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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.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

The Daily Drift

Hey, wingnuts, yeah, we're talking to you ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 200 countries around the world daily.   
Trivia isn't trivial ... !
Today is  -  Trivia Day

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Today in History

1757   Robert Francois Damiens makes an unsuccessful attempt to assassinate King Louis XV of France.  
1863   Union General Henry Halleck, by direction of President Abraham Lincoln, orders General Ulysses Grant to revoke his infamous General Order No. 11 that expelled jews from his operational area.
1896   Utah becomes the 45th state of the Union.  
1902   France offers to sell their Nicaraguan Canal rights to the United States.  
1904   The U.S. Supreme Court decides in the Gonzales v. Williams case that Puerto Ricans are not aliens and can enter the United States freely, yet stops short of awarding citizenship.  
1920   The Negro National League, the first black baseball league, is organized by Rube Foster.  
1923   The Paris Conference on war reparations hits a deadlock as the French insist on the hard line and the British insist on Reconstruction.  
1935   President Franklin D. Roosevelt claims in his State of the Union message that the federal government will provide jobs for 3.5 million Americans on welfare.  
1936   Billboard magazine publishes its first music Hit Parade.  
1941   On the Greek-Albanian front, the Greeks launch an attack towards Valona from Berat to Klisura against the Italians.  
1942   Japanese forces begin the evacuation of Guadalcanal.
1951   UN forces abandon Seoul, Korea, to the Chinese Communist Army.  
1952   The French Army in Indochina launches Operation Nenuphar in hopes of ejecting a Viet Minh division from the Ba Tai forest.
1969   Spain returns the Ifni province to Morocco.  
1970   A 7.7 earthquake kills 15,000+ people in Tonghai County, China.  
1972   Rose Heilbron becomes the first female judge to sit at the Old Bailey in London, England.
1974   President Richard Nixon refuses to hand over tape recordings and documents that had been subpoenaed by the Senate Watergate Committee.  
1975   The Khmer Rouge launches its newest assault in its five-year war in Phnom Penh. The war in Cambodia would go on until the spring of 1975.
1976   The Ulster Volunteer Force kills six Irish Catholic civilians in County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The next day 10 Protestant civilians are murdered in retaliation.  
1979   Ohio officials approve an out-of-court settlement awarding $675,000 to the victims and families in the 1970 shootings at Kent State University, in which four students were killed and nine wounded by National Guard troops.
1990   Over 300 people die and more than 700 are injured in Pakistan's deadliest train accident, when an overloaded passenger train collides with an empty freight train.
1999   Jesse "The Body" Ventura, a former professional wrestler, is sworn in as populist governor of Minnesota.  
1999   The euro, the new money of 11 European nations, goes into effect on the continent of Europe.    
2004   NASA Mars rover Spirit successfully lands on Mars.    
2004   Mikheil Saakashvili is elected President of Georgia following the Rose Revolution of November 2003.    
2007   Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-California) became the first female speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives.    
2010   Burj Khalifa (Khalifa tower) officially opens in Dubai, UAE. At 2,722 ft (829.8 m) it is the world's tallest man-made structure.

