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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.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

The Daily Drift

Happy New Year to all! 
May the coming year be filled with love, happiness, good health and an end to the ignorance and hate!
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Today in History

George Washington orders recruiting officers to accept free blacks into the army.
The richest year of the gold rush ends with $81.3 million in gold produced.
Union General William Rosecrans‘ army repels two Confederate attacks at the Battle of Murfreesboro (Stone’s River).
John B. Moisant and Arch Hoxsey, two of America’s foremost aviators, die in separate plane crashes.
Helene Dutrieu wins the Femina aviation cup in Etampes. She sets a distance record for women at 158 miles.
The Germans torpedo the British liner Persia without any warning killing 335 passengers.
The Sahara is crossed by an automobile for the first time.
Brewery heir Adolphus Busch is kidnapped.
General MacArthur reports that U.S. lines in Manila have been pushed back by the Japanese.
After five months of battle, Emperor Hirohito allows the Japanese commanders at Guadalcanal to retreat.
Hungary declares war on Germany.
California becomes the largest state in population.
Cambodia breaks relations with Vietnam.

15 Things You Should Do at Least Once a Year

There are certain tasks in life that you need to do every once in a while, but so seldom that it’s easy to forget. Or to just put it off indefinitely. While we are getting ready to turn another calendar year would be a good time to do some of them -or at plan to. Have you bought a new calendar yet? Maybe you can mark it up by assigning those yearly tasks to different months of 2016, to remind you to get it done. What tasks? Here’s a couple you may not ever think of.
The next few annual check ups are related to the home. If your household has one or two people in it, your hot water heater needs to be checked every six months and drained at least every 12 months. Draining it will help it last longer by eliminating any minerals or debris that have built up and could cause the unit to break down. It’s a job you can do yourself with a little time and a hose, so pick a Saturday, read the instructions, and hop to it.
Not all of it, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on beauty products and stay diligent when it comes to refreshing the supply—this stuff is going on your body, after all, often in highly sensitive areas. In particular, nail polish, sunscreen, hair products, lipsticks and liners, eyeliner, brow pencils, face creams, foundation, cream eyeshadows and blushes, cleansers, and other like items should not sit on your shelf for more than a year. Many of these you’ll be using with enough frequency that they won’t last long anyway, but pay attention to those items that might accidentally stick around longer than they should.
I must admit that there are quite a few on the list that I haven’t ever done. I’m afraid to see what’s on the bottom of my water heaters, since I don’t know how old they were when I got them! But in my previous house, I had one completely fall apart, so it’s worth a try. Read the rest of the list at mental_floss.

A year of extremes: Severe snow storms, drought and floods ravaged the US in 2015

In the warmest year on record, Mother Nature wrought havoc across the country, with large swaths of the west coast ablaze during the summer and the north-east blanketed in snow for most of the winter

As temperatures drop, airports crack down on homeless seeking shelter from the cold

As temperatures drop, airports crack down on homeless seeking shelter from the cold

You're Making Tea All Wrong

Chicken Soup and The Cold

Can chicken soup really cure body and soul?

Men Actually Improve Their Mental Health by Getting Married

Men Actually Improve Their Mental Health by Getting Married, Says Study
Men Actually Improve Their Mental Health by Getting Married, Says Study
Compelling evidence for why he should put a ring on it.

The Weird Symptoms That Signal You’re Just Days Away from Cardiac Arrest

The Weird Symptoms That Signal You’re Just Days Away from Cardiac Arrest
Find out the red flags that point to this quick and deadly condition

