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

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

The Daily Drift

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Today in History

48 BC
On landing in Egypt, Pompey is murdered on the orders of Ptolemy.
The Emperor Lothar dies in Gaul, and his kingdom is divided between his three sons.
William, Duke of Normandy, soon to be known as William the Conqueror invades England.
King Henry of England defeats his brother Robert at the Battle of Tinchebrai and reunites England and Normandy.
James of Aragon retakes Valencia, Spain, from the Arabs.
Samuel de Champlain and his colonists return to France from Port Royal Nova Scotia.
The Anglo-Russian-Austrian Alliance of St. Petersburg, which is directed against France, is signed.
Union General William Rosecrans blames his defeat at Chickamauga on two of his subordinate generals. They are later exonerated by a court of inquiry.
Colonel Ronald Mackenzie raids a war camp of Comanche and Kiowa at the Battle of Palo Duro Canyon, Texas, slaughtering 2,000 of their horses.
A woman is placed under arrest for smoking a cigarette on New York’s Fifth Avenue.
W.C. Handy’s “Memphis Blues” is published.
Race riots in Harriston, Mississippi, kill 10 people.
Three U.S. Army aircraft arrive in Seattle, Washington after completing a 22-day round-the-world flight.
Sir Alexander Fleming discovers penicillin when he notices a bacteria-killing mold growing in his laboratory; it remained for Howard Florey and Ernst Chain to isolate the active ingredient, allowing the “miracle drug” to be developed in the 1940s.
Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union agree on a division of Poland; Warsaw surrenders to German troops.
France ratifies a new constitution.
Explorer VI, the U.S. satellite, takes the first video pictures of earth.
Military coup in Damascus ends the Egypt-Syria union known as the United Arab Republic that was formed Feb. 1, 1958.
Roy Lichtenstein’s pop art work Whaam!, depicting in comic-book style a US jet shooting down an enemy fighter, is exhibited for the first time; it will become one of the best known examples of pop art.
Israel’s Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) leader Yasser Arafat sign an interim agreement concerning settlement on the Gaza Strip.
Afghanistan’s former president (1986-92) Mohammad Najibullah tortured and murdered by the Taliban.
SpaceX launches the first private spacecraft, Falcon 1.

What Really Happened to the Grand Duchess Anastasia?

Russian history in U.S. schools is usually limited to Lenin, Stalin, the space race, and maybe now they include the fall of the Soviet Union. Depending on your age, you likely learned about Nicholas II, the last Tsar and his family from movies, because it was a very dramatic story. There were several movies about Rasputin, and I would recommend the 1971 film Nicholas and Alexandra. But even more people recall the movies Anastasia (1956) or Anastasia (1997), neither of which tell us much about the family or the Russian revolution. They are about Anna Anderson, who was presented as the youngest of the Tsar’s four daughters, Grand Duchess Anastasia Nikolaevna. Anderson was only taking advantage of the rumors that Anastasia was the only member of the family who had survived the assassination of 1918 and had been missing ever since. How did those rumors ever get started? Probably because, despite the Soviet Union's refusal to say anything about the Tsar's fate, there were a few people who knew that not all the Romanovs were buried together.
In the spring of 1979, Alexander Avdonin and Geli Ryabov discovered the pit in which five of the seven Romanovs (and four of their servants) had been buried. Since the Communists were still ruling Russia at the time, Advonin and Ryabov decided to keep the finding a secret. The pit wouldn’t be officially opened until 1991, the same year that the Soviet Union dissolved.
DNA and skeletal analysis matched the remains in the pit to Tsar Nicholas II, Tsarina Alexandra, Yevgeny Botkin, Alexei Trupp, Ivan Kharitonov, Anna Demidova, and three of the four grand duchesses. William R. Maples (a forensic expert) concluded that the two bodies missing from the family grave were that of Tsarevitch Alexei and Anastasia. However, Russian scientists believed that it was the body of Maria that was missing. Using a computer program to compare photos of the youngest grand duchess with the skulls of the victims from the mass grave, they identified one the bodies in the pit as that of Anastasia.
The actual fate of Grand Duchess Anastasia was not fully revealed until 2007. You can read the short version of the story at History Buff.

