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

Monday, May 5, 2014

The Daily Drift

Ahem ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 198 countries around the world daily.   

Fiesta ... !
Today is - Cinco De Mayo

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Some of our reader today have been in:
The Americas
Antioch, Mishawaka, Chippewa Falls, Coraopolis, North Weeki Wachee and Minnetonka, United States
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Hamburg and Berlin, Germany
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The Pacific
Brisbane and Sydney, Australia

Today in History

1494 Christopher Columbus lands on the island of Jamaica, which he names Santa Gloria.
1814 British attack the American forces at Ft. Ontario, Oswego, New York.
1821 Napoleon Bonaparte dies in exile on the island of St. Helena.
1834 The first mainland railway line opens in Belgium.
1862 Union and Confederate forces clash at the Battle of Williamsburg, part of the Peninsula Campaign.Eyewitness to War
1862 Mexican forces loyal to Benito Juarez defeat troops sent by Napoleon III in the Battle of Puebla.
1865 The 13th Amendment is ratified, abolishing slavery.
1886 A bomb explodes on the fourth day of a workers' strike in Chicago.
1912 Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda begins publishing.
1916 U.S. Marines invade the Dominican Republic.
1917 Eugene Jacques Bullard becomes the first African-American aviator when he earns a flying certificate with the French Air Service.
1920 Anarchists Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Visetti are arrested for murder.
1935 American Jesse Owens sets the long jump record.
1942 General Joseph Stilwell learns that the Japanese have cut his railway out of China and is forced to lead his troops into India.
1945 Holland and Denmark are liberated from Nazi control.
1961 Alan Shepard becomes the first American in space.
1968 U.S. Air Force planes hit Nhi Ha, South Vietnam in support of attacking infantrymen.

Non Sequitur


The Honey Hunters of Nepal

Photo: Andrew Newey.
Here's a stunning series of images by photographer Andrew Newey of Nepalese honey hunters. Newey spent two weeks among the Gurung ethnic group in central Nepal, documenting their traditional beekeeping practices.

High in the Himalayan foothills of central Nepal Gurung honey hunters gather twice a year, risking their lives to harvest the honey from the world’s largest honeybee. For hundreds of years, the skills required to practise this ancient and sacred tradition have been passed down through the generations, but now both the number of bees and traditional honey hunters are in rapid decline as a result of increased commercial interests and climate change.
Photoset: andrewnewey.com. You can buy matted prints.
The Guardian ran some of the images back in February, with some descriptive captions that help you understand what the hunters are doing.
In the image shared here, you can see a hunter using two simple tools: a handmade rope ladder, and a pair of long sticks called tangos. Most of the honeybees' nests are situated on steep cliffs.

30 Percent of Americans Admit to Cheating ...

Find Out How 
by Kate Sullivan
Hard truth time, y'all: In a poll conducted by the National Endowment for Financial Education, the nonprofit found that one in three partnered Americans has lied to his or her significant other about their finances. For most, this consisted of hiding receipts or keeping another bank account, but 13 percent of those polled admitted to lying about the amount of their income or debt level. That's like Lifetime movie-level deception! The NEFE has dubbed this phenomenon "financial infidelity." Since so many couples argue about money, this is certainly a serious issue that should be discussed in serious terms. But all indiscretions are not equal here. Tossing out a receipt for a candy bar doesn't make me a cheater on par with that guy who pretended to be a Rockefeller. 
This was on my mind just this past weekend, when I visited a friend who just moved in with her boyfriend. They've been tacking their receipts onto a cork board by their kitchen door to keep track of their first month of shared expenses. Since they just moved in together, they've mostly been spending money on home decor items, groceries, and Home Depot runs-all purchases they both should be aware of. But I wonder what next month will look like. See, I know my girl. She's a big fan of the Dollar Tree and Christmas Tree Shops, and I have to wonder if every $3.99 purchase is going to make that wall. And really, should it?
Perhaps what they--and any couple--need to do is put an exact dollar restriction on the number of simple-pleasure purchases they make a month-iced coffee, magazines, a cell phone app, the odd scented candle-and make it a point to not exceed that set amount, all while still not sharing their every tedious financial move.

