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

Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Daily Drift

Some Geek ...!
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For those interested: In World Cup play The Netherlands bested Brazil 3-0 to take third place on the thirty-first day of the tourney.

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Today in History

1099 The Crusaders launch their final assault on Jerusalem.
1534 Ottoman armies capture Tabriz in northwestern Persia.
1558 Led by the court of Egmont, the Spanish army defeats the French at Gravelines, France.
1585 A group of 108 English colonists, led by Sir Richard Grenville, reaches Roanoke Island, North Carolina.
1643 In England, the Roundheads, led by Sir William Waller, are defeated by Royalist troops under Lord Wilmot in the Battle of Roundway Down.
1754 George Washington surrenders Fort Necessity to the French, leaving them in control of the Ohio Valley.
1787 Congress, under the Articles of Confederation, enacts the Northwest Ordinance, establishing rules for governing the Northwest Territory, for admitting new states to the Union and limiting the expansion of slavery.
1798 English poet William Wordsworth visits the ruins of Tintern Abbey.
1832 Henry Schoolcraft discovers the source of the Mississippi River in Minnesota.
1862 Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest defeats a Union army at Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
1863 Opponents of the draft begin three days of rioting in New York City.
1866 The Great Eastern begins a two week voyage to complete a 12-year effort to lay telegraph cable across the Atlantic between Britain and the United States.
1878 The Congress of Berlin divides the Balkans among European powers.
1939 Frank Sinatra records his first song, "From the Bottom of my Heart," with the Harry James Band.
1941 Britain and the Soviet Union sign a mutual aid pact, providing the means for Britain to send war materiel to the Soviet Union.
1954 In Geneva, Great Britain, the Soviet Union, the People's Republic of China and France reach an accord on Indochina, dividing Vietnam into two countries, North and South, along the 17th parallel.
1971 The Army of Morrocco executes 10 leaders accused of leading a revolt.

Non Sequitur


US Government Sends Draft Notices to 14,000 Men Born in the 1800s

If you're male and a citizen of the United States or a legal immigrant, you must register with the Selective Service System when you turn 18 years old. For the next 7 years, if there is ever a draft, you may get called up for mandatory service in the armed forces.
When an American boy approaches that age, the US government often mails him notices, reminding him of this legal requirement.
Under the current law, once you reach the age of 25, your eligibility for the draft is over. But that didn't stop the federal government from sending out registration notices to 14,000 men in Pennsylvania. All of these men were born between the years of 1893 and 1897. The AP reports:
Chuck Huey, 73, of Kingston, said he got a notice addressed to his late grandfather Bert Huey, a World War I veteran who was born in 1894 and died in 1995 at age 100.
"I said, 'Geez, what the hell is this about?' It said he was subject to heavy fines and imprisonment if he didn't sign up for the draft board," he said. "We were just totally dumbfounded."
The error was a result of a clerk failing to select for a century when importing records from a state database. The clerk intended to move records for men born between 1993 and 1997.

