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

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Daily Drift

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And I Quote ...!
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Today in History

1791   Congress passes a resolution authorizing the U.S. Mint; legislation creating the mint will be passed on Apr. 2, 1792.  
1803   The first impeachment trial of a U.S. Judge, John Pickering, begins.  
1817   The first commercial steamboat route from Louisville to New Orleans is opened.  
1845   Florida becomes the 27th U.S. state.
1857   Under pretexts, Britain and France declare war on China.  
1861   The serfs of Russia are emancipated by Alexander II as part of a program of westernization.  
1863   President Abraham Lincoln signs the conscription act compelling U.S. citizens to report for duty in the Civil War or pay $300.00.  
1877   Rutherford B. Hays, the republican governor of Ohio is elected president, his election confirmed by an electoral commission after disputed election the previous November.
1878   Russia and the Ottomans sign the treaty of Stenafano, granting independence to Serbia.  
1905   The Russian Czar agrees to create an elected assembly.
1918   The Soviets and Germany sign a peace treaty at Brest-Litovsk depriving the Soviets of White Russia.   
1919   Boeing flies the first U.S. international airmail from Vancouver, British Columbia to Seattle, Washington.
1923   The first issue of Time magazine is published. It's editor, Henry R. Luce, is just out of Yale.  
1931   President Herbert Hoover signs a bill that makes Francis Scott Key's "Star Spangled Banner," the national anthem.  
1939   In Bombay, Gandhi begins a fast to protest the state's autocratic rule.  
1940   A Nazi air raid kills 108 on a British liner in the English Channel.  
1941   Moscow denounces the Axis rule in Bulgaria.  
1942   The RAF raids the industrial suburbs of Paris.
1945   Finland declares war on the Axis.  
1952   The U.S. Supreme Court upholds New York's Feinberg Law banning Communist teachers in the United States.  
1969   Sirhan Sirhan testifies in a court in Los Angeles that he killed Robert Kennedy.  
1973   Japan discloses its first defense plan since World War II.  
1999   Former White House intern Monica Lewinsky appears on national television to explain her affair with President Bill Clinton.

Culinary DeLites

5 Tips for Cooking Crispy Bacon
5 Tips for Cooking Crispy Bacon
This world is crazy for bacon, and not just eating it—opinions on the best way to cook perfect, crispy bacon run deep in the blood of pork eaters everywhere. That’s why the Epicurious Test Kitchen just spent a week cooking pounds and pounds of the stuff, in an attempt to cut through the bacon noise and crown a winning method. It was one salty, porky week. This is what we learned.
Trust us. When we tossed cold bacon into a hot skillet, it started to brown and crisp before the fat really started rendering out. That leaves you with two choices: Keep sizzling your bacon until the fat’s cooked through but the bacon burns, or take it off the heat and deal with fatty, flabby bacon. On the other hand, when we added it to a cold pan and then turned on the heat to medium, the fat had plenty of time to melt away, leaving us with crunchier (and less greasy) slices.
For our first stove-top cooking test, we pitted a 12-inch cast iron skillet against a 12-inch stainless-steel skillet. When we started with cold bacon in a cold skillet and cooked over medium heat, the taste and texture were the same for the bacon from each skillet: nice and crunchy, with a lovely smoky depth of flavor, and some deeper browned and charred spots. But while the stainless-steel skillet took 11 minutes, the cast-iron skillet took only 8.
We’d heard from the folks over at America’s Test Kitchen that adding a bit of cold water to your cold skillet with your bacon yields better, crispier, bacon. So we gave it a go. It took a bit longer, but sure enough, all the water evaporated and then the bacon started crisping as it normally would. The result was thinner and crisper than the bacon cooked in the skillet without water: it shattered easily, and was very nice and crunchy. It wasn’t as salty, and we actually missed the thicker crunch of traditional bacon, but this strategy would be perfect if you wanted to use the bacon as a crumbled topping for, say, salad.
Even in a 12-inch skillet, you can only fit 5 to 6 slices of bacon. So if you’re feeding a crowd, you want to heat up your oven instead. Baking your bacon on a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet allows the rendered fat to drip away from the bacon, helping it cook up even crunchier than pan-frying. (While bacon should be started in a cold pan if you’re cooking it on the stove-top, you can crank up the heat if you're baking your bacon in the oven. We found a temp of 450°F gave oven-baked bacon the same smoky depth as the stove-top kind. Just cook it for 20 minutes to get perfectly sizzled slices.) Even better, you can fit 10 to 12 slices on a rack, and it cooks without needing any attention: no flipping, no rotating, and—best of all—no messy splatter all over the stove.
In the microwave, we cooked the bacon padded between several sheets of paper towels on high until fully cooked and crisp, which took about 3 1/2 minutes in our machine. It was beautiful looking bacon: crinkly and golden-brown, without any sign of char. But when we bit into it, it wasn’t crisp enough, and it lacked the charred flavor we craved. Our vote? Stick to the pan or the oven.