Canada in Decline

The Harper regime has dealt blow after blow to the values Canada holds dear: environmental responsibility, humanitarianism, fairness, transparency, and pluralism. But when you see it all laid out in one devastating indictment, it's still jarring. The fact that this indictment appears in a sober-sided journal like The Lancet only makes the barbs sink deeper. O, Canada. 

Austin police chief is angry that people are angry about police misbehavior

Ted Balaker, creator of the Don't Cops Have Better Things to Do? video reports, says:
Cops across America really don’t want you to jaywalk. In San Diego they doled out 328 tickets (on a single day!), in New York they bloodied an 84-year-old who crossed against a red light, and in Austin they jailed a jaywalking jogger.
Austinites responded to the incident with outrage, and Chief Art Acevedo reacted to their outrage with outrage of his own. “In other cities there’s cops who are actually committing sexual assaults on duty,” said Acevedo. "So I thank God that this is what passes for a controversy in Austin, Texas!”
And sure, jaywalkers in LA get stuck with $200 tickets, and entrepreneur Peter Shankman’s offense of jogging in New York’s Central Park before 6:00 a.m. could cost him as much as a thousand bucks, but it’s important to remember that jaywalking crackdowns are all about keeping pedestrians safe. They definitely have nothing to do with raising revenue.

NSA spying means Brazil's $4.5B fighter jets won't be built by Boeing

Brazil's buying $4.5B worth of fighter jets. And rather than buy them from American military-industrial complex go-to Boeing, they're buying them from Sweden's Saab. Why? A contract with Boeing is synonymous with NSA surveillance. Multiply this by every country in the world and you start to get a sense of the cost of letting the NSA run around without any adult supervision.

Lawsuit: FBI Used No-Fly List to Bully Muslims Into Becoming Informers

by Hamilton Nolan
Four Americans, all of them Muslims, are suing the FBI, charging that the agency unfairly placed them on its "No-Fly List," and tried to use that as leverage to turn them into informers.
Why do people get placed on our government's no-fly list? It's a secret. Ostensibly it has something to do with terrorism and public safety, but the government will not answer any questions about it. The process is completely opaque. The four plaintiffs in the suit all have different stories, but the gist is that 1) They did not deserve to be on the no-fly list, and 2) The FBI tried to use their inclusion on the no-fly list as a blunt tool to recruit them to be spies on the Muslim community. Here, for example, the story of Naveed Shinwari, born in Afghanistan but living in Nebraska, who was repeatedly hassled and visited by FBI agents after trying to fly home after being married in Afghanistan. From The Guardian:
    The following month, after Shinwari bought another plane ticket for a temporary job in Connecticut, he couldn't get a boarding pass. Police told him he had been placed on the US no-fly list, although he had never in his life been accused of breaking any law. Another FBI visit soon followed, with agents wanting to know about the "local Omaha community, did I know anyone who's a threat", he says.
    "I'm just very frustrated, [and I said] what can I do to clear my name?" recalls Shinwari, 30. "And that's where it was mentioned to me: you help us, we help you. We know you don't have a job; we'll give you money."
Sometimes it seems as if the FBI's clumsy attempts to use unjust laws and regulations to bludgeon Muslim people into becoming informers is a sign that the FBI does not have a strong relationship with the American Muslim community. But that seems impossible, since the FBI is only trying to protect us all.

WIPO sends criminal prosecution threats over publication of internal docs about its Director General's corruption