The Staten Island Ferry Disaster Memorial Museum

Do you recall the Staten Island Ferry Disaster of 1963? The news flew under the radar because it happened on the morning of November 22, and the media became overwhelmingly focused on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. But now there’s a memorial and a museum dedicated to the memory of the disaster and those who lost their lives. From the memorial page:
It was close to 4am on the quiet morning of November 22, 1963 when the Steam Ferry Cornelius G. Kolff vanished without a trace. On its way with nearly 400 hundred people, mostly on their way to work, the disappearance of the Cornelius G. Kolff remains both one of New York’s most horrific maritime tragedies and perhaps its most intriguing mystery. Eye witness accounts describe “large tentacles” which “pulled” the ferry beneath the surface only a short distance from its destination at Whitehall Terminal in Lower Manhattan. Nobody on board survived and only small pieces of wreckage have been found…strangely with large “suction cup-shaped” marks on them. The only logical conclusion scientists and officials could point to was that the boat had been attacked by a massive octopus, roughly half the size of the ship.
You can find out more about the memorial and the attached museum at its website. See a short documentary on the incident here. You can even get a memorial t-shirt. Residents of Staten Island were surprised by the sudden opening of the memorial, but that’s to be expected, because after all it was 53 years ago. It also didn’t happen. The story is a hoax by artist Joe Reginella, a Staten Island native who has been handing out brochures for the memorial (he is also the one who designed the Jaws Baby Bed). The memorial does exist, if you can find it, but the museum does not. Workers at other Staten Island museums have been busy fielding questions from people looking for it. The ferry Cornelius G. Kolff existed at one time, but was not attacked by a giant octopus. The t-shirts, of course, are real. The brochures, t-shirts, and the actual statue depicting a ferry being devoured by a tentacled monster will go a long way toward perpetuating the urban legends city dwellers like to tell tourists.

Indiana child molester avoids jail because prosecutors feared jury wouldn’t believe second teen victim

An Indiana man accused of molesting two children won’t spend any time in jail despite tearfully admitting to touching one of the victims.

How to Explain Cultural Appropriation to Anyone Who Just Doesn’t Get It

Of the World's Most Sustainable Cities, Not One U.S. City Cracked the Top 20

Fun Things Every Geek Needs to Own

If you love video games, Harry Potter, Star Wars, proper grammar or anatomy, then you officially have a geeky side. We support the geekification of the public and encourage anyone with even one of those interests to check out this fun Distractify article with over 20 awesome things for geeks to bring into their home.
A few highlights from the list include the marauder's map scarf and respect the chemistry spice rack seen above, as well as this Super Mario light and this set of Pokemon gym pins. Of course, this hatching dinosaur candle is pretty lovable as well.

Gig Economy Is Changing the Way We Work and Live

Poverty Rates at Lowest Levels Since 2008

The Sneaky Way Amazon Is Ripping You Off

How Big Bank and Pharma CEOs Get Away With Fraud and Greed

Woman jumped onto purse snatcher's car in desperate attempt to stop him

A woman decided she wasn’t going to make it easy for her attacker during a robbery at a gas station in Dania Beach, Florida. Surveillance video from the Mobil gas station shows the crook pull up to a pump in a light-colored Cadillac.
Casually, the man opened the driver’s side door of the car next to him and grabbed a purse from the front seat. It belonged to Janelle Della-Libera, 32, who was pumping gas and immediately chased after him, climbing onto his car in a desperate attempt to stop him.
Spread out on the hood of the man’s car, Janelle was able to reach inside and appears to hit the thief with her wallet. He began to speed up and, seconds later, she tumbled off his car and onto the ground, leaving her with a fractured foot. Janelle’s husband is grateful his wife’s injury wasn’t worse.

“We’re very proud that she didn’t just back down and be a victim and we’re also very happy she’s doing well,” said Giovani Libera. “This could have been much worse.” But, he says, there’s a lesson here. When you’re at the gas station, lock your doors while you pump and keep your eyes open. “This is happening all over south Florida,” said Libera.

Woman says she lost $75,000 to smooth-talking witch-doctor

It started with a $10 palm reading, but within a few weeks, she lost $75,000 to a smooth-talking hustler, a woman from Wellington, New Zealand, says. "They are so determined. They brainwash you completely. You are in their hands," the woman, who does not want to be named, has warned. The woman said she went to the witch-doctor and his wife for a palm reading after being handed a pamphlet at a street market. She said the male witch-doctor was of South Indian origin, with a mustache and medium-length hair. He dressed inconspicuously when outside but wore yellow robes during ceremonies. "They do wear priest's clothes in their house so you think they're good people." They used incense, coconuts and flowers during ceremonies, and chanted "aum Kali, aum Kali," to the deity of the same name. The couple forged a relationship with the woman, persuading her only they could rid her of evil spirits. She said she was told one of her own children was in danger.
Soon the couple visited her house in suburban Wellington. The man noticed a dead bird outside, and said this was proof her house had a malevolent spirit. Soon, the woman was too scared to be home alone, so the witch-doctor's wife came to stay with her. "I was scared. I could not come into my house. They said 'there's a spirit in your house'." The witch-doctors made increasingly dramatic predictions, spoke of sacrifices, then told her she had only a week to live. Tormented and scared, she succumbed to demands, went to the bank, and handed over $25,000 cash.
She also handed over cash and jewellery worth another $50,000 later in 2013. The witch-doctors left the country, but kept calling her. On Monday, a man who answered one of the phone numbers said he had been to New Zealand, but only in 2008. He said he did the shami pooja ritual, astrology and horoscope reading but not other practices of the kind advertised. "There are some good people ... there are some bad people," he said when allegations of wrongdoing were put to him. His service didn't offer refunds, but he urged the complainant to come to Bangalore. The woman said she no longer believed in black magic but was angry at herself for losing so much money and wanted others to avoid the same fate.