Five Things Alice in Wonderland Reveals About the Brain

Even though it’s been 150 years since Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was first published, we are still finding new meaning in it. Lewis Carrol’s tale turns logic inside out, and along the way, gives neurologists insight about how the human brain operates. Characters in the book explore the way we perceive language, time, and our own corporeal bodies. For example, Alice changes her own size several times by the magic of eating or drinking.
In 1955, a psychiatrist called John Todd found that certain patients reported exactly the same feeling of “opening out like a telescope”. The disorder is known as Alice in Wonderland Syndrome, and it seems to be most common in children. “I have heard patients saying that things appear upside down, or even though mommy is on other side of the room, she appeared next to her,” says Grant Liu, a neurologist at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia who has studied the phenomenon.

Carroll’s diaries show that he suffered migraines, which often trigger the syndrome – leading some to speculate that he was using his own experiences as inspiration. Liu suspects the syndrome can be pinned to abnormal activity in the parietal lobes, which are responsible for spatial awareness, skewing the sense of perspective and distance. But despite the fact that it can be disturbing, these fleeting illusions are generally harmless. “The majority are unaffected – and we just provide reassurance that the patient is not crazy and that other people also experience these things,” says Liu. Today, neuroscientists are trying to evoke the illusion in healthy subjects – which they think might shed light on the way we create our sense of self in the here and now.
And that’s only one of the five specific findings in neuroscience that relate to the more illogical passages in Alice in Wonderland outlined in an article at BBC Future.

The Grapes Of Wrath

10 Surprising Facts About John Steinbeck's Novel
John Steinbeck (1902-1968) was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1962. His 1939 book The Grapes of Wrath, published 75 years ago on April 14, has sold more than 14 million copies in the past 75 years. Here are 10 things about The Grapes of Wrath that may surprise you.

Researchers Find New Reason To Drink Coffee

It May Reduce Risk Of MS
Drink up, coffee lovers: Neurologists say a healthy appetite for coffee may reduce your risk of developing multiple sclerosis. We're not talking a cup or two of joe in the morning. Even a triple espresso might not be enough to register a difference.
In a new study, researchers found that people who downed at least four cups of coffee per day were one-third less likely to develop multiple sclerosis than their counterparts who drank no coffee at all.

The Return of the 19th Century

A friend once told me that the wealthy elite didn't want to just "roll back" the New Deal, they wanted to roll back the entire 20th Century. His point was that all the social gains of the 20th Century were granted to us in order to combat global communism, and that with the collapse of communism the wealthy elite are going it take it all back.
I didn't fully appreciate his sentiments until recently.
The recent upsurge in global piracy seems strange and exotic in today's world, but in fact it is rather appropriate in the full context of national events.
Here is a list of trends which show the 21st Century is going to look a lot more like the 19th Century than the 20th Century.

Mind Blowing… These Unbelievable Facts Will DESTROY Your Understanding Of Time

Time has always perplexed the human race. We’ve tried to define it, track it, and measure it since the emergence of civilization. However, facts like these listed here show us how distorted our perception of time can be and how much we still need to learn about the fourth dimension.
17. The last time the Chicago Cubs won a World Series, women were not allowed to vote.
The infamous cold streak by the Chicago Cubs baseball team extends back to 1908, when they won their second World Series. Women in the US acquired the vote in 1920.

