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

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Today in History

1346 Charles IV of Luxembourg is elected Holy Roman Emperor.
1509 Henry VIII of England marries Catherine of Aragon.
1770 Captain James Cook runs aground on the Great Barrier Reef.
1798 Napoleon Bonaparte takes the island of Malta.
1861 Union forces under General George B. McClellen repulse a Confederate force at Rich Mountain in western Virginia.
1865 Major General Henry W. Halleck finds documents and archives of the Confederate government in Richmond, Virginia. This discovery will lead to the publication of the official war records.
1895 Charles E. Duryea receives the first U.S. patent granted to an American inventor for a gasoline-driven automobile.
1903 King Alexander and Queen Draga of Belgrade are assassinated by members of the Serbia army.
1915 British troops take Cameroon in Africa.
1927 Charles Lindbergh, a captain in the US Army Air Corps Reserve, receives the first Distinguished Flying Cross ever awarded, for his solo trans-Atlantic Flight.
1930 William Beebe, of the New York Zoological Society, dives to a record-setting depth of 1,426 feet off the coast of Bermuda, in a diving chamber called a bathysphere.
1934 The Disarmament Conference in Geneva ends in failure.
1940 The Italian Air Force bombs the British fortress at Malta in the Mediterranean.
1943 The Italian island of Pantelleria surrenders after a heavy air bombardment.
1944 U.S. carrier-based planes attack Japanese airfields on Guam , Rota, Saipan and Tinian islands, preparing for the invasion of Saipan.
1963 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is arrested in Florida for trying to integrate restaurants.
1967 Israel and Syria accept a U. N. cease-fire.
1987 Margaret Thatcher wins her third consecutive term as Prime Minister.

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Non Sequitur


Hero Gets a Reward from the Public

When a gunman opened fire on the Seattle Pacific University campus last Thursday, one person was killed and three were wounded. It could have been worse, except that when he paused to reload, student Jon Meis jumped up and tackled the gunman, pepper-sprayed him, and was one of the students who held him down until police arrived. A 22-year-old with a spray can against an armed killer? You bet he’s a hero! How do you reward such bravery?
Well, Jon is getting married to his girlfriend Kaylie on June 21st. People soon discovered they were registered online, and within 24 hours, all the gifts were bought (except for those that cannot be purchased online)! Then Jessamyn McIntyre, who does not know Meis, started a fund to pay for their honeymoon and/or whatever. They’ve already raised thousands of dollars. Read about how the campaign spread across the internet at Buzzfeed.

40 Maps That Explain The Internet

The internet increasingly pervades our lives, delivering information to us no matter where we are. It takes a complex system of cables, servers, towers, and other infrastructure, developed over decades, to allow us to stay in touch with our friends and family so effortlessly.

Here are 40 maps that will help you better understand the internet - where it came from, how it works, and how it's used by people around the world.

Woman set fire to haystack belonging to wrong person after being unfriended on social media

A Siberian woman set fire to large haystack after falling out with a friend on social media. The woman went to her friend's yard in Transbaikal village and set a giant haystack on fire in her fury at being unfriended. She now faces up to five years in jail.
The act of revenge did not even hit the right target. The haystack didn't belong to her former friend. Konstantin Podoprigora, deputy head of the regional prosecutors office, explained: "The offended woman was banned by her friend in a popular social network.
"She was put on a black list after an earlier argument. That got her even more offended to the extent that she decided to get revenge. She went to her friend's house, set a stack of hay on fire and ran away. The revenge hasn't actually worked because it was somebody else's hay left in her friend's yard.
"The losses were significant to the owner of the hay. The Transbaikal prosecutors initiated an arson case and sent documents to the court. If the women is found guilty of the arson, the toughest punishment she might serve is five years in jail, according to clause 167 of the Russian Criminal Code".

How Solar Will Destroy The Power Companies, In 5 Easy Steps

solar power
Barclays recently downgraded the entire U.S. electric utilities sector to "underweight" on the threat posed by widespread adoption of solar-storage. These systems allow homeowners to use rooftop solar panels and a battery to cut all but the figurative emergency backup cord to their local electric grid, putting a severe strain on an industry that has been a defacto monopoly. The firm's sweeping case focused in large part on debt markets' apparent ignorance to challenge utilities are facing. We wanted to zero in on the astonishingly simple steps that makes Barclays lays out to make shaking up utilities quite possible.
1)  Solar prices come down For the past few years, we have been quietly living through a stunning drop in prices thanks to an unintended loop of massive European subsidies and capacity overexpansion in China. As a result, from 2006 to 2013, photovoltaic panel prices dropped nearly 70%.
falling solar prices The next step is for storage prices to fall too. Cheap storage is key so that people can have power at night, when the sun is down.
Right now, the cost of such systems — about $0.22/kWh is only competitive with retail electricity in Hawaii — the cost of vanilla electricity in California is $0.15/kWh. Barclays says Tesla has single-handedly brought down the cost of batteries over the past few years, from about $1,000/kWh in 2009 to $300/kWh in early 2014. If the company's gigafactory successfully ramps up, costs could plummet. 
2)  The defection spiral commences
Once the prices for everything get cheap enough, homeowners begin to leave the grid.
There remains huge demand for solar, and as costs continue to fall, the price point will continue to match that sought by ever lighter hued green thumbs. This expanding scale will in turn make it more expensive to stay on the grid, bringing even more customers into the solar-storage orbit.  "...Once solar + battery approaches the retail cost of power, its advantage can scale quickly," Barclays says. 
3)  Utilities flail around in their state capitols seeking relief
We've already seen this in Arizona, where the state's electric utility has spent more than $3 million on a campaign to discourage solar adoption in the state. California utilities also won new surcharges, and SolarCity recently charged them with slow-walking grid connections. Neither will prove more than speedbumps in the long-run, Barclays said.  "W hile they may slow the penetration of solar, any relief they offer utilities is likely to be short lived. In Arizona, the fee increases the cost of a rooftop solar installation about 5%. With the costs of solar installations falling about 10% per year, we expect the pace of installations to recover before the end of 2014. While we need more months of data to confirm our view, this may prove to be an example of how quickly the technological/cost curve can overtake regulatory responses." 
4)  The decommissioning process begins
As demand for baseload generation becomes less consistent, utilities could be forced to replace aging power units earlier than scheduled with more modern and efficient "peakers." This could end up lowering utility margins, as well as bring forward cost loads.  
This is the key moment: Utility companies being forced to upgrade their plants in the face of a declining customer base. That's a killer combination. 
5)  The market turns
In Germany, aggressive subsidies and a move away from nuclear led to an explosion of renewables expansion. Since the beginning of 2010 (though for reasons that go beyond simply that outgrowth), Germany’s two largest utilities had stock price declines of 55-60%, compared with a near 60% gain in the DAX.

