Wednesday Morning Reads: Egypt, Lego and 1.6 Trillion Suns


Morning Y’all!

After spending last night watching Lost in made me think about Skippy, the manager at the Der Wienerschnitzel and those frozen fries, you know, the importance of details that make you great at your job.  (If you forgot the scene I am talking about, the manager of the hot dog joint tells Albert Brooks just how wonderful his wife, Julie Hagerty, is…because of her attention to details, she noticed he had served “frozen” fries…with bits of ice inside of them.)

I wonder if Bank of America’s Bryan Moynihan, had such an attention to detail, but according to this article by Matt Taibbi, it looks like attention to detail is obviously not essential to a CEO…snark.  Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan Apparently Can’t Remember Anything | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone

Thank God for Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan. If you’re a court junkie, or have the misfortune (as some of us poor reporters do) of being forced professionally to spend a lot of time reading legal documents, the just-released Moynihan deposition in MBIA v. Bank of America, Countrywide, and a Buttload of Other Shameless Mortgage Fraudsters will go down as one of the great Nixonian-stonewalling efforts ever, and one of the more entertaining reads of the year.

In this long-awaited interrogation – Bank of America has been fighting to keep Moynihan from being deposed in this case for some time – Moynihan does a full Star Trek special, boldly going where no deponent has ever gone before, breaking out the “I don’t recall” line more often and perhaps more ridiculously than was previously thought possible. Moynihan seems to remember his own name, and perhaps his current job title, but beyond that, he’ll have to get back to you.

Yes, the key to holding a top executive position is being able to recite the phrase, “I don’t recall,” over and over again. I am not a fan of Matt Taibbi, but this article did make me laugh.
Anyway, over in Egypt, President Morsi leaves palace as police battle protesters.

Egyptian police battled thousands of protesters outside President Mohamed Mursi’s palace in Cairo on Tuesday, prompting the Islamist leader to leave the building, presidency sources said.

Officers fired teargas at up to 10,000 demonstrators angered by Mursi’s drive to hold a referendum on a new constitution on December 15. Some broke through police lines around his palace and protested next to the perimeter wall.

The crowds had gathered nearby in what organizers had dubbed “last warning” protests against Mursi, who infuriated opponents with a November 22 decree that expanded his powers. “The people want the downfall of the regime,” the demonstrators chanted.

“The president left the palace,” a presidential source, who declined to be named, told Reuters. A security source at the presidency also said the president had departed.

Since this is a “fluid” situation, I will update this story down below in the comments.
Like a house of cards, things in the Mideast are precariously unstable…let’s move on to a topic that has some strength behind it. I am talking about those little plastic pieces that always seem underfoot, Legos:  How tall can a Lego tower get?
A 32.5m tall tower made of Lego in Prague
Building Lego towers is a competitive business – this one in Prague, at 32.5m, may be the tallest to date

It’s not just children who like to build towers with Lego – the internet is alive with discussion on how many Lego bricks, stacked one on top of the other, it would take to destroy the bottom brick. So what’s the answer?

There has been a burning debate on the social news website Reddit.

It’s a trivial question you might think, but one the Open University’s engineering department has – at the request of the BBC’s More or Less programme – fired up its labs to try to answer.

“It’s an exciting thing to do because it’s an entirely new question and new questions are always interesting,” says Dr Ian Johnston, an applied mathematician and lecturer in engineering.

The article goes into some detail on how the test were conducted, so if you are interested…check it out. I will go ahead and spoil it for y’all…just how tall is this mighty tower of legos?

The average maximum force the bricks can stand is 4,240N. That’s equivalent to a mass of 432kg (950lbs). If you divide that by the mass of a single brick, which is 1.152g, then you get the grand total of bricks a single piece of Lego could support: 375,000.

So, 375,000 bricks towering 3.5km (2.17 miles) high is what it would take to break a Lego brick.

A graphic showing the height of the Lego tower, the height of Mount Olympus, the height at which Felix Baumgartner pulled his parachute, and the Eiffel Tower
That is one big ass tower of plastic.
And while we are on the subject of height or distance, it looks like Voyager is in the news again. Voyager discovers ‘magnetic highway’ at edge of solar system

NASA’s Voyager 1 spacecraft has encountered a “magnetic highway” at the edge of the solar system, a surprising discovery 35 years after its launch, the experts behind the pioneering craft said Monday.

