Tuesday Reads: A Little Bit of This and That

Cassidy, Arlene - Book of palmistry.png

Good Morning!!

 

Just because I feel like it, I’m going to avoid the depressing news today and give you a mixture of stories that interested me.

By now everyone knows about the 15- or 16-year-old boy who on Sunday flew from California to Hawaii in the wheel well of a Boeing 767 jet and survived.

It turns out he ran away from home after some kind of argument, climbed over a fence at San Jose Mineta International Airport, and hid in the wheel well of the first plane he saw. Authorities are trying to figure out how he evaded multiple layers of security and how he survived a trip that could have killed him.

From ABC News:

“He got very lucky that he got to go to Maui but he was not targeting Maui as a destination,” Simon said.

The boy is also lucky to be alive, given that wheel-well stowaways rarely surviving flight conditions. At 38,000 feet, the percentage of oxygen is a fraction of that at sea level, and the temperature ranges from minus-50 to minus-85 degrees….

The plane landed in Hawaii. About an hour later, at 10:20 a.m. Hawaii time, crews were startled by the teen coming out of the wheel well, Maui Airports District Manager Marvin Moniz said.

“He was weak. He hung from the wheel valve and then he fell to the ground and regained some strength,” Moniz said.

 The Daily Mail has more:

He passed out in the air and didn’t regain consciousness until an hour after the plane landed in Hawaii, Simon said. When he came to, he climbed out of the wheel well and was immediately seen by airport personnel who escorted him inside where he was interviewed by the FBI, Simon said.

It was not immediately clear how the boy stayed alive in the unpressurized space, where temperatures at cruising altitude can fall well below zero and the air is too thin for humans to stay conscious. An FAA study of stowaways found that some survive by going into a hibernation-like state.

According to Simon, the boy doesn’t have any memories of the flight. Some experts are questioning whether the story is even true.

News of the incident was met with suspicion and scrutiny. Most wheel-well stowaways don’t survive, falling victim to frigid temperatures and lack of oxygen. The chances of survival of a wheel-well stowaway on a commercial aircraft are about 24 percent, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s Civil Aerospace Medical Institute.

ABC News aviation consultant John Nance is skeptical that the teen could have survived the 2,300-mile flight in the wheel well without an oxygen source.

“I just don’t believe it,” Nance said.

Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor, said in order to survive inside a wheel well during a flight, the body has to fall into a hibernation-like state, with the heart only beating a couple times a minute.

“It’s near impossible, almost miraculous, and maybe there’s more to the story,” Besser said.

Besides, how did this kid manage to evade security, including “multiple layers of security, including wide-ranging video surveillance, German shepherds and Segway-riding police officers?” Back to the Daily Mail:

San Jose International Airport spokeswoman Rosemary Barnes says airport employees monitor security video feeds from throughout the 1,050-acre airport around the clock. However, she said no one noticed images of an unidentified person walking on the airport ramp and approaching Hawaiian Airlines Flight 45 in the dark until security agents reviewed the footage after the plane had landed in Hawaii and the boy had been found.

The airport, in the heart of Silicon Valley, is surrounded by fences, although some sections do not have barbed wire and could easily be scaled.

The boy found his way onto the tarmac during the night, ‘under the cover of darkness,’ Barnes said.

Hours later, surveillance video at Kahului Airport showed the boy getting out of the wheel well after landing, according to a statement from Hawaii’s Department of Transportation.

The boy isn’t being charged with a crime, and will be returned to his parents, where he’ll have a quite a story to tell. I guess we’ll learn more in the next few days.

Meb

Yesterday’s Boston Marathon came off without a hitch, and an American won the men’s race for the first time in more than 30 years. The New York Daily News reports: American Meb Keflezighi wins Boston Marathon a year after bombing.

With the names of the murdered written on his runner’s bib, American Meb Keflezighi raced to victory Monday in the Boston Marathon, becoming a living symbol of resilience from the dark days of terror.

Keflezighi, 38, a member of the New York Athletic Club, said his triumph was fueled by a city that refused to buckle in the face of hate.

“It was not about me. It was about Boston Strong,” said Keflezighi, who broke down in tears as he became the first American in 31 years to win the race. “When the bomb exploded, every day since I’ve wanted to come back and win it.”

The Eritrea-born Keflezighi, who became an American citizen in 1998, crossed the finish line to chants of “U-S-A!” a mere 11 seconds in front of Kenya’s Wilson Chebet. He won the elite men’s race with a time of 2:08:37, a personal best and the second-fastest for an American man at Boston.