Disgraced repugican Steve Scalise Has Ties To Another Hate Group

by Jameson Parker  
The repugican cabal’s brand new House Majority Whip barely lasted half a year before running into scandal. Louisiana reptile Steve Scalise was exposed as having given a talk at a white supremacist rally in New Orleans back in 2002 when he was just an aspiring state politician who didn’t mind dealing with unapologetic racists if it meant climbing up the political food chain.
In the days following the revelations, the media has begun to scrutinize other aspects of Scalise’s political career and none of it is particularly savory. For example, given his history with pandering to racists, it was less than surprising to find that he was one of the few politicians (even in Deep South Louisiana) who threw a fit when the state tried to name Martin Luther King Jr. Day a state holiday. He voted against the bill. Twice.
Remarkably, repugican leadership has thus far stood behind Scalise after he apologized for stumping for racists and swore he didn’t share their beliefs. It’s even possible that Scalise may weather this scandal with his job intact. Despite the preponderance of evidence against him, the media has been willing to give him a pass after a person at the 2002 convention – who is himself a white supremacist and friend of former KKK leader David Duke – claimed Scalise gave his speech in a separate area from the racist part and probably didn’t know he was speaking to a group of neo-Nazis. Sure.
But with all the added exposure, other skeletons were bound to turn up in Scalise’s closet. One of those skeletons is his affiliation with the Family Research Council.
Scalise is a regular guest and longtime supporter of Tony Perkins, who heads up the FRC. The group, which the Southern Poverty Law Center describes as specializing exclusively in “defaming gays and lesbians” through false claims, targeted bullying campaigns and pushing anti-gay junk science. In the clearest definition of the word, the FRC is a hate group. It’s an organization which has just one mission: gay bashing. Scalise is a big fan.
Naturally, the idea that a repugican politician would pal around with homophobic hate groups isn’t as controversial as giving speeches to neo-Nazis, but it should be. Scalise won’t be condemned for lending credence to a guy like Perkins, who frequently says things about gay people like “To me, that is the height of hatred, to be silent when we know there are individuals that are engaged in activity, behavior, and an agenda that will destroy them and our nation.” And that says a lot about just how stuck in the past the repugican cabal truly is.
They discreetly pander to racists and hope they won’t get caught, but when it comes to anti-gay bigots, they don’t even try to hide their admiration for them. Many within the party are themselves anti-gay. The official repugican cabal platform – written in 2012, but reads like it’s from the 1950s – makes a point of saying the repugican cabal is firmly for “traditional marriage” and claims “studies” have shown that gay parents are typically harmful for children – the same kinds of bunk science that the FRC loves to promote.
As people continue to dig around Scalise’s past, it seems likely that more of his questionable relationships will come to light – given his history, we may be in store for another scandal or two.

Faux News Ratings Plummet As Dish Network Proves Ideological Bullying Doesn’t Buy Air Time

by Stephen D Foster Jr  
The folks over at Faux News had hoped to bully Dish Network into giving their toxic channel the cheap air time it demands, but going into a second week of being banished from the television lineup is only proving that Dish has more clout.
Because Faux News has played the victim instead of offering a fair price to for its weak programming, Dish dropped the wingnut propaganda channel, including Faux Business, much to the delight of Americans who value their brains.
Of course, this made Faux News go ballistic and wingnut heads everywhere begin to explode. Faux even urged their viewers to declare war on Dish Network, telling them to drop their subscriptions in an effort to force Dish’s hand. According to Dish Network CEO Charlie Ergen, Faux is the first channel to throw such a temper tantrum.
“Ironically, Faux News would be the first network to decry this kind of deal-making,” Ergen said. “There’s nothing about this extortion attempt that was fair or balanced.”
Earlier in the year, Dish Network had dropped Cartoon Network and a host of other channels during negotiations with Turner Broadcasting. But both sides worked for an agreement and the channels were restored. Faux, however, chose to wage ideological warfare rather than negotiate in good faith.
The only problem is that Faux is beginning to feel the pain and Dish is only too happy to sit there and watch the right-wing network implode.
As it turns out, Faux’s ratings have plummeted since the blackout of the channel began earlier in December. How’s that for leverage, Rupert Murdoch?
On December 21-28, Faux News found themselves without a huge part of their normal audience. Approximately 939,000 nut jobs were able to tune in for their daily dose of brain drain that week compared to the 1.65 million viewers who watched during the same week in 2013. That’s quite a drop in viewership.
On the other hand, Dish Network serves 13 million customers so those who watch Faux are a mere drop in the bucket by comparison. In other words, Faux can whine all it wants, Dish Network is perfectly content to allow Faux to keep hitting itself in the face. And the fact is, a majority of America would be ecstatic if Faux continued to be blacked out permanently. So be sure to contact Dish and tell them you support their decision to take Faux off the air. Also, be sure to tell them that you would prefer Faux News never be allowed to return. After all, it’s more important now than ever before to protect America’s IQ and prevent lies, sexism, racism, and hate from taking over the media. If the FCC won’t do something about Faux, perhaps it’s time to ask private television service providers to do so.

It's all just fantasy ...


Polite, thoughtful and apologetic burglar will still be prosecuted

A Florida woman called police after finding a burglar in the bathroom of her Palm Bay apartment. "I walk into my room, and I find all my boyfriend's shoes and clothes thrown on the floor.
"I said, 'So you're trying to rob us?' And he's like, he nodded his head," the woman told the 911 dispatcher. Police identified the burglar as 20-year-old Johnathan Johnson. The victim said Johnson explained apologetically to the victim that he needed money for Christmas presents for his son.
The victim had seen Johnson before, but didn't know his name. "I made him leave, and when I came back, he put the screen back on," she said. Then, she found out her money was missing. "I asked him, 'Where's my money?' And he's like, 'I forgot to give it to you,'" she said.

