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

Thursday, February 27, 2014

The Daily Drift

Damn, Straight ...

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Today in History

425 Theodosius effectively founds a university in Constantinople.
1531 German Protestants form the League of Schmalkalden to resist the power of the emperor.
1700 The Pacific Island of New Britain is discovered.
1814 Napoleon's Marshal Nicholas Oudinot is pushed back at Barsur-Aube by the Emperor's allied enemies shortly before his abdication.
1827 The first Mardi-Gras celebration is held in New Orleans.
1864 The first Union prisoners arrive at Andersonville Prison in Georgia.
1865 Confederate raider William Quantrill and his bushwackers attack Hickman, Kentucky, shooting women and children.
1905 The Japanese push Russians back in Manchuria and cross the Sha River.
1908 The forty-sixth star is added to the U.S. flag, signifying Oklahoma's admission to statehood.
1920 The United States rejects a Soviet peace offer as propaganda.
1925 Glacier Bay National Monument is dedicated in Alaska.
1933 The burning down of the Reichstag building in Berlin gives the Nazis the opportunity to suspend personal liberty with increased power.
1939 The Supreme Court outlaws sit-down strikes.
1942 British Commandos raid a German radar station at Bruneval on the French coast.
1953 F-84 Thunderjets raid North Korean base on Yalu River.
1962 South Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem is unharmed as two planes bomb the presidential palace in Saigon.
1963 The Soviet Union says that 10,000 troops will remain in Cuba.
1969 Thousands of students protest President Richard Nixon's arrival in Rome.
1973 U.S. Supreme Court rules that a Virginia pool club can't bar residents because of color.
1988 Debi Thomas becomes the first African American to win a medal at the Winter Olympics.
1991 Coalition forces liberate Kuwait after seven months of occupation by the Iraqi army.

