Some interesting links for you tonight, all along the theme of bullshit, a piece of shit and more bullshit.
First let us get to the real turd of the evening, this is an ancient…prehistoric nugget. We are talking about a dump taken before time…before the era of the dinosaurs…imagine, Tapeworm Eggs Found in 270-Million-Year-Old Shark Poop.
270 million years ago, a shark pooped near the coast of Brazil. That poop was fossilized and preserved into a coprolite, which is the scientific term for fossilized poop. Scientists found that shark poop, and have been carefully studying it. We don’t know exactly what they were looking for, but we do know what they found — and it’s gross.
By carefully dissecting the shark poop into thin cross-sections, paleontologist Paula Dentzien-Dias of the Federal University of the Rio Grande found a group of 93 tapeworm eggs. The eggs are so small, about one-and-a-half times as wide as a human hair, and only found in one section of the coprolite sample.
“Luckily in one of them, we found the eggs,” said Dentzien-Dias. Lucky indeed! Where would we be without this story of fossilized tapeworm eggs inside fossilized shark poop?
The coprolite dates back to the Paleozoic era, before even the dinosaurs. That puts these tapeworm eggs at about 140 million years earlier than any intestinal parasites found in vertebrates, meaning they’ve been a problem for much longer than previously thought.
The scientist can’t tell what species of shark the coprolite is from, but what I find so intriguing is that tapeworms, like roaches, seem to have been around since the beginning of time. Of course, don’t tell anyone from the religious right this news, cause the world is not that old!
Another fish story for you, Video Documents Thought In Fish Brain For The First Time
Researchers at Japan’s National Institute of Genetics believe they’ve captured a world first video — images of a thought making it’s way through the brain of a zebrafish. It’s not a particularly complicated thought — essentially ‘Hey, that looks like it could be food.’ — but the fact that the team has imaged the very stuff of even simple thought for the first time is really kind of amazing — not unlike magic.
Researchers were able to image visual perception in the fish using a new tool designed just for the purpose — a super-sensitive fluorescent probe that detects neuron activity, causing neurons to light up when they’re activated. In this case, the images are of the activity in neurons as a zebrafish watches a paramecium flit around it, registering the movement of its prey. After this strong first showing, they’re hopeful that examples of the probe could be used to learn more about the ill-understood circuitry of the brain, and how connections between brain cells work together to produce thought or register and act on perception.
Video at the link.
This next article is thought provoking, Yoon Young-kwan: Asia Feels Like Pre-War Europe
Whether east Asia’s politicians and pundits like it or not, the region’s current international relations are more akin to 19th-century European balance-of-power politics than to the stable Europe of today.
Witness east Asia’s rising nationalism, territorial disputes and lack of effective institutional mechanisms for security co-operation. While economic interdependence among China, Japan, South Korea and the members of the Association of South-east Asian Nations continues to deepen, their diplomatic relations are as burdened by rivalry and mistrust as relations among European countries were in the decades prior to the First World War.
You can read more about this at The Scotsman.
Ah…now for the bullshit, a few links that make you scratch your head and wonder.
A new theory about Gandhi making headlines in The Telegraph, The truth about Mahatma Gandhi: he was a wily bigot, not India’s smiling saint.
The Indian nationalist leader had an eccentric attitude to sleeping habits, food and sexuality. However, his more controversial ideas have been written out of history
This week, the National Archives here in New Delhi released a set of letters between Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi and a close friend from his South African days, Hermann Kallenbach, a German Jewish architect. Cue a set of ludicrous “Gay Gandhi” headlines across the world, wondering whether the fact the Mahatma signed some letters “Sinly yours” might be a clue (seemingly unaware that “sinly” was once a common contraction of “sincerely”).
The origin of this rumour was a mischievous book review two years ago written by the historian Andrew Roberts, which speculated about the relationship between the men. On the basis of the written evidence, it seems unlikely that their friendship in the years leading up to the First World War was physical.
It is a juicy article, go read the rest of it.
Maybe Seinfeld was on to something? Gandhi his bald head in oil…
Then you have the bullshit, Conservative Former SNL Star Victoria Jackson Deletes ‘White History Month’ Article
Former Saturday Night Live star and current conservative celebrity Victoria Jackson has made a second career as a mascot for deranged opposition to President Barack Obama that includes calls for secession, statistical analyses of the white baby population, and comparing America to The Big Bopper on Election Night, but it looks like restraint has finally gotten the better of her. Wonkette’s Rebecca Schoenkopfcalled Jackson out earlier today for posting an article suggesting that the persecuted, underrepresented White Christian Male needs some scale-balancing, asking “Why is there a Black History Month but not a White History Month?”