Customs officials surprised to find woman traveling with husband's entrails in her luggage

Bemused customs officials in Austria have stopped a Moroccan woman, who traveled to Graz airport with a bag containing her husband's entrails. The man's intestines had been wrapped carefully in two containers. The woman, who has not been named, explained that she suspected her deceased husband had been poisoned.
She wanted a toxicology test carried out on her husband's tissue. He died during an operation in Morocco. When the woman arrived in Graz, a doctor was called to examine the intestines.
He said a proper investigation could not be carried out without the whole body. Police said the woman had not broken any laws. The entrails have been stored temporarily ahead of further forensic investigation.

Police hunt man who made his escape wearing just underpants and one sock

The Waynesboro Police Department in Virginia is requesting information on locating a wanted Waynesboro man who fled in nothing but his underpants and a single sock earlier this week when he was found with drugs. On Tuesday, a deputy with the City of Waynesboro Sheriff’s Office went to a residence to evict the renters when he found Aaron Hernando Holder, 37 years old, and 30 year old female trespassing inside the residence. The deputy ordered them out of the residence. Holder was clothed only in his undergarments.
After further examination of the residence, the deputy located suspected drugs in the room where he found Holder and the female. Even though he was scantily clad, Holder fled on foot along with the female. A search of the area by other officers and deputies was unsuccessful.
Members of the Skyline Drug Task Force responded to the residence and executed a search warrant. Drug charges are also pending on Holder and the female suspect. Holder should be considered dangerous. Anyone with information in this case is asked to call the Waynesboro Police Department.

Man photographed by security cameras he stole arrested

A Florida man is in custody just a short time after stealing a business' surveillance system and being caught on camera in the process.
Forty-eight-year-old Guadalupe Ruiz, from Fort Myers, was arrested on Saturday for burglary, grand theft, and criminal mischief.
Ruiz stole six surveillance cameras from El Dorado Pawn Shop that captured crystal clear images of him before they were disabled.
This is Ruiz’s seventh booking in the Lee County Jail, and for his charges, he is being held without bond.

Where Are We In The Universe?

The Universe is all of time and space and its contents. It includes planets, moons, minor planets, stars, galaxies, the contents of intergalactic space, and all matter and energy. The observable universe is about 28 billion parsecs (91 billion light-years) in diameter.
Have you ever considered our cosmic address?