Non Sequitur


The Curious Case of the American Accent

Hey youz! Whah do ‘Mericans have all different aks-ay-ents? It’s, like, totally confusing and somewhat bizzah, dontcha know.
An accent is “a manner of pronunciation peculiar to a particular individual, location, or nation.” That’s not to be confused with dialect, which is a specific form of a language that has its own unique lexicon (words), grammatical structures, and phonology (a fancy word for accent). So an accent can be a part of a dialect, but not vice versa. Because dialects can be traced to geographical regions, they give linguists important clues to the origin of accents. And discovering where accents came from can explain why an American says “ta-may-to” and a Brit says “ta-mah-toe,” or why Bostonians say “park the cah” and a Nebraskan says “park the car.”
The United States began as colonies of Great Britain, but the settlers didn’t trickle across the Atlantic at random. According to Brandeis University Professor David Hackett Fischer in his book Albion’s Seed, there are four primary American accents, which derive from the major migrations from England to the New World in the 17th and 18th centuries.
1. East Anglia to Massachusetts (1620-40). Puritans who fled to the New World to escape religious persecution were, by and large, from the eastern counties of England. To this day, in remote parts of East Anglia, there are rural folk who speak in what is sometimes referred to as the “Norfolk whine.” When they came to New England, that accent came along with them. You may recall the TV commercials where an old fellow says “Pepperidge Fahm remembers…” That’s the Norfolk whine.
2. South and West of England to Virginia (1642-75). Immigrants who settled in the colony of Virginia tended to be wealthy Cavaliers (that is, loyal to the King) who came to the New World to become planters. Many elements of their accent can still be heard in rural Virginia, such as their penchant for elongated vowels -stretching “you” into “yeew,” and shortened consonants- “ax” for ask, and “dis” and “dat” for this and that.
3. North Midlands to Pennsylvania and Delaware (1675-1725). In another flight to escape religious persecution, Quakers, largely from the middle and northern parts of England, also settled in the New World. Their speech patterns, characterized by shorter vowel sounds -a short “a” for dance, not the Yankee and East Anglican “dahnce,” or the South England and Virginia “day-ence”- formed the basis for the flat Midwestern American accent we hear today, which has since been adopted as the standard American “non-regional” accent spoken by most newscasters.
4. Borderlands to the Backcountry (1715-75). The so-called “Scotch-Irish” fled their poverty-stricken homeland of northern England and southern Scotland, first to northern Ireland and then to America’s mid-Atlantic coast. These new arrivals were considered uncultured and unruly and didn’t mix well with the established settlers, so most kept going to settle in the backcountry of the Appalachian Mountains. Their distinctive accent can still be heard in many Southern regions: “far” for fire, and “winder” for window. The Borderlands accent gave rise to the twangy “country” accent heard in the poorer parts of the South -as opposed to the more south-of-England “Southern gentleman” drawl heard in more affluent regions. Thank you Yosemite Sam for the former and Foghorn Leghorn for the latter.
After achieving independence, the United States expanded westward and fresh waves of immigrants arrived in New York, New Orleans, and other port cities. The Northeast kept closer ties with Britain, which explains why Bostonians caught onto the English trend of broadening the “a” in bath, while the flatter pronunciation was used in most of the rest of the country.
Just as it was with the English, immigrants from other countries tended to stick together when they got to America. Here’s a look at where they came from, where they ended up, and how the way they spoke then still affects the way people in the United States speak today.
* Germany. After England, Germany produced the largest wave of U.S. immigrants between the 1680s and the 1760s. Arriving first in Pennsylvania, the newcomers adopted the nasal tones of their Quaker neighbors who had come from England, then added their own clipped German speech patterns. The biggest German influence is the hard “r” found at the end of words -“river” vs. “rivah”- and is the feature that most distinguishes American speech from British. The trend spread as settlers moved into the Midwest and beyond.
