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

Thursday, October 2, 2014

The Daily Drift

I'll play 'fetch' with you ...!
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Today in History

1263 At Largs, King Alexander III of Scotland repels an amphibious invasion by King Haakon IV of Norway.
1535 Having landed in Quebec a month ago, Jacques Cartier reaches a town, which he names Montreal.
1862 An Army under Union General Joseph Hooker arrives in Bridgeport, Alabama to support the Union forces at Chattanooga. Chattanooga's Lookout Mountain provides a dramatic setting for the Civil War's battle above the clouds.
1870 The papal states vote in favor of union with Italy. The capital is moved from Florence to Rome.
1871 Morman leader Brigham Young, 70, is arrested for polygamy. He was later convicted, but the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction.
1879 A dual alliance is formed between Austria and Germany, in which the two countries agree to come to the other's aid in the event of aggression.
1909 Orville Wright sets an altitude record, flying at 1,600 feet. This exceeded Hubert Latham's previous record of 508 feet.
1931 Aerial circus star Clyde Pangborn and playboy Hugh Herndon, Jr. set off to complete the first nonstop flight across the Pacific Ocean from Misawa City, Japan.
1941 The German army launches Operation Typhoon, the drive towards Moscow.
1950 The comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schultz, makes its first appearance in newspapers.
1959 The groundbreaking TV series The Twilight Zone, hosted by Rod Serling, premiers on CBS.
1964 Scientists announce findings that smoking can cause cancer.
1967 Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American Supreme Court justice, is sworn in. Marshall had previously been the solicitor general, the head of the legal staff of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), and a leading American civil rights lawyer.
1970 A plane carrying the Wichita State University football team, staff, and supporters crashes in Colorado; 31 of the 40 people aboard die.
1980 Congressional Representative Mike Myers is expelled from the US House for taking a bribe in the Abscam scandal, the first member to be expelled since 1861.
1990 Flight 8301 of China's Xiamen Airlines is hijacked and crashed into Baiyun International Airport, hitting two other aircraft and killing 128 people.
2001 NATO backs US military strikes in the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Climate Change Causes California Drought

14321-drought_bannerCauses of California drought linked to climate change

The atmospheric conditions associated with the unprecedented drought currently afflicting […]

Solar-Powered Car Set A New World Land Speed Record

The Sunswift eVe solar-powered car broke a 26-year-old land speed record for electric vehicles last Wednesday at the Australian Automotive Research Center in Victoria. It would make eVe the fastest electric car to ever compete a 500 kilometers (310 miles) set distance course by a significant margin.
The previous record, set in 1988, was an average speed of 73 kilometers (45 miles) per hour; the Sunswift eVe reached 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour average over the 500 km course.

These repugican Governors Facing Extinction As Democratic Wave Looms

walker-scott-snyderWhile the mainstream media is obsessed with the contest for control of the Senate, Democrats are poised to wipe out the repugican governor class of 2010. Rick Snyder, Sam Brownback, Rick Scott, Tom Corbett, Scott Walker and others are facing a growing Democratic wave.
Politico reported, “The unsettled gubernatorial landscape has drawn a fraction of the attention of the seesawing battle for the Senate. Yet the state of play is dramatic in its own right: The fate of big-name Republicans such as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker, Florida’s Rick Scott and Michigan’s Rick Snyder are all on the line, and Democrats such as Colorado’s John Hickenlooper and Illinois’ Pat Quinn are locked in tough reelection races that could go either way.”
What Democrats are putting together at the state level is being ignored, but it is even more impressive than how strongly Democratic senate candidates are running in red states. Control of the Senate is very important, but governors impact the day to day lives of their citizens more than senators.
The repugicans are changing and harming millions of lives at the state level. The war on women’s reproductive rights, voter suppression efforts, the redistribution of wealth upwards through tax cut policies, devastating cuts to public education, rollback on environmental regulations, cuts to programs for those who are in need, the refusal to expand Medicaid, and build state health insurance exchanges are all policies that have been undertaken at the state level.
Congressional repugicans have used their power to prevent the federal government from doing anything, while repugican governors have been the ones who have implemented the Koch/ALEC agenda. There are a few Democrats who are in tight contests this year, but the incumbent governors who are on life support are repugicans.
The repugican governors class of 2010 was supposed to be the cabal’s next generation of presidential candidates. Instead of the Oval Office, many of them are eying up the unemployment line as voters are rejecting their agenda. It is important for Democrats to win and maintain as many of these gubernatorial seats as possible.
The long-term impact of a Democratic wave could be huge on the House repugican majority. Redistricting is coming in 2020. A Democratic takeover at the state level would mean an end to the gerrymandered districts that are keeping unpopular repugicans in their seats.
Democrats are quietly having a very good year in the midst of a political landscape that should have been horrific for them. The big story that no one is talking about is that supposed to be future stars of the repugican cabal are facing a unanimous rejection from voters on Election Day.

