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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Daily Drift

The Twentieth of our trees of December ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
Talk about a Mud bath ... !
Today is  - Mud Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog: It Is What It Is

Some of our readers today have been in:
The Americas
Brasilia, Curitiba, Montes Claros, Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil
Montreal, Quebec, Toronto and Wanless Park, Canada
Santiago, Chile
Bogota, Colombia
Mexico City, Mexico
Boaco and Managua, Nicaragua
Luquillo, Puerto Rico
Mostar and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina
Ruse, Sofia and Varna, Bulgaria
Tallinn, Estonia
Cerny, Laval, Meudon, Roubaix,  Rouen, Velizy-Villacoublay and Villeurbanne, France
Berlin, Dusseldorf and Stamberg, Germany
Athens, Greece
Reykjavik, Iceland
Dublin, Ireland
Ivrea, Milan, Rome and Simione, Italy
Riga, Latvia
Amsterdam, Den Haag and Groningen, Netherlands
Viseu, Portugal
Vladivostok, Russia
Belgrade, Serbia
L'Olleria and Torrent, Spain
Kista, Lulea, Malmo, Mora and Stockholm, Sweden
Simferopol, Ukraine
Rangoon, Burma
Beijing and Hangzhou, China
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Ahmedabad, Amritsar, Bangalore, Bhubaneshwar, Dehra Dun, Kolkata, Mumbai, New Delhi, Patna, Pune, Shillong and Surat, India
Jakarta, Indonesia
Tehran, Iran
Tokyo, Japan
Bayan Lepas, Kota Kinabalu and Sentul, Malaysia
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Singapore, Singapore
Bangkok, Thailand
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Annaba, Algiers
Al Minya and Cairo, Egypt
Centurion and Durban, South Africa
The Pacific
Homebush, Australia

Today in History

69   Vespians's supporters enter Rome and discover Vitellius in hiding. He is dragged through the streets before being brutally murdered.  
1355   Stephen Urosh IV of Serbia dies while marching to attack Constantinople.  
1802   The United States buys the Louisiana territory from France.  
1860   South Carolina secedes from the Union.  
1861   English transports loaded with 8,000 troops set sail for Canada so that troops are available if the "Trent Affair" is not settled without war.  
1924   Adolf Hitler is released from prison after serving less than one year of a five year sentence for treason.  
1930   Thousands of Spaniards sign a revolutionary manifesto.  
1933   The German government announces 400,000 citizens are to be sterilized because of hereditary defects.  
1938   First electronic television system is patented.  
1941   The Flying Tigers, American pilots in China, enter combat against the Japanese over Kunming.
1943   Soviet forces halt a German army trying to relieve the besieged city of Stalingrad.
1946   Viet Minh and French forces fight fiercely in Annamite section of Hanoi.  
1948   U.S. Supreme Court announces that it has no jurisdiction to hear the appeals of Japanese war criminals sentenced by the International Military Tribunal.  
1960   National Liberation Front is formed by guerrillas fighting the Diem regime in South Vietnam.  
1962   In its first free election in 38 years, the Dominican Republic chooses leftist Juan Bosch Gavino as president.  
1963   Four thousand cross the Berlin Wall to visit relatives under a 17-day Christmas accord.  
1989   U.S. troops invade Panama to oust General Manuel Noriega and replace him with Guillermo Endara.  1995   NATO begins peacekeeping operation in Bosnia.  
1996   NeXT merges with Apple Computer, leading to the development of groundbreaking Mac OS X.  
2007   Queen Elizabeth II becomes the oldest monarch in the history of the UK; previously, that honor belonged to Queen Victoria.

The North isn’t better than the South: The real history of modern racism and segregation above the Mason-Dixon line

The North celebrates its liberalism, but that disguises a complicated relationship with discrimination, inequality 
The North isn't better than the South: The real history of modern racism and segregation above the Mason-Dixon lineFor Edward Brooke, the North pulsed with promise. Brooke first set foot in New England during World War Two, when his army regiment trained in Massachusetts. He was a native of Washington, D.C., and Washington  was a Jim Crow city. When the war ended, Brooke moved to Boston and enrolled in law school. He voted for the first time in his life. And he did much more. Brooke  was elected the state’s attorney general in 1962; four years later, he won election to the United States Senate. Brooke achieved all of this in a state that was 97 percent white. What constituted political reality in Massachusetts—an African American man winning one million white votes—was the stuff of hallucinations below the Mason-Dixon line.
Read the rest here.

