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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.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Daily Drift

Some people have forgotten that fact ....

Carolina Naturally is read in 194 countries around the world daily.
Dinosaur ... !
Today is - (there is no special celebration today) Day

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Today in History

1688 Louis XIV declares war on the Netherlands.
1774 A congress of colonial leaders criticizes British influence in the colonies and affirms their right to "Life, liberty and property."
1789 George Washington proclaims this a National Thanksgiving Day in honor of the new Constitution. This date was later used to set the date for Thanksgiving.
1812 Napoleon Bonaparte's army begins crossing the Beresina River over two hastily constructed bridges.
1825 The Kappa Alpha Society, the second American college Greek-letter fraternity, is founded.
1863 The first National Thanksgiving is celebrated.
1901 The Hope diamond is brought to New York.
1907 The Duma lends support to Czar in St. Petersburg, who claims he has renounced autocracy.
1917 The Bolsheviks offer an armistice between Russian and the Central Powers.
1922 Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, archeologists, open King Tut's tomb, undisturbed for 3,000 years.
1938 Poland renews nonaggression pact with the Soviet Union to protect against a German invasion.
1939 The Soviet Union charges Finland with artillery attack on border.
1941 The Japanese fleet departs from the Kuril Islands en route to its attack on Pearl Harbor.
1947 France expels 19 Soviet citizens, charging them with intervention in internal affairs.
1949 India becomes a sovereign Democratic republic.
1950 North Korean and Chinese troops halt a UN offensive.
1957 President Eisenhower suffers a minor stroke.
1975 Lynette "Squeaky" Fromme is found guilty of an attempt on President Gerald Ford's life.
1979 Oil deposits equaling OPEC reserves are found in Venezuela.
1982 Yasuhiro Nakasone is elected the 71st Japanese prime minister.

Non Sequitur


Concussion credited with unlocking teenager's musical talent

A tone-deaf teenager who spent weeks in hospital with concussion injuries has since discovered the ability to play 13 musical instruments. Lachlan Connors, 19, from Denver, tried to learn to play the piano before his injuries, but found he had no aptitude for music. Lachlan was a keen sportsman. He loved to play lacrosse, and hoped to play professionally one day.
However, a series of concussion injuries on the field led to seizures and eventually hospital. "I fell backwards and hit the back of my head on the ground. I remember getting up and feeling really dazed. I didn't really understand something bad had happened," Lachlan said. In subsequent matches he suffered further blows to the head. He started to have epileptic seizures and hallucinations, and eventually spent several weeks in hospital.
When he was released, doctors told Lachlan he could no longer play contact sports. However, he soon discovered he could play music easily by ear. He can now play as many as 13 instruments, including the guitar, the piano, the bagpipes, the mandolin and the accordion. "I honestly think something got rewired and something just changed. Thank God it did," Lachlan said.

Lachlan's doctors said the concussion injuries may have stimulated a previously unused part of his brain. "This was not a small injury for him," said Dr Spyridon Papadopoulos. "The thought is that this was a talent that was laying latent in his brain and was somehow uncovered by his brain rewiring after the injury."

Did you know ...

About the 14 habits of highly miserable people

That Scripps-Howard news service will go dark after 96 years

Seventeen Ancient Abandoned Websites That Still Work

The golden age of dial-up is over, but these Internet fossils will make you feel like it's 1996 all over again.

How Big Is The Blind Spot For Transport Trucks?

A blind spot in a vehicle is an area around the vehicle that cannot be directly observed by the driver while at the controls, under existing circumstances. Having worked in the transportation sector for most of my life, I know how dangerous blind spots in vehicles can be.
How big is the blind spot for transport trucks? And can something be done about it? Yes, it all comes down to design.

Man smuggled 13 bottles of booze out of store in his pants

Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers is asking for the public's help identifying a suspect who hid 13 bottles of alcohol in his sweatpants during a recent run to the Fort Myers Costco store.

Last Thursday shortly after 8pm two men walked into the Costco liquor store together. One of the men, wearing a white t-shirt and baggy sweatpants, was caught on camera sliding bottle after bottle of alcoholic beverages into his clothing.
In total, the one man ended up walking out of the store with one bottle of Grey Goose vodka and 12 bottles of Hennessey packed into his pants.

An employee of Costco saw the men leave in a silver Chevrolet Impala. Anyone with information on the identity and whereabouts of the suspect, or his partner in crime, is asked to call Crime Stoppers.