Earlier this year a surge in a key indicator fueled hopes that the craft was nearing the so-called heliopause, which marks the boundary between our solar system and outer space.

But instead of slipping away from the bubble of charged particles the Sun blows around itself, Voyager encountered something completely unexpected.

This is amazing…think about how far Voyager has gone.

The craft’s daily radio reports sent back evidence that the Sun’s magnetic field lines was connected to interstellar magnetic fields. Lower-energy charged particles were zooming out and higher-energy particles from outside were streaming in.

They called it a magnetic highway because charged particles outside this region bounced around in all directions, as if trapped on local roads inside the bubble, or heliosphere.

“Although Voyager 1 still is inside the Sun’s environment, we now can taste what it’s like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway,” said Edward Stone, a Voyager project scientist based at the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena.

Imagine, traveling 11 miles a second!  Voyager Discovers New Region of Solar System

We got ourselves all excited for NASA’s Mars press conference today, even though we already knew it wasn’t about life on the red planet, but what we should have been paying attention to was happening nearly 11.5 billion miles away in the heliosphere. The Voyager 1 spacecraft has encountered a new region of our solar system. What’s even more exciting is that NASA scientists believe this region is the final barrier between Voyager and interstellar space. That’s so much more impressive than chlorine on Mars.

The Voyager 1 spacecraft is now so far out into space that light from the Sun takes over 34 hours to reach it. NASA debated whether this new region should still be considered part of our solar system, but project scientist Edward Stone makes the call by saying, “Although Voyager 1 still is inside the sun’s environment, we now can taste what it’s like on the outside because the particles are zipping in and out on this magnetic highway.”

The scientists believe that Voyager will pass out of the solar system within the next two months or so. I’ve got one more space link for you this morning, it is about our Galaxy the Milky Way,  New estimate suggests Milky Way mass of 1.6 trillion suns

Panorama of Milky Way from the inside: a mosaic of multiple shots on large-format film, comprising all 360 degrees of the galaxy from our vantage point. More about this image here. Image Credit: Digital Sky LLC via Wikimedia Commons

Our home galaxy the Milky Way is thought to be approximately 100,000 light-years wide and about 1,000 light-years thick. You often hear the estimate that the mass of our galaxy is equal to several billion suns, but some estimates have ranged up to twice that high, or even higher. Now some astronomers are suggesting a mass for the Milky Way of 1.6 trillion suns. The estimate isn’t just for stars but also includes the mass of our Milky Way’s invisible dark halo. It’s based on the first-ever measurement of the proper motion, or sideways motion along our line of sight, of a small galaxy satellite galaxy to our Milky Way. Ken Croswell reported on the role of this small galaxy – called Leo I – yesterday (December 3, 2012) in Scientific American.

There is a lot of information in that article, be sure to go and read the whole thing.

The rest of today’s post will be in link dump fashion…

An Amazing New Use for Ecstasy- Helping women deal with PTSD after rape.

Big Pharma Company Mocked Patients Who Got “Jawbone Death” from Drug: “Ma Toot Hurts So Bad” – Merck couldn’t care less about the patients…as long as they could make more money.

Noam Chomsky: What the American Media Won’t Tell You About Israel –Decades of hell in Gaza.

New research shows corrosion may accelerate failures at Fukushima Daiichi- Great…and guess what? There is nothing that can be done about it.

Be sure you read these couple of links on the NFL murder suicide this past weekend:

Jovan Belcher: Murder is Domestic Violence [by @QuadCityPat] | Angry Black Lady Chronicles

If you only read one thing about the Kasandra Perkins murder- Feministe

Regarding privacy in America…Laptop seizures by US government highlight 9/11-era climate of fear | Glenn Greenwald

And lastly, a bit of history…. Disability history month: Was Tamerlane disabled?

Tamerlane – derived from his nickname Timur the Lame – rose from obscurity to become a 14th Century conqueror of nations, who piled high the skulls of his enemies. It was quite a feat at a time when physical prowess was prized, writes Justin Marozzi.

