Sunday Reads: Elephants and Landmines, a Seemingly Awful Combination.

92782361561deba1673a31126f83c035Good Afternoon

Hey, what do you know?

Elephants can smell land mines.

Elephants have become the latest creatures to join humans in the battle to detect explosives and potentially save lives.

Researchers in South Africa have proven that the enormous creatures can sniff out explosives using their keen sense of smell.

It was first noticed that elephants can detect explosives in Angola, when the creatures returned following a war in 2002, which left the ground littered with mines.

Researchers wanted to uncover whether elephants could smell the explosives, or whether they avoided certain areas because elephants had died there in the past.

To make their findings, experts gave elephants in Bela-Bela, a town north of the South African capital of Pretoria, smelling tests.

The remarkable animals were able pick up TNT samples 73 out of the 74 times in a line of buckets, according to Ashadee Kay Miller, a zoology student at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, MailOnline reported.

0000-5601Read more about just how few mistakes the elephants made at the link.

They use other animals to sniff out land mines, including dogs and rats…which seems like a more logical answer to me. I mean, if a rat missteps on a landmine and bang….little mess.

But an elephant?

What will you see when you see an elephant step on a landmine?

KABOOM!

I’ll tell you one thing, it sure a shit won’t be a small showing.

But back to the elephants….Elephants can also smell water a kabillion miles away as well…so perhaps California could make use of them as well?

California has about one year of water left. Will you ration now? – LA Times

 

Given the historic low temperatures and snowfalls that pummeled the eastern U.S. this winter, it might be easy to overlook how devastating California’s winter was as well.

d44a1c149caa6ffc5864392d874c0cd7As our “wet” season draws to a close, it is clear that the paltry rain and snowfall have done almost nothing to alleviate epic drought conditions. January was the driest in California since record-keeping began in 1895. Groundwater and snowpack levels are at all-time lows. We’re not just up a creek without a paddle in California, we’re losing the creek too.

Statewide, we’ve been dropping more than 12 million acre-feet of total water yearly since 2011. Roughly two-thirds of these losses are attributable to groundwater pumping for agricultural irrigation in the Central Valley. Farmers have little choice but to pump more groundwater during droughts, especially when their surface water allocations have been slashed 80% to 100%. But these pumping rates are excessive and unsustainable. Wells are running dry. In some areas of the Central Valley, the land is sinking by one foot or more per year.

6d50e447784218c041419d7dff3ddd03As difficult as it may be to face, the simple fact is that California is running out of water — and the problem started before our current drought. NASA data reveal that total water storage in California has been in steady decline since at least 2002, when satellite-based monitoring began, although groundwater depletion has been going on since the early 20th century.

Right now the state has only about one year of water supply left in its reservoirs, and our strategic backup supply, groundwater, is rapidly disappearing. California has no contingency plan for a persistent drought like this one (let alone a 20-plus-year mega-drought), except, apparently, staying in emergency mode and praying for rain.

Well, that is a scary last paragraph there. More of that op/ed at the link.

I know that the beginning of the post was lighthearted, however now I need to touch on some of the destruction set in motion over the last 48 hours in the South Pacific.

Vanuatu cyclone wreaks destruction in paradise | The Australian

473855652660a1359f469d1cd5de55c6IN A terrible irony on the eve of the cyclone that has devastated Vanuatu, the Pacific paradise was branded the number one nation in the world in its vulnerability to natural disasters.

Cyclone Pam struck Vanuatu as the UN was hosting its third world conference on disaster risk reduction in Sendai, Japan.

That meeting heard that over the past 45 years the Asia Pacific region has suffered cumulative economic losses of $A1.49 trillion from natural disasters, and had lost more than 2 million lives. And Vanuatu, according to a key report presented to delegates, was the country most at risk in the entire world, followed by Tonga, The Philippines, Japan and Costa Rica.

Today, as the island nation begins to count its dead and the economic cost of the weekend destruction, it will need all its trad­itional resilience to live up to its name. Vanuatu means “Our Land Forever,” a phrase that has always struck an appropriately defiant note in the face of the many threats it faces.

Item_22827_1In this latest challenge, winds of up to 270km per hour ripped through the island group, after building speed as the cyclone passed first over Kiribati and then Solomon Islands immediately to Vanuatu’s north west. Alice Clements, a spokeswoman for UNICEF, who was in Port Vila, told Reuters that as the cyclone hit the city, “it felt like the world was coming to an end”.

Be sure to read that article, it has a lot of information, about the island nation…it’s people and what they will be going through after the clean up.

59ca4cffedf2d02b0fb80d62b62771d9Cyclone Pam hit the island as a Category 5. First aid teams reach Vanuatu, find widespread devastation after cyclone | Reuters

The first aid teams to reach Vanuatu reported widespread devastation on Sunday as authorities declared a state of emergency after a “monster” cyclone tore through the Pacific island nation.

With winds of more than 300 kph (185 mph), Cyclone Pam razed homes, smashed boats and washed away roads and bridges as it struck late on Friday and into Saturday. Aid workers described the situation as catastrophic.

[…]

Aid workers were particularly worried about the southern island of Tanna. An official with the Australian Red Cross told Reuters an aircraft had managed to land there and aid workers confirmed there was “widespread destruction”.

“Virtually every building that is not concrete has been flattened,” said the official, adding two deaths had been confirmed on the island which has a population of about 29,000 and is about 200 km (125 miles) south of the capital, Port Vila.

circusprocessionelephants1888Witnesses in Port Vila described sea surges of up to eight metres (26 feet) and widespread flooding as the category 5 cyclone hit. Residents said the storm sounded like a freight train. Port Vila was strewn with debris and looked as if a bomb had gone off.

More on this story:

Communication blackout causes confusion in Vanuatu – World News | TVNZ

Pacific nation devastated by historic Cyclone Pam – Video at that link.ringling-brothers-circus-performing-elephant

From volcanoes to snorkelling, a snapshot of Vanuatu | GulfNews.com

Vanuatu Struggles to Account for Cyclone Deaths | Al Jazeera America

Cyclone Pam: Vanuatu death toll rises as Australia pledges $5m in aid – as it happened | World news | The Guardian

 

And then, on the other side of the world, a tragic bus accident: Brazil bus crash: at least 40 dead after plunge off cliff | World news | The Guardian

At least 40 people died on Saturday when a passenger bus drove off a cliff in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina, police said.

The bus, en route from the neighbouring state of Parana, swerved off a curve and fell dozens of metres 3490before crashing in a wooded area. Rescue crews were bringing up dozens of bodies as well as survivors.

The bus was about six miles (10km) from its destination in the city of Joinville when it crashed. Highway and weather conditions at the time were good, a police spokesman said.

Though no immediate cause for the crash had been determined, police said it appeared the brakes on the bus failed.

Brazil has some of Latin America’s deadliest roads. Despite nearly a decade of sustained economic growth that only slowed in recent years, the country has done little to improve or expand its creaky infrastructure.

 

Alright, back to the other links:

Jeb Bush used personal email to discuss security issues – Wash Post | Reuters

Likely 2016 Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush used his personal email while governor of Florida to discuss troop deployments, nuclear plant protection and other such matters, the Washington Post reported on Saturday.

The report followed revelations that Democrat Hillary Clinton, also seen as a likely presidential candidate, used a personal email account exclusively during her time as secretary of state, raising questions about security and transparency.

On his personal account, jeb@jeb.org, Bush discussed the Florida National Guard’s movements and training activities as well as his decision to provide less security to nuclear power plants in the state, the newspaper reported.

Beatty-PosterBush aides told the Post that none of the emails contained sensitive or classified information, and many of the events mentioned in them were documented in press accounts. But security experts say private email systems such as the one used by Bush are more vulnerable to hackers.

Democrats have attempted to divert the focus on Clinton’s use of a personal email account to conduct work as U.S. secretary of state by saying that Bush used the same practice in Florida, where he was governor from 1999 to 2007.

 

Then you have this, Hillary Clinton’s Over-Played Woman Card | RealClearPolitics

Really?

Last week, the Wall Street Journal featured “A Better World, Run By Women,” a rather hilarious essay penned by Emory anthropology professor Melvin Konner. As more women gain power around the world, Konner argued, the better our lives will be. “Research has found,” he wrote, “that women are superior to men in most ways that will count in the future.”

Konner was just warming up. “There is every reason to think that a future national hierarchy staffed and led by women who no longer have to imitate men, dealing with other nations similarly transformed, would be less likely to go to war,” he added. “But that’s not all. Sex scandals, financial corruption and violence are all overwhelmingly male.”

1-circus-poster-1899-grangerI assume he wrote this with a straight face. I also assume that he has never watched The Real Housewives of New Jersey, attempted to score half-price designer shoes at the Barney’s Warehouse Sale, or patronized a crowded Chuck E. Cheese’s that serves liberal amounts of alcohol in an over-the-hill and questionably located strip mall. (Hint: There are often fights.)

That shitty piece is written by a woman by the way…I won’t quote any more from it, you can go and read the rest of the bait at the link if you really want to. That is if you feel like getting in a pissy mood.

So after a link to an article like that, how about a link to someone good…that cares about her fellow women: Feminists don’t hate men. But it wouldn’t matter if we did | Jessica Valenti | Comment is free | The Guardian

f570d82707d24ff52575b965f3ebb1a5One of the most common derisive taunts thrown at feminists – and one of the oldest – is “manhater”. It’s been around since the days of suffrage, and still gets used today, though its a pretty anodyne insult. Most feminists, like me, shun the label and work to convince people that despite the stereotypes feminists absolutely, without a doubt, do not hate men.

But so what if we did?

It’s not that I recommend hating men or think it a particularly wise use of one’s time, but to each her own. Straight white men still hold the majority of political, economic and social power in the world, and everyone else struggles to make their lives work with less. So if the worst thing that happens to a man is that a woman doesn’t like him …well, he has it pretty damn good. It’s not as if we’re living in some sort of Wicker Man-inspired dystopia, after all.

Besides, when women hate men, we hurt their feelings. When men hate women, they kill us: mass shootings have been attributed to misogyny, and sexual and domestic violence against women is often fuelled by a hatred for women.

That’s why it’s so hard to take seriously any claims that “misandry” is a tremendous problem – they’re based on the idea that merely insulting men is similar to the life-threatening misogyny women face worldwide. (Most recently, Newsday writer Cathy Young argued that men being called “mansplainers” or rape apologists is akin to the rape and death threats that women get online.)

But a younger generation of feminists has embraced what Slate writer Amanda Hess calls “ironic misandry”. Hess wrote last year that the rise in popularity of “male tears” mugs and man-hating inspired shirts and crafts serves as a sort of fuck-you to the constant barrage of harassment that feminists often face: “On its most basic level, ironic misandry functions like a stuck-out tongue pointed at a playground bully.”

Finish it up at the link.

Hey, check this out: Republican Votes for Loretta Lynch May Be at Historic Low

The most amazing thing about the Loretta Lynch story is that the congressional community no longer views it as amazing.

Lynch is on course to be confirmed this month after the longest wait ever for a nominee to be attorney general — and very likely by the closest vote ever to put a new person in charge of the Justice Department.

When Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced Tuesday that the Senate debate on the nomination would begin next week, it marked 17 weeks and three days since President Barack Obama announced his choice for one of the most prestigious and pivotal positions in his Cabinet. At the time, Lynch was assured the bare minimum level of public support required for victory. Only four Republicans have announced they’ll join the 46 members of the Democratic Caucus in voting for her, meaning that at least for the time being Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. had best keep his March travel schedule a bit flexible.

Still, her sluggishly contentious path toward becoming the nation’s top law enforcement official has garnered relatively little public attention. That’s in large part because Lynch hasn’t become a focus of the daily partisan histrionics on the Hill or on cable news. And a big reason for that is because neither side views the fundamental dispute over her — extraordinary as it is by historical standards — to be remarkable at all in the context of today.

One more feminist article: TripAdvisor removes ‘feminist’ review | UK news | The Guardian

A review in which a customer described seeing a manager biting a waitress and slapping her on the bottom has been removed by TripAdvisor for contravening its guidelines.

