Sunday Reads: Billion Pixels of Red Dust and a Cast Iron Petticoat

1921Good Morning

And here we are, another Sunday morning…well, yesterday was the first time in weeks that I found myself suffering from a migraine.  As I write this post, I still feel the after effects; that groggy disoriented unattached feeling that comes with a sense of exhaustion and overwhelming emotional blah…with all that being said, the links this morning will be quick and to the point. I just can’t muster up the energy to do anything more than that.

I am going to start with this kick ass photo from NASA. It is a billion, let me say that again….a biiiiiilllllion pixel photo of the planet Mars, and it is interactive! Seriously, take a look, there is a rock that is called “Toilet Seat Rock” and when you zoom in you can see little Marvin the Martian dude from Looney Tunes sitting there making his very own an “Earth shattering kaboom”….Mars Exploration Program: Interactive: Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover

Original Caption Released with Image:
FireShot Screen Capture #479 - 'Mars Exploration Program_ Interactive_ Billion-Pixel View of Mars from Curiosity Rover' - mars_nasa_gov_multimedia_interactives_billionpixel_index_cfm_image=PIA16919&view=pano
This image is a scaled-down version of a full-circle view which combined nearly 900 images taken by NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. The Full-Res TIFF and Full-Res JPEG provided in the top right legend are smaller resolution versions of the 1.3 billion pixel version for easier browser viewing and downloading. Viewers can explore the full-circle image with pan and zoom controls at http://mars.nasa.gov/bp1/.The view is centered toward the south, with north at both ends. It shows Curiosity at the “Rocknest” site where the rover scooped up samples of windblown dust and sand. Curiosity used three cameras to take the component images on several different days between Oct. 5 and Nov. 16, 2012.This first NASA-produced gigapixel image from the surface of Mars is a mosaic using 850 frames from the telephoto camera of Curiosity’s Mast Camera instrument, supplemented with 21 frames from the Mastcam’s wider-angle camera and 25 black-and-white frames — mostly of the rover itself — from the Navigation Camera. It was produced by the Multiple-Mission Image Processing Laboratory (MIPL) at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.This version of the panorama retains “raw” color, as seen by the camera on Mars under Mars lighting conditions. A white-balanced version is available at PIA16918. The view shows illumination effects from variations in the time of day for pieces of the mosaic. It also shows variations in the clarity of the atmosphere due to variable dustiness during the month while the images were acquired.NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory project is using Curiosity and the rover’s 10 science instruments to investigate the environmental history within Gale Crater, a location where the project has found that conditions were long ago favorable for microbial life.Malin Space Science Systems, San Diego, built and operates Curiosity’s Mastcam. JPL, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, manages the Mars Science Laboratory project for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington and built the Navigation Camera and the rover.
Image Credit:
NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS
Image Addition Date:
2013-06-19

That is the description of the image shown above, to get a better view of the picture you can click on the link and check it out yourself. It is freaking cool! And I bet you will spend some time getting lost in the red dust on the Martian surface.

You may have seen the next few links during the past few days, but I will put them here in link dump fashion just in case.

Goodwill pays workers with disabilities as little as 22 cents an hour – Salon.com

In 2011, the multibillion-dollar nonprofit Goodwill Industries paid Pennsylvania workers with disabilities wages as low as 22, 38 and 41 cents an hour, according to Labor Department records obtained by NBC News. In 2010, an Applebee’s in a tony New York suburb hired hearing- and visually impaired employees through a placement program with the Helen Keller National Center and paid them between $3.97 per hour and $5.96, well below the state minimum wage of $7.25.

And it’s perfectly legal due to a Depression-era loophole in federal labor law, as NBC reports:

Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act, which was passed in 1938, allows employers to obtain special minimum wage certificates from the Department of Labor. The certificates give employers the right to pay disabled workers according to their abilities, with no bottom limit to the wage…

The non-profit certificate holders can also place employees in outside, for-profit workplaces including restaurants, retail stores, hospitals and even Internal Revenue Service centers.

While employers like Goodwill defend the practice as providing jobs to people who need and want them, disability and labor rights advocates have called the loophole exploitative, saying it traps workers in a “two-tiered” system that says “Americans who have disabilities aren’t as valuable as other people,” as Marc Maurer, president of the National Federation of the Blind, told NBC. “That’s wrong. These folks have value. We should recognize that value,” he added.

When we lived in Tampa, my brother worked for Marriott at Tampa International Airport, they paid minimum wage and with the exception of the last manager who did not want to work with the Downs students at Denny’s school, the experience was very good for both Marriott and my brother. But…this crap about below minimum wage…that is ridiculous. There is a bill proposed which could repeal Section 14 (c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act…but it is facing opposition. Guess we will just have to wait and see.

This next link from Digby:

This really is Big Brother: the leak nobody’s noticed

by digby

This McClatchy piece (written by some of the same people who got the Iraq war run-up story so right while everyone else got it wrong) is as chilling to me as anything we’ve heard over the past few weeks about the NSA spying. In fact, it may be worse…

She links to this article: Obama’s crackdown views leaks as aiding enemies of U.S. | McClatchy

Even before a former U.S. intelligence contractor exposed the secret collection of Americans’ phone records, the Obama administration was pressing a government-wide crackdown on security threats that requires federal employees to keep closer tabs on their co-workers and exhorts managers to punish those who fail to report their suspicions.

President Barack Obama’s unprecedented initiative, known as the Insider Threat Program, is sweeping in its reach. It has received scant public attention even though it extends beyond the U.S. national security bureaucracies to most federal departments and agencies nationwide, including the Peace Corps, the Social Security Administration and the Education and Agriculture departments. It emphasizes leaks of classified material, but catchall definitions of “insider threat” give agencies latitude to pursue and penalize a range of other conduct.

