Thursday Reads

Trump’s new BFFs

Good Afternoon!!

Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer had dinner with Trump last night and some kind of “deal” was worked out, but no one can figure out what it was. Trump has been sending conflicting tweets about it and saying confusing things about it in Florida this morning.

The Washington Post: Trump, top A Democrats agree to work on deal to save ‘dreamers’ from deportation.

Democratic leaders announced late Wednesday that they agreed with President Trump to pursue a legislative deal that would protect hundreds of thousands of young undocumented immigrants from deportation and enact border security measures that don’t include building a physical wall.

The president discussed options during a dinner at the White House with Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that also included talks on tax reform, infrastructure and trade. Trump has showed signs of shifting strategy to cross the aisle and work with Democrats in the wake of the high-profile failures by Republicans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

We’re working on a plan for DACA,” Trump said as he left the White House on Thursday for a trip to survey hurricane damage in Florida.

Trump said that he and Congress are “fairly close” to a deal and that Republican leaders Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) and Sen. Mitch McConnell (Ky.) are “very much on board” with a deal that would address DACA. The agreement must include “massive border security,” Trump said in response to shouted questions about whether he had reached a deal on the terms Schumer and Pelosi had described.

“The wall will come later” [link to Axios added]  he said, apparently confirming a central element of the Democrats’ account.

There was instant backlash from Trump’s Cro-Magnon supporters, and the White House quickly tried to walk back whatever Trump agreed to when his handlers weren’t around.

Earlier Thursday, amid backlash from conservative supporters, Trump had sought Thursday to reach out to his GOP base with messages claiming his agenda would remain intact on signature issues such as the border wall.

In a series of tweets, Trump wrote that “no deal” was made on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, an Obama-era program that has allowed 690,000 dreamers to work and go to school without fear of deportation. He further wrote that agreements on “massive border security” would have to accompany any new DACA provisions, and insisted that “the WALL will continue to be built.”

I guess we’ll find out what’s going on eventually. It would certainly be a good thing if Congress can get its act together and do something to keep the Dreamers in the U.S.

Manu Raju of CNN had a great scoop last night that makes Devin Nunes look like even more of an idiot than ever before: Exclusive: Rice told House investigators why she unmasked senior Trump officials.

Former national security adviser Susan Rice privately told House investigators that she unmasked the identities of senior Trump officials to understand why the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates was in New York late last year, multiple sources told CNN.

The New York meeting preceded a separate effort by the UAE to facilitate a back-channel communication between Russia and the incoming Trump White House.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan

The crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, arrived in New York last December in the transition period before Trump was sworn into office for a meeting with several top Trump officials, including Michael Flynn, the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his top strategist Steve Bannon, sources said.

The Obama administration felt misled by the United Arab Emirates, which had failed to mention that Zayed was coming to the United States even though it’s customary for foreign dignitaries to notify the US government about their travels, according to several sources familiar with the matter. Rice, who served as then-President Obama’s national security adviser in his second term, told the House Intelligence Committee last week that she requested the names of the Americans mentioned in the classified report be revealed internally, a practice officials in both parties say is common.

Rice’s previously undisclosed revelation in a classified setting shines new light on a practice that had come under sharp criticism from the committee chairman, California Rep. Devin Nunes, and President Donald Trump, who previously accused Rice of committing a crime.Ja

Once again, Trump people were caught trying to communicate secretly with Putin, because of course foreign visitors are routinely monitored by the intelligence community.

In other Russia news, Michael Flynn’s son is now a subject in the investigation. NBC News reports:

Michael G. Flynn, the son of President Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, is a subject of the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election and possible collusion between Moscow and the Trump campaign, according to four current and former government officials.

The inquiry into Flynn is focused at least in part on his work with his father’s lobbying firm, Flynn Intel Group, three of the officials said. It’s unclear when the focus on Flynn began.

Barry Coburn, who said he is serving as the younger Flynn’s legal counsel, said he couldn’t comment on the matter.

Flynn’s status as a subject of the Russia investigation widens the publicly known scope of the probe. NBC News has reported that those under investigation have included the elder Flynn and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort. Others under scrutiny by special counsel Robert Mueller include Carter Page, a Trump campaign ally; Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and senior White House adviser; and the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr.

https://twitter.com/Susan_Hennessey/status/908041751134425091

Yesterday White House spokesman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that James Comey committed a crime when he leaked his personal memos about interactions with Trump to The New York Times, and called on the Justice Department to investigate him. She also called on ESPN to fire a reporter who tweeted that Trump is a white supremacist. In any other White House, Sanders herself would be fired by now. The White House is not supposed to get involved in decisions by the DOJ and the White House calling for the firing of a journalist for dissing POTUS is wildly inappropriate.

From Politico, a response to the recent attacks on Comey by the Trump crowd: The Hapless Smear Campaign Against Jim Comey.

From the moment Steve Bannon stated in his 60 Minutes interview that President Donald Trump’s decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey was the biggest political mistake in modern presidential history, there simply was no chance that this week would proceed without a fair amount of political insanity. The fact that the president’s former chief strategist would publicly and brazenly disparage that decision was bound to result in a fierce White House pushback. And so it has. But over the past three days, the White House has repeatedly advanced flawed and in some instances preposterous legal arguments that don’t stand up to informed scrutiny.