Think of the greatest conquerors of all time and chances are you’ll quickly list Genghis Khan and Alexander the Great. It is rather less likely, unless you come from Central Asia or the Muslim world more widely, that you’d spare a thought for Tamerlane.

Yet in many ways this Tartar warlord, born near Samarkand in 1336 in what is now Uzbekistan, outshone both the Macedonian king and the Mongol warlord.

Lots of links, I know…but it is a busy time of the year, and if you can’t take it all in one shot…come back during the day when you have the time. And be sure to share the things you are reading about today…

33 Comments on “Wednesday Morning Reads: Egypt, Lego and 1.6 Trillion Suns”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Lost in America–I just love that movie! Great roundup, JJ.

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Had Belcher not been some idolized football player those deaths would be just another statistic so common throughout the nation on a daily basis. If a woman is not killed outright she is abused and threatened by some idiot waving a gun demanding “respect”.

    Belcher was in possession of not one but two guns when he decided to “show her a lesson”.

    The difference is that he had enough insight into his own behavior that he ended his own life in the process. A 3 month old baby has been orphaned and Bob Costas has been taken to task for daring to raise the issue of the proliferation of guns that flood this country and used for revenge as opposed to the “need for protection”. Who protected this woman when her partner acted upon his impulses?

    Whatever his motivation, whatever it was that triggered his response, the simple fact is that this man was armed to the teeth allowing him to reach for a weapon(s) that ended her life.

    What more is there to say?

    • Exactly.

      From the Feministe link above:

      Belcher, for those who haven’t followed the case, was a professional football player with the Kansas City Chiefs. He and Perkins had a three-month-old daughter, Zoey. Belcher shot Perkins nine times, then drove to football practice where he thanked his coach for the support and opportunities before shooting himself.

      The New York Times quotes many of Belcher’s friends lauding him as “A good, loving father, a family man.”

      We’re reading a lot about how this was a tragedy… for the Kansas City Chiefs. And for football fans.


      And here’s what Chiefs’ head coach Romeo Crennel had to say about the tragedy:

      “Jovan is a member of our family. What he did we didn’t like, We’re not crazy about,” Crennel said. “When you go out in society, you don’t see people throwing family member out the door. They’re still loved.”

      We’re not crazy about the fact that he killed his girlfriend, but hey, HE’S FAMILY and we still love that clown! Right?

      Belcher’s family also cautions against speculating about relationship violence. I mean really, everyone, let’s not speculate that this was a violent relationship! All we know is that he killed her by shooting her nine times. Given these limited facts, who are we to say that he was violent?

      Kasandra Perkins, on the other hand, had the nerve to go to a concert and not come home until 1 in the morning. And, according to the Deadspin hit piece, she wasn’t doing well in school and quit her job — three months after giving birth, that lazy lazy woman. Clearly she was just after Belcher’s money. And then she had the nerve to take his kid away from him! HIS KID. Who he loved. And yes sure even according to the friend who took to Gawker media to malign a dead woman, Belcher had substance abuse problems and “drank ALOT. On a nightly basis,” but Perkins was the irresponsible party for removing her child from that situation. She should have definitely stayed in the home of someone violent enough to eventually kill her.


      Read this:

      So in closing, because I can never say this enough, the person responsible for Kasandra Perkin’s death is Jovan Belcher. There was nothing Miss Perkins could have done to cause Mr. Belcher to murder her in cold blood. He pulled the trigger the 1st, 2nd, 3rd,4th,5th,6th,7th,8th, and 9th time he shot her.

      • NW Luna says:

        Oh, and a guy with a temper problem, drunk every night, firearms loose in the house, is a good father? That poor little kid (may it have no memory of the horror of how mother died) was lucky not to get gunned down by its own father too.

      • RalphB says:

        One more time. Our society is sick and should change unless we want to become utter barbarians. The culture that put that useless violent jock on some kind of pedestal is corrupt.

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    O/T but there seems to be a growing concensus forming out there that the majority of the voters are urging Hillary to seek the nomination in 2016.

    This will prove most interesting to see how those “former Hillary supporters” who fled to the Right over the past few years reconcile their hatred of all things Democrat that found them embracing the GOP, the Fruit Loopers, and Romney all at once.