8 Surprising Reasons You Have No Energy

 by Amanda Shupack
We're in the midst of an energy crisis. No, not that one. This one: We're tired. So. Completely. Tired.
To paraphrase Aerosmith, it can often feel like your get up and go musta got up and went. It's not just a matter of working too much and sleeping too little, though of course those are both big parts of it. It's sometimes easy to pinpoint why you're flagging by the afternoon -- that weekend of partying, for instance -- but sometimes the causes are more complicated.
Here are some common contributors to that two o'clock feeling:
1. You're not sleeping enough.
OK. So this one is kind of a gimme, but not for the reason you think. Sleep isn't just about resting; there's a lot going on inside while you're conked out for the night. Case in point: human growth hormone. Growth hormone, a protein made by the pituitary gland, plays a role in making muscles healthy and bones strong. It affects how our bodies collect fat (especially around the stomach area) and it helps balance the ratio of good to bad cholesterol. It's also essential for normal brain function. Not enough it of leads to fatigue, decreased strength and stamina, and depression symptoms. Since growth hormone is secreted primarily when we sleep, seven and a half or eight hours of high-quality shut-eye each night will help keep weight and pain down and boost up your energy.
2. You're eating too much junk.
We think of sugar as a quick way to boost energy, but in the long run it does just the opposite. All those that end in -ose, like glucose, dextrose, maltose and sucrose, are just going to leave you sluggish. Research shows that fast food also puts you in biological slo-mo. Try this all-day energy meal plan, instead.
3. You're not drinking enough water.
Many people can't identify when their fatigue is due to dehydration. A glass of water may be the jolt you need, rather than sugar (see above). Drink as much H2O as it takes to keep your mouth moist throughout the day. And remember this rule of thumb: Your pee should be light yellow to clear. If it's brighter and darker yellow, you need to drink more water.
4. You're low in vitamin B.
You need B vitamins for your mitochondria to turn glucose into energy. We can absorb B vitamins well in liquid or pill form, but 99 percent of us don't get enough from our diets. Try taking a vitamin in the morning and evening. This will keep levels stable and get you energized, and there's no harm in it since you'll excrete any excess water-soluble vitamins.
If you're having symptoms of low energy, check your vitamin B12 and D levels, and, in any case, have them checked annually. If you find you have the rare case of not absorbing them well into your intestine and stomach, you can get a B12 injection yearly.
5. You've got an infection.
Infection and inflammation can be two dominos in the low-energy cascade of symptoms. One of your goals could be to monitor your body so infections don't linger. So what can you do? Floss regularly to lower your gum inflammation risk. Reduce sinusitis with a neti pot. Use probiotics to treat prostatitis, vaginitis and bowel infections. With viral infections, frequent hand washing, sleeping and avoiding saturated fats and simple sugars can help.
6. You need to move more.
You can jump-start your energy with an activity as simple as walking. When you get moving, nitric oxide is released from the artery linings to allow blood to move freely through your vessels. This helps get more nutrients to your cells. Your body responds to your actions. If you tell your body you're watching re-runs all night, it will downshift energy production. If you tell your body that you need to have a brisk morning walk, it responds by giving you the energy you need to do just that.
7. Your hormones are out of whack.
There are numerous hormones that factor in to how energized or blah you're feeling. Hormones are like dimmers on headlights. When you need bright lights, you turn on certain hormones to increase the energy to that area, and decrease usage elsewhere. The fine-tuning starts in your hypothalamus and pituitary. The two primary sources of trouble are slow-functioning thyroid and adrenal glands. As for adrenal hormones, take this little test: When you're hungry, do you quickly switch to feeling so irritable and ravenous that if you don't eat, you'll commit a felony? This is a sign that your adrenal glands may not be working properly.
8. You're insulin resistant.
Insulin resistance -- a precursor to diabetes -- makes it hard to get sugar (our body's fuel) to our energy production plants. We then distribute the sugar into fat storage rather than storing it in cells, which need it to produce energy.