It's Deja Vu All Over Again

Kansas Is Going Broke Due To The repugican Plan Of Cutting Taxes For the Rich

Kansas is going broke and predicted to be bankrupt within two years, job creation is lagging the entire nation, and it is all down to giving tax cuts…
By now, most Americans have heard the infamous line from Albert Einstein that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. A reasonable person would think that doing the same thing with full knowledge it will not give the same results is just stupid. One cannot fathom the repugican mindset that drives them to believe if they continue their thirty year experiment in trickle down economics, it will create jobs and be an economic bonanza that is both stupid and insane because it is always a monumental failure.
It is puzzling really, that if the so-called supply-side economic theory has been a failure on the national level, why Kansas repugicans thought if they started with a budget surplus, squandered it on huge tax cuts for the rich, the state’s coffers would be flush with money and a job creation explosion would follow. It has not been that many years since the shrub squandered a budget surplus on tax cuts for the rich that failed to produce the storied economic benefits of trickle down economics, but apparently Kansas Governor Sam Brownback (r) and the repugican legislature were asleep during the shrub’s junta. Kansas is going broke and predicted to be bankrupt within two years, job creation is lagging the entire nation, and it is all down to giving tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the state’s economic life and the people the repugicans were elected to serve.
The latest news from trickle down Kansas is that the state is so broke after Brownback signed a package of nearly $1.1 billion in tax breaks for the rich last year, there are insufficient funds to keep homeless shelters open. A homeless shelter specifically for families in southeastern Kansas will have to close its doors starting next week, and it is all down to the increasing state budget shortfall that is a direct result of tax cuts for the rich. The CHOICES Family Emergency Shelter provides a place to live for 350 homeless people every year most of whom are children. The closure is another victim of the state budget shortfall that is so severe that even after cutting the funding by half for all of 2014, $100,000 was not enough to keep the shelter open past next week.
According to Steve Lohr, the Executive Director of Southeast Kansas Community Action Partnership, which runs the family shelter, “this is the first time in our 48-year history that it hadn’t received enough state funding to continue operating. We were defunded 50 percent.” Homeless families and children should not feel particularly singled out as expendable to make sure the rich received their tax cuts. Since squandering the surplus he inherited and giving over a billion in new tax cuts, the state is facing a serious revenue shortfall that prompted funding cuts for poor school districts and poor people who rely on food stamps to survive.
When Brownback signed the tax cuts, Democrats and some repugicans were intelligent enough to predict it would create a revenue shortfall not unlike during the shrub-repugican tax-cutting frenzy. At the time, former state repugican cabal chair Rochelle Chronister opposed Brownback’s gift to the rich because “It bankrupts the state within two years.” The House Democratic leader, Paul Davis said, “There is no feasible way that private-sector growth can accommodate the price tag of this tax cut. Our $600 million surplus will become a $2.5 billion deficit within just five years.” Brownback was unfazed and said that his tax cuts would lead to even more success; “I firmly believe these reforms will set the stage for strong economic growth in Kansas,” and despite the unfunded $800-million price-tag, “I’m gonna sign this bill, I’m excited about the prospects for it, and I’m very thankful for how god has blessed our state.”
Likely, Brownback was also thankful to trickle-down economist Arthur Laffer, who guaranteed that increased economic growth would deliver more revenue and create jobs that thus far has the “State general fund revenue down over $700 million from last year” according to Duane Goossen, a former state budget director. Goossen also said the revenue drop is “a bigger drop than the state had in the whole three years of the recession,” and that the budget surplus that had been replenished since the recession “is now being spent at an alarming, amazing rate.” It was just a little over a month ago that the revenue shortfall was nearing the $500 million mark.
Of course, Brownback reverted to the typical repugican response when their economic malfeasance blows up in their faces and blamed President Obama for Kansas’s revenue shortfall and non-existing job creation bonanza from giving so-called “job creators” tax cuts. Brownback said, “This is an undeniable result of President Obama’s failed economic policies of increasing taxes and overregulation,” and “the uncertainty over the fiscal cliff of 2012″ that was, like Brownback’s unfunded tax cuts for the rich, inspired by repugicans. If, as Brownback claims, Kansas repugican’s economic malfeasance is President Obama’s fault, the national job creation numbers would not be on the upswing and the overall economic picture would not be stronger; Brownback’s assertion is patently false.
None of the “trickle-down” economic benefits have materialized and Kansas’s job growth lags behind the rest of the nation “especially in the years following the first round of Brownback tax cuts.” The revenue shortfall prompted credit rating agency Moody’s cut the state’s credit rating in May, and it is entirely because of tax cuts for the rich; not President Obama’s economic policies, tax hikes, or overregulation. The travesty of another failed experiment in trickle-down economics is that Kansas legislators will have to make seriously deeper cuts to domestic programs with no plans to repeal the wealthy job creators’ tax cuts.
If the shrub-repugican tax cuts for the rich, and thirty years of failed trickle down economics, is not a cautionary tale for America under repugican governance, then the state of Kansas’s economy certainly is. Brownback’s failed economic strategy is minimal compared to the annual Path to Prosperity budget House repugicans pass with claims it will lead to economic growth and incredible job creation all at the expense of the poor and middle class.
It is a sad commentary that Kansas cannot afford $200,000 to keep a homeless shelter for families with children open, is cutting education funding drastically, is cutting food assistance for Kansas residents that cannot find jobs, and is still facing a devastating revenue shortfall all to give the rich over a $1 billion in tax cuts. It is not insane or stupid to do the same thing repugicans think will deliver a different economic result; it is typically repugican and informs that Kansas repugican loyalties, and raison d’être, is to enrich the already wealthy at the expense of the people, including families with children being thrown out on the streets; something Sam Brownback is likely “very thankful for how god has blessed our state.”