The victim said Johnson did return the money and everything else. Both she and police were unmoved by his politeness. Police said breaking in is still burglary, and stealing is still theft, even if you give it all back. Johnson will be prosecuted for both alleged crimes.

Couple released after being trapped for two days in unlocked closet

A man and a woman thought they were trapped in a Florida closet for two days until police let them out on Tuesday – and found out the two could have opened the door themselves.
John Arwood, 31, and Amber Campbell, 25, claimed they were chased into the closet at Daytona State College on Sunday, Daytona Beach police said. After two days in a Marine and Environmental Science Center janitor's closet, where police found human faeces and copper scouring pads sometimes used to smoke crack, Arwood called 911 from his cell phone, police said.
Arwood and Campbell were charged with trespassing. Campbell was also charged with violating her probation, which she was given after resisting arrest in 2013. Arwood's criminal record includes five prior jail sentences in Florida since 2000 for offenses including armed burglary, possession of more than 20 grams of marijuana, and fleeing law enforcement.
Officers tracked his phone's location and let him and Campbell out. It's unclear why Arwood didn't call 911 until Tuesday. A police officer, trying to figure out how the two could have got locked in, went into the closet and closed the door, police said. The door did not lock. Officers did not find drugs in the closet, police said.

House stripped of most of roof by home invader throwing tiles at police

A man has torn most of the tiles off the roof of a house in Western Australia, hurling them at police and sparking a siege during a home invasion. Police said the man was acting strangely with a hammer and broke into a house in Osborne Park, Perth, in the early hours of Thursday morning. He then climbed onto the roof of the two-story home and pelted a police vehicle with roof tiles. A Tactical Response Group negotiator eventually persuaded the man to give himself up, but much of the roof was stripped of tiles and the ceiling of the home collapsed.
Hundreds of broken tiles littered the front yard of the home and also smashed into rooms on the upper floor. Neighbor Sally Shackleton said she heard a loud noise outside her home just after midnight and thought it was New Year celebrations, but was shocked to get up in the morning and realize it was the sound of smashing tiles across the street. "We thought it was like fireworks," she said. "But then we heard the police helicopter overhead. We didn't come and look so we didn't know what it was and then we saw this [the damage].
"I thought it must have been an explosion, and I couldn't believe it when I saw it." When told the damage was done by a man throwing roof tiles at police, she was shocked. "Really, one man did that? That's unbelievable," she said. Homeowner Tri Yung came home from his night shift to find the home badly damaged. "I have no idea what happened. I just came back from work and saw this [damage]," he said. "I worked all night. Someone came in, went up onto the roof and damaged the whole house. I'm very shocked to come home on New Year's Day and see all this.

"Two and a half years of hard work [renovating the house] and now it's damaged in a matter of minutes." Mr Yung estimated the damage bill would be between $50,000 and $100,000. But he said he was unsure if his property was insured. "It will take a lot of time to repair, maybe six months," he said. "I'm not sure if I'm insured. I had a letter to say my insurance ran out, pay some money. I have to check to see if I'm still insured." A 32-year old man from Alkimos was charged over the siege. He is due to appear in court later today to face several charges including three counts of criminal damage, assaulting a public officer and aggravated burglary.

Masked bandit on the run after jumping onto driver causing truck to drive into lamp post

The Gonzales Police Department in Louisiana say a masked bandit is on the loose after leaping into a garbage truck and causing a crash.
In the early hours of Xmas Eve morning, officers were dispatched to a parking lot in reference to an accident involving a garbage truck that had hit a lamp post. A driver with a local garbage collection service had picked up and unloaded a garbage container at Verizon Wireless.
As the driver backed away from the trash receptacle and went to move forward, a large raccoon jumped in the front of his cab and came to rest on his chest and legs. Terrified, the driver stood up in the cab of the truck, attempting to get the raccoon off of him. In doing so, he stepped on the gas pedal, which caused the truck to lurch forward, hitting the light pole.
Upon hitting the pole, the driver jumped out of the truck and stated that the raccoon crawled out of the cab before running behind an adjacent building. Fortunately, the driver was uninjured, but the truck was severely damaged and unable to be driven. The driver was not issued a ticket. The raccoon is still at large with an active warrant pending, police say.