And lastly…Cuba is coming into the 20th Century: Free Wi-Fi in Havana Shows Cuba’s Telecommunications Future — The Atlantic

People use a free Wi-Fi network at a center run by famed artist Kcho, in Havana, Cuba, Wednesday, March 11, 2015. (Desmond Boylan/AP)

It’s an image that’s familiar around the world: A group of young people, glued to their laptops or smart phones, lounging around a public space and taking advantage of free, wireless Internet. But in Cuba, this scene is far from ordinary. When the famed artist Kcho provided wi-fi at his cultural center some weeks ago, he established the first such venue in the country’s history. Now, in a rapidly changing Cuba, milestones like this have become more commonplace.

To its beneficiaries, free wi-fi is about more than gaining access to computer games and social media.  It also involves establishing contact with the outside world. One 20-year-old at the cultural center was using wi-fi to chat with his father, who lives in the United States.

“Thanks to this service I can talk to him,” the man, Adonis Ortiz, told theWashington Post.

This is something amazing indeed…

At least I think so. Not on the political front, but just in terms of a cultural standpoint. We are talking about a country driven by the car wheels of the 50’s…literally.

Three months after President Obama announced that the U.S. and Cuba would normalize relations, the island’s long period of isolation appears to be coming to an end—and telecommunications is just one dimension of the change. On Saturday, a group of 80 civic and business leaders will travel from New Orleans to Havana to attend a conference, marking the first direct flight between the two cities in 57 years. And next week, a New York-based tour operator will launch a weekly charter flight between the Cuban capital and New York’s JFK airport.

c8a1ff4ab00e33ce0bf90000bd362d6eStill, Cuba’s antiquated communications infrastructure presents an obstacle to economic development. In anticipation of restored U.S-Cuban ties, Havana is seeking billions of dollars in foreign direct investment across a range of sectors, but the lack of IT resources hampers these relationships. Nine out of 10 Cubans lack access to a mobile phone, and Internet connections are slow and subject to government censorship. State-run Internet cafes in the country charge $4.50 an hour for online access, a huge sum where the average monthly salary is about $20. Broadband Internet connections in Cuban homes are virtually unheard of.

The transition to a modern, Internet-driven economy won’t happen overnight. Nor is it certain to force political change. In the U.S., critics of normalization have argued that establishing closer economic ties to Cuba will only empower the Castro regime. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and probable presidential candidate, has cited evidence that engagement with other Communist countries did not compel them to liberalize.

“We have those policies of normalization toward Vietnam, for example, toward China,” Rubio said in December. “They’re not any more politically free today than they were when that normalization happened.”

Kcho’s cultural center offering free wi-fi in Havana, too, offers little promise of political liberalization—the center even hosted Fidel Castro last year. But for Cubans long deprived of the quality Internet service the developed world takes for granted, getting online has less to do with politics than with daily conveniences such as communicating with friends and buying things off the web. Belkis Baisal, a bed and breakfast operator in Havana, told AFP that regular Internet access will allow her to advertise her rooms. Normalization, she said, is a positive sign.

“It’s better to have friends than enemies.”

994c441c3f09e9bc9af0505de8a27bf4I hope all that goes as it goes…but with this new techno invading the island nation…does this also mean that eventually the Cubans will have to deal with people addicted to their iPhones too?

Omg! Stop texting while u walk before you get hurt

In an October (2014) survey, 40 percent of more than 1,000 teens said they had been hit or nearly hit by a car while walking, the organization Safe Kids Worldwide reported. And 85 percent of those said they were listening to music, talking on their phones or texting when it happened.

Researcher Jack Nasar at the University of Ohio calculated that more than 1,500 pedestrians were treated in emergency rooms in 2010 for injuries suffered while using their cellphones.

That was almost six times as many as five years earlier.

And Nasar said the number was probably much higher since it isn’t strictly tracked. He hasn’t followed up since, although he and others are working on a study of just how prevalent cellphone use is on the street.

Several hospitals in the Lower Hudson Valley said they don’t ask people if they were texting when they got hurt. And patients may be too embarrassed to volunteer the information.

“They may not want to admit they were an idiot,” Nasar said.

 

d5e65398512f40112da82ffd5e998572How Your Cell Phone Hurts Your Relationships – Scientific American

Most of us are no stranger to this scenario:  A group of friends sits down to a meal together, laughing, swapping stories, and catching up on the news – but not necessarily with the people in front of them!  Nowadays, it’s not unusual to have one’s phone handy on the table, easily within reach for looking up movie times, checking e-mails, showing off photos, or taking a call or two.  It’s a rare person who doesn’t give in to a quick glance at the phone every now and then.  Today’smultifunctional phones have become anindispensable lifeline to the rest of the world.

We might expect that the widespread availability of mobile phones boosts interpersonal connections, by allowing people to stay in touch constantly.  But a recent set of studies by Andrew K. Przybylski and Netta Weinstein of the University of Essex showed that our phones can hurt our close relationships. Amazingly, they found that simply having a phone nearby, without even checking it, can be detrimental to our attempts at interpersonal connection.

Put down the smartphone! ‘Technoference’ can hurt your relationship – Health – TODAY.com

It’s been a long, terrible day. As you recount your struggles, you suddenly notice your partner is furiously typing on his phone. Your anger boils (you’ve forgotten that you did the same thing to him just yesterday). It’s time to step away from the smartphone, put down the tablet, shut the laptop and turn off the TV. A slew of recent researchsuggests that if people want happy relationships, they need to stop clinging to technology.

In a new study, Coyne asked 143 married or cohabitating women to answer questions about technology use and relationships. She wanted to understand how technology encroaches on our lives and relationships, what she calls “technoference.” The vast majority of respondents, 70 percent, said using a cell phone interrupted interactions between them and their partners sometimes, often, very often or all the time. Even more, 74 percent, said that computers sometimes, often, very often or all the time disturbed their interactions with partners.

The women who reported technoference also said they fought more with their partners, which made them feel badly about their relationships. On top of this, they felt more depressed and less satisfied with life.

forepaugh-clown-elephant“What I think the most important finding is, the more you let the technology interfere, the more conflict you have with your spouse or partner and that leads to not feeling great about the relationship,” she says.

Still there’s other research showing that cell phone dependence can be unhealthy.

“Cell phone attachment is positively related to an increase in stress and anxiety and even depression,” says James A. Roberts, a professor of marketing at Baylor University Hankamer School of Business.

In a 2012 paper, Roberts coined the word “phub,” a mash-up of phone and snub. Phubbing occurs when someone chooses to play with an app, text or take a phone call instead of paying attention to a person.

“Essentially, what we are saying is that you don’t matter,” he says. “It touches at our core.”

 

Oh boy…the horror…..Cubans are a hot-blooded people, believe me I know from my experience. But we are also a passionate emotionally connected people with a strong culture of close associations. We are not a cold group of people either…we hug…human contact is big with us. So I hope that those kinds of cultural values don’t change as technology seeps into Cuba. I can’t say if it has changed within out own communities here in the US…as I have been stuck in Hicktown Banjoville for so dang long, but I can at least hope and pretend things are still the same back home in West Tampa. It’s all I got sometimes, when all around me is fried chicken and racist ignorance. I do miss the days when there were more colors in my world….all types of colors.

You all have a great day.


Wednesday Reads: History according to Lego and other things

5116b9018bff112970689c3d9157ac0b (1)Good Morning

If you want to kill some time today, check out these images of Lego greatness:

Over a thousand pictures here: Lego Art on Pinterest 

There is even a Klimt in this one:  Lego mania on Pinterest

e7a647c998afa3841b4466b2288f71a8And more artsy fartsy stuff here: Lego Creations on Pinterest

Why do I bring all this up? Because today’s post is going to center around popular culture and nothing represents that more than Legos…used as an artistic representation in historic museums.

As a history major, and a geeky one at that…you know being a wonky sort of history geek, specifically Medieval, I don’t know how to feel about this.

cf9c84490868a589aa2b87e5ad38672dI am so enthralled with these works of Lego art, the detail, the delight it brings…but there is also a part of me that thinks…Lego? Used in a legitimate archaeological/historical sense?  Then I slap myself and say, don’t be such a pompous ass JJ…get over your fucking self. These things are not your typical play toy Lego “houses” just look at the scale models the artist create.

The latest made its debut in Sydney this past month. LEGO Pompeii Excites New Audiences – Archaeology Magazine

 

Professional LEGO builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught has crafted a model of Pompeii at the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum, according to The Conversation. The project, which took more than 500 hours to complete and used more than 190,000 blocks, is one of the largest LEGO historical models ever built. The display shows three phases of the ancient city: as it looked in A.D. 79 when Mount Vesuvius erupted; as it appeared when it was rediscovered in the eighteenth century; and as the ruins stand today. Over the past two years, McNaught created a scale model of the Colosseum out of the colorful bricks, and the LEGO Acropolis, now on display at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

This thing is amazing!

From the link to the University of Sydney’s Nicholson Museum above: Lego Pompeii creates less pomp and more yay in the museum

Lego Pompeii was painstakingly recreated from more than 190,000 individual blocks across 470 hours for Sydney University’s Nicholson Museum – it’s the largest model of the ancient city ever constructed out of Lego blocks. There is a mix of ancient and modern elements within the model’s narrative; displaying Pompeii as it was at the moment of destruction by the volcano Vesuvius in 79AD, as it was when rediscovered in the 1700s, and as it is today.c4583b144ba8bcad2c555720b7cfc100

The historical model is the exhibition centrepiece in an archaeological museum where, until recently, displays of Lego would have been unthinkable.

The Nicholson Museum, with collections of artefacts from the Mediterranean region, Egypt and the Middle East, is a place where visitors can expect to see Greek vases, Egyptian sculpture and ceramic sherds from Jericho.

Yet since 2012, the museum has commissioned professional Lego builder Ryan “The Brickman” McNaught to recreate three ancient sites made from Lego. Together these models represent an interesting experiment; attracting a new audience to the museum space and demonstrating the importance of fun in a museum context.

This is not the first rodeo for The Brickman…

The first Nicholson Lego scale model was a replica of the Colosseum in Rome.

The joy of the model was its ability to contrast the old with the new. Half the model featured the amphitheatre in antiquity; the other half featured the building in ruins with Lego modern tourists.

The model proved such a success it subsequently toured several regional NSW galleries and museums. It is currently displayed at the Albury Regional Art Gallery along with Roman artefacts from the Nicholson Museum’s collection.

The second model, opened in 2013, was the Lego Acropolis, which featured buildings of ancient Athens peopled with historical Greek figures. It is now displayed at the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

Go to the Nicholson Museum link to read the rest of the story, and how The Brickman studied and designed his Lego city of Pompeii.

 

Brickman is one of Lego’s Certified Professionals, these people have amazing jobs…check out some of the artist work at that link. (Mini Bios at that link too.) It seems that most of these LCP’s are men…but I have not researched enough of the culture to be sure of this…that is just my observation as I look through the websites and images. And, the one woman that is a Certified Professional is associated with education, autism, special needs and using Lego as a teaching tool. But I will just say this is only my thoughts on the matter. Let’s just go on with the post.

b9cbb10ad2d15a817e44c0d13bac09d1Alright then, how about that Blizzard? Here’s some pictures for you:

16 Images to Illustrate the Blizzard of 2015 – Scientific American

City dwellers in New York hoping to wake up to mountains of snow will have to content themselves with trawling Instagram pictures from New England. The blizzard of 2015—or really the #blizzardof2015 if we’re doing this right—brought less snow than expected to New York Cityb1e0bc0dc37ce8abac82abbe0b4ab9d5 and a number of points south. But to the east on Long Island and north throughout New England, the storm has lived up to, and in some ways exceeded, expectations with heavy snow and coastal flooding.

Snow totals are still being updated but as of Tuesday morning, a National Weather Service weather spotter has reported the highest total from the storm so far, with 30 inches in Framingham, Mass. Other central Massachusetts and South Shore locations have also piled up more than 2 feet of snow.

The second-highest snow total comes 28.5 inches measured in Orient, N.Y., on the far eastern tip of Long Island. In both places, wind gusts are piling up drifts and sending snow cresting over the eaves of houses.

 

Holy shit! I hope Boston Boomer and Pat, along with X and the rest of our Sky Dancing New England regulars…Sophie and…oh…I know I am missing some others too, are all doing okay this morning!a61ff5a45e146bf46ac0a26874a97a67

But there has been some complaining. For a look at the technical side of forecast, Cliff Mass Weather Blog: Forecast Lessons from the Northeast Snowstorm

The complaints swelled quickly this morning, both in the social media and the press:

8f4ee0d3ea03c4dd2131112f6d965d17National Weather Service forecasters had predicted two to three feet over New York City and adjacent suburbs for Tuesday and only about 8-10 inches showed up.