*The Netherlands. When settlers from New England moved south to New York, there was already a sizable Dutch population. The mixture of the two groups formed the famous Brooklyn accent (think of Bugs Bunny), in which bird is often pronounced “boid,” these and those, “deez” and “doze,” and coffee, “caw-fee.” Unlike most other immigrant languages, which were abandoned for English within a generation or two, the Dutch language lingered in New York for three centuries. (Theodore Roosevelt grew up hearing his grandparents speak it at the dinner table as late as the 1860s.) While other immigrant groups have influenced the classic New York accent, it come primarily from original Dutch settlers.
* Russia and Poland. Arriving in New York in the late 1800s and early 1900s, Yiddish-speaking Jews from eastern Europe added many new words and humorous turns of phrase to English, including “I should live so long,” “I need it like I need a hole in the head!” and “What’s up?” Interestingly, although “New Yawk tawk” has become strongly associated with Jewish immigrants, Yiddish seems to have had little affect on the accent itself, which was adopted by the Irish, Italians, Chinese, and dozens of other ethnicities who live in New York. Actual spoken Yiddish -which is very clipped and Germanic- sounds very little like the New York accent.
* Scandinavia. Immigrants from northern Europe settled in the upper Midwest, and many aspects of their Old World accents persist to this day. Referred to as both the Minnesota accent and the Great Lakes accent, it is most notable for the overpronunciation of vowels, especially the long “o” sound, as in “dontcha know.” If you’ve seen the 1996 dark comedy Fargo, that’s a good example of the Minnesota accent (although most native speakers claim that it’s a bit exaggerated in the film).
* France. Much of the French influence on the American accent ended up in Louisiana. Cajuns were originally French settlers who had moved down from Acadia in the eastern part of Canada. In 1765 the British took over, and loyal Acadians fled and resettled in New Orleans, still French territory. Cajun French is very old, dating from the 1600s. It might be understood by someone in Paris today, but only with some effort. The Cajun accent (like the food) has a very distinctive flavor -“un-Yon,” “ve-HIC-le,” and “gay-Ron-tee,” and “LOO-ziana.”
* Africa. The speech of slaves brought over from West Africa had a strong effect on American English. However, its exact origin is hard to trace. There are a number of West African languages, and slaves were intentionally separated from members of their own groups to make it difficult for them to conspire. That led to what are called pidgins -simple languages with few rules that were cobbled together from two or more languages. According to some theories, this was the origin of what is now called African American Vernacular English (AAVE). It has been called ebonics, but use of that term is controversial. Many linguists now believe that West African languages had little if any influence on AAVE, and that its origin can be traced to early Southern dialects brought over from England. Nevertheless, some of the cadence and lilt of the Southern accent -spoken by both blacks and whites- probably comes from African slaves. Some linguists believe this could be because black women served as nannies to white children, and those relationships helped blend the two speaking styles.
Not all accents were brought over from other countries. A few are as American as apple pie.
* In a small section of southern Utah, there is an accent in which “ar” sounds are transposed with “or” sounds. It’s uncertain how this way of speaking came about, but people who live in this region don’t say “born in a barn,” rather “barn in a born.”* A relatively young accent, Valley Girl, or “Valspeak,” began in the 1980s. The most defining characteristic: Raising the intonation at the end of a sentence as if it were a question. Originating in the San Fernando Valley of southern California, Valspeak may be one of the most uniquely American accents. Some linguists speculate its roots may be traced to refugees from the Ozarks who moved to California during the Dust Bowl era of the 1930s.
U.S. regional accents are in danger of being lost. Because of TV, movies, video games, and YouTube, kids learn less about speaking from their parents and their grandparents than they do from the likes of the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon, and Pixar. Result: A young boy in Boston might pretend to “park the car,” and a teenage girl in Georgia might roll her eyes when her mother says “Y’all.” If this trends continues, then perhaps one day there will be just one American accent.