“When the Red Sox won (the World Series) and put the trophy right there,” he said, pointing to the Boylston St. finish line, “I wanted to win it for the people of Boston.”

Keflezighi came to the U.S. with his parents when he was 12 years old. He attended public schools in San Diego, where he first started running. He graduated from UCLA, where he won multiple championships and awards. He won a silver medal in the 2004 Olympics, and in 2009 he became the first American man to win the New York City Marathon since 1982.

In the women’s race, 2013 winner Rita Jeptoo won again, setting a course record of 2:18:57–also a personal best. Jeptoo is from Kenya.

I guess this next story is a little bit depressing, but it’s mostly ridiculous. From UPI: Majority of Americans doubt the Big Bang theory.

In a new national poll on America’s scientific acumen, more than half of respondents said they were “not too confident” or “not at all confident” that “the universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a big bang.”

The poll was conducted by GfK Public Affairs & Corporate Communications.

Scientists were apparently dismayed by this news, which arrives only a few weeks after astrophysicists located the first hard evidence of cosmic inflation.

But when compared to results from other science knowledge surveys, 51 percent isn’t too shameful — or surprising.

Other polls on America’s scientific beliefs have arrived at similar findings. The “Science and Engineering Indicators” survey – which the National Science Foundation has conducted every year since the early 1980s — has consistently found only about a third of Americans believe that “the universe began with a huge explosion.”

Okay, maybe the notion of a giant explosion setting the universe in motion is a little surprising. But it’s certainly more believable than the biblical explanation that a godly being created the universe in seven days by making pronouncements like “Let there be light!”

Now an example of what some people are willing to believe: Has the Loch Ness Monster been spotted on Apple Maps?

Members of the Official Loch Ness Monster Fan Club claim they have studied an image seen on Apple’s global satellite map application that shows the allegedly 100-foot-long creature, CNet .com reports, citing London’s Daily Mail.  They say if you zoom in on Apple images from space you can even see the monster’s giant flippers.

News of the sighting has fans of Nessie — as she’s affectionately called — buzzing because there hasn’t been a Loch Ness sighting in 18 months.  Legend has it she’s been cruising the area of Loch, just south of Dores, Scotland, for some 90 years, but so far, there’s no definitive proof she exists.

Nessie’s fan club devotees say they have ruled out all other possibilities for the grainy image, including a floating log or a giant seal. But one skeptic, deep-sea biologist Andrew David Thaler, debunks the theory on his websiteSouthernFriedScience.com, saying that the image shows the wake of a boat.

I have a few more interesting science stories for you.

From National Geographic: The Tragic Story of How Einstein’s Brain Was Stolen and Wasn’t Even Special.

My headline may be a bit misleading. Albert Einstein, the Nobel prize-winning physicist who gave the world the theory of relativity, E = mc2, and the law of the photoelectric effect, obviously had a special brain. So special that when he died in Princeton Hospital, on April 17, 1955, the pathologist on call, Thomas Harvey, stole it.

Einstein didn’t want his brain or body to be studied; he didn’t want to be worshipped. “He had left behind specific instructions regarding his remains: cremate them, and scatter the ashes secretly in order to discourage idolaters,” writes Brian Burrell in his 2005 book, Postcards from the Brain Museum.

But Harvey took the brain anyway, without permission from Einstein or his family. “When the fact came to light a few days later, Harvey managed to solicit a reluctant and retroactive blessing from Einstein’s son, Hans Albert, with the now-familiar stipulation that any investigation would be conducted solely in the interest of science,” Burrell writes.

This story is so weird that there is no way I can do it justice with excerpts. You need to read the whole thing. Just to whet your appetite, I’ll tell you that Beat writer William Burroughs makes a cameo appearance. The comments are interesting too.

Part of a mastodon tooth

Part of a mastodon tooth

I just love this story; it’s the kind of thing I dreamed would happen to me when I was a kid: 9-year-old Michigan Boy Unearths 10,000-Year-Old Mastodon Tooth near Home.

“I was walking down at the creek last summer. I felt something that I stepped on so I picked it up and everybody in the neighborhood thought it was pretty cool,” Philip Stoll told CNN on Friday….

“It felt weird,” he said, according to the Detroit Free Press. “I had to see what it was. I pulled it out and brought it to my mom.”