I know that this was linked to in the comments yesterday, but I thought it deserved to be on the front page. Creepy is what Boston Boomer thought about it. Yup…it sure is.

Well, in the finance news: SEC Wants Banks To Admit Wrongdoing – Business Insider

For decades, the SEC has let companies and individuals settle charges without actually admitting guilt, letting bigwigs more or less off the hook with only tacit — but not legal — acknowledgment of wrongdoing.

No longer. The Commission will begin to push for more accountability on a “case-by-case” basis, the Wall Street Journal reports:

From the Journal:

The new policy, which came out of a review [SEC Chairman] Ms. White began when she joined the agency in the spring, will be applied in “cases where…it’s very important to have that public acknowledgment [of wrongdoing] and accountability,” she told reporters at a Wall Street Journal CFO Network conference in Washington, D.C.

Decisions will be made on a “case-by-case” basis, Ms. White said. But she added the agency intends to target cases of egregious intentional conduct or widespread harm to investors.

Most cases still will be allowed to settle using the standard “neither admit nor deny” formula, Ms. White said.

Washington legislators like Elizabeth Warren have recently urged the SEC to take big banks to task for wrongdoing, the Journal reports.

I can’t even think straight to make sense of anything dealing with finance, numbers, math, numbers, but I will say that I sure liked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew’s signature when it was all loopy-loops. Treasury chief’s loopy signature evolves into something almost legible – U.S. News

The official signature of Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on a $5 bill, top, and Lew’s signature on a 2011 memo.

The top finance official in the federal government was given the humiliating nickname Loopty Lew. Worse still, the treasury chief is one of two people whose signatures grace United States currency. President Barack Obama joked that he might devalue the dollar.

This next item is something that worries me, hopefully it does not give us a preview of what we are going to see here.  Google Makes Google News In Germany Opt-In Only To Avoid Paying Fees Under New Copyright Law | TechCrunch

Google News in Germany will soon change. Starting August 1, it will only index sources that have decided to explicitly opt-in to being shown on the search giant’s news-aggregation service. Google News remains an opt-out service in the other 60 countries and languages it currently operates in, but since Germany passed a new copyright law earlier this year that takes effect on August 1, the company is in danger of having to pay newspapers, blogs and other publishers for the right to show even short snippets of news.

Publishers will have to go into Google’s News tools page to agree to be indexed by Google News. Publishers who don’t do this will simply be removed from the index come August 1.

Many of Germany’s publishers had hoped to force Google to pay a licensing fee for their content, but today’s announcement does not even mention this. Instead, Google notes that it is saddened by the fact that it has to make this change. On its German blog, Google argues that Google News currently gets 6 billion visits per month and that, if anything, it’s providing a free service for publishers that brings them more traffic.

One of the main issues with the “Leistungsschutzrecht” (how’s that for a good German word?) — the ancillary copyright law that the German government passed after large protests earlier this year — is that it’s not clear when a “snippet” becomes a snippet. The law doesn’t feature a clear definition of how long a snippet actually is (140 characters? 160? 250?).

Google always argued that the new law was neither necessary nor useful and that it wouldn’t pay for links and snippets. A number of major German publishers have already said that they will opt-in to being featured in Google News, but there is a good chance that quite a few will decide that they don’t need the traffic.

It then makes you wonder what will eventually happen here in the US, with more and more newspapers going to paywall subscription services…and what that means for bloggers and news-aggregate or RSS services.

Deep in the heart of Texas via Policy Mic: Texas Passed Abortion Laws In a Special Session, Because Trampling On Women’s Rights Can’t Wait

Late Tuesday night, the Texas Senate advanced anti-abortion legislation known as SB5, raising serious concerns for the future of abortion clinics in Texas. Governor Rick Perry called for a special session to discuss redistricting issues which arose from the 2011 court rulings that deemed Texas’ redistricting as discriminatory. SB5 passed 20-10 in the Texas Senate, leading way to a vote in the GOP-dominated House of Representatives in Texas.

The bill includes many provisions to limit women’s access to health care resources in Texas. The bill would ban abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy with one or two exceptions. In addition, the bill also would require abortions to be conducted in ambulatory surgical centers by doctors with admitting privileges. These surgical centers have to be within a 30-mile radius of a hospital near the clinic. Furthermore, the bill would ban telemedicine, which would require doctors to only give abortion-pill prescriptions in person and not via telecommunications such as Skype or other means.

This provision would endanger all but five clinics in Texas, severely limiting women’s access to healthcare options and limting their right to choose. This is in line with what Governor Perry and some other Republican state sentors have said about reshaping a “Culture of Life” in Texas. Such provisions have been said to “reshape the landscape” in the state, as fewer clinics and longer distances to reach them will make it far more difficult for women in many parts of Texas to obtain abortion if they choose to.

And the latest on the Paula Deen mess:

[VIDEO] Paula Deen Apologizes but Food Network does not renew her contract.

They are lining up to stuff their mouths and support Deen In Savannah, Many Defend Paula Deen From Critics – NYTimes.com

This video explains the situation down in Brazil, give it a look see if you have some time.