Hell's Angles

A post from someone who is poor

This Is What It's Like to Be Poor

I make a lot of poor financial decisions. None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don't pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing? It's not like the sacrifice will result in improved circumstances; the thing holding me back isn't that I blow five bucks at Wendy's. It's that now that I have proven that I am a Poor Person that is all that I am or ever will be. It is not worth it to me to live a bleak life devoid of small pleasures so that one day I can make a single large purchase. I will never have large pleasures to hold on to. There's a certain pull to live what bits of life you can while there's money in your pocket, because no matter how responsible you are you will be broke in three days anyway. When you never have enough money it ceases to have meaning. I imagine having a lot of it is the same thing.
Poverty is bleak and cuts off your long-term brain. It's why you see people with four different babydaddies instead of one. You grab a bit of connection wherever you can to survive. You have no idea how strong the pull to feel worthwhile is. It's more basic than food. You go to these people who make you feel lovely for an hour that one time, and that's all you get. You're probably not compatible with them for anything long-term, but right this minute they can make you feel powerful and valuable. It does not matter what will happen in a month. Whatever happens in a month is probably going to be just about as indifferent as whatever happened today or last week. None of it matters. We don't plan long-term because if we do we'll just get our hearts broken. It's best not to hope. You just take what you can get as you spot it.

The "knockout game" and "polar bear hunting" explained as racially-motivated crimes

We've seen scattered reports of this for the past month or so.  Here are excerpts from a recent Washington Post article:
One woman was punched in the face as she crested a hill on her bicycle in Northwest Washington. Another was hit in the back of the head as she walked to a bus stop. Neither was robbed, and after one attack, the young men laughed as they made their escape.

D.C. police say the recent attacks in Columbia Heights may be part of a disturbing trend that assailants across the country call the “knockout game.” Youths challenge one another to knock out a random person with a single punch...

The Internet is giving attackers bragging rights far beyond their circle of friends or even their neighborhoods. One particularly brutal video from New Jersey showing a young man hitting a woman from behind, sending her face first to the pavement, has a half-million views on YouTube...

One 10-year-old boy said he recently punched someone on a $20 dare but failed to knock the victim to the ground. “Me and my friends were hanging out and they asked me if I had done one,” the boy said. “And I said I don’t know how to play, so [they] explained it to me.”

A 15-year-old charter school student said that in “Grand Theft Auto,” “you can just run up to people, and you can just like hit them and they’ll just like fall. It looks kind of funny in the game.” She said she wouldn’t do it in real life.
Related incidents:
In New York, a 78-year-old woman strolling in her neighborhood was punched in the head by a stranger and tumbled to the ground. In Washington, a 32-year-old woman was swarmed by teenagers on bikes, and one clocked her in the face. In Jersey City, a 46-year-old man died after someone sucker-punched him and he struck his head on an iron fence.
And some distubing comments appended to the WaPo article:
"It is amazing how the Washington Post can report about this phenomenon without the issue of racial violence coming up one into the discussion. It is a shame that honesty took a back seat to what is really going on here."

"Yep. In the hood, this is called polar bear hunting. The Post knows this but purposefully doesn't report it. Its a rapidly growing hate crime that isn't being acknowledged as such."
Commentary on "polar bear hunting" by Thomas Sowell
The New York authorities describe a recent series of such attacks and, because Jews have been singled out in these attacks, are considering prosecuting these assaults as “hate crimes.”

Many aspects of these crimes are extremely painful to think about, including the fact that responsible authorities in New York seem to have been caught by surprise, even though this “knockout game” has been played for years by young black gangs in other cities and other states, against people besides Jews — the victims being either whites in general or people of Asian ancestry...

The main reason for many people’s surprise is that the mainstream media have usually suppressed news about the “knockout game” or about other and larger forms of similar orchestrated racial violence in dozens of cities in every region of the country. Sometimes the attacks are reported, but only as isolated attacks by unspecified “teens” or “young people” against unspecified victims, without any reference to the racial makeup of the attackers or the victims — and with no mention of racial epithets by the young hoodlums exulting in their own “achievement.”

Despite such pious phrases as “troubled youths,” the attackers are often in a merry, festive mood. In a sustained mass attack in Milwaukee, going far beyond the dimensions of a passing “knockout game,” the attackers were laughing and eating chips, as if it were a picnic. One of them observed casually, “white girl bleed a lot.”

That phrase — “White Girl Bleed A Lot” — is also the title of a book by Colin Flaherty, which documents both the racial attacks across the nation and the media attempts to cover them up, as well as the local political and police officials who try to say that race had nothing to do with these attacks.

It couldn't happen to a 'nicer' guy ...