Stoll…took the six-peaked, 8-inch foreign object to his Windsor Township house and washed it in his kitchen sink to get a better look. Mom Heidi Stoll was also brought in for consultation.

“I didn’t even think that it could have been a tooth until I started checking online for some kind of match,” she said. “We saw a picture of a Mastodon tooth and said ‘there it is.’”

The Stoll family eventually reached out to James Harding, a herpetologist – an expert on reptiles and amphibians, at nearby Michigan State, who confirmed their suspicions.

“This is indeed a mastodon tooth,” Professor Harding verified in an email, CNN reports. “Apparently (it is) the upper surface, broken off at the roots.”

Wow, that is one lucky kid! Philip told CNN he has dreamed of becoming a paleontologist when he grows up.

TRex

Did you hear about how the Smithsonian acquired a nearly-complete skeleton of a Tyranosaurus Rex and had it delivered from Montana by FedEx? From the Guardian: Rare T rex bones arrive at Smithsonian Museum after cross-country journey.

For the first time since its dinosaur hall opened in 1911, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History will have a nearly complete T rex skeleton. FedEx delivered the dinosaur bones in a truck carrying 16 carefully packed crates.

The T rex, discovered in 1988 on federal land in Montana, is about 80-85% complete. It’s one of about half a dozen nearly complete T rex skeletons that have been uncovered. This specimen could become the most prominent with its new home in one of the world’s most-visited museums. About 7 million people visit the natural history museum each year, and it offers free admission.

Like the mastodon tooth that Philip Stoll found, this skeleton was discovered by amateurs.

Kathy Wankel, a Montana rancher who discovered the bones in 1998 during a camping trip, said she was proud to see the specimen in a national museum. Initially, Wankel spotted about 3 inches of bone sticking out of the ground, and she and her husband dug out a small arm bone.

“We were so thrilled we had found a bone; we called that a mega find,” she said at the museum. “But I think now this is a mega find.”

Paleontologists from the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, Mont., excavated the fossil, and it’s been housed there for the past 25 years. At the Smithsonian, the skeleton will be mounted upright for the first time.

Those are my offbeat offerings for today. What stories have you been following? Please feel free to post real news in the comments.


Wednesday Open Thread: Massive NYC Explosion

building-explosion

There has been a massive explosion in New York City’s East Harlem. Two buildings have collapsed, killing at least two people and injuring 17 others. This story is still breaking. The latest from The New York Daily News:

BREAKING: Two buildings collapse, killing 2 women and injuring 17 after gas explosion in Harlem

A loud explosion inside a five-story building on Park Ave. at E. 116th St. sent “people flying out the window,” killing two women, injuring 17 and leaving two buildings in rubble Wednesday morning, according to the Fire Department and witnesses.
“For weeks we’ve been smelling gas,” said Ashley Rivera, 21, holding back tears. “We saw people flying out of the window. … Those are my neighbors.”

A law enforcement source told the Daily News the cause appeared to be a gas explosion. Mayor de Blasio was on his way to the scene.

Dramatic photos at the link. More photos from around the ‘net:

Explosion Causes Two Buildings To Collapse In Manhattan's East Harlem Neighborhood

APTOPIX NYC Explosion

This is an open thread. What else is happening?


Throwdown Thursday

So, I’ m thinking we need some kind of new thread. The morning one is getting rather full. Thought I’d share a few things I’ve been thinking about today and encourage you to do the same.

LauraFirst, if you are in town, please come to my favorite Rap Star’s debut!  Actually, she’s my neighbor too. This is 91 year old Laura Swinney, the sage of Poland Avenue.  She is doing her thing at Siberia.  One of the things that always amazes me about this city is the interesting people I meet.  This is especially true of the local women.  I have met a mistress of Humprey Bogart and one of the original Rockettes.  Gives me some hope.

So, it’s an open thread with an open mind.

What’s on yours?


Happy Festivus! We shall now Have the Airing of the Grievances!

festivus

So, I gotta lot of grievances … GUN NUTSSSSSSSssss!! This stuff should be UNACCEPTABLE!!! I’m tired of reading that no charges are filed and it’s an “accidental shooting”. You fucking leave an unlocked and loaded gun around the house with children you freaking deserve to be locked up for life!

Arizona: 3 year-old boy fatally shoots himself in the face with parents’ gun

10-Year-Old Girl Dies After Accidental Shooting

Right Wing Religious Extremists! Women are not your property or the state’s property! Hating on GLBT is not a religious statement! It’s Freaking Bigotry!