The next few links revolve around one photo I saw yesterday on Reuters. Photos of the week | Reuters.com

FireShot Screen Capture #476 - 'Photos of the week I Reuters_com' - www_reuters_com_news_pictures_slideshow_articleId=USRTX10WII#a=3

The caption reads:

A submerged statue of the Hindu Lord Shiva stands amid the flooded waters of river Ganges at Rishikesh in the Himalayan state of Uttarakhand, India, June 17, 2013.
REUTERS/Stringer

When I saw this image, it immediately made me think of an image from an old movie…from 1939. I will show you the image shortly. The film was called The Rains Came, according to TCM:

The Rains Came (1939) A lavish and expensive prestige picture, budgeted at $2.5 million, and based on a critically acclaimed novel, The Rains Came (1939) stars Tyrone Power as an Indian doctor in the mythical city of Ranchipur, India. He begins an affair with a married British noblewoman (Myrna Loy) until a massive flood, earthquake and plague disrupt everyone’s lives. To complement its huge star Tyrone Power, Twentieth Century-Fox borrowed Myrna Loy and director Clarence Brown from MGM, and George Brent from Warner Brothers. Rounding out the cast is a splendid roster of supporting players including Maria Ouspenskaya, Henry Travers, Jane Darwell, H.B. Warner and Nigel Bruce (cast against type).

It’s Power’s show all the way, however, as he is costumed stunningly in outfits ranging from turbans and satins to military uniforms and hospital whites. Power’s most significant co-star here is probably the special effects, which won the first-ever Oscar® in that category. The picture was also nominated for five further Academy Awards: Art Direction, Black-and-White Cinematography, Film Editing, Sound, and Musical Score.

You can see the first scene in the film here at this link, in it you will see the statue that mimics the image in the Reuters photograph above.

Rainscame1

“The Cast Iron Petticoat”

Rains Came, The (1939) — (Movie Clip) Cast Iron Petticoat

From the opening scene, Brit artist Ransome (George Brent) and local doctor Major Safti (Tyrone Power) discuss the former’s inertia and the state of contemporary India, a missionary mother and daughter (Marjorie Rambeau, Brenda Joyce) visiting, in The Rains Came, 1939, co-starring Myrna Loy.

FireShot Screen Capture #472 - 'Пришли дожди _ The Rains Came _1939_ — Видео@Mail_Ru' - video_mail_ru_mail_armog68_RETRO__FILMS2_24949_html

This statue of Queen Victoria later becomes one of the iconic images in a film that was loaded with advance special effects and cinematography…from the TCM link above:

Cinematographer Arthur Miller had plenty of fascinating recollections about The Rains Came, too. He was asked to replace Bert Glennon early in production because Glennon was not lighting the sets the way Brown wanted. For a grand dinner-party scene, for instance, Brown wanted the furniture and dcor to shine, “and Glennon had made it shadowy and soft.” Miller got the brilliant, shiny look Brown was after by spraying the tables and other furniture with oil, and having the silverware polished over and over until everything glistened. “When the old Maharajah died and the veil over the bed blew a little in the wind, I made the whole scene glow as vividly as possible, to suggest a spiritual, transcendent quality.”

Miller had photographed Myrna Loy once before, on The Truth About Youth (1930), and he knew some of her tics. He described one exchange which says much about how stars of the time tried to control the technical aspects of their on-screen appearance: “She asked me before we did the test to have a matchbox light with a red gelatin on it shine in her eyes with fifteen candle power. I thought, ‘What the hell was the use of that when I already had hundreds of watts shining on her anyway?’ And I asked her what she wanted it for. And she said, ‘It makes my eyes dark.’ Crazy, of course, but I jiggled it around for her and whether she had the light and the gelatin on it or not didn’t make any difference! It was all hokum; stars get that way. Luckily, she accepted my point that the light she wanted had no sense, and from then on we got along O.K.

“But oddly enough, I did use the red gelatin once. It’s when she takes a drink in the hospital and you know she’s become infected with a disease and her face fills with shadows. I just wanted a special kind of look in her face, as though death is coming over her and she doesn’t know it. And the gelatin was wonderful for that.”

Miller continued: “I became obsessed with rain on that picture; I was always amazed when I left the studio that it wasn’t raining. I hate movie rain that falls straight down, and I know that rain never does; it always falls at an angle. I made the prop department adjust the spouts accordingly. I even shot the raindrops so they seemed much larger. You never saw such water in your life! Brent and the others took a hell of a beating on the picture. There was one scene when Nigel Bruce and his manservant were on the landing of their house and the water rushed in and ‘drowned’ them in one shot, without a cut. And in fact the actors actually took the full force of that, and even had bits of the set flying on to them! They risked their lives, even though the material was balsawood; if it had hit them the wrong way it would have killed them instantly…

“One trouble with the way they handle rain today…is that they don’t backlight it. You have to backlight rain or you don’t see it; it’s just a blur. And all the way in my picture the rain shines; it was the theme of the film.”

Beautiful, that is what the film is.

There is another post, from the blogMatte Shot that looks at how the film makers actually shot some of the sequences in this movie: Matte Shot – a tribute to Golden Era special fx: December 2010 Fred Sersen burns Chicago and floods Ranchipur – the effects shots from IN OLD CHICAGO and THE RAINS CAME  I will give you a quote from the section that deals with The Rains Came:

An invisible matte shot that features early on in the proceedings.  Truly a testament to the skills of the matte painter.

And here is that same matte being painted by Hector Serbaroli.  I’d like to compliment the effects cameraman for this shot too as the composite is flawless and at no time would one suspect a trick is being played on us the viewer. *Photo from the collection of Joseph Serbaroli

You need to go to the blog Matte Shot and read that post to fully understand the work behind these “old school” special effects, which I think looks way better than some of the CG shit coming out today.