Mitch McConnell Gets Busted Mitt Romney Style on Tape Hating Women and Students

Sexism is over and American students need to get over themselves! mitch mcconnell
Another tape, another busted, out-of-touch, entitled repugican.
Mitch McConnell (r-KY) thinks that whilst running against a female candidate — Alison Lundergan Grimes (D-KY) — on a cabal platform infamous for its War Against Women, he ought to inform female voters that he has no intention of granting them this preferential treatment they seek with equal pay, etc. Oh, and he also thinks students need to get over themselves.
McConnell smugly informed voters in Buckner, Kentucky that 50% of women voted for him last time and he gave them no preferential treatment so hey. It’s in the bag. Per Leo Weekly, “The last time I ran I got 50 percent of the women votes in the state. So I don’t grant the assumption that we need to sort of give preferential treatment to the majority of our population, which is in my view, leading and performing all across the… you know, maybe I’m missing something here.”
You see, in the World According to Mitch, those barriers are gone. Everything is great for women, which is a huge relief because it means that the repugican doesn’t have to do anything legislatively for them. With his dismal voting record, McConnell has an added incentive to believe his own fictional account of the status of women.
Leo Weekly got their hands on the tape and thus were able to confirm and elaborate on the entitlement. It’s epic, and should be a must read for Kentuckians. The Grimes campaign were more than happy to round up a few of the choice quotes.
Sexism is over, by Mitch McConnell:
“We’ve come a long way… in pay equity and uh… there are a ton of women CEO’s now running major companies…”
“I could be wrong, but I think most of the barriers have been lowered.”
“So I don’t grant the assumption that we need to sort of give preferential treatment to the majority of our population…”
“You know, maybe I’m missing something here…I think women voters are going to be looking at the same kind of issues that men are.”
But much like Mitt Romney, Mitch McConnell doesn’t save his contempt for one section of the electorate. You students also suck and need to get over yourselves because “not everyone needs to go to Yale.”
Get over yourselves, America, by Mitch McConnell:
“I don’t think that the federal government ought to be forgiving debt.”
“I think it’s outrageous that it costs as much as it does, but I don’t think the federal government ought to be in the business of forgiving, in effect, obligations owed. That kind of mentality is how we ended up with a $16 trillion debt… So I rule out forgiving obligations that have been voluntarily incurred.”
“There are a lot of low cost options that I hope more and more kids will take advantage of. Public schools are cheaper than private schools. There is proprietary education, which works for some people.”
“I think more competition and shopping around for college alternatives is a pretty good idea. This comes from a guy who’s financed three daughters at out-of-state schools.”
“I think the best short term solution is for parents to be very cost conscious in shopping around for higher education alternatives.”
“Not everybody needs to go to Yale.”
It should be noted that originally, McConnell was reported to have said of women’s issues that most of the barriers had been lifted, but the reporting paper later amended the quote to read “lowered”.
Mitch McConnell doesn’t have a good record regarding women’s rights. It’s downright dismal. His own campaign has shown the nation just how not over sexism is. So it’s tough to comprehend the level of smug entitlement in which the moron encases himself. Nice bubble, but it didn’t work for Mitt Romney. It might not work for Mitch McConnell, even in Kentucky. They do hate Obama there, but they hate Mitch more and that is really saying something.
Mitch. Mitch Mitch Mitch. Who lets Mitch talk without prior censoring? This is no way to run a campaign. But this is the guy who told Kentuckians that it was not his job to bring jobs to Kentucky. That’s someone else’s job apparently. Someone with power, unlike a 30 year incumbent minority leader in the most powerful legislative chamber in the nation.

Busted: Florida repugicans’ 2012 Redistricting Plan Thrown Out By Federal Judge

The repugicans thought they could successfully finagle the state's congressional districts in 2012. On Thursday, a federal judge proved them wrong. …
florida gerrymandering

The republicans are gradually learning a difficult lesson: If you’re going to do something illegal, make sure you don’t get caught.