The city had been shut down overnight–travel banned on major roadways, mass transportation systems (e.g., subways) closed, schools and businesses closed–and all for a minor snow event!  A few samples from the press illustrates some of the commentary:

 

And then a National Weather Service forecaster even apologized for a  “blown forecast”, something that doesn’t happen very often.

And you had to expect that some global warming critic would use the forecast troublex to cast doubt on global warming predictions.

9a403543373ad0213d1e87763d4866e9So what is the truth about this forecast event?   As I will describe below, although the forecast “bust” was not as bad as it might appear, it did reveal some significant weaknesses in how my profession makes and communicates forecasts, weaknesses that National Weather Service director Louis Uccellini says he recognizes and will attempt to fix.

The general forecast situation was well understood and skillfully forecast starting on Saturday.   A low center (a midlatitude cyclone) would develop off the SE U.S. and then move northward up the East Coast–a storm commonly called a Nor’easter.  Here is a surface weather map at 4 AM PST this morning, when the storm was near its height.  e96907b49653ca28d24ede22ef46fb92In such a location, the storm can pull cold air off the continent while swirling in moisture from off the ocean.  The result is moderate to heavy snow to the west and north of the low center, as well as strong winds over the same areas.  Thirty years ago we could not forecast these storms with any skill. That has changed.

Go and read how it has changed at the link.

In other science-ish news, y’all know that big ass rock that flew by us Monday?

Best images! Asteroid 2004 BL86, as it swept near Earth | Today’s Image | EarthSky

A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar.  The image is from last night (January 25).  Image via Slooh.com.

A video still of asteroid 2004 BL86 and its newly discovered moon from Goldstone Solar System Radar. Image via Slooh.com.

46a3a41c379e657d458b0dd6c3bcbbd1Well…turns out the thing has it’s own moon!

Check this shit out:

Asteroid that flew past Earth on Monday has a moon! | Science Wire | EarthSky

Radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86 confirm the primary asteroid is 1,100 feet (325 meters) across with a small moon 230 feet (70 meters) across.

Wow! Scientists working with NASA’s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California have released the first radar images of asteroid 2004 BL86, which flew closer to Earth on Monday than any asteroid this large will again until the year 2027. Closest approach was 1619 UTC (11:19 a.m. EST) on January 26, 2015. Nearest distance was about 745,000 miles (1.2 million kilometers, or 3.1 times the distance from Earth to the moon). The radar images confirm what other astronomers first discovered this past weekend, that asteroid 2004 BL86 has its own small moon!

cde3bc59f08305a4960d464aff53632aVideo and more info at the links.

Let us move from science to environment, but still on a pop culture connection…cause what else would you expect from something like this? Chinese Methanol Plant in Louisiana ‘Cancer Alley’ | Al Jazeera America

Uh, okay… I will just give you a quick overview of the area and the situation. This plant is poisoning people. These people are poor. They are people of color. Nuff Said!

This article is the second installment of a three-part series on China’s role in redeveloping southern Louisiana called China’s Louisiana Purchase. The first part investigated links between Chinese government officials, Chinese gas giant Shandong Yuhuang and Gov. Bobby Jindal.

ada6a7b045883973320c2fabe045b969Chinese company behind methanol plant in mostly black Louisiana town has come under fire for shirking health laws

ST. JAMES PARISH, La. — No one asked Lawrence “Palo” Ambrose if he wanted a Chinese company with a controversial environmental record to build a methanol plant in his neighborhood. But if they had, the 74-year-old Vietnam War vet would have said no.

A town hall meeting about it in July at St. James High School, which is close to the site of the plant, in a sparsely populated area with mobile homes and a few farms, took place only after the St. James Parish Council approved the project.

“We never had a town hall meeting pretending to get our opinion prior to them doing it,” said Ambrose, a coordinator at St. James Catholic Church. “They didn’t make us part of the discussion.”

The St. James Parish Council did not respond to interview requests at time of publication.

Edwin Octave, 92, who lives with his family in the area, agreed with Ambrose. “I don’t think the way they went about getting the plant was right. They bought the property before they tell people it’s going to happen.”

The area has gotten the nickname Cancer Alley. I don’t know the state of Louisiana is becoming more and more like the poster child for all that is bad and could be bad when fuckwads get elected and have shit everything up. “Literally.”

There is a term being used, it is called Environmental Racism.

‘Environmental racism’

St. James Parish gas station owner Kenny Winchester said he hopes U.S. environmental standards will be enough to prevent any abuses too detrimental to the health of his community. “There shouldn’t be a problem if they follow the rules,” he said. “If they take shortcuts, we’ll have a problem.”

But Malek-Wiley said that hope isn’t realistic. “It’s not feasible to just hope they will abide by regulations. Most of the industry environmental reporting requirements are done by companies without a secondary check with the Department of Environmental Quality or EPA,” he said. “In effect, if a company was doing wrong, it would have to write itself a ticket. I know every time I’m going down the interstate too fast and there’s no cop, I pull over and write myself a ticket … No, it doesn’t happen that way.”

297757e9be0827b6e7a5f1944c11c44eThe only way to tell if a company breaches regulations, he said, is “after the plant’s built, unfortunately.” An environmentalist nonprofit focused on opposing petrochemical pollution in the region, the Louisiana Bucket Brigade, could “teach folks how to take air samples in their community,” he said, and that tactic has led to “a number of companies to be fined for air pollution, but that’s after the fact.”

After successfully organizing legal bids around black communities not consulted on energy projects, Malek-Wiley believes that “with St. James Parish, they could have brought up concerns about environmental racism.”

f23e3a57ddb5ed39a0039b5531581e92Take this from Charles Blow, it dealing with yet another polluted area of Louisiana, a Superfund site… Louisiana Army Ammunition Plant near where Blow’s relatives call home:

Inequality in the Air We Breathe? – NYTimes.com

How could this plant have been allowed to contaminate the groundwater for 40 years? How could the explosives have been left at the site in the first place? How is it that there doesn’t seem to be the money or the will to more safely remove them? Can we imagine anyone, with a straight face, proposing to openly burn millions of pounds of explosives near Manhattan or Seattle?

3885f12203ffd8ab775e508c93499c3bThis is the kind of scenario that some might place under the umbrella of “environmental racism,” in which disproportionately low-income and minority communities are either targeted or disproportionately exposed to toxic and hazardous materials and waste facilities.

There is a long history in this country of exposing vulnerable populations to toxicity.

Fifteen years ago, Robert D. Bullard published Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class and Environmental Quality. In it, he pointed out that nearly 60 percent of the nation’s hazardous-waste landfill capacity was in “five Southern states (i.e., Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, South Carolina and Texas),” and that “four landfills in minority ZIP codes areas represented 63 percent of the South’s total hazardous-waste capacity” although “blacks make up only about 20 percent of the South’s total population.”

More recently, in 2012, a study by researchers at Yale found that “The greater the concentration of Hispanics, Asians, African-Americans or poor residents in an area, the more likely that potentially dangerous compounds such as vanadium, nitrates and zinc are in the mix of fine particles they breathe.”

Among the injustices perpetrated on poor and minority populations, this may in fact be the most pernicious and least humane: the threat of poisoning the very air that you breathe.

I have skin in this game. My family would fall in the shadow of the plume. But everyone should be outraged about this practice. Of all the measures of equality we deserve, the right to feel assured and safe when you draw a breath should be paramount.

BTW, Bullard’s website with lots of links can be found here: Environmental Justice / Environmental Racism

I just get so damn sick about all this.

But if you want some more sick shit to read, the Koch Brothers.

Koch Bros To Spend Nearly A Billion Buying The 2016 Elections | Informed Comment

And again…going back to the pop culture of the day…that link will take you to an article and then a video with a discussion from Cenk Unger and Ben Mankiewicz .

In other news, something that is really becoming too frequent a headline. Yet another college athlete is accused of raping a woman…this time it is a swimmer. Fancy that? Former Stanford swimmer accused of raping unconscious woman on campus – LA Times

…former Stanford University swimmer will face several felony charges after prosecutors say he raped a  woman as she lay unconscious on campus grounds.

Brock Allen Turner, 19, is expected to be formally charged Wednesday with five felony counts, including rape of an unconscious woman, rape of an intoxicated woman and two counts of sexual assault with a foreign object, the Santa Clara County district attorney’s office told The Times.

Early on the morning on Jan. 18, prosecutors say, two men riding bikes on campus spotted a man later identified as Turner on top of an unconscious woman. Turner ran away, but the pair tackled him. A third person called police.

Turner was arrested, booked into the Santa Clara County Jail and released after posting $150,000 bail, prosecutors said. He’s scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 2.

It is a good thing those two bike dudes went after the asshole.

Just a few more pops on the pop links: Gabrielle Union Says Smart Things About Ferguson, the NFL, Hollywood

On the events in Ferguson and Eric Garner in New York, Yahoo points out that she generally tries to stay positive in her public comments and Union acknowledges that she makes an effort to be responsible about what she says publicly:

There’s a bit of a gap between what I really want to say and what I know is responsible to say. The general lack of compassion for your fellow man is really frustrating. I think what the protesters are saying, or at least some of them, is it’s not just about police brutality. It’s about a widespread systematic crippling of some people in this country by birthright, and no one’s acknowledging it. There may be a power shakeup if you’re really going to do something about it. A lot of people aren’t interested in that. They say, “It’s not that bad. We have Barack Obama. We’re good.” Or, “You’re not getting lynched.” They’re not acknowledging the institutional racism that impacts daily lives.

You should read the other things Unions says, it is nice to see a smart woman being quoted…too bad it probably won’t get much attention outside of Yahoo Entertainment and Jezebel.

 

Also, in History News, Seventy Years After Auschwitz, One Survivor Has Her Revenge – Truthdig

Eva Slonim was a child when she was taken to Auschwitz, where she was tortured and experimented on by Dr. Josef Mengele.

The camps that made up the Auschwitz complex were liberated 70 years ago by Soviet troops. But not before the Nazis killed 1.1 million prisoners there.

Slonim was held with her twin sister in a special section of the camp, which had to do with Mengele’s fascination with twins.

She tells the Australian Broadcasting Corp. she is still haunted by the trauma: “I have this madness about locking the bedroom door every night, and I have a light under the door so I can see if there are any boots there.”

But, Eva Slonim says, she got her revenge in the end, by producing a large family to take the place of the one she lost. She lives in Melbourne, Australia, and has 27 grandchildren.

 

Have you seen this?

Domino’s Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History

 

Domino's Unleashes the Most Terrifying Print Ad in History

 

WTF?

 

Finally, let’s get a little Medieval on ya: Erik Kwakkel • A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great…

 

A horse on wheels, what’s not to love? Great post.

tumblr_nht2apEAmj1u7apwpo2_r1_500

manuscriptbook:

Medieval Connections to ‘Classical Roots’

This manuscript (British Library, Royal MS 20 D I) of the Histoire ancienne jusqu’à César (‘Ancient history up to Caesar’) is the earliest surviving manuscript of the second redaction of this work. This redaction, like this manuscript, was produced in Naples around 1330-1340. It focuses on the story of 904fe6f6198d33fe46a60189b543f8b4Troy, which is no longer taken from Dares, a supposed eyewitness of the fall of Troy, but from the prose version of Benoît de Sainte-Maure’s Roman de Troie. As a result, it is much more extensive.

The goal of these types of histories was to join the classical past and the medieval present. The author, therefore, did not always keep historical accuracy in mind if it did not fit his purpose. This allowed nobles to bind themselves and their families to classical founders.

I love that the horse is supposed to represent the wooden horse, and the scribe/artist drew the thing with wood-like knots and tree rings as the pattern of the horse itself.

But I wonder if a large wooden badger would not have been more appropriate?

 

Have a wonderful day and for Gawds sake…watch out for the Knights who say Ni!

 

The-Knights-Who-Say-Ni-monty-python-and-the-holy-grail-591173_1008_566


Wednesday Reads: Something Else Beyond Denial

f439b0d8b79ea9da013188b573a9599bThere must be a thing, something beyond denial, that people with all sense and reason experience. Beyond comprehension it seems. Beyond explanation. Even now as I write these words…the mind and heart do not move forward and process the thing I was told last Friday.