A Delusional Mood Swinging Mitt Romney Thinks That He Could Have Saved America

Mitt Romney displays self pity, delusion, bizarre mood swings, and yet another excuse for his own mistakes.
mitt romney
Mark Leibovich of the New York Times scored an interview with the maybe-going-to-run-again repugican  and 2012 repugican cabal presidential nominee Mitt Romney that is steeped with the usual Mitt Bits. We have self pity, delusion, bizarre mood swings, and yet another excuse for his own mistakes.
To start, Mitt fears being a “loser for life.”
If only he had won, he would have saved this country because he is so much more competent than Barack Obama. He is so sorry he let us all down. The consequences of his loss to humanity are enough to make him near tearing up:
No matter how content he appeared, when the conversation turned to his disappointment in losing, his voice dropped. “It really kills me,” he said. “It really kills me.” He became inaudible, and it seemed as if he might tear up.
As if to rescue him, Ann called out from the kitchen that lunch was ready. Mitt remained in the living room, now staring at the floor. “The consequences of my loss are very clear to me and to a lot of people,” he said. “And that’s really hard.” His voice dropped to nearly a whisper, before he caught himself and quickly pivoted. “Let’s get a sandwich!” he bellowed.
Ah, yes. Get that sandwich while humanity blows up due to his failure to save us all. We will forgive Mr. Romney, after all, it wasn’t his fault he got caught on tape hating half the country. About that…
That wasn’t his fault either, and not for the many reasons he gave us before (as detailed excellently by tape breaker extraordinaire David Corn at Mother Jones), but for a new, totally fresh reason. It’s the rich guy who asked the question’s fault. Loving this!
This, as he saw it, was what got him in trouble at that Boca Raton fund-raiser, when Romney told the crowd he was writing off the 47 percent of the electorate that supported Obama (a.k.a. “those people”; “victims” who take no “personal responsibility”). Romney told me that the statement came out wrong, because it was an attempt to placate a rambling supporter who was saying that Obama voters were essentially deadbeats.
“My mistake was that I was speaking in a way that reflected back to the man,” Romney said. “If I had been able to see the camera, I would have remembered that I was talking to the whole world, not just the man.” I had never heard Romney say that he was prompted into the “47 percent” line by a ranting supporter. It was also impossible to ignore the phrase “If I had to do this again.”
So, take comfort, y’all — if Romney had to do this again, and he might because the repugican 2016 hopefuls are dropping off to indictments and ethics charges like flies, he’d remember that when he is speaking to anyone anywhere he is speaking to the world. Thus, he will keep his contempt to himself. Well played, Sir.
Romney explained the repugican contempt for President Obama. You see, the problem with Obama is that he actually listens to his wife Michelle Obama and top female aide Valerie Jarrett. Bemoaning that Obama didn’t take his advice upon his cursory post election visit to the White House, Romney sorted it by explaining that a top repugican had already explained the problem.
“No one gets the impression that what they are saying is being incorporated,” he told me. “I won’t mention who it was, but I met with one of the nation’s top repugican leaders, and he said, ‘You know the strange thing is that the president seems to answer to only two people — Valerie Jarrett and Michelle Obama.'”
Mitt Romney has been accused repeatedly of being over-dependent upon his wife, Ann, to such an extent that he has been said to suffer severe emotional problems due to a separation from her. So, he might not be the best person to lob this accusation at Obama. But maybe that’s exactly why he’s doing it. Maybe that’s why he lost in 2012. Clever 2016 strategy!
Next up: It’s Ann’s fault. Anything is possible, after all, the Mitt bus just ran over a very wealthy donor. When this guy, who hates “those people” for being those people (so tacky to be born without a silver spoon, spoiling the view for everyone else), attacks the money people, the ambition is burning.

Bernie Sanders Obliterates John Boehner For Wanting To Send US Troops To The Middle East

bernie sanders john boehner cnn
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) unloaded on Speaker of the House John Boehner for his suggestion that America should be troops on the ground in the Middle East.
CUOMO: Well, you know what my answer is going to be, Senator. You guys do something about it and we’ll cover it. You know, listen to speaker Boehner, though, on what your big concern is about not wanting kids from Vermont to wind up having to fight this war. Boehner is singing a different tune. Listen to what the speaker had to say.
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And if no one else would step up, you would recommend putting American boots on the ground?
REP. JOHN BOEHNER (R), OHIO: We have no choice. These are barbarians. They intend to kill us. If we don’t destroy them first, we’re going to pay the price.
CUOMO: George Stephanopoulos asking the obvious question. Now, I have the speaker of the House giving an answer that, yes, he would have to commit U.S. troops. You guys won’t even debate the issue, and he’s already making a decision?
SANDERS: But don’t be you, guys. You know, Chris, it’s not you guys. Some of us are prepared to debate this issue. What Boehner is saying basically, people should hear carefully, is perpetual warfare in the Middle East, billions and billions of dollars of American taxpayer money, the loss of lives while the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia laughs all the way to the bank with their oil money? So this senator does not agree with that. And maybe Mr. Boehner also, before he said – talks about sending American kids into the Middle East might want to raise the minimum wage, might want to deal with pay equity, might want to ask his billionaire friends to start paying their fair share of taxes.
Sen. Sanders was right. Boehner was calling for perpetual war in the Middle East, when there are so many more things that our government should be doing at home. It is important that the debate over this issue not get too caught up the black and white argument of war or no war. A better question to ask is why the repugicans consistently vote for sending billions of dollars in military aid to Middle Eastern countries while at the first sign of any conflict their default position is to put American citizens in harm’s way?
Speaker Boehner was more than willing to spill more US blood in the Middle East, but he won’t expand veterans care so that troops who have fought for this country can get the medical care that they were promised. Boehner’s big solution is to privatize the VA, because we all remember how well turning war over to private corporations worked out when repugicans did it in Iraq.
Only repugicans want troops back on the ground in the Middle East. John Boehner is willing to send young Americans off to die in a foreign land, but he isn’t willing to guarantee them a living wage when they get back home. If repugicans in Congress want troops on the ground in Iraq and Syria, they should go first.