Superman At The Gym

Three New Ways the Koch Brothers Are Screwing America

The fourth-richest men in America target low-wage workers, minority voters and unions
by Elisabeth Garber-Paul
David Koch
"They are truly cowards in the worst way," says filmmaker Robert Greenwald, of the notorious billionaires Charles and David Koch. And he should know. After he released his 2012 documentary, "The Koch Brothers Exposed," Koch-funded organizations took out ads trying to discredit Greenwald and his work, yet the brothers still declined his repeated offers to debate the topics covered in the film, like the re-segregation of schools and the defanging of the EPA. "I wanted to engage in a policy debate," he says. "But they won't engage."
For most people, an attack from the fourth-richest (and perhaps most politically conniving) men in America would slow them down. But instead Greenwald, who became interested in the powerful duo when he read Jane Mayer's 2010 New Yorker profile, decided to double down, and began work on "The Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition." The update, which is now available free online, is centered on their influence in (and outpouring of money since) the Citizens United Supreme Court decision. While researching and producing it with his small staff at Brave New Films, Greenwald says he was "surprised by not just the sheer numbers, but the extraordinary lengths they go to legally to hide the amounts they're giving." Here, three of the fights to which these undocumented millions flow:
Suppressing the Minimum Wage 
Not only do the Koch brothers not want to raise the minimum wage – now a federal $7.25 – they say it creates a "culture of dependency" and would like to see it abolished altogether. "One of the facts I've been most struck by is that it would take a full-time minimum-wage earner 76 years to make $1.8 million," says Greenwald. "Or, about what each Koch brother earns in an hour." But bottom lines are more important than bottom workers for the Kochs – since the early 1990s, they've given at least $23.3 million to think tanks that have published over 4,000 articles, papers, studies, and media projects targeting the minimum wage. "They want to abolish the concept of minimum wage," Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) said at the film's D.C. premiere. "So people can work for free."
Breaking Unions
"Really, what we would like to see is to take the unions out at the knees, so they don't have the resources to fight," says Scott Hagerstrom, the Michigan director of Americans for Prosperity – a group heavily funded by the Kochs – in a damning clip from the film. And it seems to sum up the Kochs' approach to unions: Americans for Prosperity were integral to the 2011 union-busting fight in Wisconsin, and American Legislative Exchange Council (or ALEC, which works closely with the brothers) has drafted the model anti-union legislation used to slash collective bargaining rights for workers in 36 states. "They do not want to have safety regulations," says Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, in the film. "They do not want workers to be able to negotiate wages and benefits."
Disenfranchising Voters
During the 2012 election, an organization called True the Vote called itself a "citizen-led effort to ensure free and fair elections." Their tactic? Placing mostly white "poll-watchers" in polling places, many of them in minority areas, which led to complaints of voter intimidation. The funding came from Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity. What's worse, ALEC, which counts roughly 20 percent of all state legislators as members, also drafted a model Voter ID bill and used its ranks to disseminate it across the country. Now, 41 states have introduced more than 180 such bills, which could mean that over 21 million people could be denied their most basic right as a citizen. "The reason that you target somebody's voting rights," Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP, says in the film, "is it makes it easier to take away the rest of their rights. You come for that first, and the whole house of cards starts to fall."

Texas school forbids children taking sunscreen on field trips

After several decades of surfing the web it has become progressively more difficult to be shocked by reports of unusual behavior.  But every now and then one encounters an example of human stupidity so egregious, so far below two standard deviations of normal intellectual activity, that one can't help but wonder at the complexities of human psychology.  To wit...
Riggs said her 10-year-old daughter went on a school field trip recently and came back sun-burned. Riggs said district policy didn’t allow her daughter to bring sunscreen to reapply... Riggs said skin cancer runs in her family and her father recently passed away from it.
But, North East Independent School District spokeswoman Aubrey Chancellor said sunscreen is considered a medication, something children need a doctor’s note to have at school.
“Typically, sunscreen is a toxic substance, and we can’t allow toxic things in to be in our schools,” Chancellor said.
“We have to look at the safety of all of our students and we can’t allow children to share sunscreen,” she said. “They could possibly have an allergic reaction (or) they could ingest it. It’s really a dangerous situation.”
It's Texas.  It's institutional educational systems.  It's zero-tolerance policy running amok.  It's stupid.  It's irrational.  But it's real life. The gods preserve us.

