Running a little late this morning, so thanks for bearing with me…
I want to start this post off with a few links to end of year book list.
First, the New York Times Sunday Book Review: 100 Notable Books of 2013 – NYTimes.com
The year’s notable fiction, poetry and nonfiction, selected by the editors of The New York Times Book Review.
It is a staple read for me…and it goes without saying, that I must include the kids list of books too:
Then we have this interesting grouping from The New Statesman: Books of the Year 2013
Each year we ask regular contributors to the Critics pages of the New Statesman, together with other friends of the magazine, to write about their favourite books of year. There are no constraints on what kinds of books they are able to choose, so the results are often intriguing.
John Gray ❦ Ali Smith ❦ Ed Balls
Stephen King ❦ Rachel Reeves ❦ Sarah Sands
William Boyd ❦ Alan Rusbridger ❦ Lucy Hughes-Hallett
Simon Heffer ❦ Andrew Adonis ❦ Craig Raine
Felix Martin ❦ Frances Wilson ❦ John Burnside
Jesse Norman ❦ Alexander McCall Smith ❦ Richard Overy
Jason Cowley ❦ Mark Damazer ❦ Lionel Shriver
Jemima Khan ❦ Geoff Dyer ❦ Laurie Penny
Vince Cable ❦ Alan Johnson ❦ Leo Robson
Jane Shilling ❦ John Bew ❦ Ed Smith ❦ Richard J Evans
David Baddiel ❦ Michael Rosen ❦ John Banville
David Shrigley ❦ Chris Hadfield ❦ Tim Farron
Toby Litt ❦ David Marquand ❦ Robert Harris
Michael Prodger ❦ Michael Symmons Roberts ❦ Sarah Churchwell
One book that was picked by a few of the folks up top:
The trials and tribulations of modern France yielded my two best books. Robert Harris’s An Officer and a Spy (Hutchinson, £18.99) breathes deep pathos into the Dreyfus affair, electrifying the bitter divisions of Third Republic France, which led ultimately to its disintegration in 1940.
I looked into it, and it is not being publish on Kindle or here in the US until January 2014. It sounds really good.
Anyway, check those list out and let us know what tickles you, or what books you would suggest.
One of the books in that New Statesman link connects to another article I have for you this morning. Look here:
My favourite art book of the year is Inside the Rainbow: Russian Children’sLiterature 1920-35 (Redstone Press, £35). It juxtaposes beautiful illustrations with texts from writers such as Daniil Kharms and missives from the Soviet state. The artworks are photographed: they retain the flat, matt, paper quality of the originals. It’s a lovely book and there’s nothing in it that is too familiar. I love the subheading, too: Beautiful Books, Terrible Times.
And since the Holidays are about the little ones…both young and old alike, here are some awesome kick ass playgrounds around the world: The Most Amazing Playgrounds in the World (PHOTOS) – weather.com
Playgrounds have certainly come a long way from the ubiquitous swing sets and monkey bars – just visit your neighborhood fast food joint. But lately, we’ve noticed some amazing play spaces popping up all over the world that ditch the plastic ball pit in favor of truly imaginative designs.
From the whimsical and fantastical to the just plain cool, these amazing constructions are setting a pretty high bar for your local schoolyard. Whether it’s integrating seamlessly with the natural landscape, creating living storybooks or recycling trash into treasure, these playgrounds make brilliant kid-friendly design look like child’s play.
Seriously, take a look at some of these fun grounds. The ones from Denmark, like that photo above, are really surreal. Then there is a playground in St. Louis that looks like the one from the movie The Wiz.
Okay, just one more “book” link for you. Fifty Years Later, Why Does ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem’ Remain Contentious?
Each week in Bookends, two writers take on pressing and provocative questions about the world of books. This week, Adam Kirsch and Rivka Galchen on why Hannah Arendt’s “Eichmann in Jerusalem” remains contentious fifty years after it was first published.
I don’t know why, even though that New York Times Review of Books article is new…there is something Déjà vu about it.
And sticking with history a bit longer: Slave artifacts found at Georgia highway project site
Photo by Rita Elliot, AP Photo/New South Associates Inc.
In a spring 2013 photo provided by New South Associates Inc., archaeologists Brad Botwick, left, Cory Green, and Nicole Isenbarger, right, excavate, sift soil, and map part of a former plantation site in Savannah, Ga. The site, which is being excavated prior to construction of a highway project, yielded thousands of artifacts that archaeologists believe belonged to slaves.
A Mexican coin punctured with a small hole, nails from long-decayed wooden dwellings, and broken bits of plates and bottles are among thousands of artifacts unearthed from what archaeologists suspect were once slave quarters at the site of a planned highway project in Savannah.
A team hired to survey the site by the Georgia Department of Transportation spent three months excavating 20 acres of undeveloped woods tucked between a convenience store and apartments off busy Abercorn Extension on Savannah’s suburban south side. Archaeologist Rita Elliott said the project yielded a staggering 33,858 artifacts believed to date from about 1750 until after the Civil War.
Historical records show that a wealthy Savannah attorney named William Miller owned a large plantation at the site and at one time had 87 slaves, Elliott said. Archaeologists didn’t find the main plantation house but believe many of the artifacts they found are consistent with slave dwellings.
“These people are pretty anonymous in the historical records,” Elliott said. “The archaeology may not tell us much about their names, but it will tell us about their lives.”
As for the sheer volume of items recovered at the site, Elliott said, “It’s not unheard of. But this is a lot of artifacts.”
Take a look at the rest of that piece…what a story.
Of course I will use that tale of slavery, forced labor and submission to segue into this next article: Forced into a C-section: The latest violation of pregnant women’s rights
In a surreal case that’s lawyers are calling “unprecedented,” an Italian woman who was visiting the U.K. last year for work while pregnant with her third child says she wound up undergoing a forced caesarean and had her baby taken away from her. She is currently waging a legal battle to have her returned.
