Friday Reads: Dog Days of Summer Edition

The ancient Greeks thought of the constellation Canis Major as a dog chasing Lepus, the hare. The star Sirius is the dog’s nose; the Greeks called it the “dog star.”  (National Geographic)

The ancient Greeks thought of the constellation Canis Major as a dog chasing Lepus, the hare. The star Sirius is the dog’s nose; the Greeks called it the “dog star.” (National Geographic)

Good Morning!!

We are in the midst of the dog days of summer–traditionally the hottest days of the year, which extend from about July 2 to August 11. I has been very hot all over the country for the past few weeks. Here in Boston, we have had a couple of weeks of temperatures around or above 90 degrees.

Why do we call them the “dog days?” It dates back to the Greeks and Romans and their beliefs about Sirius, the “dog star.” At National Geographic, Becky Little explains:

To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July. They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year, a period that could bring fever, or even catastrophe.

“If you go back even as far as Homer, The Iliad, it’s referring to Sirius as Orion’s dog rising, and it describes the star as being associated with war and disaster,” said Jay B. Holberg, author of Sirius: Brightest Diamond in the Night Sky and senior research scientist at the University of Arizona Lunar & Planetary Laboratory. “All throughout Greek and Roman literature, you found these things.”

The phrase “dog days” was translated from Latin to English about 500 years ago. Since then, it has taken on new meanings.

“Now people come up with other explanations for why they’re called the ‘dog days’ of summer, [like] this is when dogs can go crazy,” said Anne Curzan, an English professor at the University of Michigan.

At the end, dogs like summer, they get to play with the kids, and maybe take some baths, and depending on your breed, you could get some pretty good food, we like to give special kind of food to our pitbull, you could get to know more about it in this pitbull meal info.

“This is a very human tendency,” she said. When we don’t know the origin of a phrase, we come up with a plausible explanation.

“The meaning has been lost,” said Holberg, “but the phrase has lived on.”

Read more at the link.

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About the heat wave, from The Weather Channel: West Coast Heat Wave Threatens All-Time Records; Northeast Hot, But Not Historic.

Summer heat is gripping opposite sides of the country into this weekend, including parts of the West and the Northeast.

The heat will help clinch one of the hottest Julys on record for some Northwest cities, and a few locations may challenge their all-time or monthly record highs on Friday. It’s also helped set a record for the most 90-degree days in a year in Seattle and has given Portland its hottest temperatures since 2009.

The Northeast heat will not be as extreme, but it will stick around into next week for some cities….

A strong ridge of high pressure is building over the Northwest as the jet stream bulges northward to the Canadian border. This is allowing temperatures 5 to 20 degrees above average to take hold across parts of northern California, Oregon and Washington into the weekend, while also spreading to portions of Idaho and Montana.

It’s a fitting end to what will be one of the hottest Julys on record in parts of the Northwest. Seattle, Washington, and Astoria, Oregon, were both seeing their hottest July on record as of July 29, according to data from the Southeast Regional Climate Center. For Seattle, July 2015 could beat out August 1967 for the hottest month on record if the final average temperature for July exceeds 71.1 degrees.

July was the third warmest on record through July 29 in Portland, Oregon, and fourth warmest on record for Yakima, Washington.

High temperatures at or above 100 degrees are forecast for the Portland, Oregon, area through Friday, with middle to upper 90s expected this weekend. Portland hit 103 degrees on Thursday, which is the hottest temperature there since July 29, 2009. Even hotter temperatures are expected for the rest of the Willamette River Valley of western Oregon on Friday, which is under an excessive heat warning issued by the National Weather Service.

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Wow! 100 degrees in Seattle? And on the East coast:

Wednesday was the hottest day so far in 2015 in New York City (96 degrees) and Albany, New York (95 degrees). Concord, New Hampshire, set a daily record high of 96 degrees, beating the old record for July 29 of 95 degrees set in 1949.

Highs will stay a handful of degrees above average for mainly eastern sections of the region into early next week.

For the most part, this heat in the Northeast will not be record breaking. However, the longevity of it will likely be greater than we’ve seen so far this summer in some cities. By early next week, some locations could meet the definition for a heat wave in the Northeast, which is generally defined in that region as three or more days in a row with temperatures at or above 90 degrees.

Temperatures in New England are beginning to moderate, and it will be only around 89-90 for the next few days. That will give some relief. I really feel for Luna out in Washington and Fannie in Idaho.

Speaking of Seattle, I came across this wonderful video of the city in 1955, posted on youtube by Jeff Alman, whose grandfather made it when on vacation in the city. The first part, which shows city streets and buildings, is the coolest, IMO. The rest is gorgeous views taken from a small plane.

Altman also posted his grandfather’s video of San Francisco in 1958.

My grandfather made color films many years ago, and they were of such high quality that my brother was able to edit them into a wonderful video that he shared with all of our relatives who appeared in them. Every time I watch it, the old images bring me to tears. What a treasure!

Seeing the scenes of Seattle made me think about how different my life might have been if my Dad had decided to take a job at a different university back in about 1958. He had offers from Seattle, Miami, and a couple of other places, but ultimately he chose the offer from Ball State in Muncie, Indiana. I’m not sure if my folks wanted to live in a smaller college town or if the money was better at Ball State.