The Unfair and Unconstitutional Persecution of wingnut christians

by Allen Clifton
I think it’s time someone finally takes a stand to defend this group of people who for too long now have faced public ridicule, inequality, and have had their constitutional values trashed.  We live in a society where it’s unfair that millions of Americans are denied their constitutional rights, while enduring intense hate and judgement by so many simply because of who they are.
It’s time we put an end to this unconstitutional persecution of wingnut christians.
Every day they face unfair criticism simply because of their lifestyle.  Millions of people demand that they adhere to a certain definition of “family” or “marriage” based on beliefs that they do not share.
Their right to be themselves, without fear of discrimination for who they are, is under constant attack by those who seem determined to violate one of the most important parts of our Constitution – the First Amendment.
Because without that freedom of religion, who knows what kind of dark hole this country might spiral down into.  Imagine a day and age where millions of Americans are forced to obey laws and rules based on a religion they don’t follow or believe in.
It is unfair, and unjust, to say to these people who love their family that their feelings are not valid because we do not accept their views on what they believe constitutes a family.
We cannot continue to say we’re a nation built on freedom and liberty for all while we continue to say to millions of people, “You are not equal.  You are not accepted by society.  Your lifestyle is an abomination to everything for which this country stands.  Because we disagree with what you feel constitutes a family, we’ll seek out the passage of laws to define what constitutes a family.”
Enough is enough!  This horrible and unconstitutional persecution against wingnut christians simply because we do not agree with the way they live their lives must stop.
Oh wait, my mistake.  That’s actually what wingnut christians do toward homosexuals and anyone with which they disagree.

Joe Arpaio investigates DOJ and the judge who found him guilty of racial profiling

Earlier this week it was reported that Arpaio had cost citizens of Maricopa County in Arizona $975,000, the result of another lawsuit filed against the sheriff and county. On Monday the 9th Circuit of Appeals found that Arpaio and then County Attorney Andrew Thomas had brought frivolous charges against, and otherwise harassed, County Supervisor Mary Rose Wilcox. Last year another former County Supervisor, Don Stapley, received a $3.5 million settlement in a similar case.To date, Arpaio has cost citizens of Maricopa County more than $44 million because of illegal, vindictive, unethical and unnecessary lawsuits and other actions that he and crony Andrew Thomas leveled against their enemies, or people they believed were enemies because they did not sanction the sheriff's police state tactics.
That's been a common Arpaio ploy: target politicians, journalists, activists and other people with whom you disagree, harass them, file charges against them, and even arrest them. Some of these victims are now fighting back, often resulting in large settlements that the county's citizens must absorb-rather than hire teachers and police, open libraries, maintain parks or staff hospitals.

America Loves Experts, and America's Most Loved Experts Are Terrible

Researchers have found the problem with American politics, and it's only getting worse with Twitter. 
But there is a fix.
by Ben Collins
Researchers may have found out the problem with politics in America, and it’s simple: We’re all just repeating exactly what we hear on television.
We’re not even changing the words around. We’re restating the loudest version of any argument, verbatim.
Cornell studied the conversation around big political events, like the 2012 debates, and dug into over 290 million Tweets. Their data found unequivocally that almost everyone is simply retweeting or actively repeating the shortest sentences of the loudest voices on the far ends of the wingnuts and left, like Sean Handjob, Bill Maher and Karl Rove.
Handjob’s “Middle class crushed last 4 years” is one of the most repeated. That’s the entire Tweet.
The data also shows a love for very basic, very theatrical conspiracy theories. They are not theories about the real, prosecutable financial corruption that we know exists and have simply chosen not to explore. They have to do with plot devices you’d only see in a Channing Tatum movie.
One of the most retweeted stories during the 2012 debates? When Karl Rove wrote this:
"Are those packs on [debate moderator Martha] Raddatz's back a way for ABC higher ups to feed her questions?"
There is no incentive for critical thinking. There is only incentive for seeing and reacting immediately, usually with words that are not our own. Everything must be a line from an Expendables movie, or else.
"Frankly, we're rather disappointed," Cornell's Drew Margolin told Phys.org. "Social media has so much potential to improve the diversity of voices and quality of exchanges in political discussion by giving individuals the technological capability to compete with the mass media in disseminating information, setting agendas and framing conversation."
This is how news cycles like the current one about Bowe Bergdahl operate.
If you haven’t turned on cable this week, Bergdahl was an American prisoner of war who may have gone AWOL. Bergdahl had written to his parents about the pointlessness of the war he was fighting in Afghanistan, about the us-versus-them nature of an occupation instead of the nuance necessary to actually fix a broken country.
Then he wrote a condemnation of American policy. Then he was gone.
No one is sure of the next few steps, but he was held by the Taliban for over five years. Five Guantanamo detainees were traded to free him, and now the TV is sick with defenses of or contempt for the president for doing it.
And now we know that there are only two kinds of rhetoric that are conducive to getting heard in this discussion: The president is a traitor or the president is a hero, but there is nothing in between, even though war is horrible, even if war should be met with persistent and crippling doubt at every step, especially at the start, and even if there is almost always no right answer.
With the technology we have, can we outgrow war? should be the question. Can we see the horror of war, and make the images that we see from it inescapable in our collective consciousness, and internalize it, and doubt it with a force stronger than itself? could be another. We have the tools to realize that we are all the same, that death for any dogmatic cause is gruesome and terrible, and that the cure is communication.
There is a fix. It’s a two-step process. 
All we have to do is recognize our initial impulse to react before understanding, and realize no harm can come from thinking about the other side. "Elite" commentators, as the study puts it, speak up even more than usual in debate situations, reacting immediately and emotionally, without a tempered response.
And then, for a minute, just wait. There is virtue—and now data—in taking a few minutes or hours or days to hear the whole story, acting instead of reacting, or sometimes not acting at all.