The story, which broke Sunday in the Telegraph, is a harrowing one. The woman, whose family says she is bipolar and needs medication, had “something of a panic attack” in her hotel room, and called the police. After telling her they were taking her to the hospital to “make sure that the baby was OK,” she says she was shocked to find herself instead in a psychiatric facility, where she was restrained for several weeks. Eventually, after being told one morning she couldn’t have breakfast, she was forcibly sedated and woke up several hours to the news that her baby daughter had been removed by social services. Soon after, she was sent home without her child.
Back home and back on her medication, the woman embarked on a quest to have her baby daughter returned to her. But the Italian court said that “Since she had not protested at the time, she had accepted that the British courts had jurisdiction – even though she had not known what was to be done to her.” And a British judge declared that “He could not risk a failure to maintain her medication in the future.” The woman’s American ex-husband and father of her eldest daughter even tried to plead for the baby to be sent to his sister in Los Angeles, but because the baby isn’t a blood relation to her, the court struck that down too.
The woman’s lawyer, Brendan Fleming, told the Telegraph, “I have never heard of anything like this in all my 40 years in the job. I can understand if someone is very ill that they may not be able to consent to a medical procedure, but a forced caesarean is unprecedented.” And Liberal Democrat M.P. John Hemming, added, “I have seen a number of cases of abuses of people’s rights in the family courts, but this has to be one of the more extreme. It involves the Court of Protection authorizing a caesarean section without the person concerned being made aware of what was proposed.”
It seems crazy to me…but things are unreal in this world. (I will say for the record, women who refuse c-sections that eventually cause the death of their child…that is another matter. I do have problems with the women who do that. When cesareans become a necessary procedure, and the woman is determined to have a vaginal delivery at any cost, she is taking that “fucked up” ideology just as far as those fetus fanatics do…to the point beyond reason.)
Case in point: ACLU sues US bishops over Catholic hospital ethics
The American Civil Liberties Union filed a sweeping federal lawsuit against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops over its ethical guidelines for Roman Catholic hospitals, arguing the directives were to blame for negligent care of a pregnant woman who went into early labor and whose baby died within hours.
The ACLU alleges the bishops were negligent because their religious directives prevented Tamesha Means from being told that continuing her pregnancy posed grave risks to her health and her child was not likely to survive. She was treated at Mercy Health Muskegon, a Catholic hospital in Michigan.
“It’s not just about one woman,” said Kary Moss, executive director of the Michigan ACLU. “It’s about a nationwide policy created by nonmedical professionals putting patients in harms’ way.”
The lawsuit comes amid a wave of mergers between Catholic and secular hospital systems throughout the United States, raising questions about how much religious identity the hospitals will retain and whether they will provide medical services that conflict with church teaching. Advocates for abortion rights and others fear the mergers will limit access to a full range of medical care for women. About 13 percent of U.S. hospitals are Catholic.
It is a familiar story, we all know too well from personal experience what this woman went through…
According to the lawsuit, filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Michigan, Means was 18 weeks pregnant in 2010 when her water broke and she went to the nearest hospital in Muskegon. The ACLU said that over several emergency visits, Means was never told that “the safest treatment option was to induce labor and terminate the pregnancy” because the hospital was following the conference’s ethical directives. She eventually delivered the baby, which died after less than three hours. The ACLU says the pathology report found that Means had infections that can result in infertility and other damage.
Under the conference’s “Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services,” abortion is barred, along with other procedures that go against Catholic doctrine, such as specific infertility treatments or sterilization. However, each bishop has the authority to interpret the directives within his diocese and it is common to find some variation in how the guidelines are applied among dioceses or according to individual cases.
For example, the directives allow for treatments to cure a grave illness in a pregnant woman even if they result in the death of the child. That issue drew national attention in 2010 with the case of a nun and administrator at a Phoenix hospital who, in her role on the hospital ethics committee, approved an abortion to save the life of a pregnant woman. Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted said the decision meant automatic excommunication for the nun and the hospital could no longer identify itself as Catholic.
Robin Fretwell Wilson, a University of Illinois professor who specializes in family and health law, said a negligence claim would hinge in part on whether the ACLU can establish that the conference has some direct control in this case or in hospitals in general. The bishops have moral authority over local Catholic hospitals but are not involved in the day-to-day business of administration.
“It’s so many layers removed,” Fretwell Wilson said, that she has “a difficult time buying” that the bishops’ conference is legally responsible in this case.
Sigh, well…I guess we just have to wait and see.
All this talk about the Pope and his new focus on the poor is great, but I still can’t fully get on board with Francis and his shitty attitude towards women. Then there is this crap too: Vatican refuses to share sex abuse investigations with U.N. panel | Reuters
The Vatican refused to provide a United Nations rights panel with information on the Church’s internal investigations into the sexual abuse of children by clergy, saying on Tuesday that its policy was to keep such cases confidential.
In response to a series of tough questions posed by the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Holy See said it would not release information on its internal investigations into abuse cases unless required to do so by a request from a state or government to cooperate in legal proceedings.
The response of the Holy See, which will be directly questioned by the panel in January 2014, will be closely watched as it tries to draw a line under financial scandals and abuse by priests that have damaged the standing of the Roman Catholic Church around the world.
Since becoming the first non-European pontiff in 1,300 years, Pope Francis has largely succeeded in changing the subject after the resignation of Benedict XVI in February.
You bet your ass he has changed the subject!
The questions from the panel aimed to assess the Church’s adherence to the 1990 U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child, a treaty guaranteeing a full range of human rights for children which the Holy See has signed.
In its response the Vatican said internal disciplinary proceedings “are not open to the public” in order to protect “witnesses, the accused and the integrity of the Church process”, but said this should not discourage victims from reporting crimes to state authorities.
