difficult to bring the fish to the surface, and even more challenging to get the monster into the boat.
“When I realized what it was that we had caught, I said to my partner, Michael Grant, who is the boat captain, maybe we should release it.”
The two fishermen hooked the sunfish off Boston Bay and after a battle that lasted nearly two hours, Capt. Grant was determined not to let the unusual catch get away.
Fishermen pose with giant sunfish; photo courtesy of the Jamaica Gleaner
Fishermen pose with giant sunfish
However, they were aboard a small boat and getting the enormous fish to shore proved to be more difficult than reeling it in.
They decided to tie it to the boat and motor to shore, but the boat could hardly progress because of the weight of the fish.
So they decided that the sunfish had to be brought on board.
“And after a lengthy period, and with water flooding into the boat, we finally brought it into the boat and set sail for Bryans Bay,” Phillips said.
Sunfish range throughout the world’s oceans, but they are not commonly encountered in Jamaican waters. And they’re quite the sight, roundish and blob-like, with truncated bodies, huge faces, and tiny mouths.
According to the Gleaner, word quickly spread of an “alien-fish” having been captured, and that lured dozens of curious people to the beach at Bryans Bay.
Many would eventually learn that these ocean sunfish, or Mola molas, can reach weights of 5,000 pounds, but are harmless omnivores that feed on sea jellies and other invertebrates.
“There is no need to fear it,” said Andre Kong of Jamaica’s Fisheries Division. “They are very docile and you can dive with them.”
For Phillips, according to the Jamaica Observer, it was his most exciting moment at sea since his catch of a 500-pound marlin two years earlier.

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