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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.

Monday, August 29, 2016

The Daily Drift

Welcome to Today's Edition of  
Carolina Naturally
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Today in History

The Temple of Jerusalem burns after a nine-month Roman siege.
Ottoman Suleiman the Magnificent crushes a Hungarian army under Lewis II at the Battle of Mohacs.
In Peru, the Inca chief Atahualpa is executed by orders of Francisco Pizarro, although the chief had already paid his ransom.
General George Washington retreats during the night from Long Island to New York City.
Slavery is abolished in Santo Domingo.
Union General John Pope‘s army is defeated by a smaller Confederate force at the Second Battle of Bull Run.
Australia defeats England in cricket for the first time. The following day a obituary appears in the Sporting Times addressed to the British team.
The American Red Cross announces that Japan has refused to allow safe conduct for the passage of ships with supplies for American prisoners of war.
U.S. airborne troops are landed in transport planes at Atsugi airfield, southwest of Tokyo, beginning the occupation of Japan.
USSR explodes its first atomic bomb, “First Lightning.”
International Olympic Committee votes to allow West Germany and Japan to compete in 1952 games.
In the largest bombing raid of the Korean War, 1,403 planes of the Far East Air Force bomb Pyongyang, North Korea.
US Congress passes Civil Rights Act of 1957 after Strom Thurmond (Sen-D-SC) ends 24-hour filibuster, the longest in Senate history, against the bill.
US U-2 spy plane spots SAM (surface-to-air) missile launch pads in Cuba.
Mickey Mantle ties Babe Ruth’s career strikeout record (1,330).
Astronauts L. Gordon Cooper Jr. and Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr complete 120 Earth orbits in Gemini 5, marking the first time the US set an international duration record for a manned space mission.
The Beatles give their last public concert (Candlestick Park, San Francisco).
Democrats nominate Hubert H Humphrey for president at their Chicago convention.
Lou Brock (St Louis Cardinals) breaks Ty Cobb’s 49-year-old career stolen bases record at 893.
Morocco’s King Hassan II signs unity treaty with Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi, strengthening political and economic ties and creating a mutual defense pact.
USSR’s parliament suspends Communist Party activities in the wake of a failed coup.
Thousands of Germans demonstrate against a wave of racist attacks aimed at immigrants.
NATO launches Operation Deliberate Force against Bosnian Serb forces.
A terrorist bomb kills Ayatollah Sayed Mohammed Baqir al-Hakim, the Shia Muslim leader in Iraq, and nearly 100 worshipers as they leave a mosque in Najaf where the ayatollah had called for Iraqi unity.
Rains from Hurricane Katrina cause a levee breech at the Industrial Canal in New Orleans, causing severe flooding.
The Egyptian Army’s Operation Eagle results in the deaths of 11 suspected terrorists and the arrest of another 23.

The Hapless Explorer Who Helped Create the National Park System

In 1870, a group of prominent citizens of the Montana Territory set out on an expedition to map the area known as the Yellowstone country. The Washburn Expedition hoped to confirm or disavow the tall tales of geysers, boiling lakes, and other wonders. Among their number was one Truman Everts, who was very nearsighted and totally unsuited for a wilderness expedition.  
A desk-jockey all his life, Everts had run the Montana Territory’s Internal Revenue department in Helena for the past five years. The Grant administration wanted its own man collecting taxes in Montana, though, and by the summer of 1870, the taxman had been unemployed for seven months. Enamored with the idea of exploring the unknown with Montana’s fellow leading citizens, the middle-aged widower enthusiastically joined the Washburn Expedition. The jaunt into the unknown was to be “sort of a between-jobs vacation for him,” Whittlesey says. Little did Everts know his holiday would become a comic wilderness odyssey—think The Revenant meets National Lampoon’s Vacation—of grit, luck, and utter incompetence that would, against all odds, help lead to the creation of the nation’s first national park.
The first thing Everts did was fall behind the group and become lost. Then his horse ran away with his supplies. The rest of the expedition looked for him for a week, then decided he must have frozen to death. With neither tools nor supplies, Everts continued the best he could. When a prospector found him 37 days later, Everts weighed only 50 pounds. The story of his terrifying time alone in the wilderness, strangely, aided the push to make Yellowstone the United States’ first national park in 1872. Read about Everts’ ordeal at Outside.  