Democrats in Unique Position of United Comfort as repugicans Grapple with 2016 Dread

The presumed front runners of late 2013 (Democrats: Hillary Clinton, repugicans: Chris Christie) have experienced a seismic shift on the wingnut side of the political spectrum. …
clinton obama  
Before I launch into the meat of my argument, I must take a moment to preface with a drop of journalistic reality. The 2016 Presidential elections are a LONG haul. Political fortunes will be won, lost, regained and quite possibly, lost again before the first voter casts a ballot 21 months from now. The presumed front runners of late 2013 (Democrats: Hillary Clinton, repugicans: Chris Christie) have experienced a seismic shift on the wingnut side of the political spectrum with an alacrity that caught even the most overstimulated among us by surprise. Truly at this point, anything is possible.
That said, it’s kind of fun to be a loyal Democrat right now. There was a really dispiriting moment in late 2004, after the super dull but well-meaning John Kerry lost to the shrub, when it seemed that the White House might never welcome a Blue occupant again. Because if the unraveling scandal of fictional WMD intelligence and the mismanagement of the war in Iraq wasn’t enough to get Dubya tossed; if the expensive, seemingly objectiveless Afghanistan quagmire couldn’t produce regime change; and if the unpaid for tax cuts for the wealthy and a tired attempt to leverage gay marriage as a base-appealing wedge issue couldn’t galvanize a solid liberal opposition – well then it seemed nothing could upend the prospect of a permanent conservative majority.
It was with this sense of defeated resignation that many idealists observed the commencement of the 2008 Presidential races. The only upside appeared to be the lack of a Cheney candidacy. The New York Times Jonathan Martin alludes to that period and other recent transitions before it, this week in a piece entitled, Stability and Chaos, Hallmarks of Presidential Races, Swap Parties. Martin opens the article by observing, “repugican primaries usually amount to coronations, in which they nominate a candidate who has run before or is otherwise deemed next in line, while the Democratic contests are often messier affairs, prone to insurgencies and featuring uncertain favorites.”
This was true in 2008, when it seemed that Arizona Senator and erstwhile maverick John McCain might be rewarded for his patience and perseverance with the Presidential oath of office. This appeared even more likely when the “inevitable” campaign of former First Lady and New York Senator Hillary Clinton foundered under a challenge from young Illinois Senator Barack Obama. Really, were it not for the timeliness of a late-2008 economic collapse that can only be tied to eight years of the shrub's malfeasance, and the Hail Mary nomination of Alaskan Governor Sarah Palin as McCain’s running mate, we might be playing “Hail to the Chief” today for another in a long string of old, white men.
But it turned out that Yes, We Can sometimes ask the voting public to make a statement for change. And though the last six years of Obama leadership has been marked by dogged opposition from the repugican cabal, the public has yet to shift its allegiance, in large part because “Just Say No,” makes a better drug abuse prevention slogan than a party platform.
Though the shenanigans related to Congressional redistricting (aka gerrymandering) has awarded the repugicans a virtual stranglehold on the House, the wingnuts have utterly failed to offer plausible alternatives to the initiatives put force by the President’s team. October’s disastrous government shutdown finally disabused Team Wingnut of the notion that obstructionism alone represents a path to Washington. Turns out that voters prefer imperfect government to no government at all.
The following quote from Martin exemplifies why Democrats are, for the moment at least, relishing the prospect of another long campaign season, “the repugicans are acting like the Democrats of yore, anticipating a free-for-all primary that highlights the competing and at times fractious constituencies in their coalition.”
Ah yes. Who can forget the freak show that was the 2012 repugican primary series of candidate debates? Good times that almost succeeded in making Rick Santorum look like a palatable, centrist alternative to the other crazies. And folks, we’re just gearing up for the fun of 2016. I’m literally performing an impatient two-step, desperately awaiting the first time (because you know it’s coming) a flustered member of the establishment upbraids Ted Cruz in front of a live audience.
Cruz, Paul, Rubio, Bush (Jeb), Walker, Christie, Jindal – this is a just a smattering of the unelectable names being thrown about in repugican circles. Possibly the least offensive member of this group, Jeb Bush, can’t even secure the endorsement of his own mother.
For the moment, the grass is looking a lot greener on the Democratic side of the fence. Martin quotes Bill Clinton’s former chief strategist, James Carville, as saying, “My party is in a little bit of a just-don’t-blow-this-thing mode…The idea that we’re now consistently winning presidential elections isn’t lost on us.”
As I noted in the first paragraph, there’s miles to go before Decision 2016 sleeps. But for the first time since 1996 really, that encroaching feeling of dread is at bay.

