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

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Non Sequitur


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Today in History

1758 James Abercromby is replaced as supreme commander of British forces after his defeat by French commander the Marquis of Montcalm at Fort Ticonderoga during the French and Indian War.
1759 Quebec surrenders to the British after a battle which sees the deaths of both James Wolfe and Louis Montcalm, the British and French commanders.
1793 George Washington lays the foundation stone for the U.S. Capitol.
1830 Tom Thumb, the first locomotive built in the United States, loses a nine-mile race in Maryland to a horse.
1850 Congress passes the second Fugitive Slave Bill into law (the first was enacted in 1793), requiring the return of escaped slaves to their owners.
1862 After waiting all day for a Union attack which never came at Antietam, Confederate General Robert E. Lee begins a retreat out of Maryland and back to Virginia.
1863 Union cavalry troops clash with a group of Confederates at Chickamauga Creek.
1874 The Nebraska Relief and Aid Society is formed to help farmers whose crops were destroyed by grasshoppers swarming throughout the American West.
1911 Russian Premier Piotr Stolypin dies four days after being shot at the Kiev opera house by socialist lawyer Dimitri Bogroff.
1914 The Irish Home Rule Bill becomes law, but is delayed until after World War I.
1929 Charles Lindbergh takes off on a 10,000 mile air tour of South America.
1934 The League of Nations admits the Soviet Union.
1939 A German U-boat sinks the British aircraft carrier Courageous, killing 500 people.
1948 Margaret Chase Smith becomes the first woman elected to the Senate without completing another senator's term when she defeats Democratic opponent Adrian Scolten. Smith is also the only woman to be elected to and serve in both houses of Congress.
1960 Two thousand cheer Castro's arrival in New York for the United Nations session.
1961 UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjold is killed in a plane crash while attempting to negotiate peace in the Congo.
1964 U.S. destroyers fire on hostile targets in Vietnam.
1973 East and West Germany and The Bahamas are admitted to United Nations.
1975 Patty Hearst, granddaughter of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, is kidnapped by violent radical group SLA (Symbionese Liberation Army); she later took part in some of the group's militant activities, is captured by FBI agents.
1977 Voyager I takes first photo of Earth and the Moon together.
1980 Cosmonaut Arnoldo Tamayo, a Cuban, becomes the first black to be sent on a mission in space.
1998 ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) is formed to coordinate unique identifying addresses for Websites worldwide.
2009 The US television soap opera The Guiding Light broadcasts its final episode, ending a 72-year run that began on radio.

1981 News Report on the Internet is Now Hilarious

There are so many amusing things in this 1981 television report about getting newspaper content from the Internet that it's hard to keep track. The smirk and smug tone of voice of the reporter, as if she's informing the public of a quaint yet ridiculous idea that stands no chance of ever being embraced by the public. The opening line: "Imagine if you will, sitting down to your morning coffee and turning on your home computer to read the day's newspaper." Mind boggling! The CRT screens, dial-up connections using a phone receiver and hours of download time for a text file.

I think the thing that I enjoyed most was the picture of the pioneering gent who was receiving the San Francisco Examiner online with his name and a caption underneath that read "owns home computer." Ahh, the 80s.

'Um' vs. 'Uh'

Twitter data reveals a geographic basis for what 'filler' words people tend to use.

High Schoolers Protest Sexist Dress Code That’s Landed More Than 100 Girls In Detention