Cocaine bust derails fledgling repugican congressman 
by Michael J. Mishak This photo taken with a cellphone shows Rep. Henry "Trey" Radel, R-Fla. leaving court in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, leaving court after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor charge of cocaine possession and was sentenced to a year's probation. (AP Photo/Jessica Gresko)
From the outset, Trey Radel — a brash and digitally savvy darling of the wingnuts — was determined to make a name for himself. And so he has.
Just 10 months after being sworn in as a member of Congress, the rookie repugican — who supported drug testing for food stamp recipients and championed cuts in sheep-farm subsidies, of all things — pleaded guilty to cocaine possession, took a leave of absence from politics and checked into a Naples rehabilitation center. It was his purchase of 3.5 grams of cocaine from an undercover officer in Washington's Dupont Circle neighborhood last month that caused it all to unravel.
In a flash, an ambitious lawmaker known to few outside southwest Florida became America's "Cocaine Congressman," the first sitting member of Congress to be charged with a drug offense in more than three decades.
"I hope, like family, southwest Florida can forgive me for this. I've let them down," Radel, 37, said in an emotional late-night press conference Wednesday that marked an embarrassing retreat from public view. "But I do believe in faith, forgiveness and redemption."
The unseemly distinction of a drug arrest has derailed a promising political career and divided this quiet stretch of golf courses and retirement communities with the force of a hurricane. The largest daily newspapers and a growing number of repugican leaders in the district, which includes the Gulf Coast communities of Fort Myers and Naples, are demanding his resignation. Potential challengers are openly weighing primary bids. And late-night talk show hosts are once again focused on Florida.
"I can't wait for the School House Rock on how a bill becomes a straw," cracked Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show."
Whether Radel remains a politician or a punch line is an open question. His office hasn't answered questions  since his Wednesday news conference.
On Thursday in downtown Fort Myers, his name elicited rolling eyes and hearty chuckles. Asked about Radel, several voters responded with one word: "Cocaine."
"If he were a coke-head kid working at McDonald's, he'd be out of a job," said Richard Bruehl, a retired general contractor.
Others were more supportive.
"We thought he was a really great guy to represent us," said Carol Hess, a retired business owner. "We just hope he gets the rehab he needs and comes back and continues for us."
The lawmaker comes from a family that ran a funeral parlor on Cincinnati's heavily catholic and wingnut west side, where he helped run ceremonies and drove the hearse. This week he spoke about his mother's struggles with alcoholism and later her sudden death at his wedding; she choked on a piece of food.
After high school, he seemed to crave life in the public eye. He moved to Chicago to attend Loyola University, where he studied broadcast journalism and minored in Italian. He worked his way through college by bartending and briefly took classes at The Second City, the improvisational comedy outfit that trained John Belushi and Steve Carell.
He studied abroad and backpacked through Europe. After graduation, he traversed southern Mexico and parts of Central America, and became fluent in Spanish. Later, he would tell the Washington newspaper Roll Call that his favorite vacation spot outside Florida was Cartagena, Colombia, an expensive coastal city in a country known for cocaine trafficking.
"I had a lust for life, to see the world, learn the different cultures," he told The News-Press of Fort Myers last year.
When he returned to the U.S., he took a series of jobs in television news before settling in southwest Florida, where he spent years as a reporter and later anchor for CBS affiliate WINK. He left the station to start a media-relations firm and began hosting an early-morning conservative talk-radio show.
Radel says he has struggled with drug and alcohol abuse "off and on for years." Mike Adams, Radel's first producer on the "Daybreak" morning show, said the two would often talk about cocaine and Radel's backpacking trips through Colombia.
"I would mention, 'How was the stuff?'" said Adams, who acknowledged his own struggles with addiction. "And he would say, 'Oh my god, it was phenomenal. Nothing like you get here.'"
By then, Radel was fully ensconced in the tea party movement, emceeing rallies and befriending Republican politicians, including the district's congressman, Connie Mack IV. When Mack called him to say he would be leaving the House and running for U.S. Senate, Radel launched his first political campaign.
He was embroiled in a bruising, six-way repugican primary, openly targeting opponents on the Internet and facing criticism for his firm's ownership of explicitly named websites. But he was backed by the local tea party movement and repugican luminaries, including Mack and Sen. Marco Rubio, and clinched the repugican cabal nomination. He cruised to victory in November.
Rubio's office did not respond to a request for comment. Mack issued a statement Wednesday: "I certainly hope Trey gets the help he needs. Time and his own actions will determine whether the people are willing to give him a second chance."
In the House, Radel aligned himself with the tea party caucus, supporting wingnut measures, including one to allow states to drug-test recipients of food stamps.
One signature piece of legislation was an amendment to slash federal funds for the National Sheep Industry Improvement Center, which gives grants to sheep researchers, shearers in training and sheep-rancher associations. The amendment won enthusiastic support, but the legislation to which it was attached died.
His embrace of social media made him a standout in Congress. His Twitter feed is filled with short video clips, jokes and running commentary on everything from "Obamacare" to SkyMall, the inflight shopping catalog. A self-described "Hip Hop wingnut," he reviewed a Jay-Z album via Twitter and wrote a column for Buzzfeed about the power of rap. (He dubbed Public Enemy's "Fight the Power" a wingnut anthem "because I believe when government expands it becomes a political tool meant to oppress.")
"This is where repugicans need to step up to the plate," he told the Naples Daily News. "We need to get with the times, and be able to share a message cutting across generational, ethnic and cultural lines."
Radel was backed by district, county and state repugican cabal officials. He built a reputation as an accessible congressman, devoted to town halls and public events.
Then, on Oct. 29, Radel attempted to buy $250 worth of cocaine from an undercover police officer in a Washington, D.C., neighborhood.
According to court documents, federal agents confronted the congressman and he invited them to his apartment, where he turned over a vial of the drug. A DEA official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release details of the case in his own name said Radel was identified to authorities as a cocaine buyer by his suspected dealer. Court documents said the lawmaker had purchased the drug on several previous occasions.
For the next three weeks, Radel didn't skip a beat. He held a re-election fundraiser at a Naples country club, continued to cast votes and bashed "Obamacare" on Twitter. He did not tell House leaders about the bust until Tuesday, when reporters broke the news about the case.
On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor drug charge and was sentenced to a year's probation.
Back home, repugicans clogged phone lines of the morning show Radel used to host. Many called for his resignation, including Mike Scott, the popular Lee County sheriff. Others argued for a second chance. All were disappointed.
"We thought we had an up-and-coming star in the party," said Terry Miller, chairman of the Lee County repugican cabal.
Some of Radel's former challengers are considering primary bids, including Chauncey Goss, son of former CIA director and Rep. Porter Goss, and Paige Kreegel, a doctor and former four-term state representative.
"This type of event was not unexpected, but I don't think anybody predicted he'd burn himself up in 10 months," Kreegel said. "It's embarrassing and somewhat insulting for a self-professed alcoholic and drug addict to pretend that he can effectively represent southwest Florida in the U.S. Congress."
For his part, Radel, standing before a bank of TV cameras in a cramped room in his district office Wednesday, apologized and said in a shaky voice that it was only a matter of time before his problems caught up with him.
"I knew that this day would come," he said.