A Fed Up Top Democrat Calls Out Darrell Issa and His Many Lies

Rep. Cummings letter to Issa could not be more pointed or accusatory, and he denounced the liar Issa for accusing Clinton of committing treason.…
Cummings Issa 
In political circles there is an unwritten rule that members of Congress observe “comity” in dealing with each other that, in general terms, means exercising courteous and considerate behavior towards each other. Comity is why Americans will hardly ever hear one member of Congress call another a filthy liar when both the liar and other members of Congress know without a doubt the liar is lying. Over the weekend, one member of Congress came as close to calling Darrell Issa a blatant liar as Americans will ever hear, and for congressional observers sick to death of Issa’s persistent lies regarding anything remotely related to the Obama Administration, it was long overdue.
Despite Defense and State Department records detailing the events that lead to the deaths of diplomat Chris Stevens and three Americans serving in a hostile environment in Libya, Darrell Issa continues spreading blatant lies to defame former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Last week Issa addressed campaign donors in New Hampshire during a trip he described as “a campaign to shape the debate for 2016,” and categorically accused the former Secretary of State of ordering the Department of Defense to stand down and allow the diplomatic outpost fall to attackers. Issa answered his own hypothetical question while pandering for campaign donations and said, “After asking why there was not one order given to turn on one Department of Defense asset,” Issa said “Secretary Clinton told (former Secretary of Defense Leon) Panetta to stand down.”
Issa’s false accusation was too much for the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight Committee and it drove Representative Elijah Cummings to pen a letter to Issa and demand that he “publicly apologize for your statements and withdraw them immediately.” If Issa’s criminal character is any indication, Representative Cummings is going to wait an eternity because if there is one thing Issa can be counted on doing, it is to keep lying because there is no law against being a pathological liar; even for a United States House member. However, Cummings’ letter to Issa did not stop at calling for a public apology and retraction. He wrote “I was personally stunned by the reckless, baseless, and utterly offensive accusations you launched against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.” Cummings should be used to being stunned at Issa’s lies to drum up opposition to anyone connected to the Obama Administration, but he took the time to outline, in great detail, the severity of Issa’s filthy lies including testimony and documents refuting Issa’s contention about Clinton gathered during the House Oversight Committee investigation into the phony scandal surrounding the attack on the diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.
Cummings letter to Issa could not be more pointed or accusatory, and he denounced the liar Issa for accusing Clinton of committing treason. Cummings wrote “The definition of treason is the betrayal of allegiance owed to one’s country, and you suggest that Secretary Clinton directed the Secretary of Defense of the United States to intentionally withhold military assistance that may have saved the lives of one of her own ambassadors and three other brave Americans serving their country.  Your accusations are beyond the pale, and you should immediately retract them and issue a public apology.” Clearly, Cummings is weary of Issa’s lies as well as spending taxpayer time and money chasing phony scandals of Issa’s making. It is the second time that Issa is officially being called out by Democrats who have had enough of his phony witch hunts and manufactured scandals targeting the Obama Administration.
It has been two weeks since Democrats linked Issa with clearly devious and deceitful unethical behavior in another Issa-created scandal for meeting secretly with a Treasury Department inspector general without notifying or including Democrats on the Oversight Committee. In fact, Issa specifically “forbade the inspector general from including any Democratic Committee members” in a meeting regarding Oversight Committee investigations into the Affordable Care Act and the IRS doing its job scrutinizing applications for 501 (C) social welfare groups concealing dark money. Democrats only became aware of each of two separate meetings between the inspector general and Issa that occurred ten months apart.  Two Democrats filed a formal 22-page complaint targeting Issa’s co-conspirator J. Russell George, but Issa still has not faced an ethics investigation and it is why he continues his unethical shenanigans with apparent impunity.
It is curious why only Elijah Cummings and two other Democrats are challenging Issa’s propensity for unethical conduct and arguably criminal conspiracy. It is clear to anyone familiar with the testimony and documents surrounding the perpetual and phony Benghazi scandal that Issa is lying for political gain. Although Cummings did not come out and call Issa the liar that he is, he did the next best thing and his letter cannot be misconstrued as anything but calling Issa a liar. In his letter, Cummings wrote Issa’s comments assailing Clinton were “reckless, baseless, and utterly offensive,” “not the first time you have publicly—and falsely—accused former Secretary Clinton,” and “the Washington Post Fact Checker gave your claim Four Pinocchios, finding that Issa has no basis or evidence, and concluded that your ‘inflammatory and reckless language’ qualifies as a ‘whopper’.” Apparently under so-called congressional “comity” agreements, Cummings assertions are about as close as he will come to stating the obvious; Darrell Issa is a filthy two-bit pathological liar.
Issa needs to be thoroughly investigated for ethics violations and thrown out of Congress, but the repugican-controlled House will never investigate their paid witch hunter, so it is incumbent on all House Democrats to either demand, en masse, an in-depth ethics investigation, or appeal directly to the Justice Department to launch an investigation into the man who brought deep-seated criminal tendencies to his job as Oversight Committee Chairman. Despite irrefutable evidence there are no scandals or cover-ups involving the White House or Hillary Clinton regarding the Benghazi attack, Issa is profiting from spreading outright lies for political and monetary gain and wasting valuable taxpayer time and money with his criminal activity and manufactured phony scandals.
Representative Cummings is a patient man, so for him to reach his breaking point and call Issa a liar, in so many words, must mean he has had enough of Issa’s blatant lying. The letter Cummings sent Issa is replete with references to testimony Issa heard to prove to Issa he knew he was lying about former Secretary Clinton when he asserted she ordered the Defense Department to stand down and ignore the attack on Benghazi. For any American familiar with Issa, the fact he lies as a matter of course is not breaking news, but it is news that Elijah Cummings is the only Democrat in the House to publicly accuse him of what he has done since chairing the Oversight Committee; manufacture phony scandals and lying through his teeth for political expediency. The only scandal in Washington is still Darrell Issa, and the breadth, scope, and frequency of his lies likely does not even convince wealthy donors and racist teabaggers that former Secretary Clinton is dishonest, because if there was even one iota of truth to Issa’s assertions, the indictments would have been handed down over a year ago. It is time for indictments and charges, but they will be emblazoned with the real criminal, Darrell Issa’s name on the complaints and they cannot come soon enough if only he faces investigations.