“…is HIV Positive, he has had HIV for over 11 years…”

My Uncle. My fabulously “gay” uncle. Who is only 18 months older than me.

HIV for 11 years. No. Why couldn’t he tell me. (He did not tell his sister for the first three years.) He is too smart to be so foolish…he knew to take care of himself. No, we’ve already made it past the late 80s and 90s, he got through that fine. (I suppose.) No. He would never get HIV. I knew the truth. He was my secret super hero….

You see, my uncle was on his way to an emergency room, there was something wrong internally. My Aunt was worried, she had to let me know the whole story.

7d45fe82cc4e42b6e3198ac8f8449978Sigh…

My Aunt told me this on Friday, even she said her timing was shitty. She felt that it was something he should’ve told me on his own, face to face, but with the emergency situation at hand, she thought it was best I knew everything.

It was during a big lunch that included ten of my kids’ friends…my friend Cindy, my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother (it was our first meeting) and his two younger brothers and the rest of our circus of a family…but I could not react like I wanted to.  The boyfriend caught my aunt holding me up near the Honey Baked Ham…he knew something had happened. He told Bebe, but she saw how well I hid everything and didn’t think anything was wrong. When the shit hits the fan as much as it does, you get used to the splatter.

Well, that crowd finally left, and I could act like a normal human being and fucking cry and sob uncontrollably, it still did not seem real to me.

JD could not have HIV, we 0169fa3d747a227943a11d45e7201e87were beyond the point of concern. I thought he was safe…I mean…The idea that he could even get it was out of the question. To me he was like “Super Fag” (and I don’t mean that in any derogatory way).  He was invincible, and impervious to any disease. Like his t-cells had some super human power to withstand any viral attacks from evil outside forces.  All he needed was a little super “Fagsuit” with a rainbow cape and a catchy theme song or memorable send off line…

You must understand this. JD is wonderful, funny, talented and loving. He is such a special, good person.

He is still invincible to me because even now I can’t get past this.  I cannot process this information.  My mother, father, husband….they all said it was something they expected…no surprise.

But for me, it fucking hit me out of nowhere.

Still.

How do you describe this feeling? This emotion…I am not in denial. I know that he has HIV. But the words do not register in my brain, and they certainly do not register in my heart.

After a weekend of worry, waiting for a diagnosis, it turns out to be an abdominal abscess. He does not realize how bad this thing really was, he had some special type of IV that pumped the heavy duty antibiotics directly into his aorta.  Scary stuff.  He went home yesterday evening. I am so thankful for this.

Next step is talking to JD on the phone, he is glad that I know and sorry he did not tell me himself when we saw each other the last time 5 years ago…during my Nana’s memorial. But I can hear the tears in his voice on the message he left me today.  What can I say to him? All I want to do is hug him and make him laugh…like he always makes me laugh. I love him so much.

Boston Boomer told me that writing about this might make me feel better, I don’t know, it is all still numbing to me. Don’t take offense to the cartoons, I needed something funny to contrast what my return post was focused on, my humor is a twisted sort of way…but then you all know me so well.

Now for a quick group of links.

Thank you BB and Dak for covering for me these past couple weeks. I love you both so very much. ;)

Jake is still all over the place on his sugar levels, but yesterday he started his first job. I only hope they are more supportive of diabetics than this employer out in California.

Walgreen’s tab for ADA violation: $180k and a bag of chips

Josefina Hernandez worked as a cashier at a California Walgreens store for 18 years. About five years into her tenure, she was diagnosed with Type II diabetes, a condition she reported to her employer.

In the 13 years that Hernandez worked for Walgreens after being diagnosed with diabetes, Walgreens allowed Hernandez to keep candy nearby in case of low blood sugar, keep her insulin in the break room refrigerator and take additional breaks to test her blood sugar or eat because of her diabetes.

In that 13-year time period, there was only one time when Hernandez asked to take an additional break to eat food because of low blood sugar. Apparently, the accommodations provided by Walgreens were working out just fine.

But then came the famous Chip Theft of 2008.

Hernandez was returning items in a shopping cart to shelves when she noted she was shaking and sweating from low blood sugar. She didn’t have any candy with her and was in the magazine aisle, so she opened a $1.39 bag of potato chips that was in the cart and ate some of them.

After 10 minutes, when she started feeling better, Hernandez said, she went to pay for the chips at the cosmetic counter (where she had been instructed to pay for store items) but no one was there. Hernandez put the potato chips under the counter at her cash register and returned to restocking items. She later paid for the chips when her cashier duties were finished.

Seems reasonable right? However, her manager sounds like he votes Republican.

An assistant store manager spotted the chips and asked whose they were. Hernandez said the chips were hers. The assistant manager reported Hernandez to the store manager for taking the chips.

After meeting with store management,  Hernandez was suspended and then terminated for violating the store’s “anti-grazing” policy.

According to court testimony, Walgreens officials said the company incurs significant losses from employee theft, estimated at exceeding $350 million per year. In order to combat the problem, Walgreens has a strict policy against employee theft in the form of “grazing” — eating food merchandise without paying for it first — that applies to all employees.

The store manager testified he was “absolutely certain” about terminating Hernandez because she took the chips in violation of company policy, and that he believed there was no “gray area” or “discretion” under Walgreens’ policy.

You can read the details of the settlement here:  America’s Largest Drug Store Chain to Pay $180,000 to Settle EEOC Disability Discrimination Suit | U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) – JDSupra

Drugstore giant Walgreens has agreed to pay $180,000 to a longtime employee with diabetes and to implement revised policies and training to settle a federal disability discrimination lawsuit filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the agency announced today.

[…]

Terminating a qualified employee because of a disability violates the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).  The law also requires an employer to provide reasonable accommodation to an employee or job applicant with a disability, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship for the employer.  After an investigation by EEOC investigator Carlos Rocha, and after attempting to resolve the case through pre-litigation conciliation efforts, the EEOC filed the lawsuit (EEOC v. Walgreen Company, Case No. CV 11-04470) in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

On Apr. 14, U.S. District Judge William Orrick noted that “Walgreen has failed to allege any misconduct that is unrelated to her disability,” and denied Walgreens’ motion for summary judgment.  At this hearing, Walgreens’ own legal counsel acknowledged Hernandez as a long-term valued employee with a very good track record, and described her termination as a “harsh result” perceived by the EEOC as unfair.

“Not only was this harsh and unfair, but it was illegal, and that’s why the EEOC sued to correct this wrong,” said EEOC San Francisco Regional Attorney William R. Tamayo.  “People may think this case revolves around theft, but the real issue is how a company responded to a valued 18-year employee, whom it knew for 13 years to be diabetic, and who attempted to pay for the chips after she recovered from her hypoglycemic attack.”

Wow, good for Josefina! At last some good news about the “little” guy beating the big company assholes.

The rest of today’s links in dump fashion:

Tom Petty is stepping up to the mic:

Tom Petty Isn’t ‘Playing Dumb’ About Church Sex Abuse Scandal on New Song | Billboard

Tom Petty Talks Religion: ‘No One’s Got Christ More Wrong than the Christians’ | Mediaite

Over in Britain they are asking why here in America are there so many Hot car deaths: The children left behind

Sticking with children for a bit longer.

The brown babies are getting a brown senator worked up: (But I guess Cuban is the “good” sort of brown?)

Rubio: U.S. Cannot Admit All Children Seeking Asylum : The Two-Way : NPR

Anti-Immigration Activist: Public Execution Would Be ‘Too Good’ for Obama | Mediaite

Rick Perry to Send National Guard to Stop Child Migrants – COLORLINES

The child migrant crisis is not just a border issue: Blue states need to step up.

But hey, if the Christian right wing assholes aren’t trying to send the immigrant children back to the hell they are escaping, they are trying to save them from Hell by teaching them “Jesus” saves!

Evangelical Group Aims to Convert Children as Young as Five at Portland Parks and Pools

Fucking religious people piss me off.

And it works all ways:

Right-wing professor: Raping Arab women is ‘the only thing that deters suicide bombers’

Ohio limits probe of charter school where teacher allowed boys to grope female classmates

Ladies who don’t use contraception have had it with you 99% that do, you dirty girls.

This is something too:

Airlines Suspend Flights to Israel After Hamas Rocket Falls Near Main Airport – NYTimes.com

On the “I don’t know karate, but I know…”…crazy front: BBC News – ‘Eighty new genes linked to schizophrenia’

And last bit of news, those off-shore wind farms are like an all you can eat buffet for seals: Seals forage at offshore wind farms

By using sophisticated GPS tracking to monitor seals’ every movement, researchers have shown for the first time that some individuals are repeatedly drawn to offshore wind farms and pipelines. Those man-made structures probably serve as artificial reefs and attractive hunting grounds, according to a study published in the Cell Press journal Current Biology on July 21.

“I was shocked when I first saw the stunning grid pattern of a seal track around Sheringham Shoal,” an in the United Kingdom, says Deborah Russell of the University of St Andrews. “You could see that the individual appeared to travel in straight lines between turbines, as if he was checking them out for potential prey and then stopping to forage at certain ones.”

Russell and her colleagues tagged harbor and on the British and Dutch coasts of the North Sea. Their data showed 11 harbor seals within two active , Alpha Ventus in Germany and Sheringham Shoal in the southeast UK. At both sites, some individual seals regularly entered the wind farms and, in some cases, showed these striking grid-like movement patterns as they appeared to forage at individual turbines.

The researchers also observed both gray and harbor seals associating with subsea pipelines. Two seals in the Netherlands encountered a section of pipeline and followed it on multiple trips for up to 10 days at a time.

There is a video illustration at the link.

The researchers now hope to continue their research to understand the population consequences of the massive planned developments. For instance, no one knows yet whether wind farms increase the total amount of prey available to or simply concentrate prey in a new and man-made location, making the prey particularly vulnerable to predation. The researchers say it will be imperative to resolve this uncertainty so that anthropogenic structures can be designed and managed to reduce adverse and increase any positive effects of these structures.
Well, what is up in your world this morning?

Wednesday Reads: Charges Pending in After Prom Rape Case

carteles-mag-6Good Morning

I’ve been so wrapped up in the rape case dealing with nearby Calhoun, Georgia…that I have not paid much attention to anything else.

One newspaper from Dalton has the most up to date and thorough report of the assault since it was first reported. From the Dalton Daily Citizen: Charges pending against students in post-prom rape

The alleged rape of a 18-year-old female high school student the Saturday night of May 10 or 11 is being investigated by Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office detectives and the district attorney’s office, Sheriff Stacy Nicholson said Monday. The incident at 20 Edgewater Drive in Coosawattee River Resort primarily involved older teenagers from Calhoun High School who traveled here after their high school prom — and brought plenty of alcohol with them.

A student from Southeast Whitfield High School was also involved, Nicholson confirmed. The parents of one of the Calhoun students own the cabin, according to a sheriff’s office release.

The article continues,

The GBI crime lab is examining evidence from a sexual assault exam kit that includes DNA sampling, Nicholson said. An incident report defines what is alleged to have happened as “strongarm rape.” Three Calhoun High males and the Southeast male student are listed as suspects in the report.

“There was enough alcohol there to float a canoe down the Coosawattee River,” Nicholson said.

“Right at 27 kids came over here (to Ellijay),” he continued. “It doesn’t look like it was planned to be that big a party, (and) there is some evidence her parents didn’t know it was going to be that big — it was supposed to be 6 to 8 girls — there was maybe one or two that were not drinking. The next day the victim, who had some injuries, was taken by her family to the Calhoun hospital, but they were not set up to do the sexual assault exam and she was brought to North Georgia Medical Center.”

The first week after the incident was spent by investigators interviewing the kids involved, he said, with more follow-up interviews this week.

“At this point we have taken some evidence that is being examined by the GBI and their crime lab, and we’re waiting for results,” Nicholson explained. “My detectives and I have had multiple discussions about this case, and with the district attorney. We’ve got help from the DA’s investigators and limited assistance of the GBI in interviewing folks. We want to wait until our forensics come back before we do anything more. No arrests have been made but several are pending.”

He said charges could range from the sexual assault itself to “numerous people” lying to investigators and underage alcohol consumption.