Anyway, I want to show you the two photos side by side, so you can see why I thought of that specific shot from this old 1939 movie…

Photos of the week I Reuters_com' - www_reuters_com_news_pictures_slideshow_articleId=USRTX10WII#a=3

FireShot Screen Capture #473 - 'Пришли дожди _ The Rains Came _1939_ — Видео@Mail_Ru' - video_mail_ru_mail_armog68_RETRO__FILMS2_24949_html

Anyway, here are the rest of the links….after the jump and yes, I am sticking with the movies for a little longer.

Read the rest of this entry »


Day before Turkey Day…

Good Evening…

Many of you are probably getting ready for a feast tomorrow…I’ve got our turkey defrosting in a pot of water now, and I am not looking forward to sticking that bird in a hot over…babysitting it for hours. Nope, I don’t have any holiday spirit at all this year, which come to think of it, I didn’t have it last year either.

Here are a few items of interest off the Memeorandum site:

The GOP is pushing to repeal Obamacare…nothing ever changes.  Shame of it all is that if Obama fought and passed the single-payer option, things would be much better for everyone. Anyway, you can read it here:  White House To Boehner: Obamacare Not Part Of Fiscal Cliff Deal

The Republicans are also taking to attacking Obama’s foreign policy again as well, and again I say, nothing ever changes.  GOP Senators Attack Obama, Praise Egyptian President In Statement On Gaza Ceasefire

And one more story from the headlines, Soledad O’Brien kicks ass and takes names…fortunately for us, her style of journalism and integrity never changes either.  CNN Host Exposes GOP’s Hypocrisy On Benghazi

O’BRIEN: I have asked others before how this does not compare, the Susan Rice issue, to the Condoleezza Rice issue on weapons of mass destruction. She was also wrong when she was the national security adviser, right? … Fast forward three years in 2005 when she was up to be secretary of state, it was Lindsey Graham who was furious that the Democrats were pushing back. It was Sen John mccain who were furious that the Democrats were pushing back on Condoleezza Rice to be Secretary of State. She was wrong on weapons of mass destruction. How is this different?

BURGESS: The difference is the scrutiny provided by our free press in this country. Condoleezza Rice was exposed to withering criticism by the press. I don’t see that happening now. Maybe I’ve missed something in the talking points, but I don’t see that happening. ….

O’BRIEN: So you’re confusing me there for a moment. When you say the scrutiny on the press — are you saying five days after comments of weapons of mass destruction, you feel like the media was picking apart Condoleezza Rice? I don’t think that’s true, Sir. Most people say that’s not the case. It took a long time. …. Hey, I’m all about scrutiny. I guess I like consistency, too. You were not calling for more scrutiny and you weren’t saying that the fact that Condoleezza Rice was wrong on weapons of mass destruction was going to damage her credibility as secretary of state. Again, McCain and Lindsey Graham were supporting that. It seems contradictory to me.

BURGESS: You’ll have to take that up with Senator McCain and Senator Graham.

Now I will bring you three links that are not getting much notice around the political blog scene…pity this first one is being missed by most of the right-wing crowd, there is something funny about a bunch of monkeys being smarter than the folks chosen to represent the people. (I guess that does not say much for the ones who put them in office in the first place.) h/t FDL

Frans de Waal shows us a task he gave Capuchin monkeys to see if they responded to a sense of fairness. For the full video see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GcJxRqTs5nk

Frans de Waal is a Dutch primatologist and ethologist. He is the Charles Howard Candler professor of Primate Behavior in the Emory University psychology department in Atlanta, Georgia, and director of the Living Links Center at the Yerkes National Primate Research Center and author of numerous books including Chimpanzee Politics and Our Inner Ape. His research centers on primate social behavior, including conflict resolution, cooperation, inequity aversion, and food-sharing. He is a Member of the United States National Academy of Sciences and the Royal Netherlands Academy of Sciences.

So, monkeys can understand the concept of equal pay…why can’t we just get some of these primates elected to Congress?

My daughter suffers from this next disorder…I do too, Math Anxiety: The Brain Can Feel The Pain

Worry about math can trigger regions of the brain associated with the experience of physical pain and instinctive risk detection, according to a new study conducted by researchers at the University of Chicago and published in PLOS ONE.

Ian Lyons and his team of researchers discovered that in people who experience high levels of anxiety when anticipating math tasks, encountering math increases activity in regions of the brain connected with the feeling of physical pain. The more elevated a person’s math anxiety, the greater the appearance of neural activity is.

The investigators explained, “We provide the first neural evidence indicating the nature of the subjective experience of math-anxiety.”

Take a look, it is interesting to read about the way math-anxiety affects the brain.

There is one thing I do know, none of these Nasa scientist do not suffer from any form of math-anxiety. Curiosity Rover’s Secret Historic Breakthrough? Speculation Centers on Organic Molecules

Much of the internet isbuzzing over upcoming “big news” from NASA’s Curiosity rover, but the space agency’s scientists are keeping quiet about the details.

The report comes by way of the rover’s principal investigator, geologist John Grotzinger of Caltech, who said that Curiosity has uncovered exciting new results from a sample of Martian soil recently scooped up and placed in the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument.

“This data is gonna be one for the history books. It’s looking really good,” Grotzinger told NPR in an segment published Nov. 20. Curiosity’s SAM instrument contains a vast array of tools that can vaporize soil and rocks to analyze them and measure the abundances of certain light elements such as carbon, oxygen, and nitrogen – chemicals typically associated with life.

