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

Friday, March 27, 2015

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

1350 While besieging Gibraltar, Alfonso XI of Castile dies of the black death.
1512 Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon sights Florida.
1802 The Treaty of Amiens is signed, ending the French Revolutionary War.
1814 U.S. troops under Gen. Andrew Jackson inflict a crushing defeat on the Creek Indians at Horshoe Bend in Northern Alabama.
1836 The Mexican army massacres Texan rebels at Goliad.
1866 President Andrew Johnson vetoes the civil rights bill, which later becomes the 14th amendment.
1884 The first long-distance telephone call is made from Boston to New York.
1893 The American Bell Telephone Company makes the first long distance telephone call to its branch office in New York.
1899 The Italian inventor G. Marconi achieves the first international radio transmission between England and France.
1900 The London Parliament passes the War Loan Act, which gives 35 million pounds to the Boer War cause.
1912 The first cherry blossom trees, a gift from Japan, are planted in Washington, D.C.
1933 Some 55,000 people stage a protest against Hitler in New York.
1941 Tokeo Yoshikawa arrives in Oahu, Hawaii, to begin spying for Japan on the U.S. fleet at Pearl Harbor.
1942 The British raid the Nazi submarine base at St. Nazaire, France.
1944 One thousand Jews leave Drancy, France for the Auschwitz concentration camp.
1944 Thousands of Jews are murdered in Kaunas, Lithuania. The Gestapo shoots forty Jewish policemen in the Riga, Latvia ghetto.
1945 General Dwight Eisenhower declares that the German defenses on the Western Front have been broken.
1952 Elements of the U.S. Eighth Army reach the 38th parallel in Korea, the original dividing line between the two Koreas.
1958 The United States announces a plan to explore space near the moon.
1976 Washington, D.C. opens its subway system.
1977 In aviation's worst disaster yet, 582 die when a KLM Pan Am 747 crashes.

A $600-Million Fracking Company Just Sued This Tiny Ohio Town For Its Water

A tiny town in eastern Ohio is being sued by an Oklahoma-based oil and gas company that bought more than 180 million gallons of water from the town last year. That water use, combined with a dry fall, prompted the village to temporarily shut off water to Gulfport Energy. Now, a second company has a water agreement, and there might not be enough water to go around.Gulfport Energy alleges in the lawsuit that the village of Barnesville, population 4,100, violated its agreement to provide water from its reservoir by entering into a contract with oil and gas company Antero Resources. Gulfport says the village's contract with Antero allows for withdrawals beyond what Gulfport is allowed to take.
Gulfport's water supply can be shut off whenever water levels in the reservoir create a risk to the health and safety of the village residents and businesses. Last fall, the reservoir was down three feet below average when village officials stopped all outside withdrawals.
"We felt like we had to shut everyone off to protect the regular users," said village solicitor Marlin Harper. "We don't have unlimited water."
But here's the catch: Only Gulfport pumped water out of the reservoir last year. So even though, as Harper admits, the Antero contract has "a little bit of a priority" over the Gulfport contract, that's not the reason Gulfport's water supply was shut off. During the unusually dry fall, water withdrawals by Gulfport alone were too much for the reservoir to sustain.

Duke Energy Says $25 Million Fine For Years Of Groundwater Pollution Is ‘Regulatory Overreach’

North Carolina's utility giant doesn't want to pay the fine for allowing coal ash pollution seep into groundwater over a period of years.

