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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.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

The Daily Drift

Welcome to Today's Edition of Carolina Naturally.
Our fifteenth Xmas Tree of the month ...!
Carolina Naturally is read in 205 countries around the world daily.   
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Today is - Bill of Rights Day

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Today in History

1862 Nathan Bedford Forrest crosses the Tennessee River at Clifton with 2,500 men to raid the communications around Vicksburg, Mississippi.
1862 In New Orleans, Louisiana, Union Major General Benjamin F. Butler turns his command over to Nathaniel Banks. The citizens of New Orleans hold farewell parties for Butler, "The Beast" – but only after he leaves.
1864 The battle at Nashville begins.
1890 As U.S. Army soldiers attempt to arrest Sitting Bull at his cabin in Standing Rock, South Dakota, shooting breaks out and Lt. Bullhead shoots the great Sioux leader.
1903 The British parliament places a 15-year ban on whale hunting in Norway.
1920 China wins a place on the League Council; Austria is admitted.
1924 The Soviet Union warns the United States against repeated entry of ships into Soviet territorial waters.
1938 Washington sends its fourth note to Berlin demanding amnesty for Jews.
1944 The battle for Luzon begins.
1946 Vietnam leader Ho Chi Minh sends a note to the new French Premier, Leon Blum, asking for peace talks.
1961 Adolf Eichmann, the former German Gestapo official accused of a major role in the Nazi murder of 6 million Jews, is sentenced by a Jerusalem court to be hanged.
1965 The United States drops 12 tons of bombs on an industrial center near Haiphong Harbor, North Vietnam.
1967 President Lyndon B. Johnson signs the meat bill in the presence of Upton Sinclair, the author of the controversial book The Jungle.
1972 The Commonwealth of Australia orders equal pay for women.
1973 The American Psychiatric Association votes 130 to remove homosexuality from its official list of psychiatric disorders.
1976 The oil tanker MV Argo Merchant causes one of the worst marine oil spills in history when it runs aground near Nantucket, Massachusetts.
1978 US President Jimmy Carter announces the United States will recognize the People’s Republic of China and will sever all relations with Taiwan.
1981 In what is often called the first modern suicide bombing, a suicide car bomb kills 61 people at the Iraqi embassy in Beirut, Lebanon; Iraq’s ambassador to Lebanon is among the casualties.
1993 The Downing Street Declaration, issued jointly by UK and the Republic of Ireland, affirms the UK would transfer Northern Ireland to the Republic of Ireland only if a majority of Northern Ireland’s people approved.
2001 The Leaning Tower of Pisa reopens after an 11-year, $27 million project to fortify it without eliminating its famed lean.
2005 F-22 Raptor Stealth fighter enters active service with the US Air Force.

Non Sequitur


Janis Joplin's psychedelic Porsche sells for record $1.8 million

Janis Joplin's psychedelic Porsche sells for record $1.8 million in frantic auction

Outdoor Winter Fun

There may not be much light these days, but don't let that stop you from getting outside. Here's how to beat the cold.

The World's Oldest Bottle Of Wine

The Speyer wine bottle (or 'Römerwein') is a sealed vessel - presumed to contain liquid wine - and so named because it was unearthed from a Roman tomb found near Speyer, Germany. It is the world's 'oldest bottle of wine.'
The Speyer wine bottle was originally found in 1867, in what is now the Rhineland-Palatinate region of Germany, near the town of Speyer, one of the oldest settlements in the area. The bottle has been dated between 325 and 350 AD, and is the oldest known unopened bottle of wine in the world.

The Middle Class Is Now Less Than Half of the Country

How the West's Response to Paris Attacks Will Backfire

Washington DC man sends client ‘Death to Muslims’ threat ...

"Whatever future jobs you might want, they're going to see some things on the internet," Rich Trevor Dickey said. "Eventually, it's going to bite you in the butt."

Oklahoma cop Daniel Holtzclaw found guilty of raping black women while on duty

Daniel Holtzclaw, 28, of Oklahoma City is pictured in this undated handout photo obtained by Reuters on Dec. 7, 2015. (REUTERS/Oklahoma County Sheriff's Office/Handout)
Holtzclaw was convicted of five counts of rape and two counts of forcible oral sodomy, among other charges.

Naked man accused of attempting to carjack Fed Ex truck didn't know how to drive it

A 19-year-old man from Coachella, California, was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of trying to carjack a Fed Ex truck while the delivery driver was unloading a package from the back of the vehicle.
Deputies said Albert Luna was booked into the Riverside County Jail in Indio, a day after the attempted carjacking was reported. According to the release, the Fed Ex driver said he was parked in front of a residence to deliver a package when the suspect, who was reportedly not wearing any clothes at the time, entered the truck and demanded the keys.
The driver gave the suspect the keys and ran to a nearby residence to report the incident. At the same time, the suspect started the Fed Ex truck but apparently didn't know how to drive it, so he ran from the scene, according to the sheriff's department. Witnesses described the suspect as a Hispanic man between the ages of 18 and 20, with a thin build, short hair, and not wearing any clothes.
Officers with the Coachella Police Department followed up with the investigation on Sunday and located Albert Luna, who they said matched the description of the suspect. Luna is now in jail facing carjacking charges. It is unclear why Luna wasn't wearing any clothes at the time of the alleged offense.