Swill O’Really Throws a Temper Tantrum After Stephen Colbert Mocked His Mercenary Army Plan

colbert o'reillyedited
During Monday night’s episode of The O’Really non-Factor, Swill O’Really lashed out at comedian Stephen Colbert for lampooning his idiotic plan to create a 25,000 private mercenary army to take on the world’s problems, specifically radical islamist terrorists. Last week, during a segment of The Colbert Report, Colbert destroyed O’Really by comparing his plan to one that Colbert had when he was in grade school. Colbert brought out his old 4th-grade notebook, which contained ‘Stevie’s Sooper Soljer Sqwad’ made up of double mutant ninja super soldiers with laser nunchucks. Colbert also played clips of Faux News personalities criticizing O’Really’s plan.
Below is the clip from The Colbert Report:

As one would guess, O’Really didn’t take too kindly to Colbert viciously taking him down. In O’Really’s ‘Tip of the Day,’ he explained to his viewers that you need to run away when dealing with”dumb people,” claiming that Colbert has no idea how to fight a jihad. (Obviously, only brilliant military tacticians like the former Inside Edition host truly know how to solve the wold’s ills.) Before chastising Colbert “and his ilk,” O’Really showed poll results claiming that 70% of people are in favor of his plan. Of course, the poll was only of the show’s audience and not a scientific poll.
After bragging about his poll numbers and hyping his mercenary plan once more, O’Really then went after Colbert.
“Mr. Colbert and others of his ilk have no bleepin’ clue how to fight the jihad. They don’t know anything. And when somebody gets beheaded, their reaction is ‘Oh, that’s bad!’ But by being completely vacant, it doesn’t stop these people from mocking ideas that might have some value, might solve some complex problems.
Because in the world of the ideologue, where Colbert lives, solutions don’t really matter. They feel about things. So, in your life when you confront a person who criticizes you with nothing constructive to say, you run fast.”
For all his wimpy bluster and faux-toughness, O’Really is as thin-skinned and sensitive as it comes. The fact is, he has been lambasted left and right over his stupid mercenary idea ever since he first brought it up. The only people he can claim support him on it are the former CEO of Blackwater and Henry Kissinger. Basically, a guy who would profit greatly from a large-scale mercenary operation and another guy who was Nixon’s Secretary of State when Nixon was illegally bombing Cambodia. Meanwhile, everyone else has viciously mocked O’Really for this cuckoo bird scheme, regardless of ideological bent.
I guess O’Really, living in the bubble he does, really thought people would embrace his master plan. He obviously thinks of himself as one of the world’s great minds and that the world will go down the drain unless he shares his wonderful visions with all of us. Per O’Really, it is absolutely shameful that he is held up to ridicule by “dumb people” like Colbert and Jon Stewart.

Man tried to rob shop after childhood sweetheart told him she had become a lesbian

A knife-wielding man tried to rob a shop after his childhood sweetheart told him she had become a lesbian, a court heard. Craig Rock said he hit the bottle after his partner broke up with him, falsely claimed he was not the father of their child and announced her apparent change in sexuality. He went out with a knife to rob a shop high on drink and tablets in the wake of this triple whammy of heartache, said his lawyer Simon Walker. He pulled out the weapon and shouted “give me the money or I’ll stab you” to the proprietor of the Mini Food Store in central Middlesbrough. The shop owner, who had worked at the store for 15 years, feared for his life and his wife’s safety, Teesside Crown Court heard. He shouted at Rock to get out at 6.30pm on April 14, said prosecutor Rachel Masters. Rock advanced on the victim, repeated his demands and threats, but ran off empty-handed after the shop owner managed to open the back door. Police found him “flat out” on the ground nearby and initially thought he was simply a local drunk, said Mr Walker. He pulled out the knife, put it to his own throat and threatened to hurt himself. Rock told officers: “I did it. Tell the judge maximum sentence.”
Rock, of no fixed address, admitted attempted robbery and having an offensive weapon. He had 15 previous offenses including theft and burglary and was under a community order at the time. In his defense, Mr Walker said: “This offense was committed at the time when he was perhaps at his lowest ever ebb. He had broken up with his childhood sweetheart. She was denying him access to his child. She went further and said he wasn’t the father and, further still, said 'I’m now a lesbian'. He reacted to that situation in an entirely inappropriate and disgusting way. “He would love the opportunity to be able to turn the clock back. He wouldn’t have done this if he hadn’t taken the cocktail of tablets and drink.”
He said the robbery attempt was out of character and Rock’s violence was directed against himself. A DNA test proved he was in fact the baby’s father and the child had been brought to visit him inside. A psychiatrist said he had an “unstable personality disorder” with difficulty managing anger and poor coping mechanisms. Mr Walker said Rock expressed remorse, pleaded guilty immediately wanting to go to prison to “get his head sorted out”, and would love to apologize to the shopkeeper. Judge John Walford said Rock was a persistent offender who reacted badly to “a number of problems”. But he said Rock terrified the shop owner by brandishing the knife and making persistent threats, and such vulnerable traders would be protected by the courts. The judge jailed Rock for three years.