Man convicted of belly bounce assault on elderly neighbor

A man from Belfast in Northern Ireland has been convicted of assaulting an elderly neighbor by using his belly to “bounce” her away from his home. Morrison Wilson, 58, claimed he was simply trying to get the pensioner out of his garden path during a dispute.
Belfast Magistrates Court heard the woman suffered injuries when she fell during the incident in October 2013. Wilson denied a charge of assault occasioning actual bodily harm. Although he was acquitted of that offense a judge found him guilty of a lesser common assault.
Wilson claimed the victim had been aggressive and “sticking her nose in” as he spoke to a motorist outside his home. He told Belfast Magistrates’ Court: “With my big belly, because she was flailing her hands about, I just bounced her back.” According to his account she fell backwards, landing on her tail bone area. He also claimed fertilizer was flung at him after the fall.
Questioned by the prosecution about his claim to have bounced his neighbor, Wilson replied: “What am I going to do? Grab her with my belly?” He added: “She was very aggressive, she wasn’t getting her own way... and I knew what was coming next.” Following a contested hearing District Judge Ken Nixon dismissed the assault occasioning actual bodily harm charge. But he ruled: “On an admission in terms of the defendant’s own evidence there is a conviction of [common] assault.” Wilson will return to court to be sentenced next month.

Man set fire to his house because his niece wouldn't take him to buy more booze

After his niece refused to drive him to the store to buy more liquor, a Florida man decided to set fire to his house, according to authorities. On Dec. 14, Jerome Clemons, 44, of Boynton Beach, who had already been drinking, asked his niece for a ride to the liquor store.
She told investigators she told him "No" and they got into an argument. To avoid further confrontation, the woman said she left the house. Not long afterwards, Clemons' brother arrived at the house. He told investigators Clemons was standing out on the porch mumbling to himself about being "tired of it all."
His brother started making dinner and went out to see if Clemons was okay. Then, he saw a huge flame burning at the northeast corner of the house. Clemons' brother was able to extinguish the fire with a hose. Officials said the structural damage was minimal, but a garbage container and an all-terrain vehicle were slightly damaged.
Boynton Beach fire officials later found Clemons walking down the street with a large burn on his forearm. Investigators determined Clemons poured gasoline against the wall outside and on the all-terrain vehicle and lit the fire while his brother was inside. Clemons had left the hospital before Boynton Beach police were able to detain him. He was arrested on Wednesday, where he was charged with arson, and is being held at the Palm Beach County Jail without bail.

Commuter escaped injury when escalator ate his trousers

A 35-year-old man lost his trousers at the Davis MBTA station in Massachusetts during the morning commute on Thursday. T rider Greg Murphy, who witnessed the aftermath, said he was on his way to work when he and dozens of other commuters happened across the bare-legged man and a disabled escalator at about 8:30am.
“I saw two MBTA workers at the bottom of the stairs, a guy wearing some fashionable blue gym shorts, and some pants at the bottom of the stairs that looked like they had been sucked in,” Murphy said. “He looked fine. He was just standing there, he had his backpack up on the side there and they seemed to be taking some information from him for a report.”
Murphy added, “He seemed to be taking it all in stride. He was keeping it cooler than I do on my best day.” T spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the unidentified commuter told T officials: “He was running down the escalator to catch a train when he slipped and fell. His pants got caught in the escalator. He was not injured and he did not request any medical attention.”
That escalator was examined by state inspectors, who found no defects and cleared it to reopen. “Customers are urged to please be mindful of loose clothing, keeping it clear of steps and sides and to stand clear of the sides of the escalator,” Pesaturo said. “It’s also important that escalator users face forward and keep a firm grip on the handrail.”

Woman knocked unconscious in drive-by egging

A woman was knocked unconscious in Seattle early on Tuesday when an egg thrown from a passing truck hit her in the head.
According to police, several people were standing outside a Crown Hill bar when someone inside a pickup “let loose a volley of eggs.”
At least two people, including a bar employee, were struck by the eggs. A woman was hit just behind her ear and was knocked unconscious. Police said her friends caught her as she fell to the ground.
The victim’s friends drove her to the hospital where she was treated. Witnesses told police the vehicle was a small black or green pickup with a canopy and dark tinted windows. Police are seeking more information about the incident.

