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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.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

The Daily Drift

Welcome to Today's Edition of Carolina Naturally.
Our second Xmas Tree of the month ...!
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Today in History

1804 Napoleon Bonaparte crowns himself Emperor of France in Notre Dame Cathedral.
1805 Napoleon Bonaparte celebrates the first anniversary of his coronation with a victory at Austerlitz over a Russian and Austrian army.
1823 President James Monroe proclaims the principles known as the Monroe Doctrine, "that the American continents, by the free and independent condition which they have assumed and maintained, are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by European powers."
1863 General Braxton Bragg turns over command of the Army of Tennessee to General William Hardee at Dalton, Ga.
1864 Major General Grenville M. Dodge is named to replace General William Rosecrans as Commander of the Department of Missouri.
1867 People wait in mile-long lines to hear Charles Dickens give his first reading in New York City.
1907 Spain and France agree to enforce Moroccan measures adopted in 1906.
1909 J.P. Morgan acquires majority holdings in Equitable Life Co. This is the largest concentration of bank power to date.
1914 Austrian troops occupy Belgrade, Serbia.
1918 Armenia proclaims independence from Turkey.
1921 The first successful helium dirigible, C-7, makes a test flight in Portsmouth, Va.
1927 The new Ford Model A is introduced to the American public.
1932 Bolivia accepts Paraguay’s terms for a truce in the Chaco War.
1942 The Allies repel a strong Axis attack in Tunisia, North Africa.
1944 General George S. Patton’s troops enter the Saar Valley and break through the Siegfried line.
1946 The United States and Great Britain merge their German occupation zones.
1964 Brazil sends Juan Peron back to Spain, foiling his efforts to return to his native land.
1970 The U.S. Senate votes to give 48,000 acres of New Mexico back to the Taos Indians.
1980 A death squad in El Salvador murders four US nuns and churchwomen.
1982 Dentist Barney Clark receives the first permanent artificial heart, developed by Dr. Robert K. Jarvik.
1993 NASA launches Space Shuttle Endeavor on a mission to repair the Hubble Space Telescope.
1999 UK devolves political power in Northern Ireland to the Northern Ireland Executive, the administrative branch of the North Ireland legislature.
2001 Enron files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, one of the most complex bankruptcy cases in US history.

Non Sequitur


What Goethe realized about the importance of carving out some time to just chill out, alone