The mystery will be revealed shortly, though. Grotzinger told Wired through e-mail that NASA would hold a press conference about the results during the 2012 American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco from Dec. 3 to 7. Because it’s so potentially earth-shaking, Grotzinger said the team remains cautious and is checking and double-checking their results. But while NASA is refusing to discuss the findings with anyone outside the team, especially reporters, other scientists are free to speculate.

“If it’s going in the history books, organic material is what I expect,” says planetary scientist Peter Smith from the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. Smith is formerly the principal investigator on a previous Mars mission, the Phoenix lander, which touched down at the Martian North Pole in 2008. “It may be just a hint, but even a hint would be exciting.”

Well, it sounds like whatever it is, it is going to be neat as hell!

That is all I have for you tonight, I gotta go squeeze the fresh lime, lemon and oranges to make the “sour orange” marinade.

Hope you all have a wonderful and safe day tomorrow, enjoy the time with your families.

This is an open thread.


Sunday Reads: Full Moons and Uranus

Good Morning

There has been a lot of “space” news this weekend. So our first few links will focus on the skies…Did you see the Harvest Moon last night? What was interesting about this Harvest Moon was its relationship to Uranus. (Ha….) No Seriously! If you missed it, here is a video from the SLOOH space camera.

When you gaze at the full moon this weekend, think of farmers working late into the evening to gather their crop, because that’s how the Harvest Moongot its name.

The Harvest Moon allows farmers at the peak of the current harvest season to stay in the fields longer than usual, working by the moon‘s light. It rises around sunset, but also — and more importantly — the moon seems to appear at nearly the same time each successive night.

Uranus Rings Tilted
Near-infrared views of Uranus reveal its otherwise faint ring system, highlighting the extent to which the planet is tilted.
CREDIT: Lawrence Sromovsky, (Univ. Wisconsin-Madison), Keck Observatory

Uranus’ atmosphere is dominated primarily by hydrogen and helium, with a small amount of methane that gives the “ice giant” its bluish-green tint. The planet has a ring system and 27 known moons. It’s also tilted so far that it essentially orbits the sun on its side; researchers think the planet may have been knocked askew by a collision with another large body long ago.

If skywatchers wish to see Uranus through their own telescopes Saturday night, they should scan just below the moon and look for the only green “star” in the field of view, Slooh officials said.

Hmmmm, I never thought Uranus would be described as a bright green light in the night sky. (Okay I am being way to infantile here.)

In other worlds news, Curiosity found an old river bed on Mars. NASA Rover Finds Old Streambed on Martian Surface – NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory

NASA’s Curiosity rover mission has found evidence a stream once ran vigorously across the area on Mars where the rover is driving. There is earlier evidence for the presence of water on Mars, but this evidence — images of rocks containing ancient streambed gravels — is the first of its kind.

Scientists are studying the images of stones cemented into a layer of conglomerate rock. The sizes and shapes of stones offer clues to the speed and distance of a long-ago stream’s flow.

Best View of Goulburn Scour

“From the size of gravels it carried, we can interpret the water was moving about 3 feet per second, with a depth somewhere between ankle and hip deep,” said Curiosity science co-investigator William Dietrich of the University of California, Berkeley. “Plenty of papers have been written about channels on Mars with many different hypotheses about the flows in them. This is the first time we’re actually seeing water-transported gravel on Mars. This is a transition from speculation about the size of streambed material to direct observation of it.”

Go check out all the photos and more information at that link to Nasa’s JPL site.

Now on to some news from our own Earthly planet.

First let’s go with a bit of intimidation….there is a woman who is getting a first hand look at an Attack from the PLUBs, I think I would prefer Martians any day. Intimidation: Now It’s a First Amendment Right! | RH Reality Check

For anti-choicers, the right to freedom of speech is like a game of Calvin-ball, the “Calvin and Hobbes” comic strip “sport” in which all rules could be revised, changed, updated, and discarded depending on what it took to win. They claim that freedom of speech trumps literally every other right, as long as it is done under the guise of “saving babies.”

It’s “freedom of speech,” for example, to “inconvenience” Planned Parenthood of Greater Orlando CEO Jenna Tosh by picketing her home. Tosh told the WinterPark, Florida, city council that she felt “threatened and ambushed” when anti-choicers picketed her home, and the council passed a short-term ordinance forbidding assembly on a residential property.

Of course, there were some folks who disagreed with this action.

 After all, it was just one woman being intimidated. In an op-ed written by the Florida Sentinel, the paper argues:

Winter Park modeled its measure after ordinances that already had passed constitutional muster, so we aren’t arguing legal merits. But we do question the knee-jerk response to a single citizen’s complaint—precipitated by the distribution of pro-life handouts and, nearly a week later, some nonviolent picketing. And we question the need for a new law when laws exist to protect citizens against protests that grow unruly. And we question why government officials are so quick to crack down on freedom of speech. Imagine the outcry if commissioners had tried to go after the Second Amendment. Having to push past protesters toting signs that read “Jenna Tosh kills babies and hurts women” certainly is unpleasant. We sympathize with her. However, her need to avoid disturbing, anti-abortion expressions outside her home shouldn’t trump the rights of the many to exercise their First Amendment rights within public areas in residential areas.

Is it merely “unpleasant” to have people picket your neighborhood in a group, using your name and calling you a baby-killer? Does making someone feel unsafe in her own home not matter if it somehow infringes on the right of a group to make that person feel intimidated? And where exactly do “free speech” advocates draw the line for what constitutes “unruly?”

The article also mentions the courts reactions to these intimidation tactics.

it seems as though courts are bending over backwards toignore the physical intimidation involved in many of the anti-choice protesters’ activities. In a recent FACE act case involving an anti-choice activist at EMW Women’s Surgical Center in Louisville, the judge decided that touching an escort is just another way of expressing “freedom of speech.”