The hijinks began on Monday, when White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders claimed that information divulged after Comey was fired served as retroactive justification for the president’s decision. She alleged, among other things, that Comey had given “false testimony” and leaked “privileged information to journalists.” On Tuesday, Sanders did not repeat the “false testimony” claim, but she did reiterate the assertion that Comey had “leaked privileged government information” and speculated that his actions “could have been illegal.”

In Wednesday’s news briefing, reading from what appeared to be prepared notes, Sanders explained what she meant by “illegal”:

“The memos that Comey leaked were created on an FBI computer while he was the director,” she said. “He claims they were private property, but they clearly followed the protocol of an official FBI document, leaking FBI memos on a sensitive case regardless of classification violates federal laws including the Privacy Act, standard FBI employment agreement and nondisclosure agreement all personnel must sign.”

These talking points were presumably provided to Sanders by the White House Counsel’s Office, but as a litigator with considerable experience representing government officials and contractors (including whistleblowers) of all ideological persuasions, trust me: They are nonsense.

Click on the link to read the explanation.

Have you heard the latest outrage from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and his trophy wife Louise Linton? The Washington Post reports: ‘The moochin’ Mnuchins’: Treasury secretary again is fodder for rich humor.

Just based on a quick Google search, the August exchange between Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and a critic of Linton’s fashion-bragging, mean-girl Instagram post seemed to be fading, along with memories of the eclipse, which the couple was lucky enough to have observed at Fort Knox.

But it all came rushing back when ABC News reported Wednesday evening that the Treasury Department had in fact requested a government jet for Mnuchin’s European honeymoon in Scotland, France and Italy. If the request had been granted, the plane would have cost the taxpayers roughly $25,000 per hour to operate.

A Treasury Department spokesman said in a statement that the request was made so that Mnuchin, who is a member of the National Security Council, would have access to secure communications as he traveled abroad.

Remember Linton’s attack on the woman who criticized her Instagram post after the Mnuchins used a government plane to fly to Fort Knox so they could watch the solar eclipse from the rooftop?

As the news rushed across social media, so did the memory of the Instagram episode, with one line in particular standing out among the now-regretted post by Linton:

“Adorable! Do you think the U.S. govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol.”

Now for a change of pace, I thought you might like this archaeology story. The AP via The Toronto Sun: Well-preserved Viking sword found in Norwegian mountains.

COPENHAGEN — A Norwegian archaeologist says a well-preserved, if rusty, iron sword dating to the Viking erahas been found in southern Norway.

Lars Holger Piloe says the nearly one-metre-long sword was found slid down between rocks with the blade sticking out, and may have been left by a person who got lost in a blizzard and died on the mountain from exposure.

Piloe said Thursday the sword, dating from about 850-950 A.D., was found in Lesja, some 275 kilometres north of Oslo.

Piloe said the sword’s preservation was likely due to the quality of the iron, as well as the cold, dry conditions. It was found in late August by two men who were on a reindeer hunt some 1,640 metres above sea level.

 

What else is happening? What stories are you following today?


Sunday Reads: Hoods in the Hood…

Good morning…

I am just too disgusted to write much this morning. The KKK was in town yesterday, and of course it created a scene in my home. Sorry, but I am very vocal about things…and like many of you know, I get very passionate about what I think is right.  The same goes for what I think is wrong. And hate, bigotry, racism and intolerance are wrong. Especially when they come under the cowardice of a white hood. So I will speak my mind, and if it upsets anyone, so be it.

The KKK in Union County Georgia…Blairsville.

This image is not, LOL funny. And  to see it being “liked” by my kid’s school friends is too disturbing for me to let pass without making a comment on what these hoods represent.  I should not have to apologize for simply putting a link on a facebook photo to educate these kids as to what the KKK stands for.   If you sit back and ignore it, simply because it does not affect you personally, then you are complacent in the hateful actions this group participates and supports.

So, with that said…here are your morning links.

Let us start of with a bit of history. Annals of Settler Colonialism: British Atrocities in Post-War Kenya | Informed Comment

The anti-colonial movement in Kenya of the 1950s was mythologized by the British as a shadowy ‘Mau-Mau,’ an irrational outbreak of aimless hatred.

In fact, the movement was protesting the confinement of Kenyans to ‘reserves,’ their crowding into urban slums, the privileged position of white British settlers, and the latters’ plan to go on ruling over 6 million Africans with an iron fist.

From colonial Kenya to the Viking explorations: Explaining Viking Expansion

Abstract: Current scholarship regarding Scandinavia has neglected to give all but a cursory glance at the factors involved in Viking expansion. This thesis studies and explains employment opportunities, political motives, and societal norms as separate, individual motives that perpetuated Scandinavian migration, conquest, and adventure from the eighth through the eleventh centuries AD. Afterwards, these investigations are used to describe the various and sometimes conflicting forces of expansion that led to the formation of the Danelaw in England circa AD 870. Over time, the eventual adoption of Christianity and feudal relationships within Scandinavia would bring expansion as well as the Viking Age to a close.