The Fierce, Forgotten Library Wars of the Ancient World

One of the reasons we have ancient Greek literature at all was the competition between the kings of the Greek Empire. After Alexander the Great expanded the Greek Empire to its apex, regional rulers wanted to display their fitness to succeed him. A library full of classic texts was one way to signal the world that your city was the most educated and cultured. However, those charged with building the collections of their libraries, particularly those of Alexandria and Pergamon, weren’t above using force or shenanigans.
“The Ptolemies aimed to make the collection a comprehensive repository of Greek writings as well as a tool for research,” wrote former classics professor at New York University, Lionel Casson in Libraries of the Ancient World. To obtain this comprehensive collection, “the Ptolemies’ solution was money and royal highhandedness.”
During the Ptolemaic hunt for centuries-old books from Greece, it’s said that a new industry emerged of forging ancient books to look more antique, thereby increasing the rarity and value. While the evidence of such a forgery trade is difficult to determine, Coqueugniot finds it probable since the kings were so bent on having the most prestigious texts in their library.
To us, those books are all ancient, forgery or not. Libraries also competed for resident scholars, offering high salaries for those who would come and imprisoning those who might leave. Read about the Greek library wars at Atlas Obscura.

World's oldest gold artifact

Archaeologists dug up the gold artifact, which is just an eight of an inch in diameter and dates from 4,500–4,600 B.C., at what was believed to be the first urban settlement in Europe. It’s just outside of the modern town of Pazardzhik [Bulgaria].
What’s particularly interesting about the item is that researchers believe it to be 200 years older than gold jewelry discovered back in 1976 in the coastal town of Varna, thought to be the oldest in existence. That would make this speck-like bead the oldest piece of gold in the world.

Highly improbable events are commonplace

In June 2001, on a small farm in Staffordshire, England, a 10-year-old girl named Laura Buxton was celebrating her grandparent’s 50th wedding anniversary. At one point, urged by her grandfather, Buxton wrote a note -- “Please return to Laura Buxton,” along with her address -- on a small card, attached it to a gold mylar balloon, and released it into cloudless sky...
Two days later, 140 miles away in a Milton Lilbourne, a farmer was checking on his cattle in a field and came across the deflated balloon in his neighbors’ hedge. He was about to discard it as trash, when he noticed the note; his neighbors had a daughter named Laura, so he passed it along to them...
The girl the farmer gave the balloon to was also named Laura Buxton, and was also just shy of ten years old... A three hour drive apart, the two Laura Buxtons not only shared the same name, but were nearly the exact same age, were the same height (which was unusual, considering they were both well above average for their age at 4 feet, 7 inches), had brown pigtails and blue eyes, and were in Year 5 in primary school. In a Radiolab interview, the girls recalled the astonishing similarities that arose as they spoke for the first time: they both had three-year-old female black labrador dogs, grey rabbits, and guinea pigs with identical markings (orange spots on hind legs). Upon meeting, they unintentionally chose to wear identical outfits -- a pink sweater, and jeans... You can read the rest of the story at Priceonomics (or listed to that Radiolab story).

Humans' impact on climate change dates at least to 1830

Here are two bar bets you can almost always win

You're out having drinks with friends after work.  They are intelligent, sophisticated people, and nobody wants to talk about Trump/Clinton.  So you offer this:
"I'll bet you a (beer/bourbon/whatever) you can't guess how many time zones there are in Antarctica.  And I'll give you three guesses."
With three guesses they'll probably go for it (or someone in the group will).  One guess will be "24" because the continent spans all of the lines of longitude.  That's wrong.
A second guess will probably be "1" because Antarctica isn't a country.  But it does have time zones, established by the occupying countries.
Then they will have to make a wild guess.  It probably won't be the correct answer:  10 or 11.
"Which country - with its dependent territories - covers the most time zones?"
Russia, of course, with its immense east-west span, covers almost half the planet.  But it doesn't have territories in the other half.  So which country and its territories are in the most time zones?  Take a guess before looking at the link.
Wrong.  You owe me a drink.


Stuart Dunbar removed the 1.5kg black truffle, which he described as a "beast", from the earth on his property in Yarra Valley, in the state of Victoria.
It is thought to be the largest black truffle ever grown in [Australia], a delicacy which could also be a world-beater and estimated to be worth $3,700AUD (£2,100)...
Mr Dunbar’s truffle find beats a ‘world’s biggest’ 1.3kg black PĂ©rigord truffle unearthed in the south of France in 2012, if officially confirmed.

"Jet lightning"

While watching and photographing this year's Perseid Meteor Shower, something unexpected happened: a gigantic jet erupted from a nearby cloud. The whole thing was over in a flash -- it lasted less than a second -- but was fortunately captured by an already-recording digital camera. Gigantic jets are a rare form of lightning recognized formally only a few years ago. The featured high resolution color image, taken near the peak of Shikengkong mountain in China, may be the best image yet of this unusual phenomenon. The same event appears to have been captured simultaneously by another photographer, further away. The gigantic jet appears to start somewhere in a nearby thundercloud and extend upwards towards Earth's ionosphere. The nature of gigantic jets and their possible association with other types of Transient Luminous Events (TLEs) such as blue jets and red sprites remains an active topic of research.