Random Celebrity Photos

'Nazi Hideout' in Argentina Discovered by Archaeologists

'Nazi Hideout' in Argentina Discovered by Archaeologists
Courtesy Daniel SchavelzonArchaeologists say they've discovered what they believe to be a Nazi hideout in the middle of an Argentinian jungle.
Six researchers from the University of Buneos Aires and La Plata Museum found the ruins of what is believed to be a hideout in Teyu Cuare Park in northern Argentina near the border with Paraguay, team leader Daniel Schavelzon told ABC News today.
He said they discovered the site years ago, but only began extensive research this month.
During World War II, it's believed the Nazis had a secret project building hideouts in hard-to-find places like desserts, mountains and jungles such as Teyu Cuare, Schavelzon said.
The hideouts where meant to serve as shelters for high-ranking Nazi officers in the event of defeat, he added.
During the past 15 days the team spent at the ruins, they discovered three buildings, a stone quarry and various artifacts from World War II Germany, Schavelzon said.
Courtesy Daniel Schavelzon"We found German coins minted between 1938 and 1944, fragments of a porcelain plate that said it was made in Germany and Nazi symbols and German inscriptions carved into the walls," he said. "It's hard to prove the site was definitely made by the Nazis, but we're working to unearth more evidence to support this hypothesis."
The believed hideout was covered in thick vines and moss, Schavelzon added. "It's been very difficult to conduct work there," he said. "Everything is covered in jungle and we have to use knives and machetes to cut through."
Schavelzon said he doesn't believe Nazis ever inhabited the hideout since it was never needed. Thousands of Nazis were welcomed in Argentina after the war by former president Juan Perón, who led the nation from 1946 to 1955 and for a short while again in the 1970s.

Museums’ Ties To The Koch Brothers Are Not OK, Scientists Say

Leading climate scientists and museum experts called on science and natural history museums to “cut all ties with the fossil fuel industry and funders of climate science obfuscation.” In a letter released this week, scientists and museum experts specifically singled out David Koch.

Victorian Street Life In London

In 1876, six years after the death of Charles Dickens, the streets of the English capital still looked very much like the famous author had described. Poverty, disability and filth were everywhere: people lived a precarious and marginal existence working on the streets of London. Two men became determined to document this - and the book they produced shocked a nation.
Radical journalist Adolphe Smith conducted interviews with the poor and down and outs of London. The unique selling point of this book was his collaboration with photographer John Thomson. They stunned the British middle classes and made their book - Street Life of London - an immediate best seller.

Motorcycle Mama

Man faces jail after gluing his hair and beard clippings to another man's head to create toupée

A man in Norway faces jail after cutting off his own hair and beard and then gluing it on to another man’s head in an apparent attempt to create a toupée.
According to prosecutor Harald Bilberg, the man, who is in his 40s, is claiming that the recipient of the home-made hairpiece had consented to the treatment. “He was bald, so the accused claims that they had agreed to create a toupée for the aggrieved party,” Bilberg said.
“I must admit that I have never encountered such a case in my career.” The man is also being tried for a series of other petty crimes, including burglaries and thefts, which took place in the northern districts of Hordaland county. “We are not talking about serious crimes, but it’s more of a nuisance.
“These incidents happened a long way out in the police district, and we therefore believe it is important that those who live there are protected,” Bilberg said. The man has already been convicted seven times and fined 13 times. He was arrested once again on Friday after breaking the restraining order imposed to protect the recipient of the home-made toupée.

Man jumped out of moving car after driver refused to take him for a cheeseburger

A man in Australia's Northern Territory whose hunger for a cheeseburger was so powerful he jumped out of a moving car when the driver refused to take him to McDonalds is now in hospital with head injuries.
NT Duty Superintendent Rob Burgoyne said police received a report that a man, 28, had jumped out of a moving car at around 9pm on Friday. “He was sitting in the rear passenger seat at the time,” Supt Burgoyne said. “He was highly intoxicated.”
St John Ambulance Paramedics were first on scene to treat the man. St John Ambulance spokesman Craig Garraway said it was understood the patient had jumped from the car “because the driver wouldn’t take him to Maccas”.
“He sustained head injuries,” Mr Garraway said. The man was transported to Royal Darwin Hospital, bypassing McDonalds drive-through. A RDH spokeswoman said the man was in a stable condition.

Newly-married man who followed his mother's advice fractured wife's skull with a metal bar

An Egyptian man who knocked his bride out by fracturing her skull soon after their wedding told police he did so at his mother’s request to control his wife.
The unnamed groom said he took his wife to their new home just after the wedding and slapped her three times as his mother told him. “My mother said this would help me control my wife through our marital life.
"She warned me that my brothers are all controlled by their wives because they did not listen to her and hit their brides,” he said. “After I slapped her, she hit me back. I then went to the kitchen and brought a metal bar, which I used to hit her on the head and body.”
Police arrested the man on charges of causing serious injuries to his wife, who suffered from fractures in her skull and pelvis. The bride was still unconscious in her wedding dress when her family visited her in hospital in Cairo.