You may recall that the UN's World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) has been haunted by scandal: first there was the matter of illegally funding computer purchases for North Korea and Iran, then a whistleblower came forward to claim that WIPO Director General Francis Gurry illegally harvested DNA samples from staffers to find out who had sent anonymous letters alleging his sexual misconduct.
But it gets worse.
Patent lawyer and blogger Gene Quinn recently posted the "Report of Misconduct" written by James Pooley, a deputy of Gurry's, which went into eye-watering detail about Gurry's alleged misconduct. But the document has since been removed, because WIPO's legal counsel, Edward Kwakwa (who was the nexus of the North Korea/Iran scandal, sent a totally bogus legal threat to Quinn, threatening him with criminal charges for publishing a document that a WIPO staffer produced as part of an inquiry into gross misconduct at the highest levels of the organization.
Quinn has chosen not to fight this, taking down his post and the associated documents, noting that while he believes in the First Amendment, he's currently recovering from hip replacement surgery and is in no condition to take on this sort of fight at the moment. I've seen at least two other reporters and bloggers who claim to have a copy of the report similarly refuse to post it, noting that it's not worth the legal fight.
And thus WIPO has effectively censored a report on misconduct by its Director General, filed by a senior deputy. To me that's just as, if not more, incriminating than the original charges of the DNA collection. The fact that WIPO believes this is appropriate screams of a coverup from an organization that has something to hide. Perhaps it's no surprise -- given how often we've seen copyright used for censorship -- to find out that the organization that pushes for greater copyright and patent maximalism around the world is also a fan of direct intimidation and censorship of journalists.
However, it should certainly call into serious question how WIPO functions, and whether Director Gurry is the sort of person who should be leading the organization when it appears to be doing all this under his watch.

People are still addicted to Rubik's Cubes

In the 1980s Rubik's Cubes seemed to be everywhere, but there are still legions of people obsessed with the coloured puzzles. The record for a human is 5.55 seconds. A robot can do it in 3.253. Most people - despite toiling over it for hours - have probably never managed it.

But 40 years after its birth, the Rubik's Cube continues to beguile, frustrate and - like a Filofax or Walkman - evoke its 1980s heyday when schools were full of children puzzling over its brightly coloured squares.

Flaws Only A Protagonist Could Have

Many authors treat their main characters as the ideal, the person we all dream of being. It’s as if the tiniest flaw would turn the reader off, but at the same time, any character must have the appearance of flaws to be at all believable. The pulpier the book, the more likely the characters are to have these “pseudo-flaws,” but you’ve seen it in classics, too. Personally, I prefer characters who more resemble folks we really know, like Billy Pilgrim, who isn’t too smart and is shaped like a bowling pin, or Shakespeare’s characters, who are so full of themselves that they can’t see what’s coming. Mallory Ortberg brings us a series of vignettes that condense the dialogue you’ve read to get to the heart of this trope.
She wasn’t perfect. She had two different colored eyes, which is definitely a flaw and not a magnetic, compelling, unusual form of beauty.
“It makes you so special,” he told her. She shook her head.
“Bad special,” she said.
“Good special,” he said. She didn’t know what to believe.
“I don’t know what to believe,” she told him. “You think the thing I think is bad thing is good thing.”
“That’s good thing,” he said.
“I just want to be normal,” she said, even though she had amazing powers and a super-family and was mega-gorgeous and better than normal in every way and the entire book would be terrible if she were normal and she had no conception of what normal was to begin with.
There are plenty more of these, and they get more ridiculous as they go on, at The Toast.