Brothers Arguing on C-SPAN Interrupted by Call from Mom

This is so precious! On the left, representing the wingnuts, is Dallas Woodhouse. On the right, representing Liberals, is Brad Woodhouse. They're brothers: one is a political activist(Democrat) the other an agitator(repugican). Like brothers often do, they argue a lot. Specifically, they argue about politics. That's why they recently met on the C-SPAN program Washington Journal.
That show is a call-in program. People around the country can call a number and speak to the debaters on live television. Someone did call in: their mother. She's sick to death of their political bickering. Ms. Woodhouse wants them to knock it off when they visit her at xmas. She respects that they're both passionate about politics, "But I hope that they just kind of get this out of their system today on your program."

Sanders Has a Couple More Good Ideas: Break Up Big Banks, Expand Social Security

US senator puts forth two key policy proposals designed to steer economic and political control away from Wall Street and towards the working class
by Jon Queally
Sen. Bernie Sanders delivering a speech on the Senate floor on Monday, December 15, 2014. “'Despite what you may hear from some politicians or pundits on TV,' Sanders said, 'Social Security is not going broke.'
Promising to put forth and lobby on behalf of two bold progressive policy ideas in the months ahead, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has announced his intention to push for new pieces of legislation in the next session, one of which would break up the nation's largest Wall Street banks and another that would expand the Social Security program for all Americans.
"If Congress cannot regulate Wall Street, there is just one alternative.  It is time to break these too-big-to-fail banks up so that they can never again destroy the jobs, homes, and life savings of the American people."
In separate floor speeches in recent days, Sanders announced his plans and explained his thinking on the two policy ideas that he says could help transform the economy from one that works for the rich and powerful back towards one that promotes a stable economy and honors the needs of working people.
Sanders, who has said he is seriously considering a run for president in 2016 to challenge the presumptive Democratic nomination of Hillary Clinton, announced his plan for breaking up banks like Citigroup, Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase and others during a floor debate on Saturday over a contentious spending bill—of which certain sections were literally written by lobbyists from Citigroup.
“Over the last several days, it has become abundantly clear that Congress does not regulate Wall Street but Wall Street regulates Congress," Sanders said. "If Wall Street lobbyists can literally write a provision into law that will allow too-big-to-fail banks to make the same risky bets that nearly destroyed our economy just a few years ago, it should be obvious to all that their incredible economic and political power is a huge danger to our economy and our way of life."
Sanders said, "Enough is enough.... If Congress cannot regulate Wall Street, there is just one alternative.  It is time to break these too-big-to-fail banks up so that they can never again destroy the jobs, homes, and life savings of the American people."
"At the beginning of the new Congress," he announced, "I will be introducing legislation that will break these behemoth banks up once and for all. If a financial institution is too big to fail, it is too big to exist.  I look forward to working with both progressive and conservative senators who have the courage to stand up to Wall Street and protect the working families of this country."
"Right now a billionaire pays the same amount into Social Security as someone who makes $117,000 a year. If we lifted this cap and applied the Social Security payroll tax to income above $250,000 we could expand Social Security. That is exactly what we have got to do. And that is exactly what the American people want us to do."
On Monday, Sanders took the Senate floor once again and moved from tackling Wall Street to pushing for expanded funding and benefits of the Social Security program. Progressive economists say lifting the cap on contributions to the program is one of the most direct and accessible ways to restore equity to what he called "the most successful government program in history." Doing so, argues Sanders, will bolster the economic prospects of the nation's aging and retiring population in the years ahead while making sure the program is adequately funded further into the future than it already is.
"At a time when prescription drug prices are skyrocketing and one-third of all seniors depend on Social Security for a least 90 percent of their income, we should not be cutting Social Security, we should be expanding it," said Sanders in his speech. "Despite what you may hear from some politicians or pundits on TV, Social Security is not going broke. In fact the program has a $2.76 trillion surplus and has paid out every nickel owed to every eligible beneficiary since its inception."
When the next session of Congress begins in the new year, Sanders will return to the Budget Committee, but this time as ranking member of the minority. Sanders is an Independent but caucuses with the Democrats.
In that role, Sanders will push previously introduced legislation that would lift the cap on contributions to Social Security, a move he says will bolster the program and strip its detractors of their claim that the nation can no longer afford one of the most popular programs in the history of the nation.
"Right now a billionaire pays the same amount into Social Security as someone who makes $117,000 a year," said Sanders. "If we lifted this cap and applied the Social Security payroll tax to income above $250,000 we could expand Social Security. That is exactly what we have got to do. And that is exactly what the American people want us to do."
In a new Republican-controlled Congress, Sanders' prospects of achieving victory for these legislative proposals are not promising.
"Do we continue the 40-year decline of our middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, or do we fight for a progressive economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all?"
However, as Campaign for America's Future senior fellow Richard Eskow argues in a blog post on Tuesday, those who say that these proposals by Sanders are just exercises in futility are missing the point.
"The value of [bills like these] isn’t measured solely by its likeliness to prevail in the current Congress," Eskow writes. "Sometimes their purpose to change the composition of future Congresses, so that measures like this one are more likely to succeed. Too-big-to-fail banks pose a systemic threat to the economy. As we now know, they also present a threat to democratic process."
Earlier this month, Sanders released a 12-step agenda which he said should be the basis for a bold economic transformation.
"The American people must make a fundamental decision," Sanders said as he released his list of proposals. "Do we continue the 40-year decline of our middle class and the growing gap between the very rich and everyone else, or do we fight for a progressive economic agenda that creates jobs, raises wages, protects the environment and provides health care for all?"
His economic agenda didn't gain much attention in the mainstream press nor did it receive much traction in Congress. Sadly, that it has been so ignored by the institutions most attuned to serving the interests of the elites may just underscore how necessary the proposals are.