In yet another clear-cut example of repugicans attempting to break the law for political gain, a Florida Circuit Court judge threw out repugicans’ 2012 congressional redistricting plan on Thursday after seeing evidence that “made a mockery” of the rules and transparency required for the process.

In a forty-one page ruling, Judge Terry Lewis noted that two of Florida’s congressional districts need to be redrawn as they violated a “Fair Districts Florida” standard approved by voters in 2010 as a way to ensure that legislators would be banned from favoring or protecting incumbents. In his strongly worded ruling, Lewis slammed state repugicans who had been involved in the redistricting process by saying:

“What is clear to me from the evidence … is that this group of repugican political consultants or operatives did in fact conspire to manipulate and influence the redistricting process. They managed to taint the redistricting process and the resulting map with improper partisan intent.
…They made a mockery of the Legislature’s proclaimed transparent and open process of redistricting by doing all of this in the shadow of that process and they went to great lengths to conceal from the public their plan and their participation in it.
…They might have successfully concealed their scheme and their actions from the public, had it not been for the plaintiffs’ determined efforts to uncover it in this case.”
Judge Lewis’ ruling follows a 13-day trial in June. The plaintiffs he refers to consisted are a coalition of groups who brought the redistricting shenanigans to light, including the League of Women Voters of Florida as well as Common Cause, a DC non-profit liberal advocacy group. These groups brought forth convincing evidence of gerrymandering and successfully pointed out that Democrats hold a slight edge in voter registration in Florida and yet repugicans have 17 of the state’s 27 representatives in the House. This fact brought to light the state’s 2012 redistricting plan, which greatly favored the state’s repugican cabal and was so egregious that it became clear the repugicans had drawn it that way to protect their majority in the House of Representatives. In his ruling, Lewis noted that prominent repugicans who chaired the redistricting committee had also been conveniently involved in the fight against the “Fair District Florida” amendments that ensured the new districts would be created as fairly and as impartially as possible.
The two districts in question actually are split with one Democrat and one repugican representative. The Democratic representative for one of the districts in question is Corrine Brown, who represents the Jacksonville area. The repugican representative for the other district in question in Daniel Webster, who represents the Orlando area. Should it be that these two districts are redrawn, it would affect neighboring districts and would cause a shock wave effect throughout the state as these two districts would then spill over into other districts and vice versa. The ruling is expected to be appealed by repugican state leaders and could make for interesting midterm elections in the Sunshine State.
In today’s day and age, gerrymandering remains a significant threat to our democracy. In 2012, House Democrats won the popular vote by 1.17 million votes and yet did not gain control of the House of Representatives. It was only the second time in the last seventy years that a political party had won the popular vote but not won control of the House. By ensuring a repugican-led House, Speaker John Boehner and his cabal of no have successfully managed to be the least productive Congress on record. By acquiescing to the tea party loonies, Boehner and House repugicans have successfully managed to avoid meaningful votes on immigration, ENDA, and raising the minimum wage all while voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act over fifty times. Thanks to gerrymandering at the state level, repugicans maintained control of the House despite being grotesquely out of touch with the American people.
For Democrats and independents, they need to take heed with the lessons learned from 2010. Elections matter not only at the national level but are equally as important at the state level. For all states with a hard-fought battle for governor, Democrats and independents need to get out to vote or else face the consequences. As we saw in 2010, the consequences of repugican-led state governments follow a remarkably similar recipe for disaster: cutting funding for education, refusing to expand Medicaid, attacking and vilifying unions, and restricting women’s access to safe, affordable health care. We have seen a prime example of this in the state of Virginia where Democrats and repugicans have fought tooth and nail in an equally divided state government over whether or not to expand Medicaid. In states like Florida and Texas with high-profile battles for governor, each and every vote will be necessary to ensure that a repugican does not takeover and lead his state to inevitable ruin.
Unlike repugicans, Democrats do not need to lie, cheat, and steal to win elections. They just need to vote.