Soccer game called off after substitute brandished pitchfork during brawl

An investigation has been launched after a football match was called off following an alleged incident involving a pitchfork.
The match between Staines Lammas FC and Chessington & Hook FC had to be stopped by the referee after 27 minutes. The Combined Counties league game was being played at Ashford Town last Saturday.
Honorary general secretary and director of the league, Alan Constable, said two players had been sent off the pitch after 25 minutes, due to violent conduct.

He said the pair "continued the discussion" as they left the pitch, when other players became involved and one substitute is said to have produced a pitchfork. A Surrey FA spokesman said: "The county FA is aware of the incident and is investigating the matter. We are unable to comment any further at this time."

Swedish police arrest smugglers of Norwegian nappies

Police in northern Sweden have arrested two individuals with a haul of over 25,000 nappies (diapers), which they believe were destined for the black market in eastern Europe. The pair, who are believed to be in their 20s and 40s respectively, were stopped in Jämtland by officers. When the officers checked inside the foreign registered van they found that it was loaded to the brim with nappies bought in Norway - 25,179 to be precise.
Both were arrested on suspicion of smuggling offenses and taken to the police station in Östersund for questioning. The alleged smugglers are both residents of Lithuania, and were believed to be en route to a location in eastern Europe with the nappy haul. "They did not report that they were transporting the goods across the border from Norway to Sweden.
"You are accountable to report it to customs and pay the duty fee," Stefan Fredriksson of the Jämtland police said. He added that officers were up all night counting the nappies so that they had the accurate figure. While Norway is regarded as one of the most expensive countries to live in, the price of nappies is rather cheap. Police have reported in the past that the Norwegian nappy trade is big business for smugglers due to the price difference in eastern Europe.
Several raids have been carried out in the last year alone. Officers said that the two men had bought the nappies in different stores in Norway so as not to arouse suspicion. A spokesperson for the Jämtland police said that two men gave the impression that the whole operation was "very well organized" during questioning. The smuggled nappies are now being held in police storage alongside weapons and drugs.

Mug Shot Grin

Prosecutors in Denver, Colorado, say they have formally charged a man accused of robbing a bank and then using light rail to try to make his getaway.
Michael Whitington, 45 is charged with one count of robbery, according to the Denver District Attorney's Office.
The charge alleges that last Tuesday at around 5pm Whitington robbed a bank and then boarded a light rail train. Police stopped the train a few blocks away and took Whitington into custody without incident.
He remains in custody with bond set at $5,000. Whitington is scheduled to appear in Denver County court on Tuesday to be advised of the charge.

Asian Snake Wine

Drinking The Undrinkable
Snake wine is a medicinal beverage usually produced and consumed in Southeast Asia and southern China. It's been drunk for nearly 3,000 years and, according to Traditional Chinese Medicine, is believed to strengthen the body and improve health.

Most often made of rice wine, the drink gets its name from the snakes that are preserved in the alcohol with their venom glands cut open so that the toxins can mix with the alcohol. The more venomous the snake then the more powerful the medicine is, or at least that's what people seem to think.

Why Is Coffee Bitter

Mention coffee, and caffeine is the chemical compound name that immediately springs to mind. However, whilst caffeine's effects on the brain are well documented, it has relatively little impact when it comes to the taste of coffee.
Coffee, as it turns out, is a cornucopia of chemical compounds that influence its taste; whilst some of these compounds are poorly characterized, one group of compounds about which plenty is known are the chlorogenic acids.

The Lady’s Not a Tramp

History's Greatest Courtesans
For most of recorded history, women had just a handful of options open to them: they could marry (hopefully to men of means), they could teach, they could join convents, or they could do something a little more exciting …like becoming mistresses to the rich and famous. These eight are among history’s best-known high-class ladies of the night.