In another section of Medieval History, this time The Fall of the Angevin Empire

https://i1.wp.com/www.medievalists.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/King-John-of-England.jpg

On July 30th, 1202, King John was at Le Mans when a messenger arrived bearing desperate news. His mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, the grand old lady of twelfth-century politics, had been trapped at Mirebeau and was on the point of falling into the hands of his enemies, headed by his nephew, Arthur of Brittany. Between Le Mans and Mirebeau in Poitou lay nearly 100 miles of twelfth-century roads. Forty-eight hours later, at dawn on August 1st, Arthur and his followers, having forced their way into the castle and driven Eleanor back into the keep, the last refuge, were enjoying a relaxed breakfast – pigeons were on the menu that day- secure in the belief that John was still far away, when their quiet meal was rudely interrupted by the sudden arrival of Eleanor’s royal son. They went for their weapons and did their best to put up some show of resistance. But it was too late. The cat was already among the pigeons.

By thinking and acting faster than they had imagined possible, John had turned the tables on his enemies. Now it was they who were in the trap and not one of them escaped. More than 200 knights were captured, half a dozen barons and, best of all, Arthur himself. John Lackland, once the runt of the Plantagenet litter, had defeated his enemies more decisively than ever his father or even his warrior brother, Richard the Lionheart, had been able to do. It was a magnificent victory. ‘God be praised for our happy success’, he wrote in exultation.

Click here to read this article from History Today

In Russia, an 11-year-old  boy stumbles upon woolly mammoth find of the century:

A handout photo provided by the International Mammoth Committee shows the remains of mammoth found a few kilometers away from the Sopkarga polar station in the Taimyr Peninsula.  (AFP Photo)

An 11-year-old boy from Russia’s north has stumbled upon a well-preserved woolly mammoth, in what scientists describe as the best such discovery since 1901.

Yevgeny Salinder, whose family lives near a polar station in the northern Taimyr Peninsula, discovered the frozen animal when he was strolling along the banks of the Yenisei River in late August.

“He sensed an unpleasant odour and saw something sticking out of the ground — it was the mammoth’s heels,” said Alexei Tikhonov, director of the Saint Petersburg-based Zoological Museum, who rushed to the tundra after the boy’s family had notified scientists of the historic find.

Tikhonov said the mammoth had died aged 15-16 around 30,000 years ago, adding his tusk, skin, an eye and an ear were clearly visible.

“His one-metre-long penis is also intact so we can conclude that this was a male,” Tikhonov told AFP.

Tikhonov said it was the best preserved adult mammoth discovered in more than 100 years.

“So far we can say it is the mammoth of the century,” Tikhonov said.

I am so upset about this KKK thing that I can’t even make a joke about a 3-foot long penis.

This next link is particularly interesting, because it deals with film and fashion. The Victoria and Albert Museum: The Fantasy and Frippery Inside the World’s Greatest Wardrobe

V&A Costumes
From the exhibition “Hollywood Costume,” at the Victoria and Albert Museum: Cate Blanchett’s regalia from Elizabeth, Charlie Chaplin’s getup from The Tramp, Kate Winslet’s ship-boarding ensemble from Titanic, Christian Bale’s Batman suit from The Dark Knight Rises, Meryl Streep’s coat from Out of Africa, Brad Pitt’s Fight Club outfit, Ginger Rogers’s dress from Lady in the Dark, Marilyn Monroe’s fur stole and sequined shift from Some Like It Hot, Judy Garland’s “Dorothy” dress from The Wizard of Oz, and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Elizabethan frock from Shakespeare in Love.

‘You can’t have a great movie without the costumes’ being great,” declares costume designer Deborah Nadoolman Landis, the senior guest curator of the exhibition “Hollywood Costume,” which opens this month at the Victoria and Albert Museum, in London. Landis and her team have spent more than five years searching out and gathering together 130 of the most unforgettable costumes designed for characters over a century of filmmaking. “Hollywood Costume” explores what an essential tool costume is in cinema storytelling and how intricate the relationship is between designer, actor, and director from script to screen.

“We most succeed when we’re most invisible,” explains Landis. “I want the audience to be fully immersed in the movie. I’m so not interested in the clothes—they’re so surface. I only care about the characters.” The exhibition will unite classics from the golden age, including iconic looks such as Scarlett O’Hara’s green velvet “curtain” dress from Gone with the Wind and Dorothy’s blue-and-white gingham pinafore from The Wizard of Oz, designed by Adrian (and made on a treadle sewing machine, as if by Auntie Em).

Read more and watch a video of the exhibit at the link.

One more, this is an update on the Voyager 1 probe, by Eric Berger SciGuy » More evidence that Voyager has exited the solar system

Something very, very interesting is happening with Voyager 1, the human probe that’s the very farthest from Earth.

New data from the spacecraft, which I will discuss below, indicate Voyager 1 may have exited the solar system for good. If true, this would mark a truly historic moment for the human race — sending a spacecraft beyond the edge of our home solar system.