by Tara Culp-Ressler
Tottenville high schoolers who say they refuse to follow the new dress code
Tottenville high schoolers who say they refuse to follow the new dress code
Students at a Staten Island high school are frustrated with a strict new dress code that’s landing girls in detention for wearing shorts, despite the fact that many of their classrooms don’t have air conditioning. After the school reportedly gave detention to 200 kids — 90 percent of whom were female students — teens are gearing up for a protest again the rules.
The interim principal at Tottenville High School recently changed the dress code to prohibit tank tops, low-cut shirts, and shorts that don’t reach fingertip length. But it’s been hot during the first few weeks of school, and students say it doesn’t make sense to crack down on them for dressing comfortably for their “sweltering” classrooms.
“That’s what girls wear when it’s hot out. It’s unfair to them,” a senior at the school told the Staten Island Advance.
The students being punished for their clothing are being required to put on a large T-shirt and gym shorts provided by the school or wait in the auditorium for their parents to bring them a different outfit. In protest, some students are continuing to openly defy the dress code regulations and wear shorts and tank tops to school.
Both male and female students have complained that the dress code is “sexist” and “biased” toward young women. “Tottenville should just be an all boys school considering this dress code is only affecting the girls,” one teen pointed out. Another said it was “humiliating to be pulled aside like an object” to be told that her outfit was inappropriate.
Amid the growing controversy, school district officials released a statement noting they reserve the right to enforce a dress code in cases when students’s clothing “creates a distraction, is dangerous, or interferes with the learning and teaching process.”
Schools typically justify their dress codes by maintaining that it’s important to keep the classroom free from distractions; however, that language actually reinforces the idea that women’s bodies are inherently tempting to men and it’s their responsibility to cover themselves up. Students and parents across the country are increasingly pushing back against the double standard, saying that it sends harmful messages about gender stereotypes to kids. After all, if students are taught that girls need to dress a certain way so they don’t “distract” boys, that ultimately furthers the idea that boys can’t control themselves — and that unwanted sexual attention is sometimes justified because girls are “asking for it” with their short skirts and low-cut tops.
It’s also arguably more disruptive to the learning environment to single out female students in this way. Other girls have been called out in front of their peers, kicked out of school dances, sent home for the day, and forced to change into baggy gym clothes for wearing things that are deemed to be too revealing.
“I get that they want to teach us to respect ourselves and others, and that they want us to dress for success, but if you’re comfortable and relaxed in class — not sweltering or fearful you’re going to get pulled aside — you can pay attention better and learn,” one Tottenville student pointed out.

House repugicans Side With The Terrorists By Refusing To Support Obama Against ISIS

House repugicans have made it clear that they would rather support ISIS than give Obama the votes he needs for authorization to arm the Syrian rebels.
House repugicans emerged from a Tuesday morning conference meeting predicting a proposal to arm Syrian rebels to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will pass — but only if Democrats provide significant support.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (r-Calif.) said he wasn’t sure his amendment granting President Obama’s request for congressional authority would be backed by a majority of repugicans, many of whom expressed deep reservations about the plan.
And Tom Cole (r-Okla.), a member close to Speaker John Boehner (r-Ohio), predicted that Democrats would have to supply a significant number of votes to approve the amendment, since many members on both sides are likely to oppose it.
“It’s going to take a bipartisan coalition to pass it, and I think it’ll be bipartisan opposition,” Cole said.
The repugicans demand that the president do something about ISIS. They have criticized the president for not doing enough, but when push comes to shove, they can’t muster enough votes to give the president the authorization that he needs to arm the Syrian rebels. Democrats are skeptical of getting into another war. Those who oppose the measure are doing so from a consistent position.
The repugican opposition is based on petty partisan election year politics. House repugicans have decided that they aren’t going to help President Obama on anything, including national security. It is unimaginable, but repugicans are creating the perception that they are rooting for Obama to fail on national security.
This measure should be a no brainer even in an election year. The repugicans can’t spend weeks on television criticizing President Obama for his strategy against ISIS, and then refuse to do their part. If the authorization fails, it will illustrate the hypocrisy behind the repugican strategy of obstruction and gridlock.
If ISIS is a threat to America, don’t expect House repugicans to do anything about it.