Animals That Changed History

Impact: Plagues, ending the Middle Ages
From 1347 to 1350, the a virulent disease ravaged the populations of Asia and Europe, killing more than 25 million in Europe alone— about a third of the population. Most people died just three days after becoming infected. Scientists remain perplexed by the outbreak, but many agree that the disease was probably the bubonic plague (or the “black death”) and it was probably spread all over the world by infected fleas traveling on rats. In those days, rats thrived among people— on ships and in cities. Infected fleas, the thinking goes, simply hopped off of dying rats and onto people.
The disruption to medieval society was immense and the outbreak helped bring about the end of the feudalism. Muslims in Crimea, in what’s now the Ukraine, blamed Christians and expelled them from trading cities, spreading the disease deep into Europe. The Christians blamed Jews and burned many of them alive, killing crucial tradesmen and leaving towns without blacksmiths, innkeepers, bakers, millers, and weavers. Many towns and farms were abandoned, leading to food shortages. Ultimately, the nobles couldn’t enforce control on their surviving peasant laborers. So, despite laws aimed at keeping serfs’ wages low, the desperate noblemen began doubling and tripling wages, encouraging the serfs of other noblemen to jump ship. Over time, the serfs were able to demand and get a higher standard of living and new rights, loosening the binds that kept them enslaved to one estate and bringing an end to the economic system of feudalism.
Impact: Hunting, herding, self-defense
Humans began welcoming dogs into their settlements about 14,000 years ago, the first animals to be domesticated. At first, groups of wolves probably began scavenging human settlements, snatching up the scraps, bones, and other perfectly good animal parts that humans threw out after hunting. Eventually, people discovered that dogs also made good watch animals at night. Humans favored the friendlier, less skittish animals and their puppies, unintentionally breeding dogs that were tame. About 3,000 years ago, people began breeding dogs intentionally, choosing specialized hunting and herding functions. The results were affectionate, efficient hunting animals, and the ability for one person to control an entire herd of sheep, goats, cows, or swine. This allowed tribes to own more livestock and freed up shepherds to pursue other needed occupations like hunting, farming, and metalworking.
Impact: Made agriculture possible, prevented plagues
Historians believe that about 10,000 years ago a few African wildcats decided to adopt humans. Genetic studies indicate that all of the world’s 600 million house cats descend from as few as five original cat pioneers. As a result of this very restricted inbreeding, house cats developed all kinds of quirks and defects, including an inability to taste sweetness.
This all happened in the Fertile Crescent— an unusually fertile area in otherwise barren Egypt and Mesopotamia— at about the same time that people began growing wheat, rye, and barley. These crops provided humans with food stability and allowed them to stop wandering and erect permanent settlements. A few wildcats discovered that the barns and homes in these settlements offered sunny places to sleep, protection from larger animals, scraps of food, and huge quantities of big, juicy mice and rats. Humans, bedeviled by rodents that ate and contaminated the crops they stored after harvests, learned to value their feline friends. Ancient Egyptians even grew to worship cats, making it a crime to kill one. The Romans spread cats across Europe, and the Europeans took them to ports around the world. Cats went through a dark period in Europe during the Middle Ages, when people began seeing them as evil spirits and companions to witches, resulting in widespread extermination of entire cat populations. But the result was a continent overrun with rats and the diseases they brought, which eventually caused humans to forgive cats and welcome them home.
Impact: Food, clothing, tools, and fuel
For about 8,000 years, cows have provided humans with food from meat and milk; clothes, blankets, and tents from their hides; fertilizer and cooking fuel from their dung; tools from their horns, teeth, and bones; and transportation and power. And they do it all by eating grasses that humans can’t digest. Like cats, cattle were adopted by humans after people organized into permanent settlements. That’s because, unlike sheep and goats (which had been herded for more than a thousand years before), cattle like to graze familiar fields and return to the same shelter each night. So nomadic lifestyles don’t really suit them.
Impact: Pre-industrial power and transportation, Mongol invasions
People began domesticating horses about 6,000 years ago, and long before the Industrial Revolution, humans discovered that the animals made great workers and companions. The Mongols were master horsemen who, during the 13th century, ruled the largest empire in history, containing 100 million people and 22 percent of the world’s total landmass, stretching from Hungary to the Sea of Japan. Mongol soldiers often rode for hours without stopping, drinking blood from their horses as they conquered new lands. Over time, horses became inextricably linked to humans, providing transportation, power, and even tail hair for violin bows and an estrogen supplement called Premarin, whose name honors its source material: “pregnant mare urine.”

Impact: Native American settlement of the Great Plains; American roads; consciousness about saving endangered species
Massive bison herds, numbering up to 30 million animals, once grazed the grassy plains between the Rockies and the Appalachians, from the far north of Canada to Mexico. Native Americans used their migration paths as transportation routes that became road and rail beds still used today. And for thousands of years, Native Americans survived on the grassy North American plains by hunting the bison. But then came Europeans.
When white settlers arrived in North America, they were amazed by the number of bison, a seemingly endless supply, and began shooting them for skins or sport, usually leaving the meat to rot in the sun. There are also reports that wholesale bison slaughter was a deliberate tactic to deprive the Plains Indians of their main food source.
By 1889 the American bison population was down to just 1,091 animals. When the government shrugged off that fact, a few prescient ranchers saved a handful of the remaining animals, breeding them for eventual reintroduction into the wild. Those bison now make up the populations of Yellowstone National Park and Canada’s Elk Island Park. The ranchers’ success inspired attempts to save other endangered species through laws, hunting bans, and captive breeding programs that release animals into the wild.
Impact: European exploration of North America, destruction of Native American tribes
Like the American bison, beavers were also nearly wiped out for their fur. In the 1700s, 60 to 80 beavers populated every mile of every stream in Canada and the northern United States. But within 100 years, the critters were hunted to near extinction. Why? Because beaver-skin top hats were all the rage in England. Fur traders had finished off the European beavers, so they went searching for the animals in other British holdings. They discovered a vast beaver population in North America that, in the 1790s, allowed them to ship more than 30,000 pelts a year back to Europe. As the beavers along the American East Coast disappeared, fur trappers explored farther west, following the Great Lakes and continuing in all directions. In 1793 Alexander Mackenzie, the first European to travel across the North American continent, did so on behalf of the North West Fur Company.
For Native Americans, beaver-mania was a mixed blessing. On the one hand, they could exchange furs for many goods they needed. But on the other, waves of European interlopers were infringing on their lands. Worse, the diseases the explorers brought were disastrous to many tribes, wiping out most or all of the inhabitants of some villages.
Fortunately, in the mid-1800s, beavers got a reprieve. Silk hats slowly gained favor, leaving the few remaining beavers in North America alone long enough to repopulate.

Animal Pictures