The visual graphs on this article are amazing…check it out:

there has been a dramatic and sustained drop in charged particles (principally protons) originating from the Sun that have struck the spacecraft.

And by dramatic, I mean dramatic. Here’s how it looks:

Rate at which Voyager 1 is being bombarded by particles such as protons. (NASA)

See what I mean, isn’t that impressive. The graph even looks like a barrier of some sort. Please, go to the link and look at more information and possible proof that Voyager has moved on out of our solar system.

Just a side note… the link was picked up by Drudge, and it is unfortunate that these right-wing assholes have to make they typical comments.  You can see how the discussion is ruined by these people ugh…anyway…

I will try and post some morning news links in the comments. Maybe I will be more calm and collected in the morning when I wake up…but I am not guaranteeing it.

Well, it is almost 6 a.m. and I still feel grumpy. However, there is hope because I found something to laugh at.  SNL had a couple of good skits last night. I have to post this one with Big Bird, Big Bird Responds To Mitt Romney On SNL video at the link.

And this promo for the special Bond disk set, including  Highlights Some Of The Lesser Known Bond Girls.

Penny Marshall in Quantum of Leap, “I’ve been waiting all afternoon for you…Unzip my fly and go to town.”


Wednesday Reads: Blame it on the moon…

Good Morning

After taking a few days break from everything, including blogging, I am happy to say that things are getting back to normal. Fortunately the hospital my OB/GYN is affiliated with is not a Catholic run hospital, otherwise my total hysterectomy would need to be scheduled some place else. Pourquoi? Well, those Catholic hospitals would not perform a hysterectomy on a 41-year-old woman…cause she still has some breeding years left in her. Damn, it sounds like I’m some sort of farm animal, but it is the truth.

So as I count down my days to achieving the ultimate joy and happiness, lets review a few news items that I found interesting and wanted to share with you.

I do wonder about one thing, if taking birth control pills to help with my god awful periods and ovarian cyst makes me a slut, than what will I be without those “womanly” organs?

Well, I guess it doesn’t matter, since the slime that is Rush Limbaugh has already disrespected me and so many other women by asking what the hell is wrong with white over-educated women…Rush Limbaugh Seriously Loses His Shit, Randomly Attacks Another Young Woman

It seems that after several days of mounting public pressure, Rush Limbaugh has finally cracked. How else could you explain his attempt to move beyond this whole “hating on young women” debacle by continuing to attack young women? Today’s victim? Author Tracie McMillan, who represents another one of those awful “overeducated” young unmarried women Rush so emphatically resents.

McMillan’s crime, apparently, was being a young unmarried woman who went to college and wrote a book about the way people in America eat. She took a year to work at places like Wal-Mart and Applebees in order to get a better understanding about the American food industry. Of McMillan’s attempt to educate people when clearly men like Rush Limbaugh know best, the giant pair of flapping gums said,

What is it with all of these young single white women, overeducated – doesn’t mean intelligent. For example, Tracie McMillan, the author of this book, seems to be just out of college and already she has been showered with awards, including the 2006 James Aronson Award for Social Justice Journalism. Social justice journalism. This woman who wrote the book on food inequality, food justice, got an award for social justice journalism.

McMillan doesn’t have a degree beyond her BA. She told Forbes that she wasn’t informed in advance that her book would be discussed on Limbaugh’s radio program. “My grandmother would be thrilled, because she’s a fan of his,” she said.

Oh, good for her! Let’s see what granny thinks of Rush after he berates her little grand-daughter.

So far the number is 35 advertisers had dropped Rush, and two radio stations will no longer air his show. Progress Reports – ThinkProgress That link will take you to the latest news on the boycott. Also check out StopRush.org.

The latest big company to head for the hills was Capital One.

In all my excitement about my surgery and Rush loosing all those sponsors, I forgot all about Super Tuesday. Boston Boomer had a live blog going: Live Blog: Super Tuesday Results « Sky Dancing If you missed the show, give that post a read through.

Here are the headlines this morning:

No Super Tuesday Knockout Punch – NYTimes.com

Romney Bags Ohio Prize, Wins More Than Half Of Super Tuesday Contests | Fox News

On Super Tuesday, Romney Ekes Past Santorum in Ohio – WSJ.com

After Ohio Primary, Kucinich Loses Seat in Congress – NYTimes.com

Since I was away from the blog for a couple of days, I just wanted to post a few links to stories that bothered me…maybe they bothered you too.

Romney to 11-year-old: Iran will get nuke if Obama re-elected | The Raw Story

Say what? Why the hell does the man have to go around scaring kids about nuclear war. Hey, I grew up in the age of the nukes with fears of the US and Russia going at it. It is not an easy thing to deal with.

Santorum: Single Moms Are “Breeding More Criminals” | Mother Jones

Geez, WTF about this statement…talk about livestock, does anything come out of this asshole’s mouth that isn’t about women, gays, sex and procreation?

It Doesn’t Matter if “Both Sides Do It” A good response to the Kristen Powers piece I wrote about on Sunday.

