Sunday Reads: Getting ready for the next round…

8a4d3b7509d0276b145d15413c53a599Good Morning

Two more days until my daughter goes under the knife for the first time in her life and she is a nervous wreck. (Me too.) She has never even had stitches, so this little trip to the hospital on Tuesday will be one hell of an emotional ride for her. And to top it all off, her 15th birthday is on Wednesday…hopefully she will be in too heavy a drug induced haze to feel the pain. So please, all you Sky Dancers will send positive thoughts her way, she needs it!

Since there is so much going on right now, I will give you this mornings links in quick fashion and if any are repeats…oops! (Just have been so busy since we found out about her surgery, don’t know what has been said or linked on the blog.) 😉

I had no idea that John Kerry met with, Henry Kissinger. Geez…it is hard for me to even type the man’s name without thinking of his deep, deep voice and that accent, or as Betsy and Arlene called him in the 1999 movie Dick…”That German guy.” Here is what Amy Goodman had to say about it: John Kerry meets coup plotter Henry Kissinger on the 40th anniversary of Chile’s Sept. 11

While this was going on, Congress is still making with the War on Science continues: plan to create science laureate falters in Congress. They can’t even agree on naming a person as an honorary non-paid US Science Laureate, which is a position kind of like the US Poet Laureate…only this person will be involved in sciences. Of course this means “science” as only the way Gawwwd intended.

The Senate version of the bill was sponsored by Senators Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Roger Wicker (R-MS), and by Representatives Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) in the House. It had been sailing through Congress with bipartisan support. Wired Magazine speculated about potential nominees in the vein of Richard Feynman or Carl Sagan, such as Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Brian Greene, Jill Tarter, Mike Brown, or Sylvia Earle.

And then, the American Conservative Union discovered the plan when it hit the schedule for a floor vote, the magazine Science reported Thursday.

After Larry Hart, Director of the ACU, sent a letter to Congress saying in part that the president would be able to appoint scientists “who will share his view that science should serve political ends, on such issues as climate change and regulation of greenhouse gases,” House leadership pulled the bill from the schedule, returning it to Committee on Science, Space, and Technology where it will likely be killed in the Republican-controlled House.

You know…Mountain Dew is the best soda ever made.

Ah…rednecks. Speaking of which, this next article is pretty interesting: Ironically-Named City of Sistersville Still Bans Women from Voting

West Virginia (unfairly most of the time) seems to be the go-to backwoods state in America. Incest, murderous hillbillies, haunted coal-mining towns straddling the cave mouth to Hell, illiteracy, and prescription drug abuse are often mentioned in connection with West Virginia, as if the Appalachian squiggle-blob state (seriously, it’s like the cartographer coughed while drawing the borders) functioned as a repository for all of America’s nastiest secrets. You want to make a movie about a crew of British spelunkers who find themselves deep underground at the mercy of highly-evolved, carnivorous bat-people? Set it in West Virginia! You’re lost and hoping to stop at a gas station to ask for directions? Don’t stop in West Virginia! Every state has its stretches of desolate terror highway, so where does West Virginia’s bad rep come from?

It might have something to do with outdated town charters like the one belonging to a tiny city on the banks of the Ohio River called Sistersville, a place that sounds unfairly creepy, as if the twins from The Shining stood sentry-like next to the sign at the city limits, beckoning for creeped-out motorists to play with them. In fact, Sistersville, with a population just shy of 1,500, has a more unfortunate problem than ghosts wandering the city limits — its charter still bars women from voting. Yup, the ironic twist in Sistersville is that, according to the town charter, only the dudes can vote.

I know, right? WTF. The town could change the charter, allowing women the right to vote, but this cost money….Money the town just does not have.

The Nineteenth Amendment ensures that women can freely vote in Sistersville. In a way, ignoring the outdated charter — which must have all kinds of other anachronistic nonsense about not leaving your gaslamp on when the Wendigo comes around, or making sure to chase away French fur trappers if they wander too close to your property line — is itself a sign of progress; it’s so thoroughly taken for granted that women can vote that Sistersville charter issue has been reduced to a cost/benefits issue. Besides, according to Schleier, West Virginia is full of outdated town charters, like the charter in nearby Paden City that requires men have to do manual labor for the city two days out of every year for the discount rate of $1.05. Why focus on one outdated town charter, misogynistic as it may be, when there are plenty riddled with long-ignored pen strokes from a long time ago?