Jackson also featured a video that lists “Things To Thank White People For,” which curiously did not include Baywatch (but does include “recorded music” without noting that black people invented all of the good recorded music) and listed some white accomplishments, on her own, for the ungrateful non-whites who control everything:
Just for the record, white men invented rockets, space travel, airplanes, the automobile, the English language, the U.S.A., most medical advances, electricity, television, telescope, microscope, Ivy League Universities, the computer, the Internet, and on and on. I think white men should be praised and respected. White Christian Conservative Men especially, should be loved and adored. They were the backbone and originators of the greatest nation on earth. We need more of them now.
I’m pretty sure that rockets were invented by Chinese people, and Ivy League Universities aren’t really inventions, and the first man to give his life for this country was black, and since black people did help out with that whole syphilis thing, maybe medical advances aren’t a fair example, but point taken. White people rule. That is the point, isn’t it?
You can read Jackson’s bullshit here: Google cache of Victoria Jackson’s White History Month
There is new information coming to light on the 10th Anniversary of the Columbia Explosion. Columbia Shuttle Crew Not Told of Possible Problem With Reentry
What would you tell seven astronauts if you knew their space shuttle was crippled on orbit?
It was a question that faced NASA’s Mission Control considered after initial suspicions that something might be wrong with the shuttle Columbia as it was making its doomed reentry in 2003.
Wayne Hale, who later became space shuttle program manager, struggled with this question after the deaths of the Columbia crew 10 years ago. Recently he wrote about the debate in his blog, recalling a meeting to discuss the dilemma:
“After one of the MMTs (Mission Management Team) when possible damage to the orbiter was discussed, he (Flight Director Jon Harpold) gave me his opinion: ‘You know, there is nothing we can do about damage to the TPS (Thermal Protection System). If it has been damaged it’s probably better not to know. I think the crew would rather not know. Don’t you think it would be better for them to have a happy successful flight and die unexpectedly during entry than to stay on orbit, knowing that there was nothing to be done, until the air ran out?”
A bleak assessment. Orbiting in space until your oxygen ran out. The dilemma for mission managers is that they simply didn’t know if the space shuttle was damaged.
The doomed astronauts were not told of the risk.
To me, that sounds like bullshit, these are scientist and pilots…they can handle the news professionally and should have known.
Makes me think of that line in Apollo 13, when the capsule is still shallow during re-entry:
Okay, lets end this post with some pictures, Hillary Clinton: 2 Decades in the Spotlight (Photos)
Friday, Feb. 1, 2013, will be Hillary Clinton’s last day as Secretary of State, ending a career in the public eye that has spanned more than two decades. While the question on everyone’s mind is “will she come back?” let’s take a look at what she has done.
Just go to that gallery link and enjoy!
This is an open thread.
It was a hellish day yesterday, thank you Dak for covering for me last night. I have a few links for you about arms, both animal and astrological.
Let us start this morning’s reads with very big cephalopods…or as Mark Twain would say…damn big cephalopods.
A Japanese-led team of scientists has captured on film the world’s first live images of a giant squid, journeying to the depths of the ocean in search of the mysterious creature thought to have inspired the myth of the `”kraken”, a tentacled monster.
This 10 foot (3 meters) creature is a little one compared with other giant squids that have washed ashore dead or caught …but this one is live and on video.
Though the beast was small by giant squid standards – the largest ever caught stretched 18 meters long, tentacles and all – filming it secretly in its natural habitat was a key step towards understanding the animal, researchers said.
“Many people have tried to capture an image of a giant squid alive in its natural habitat, whether researchers or film crews. But they all failed,” said Tsunemi Kubodera, a zoologist at Japan’s National Museum of Nature and Science, who led the team.
Kubodera had some nice quotes about seeing this squid in action…
“If you try and approach making a load of noise, using a bright white light, then the squid won’t come anywhere near you. That was our basic thinking,” Kubodera said.
“So we sat there in the pitch black, using a near-infrared light invisible even to the human eye, waiting for the giant squid to approach,” he said.
“I’ve seen a lot of giant squid specimens in my time, but mainly those hauled out of the ocean. This was the first time for me to see with my own eyes a giant squid swimming,” he said. “It was stunning, I couldn’t have dreamt that it would be so beautiful. It was such a wonderful creature.”