China bolsters East China Sea claim, warns of 'defensive measures'

A Chinese military plane Y-8 airborne early warning plane flies through airspace between Okinawa prefecture's main island and the smaller Miyako island in southern Japan, out over the Pacific, in this handout photo taken on October 27, 2013 by the Japan Air Self-Defence Force and released by the Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan. REUTERS/Joint Staff Office of the Defense Ministry of Japan/Handout via Reuters
by John Ruwitch
China on Saturday bolstered its claim to islands that Japan says it owns, warning that it would take "defensive emergency measures" against aircraft that failed to identify themselves properly in airspace over them.
Ties between the Asian powers have been strained for months by the dispute over the islands in the East China Sea, called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan, which are believed to be surrounded by energy-rich seabed.
China's government-run Xinhua news agency published a map and coordinates for the newly established "East China Sea Air Defence Identification Zone", which covers most of that sea including the disputed islands.
It also released Defence Ministry identification rules for aircraft in the area.
"China's armed forces will adopt defensive emergency measures to respond to aircraft that do not cooperate in the identification or refuse to follow the instructions," Xinhua said.
Xinhua said the rules came into force on Saturday and the Chinese air force conducted its first patrol over the zone. The patrol included early warning aircraft and fighters, it said.
Japan scrambled fighter jets on Saturday afternoon against two Chinese reconnaissance planes over the East China Sea, the Japanese Defence Ministry said.
A ministry spokesman declined to comment on whether there was any connection between the Chinese patrol activity and the two reconnaissance planes. He said one of the aircraft, a TU-154, came as close as 40 km (25 miles) to what Japan considers its airspace above the disputed islands.
A Japanese Foreign Ministry spokesman said Japan had lodged a strong protest with China's embassy in Tokyo and reiterated its position that the islands belonged to Japan and China's action was not acceptable.
"Setting up such airspace unilaterally escalates the situation surrounding the Senkaku islands and has the risk of leading to an unexpected situation," Japan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
The United States expressed its "strong concerns" to China, with the White House saying the "escalatory development" increased regional tensions and affected U.S. interests and those of its allies.
"We view this development as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region," Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in a statement. "This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations."
Patrol ships from China and Japan have been shadowing each other near the islets on and off for months, raising fears that a confrontation could develop into a clash.
There have also been several incidents involving military aircraft flying close to each other. In October, Chinese military aircraft flew near Japan three days in a row, and Japan scrambled fighter jets each time in response.
The new Chinese rules mean aircraft have to report flight plans to China's Foreign Ministry or civil aviation administration, maintain radio contact and reply promptly to identification inquiries, keep radar transponders turned on, and bear clear markings of their nationality and registration.
The Defence Ministry said it was the "administrative organ" for the zone, Xinhua said.
The zone is outside China's territorial airspace, but Chinese Defence Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun said in an interview carried by Xinhua that its establishment had a sound legal basis and accorded with common international practices.
He noted that other countries had established similar zones and said China would put more in place in future.
"It is a necessary measure in China's exercise of self-defence rights. It has no particular target and will not affect the freedom of flight in relevant airspace," Yang said.