Pat Buchanan Says wingnut christians Are True Victims in Arizona

Buchanan complains about "the growing intolerance of those who preach (in)tolerance and the corruption of the concept of civil rights"…
Pat Buchanan asks in the pages of Wing Nut Daily, “If the conditions that called for the laws of the 1960s have ceased to exist, why do those laws still exist?” He thinks that because we no longer see white and “colored” drinking fountains that we no longer have civil rights problems in this country.
Buchanan proceeds from a false premise. Sure, if the conditions that created the need for a civil rights campaign no longer prevailed, we would no longer need special protections for minorities. But as both Kansas and Arizona – and now Georgia - have demonstrated, as five years of intense racism against our first black president have demonstrated, we are not at that point.
Actor and gay rights activist George Takei, in an open letter, called Arizona a Jim Crow state for passing SB 1062. He is right. There is no substantive difference between bigotry based on skin color and bigotry based on sexual preference. And even many Arizona repugicans, if they’re not using Takei’s language, seem to know it. Heck, even Faux-clone CNN has noticed that a license to discriminate is not a good thing.
Yet what Buchanan takes from these examples of wingnut bigotry and intolerance that frighten even some repugicans, is this: “What we are seeing in Arizona in microcosm is what we have witnessed in America for half a century: the growing intolerance of those who preach (in)tolerance and the corruption of the concept of civil rights.”
Yes, Buchanan thinks civil rights is the right to take away other peoples’ rights.
Already unable to extricate himself from the deep end, Buchanan writes,
Last year, the Supreme Court struck down the pre-clearance provision of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Yet, somehow, Mississippi still has more black elected officials than any other state.
The facts are somewhat different than Buchanan presents them. The New York Times observed last year that,
The voting battles in Mississippi did not end in 1965. The state dragged its feet for four years before the first Justice Department review, and since then the federal government has objected to voting changes in Mississippi 173 times, 116 of them coming since the act was renewed in 1982.
And now? The Times points to a less rosy reality:
With a black population of 37 percent, by far the largest in the country, Mississippi did not have a black representative in Congress from Reconstruction until 1986. As recently as 1990, only 22 out of the 204 members of the Mississippi State Legislature were black. While no black statewide official has been elected, there are now a black congressman and 49 black state lawmakers.
Many of these changes came about through application of Section 5…
The fact is, blacks are still discriminated against. Latinos are discriminated against. Women are discriminated against. Muslims are discriminated against. Atheists and minority religious groups like Wiccans and others, are discriminated against. Gays and lesbians are discriminated against.
The spirit of Jim Crow is alive and well in America.
Yet Buchanan says it is slander to say that “America is a racist, sexist, homophobic and xenophobic country which would revert to massive discrimination were it not for heroic progressives standing guard.”
But it’s not slander. It’s the truth. Even with heroic progressives standing guard, Red States regularly strive to deprive minorities of their voting rights. As we wrote here before, the only thing that seems to scare repugicans more than paying workers a living wage is voting rights.
You have to wonder if Buchanan is even really paying attention, when he asks things like, ” As for the christians of Arizona and same-sex unions in Arizona, if they don’t like each other, can they not just avoid each other? After all, it’s a big state.”
Sure, that would be great, if it wasn’t for the so-called christians of Arizona passing laws allowing discrimination of gays and lesbians. He says we no longer have segregated drinking fountains but if the religio-wingnuts gets their way, they have more than proven they're willing to reinstate them for the LGBT community.
Buchanan asks,
Does anyone think hotels, motels and restaurants across Dixie, from D.C. to Texas, would stop serving black customers? Does anyone think there would again be signs sprouting up reading “whites” and “colored” on drinking foundations and restrooms?
Yes, we do, and Kansas, Arizona, and Georgia prove it, because repugicans like Pat Buchanan have tried to do just that, to reinstate segregation based this time not on skin color but on sexual preference, just as they have discriminated on the basis of religion when they rail against the First Amendment rights of Muslims. Contrary to wingnut fantasy, religious freedom is not freedom for only one religion, and civil rights are civil rights for all, or they are not civil rights at all.

Random Photos


Woman charged with DUI after driving through wall of building into pool

Charges have been filed against a Knoxville woman who authorities say drove her truck through a wall and into a pool at the National Fitness Center.

French town to get drive-through police station

Police in the south of France have announced plans to open a drive-through police station. In a first of its kind initiative for France, crime-spotting locals in Le Cannet will soon be able to report a burglary as easily as they can pick up a burger at McDonald's.
"Initially, this was created primarily for disabled people," Alain Cherqui, head of security and delinquency prevention in the town said. Drivers in the town will be able to pull up their cars up to a three-metre long window and interact with an officer seated behind a hatch. At night, motorists will be able to park by the hatch and speak to a police officer through an intercom system.

While le drive, as it's called in French, is mainly intended for people with disabilities, in practice anyone will be able to conduct their dealings with the police from the comfort of their vehicles. Cherqui predicts that this ease of access to will result in the police gathering more information and solving more crimes in the Riviera town of of 42,000 people.

Patrick Lefèvre, a spokesman for the national union of municipal police said he also welcomed the arrival of the kind of hatch more often used to order French fries. He noted that it would be particularly useful on the Riviera, where residents are such keen motorists that they are reputed to "drive right into bakeries in their cars to buy the bread." Local police have not yet set an exact date for the opening of the innovative station.

The Abandoned Commune And Medieval Village Of Craco, Italy

Craco is both a commune and town located in the Matera Province in the Basilicata region, south of Italy. This historical town experienced several recurring landslides over the years, which eventually led to its abandonment in 1963.

Because of its mysterious appearance, Craco became a major tourist destination and even a popular location for shooting films. It was incorporated into the World Monuments Fund watch list in 2010.

Internet Fuels procrastination And Lowers Productivity

A survey in the UK reveals that the majority of people are distacted from their work by the internet, as well as feeling less productive. Over half of the 2,500 individuals surveyed by motivational aid site Webtrate admitted that checking their emails and social media when trying to do work revealed a worrying lack of impulse control.