The repugicans Deny Science, History, Math and Reality – Then Want Us to Take Them Seriously?

by Allen Clifton
Once upon a time I used to have healthy, productive debates with some of my repugican counterparts.  We still rarely agreed on several key issues, but with basic common sense issues (climate change and evolution, for instance) we usually didn’t disagree all that much.
Well, that’s all changed.
The repugican cabal seems hell-bent and determined to be the cabal of stupid.
In my opinion, their economic policies have always been based off fantasy rather than reality.  And while I say that’s my “opinion,” facts are also on my side.  It’s pretty much indisputable that since the dawn of trickle-down economics that wealth distribution in this county has become a major problem.
Sure, it’s been great for the rich – they’re wealthier than they’ve ever been before.  But they’ve grown that wealth on the backs of everyone else.  While their wealth soared, the middle class fell further and further behind.
It’s like I’ve said about trickle-down economics plenty of times:
Trickle-down economics: Convincing poor people that they can become rich by giving rich people more money.
But sadly, the repugican denial of economic reality is actually one of the least ridiculous things about them.
It seems repugicans struggle with basic things like dates and history.  I can’t count how many repugicans I’ve met who claim President Obama caused the recession.  I’ve talked to plenty who actually think our economy is worse now than it was five years ago.
Five years ago we were shedding hundreds of thousands of jobs every month.  Now if we create less than 100,000 it’s considered “bad news.”  We’re approaching four straight years of continuous private sector job growth.  The stock market was plummeting toward a low around 6,000.  Now it’s over 16,000.
And if you want to be one of those people who says, “Yeah, but a lot of the jobs are low-paying and wages are stagnant,” that’s fine – but you can’t blame President Obama for that.
Again, the rich are doing great in this country.  Corporate profits are up.  I would say Obama’s economy has done a pretty good job at making sure the rich have the means to “trickle-down” those riches to the rest of us.  Even though repugicans like to ramble on and on about him being a socialist.  Well, if he’s indeed a socialist, he’s one of the worst ones – ever.  Heck, there are a lot of capitalists who would love to follow his kind of “socialism” because it’s been great for capitalism.
All we need is for those “job creators” to start trickling that stuff down.
Oh, that’s right, trickle-down economics is a scam.
Then there’s the new movement where it seems science has become a dirty word to repugicans.  More and more of them are starting to believe that creationism (you know, that belief where the “evidence” is simply saying, “It’s in the bible!”) is every bit the scientific theory as evolution.
Then there’s the growing wingnut theory where millions of these people believe that around 95% of the world’s scientists have concocted this elaborate climate change hoax to continue getting grant money so they can enjoy their lower-middle class lavish lifestyles.
Seriously, that’s why they say scientists have created climate change – to keep grant money flowing in.
Because it’s quite the lavish lifestyle to live for months on end on a ship, in arctic climates, sharing rooms with people who don’t bathe regularly.
This is the way I look at it:
  • It’s real and we must act now to try to save our planet
  • It’s not real, but we should still act as if it’s real because we only have one planet to live on
Honestly, what’s the worse that’s going to happen if we became completely reliant on green energy?  Cities completely powered by the sun and wind?  Homes powered by solar panels?  Cars that run on water?  True energy independence?  Fresher air?  Cleaner water?
The horrors!
And don’t even bring up history with wingnuts, it can drive you mad.
I can read our entire Constitution and a wingnut can read our entire Constitution (OK, so that is a stretch, a wingnut that can read, but stranger things have happened).  When I’m finished I’ll have read a document that’s completely absent of the words “christian” or “christianity.”  When the wingnut is finished reading it, they’ll read the exact same document absent of the words “christian” or “christianity,” yet still maintain we’re a christian nation.
It would stand to reason that if our Founding Fathers had wanted this nation to be founded upon christianity, that would have been mentioned at least once.
Show them the Treaty of Tripoli, written by one of our Founding Fathers John Adams, where it clearly states, “As the Government of the United States of America is not, in any sense, founded on the christian religion..” and it still won’t make one bit of difference.  Show them documents where Thomas Jefferson (another Founding Father) advocated strongly for the separation of cult and state – it won’t matter.
The repugicans will still insist that this nation was founded on christianity and will continue to try to interject their religious delusions into public policy.
And I’ve still never had someone explain to me how we’re a nation of “freedom” and “liberty,” yet we’re supposed to be based off religion.  You know, being that religion is about control – not freedom.
Once upon a time science, history and math were tools you used to prove your side of an argument.  Now, to many wingnuts, they’re all apparently liberally biased.
I’ve just gotten to a point where I can’t take most of these people seriously anymore.  The repugicans seem to have created this world where “truth” lies not in what’s actually real but in what they want to be real, and it’s a sad sight to behold.