Then again, not changing the charter to show that women can vote would leave Sistersville’s female population particularly susceptible to the whims of a post-apocalyptic town despot who takes over when the United States federal government falls into ruin (one must always plan ahead). Plus, it must really suck to live, work, and pay property taxes in a city that doesn’t officially consider you a full-fledged citizen.

Honestly, I don’t think it will take an apocalyptic event for some dickhead to take over the city where women work, live and pay property taxes in and then declare its women are not full-fledged citizens. Fairfax, Virginia comes to mind…Remember this asshole and the mess regarding the abortion clinics facilities within the city limits? Virginia City Attempts to ‘Ordinance’ Out Safe Abortion

The Fairfax, Virginia, city council voted 4-2 Tuesday night to change the city zoning code in such a way that “medical care clinics” will be considered separate from doctors’ and dentists’ offices, a move that abortion rights advocates are concerned could make it more difficult for the city’s only abortion clinic to operate.

Under the new zoning rules, medical care clinics will require additional, expensive permits as well as approval from the zoning board to operate. The changes could make it much more difficult for Nova Women’s Healthcare in Fairfax to relocate, after the clinic’s previous landlord ended its lease early because of complaints that included the clinic “attract[ing] numerous protesters … whose presence and actions constitute an unreasonable annoyance.”

During Tuesday’s city council meeting, Fairfax Mayor Scott Silverthorne accused “outside groups” of trying to create a controversy over the zoning change. “I don’t appreciate some of the outside groups here tonight, such as NARAL [National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League of Virginia], parachuting into my community and spreading misinformation,” he said, according to Fairfax Patch. “This vote is not about abortion.”

Oh…Bullshit! (I think that is the same remark I made when I first wrote about the dickhead Silverthorne.)

What to read more ridiculous crap from the right?  Scott Lemieux over at LG&M has this post up and you must check out the links he is writing about…Innovations In Rape Apologia

Thers finds a classic of the genre from R. Stacy “Emmett Till had it coming” McCain:

Date rape is an apparently common campus crime that usually involves two drunk young people, one of whom has an erect penis, and the other of whom is unable to avert what the erect penis typically does.

Whether you’re trying to blame the rape victim or apologize for the rapist, positing a dick with a mind of its own is a useful device.

Here are the links:

Whiskey Fire: Strictly Comedy, Writes in regard to the R. Stacy McCain quote up top:

To the morally and intellectually sane, if a woman is “unable to avert an erect penis,” in plain English, she is being raped. That is rape. It is as blunt a definition of rape as one could imagine. Unwanted genital penetration occuring without consent? Rape!

The twerp downstairs solemnly informs us that R. Stacy McRape in this quote is a “MAN… SPEAKING HYPOTHETICALLY OR WITH A CERTAIN LEVEL OF IRONY.”

Which is crap.

And, Eschaton: Eschaton, Fair and Balanced, it is a long, long post so go read it in full, but here are a few bits:

Talk Left reminds us that PBS is broadcasting the Murder of Emmett Tilll.

There is some controversy about this case, however. Not everyone agrees with the standard view of this murder case. Here at Eschaton we always strive to present both sides of an issue. So, after visiting Talk Left to read about it, you can read the alternative interpretation by Moonie Times reporter/Assistant National Editor Robert Stacy McCain as posted to the Free Republic under his pseudonym BurkeCalhounDabney…

[…]

Was Till’s killing racially motivated? Certainly, at least in part — just as Till’s initial action toward Carolyn Bryant was racially motivated. Till thought he could impress his relatives and friends by defying the customs of rural Mississippi. He succeeded too well. Roy Bryant returned home to find that Till’s insulting behavior toward his wife was the talk of the community. Not merely was this a challenge to Bryant’s personal honor, but to the peculiar community standards of that place and time. Roy Bryant either had to do something about Till, or become a pariah and/or a laughingstock in his community.

Now, it is likely that no would wish to return to the community standards and customs that apertained in rural Mississippi in 1955, when the Bryant brothers could kill Emmett Till and be judged not guilty by a jury of their peers. But Emmett Till’s insult to Carolyn Bryant was a personal wrong, and the murder of Emmett Till was a very personal murder. He was not a martyr for “civil rights,” unless you consider it a civil right to insult women.

If you’re bored you can write Andrew Sullivan and noted civil rights expert Jonah Goldberg and ask them what they think of their co-worker.

UPDATE: Just wanted to add that all of Mr. McCain’s posts on the Free Republic were pulled hours after Mike Signorile’s article was published. So, you’ll have to take my word for it.

You go and read the full post.