1. PHRYNE (Fourth Century BC)

As a child, she was called Mnesarete (Greek for "virtue"), but because she was born with sallow skin, she was called Phryne (Greek for "toad"). Still, Phryne became the most successful and sought-after courtesan in ancient Greece, commanding 100 times the going rate. Supposedly, she was even the model for the sculpture called Aphrodite of Cnidus, one of the most famous works of Greek art.
Lust Rewards: Phryne became incredibly rich thanks to her liaisons with powerful men in Athens. According to legend, she even offered to pay to rebuild the city walls of Thebes, which had been destroyed by Alexander the Great in 336 BC, but there was a condition: the new wall had to contain the inscription “Destroyed by Alexander, restored by Phryne the courtesan.” Her offer was declined.
Around 340 BC, Phryne was accused of affronting the gods by appearing nude during a religious ceremony. At her trial, the orator Hyyperides -her defender and also one of her lovers- ripped open Phryne’s robe and exposed her to the court. Why? He considered it a legitimate defense. She was, after all, the most beautiful woman in Athens, and someone that gorgeous must be on good terms with Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, no matter what codes of conduct she appeared to have broken. It worked. The judges ruled in Phryne’s favor
2. THEODORA (497-548)
Theodora’s father died when she was young, so her mother sent the girl to work, first as an actress and then as a prostitute.
Theodora became the mistress to a politician named Hecebolus and then caught the eye of Justinian I, the emperor’s nephew. Justinian was so enamored with Theodora that he wanted to marry her, but Byzantine law forbade royals from marrying mere actresses (and prostitutes, presumably), so his uncle changed the law and Justinian and Theodora became husband and wife.
Lust Rewards: Justinian ascended to the throne in 527, and together he and his wife ruled Byzantium (also known as the Eastern Roman Empire). Theodora proved to be a gifted politician -she helped to create a new constitution to curb corruption, expand the rights of women in divorce, closed brothels, and founded convents for former prostitutes. When she died at around the age of 50, she had been empress of Byzantium for more than 20 years. Historians consider her to be the most influential and powerful woman in the empire’s 1,100-year history.
3. VERONICA FRANCO (1546-91)
Like mother, like daughter: Veronica Franco was the privileged offspring of Venetian courtesan Paola Fracassa. She studied Greek and Roman literature and learned to play the lute. After marrying and divorcing a doctor, Franco consorted with politicians, artists, philosophers, and poets. She became an accomplished poet herself and celebrated her sexual prowess in writing -her book Familiar Letters (published in 1580) was a collection of 50 letters written to her lovers, including King Henry III of France and the Venetian painter Jacopo Tintoretto.
Lust Rewards: In the 1570s, Franco lost most of her money to thieves, but it was her overt sexuality that was her undoing. In 1580, she was charged with immorality and witchcraft by the Roman Inquisition courts. She managed to avoid conviction by giving an eloquent speech in her defense, and then a wealthy patron named Domenico Nenier came to her aid. She never regained her former glory, though: Veronico Franco lived out the rest of her life in a section of Venice populated by destitute prostitutes.
4. NELL GWYNNE (1650-87)
Eleanor “Nell” Gwynne had a troubled childhood in London: Her father left the family when she was young, and her mother drowned in a pond after a drinking binge. Young Nell sold oranges to get by, but by the time she was 15, she’d also started working as an actress. Famous playwright John Dryden wrote roles for her, and she proved to be a comedic talent. With fame cam wealthy men -eventually, Gwynne became a courtesan, cohabiting with members of the English nobility, including Charles Sackville, the sixth Earl of Dorset, and King Charles II.
Lust Rewards: Gwynne’s main man was King Charles II, and she was his mistress exclusively from about 1670 until he died in 1685. They had two sons, and Charles built her a mansion near Windsor Castle. On his deathbed, Charles pleaded with his brother, James II, to “not let poor Nell starve.” James II carried out those wishes, proving for Nell Gwynne until her death two years later in 1687.
5. CORA PEARL (1835-86)