A lot of poor people work and still don’t have enough to eat or have access to healthcare. Look at the Walmart Heirs! They are the lazy bums!! Poor people and unemployed people are not the ones that scam our country out of money!

Okay, that should get things going … air your grievance!!!


Friday Nite Lite: The Real Santa and “Mrs. Claus”

Good Evening

I think this editorial cartoon by Paul Berge below about sums up the whole Megyn Kelly thing perfectly:

Cartoon by Paul Berge -

Now that is hilarious!

For another example of the perfect execution of the art-form that is political editorial cartoons, h/t Kathy for this link:

Our Problems and Flaws Turned Into Cartoons by Angel Boligan | Bored Panda

Art can be used to express powerful ideas and messages, and Cuban cartoonist Angel Boligan’s political and social cartoons are a perfect example of just how expressive and critical art can be. His extensive collection of comics provide a scathing commentary on contemporary politics and society.

Each comic bears a deep and powerful meaning. Don’t just take our word for it – Boligan has received more than 130 international awards for his work. Perhaps the most impressive thing about his comics is that, no matter how diverse the subject matter, they always seem to hit hard. Although he often takes on on topics like consumerism, corruption and hypocrisy, he has no problem transcending the public political topics traditionally handled by artists and take on social and emotional issues like loneliness, vanity and despair, which are more often handled by the fine arts and literature.

boligan.com (via)

Take a look at those cartoons, but this one is wonderful:

http://www.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/plugins/copyrightWrapper/watermark.php?display=true&image=http://www.boredpanda.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/comic-satire-cartoons-angel-boligan-14.jpg

The rest of tonight’s funnies in no particular order.

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Matt Wuerker, Politico.com – 12/17/2013

Cartoon by Matt Wuerker -

(and that was from Politico!)

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Randy Bish, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – 12/16/2013

Cartoon by Randy Bish -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, Philadelphia Daily News – 12/16/2013

Cartoon by Signe Wilkinson -

That reminds me…Good Grief and Great Tits by Dan Savage – Seattle Features – The Stranger, Seattle’s Only Newspaper

There’s something I should probably come clean about at the start of this piece. I didn’t read the whole thing—but why should I have to read the whole thing? Lord knows Sarah Palin didn’t write the whole thing.

Another confession: I haven’t even started to read the thing.

I’ve been carting Sarah Palin’s new book around with me for weeks. My copy of Good Tidings and Great Joy: Protecting the Heart of Christmas has accompanied me to work and to the gym and back home again. This book has been to bars in four states, it’s been stuffed in the lockers of three gyms, it’s been stowed under the seat in front of me on six flights—it’s even been to a kink-world-famous dungeon in San Francisco that I recently toured for professional reasons. (You know how Jen Graves visits artists’ studios and Bethany Jean Clement eats in nice restaurants? It was like that, just with hooks in the ceiling.)

About the only place this book hasn’t been is in my hands, open and upright, with my eyes pointed at it. But that’s about to change. Because I’m going to read this book in 20-minute bursts over the next eight hours. Why 20-minute bursts? Because that’s how long it takes for a batch of my mother’s Slog-famous Christmas Snowball cookies to bake. I’m going to put a tray in the oven, read, swap trays out, read some more.

And I think it’s fair to say that by the end of the day today—after all my Christmas cookies are baked—I will have read more of this book than Sarah Palin wrote.

[...]

Here’s a picture of Sarah Palin’s grandson—who for a time was the most famous fetus on the planet (2008, Republican National Convention)—and a quote:

“‘All this for me? And I wasn’t even very good!’

—My grandson, Tripp Easton Mitchell [Johnston], upon seeing the presents beneath the Christmas tree, 2012″

All this for me—and I wasn’t even that good. Translate that into Latin and it could be on the Palin family’s coat of arms.

Ha, okay, but this is the part that connects to the cartoon above:

Page 5: Here I learn something I didn’t know and, if I were Sarah Palin, something I wouldn’t want anyone to know. But Sarah hustles this fact to the front of the book because she sure as hell wants us to know it: Sarah surprised Todd with a “nice, needed, powerful gun” for Christmas in 2012. It was a “small act of civil disobedience,” Palin writes, prompted by “the anti-gun chatter coming from Washington.”