Hey, check this out too: Medical Examiner In Martin Case Says It Was Lost Deliberately By Prosecution (VIDEO) –

The Martin prosecution was an example of what my lawyer friend calls “a piss-poor job” of presenting evidence to convict. It bothered him and the idea was floated that maybe the case was being thrown, lost on purpose.

Now it looks as though that may have been what happened. The Volusia County medical examiner on the case, Dr. Shiping Bao, is now saying that the prosecutors did lose the case on purpose. Bao claims that the prosecution team, the Sanford police and his superior at the medical examiner’s office were all biased against Trayvon Martin, with the general attitude that “he deserved it.”

Dr. Bao is the M.E. who, as assistant coroner of Volusia County, handled the teen’s body on the night he was shot. According to him, there was no way that Martin could have been on top of Zimmerman when the gun was fired. His autopsy report details why this scenario was impossible. When he was on the witness stand, during the trial on July 5, he testified that Martin took up to 10 minutes to die from exsanguination – he bled to death – and that the boy was in pain and suffering the entire time. He was prepared that day, as a witness for the prosecution, to prove that Martin could not have been the aggressor in the incident. He was ready to present scientific evidence of why this was so. But the prosecutor never asked and Dr. Bao was not able to give his evidence. His testimony could have decisively put the case away for the state.

Dr. Bao was, soon after the case ended, fired from the medical examiner’s office. He felt that he was terminated wrongfully because he knew the truth of the matter: that the prosecution intentionally lost the case. He has now filed a $100 million lawsuit against the state of Florida for wrongful termination. His attorney, Willie Gary, told reporters:

“He was in essence told to zip his lips. ‘Shut up. Don’t say those things.’ “

Of course, it is possible that Dr. Bao is lying. But that seems like a stupid thing to do if he is suing the state. With the recent revelations concerning Zimmerman’s attorneys not being paid and Zimmerman apparently unable to stop himself from falling back on his substitute penis gun when he’s feeling petulant, these allegations raise serious questions. Was a murderer intentionally set free to kill again? The Chief of Police in the town where Zimmerman currently dwells seems to think so. If this is true and Zimmerman does murder again, the state of Florida is in deep doo-doo, along with the county, police and attorney general’s office. If this is true – if the prosecution in the Martin case purposely lost the case – it opens up the possibility that this is not the first time. All other cases tried by the current attorney general of Florida and her team would be called into question. And the state could be held liable. All because a group of racist officials decided that a 17-year-old kid deserved to die. It’s mind-boggling.

Watch the video of the local Orlando news report at the link.

Update on the Vanderbilt football player accused of rape: Vanderbilt Player Involved in Rape Cover-Up Pleads Guilty to Misdemeanor

They are calling the flood in Colorado, a 1000 Year Flood, take a look at some pictures and video here: Photos and videos from dramatic flash floods in Colorado | Grist

Colorado floods: More than 500 still unaccounted for – CNN.com

At least four deaths have been blamed on the flooding, and a fifth person is presumed dead. More than 500 were “unaccounted for,” although authorities cautioned that designation included people who simply have not yet contacted concerned relatives elsewhere.

Hundreds unaccounted for in deadly Colo. floods

About 350 people are unaccounted for in Larimer County, according to the county’s sheriff’s office. In adjacent Boulder County, more than 170 people were unaccounted for but were not considered missing yet, though they had not contacted family members.

Areas from Denver to the Wyoming border remained under the threat of additional rain Sunday, with flash flood watches and warnings posted. Airlifts were set to continue with helicopter crews expanding their searches east to include Longmont, Fort Collins and Weld County.

I hope that anyone with family in the area of these floods has heard from their relatives…let us know that everyone is safe and sound.

I am going to switch gears now…how about a few book and movie links and reviews?

Review: Prepared to flee Cuba ‘Una Noche’ – latimes.com: Movie review: Twins, a sexy bad boy and a planned escape from Cuba. A feature debut captures the country in almost-documentary detail, but the plot thins.

‘Happiness, Like Water,’ by Chinelo Okparanta -New York Times Book Review:  NYTimes.com

‘My Brother My Sister,’ by Molly Haskell – New York Times Book Review: NYTimes.com (Molly Haskell is frequently on TCM discussing film from a feminist point of view.)

MovieMorlocks.com – The unexpected comedy stylings of Alfred Hitchcock Oh, btw…This month is Alfred Hitchcock month…every Sunday TCM is showing Hitchcock films.

And for the last story today, it is official…Voyager 1 is out of the solar system!