Man shot son in butt after orange juice ran out

A man from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, was arrested early on Sunday after he confessed to shooting his 18-year-old son in the buttocks during an argument over orange juice.
Eldridge Dukes, 58, and his son were fighting about the lack of orange juice in their home, according to a Baton Rouge police arrest report.
The squabble escalated when the victim broke a porcelain vase, and Dukes grabbed his .357 calibre handgun, family members told detectives. Dukes chased the victim out of the house and down the street, firing at least three times. He hit the victim once in the buttocks, detectives said.
The victim was taken to Baton Rouge General Mid-City Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. The victim’s mother called police, and Dukes confessed to the shooting, authorities said. Dukes was booked into Parish Prison on counts of attempted manslaughter and illegal use of a dangerous weapon.

Elderly man accidentally shot by neighbor attempting to shoot noisy cockerel

A loudly crowing cockerel in a neighbor's garden annoyed a 54-year-old man from Carinthian in Austria so much that he grabbed his air rifle to shoot the bird on Sunday evening, but accidentally shot the rooster's 81-year-old owner instead. The pensioner, who was in his garden at the time, was struck in the hand and right kneecap by the pellets. When the 54-year-old realized what he had done he tried to flee from the scene in his car but was tracked down by two police helicopters and arrested by armed police a short while later.
He had taken his air rifle to a parking lot outside his house and shot in the direction of his neighbors barn, where the chickens were kept. His neighbour was in the garden emptying a compost bucket. "The 81-year-old felt a burning sensation and then realised that he was bleeding," district police commander Klaus Innerwinkler said.
A witness who had seen the incident called an ambulance and the police. The 54-year-old shooter has been given a temporary weapons ban and police have confiscated all of his guns. The injured chicken owner was flown by helicopter to hospital in Klagenfurt. The cockerel was unharmed.

Old Family Photos

saychevrolet:Hello big guy. Can I play a song for you? Come take a ride in my 1964 Chevrolet Impala Super Sport. You’ll have a good time.

What caused the Cambrian Explosion?