Emma Crouch was born in Plymouth, England, to a British musician and womanizer who deserted his family and moved to America. At around the age of 20, Emma worked as a milliner, dabbling in prostitution to augment her low wages. During this time, she met Robert Bignell, owner of a dance hall, and became his mistress. He took her to Paris, where she was enamored with the 19th-century Bohemian atmosphere. When Bignell returned to England, Emma stayed behind, changed her name to Cora Pearl, and became the city’s most famous courtesan.
Lust Rewards: Cora Pearl had a series of lovers in high places, including the French statesman Duc de Morny, the half-brother of Napoleon III, and the Prince of Orange, heir to the throne of the Netherlands, who gave her a string of black pearls that became her signature ornament.
Pearl was known for her decadent ways -she once had waiters carry her naked on a silver plate into a fancy dinner, and she sometimes bathed in a tub of champagne in front of her dinner guests. But a shooting at one of her mansions led to her expulsion from France. She ended up indigent, living in a boardinghouse, where she died at age 51 of stomach cancer. In her memoirs, she left no regrets: “I am far from posing as a victim; it would be ungrateful for me to do so. I ought to have saved, but saving is not easy in such a whirl of excitement as that in which I have lived.”
When Jeanne-Antionette Poisson was nine years old, her mother took her to see a fortune teller, who said that the little girl would grow up to be the mistress of a king. That seemed unlikely for the daughter of a disgraced French financier and a courtesan, but Jeanne-Antionette eventually made good on the prophesy. In 1745, she was invited to a costume ball at the Palace of Versailles. Jeanne-Antionette dressed as a shepherdess -King Louis XV was dressed as a tree. Within a month, she was his mistress.
Lust Rewards: Louis gave Jeanne-Antionette her own coat of arms and the title “Marquise de Pompadour,” or Madame de Pompadour. Louis doted on her, and Madame de Pompadour spent fortunes on gems, art, and ornate porcelain. She also became one of Louis’ foreign policy advisors, and even encouraged him to fight the Seven Years’ War with England, which ended in France’s defeat. The public blamed her for the war’s devastation, but Louis remained loyal to her. She died in 1764, still a member of the royal court.
7. MATA HARI (1876-1917)
By the time Margaretha Geertruida Zelle MacLeod was 18, she’d married a Dutch colonial army officer who was twice her age and moved with him to the Dutch East Indies. They had two children, but their marriage was on the rocks from the start- Margaretha liked the company of other men, and he liked to drink. Eventually, they divorced, and with little money and no skills, Margaretha turned to dancing and prostitution to make ends meet. In 1902, she moved to Paris, where she gained fame as an exotic dancer. Two years later, she was a sensation, flaunting her sexuality with Indonesian-derived dance and a new name: Mata Hari.
Lust Rewards: Mata Hari became the mistress of wealthy industrialist Emile Etienne Guimet, and she was famous for a cabaret striptease in which she was left wearing only a bejeweled bra and an ornamental headdress and armbands. But she still had ties to the Netherlands, which allowed free entry into Germany. And as the Germans and French got entrenched in World War I, she became an object of concern for the French military.
No one has ever proved that Mata Hari was (or wasn’t) a German spy. According to some researchers, she took money to spy on the French because she was drowning in debt, but never actually participated in any espionage. Others claim she was a German operative with the code name of H-21. Whatever the truth, she was arrested and executed by firing squad in 1917 at the age of 41. Documents concerning her trial have been sealed, not to be opened until 2017. Stay Tuned.
8. SHADY SADIE (1861-1944)
The closest thing the wild American West has to a famous courtesan is Josephine “Sadie” Marcus. At 18, Josephine ran away from home to join a traveling theater company as a dancer. While on tour, she romanced Tombstone, Arizona, deputy sheriff Johnny Behan; she liked the area so much that she moved there and became a prostitute, earning her the nickname “Shady Sadie.”
Lust Rewards: In her early 20s, Sadie met famed lawman and gambler Wyatt Earp, who already had a common-law wife named Mattie Blaylock. But Blaylock was addicted to laudanum -an opiate used to treat headaches- and Shady Sadie won Earp’s heart. No marriage records exist, but Sadie adopted the name Earp by 1882, and the couple traveled the West, gambling, hunting for gold and silver, operating saloons as far north as Alaska, and running horse races in San Diego.
Wyatt Earp died in 1929, but Shady Sadie lived until 1944. When she passed away, she was cremated, and her ashes were interred with Wyatt’s remains in Colma, California.

Stagecoach Rules

In the 1800s, stage travel was common. Up to nine passengers shared the coach. Second class passengers rode on top with the luggage. To keep things friendly, Wells Fargo posted rules of etiquette in each of their coaches.
1. Abstinence from liquor is requested, but if you must drink, share the bottle. To do otherwise makes you appear selfish and unneighborly.
2. If ladies are present, gentlemen are urged to forego smoking cigars and pipes as the odor of same is repugnant to the Gentle Sex. Chewing tobacco is permitted but spit WITH the wind, not against it.
3. Gentlemen must refrain from the use of rough language in the presence of ladies and children.
4. Buffalo robes are provided for your comfort during cold weather. Hogging robes will not be tolerated and the offender will be made to ride with the driver.
5. Don’t snore loudly while sleeping or use your fellow passenger’s shoulder for a pillow; he or she may not understand and friction may result.
6. Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses.
7. In the event of runaway horses, remain calm. Leaping from the coach in panic will leave you injured, at the mercy of the elements, hostile Indians and hungry coyotes.
8. Forbidden topics of discussion are stagecoach robberies and Indian uprisings.
9. Gents guilty of unchivalrous behavior toward lady passengers will be put off the stage. It’s a long walk back. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Wyoming's Mysterious Smith Mansion

Approximately 15 miles east of Yellowstone National Park sits a structure known as the Smith Mansion. This rambling, five-story house built out of salvaged, wildfire-damaged pine was the passion of an eccentric engineer named Francis Lee Smith, who built the structure single-handedly.
Smith began the project in approximately 1980, intending on building a log cabin home for his family that blended in with the glorious Wyoming wilderness. His family lived in the house for a while, despite there being no electricity except that provided by an extension cord connected to a generator. A wood stove was the only source of heat. The family dining table was a large tree stump, with smaller stumps as chairs. Smith built no separated bedrooms in the house; instead, he, his wife and two children slept in sleeping bags on the floor.
This arrangement satisfied Mrs. Smith for a few years, until her husband's constant work on the house instead of family time pushed her too far. She divorced him in the early 1980s, took the children and moved to another city. A dejected Smith poured everything he had into the house, building addition after addition, without blueprints from which to work. In 1992, Smith lost his life to his obsession when he fell from a balcony while working on the house and died from his injuries.
Smith's chaotic building of a house with no planned ending is reminiscent of possibly mentally unstable personalities such as Sarah Winchester, heiress to to the Winchester gun fortune, who kept building her San Jose mansion until she died in an effort to assuage the spirits of those shot by Winchester guns. Yet Smith's ex wife and daughter both claim his furious construction was not the result of mental illness. Smith's daughter Sunny Larsen is currently the owner of the structure and is attempting to raise money for its rehabilitation. Visit her website and view the video below to learn more. 