    Hillary by far is more liberal on social issues than even Obama, certainly far more so then the Radical Right, and has established her creds as a fierce feminist who has stood up for women throughout her career, something the GOP with its own “war on woman” has never done.

    So to watch this “group” go from “we love Hillary” the liberal, to “we love Mittens” the whatever it was he stood for, to “we love Hillary” all over again should prove amusing.

    These are the same pinheads who wished for a Hillary/Palin ticket by the way. Two utterly diverse people – one with an enormous I.Q. and a preparedness that was scary, and the other a superficial twit unable to read a map.

    Let the contortions begin!

    • janicen says:

      I will be most interested to see reactions. After the 2012 campaign/election I became convinced that many of the Hillary acolytes from ’08 were really Republicans in disguise. I also realized that the most rabid Obots from 2008 were very likely Republicans in disguise once again. Their purpose was to create division in the Democratic party pitting Clinton supporters against Obama supporters and it was very effective in 2008. Fast forward to 2012, and where are all the fanatical Obots who would flame websites at the very mention of Clinton? I honestly believe that part of the reason the Republicans have been so shocked by Obama’s 2012 victory is because most of the swooning and fanatical support for Obama we saw in 2008 was created by ratf@ckers who were in place to stir up division among the Democrats.

      • Pat Johnson says:

        I think it was most telling when the immediate embrace of the GOP began to filter through. You would be hard pressed to find any similarities between the divergency that brought forth the Tea Partiers no matter how hard you tried.

        These same groups found nothing wrong in supporting voter suppression, the abandonment of women’s rights, the attack on social safety nets, and the loss of collectivization of unions. The numerous lies coming out of Mittens did nothing to deter them from defending him and the attacks against Sandra Fluke should have been challenged but were not.

        It was and is an all out assault against Obama regardless of the obstructionism and the insanity put forth by the lunatic fringe that was most illustrative of the fact that perhaps the ratf*cking had hit its mark in directing supposed Dems to the other side. The contrast was too diverse to ignore.

        I may not be a big Obama fan but the alternative was offering destructive policies that just seemed to be conveniently overlooked while at the same time every effort was made to destroy the Dems by those who at one time claimed affiliation.

        Except for the claim of “ratf*cking” nothing else made any sense.

      • RalphB says:

        janicen, I looked for those Obots and they were completely MIA. Thus I came to the same conclusion as you. They were just another form of ratf*ckers.

    • NW Luna says:

      Meh. So many other more interesting things in the world. Why pay any attention to those rat-effin’ Mitt-lovers who might once have recognized a decent politician.

    • peggysue22 says:

      Oh, I remember having many ‘discussions’ with so-called Hillary supporters, who insisted that voting for women, any and all, was the important thing, the single factor that would change the political dynamic. In this equation Sarah Palin = Hillary Clinton because they both have vaginas and breasts and as we all know that makes everything hunky-dory, regardless of said woman’s policy stands, intelligence [or lack there of] and experience.

      Round and round these arguments went. Of course, pointing out that voting strictly on gender lines made no more sense than voting on racial lines [something these same people were in an absolute tiff over] only produced accusations of my failing to appreciate feminism or that I had some self-loathing as a woman.

      Nonsense! All of it.

      Future contortions if Hillary does indeed run in 2016 should be a true spectacle. Although at various hard-line Obama hating sites, Hillary has been forever tainted by serving as SOS for the Marxist/Socialist/Muslim traitor and Bill will never be forgiven for his spectacular performance at the Democratic Convention as the Secretary of ‘Splaining Shit, making the GOP look as lame and backwards as it really is.

      Should be fun!

  4. Luna, you have to see this clip from Colbert…on Big Pharma, and low-t: Colbert: Science says old people are more gullible, which explains Fox News | The Raw Story

    Tuesday night on “The Colbert Report,” host Stephen Colbert looked into afflictions suffered by aging Americans including increased inability to determine when someone is untrustworthy, “Low-T” (low testosterone) and what Colbert calls “Low-O” (low female orgasm).