However, it said state laws, including the obligation to report crimes, must be respected.
The Holy See noted it was “deeply saddened by the scourge of sexual abuse” and emphasized that it had changed the requirements for admitting candidates for priesthood, updated canon law, and asked bishops’ conferences to draw up guidelines to combat abuse.
But it indicated the Vatican could not be held responsible for the behavior of institutions or individual Catholics around the world and said local bishops had the responsibility of ensuring children were protected.
“The Holy See does not exercise effective control over the local activities of Catholic institutions around the world,” the response read, indicating the Catholic Church’s central administration could only be held accountable for events within the Vatican City State.
That makes me think of one thing:
Honestly. Maybe all this brouhaha over the Popes comments is nothing but smoke and mirrors? Get everyone distracted and flustered about one thing over here and they forget about priest molesting little boys over there.
Another news item that could use that Naked Gun clip as an afterthought, Radioactive Japanese Wave Nears U.S. : Discovery News
In the wake of the deadly tsunami that hit Japan in 2011 and severely damaged a nuclear reactor, Japanese officials say the levels of radiation are safe for everyone outside the reactor area itself. But as radioactive water from the plant nears the West Coast of North America — the water is expected to hit in 2014 — can we be sure it’s safe?
The nuclear reactor continues to leak radioactive water due to poor management, while Japanese subcontractors at the plant have admitted they intentionally under-reported radiation and that dozens of farms around Fukushima that were initially deemed safe by the government actually had unsafe levels of radioactive cesium.
Fukushima locals also claim they’re seeing cancer at higher rates and the Japanese government is covering up the scale of the problem.
I really don’t think we are getting all the story from Japan either. The US EPA monitors Radiation levels around the US, you can see near real-time results here: RadNet | US EPA
The nationwide RadNet system monitors the nation’s air, drinking water, precipitation, and pasteurized milk to determine levels of radiation in the environment. RadNet sample analyses and monitoring results provide baseline data on background levels of radiation in the environment and can detect increased radiation from radiological incidents.
EPA’s nationwide radiation monitoring system, RadNet, consists of two components. First, stationary and deployable air monitors measure radiation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The map below provides monitoring results as graphs that are updated several times daily. You can also search the RadNet database in EPA’s Central Data Exchange (CDX) to find monitoring data. Second, EPA samples precipitation, drinking water, and milk on a routine schedule and tests them for radiation in a laboratory. The latest RadNet sampling results are available in Envirofacts.
Give that some of your time today, it is interesting indeed.
Y’all probably saw this crap yesterday: Zucker plans massive change at CNN | Capital New York
After almost a year of tinkering, CNN Worldwide President Jeff Zucker has concluded that a news channel cannot subsist on news alone.
So he is planning much broader changes for the network—including a prime-time shakeup that’s likely to make CNN traditionalists cringe.
Once, CNN’s vanilla coverage was a point of pride. Now, the boss boasts about the ratings for his unscripted series, and documentaries like the Sea World-slamming film Blackfish. Zucker, in his first one-on-one interview since taking control of CNN last January, told Capital he wants news coverage “that is just not being so obvious.”
Instead, he wants more of “an attitude and a take”:
“We’re all regurgitating the same information. I want people to say, ‘You know what? That was interesting. I hadn’t thought of that,’” Zucker said. “The goal for the next six months, is that we need more shows and less newscasts.”
Can you see where this is going?
Zucker—“rhymes with hooker,” he likes to say—also expanded on comments he has made about breaking CNN out of a mindset created by historic rivalries with MSNBC and Fox. He wants the network to attract “viewers who are watching places like Discovery and History and Nat Geo and A&E.”
Hmmm, up next on CNN…
Moving on. Two quick links:
Asshole actually tries to pass this shit off, and even the idiots who follow him on facebook call him out on it.
And check out The Very Best of ‘Right-Wing Art’ | Mediaite
Oh, there are no words…
Did you see what happened in Iceland yesterday?
Icelandic police have shot dead a man who was firing a shotgun in his apartment in the early hours of Monday.
It is the first time someone has been killed in an armed police operation in Iceland, officials say.
Wow, the first time?
16 MAY 2013, MAGAZINE
07 JANUARY 2013, EUROPE
24 MAY 2013, EUROPE
I don’t know, but with all the shit going on around here, Iceland is looking pretty good.
That is all for me this morning, except for this last story…BBC News – Chess boxing catching on in India
There are 300-odd chess boxers in India
Chess boxing, a hybrid sport combining the mental workout of chess with the physical challenge of boxing, is catching on in India, reports Shamik Bag.
Wearing boxing wraps around their palms and seated on a bench inside a gym in the eastern Indian city of Calcutta, two players match moves while huddled over a chessboard.
Caught between the mind and muscle, the recently-introduced game of chess boxing is seeing an early surge of interest in India. The game involves alternate rounds of chess and boxing.
Now, that takes the whole hybrid sport thing to a new level doesn’t it? Forget kick-boxing, mixed-martial arts, wrestling stuff they do in world extreme cage fighting. This chess boxing takes brains! However, I don’t see it catching on here in the States. So don’t expect a reality show on chess boxing competitors to show up on CNN any time soon. I bet we could come up with a catchy title though…”Left Rook and Check Mat.” (Maybe not.)
Have a great day!
Agnotology. New word, for me at least…read this explanation and tell me if it strikes a chord with you. (Emphasis mine.)
Agnotology is the study of culturally induced ignorance.
Agnotology refocuses questions about “how we know” to include questions about what we do not know, and why not.
Londa Schiebinger, in the Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, 1 Sep. 2005.