With 75 Blades, This Knife Was the Ultimate Multi Tool of 1851

Through the Eighteenth and Ninteenth Centuries, the John Rodgers firm of Sheffield, UK rose in prominence, developing a reputation for building the finest knives in Europe. In 1821, the company was appointed the official cutler for the British Royal Family. In 1851, Rodgers exhibited this marvel at The Great Exhibition, an international trade show in London.
The Norfolk Knife was named for Norfolk Street, the location of the Rodgers factory in Sheffield. It's both a tool and a work of art. The knife has 75 blades and measures 22 inches thick and 34 inches long. There are etchings of Queen Victoria and the White House on it. It's now on display at Cutlers' Hall in Sheffield.

The Science of Wildfires

In this video, SciShow takes on the topic of fires in the wild. What causes them? How are they extinguished? Are there any positives that nature reaps from such a natural disaster? The video touches on explanations for all of those questions. 

The 10 Coolest Rooftops In The World

Whether it's for dining, a strong drink or poolside lounging, a good rooftop almost always makes for a great time. Here are some of the best rooftops in the world.

Retro Photos


A fabulous place to vacation in the past and today! Lady with Hat and Chrysler on a Ferry - Sanibel Island, Florida 1953 by Mike Leavenworth, via Flickr

Man Pilots Hot Air Balloon Deep into a Cave

Mamet Cave in Croatia is 675 feet deep and has an opening 200 feet across. Ivan Trifonov, a master balloonist who holds five Guinness World Record for ballooning, piloted a ballon into the interior of the cave. He used a balloon designed for this stunt, which took him about 25 minutes to complete.

On September 18, Ivan Trifonov, 70, descended into Mamet Cave on Velebit Mountain and came back up about 25 minutes later.
Using a specially designed balloon, Trifonov was able to navigate the cave, which is 675 feet deep and 200 feet wide at the top. Instead of a basket Trifinov sat in a small steel frame, perched above twin gas tanks. "It was very hard and I don't think anyone else will ever repeat this venture," he said.
Trifonov is expected to submit it into the Guinness Book of World Records. He has already established Guinness World Records as the first to fly a hot air balloon over the Mediterranean Sea, in 1989, over the North Pole, in 1996, and over the South Pole, in 2000. He was also reportedly the first to fly over Jerusalem, the Great Wall of China, and the Kremlin in a hot air balloon.

China's “Supercave” Takes Title as World's Most Enormous Cavern

China's immense Miao Room cavern is announced as the world's largest cave chamber.
Photo from the inside of the Miao chamber.
The photographer’s lights illuminate the green-hued Getu He river in the Miao Room—considered the world’s second largest cave chamber by area.
China's immense Miao Room cavern, hidden beneath rolling hills and reachable only by an underground stream, is the world's biggest cave chamber, an international mapping team reported on Sunday. 
A laser-mapping expedition funded by the National Geographic Society reported the new measurement at the United Kingdom's national caving conference in Leek this weekend.
Map of China showing largest cave
Richard "Roo" Walters, a British co-leader of the 2013 international caving expedition conducted under the auspices of China's Institute of Karst Geology in Guilin, reported that the Miao Room Chamber measures some 380.7 million cubic feet (10.78 million cubic meters) in volume.
"To me this is like discovering that K2 is larger than Everest!" said Tim Allen, an expedition co-leader, in an email. The Miao Room volume measurement exceeds Sarawak Chamber in Malaysia, the past title-holder, by about 10 percent. But the Malaysian cavern is still the world’s largest by surface area, with some 1.66 million square feet (154,500 square meters) of expanse.
graphic shows map of cave system in China Sizing Up a Supercave
Documented by a Chinese-European geology team in 1989, the Miao Room Chamber resides within the immense Gebihe cave system underneath China's Ziyun Getu He Chuandong National Park. (See: "Amazing 3-D Tour of a Chinese Supercave.")
The expedition first mapped the chamber with extensive laser scanning surveys in 2013. To make the new size estimate, the team reprocessed the results with experts from the U.K.'s University of Lancaster to yield more precise measurements of the cavern.
The team also presented new laser scanning measurements of two other large cave chambers in southern China, Titan Chamber and Hong Meigui Chamber, as well as the Sarawak Chamber, at the meeting.