5 wingnuts Who Are Still Mad That Women Have the Right to Vote

by Katie Halper
How can you be anti-enfranchisement in the 21st century?
Misogynists say the darnedest things. Take, for example, the claim, verbatim, that "women's suffrage destroyed western civilization." It sounds like something Stephen Colbert would say, but it's something a real live blogger and YouTube sensation actually wrote... on the Internet... on purpose... in the 21st century.
For your enjoyment, we've rounded up some of the people who are freaking out that women are enfranchised, and some of the reasons female enfranchisement is freaking some people out.
1. Women's suffrage: Responsible for the evil that is Cam and Mitchell, the gay parents on "Modern Family."
Earlier this month, David Barton explained the origins of women’s disenfranchisement in the United States. Now, Barton isn’t just the founder of WallBuilders, an organization whose mission is "educating the nation concerning the godly foundation of our country." Barton also fancies himself a historian and has not only a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oral Roberts University but an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from Pensacola christian College. Barton is responsible for… discovering the (non-existent) causal correlation between banning school prayer and an increased rates of crime and alcoholism. So, we must take his historical analysis seriously. And his analysis reveals that our Founding Fathers' decision to deny women the vote in the Constitution had nothing to do with bigotry and everything to do with... you guessed it... god!
As Barton explains: “The bigotry we're told they held back then, they didn't hold.” Bigotry? What bigotry? Certainly no bigotry was coming from the framers of the Constitution, committed as they were to justice, equality, and turning black people into fractions. No. These slave-holding men weren’t anti-anyone. They were just pro-family: “And what they did was they put the family unit higher than the government unit and they tried to work hard to keep the family together.” Just as removing prayer from public school (and, you know, recognizing that whole separation of church and state thing) took away our livers and lives, bestowing women with the vote has ruined the family: “And, as we can show in two or three hundred studies since then, the more you weaken the family, the more it hurts the entire culture and society.”
Barton is that rare breed of historian who is so talented and expert he doesn’t need to look at history or provide evidence. Though he does provide some data: “We've moved into more of a family anarchy kind of thing, the 'Modern Family' kind of portrayal.” You want evidence? Turn on ABC every Wednesday at 9pm.
2. Women can’t be trusted, trust me! I’m a woman.
Feminists will be thrilled to learn that women are just as capable of sexism as men. Take Janis Lane, a Central Mississippi tea party president, who rues the day the vote was granted to… well… her: “Our country might have been better off if it was still just men voting.” Why would our country benefit from the disenfranchisement of women? Because of the devil.
“There is nothing worse than a bunch of mean, hateful women. They are diabolical in how they can skewer a person.” These females are not to be trusted: “The whole time I worked, I'd much rather have a male boss than a female boss. Double-minded, you never can trust them.” And if you can’t trust a female boss, how can you trust a female politician? Surely, women should be excluded from the entire political system, right? Well, not exactly. Lane has an explanation for her simultaneous participation in politics and contempt from women in politics: “Because women have the right to vote, I am active, because I want to make sure there is some sanity for women in the political world. It is up to the christian rednecks and patriots to stand up for our country. Everyone has the right to vote now that's 18 or over (who is) a legal citizen, and every person that's 18 and over and a legal citizen should be active in local politics so they can make a change locally, make a change on the state level and make a change in Washington, D.C.”
In other words, though it is lamentable that women have political rights, because they do, Lane will do her best to fight for a world in which, one day, they won’t.
3. I have a dream! That one day this nation will rise up and repeal voting rights for women.
One of the best thinkers/bigots of the wingnuts is John Derbyshire, who got fired from the National Review for his racist guide on how to keep yourself safe from black people. You know you’re despicable when the National Review cans you for what it describes as "outlandish, nasty and indefensible" writing. Because he likes to state the obvious, Derbyshire has described himself as a homophobe and a racist. But he is being humble by omitting his sexist bona fides. For example, the homophobic, racist, sexist triple threat waxed poetic about his dreams and hopes for disenfranchisement during an interview with Alan Colmes: “Among the hopes that I do not realistically nurse is the hope that female suffrage will be repealed. But I’ll say this—if it were to be, I wouldn’t lose a minute’s sleep.”
When an incredulous Colmes clarified, “We would be a better country? John Derbyshire making the statement, we would be a better country if women did not vote,” Derbyshire responded, “Yeah, probably.”
4. "How female suffragedestroyed civilization.”
Sometimes wingnuts say something so inane, so obviously based on emotion and not reality, I find it hard to believe it’s not a liberal plant pretending to be wingnut to discredit the movement. But, no, Ramzpaul was being serious when he wrote his blog post “How Female Suffrage Destroyed Western Civilization.” Ramzpaul, aka Paul Ray Ramsey, is a YouTube sensation, whose wit is evident in his website’s motto: “ram this.” The Southern Poverty Law Center writes, “with a small camera and a big grin, the lanky, bespectacled, 50-year-old father of two from suburban Tulsa, Okla., has emerged as the hottest wingnut video blogger this side of former Klansman David Duke.”
The particular blog post and video denouncing female suffrage was sparked by Google’s outrageous decision to honor the 90th anniversary of the 19th amendment, by posting the following radical tag on its website: “Celebrating 90 years since the ratification of the 19th Amendment, guaranteeing women the right to vote.” An incensed Ramzpaul wrote “people opposed to female suffrage proved to be right beyond their wildest predictions. As Google was celebrating the 19th amendment, a British newspaper detailed the boasting of a 26-year-old woman who claims to have had sex with 5,000 different men. Single mothers, rampant divorce, abortion and falling birth rates are part of the cancer that is destroying what is left of Western Civilization. But very few people (even wingnuts) fail to realize that the inception of this cancer can be found in the passage of the 19th amendment.”
He must be schooled in the same historical methods as David Barton.
5. Rights for women is wrong for repugicans.
Ann Coulter is a glass-ceiling-shattering sexist. During an interview, Coulter opined, “If we took away women's right to vote, we'd never have to worry about another Democrat president. It's kind of a pipe dream, it's a personal fantasy of mine, but I don't think it's going to happen. And it is a good way of making the point that women are voting so stupidly, at least single women.”
It’s not just that Coulter opposes women voting because she opposes the party they tend to vote into office. It’s because to this self-loathing lady, women are just embarrassing: “It is kind of embarrassing, the Democratic Party ought to be hanging its head in shame, that it has so much difficulty getting men to vote for it. I mean, you do see it's the party of women and 'We'll pay for healthcare and tuition and daycare—and here, what else can we give you, soccer moms?'”
By the way Ann, thanks for proving the point by showing and telling that the wingnuts are indeed launching a war on women and the Democrats are, more or less, on women’s sides. That’s something the right tries to deny. So, I appreciate your honesty. How does your foot taste? Probably metallic, because you keep shooting yourself there.
Bonus: Texas’ equal opportunity disenfranchisement.
If voter ID laws are intended to disenfranchise people of color and poor people, and they obviously are, then Texas should be very proud of itself. The Voter ID laws passed in Texas were racist enough to be initially struck down by a federal panel for violating the Voting Rights Act. As the judges explained, this particular ID law “imposes strict, unforgiving burdens on the poor” and that “a disproportionately high percentage of African Americans and Hispanics in Texas live in poverty.” But then, thanks to the Supreme Court’s decision that racism is over and key provisions of the Voting Rights Act were unnecessary, Texas was able to pass the racist law in a totally legal way. People who try to vote without one of the six forms of valid ID will be turned away on the spot. What counts as a valid ID? If you’re a gun enthusiast, you’re in luck. Whip out a gun permit and you’re in. But if you’re a non-gun-owning senior or student, neither a social security nor student ID card counts. But those without acceptable IDs should, of course, feel free to travel and often pay in order to obtain an ID and exercise their constitutional vote.
Texas is just as happy to deny women their rights as it is people of color and poorer people. And if you are a woman and/or poor or of color, you are really in for a treat. Because Texas also requires that a voter ID be “substantially similar” to their name on the voter registration rolls. As Ari Berman points out, a study by the Brennan Center for Justice found that a third of all women have citizenship documents that don’t match their current legal name. So, if you have changed or hyphenated your last name, ladies, it’s a problem.