Firefighters sprayed foam on wrong plane during engine fire emergency

The engine of an Air China passenger aircraft caught fire at Fuzhou Changle airport in southeast China on Thursday morning, but firefighters sprayed foam onto another aircraft waiting nearby.
The right-hand engine of a Boeing 737, Air China Flight CA1822 to Beijing, suddenly caught fire at 8am when taxiing on the runway as it was about to take off, the nation’s flagship carrier said. The captain of the following Fuzhou Airlines FU6577 noticed the fire first and informed the Air China captain. The Air China aircraft closed down the engine and then called firefighters.
Eight fire trucks arrived within two minutes. However, the vehicles surrounded the Fuzhou Airlines aircraft and began spraying foam onto that plane. When the firefighters realized they had picked the wrong plane, they moved on to deal with the Air China aircraft. The Fuzhou Airlines aircraft was by then covered with foam. The airport authority then closed the runway to deal with the aftermath.
All the passengers with the Fuzhou Airlines flight, that was scheduled to fly to Jinan in east Shandong Province, had to get off the plane since the aircraft was covered with foam and had to be washed to pass a safety inspection before it could fly again. Flight CA1822 later took off. “It turned out to be a normal situation as aircraft engines spark sometimes and it would not be a threat to flying safety,” Air China said.

Did you know ...

"Since the global financial crisis in 2008, a total of 26 bankers have been sentenced to a combined 74 years in prison."  In Iceland - not the United States (obviously).

Etymologically Speaking

The word "fascinate" has an unexpected etymology: From Latin fascinātus, perfect passive participle of fascinō ‎(enchant, bewitch, fascinate), from fascinum ‎(a phallus-shaped amulet worn around the neck used in Ancient Rome; witchcraft).



Derelicts, Deserts, Dinosaurs and Diamonds

Twenty-two shipwrecks have been found off the coast of Greece "dating from the Archaic Period (700-480 B.C.) through the Late Medieval Period (16th century), including some wrecks that are more than 2,500 years old. The small and relatively obscure region may be “the ancient shipwreck capital of the world,” the release says.
"The Atacama Desert in Chile, known as the driest place on Earth, is awash with color after a year’s worth of extreme rainfall." 
Feathered dinosaurs have recently been found in North America.  "This dinosaur was covered in down-like feathers throughout life, but only older individuals developed larger feathers on the arms, forming wing-like structures..." (so presumably the feathers were not used for flight).
A 1,111-carat diamond has been found in Botswana.

The Infancy of the Milky Way

A ‘ghost from the past’ recalls the infancy of the Milky Way
A ‘ghost from the past’ recalls the infancy of the Milky Way
When our galaxy was born, around 13,000 million years ago, a plethora of clusters containing millions of stars emerged. But over time, they have been disappearing. However, hidden behind younger stars that were formed later, some old and dying star clusters remain,...

What can animals read from human faces?