Historians of science have tended to focus on the processes by which scientific knowledge gets accepted. In recent decades, some scholars have come to see that processes that impede or prevent acceptance of scientific findings are also important. Such processes include the very human desire to ignore unpleasant facts, media neglect of topics, corporate or government secrecy, and misrepresentation for a commercial or political end. They often generate controversy, much of it ill-informed. Examples include the health implications of tobacco and of genetically modified plants, the safety of nuclear power, the environmental consequences of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), and the existence or extent of man-made climate change.
Seriously, by that definition alone, and with those examples…you could just say that Agnotology is the study of Republicans.
While we are going through a GOP induced hell here in the states, some parts of India are living a real hell…being hit by one of the strongest typhoons in years. Cyclone Phailin makes landfall in India
A huge cyclone that has forced as many as 500,000 people to flee their homes has made landfall in eastern India.
Winds were measured at 200 km/h (125mph) as Cyclone Phailin hit the coast near Gopalpur, Orissa state, at about 21:15 (15:45 GMT).
Authorities had predicted a storm surge of at least 3m (10ft) that was expected to cause extensive damage.
Officials say they are better prepared than in 1999 when a cyclone killed thousands of people in Orissa.
Cyclone Phailin has been classed as “very severe”, and the head of India’s Meteorological Office, LS Rathore, said it would remain in that category for six hours before losing strength.
An hour before Phailin made landfall, winds were over 150 mph. New York Times is reporting that over 800,00 people have been evacuated…We will learn more as the morning progresses, I will post updates in the comments below.
Heading toward Russia, there was some violence at St Petersburg when a Russian gay rally ends in fights and arrests.
The clashes began after a protester had her rainbow flag ripped from her hands [Reuters]
Sixty-seven people were arrested after fightes broke out between gay rights activists and opponents at a rally in the Russian city of St Petersburg, according to local news sources.
Several dozen activists for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transexual rights had gathered in the centre of the city for a sanctioned LGBT rally, which was held on what activists termed as “international coming out day”.
They were far outnumbered by the anti-gay demonstrators, including several dressed as Cossacks and Orthodox priests, who had occupied the site of the planned demo.
Fights broke out after anti-gay protesters tore a rainbow flag from a woman’s hands, and police then moved in to arrest those involved. They eventually detained 67 people from both sides, Russian news agencies reported.
The Winter Games are going to be one shitty scary mess.
Back here in the states, there was an arrest yesterday in a famous unsolved murder case out of New York City. New York police arrest man in 1991 ‘Baby Hope’ killing
New York City police have arrested a cousin in the killing of a 4-year-old girl dubbed “Baby Hope,” whose body was found crammed in a picnic cooler in 1991, police said on Saturday.
Conrado Juarez, 52, early on Saturday confessed to sexually assaulting and then smothering the girl, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told a news conference.
Police detained him at a Manhattan restaurant on Friday, more than 22 years after the girl’s death, he said.
The girl, dubbed “Baby Hope” by investigators, was never reported missing and was only recently identified.
Kelly named her as 4-year-old Anjelica Castillo.
Her bound, asphyxiated body was discovered stuffed underneath cans of soda inside a blue-and-white cooler alongside the Henry Hudson Highway in northern Manhattan in July of 1991. She had been starved and sexually abused, police said.
New York police announced on Tuesday they had identified the girl’s mother after following through on a tip they received over the summer. Her identity was confirmed through DNA testing and she was cooperating with the investigation, they said.
Finally some closure for the people who have worked this case for all these years, because it is obvious the family didn’t give a damn about this little girl at all. Police say Juarez’s sister, who is dead, helped him dispose of Anjelica’s body. More information at this CNN link: NYPD arrests man in killing of ‘Baby Hope’
Update on Dartmouth: Dartmouth Suspends Wholesome Frat Over Hazing Emails
Meanwhile, Georgia’s Governor Deal may be under investigation. Read this AP report from North Georgia Access…it is a long article. I wonder if anything will come of it.: Attorney who raised questions about ethics complaints against Deal contacted by FBI
I saw this next link via Google News from my hometown of Tampa: 10 News Investigators find memo warning about terrorist “dry-runs” on airplanes | wtsp.com Strange…and again not a lot of news on this in other media outlets.
Of course, if you want to see what is up with the shutdown: Senate leaders take over government shutdown talks – The Washington Post
Hey, I mentioned yesterday that I was having some problems with my gmail account, well…here are two links that you need to read if you use Facebook or Google:
“Who can look up your Timeline by name?” Anyone you haven’t blocked. Facebook is removing this privacy setting, notifying those who had hidden themselves that they’ll be searchable. It deleted the option from those who hadn’t used it in December, and is starting to push everyone to use privacy controls on each type of content they share. But there’s no one-click opt out of Facebook search.
The company updated its TOS on Friday to allow an adult user’s profile name and photo to appear in reviews and advertising starting Nov. 11.
And let me tell you, it is a bitch to find the dashboard on Google where you can fix this shit!
We have a personal connection to the PBS Frontline “League of Denial” that aired this past week, Boston Boomer’s brother created the trailer that angered the NFL so much they pressured ESPN to drop out of the project….well here’s a round-up of responses to the show via The Dish: The Football Fan’s Dilemma « The Dish
I think you will find this infographic from Huffpo interesting: The Geographic Inequality Of Death Row (INFOGRAPHIC)
October 10 marks the 11th World Day Against the Death Penalty, and the United States remains one of the top five countries in the world for executing its citizens — along with China, Iran, Iraq and Saudi Arabia, according to Amnesty International. The 43 executions we carried out last year happened in just nine states; 15 of them were in Texas.
I am going to move on to the better part of today’s post…nothing depressing or disturbing.