The Revolt of the Anxious Class

From Robert Reich:
The great American middle class has become an anxious class – and it’s in revolt.
Before I explain how that revolt is playing out, you need to understand the sources of the anxiety.
Start with the fact that the middle class is shrinking, according to a new Pew survey.
The odds of falling into poverty are frighteningly high, especially for the majority without college degrees.
Two-thirds of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Most could lose their jobs at any time.
Many are part of a burgeoning “on-demand” workforce – employed as needed, paid whatever they can get whenever they can get it.
Yet if they don’t keep up with rent or mortgage payments, or can’t pay for groceries or utilities, they’ll lose their footing.
The stress is taking a toll. For the first time in history, the lifespans of middle-class whites are dropping.
According to research by the recent Nobel-prize winning economist, Angus Deaton, and his co-researcher Anne Case, middle-aged white men and women in the United States have been dying earlier.
They’re poisoning themselves with drugs and alcohol, or committing suicide.
The odds of being gunned down in America by a jihadist are far smaller than the odds of such self-inflicted deaths, but the recent tragedy in San Bernadino only heightens an overwhelming sense of arbitrariness and fragility.
The anxious class feels vulnerable to forces over which they have no control. Terrible things happen for no reason.
Yet government can’t be counted on to protect them.
Safety nets are full of holes. Most people who lose their jobs don’t even qualify for unemployment insurance.
Government won’t protect their jobs from being outsourced to Asia or being taken by a worker here illegally.
Government can’t even protect them from evil people with guns or bombs. Which is why the anxious class is arming itself, buying guns at a record rate.
They view government as not so much incompetent as not giving a damn. It’s working for the big guys and fat cats – the crony capitalists who bankroll candidates and get special favors in return.
When I visited so-called “red” states this fall, I kept hearing angry complaints that government is run by Wall Street bankers who get bailed out after wreaking havoc on the economy, corporate titans who get cheap labor, and billionaires who get tax loopholes.
Last year two highly-respected political scientists, Martin Gilens and Benjamin Page, took a close look at 1,799 policy decisions Congress made over the course of over twenty years, and who influenced those decisions.
Their conclusion: “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”
It was only a matter of time before the anxious class would revolt.
They’d support a strongman who’d promise to protect them from all the chaos.
Who’d save jobs from being shipped abroad, slam Wall Street, stick it to China, get rid of people here illegally, and block terrorists from getting into America.
A strongman who’d make America great again – which really means make average working people safe again.
It was a pipe dream, of course – a conjurer’s trick. No single person can do this. The world is far too complex. You can’t build a wall along the Mexican border. You can’t keep out all Muslims. You can’t stop corporations from outsourcing abroad.
Nor should you even try.
Besides, we live in a messy democracy, not a dictatorship.
Still, they think maybe he’s smart enough and tough enough to pull it off. He’s rich. He tells it like it is.
He makes every issue a test of personal strength. He calls himself strong and his adversaries weak.
So what if he’s crude and rude? Maybe that’s what it takes to protect average people in this cruelly precarious world.
For years I’ve heard the rumbles of the anxious class. I’ve listened to their growing anger – in union halls and bars, in coal mines and beauty parlors, on the Main Streets and byways of the washed-out backwaters of America.
I’ve heard their complaints and cynicism, their conspiracy theories and their outrage.
Most are good people, not bigots or racists. They work hard and they have a strong sense of fairness.
But their world has been slowly coming apart. And they’re scared and fed up.
Now someone comes along who’s even more of a bully than those who for years have bullied them economically, politically, and even violently.
The attraction is understandable, even though misguided.
If not Dumbass Trump, then it will be someone else posing as a strongman. If not this election cycle, it will be the next one.
The revolt of the anxious class has just begun.

When the American debate about abortion was sane ...

People would be surprised by how much less toxic gender politics were in the 1970s than they are now.