“In his attempt to continue talking to the patient, [anti-choice “sidewalk counselor” David Hamilton ‘pushed [clinic escort Jane Fitts's] arm down slightly,’” [U.S. District Judge Jennifer B. Coffman] found.

But the judge said the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE), requires the prosecution to show Hamilton used force with the intent to injure or intimidate someone because that person was seeking or providing reproductive health services.

There are questions for a jury concerning whether any contact “was used intentionally to injure, intimidate, or interfere” and “whether Fitts was indeed providing reproductive health services.”

The judge suggested it was possible that Fitts was not an “escort” at all but would be “more accurately characterized as a counter-protester.”

“U.S. courts are charged with protecting the freedoms of all American citizens,” said Cody. “Sidewalk counselors have the same rights as other people.”

How is pushing an escort’s arm down in order to make contact with a patient trying to access abortion services not an attempt to “interfere” with or “intimidate” both the escort and the woman seeking a termination?

Anti-choicers don’t appear to “have the same rights as other people.” They claim more rights, supra-rights, a secretly granted set of rights that appear to trump the rights of those who seek reproductive health care, those who provide it, and those who assist in ensuring the first two can meet each other without hindrance. If the right to freedom of speech outweighs the pursuit of happiness—i.e.: the ability to access care, the ability to walk the streets without unwanted physical contact, the right to feel safe in your own home, then how does anyone else have any freedom at all?

(I thought that was a great post btw…that was why I used so much of it.)

Hey if not intimidation, lets talk disenfranchised voters?  Warning, this link goes to Fox News…but I thought it was an interesting spin on the Voter ID laws and the push from the GOP to make it hard as hell for Dems to “get out the vote.”  Drop in Ohio voter registration, especially in Dem strongholds, mirrors nationwide trend | Fox News

Speaking of party lines…The Bottom Line on Party ID | TPM Editors Blog  That link will take you to a short post with a rather big graph. Take a look, it is interactive!

There is a real good post on Juan Cole this morning, written by Alice K. Ross:  Obama set precedent with Drone Killings for Romney to become Terminator-in-Chief (Ross) | Informed Comment

President Obama’s personal involvement in selecting the targets of covert drone strikes means he risks effectively handing a ‘loaded gun’ to Mitt Romney come November, says the co-author of a new report aimed at US policymakers.

‘If Obama leaves, he’s leaving a loaded gun: he’s set up a programme where the greatest constraint is his personal prerogative. There’s no legal oversight, no courtroom that can make [the drone programme] stop. A President Romney could vastly accelerate it,’ said Naureen Shah, associate director of the Counterterrorism and Human Rights Project at the Columbia Law School.

That is just a taste, you go read the rest of it at the link.

The Atlanta Journal Constitution broke the story about the cheating scandal last year, they have a new investigative report that you should read.

More cheating scandals inevitable, as states can’t ensure test…

The stain of cheating spread unchecked across 44 Atlanta schools before the state finally stepped in and cleaned it up. But across the country, oversight remains so haphazard that most states cannot guarantee the integrity of their standardized tests, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has found.

Poor oversight means that cheating scandals in other states are inevitable. It also undermines a national education policy built on test scores, which the states and local districts use to fire teachers, close schools and direct millions of dollars in funding.

The AJC’s survey of the 50 state education departments found that many states do not use basic test security measures designed to stop cheating on tests. And most states make almost no attempt to screen test results for irregularities.

Please take a look at that article.

I was going to post a link to this post from WhoWhatWhere, but Susie Madrak also read it and wrote about it…so here is her take on the piece. The Complete Idiot’s Guide to The Nuclear Standoff With Iran | Crooks and Liars

Over at WhoWhatWhy.com, Christian Stork has a thorough analysis debunking the most common myths propagated about the West’s nuclear stand-off with Iran. It’s all so familiar, isn’t it? I know if I think really hard, I can figure it out. Oh, wait – it’s just like the buildup to both wars in Iraq! And of course both times, the media did their best stenography impression.

That’s why stories like this are so important. In his “Idiot’s Guide to Iran and the Bomb,” Stork lists 8 important lessons for all people to keep in mind when surveying the media landscape around Iran’s nuclear program.

[...]

The first lesson taught, with exhaustive documentation, is that Iran is not building nuclear weapons. Considering how hard the mainstream media is working to convince us otherwise, it might be hard to grasp. But that’s why stories like this tutorial are needed. Click here to see the rest of what Stork calls his “introductory course in intellectual self-defense”

Go and check it out.

I will end this post with a couple of articles about history, I know Dakinikat will like this first a story about an ancient burial site in Denmark.

Ancient burial shroud offers up surprise

The National Museum of Denmark

This 2,800-year-old Lusehoj textile made from imported nettles was found in a grave along with the bones from what may be a Scandinavian man, scientists reported on Friday.

Ancient scraps of fabric found in a grave in Denmark are not made of cultivated flax as once believed, but instead are woven from imported wild nettles, suggesting the grave’s inhabitant may have traveled far for burial.

This discovery, announced Friday in the journal Scientific Reports, casts a new light on the textile trade in Bronze Age Europe, said study researcher Ulla Mannering, an archaeologist at the University of Copenhagen.

“Since the Stone Age, they had very well-developed agriculture and technology for producing linen textiles,” Mannering told LiveScience. “So it’s really unusual that a society which has established agriculture would also take in material from things that are not of the normal standardized agricultural production” — in other words, wild plants.