Nicholson was asked if he knew where the alcohol was obtained.

“No, and that’s not the main focus, but it certainly is a focus,” he replied. “It appears that that can’t be linked to one person or the owners of the cabin solely. It looks like there were just a whole host of people that attended the party and brought alcohol.”

The cabin looks as though it belongs to a female student, at least that is what this next paragraph alludes to regarding how the students got into the gated community:

“You can pretty much get through those gates if you have the address and lot number, and I’m sure the girl (whose parents own the cabin) said these cars are going to be with me,” he said.

Property owners “must arrange for any person(s) entry to the (Coosawattee River Resort Association) in advance and must be responsible for that person(s),” the resort’s rules and regulations state.

The Sheriff discussed the investigation as “difficult” but it is encouraging to know that there is charging pending. After so long a period of silence…this was all the investigators needed to say.

“Number one, you’ve got a bunch of teenagers, and secondly, they were drinking moderately to heavily — and a lot of their memories are not clear,” he explained. “So we’ve had to wade through the muddy, vague waters to piece together the story. It’s been like a jigsaw puzzle. What I see here is a group of decent kids who were celebrating a milestone in their lives, and they threw alcohol in the mix. They were completely unattended by any adult supervision whatsoever, and a really bad thing has happened.”

Nicholson said after listening to a three-hour interview of the alleged victim and seeing the evidence, he was “disturbed.”

Does he think the evidence will be returned before Calhoun High’s graduation Friday night?

“A rush request has been made by the district attorney’s office, but I’d be afraid to say,” he replied. “The (Calhoun) superintendent has asked me if I can officially give her the suspects’ names. She’s extremely concerned about graduation, about what kind of riot or circus that may turn into. But that’s for her and Gordon (County) and Calhoun to deal with … I don’t think we’ll be making an arrest by Friday.”

Nicholson said an “insinuation” has been made against his department during the investigation.

“It came completely out of the blue, that we are not looking at this hard because the victim may or may not have ingested alcohol,” he shared. “I can tell you that that’s absolutely not the truth. There are legal hurdles we have to be able to jump (to provide evidence to prosecutors), and we’re making every effort we can make to jump those hurdles. It is my intention, as it stands right now, to arrest the three individuals that are responsible for this assault.”

At any rate, it is good to know that things are moving along. I hope the graduation goes well, rumors have it that the victim will be attending.

The only other new information I have found is that according to one news report:

The police report lists the victim and five witnesses, willing to initially step forward and talk about what happened.

Still no information about the Southeast Whitfield High student that is supposedly a suspect. Will he be allowed to walk at his graduation ceremony? Guess we shall see. I will keep you in the loop.

The rest of the links just here in dump fashion (Key word being “dump”):

The turtle won his primary:

Tuesday night primaries: McConnell, Nunn win big | Al Jazeera America

Hey Ralph, check it out:

Hillary Clinton’s Book Tour Watch: Early Stops in Austin and San Francisco | Still4Hill

From the Black Agenda Report:

Questioning the #BringBackOurGirls Campaign | Black Agenda Report

Eritrea: The Cuba of Africa | Black Agenda Report

Some serious concerns for nuke power plants:

How Rising Seas Could Sink Nuclear Plants On The East Coast

And this headline alone is something I could not resist, here is where the “dump” part comes in:

Evil-Slaying Elf Arrested After Defeating Portland Woman’s Car | Mediaite

Ah, Portland. Stumptown police responded over the weekend to a call that a “pirate” was attacking a woman’s car; they arrived to find not a pirate but a man claiming to be an evil-slaying elf, who was promptly arrested.

A woman who had stopped her car at an early morning traffic light in Northeast Portland (figures) said a man ran out from the side of the street, dressed in chain mail and brandishing a sword and shield, and began assaulting her car.

Konrad Bass told authorities he was “high-elf engaged in battle with the evil Morgoth.” After being shuttled to a nearby hospital, he admitted to taking LSD, which explains a good deal of this post. Bass was charged with “criminal mischief,” but not before striking a blow for whatever his cause: the woman’s car now has several sword slashes on its side.

Consider this an open thread.

 

 


Sunday Reads: Yellow is the Color of my Sister Sun

88c699988457d53e86baaa46feb02ff6Good Morning and

Happy Mother’s Day

This is that special Sunday in May when we celebrate the mothers…so for all of those baby’s mamas out there who read the blog, let me wish you a happy day.

So take a few minutes and watch this Mother’s Day short…..Foghorn Leghorn: ▶ Mother was a Rooster – Video Dailymotion

Foghorn Leghorn is sound asleep when the barnyard dog places an ostrich egg beside him for a gag. When Foghorn awakes and sees the egg, he thinks he’s its mother! The egg hatches to reveal an easily embarrassed baby ostrich that Foghorn regards as his son. The dog insults the ostrich repeatedly, causing him to bury his head in the ground. So, to protect his son’s honor, Foghorn challenges the dog to a boxing match.

Okay….Let us start the post out with news that our Sister Sun has been found…and in honor of that bit of astrological news, all the images today will feature the color yellow.

7a70085fcc6c50fe6a5698332ddc2172From The Atlantic: Our Sun Has a Sister 

The ancient Egyptians called it Ra. The ancient Greeks called it Helios. The ancient Mayans called it Kinich Ahau. The ancient Germans called it Sól.

Our longest-standing and most deeply held myths have so often revolved around the sun in large part because we humans have revolved around the sun. That distant sphere of glowing gas has been, to us fragile creatures, warmth and light and life itself. It has, we now know, been the center of everything we’ve known. No wonder we’ve assumed it was divine.

c1da17b78f4c49bf13674a50d2572d0cWhich makes news just coming out of the University of Texas at Austin—soon to be reported in The Astrophysical Journal—particularly monumental. Our familiar star, it turns out, is not unique. Our sun has a sibling—a sister-star that almost certainly originated from the same cloud of gas and dust as our own shining orb.

Sounds amazing doesn’t it?

That sibling? A star with the deceptively dull name of HD 162826. Said star is 15 percent more massive than our sun, and located 110 light-years away from us (in the constellation Hercules, which is, appropriately, un-dully named). We can’t see the sun’s sister unaided, but even a set of low-power binoculars reveals HD 162826 to human eyes. It’s situated near (well, relatively near) the bright star of Vega.

McDonald Observatory

The discovery was made by team of researchers led by the UT astronomer Ivan Ramirez, with help from several groups around the world. ​Using a combination of chemical analysis (high-resolution spectroscopy) and information about the stars’ orbits (their “dynamics”), the team created a list of solar-sibling candidates that included 30 stars. Using information provided by telescopes at both the McDonald Observatory in Texas and the Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, they narrowed the field. In the end, there was one that matched our sun.

cf5d2a84d39fccef565299a01b6396a5More from Science Daily: Astronomers find sun’s ‘long-lost brother,’ pave way for family reunion

“We want to know where we were born,” Ramirez said. “If we can figure out in what part of the galaxy the Sun formed, we can constrain conditions on the early solar system. That could help us understand why we are here.”

Additionally, there is a chance, “small, but not zero,” Ramirez said, that these solar sibling stars could host planets that harbor life. In their earliest days within their birth cluster, he explains, collisions could have knocked chunks off of planets, and these fragments could have travelled between solar systems, and perhaps even may have been responsible for bringing primitive life to Earth. Or, fragments from Earth could have transported life to planets orbiting solar siblings. “So it could be argued that solar siblings are key candidates in the search for extraterrestrial life,” Ramirez said.

[…]

While the finding of a single solar sibling is intriguing, Ramirez points out that the project has a larger purpose: to create a road map for how to identify solar siblings, in preparation for the flood of data expected soon from surveys like Gaia.

“The idea is that the Sun was born in a cluster with a thousand or a hundred thousand stars. This cluster, which formed more than 4.5 billion years ago, has since broken up,” he says. “A lot of things can happen in that amount of time.” The member stars have broken off into their own orbits around the galactic center, taking them to different parts of the Milky Way today. A few, like HD 162826, are still nearby. Others are much farther afield.

72231349ee94e0b995fc1dd57c2155d5You can read more involved details about how they came about figuring this whole thing out at the links above. The Science Daily is more technical. Funny how that blog highlights the find as a “brother sun” and the Atlantic article, written by a woman, dubs it a “sister sun.”

I have some distressing linkage up next, stories that deal with assholes of varying degrees…so if you are in a joyous mood, you should skip the next few paragraphs. At least until you see a few stars in the left margin.

Many of you may have already heard of the ridiculous shit the Bundy militia was up to yesterday:

Saturday’s Illegal Cliven Bundy-Endorsed ATV Rally Runs Through Sacred American Indian Sites | ThinkProgress

An illegal all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride planned this weekend through Recapture Canyon in Utah is the latest flashpoint between anti-government activists and federal land managers. The illegal ride is already drawing criticism from the Navajo Nation, putting American Indian burial sites and cultural resources at risk, and has even forced the cancellation of a traditional Navajo Warrior welcome home ceremony for veterans.

b4ab8c3e290b89af1e1f083d9fed2ddcYet San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman (R-UT) and his supporters appear determined to defy federal law by riding their ATVs through Recapture Canyon, an area of southeast Utah known as a “mini-Mesa Verde” because it contains one of the highest densities of archaeological sites in the country.

[…]

According to a new analysis from the Center for American Progress Action Fund, a network of right-wing elected officials, organizations, and prominent commentators share Mr. Bundy’s anti-government views and are advancing proposals to seize or sell-off federal public lands in eight Western states.

This network of so-called ‘Bundy’s Buddies’ includes the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity, U.S. Senator and presidential hopeful Rand Paul (R-KY), Utah Congressman Rob Bishop (R-UT), and Utah State Representative Ken Ivory. Ivory leads the American Lands Council — a group dedicated to advocating for the seizure of federal lands.

A new website from the Center for Western Priorities, BundysBuddies.org, identifies additional elected officials who share the anti-government views of Bundy and Lyman.

233db69d2d6b841c46a8e3884c34650aBundy son leads 300 activists in armed protest for right to ATV in Utah’s sacred ‘Recapture Canyon’

Hundreds of activists seeking to directly challenge federal control of swathes of territory in the U.S. West on Saturday drove dozens of all-terrain vehicles into protected land in Utah that is home to Native American artifacts and where such journeys are banned.

The ride into Recapture Canyon, which comes amid heightened political tensions, is a protest against indecision by federal land managers on whether to reopen canyon trails to recreational vehicle use after more than seven years of study.

About 300 people rallied at a nearby park before dozens of people, some of them armed with guns, set off in about 60 ATVs down a closed-off trail, which winds through red rock desert. The local sheriff had armed officers on horseback monitoring the protest.

The dispute is the latest squabble between conservative states’ rights advocates in Utah and across the West, who want to take back millions of acres of public land over which federal agencies have authority. More than 60 percent of Utah’s land is under federal control.

The canyon in the Four Corners region of Utah is home to the ruins of ancient dwellings and other cultural resources of Ancestral Puebloans. The Bureau of Land Management closed the area in 2007 after an illegally constructed trail was found and some artifact sites were damaged.

a6fd8acd43da0adf98c15203aec5b8a3Geez these assholes are a threat to society. As Tommy Christopher reports for The Daily Banter, the townspeople are still waiting for support from their sheriff…because the militia is still harassing the towns residents. Nevada Sheriff ‘Currently Looking Into’ Reports Of Bundy Ranch Militia Harassing Townfolk | The Daily Banter

In other asshole news here is one that is somehow surprising: Former George Zimmerman defender now says he was guilty, racially profiled black men

A former friend and neighbor of George Zimmerman, who had previously defended the man accused of stalking and killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, has had a change of heart, stating that he believes that Zimmerman got away with murder.

Frank Taafe, who served on the neighborhood watch with Zimmerman, told News13 he believes Martin was racially profiled by Zimmerman and would not have been followed if he “had been a white kid on a cell phone.”

“What I know of George and his tendencies and also my opinion is that he racially profiled Trayvon Martin that night because if that had been a white kid on a cell phone, walking through our neighborhood, he wouldn’t have stayed on him the way he did and that’s a fact and I believe that in my heart,” said Taaffe.

b41be8a18d5534ed5b5b137a9e5db508Go figure. And what could have made Frank change his mind?