Random Photos

Wyoming Legislature Votes To Allow Science-Based Climate Education In State Schools

by Katie Valentine
Science standards that treat climate change as fact are no longer banned in Wyoming, now that a bill reversing the state’s ban has been passed by the House and Senate.
Last March, Wyoming became the first state to reject the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), which were developed by 26 states and multiple science and education organizations and serve as guidelines for teaching science — including climate change and evolution — from state to state. The ban came in the form of a footnote in Wyoming’s budget, which stated that “neither the state board of education nor the department shall expend any amount appropriated under this section for any review or adoption of the next generation science standards.”
Now, pending Gov. Matt Mead’s signature, Wyoming’s Board of Education is free to adopt NGSS if it so decides. House Bill 23, introduced late last year by Wyoming Rep. John Patton (R), has cleared the House and Senate, despite some conflict over its wording. As originally introduced, the bill repealed the footnote about NGSS from the state’s budget entirely, but the version passed by the state’s Senate included an amendment stating that “the state board of education may consider, discuss or modify the next generation science standards, in addition to any other standards, content or benchmarks as it may determine necessary, to develop quality science standards that are unique to Wyoming.”
That amendment was concerning to NGSS supporters, who worried that the amendment would make it possible for Wyoming to remove or alter key parts of the standards. West Virginia’s Board of Education did just that last year — passing the NGSS but with key changes to sections that addressed climate change — before, facing public outcry, it backtracked and agreed to change the standards back to their original version and re-issue them for public comment.
“The Senate muddied the waters with its amendment to require new standards to be ‘unique to Wyoming,'” John Friedrich, Senior Campaigner for science education advocacy group Climate Parents said in a statement. “After all, the laws of physics, chemistry and biology are the same in Wyoming as everywhere else.”
Thankfully for NGSS advocates, the House and Senate reached a compromise on the bill, removing the offending amendment but adding a different stipulation, which stated: “the state board of education shall independently examine and scrutinize any science standards proposed or reviewed as a template in order to ensure that final standards adopted for Wyoming schools promote excellence.”
Climate Parents issued a statement of support of the compromise.
“We’re glad the legislature has voted to allow the State Board to do the job assigned it by state law, to thoroughly consider quality standards from all sources, including Next Generation Science Standards, for Wyoming students,” Marguerite Herman, a Climate Parents member in Cheyenne, said in a statement. “Our students deserve the very best standards, selected by Wyoming educators and scientists, so our students are prepared to compete with the best and the brightest.”
Objections to the way the NGSS treated climate change were a major reason for the original footnote to the state’s budget: Wyoming Rep. Matt Teeters (R), who co-authored the footnote, said in March that the standards’ treatment of climate change as “settled science” carried “all kind of social implications” and wasn’t what he wanted for Wyoming.
Rep. Patton, who introduced H.B. 23, told the National Journal last year that while he wasn’t an outspoken advocate of climate action, he wanted Wyoming students to get the best education possible.
“What I believe about global warming doesn’t matter. We want students to have access to the most up-to-date science,” Patton said in December. “Kids should have a chance to learn the science.”
The NGSS have been adopted by 13 states and the District of Columbia so far. They include a science-based treatment of climate change, a subject that is sometimes relegated to specialized, non-mandatory classes like Earth Science. The standards recommend that the topic of climate change be incorporated into the general curriculum, starting in middle school.

Global Rainfall And Snowfall Map

NASA's Global Precipitation Measurement mission has produced its first global map of rainfall and snowfall. The map covers more of the globe than any previous precipitation data set and allows scientists to see how rain and snow storms move around nearly the entire planet.

'The Economic System We Have Created Global Warming'

Interview with Naomi Klein
Interview Conducted by Klaus Brinkbäumer
SPIEGEL Interview with Naomi Klein: 'The Economic System We Have Created Global Warming'
Can we still stop global warming? Only if we radically change our capitalist system, argues author Naomi Klein. In an interview with SPIEGEL, she explains why the time has come to abandon small steps for a radical new approach.  more...