On Being Hated

How do you handle haters? In the 3D world, you can avoid such people -if you ever find out they are your enemy. It’s not so easy on the internet, where so many people have access to so many other people and most of them remain anonymous.
The School of Life looks at why criticism, contempt, and hatred bother us so much. So many people come across as haters when they really just don’t know how to criticize wisely, while others are just trolls. And how we respond to online criticism or hatred is key to learning to handle the feelings it brings.

Before the Breathalyzer There Was the Drunkometer

Did you ever see someone in an old movie blow into a balloon to see how drunk they were? That was part of a device called the Harger Drunkometer. After Prohibition was repealed inthe 1930s, police had to deal with an upswing of drunk driving. It was hard to get a conviction without concrete evidence, though, so law enforcement turned to science for help.
Cue Indiana University biochemist and toxicologist Rolla N. Harger, who had been working since 1931 on a machine to put hard evidence behind a police officer’s claim. Harger finally got a patent for the Drunkometer in 1936. The upshot? A person would blow into a balloon, and the air would drop into a chemical solution, with the corresponding color change indicating blood alcohol content. “Instead of banning alcohol, which didn’t work, we look to a device that quantifies just how much drinking is OK,” says Bruce Bustard, who curated “Spirited Republic,” the National Archives exhibit on the history of the U.S. government’s relationship with alcohol.
The Drunkometer was used until the Breathalyzer came on the market in the 1950s. Read about the first case in which a Drunkometer was used at Ozy.

This Is Your Brain on Ayahuasca

The Scandal of EpiPens Runs Deeper Than Most of Us Realize

Pharma bro just tried to mock Stephen Colbert — and failed spectacularly

The former pharmaceutical executive known as “Pharma bro” insulted late night TV host Stephen Colbert — but ended up becoming the butt of the joke, again.

Anti-corruption blogger gets the last laugh after Baton Rouge sheriff tries to expose him

The Terrebonne Parish Sheriff’s Office in Louisiana will be closing down its investigation into an anonymous blogger after a court ruling.

Fortune teller failed to predict her second arrest for obtaining money under false pretenses

A fortune teller in Oklahoma City probably should have seen her arrest coming for the second time. 52-year-old Sonia Lisa Marks, was arrested at around noon on Friday after she was found running a fortune telling company out of her home, officials said. Police said Marks scammed victims out of money with the promise that the money would double by the following week. She also foretold that good things would happen in her victim's lives if they continued to let her tell their fortunes.
After police received tips about Marks running the fortune telling business, officers made appointments with her at Mrs. Maple Psychic Reader, according to an arrest warrant affidavit. Marks told one of the officers, who paid $60 for a palm reading and tarot card reading, many fortunes, including that she would have twins - a boy and a girl. Another undercover detective saw Marks several times in late August, and Marks told her that she would find her boyfriend in October. She also told the detective that she needed to have her aura cleansed because she could sense that the detective would not be happy until it was done.
The cleansing cost $125. After having her aura cleansed, the detective told Marks a fake story about how she met a man and asked her if he was the one. Marks said that he was but needed to conduct an $80 reading to confirm the fortune. Marks' tarot card reading foretold that this man was the detective's soul mate and that he would ask her on a date soon. She also said that the detective and the fictitious man's relationship would begin before October because of the cleansing. Marks was arrested on a felony complaint of obtaining money by false pretenses and a misdemeanor complaint of fortune telling.
Friday's arrest marks the second time the supposed soothsayer has been arrested in Oklahoma City. She was booked into the Oklahoma County Jail in November 2014 after she was accused of defrauding clients of nearly $1 million. Marks was relocated to Ohio, where she had been wanted since 1994 for several crimes, including grand theft and corrupt activity. She has been on probation from Hamilton County, Ohio, for six counts of theft following a January 2015 conviction involving fortune telling, officials said. Marks was ordered to pay $187,000 in restitution. Anyone who had money taken from them by Marks is asked to call the Oklahoma City Police Department's Vice Unit.