    Older people, Colbert began, are less able to trust their gut instincts, according to a report from Fox News. As they age, many people lose their ability to discern whether someone is lying to them or is trying scam them. They become more trusting.

    “Who’d have thought that elderly Fox News viewers would be more susceptible to misinformation?” asked Colbert.

    He went on to discuss “Low-T” syndrome, the gradual decreasing of levels of the sex hormone testosterone in men’s blood. Typically “Low-T” manifests in the form of decreased sex drive, weight gain, depression and loss of muscle tone. Some men have been treating it with a topical 1 percent testosterone gel.

    “Or as I like to call it,” he said, “‘Man-Milk, skim.’”

    Now the testosterone supplement AndroGel comes in a 1.62 percent concentration, news that Colbert greeted with enthusiasm.

    “What an incredible breakthrough!” he enthused. “I don’t know how it works or what it does, but now I can use less of it.”

    He continued, “The best news is that this highly concentrated male hormone doesn’t have one side effect. It has dozens of them.”

    Unbelievable that this stuff is even available!

    • Beata says:

      Every time I see those low testosterone commercials with their lists of symptoms of this “syndrome”, I say to the teevee, “It’s called “getting older”, guys. Yes, it happens, even to you! Learn to live with it.”

      I bet Hugh Hefner ( who is about 135 years old now ) uses a ton of AndroGel. His latest almost jailbait bride-to-be must be so thrilled about that. Of course, she loves him for himself and not for his fame or money. I’m sure they will live happily ever after. /s

    • RalphB says:

      Aluminum siding salesmen also know old people are the most gullible 🙂

    • Fannie says:

      Can’t wait to hear his explanation as to the low sperm count of frenchmen………….it falls by a third, according to study of 126,000 men between 1989- 2005……….the jury is out as to WHY.

      • NW Luna says:

        I think that’s true world-wide. Maybe Frenchmen just whine about it more.

        Not that it’s related to the BPAs, PVCs, and synthetic pseudo-estrogens and etc in the environment — Nah. Go away; no story here. (snark of course)

    • NW Luna says:

      Yeah — one of the “side effects” is cancer. From MicroMedex drug database:

      Serious Adverse Effects
      a) Benign prostatic hyperplasia
      b) Cholestatic jaundice syndrome
      c) Edema
      d) Liver carcinoma
      e) Neoplasm of liver
      f) Peliosis hepatis
      g) Prostate cancer

      Get this — testosterone is classified as a controlled substance by the DEA. Estrogen is not. Both require a prescription; there are just tighter regs on CSs.

      There is a small, small % of males who legitimately have abnormally low testosterone for their age. But no legitimate medical clinician would prescribe it to a man on demand. It normally decreases as people get older — in men as well as women. Women have testosterone at a lower % than do men, and men have estrogen at a lower % than women. So it’s not that one is a “male” hormone and the other “female.” It’s the difference in ratio that is gender-specific.

      Sorry to not respond earlier — I’ve been at work and dealing with piles of paperwork from health insurance co’s that makes it hard for patients to get the meds or therapies they need. They are not in healthcare out of the goodness of their corporate hearts, ya know.

  5. Allie says:

    Well just to be TOTALLY off topic – here’s another awesome picture of our galaxy from NASA with interactive links that let you zoom in and explore the various features! I think ya’ll had this here when it came out last year:

    APOD is always awesome for any fellow space-geeks out there.

  6. Uppity Woman says:

    Somebody ought to bust that Merck spokeswoman’s jaw with a sledge hammer. My cousin not only got destroyed by Foxomax, she had the added good luck of being misdiagnosed and never had osteoporosis to begin with, but she didn’t find that out till the damage was done. And the woman had impeccible teeth and hardly fell into the category of someone who never went to the dentist and walked around with mouth infections. My cousin is still suffering the jaw effects of that shitty Fosomax. And if you ask me, osteoporosis is this decades HRT. Suddenly the whole world needs Fosomax so Big Pharma can have a nice supply of Guinea pigs to give them data on who who suffers or dies–and make a nice profit in the process.

    • I am sorry to hear about your cousin, it is disgusting how much profit is put before the health of human beings.