You know that successful person's lament about being out of control of their own time, not being able to balance the demands that others placed on them against their own self-care needs? There is nothing new under the sun: "Had I been able to abstain more from public business, and to live more in solitude, I should have been happier, and should have accomplished much more as a poet."
Bruce Sterling nails it: "This syndrome seem common among older-and-wiser famous over-achievers."
I am more guilty of screwing this up than most: if there is one single thing I could fix about myself, it would be to be better at systematizing when I say yes and when I say no. It's something I've been aware of since the 1990s, when I read Neal Stephenson's infamous, brilliant open letter/FAQ explaining why he's not answering your email.
And of course, I'm as guilty as anyone else of putting demands on other people's time, because the world is a collective effort, and the way we make stuff happen is by enlisting other people in our causes and projects. Every time I do it, I twitch with guilt at the idea that I'm adding to the burden borne by the people I admire, to their pile of deathbed regrets about not saying no better.
Then there's Austin Kleon's excellent discussion of saying no, and privilege, and how to figure all this stuff out.
I think I have figured out two of the root causes of regrets, for what it's worth:
1. Favors asked do not arrive in orderly, time-bound ways. Someone asks you to give a speech in two years, or advise them on a project that will start next year. You can apply the time-honored heuristic ("if I was asked to do this right now, would I still say yes?") and have it pass that test. But two years roll by and life happens, and when your obligation comes due, you're behind schedule on something urgent, or your family needs you to help with something traumatic or just difficult, and you are honor-bound to do whatever you acceded to back in your dim pre-history.
2. You can apply a reasonable standard to your yesses, but the standard lags behind what's reasonable. You might say, "I will only take freelance work at $x/word" or "I will only travel to events where the audience is likely to be so-big or bigger." But if you are doing well -- if your work and profile are gaining in prominence and demand -- then by the time your yes comes due (see 1., above), you may realize that, all things being equal, you should be applying a higher standard to your yesses. You're doing work for $x/word (or $x/hour) that is coming at the expense of work you could do at $(3*x)/word. You're turning down 1000 people to speak to ten people -- or you say yes to everything, and then find yourself with Goethe on his deathbed, wishing you'd been "able to abstain from public business" to "live in solitude."
If you're conscientious, you won't take this out on your askers. The person paying you $x/word is paying all they can afford, and they asked and you agreed of your own free will. So you turn in your best work on time, but the only reservoir you can plunder to do the $x work and the $(3*x) work is your personal time, or time you really owe to your loved ones, or both. So yeah, as Bruce Sterling says, by the time you're an "older-and-wiser famous over-achiever," you will be regretting this.
Worst part? It's not like you can't see it coming from a long way off.
“I have ever been esteemed one of Fortune’s chiefest favorites; nor will I complain or find fault with the course my life has taken. Yet, truly, there has been nothing but toil and care; and I may say that, in all my seventy-five years, I have never had a month of genuine comfort. It has been the perpetual rolling of a stone, which I have always had to raise anew. My annals will render clear what I now say. The claims upon my activity, both from within and without, were too numerous.
“My real happiness was my poetic meditation and production. But how was this disturbed, limited, and hindered by my external position! Had I been able to abstain more from public business, and to live more in solitude, I should have been happier, and should have accomplished much more as a poet. But, soon after my ‘Goetz’ and ‘Werther,’ that saying of a sage was verified for me–‘If you do anything for the sake of the world, it will take good care that you shall not do it a second time.’

Does It Pay to be Kind to Strangers?

Science has shown us that people who are generous and altruistic are happier and healthier than people who aren’t, no matter what economic class they belong to. But it’s not as easy to be kind to strangers as you’d think. Every people are often suspicious of acts of kindness, especially from someone they don’t know. Psychologist Sandi Mann, who is studying the “pay it forward” phenomenon, found this out firsthand when she tried to give away an extra coffee at the cafe when it came with her child’s breakfast. No one wanted to accept it! 
It was only once she framed the act differently, so that it seemed more logical, and less altruistic, that their attitudes changed. “Suddenly it was a different story altogether – it made perfect sense that my kid won’t drink coffee.” They still refused, but “the suspicion vanished, and there were smiles, and thanks”. Eventually it was accepted by a lady named Rochel, who subsequently found an opportunity later in the week to treat someone else.
That initial mistrust was a common theme for each of the following 13 days – in which she tried to offer strangers an umbrella on a rainy day, pay for someone’s parking ticket, and let fellow shoppers jump ahead of her in checkout queues. “Suspicion was the strongest reaction throughout,” she says. Each time, it was only when she offered a rational explanation – such as the fact she was waiting for someone at the checkout – that people would accept her offers. Looking back, Mann now explains it as “stranger danger”. “We’re brought up to expect strangers to put one over us,” she says.
It’s true that we often mistrust strangers bearing gifts, because we don’t want to suffer the fate of the Trojans. And free gifts so often come with strings attached. But there may be other forces at work, like a feeling we don't deserve something free, or unwanted implied obligation to pay it back or forward. And research also tells us that spite and greed are more contagious than kindness- which only makes the effort of spreading kindness more crucial. Read more about the research on kindness and generosity at BBC Future.

