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

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Daily Drift

Breaking News: Wingnut heads are exploding all over the place as we speak because SCOTUS did the correct thing this morning and upheld The Affordable Care Act's subsidy provision(s). The loud sonic boom you heard was the bubble bursting in wingnutistan as the ruling was announced.
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Today in History

841 Charles the Bald and Louis the German defeat Lothar at Fontenay.
1658 Aurangzeb proclaims himself emperor of the Moghuls in India.
1767 Mexican Indians riot as Jesuit priests are ordered home.
1857 Gustave Flaubert goes on trial for public immorality regarding his novel, Madame Bovary.
1862 The first day of the Seven Days’ campaign begins with fighting at Oak Grove, Virginia.
1864 Union troops surrounding Petersburg, Virginia, begin building a mine tunnel underneath the Confederate lines.
1868 The U.S. Congress enacts legislation granting an eight-hour day to workers employed by the federal government.
1876 General George A. Custer and over 260 men of the Seventh Cavalry are wiped out by Sioux and Cheyenne Indians at Little Big Horn in Montana.
1903 Marie Curie announces her discovery of radium.
1920 The Greeks take 8,000 Turkish prisoners in Smyrna.
1921 Samuel Gompers is elected head of the American Federation of Labor for the 40th time.
1941 Finland declares war on the Soviet Union.
1946 Ho Chi Minh travels to France for talks on Vietnamese independence.
1948 The Soviet Union tightens its blockade of Berlin by intercepting river barges heading for the city.
1950 North Korea invades South Korea, beginning the Korean War.
1959 The Cuban government seizes 2.35 million acres under a new agrarian reform law.
1962 The U.S. Supreme Court bans official prayers in public schools.
1964 President Lyndon Johnson orders 200 naval personnel to Mississippi to assist in finding three missing civil rights workers.
1973 White House Counsel John Dean admits President Nixon took part in the Watergate cover-up.
1986 Congress approves $100 million in aid to the Contras fighting in Nicaragua.

Ancient Man Had Neanderthal Great-Great Grandfather

Analysis of the jawbone of a man who lived about 40,000 years ago reveals the closest direct descendant of a Neanderthal who mated with a modern human.
Picture of a neanderthal reconstruction 
A reconstruction shows a Neanderthal woman holding a spear. Scientists know that modern humans and Neanderthals lived together in Europe and occasionally mated.
by Michael D. Lemonick
A modern human who lived in what is now Romania between 37,000 and 42,000 years ago had at least one Neanderthal ancestor as little as four generations back—which is to say, a great-great-grandparent.
Scientists have known for at least half a decade that living humans bear traces of Neanderthal blood—or more specifically, Neanderthal DNA. Just when and where our ancestors bred with their now-extinct cousins, however, has been tricky to pin down until now. A new study published Monday in the journal Nature has the highest percentage of Neanderthal DNA of any modern human ever studied.
“I could hardly believe that we were lucky enough to hit upon an individual like this,” says study co-author Svante Pääbo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.
The specimen, known as Oase 1, consists only of a male jawbone, and from the moment it was discovered in 2002 its shape suggested that it might belong to a hybrid between Homo sapiens and Neanderthal. Those claims have remained controversial, but the new analysis lays the controversy to rest. “It’s really stunning,” says Oxford’s Tom Higham, an expert on the Neanderthal-human transition who was not involved in this research.
Part of what stuns Higham is the genomic artistry it took to tease useful genetic information out of the tiny DNA samples lead author Qiaomei Fu of Harvard Medical School and her team were able to extract from the jawbone. “We tried to do this in 2009 and failed,” says Pääbo. His lab has been working since then to improve their techniques, with resounding success.
The genome they sequenced from the samples was incomplete, but it was enough for the scientists to conclude that between 6% and 9% of Oase 1’s genome is Neanderthal in origin. People living today have 4% at most.
That difference is more significant than it might seem.  “We found seven huge pieces of chromosomes that seemed to be purely of Neanderthal origin,” says Pääbo. That means pieces had to come from a relatively recent ancestor, since they hadn’t yet been broken up by the reshuffling that happens in each generation as parents' chromosomes combine, he explains.
This jawbone from a 40,000-year-old modern human shows some Neanderthal features—and DNA now confirms he had a Neanderthal ancestor as few as four generations back.
The non-Neanderthal genome sequences, meanwhile, show that Oase 1 isn’t related to humans living today. His genealogical line died out at some point.
This analysis represents a biotechnological tour de force, but it also puts paleoanthropologists a step closer to fully answering to what Higham calls the $64,000 question: What happened to wipe out the Neanderthals, and when? Genomic analysis of a 45,000-year-old human thighbone last year suggested that humans and Neanderthals interbred in what is now Siberia sometime between 50,000 and 60,000 years ago—an extremely imprecise number, and a very broad conclusion.
“The great breakthrough here,” Higham says, “is the ability to say ‘this specific person had a Neanderthal great-great-grandfather.’ That puts a human timescale on it.” If scientists can figure out when interbreeding took place in different parts of Europe and the Middle East, they’ll be able to say in detail just how rapidly humans spread across these regions, how long they were in contact with Neanderthals—and maybe tell us at last why our nearest relatives vanished.