According to Taafe, recent tragedies in his own life made him reconsider his opinion and feel the need to apologize for his earlier stalwart defense of Zimmerman .

“I can only ask for the country to forgive me and today I believe that he racially profiled him based on the color of his skin. Reporter: Some people may wonder what does Frank Taaffe have to gain by doing this?”  Taffe explained.  “Are you working on a book? No book. A TV show? No. I’m just working on me right now and getting right with God.”

Taafe also expressed his condolences to Trayvon Martin’s parents, saying, “I’m sorry that you lost your son, I know what that’s like and I wish things had been different.”

Interesting.

19dc8d21f4b84503e0f8a53d04a5f138Alright, here is the real disgusting parts…we will go through them quickly:

Texas man arrested for suspected premarital sex with 16-year-old wife | Reuters

Oh yeah, but get this shit:

The marriage may be legal but the suspected premarital sex was not, authorities said on Saturday after arresting a 41-year-old Houston-area drama teacher for the alleged sexual assault of a child, his 16-year-old wife.

Ilich Guardiola, who also works as a voice actor in Japanese animations, was pulled over in a traffic stop in the Houston suburb of Spring Valley last month and later questioned about his relationship with the teen riding with him, police said.

Shortly after the incident, Guardiola married the teenager, who has not been identified, in Las Vegas with the approval of her mother, who witnessed the wedding.

Police said there is circumstantial evidence that the two engaged in a sexual relationship prior to legal marriage.

“The marriage is absolutely legal. We received a copy of the marriage certificate,” said Gary Finkelman of the Spring Valley Police Department.

8b95207ce39aef925f9ce4c02c83acedGuardiola was arrested on Thursday at his Houston-area apartment for violating a Texas law that forbids sex with a child, regardless of the child’s consent. A child is defined as a person under 17 years of age.

Any state where the marriage of a 41 year old man to a 16-year-old is “legal” has to be fucked up to begin with, the other part of that article (the alleged sexual assault) goes without saying.

In another Texas fuck up: ‘Friday Night Lights’ school in Texas embroiled in sex scandals | Reuters

The school behind the book, movie and TV series “Friday Night Lights” has become mired in scandal with five staff members investigated for suspected sexual relations with students, including a teacher who died this week, a likely suicide.

Mark Lampman, 47, resigned as a government teacher on Tuesday from Permian High School in Odessa after the school in western Texas received an anonymous tip about an improper relationship between him and a student, school officials said.

“When they questioned him, that’s when he turned in his resignation and left,” district spokesman Mike Adkins said.

e2f9d63163a27d0bb74bcb71d3b83d0dHe was found dead on Wednesday of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest, the Ector County Sheriff’s Office said.

Lampman is the fifth staff member to be accused in the last year of having an inappropriate relationship with a student. One of those employees was later cleared of wrongdoing, school officials said.

In April 2013, a Permian swim coach and a trainer resigned and were later indicted on charges of improper relations between educator and student. Last month, a Permian employee also resigned amid claims made by parents to school district police of an inappropriate relationship with a student.

The staff members were not immediately available for comment.

 

d88859f3b3bc02b9e81627209374dd3aIt is disgusting. Yeah, the school district says they are “looking into it” but it seems like things are just getting looked over to me. (You can read the rest of the article yourself and make your own decision.)

Oh, and not to shit all over Texas, but if it fits: Houston Authorities Searching For ‘Serial Defecator’ 

Deputies with the Harris County Precinct One Constable’s Office say a man has been terrorizing a neighborhood in the Woodland Heights area of Houston by going to the bathroom in several yards at night.

“We’ve had reports from six to eight neighbors out there that someone is actually coming into their yard and defecating — generally on their driveways,” said Sgt. J.C. Mosier.

Authorities believe the unknown man is committing the act between 1:00 and 4:00 a.m., but a motive for crimes has not yet been established.

cd9701e7d3ef25d9ac74dc1778020d8eI think the neighbors are laughing about it, but that’s because it’s only happened to two houses in the neighborhood. If it starts happening more, I think people might become enraged,” says Amy, who lives in the Heights. “How much poop can one man make though?”

She says one person’s house has even been hit as many as six times.

“I’m thinking revenge poop is definitely a possibility. We’re all wondering, what did this person who’s having the creep-crapper hit their house repeatedly do?”

Sgt. Mosier agrees that revenge could be the motive, as he recalls a similar event many years ago in the Houston area.

dd96f463afe49d6cf6041b45ea2d9c2fHa…you can laugh all you want at that…but the stock image they have for the story is a cop pulling a gun. Go check it out.

Now we move on to this shit: Rape allegations against Oregon basketball players roil campus – Los Angeles Times

A few key points,

  • 3 players named as suspects in sexual assault dismissed from Oregon basketball team, though never charged
  • Prosecutors decline to file sexual assault charges, but Oregon kicks three players off basketball team
  • 1 freshman, 2 sophomores booted from @OregonMBB. University cites ‘profoundly disturbing’ police report

It looks like the US Executive Branch is not the only one who pays women less than men, via The Independent: Foreign Office pays female staff less than men

Female diplomats and senior women at the Foreign Office are paid 10 per cent less than their male counterparts, new figures revealed yesterday.

bd2360f9e5e2ab89a94dd1fdf9f0e347The Government is also missing its target on recruiting women into the department and in UK missions abroad, the research shows.

The figures follow the announcement by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond last week that women should be allowed to serve on the front line. Yet despite the attempts to achieve greater equality at the Ministry of Defence, it seems across Whitehall, however, the Foreign Office is struggling in the battle for parity between the sexes.

Nice to know that kind of sexism is seen equally on both sides of the pond./snark

73aab971378537783c574a1a834f5a73Okay, now I am going to give you some links to news on the LBGT front. The most exciting of which is this:

Michael Sam picked by St. Louis Rams, set to be first open gay NFL player | Al Jazeera America

Michael Sam was picked by the St. Louis Rams in the seventh round of the NFL draft Saturday, becoming the first openly gay player drafted by a pro football team.

“Thank you to the St. Louis Rams and the whole city of St. Louis. I’m using every ounce of this to achieve greatness!!” Sam tweeted moments after he was picked, with a picture of himself wearing a Rams cap and a pink polo shirt.

The impact of Sam’s selection goes far beyond football. At a time when gay marriage is gaining acceptance among Americans, Sam’s entry into the NFL is a huge step toward the integration of gay men into professional team sports. Pro sports have in many ways lagged behind the rest of society in acceptance.

Isn’t that a fucking good bit of news. This was neat trivia too:

ef7b415b41868be9b1a049d431e647cdMore on Michael Sam here: This video of Michael Sam finding out he was drafted will *actually* restore your faith in humanity – Salon.com

Michael Sam made history on Saturday by become the first openly gay athlete ever to be drafted by an NFL team. There had been some doubt as to whether or not Sam would be drafted at all, but with the eighth-to-last pick in the 2014 NFL Draft’s seventh and final round, the St. Louis Rams selected the University of Missouri star. It was an historic moment made even more so by the remarkable video footage of Sam finding out he’d made the cut, which you can view below.

 

Two links on transgender up next. One about Cuba…New Photobook Documents the Travails of Transgender Cubans | Mother Jones

 

 

Malu

Malu with her parents and sister, in front of their home Mariette Pathy Allen

21c981e6368c2e80fccc93e27a3e08a8Of all the allies in the global fight for LGBT equality, Cuba may be the most unlikely. For decades, the island was notorious for its crackdown on “social deviants”—an underclass that included homosexuals, transgender people, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Seventh Day Adventists, and anyone critical of the Castro regime. The 1960s were especially bleak. Deemed unfit for the revolution, gay Cubans were banned from joining the military or becoming teachers. Thousands were confined to isolated labor camps. Conditions deteriorated further in the ’80s and ’90s as Cuba quarantined HIV-positive citizens, many of whom were gay.

Mariette Pathy Allen’s new photobook, TransCuba (Daylight Books), captures a country slowly outgrowing its history of persecution. Shot in 2012 and 2013, the book is haunted by the trauma inflicted by Fidel Castro’s government. But it is optimistic about life under his brother, Raúl, who assumed the presidency in 2008. Since the change in power, Cuba’s Ministry of Public Health has approved state-funded sex reassignment surgery, and the government has relaxed many discriminatory policies targeting sexual orientation and gender. In 2012, Adela Hernández became the country’s first openly transgender person elected to public office. Perhaps most shockingly, in a 2010 interview with the Mexican newspaper La Jornada, Fidel Castro called his decision to imprison homosexuals in the 1960’s “a great injustice…I’m not going to place the blame on others,” Castro said, “We had so many and such terrible problems, problems of life or death.”eb5c684e2ea9861f70fd7a2cb2300f91

Despite its progressive reforms, Cuba continues to have serious problems, particularly with transgender rights. “I see transgender Cubans as a metaphor for Cuba itself: people living between genders in a country moving between doctrines,” Allen writes. The women she documents are grateful for the increasing tolerance, but they still suffer from entrenched stigmas.

 

And one about the new singing sensation out of Europe: A Bearded Drag Queen Just Won The Eurovision Song Contest

 

Austrian bearded drag queen Conchita Wurst won the 59th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest on Saturday with a James Bond-inspired entry that had unleashed a wave of protests in eastern Europe before the competition.CONCHITA WURST

The power ballad, “Rise Like a Phoenix,” helped Wurst — the alter ego of 25-year-old Thomas Neuwirth — secure Austria’s second victory in the competition with 290 points. The country also won in 1966.

“This is dedicated to everyone who believes in a future of peace and freedom,” a tearful Wurst said as she accepted the trophy from Denmark’s Emmelie de Forrest, who won the contest last year. “We are unity.”

You can listens to her performance here:

 

520f26779917fa5e1b056432453abf68Amid growing tensions over the Ukraine crisis, some in Eastern Europe have blasted Wurst as an example of the West’s decadence. Activists in Belarus had even urged the country’s state television network to bypass the live broadcasting rules by the organizers and edit the Austrian entry out of its Eurovision transmission.

After her victory, Wurst told reporters she hopes gay, lesbian, bi and transgender people around the world are getting stronger in their fight for human rights.

Asked if she had anything to say to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who introduced a law last year prohibiting so-called gay “propaganda,” Wurst said, “I don’t know if he is watching this now, but if so, I’ll say it: ‘We’re unstoppable.'”

In Vienna, the Austrian capital, fans who had gathered at one of the public viewing parties 514f62ea6efa3d4fcbcfc0ce20f537a8chanted “Conchita” ecstatically after the victory. Some had painted on fake beards in support.

 

I love it! Good for her!

And now a few links in dump fashion…

1abc5b60600b00217babb6ca9f90dfa5Unidentified remains arrive at 9/11 museum amid controversy | Al Jazeera America

Scientists Still Working to ID Victims From 9/11 – ABC News

I don’t think we will ever get to identify all those remains. The ghost from that day will haunt us forever. Well, they haunt me, that is for sure.

This next audio story and picture gallery is about people who hunt ghost for a living: Looking for Gauteng’s Ghosts

Men and women don uniforms and carry their high technology to abandoned houses, hospitals and bars in search of the lost souls of the dead.

And when we think about something from the past haunting us…I am sure this man had that feeling for most of his life: Secret service agent in iconic LBJ photos dies – The Washington Post

Thomas “Lem” Johns, a former secret service agent present during the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and swearing in of Lyndon Johnson, has died. He was 88.

54dd56fccca227118e91994a030190db[…]

Lem Johns is pictured in iconic photos from Nov. 22, 1963 aboard the presidential plane where Johnson was sworn in. One photo shows Johns standing behind former first lady Jacqueline Kennedy as Johnson consoles her following the oath of office.

Johns was assigned to Johnson’s security detail at the time of the shooting and was riding in the motorcade when the shots were fired.

Those are some heavy duty images to see in a photograph, imagine having them imprinted in your memories…

So, here is something to think about: A Hard Sell to Tame a Name in Spain

CASTRILLO MATAJUDÍOS, Spain — To outsiders, it might seem obvious that the time has come, or long passed, to change the name of a village that evokes one of the darkest chapters of Spain’s history.

0353f66baef1f1813d36b572f00bbb8aBut the mayor of Castrillo Matajudíos — roughly, Little Hill Fort of Jew Killers — is having a tough time persuading the 56 registered inhabitants of this sleepy village to vote on May 25 to adopt a different name and finally eradicate a link to the persecution of Jews during the Spanish Inquisition.