[...]

“The fibers we get from the European nettle are very, very fine and soft and shiny, and we often say this is a sort of prehistoric silk textile,” Mannering said. (Silk, made from insect cocoons, is known for its shimmery texture.)

Previous analysis pegged the Danish fabric as woven from flax, a plant widely cultivated in the region. But along with nanophysicist Bodil Holst of the University of Bergen in Norway, Mannering and her colleagues used advanced methods to reanalyze the scraps of cloth. By studying the fiber orientation as well as the presence of certain crystals found in plants, the researchers were able to learn that the fabric is not flax at all, but nettle, a group of plants known for the needlelike stingers that line their stems and leaves.

Nor is the nettle local, Mannering said. Different soil regions contain different variations of elements. The variation of one of these elements, strontium, found in the fabric, was not local to Denmark, suggesting the plants the textile was made from grew elsewhere.

There are a few regions that match the strontium profile, the researchers found, but the most likely candidate is southwest Austria. The bronze burial urn holding the remains is from Austria, Mannering said, and it makes sense that the fabric might be too.

Hey, what do you know… he was a traveling man?

Despite these imported grave goods, the remains appear to be those of a Danish man, Mannering said. The personal objects in the grave, such as two razors, suggest he was a Scandinavian, albeit perhaps a well-traveled one, she said.

“Maybe he died in Austria and was wrapped in this Austrian urn and Austrian textile and was brought back to Denmark in this condition and then put in a big burial mound,” Mannering said. “The personal objects that were placed inside the urn together with this textile and the bones indicate that he is a male of Scandinavian origin, but it doesn’t mean that he couldn’t have died abroad.”

And, lastly this blast from the past….my son will be very excited about this link…he loves the Beatles. I think many of you will appreciate it too.  October 1962: the month that modern culture was born

Photo of Beatles

The Beatles at the Cavern Club, Liverpool, in 1962. Photograph: Michael Ochs Archives

On 5 October 1962, a new sound filled the nation’s airwaves. It was raw, simple, direct and sexy. “Love, love me do,” sang Lennon and McCartney, “You know I love you.” The Beatles had arrived, and a new generation had a new soundtrack to their lives. Seventeen years after VE Day and VJ Day, the war was finally over. Nothing – in culture, in society, in the everyday world itself – would ever be quite the same again.

When, exactly, did the 1960s began? Was it when JFK announced he was running for president (31 January 1960)? When Harold Macmillan acknowledged “the winds of change” sweeping through colonial Africa (3 February)? Or when the chain-smoking Princess Margaret announced her engagement to a commoner, photographer Anthony Armstrong-Jones, on 26 February? Or was it when Kennedy finally won the US election, by a whisker, on 9 November?

Some would go further, and deny that any kind of transition occurred until the new American president had, thrillingly, been sworn in on the icy-blue morning of 20 January 1961. Until then, they say, the west was still in the grip of the sclerotic gerontocracy represented by Eisenhower and Khrushchev. One thing is certain: the 1950s took a while to pass into the limbo of lost time.

Enjoy that article, and have a wonderful Sunday Morning!


News Round-up Link Dump

It’s another night of Middle School Football for me, so here are some Interesting and strange and funny links to get you going this evening.

Let’s start with the interesting ones first.

You may have heard about this already…GOP BLOCKS JOBS FOR VETS – Political Cartoon by Deb Milbrath, Cartoon Movement – 09/20/2012

Cartoon by Deb Milbrath - GOP BLOCKS JOBS FOR VETS

And then, check out what is being “ignored” until after the election:  Boehner Confirms Farm Bill on Hold

Typical bullshit! You all know what is part of that farms bill, but let me repeat it…SNAP, Foodstamps, WIC and all that other good stuff, you know the “food” that those people feel entitled to?

Numbers are out for Illegal Immigrant Deportations, Report: Number of undocumented immigrants arrested and deported in 2011 hits record high

There is this news on the Akin front: The GOP is stuck with Todd Akin

And in my redneck of the woods: Senate leader allegedly billed taxpayers for campaign mail

Still on the interesting links BTW, here are a few NASA articles:

What’s it like to fly a plane with shuttle on top?

Spot The Space Shuttle: Exclusive Interview About Endeavor’s Journey And Final Destination

Mars rover targets a rock called Jake – Cosmic Log

And, Bill Clinton has written something for TIME, Bill Clinton On Why The World Is Getting Better All The Time

Okay, now for the strange news, I’ve only got one story for you there: Valerie Spruill, Ohio Woman, Finds Out Husband Was Her Father

It is obvious that the family knew the truth, but no one said shit about it. That is f’d up!

From the Funny department, gotta love these next few links…

John Boehner Says Mitt Romney Campaign Not Dead Yet, Jokes ‘I Just Hope I Survive’

Even as he joked“I just hope I survive,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) declined to defend Mitt Romney’s now-infamous 47 percent remarks Thursday, and insisted the Republican ticket can still win.

Asked repeatedly about Romney’s secretly videotaped admissions that he doesn’t care about the 47 percent of people who he said pay no income taxes and therefore won’t vote for him, Boehner demurred, instead saying the election is about jobs.

“Everybody is going to try to make this election about everything other than what it is,” Boehner said. “The American people are asking, ‘Where are the jobs?'”

While he declined to defend Romney’s comments, he pointed out that he has connections to people who are less fortunate.

“I’ve had family members who lost their jobs in this downturn. Two of my brothers, two of my brother in laws. I know what’s happening out there and I know how difficult this economy is,” he said. He then suggested that Romney’s remarks fell into the territory of a typical gaffe.