There was this article at The New York Times which touched a personal side for me. Growing Up With a Disabled Sibling
Some research suggests that growing up with a disabled sibling can also infuse a person with a greater sense of responsibility, patience and compassion for others. Some siblings may be inspired to go into a helping profession, like medicine, teaching or public interest law. Others translate their early experience with disability into a greater appreciation for, and understanding of, the wide spectrum of human differences. I confess to keeping my own list of successful and accomplished people who have a sibling with Down syndrome, which includes the Olympic snowboarder Kevin Pearce (now himself disabled by a traumatic brain injury), the actor and singer Jamie Foxx, the actress Eva Longoria, and Amy Chua of “Tiger Mom” fame (and a Yale Law School professor).
That is just one paragraph I want to point out, you have to read the whole op/ed. It is great.I guess it is for me because I know the outcome of growing up with a disabled sibling…in my situation, Denny and I were always a package deal. So I see the hope in that piece.
There are some cool pictures at this link: We Could Stare At These Defaced Bills All Day
And hey…check it out: [VIDEO] ‘Remington Steele’ Reboot — NBC Plans Sequel I used to love that show, Pierce Brosnan was so damn hot.
Oh, and since this is October, two links on horror movies:
And one on Classic Movies from the 50′s:
Finally, this last article…which proves that an animal without a backbone is more intelligent than one of those Republicans, or at least the octopus can assist in the Agnotological study of the Republican Brain: How the Freaky Octopus Can Help us Understand the Human Brain – Wired Science
If you were to measure octopus smarts by the number of neurons the creatures have (500 million to our almost 100 billion), they’d come up pretty dull. But forget that metric. The octopus’s neurons aren’t even concentrated in its head; about two-thirds of its “brains” are distributed in its arms, dedicated to the fine operation of these limbs and each of their hundreds of suckers. The rest of the neurons are split between a central brain—surrounding the esophagus—and large optic lobes behind the eyes. Like we said: alien.
But somehow octopuses do things that suggest they’re brainier than plenty of animals with backbones and more familiar nervous systems. Here’s an easy one: Lots of octopods have learned to twist off standard jar lids. But in 2003, biologists at the Seattle Aquarium challenged Billye, a female Enteroctopus dofleini—a giant Pacific octopus—with a childproof bottle, the kind that can baffle even the smartest Homo sapiens. Billye figured out the push-and-twist trick in a little less than an hour. And in subsequent attempts, she popped those tricky tops in a mere five minutes.
Is the vertebrate brain optimized for intelligence? Ask the octopus. | Robert Eikelpoth/Corbis
This is just the beginning of their abilities. Octopuses in the wild may be using tools—a feat that, not so long ago, was considered the exclusive domain of humans (though now we know it’s the province of other species too, like dolphins and some birds). Researchers have observed octopuses off the coast of Indonesia collecting—and awkwardly carrying—coconut shell halves along the sandy seafloor. For a shelter on the go, they whip out the two pieces of shell, swoop inside, and snap the pair shut. “That’s a spectacular example, because it really does suggest foresight,” says Jennifer Mather, who studies animal behavior at Canada’s University of Lethbridge. “In terms of cognition, that’s pretty good.”
Have a great Sunday!
Stop by and share what you are reading and blogging about today.
Since Peej has the Happiness front covered, I will take care of the down and out blues department….
Yeah, it’s one hell of a blues song…but it sure is a sad song too…and I mean what else can you say about being so down and out and blue you need to turn to prostitution? The Blues…You know that also includes the dark, depressing and disturbing stuff too.
Starting with this little update on the rodeo clown that caused Fox News, Glenn Beck and Hannity to have a conniption, not because of the disgusting racist “mockery” displayed at a state funded event…but because rodeo clowns always make fun of sitting presidents. Cough, cough. Tommy Christopher has this to say: You Would Not Believe How Common Rodeo Clown Mockery of Presidents Is
For days, conservatives in the media have been calling out Republicans in Missouri for denouncing a rodeo clown’s performance at the Missouri State Fair, although they keep referring to those Republicans as “liberals,” for some reason. However, conservative media watchdog Newsbusters has now swooped in with a welcome dose of cold, hard truthiness to let the Republicans, Democrats, and other decent people who were offended by the rodeo’s mockery of President Obama, know that this exact thing happens all the time! In fact, you wouldn’t believe how often!
Despite conservative media attempts to frame reaction to this incident as liberal over-sensitivity, the performance drew immediate, harsh rebukes from Republicans and Democrats in Missouri, and resulted in a lifetime ban for the rodeo clown.
Newsbusters‘ Noel Sheppard, however, wants to make sure that the mainstream media reports that “these things aren’t that unusual at such events,” and he’s got ironclad proof that sitting presidents are mocked by rodeo clowns at publicly-sponsored events all the time:
Maybe these folks should report that these things aren’t that unusual at such events, and that in 1994, a bull attacked a dummy wearing a George H.W. Bush mask without the world coming to an end, anybody being fired, or any press outrage.
1994? I guess that counts as frequent if you’re a cicada. Sheppard cites this passage from a 1994 Philadelphia Inquirer piece:
The big white gate flew open. The bull came out bucking. The rider flopped from side to side and the bullfighters held back, letting the bull make his moves until the rider dropped off. Licciardello crouched in a heavily padded barrel, a human target should the bull decide to charge. Hawkins waited near the barrel, holding his big inner tube. A dummy with a George Bush mask stood beside the clown, propped up by a broomstick. [...]
T.J. Hawkins rolled out the big inner tube, and the bull lowered his head, shot forward and launched into the tube, sending it bounding down the center of the arena. The crowd cheered. Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy. He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence.
Okay, fine, it wasn’t a sitting president, it was 20 years ago, and it wasn’t even a rodeo clown wearing a mask, but still, why was there no media outrage at this taxpayer-funded effigy eff-up? Well, it turns out the Philly Inquirer was doing a feature on Jimmy Lee Walker, and the Bush bit was just a bit of color thrown in to give readers a Proustian grasp of New Jersey’s Cowtown Rodeo, which is not a state fair, is not funded by tax dollars, and happens every week… in New Jersey. It’s like asking why ESPN is ignoring the prevalence of steroids in Wiffle Ball.