Doctors, nurses condemn Hobby Lobby ruling, call for immediate action

Most medical providers have basically been on the sidelines in the big reproductive healthcare fight of the modern era - abortion. Maybe because it's too politically charged for them to really engage in, since fewer and fewer providers are actually involved in providing that critical service, or it just hasn't seemed relevant to their professional lives. But now the Supreme Court has started to creep onto their territory, and they are not happy.
    The 5-4 decision was immediately criticized by the American Medical Association, the American Nurses Association (PDF), the American Academy of Family Physicians and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists for allowing employers to meddle in the exam room.
    The decision "intrudes on the patient-physician relationship and will make it more difficult for many women to make their own personal medical decisions," said Dr. Robert Wah, president of the AMA. "We encourage the administration to provide alternative pathways to secure coverage for patients unable to obtain these services as a result of the court's ruling."
    Each of the groups urged officials in Washington to work quickly to restore coverage options for all insured women, saying that limiting insurance coverage would force women to take additional steps or pay out of pocket for birth control-which affects low-income women in particular.

The truth be told

Wingnuts are Clueless!

Men on an adventure broke into school and stole Fruit Loops

Two young Florida men were arrested for allegedly breaking into an elementary school and stealing some Fruit Loops breakfast cereal. Logan Brown, 18, and Christopher Ramos, 20, from Hernando County, both face felony burglary charges. Deputies say the pair decided to "go on an adventure" and break into the Challenger K-8 School in Spring Hill last Thursday. Brown and Ramos say they've exposed some serious security concerns at the school.
"They should have kept their roof locked. That's a big security problem there," Brown said. Brown and Ramos explained that last Thursday, they dressed in dark clothes and masks because they went to a nearby landfill to find Brown's phone that he apparently lost. Seven hours later they found the phone, and "we were kind of excited. We were like 'yea, this is cool. We're already dressed up. Let's go somewhere,'" Brown said. They said they went to Challenger K-8 to see what has changed since they graduated several years ago. "Basically, we scaled a three-story wall, went in through the roof hatches and walked around," Ramos said.
The school is equipped with dozens of security cameras, which captured their adventure down several hallways, through an auditorium and into the cafeteria. "The Fruit Loops were in the cafeteria," Brown said. The men said Fruit Loops were not why they went to the school, but the tasty snack was definitely an added bonus. "We weren't in search of Fruit Loops. I know that's been a big thing. Everyone's been saying we were looking for Fruit Loops. It just so happened that there were Fruit Loops there. We got a little bit hungry, and ate some Fruit Loops," Brown said.

The sheriff's office posted two surveillance photos of the men inside the school holding individual boxes of Fruit Loops. Several people were able to identify them. The sheriff's office said Brown and Ramos were smoking marijuana, and school officials said they found broken beer bottles on the roof. The school plans to address their unlocked roof hatches and doors. Both Brown and Ramos bonded out of jail about five hours after they were booked in on Tuesday. They've since offered to replace the Fruit Loops they are accused of stealing.

Free Pot

The Berkeley City Council wants to require marijuana dispensaries to give 2 percent to the poor.

Why You Should Never, Ever Touch That Hospital Elevator Button

A new study in the journal Open Medicine has revealed a little-known germ hotspot: the hospital elevator button. The research compared the amounts of bacteria living on 120 elevator buttons and 96 toilet surfaces at three hospitals in Toronto, Ontario.

The results will surely lift elevator buttons to the same ick-factor status as waiting-room magazines or hotel TV remote-controls: the elevator buttons were much dirtier than the toilet surfaces. The prevalence of colonization with bacteria of elevator buttons was 61%, the study reads. On the toilets, it was 43%.

4 Toxic Moments in History

It's bad news for princesses, of course, but for empires and armies, poison can be a game-changer.
It should have been a perfect murder. In 1850, Count Hyppolyte de Bocarmé and his wife, Countess Lydie, had a plan to kill her brother for his money. Their weapon: nicotine. But the plan was more involved than providing him with smokes and hoping he’d get emphysema; nicotine, it turns out, is a spectacularly lethal plant alkaloid. Ingesting as little as 30 milligrams of pure nicotine will kill an adult. And for murder, the drug was just the right poison for its time—mid-19th-century scientists had no idea how to detect plant poisons in corpses.
Working from his estate in southern Belgium, the count converted an old laundry into a lab, where he claimed to be mixing up perfumes. In actuality, he was extracting nicotine from tobacco leaves. When the countess’s wealthy brother came to visit, the count and his wife served up a poisoned dinner and attributed his death to stroke. But the servants, unnerved by the count’s strange lab experiments, sensed that something was amiss. They contacted the police, who in turn contacted Jean Servais Stas, Belgium’s best chemist.