The Warming World

Is Capitalism Destroying Our Planet?
by Alexander Jung, Horand Knaup, Samiha Shafy and Bernhard Zand
The Warming World: Is Capitalism Destroying Our Planet?
World leaders decided in Copenhagen that global warming should be limited to 2 degrees Celsius. Achieving that target, though, would take nothing less than a miracle. With another round of climate negotiations approaching, it is becoming increasingly clear that mankind has failed to address its most daunting problem. More...

Hottest reefs on the planet

Newly discovered algal species helps corals survive in the hottest reefs on the planetAlgal species helps corals survive in the hottest reefs on the planet

A new species of algae has been discovered in reef corals of the Persian (Arabian) Gulf where it helps corals to survive seawater temperatures of up to 36 degrees Celsius […]

Looming Spikes

Humanity may be about to experience unprecedented temperature rise. Will it prompt climate action?

The 15 Most Amazing Landscapes And Rock Formations

Shaped and sculpted over millions of years, these stunning landscapes and rock formations hold invaluable clues to Earth's past and future.

Britain’s Oldest Brain

Britain’s Oldest Brain.
In Archaeology it is very rare to find any soft tissue remains: no skin, no flesh, no hair and definitely no brains. However, in 2009, archaeologists from York Archaeological Trust found something very surprising at a site in Heslington, York.
2264-skullDuring the excavation of an Iron-age landscape at the University of York, a skull, with the jaw and two vertebrae still attached, was discovered face down in a pit, without any evidence of what had happened to the rest of its body. At first it looked like a normal skull but it was not until it was being cleaned, that Collection Projects Officer, Rachel Cubitt, discovered something loose inside.
“I peered though the hole at the base of the skull to investigate and to my surprise saw a quantity of bright yellow spongy material. It was unlike anything I had seen before.” says Rachel. Sonia O’Connor, from Archaeological Sciences, University of Bradford, was able to confirm that this was brain. With the help of York Hospital’s Mortuary they were able to remove the top of the skull in order to get their first look at this astonishingly well-preserved human brain.
Sonia O’ConnorSince the discovery, a team of 34 specialists have been working on this brain to study and conserve it as much as possible. By radiocarbon dating a sample of jaw bone, it was determined that this person probably lived in the 6th Century BC, which makes this brain about 2,600 years old. By looking at the teeth and the shape of the skull it is likely this person was a man between 26 and 45 years old. An examination of the vertebrae in the neck tells us that he was first hit hard on the neck, and then the neck was severed with a small sharp knife, for reasons we can only guess.
No one quite understands how this strange preservation may have happened. Normally, in order for things to rot, they must have water, oxygen, and be at a temperature where the bacteria and rotting processes can be active. When one or more of these factors is missing, then preservation can occur. In the case of the Heslington Brain, the outside of the head has rotted as normal, but the inside is preserved.
After a lot of research the evidence suggests that the head was cut from the body very quickly after the person was killed. It was then immediately buried in a pit in wet, clay-rich ground, providing a sealed, oxygen-free burial environment. Over time the skin, hair and flesh of the skull did undergo chemical breakdown and gradually disappear, but the fats and proteins of the brain tissue linked together to form a mass of large complex molecules. This resulted in the brain shrinking, but it also preserved its shape and many microscopic features only found in brain tissue.
As there was no new oxygen in the brain, and no movement, it was protected and preserved.

And the award for the best impersonation of a Kangaroo goes to ...