Winning the Battle, Losing the War Scott Lemieux looks at Virginia’s abortion legislation:

Although the new abortion legislation being signed in Virginia lets women opt-out of a transvaginal ultrasound, it’s still nowhere near a victory.

Tru Dat!

When Is Abortion Merciful?  this is one of a series of post about late term abortion…Posts Of The Year: It’s So Personal: A Round-Up, June 5, 2009 – The Dish | By Andrew Sullivan – The Daily Beast

Many readers have asked us to compile the various late term abortion testimonials we published this week (which are only a fraction of the ones we’ve received). Here they are, in chronological order:

Fetus It’s So Personal
It’s So Personal, Ctd
The Catholic Mother
The Trauma
A Doctor’s View (reader reaction)
A Target Of Terror
The Regret
Not Knowing For Sure
When Principle Meets Reality
Serial Abortions (reader reaction)
Preparing For The Worst
An Unforgiving Family (reader reaction)
The Guilt
Holding On
The Gay Fathers
What Guilt?
Ectopic “Miscarriage”

Still more to come. (And maybe a bound collection? We’re actively thinking of it, prompted by many reader requests. But this should be a useful link for now.)

If you have time take a look at some of these stories.

All this makes me ask one question: Why don’t men in favor of birth control speak up?

By the end of last week, congressional Democrats and a few moderate Republicans succeeded in requiring most employers to include contraception as part of health insurance coverage, in spite of deep opposition from the GOP majority. Across the Potomac in Virginia, Democrats and, again, a few Republican moderates were able to soften or kill GOP bills that would have put into place humiliating obstacles to abortion. These are good things.

Thousands of ordinary women across the country have been writing letters, sending e-mails, leaving phone messages, and buttonholing state and national lawmakers in support of cheaper contraceptive methods and greater access to abortion.

Though they didn’t get everything they want, many are, I suspect, thankful for the partial victories so far.

But I have to ask — where in these recent debates are the voices of ordinary men? Why aren’t we hearing publicly even now from husbands who are not ready to have children they would have to support? Or from boyfriends who do not have the means to support a child?

Why don’t we hear more from fathers who are working two jobs so that their daughters can attend college and, if they wish, start on a career unencumbered by child-raising responsibilities?

We are fortunate to have some readers with balls who are vocal about women’s rights and speak out against the war on women. Kudos to you, we appreciate it. Maybe you can let us know what is keeping other dudes from speaking out.

This next link is dealing with the countries of China, Great Britain and Russia: Rights Erode Before Women’s Eyes – NYTimes.com

On Valentine's Day in Beijing, women dressed in white bridal gowns smeared with red paint to protest domestic violence. The women's posters read, left to right:  "Love is no excuse for violence"; "Only Equality is Harmonious"; "Violence is not a Special Zone"; "When Violence is around you, are you still silent?"
Han QiOn Valentine’s Day in Beijing, women dressed in white bridal gowns smeared with red paint to protest domestic violence. The women’s posters read, left to right:  “Love is no excuse for violence”; “Only Equality is Harmonious”; “Violence is not a Special Zone”; “When Violence is around you, are you still silent?”

Check out this science news link: Futurity.org – Spider silk conducts heat better than silicon

In the search for organic heat conductors, researchers have discovered spider silks transfer heat better than silicon, aluminum, and pure iron.

Hot damn! As someone who spins thread from raw fiber, this kind of stuff just blows my mind. It is just very cool to think of what amazing things nature and animals/insects can produce…

And lastly, lets all just blame the moon.

Two articles for you on that heavenly orb…Ancient Skies of Northern Europe: Stars, Constellations, and the Moon in Nordic Mythology

Our understanding of ancient astronomy in Northern Europe has been limited because no record exists of the native constellations among the Germanic tribes in ancient times. They certainly did not know of the constellations of the south have become our standard ones today. However, it would be unusual to suppose they never had any, only that the knowledge of them has not come down to us.

Fortunately, the surviving mythology of Scandinavia has left us enough clues to allow us to piece together this forgotten knowledge of the past. At the time these myths were recorded in 13th century Iceland the people no longer believed in the old religion. However, even back during the Viking Age, before the year 1000 AD, when the religion was still strong, many of the beliefs held then seem already to have been understood only in abstract terms, while the naturalistic explanations they embodied went back even further.

It is now clear that the mythology of Scandinavia as we know it arose from a fusion of traditional local gods with several other more widespread traditions. While the myths attained their present form within the Iron Age, some elements and aspects of it go back even into the Stone Age, when humans were first trying to make sense of their universe.

Click here to read this article from Timothy Stephany’s website

And…in connection with those Norse travelers exploring the northern seas in their viking ships, another ship hundreds of years later crossing the same Northern Atlantic meets with disaster.

Titanic Sunk by “Supermoon” and Celestial Alignment?

Just weeks before the Titanic shipwreck’s hundredth anniversary, scientists have a brand-new theory as to what might have helped spur modern history’s most famous maritime disaster. (See pictures of Titanic’s rediscovery in 1985.)

An ultrarare alignment of the sun, the full moon, and Earth, they say, may have set the April 14, 1912, tragedy in motion, according to a new report.