Invasive apple snail threatens Florida Everglades clean up

A Snail Kite, one of Florida’s iconic breeding bird species, perches on a branch at J. W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area near West Palm Beach
Florida wildlife and water managers are worried about an invasive snail that is wreaking havoc on the state's billion-dollar effort to remove chemicals from the fragile Everglades.
The South American apple snail first appeared in large numbers in 2010, according to Audubon Florida science coordinator Paul Gray, and was initially seen as a potential savior of an endangered bird, the snail kite.
During the prior decade the number of kites, a gray bird with a hooked beak, had fallen to about 700 from 3,400 as their main food source, the native apple snail, became scarce after years of drought and hurricanes.
The abundance of South American apple snails, a popular aquarium pet native to Brazil and Argentina, helped the bird’s numbers recover to 1,200 this year.
"These snails are new, and this is the first time something like this has ever happened in Florida," Gray said.
In 2010 Florida Audubon, part of the National Audubon Society conservation group, successfully lobbied the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to hold off reducing their food source, Gray said.
"The snails are all the kites eat, when they're starving they try to eat turtles or crayfish but that can’t sustain them," he added.
However, last summer hordes of the snails, which are larger and survive better than the native species, devoured much of the vegetation in a 750-acre man-made marsh designed to filter phosphorous out of the Everglades.
“There were millions of these snails in there,” said Larry Gerry, a storm water treatment coordinator for the South Florida Water Management District.
Officials now fear the snails, if not contained, could pose a threat to the rest of the 57,000 acres of marshes built at a cost of $2 billion to rid the fragile wetland of agricultural runoff.
The high levels of nutrients, which are removed by the same plants the snails like to feed on, can cause algal blooms that clog the water system and starve out existing wildlife.
“We’re hoping that this is an unusual event, if it’s not then we have a real challenge ahead of us,” Gerry said.
In another effort to help preserve Florida’s vast swamps, the Everglades Foundation last week launched an international competition offering $10 million to anyone who devises a new method for removing phosphorous from the swamp waters and recycle it for agricultural use.

Glowing dog food probably caused by sea bugs

Mysteriously glowing dog food found by a woman in Taranaki, New Zealand, might be explained by the presence of sea-based bacteria, an expert believes. The eerie fluorescent blue glow emanating from a pair of dog bones bought for her dog Tyke left Fiona Wallis hunting for answers. And Auckland microbiologist Siouxsie Wiles thinks she may have them. The head of the bioluminescent superbugs lab at the University of Auckland, Wiles said she would be working with Jimbo's Pet Food, which distributed the meat and is considering recalling the product, to solve the mystery. "They are going to get me something from the same batch but it would be good to get [Fiona's] one as well,'' Wiles said.
She said at first glance the glow was most likely produced by sea-based bacteria. ''The bones are kept in a kind of brine which is very salty, so those sea bacteria will enjoy that environment.'' She said although there were a couple of strains that could be dangerous, it was unlikely to be the case for this meat. ''I think the risks are really minimal. It's really common in fish. If you leave fish in the fridge for a few days sometimes it will start to glow. In most cases you would never know because we would cook it.'' She said it was also likely that those packaging the meat wouldn't notice a glow.
''The product is sealed up and if it stays sealed you wouldn't see any light because there isn't any oxygen in there. But when you open the packet they start to glow. So without opening all the packets it would be rather difficult to tell whether there was anything there.'' Wiles said she can't wait to get her hands on one of the glowing cuts of meat, but it was likely to take some time before they could determine exactly what it was. ''We have to grow the bacteria, then isolate its DNA and then send it off for sequencing to find out exactly what it is.'' Ms Wallis said she didn't know what to think when she discovered the glow. ''The dog trotted off to its room and it started glowing in its mouth. You naturally think it's radioactive or something.
''What is in this animal to make it glow like that?'' Jimbo's Pet Food general manager Dave Allan said the glowing meat was packed 29 days ago, so most of it would have been consumed, but he is looking at recalling any of the product that is still on shelves. ''We are not aware of any risk to the animals.'' He is to pick up the affected meat and take it back to Auckland for testing. In 2011 stories came out of China of a woman who found that meat she had fed her family was emanating the same light. After a detailed investigation it was found the cause for the ''blue glow pork'' was secondary bacterial contamination called phosphorescent bacteria. At the time, the Shanghai Health Supervision Department said the pork was ''still safe to eat if well-cooked''.

Two-faced lamb born in New Zealand

From the deepest reaches of the most southerly point of mainland New Zealand, a biological anomaly has been born. A lamb with two faces – that's two mouths, two noses, three (maybe four) eyes – and one head was born at the Slope Point backpackers on Friday afternoon. The diprosopic bundle doesn't have an official name yet and farmer Andrew Wilson said the family were in two minds about what to call him, but he's certainly something a bit special, he conceded.

Bull Born with the Number 7 on His Head

This is Baby Ben, a calf born at Vale Woods Farm in Loretto, Pennsylvania. He’s named after Ben Roethlisberger, a quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Roethlisberger wears the #7 jersey on that football team. It’s this bull’s lucky number! Carissa Itle-Westrick, one of the farm’s managers, says that’s it’s not the first time they've had an animal born with a stylish mark. They once had a cow that sported a Nike swoosh on her shoulder.

Curious Owls

When you set up a camera to capture wildlife in their natural habitat, you hope they don’t know they’re being recorded. It turns out that you can’t fool critters all the time. Someone attached a GoPro to a tree just beneath an owl’s nest. The owls, being eagle-eyed, immediately noticed something new in their environment. The camera gets a thorough inspection, which leaves us with the image of an entire family of owls staring directly into our souls. The owls don’t care, once they’ve determined it’s something they can’t eat and won’t eat them. I got a little nervous when one owl chick hiked his leg, but I guess he was just stretching. Next, someone will give them funny dialogue.

Animal Pictures