Stas, whose work on atomic weights was essential to the creation of the periodic table, relished the challenge. He spent three months searching for a way to extract nicotine from dead tissue. Finally, he found an exact mixture of acids and solvents to detect the lethal compound. The damning results sealed the case, and the count was sentenced to the guillotine. The countess, claiming she’d been forced to participate, escaped charges. Today, the murderous couple is long forgotten, but the crime they committed is remembered for changing forensics—and ending nicotine’s run as the perfect murder weapon.
Pompey the Great’s soldiers were bone tired. For most of 65 BCE, Roman legions marched around the southern edge of the Black Sea as they battled the local ruler, Mithridates VI of Pontus. Then, something magical happened: The exhausted troops discovered a stockpile of honeycombs strewn across their path, and they fell upon the sticky treats like hungry bears.

But the local honey packed a toxic punch. Within a few hours, the troops began staggering blindly and falling to the ground. Mithridates’s supporters, who had planted the honeycombs along the soldiers’ route, promptly appeared and massacred their incapacitated enemies. Pompey lost three squadrons in the skirmish, a defeat he could have avoided had he brushed up on the region’s military history. In a book published almost 400 years earlier, the Greek general Xenophon reported that his men, after feasting on the region’s wild honey, “all went for the nonce quite off their heads.”
It wasn’t until centuries later, in 1891, that scientists discovered the cause of “mad honey”: rhododendrons. Bees feeding upon the blossoms take in not only nectar but also a grayanotoxin, a poison that disrupts the signaling ability of nerve cells. The symptoms—nausea, headache, dizziness, loss of muscle control, and unconsciousness—can resemble alcohol poisoning. But Mithridates didn’t need to know how it worked to use the honey as a weapon. His soldiers won the battle, delaying (though not preventing) the eventual takeover. As for the Romans, they never made that particular mistake again. Decades later, the writer Pliny the Elder was still warning of the “pernicious” qualities associated with the Black Sea’s golden honey.

By the mid-1920s, the American government was at its wit’s end. The era’s strict Prohibition laws had proved futile. Americans were still drinking; they were just doing so on the sly, frequenting speakeasies and buying alcohol from crime syndicates. Gangs would steal large quantities of industrial alcohol—used for everything from fueling machines to sterilizing instruments—then redistill the hooch to remove impurities before putting it on the market. In its effort to fight back, the Bureau of Prohibition came up with a shocking idea: What if it poisoned the industrial alcohol supply?
In 1926, the federal government bought into the idea, issuing regulations that required manufacturers to make industrial alcohol more lethal. The new formulas included mercury salts, benzene, and kerosene, and the results were chilling. Alcohol-related deaths skyrocketed, with officials attributing more than a thousand deaths to the program in its first year alone. People were outraged. “The United States government must be charged with the moral responsibility for the deaths,” said New York City medical examiner Charles Norris, one of the measure’s most outspoken foes.

The government held firm on its position even as the body count rose. In New York City, 400 people died the first year. Seven hundred died the next, and the pattern was replicated in cities across the country. Yet Prohibitionists continued to defend the law. The Anti-Saloon League, Norris’s frequent sparring partner, fired back: “Dr. Norris should logically next demand palatable varnish and potable shellac.” Nebraska’s Omaha Bee asked, “Must Uncle Sam guarantee safety for souses?”
It took more than 10,000 American deaths and a furious public backlash for the government to quietly end its “chemists’ war.” But it wasn’t until sometime around 1933, when the regulations were phased out quietly, that what Norris had dubbed “our national experiment in extermination” was officially over.
Modern cooks could probably find their way around a Roman culina. The kitchens featured an oven of sorts and pots and pans made of metal. One major difference, however: Those utensils packed plenty of lead. Soft, flexible, and wonderfully ubiquitous, lead was used to make Roman pipes, coins, and wine jugs. It was even used in face powders and paints. As historian Jack Lewis notes in EPA Journal, the Romans “thought nothing of washing down platters of lead-seasoned food with gallons of lead-adulterated wine.” The result “was the death by slow poisoning of the greatest empire the world has ever known.”