Read about the fascinating history of how this town got its name at the link, you may be surprised.

As with everything else, things get bigger with age: Super-Sizing Movie Monsters, Ctd « The Dish

Godzilla

You can read about that graphic at the link too.

a0e974fddcded5e2046b0229b7673f19And a heads up! Hobson’s Choice: Get it right, people! | Suits & Sentences | McClatchy DC

Hey lawyers: Stop misusing the phrase “Hobson’s choice.” Please, Suits & Sentences begs this of you.

On Thursday, during health-care law arguments before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, attorney Robert Joseph Muise several times employed the phrase. Each time, he used it to mean an impossibly tough choice; specifically, that facing religious employers who must either provide contraceptive coverage to workers or pay a fee.

“That is a Hobson’s choice,” Muise told the three-judge panel.

No, it’s not.

A Hobson’s choice, unless its meaning has been totally remade by constant misuse, refers to something that’s not a choice at all. As explained here:

a795293bb626d95bad02f114edea949aThomas Hobson (1545–1631) ran a thriving carrier and horse rental business in Cambridge, England, around the turn of the 17th century. Hobson rented out horses, mainly to Cambridge University students, but refused to hire them out other than in the order he chose. The choice his customers were given was ‘this or none;’ quite literally, not their choice but Hobson’s choice.”

Or, in the alternative, it’s a movie, a San Francisco bar or a Williamstown, Mass. steak restaurant. But it is not, not, not simply a choice between unpleasant alternatives.

So…on May 22nd, at 11pm,  TCM will be playing Hobson’s Choice.  It really is a delightful movie, directed by David Lean. Watch it, you will love it! There is a good article about the film here: Hobson’s Choice (1954) – Articles – TCM.com

Ah, a bit of history for you: Did the Vikings reach Madeira?

 New research about mice on Madeira suggests that the Vikings may have visited the Atlantic island 400 years before it was colonized.

4632e029c43bc31db3916abbc5b7c0d8In an article published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the research team from the Mediterranean Institute for Advanced Studies (Imedea) in Majorca and the University of La Laguna analyzed the bones of two mice skeletons found in dunes on the eastern edge of the island. Radiocarbon tests on the second skeleton revealed that the mouse lived from 903–1036 AD.

And some science: From duck vaginas to bumblebee sex: The amazing, overlooked science of genitals – Salon.com

Reproductive organs throughout the animal kingdom are just about the craziest thing that’s ever been described in scientific literature. Did you know, for example, that female ducks have complex vaginas that coil in the opposite direction of males’ equally complex penises, allowing them to thwart attempts at forced copulation? 1dadc6ba3a421dfeafda470bace0bc1dOr that the penises of particularly lucky species of crane fly function as vibrators? Or, for that matter, that the human female clitoris is about the size of a medium zucchini — and sports more nerve endings than the penis?

Something for the film buffs, behind the scene pictures of: William Friedkin on set of “The Exorcist” « Kinoimages.com

Artsy fartsy link now: Over 300 Years Ago, An Artist Created And Documented Every Color You Can Think Of

Thanks to Pantone, the contemporary authority on all things color, we have a way of documenting the chromatic flow — all 2,100 hues it’s gleaned from the visible ends of the rainbow. But artists have been recording the depths of color for much longer than Pantone’s lifespan, mixing and melding pigments to create the violets, turquoises and ambers we ogle in art history books.

o-COLORS-900

One such artist was A. Boogert, a man who created a massive manual on color nearly three centuries before Pantone ever came into being. Back in 1692, he crafted around 800 pages of handwritten and hand-painted pages under the title “Traité des couleurs servant à la peinture à l’eau.” Written in Dutch, the treatise was a painstaking trek through the tints and shades of every color you can think of. It was, as This Is Colossal speculates, probably the most informative color guide of its time.

You can see the entire book online here.

Oh and fabulous Hillary news: Congratulations to Dr. Chelsea Clinton and Happy Mothers’ Day to Hillary Clinton | Still4Hill

And we will end this post with a Mother’s Day link video:  Watch 100-Year-Old Moms Share Advice on Motherhood91b3f928594796b873dac885680d977f

For these moms, all 100 years or older, motherhood has a lot of meanings. The women talk about everything—from how it felt to find out they were going to be moms to the heartbreak of sending their children off to war.

The video, courtesy of Mashable in honor of the 100th anniversary of Mother’s Day, asks what it means to be a mother. “Strength,” says Sadie Adler, triumphantly. “Listen to your children and treat them as a grown up,” she advises. Connie Isaacs has another great idea about how to parent. “Let your kids do what they want to do,” she says, laughing.

Happy Mother’s Day! Enjoy your special day!

a285991d5de838a0d27cb2516430aebf


Sunday Reads: Percy, I must know…going to hell in a handbasket?

il_fullxfull.501863041_7c1zGood Morning

It has been a busy week…Bebe has her first official boyfriend, that means she went on an official date where he drove and everything.

So you can see why I have been a little distracted.

All this back and forth reminded me of this old skit from Saturday Night Live, that aired on March 30, 1985.

I saw this episode live when it aired all those years ago and one of the lines remained in the back of my mind…I quote it quite frequently.  In fact, I used it on Bebe to find out her relationship status just a few hours ago.

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE -- Episode 15 -- Pictured: (l-r) Christopher Guest as Bull, Martin Short as Percival Dickerson, Jim Belushi as cellmate during 'House of Shame' skit on March 30, 1985 -- Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE — Episode 15 — Pictured: (l-r) Christopher Guest as Bull, Martin Short as Percival Dickerson, Jim Belushi as cellmate during ‘House of Shame’ skit on March 30, 1985 — Photo by: Alan Singer/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

 

Here is a description of the scene with a couple of photos I could find, it sucks there is no video clip available.

SNL Archives - Episodes - Details

SNL Archives – Season 10 Episode 15

Number one: Fin-de-Siecle Prison Homosexuality. As I recall, the title of the bit when it aired was Shame Of The Prisons. Martin Short plays a terrified new prisoner named Percival, and his cellmate is the threatening Jim Belushi. Belushi doesn’t ravage him immediately, because he says, “I can’t have you until The Bull has had you.”

Guest plays The Bull as a gallant Gaylord Ravenal sort of character, and the first date is just a walk in the moonlight, with genteel idle chit-chat, until The Bull finally turns and asks “Percy? I must know this. Will you wear my ring… and be my bitch?”

"Sweetheart of Sigma-Chi" by Edward Eggleston, circa 1919

“Sweetheart of Sigma-Chi” by Edward Eggleston, circa 1919

Short goes back to his cell and he and Belushi start acting like high school girls, thrilled to discuss the particulars of a date.

Bold quote is my emphasis, and actually I believe what Guest says to Short is “Will you wear my pin… and be my bitch?”  Which goes along with the old fashioned idea of short getting “pinned” by the Bull…it was funny as hell.

I tried so long to find pictures of just that set-up. Like that first image up top, but no luck. The rest of the illustrations are various couples. Meh…

Ah…now we will just move on to the links for this morning’s post. They start with the South and move through child rearing to fruit and hand-baskets. Hopefully the stories will be new to you…

This first link should be introduced with the joke…if your local Waffle House is held up by a man in overalls wielding a pitchfork…you might be a redneck. Man accused of robbing Waffle House with pitchfork

He’s accused of using a weapon to force Waffle House employees into the back of a restaurant so he could steal money.

But it’s the weapon he used that really caught witnesses’ attention. The suspect was carrying a pitchfork.

The suspect, identified as Jeffrey Willard Wooten, 50, was wearing coveralls and a ski mask when he entered the Buford Highway breakfast eatery Thursday night, according to Norcross police. After forcing employees into a back room, Wooten went after cash, police said.

“When he realized he couldn’t get the cash register open, he took the whole cash register and exited the store . . with his pitchfork,” Norcross police Chief Warren Summers told Channel 2 Action News.

Torch-Mob-FrankensteinI think the best part of the story however is that the employees got a piece of him, uh…see here:

Outside of the Waffle House, Wooten allegedly dropped his pitchfork, according to police. But he held on to the cash register.

Two restaurant employees than grabbed the pitchfork and used it to smash the back window of Wooten’s truck, police said. Wooten may have been injured while attempting to leave the restaurant.

“It wouldn’t be an offensive weapon in your garden, but it was in a Waffle House,” Summers said.

It also is a deadly weapon when used during riots in Transylvania.

But if that seems crazy to you, then you ain’t seen nothing yet. Y’all ready for a WTF moment? Alabama’s chief justice: Buddha didn’t create us so First Amendment only protects Christians

Speaking at the Pastor for Life Luncheon, which was sponsored by Pro-Life Mississippi, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians because “Buddha didn’t create us, Mohammed didn’t create us, it was the God of the Holy Scriptures” who created us.

“They didn’t bring the Koran over on the pilgrim ship,” he continued. “Let’s get real, let’s go back and learn our history. Let’s stop playing games.”

He then noted that he loves talking to lawyers, because he is a lawyer who went to “a secular law school,” so he knows that “in the law, [talking about God] just isn’t politically correct.” He claimed that this is why America has “lost its way,” and that he would be publishing a pamphlet “this week, maybe next” that contained copies of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, thereby proving that all the people “who found this nation — black, white, all people, all religions, all faiths” knew that America was “about God.”

5706146b5338f1d6e109719b394dd90dOh, the batshit nutjob’s speech gets worse, look at this jewel:

Chief Justice Moore later defined “life” via Blackstone’s Law — a book that American lawyers have “sadly forgotten” — as beginning when “the baby kicks.” “Today,” he said, “our courts say it’s not alive ’til the head comes out.”

“Now,” he continued, “if technology’s supposed to increase our knowledge, how did we become so stupid?” Discussing Thomas Jefferson’s use of “life” in the Declaration of Independence, he said that “when [Jefferson] put ‘life’ in there, it was in the womb — we know it begins at conception. Why aren’t we going the right way instead of the wrong way?”

He later said the “pursuit of happiness” meant following God’s law, because “you can’t be happy unless you follow God’s law, and if you follow God’s law, you can’t help but be happy.”

Video at the link. It all is too ridiculous to even discuss. Makes me think of Chris Rodda who wrote the book Liars for Jesus. Wonder what she would say about Moore’s bullshit.

Next up, another In Deep South where GOP Rejected Obamacare, tens of 1000s die Unnecessarily every Year | Informed Comment

The Center for Disease Control house found that 900,000 people a year die of five leading causes every year in the US, and that 20% to 40% of these deaths are preventable (i.e. 180,000 to 360,000 needn’t die). The five are heart disease, cancer, lung disease, stroke and unintentional injury. Smoking cigarettes contributes to several of them.

What is striking is that the preventable diseases occur at a much higher rate in the Deep South than in the rest of the country, especially in Mississippi, Louisiana and Alabama. AJC.com notes that only 2% of Oregon’s heart attacks are considered to be “preventable” by the CDC, but 58 percent of Mississippi’s are.

Graphs and picture goodies at the link, plus lots more, so go read it.

More news and “stuff” after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »


Wednesday Reads: Frankie and Olive…Cowboys and Indians

c29f6505c9a91abd7c06afae4b58b5baGood Morning

After suffering with a migraine the last four days, I really do not know what the hell has been going on in the world…that is, other than the few interesting stories Boston Boomer wrote about yesterday.

One thing I have been keeping an eye on for updates, was any news on the birth of Drew Barrymore’s second child. Well…yesterday it happened. Drew Barrymore Welcomes Daughter Frankie with Husband Will Kopelman

Drew Barrymore‘s own heart just got a little bigger: her baby girl is here!

c5c45e567fac09195ac326902b2ad3aaThe actress and star of the upcoming comedy, Blended, 39, and her husband, art advisor Will Kopelman, 36, welcomed their second child on Tuesday, April 22, her rep confirms to PEOPLE exclusively.

“Happy to announce that today we are the proud parents of our second daughter, Frankie Barrymore Kopelman,” the couple tell PEOPLE in a statement. “Olive has a new little sister, and everyone is healthy and happy!”

Yeah I know, for some I can hear the words…who gives a shit…but bully for her! Glad she has another healthy baby girl. I just thought the names made a great title for a post.