6 Superpowers That Really Exist

We’re fascinated by the idea of superpowers; they’re the stuff of myth and legend, not to mention fantasy, science fiction, and comic books. But they also exist in our world, too. Here, Gemsigns author Stephanie Saulter gives six examples. We know many animals have abilities we don’t. We don’t tend to think of them as "super;" they’re just different. But what if they could become human abilities? What if some humans already have them?
In my (R)evolution novels (Gemsigns, Binary and Gillung) it’s important for the abilities engineered into gems (genetically modified humans) to feel plausible; I didn’t want any gem to be able to do something that hasn’t already been documented in a living creature somewhere on this planet. But their abilities still needed to be, well, super. Turns out this wasn’t as difficult as I feared. I found out some amazing stuff during my research – including the existence of real-life human mutants. Here are six of my of favorite superpower factoids. Bioelectrogenesis: Electric eels (which are more closely related to catfish than true eels) can generate both low and high voltage electrical charges, using special organs that take up more than three quarters of their body. An adult eel can deliver a shock of up to 500 volts and 1 amp of current – probably not enough to kill an adult human, but you wouldn’t want to test it.
Biosonar: Okay, you already know about the sophisticated echolocation systems of bats and dolphins. But did you know some humans have also developed a form of sonar? There’ve been documented cases of people who have lost their sight learning to navigate by emitting clicking sounds and building up a picture of their environment from the echoes that come back. We’re not talking Daredevil yet, but it may only be a matter of time…
Electroreception: Sharks have specialised organs called the ampullae of Lorenzini that enable them to sense the electromagnetic fields produced by other living things. They use it to find prey, and possibly to navigate by detecting the movement of ocean currents through the Earth’s magnetic field. Talk about being able to sense the planet.
Sight: We come out pretty well on this one. Human vision is astonishing – few other animals can see as many colours as we can, to say nothing of our ability to focus on tiny details up close, and see clearly far into the distance. But we don’t see everything. Consider the mantis shrimp, which has trinocular vision (we’re binocular), at least twelve photoreceptors (we have three), and the ability to perceive polarised light. It’s almost impossible to imagine what it ‘sees’, but it’s more than we do. Closer to home, cats and dogs have the kind of night vision that means they aren’t likely to bang into the coffee table while mounting a midnight raid on the kitchen. No animal can see in complete darkness – sight is a function of light – but they can decipher detail in light levels that are imperceptible to humans. They’re also great at focusing on fast-moving objects, such as fleeing prey, and – along with some other mammals, and many birds and insects – can see ultraviolet (UV) light.
Smell. You probably think I’m going to talk about dogs again, and it’s true that their olfactory sense is several hundred thousand times greater than ours. But bears are even better – a polar bear can smell a seal buried under three feet of snow from half a mile away. Some sharks can detect blood at one part per million. And if we get away from noses entirely, the antennae of some male luna moths can detect a single molecule of a female’s sex pheromone at a distance of more than six miles.
Strength: This is the closest thing to an X-Men moment you’re going to get from me – and it’s pretty darn close. There have been at least two documented cases of a mutation in humans that triggers accelerated muscle growth and extraordinary strength right from birth; it happens when both copies of a myostatin-producing gene are defective, is extremely rare, and no one knows what the long term health consequences are. Having said that…the child in whom the mutation was first identified could, at age four, hold two 6.6 lb weights with his arms extended. That’s the equivalent of 3 litres of water. In each hand.



Science teacher suspended over "dangerous" classroom experiments is reinstated

Greg Schiller.
Los Angeles high school science teacher Greg Schiller has returned to his classroom, two months after being suspended by administrators after complaints two of his students put together "dangerous" science projects in his classes. From the LA Times:
Both projects overseen by teacher Greg Schiller were capable of launching small objects. A staff member at the downtown Cortines School of Visual & Performing Arts had raised concerns about one of them. Both are common in science fairs. "I am very excited to be back with my students and help them prepare for the Advanced Placement tests, which are a week away," Schiller said Thursday. "We have a lot of work ahead of ourselves.”
In a meeting with a senior district administrator, Schiller was told he could return to work Friday, L.A. Unified confirmed. His classes include Advanced Placement Biology and Advanced Placement Psychology. Parents and students had quickly rallied behind Schiller. Facebook pages were launched; petitions were circulated. Some students complained that they were being taught by unqualified substitutes. Supporters vowed to rally every Thursday and Friday until his return.

Kids' Exposure to Violence Is Declining

A study shows crime and violence decreased for kids between 2003 and 2011.

Is screaming in the middle of the night an anti-sibling baby plot?

Scientists speculate that babies may have evolved to wake up in the middle of the night because overnight breastfeeding delays ovulation and, thus, the creation of a new sibling to compete for resources. (Word of caution: This idea might be hampered by a focus on Western babies. I recently read a book that suggests Western idea of "normal" nighttime waking aren't the norm everywhere.).

Why You Should Swear More

Swearing is considered taboo in most cultures, and the words that are frowned upon vary by time and location. Why are certain words considered bad?

Here's something you probably didn't know ...

Why Do We Finish Other Peoples’ Sentences?

We can predict what others will say far more often than previously thought, research shows.

Can Looks Predict Someone's Intelligence?