More stories from the dark side: The Inevitable Darth Vader/Breaking Bad Mashup Has Arrived and It Is Glorious
He was responsible for the Death Star. Two of them bitches.
Sure, as Heisenberg, Walter White strikes fear into the hearts of drug dealers everywhere. But take away the black headgear and he’s really just a sad old white dude with a bald head and a lung problem.
…illustrator PJ McQuade, who calls the above work “Darth Heisenberg.” That’s got a real nice ring to it, actually. And he’s not wrong — White is definitely in the empire business for sure. Though I’m kind of hoping that Walt doesn’t get a redemptive moment at the end of his story like Darth Vader did. Die in a million fires, Mr. White.
Hey, that is the Dark Side of The Force, no question about that. What about a Dark Religion? Or what some of the geezus freaks would have you believe was the deep dark devil side….
Well, here is an update on Georgia placing Bibles in the State Parks. You remember the deal Gov. Deal made a few months ago? That he would allow other religious material to be placed in the cabins located on state park property. Atheist books delivered to Georgia state park
Ed Buckner, a former president of American Atheists Inc., said he brought two atheist books for each cottage at Red Top Mountain State Park in Cartersville. The Cranford, N.J.-based organization had said it would supply atheist texts for lodging in Georgia state parks after the governor said in May any religious group could donate literature.
Bibles were temporarily removed earlier this year after Buckner complained about finding them in a cabin he rented at Amicalola Falls State Park. They were returned after the state attorney general said the books were permissible since the state hadn’t paid for them. In May, Gov. Nathan Deal ordered the Bibles returned to state park cabins and said any religious group could donate books.
“American Atheists does not believe the state of Georgia should be placing Bibles or atheist books in state park cabins; however, if the state is going to allow such distribution, we will happily provide our materials,” group president David Silverman said in a statement.
Buckner said Wednesday he was told by officials at Red Top Mountain State Park that the books he dropped off “The Skeptics Annotated Bible” by Steve Wells and “Fear, Faith, Fact, Fantasy” by Dr. John A. Henderson wouldn’t be immediately put in cottages at Red Top Mountain because the manager would have to make sure they complied with regulations.
Let’s see if those books really get to live next to the bibles in the cabin’s bedside table’s drawers…place your bets.
Okay, move on to the blackness and darkness of the criminal mind? The Killer Mind? Criminologists identify family killer characteristics
Men who kill their families can be separated into four distinct types.
British criminologists have made the assessment after studying newspaper records of “family annihilator” events over the period from 1980 to 2012.
A family break-up was the most common trigger, followed by financial difficulties and honour killings.
Writing in the Howard Journal of Criminal Justice, the team lists the four types as self-righteous, anomic, disappointed, and paranoid.
Each category has slightly different motivations and many cases also have a hidden history of domestic abuse. In four out of five cases the murderers went on to kill themselves or attempted to do so.
The research revealed the most frequent month for the crime was in August, when fathers were likely to be with their children more often because of school holidays.
- Self-righteous: Killer seeks to locate blame for his crimes upon the mother who he holds responsible for the breakdown of the family. For these men, their breadwinner status is central to their idea of the ideal family. (case study: Brian Philcox)
- Anomic: The family has become firmly linked to the economy in the mind of the killer. The father sees his family as the result of his economic success, allowing him to display his achievements. However, if the father becomes an economic failure, he sees the family as no longer serving this function. (case study: Chris Foster)
- Disappointed: This killer believes his family has let him down or has acted in ways to undermine or destroy his vision of ideal family life. An example may be disappointment that children are not following the traditional religious or cultural customs of the father. (case study: Mohammed Riaz)
- Paranoid: Those who perceive an external threat to the family. This is often social services or the legal system, which the father fears will side against him and take away the children. Here, the murder is motivated by a twisted desire to protect the family. (case study: Graham Anderson)
Be sure to read the whole article and then go back to read the case studies.
Have y’all seen the guest writer over at Charles Pierce? Esquire Civil War Reenactment: Robert E. Lee and What an Oath Means – Lt. Col. Robert Bateman
Take a look at his latest post and then check out the others he has written: Daily Politics Blog – Posts By Lt. Col. Robert Bateman – Charles P. Pierce – Political Blogging – Esquire
Over in England, spoons are saving the lives of young girls being sent into underage marriages: Spoon in underwear saving youths from forced marriage | The Raw Story
As Britain puts airport staff on alert to spot potential victims of forced marriage, one campaigning group says the trick of putting a spoon in their underwear has saved some youngsters from a forced union in their South Asian ancestral homelands.
The concealed spoon sets off the metal detector at the airport in Britain and the teenagers can be taken away from their parents to be searched — a last chance to escape a largely hidden practice wrecking the lives of unknown thousands of British youths.
The British school summer holidays, now well under way, mark a peak in reports of young people — typically girls aged 15 and 16 — being taken abroad on “holiday”, for a marriage without consent, the government says.
The bleep at airport security may be the last chance they get to escape a marriage to someone they have never met in a country they have never seen.
The spoon trick is the brainchild of the Karma Nirvana charity, which supports victims and survivors of forced marriage and honour-based abuse.
Based in Derby, central England, it fields 6,500 calls per year from around Britain but has almost reached that point so far in 2013 as awareness of the issue grows.
When petrified youngsters ring, “if they don’t know exactly when it may happen or if it’s going to happen, we advise them to put a spoon in their underwear,” said Natasha Rattu, Karma Nirvana’s operations manager.
“When they go though security, it will highlight this object in a private area and, if 16 or over, they will be taken to a safe space where they have that one last opportunity to disclose they’re being forced to marry,” she told AFP.