      • Uppity Woman says:

        They use women as guinea pigs. We all saw what happened with HRT. I remember a doctor asking me if I wanted it because it helped prevent heart attacks.. My answer was that my address book had lines through it of good women I know who died, and not one of them died of a heart attack. Some of them did die of breast cancer, though, so how is it they can pimp something that contributes to breast cancer in order to save a woman from an unlikely heart attack.

        I think this Fosomax thing is another guinea pig deal. What happened to my cousin was the test they used on her is not all that accurate. So they pumped her up with Fosomax, making her think her bones could break before she even made it home. This woman is in great shape, and finally went and got an opinion of another specialist. I think the thing that set me off about that Merck spokesperson is her assumption that people are just crap and who cares, and that obviously if their jaws fell apart it was their fault. I call bullshit, and I hope they get reamed on the class actions pointing at them. Enough is enough from these pharma companies shoving it to women, debugging their chemicals in the field.

    • NW Luna says:

      There are also many women who take the aromatase-inhibitor class of drugs for breast cancer, (such as Femara, and Armidex), then they get osteoporosis as a side effect of those drugs, which they then need Fosamax (or similar drugs) to treat. What a mess.

      BTW, nice to see you more often around here, UW.

      And fantastic links &post, JJ. I always love the astronomical ones! And the rest.

      • Uppity Woman says:

        What a racket they have going. Let’s give women cancer with HRT. Then let’s give them Fosomax for the osteoporosis the treatments cause. Isn’t that rich? Do we think they would do this if guys’ balls were involved?

        And thanks for being glad to see me. I don’t comment on other blogs much, because you know how time consuming it is to run a blog. You lose sght of all the fun you could have online if you didn’t have a blog. I wish I had more front pagers who had the time to post regularly, but alas, nobody wants to write for an Uppity Blogger. lol

      • NW Luna says:

        You lose sight of all the fun you could have online if you didn’t have a blog.

        I’m sure that’s true. I occasionally try to write something for a post and days later I’m still working on it to perfect it — silly. Meanwhile the topicality of it has passed by and I wake up and say “screw it.” I used to write a lot for my job, and then for school, and now I find I’m exhausted. I hope to maybe recover. and write for fun.

  7. NW Luna says:

    Osteopenia is a made-up disease. It was arbitrarily defined in the first place, without really any evidence. Now, the best recommendations for osteopenia are weight-bearing exercise, and healthy diet. Guidelines do NOT recommend Fosamax or any meds for it — only for osteoporosis. But too many prescribers start a med instead of counseling patients on non-med things they could do. Unethical in my opinion. I won’t prescribe a med if there’s something else we can try first.

    Osteopenia is the diagnosis a woman receives if she scores between –1 and –2.5 on her DEXA scan. Osteopenia is not the same as osteoporosis, and it does not need to be treated in the same way as osteoporosis. Studies have shown that the drugs most commonly used to treat osteoporosis—bisphosphonates, such as alendronate (brand name Fosamax), and the SERM drug raloxifene (brand name Evista)—do not significantly reduce fracture risk in women with osteopenia. Why? Because women with osteopenia have had so little bone loss and have such a low risk for fracture there is very little for the drug to do. What any woman with osteopenia can and should do is implement the lifestyle changes that can help maintain bone density and decrease the risk of developing osteoporosis.

    #10, bottom of page,

    • HT says:

      Interesting, as I was diagnosed with Osteopenia as according to the experts I had lost 27% of my bone density. Of course, that was predicated on the assumption that I had the same bone density as their scales.. I was also advised I absolutely had to have HRT treatment – I caved and went on it for 6 weeks – it was a horror show. I’m highly sensitive to most drugs – don’t even take acetominophin cause it doesn’t relive pain, just gives me headaches. And Fosamex which was prescribed for the Osteopenia – a nightmare and I can’t remember the replacement drug but it was even worse.
      I can relate to Uppity’s relative. I just do not take drugs well at all. Demoral made me stupid, Morphine caused me to die on the operating table, Eldavil made me catatonic, lidocaine was ineffective and novacaine is ineffective unless I have three times the dosage that other people get. I don’t understand with all the money going to research that there is still no understanding of how they affect everyone – well perhaps I do – money, money, money.