Your IRA In The Balance

But only if you know how to twist the intent of Congress to your personal advantage.

A Musical Send Off

The top song played in U.K. funerals is the Pythons' Always Look on the Bright Side of Life

Understanding Putin

So, you think you understand Putin's role in the situation in Ukraine?  What if someone said it was the West that was responsible for the escalation of hostilities?  "Europe and America did not understand the impact of these events, starting with the negotiations about Ukraine’s economic relations with the European Union and culminating in the demonstrations in Kiev. All these, and their impact, should have been the subject of a dialogue with Russia."  That's Henry Kissinger speaking.  The op-ed piece at Salon suggests "this is a non-Western nation drawing a line of resistance against the advance of Anglo-American neoliberalism across the planet."

Human Traffickers

A set of two articles in Der Spiegel details the outrageous profits made by the human scum who act as traffickers for persons seeking asylum in Europe. "Jafir had insisted that the total fee for the trip to Italy -- €7,000 ($8,735) per person -- be paid in advance. Ahmad doesn't comment on the amount, which corresponds to at least two average annual salaries in prewar Syria... Ahmad and 126 other refugees boarded the vessel..."

You Cannot Share

That's College Football For You

As you watch the American collegiate football playoffs, take a moment to ponder this tweet by the quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes: "Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain't come to play SCHOOL classes are POINTLESS."


Discussed at Reddit.

Winter Boost

"The typical spices used in winter include nutmeg, cinnamon, clove and anise. These spices contain two groups of chemicals, the allylbenzenes and their isomers, the propenylbenzenes. It was suggested 40 years ago by Alexander Shulgin that these substances act as metabolic precursors of amphetamines...Humans may be exposed to amphetamines derived from these precursors in forno, the formation during baking and cooking, for example in the preparation of Lebkuchen, or xmas gingerbread. It is possible that this may be responsible, in part, for uplifting our mood in winter."

Ten Cokes

An article (with video) at The Telegraph documents the changes that occur when a man adds ten non-diet Cokes a day to his diet.   In a month "the previously gym-toned Mr Prior put on two stone in weight, and saw his blood pressure rise to an unhealthy 145/96. He also reported strong cravings for more sugar, even though he was consuming 350g of sugar daily from his Coke intake alone."

Terminal Lucidity

Terminal lucidity is the subject of an interesting article in Scientific American.  The term refers to "The (re-)emergence of normal or unusually enhanced mental abilities in dull, unconscious, or mentally ill patients shortly before death, including considerable elevation of mood and spiritual affectation, or the ability to speak in a previously unusual spiritualized and elated manner."  For example " A 92-year-old woman with advanced Alzheimer’s disease... hadn’t recognized her family for years, but the day before her death, she had a pleasantly bright conversation with them, recalling everyone’s name."  At one of the links in the article a reasonable postulate is that when the brain is dying, an inhibitory hemisphere or locus dies first, releasing normal function by memory cells that had previously been suppressed.

Brains on Sugar

Scientists are discovering that neurological changes that create addictive brains can begin at a very young age, while the brain is still developing. What does that mean for children and sweets? Could some of them be addicted to sugar?

Wait a minute, not so fast ...