A smile can speak a thousand words but those words may remain in the wilderness if the recipient doesn’t speak human. Of course animals have many ways in which to interpret our emotions and intentions. They can listen to our voices, smell our bodily chemicals, touch us with their paws, hands and claws, taste us with their overworked tongues and they can see us with observant eyes.
They can see us.
This final sense is quite curious when we are thinking about animals watching us. What is it they are actually seeing? We know they understand many forms of visible body language but what about our faces? Is there any evidence they understand anything from our facial expressions and if there is, what would they be basing their understanding on? Is there anything we could do to aid their understanding of our facial expressions? Racing ahead, what would any inter-species facial communication between humans and animals mean for possible future meetings with extra-terrestrials?
Let’s begin by looking at some of the evidence available. In 2004, the Journal of Comparative Psychology published the results of a study that showed dolphins instinctively comprehend human gazing to the extent that they understand the difference between what the study called static gazing and dynamic gazing. Static gazing being an idle stare with no action required and dynamic gazing meaning a gaze that prompted the dolphins to interact with an object. No verbal commands or prior training were needed for the dolphins to comprehend the difference.
If you think that’s impressive, check out the work of Professor John Marzluff at the University of Washington in Seattle. In 2008, Professor Marzluff led a group of researchers for a walk in the park. He separated the group in to two teams with one team wearing a particular type of mask and the other team wearing another type. The park has a population of crows and one team were charged with trapping the crows while the second team were just asked to walk on by. In 2013, Marzluff led two teams with the same masks in to the same park. The team wearing the masks that were worn during the trapping of 2008 were ambushed by shrieking, hysterical crows, many of whom were not even present at the original trapping five years earlier.
Marzluff also worked with Dr. Barbara Clucas of Humboldt State University on a study that proved that American crows react differently to approaching people according to whether or not the person is gazing at them or away from them. If an approaching person is looking at them, they take off a lot faster. Interestingly, whether the person is smiling or scowling seemed irrelevant.
Dr. Clucas also has experience studying squirrels in unrelated studies. Aside from gazing, I asked Dr. Clucas if there was any evidence that some crows or squirrels interpret human facial expressions in a particular way.
“Apart from that study with crows, I have not done other studies on the topic. Anecdotally, I have noticed similar behaviour in other bird species (ravens, jays, etc). Although I haven't tested it in squirrels, I would suspect that because their vision is not as good as that of birds, they probably wouldn't be able to detect if a human eyes were looking at them versus looking the other way. They might react to a human whose face is facing them versus being turned away. Indeed there are many studies showing that mammals and reptiles react differently when a human face is facing them.”
There was a study published earlier this year which showed some dogs understood the differences between human faces showing anger and those showing happiness. I wondered, regardless of what animals would understand from our facial expressions, what might their interpretations be based upon? Dr. Kun Guo of the University of Lincoln in the UK, has done a lot of research on interactions between animals and humans so I thought he would be a good man to ask.
“Very good question. ‘Don’t know’ will be our current answer. If I have to guess, I will say ‘based on the interaction between innate bias and prior learning from humans through experience / development’. You need to test wolf (evolutionary approach) and puppy (developmental approach) to answer this.”
We have established that crows can recognize and remember human faces and they can also comprehend targeted and untargeted gazing. The evidence that they can decipher human facial expressions is limited but there are hints that this might be the case. I asked Dr. Clucas what might they be basing their interpretations of human facial expressions on?
“Well, I didn't find that the American crows responded differently to a smiling versus scowling face, however, laboratory studies have shown that a related species, jungle crows can discriminate male and female faces as well as a smiling face from a blank face. So I believe American crows likely are capable of learning to distinguish facial expressions. They are likely capable of such things because they are very social and use visual signals in their own conspecific communication (within species communication).”
While conducting the research for this article, I learned that the mere idea that our facial expressions represent emotions at all is not a universally accepted fact. Dr Eliza Bliss-Moreau of the University of California has done a lot of work with rhesus monkeys and people interacting together. I asked her some questions on her work but she had a question for me: “Are you familiar with the large human literature which calls into question the fact that faces represent emotions at all? Your questions are all predicated on the idea that emotions correspond to faces in a one-to-one way, and therefore emotions can be "read". But that's not the case.”
Clearly, there are a lot of barriers between inter-species communication and this includes facial expressions. So is there anything we can do to help animals understand our faces better? Many domestic cats have an image of being cold in nature due to them consistently presenting straight faces but it has actually be proven that this usually means they are in a relaxed state. I asked Dr. Guo if mimicking their facial expressions be useful to relay our intentions?
“Very interesting thoughts. It could work if we can understand animal’s emotion first and the relations between animal’s emotion and their facial expression. Some animals, like cats, have limited ranges of facial muscle movements, which make their facial expressions less informative about their emotion / feeling / mood.”
I think this is a subject worthy of further exploration, especially in an age when we are now putting some serious money into searching for extra-terrestrial life in the universe. What if some intelligent life in the universe does not use verbal language? Carl Sagan once made the valid point that dolphins have learned to understand many words in English but no human has ever learned one word of Dolphinese. Until we do that, it could be useful to study animal understanding of our facial expressions more, even if only to eliminate possibilities of facial communication between species.
And don’t mess with the crows man.

Beaver suspected of causing fire that burnt down family's home

Police in Sweden have said that a beaver is believed to be responsible for a fire which gutted a family's home. The house burned to the ground after a blaze in Heby municipality near Uppsala, north of Stockholm, on Monday.
Police launched a probe into suspected arson, but revealed late on Wednesday that a forensic examination of the site had identified a potential suspect, who is yet to be traced. “Our technicians have reached that conclusion. The beaver left behind forensic evidence which led us to it,” Uppsala police press spokesperson Christer Nordström said.
No one was injured in the blaze, which is believed to have been caused by an electrical fault after a tree toppled by the four-legged rodent fell on to a power transmission line. “I heard the evidence was trees that had been gnawed on and such like. I don't know anything about the forensic team's beaver expertise, but that's the information I have received,” said Nordström.
The animal, thought to have his hideout in a nearby river, is understood to still be at large. “The beavers themselves would probably not claim they destroy society functions. But they often fell trees that fall on electricity wires. If I may offer a theory, without having any insight into the case, I think it's a tree that has fallen and caused sparks,” beaver expert Lars Plahn at the county council's environmental department said.

Animal Pictures