I guess that is a bright turn on a black horror story of abuse, but for something more disturbing…look at this old advertisement for Cellophane I found on Pinterest:
That is fucked up!
And another WTF story out of Texas: Texas Deputy Sues Woman for ‘Mental Anguish’ After He Kills Her Son-in-Law | Video Cafe
You want a legitimate lawsuit? Sue the stupid asshole parents who won’t vaccinate their kids! Anti-vaxxers: Why parents who don’t vaccinate their kids should be sued or criminally charged. – Slate Magazine
I got that link from a post at LG&M: Upper-Class Twits Put Your Kids At Risk
The world in which 1)Jenny McCarthy can get a highly compensated talk show gig and 2)inequality is increasing leads to some grim results:
Why is anti-vaccination sentiment associated with the economic elite? Alex Seitz-Wald examines the question in Salon, in light of an uptick in parents refusing to vaccinate their kids.* But not just any parents. As Seitz-Wald explains, the unvaccinated kids are clustered in some of the wealthiest schools and neighborhoods, particularly in California, where some extremely expensive private schools have vaccination compliance rates as low as 20 percent. Anti-vaccination sentiment has been stereotyped as a mindless lefty cause, but in reality, Republicans are slightly more likely to oppose vaccination than Democrats. The real correlation is between having a lot of money and class privilege and opposing vaccination.
And, yes, I’m a big fan of making anti-vaxxer cranks legally liable for the injuries they inflict on others, although I’d definitely favor civil rather than criminal remedies.
I don’t know, by sister-in-law is an anti-vaxxer and she is a far left-la-leches-legue-natzi…who lives in the college town around Cornell. These crazy nuts are putting other children at risk…they should be held legally liable. And the government should do more to get these kids vaccinated…if it means fines or some kind of other actions taken against the parents/guardians.
So…since we are on the topic of diseases…How about a story of death caused by disease? ‘Typhoid Mary’ Mystery May Have Been Solved At Last, Scientists Say
And say, do you want more stories on dead people?
Was that a large wooden badger?
A badger has reportedly proved to be a talented archaeologist after helping to discover the tombs of two medieval lords in Germany.
The 12th century burial site, which has been hailed as a “significant find” contains a sword, bronze bowls, a belt buckle and skeletal remains of two Slavic lords, according to Germany’s Der Spiegel Online.
The animal had made its underground home on a farm in the town of Stolpe in the eastern state of Brandenburg.
Two sculptors who also happen to be hobby archaeologists Lars Wilhelm and Hendrikje Ring, live on the farm and had planned to exhibit their art near the badger’s sett.
The pair were made aware of the artefacts when they found a human pelvic bone that had been dug up, prompting them to place a camera into the badger’s sett. Photographs taken with the device revealed pieces of jewellery, which the two then retrieved before notifying authorities.
Commenting on the discovery, Ring told the website,“It wasn’t exactly surprising to us because a whole field of ancient graves had been found on the other side of the road in the 1960s.”
More at the link.
Another story about an ancient grave…well not really ancient, just real old: New study reveals final days of a child, 800 years ago | Human World | EarthSky
The researchers examined burial soil, at spots where the child’s major organs would have been situated, to understand the child’s final days.
In medieval Denmark, a pre-teen child passed away, and was buried in the town of Ribe. Eight hundred years later, chemists have learned more about this child’s final days by analyzing soil samples in burial remains. Their research uncovered evidence that the child had been seriously ill and received a large dose of medicine in the form of mercury, in a desperate attempt to save his or her life.
Professor Kaare Lund Rasmussen, a chemist at the University of Southern Denmark, and his colleagues, reported on a novel technique to detect non-local chemical traces in ancient graves that could shed light on the final days of a long-deceased person. They published their findings about the Ribe child in the journal Heritage Science and announced the results in an August 9, 2013 press release, in which Rasmussen said:
I cannot say which diseases the child had contracted. But I can say that it was exposed to a large dose of mercury a couple of months before its death and again a day or two prior to death. You can imagine what happened: that the family for a while tried to cure the child with mercury containing medicine which may or may not have worked, but that the child’s condition suddenly worsened and that it was administered a large dose of mercury which was, however, not able to save its life.
Mercury, which is rarely found naturally in soil, is of particular interest to Rasmussen. It was used in some ancient cultures for various purposes, including medicine. While it’s possible to analyze ancient bones for the presence of mercury, bones only provide evidence of exposure for three to 10 years before death.
Organs, however, hold on to mercury over shorter intervals; in the lungs, for instance, mercury is excreted quickly. Rasmussen and his team were able to determine the amounts of mercury in the soil where major organs would have been situated. In that way, they could determine how long before death, on a timescale of days, the dose had been administered.
There is more detailed explanations at the link above.
And a link on searching for dead ancestors: Digging Up Family Roots in Sicily by Russell Shorto
As a writer I’ve always tended to seek out origins. My first book, about the search for the historical Jesus, was an attempt to get at the “real” story behind my Catholic upbringing. After living in Manhattan for several years, I wrote “The Island at the Center of the World,” a book about the Dutch settlement of New Amsterdam, the seed from which New York City grew.Recently I began considering my family. Among its manifold curiosities is our last name. People always ask me about the derivation of “Shorto.” The story I’d heard as a child was that after my illiterate Sicilian great-grandparents settled in my hometown of Johnstown, Pa., they enrolled their children in school and said the name aloud: Sciotto. And the administrator wrote it as he or she heard it.
Anecdotes like that were good enough before, but once I began to take a serious interest in my roots they felt soft. I wanted a better sense of who we were and where we had come from. I’d grown up with some of the atmosphere of the Old Country — the primal aroma of frying meatballs, the smothering embraces of old relatives, whispers of Mafia shenanigans, funny traditions like taping a silver dollar to the bellybutton of a newborn. But really it was an American childhood. There was almost no information about how it all began, about the generation that had emigrated at the start of the 20th century. It wasn’t even clear where in Sicily the family hailed from.