Leaked NSA report reveals push for new surveillance powers

A new report in the New York Times by James Risen and Laura Poitras details how National Security Agency officials seeking dominance in intelligence collection, "pledged last year to push to expand surveillance powers," according to a top-secret strategy document leaked by Edward Snowden.
In a February 2012 paper laying out the four-year strategy for the N.S.A.’s signals intelligence operations, which include the agency’s eavesdropping and communications data collection around the world, agency officials set an objective to “aggressively pursue legal authorities and a policy framework mapped more fully to the information age.” Written as an agency mission statement with broad goals, the five-page document said that existing American laws were not adequate to meet the needs of the N.S.A. to conduct broad surveillance in what it cited as “the golden age of Sigint,” or signals intelligence. “The interpretation and guidelines for applying our authorities, and in some cases the authorities themselves, have not kept pace with the complexity of the technology and target environments, or the operational expectations levied on N.S.A.’s mission,” the document concluded.
And don't miss this earlier report by Charlie Savage in the New York Times, "Warrantless Surveillance Continues to Cause Fallout."
Related, in Ars Technica, the US response: "House intel bill adds $75 million to NSA budget to stop future Snowdens."



The Neuroscientist Who Discovered He Was a Psychopath

Neuroscientist James Fallon knows what a psychopathic brain scan looks like, because he's studied the differences in brain activity between normal brains and those of people with various anomalies and impairments. While studying scans of his own family members in a study of Alzheiner's disease, he recognized one that had all the hallmarks of a psychopath. His curiosity got the best of him, and he looked up who it was. It was his own brain scan.

Fallon is a stable and successful scientist and is happily married. But he still recognized his own difficulties with feeling empathy for others. Does his own life mean that psychopaths can go unnoticed and lead successful lives?  
“I’m obnoxiously competitive. I won’t let my grandchildren win games. I’m kind of an asshole, and I do jerky things that piss people off,” he says. “But while I’m aggressive, but my aggression is sublimated. I’d rather beat someone in an argument than beat them up.”

Why has Fallon been able to temper his behavior, while other people with similar genetics and brain turn violent and end up in prison? Fallon was once a self-proclaimed genetic determinist, but his views on the influence of genes on behavior have evolved. He now believes that his childhood helped prevent him from heading down a scarier path.

“I was loved, and that protected me,” he says. Partly as a result of a series of miscarriages that preceded his birth, he was given an especially heavy amount of attention from his parents, and he thinks that played a key role.
Fallon's experience highlights the delicate balance between nature and nurture.