Florida kicks 9,000 chronically ill, disabled kids out of healthcare system

by Joan McCarter
Sorry, Rick Scott. Nothing you can do now is going to save your soul.
Florida moron Rick Scott (R-of course) has once again demonstrated just how much he doesn't care if people—children, even—suffer and die in ways that are totally preventable on his watch. An investigation by the Miami Herald has uncovered how the state gutted its Children's Medical Services, a program designed to help chronically ill and disabled poor children. So kids are getting dropped.
The Miami Herald obtained thousands of pages of health department documents under the state's public records law, including nearly 800 emails and hundreds of memos and reports that detailed the state's plan to "restructure" CMS. They show that the elimination of children from CMS was the result of a plan to slash spending on sick kids at a time when Florida had a $635.4 million surplus. For the legislative session that begins next month, Gov. Rick Scott has proposed $1 billion in new tax cuts. The spending plan would eliminate an additional 718 health department positions. […]
The parents of one Palm Beach County infant learned on the eve of a critical craniofacial surgery that their 6-month-old son had been "screened out" of CMS. The little boy is profoundly disabled, records show, having been born deaf, without eyes, and with a disfiguring cleft palate. The child's mother called CMS in preparation for the surgery, only to be told "the screening is showing 'NO,' so they would not do anything."
"URGENT" read the subject line of a Feb. 2 internal email. "There is nothing that we can do?"
There was something they could do. Within a few days, the infant was re-enrolled. Thousands of other youngsters, though, did not fare as well.
Nine thousand kids have been dropped since May, even though the state was running a surplus, and possibly to help fund the tax cuts Scott wants. This program—for Medicaid-qualified children and for those whose parents make too much for Medicaid coverage but not enough for private insurance—provides more intervention with specialists and care devised for kids with special medical needs. Some of the activities of the CMS, like "providing care coordinators to help parents access therapy and medication, and organizing one-stop clinics for kids with sickle cell disease, HIV or cleft palates," just doesn't happen with Medicaid.
But there was too much need in the state for the program. It was getting too many enrollees and it became too expensive to treat these kids, so the state had some options. Not having $1 billion in new tax cuts was not among the options. Dropping 9,000 kids was what they settled on.
The way the state reduced the number of eligible children has caused a big stir, among academics as well as parents. Critics blamed the "screening tool," which consists of five questions asked of the parents of children with disabling illnesses. One of those questions, No. 3, is a trap, they say—one that exploits the yearning of every parent of a sick or disabled child to believe that their son or daughter can live a normal life.
The question: "Is your child limited or prevented in any way in his or her ability to do the things most children of the same age can do?"
Give the wrong answer—no—and your child is eliminated.
The designers of that screening tool, by the way, say it was created "for use in surveys, not for eligibility determination … to estimate the number of children with special health care needs in a population." The state found it a handy tool to start weeding out patients. Children.
Yes, we still need universal healthcare.

DoJ shuts down asset forfeiture program after Congress slashes its budget

highwayman In America, your belongings can be confiscated by the police without warrant or evidence as proceeds of a crime, and then the government sues your possessions (not you), in lawsuits like "Township of East Bumblefuck vs $50,000 in $100 bills."
If your goods lose the lawsuit, the police get to keep them, and use them (or sell them for operating capital). Police departments waxed fat on this, even making up "shopping lists" of desirable cars, etc, to target.
States have been trying to curb this practice, changing state law so that law enforcement agencies wouldn't get to keep the stuff their seized. But the DoJ wouldn't play along, meaning that cops could still keep stuff by confiscating it under federal, not state law.
Attempts to get the DoJ to play along have proved fruitless. After all, the DoJ got to split the take with local law-enforcement.. So in last week's budget bill, Congress took $1.2 billion away from the DoJ, money that they used to administer the program. Without that subsidy, the program became a money-loser. It is dead.
It's unclear how much of the total national forfeiture haul will be affected by the DOJ's change, since many states don't make their forfeiture data public. But as the case of California shows, it is potentially significant: In that state in 2013, nearly eight out of every 10 dollars of forfeited property went through federal law. Under this change, that flow of cash would be shut off.
Some law enforcement groups are less than happy with the change. The International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) said in a statement that "this decision is detrimental to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve."
In a letter sent to President Obama, the leaders of Congress, and Attorney General Loretta Lynch, the heads of six law enforcement groups -- including the IACP and the National District Attorney's Association -- wrote to express "profound concern" over the changes: "This shortsighted decision by Congress will have a significant and immediate impact on the ability of law enforcement agencies throughout the nation to protect their communities and provide their citizens with the services they expect and deserve."

Police shot and killed nearly three Americans every day in 2015

Police officer aiming gun at car (Shutterstock)While the killing of unarmed black men makes up only 4 percent of the police shootings, 40 percent of the shootings involved black male victims — a grossly disproportionate number with African-American males making up only 6 percent of the population.

Seabed-Mining Robots Will Dig for Gold on Ocean Floor

There could soon be a swarm of deep-sea mining robots snatching up deposits of copper, gold and silver.

Floating Waste Bin Captures Ocean Pollution

A water filtering system designed for marinas and ports will help clear the water of floating plastic, paper, oil, fuel, detergent and other garbage.

Animal Winners and Losers of 2015

2015 was a year of both breathtaking highs and devastating lows for the animal kingdom.

Animal Pictures