“A giant squid essentially lives a solitary existence, swimming about all alone in the deep sea. It doesn’t live in a group,” he said. “So when I saw it, well, it looked to me like it was rather lonely.”
That last quote seemed a bit haunting to me…a lonely squid, surrounded by darkness.
Video clips are below, I’ve got two for you because they show different images of the squid…they are quick so you can watch them in a couple of minutes.
These next articles are out of sight amazing. They deal with our Milky Way Galaxy, and unlike that squid swimming alone in darkness…our planet is just one of billions and billions in this galaxy.
First, the “bones” in the arms.
Just as there are bones in your arms, there are bones in our galaxy’s arms as well — and researchers using NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope have shared the x-rays to prove it.
Alright, they’re not actually x-rays but rather images made from observations in infrared light, which Spitzer is specifically designed to detect. (One does need to clarify such things in astronomy.) Orbiting Earth over 172 million kilometers away, Spitzer can see infrared radiation that isn’t visible from the ground, radiation that’s emitted from anything in the Universe warmer than zero Kelvin.
The image above, looking into the plane of the galaxy, shows a long thin strand of dark, cold material stretching between two brighter regions in the lower half — this is a segment of what’s being called a “bone” of the Milky Way, a part of the vast skeletal structure that forms its framework.
It’s the first image of such a structure within our own galaxy.
The “bone” nicknamed “Nessie” and is a long thin piece of our galaxy’s skeleton.
Astronomers have spotted a new component of the Milky Way galaxy’s skeleton — a “bone” of dust and gas that contains about as much material as 100,000 suns.
The newfound Milky Way bone is more than 300 light-years long but just 1 or 2 light-years wide, giving it the appearance of a slender cosmic snake, researchers said.
“This is the first time we’ve seen such a delicate piece of the galactic skeleton,” study lead author Alyssa Goodman, of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said in a statement. “This bone is much more like a fibula — the long skinny bone in your leg — than it is like the tibia, or big thick leg bone.”
Now for the part that will make you say, wow…
A simulation based on data from NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler mission has determined that about one out of every six stars has an Earth-sized planet, which would translate to at least 17 billion such worlds in our Milky Way galaxy. And that’s not even counting the alien Earths we’d want to live on.
These 17 billion planets would be circling their parent stars more closely than Mercury orbits our own sun — which means that, in many cases, the planets would be too hot for liquid water to exist. A few such worlds already have been found, including a “lava planet” known as Alpha Centauri Bb that’s just 4.3 light-years away from us.
This estimate of 17 billion hot Earth-like planets stems from another report that was released on Monday…
Kepler mission scientists announced Monday that a new batch of analysis yielded 461 more exoplanet candidates – and that is from within a relatively small cross-section of our galaxy, bringing the total number of potential planets awaiting confirmation to 2,740. Of the several dozen Earth-sized planets, the smallest of 5 categories, 4 were found to be located within their stars’ habitable zone, which is defined as an orbit where surface water can exist as a liquid.
Candidates require additional follow-up observations and analyses to be confirmed as planets. At the beginning of 2012, 33 candidates in the Kepler data had been confirmed as planets. Today, there are 105.
Take a look at this graph from NASA:
(Photo : NASA)
Since the last Kepler catalog was released in February 2012, the number of candidates discovered in the Kepler data has increased by 20 percent and now totals 2,740 potential planets orbiting 2,036 stars. Based on observations conducted May 2009 to March 2011, the most dramatic increases are seen in the number of Earth-size and super Earth-size candidates discovered, which grew by 43 and 21 percent respectively.
The New York Times has added more fodder for the Republicans’ Benghazi attacks. James Risen Mark Mazzetti and Michael S. Schmidt report that: U.S.-Approved Arms for Libya Rebels Fell Into Jihadis’ Hands.
The Obama administration secretly gave its blessing to arms shipments to Libyan rebels from Qatar last year, but American officials later grew alarmed as evidence grew that Qatar was turning some of the weapons over to Islamic militants, according to United States officials and foreign diplomats.
Of course there’s no evidence that this had anything to do with the Benghazi attacks, but I’m sure that won’t stop Senators McNasty, Huckleberry Closetcase, and their new pal Senator Kelley Ayotte from pretending otherwise.
No evidence has emerged linking the weapons provided by the Qataris during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi to the attack that killed four Americans at the United States diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, in September.