Editor For St. Louis Newspaper Blasts Faux News For Terrible Coverage Of Ferguson Protests

fox news fergusonIn a conversation with Media Matters for America this week, St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editor-In-Chief Gilbert Bailon blasted Faux News and other media outlets for their coverage of the Ferguson protests in the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death. The editor stated that Faux and some other papers focused too much on the few instances of looting while also trying to portray the entire St. Louis-area as being engulfed in chaos during the most intense period of protesting. Bailon also took some news outlets to task for running with stories that were poorly sourced or complete fabrications.
Joe Strupp of Media Matters published a story on Tuesday centered on an interview Bailon gave to Media Matters while attending the American Society of News Editors conference this week in Chicago. Bailon praised CNN and MSNBC for their coverage of the events in Ferguson, specifically due to their focus to tell the whole story and delve deep into the root causes of the anger and frustration going on in the community. Meanwhile, he said Faux News seemed only to care about the chaos and looting and nothing else. They weren’t concerned about context or actually presenting the news. He also pointed out that once the protests grew calmer, and the police presence drew down, Faux was the first one out of there, whereas CNN and MSNBC kept reporters around much longer to do more investigating or report on events that weren’t as ‘juicy.’
Bailon said the following to MMFA regarding Faux:
“I do think sometimes … it looks like the whole community was in flames, and it was really a few block area. Significant, but it wasn’t like St. Louis was on fire or out of control and there was mass chaos everywhere … it wasn’t like an all-consuming entire metropolitan area was hit by that, yet it commanded a huge presence of what was there
“I think Faux took a different angle, their view was more of the view of the chaos, was really focusing on the looting and less of what was going on in the community pre-dating the looting. The looting was very dramatic…but there was the deeper story there. Some stayed on in town longer, I think there was a different viewpoint on them and less on the undercurrent. [Faux] didn’t look at it as deeply and as long as others, CNN did make an investment, MSNBC was there a lot.”
This is readily apparent to anyone who watched the national news networks since Michael Brown’s death on August 9th. Faux was only interested in the story for the sole purpose of race-baiting. They wanted to present young black males out of control. They wanted to focus on violence and rage and weren’t interested whatsoever in presenting a the entire picture. Faux was only interested in showing a largely black community in the grips of chaos and making it appear to all the world that an entire large metro area was on the brink of destruction at the hands of violent black thugs.
On the other hand, while neither CNN’s or MSNBC’s coverage was perfect by any means, and both focused heavily at times on the sensationalism and drama surrounding the encounters between police and protesters, both networks actually did investigative journalism and kept reporters on the scene after the tear gas and flash grenades were put away. CNN’s Don Lemon and Jake Tapper and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes and Trymaine Lee all presented compelling stories and breaking news regarding the happenings in Ferguson. They also made sure to do their best present only the facts, even during periods of tumultuous activity.
Regarding getting facts right, Bailon also ripped both the Washington Post and New York Post for running with unverified stories all for the sake of gaining attention or trying to be the first to break a major story. He was referring to the Washington Post claiming that a police source had confirmed that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system and the New York Post running a story that Officer Darren Wilson had suffered an orbital fracture in his encounter with Brown.
“There’s been a couple of stories that I think the sourcing wasn’t quite as good on,. I don’t know whether these are wrong but we haven’t been able to verify it. There’s been talk that Michael Brown had marijuana in his system. Well that hasn’t been officially reviewed, we don’t know that yet. We haven’t reported that. The New York Post picked up some information about [police officer Darren Wilson] having an orbital fracture of his face … inflicted by Michael Brown. We have not found that to be true. In fact, it has been debunked by many.”
The orbital fracture story was particularly heinous. Obviously, both the New York Post and Faux News picked this story up from the wingnut lunatic fantasy blogosphere and then ran with it as being true. Eventually, Lemon had to pop their balloon by reporting that Wilson did not, in fact, suffer a fracture to the face of any kind. He was checked out at the hospital after the shooting, but x-rays did not show any fracture. Prior to Lemon’s report, wingnut media and blogs were screeching that Wilson suffered a ‘blowout orbital fracture’ at the hands of Brown.