"A German man committed to a high-security psychiatric hospital after being accused of fabricating a story of money-laundering activities at a major bank is to have his case reviewed after evidence has emerged proving the validity of his claims."


Vortices in swimming pools are way more complicated and interesting than you would expect   What you're really seeing is both ends of a "half-vortex ring."

Big Block

The largest known block of stone carved by humans weighed an incredible 1,650 tons.  It was created in about 27 B.C. but never used for construction.

2014 On Pace for Hottest Year

With November data recorded, 2014 is on track to be the warmest year on record.

Worse Than Predicted

A warming planet may lead to swifter ice loss on Greenland’s ice sheet, and faster sea level rise for the rest of the world than previously predicted, scientists said Monday. 

California needs 11 trillion gallons of water to recover from ongoing drought

NASA GRACE satellite data reveal the severity of California’s drought on water resources across the state. 
The map below shows the trend in water storage between September 2011 and September 2014. 
A new analysis of NASA satellite data reveals that it will take about 11 trillion gallons of water (42 cubic kilometers), which is about 1.5 times the maximum volume of the largest reservoir in the USA, to recover from California's continuing drought. Cool, no big deal.
More from the presentation by NASA scientists Dec. 16 at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco:
NASA GRACE satellite data reveal the severity of California’s drought on water resources across the state. This map shows the trend in water storage between September 2011 and September 2014. Image: NASA JPLA team of scientists led by Jay Famiglietti of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, used data from NASA's Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) satellites to develop the first-ever calculation of this kind -- the volume of water required to end an episode of drought.
Earlier this year, at the peak of California's current three-year drought, the team found that water storage in the state's Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins was 11 trillion gallons below normal seasonal levels. Data collected since the launch of GRACE in 2002 show this deficit has increased steadily.
"Spaceborne and airborne measurements of Earth's changing shape, surface height and gravity field now allow us to measure and analyze key features of droughts better than ever before, including determining precisely when they begin and end and what their magnitude is at any moment in time," Famiglietti said. "That's an incredible advance and something that would be impossible using only ground-based observations."
GRACE data reveal that, since 2011, the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins decreased in volume by four trillion gallons of water each year (15 cubic kilometers). That's more water than California's 38 million residents use each year for domestic and municipal purposes. About two-thirds of the loss is due to depletion of groundwater beneath California's Central Valley.
In related results, early 2014 data from NASA's Airborne Snow Observatory indicate that snowpack in California's Sierra Nevada range was only half of previous estimates. The observatory is providing the first-ever high-resolution observations of the water volume of snow in the Tuolumne River, Merced, Kings and Lakes basins of the Sierra Nevada and the Uncompahgre watershed in the Upper Colorado River Basin.

In A Blaze of Glory

Already running on fumes as its fuel reserves dwindled, Venus Express' most recent attempts at maintaining its altitude fell short.

Wait, There's More ...

NASA’s rover Curiosity has found organic compounds on Mars, the first definitive proof of building blocks for life on the Red Planet that also exist on Earth. 

Excited Shelter Dogs on Their Way to a New Home

The dogs shown here are from shelters, accustomed to a lonely existence behind bars with minimal human contact. Then suddenly, a visitor or a family has them sprung from their kennel, and after a brief meeting, the dog is put on a lead and placed in a car. Some of the more timid dogs are scared at first, which may show in their faces. But many are simply ecstatic to be free and with a person who seems to have an interest in taking care of them and showing them kindness. That thrilled, hopeful expression is captured on many of the faces of the dogs in these photos as they ride to their new home.
See more photos of dogs freed from shelters here. 

Battling Baldness

The resin-like material honeybees use to patch holes in their hives encourages hair growth in mice, scientists find. 

The Navy's New Drone Looks and Swims Like a Shark

This is the GhostSwimmer, a new drone developed for the US Navy. It's 5 feet long and designed to resemble a shark. It swims like one, too! It flips its tail back and forth, like a shark, to navigate waters between 10 inches and 300 feet deep.
An operator can use a 500-foot tether to control it, or command it to surface periodically to receive new instructions. The Navy hopes to use it for reconnaissance and ship inspection.
Hopefully future models will include features of the EATR, a robot that could, hypothetically, feed off human flesh. Because that would, I suspect, extend its range.

Ocean Acidification Die Off

Oysters are sensitive to increasingly corrosive seawater, and it's causing commercial oyster operations to fail. 

Chick Mimic

In a bid to look unattractive to predators, the nestlings not only look like caterpillars but move just like them, too.

Animal Pictures