But in the months before, the Obama administration clearly was worried about the consequences of its hidden hand in helping arm Libyan militants, concerns that have not previously been reported. The weapons and money from Qatar strengthened militant groups in Libya, allowing them to become a destabilizing force since the fall of the Qaddafi government.
Also at the NYT, Jared Bernstein once again explains why politicians (and the media) in the Village need to stop obsessing on taxes and start focusing in increasing employment and, along with it, consumer demand.
WITH the budget-and-tax showdown dominating headlines, most Americans probably missed an even more ominous story: according to a report by the Congressional Budget Office, America’s underlying growth rate — that is, the best the economy could do, under optimal conditions, without driving up inflation — has slowed from just under 4 percent a year in 2000 to just under 2 percent today.
Why does this matter? For one thing, the combination of a lower underlying growth rate, which you could think of as the economy’s speed limit, and a less equitable distribution of that growth was a reason middle-income households did so badly and poverty went up in the 2000s.
During the 1990s, in contrast, stronger demand for goods and services led to much faster job growth and the last real gains experienced by middle- and lower-income households. Faster growth in those years also spun off a lot more government revenues, which interacted with slightly higher tax rates to take the budget from deficit to surplus.
Read the whole thing and fantasize what we could be doing if we had smarter leadership in DC.
Back in Republican la-la land, Joel Kotkin at Forbes claims that blue states are committing suicide by supporting raising tax rates on the rich.
With their enthusiastic backing of President Obama and the Democratic Party on Election Day, the bluest parts of America may have embraced a program utterly at odds with their economic self-interest. The almost uniform support of blue states’ congressional representatives for the administration’s campaign for tax “fairness” represents a kind of bizarre economic suicide pact.
Any move to raise taxes on the rich — defined as households making over $250,000 annually — strikes directly at the economies of these states, which depend heavily on the earnings of high-income professionals, entrepreneurs and technical workers. In fact, when you examine which states, and metropolitan areas, have the highest concentrations of such people, it turns out they are overwhelmingly located in the bluest states and regions.
Really? Then how come we did so much better under the Clinton tax rates in the ’90s? After all, that’s all that is happening–except that the first $250,000 of these poor rich people’s money will still be taxed at the Bush rates. But that’s not how Kotkin sees it.
The people whose wallets will be drained in the new war on “the rich” are high-earning, but hardly plutocratic professionals like engineers, doctors, lawyers, small business owners and the like. Once seen as the bastion of the middle class, and exemplars of upward mobility, these people are emerging as the modern day “kulaks,” the affluent peasants ruthlessly targeted by Stalin in the early 1930s.
OMB!! “Wallets…drained!” “Stalin!” Let’s all freak out!
The ironic geography of the Democratic drive can be seen most clearly by examining the distribution of the classes now targeted by the coming purge. The top 10 states with the largest percentage of “rich” households under the Obama formula include true blue bastions Washington, D.C., which has the highest concentration of big earners, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, California and Hawaii. The only historic “swing state” in the top six is Virginia, due largely to the presence of the affluent suburbs of the capital. These same states, according to the Tax Foundation, would benefit the most from an extension of the much-lambasted Bush tax cuts.
Hey Joel, maybe it’s not all about taxes, even though that’s all that seems to matter to you. Maybe some blue state folks think the whole economy would benefit if more people got back to work, earned some money and spent it–as suggested by Jared Bernstein in yesterday’s NYT (see above).
As Zandar notes, Kotkin then goes on to show how Republicans can use the home mortgage deduction and other methods to punish the blue state richies for voting for Obama.
- Keep the tax rate on capital gains the same.
- Raise income taxes on the top income bracket for 2013, those making $398,350 and up (single filers, married joint filers, or head of household).
- Means-test, or eliminate entirely, the mortgage interest deduction (which benefits taxpayers in areas with the highest real estate values and mortgages – i.e., Hawaii, D.C., New York, California and Connecticut).
- Means-test or eliminate entirely the federal deduction of state and local taxes, which is disproportionately utilized by those in high-tax blue states: “In 2005, taxpayers in California and New York together made up 20 percent of those claiming the deduction and accounted for 30 percent of its value. Itemizers in New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, and California claimed on average over $12,000 per household.”
Talk about a sore loser! Kotkin must be really bitter about Romney’s failure to get those blue state dopes to vote for him.
Meanwhile all those Romney voters in the red states are dreaming about seceding from the union. But if they did, asks The Nation, “Who’d Pay for Their Massive Government Handouts?”