Autopsy Reveals That Utah Cops Shot Black Man Six Times While He Was Running Away

darrienhuntOn September 10th, 22-year-old Darrien Hunt was shot and killed by two police officers in Saratoga Springs, UT. The county attorney’s office has claimed that police were forced to shoot Hunt due to him lunging at the officers with a large samurai sword. However, Hunt’s family had a private autopsy performed, and it reveals that Hunt was hit six times with bullets, all from the rear. Also, the fatal shot hit him 100 yards from where he initially was in contact with the officers. Witness accounts from the scene also report that Hunt was running away from officers and none report seeing him go after the police with his sword.
Witnesses at the scene took photos of the encounter. A woman who was at a nearby gas station and snapped a picture of Hunt speaking to the police prior to the shooting. Per the photo, Hunt and the officers are calm with their arms at their sides. She said that a few seconds later, while she was pumping her gas, Hunt was running from the police and they were shooting at him. Hunt was finally brought down with a shot to the back about 100 to 150 yards away from where he was first speaking to police.
Saratoga Springs is an affluent suburban community that is about a half-hour’s drive from Salt Lake City. Racially, the town is overwhelmingly white, with less than 5% of the population being non-white. Hunt was half-black, having a white mother and a black father. He stood out in the community not only due to his color, but also his large Afro. At the time of his shooting, he made an impression as he was wearing a bright red shirt and had a sword slung across his back. The two police officers that shot and killed Hunt are white.
Randall Edwards, the attorney for Hunt’s family, claims that the sword that Hunt was carrying around on the day he was killed was actually a toy sword one would win at a carnival. The sword had a blunt edge, was merely for decoration and possessed no real danger to others. Edwards also disputes the notion that Hunt tried to attack the officers with the sword based on the autopsy results and witness accounts saying that Hunt was running away and officers were shooting at him from behind. If the officers felt their lives were in danger, why did they need to chase him over 100 yards and shoot him multiple times while he was fleeing?
Hunt’s mother, Susan Hunt, put it more bluntly when asked about why her son was killed last week.
“I’m in Saratoga Springs, cause it’s a safe little community and they killed him. They killed my son because he’s black. No white boy with a little sword would they shoot while he’s running away.”
Obviously, there are parallels one sees between this case and the case of Michale Brown, the unarmed black Ferguson teenager who was shot and killed by a white police officer while he was giving himself up. While the communities differ wildly — Ferguson is a poorer community where two-thirds of the population is black, Saratoga Springs is a rich, white town — the end results of the shootings are eerily similar. In both instances, a young black man who likely didn’t present a major threat to police was shot at multiple times and killed. Also, both shootings have witnesses who have given differing accounts than what the police have stated.

How Much Would You Pay for the Good Society?