Scientists confirm Voyager 1 probe is in interstellar space | Reuters

Scientists have been debating for more than a year whether NASA’s 36-year-old Voyager 1 spacecraft has left the solar system and become the first human-made object to reach interstellar space.

By a fluke measurement, they now know definitively it has.

“We made it,” lead Voyager scientist Edward Stone, from the California Institute of Technology, told reporters on Thursday.

The key piece of evidence came by chance when a pair of solar flares blasted charged particles in Voyager’s direction in 2011 and 2012. It took a year for the particles to reach the spacecraft, providing information that could be used to determine how dense the plasma was in Voyager’s location.

Plasma consists of charged particles and is more prevalent in the extreme cold of interstellar space than in the hot bubble of solar wind that permeates the solar system.

Voyager 1, now 13 billion miles (21 billion km) from Earth, could not make the measurement directly because its plasma detector stopped working more than 30 years ago.

“This was basically a lucky gift from the sun,” Stone said.

Read the technical stuff on how they measured up the miles at the link above.

Now that Voyager I Is An Interstellar Ship, Let’s All Listen to the Golden Record | Geekosystem

No, we’re never going to stop talking about this. It’s the coolest thing ever.

golden record

Back when Voyager I was first launched into space, a committee lead by Carl Sagan put together a series of messages for any intelligent life outside our solar system who might come across the ship. Etched on gold-colored copper plates, this series of images and audio greetings is meant to reflect the whole of humanity — and now it’s totally in interstellar space.

There are a lot of ways you can listen to the music that’s contained within the golden discs. First, there’s a simple archive of .wav and .mp3 files on the NASA Voyager archive page. You can stream from there, or you can even download the files and take them around with you on your MP3 player and constantly pretend you’re an alien trying to navigate our way of life. We imagine that would make getting stuck on public transportation so much more fascinating.

If you’ve got a pretty decent internet connection and you also want to stream the record in the coolest way possible, there’s this interactive Golden Record website. While there’s no instructions (the aliens don’t get any, either), you can figure out your way around by clicking on the different parts of the flash menu. If you can’t, here’s a quick tip: top left is the music; top right is the images that were also included; bottom right is the space map that shows Earth’s location in the galaxy.

Want to know more about what is on the Golden Record, click the Geekosystem link and find out.

Hey, look at that? I started out with something connected to Carl Sagan, and I finished up with something different, but still referencing Carl Sagan.

Let’s end with one last picture: How our galaxy might look from outside | Today’s Image | EarthSky

This artist’s impression shows how the Milky Way galaxy might look seen from the outside, from an almost edge-on perspective.

Artist's impression of the central bulge of the Milky Way

Credit: ESO/NASA/JPL-Caltech/M. Kornmesser/R. Hurt

New research suggests that, as seen from the outside, the central bulge of our Milky Way galaxy shows up as a peanut-shaped glowing ball of stars, while the spiral arms and their associated dust clouds form a narrow band.

One of the most important and massive parts of the galaxy is the galactic bulge. This huge central cloud of about 10,000 million stars spans thousands of light-years, but its structure and origin are not well understood. Why not, when it’s our home galaxy? Because, from our vantage point from within the galactic disk, our view of this central region — at about 27,000 light-years’ distance — is heavily obscured by dense clouds of gas and dust.

There is a link to a 3D version of what our galaxy may look like, just go to the EarthSky link from the image up top to find it.

Well, this should keep you busy for a while. I will be very  damn busy myself this week, so if I’m AWOL y’all know why…its because I am taking care of “the Girl,” my little munchkin…

Have a great day and enjoy your third Sunday in September.


Wednesday Morning Reads: Egypt, Lego and 1.6 Trillion Suns

cllas

Morning Y’all!

After spending last night watching Lost in America...it 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…


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: Now Voyager…to seek and find.

Good Morning

If you missed the DNC party last night, check out these two post during the live blog:

Thread One

Thread Two

It looks like some of the basturds were tweeting their usual kind of comments. CNN’s Erick Erickson Apologizes For “Vagina Monologues” Tweet | Blog | Media Matters for America

During the first night of the Democratic National Convention, CNN contributor Erick Erickson tweeted, “First night of the Vagina Monologues in Charlotte going as expected”:

What an ass…speaking of which: RNC Delegate ‘Highly Offended’ By ‘Mexican’ Employee Working Disney’s ‘America Pavilion’ | Mediaite

Prior to their visit to the Republican National Convention last week, Pennsylvania Republican delegate Mark Harrisand his wife Irene spent a few days at Walt Disney World in Orlando, and were “highly offended” to find a Mexican employee working at the American pavilion of the resort’s Epcot Center.