As for the cowboy and indians…from AJAM:  Cowboys and Indians ride into U.S. capital to protest Keystone pipeline

For a few days, teepees erected by Native Americans and their cowboy allies will frame the view of the Washington Monument from the National Mall.

CHARLES RELYEA 20'S 30'S

CHARLES RELYEA 20’S 30’S

A group of roughly 60 ranchers, farmers, tribal leaders and members whose land falls near or on the proposed pathway of the contested Keystone XL pipeline, calling themselves the Cowboy-Indian Alliance, rode into the nation’s capital on horseback Tuesday to set up camp and begin four days of demonstration to register their protest of the project.

The yet-to-be-approved 1,179-mile pipeline, which would carry crude oil from the tar sands of Canada’s Alberta province to Gulf Coast refineries in Texas, has been mired in controversylegal challenges and delays for five years.

Critics, many of them environmentalists, say that the Keystone XL will only deepen the United States’ dependence on fossil fuels, hasten the effects of climate change (although that contention is disputed) and violate landowners’ rights.

Proponents, on the other hand, say its construction will boost the economy, lead to the creation of American jobs, and move the country towards energy independence.

Many see the issue as the defining test of President Barack Obama’s commitment to the environment. As a candidate in 2007, he vowed to end “the tyranny of oil.”

[…]

d9e66ff86a47aca498052e577ea785b4The ranchers and Native Americans — about 40 of whom led a procession on horseback before coming to the National Mall to set up a camp of teepees — said they wanted to ensure lawmakers and the Obama administration were hearing them loud and clear about their qualms.

Matthew Black Eagle Man, a 45-year-old member of the Sioux Long Plain First Nation tribe in Manitoba, Canada, said the government attempting to build a pipeline on Native American lands continues a longstanding pattern of abuse inflicted on indigenous people.

“For 500 years, our people have been suffering,” he said. “The government gave us the most desolate places in the country for our reservations. Now they want to build a pipeline on our land.”

Black Eagle Man said too that Native Americans were committed to being good stewards of the earth’s resources.

“We’re here to help protect the water, our first medicine,” he said. “Our most abundant resource is being destroyed by man.”

Hopi woman

Hopi woman

As for the cowboys:

“I raise horses on a small ranch and they can’t drink oil. Sooner or later, that thing’s going to leak,” said Mike Blocker, 62, whose ranch is in Antelope County in Nebraska, directly in the path of the pipeline. “How can you sleep at night knowing that 830,000 pounds of this crap is flowing underground where you live?”

Donna Roller, 62, who owns a farm in York County, Neb., was appalled that more of the public was not up in arms that a foreign oil company — TransCanada, the owner of the pipeline — was marching into the United States and trampling on American land rights.

“What the hell? What is wrong with the American public that they are complacent in this?” she said. “This is a foreign corporation that’s going to make billions off our backs. We won’t allow them to go — we will lay our bodies on the line with the Native Americans.”

1d4b8466875e6a82edcd74deabd95bc9“We need water, we need food,” she added. “We don’t need tar sands.”

The Cowboy and Indian Alliance has four days of events planned, including documentary screenings, meetings with environmental groups and elected leaders, traditional Native American ceremonies and delivering a teepee painted by the activists to the Museum of the American Indian in honor of Obama, as a sign of respect. The week will culminate in a rally on Saturday that organizers are expecting to attract 5,000 protestors.

The protest is planned for a full week, let’s see what comes of it.

The pictures for today’s post were found on pinterest of course, you can see some of the images here:

615a611d50476fd6cc16237406c69e1c

American Indian on Pinterest

 

For the pinups by George Petty:

71d0daffaae1527baad98430f0c3c6a9

George Petty on Pinterest

PETTY_img_01

 

And the one image that is my absolute favorite…which goes without saying….

ae75ff7d9ab1c5e2b67c34862059b63d

Yes, he is what you think he is.

Alright then. On we go.

91a0195e7bdc4b0075b7f2d727bea900After the news yesterday from SCOTUS, that effectively puts those 50th Anniversary Civil Rights Act celebrations earlier in the month to shame.  Court Backs Michigan on Affirmative Action

In a fractured decision that revealed deep divisions over what role the judiciary should play in protecting racial and ethnic minorities, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld a Michigan constitutional amendment that bans affirmative action in admissions to the state’s public universities.

The 6-to-2 ruling effectively endorsed similar measures in seven other states. It may also encourage more states to enact measures banning the use of race in admissions or to consider race-neutral alternatives to ensure diversity.

States that forbid affirmative action in higher education, like Florida and California, as well as Michigan, have seen a significant drop in the enrollment of black and Hispanic students in their most selective colleges and universities.

c8ca20371ba81ae1c2ed59b4db0a526aIn five separate opinions spanning more than 100 pages, the justices set out starkly conflicting views. The justices in the majority, with varying degrees of vehemence, said that policies affecting minorities that do not involve intentional discrimination should be decided at the ballot box rather than in the courtroom.

I know that Dakinikat quoted the Justices yesterday in the comments, but I wanted front page this real quick:

But Justice Sonia Sotomayor, in the longest, most passionate and most significant dissent of her career, said the Constitution required special vigilance in light of the history of slavery, Jim Crow and “recent examples of discriminatory changes to state voting laws.”

Little Apache Girl

Little Apache Girl

Her opinion, longer than the four other opinions combined, appeared to reflect her own experiences with affirmative action at Princeton and Yale Law School. “I had been admitted to the Ivy League through a special door,” she wrote in her best-selling memoir, “My Beloved World.” For years, she wrote, “I lived the day-to-day reality of affirmative action.”

[…]

Signaling deep displeasure, Justice Sotomayor summarized her dissent from the bench, an unusual move that happens perhaps three times a term. She said the initiative put minorities to a burden not faced by other college applicants. Athletes, children of alumni and students from underrepresented parts of the state, she said, remained free to try to persuade university officials to give their applications special weight. “The one and only policy a Michigan citizen may not seek through this long-established process,” she wrote, “is a race-sensitive admissions policy.” That difference, she said, violates the Constitution’s equal protection clause.

d0a20e0a233cf74a4cc28e821a6223a5“The Constitution does not protect racial minorities from political defeat,” she wrote. “But neither does it give the majority free rein to erect selective barriers against racial minorities.” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg joined the dissent.

Justice Sotomayor seemed to mock one of Chief Justice Roberts’s most memorable lines. In a 2007 decision that limited the use of race to achieve integration in public school systems, he wrote, “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race.”

Justice Sotomayor recast the line. “The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race,” she wrote, “is to speak openly and candidly on the subject of race, and to apply the Constitution with eyes open to the unfortunate effects of centuries of racial discrimination.”

41fa258d065f403b73adb22304afbfadThat is a great way to introduce this little tidbit of news from a disturbing Easter Egg incident in Virginia (with snark of course): Some White Supremacists Planted Easter Eggs with Racist Messages in Them | Mediaite

Parents in the West End of Virginia discovered, much to their horror, that amongst the Easter eggs planted for egg hunts, there were eggs that contained messages from a white supremacist group. One family discovered an egg with a little piece of paper “‘Diversity’ = White Genocide” at the top. Here’s what it read:

Screen-Shot-2014-04-21-at-2.40.30-PM

 

Yep, imagine your child getting an Easter egg with a recommendation to check out WhiteGenocideProject.com. Doesn’t that just fill you full of the holiday spirit?!

Parents are very disturbed that the eggs were placed on their property, with one saying, “You can hit the whole world with the Internet, stay out of my yard.”

0a028f47f31a8de11b8219c448bc4b93I don’t know…the whole thing is fucked up. Like that shit with CNN even giving the opportunity to discuss the KKK rebranding itself.

Things are just bad. Real bad.

Just a few more articles:

Albuquerque officer fatally shoots woman

Albuquerque police said an officer shot and killed an auto theft suspect early Monday, the third shooting by officers in the troubled department in just over a month and the first after a federal investigation faulted the department for excessive force and a culture of abuse and aggression.

Gordon Eden, police chief of the New Mexico city, said the shooting occurred Monday morning during a chase.

“An officer pursued on foot when the suspect stopped, turned and pointed a handgun at close range,” Eden said.

Jim ThorpePolice identified the woman as Mary Hawkes, the daughter of Danny Hawkes, a retired magistrate judge in Valencia County, south of Albuquerque.

Court records show Mary Hawkes had two previous run-ins with the law as an adult, one for drinking in public and another for shoplifting, according to the Albuquerque Journal. As a juvenile, she was charged in 2011 with attempted criminal sexual contact of a child under 13. She was convicted of a lesser battery offense and sentenced to two years of probation.

No further details about the shooting were immediately available. Phone calls and e-mails to the Albuquerque Police Department were not returned.

The shooting comes just weeks after a series of sometimes violent protests against Albuquerque police, who have shot at 38 people since 2010, killing 24.

Citizens and civil rights group have repeatedly expressed concerns that the department is using excessive force, particularly with the city’s mentally ill and homeless populations.

More at the link.

a186a389681502017364e43f72e7938fHuffington Post had a link to an interactive article from the NY Times, from back in January. Mapping Poverty in America – The New York Times

Seems fitting to review it again.

And it goes hand in hand with this from the Daily Banter: Medicaid Expansion Will Cost States Even Less Than Expected | BobCesca.com

From the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities:

CBO now estimates that the federal government will, on average, pick up more than 95 percent of the total cost of the Medicaid expansion and other health reform-related costs in Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) over the next ten years (2015-2024).

pettyStates will spend only 1.6 percent more on Medicaid and CHIP due to health reform than they would have spent without health reform. That’s about one-third less than CBO projected in February. And the 1.6 percent figure is before counting the state savings that the Medicaid expansion will produce in state expenditures for services such as mental health and substance abuse treatment provided to the uninsured.

The federal government will cover 100 percent of the cost of expanding Medicaid until 2017 and, while it was projected that the government would cover 90 percent of the cost beyond that time period, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) now projects that the federal government will cover more than 95 percent until at least 2024.

Expanding Medicaid was already a pretty good deal for states given that the federal government will cover the entire cost for several years and the overwhelming majority of costs thereafter, but the deal just got sweeter.29e589a99c0f6e2c5255f257e4d668c8

But that doesn’t mean shit to the assholes who run the states like mine.

Finally, not all things that quack like a duck…turn out to be a duck. For the last 50 years there has been these strange quacking sounds heard from the Southern Ocean that has kept people wondering…what the hell is it?   Mystery of ‘ocean quack sound’ solved

The mystery of a bizarre quacking sound heard in the ocean has finally been solved, scientists report.

The noise – nicknamed “the bio-duck” – appears in the winter and spring in the Southern Ocean. However, its source has baffled researchers for decades.

0faf7f7bffe307a999bab44105277a42Now acoustic recorders have revealed that the sound is in fact the underwater chatter of the Antarctic minke whale.

The findings are published in the Royal Society journal Biology Letters.

Lead researcher Denise Risch, from the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Noaa) Northeast Fisheries Science Center in Massachusetts, said: “It was hard to find the source of the signal.

“Over the years there have been several suggestions… but no-one was able to really show this species was producing the sound until now.”

The rest of this story sounds like something out of The Incredible Mr. Limpet (1964):

The strange sound was first detected by submarines about 50 years ago. Those who heard it were surprised by its quack-like qualities.

Since then, the repetitive, low frequency noise has been recorded many times in the waters around the Antarctic and western Australia. Suggestions for its source have ranged from fish to ships.

301d48163519856c8775879de4e51f36The researchers now say they have “conclusive evidence” that the bio-duck is produced by the Antarctic minke whale.

In 2013, acoustic recorders were attached to two of the marine mammals and recorded the whales making the strange noise.

Dr Risch said: “It was either the animal carrying the tag or a close-by animal of the same species producing the sound.”

They still need to do analysis on the tapes to see when or why the whales make the sounds, but at least the scientist are sure the minke are the ones making the noise.

This is not the only acoustic puzzle that scientists have recently shed light on

Another baffling low frequency noise – called The Bloop – turned out to be the sound of Antarctica’s ice cracking.

And there you are…

199935c80bfae8fc0bbf6aea3f5f8369

Well, have a good day and if you feel like seeing some Cowboys and Indians…TCM is having a John Wayne marathon this week, 58 movies: John Wayne – Star of the Month

I am no Duke fan, but I had to end this post the way it started…pilgrim.