Insomnia Could Raise Risk Of Heart Disease And Death In Men

There are lots of reasons to aim for a good night’s sleep. Sleep helps us retain our memories. It helps our brains get rid of harmful toxins. But sleep might also play a role in heart disease. Men who reported difficulty falling or staying asleep had a moderately higher risk of death, especially from cardiovascular disease, than did men who said they fell asleep easily, a study finds.
Researchers from Harvard and Brigham and Women’s Hospital looked at the health of 23,447 men over six years. Over the course of the study, 2,000 men died. The researchers looked at how insomnia might be related.
The men who had trouble falling asleep had a 55 percent higher risk of cardiovascular disease compared to those who said they didn’t, and a 25 percent higher risk of death. The number isn’t as grim as it sounds. It reflects what’s called relative risk, which compares the differences between two groups of people. An individual’s risk of death, what scientists call absolute risk, rose just 8 percentage points, from 7 to 15 percent.
Harvard epidemiologist Xiang Gao, one of the researchers behind the study, says the findings made sense. “Poor sleep has influence on endocrine function, it can increase chronic inflammation and also it can change circadian patterns,” Gao tells Shots.
The findings were published Wednesday in the journal Circulation.
Of course, this study doesn’t prove that sleeping problems were responsible for the death difference. It could be just chance.
Factors other than sleeplessness might be behind the discrepancy. But the researchers took quite a few into account, including age, depression and diabetes.
Gao tells Shots that while the association documented in this study is very strong, it’s still just an association. “I still believe more studies are needed,” he says.
For one thing, this was an observational study, and the men reported the sleep issues themselves, which could influence accuracy. The next step, Gao says, is to bring people into a sleep lab to get a more detailed look at how insomnia might affect mortality.
But you probably don’t need to wait for the answer if you’re concerned about your health. “To improve sleep is always a good thing,” Gao says,
In recent years, scientists have become more interested in insomnia as a deeper medical issue, rather than a nuisance. One-third of Americans say they have trouble sleeping.
All of the participants were sampled from Harvard’s Health Professionals Follow-Up Study, which has been following a group of men since 1986. Gao says the next step is to look at women and see if the association between insomnia and mortality holds true among them.

Strife Fuels Polio's Return to Middle East

by Christoph Reuter
An Apolitical Virus: Strife Fuels Polio's Return to Middle East
Polio is making a comeback in a decimated part of Syria, but the delicate politics of the war are making vaccination campaigns difficult. As an epidemic looms over the region, anger over the World Health Organization's inaction is growing. More

Celebrities You Never Knew Were Nurses

Nurses are heralded for their vital, often lifesaving work, and some even become well known outside of the profession for their pioneering spirit or high skill in at times extremely dangerous circumstances.

However, there are also certain individuals who have found fame in a different arena yet who, before coming into the public eye for other talents, worked behind the scenes in psychiatric, pediatric and intensive care units as well as other areas. Here are ten celebrities whom you never knew were nurses.

Random Celebrity Photos

Steve McQueen - Yes it is really him

The Topography Of Tears

The Topography of Tears is a study of 100 tears photographed through a standard light microscope. One day photographer Rose-Lynn Fisher wondered if her tears of grief would look any different from her tears of happiness - and she set out to explore them up close.

Years later, this series comprises a wide range of tears, from elation to onions, as well as sorrow, frustration, rejection, resolution, laughing, yawning, birth and rebirth, and many more, each a tiny history.

Cause of El Nino abnormality found

Unusual El Ninos, like those that led to the extraordinary super El Nino years of 1982 and 1997, will occur twice as often under even modest global warming scenarios.
Cause of El Nino abnormality found
Cracked soil and dead cows are pictured at a ranch in Chaco,
Paraguay in 2009 [Credit: AFP]
That is the finding of a new collaborative study, published in the journal Nature and led by researchers from the UNSW Climate Change Research Center and ARC Center of Excellence for Climate System Science, which has for the first time revealed the cause of these events.

These unusual El Nino events differ from the more common kind in that sea surface temperatures start warming in the west of the Pacific Basin and spread eastwards. Under normal El Ninos, ocean surface temperatures first warm in the cold eastern Pacific and then expand west, in the direction of the Trade Winds and the ocean currents along the equator.

"These unusual El Ninos appeared for the first time in the available record sometime after the mid 1970s," says lead author, Dr Agus Santoso, of the UNSW Climate Change Research Center.

Scientists have struggled to explain why they occurred and if the frequency would change in the future.

"The most common theory used to explain these unusual El Ninos was that competing air and ocean feedbacks drove the direction of the warming," says Dr Santoso.

"But if this was true, La Ninas would have propagated in the same direction. Observations show they do not."

In a world first, the researchers found the key to the mystery was the weakening of westward flowing currents along the Equator in the Pacific Ocean. As these currents weakened and even reversed, it allowed the heat during these unusual El Nino events to spread more easily into the eastern Pacific.

La Nina events didn't behave in a similar way, because the currents are strong and flow to the west.

Importantly, using observations and climate models, the researchers were able to determine what this could mean for the future frequency of these unusual El Ninos.

"Using observations we demonstrated the likely role of the weaker currents in the unusual behavior," says Dr Santoso.

"These currents are well represented in a number of climate models. Using these models we confirmed, even under modest global warming scenarios, these unusual El Nino events doubled in frequency."