Chart: 144 Years of Marriage and Divorce in the US

Dr. Randal S. Olson is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Pennsylvania. He specializes in artificial intelligence, but is curious in other directions, including marriage. So he charted out the per capita number of marriages and divorces in the United States from the late 1860s to the present. You can find an interactive version of his chart here. It permits you to view data from individual years that Olson surveyed.
He notes that there are spikes in both marriage and divorce following World War II. That makes sense, as the stresses of the war could break apart marriages or prompt people who had delayed marriage for the war to get hitched promptly.
Marriage went into relative free fall during the Great Depression. But by the 1970s, it had become nearly universal. Now, Olson notes, the US has the lowest marriage rates since the Great Depression. Why do you think this is the case?

Major Internet providers slowing traffic speeds for thousands across US

Woman using a laptop computer (Shutterstock)
Major internet providers, including AT&T, Time Warner and Verizon, are slowing data from popular websites to thousands of US businesses and residential customers in dozens of cities across the country.

Bad Cops

Would-be good Samaritan arrested after making a bad situation worse

When a man became stuck under a lawnmower, first responders weren’t the only ones to offer a helping hand. Officials say an unqualified person offered to help and wound up running the man over even more. Police say they were called to the scene of a man who had his leg pinned underneath a lawnmower which was turned off.
A resident of Portageville in Wyoming County, New York, reportedly was attempting to free his mower from being stuck when it pinned his foot down. In addition to calling for police help, he shouted for a neighbor. Christopher R. Ratcliffe, 31, responded to the man’s shouts for help and told him he was a government rescue worker.
Police say in addition to explaining his alleged government position, he brought his SUV, which was unregistered and not inspected, to attempt to tow the lawnmower off the trapped resident. The idea went amiss when police say Ratcliffe hit the accelerator while still drive, when he was attempting to reverse. The momentum pushed the SUV over an embankment and pulled the lawnmower even more over the trapped man.
First responders arrived at the scene soon after and saved the man from being fully trapped underneath the lawnmower. He was rushed to a local hospital and treated, then released, for his injuries. Ratcliffe was arrested soon after police learned his vehicle was not up to code. Police say they also learned he had six active suspensions on his driver’s license. Police charged him with second degree aggravated unlicensed operation, operating an uninsured motor vehicle, uninspected motor vehicle and unregistered vehicle.

Three men hospitalized following brawl at six-year-old's birthday party

A brawl broke out between fathers during a six-year-old's birthday party at a play center in south-west Sydney, Australia, with three men taken to hospital for treatment and amid reports an adult pulled a child's hair.
At about 4:30pm on Saturday, police were called to the Lollipops Playland indoor play center in Wetherill Park, following reports of a brawl. Police are investigating reports that the altercation started when two children bumped into each other or had a minor incident on the play equipment and one of the fathers intervened, pulling a six-year-old girl's hair.
They said the six-year-old girl then spoke to her father, a 48-year-old man, who approached the alleged hair-puller, who was with a different group, about the incident. Police said the group of men with the father who pulled the girl's hair then allegedly set upon the 48-year-old father and he fell to the ground. Two men from his group, aged 27 and 32, were also allegedly assaulted when they came to his aid.

The attackers then ran from the children's play center and left in their cars. NSW paramedics took to the injured men to Fairfield Hospital for treatment of injuries to the face, head, back and hands. Police established a crime scene which was examined by specialist forensic officers. They have appealed for information from the public about the incident and said an investigation is now underway.

Children on scavenger hunt found eyeball

Police are investigating after some children found an eyeball near the Gresham Station shopping centre in Oregon on Thursday night.