R.M.S. Titanic went down on a moonless night, but the iceberg that sank the luxury liner may have been launched in part by a full  moon that occurred three and a half months earlier, scientists say.

That full moon, on January 4, 1912, may have created unusually strong tides that sent a flotilla of icebergs southward—just in time for Titanic’s maiden voyage, said astronomer Donald Olson of Texas State University-San Marcos.

Blame It on the Moon?

Even at the time, spring 1912 was considered an unusually bad season for icebergs. But figuring out why this happened has been a mystery.

Olson believes the iceberg boom was the result of a rare combination of celestial phenomena, including a “supermoon”: when the moon is full during its closest monthly approach to the Earth. (See supermoon pictures.)

During new and full moons, the sun, Earth, and the moon are arranged in a straight line, with the sun and moon intensifying each other’s gravitational pull on the planet. The result: Low tides are lower than usual, and high tides are higher—a phenomenon called a spring tide.

What’s more, on the January 4, 1912, the full moon—and therefore the spring-tide alignment—ended just six minutes before the moon made an unusually close swing by Earth.

It was the closest lunar approach, in fact, since A.D. 796, and Earth won’t see its like again until 2257. That combination of a very close moon and the celestial alignment added up to an especially strong gravitational pull on the Earth and therefore very high tides.

Give that link a click to read more on this fascinating theory. And for those who would appreciate another Sting link…here is one with the moon. Sister Moon.

It really makes you think…Santorum can just start blaming everything on the moon. I mean, if Gingrich wants to start a colony, it could be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.


Wednesday Reads: Marta Superwoman, Viking Grill Bling, and a Women’s Revolution?

I have some interesting links for you this morning, so pour your cup of coffee and enjoy…

This first article is from a Dubai Newspaper:  gulfnews : Women’s rights — an unfinished revolution

Dubai: A hundred years ago, only two countries allowed women to vote. Today, it is a universal right, with a few exceptions. Yet, women around the globe still face a large number of unresolved issues.

Additional support is still needed, including more financial and legal support to women’s organisations — to increase women’s access to the legal system and their participation in both the judiciary and security systems — concluded a UN report on women titled Progress of the World’s Women in Pursuit of Justice.

“Implement gender-sensitive law reform” and “invest in women’s access to justice,” were also among the recommendations of the report, an advance copy of which was obtained by Gulf News and released this morning (4am UAE time).

“I think it is clear that despite all the enormous progress in the past 100 years on women’s rights and access to justice, there are still problems in every region,” said New-York based Laura Turquet, the lead report author from UN Women, the organisation which replaced Unifem.

There is more work to do, and one of the key areas that need to be addressed is legal protection in issues of Domestic Violence.

On another front, today there are nearly 600 million women around the world who don’t have the legal protection against domestic violence, and this is an awful reality in contrast to other “relieving” facts, Turquet said.

“Two-third of the countries in the world now have laws in place to outlaw domestic violence.
“It is a big step forward for women in every region, but I think that 66 countries still don’t have these laws which is also very shocking,” Turquet said.
Yet “violence against women is a grave issue, but it is not the only issue that is very important,” she added.

The women in western countries definitely have their own problems to deal with, and anyone reading this blog knows, we talk about the war against women going on here in the US…but read on as the article discusses the Fair Pay Act here in America:

Obstacles facing women exist there, too, though of a different nature. “The right of women to receive payment equal to that which men receive for the same work … is one of the challenges that still exists to a great extent in Europe and Northern America as well as other countries,” the lead author of the UN report said.

“What this shows us is that women’s rights is not an issue just for poor countries or one region,” Turquet stressed, adding, “it is actually an issue for all regions. I am from the United Kingdom and there are still big challenges for women rights in the UK as well.”

** Updated 9:33 EST**

Just wanted to add this link to an article in Guardian about the UN report:

UN Women justice report: get the data | Global development | guardian.co.uk

A woman folds her ballot paper at a polling station in Kampala, Uganda, during the 2006 election

A woman folds her ballot paper at a polling station in Kampala, Uganda. The UN Women’s report looks at how many women hold seats in parliament. Photograph: AP

How many women hold seats in parliaments around the world? Which countries have laws against domestic violence, including marital rape? The flagship report of the UN’s newest agency – UN Women – published on Wednesday, takes a close look at women’s legal rights around the world.

The 2011 Progress of the World’s Women: In Pursuit of Justice report is a global survey of women’s access to justice – looking both at legislation passed by governments and the steps taken (or not taken) to implement those laws. The “paradox” confronted by the report is that despite the recent and rapid expansion of women’s legal entitlements, what is written in the statute books does not always translate into real progress on equality and justice on the ground.

The report looks at which countries have passed special legislation on women’s political rights and economic opportunities and on women’s reproductive health and rights. It looks at which countries have laws against domestic violence, sexual harassment and marital rape. It catalogues data on development indicators related to women, and looks country-by-country at women’s participation in politics.

legal rights mapped Women’s legal rights interactive. Click image to see the map

**Updated to include new link to Guardian.

I found this next research study very interesting, and I believe that many of you will too…especially with the growing numbers of Autism affecting our children.  New Autism Study Implicates Environmental Factors – NYTimes.com

A new study of twins suggests that environmental factors, including conditions in the womb, may be at least as important as genes in causing autism.
The researchers did not say which environmental influences might be at work. But other experts said the new study, released online on Monday, marked an important shift in thinking about the causes of autism, which is now thought to affect at least 1 percent of the population in the developed world.