Past experience shows that these super El Nino events bring more than just unusual weather conditions - they matter for people and economies.

The 1982 and 1997 events led to highly unusual weather events worldwide causing disruption in fisheries and agriculture costing tens of billions of dollars and leading to the deaths of tens of thousands of people. During the 1982 event, in the US alone, crop losses were estimated at $10-12 billion (the equivalent of $24-26 billion in current terms).

"While more frequent eastward propagating El Ninos will be a symptom of a warming planet, further research is underway to determine the impact of such events in a climate that is going to be significantly warmer than today," says co-author, Dr Wenju Cai, a senior scientist at CSIRO.

Hillside mystery solved as man admits to giving up writing apology to ex-girlfriend after one letter

For weeks people in Reno have been asking: "What does NA mean?" The letters appear on the side of Peavine Mountain near the University of Nevada, Reno. The "N" is made out of white rocks and symbolizes UNR. This year marks one-hundred years of the "N" being on the hill. However, recently an "A" made with chalk appeared next to the "N," and administrators at the university were perplexed why.

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Evidence found for granite on Mars

Researchers now have stronger evidence of granite on Mars and a new theory for how the granite -- an igneous rock common on Earth -- could have formed there, according to a new study. The findings suggest a much more geologically complex Mars than previously believed.
Evidence found for granite on Mars
NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter is providing new spectral "windows" into the diversity of Martian surface materials. Here in a volcanic caldera, bright magenta outcrops have a distinctive feldspar-rich composition [Credit: NASA/JPL/JHUAPL/MSSS]
Large amounts of a mineral found in granite, known as feldspar, were found in an ancient Martian volcano. Further, minerals that are common in basalts that are rich in iron and magnesium, ubiquitous on Mars, are nearly completely absent at this location. The location of the feldspar also provides an explanation for how granite could have formed on Mars. Granite, or its eruptive equivalent, rhyolite, is often found on Earth in tectonically active regions such as subduction zones. This is unlikely on Mars, but the research team concluded that prolonged magmatic activity on Mars can also produce these compositions on large scales.

"We're providing the most compelling evidence to date that Mars has granitic rocks," said James Wray, an assistant professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology and the study's lead author.

The research was published November 17 in the Advance Online Publication of the journal Nature Geoscience. The work was supported by the NASA Mars Data Analysis Program.

For years Mars was considered geologically simplistic, consisting mostly of one kind of rock, in contrast to the diverse geology of Earth. The rocks that cover most of Mars's surface are dark-colored volcanic rocks, called basalt, a type of rock also found throughout Hawaii for instance.

But earlier this year, the Mars Curiosity rover surprised scientists by discovering soils with a composition similar to granite, a light-colored, common igneous rock. No one knew what to make of the discovery because it was limited to one site on Mars.

The new study bolsters the evidence for granite on Mars by using remote sensing techniques with infrared spectroscopy to survey a large volcano on Mars that was active for billions of years. The volcano is dust-free, making it ideal for the study. Most volcanoes on Mars are blanketed with dust, but this volcano is being sand-blasted by some of the fastest-moving sand dunes on Mars, sweeping away any dust that might fall on the volcano. Inside, the research team found rich deposits of feldspar, which came as a surprise.

"Using the kind of infrared spectroscopic technique we were using, you shouldn't really be able to detect feldspar minerals, unless there's really, really a lot of feldspar and very little of the dark minerals that you get in basalt," Wray said.

The location of the feldspar and absence of dark minerals inside the ancient volcano provides an explanation for how granite could form on Mars. While the magma slowly cools in the subsurface, low density melt separates from dense crystals in a process called fractionation. The cycle is repeated over and over for millennia until granite is formed. This process could happen inside of a volcano that is active over a long period of time, according to the computer simulations run in collaboration with Josef Dufek, who is also an associate professor in the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at Georgia Tech.

"We think some of the volcanoes on Mars were sporadically active for billions of years," Wray said. "It seems plausible that in a volcano you could get enough iterations of that reprocessing that you could form something like granite."

This process is sometimes referred to as igneous distillation. In this case the distillation progressively enriches the melt in silica, which makes the melt, and eventual rock, lower density and gives it the physical properties of granite.

"These compositions are roughly similar to those comprising the plutons at Yosemite or erupting magmas at Mount St. Helens, and are dramatically different than the basalts that dominate the rest of the planet," Dufek said.