good society
If we were able to ask the average American if s/he would be willing to pay $12.50 annually so that thousands upon thousands of people who work for a living might stand a chance of meeting their basic needs, I wonder how s/he would respond? A fully-fledged national conversation on income inequality might yield an answer.
In our last article, “How to Create Policies to Address Income Inequality?: De-Mythologize Upward Mobility,” I argued that the entrenched and very powerful narrative of individual upward mobility in U.S. culture, which often on some level informs our political thought, poses a major obstacle to creating effective policies to address income inequality as it legitimates income inequality rather than systemically confronting it. An individual might escape a low-wage  job and move up the income ladder, but that doesn’t eliminate the low-wage job or the work we need done as a society. I suggested that to address income inequality, we actually need to do something more direct—like actually address income inequality by, for example (among many possible actions), raising the minimum wage.
My brother read the article and asked me a question that I think is more generally at play in the debate: “Won’t the costs of increasing the minimum wage simply be passed on to consumers?” My first, rather knee-jerk, response to such a question is always why can’t these costs come out of salaries at the top of these companies or come out of corporate profits? I did, in that article, refer not just to raising the minimum wage but also to equalizing wages, which—if you didn’t get it—means salaries at the top might have to be adjusted lower (go ahead and call me a communist), as any solution to income inequality, almost by definition, will need to involve redistribution of existing wealth. Corporations for decades have maximized profits by lowering wages and decreasing benefits. Can’t we ask that corporations show a minimal responsibility not just to their workers but to the society of which they are a part? Such behavior is actually in the self-interest of these corporations—even Harvard says so.
But then I moved past my knee-jerk thinking and considered the question, and it became pretty interesting to me. So what if the costs of raising the minimum wage were passed on to consumers? When that question is posed, it is usually done so rhetorically, with the assumed answer that—god forbid!–it would be horribly unacceptable to raise prices for consumers, and thus we cannot raise the minimum wage—end of conversation. But what would it mean to pass the cost of a minimum wage hike on to consumers (who, let’s not forget, are typically workers, too, a fact often lost or neglected in such conversations)? I started to think about this question as something more than rhetorical, and my thinking led me to reflect also on how this debate on income inequality provides an important opportunity for us to really re-assess American values and, in ways we haven’t done, consciously craft—and pay for—the kind of world we want.
If corporations (who, after all, are apparently people) are unwilling in the name of the Good Society (a concept I refuse to believe is obsolete) to make sure their workers have the wages and benefits necessary to meet their basic needs, are the rest of us worker-consumers willing to fund it? It’s not at all clear that the citizen-consumer of today wants the lowest-priced goods and services regardless of social and human consequences. In fact, the opposite seems to be true. CNBC editor Heesun Wee reports, for example, that, “Particularly for younger consumers, including millennials, purchasing decisions are about more than cheap prices. Shoppers are buying based on a company’s values, which can include domestic manufacturing, environmentalism and ethically sourced raw materials, ranging from cocoa to cotton fibers.” These millennials, and no doubt others across generations, appear to be thinking very consciously about the type of world they want, buying organic goods and recycled products to protect the environment, free-range chickens to ensure humane treatment of the earth’s creatures, fair-trade coffee, and the like.
It may very well be that this evolving socially conscious consumer will pay for goods and services produced and provided by unexploited labor, or by more justly paid labor. What would the cost be for this Better, if not Good, Society? Well, a 2011 study regarding wages at Walmart offers some insight into this issue, finding that to raise every worker at Walmart to at least a $12 per hour wage would cost the average Walmart customer 46 cents per trip or about $12.50 annually.
This doesn’t seem like much to pay so many can receive a more livable wage (we might have to pay more for a true living wage), but maybe I’m wrong. The main point I want to make, though, is that I’m not sure we’ve ever posed the question to the average American in a way that would enable us as a collective culture to make a conscious choice in the matter. Our culture and economy function on the assumption that consumers want the lowest price, but has anybody ever asked the consumer if they want the lowest price regardless of social and human consequences? If we were able to ask the average American if s/he would be willing to pay $12.50 annually so that thousands upon thousands of people who work for a living might stand a chance of meeting their basic needs, I wonder how s/he would respond? A fully-fledged national conversation on income inequality might yield an answer.
And we can make the question more telling by elaborating more fully the economic ramifications of this choice. For example, while I am not a political economist by trade, let me risk the observation that it stands to reason that if more Americans made a living wage, state and federal governments would not only bring in more tax revenues, they would also need to spend substantially less in assistance programs from food stamps to housing and healthcare subsidies. In such a scenario, our governments might legitimately be able to afford to cut taxes, improving people’s economic lives even further and returning more than that $12.50 required to raise the minimum wage. Ironically, if corporations and the wealthiest Americans want tax cuts, perhaps the surest way to achieve those cuts is by raising the minimum wage and moving toward greater income equality.
While I don’t mean to absolve corporations of their social responsibilties (more about this in a future article), I do want us to think about options for empowering ourselves to create the world we want even if we can’t get the cooperation of the Koch brothers and their ilk. The argument that we need to exploit labor so that we have affordable goods and services is both sad—not to mention pretty evil—as well as finally uncompelling, I hope you’ll see. We can move toward the Great Society for pennies a week. It’s hard to imagine a better bargain.