Woman struggling to prove she’s alive after government declared her dead

Barbara Murphy isn't dead. But the federal government thinks she has been deceased for two years. 64-year-old Murphy, from Roy, Utah, says she has tried to see the humor in the situation that began two weeks ago. It keeps her from worrying about the potentially devastating consequences. "It's the only thing carrying me through this," Murphy says of her sense of humor. "I don't know what else to do but laugh." Though Murphy is alive and well, a death certificate has been connected to her, leading the Social Security Administration to believe she died in July 2014. Now, the federal government has been attempting to take back two years' worth of Social Security payments and to recoup any Medicare or Medicaid dollars put toward Murphy's treatment during that time. Efforts to correct the error had been fruitless, attempts to pull from Murphy's fixed income continued, pleas to Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, have gone unanswered, and now she has been left with no idea what to do next. "We're just definitely going downhill faster than heck," she said, echoing her husband's concerns about paying their bills.
Whatever the cause, Murphy believes bureaucratic lack of communication has perpetuated the problem. Her fear now is that it won't be resolved before the next time her bills are due, she fills a prescription or needs to see a doctor. Murphy was out for a Friday night dinner with a granddaughter on Aug. 12 when the waitress first informed her that her card had been declined. Murphy's husband was able to pay for the meal, but she remained perplexed. Their granddaughter, who works for a bank, called to ask about her grandmother's account and was told it had been frozen after the Social Security Administration issued notice of her death. After proving to the bank she was alive and resurrecting her account on Monday morning, Murphy got a call from the bank manager urging her to contact the Social Security Administration and warning, "This could be very serious." At the agency's office in Ogden the next day, Murphy couldn't even request a wait ticket from the automated system because her social security number registered as invalid. After being assigned a spot in line and waiting for her turn, Murphy got to make her case.
"I said, 'Now would you like to take my pulse and see that I'm alive? Because you're showing me dead.' And I said, 'You've caused me heartache,'" Murphy recalls with a chuckle. After going through a series of questions and meeting with a supervisor, Murphy signed a letter saying she was contesting being listed as deceased, was told her status would be returned to active and was promised a letter updating her on her case's progress. "It was a joke," Murphy said. "Since that time, every facility I have ever visited, every doctor's office I have ever visited, has received requests for every payment they have received be refunded to Social Security." Then, her bank was contacted again by the Social Security Administration asking that two years' worth of Social Security payments be pulled from the account Murphy shares with her husband. So far, Murphy says the bank, which asked not to be identified, has taken fantastic measures to help her. "The only protection I've had is my wonderful bank, because they have worked so hard and diligently to help me," Murphy said. She went on to add, "The young man at the bank, I just can't applaud him enough. Every time something comes up, he'll pick the phone up and call me."

Murphy has also been visiting the health care offices that have treated her over the past two years, delivering a letter she drafted explaining the error and urging in capital letters: "DO NOT PAY THEM." Murphy hopes to eventually discover exactly how she was declared dead, she hopes this isn't an act of fraud, and will insist that the responsible party face some kind of consequence for the stress this has caused her and her husband. "Is it ever going to get corrected so that I can have a level life again and know where I stand?" she asked. In the meantime, Murphy said she will continue to laugh at the situation when she can. Cindy Malone, a regional spokeswoman for the Social Security Administration, said that privacy laws prevent the agency from releasing information about Murphy's case, including details about what is done to correct her record. "We may never know how it happened. We focus on fixing the issue," Malone said. "We post about 2.8 million new reports of death each year from many sources, including family members, funeral homes, financial institutions, postal authorities, states and other federal agencies, and around one-third of 1 percent are subsequently corrected." Malone also provided a phone number for Murphy to call for assistance.

Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooked his penis

When a man swimming naked in a lake in Bavaria, Germany, felt a pain in his nether regions, he looked up to see a fisherman on the shore. "Don’t pull!" he shouted. At first the man thought he had just become tangled in some weeds, but when he looked down he noticed in horror that a fishing hook was tugging at the most sensitive part of his body.The man, who wishes to keep his identity secret, is a regular at Augsburg’s Kaisersee, a popular bathing spot for naked swimmers. He was doing the crawl with his head under the water when he felt the unpleasant sensation in his thighs - and only then did he notice that there was a fisherman on the shore. After he shouted out his warning to the fisherman to hold still, he swam towards the angler's position on the bank.
It was then that he realized the extent of the problem: the hook had pierced his penis and he was unable to remove it. Using a knife which the fisherman had on hand, he cut the hook free from the line and proceeded to cycle home with his new body piercing hanging between his legs. Back at his house he lowered himself into his car and drove the final stretch to the hospital emergency room. “The doctor couldn’t hide the grin from his face,” the man said.
Luckily though the medic was able to remove the hook from his genitals and treat the wound. The result was nothing more serious than a swimming and shower ban for a week. But the fisherman reportedly expressed little sympathy for the swimmer’s plight. “He told me it’s not an official swimming lake and that it’s his right to fish here and there are signs up to prove it,” the swimmer said. He explained that he hadn't seen the signs, but added: “From now on I’ll swim a bit further into the middle.”

Animal Pictures