Police advise against attempting to capture escaped goat

An escaped goat continues to roam Lowell, Massachusetts, after an escape from a Tewksbury slaughterhouse last Friday and police have issued a warning: do not attempt to catch it.
The 200lb animal, which has a full set of horns, was last seen "after a valiant effort to capture the goat," the Lowell police department say.
"Although goats are normally docile animals, in stressful situations, such as being loose in unfamiliar territory, he possibly can become scared and resort to acting in a survival mode," police added.

"We ask that people do not try to capture him but to please contact the Station if he is seen. If he feels scared or trapped, he, most likely, will strike out." The department is working with the Animal Rescue League of Boston on a plan to capture the goat.

Random Celebrity Photos


Carole Lombard
Carole Lombard

Doctor: Cancer is the Best Way to Die. Stop Wasting Billions Trying to Cure It

Is it better to die suddenly or slowly?
Being a doctor and a former editor of the British Medical Journal, Dr. Richard Smith is quite familiar with disease and death. And he has reached the conclusion that the best way to die is from cancer - and that's why society should "stop wasting billions trying to cure cancer."
In a controversial blog post over at the BMJ, Dr. Smith explained that, besides suicide, assisted or otherwise, there are four types of death: sudden death; the long and slow death of dementia; death from organ failure, and death from cancer.
When he asked people how they wanted to die, most chose sudden death. "That may be OK for you," Dr. Smith said, "but it may be very tough on those around you, particularly if you leave an important relationship wounded and unhealed. If you want to die suddenly, live every day as your last, making sure that all important relationships are in good shape, your affairs are in order, and instructions for your funeral neatly typed and in a top draw - or perhaps better on Facebook."
The worse type of death, according to Dr. Smith, is the long and slow death from dementia. "You are slowly erased," but with the upside of "when death comes, it may be just a light kiss."
Death from organ failure, such as from respiratory, cardiac, or kidney failure, usually means that you spend far too much of the last moments in your life in a hospital and in the hands of doctors, who may be tempted to "go on treating too long."
So that leaves death from cancer, which according to Dr. Smith allows you to "say goodbye, reflect on your life, leave last messages, perhaps visit special places for a last time, listen to favorite pieces of music, read love poems, and prepare, according to your beliefs, to meet your maker or enjoy eternal oblivion." It's a romantic view of death, Dr. Smith acknowledges, but it's one that is achievable with "love, morphine, and whiskey."
Not every doctor, however, shares Dr. Smith's views. "Of course we are all going to die, but cancer takes far too many people far too young," said Cancer Research UK's chief clinician Peter Johnson said to The Telegraph.

Cancer and Bad Luck

gene that links stem cells, aging and cancerSimple bad luck plays predominant role in cancer

Scientists from the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center have created a statistical model that measures the proportion of cancer incidence, across many tissue types, caused mainly by random mutations that […]

Killing Cancer

300px-Telomere_capsResearchers target telomeres to kill cancer

Cell biologists at UT Southwestern Medical Center have targeted telomeres with a small molecule called 6-thiodG that takes advantage of the cell’s ‘biological clock’ to kill cancer cells and shrink tumor […]

Twisted Sifter's Top 100 Photos of the Day from 2014

At the conclusion of each calendar year, Twisted Sifter selects the top 100 of their "Pictures of the Day" feature. Their grouping is always full of clicks that capture the beauty and wonder of our world. From macro shots lending a glimpse of the tiniest beings to aerial shots from high above planet Earth, there's a photo in this collection for everyone to appreciate. Visit their post and look at all 100 photos. This is photography that is definitely worth your time.

7 Of The Craziest Predictions For The Future, From The Past

Visionaries of the past imagined a world that subsisted on kelp, exercised mind-control with grouch pills and genetically modified tomatoes to fit perfectly on sandwiches.
The future we've imagined over the last century has, in some cases, come to fruition. But in other cases, those forecasts remain indecipherable from the plots of science fiction movies. Here's a roundup of some of the looniest predictions from 1923.