9 Expert Tips for Beating Jet Lag

Israel To Coordinate With Google, YouTube, To Censor Palestinian Videos Of Conflict

Abortion Rates Highest Among 'Christians'

You're only an "economic migrant" if you're poor and brown

Ned Richardson-Little is a Canadian academic who went to the US "in search of a better life," did research in Germany and settled in the UK, something he was able to do thanks to his economic migrant grandfather who happened to have been born in Scotland.
Richardson contemplates the vilified category of "economic migrant" -- "the greedy, dark other to those virtuously fleeing conflict" -- and wonders how it is that no one has ever vilified him, given that he, too, is so obviously an "economic migrant."
My grandparents (and father) were displaced people -- Red Army deserters who destroyed their papers so that they could escape Europe via the DP boats to Canada -- and I left Canada for the USA to found a company, then moved to the UK to represent an NGO and became a citizen, and have now moved back to the USA to write novels and campaign for better information policy. No one has ever called me an economic migrant.
I’ve been able to “follow the rules,” because the rules have been written explicitly for my benefit. I had the good fortune to be born to citizenship in a country that isn’t a pariah state, my spouse provided a legal status that only widened my options, and another country deemed the birthplace of a genetic relation who has been dead for 15 years crucial for legal work status. I’ve also had the luck to be part of a group not demonized as a threat to public order and safety – so much so that I’ve had people in both the UK and Germany launch into angry rants to about the damn foreigners before they realized I was one of them.
If you want to be outraged by “economic migrants” who are just trying to make it into Europe for profit, start with me. I’m not fleeing war, or death squads, or military dictatorship, I just want to get paid to write history. Or am I not that kind of foreign?

Why the High-Tech 'Sharing Economy' Is All About Impoverishing Workers

Woman surprised when bank 'glitch' caused $1.4 trillion error not in her favor

A bank in Hawaii is blaming a computer glitch for giving a customer quite a surprise with their bank statement. Honolulu resident Angela Kwong said she was checking her account online when she was shocked to find that she had an outstanding debt of more than $1.4 trillion dollars.
When asked if she was surprised that the bank had charged her $710 billion not once, but twice, she said: “I was shocked, and I couldn’t believe it. The first time I saw it, I had to go to my bathroom and get my glasses on to make sure it wasn’t just because of my bad eyes,” Kwong said.
Making the situation all the more frustrating, her bank initially told her their hands were tied. “I called the customer service line and they said their system was down and my number was down and surprisingly, they said they couldn’t take the number down and was unable to return my phone call. They said there was nothing they could do,” Kwong said.

“It’s kind of funny when you look at it, but it’s also kind of scary, because if the number was a little bit more normal, then I may have sort of overlooked it,” Kwong said. “I’ll definitely keep my eye on my phone and my computer and my bank statements.” Kwong’s case was apparently due to a technical glitch that the bank cleared up later.

Women who carried giant plastic vagina faces charges of crimes against religious delusions

Three women are facing charges for "crimes against religious sentiments" after mimicking Spain's Easter processions and replacing the 'virgin mary' with a giant plastic vagina. The women, who have not been named, allegedly mimicked Spain’s infamous holy week processions that take place in the run up to easter. They "carried a plastic vagina a couple of meters high in the style of the 'virgin mary'," said a Seville-based judge. Many Spanish religious festivals feature processions during which locals carry a statue of the 'virgin mary' above their shoulders. The prosecution argue that the women made a mockery of this religious practice by lifting the plastic vagina onto their shoulders and parading it during a march organized by the Spanish union the General Workers’ Confeneration (CGT) on May 1st.
Some of the women also wore mantillas, the black lace veils commonly worn by devout Catholic women during religious celebrations in Spain while others sported the conical hoods commonly worn by the members of religious brotherhoods over Easter. The women have been ordered to appear in court in February 2016 for a crime against religious sentiments. Miguel Sevillano, head of the CGT in Seville said that the women were part of a feminist group who had "nothing to do" with the CGT.
Sevillano did argue however that he did not see any similarity between the giant plastic vagina carried by the women and Spain’s usual Holy Week processions, but he stressed he had "nothing to do with its creation." Sevillano stressed that the march was in honor of Workers' Day, a public holiday in Spain. The union "carries out no activities that allude to religious symbols" and "does not insult the catholic cult", he said, adding that the CGT was concerned with workers’ rights alone.