Workers' Wages Sink as 'Domestic Outsourcing' Grows

by Martha C. White

Say "outsourcing" and Americans think of call centers in India or factories in China. But American workers increasingly are being forced to navigate a byzantine system of third-party contractors that leads to lower pay and fewer benefits.
Call it "domestic outsourcing."
A new report from the National Employment Law Project says that domestic outsourcing makes it harder for workers to organize and effectively lets companies pass the buck on taxes, benefits and worker safety.
"This business model of subcontracting has become increasingly ubiquitous," said Ruth Milkman, sociology professor at the City University of New York Graduate Center.
Debbie DeCrow knows this firsthand. After 18 years driving a school bus in the greater Memphis area, the 60-year-old and her fellow drivers recently were summoned into an auditorium with one week left in the school year. They were all fired and then invited to apply for jobs at the company that was taking over the district's transportation, Durham School Services.
Shelby County Schools defended the decision to outsource busing following its 2013 merger with Memphis City Schools. "The District saved approximately $1.9 million from its general fund by outsourcing all transportation services in 2014-15," spokesman Shawn Pachucki said via email. "We are told by Durham that the same base pay rate will be maintained for all District drivers that are hired," he said.
"We are still formulating the wage rates," Molly Hart, spokeswoman for National Express Corporation, parent company of Durham School Services, said via email.
'I knew all of their names'
DeCrow, who had been making more than $15 an hour as a school district employee, said Durham offered a pay rate of $10.25 an hour, with no sick days or paid vacation.

    "The job I do, I am worth more than $10 an hour."

"I knew all of their names, I kept up with their birthdays. I knew if there had been a death in the family," she said of the students she drove. "The job I do, I am worth more than $10 an hour."
This kind of scenario is common, NELP says. "Once outsourced, workers' wages suffer as compared to their non-contracted peers," NELP said. The drop can be steep, the group said: Janitors' wages fell by seven percent, port truck drivers' pay dropped by 30 percent and food service workers lost $6 an hour in wages.
As in the private sector, government contract workers earn less: In a 2009 report, the Economic Policy Institute found that more than twice the number of federal contract workers didn't make enough to lift a family of four above the poverty threshold when compared to workers employed directly by the government.
A study released Tuesday by advocacy group In The Public Interest says that contracting out jobs for corrections officers to trash collectors chips away at the economic stability that civil service jobs used to give families and communities. The group wants governments to examine the economic impact of outsourcing and mandate wage and benefit standards for contractors.
"Governments create and have the potential to create millions of low-wage jobs if they choose to contract with low-road contractors, thereby contributing to the disappearing middle class," the research warns. Taxpayers end up subsidizing these workers when they rely on food stamps, Medicaid and other forms of public assistance.
"Workers have less money to spend," said Daphne Greenwood, professor of economics at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

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Norma Jean 1940’s
Norma Jean 1940’s
Marilyn Monroe

Choctaw code talkers - from World War I

Most readers will already be familiar with the Navajo code talkers who served vital roles during the second World War.  I, for one, however, didn't realize that code talking was first made use of during the Great War.
In the autumn of 1918, US troops were involved in the Meuse-Argonne Offensive on the Western Front. It was one of the largest frontline commitments of American soldiers in WW1, but communications in the field were compromised. The Germans had successfully tapped telephone lines, were deciphering codes and repeatedly capturing runners sent out to deliver messages directly...

The solution was stumbled upon by chance, an overheard conversation between two Choctaw soldiers in the 142nd Infantry Regiment. The pair were chatting in camp when a captain walked by and asked what language they were speaking...

"Using the Choctaw language had huge advantages," says Dr William Meadows of Missouri State University, the only academic to have studied and written extensively on the Choctaw code talkers. "It was a largely unknown language. Only a few American Indian tribes had more than 20,000 people so their languages weren't widely spoken and most weren't written down...

Even if the Germans were listening, they couldn't understand. It was also the quickest way of coding and decoding information, faster than any machine, giving US troops a crucial edge over the enemy... It is believed none of the languages or codes used have ever been broken by an enemy.
Further details at the BBC, where note is made of this irony:
But at the same time,the Choctaw language was under pressure back in the US. It was a time of cultural assimilation. Government attempts to "civilize" American Indians involved putting their children in state-run boarding schools, where they were often severely punished for speaking in their native tongue.

Has The Roman Dodecahedron Mystery Been Solved?