A Brief History of the Movie Rating System

It seems strange now, but when I was a kid, movies were  not rated. Then they were almost all rated G. I recall going to a couple of films rating M, but I didn’t let my parents know. Turns out they didn’t mind. Now a G rating means that only little kids and their parents go to see it, and studios will fight to change an NC-17 to an R, when at one time not even an X rating was the kiss of death for a film. How did things get this way?
It all started as soon as movies were invented, with municipal bans to control what people saw on the big screen. In 1915, the Supreme Court ruled that movies were not protected as freedom of speech under the Constitution. The film industry decided to police its own product to keep government censors out of the business, but that still made waves at every turn. The system has evolved and changed a lot over the years, in steps that are outlined in an article at Gizmodo.

People in History


(via Historical / Ziegfeld girl, Marion Benda c. 1920’s)
Ziegfeld girl, Marion Benda c. 1920’s

Helen Holmes: The Girl at the Switch

A century before Jennifer Lawrence was slinging arrows as Katniss Everdeen, Helen Holmes invented the female action hero. 
So why have you never heard of her?
On the roof of a speeding freight train, a slender woman in a white feather cap and a long narrow skirt sits crumpled, cradling her head. Her day’s work is done. A minute ago, she leaped onto this train from a towering overpass, pointing out two stowaway thieves to the engineers on duty. As they race to nab the bandits, she doubles over to catch her breath. The men, she knows, can take it from here.
Suddenly, one of the thieves appears on the roof. Fresh from a fistfight with the conductors, the thug tries to rush past her. She scrambles to her feet and lunges at his waist. They wrestle. He tries to shake her. She tackles him, and in an instant the two are pitched over the side into the river below. As they wade from the water, the wet hat still clinging to her head, she sacks him again, delivering a taste of justice.
It’s a quintessential climax to an episode of the wildly popular 1915 silent film series The Hazards of Helen. In a few year’s time, short action flicks like this had become standard weekend diversions for moviegoing Americans, giving rise to the first generation of screen stars: Mary Fuller in What Happened to Mary, Kathlyn Williams in The Adventures of Kathlyn, and Pearl White in The Perils of Pauline. These weren’t coy coquettes or damsels in distress; they were action stars racing cars, riding horses, and jumping trains.
Helen Holmes, the scrappy 20-year-old featured in The Hazards of Helen, wasn’t the most famous or the most glamorous. But with the women’s suffrage movement reaching a fever pitch, her no-nonsense handling of everyday affairs in a man’s world turned her into a fan favorite. What made her truly revolutionary -even as she faded into obscurity with the rest of the silent film stars- was what she did behind the scenes.
A Chicago-raised tomboy-turned-model, Holmes was more than just the star of The Hazards of Helen- she was, in large part, its creator. Holmes landed her first film roles in silent comedies in 1912. Shortly after, she joined forces, personally and professionally, with J.P. “Jack” McGowan, an Australian director who specialized in short action flicks, most of them one- or two-reel railroad dramas.
From the start, McGowan and Holmes wanted to do something different. They envisioned a rough-hewn adventure series centered on Helen, a railroad operator, who threw herself into peril in every episode. Production for Hazards began in Glendale, California, in 1914, but by early 1915, McGowan had fallen from a telegraph pole performing a stunt. For six weeks he was in a plaster cast at the Sisters’ Hospital in Hollywood. That’s when Holmes took over the production, and she fully embraced the task.
“If a photoplay actress wants to achieve real thrills, she must write them into the scenario herself,” she once said. “[N]early all scenario writers and authors for the films are men, and men usually won’t provide for a girl things they wouldn’t do themselves. So if I want really thrilly action, I ask permission to write it for myself.”
Each weekly installment found Helen facing fresh danger, from thieves to runaway trains. In The Wild Engine (1915), Helen got a job at a railroad, only to have the superintendent of the company berate the underling who hired her. “Women cannot use their heads in case of emergency, and if you employ her, I shall hold you entirely responsible!” Suffice to say, an emergency soon tests the theory. When an engine goes haywire and sets on a collision course with a passenger train, Helen jumps on a motorcycle and zooms off to stop it. She keeps the trains from colliding, of course, but she also rides the motorcycle off a bridge and into the river to enhance the action. The film ends with the superintendent changing his stance on Helen’s hiring -a simplistic story, simplistically told, but one that presents a radical message by 1915 standards.
In the pre-Hollywood days of early cinema, moviemaking was defined by a rough-and-tumble DIY aesthetic. Unlike many of her colleagues, Holmes performed many death-defying stunts herself, from swinging onto moving locomotives to crawling across the hoods of speeding cars. She moved with the grace of an athlete. Asked about her stunt work, she remarked that she sought to performs stunts without losing “that air of femininity of which we are all so proud. But by that I do not mean the frail side of a woman. I mean the heroic side.”
The pace of producing a weekly was grueling, and it took a toll. “I have a pair of educated knees,” she said. “I have learned to drop like a kitten. My body is all bruised and bumped and scarred from the falls I have had.” Reputedly, she nearly suffered a career-ending injury when she fell off a train face first into a cactus thicket, puncturing her eye. (After a poisonous thorn was removed, she fully recovered.)