Baby Woolly Rhino Discovered In Siberia Is The First Ever Found

by Jacqueline Howard 
Scientists are going gaga over the recent discovery of a baby woolly rhino.
rhino sashaThe pristine specimen of the tiny extinct rhino--the only one of its type ever found--was discovered in permafrost along the bank of a stream in Siberia's Sakha Republic, The Siberian Times reported.
"At first we thought it was a reindeer's carcass, but after it thawed and fell down we saw a horn on its upper jaw and realized it must be a rhino," Alexander 'Sasha' Banderov, the hunter who made the discovery, told the Times. "The part of the carcass that stuck out of the ice was eaten by wild animals, but the rest of it was inside the permafrost and preserved well." 
Scientists estimate that the rhino--which has been dubbed Sasha--was 18 months old when it died some 10,000 years ago, according to the Times. The specimen includes the animal's wool, an ear, an eye, nostrils, and skull and mouth.
"We are hoping Sasha the rhino will give us a lot of answers to questions of how they grew and developed, what conditions they lived in, and which of the modern day animals is the closest to them," Albert Protopopov, head of the Mammoth Fauna Department at the Academy of Sciences in Sakha Republic, told the Times. "We will concentrate on the DNA, because the carcass was kept frozen and chances are high we will get a better preserved DNA. We are hoping to report first results in a week or two."
Stay tuned.

Pygmy possum returned to original habitat after hitching ride in bottom of mailbag

A pygmy possum has hitched a ride around southern Yorke Peninsula in South Australia in the bottom of a mailbag. The mail sorter at Minlaton post office, Jack May, said he thought at first there was a mouse in the bag from Foul Bay, but then noticed large eyes and a curled tail. "It was hard to know who got the biggest surprise - me or the possum," he said.
Post office staff called on the team from Natural Resources Yorke and North to arrange a return of the tiny possum to its home, about 90 kilometers from Minlaton. Deborah Furbank from Natural Resources said many rural properties used empty drums as their mailboxes and these proved to be popular napping spots for native animals. "The possum was fine, it was very frisky and very curious when we looked in the bag," she said.
"We gave it flowers with nectar so it had food to eat." Ms Furbank said it was important to release the possum back to where it had traveled from. "They are territorial so it was really good that the post office kept the details of which bag it had arrived in so we knew where to let it go," she said. "It traveled over 200 kilometers by the time we got it back to its original destination. It must have got picked up in the morning and was replaced the following morning, so it must have been about 24 hours.
"It was a big day for a little possum." Another member of the Natural Resources team, Cath Cameron, was due to travel from Minlaton to Foul Bay so got the extra job of chauffeuring the pygmy possum home. "It was a classic case of return-to-sender," she said. "When I dropped it back near the mailbox it hopped off my hand and scampered into nearby bush without even a wave."

Friendly dogs to be painted blue in bid to curb killer canine attacks

Desperate district officials in Baheri, Bareilly, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, which has been reeling under the attack of killer dogs who have devoured as many as five children in the last 40 days, have come up with an unusual way to tackle the menace. District authorities said on Thursday that starting on March 1, they will start painting dogs that people need not fear, blue. This, they added, would help differentiate 'normal' dogs from the killer ones.
"The teams which had been constituted to track the killer packs were unable to differentiate between normal dogs and the aggressive ones. Therefore, it was decided at a meeting convened by the district magistrate and attended by scientists of the Indian Veterinary Research Institute as well as forest and police officials, to paint the normal ones with blue color. This will help us in distinguishing the dogs even from a distance," said Rameshwarnath Tiwari, Sub-Divisional Magistrate for Baheri. As to how they will go about coloring the dogs, the SDM said, "It will be difficult for us to catch them and paint them.
"Instead, we will get villagers to pour buckets of thick blue paint on the animals. The color is expected to remain on the dogs for at least 10 days." But with Holi around the corner, wouldn't such arbitrary coloring add to the confusion? "We will also be marking the dogs that have been painted blue with a cross mark to prevent confusion," said the SDM, adding that a team comprising nearly 15 villagers along with officials of the forest department and Nagar Palika will start combing the affected villages from Sunday. "Our plan is to give drugs to the dogs to induce behavioral changes as well as sterilize them for controlling their population," he added.
The administration's plan, though, hasn't found much favor with animal activists. "Painting dogs is not a solution to this serious menace," said Dheeraj Pathak of the NGO, People for Animals. "There is a possibility that villagers may end up painting the wrong set of dogs. Also, if buckets full of color are poured on dogs, there is a high possibility that the color would enter their eyes and affect their eyesight." Some villagers were also not exactly convinced about the painting project. Bhupinder Singh, headman of Tanda Meernagar village, said that the problem cannot be solved like this. "The district authorities need to catch or kill the ferocious dogs. If there is further delay, more lives can be lost."