Over 60% said they lost their chain of thought because they checked and responded to an email or social media alert while they were working on a report or longer piece of written work.

Scientists demonstrate first contagious airborne WiFi virus

Researchers at the University of Liverpool have shown for the […]

Rare, Polio-Like Disease Found in California Children

The California children tested negative for polio, and all had been vaccinated.

Common Science Facts People Don't Know

Americans aren't too smart when it comes to science, recent studies show. Anthony and Laci discuss a few common science facts that a lot of people simply don't know.

The Mystery Of The Codex Seraphinianus

The Codex Seraphinianus is a surreal illustrated tome which has been shrouded in mystery since its first publication in 1981.
Written by Luigi Serafini, the Codex is full of finely illustrated and totally bizarre scenes showing skeletons getting fitted for new skin, a mother and child wearing strange fish costumes, a horse-insect hybrid, fantastic machines, scenes of people using psychic powers, and much more.
Luigi even made up his own language to accompany these illustrations, and the language has yet to be fully understood. The author claims that the script has absolutely no meaning despite code breaker and linguist James M. Duyer's assertion that he has almost completely decyphered the strange language/code.
To add even more WTF factor to the Codex Seraphinianus story- Luigi claims to have been told what to draw and write by a psychic cat that accompanied him as he put the book together in Rome during the 1970s.

Medieval Manuscript Shows a Cat Riding a Horse

The blog of medieval book historian Erik Kwakkel is one of the hidden gems of the internet. He's an expert on manuscripts, which is how he was able to dig up this funny image.
It shows Reynard the Fox, a trickster character in medieval literature, racing Tybalt, the Prince of Cats (who was referenced in Act 2, Scene 4 of Romeo and Juliet). It appears that Tybalt is winning. He turns his head and sticks out his tongue at Reynard in mockery.

Neanderthals Faced Extinction Before Humans Appeared

Climate may have caused the near-extinction of Neanderthals long before modern humans came to be, new research shows.



Photos of marble quarries in Vermont

Not all of them are beautiful, or abstract, but all of the photos in Wired's gallery of beautiful abstract photos of mines are, indeed, of mines. Here's Pete Brook on the vast marble tombs left by a slowing business.
We’ve been cutting chunks of marble out of the mountains of Vermont since 1785. The continent’s first commercial marble quarry was cut into Mount Aeolus, and stonecutters came from all over the world to work its stone throughout the 19th century. The Vermont Marble Co. was the largest U.S. corporation when it was founded early in the 20th century. The industry has dwindled somewhat in the face of mounting competition from China and changing tastes in architecture, but granite remains a fundamental part of Vermont.

A drowned forest, visible for the first time in centuries

Heavy storms on the coast of Wales stripped away the sand on the beaches of Cardigan Bay, revealing the stumps of an ancient forest that stopped growing 4,500 years ago. Also revealed: A sort of proto-boardwalk, built by the inhabitants of the lost forest as rising sea levels began to drown it.

Explosions on the Sun

These images were taken yesterday at around 7:25 pm EST by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory, a satellite circling the Sun. What you're looking at are the first moments of a massive solar flare — an explosive force more powerful than all the firepower humans have created, combined. The different colors in the image are from the shots being filtered for different wavelengths of light.
While solar flares, in general, release mindbogglingly huge amounts of energy, this one was large and powerful even in relation to its brethren. The most intense solar flares are classified as "X" flares. Then, scientists add a number after the X to tell you how powerful the flare was. These images show the beginning of an X4.9 flare — big enough to make even the people who study massive solar eruptions sit up and go, "WOAH."

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Massive rare dinosaur skull unearthed in Canada