“You’re going to have both campaigns on both sides that say things that get off the message. The message is let’s stay focused on jobs,” he said.

And he insisted that the widespread feeling that Romney is doomed is flat out wrong.

Pour that man another drink! He needs a refill.

Mitt Romney ‘Dyed His Face Brown’ to Appeal to Latino Voters

Mitt Romney 'Dyed His Face Brown' to Appeal to Latino Voters

Mitt Romney currently trails President Obama among registered Latino voters by nearly 40%, and getting caught saying things like “it would be helpful to be Latino” certainly isn’t helping.

But has it gotten so bad that Romney is now resorting to “brownface” in order to make himself more appealing to Univision viewers? Democratic Underground has looked at the photo above from last night’s “presidential forum” and concluded that, yes, Romney definitely “dyed his face brown.”

Wonkette wonders if perhaps the GOP nominee was involved in some sort of “self-tanner accident” or perhaps went out tanning with John Boehner “for a little pick-me-up.”

Mitt Romney is certainly looking more crispy than usual, but is that enough to call him out for, as Gossip On This put it, trying to win “browning points”?

Hey, is that a shot of the holy magic underwear in that first photo?

And at last, this woman deserves the royalties…let’s give it to her…she’s got balls to ask for them.

Elderly woman who botched religious fresco demands royalties

The elderly Spanish woman who ruined a religious fresco with her botched restoration is now demanding royalties from her work after it became an unlikely tourist attraction.

Elderly woman destroys 19th-century fresco with DIY restoration

Bwahaaaaa Ha Ha…now that is funny!

This is an open thread.


Friday Late Nite Lite: Cartoon time at last!

It’s Friday Nite!

This first cartoon, is so good…Clay Bennett editorial cartoon – Political Cartoon by Clay Bennett, Chattanooga Times Free Press – 08/10/2012

Cartoon by Clay Bennett - Clay Bennett editorial cartoon

It really is the truth. Now for a few reality cartoons.

AAEC – Political Cartoon by Chan Lowe, Sun-Sentinel – 08/10/2012

Cartoon by Chan Lowe -

AAEC – Political Cartoon by David Horsey, Los Angeles Times – 08/10/2012

Cartoon by David Horsey -

Alright, now for the Curiosity commentary…

8/9 Mike Luckovich cartoon: Voter ID | Mike Luckovich

mike080912

Cagle Post » Curiosity

Curiosity © Cal Grondahl,Utah Standard Examiner,mars,curiosity,rover,mother,alien,planet,red,research,curiosity-mars

Cagle Post » Romney Rover

Romney Rover © Steve Benson,Arizona Republic,romney,rover,nasa,disconnected,mars,search,red,planet,campaign,election,curiosity-mars

Cagle Post » Land Transportation

Land Transportation © Jeff Koterba,Omaha World Herald, NE,curiosity,space,agency,station,nasa,mars,rover,russian,mars,curiosity-mars

That of course is taking the Russian transportation a bit far, at least I think so. But there is a twist of pathetic truth about the lack of funding for NASA to keep a shuttle or manned space vehicles flying.

Which is why I like this one more:

Cagle Post » Curiosity

Curiosity © Kirk Walters,Toledo Blade,curiosity,mars,rover,nasa,funding,life,water,red,planet,mars,curiosity-mars

Now on to the Reid attack on Romney: Cagle Post » Obama Attack Dog

Obama Attack Dog © Daryl Cagle,MSNBC.com,Barack Obama,Senator Harry Reid,Mitt Romney,President,Presidential election,Campaign 2012,dog,pee,urine,attack,taxes,tax return

Cagle Post » Absurd Allegations

Absurd Allegations © Clay Jones,The Freelance Star, Fredericksburg,reid,romney,allegations,taxes,pay,campaign,reid-romney

Cagle Post » Obama Aint Legit

Obama Aint Legit © Chris Britt,The State Journal Register,obama,trump,birthers,campaign,election

Enjoy your evening…


Late night open thread: Mars…Mars…Mars

Okay, I stayed up last night to watch the Mars Rover Curiosity land. It was a wonderful experience.

So for tonight, here is just a bunch of links and pictures to past the time…There is this amazing photo, the first color image from Curiosity:

Okay, that is from  George Takei’s Facebook page.

Here is another one:

Alright, here are some links you might find interesting:

On Human unity and the “Curiosity” NASA Control Room | Informed Comment

In this video of the NASA control room during the landing of the Curiosity rover on Mars, I don’t see only one race or gender. I see human beings of various shades and cultures and both sexes, collaborating in a project far beyond the atmosphere of our home planet. (3:13 in is the explosion of delight). In fact, the control room reminded me a little of the 1966 deck of the Star Trek Enterprise, and I’m sure Gene Rodenberry would be jumping up and down for joy along with them.

Image: NASA’s Curiosity Rover Deploys Parachute Over Mars | TPM Livewire


Image credit: NASA

The above image, provided by NASA, shows the Mars Curiosity rover as it deployed its parachute for landing on the Martian surface. NASA engineers successfully guided the rover’s descent, with the Curiosity touching down around 1 a.m. eastern time early Monday morning.

NASA Releases First Full-Resolution Photographs From Mars Curiosity : The Two-Way : NPR

This image taken by NASA's Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover — its main science target, Mount Sharp.

EnlargeNASA’s CuriosityThis image taken by NASA’s Curiosity shows what lies ahead for the rover — its main science target, Mount Sharp.

And finally, the Home page for Curiosity, which is just packed with cool stuff.

So have a wonderful evening! This is an open thread…