Holmes took risks with her body, but she was equally bold with her writing. Whereas her contemporaries often saw their characters thrust into jeopardy by chance, Helen’s character plunged into danger intentionally- after all, it was her job. And while the plots of other series revolved around romance, the through line of the Hazards was always Helen’s career and her attempts to prove herself in a treacherous workplace inhabited exclusively by men.
The themes played nicely to the audience.At the time, moviegoers were mostly working-class women who went to see serial pictures; they were the ones Helen was speaking to. There was a growing appetite for depictions of strong women, and on screen, no female better exemplified the New Woman ideal than one who could jump trains without breaking the ostrich brim on her hat.
Before long, Holmes had starred in 46 episodes of Hazards, directing at least two. Sadly, her writing and producing credits are incomplete. For a woman who made her name proving that women could contribute in the workplace, she never received credit for all the work she did.
In 1915, Holmes and McGowan left Hazards to capitalize on Holmes’ tremendous box-office pull. The series had rocketed her to national celebrity, and the pair continued to make adventure films together, and then, after they split in 1918, apart. Holmes went on to start her own production company, but in a market now flooded with female action stars, her draw slipped. A payment disagreement with her distributor added to her woes, contributing to her first box-office bomb, and she soon gave up screen acting. By the 1920s, a backlash against motion pictures had begun to form. As filmmakers tested the boundaries of on-screen romance and action, religious groups began to protest the societal impact. Reformers singled out weekly serials for corrupting youth and glorifying crime. Some censorship boards refused to allow films that showed women scrapping with men and holding their own.
Action films soon became the exclusive domain of male protagonists, and over the years, “women’s pictures” came to mean melodramas. And while American cinema had its share of strong women like Bette Davis and Ida Lupino, by the ’30s the female action star had essentially ceased to exist.
Holmes married a stuntman and moved to a cattle ranch in Sonora, where she began training animals for film. She continued to take the occasional bit part, and for a time, she served as president of Riding and Stunt Girls of the Screen, the first  organization established to bargain collectively for stuntwomen. Holmes died in 1950 of pulmonary tuberculosis.
Like the majority of silent cinema, much of Holmes work is lost, but a handful of the Hazards remain, saved by organizations such as the National Film Preservation Foundation.
Rewatching the films today, Helen Holmes still feels revolutionary. The most daring aspect of Hazards wasn’t that her character could tackle a man or leap onto a moving freight train. It was that Holmes’ heroism came from her being good at her job. The series dramatized a world where a brave and quick-thinking woman could prove herself in ways conventionally reserved for men. “Helen didn’t win an inheritance or a promotion. Her labor and adventures simply won her respect, camaraderie, and admiration,” feminist scholar Nan Estad has noted. By embodying Helen with such poised nonchalance, Holmes helped pave the way for a new kind of character: the female professional. And while the impact didn’t last long on screen, it was etched into the minds of those cheering from the seats.

10 Supernatural Relics And Their Turbulent Histories

All over the world, you’ll find ancient objects that are revered for their significant place in history, or for being a tangible connection with religious figures. Often their provenance is a matter of faith more than documented history. And as the centuries go by, their stories grow more complicated as the objects are coveted by other believers. For example, a cloak worn by the prophet Muhammad is now in the possession of the Taliban, the same group that destroyed so many artworks and icons of other religions.
According to legend, the cloak made its way to Afghanistan in the possession of the first king of the modern Afghan state, Ahmad Shah Durrani. When visiting what’s now Uzbekistan, he saw the cloak and knew that it needed to return home with him. He made a promise to the keepers of the cloak, pointing to a rock and swearing that he wouldn’t take the cloak very far away from that particular stone. Today, that stone, the king’s remains, and the cloak rest in a heavily guarded shrine in Kandahar.