Science can now understand far better one of the previously intractable problems in evolutionary biology: the origin of novelty.
A traditional mainstay of the biological sciences, mainly evolutionary development, has undergone a renaissance so important that it can almost be considered a new field as well. Its practitioners now call it evo-devo, and breakthroughs in this field have had a lot to say about the Cambrian explosion in the last decade. One of the greatest of evo-devo practitioners, Sean Carroll, has given us an exquisite tour of this newly revivified area of science in his 2005 book Endless Forms Most Beautiful. If there is any single theme in this work, it is that science can now understand far better one of the previously intractable problems in evolutionary biology: the origin of novelty. How evolutionary innovation took place over relatively short periods of time just could not be explained by traditional Darwinian concepts of evolution. The radical breakthroughs—be it the appearance of wings, legs for land, segmentation in arthropods, or even large size, the hallmark of the Cambrian explosion—could not stand up to stories about many and sudden mutations all working in concert to somehow radically change an organism. Evo-devo now seems to have solved this, and in his book, Carroll lists four aspects that combined can explain sudden evolutionary innovation that nicely encapsulates the new way of explaining how radical changes did take place. The first “secret to innovation,” as Carroll puts it, is to “work with what is already present.” The concept that “nature works as a tinkerer” is central to this. Innovation does not always need a new set of equipment to build, or even a new set of tools. What is already present is the easiest route. Second and third are two aspects understood by Darwin himself: multifunctionality and redundancy.
Multifunctionality first is using an already present morphology or physiology to take over some second function in addition to that for which it was first evolved. Redundancy, on the other hand, is when some structure is composed of several parts that complete some function. If one of these can be then co-opted for some new kind of job, while the remaining parts are still able to function as before, there is in place a clear path for innovation that is far easier to use than the total de novo formation of some entirely novel morphology from scratch. Cephalopod swimming and respiration are like this. Cephalopods routinely pump huge quantities of water over their gills, and like many invertebrates used separated “tubes” or designated channels for water coming in and water being expelled, to ensure that oxygen-rich water is not rebreathed. But with minor morphological “tinkering” with this excurrent tube, a powerful new means of locomotion came about. Breathing and moving could now take place using the same amount of energy by utilizing the same volume of water for respiration and movement.
The final secret is modularity. Animals built of segments, such as the arthropods, and to a lesser extent we vertebrates, are already composed of modules. The limbs branching off arthropod segments have been amazingly modified into feeding, mating, and locomotion, as well as many other functions. Arthropods are like a Swiss army knife, with each segment bearing limbs evolved to do a very specific function. The same is true in vertebrates with our digits, which have been modified to tasks as varied as walking on land to swimming to flying in the air. Not bad for some primitive fingers and toes! Where does the evo-devo come into play? It turns out that these morphologies are the soft putty for morphological change because they are underlain by systems of genetic “switches,” geographically located on the developing embryo in the same positions as the various limbs are found in the arthropod—or vertebrate.
Switches are the key here; they tell various parts of the body when and where to grow. One of the great discoveries is that the exact sequence of different body regions on an arthropod from its head to midregion to abdomen are lined up first on chromosomes in the same geographic pattern, and then on the developing embryo itself. Much of this is done by the crown jewels of the evo-devo kingdom: the Hox genes, and their differently named but equivalents in other taxonomic groups.
The many new discoveries of evo-devo have certainly been brought to bear on the many questions to be solved about that central mystery in the history of life, the Cambrian explosion, and the most important understandings of all: the timing of when and how the various animal phyla and thus separate body plans that we see today originated.
There have long been two schools of thought. The first is that the fossil record gives us a true picture of when the great differentiation of animals actually took place—phyletic divergence somewhere about 550 to perhaps 600 million years ago. But the second line of evidence comes from comparing genes of extant members of the ancient phyla, and using the concept of the “molecular clock,” mentioned earlier. At issue is when the most fundamental divisions in the animal kingdom take place—the split between an aggregate of phyla called protostomes and those called deuterostomes. These two groups are separated by fundamental anatomical and developmental differences in embryos.
The protostomes are composed of the arthropods, mollusks, and annelids among others, and they are characterized by embryos that as they develop and grow following fertilization form a mouth out of a central opening in the growing larva called the blastopore. In deuterostomes (echinoderms, us vertebrates, and a number of minor phyla), the mouth and the blastopore remain separate. There is a third group, the very primitive phyla that split off from the main stem of animal evolution prior to the great protostome-deuterostomes split: these include the Cnidaria, sponges, and other jellyfish-like minor phyla.
The first to appear were the simplest forms, the cnidarians and sponges, which appear to be represented, as we have seen, in the Ediacaran assemblages of as much as 570 million years ago, the time interval before the Cambrian period (which began at 542 million years ago). But recognizable protostomes and deuterostomes are not seen until a short interval into the Cambrian period itself.
If the protostomes and deuterostomes split, what was the last animal before that split like? Many lines of evidence indicate that this creature was bilaterally symmetrical and was capable of locomotion. Many who ponder this time and its animals imagine this last common ancestor of both the protostomes and deuterostomes as a small featureless worm, perhaps like the modern-day Planaria, or the tiny and extant nematodes. But one of the great new discoveries is that this last member of the as yet undivided stock already had a genetic tool kit allowing it to begin some radical new engineering—and had such a tool kit for at least 50 million years before it was put into use! This worm would have had a mouth at front, anus at the rear, and a long tubelike digestive system in between. It may have had stubby projections sticking out of its side, perhaps for sensory information (touch and chemical sensing?). But the point is that all of this was set up in such a way that rapid transformation could—and did—take place. This is new. All the tools and features necessary for the Cambrian explosion sat around for 50 million years.
As noted above, the base of the Cambrian is dated now at 542 million years ago. The base of the period has been defined as the place in rock where the first identifiable locomotion marks are found in strata—a certain kind of trace fossil showing that animals, moving animals, were present and could make vertical burrows in the mud. Yet for the next 15 million years, there seems to have been little formation of new body plans at all—or at least that we can find evidence of in the fossil record. The first real indication that a great diversification was taking place comes from the spectacular fossil beds only recently discovered in Chengjiang, China, dated as 520 to 525 million years in age and mentioned above. It is an older version of the Burgess Shale in having common preservation of soft parts.
Both the Chengjiang and Burgess Shale faunas are dominated by arthropods — lots and lots of different kinds of arthropods. They soon became the most diverse animals on Earth — and have stayed that way ever since. There are some estimates that in our modern day, there may be as many as 30 million separate species of beetles alone!
Evo-devo tells us why. Of all the body plans, none can be so easily, quickly, and radically changed as arthropods. The reasons are just those listed above by Carroll: arthropods have modular parts, they have redundant morphologies that can be co-opted for new functions, and they have a series of Hox genes that allow ready transformation of specific regions in the overall body plan of segments throughout.
The old view has been that new animals mean that there must have been new genes coming into existence. There is sound logic in this. Surely a primitive sponge or jellyfish would have fewer genes than the more complex arthropods: it was argued that the common ancestor of all arthropod groups somehow added new genes—new Hox genes, as these are those that are the “switches” that tell the various parts of a body how to form and when. But such is not the case. Carroll and others showed that the last common ancestor of the arthropods did not evolve new genes; it already had them, and that the subsequent and amazing diversification of so many kinds of arthropods was done with existing genes. As Carroll put it: “The evolution of forms is not so much about what genes you have, but about how you used them.”
Ten different Hox genes were all that were necessary to utterly change and diversify the arthropods. Their secret was discovered by comparing the distribution of the product of Hox genes—proteins that are specific to a particular Hox gene—and where these proteins can be found on a developing embryo. The old idea that some gene or genes of an arthropod coded for the construction of a leg is false. The Hox genes make proteins. These proteins then become the means of starting and stopping the growth of particular regions of a developing embryo. Some of these proteins are concerned with making specific kinds of appendages. If those Hox gene proteins are somehow moved to different geographic regions on the developing embryo, the product that is produced will move as well. In this way a leg that was formerly in one part of the body might suddenly be found in a totally new place—if, however, the Hox gene protein was somehow moved to the corresponding place on the embryo long before the leg was formed. Innovation came from shifting the geographic places or “zones” on an embryo that a specific Hox gene protein could be found in.
Shifting the Hox gene zones in arthropod embryos resulted in the many different kinds of arthropods that we see. There are thousands, perhaps millions of different kinds of arthropod morphologies—and all of this was evolved using the same tool kit of ten genes. Arthropods are nothing if not body plans with repetitive parts. The specialization of these parts requires that each falls into a separate Hox gene zone.