Now for some news.

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There’s a big health story this morning: a new vaccine for the Ebola virus could make a huge difference, based on the results of a study that will appear in The Lancet. BBC News reports: Ebola vaccine is ‘potential game-changer.’

A vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus has led to 100% protection and could transform the way Ebola is tackled, preliminary results suggest….

Experts said the results were “remarkable”.

This trial centred on the VSV-EBOV vaccine, which was started by the Public Health Agency of Canada and then developed by the pharmaceutical company Merck.

It combined a fragment of the Ebola virus with another safer virus in order to train the immune system to beat Ebola.

A unique clinical trial took place in Guinea. When a patient was discovered, their friends, neighbours and family were vaccinated to create a “protective ring” of immunity.

This could be the breakthrough the world has been waiting for.

There is caution as the results are still preliminary, with more data coming in.

But officials at the WHO believe the effectiveness of the vaccine will end up being between 75% and 100%.

According to the BBC, other vaccines are also being tested. This could be very good news!

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I’m sure you’ve heard about the agonizing death of Cecil the lion in Zimbabwe at the hands of Walter Palmer, a Minnesota Dentist who likes to kill big game with a bow and arrow.

The AP reports, via USA Today: Minn. dentist accused of poaching legendary lion.

HARARE, Zimbabwe – Zimbabwean police said Tuesday they are searching for an American who allegedly shot a well-known, protected lion with a crossbow in a killing that has outraged conservationists and others.

The American allegedly paid $50,000 to kill the lion named Cecil, Zimbabwean conservationists said. Authorities on Tuesday said two Zimbabwean men will appear in court for allegedly helping with the hunt. The American faces poaching charges, according to police spokeswoman Charity Charamba.

Walter James Palmer of Minnesota was identified on Tuesday by both the Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force and the Safari Operators Association of Zimbabwe as the American hunter, a name that police then confirmed.

“We arrested two people and now we are looking for Palmer in connection with the same case,” said Charamba.

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Zimbabwe is seeking Palmer’s extradition, and the outrage on social media has been so extreme that Palmer was forced to close his dental practice. He has “apologized,” but that’s apparently not going to be enough to save his skin, and I say “Good!” Still you have to wonder why stories of human deaths don’t get as much attention. More recent headlines on this story:

Kevin Drum at Mother Jones: For a Week, Walter Palmer Is the Worst Human Being Ever in History.

Time: Cecil the Lion, Walter Palmer and the Psychology of Online Shaming.

Mediaite: The Hill Reports Lion Killer Donated to Romney; Twitter Asks Why That’s Relevant.

Boston Herald: Zimbabwean baffled by foreign concern for killed lion.

GossipCop: Betty White On Cecil The Lion Killer: “You Don’t Want To Hear The Things I Want To Do” Walter James Palmer.

Slate: Why Cecil Was Such an Important Lion.

Slate: How America Can Prosecute More Poachers Like the Alleged Lion Killer.

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Obviously, as a New England Patriots fan, I’ve been following the Tom Brady/Deflategate story for a long time, and this morning I came across this in Wired: Even if Tom Brady Did Smash His Phone, It’d Make Zero Sense. It turns out that the NFL and Roger Goodell could easily get Brady’s text messages if they wanted to.

JUST HOW EASY is it to destroy your text messages? In the eyes of the NFL, it’s as simple as destroying your cellphone. But as anyone who has ever had their phone stolen can tell you, that’s not even remotely true.

This week, the NFL upheld the suspension of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady for four games in the wake of accusations he was “generally aware” of the team’s deflation of footballs. The decision, authored by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, largely hinged on the revelation that Brady destroyed his cellphone shortly before meeting with league investigators. The league suggests this was to suppress evidence and obstruct the investigation. Brady insists he was just replacing a “broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone 6.”

It was a fun story for a few minutes and there was some mild hoopla surrounding the idea of a frenzied Brady destroying his cellphone. Problem is, even if he had … so what? This isn’t The Wire, and snapping a cellphone in half and tossing it in the gutter wouldn’t be enough to erase Brady’s history anyway. The digital trail our phones leave behind long outlive the physical device itself, and the league could have potentially tracked down the information in a number of ways—which is why the whole story was utterly ridiculous. Regardless, here is exactly why it wouldn’t matter if Tom Brady smashed his cellphone….

Once upon a time, it was hard to recover text messages without actually having the phone they were sent to. However, Google and Apple’s efforts to sync data across multiple devices has made text message retrieval significantly easier.

As Brady was on a Samsung during the “deflategate” scandal, he was most likely using an Android device. Not only do most modern Android devices use Google Hangouts as their primary text messaging app, Google makes the process of deleting those messages inconvenient and difficult. Android’s Hangouts has a setting to delete old text messages, but the feature only does so as disk space fills up. Unlike the iPhone, which can automatically delete messages that are older than a set period of time, Android gives the user no control over how long to preserve messages.

Roger Goodell is such a pathetic liar!