Another study published in the same edition of Nature Geoscience by a different research team offers another interpretation for the feldspar-rich signature on Mars. That team, from the European Southern Observatory and the University of Paris, found a similar signature elsewhere on Mars, but likens the rocks to anorthosite, which is common on the moon. Wray believes the context of the feldspar minerals inside of the volcano makes a stronger argument for granite. Mars hasn't been known to contain much of either anorthosite or granite, so either way, the findings suggest the Red Planet is more geologically interesting than before.

"We talk about water on Mars all the time, but the history of volcanism on Mars is another thing that we'd like to try to understand," Wray said. "What kinds of rocks have been forming over the planet's history? We thought that it was a pretty easy answer, but we're now joining the emerging chorus saying things may be a little bit more diverse on Mars, as they are on Earth."

This research is supported by the NASA Mars Data Analysis Program under award NNX13AH80G. Any conclusions or opinions are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official views of the sponsoring agencies.

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Blind puppy and his loyal brother adopted

Two eight-month old puppies are being adopted. Jeffrey, who is blind, and his brother Jermaine will head to their new home together on Monday. The pups, believed to be lab-pit mixes, were found on a Philadelphia street in October and were taken in by Operation Ava.
"The unconditional love and devotion these two dogs show is positively inspirational," wrote an SPCA spokesperson on the group's Facebook page.

What's even more inspirational is the fact that Jermaine has dedicated his life to being his brother's seeing eye dog. "I think this is a little bit extraordinary in my experience because they're so careful with one another and play together so well," said Ray Little, Director of Life Saving at Operation Ava.

"Jeffrey really does try to maintain contact with Jermaine, especially when he's in an unfamiliar environment. As soon as he gets familiar with a new place, then he becomes a little bit more independent. But it's amazing how they try to maintain contact with each other."

Woof-operated washing machine will help people with disabilities

Disabled people using canine helpers have been handed a lifeline thanks to a revolutionary washing machine – which is activated by a dog’s bark. The ‘Woof to Wash’ appliance enables specially-trained dogs – which can already strip beds, fill laundry baskets, and load and empty washing machines – to unlock the machine with a bespoke footpad, and start it with a simple woof. A doggy footpad and a microphone system have been added, which recognize a dog’s bark.
That means dogs are able to unlock the machine by pressing the pad with their paw, pull a rope with their mouths to open the machine, close the machine again with their nose, then activate the cycle by barking. Measured amounts of detergent are automatically added from a storage bottle on the machine. Inventor John Middleton said: “People who are visually impaired, have manual dexterity problems, autism or learning difficulties can find the complexity of modern day washing machines too much. I had been working on a single program washing machine to make things easier, and there was a lot of demand for it.
“But then I saw a video from the charity Support Dogs, where a dog strips a bed and loads the washing machine. I was completely blown away and instantly thought I could invent a machine where the dog does everything. So I got in touch with Support Dogs and they loved the idea. They said it would be a huge help to their severely disabled users.” After an initial meeting John, who is managing director of UK laundry specialist JTM, set to work with a team of engineers, and finished the project with the help of manufacturer Miele in a fortnight.

John said: “Doing projects like this is mine and my team’s true passion. We make our money from selling mainstream products, but it’s making bespoke products - like the Woof to Wash - that really excites us. The idea is to simply show what can be done, because the possibilities really are endless.” The charity’s dogs are trained using voice commands and hand signals so they can help their owners fetch post, turn on light switches, open doors, assist in dressing and undressing, and now do a complete laundry cycle. The charity’s director of operations Rita Howson said: “What John has brilliantly come up with is to tailor make these machines to each individual’s needs.”

Dog survived 55-mile journey wedged in car grille

A dog in Brazil is recovering after surviving a 55-mile journey wedged in the grille of a car.
The dog was in the middle of a road near Itapetinga when it was hit by the car. The driver claims he saw the dog, swerved to avoid hitting it, but heard a "thud" as he came upon the dog. But driver Julia Cesar Siqueria kept driving, knowing he had hit the animal, "'I was traveling at speed and knew it could not have survived the collision, so I kept driving."

What Siqueria didn't know was that the poor dog was actually wedged in his car's front bumper grille. It wasn't until Siqueria arrived at his destination 55 miles away that he noticed passers-by frantically waving him down to alert him. Rescuers were shocked to find the female dog still alive and conscious.
Firefighters and a vet were able to pry the mixed-breed out of the car and take it to a local clinic. Amazingly, the animal was found to only have a broken leg. The dog has been named "Vitoria," which means "victory" in English, after the name of the town where she was rescued. Siqueria has reportedly agreed to pay for the dog's treatment.

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