Though more than 100 of the strange objects are known to exist, their purpose remains a puzzling mystery that has perplexed archaeologists since their first discovery.
All throughout Europe, small geometric objects known as Roman dodecahedrons have been recovered. As far north as Wales, and further south toward the Mediterranean, the dodecahedrons, usually made of bronze or stone, are seldom larger than about eight to ten centimeters in size. So what was their purpose?
Part of what has led to their mystery has been the speculation surrounding their use, as no classical accounts or narratives seem to mention them, let alone offer any explanation for what purpose they may have served. Among the leading theories about their practical use, archaeologists have guessed that they might be everything form gaming objects similar to multi-sided dice used in modern role playing games, to items intended to hold candlesticks or other objects. Others have speculated that they may hold religious or cultural significance, and some have gone so far as to presume they could have been useful in determining the proper times for planting various crops throughout the year.
In many cases where perplexing ancient mysteries are observed and considered by modern science, we tend to project complex scientific possibilities onto the circumstances, leading to wild speculation ranging from things like “ancient alien theory” to ancient power plants nestled within monuments like the pyramids. It is not always demeaning to suppose that in many cases, there could be a simpler explanation… and indeed, one that could have been far more practical to the ancient way of life.
And for one man, this kind of practical thinking led him to finding a unique use for the Roman dodecahedrons… as well as a possible solution to their creation in ancient times.
In the video above, YouTube user Martin Hallett offers his own thoughts about what the Roman dodecahedrons might have been used for, demonstrating a fascinating potential solution to their design… and an interesting, but creative outcome as well.
Using a 3D printer, he had a scale replica of one of the dodecahedrons made, and then went to work experimenting… with string.
“Over 100 of these artifacts have been found across Northern Europe,” Hallett writes, “dating from around 200 AD. People must have been using them for something useful for there to have been so many made.”
“I wanted to see what they might have been used for so I got one made with a 3D printer and, well watch to see what they can do.”
Is this truly what the mysterious Roman dodecahedrons were meant to do?

Bronze Age settlement found beneath Aberdeen park

4,000-year-old pottery from the early Bronze Age, the remains of timber roundhouses and evidence of Iron Age smithing are among the discoveries made by archaeologists investigating a proposed park and ride site near Aberdeen.
The Archaeological dig undertaken by AECOM and Headland Archaeology ahead of construction work on the “Park and Choose” site, which is being developed as part of new link road, took place on a “relatively undisturbed” site where archaeological discoveries have been made in the past.
Their finds suggest agricultural, industrial and domestic activity, and show that the site was used from the early Bronze Age (2300BC) right through to the 1800s.
"Domestic occupation in the area has been found in the form of the remains of timber constructed roundhouses, with hearths and remnants of compacted floor and activity surfaces, which so far seem to indicate prolonged occupation on the same site, with phases of rebuilding occurring,” said Archaeologist Steve Thomson.
"The site appears to have been significant over a 2,000 year period with Iron Age occupation and evidence of smithing and domestic life.”
Small pits and post-holes can be seen on the ground - some of them indicating circular roundhouses with their entranceways clearly visible. Partial quern stones, used for grinding cereal crops, have been also been found along with metal working residues and pots containing what Thomson described as “probable fire rakings of meals and everyday life."
Thomson, who said the finds revealed “a wonderful jigsaw of people working and living within a landscape” described how the site provided all its occupants needed right up to the present day.
"The continuity of use of the land is remarkable,” he said. “Clearly a sense of place was important, not purely for practical reasons. Seeing the landscape, even today, helps the team understand why it was a focus for so long for continued use. It is genuinely exciting to be so close and even walk on surfaces our predecessors used thousands of years ago.
"The Headland Archaeology team are genuinely excited by the opportunity to excavate the site, and while there is still much to do to fully understand the picture, once the excavation has been completed, the team have welcomed the opportunity to begin to tell a real story of early life in Aberdeen."
Any archaeological artifacts recovered will be allocated to museums by the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel.

3,000-year-old remains of baby found in Meath

3,000-year-old remains of a baby have been found during inaugural archaeological works at a Meath site reputed to be the birthplace of Halloween. The remains were found at the base of a 1.5 meter ditch at Tlachtga, near Athboy. 3,000-year-old remains of baby found in Meath
The excavations at Tlachtga
It’s believed the fully intact skeleton is of a baby between seven and 10 months old, but it is not thought the child was the victim of any human sacrifice on the ritualistic site.
The remains will now be taken to the School of Archaeology at University College Dublin for further examination.
Describing it as “an exciting find,” lead archaeologist on the site Dr Stephen Davis said: “We may never know what caused the death of the child. The skeleton probably dates back 3,000 years and was found on the bedrock at the base of a 1.5m ditch.”
The remains were found during a three-week excavation on Tlachtga — most commonly held to have been the first site to celebrate the feast of Samhain — Halloween.
Surveys carried out using airborne laser and geophysical techniques have already revealed the area to have been a “key ritual site,” according to Dr Davis.
He said: “The surveys clearly reveal that the site has several different phases of monumental enclosures and we believe them to be associated with festivals and rituals dating back as far as 1000 BC.
“It’s a very important site which was likely to have been a ritual assembly place. “It’s one of only three sites of its status in Ireland; the others being Tara and Rathcroghan in Co Roscommon.”
He added: “Tlachtga is also one of the sites known as the four corners of the old province of Meath, the others being Uisneach, Tara and Teltown.”
Tlachtga — now known locally as the Hill of Ward, got its name from the daughter of the Druid, Mug Ruith, who is said to have died on the hill after giving birth to triplets and whose remains, according to legend, are buried under the hill.
The latest excavations have also unearthed evidence of much burning, which could have been ritual fires or evidence of glass making, Dr Davis has surmised.
Local historian and tour guide Joe Conlon was present at the site and says he was part of a druid circle which said prayers at the area before the remains were transferred.
“It was reputed to be the site used to summon the priests, the augurs and druids of Ireland to assemble on Samhain eve to consume the sacrifices that were offered to their pagan gods.” It was decreed that all fires within the kingdom on that night were to be kindled from the Fire of Tlachtga, under the penalty of fine.”
Funding for the present digs has been provided by the Office of Public Works, Meath County Council, the Heritage Council and the Royal Irish Academy.