The cloak is kept under lock and key with a single family of honored custodians. It’s an honor that they take very, very seriously; many assassins have tried and failed to reclaim the cloak.

In 1996, the cloak became a part of the imagery of the Taliban when Mullah Omar, the man nominated to become the figurehead of the next holy war, requested an audience with the cloak. When he removed it from the shrine and appeared in public with it—a holy symbol that’s usually absolutely off-limits to the general public—it gained him the support of the people and the legitimacy he needed to make the Taliban a force to be reckoned with.
There are also stories about body parts belonging to Buddha and John the Baptist, swords and stones used to crown kings, and what some consider to be the Holy Grail, all at Listverse.

"Macaroni" explained

Yankee Doodle went to town
Riding on a pony;
He stuck a feather in his hat,
And called it macaroni.
Traditions place [the origin of Yankee Doodle] in a pre-Revolutionary War song originally sung by British military officers to mock the disheveled, disorganized colonial "Yankees" with whom they served in the French and Indian War...

The Macaroni wig was an extreme fashion in the 1770s and became contemporary slang for foppishness. The Macaronis were young English men who adopted feminine mannerisms and highly extravagant attire, and were deemed effeminate. They were members of the Macaroni Club in London at the height of the fashion for dandyism, so called because they wore striped silks upon their return from the Grand Tour - and a feather in their hats.
Above text from the Yankee Doodle entry at Wikipedia.  Image and the following from the related macaroni page:
The term pejoratively referred to a man who "exceeded the ordinary bounds of fashion" in terms of clothes, fastidious eating and gambling. Like a practitioner of macaronic verse, which mixed English and Latin to comic effect, he mixed Continental affectations with his English nature, laying himself open to satire:
There is indeed a kind of animal, neither male nor female, a thing of the neuter gender, lately [1770] started up among us. It is called a macaroni. It talks without meaning, it smiles without pleasantry, it eats without appetite, it rides without exercise, it wenches without passion.
The macaronis were precursor to the dandies, who far from their present connotation of effeminacy came as a more masculine reaction to the excesses of the macaroni...
Young men who had been to Italy on the Grand Tour had developed a taste for macaroni, a type of Italian food little known in England then, and so they were said to belong to the Macaroni Club. They would refer to anything that was fashionable, or à la mode, as 'very maccaroni.'

8 Byzantine Empire Era Shipwrecks Excavated In Turkey

Archaeologists working at a site in Turkey called Yenikapi have unearthed 37 remarkably well-preserved shipwrecks. The shipwrecks date back to the time of the Byzantine Empire, and are found in the port of the ancient city Istanbul, then called Constantinople.
Eight of the shipwrecks that date to the fifth to 11th centuries are now described in a new report. The shipwrecks shed new light on shipbuilding history.

Random Photos

from la-voleur-de-beaut tumblr.

Frost Flowers

Nature's Exquisite Ice Extrusion
It is as beautiful as it is rare. A frost flower is created on autumn or early winter mornings when ice in extremely thin layers is pushed out from long-stemmed plants or occasionally wood.
This extrusion creates wonderful patterns which curl and fold into gorgeous frozen petioles giving this phenomenon both its name and its appearance. The weather conditions must be freezing and it is vital that the ground is not.

Tomato and Potato Plants Go Together Like Ketchup and Fries!

Ketchup and fries go hand in hand like, ... well, how about potato and tomato?
Meet the "Ketchup 'N' Fries" pomato or tomtato (previously on Neatorama), a chimera plant made from grafting a potato and tomato plant together. It is available from the Territorial Seed Company of Oregon. Above the ground, the plant is a cherry tomato plant, whereas below the ground you'll find white potatoes.
The website states that this kind of frankenplant grafting is possible because both potato and tomato belong to the Solanaceae (nightshade) family.

Ball's Pyramid

The World's Tallest Volcanic Stack
A remote island located in the Tasman Sea, southeast of Lord Howe Island in the Pacific Ocean, has been an almost off-limits location. However, it is unexpectedly becoming a significant site when it comes to diving, climbing, and weird-insect searching.
This iconic pyramid-looking site called Ball's Pyramid is part of the Lord Howe Island Marine Park, which is known as a UNESCO-certified World Heritage Site of global natural significance. This odd-looking pyramid is also known as the world's tallest volcanic stack.