Couple searching for 'lost treasure mine' rescued for second time in two years

A couple hunting for a lost treasure mine required a backcountry rescue last Sunday, their second in two years in the same area west of Cody, Wyoming.
At about 11:20am Frank Eugene Rose Jr., 40, of Lynchburg, Virginia, reported his girlfriend, Madilina L. Taylor, 41, also of Lynchburg, broke her ankle while they were on a treasure hunt in the backcountry of the North Fork area, according to a press release from the Park County Sheriff’s Office. Park County Search and Rescue responded to the incident.
They previously rescued the pair in the summer of 2013 when they became disoriented and wandered for four days in the same area. On Sunday, Rose had to leave Taylor so he could get help and hiked about 2 miles before he saw residents of the Grizzly Ranch across Big Creek. He had lost his wallet and cellphone trying to cross the high water earlier and had to yell across to get their attention. When search and rescue crews arrived, they helped the man across the creek.
Rose told rescuers he had instructed Taylor to stay where she was while he went for help and described landmarks around her location. Rescuers found Taylor wrapped in a silver reflective safety blanket lying in an open meadow next to a lone tree. She was airlifted to St. Vincent Healthcare, where she was treated for a fractured ankle. Deputies strongly recommended Rose and Taylor not return to this area without proper wilderness survival training, and Rose was warned they would be arrested if found on private property in the future. Rose said he and Taylor would not return.

Man achieves dream of building replica erupting volcano in his back garden

Brian Butler has turned fantasy into fact in Harbour Lights, Bideford. Devon, by installing a replica erupting volcano in his back garden.
The 'volcano', which is more than 6ft high and nearly 10ft across, is powered by a smoke machine which spews out smoke and 'lava' from time to time. Brian has now fulfilled a dream he had after visiting some gardens in Loire Valley, France.
He spotted a volcano in the gardens and said he has always wanted to create something similar in his own home. The 64-year-old said: "The mood just caught me one day - I had to build a volcano."

The "mountain" is made chiefly from soil, stones and yellow sedum plants which thrive on what Brian describes as a heap of "rubbish soil." Brian added: "Gardening shouldn't be taken seriously – it should always be about a bit of fun."

Opal Captures Fiery Sunset and Clouds Within

What magical stone is this?! Flickr user Jeff Schultz took a photograph of a Mexican opal that looks like it has a fiery sunset and clouds captured within. Gorgeous!

Amazing photo shows Yosemite’s Half Dome on fire

by David Strege
Half Dome in Yosemite appears to be on fire.
Half Dome in Yosemite appears to be on fire. Photo: Austin JenanyanAt first glance, flames appear to be rising out of the iconic Half Dome in Yosemite National Park with smoke surrounding the majestic peak.
At least it looks like Half Dome is on fire in the photo. Or perhaps the fire is behind Half Dome.
Turns out, it’s neither. It’s a photo that only looks like a fire, taken at the right place at the right time by Austin Jenanyan, a 20-year-old photographer currently working the summer at Glacier National Park in Montana.
Jenanyan called the amazing image “Fire and ice collide at sunrise in Yosemite,” and explained in an email how he got the shot:
“I was photographing reflections of an icy Half Dome along the Merced River before the sun came up when I noticed a lone cloud starting to form around Half Dome. I switched lenses and zoomed in to get a close-up.
“After several shots, the cloud started to change shape and eventually morphed into the exact shape of a flame. It was incredible to witness as it looked like Half Dome was on fire! It lasted only a few short moments before dissipating. All in all a very surreal and magical experience.”
Jenanyan captured the photo on February 28, but its first public exposure came via the U.S. Department of Interior Facebook page, which posted it last week with Jenanyan’s blessing.
“It did really well on all their accounts: Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr, and especially on Facebook,” Jenanyan told GrindTV. “It was by far the most popular photo to date. People were really fascinated by it.”
Which is hardly a surprise. It is fascinating.

What Will The Next Jurassic Park Movie Be About?

Well, perhaps not the next immediate installment of the series. Jurassic Park is not so much a series with a fixed beginning and eventual ending, but a cycle. And in the first of the Human Park components, a reanimated Chris Pratt will play a dinosaur-eating primitive.

Lithuania's Goat Beauty Pageant

For more than 500 years, the Lithuanian village of Ramygala has been renowned for its goats. They're the prettiest in the land! That's why, every year, the villagers hold a beauty pageant for its caprine maidens, who dress in their finest for the occasion. You can see photos of the contestants at The Daily Telegraph.

This Mama Bunny Is Willing to Protect Her Baby From Any Danger

The bond between mother and child isn't just a human trait, but is common in all types of animals. This video shows that rabbits are absolutely in that category -when this mother bunny sees a snake trying to make a meal of her kit, she doesn't resign herself to be short one less baby, but instead hops into action and does what it takes to save her child.

Ten Very Weird Looking Animals

The Aye-aye
It's a jungle out there for everyone, particularly some of these endearing yet bizarre creatures of the wild. For example, the demonic looking (yet somehow still cute) Aye-aye, a lemur native to Madagascar shown above, is endangered because the local villagers there consider him bad luck. As a result, the poor things have adapted so that they hide up in the top of the trees there. Stay safe, little guy.