4 ways greedy capitalists rig the system to profit off our misery

by Paul Buchheit

Each of us is a source of profit, as long as we rent or own a home, save a little money and drink water

The profit motive fogs the thinking of free-market advocates. The Economist gushes, "Take a bow, capitalism…the biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalizing markets to let poor people get richer." Forbes proclaims its belief in "the unmatched power of capitalism to improve human life."
Self-indulgent capitalists have turned much of America against its own best interests by promoting a winner-take-all philosophy that reaps great rewards for a few people at the expense of everyone else. To the neo-liberal, vital human needs like health and education are products to be bought and sold.
Here are some other examples of greed and the pain it causes.
The city of Detroit, which is positioned next to the greatest supply of fresh water between the polar ice caps, has lost its access to water because of bad financial deals that have left unsuspecting citizens with over a half-billion dollars in interest payments. Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr responded by putting the whole water system up for sale.
Blackstone is a corporate model for making money at the expense of desperate former homeowners. Since the recession, it has become the nation's leading landlord, buying up tens of thousands of homes at rock-bottom prices, and then renting them back, often to the very people who lost them.
The financial industry indiscriminately targets all struggling Americans, from the impoverished class to the low-income class to the middle class. At the lowest level loom the payday lenders, with about as many locations in the U.S. as all the McDonalds and Starbucks combined, and with annualized interest rates that can reach 1,000 percent or more.
Justice Itself
With the highest incarceration rate in the world, and with imprisonment skewed toward minorities, our business-oriented society has effectively turned our poorest citizens into products, with an emphasis on product volume.
A staunch capitalist might point out that America's growing poverty has created markets for anyone able to capitalize on destitution. Each of us, after all, is a source of profit, as long as we rent or own, save a little money, and drink water.

The 6 Most Pretentious Dishes Rich People Pay Money For

We’ve posted restaurant dishes that are super expensive in order to generate publicity, and their price is justified by ingredients such as edible gold leaf and the jewel-encrusted souvenir dish they are served in. This is different. The list at Cracked contains dinner orders that come with theatrics or gimmicks, such as the Octopop.
The terrifyingly named octopop was conceived by Australian chef Adam Melonas at Dubai's Burj al-Arab hotel, presumably after he read the Necronomicon and mistook it for a confectionery handbook. Its basic idea is actually pretty simple: It's a piece of roast octopus on a stick.
However, in true mad scientist fashion, Melonas has added to the process until the end result barely resembles octopus or, for that matter, food. The waxy sheen and structure of the octopop are achieved by vacuum-cooking the octopus for 12 hours, then using a knife and an enzyme called transglutaminase (a substance commonly used to glue bits of meat together) to turn the perished cephalopod into a pretty, flower-like construct. The end result is dipped in spiced gel and stuck on a stick with some dill for you to try and figure out what the hell you're chewing on.
That’s just one of six really weird foods or food presentations that will set you back big bucks, described in the not-for-broadcast language of Cracked.

Town begs cult and strip club to stop fighting

Coshocton, Ohio, has about 11,000 residents, a cult, and a strip club. Dueling protests are apparently a weekly event, and local law enforcement has had enough of policing them: "The protests are becoming more personal and more problematic, so we felt the need to plead with both sides to at least stop for a while."

Police tell man to desist from telling blonde jokes to pedestrians

A man from North Kingstown, Rhode Island, Washington County, who was in the habit of stopping his car to tell blonde jokes to random women as they walked or jogged down the street has been told to desist and find another venue for his comedy act. Though the jokes weren’t sexual in nature, police said, the women who reported the incidents said they felt uncomfortable every time he drove up in his car and stopped to tell them blonde jokes.
On Sept. 6, North Kingstown police took reports from two North Kingstown women who said they first encountered the man in July. He was driving a grey Chrysler and stopped along side the women, both blonde, and told them he wanted to tell them a joke. He told the joke and then left when they started walking away, police said. The women said they’ve run into the same person several times since them and he continues to stop to tell them jokes.
And they weren’t laughing, for a number of reasons. “They both stated he tries to tell them the same jokes,” according to a police report. Last week while the women were walking, he reportedly stopped to tell another joke and “he put the vehicle in reverse and was backing his vehicle up as he attempted to tell the joke to them.” He then apologized and drove off.
One of the women said she was worried because her daughter told her the man, who was identified by police by his license plate, had been doing the same thing to female runners on the high school cross country team. Police responded to the jokester’s house later on Sept. 6 and in the presence of his wife, told him the women were uncomfortable to the point they felt the need to report it to police. He was advised to avoid the two women and the cross country team. Police said the man could be arrested if he continued telling jokes and he reportedly said he understood and would stop. The matter was documented.