This Is How Big a Bear's Paw Is

The gizzly bear in this photo has been sedated. That's why the woman in the photo is still alive. You can't outfight a grizzly and you certainly can't outrun one.

Surgery Cures Constipated Goldfish

What lengths would you go to in order to save your goldfish? We've previously seen a goldfish undergo brain surgery. This fish didn't have such a terrible problem, but it was seriously plugged up. In fact, it was so constipated that it would likely die if veterinarians didn't help it.
Veterinarian Faye Bethel of the Toll Barn Veterinary Centre in North Walsham, UK removed an obstructing lump near its anus during a 50-minute operation, which cost the owner £300 ($467 USD). It was completely successful. The Daily Telegraph describes the surgery:
It was then removed from its tank and placed on a waterproof drape before anaesthetic water was introduced into its mouth via a tube and bubbled over its gills.
The vet then used a miniature heart-rate monitor to check that the fish was properly "under" before using a mini scalpel to remove the lumps.
She then sewed each cut with three stitches before using a special "glue" to cover and waterproof the fish's scales before it was gradually re-awakened.

Fanged Frog Species Gives Birth to Live Young

by Tanya Lewis
Fanged Frog Species Gives Birth to Live Young
Freaky find: Herpetologist Jim McGuire was in for a surprise when he picked up one of these Indonesian fanged frogs and found it had just given birth to a handful of live tadpoles.
Frogs and other amphibians lay eggs, but mammals give birth to live young, right? Not always. A newly described species of frog gives birth to live tadpoles, and is the only known frog to do so, researchers say.
The discovery happened one night last summer, when researcher Jim McGuire was tromping through the rainforest in Sulawesi, an Indonesian island east of Borneo. McGuire stumbled across what looked like a single male frog. But when he reached out to grab it, he found himself holding much more, said McGuire, a herpetologist at the University of California, Berkeley.
"As soon as I picked her up, she squirted tadpoles all over my hand," McGuire told Live Science. He didn't have time to take a video of the frog giving birth, but did find more tadpoles in nearby pools. The find "was clear indication" that the females do in fact give birth to live tadpoles, he said.
The frogs were members of a group of Asian fanged frogs that were discovered several decades ago by McGuire's colleague Djoko Iskandar, a zoologist at Indonesia's Institut Teknologi Bandung, but the species had not yet been reported in a scientific paper, McGuire said.
Iskandar had suspected such frogs might gave birth to live young instead of laying eggs, but scientists had never observed the animal mating or birthing tadpoles until McGuire's find.
McGuire and his colleagues named the species he found Limnonectes larvaepartus, and describe it in a study published in the journal PLOS ONE.
Frog fertilization
Frogs reproduce in a variety of ways, the researchers said. In most species, fertilization happens outside of the female's body: the female lays eggs and the male then lays sperm on top of them. But in about a dozen species, the males fertilize the eggs inside the female's body.
For most of these frogs, the process isn't well-understood. But for two species of "tailed" frogs, the males have evolved a penis-like organ called the tail, which transfers sperm to the female. The female tailed frogs then lay their fertilized eggs underneath rocks in streams. Some other frogs that have internal fertilization give birth to miniature frogs, or "froglets."
But L. larvaepartus is the only species known to give birth to live tadpoles, the researchers said. The species seems to prefer giving birth in small pools, away from streams, perhaps to avoid bigger fanged frogs that live there. Males of the species may guard the tadpoles after they're born, some evidence suggests.
The amazing thing, McGuire said, is that internal fertilization occurs so infrequently among frogs. "Internal fertilization has evolved independently only four times in frogs," he said.
The frog is only the fourth described species of fanged frog on Sulawesi, but the researchers said in their report that they suspect there may be as many as 25 species. Fanged frogs are named for the fanglike structures on their lower jaw, which are used in fighting. The creatures can weigh as much as 2 lbs. (900 grams), but some are no more than the weight of a few paperclips. L. larvaepartus weighs about 0.18 to 0.21 ounces (5 to 6 grams).
The island where the frogs are found, Sulawesi, formed when several islands merged together about 8 to 10 million years ago. Today, it is a hot spot for evolutionary diversity.
Many species of fanged frogs may live in a single area, but each may have adapted to their own ecological niches, the researchers said. They are now trying to understand how much of the diversification occurred before the islands merged, and how much happened afterward.

Animal Pictures