In the wake of Obama’s victory, citizens in several states submitted petitions to secede from the United States. It is something of an irony that the very states seeking secession from “big government”—like Louisiana and Alabama—have been among the top beneficiaries of that selfsame government. Put bluntly, the government would be far smaller without them, and they would seriously struggle far more without it. Indeed, were they to become independent, most would be failed states in need of a bailout. Only this time their benefactor would be not the federal government but the International Monetary Fund, of which the United States is the principal donor. Louisiana and Alabama would go the way of Greece and Spain.
Oh, the irony of it all! And here’s another irony for Republicans to chew on. From TPM: Why Insurers Are Wary Of Raising The Medicare Age
House Republican leaders want to avoid the fiscal cliff with a proposal that would gradually raise the Medicare eligibility age to 67. Democrats are broadly reluctant to cut benefits, but President Obama was willing to accept the policy last year in failed deficit reduction talks with House Speaker John Boehner, and top Democrats have left the door open to including that measure in a grand budget bargain.
It may seem counter-intuitive: why would an industry threatened by government insurance not want it to shrink?
The reason: hiking the Medicare eligibility age would throw seniors aged 65 and 66 off Medicare and into the private market, forcing insurers, who will soon be required to cover all consumers regardless of health status, to care for a sicker, more expensive crop of patients.
“The risk pool issue is important,” the insurance industry source said. “[I]f you add more older and sicker people to the pool, that’s definitely going to have any impact on premiums.”
The policy would save the federal government $113 billion over a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office. But it achieves that by raising the cost of private insurance: the Kaiser Family Foundation projected that a Medicare age of 67 would raise costs for under-65 patients by an average of $141 in 2014. (In practice it would be phased in.)
And even more Republican stupidity: Right wing nutcases are all bent out of shape because their favorite crazy propaganda movie didn’t get any Oscar nominations.
Gerald Molan, the director of the extremely anti-Obama movie, 2016: Obama’s America , is mad that his and Dinesh D’Souza’s film ["2016"] wasn’t on the shortlist of documentaries nominated for an Academy Award.
“The action confirms my opinion that the bias against anything from a conservative point of view is dead on arrival in Hollywood circles,” he complained to the Hollywood Reporter.
It couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the fact that the movie is based on a pack of lies and right wing conspiracy theories, could it?
To cleanse your palate of right wing and DC craziness, try watching this video from NASA that show views of the Earth from space. Here’s a still shot:
So what are you reading and blogging about today? I’ve been a little out of the loop for the past couple of days, so I look forward to clicking on your links!
Insomnia is a bitch…so feeling up for something to spark some wild dreams? Something wonderful to put you to sleep? Or, should I say something to put me to sleep…check this out.
Stunning Vortex on Saturn Swirls in NASA Photos This is one big ass storm.
This spectacular photo of a polar storm on Saturn was taken by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft on Nov. 27, 2012. It is a raw and unprocessed image.
Can you believe this photo was shot and sent via Cassini to Earth on the same day!
Amazing new photos from NASA’s Cassini probe orbiting Saturn reveal a dizzying glimpse into a monster storm raging on the ringed planet’s north pole.
Cassini took the spectacular Saturn storm photos yesterday (Nov. 27) and relayed it back to Earth the same day, mission scientists said in a statement. The pictures reveal a swirling storm reminiscent of the recent Hurricane Sandy that recently plagued our own planet.
The tempest is located in a strange hexagonal cloud vortex at Saturn’s north pole that was first discovered by the Voyager spacecraft in the early 1980s, and sighted more closely by Cassini since then. The strange six-sided feature, which is nearly 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) across, is thought to be formed by the path of a jet stream flowing through the planet’s atmosphere.
Science is a beautiful thing.
Saturn’s mysterious northern vortex, a vast hexagon-shaped storm, dominates this photo taken Nov. 27, 2012, by NASA’s Cassini spacecraft. This image is a raw and unprocessed view.
Cassini, the first spacecraft to orbit Saturn, was launched in 1997 and arrived at the gas giant in July 2004. The probe has logged more than 3.8 billion miles (6.1 billion kilometers), and made some major discoveries about the Saturn system, including revealing the presence of hydrocarbon lakes on the moon Titan and spewing water geysers on the moon Enceladus.
“Eight and a half years into our history-making expedition around the ringed planet and we are still astounded by the seemingly endless parade of new planetary phenomena,” the mission scientists wrote.
Good night…sweet dreams!