“This is a very significant study because it confirms that genetic factors are involved in the cause of the disorder,” said Dr. Peter Szatmari, a leading autism researcher who is the head of child psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience at McMaster University in Ontario. “But it shifts the focus to the possibility that environmental factors could also be really important.”

Please click the link above to read more statistics about the study, and get a better understanding of what we are learning about other factors which could be involved in autism.

Susie Madrak has this to say about the Obama Administration Offers ‘Tens of Billions’ in Medicare, Medicaid Cuts in Exchange for Tax Increases | Crooks and Liars

While there’s certainly some pressure to get some kind of debt ceiling deal, does offering up Medicare as a human sacrifice seem like the smartest plan for a second term – especially when it’s the same issue the Republicans rode to victory in the mid-terms?

I can’t think of anything intelligent to say about this “proposal” from the Obama camp…just one thought keeps going through my head…”We’re F’d!”

Hubble has taking its millionth photograph. That is amazing isn’t it? This link has some cool pictures, give it a look see.  PICTURES: Hubble Space Telescope Hits Millionth Observation Milestone – Kenneth Chamberlain – NationalJournal.com

In its 21-year history, Hubble has recorded 50 terabytes of images and other scientific data, according to NASA. Despite Hubble’s usefulness to scientists around the world, its lifespan is coming to a close. Its last servicing mission from a space shuttle was designed to keep the telescope going only until about 2013.

But researchers won’t be without orbiting telescopes, which are often necessary to obtain the clearest observations in light that is filtered out by Earth’s atmosphere. In addition to other telescopes currently in orbit, NASA plans on launching Hubble’s successor, of sorts, the James Webb Space Telescope, in 2015. In preparation for that launch, NASA has requested about $373 million for FY2012, and plans on similar amounts in following years.

I hope that NASA gets the funding for this Hubble successor, it would be a shame to loose our eye on the edge of the universe.

Well, the Women’s World Cup is now taking place in Germany. So here is a cool look into one of the stars of this years World Cup.  Meet Marta, The Star Of The Women’s World Cup

Marta Vieira da Silva, also known simply as Marta, is probably the Women’s World Cup’s biggest star. Let’s learn a little more about the athlete sometimes called “Pele in a skirt.”

The article gives a cool bio and some examples of what an amazing athlete this woman is.

And lastly, this link from HNN to a Guadian article made me laugh…just thinking about Viking Grill flashing as they smile while welding their battle axes against helpless monks in Ireland….Incisor raiding: Viking marauders had patterns filed into their teeth | History News Network

The fashion for dental bling goes back 1,000 years, according to a new discovery by archaeologists. Long before contemporary trends for gold dental caps or teeth inlaid with diamonds became popular, young Viking warriors were having patterns filed into their teeth.

If their intention was to intimidate the enemy, they failed: the evidence has come from front teeth from a pit full of decapitated skeletons, found during roadworks in Dorset and now believed to be victims of a massacre of Viking invaders by local Britons.

The front teeth have horizontal lines that were so neatly filed, archaeologists believe it must have been done by a skilled craftsman rather than by their owners, and the process undoubtedly would have been excruciating….

Excruciating? Those Vikings are tough ass warriors. I am sure they were well intoxicated when getting etched or engraved, that moldy rye bread mixed with mead could really give you hallucinations and get you through almost any kind of physical pain…

What are you reading and thinking about today?


Sunday Reads: Babushkas, Ruptured Pipes and Cookie Cutter Sharks

Good Sunday Morning, with Fourth of July coming up I wanted to post some songs that make me think of America…and just a note…they all aren’t meant to be patriotic.

First, I gotta give you the Godfather of Soul! James Brown…Living in America

This next one from John Cougar Mellencamp, Pink Houses for you and me…

One more…Billy Joel’s Allentown.

Okay, now for your morning reads.

This is something I thought only happened in the Gulf of Mexico or an Alaskan waters, but to see the black slime coating the banks of the Yellowstone river, that is just so sad.  Ruptured Pipeline Spills Oil Into Yellowstone River – NYTimes.com

Larry Mayer/The Billings Gazette, via Associated Press

Oil swirled in a flooded gravel pit in Lockwood, Mont. after an ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured.

An ExxonMobil pipeline running under the Yellowstone River in south central Montana ruptured late Friday, spilling crude oil into the river and forcing evacuations.

Matthew Brown/Associated Press

The banks of the Yellowstone River near Laurel were blackened by oil from the pipeline.

The pipeline burst about 10 miles west of Billings, coating parts of the Yellowstone River that run past Laurel — a town of about 6,500 people downstream from the rupture — with shiny patches of oil. Precisely how much oil leaked into the river was still unclear. But throughout the day Saturday, cleanup crews in Laurel worked to lessen the impact of the spill, laying down absorbent sheets along the banks of the river to mop up some of the escaped oil, and measuring fumes to determine the health threat.