What was inspiring that anti-gun chatter in Washington in December of 2012? Oh, right: Twenty children and six teachers were shot dead in their classrooms by a deranged asshole with a “powerful gun.” And before the grieving mothers and fathers of Newtown, Connecticut, could put their dead children in the ground, Sarah Palin ran out gun shopping. Buying Todd a gun in the wake of the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was “fun,” Palin writes—and, again, an act of “civil disobedience.” Because gun nuts are a persecuted minority.

This paragraph about gun shopping in December of 2012—one first grader at Sandy Hook was shot 11 times—ends with Palin bragging about her tits. I’m not kidding.

Okay, I have to put the book down. I’m five pages into Good Tidings and Great Joy and… Jesus Fucking Christ… I have got to put down this toxic little shitstain of a book. I’m going to go wash my eyes out with hydrogen peroxide. Be right back.

And what was the brag about her tits? Something about Todd may have the gun, but Sarah has the rack. (Per one of the comments in that link.)

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Kevin Siers, Charlotte Observer – 12/16/2013

Cartoon by Kevin Siers -

A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE – Political Cartoon by Deb Milbrath, Cartoon Movement – 12/17/2013

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - A CHRISTMAS MIRACLE

AAEC – Political Cartoon by John Cole, Scranton Times/Tribune – 12/17/2013

Cartoon by John Cole -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Paul Fell, Artizans Syndicate – 12/17/2013

Cartoon by Paul Fell -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Pat Bagley, Salt Lake Tribune – 12/17/2013

Cartoon by Pat Bagley -

Blowhard – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 12/17/2013

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Blowhard

Shooting Backwards – Political Cartoon by Jen Sorensen, Self-syndicated – 12/17/2013

Cartoon by Jen Sorensen - Shooting Backwards

Black Santa – Political Cartoon by Rob Rogers, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette – 12/19/2013

Cartoon by Rob Rogers - Black Santa

12/20 Luckovich cartoon: Just ducky | Mike Luckovich

122013-toon-luckovich-ed

Pope Frank – Political Cartoon by Steve Artley, Artleytoons – 12/20/2013

Cartoon by Steve Artley - Pope Frank

Ghost of Boehner Past – Political Cartoon by Steve Artley, Artleytoons – 12/19/2013

Cartoon by Steve Artley - Ghost of Boehner Past

Solid Rock Congress – Political Cartoon by Steve Artley, Artleytoons – 12/13/2013

Cartoon by Steve Artley - Solid Rock Congress

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Mike Smith, Las Vegas Sun – 12/20/2013

Cartoon by Mike Smith -

Duck Doctrine by Political Cartoonist Pat Bagley

142059 600 Duck Doctrine cartoons

Political Supplements by Political Cartoonist Adam Zyglis

142062 600 Political Supplements cartoons

White Santa by Political Cartoonist Joe Heller

142065 600 White Santa cartoons

Ian Bayne, GOP Congressional Candidate: ‘Duck Dynasty Star Is Rosa Parks Of Our Generation’

Embattled “Duck Dynasty” star Phil Robertson has been suspended from his show by A&E for his remarks about gays and African-Americans, and now some high-profile conservatives are rallying to his side and defending him. On Friday, GOP congressional candidate Ian Bayne went all in, comparing Robertson to civil rights icon Rosa Parks.

“In December 1955, Rosa Parks took a stand against an unjust societal persecution of black people, and in December 2013, Robertson took a stand against persecution of Christians,” Bayne said in an email to supporters.

“What Parks did was courageous,” he added. “What Mr. Robertson did was courageous too.”

Robertson’s anti-gay remarks in an interview with GQ comparing homosexuality to bestiality have received quite a bit of attention. But he also commented on the state of African-Americans during the Jim Crow era, claiming that they were all carefree and totally happy with their (unequal) status:

I never, with my eyes, saw the mistreatment of any black person. Not once. Where we lived was all farmers. The blacks worked for the farmers. I hoed cotton with them. I’m with the blacks, because we’re white trash. We’re going across the field. … They’re singing and happy. I never heard one of them, one black person, say, ‘I tell you what: These doggone white people’ — not a word!… Pre-entitlement, pre-welfare, you say: Were they happy? They were godly; they were happy; no one was singing the blues.

These people are real assholes!

Duck Nasty by Political Cartoonist Nate Beeler

142058 600 Duck Nasty cartoons

Duck Nasty is right!

This is an open thread…