500,000-Year-Old Tools

Stone tools that are half a million years old have been unearthed in Israel — and they still have traces of elephant fat clinging to them.

Rare stripe-less badger found in toilet with bite on his backside

The mating season got a bit rough for an albino badger who was found cowering in an outdoor toilet with tooth marks in his rump.
The rare stripe-less badger was apparently on the wrong end of a love rival and taken in by the RSPCA at Taunton after being found in Beaminster, Dorset, on Saturday.
RSPCA wildlife center supervisor Paul Oaten said: "Albino badgers are fairly rare so to have one admitted to the center only happens once in a blue moon. This poor badger came in to us with territorial bite wounds on his neck and rump, but other than that he is in good condition.
"He has been seen by the vet and had the wounds cleaned up and will be undergoing a course of antibiotics. We see a lot of badgers with these kind of injuries throughout February and March as it is when they are most territorial. With the females having given birth in February, they are ready to mate again straight away so males are competing for females."

Polar bear spotted swimming a long way from home

Visitors to the the Hibernia oil platform are very rare, but a four-legged guest was all the talk on Monday. Crew aboard the offshore supply vessel Atlantic Merlin got quite the surprise when they spotted a polar bear in the water not far from Hibernia.
The massive oil platform is located in the Atlantic Ocean some 315 kilometers east-southeast of St. John's in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. Sources say the bear was swimming far from any sea ice.
It attempted to climb aboard the 600,000-tonne gravity base structure. Margot Bruce-O'Connell, spokesperson for Hibernia's majority owner ExxonMobil Canada, said one and possibly two bears were spotted in the area near Hibernia and the West Aquarius drill rig over the past few days.
Federal and provincial authorities have been notified, Bruce-O'Connell said. Recent studies have shown that polar bears can swim distances of several hundred kilometers.

Animal Pictures