The leaking pipe has been shut down, and only leaked for about a half an hour according to the article. What a mess…

Boston Boomer sent me this link yesterday, and it gives some insight into a new group in London that is working on getting more women in the boardroom.  30% Club aims to end male domination of business culture | Business | The Observer

Securing a seat at the top table in British business used to involve belonging to the right gentleman’s club and working on your golf handicap with the company chairman. However, at Cass Business School in London on Monday, a new organisation – the “30% Club” – will pledge to throw open the doors of the boardroom to the many talented women who have been locked out for decades.

This reminds me of the recent SCOTUS case about discrimination at Walmart.

She says that can sometimes be because women choose to opt out to pursue caring responsibilities once they have children – but, just as often, it is a rejection of the workplace culture. “It’s to do with organisational cultures that are abrasive for women: they may be very aggressive, they may be macho, there may be micro-inequities,” she says.

Women who have already made it to the top also stress the importance of mentoring promising female staff from the beginning of their careers. Debbie Klein, chief executive of communications group Engine, says: “It’s about how to develop the talent pool so you don’t lose people at the level just below the board.
“It’s about recognising their talent in the first place and saying, ‘we’re really going to nurture that’.”

Amen to that…

This next link was just plain interesting, and very strange…Attack of the Cookie Cutter Shark! | Mother Jones

Ouch. All bite and no bark.
The first ever recorded instance of a human bitten by a cookie cutter shark is described in a paper now online in early view in Pacific Science.An unfortunate human swimmer on a 47.5 kilometer/29.5 mile haul across the Alenuihaha Channel between the Hawaiian islands of Hawai‘i and Maui got nailed twice by this fearsomely ninjalike denizen of the deep, Isistiussp.If you’ve spent any time at sea outside polar waters, chances are you’ve seen the toothwork of this gnarly little predator. It leaves deep round scars on whales, dolphins, tuna, billfishes, squids, and other larger marine life.
(Two cookie cutter shark bites in a pomfret. Credit: PIRO-NOAA Observer Program via Wikimedia Commons.) 

As Kramer used to say: Nature, she is a mad scientist… and never more so than with the hunting technique devised by the cookie cutter shark.

Give the article a look-see, very cool.

From Minx’s Missing Link File:  Babushkas Are Awesome! | Care2 Causes Anything with Babushkas in the title gets my attention.

It’s Cool To Be A Babushka! (VIDEO)

A group of elderly women, or “babushkas,” from the village of Buranovo, 600 miles east of Moscow, is totally changing the image of the elderly woman in Russia.

This group of women, mostly in their 70s and 80s, are a musical sensation, reports NPR, charming audiences across Russia. They sing Beatles tunes and songs by iconic Russian rocker Viktor Tsoi. They fly around the country for concerts. They made it to the Russian finals of the Eurovision music contest.

You can watch the Babushkas get their groove on thanks to YouTube!

Easy Like Sunday Morning Link of the Week:  Greenland Norse Knowledge of the North Atlantic Environment – Medievalists.net

Introduction: The arcing Norse expansion across the subpolar North Atlantic ocean traces an inspiring tale of a stoic struggle against the elements. The sequence of accidental discovery, then deliberate exploration and settlement, repeated in turn as Faroe, Iceland, and Greenland were colonised between 825 and 985AD. With each step further west, the difficulty of leading a contemporary Norwegian lifestyle increased. In part, the increasing hardship is linked to the increasing distance from European power, and the dwindling access to essential commodities. Contact with alien native communities is another factor, and it was decisive in obstructing long-term Norse settlements in North America. But at almost every stage, the much colder, more polar, climate in Iceland, Greenland, and eastern Canada dominated the Atlantic Norse decision-making.

Despite the rigours of the climate, the Norse constructed a society in Greenland that endured for nearly 500 years. In total, perhaps 70,000 people lived in the eastern and western settlements in southwest Greenland. Eventually, the farms were abandoned, however, sometime in the mid-to-late 1300s for the western settlement, and sometime in the mid-to-late 1400s for the eastern settlement. The reasons for the disappearance of the Norse settlers has long been debated, and uncontroversial evidence that resolves this issue has not yet been found. What is clear instead is that the Greenland Norse maintained an intimate daily relationship with the North Atlantic environment. Although they did not adopt the native Inuit strategies to survive, the Norse farmed, fished, hunted, and sailed in Greenland with confidence and skill for many generations. Their attitude is presumably reflected in the modern northern Norwegian saying “Vi står han av” (meaning “we stand tall, regardless of stormy weather”; Grete Hovelsrud, pers. comm., 2009).

There is a real cool image of a medieval map of Greenland at the link above, if you find this article interesting, give this other link a peek:  Norse Greenland Settlement: Reflections on Climate Change, Trade, and The Contrasting Fates of Human Settlements in the North Atlantic Islands – Medievalists.net

I hope everyone has a safe day tomorrow.  Be sure to post some links below, or just tell us what you are doing this long weekend…