Epcot features a “World Showcase” which contains pavilions representing eleven countries including the United States. On the couple’s personal blog, Harris wrote that her husband complained to staff that they were “highly offended” that a “person from Mexico” was “working in America” while the other representative pavilions were staffed by employees from each respective country.

“He was very civil but his point was well-made,” the blog post concluded.

But get this, he took the time to clarify his comment.

Harris contacted a local newspaper to defend himself, saying that, “This is getting taken out of context.”

He explained: “What we said is that in Epcot we saw a man that had a name tag that said ’Eddie, from Mexico,’ and we felt that in the America section of the park, there should have been Americans.”

Epcot employees typically wear name-tags bearing their hometown. Disney is known for its rigorous hiring process and it is unlikely that the employee the Harris couple spotted was just some Mexican citizen haphazardly working the America pavilion, but rather a Mexican-born man who is now also an American citizen.

Those do exist, you know.

These people are unbelievable. I mean, this is something Cartman would say, am I right?

Not My Waterpark (Season 13, Episode 14) – Video Clips – South Park Studios

Not My Waterpark

Season 13

Cartman sings a heartfelt ode about how his water park isn’t the way he remembered it.

I couldn’t get the video to embed. Give it a listen, and tell me if these GOP dipshits aren’t all Eric Cartmans.

Well, there is one group of people the Dems are focusing on, Democrats Seek to Fire Up Female Voters – NationalJournal.com

Chet Susslin

Sisterhood is powerful: Democrats courting women.

At the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, every night is ladies’ night.

And it looks like Michelle Obama made her mark on the evening. Michelle Obama makes the political and personal case for four more years | World news | guardian.co.uk

Michelle Obama acknowledges the cheering crowd during her speech at Democratic national convention

Michelle Obama acknowledges the cheering crowd during her speech at the Democratic national convention in Charlotte. Photograph: Brian Blanco/EPA

Michelle Obama electrified Democrats on the opening night of the party’s national convention with a powerful and unashamedly personal speech in which she invoked the future of her own children as she made the personal and political case for her husband’s re-election.

On now to a few links from the pundits about last night.

Charlie Peirce is on: Joe Kennedy Convention Speech – Joe Kennedy III and the Neverending Kennedy Magic – Esquire

Ed Schultz interviews Sandra Fluke: Women Care About More Than Just Being Put at the Podium | Video Cafe

Mayor of Chicago Rahm Emanuel’s Speech to the Democratic National Convention — FULL TEXT – NationalJournal.com

And HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius: ‘ObamaCare is a badge of honor’ – The Hill’s Healthwatch

One news story that I want to share, that I think is really cool, and it has nothing to do with politics!

NASA’s Voyager 1 on verge of leaving solar system – CBS News

Artist’s rendering provided by NASA shows Voyager spacecraft. (AP Photo/NASA)

(AP) PASADENA, Calif. — Thirty-five years after leaving Earth, Voyager 1 is reaching for the stars.

Sooner or later, the workhorse spacecraft will bid adieu to the solar system and enter a new realm of space — the first time a manmade object will have escaped to the other side.

Perhaps no one on Earth will relish the moment more than 76-year-old Ed Stone, who has toiled on the project from the start.

“We’re anxious to get outside and find what’s out there,” he said.

When NASA’s Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 first rocketed out of Earth’s grip in 1977, no one knew how long they would live. Now, they are the longest-operating spacecraft in history and the most distant, at billions of miles from Earth but in different directions.

Wednesday marks the 35th anniversary of Voyager 1’s launch to Jupiter and Saturn. It is now flitting around the fringes of the solar system, which is enveloped in a giant plasma bubble. This hot and turbulent area is created by a stream of charged particles from the sun.

Outside the bubble is a new frontier in the Milky Way — the space between stars. Once it plows through, scientists expect a calmer environment by comparison.

When that would happen is anyone’s guess. Voyager 1 is in uncharted celestial territory. One thing is clear: The boundary that separates the solar system and interstellar space is near, but it could take days, months or years to cross that milestone.

When I hear the word Voyager…I think of two things.

Now, Voyager Poster

The movie, whose title comes from a Walt Whitman poem.

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

289. The Untold Want

THE untold want, by life and land ne’er granted,
Now, Voyager, sail thou forth, to seek and find.

And the Moody Blues album, Long Distance Voyager.

Remember this album cover? Take a look at the sky, do you see it?