Woman choked husband after he refused to buy her a hat

A woman was arrested on Saturday night after an argument with her husband over a hat turned in physical altercation. Police responded at Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville in Nashville, Tennessee, where they say Sommer Trent, 33, became angry and assaulted her husband after he refused to buy her a hat.
Witnesses reported Trent then took his hat off his head and threw it into the street. She allegedly then pushed him into the street and began to choke him.
Bystanders called police and restrained the woman until she arrived. Trent was booked into the Metro jail on charges of domestic assault with a bond of $2,500. The couple were visiting Nashville from West Virginia.

Legalizing Marijuana

Trace examines the benefits and drawbacks of legalizing weed, looking at states that already have laws on the books permitting its use.


The earliest alcoholic beverage in Mesoamerica is still drunk today.



15 International Greeting Rituals

Greeting is an act of communication in which human beings intentionally make their presence known to each other, to show attention to, and to suggest a type of relationship or social status between individuals or groups of people coming in contact with each other.

Some epochs and cultures have had very elaborate greeting rituals, for example, greeting of a sovereign. Conversely, secret societies have often furtive or arcane greeting gestures and rituals, such as a secret handshake, which allow members to recognize each other. Here are 15 international greeting rituals.

What it's like at a modern longsword tournament?

Longsword fencing is a popular new event, a rigorous and fast-moving blend of reconstructed medieval martial arts and modern sporting standards.

Wonder Woman's secret history

oct14_g12_wonderwoman-1.jpg__800x600_q85_crop In Smithsonian, Jill Lepore, author of The Secret History of Wonder Woman, profiles everyone's favorite Amazonian princess.
Wonder Woman's creator, psychologist William Moulton Marston:
“Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world."

46 Priceless UNESCO World Heritage Sites Facing Extinction

The world heritage sites around the world are truly extraordinary and should be seen or experienced at least once in a traveler's lifetime. They're amazing, jaw-dropping and every other word we can think of to praise such places, yet these words aren't enough to preserve these sites, which are slowly dying.
It looks like people have forgotten that these wonders - from natural to man-made - won't last forever without the people who'll give them utmost importance and care. Here are the 46 priceless world heritage sites that are quietly and slowly facing extinction.