It is better than your usually travel piece. Take a look at it.
One last link for you, about that Greek Island we talk about so often: 9 top Greek islands I’m thinking Koufonisia or Naxos….
Today I am making the spaghetti sauce with meatballs, about 10 pounds of meatballs and a whole bunch of sauce too, so I will be very busy most of the afternoon. Anyway…one last dark image before I go.
I will end this with a picture of Mae West dressed as a bat…found this image on Pinterest.
What a dame!
Have a dark day, full of darkness! Post a comment if you have the inclination to do so…I think I need a vacation. See y’all later, Ciao!
Two interesting things came out of the mouth of Pope Francis today, which made me take a moment and laugh to myself.
First he makes a statement regarding “gay priest” that was not in line with the usual Church’s stance on the subject: On Gay Priests, Pope Francis Asks, ‘Who Am I to Judge?’
Striking a breathtakingly conciliatory approach to a hot-button issue that has divided Catholics, Pope Francis on Monday said that he would not judge priests for their sexual orientation. “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Francis said, according to media reports.
Reporters on the plane said that the pope had been candid and high-spirited and did not dodge a single question, even thanking the person who asked about reports of a “gay lobby” inside the Vatican, and about Italian press reports that one of the advisers he had appointed to look into the Vatican Bank had been accused of having gay trysts.
Francis said he had investigated the reports and found them groundless. He added that while such a lobby would be an issue, he did not have anything against gays and that their sins should be forgiven, media reports said. He said that while homosexuals should be treated with dignity, using sexual orientation for blackmail or pressure was a different matter. However, nothing in what he said suggested acceptance of anyone, priest or otherwise, engaging in homosexual acts.
…than his predecessor’s position on the issue.
Pope Benedict XVI signed a document in 2005 that said men with deep-rooted homosexual tendencies should not be priests.
But Pope Francis said gay clergymen should be forgiven and their sins forgotten.
“The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains this very well,” Pope Francis said in a wide-ranging 80-minute long interview with Vatican journalists.
“It says they should not be marginalised because of this but that they must be integrated into society.”
But he condemned what he described as lobbying by gay people.
“The problem is not having this orientation,” he said. “We must be brothers. The problem is lobbying by this orientation, or lobbies of greedy people, political lobbies, Masonic lobbies, so many lobbies. This is the worse problem.”
During the same flight Francis also discussed women in the priesthood: Pope says Catholic ban on women priests ‘definitive’
Pope Francis said the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on women priests is “definitive” although he would like them to have more leadership roles in its administration and pastoral activities.
The pope, speaking to reporters on Sunday night aboard the plane taking him home from a week-long visit to Brazil, said …
“But with regards to the ordination of women, the Church has spoken and says no… That door is closed.”
I found it amusing…homosexuals deserve to be treated with dignity…he feels they should not be marginalized but should be integrated in society…however when it comes to women being integrated within the clergy….that door is closed.
Hey, I’m glad he is coming around and showing some tolerance towards homosexuality, but still a hell of a way to go for the women’s rights issues and…of course, it goes without saying, he still needs to address all the sexual abuse and Vatican cover-ups too!
Here is Joyce Arnold’s take on it: Queer Talk: Pope Francis Won’t Judge Gay Priests, But No Policy Change
Every step toward equality, toward simply being recognized and affirmed as human, is important. This one by Pope Francis comes with no policy changes, but it can still help open eyes and hearts and minds. That’s assuming, of course, people are willing to let that happen.
Joyce also gives a quick review of a few other media responses to the Pope’s statements… give her link a click to check those out as well.
This next link is something I have to share because it has Demons associated with it, and it also deals with someone’s career falling apart due to the fact of literally falling on their ass. DEMONS DESTROYING DONNY & MARIE – The National Enquirer
IT’s all over for Donny and Marie!
After more than 35 years of showbiz stardom, the legendary brother-sister act may be finished for good.
Sources say a shocking medical crisis and bitter feuding are ripping the Osmond duo apart – and The ENQUIRER has all the stunning details.
The two began fighting like cats and dogs after Marie flipped out over the cancellation of her Hallmark Channel talk show, insiders say. Now Donny faces a grueling six-month recovery from surgery to repair muscle damage. He suffered the agonizing injury when he landed hard on his behind during their Las Vegas act, and family insiders fear he’ll never be able to sing and dance like he did before hurting himself.
“Marie tried to put a funny spin on her brother’s injury, joking, ‘I’ve always known Donny’s a butt, but now he’s proven it,’” a source told The ENQUIRER.
“But Donny’s injury was very serious, and it may spell the end for the Donny and Marie show in Las Vegas.”
Donny, 55, tore his gluteus maximus muscle while making a running leap onto a piano during their Sin City show at the Flamingo.
Heh…heh….heh…I don’t know exactly where the “Demons” come in…but:
Donny is said to be in no rush to get back to work with his famous sibling.
“Since Marie lost her talk show, she’s been taking her frustrations out on everyone around her, especially Donny,” said the source.
“He just couldn’t take it anymore and told a friend, ‘With the way Marie’s been acting, I’m certainly in no hurry to get back on stage with her.’
“But Marie’s desperate to hang on to the Flamingo show. She knows that audiences want to see the Donny and Marie magic – not just Marie, or Marie with a different Osmond brother.
“She’s terrified this could be the end of Donny and Marie!”
Oh, horrors! Quick, light a candle to the Mormon…big sparkling teeth gods and pray that Donnie’s ass gets back in shape before Marie completely loses her mind!
I want to end with this cartoon, Re-TARDIS – Political Cartoon by Dennis Draughon, Freelance – 07/29/2013
Have a great evening.
This is an open thread.