Security Guards Report The Strangest Things They’ve Seen On Camera

Yet another gem from Ask Reddit: a security guard tell-all. What sort of oddities show up on surveillance camera footage or is observed by security personnel on the job? As it turns out, oddities of all shapes, sizes and species. Read some examples below, and check out all of the responses at Reddit.
“While working at a department store at the end of a strip mall, I saw a bobcat run past the doors, heading towards Target. Several seconds later, I saw a mother, father, and two children go running past in the same direction. A few minutes later, the family walked back past the doors, with the father carrying the bobcat. A big, fuck off bobcat. It was kinda odd.” -OliverFriends

“I saw 3 casino floor waitresses go to a storeroom behind a bar the pulling their tops down and comparing breast sizes and feeling each other for bounciness. Apparently one of them just got implants and they were comparing them to the real thing. This went on for over 5 minutes then they pulled their tops back up and went to work like it was nothing.” - ChewedGummieBears

“Doing a stroll through the parking lot of a factory I was a guard at once. Noticed some commotion in a vehicle, so I shined my flashlight into the window. I busted Manager A with Manager B’s wife. It was slightly awkward.” -Bmc00

I worked at a hotel and we had a group of college kids come ask us if we had security footage of the pool area between 3-5 a.m. They were all excited about it so we pulled it up. At around 3 a.m. you see them sneak in and about 30 minutes later they started a drunken belly flop competition and wanted us to tell them who won. One of them did about five perfect belly flops in a row. I am talking NO FEAR, grade A belly flops. We told him that he won and he raised his hands up in celebration, got a funny look on his face and ran outside to puke.”  -General HF 

Two Brave Cops Under Attack for Exposing Militarization and Corruption in their Department

A Canadian teenager used America's militarized cops to terrorize women gamers for years