According to one study, two thirds of Roman emperors—from Caligula to Nero—showed symptoms of lead poisoning. Another analysis of bones from Roman cemeteries uncovered lead deposits that measured three times the World Health Organization’s standard for severe lead poisoning.
From top to bottom, lead is bad news for the human body: It damages the kidneys and heart, it impairs the production of red blood cells, and it inhibits the growth of bone cells. But it’s also a neurotoxin, disrupting cognitive processing and affecting the regulation of brain cell growth so severely that synapses often fail to form.
As a result, some historians believe that the poison eventually compromised not just the brains of Roman emperors but everyone in Rome. Suddenly, Caligula declaring his own divinity, appointing his horse to the Senate, and ordering his soldiers into the ocean to “fight the sea god” makes a little more sense.

A Strange Peanut-Shaped Building Designed By Algorithms

The Landesgartenschau Exhibition Hall in Schwäbisch Gmünd, Germany, looks like a peanut crossed with a honeycomb. This odd, organic-looking building wouldve never been made if not for the powers of computational design and robotic manufacturing.
For the better part of history we've left architecture up to humans, and the results haven't been so bad. But now, as our computers have gotten smarter and our robots more dexterous, machines are taking a turn at designing our buildings, and they're creating things we never could have.

One Of The World's Smallest Countries Almost Looks Like Heaven

'Heaven on Earth' is a term many travelers use to describe a place they love. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to touch the clouds or walk amongst them? You might be thinking that it could only be possible in fairy tales, but a place like this truly exists.
If you ever have a great desire to really walk or touch the clouds, you might as well consider paying a visit to San Marino.

The Haunting Car Graveyard Of Châtillon In Belgium

One of the world's most intriguing vehicle cemeteries is located in a small forest near the southern Belgium village of Châtillon. Urban legend has it that these rusting automobiles in the 'car graveyard' once belonged to US servicemen stationed in the area during World War Two.
See more photos of the 'car graveyard' on this Flickr page.



The Mystery Of Qin Shi Huangdi's Mausoleum

The Terracotta Army is a collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first Emperor of China. It's a form of funerary art buried with the emperor in 210–209 BCE and whose purpose was to protect the emperor in his afterlife.
The figures were discovered in 1974 by local farmers. The figures vary in height according to their roles, with the tallest being the generals. The figures include warriors, chariots and horses. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses, and 150 cavalry horses.

Gifts to the Gods?

Children's skulls found at the edges of Bronze Age settlements may have been a gruesome gift for the local lake gods.

It's a Hernia - 300 years too late

This diagnosis is 300 years too late. 

Exploring a 'cursed' ship

The ship sank during a bloody battle against a fleet from Denmark and the German city of Lübeck. 

Sealed 200 Year Old Seltzer

Still corked, the perfectly preserved stoneware bottle was produced in the early 1800s by Selters, one of the oldest mineral waters in Europe.

Daily Comic Relief


Microbial Cycles

The ocean’s most abundant organisms have clear daily cycles

Imagine the open ocean as a microbial megacity, teeming with […]

Giant Worm is Straight from Your Nightmares

Stilgar, do we have wormsign?

Project Noah is a wildlife discussion website. One member named 4840 found this little guy deep in the interior of Ecuador. It's uncertain what it is, but some forum members think that it is a Martiodrilus crassus, which is Latin for "worm which feeds on dogs and small children."

Some Are Smarter Than Others

Chimps, like humans, inherit a significant amount of their intelligence from their parents. 

Do Animals Cry?

Raju, an abused elephant in India, reportedly wept after his recent rescue. This isn't the first instance of an elephant crying. >

Sharks could handle Climate Change

Sharks might be able to cope with climate change's effects upon the Arctic, a study of fossil shark teeth has found. 

Animal Pictures