Eastern cougar, a ‘ghost cat’ last seen in 1938, deemed extinct

by David Strege
Mount of the last eastern cougar known to have existed. It was killed by a trapper in Maine in 1938. Photo: Northeastern Wildlife Station
Mount of the last eastern cougar known to have existed. It was killed by a trapper in Maine in 1938. Photo: Northeastern Wildlife Station
Cougars or mountain lions are also known as ghost cats because of their reclusive nature, and the name certainly fits for the eastern cougar, which was last seen in 1938.
There’s a good reason why the eastern cougar has been so elusive, however. It’s because the species no longer exists.
Therefore, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife has proposed removing the eastern cougar from the endangered species list, where it was first listed in 1973.
Numbers started dwindling far sooner than that, though. Most eastern cougars disappeared in the 1800s as immigrants killed them to protect themselves and livestock, as forests were harvested, and as white-tailed deer, the eastern cougar’s primary prey, nearly went extinct in eastern North America, according to the USFWS.
The last record of an eastern cougar is believed to be the one killed by a trapper in Maine in 1938.
Cougars are reclusive by nature and are also known as ghost cats. Photo: California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Cougars are reclusive by nature and are also known as ghost cats. 
“We recognize that people have seen cougars in the wild in eastern U.S.,” said Martin Miller, the USFWS Northeast Region Chief of Endangered Species. “Those cougars are not of the eastern cougar subspecies.”
The USFWS completed a formal review of the eastern cougar in 2011, examining the best available scientific and historic information, and getting input from 21 states and eastern Canadian provinces. It also reviewed more than 100 reports dating back to 1900 and concluded the eastern cougar no longer exists.
More from the USFWS:
Wild cougar populations in the West have been expanding their range eastward in the last two decades, with individual cougars confirmed throughout the Midwest. Evidence of wild cougars dispersing farther east is extremely rare. In 2011, a solitary young male cougar traveled about 2,000 miles from South Dakota through Minnesota, Wisconsin and New York, and was killed on a Connecticut highway. A cougar of unknown origin was also killed in Kentucky in December 2014.
The USFWS has posted the proposal online. It will be available for review and comment through August 17 at Regulations.gov under docket No. FWS-R5-ES-2015-0001.
The Endangered Species Act is meant to recover imperiled species and their habitat, and since the eastern cougar is extinct it can no longer be protected

Southern California red crab invasion intensifies

by Pete Thomas
Red crabs swarming 1 mile off San Clemente. 
The invasion of pelagic red crabs along the Southern California coast has intensified during the past week, and judging by photos circulating on the Web, there seems to be no end in sight.
The brightly colored crustaceans, which typically exist in deep water and much farther south, have flooded coastal waters in San Diego and Orange County, and washed onto beaches and into harbors, creating an enormous mess while wreaking minor havoc in the surf zone.

Donna Kalez stoops amid thousands of red crabs at Salt Creek 
“They were pinching me out there,” Ethan Mudge, an amateur surfer told the Orange County Register, in reference to a contest last Sunday at Salt Creek in Orange County. “They were hard to paddle through.”
The crabs’ influx, which began about a month ago, is linked either to a strengthening El Niño, a warm-water phenomenon originating in the equatorial eastern Pacific, or another warm-water event referred to by scientists as the “warm blob.”
Red crab hides in the kelp.
A lone red crab swims near a kelp bed.
Not since the powerful El Niño of 1997-98 has there been a red crab invasion in Southern California that came close to resembling this one.
crabsdanaIn Orange County, so many crabs are ending up beaches, where they promptly die, that a stench wafts across the air.
“I’m really hoping they come in and rake them up,” Mary Olsen, a Newport Beach resident, told the Register. “Once they die, they just really smell.”
But not far offshore, the critters are still alive and represent a feast for bluefin tuna.

Red crabs can measure about 5 inches.
Anglers are venturing out to hook and spear tuna, while photographers are diving in to take advantage of a rare opportunity to photograph these mysterious crustaceans beneath the surface.
To be sure, the images that appear with this post, all used with permission, help shine the light on Pleuroncodes Planipes, a.k.a. red crab and tuna crab.

The red crab invasion began last month in San Diego.
crabs-jim-grant-photoIt’s actually a type of squat lobster, and one of the most abundant species of micronekton (actively swimming organisms, larger than plankton), residing in the California Current.
They can measure about 5 inches and represent a food source for not only tuna, but marlin, sharks, yellowtail, and even some whales. Their typical range is from Chile in South America, to Baja California.
They’re not heavily fished commercially, but some of the larger specimens are marketed as langostino. Those that are dying on SoCal beaches, though, seem to be fit only for starving gulls.

Animal Pictures