You might look at someone's face and determine whether you think this person is smart or not. Is that wrong? Trace reports on a new study examining the relationship between one's IQ and appearance.

Genetic Test Reveals Your Ancestral Origin

For centuries, scientists have sought a biological method for tracing a person's geographic origin. Now, a group of researchers has developed a test.

Why Do We Get Allergies?

Spring is finally here! And so are allergies. Tara investigates why we have allergies and discusses some ways that might be able to provide you with some relief.

Dirty Money

A Microbial Jungle Thrives In Your Wallet
Eww, do you have any idea where that cash has been? Or how many people have touched it? Biologist Jane Carlton is leading the Dirty Money Project at New York University, in which researchers have identified about 3,000 types of bacteria on each dollar bill they study. Most are benign, but there is the potential for dangerous drug-resistance strains to spread from person to person by cash.
So far, Carlton and her colleagues have sequenced all the DNA found on about 80 dollar bills from a Manhattan bank. Their findings aren't published yet. But she gave Shots a sneak peak of what they've found so far.

The most common microbes on the bills, by far, are ones that cause acne. The runners-up were a bunch of skin bacteria that aren't pathogenic: They simply like to hang out on people's bodies. Some of these critters may even protect the skin from harmful microbes, Carlton says.

Other money dwellers included mouth microbes — because people lick their fingers when they count bills, Carlton says — and bacteria that thrive in the vagina. "People probably aren't washing their hands after the bathroom," she says.
Your best bet is to wash your hands often -especially after handling money. Read more about the critters in your cash at NPR.

Daily Comic Relief


When farts are a good thing

Farting can be a sign of happy, healthy gut microbes. Thanks, gut microbes.

Should We Stop Calling Obesity a Disease?

Last year, obesity was labeled a disease. But by calling it a disease, is this causing people to consume more high-calorie foods?

There’s Soap in Your Mayonnaise!

The word “chemical” is often treated as a bad thing, as many commercial interests want you to reject “chemicals” and “go natural.” As if the natural world wasn’t made of chemicals. The two terms are not opposites.
As a scientist with a degree in chemistry, the surge in chemophobia over the last five years has been both baffling and frustrating.

While there are plenty of toxic substances that we should be well frightened of, there are also many safeguards against their use – by and large, the chemicals you encounter in your day-to-day life are benign, even the ones with the scary unpronounceable names and the ones made from substances that can literally chew your face off (sodium chloride, I’m looking at you). But it’s incredibly easy to fall into the trap of common-sense-based marketing. Scientific literature is not exactly reader-friendly, and scientists have a long history of alienating themselves from Normal People.
Michelle Wong gives us a basic lesson in surfactants, the chemicals that cause hydrophiles, or water-soluble chemicals, to bind easier with lipophiles, or oily chemicals. Surfactants are pretty much soap, which allows us to rinse oils off our skin, hair, dishes, and clothing with water. But they have many other uses that are necessary to everyday life -like breathing. Read about them at The Toast. 

Tomato and Carrot Ice Cream

Hãagen-Dazs is introducing two new ice cream flavors in Japan: tomato and carrot. The ice cream will be sold under the name SpoonVege beginning May 12. A rough Google translation from the product page:
" Cherry tomato "
That the leading role the sweetness and flavor of tomatoes , add acidity and fruity aroma of cherry , and I prepared to enjoy the full-bodied taste and a rich tomato , ice cream deep taste . I can enjoy the soft hue of the original material .

" Carrot Orange "
By starring plump smell sweet and soft carrot , add refreshing fragrance and refreshing acidity of orange , can enjoy the refreshing sweetness of carrot and finished it in taste sophisticated . I can enjoy the shade of bright carrot unique .
Read more about SpoonVege at Rocket News 24.

Coming Tomorrow

Coming Tomorrow
  • Dear Wingnuts: If you want to live in a theocracy, get the hell out of the United States!
  • The Supreme Court empowered white supremacists with affirmative decision
  • You can not rust the Supreme Court, science proves it
  • The repugicans freak out after polls show democrats leading in 3 out of 4 Senate races
And more ...
This Blue Jay is our Animal Picture, for today.