29swatting1-jumbo-v3 If you're a woman on the Internet, harassment comes with the territory. There have been jerky dudes since time immemorial, after all. But with the advent of America's militarized cops, sociopathic misogynists have a new, deadly force-multiplier in their war on women.
"Obnoxious" is the online name of British Columbia teenager who spent years destroying the lives of women who had the audacity to create popular, lucrative channels on Twitch in which they streamed their amazing video-game play.
Obnoxious would get their IP addresses, dox them, DDoS them, try to blackmail them into befriending him and then to performing on-camera sex-acts for him, he would order pizzas and other crap to their homes, and then he would swat them.
"Swatting" is when you call someone's local police force and pretend that you are a crazed gunman/bomber in their house, so that the cops show up locked and loaded, fingers on the trigger. At best, you terrorize your victim and her family; at worse, you get the police to murder one or more of them.
Jerks and people with emotional problems have used bomb threats and similar methods for decades. I went to a school where one kid -- who was already in and out of residential psychiatric facilities -- would routinely call in bomb threats. The precautionary principle applied -- we'd go stand on the lawn and the cops would search the building -- but there was none of today's auto-immune disorder, no MRAPs parked on the lawn and cops in Afghanistan-surplus military gear hup-hupping through hallways with their fingers on the triggers.
Shutting down "Obnoxious" proved to be nearly impossible. The jurisdictional problems of getting Canadian cops to care about crimes in America, combined with American cops' ignorance of "cyber" and tendency to blame the victims (a cop told one survivor of repeat swattings was told to stop playing games and "just pick up a book" to avoid more trouble), combined with the diffused nature of the crimes meant that Obnoxious operated with near-total impunity as he attacked more and more women.
Swatting is a 21st century crime, but not just because the Internet lets assholes place anonymous calls to distant police stations. The pipeline of weapons from the US military to US police forces makes a small number of companies very rich, and their wealth gives them the power to lobby for more arms sales. The militarization of American police makes everything bad about police forces much, much worse, from institutional racism to a culture of cover-ups and opacity. The New York Times Magazine's story on Obnoxious and swatting is an excellent piece and it focuses rightly on the systemic misogyny that plagues women online, but it lacks sufficient depth on this question: why are America's cops so well-armed and short-fused? Who benefits from turning cops into patsies for distant sociopaths?
Obnoxious often sent a text to his target telling her that the SWAT team was on its way — too late to stop it — just so she would know it was him. Sometimes victims received phone calls from the police before the SWAT team arrived. A Canadian Twitch streamer named Maple Ong got a call one night in January 2014, telling her to leave her house with her hands up, along with her panicked father and younger brother, so the police could search it for bombs that Obnoxious had told them were placed there. Allison Henderson, a 26-year-old artist and streamer who lived with two other streamers in Costa Mesa, Calif., received a phone call one night from a woman with the Police Department, asking her how many people were in her apartment and what she was wearing. Allison and her roommates had recently been DDoSed and harassed by Obnoxious. The policewoman told Allison to step outside with her hands above her head.
‘‘I held my breath and slowly opened the door to the sight of rifles pointed at me from every direction,’’ she says. ‘‘It was the most terrifying experience of my life.’’ When officers questioned her, she couldn’t make them understand. ‘‘They were completely lost on the idea of a stranger harassing us over the Internet,’’ she says. ‘‘It’s a feeling like you’re drowning, and the person doesn’t understand what water is.’’
A few months after Obnoxious swatted Janet and her family, he swatted them again. The officers who showed up this time seemed irritated at Janet, ‘‘like it was my fault that I got swatted, because I do what I do, because I play video games.’’ She says one told her, ‘‘Just pick up a book.’’ The officers who responded to these calls did a professional job — in the sense that they assessed the situation, de-­escalated it and didn’t fire their weapons. At the same time, they misjudged what they were seeing. They didn’t grasp that each swatting was merely a spike in a long-­running pattern of abuse that would continue when they drove away. ‘‘You don’t want to dwell on it,’’ says K., the Florida streamer. ‘‘You just want to go back to doing what you love. But it isn’t that simple. Because everything’s changed. As he was attacking us, we couldn’t be the same anymore.’’ Some of Obnoxious’s swatting victims took long breaks from streaming, even though it was a major social outlet and an income source for them. ‘‘I just wanted to be alone,’’ says Alexa Walk, who was swatted by Obnoxious at her apartment in North Carolina. ‘‘I didn’t want people to see me upset.’’

Police say baseball bats chained to poles are very strange

Police are investigating why baseball bats were chained to telephone poles around San Francisco, which a spokesman said was "very strange."

Smoothie criminal hunted following armed robbery

New Orleans Police have released photos of a man suspected in an armed robbery at a Smoothie King on Friday morning.
Police said the suspect held up the store at about 10:50am. Upon entering the store, authorities say the gunman demanded money from the store clerk before fleeing the scene with an undisclosed amount of cash.
A store manager said that a pregnant employee who was working at the time of the robbery jumped the counter to escape when she saw the gunman. The woman ran to a nearby Walgreens where she called the police.

The 'smoothie criminal' is a black male attired in a white long sleeved shirt, dark colored pants, and a black "bucket" hat. The man also had his face covered with a white hair net.

Climate can grind down mountains faster than they can rebuild

Climate can grind down mountains faster than they can rebuild
Climate can grind down mountains faster than they can rebuild
For the first time, researchers have attempted to measure all the material leaving and entering a mountain range over the course of more than a million years. They’ve discovered that erosion caused by glaciation during ice ages can, in the right circumstances,...

Lions Play Laziest Game of Ball Ever

The three lions are playing ball--just barely. In contrast with a fast-paced game of human soccer, the trio remain firmly affixed to the floor. To make it worse, the lion on the left appears to be gesturing for a substitution. He needs a breather.

Animal Pictures