Elephant unlikely to face charges after lifting up drunk man with its trunk and flinging him aside

Saying an endearing 'hello brother' to an elephant in Tamil Nadu, southern India, nearly cost a man his life. The pachyderm did not take kindly to his greeting and flung the man a few yards away. The man escaped with minor injuries to his leg. The elephant, belonging to the Kulasekharapatinam mosque, is also taken to participate in private functions in the region.
On Tuesday morning, the elephant, accompanied by its mahout, was on its way to participate in a function in nearby Udangudi when the man, Mandiram, 40, of Somanadhapuram in Tuticorin, accosted the pachyderm near a bazaar and tried to fool around with it. Eyewitnesses say that Mandiram suddenly appeared in front of the elephant in an inebriated state and saluted it. He had then shouted to passersby that lord Ganesha had come to see them.
The mahout told him to stop harassing the animal, but Mandiram, perhaps emboldened by the liquor he had consumed, clung to the elephant's trunk and said, `Hello brother, how are you?' The animal, apparently agitated, lifted him with its trunk and flung him at an autorickshaw standing nearby where he fell to the ground. The animal then ran after him and attempted to trample him and prevent him from getting up. The mahout swung into action and brought the animal under control.
Members of the public rushed to Mandiram's help and took him to the Tiruchendur government hospital, where he is being treated for his leg injuries. Public told the police that the mahout was not to be blamed as he had warned the man, who refused to pay heed. Police sources say that they have not filed a case yet. "If the case is filed it would involve taking the animal to court and that would be a cumbersome process. Moreover, the case would be against the animal and we are at a loss as to what to do," they said.

Meet 2 New Spider Species

'Skeletorus' and 'Sparklemuffin'
by Agata Blaszczak-Boxe,
Two gorgeous new species of peacock spiders nicknamed "Skeletorus" and "Sparklemuffin" have been discovered in Australia, according to a new report. Peacock spiders are so-named because of their bright colors and their dancelike, courtship rituals.
The two new species were found in southeast Queensland by Madeline Girard, a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley who studies peacock spiders, and a friend who went with her into the field. Girard affectionately gave the nickname Sparklemuffin to one of the species, Maratus jactatus, which has bluish and reddish stripes on its abdomen.
A male of the peacock spider species Maratus sceletus.She nicknamed the other species Skeletorus for its white markings on a black background, which make it look a bit like a skeleton. Sparklemuffin looks similar to three previously discovered species in this group of peacock spiders, whereas Skeletorus looks very different from all the other known species in the group.
In fact, Skeletorus, officially named Maratus sceletus, "looks dramatically different [from] all other peacock spiders known to date, making me think that this group is perhaps much more diverse than we had thought," said Jürgen Otto, an entomologist who specializes in photographing the arachnids and who co-authored the report.
"Despite the large number of species we have discovered just in the last few years, I can't help feeling that we may have just scratched the surface of this most exciting group of spiders, and that nature has quite a few more surprises in store," Otto told Live Science.
The first peacock spider was discovered in the 1800s, said study co-author David Hill, the editor of the journal Peckhamia, which published the new report on Jan. 20. But then, "for more than 100 years, almost nobody looked at these animals," until Otto started photographing them and recording their courtship displays, Hill said. The spiders are very small, measuring between 3 and 7 millimeters (0.1 to 0.3 inches) long, he added.
A female of the peacock spider species Maratus jactatus.Both Sparklemuffin and Skeletorus, along with the three other known species that belong to the calcitrans peacock spider group, share certain similarities, some of which have a lot to do with the way the arachnids perform their characteristic mating dances. For instance, the males display a flap-like body part called a fan that is adorned with a pattern of bold, transverse stripes, according to the report. They also raise a single leg, displaying it to the female.
A male of the peacock spider species Maratus jactatus displays his colors.Otto said he watched Skeletorus perform its mating dance. "When [the male] got within a few centimeters of the female, he exploded into a firework of activity," he told Live Science. "The spinnerets were extended and flicked around at an amazing speed, one of the legs was flexed like he wanted to show off his muscles, and he moved constantly from one side of the grass blade to the other."
Otto admitted that because Sparklemuffin was somewhat similar to other peacock species he had seen before, he was not too excited about it at first, but then he became fonder of it. "It was in particular its docile nature and soft teddy bearlike appearance that really charmed me," he said. "It was a fun spider to work with."