London's Six Swiss Railway Clocks

Precisely 70 years ago, Swiss designer Hans Hilfiker designed the Swiss Railway Clock. Apart from its design, the clock has one other unique feature in how it works.
The second hand takes 58.5 seconds to rotate around by 59 seconds, then the second hand pauses. It waits until a nationwide pulse is sent to every Swiss railway clock that a minute has passed, then the clock jumps to the minute and carries on for another 58.5 seconds. It's part of that railway's famous accuracy and timekeeping.

London property bubble entombs a thousand digger-machines

London's property bubble has got people energetically expanding their property, digging out sub-basements -- and the insane bubblenomics of London housebuilding are such that it's cheaper to just bury the digger and abandon it than to retrieve it. London's accumulating a substrate of entombed earthmoving machinery.
A new solution emerged: simply bury the digger in its own hole. Given the exceptional profits of London property development, why bother with the expense and hassle of retrieving a used digger – worth only £5,000 or £6,000 – from the back of a house that would soon be sold for several million? The time and money expended on rescuing a digger were better spent moving on to the next big deal.
The new method, now considered standard operating practice, is to cover the digger with “hardcore”, a mixture of sand and gravel. Then a layer of concrete is simply poured over the top. Digger? What digger? The digger has literally dug its own grave – just as the boring machines that excavated the Channel Tunnel were abandoned beneath the passage they had just created.
How many of these once perfectly functioning and possibly still serviceable diggers are petrified underneath central London, like those Romans preserved cowering in the corners of houses in Pompeii? Estimates vary. One property developer I asked reckoned at least 1,000; another put the figure at more like 500. In some of London’s newest luxury conversions, “sub-basements” are being tucked beneath the existing basement conversions. But developers are stumbling on a new kind of obstacle as they burrow deeper still: abandoned diggers from the last round of improvements.

The Blue Forest In Belgium

Though this may look like a scene straight out of a fairy-tale, this blue forest is, in fact, real. Just 30 minutes south of Brussels, in Belgium, is a forest called Hallerbos. During the spring, the forest's floor is covered in bluebell flowers which creates a carpet-like effect.

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Lunar Rocks Are First Direct Evidence of Collision That Formed Moon

Lunar samples from Apollo landings confirm a long-held theory.
An illustration of the moon being formed.
This illustration shows the collision between Earth and a smaller planet that formed the moon.
Newly analyzed lunar rocks have revealed the first direct evidence of the ancient smashup that created the moon, bolstering a long-held theory.
The rocks were gathered by astronauts on NASA's Apollo missions. But newer scanning electron microscopes have now allowed scientists to detect in them the first chemical traces of the Mars-size planet thought to have blasted the proto-Earth around 4.5 billion years ago.
When the ancient planet, Theia, smashed into Earth, it blasted debris into space. The moon formed out of that debris. Planetary scientists first came up with this theory in the wake of the July 20, 1969, Apollo moon landing, offering an explanation for why our world has such a massive moon.
A team led by Daniel Herwartz of Germany's Georg-August-Universität Göttingen reported the new findings about Theia on Thursday in the journal Science.
"If the moon formed predominantly from the fragments of Theia, as predicted by most numerical models, the Earth and Moon should differ," says the study.
Earlier looks at moon rocks hadn't been detailed enough to reveal any difference in the lunar chemistry between them and rocks from the Earth. But this team found a small but significant difference—about 12 parts per million more of a heavier kind of oxygen atom in the moon rocks—that serves as a fingerprint of Theia.
Rogue Planet
The early solar system was a shooting gallery, Herwartz notes, with planets spun out of a disk of dusty material swirling around the young sun that occasionally smacked into each other.
"I think that Theia and the proto-Earth formed in the same region of the protoplanetary disk, more or less from the same material," Herwartz says by email. He thinks roughly 30 to 50 percent of the moon might be Theia.
If Theia was particularly enriched with the heavier kind of oxygen atom, an isotope called oxygen-17, then it might make up less than 30 percent of the moon, he adds.
One outside alternative is that Theia and Earth were chemically identical, and that Earth was later hit by a comet or asteroid that carried a lot of water—proto-oceans—which rearranged Earth's oxygen chemistry.
"This is possible, but unlikely," Herwartz says. "If this was the case, however, the material that was added to the Earth (after the formation of the Moon) must have been very exotic," he says. Meteorites with just such an exotic composition, he adds, must also have been rich in water.

Bioengineer Trains Microbes To Play Classic 80s Video Games

Here’s one of the latest scientific “discovery” stories which will make you shrug and say “okay then science”- scientists have trained microbes to act out classic 80s video games like Pac-Man and Brick Breaker, the microbes desperately seeking a high score so their scientific overlords would be pleased with their performance.
Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, a bioengineer from Stanford, uses electric fields to control the microbes and move them in various directions, adding a single cell pond-dwelling paramecia as an avatar. Here’s how it works:
Changes in an electrical field can cause some species to alter their steering (a behavior called galvanotaxis). The microbes selected for the video games swim toward electricity using cilia that cover their bodies.
Object-detecting software turns the physical setup into a game by locating paramecia as they move around the chamber. Meanwhile, a video overlay enables the organisms to interact with digital images. In the game PAC-mecium, microbes “eat” pellets as they swim past them, and in soccer they “kick” the ball when they come into contact with its cartoon image.

Young orangutan rescued at Indonesian airport

A young orangutan was saved from traffickers by officials at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, about 12 miles from Jakarta, on Friday.
The endangered ape was among several animals found in two cramped suitcases. Two Kuwaitis and one Chinese national were arrested for the smuggling attempt.

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