Massive 5,000-Year-Old Stone Monument Revealed in Israel

Massive 5,000-Year-Old Stone Monument Revealed in IsraelA lunar-crescent-shaped stone monument that dates back around 5,000 years has been identified in Israel.
Located about 8 miles (13 kilometers) northwest of the Sea of Galilee, the structure is massive — its volume is about 14,000 cubic meters (almost 500,000 cubic feet) and it has a length of about 150 meters (492 feet), making it longer than an American football field. Pottery excavated at the structure indicates the monument dates to between 3050 B.C. and 2650 B.C., meaning it is likely older than the pyramids of Egypt. It was also built before much of Stonehenge was constructed. 
Archaeologists previously thought the structure was part of a city wall, but recent work carried out by Ido Wachtel, a doctoral student at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, indicates there is no city beside it and that the structure is a standing monument.
"The proposed interpretation for the site is that it constituted a prominent landmark in its natural landscape, serving to mark possession and to assert authority and rights over natural resources by a local rural or pastoral population," Wachtel wrote in the summary of a presentation given recently at the International Congress on the Archaeology of the Ancient Near East.
The structure's crescent shape stood out in the landscape, Wachtel told Live Science in an email. The shape may have had symbolic importance, as the lunar crescent is a symbol of an ancient Mesopotamian moon god named Sin, Wachtel said.
An ancient town called Bet Yerah (which translates to "house of the moon god") is located only a day's walk from the crescent-shaped monument Wachtel noted. As such, the monument may have helped mark the town's borders. While the monument is located within walking range of the city it is too far away to be an effective fortification.
Massive structure
The structure is about 150 meters (492 feet) long and 20 m (66 feet) wide at its base, and is preserved to a height of 7 m (23 feet), Wachtel's research found.
"The estimation of working days invested in the construction [of] the site is between 35,000 days in the lower estimate [and] 50,000 in the higher," Wachtel said in the email.
If the lower estimate is correct, it means a team of 200 ancient workers would have needed more than five months to construct the monument, a task that would be difficult for people who depended on crops for their livelihood. "We need to remember that people were [obligated] most of the year to agriculture," Wachtel said.
Bet Yerah
At the time this monument was built, the site of Bet Yerah was located only 18 miles (29 km) away.
Bet Yerah was a large town with a grid plan and fortification system, according to a study detailed in 2012 in the Journal of Near Eastern Archaeology. Its inhabitants traded with the early kings of Egypt, as seen from several artifacts, including a jug with a hieroglyphic inscription.
The name Bet Yerah indicates that it was associated with the moon god. However, it's uncertain whether the town actually bore this name 5,000 years ago. In the 2012 journal article, researchers said the name "Bet Yerah" was recorded in 1,500-year-old Jewish rabbinic texts and may date back much earlier. 
Megalithic landscape
Other large rock structures have been found not far from the crescent-shaped monument. One structure, called Rujum el-Hiri, isin the Golan Heights (an area to the east of the Sea of Galilee) and has four circles with a cairn at its center. The date of this structure is a matter of debate; recent research by Mike Freikman, an archaeologist with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, suggests it may predate the crescent-shaped structure by several centuries.
Another stone monument, a giant cairn that weighs more than 60,000 tons, was discovered recently beneath the waters of the Sea of Galilee. Its date is unknown, but like the crescent-shaped structure, it is located close to Bet Yerah.
Wachtel's work at the crescent-shaped monument was conducted as part of his master's thesis.Today, people living in the area call the monument by its Arabic name, Rujum en-Nabi Shua'ayb, and it is sometimes referred to as the "Jethro Cairn," a reference to the Druze prophet Jethro, who plays an important role in local folklore. 

Daily Comic Relief


The Sand Dollar

The Animal That Can Clone Itself
The Sand dollar is a sea urchin which burrows and comes from the order Clypeasteroida - and you can see why it gets its name, as it resembles a coin. Some joke that it is the only stable dollar in the world at the moment.
Humor aside, it does have one trick up its sleeve that we can only wish would apply to real money. The Sand Dollar can clone itself - creating a perfect copy.

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Coyote ran into home before taking refuge in the fireplace

A coyote ran into a house in Scottsdale, Arizona, on Friday, pursuing a man and his dog, then barricaded itself in the chimney and refused to leave. The coyote wouldn't move. Homeowner, Jonathan Radow called 911. Scottsdale police officers arrived at the scene, along with a wildlife expert.
"The sergeant came over, he's like I've never seen anything like this in my 39-year career. They were all laughing, saying this is one I'm not going to forget," said Radow. Finally, they were able to get the coyote in a crate. He's now being cared for at Southwest Wildlife Center in North Scottsdale.

"He's a young male, probably born this spring, so he's kind of like a teenager in coyote terminology and he's just kind of clueless and trying to figure out the world," said Kim Carr with Southwest Wildlife. Caretakers believe he was curled up and scared. "He just kind of shut down, he was probably so afraid, not knowing and had never been in a house before and had no idea where he was," said Carr.

"That's a place that felt safe to him, a nice little tight fireplace," she said. He will be quarantined for three weeks and if all goes well he will be released with a litter and join the family. "He might be able to go in and be socialized with them and be part of the pack, and hopefully they'll all get to be released as a unit," said Carr.

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