Grouper stalks, devours invasive lionfish

Dramatic footage captured in the Caribbean is believed to be the first of its kind; lionfish, as a damaging non-native species, have no known natural predators
Nassau grouper herds lionfish toward open water
The continuing infestation of lionfish throughout the Caribbean and parts of the Atlantic is cause for alarm, because these prickly, venomous critters have no known natural enemies and their proliferation is going largely unchecked.
However, it seems that at least one large grouper has developed a taste for lionfish, poisonous spines and all, although eating them requires great care and proper timing.
The accompanying Lionfish University video, showing a Nassau grouper stalking and ultimately devouring a lionfish in the Caribbean, is believed to be the first footage showing this type of event without the interference of humans (people killing lionfish and attempting to feed them to groupers).
The Nassau grouper seems to herd the lionfish from its reef into open water, where it can investigate and poke from various angles, before lunging for the kill.
Nassau grouper about to lunge for the kill
While some viewers might feel sorry for the lionfish, biologists have good reason to cheer for the grouper, given that lionfish, which are native to the Indo-Pacific, posses the potential to disrupt ecosystems in the Caribbean and Atlantic.
It remains unclear how devastating their presence–believed to be the result of years of people dumping their unwanted aquarium pets into the sea–may turn out to be.
But lionfish are carnivores, which feed small crustaceans and fish, including the young of groupers and snappers, so their impact is already proving to be significant.
The concern is so genuine that fisheries agencies and scuba divers, for the past several years, have conducted large-scale culling events in the hope of minimizing the threat.
Perhaps the larger groupers, such as the hungry fish in the video, are beginning to take matters into their own hands.

Humpback whales brawl over a female

Naturalist Kate Cummings photographs humpback whales in an epic clash of 40-ton titans off Maui; 'These guys were competing aggressively'
Humpback whales brawl off Lahaina, Maui; image sequence is courtesy of ©Kate Cummings Whale watching does not often involve violence, but this week off Maui, Kate Cummings witnessed and photographed a bonafide clash of titans.
Specifically, several male humpback whales, weighing 30 to 40 tons apiece, fighting for 20-plus minutes to establish dominance in the presence of a female.
This is the end of breeding season in Hawaiian waters, and brawls such as this occur, but they’re rarely photographed in such vivid detail (note the blood materializing on the whale’s tubercles).
Cummings, a naturalist who runs Blue Ocean Whale Watch in Monterey, California, provided the image sequence for this story.
She has witnessed all sorts of humpback whale activity during the feeding season off Monterey, but the fighting, she said, is far more typical in Hawaii.
“A few years ago I was out on a research boat in Monterey Bay and saw something that looked like competitive behavior–humpbacks chasing each other, doing head lunges etc.,” Cummings said. “I was informed it was most likely competitive group of male humpbacks pursuing a female. I was surprised to hear this since this type of behavior is mostly observed in their breeding grounds.
“But now after seeing what I saw [Wednesday] off Maui, I’m totally convinced it was a competitive group I observed years ago. The males were acting the same way–lots of head lunges (or head rises–whatever you want to call it), surfacing rapidly and rolling to the side in the direction of another whale.
“It was only this time though, that I got to see the bloody tubercles, which made it obvious these guys were competing aggressively.
The whales now in Hawaiian waters spend the summer feeding off Alaska. The whales that visit Monterey each spring and summer to feed are just ending their breeding season off Mexico.
Cummings was with Ultimate Whale Watch out of Lahaina. The engines were turned off so the only sounds were those of the battling humpbacks.
“They were far off at first, then surfaced next to us only about 50 feet away,” Cummings said. “They were so involved in their brawl, yet totally aware of the boat and were able to dive down right next to us within just a few feet without touching the boat.”
The images show one whale trying to force another downward.
Imagine, then, the force of 40 tons of fury, and the strength required to resist such force.
Here’s hoping the best male humpback won, and that the female was satisfied with the result.

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