A rare dinosaur skull unveiled by University of Calgary paleontologists Thursday was literally hiding in plain sight.
Massive rare dinosaur skull unearthed in Canada University of Calgary professor Darla Zelenitsky points to the eye socket of the skull of a pachyrhinosaur found inside the town limits in Drumheller, Alta.
Even with Prof. Darla Zelenitsky pointing out the eye socket of the “gargantuan” pachyrhinosaur’s skull, it still looked like just a giant chunk of rock.
And, with it being found inside the town limits of Drumheller — billed as the dinosaur capital of the world — it probably had hundreds of prehistoric enthusiasts traipsing over it for decades before anyone noticed.
“It appeared to me as being a fairly well-trampled area, and my research assistant had pointed out what looked like a rock with a bumpy surface. We eventually started to excavate and realized it was potentially part of a horned-dinosaur skull,” said Zelenitsky.
Massive rare dinosaur skull unearthed in Canada Pachyrhinosaur lakustai, named after Grande Prairie science teacher Al Lakusta who originally found the dinosaurs bones in 1970 
“After several days of excavating we realized it was a good portion of one of these pachyrhinosaur dinosaur skulls, so it was really quite exciting.”
Pachyrhinosaurs were four-legged herbivores that lived about 72 million years ago in what is now Alberta and Alaska. They could grow to over six meters in length and weighed four tonnes. Their heads were adorned with big bony bumps and horns, and large frills extended over the back of their necks.
The head features were probably used for mating competition or combat. Zelenitsky said the dinosaur is likely to have had few enemies.
She said the specimen found in Drumheller appears to be that of a mature pachyrhinosaur — and that’s rare

True, strange tales of extinction

The last Great Auk was clubbed to death by fishermen for the crime of witchcraft. The Dusky Seaside Sparrow was done in by the combined forces of NASA and Disney World. Frank Swain has illustrated several of history's oddest extinction stories.

Bird shattering pilot's windscreen caught on camera

At 170 miles per hour, Rob Weber's flight into Page Field airport outside Fort Myers, Florida, became a shocking flurry of feathers and broken windscreen.

A camera on board his Piper Saratoga captured the moments a bird struck his windscreen, sending pieces of plastic and electronics into his face.
Weber kept his cool, even after noticing he was bleeding from the forehead, and made a calm landing.

Weber says it was a minor cut and he refused medical service, but he feels lucky he wasn't knocked out. He was the only one on board at the time, so it was up to him to land the plane.

Endangered shark freed from elastic cord noose

Footage has emerged of an endangered Grey Nurse shark being freed from an elastic cord noose off a beach in Sydney, Australia. Experts had to manhandle the shark to the surface to perform the tricky operation. Local had divers spotted the young female grey nurse shark tangled in an elastic cord which was cutting into its gills.
Her labored breathing was a sign of distress triggering the daring rescue at Magic Point, which is a crucial shark habitat. The challenge for a team of divers and a vet from the SeaLife sanctuary and aquarium was to save the shark. The team had to get the shark to the surface and coax it into a plastic shark sock, clear so the shark would not see it as an obstacle.

The shark was then wrapped in a special stretcher and that's where the professionals had to get a little hands-on. A quick underwater wrestle did the job and the injured shark was taken up to waiting vet Rob Jones; the water's surface was his operating table and there wasn't much time.

Three divers held her steady. A pair of scissors later and she was freed from her noose. A quick shot of antibiotics and the patient was free to go home. Mr Jones said: “if we hadn't intervened have no about it would have died, the elastic would have kept cutting deeper and deeper into the neck.”

Leopard sparked panic in India after wandering into hospital and cinema

A leopard has sparked panic in a north Indian city after wandering into a hospital, a cinema and an apartment block.
Authorities closed schools in Meerut, 37 miles (60km) north-east of New Delhi, after the leopard was discovered prowling the city's streets on Sunday, a senior city official said. "Despite our best efforts, we have been unable to track the leopard down. We have launched a massive hunt for the beast," said the additional district magistrate SK Dubey.
The big cat was found inside an empty ward of an army hospital on Sunday before wildlife officers were called and managed to fire a tranquiliser dart into the animal, Dubey said. "But despite that he managed to break [out through] the iron grills and escaped. He then sneaked into the premises of a cinema hall before entering an apartment block. After that we lost track of the cat," he said.

Authorities have urged that markets be closed in the city of 3.5 million people until the animal is captured. Photographs in the Hindustan Times newspaper on Monday showed the leopard leaping off a terrace in a congested residential area of the city as people scrambled out of the way.

Chemicals Turn Fish Into Trippy, Transparent Works of Art

Biology professor Adam Summers is a scientist, but part of what he does is also art. To study the biomechanics of fish, he colors specimens in order to highlight their different systems and anatomical structures. This process involves many steps and various chemicals, to both preserve the tissue and destroy it, and to bring different colors to different parts of the specimen. The results make the fish easier to study, but they are also beautiful -so much so that Summers’ works are on exhibit at the Seattle Aquarium. See more examples of these fish, and read about how it’s done at Wired Science.  

Animal Pictures