More News, links only

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Newsweek: Exclusive: Inside the Mysterious ‘Death’ of Taliban Leader Mullah Omar.

CNN is still obsessed with the missing plane story: Increasing confidence plane wreckage is from MH370, Australian official says.

Hillary Clinton.com: Letter to the New York Times’ Dean Baquet.

Washington Post: Clinton knocks Bush’s ‘Right to Rise’ pitch in National Urban League speech.

Get an adorable dog now: http://blackgermanshepherd.co/

The Hill: Sanders vows no third-party run in 2016.

New York Times: Jewish Arsonists Suspected in Arson Attack that Killed Palestinian Toddler.

Newsweek: Indiana Clears Planned Parenthood in Fetal Tissue Investigation.

KGNS TV: Primordial soup of compounds found on comet.

Treehugger: New wolf species discovered in Africa.

What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread and have a wonderful weekend! 


Sunday Reads: Attack of the Killer Deer Heads

7c8964998f1b2e659e4d6e23c60f19f1Good Morning

I swear, if things here in Banjoland weren’t so backwards already…lately our internet service has been slower than the sweet sorghum syrup our county is famous for…

So, because of this crappy internet connection, I am forced to post a quick morning reads post. Hopefully the net will be working faster later today and I can get a longer thread up…but for now, here goes nothing.

It has gotten to be a cliché, that old Foxworthy joke about… “You know you’re a redneck if…” but tell me if this first story I have for you doesn’t fit the stereotype of one of these punchlines perfectly.

Woman arrested after assaulting man with deer head

The narrative of this story is just, well…you will see what I mean, check it out:

A 39-year-old Demorest woman was charged with aggravated assault after she allegedly stabbed and cut her husband with deer antlers Sunday night.

The man told Habersham County deputies he and the woman, Stella Irene Still, had been arguing for several days because she had seen his ex-girlfriend while they were out in public.

At the time of the assault, the man said he was sitting in his chair in the living room when the woman pulled his deer mount off the wall and attacked him with it.

And this is what the police report stated the woman did with the deer head:

“stabbed him with the deer’s antlers, which are attached to the deer mount, causing the puncture wounds to his neck and left arm,” the incident report states.

She then “began swinging the deer mount, striking him with the deer’s antlers which caused the lacerations to his neck, chest area, stomach, and leg,” the report states.

After the incident, the man went outside the house.

The woman “kicked down the front door to come outside,” the report states.

She then threw a rock at the man, striking him, before throwing a rock at his truck’s windshield, the report states.

Wow, she was pissed off, he must have done something mighty bad to get her that angry…those deer heads are heavy sonsofbitches!

What gets me is the facts stated by the cop at the end of the report.

“Outside the residence I observed the deer mount laying beside the stairs on the front porch which had blood on the wood portion of the mount,” the deputy’s report states. “I observed blood on [the victim’s] Chevrolet truck and [the victim’s] clothing that was in the cab of the truck. I also observed a rock with blood on it. The rock was laying in front of [the victim’s] truck.”

You know, if it’s not the kids in the neighborhood kicking and killing an old goat because they could not do the stare down, Jedi mind control, death thing like in the movie “Men Who Stare At Goats,” its people using deer heads mounted on the wall as assault weapons to attack their husbands as they watch NASCAR on TV.

Oof!

Okay, here are a few headlines to get you going, hopefully I can get another post up in a few hours.

Boardwalk crash: Driver was ‘moving purposefully,’ witnesses say – latimes.com

A driver who witnesses described as “moving purposefully” struck a dozen people on the Venice boardwalk early Saturday evening.

Two of the pedestrians were injured critically, two were categorized as having “serious” injuries and eight others suffered minor injuries, authorities said.

The incident occurred about 6 p.m. at the boardwalk’s intersection with Dudley Avenue. “The vehicle appeared to be moving purposefully down the boardwalk according to witnesses,” said Brian Humphrey of the Los Angeles Fire Department.

More info on this hit and run collision will be forthcoming I am sure.

Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe re-elected in disputed Zimbabwe vote – The Times of India

President Robert Mugabe won a landslide victory in Zimbabwe’s disputed election, officials results showed on Saturday, as opponents vowed to challenge the poll which the US said was not “credible”.

Mugabe, 89, appeared poised to extend his 33-year rule with a seventh term in office after trouncing his long-standing political rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, in Wednesday’s election.

Official results showed Mugabe won 61 per cent of the presidential vote and a super-majority in parliament, routing Tsvangirai who trailed heavily with 34 per cent.

But 61-year-old Tsvangirai, who has unsuccessfully tried to unseat Mugabe three times, condemned the vote as “fraudulent and stolen”.

US Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile issued a statement Saturday describing the election as “deeply flawed”.

“The United States does not believe that the results announced today represent a credible expression of the will of the Zimbabwean people,” Kerry said.

Tsvangirai plans to go to court to challenge the vote.

I’m sure you have seen this video by now…Yemeni girl from YouTube wants education, not marriage – CNN.com

A young Yemeni girl stares defiantly into the camera. Her question is a shocking one, coming from an 11-year-old:

“Would it make you happy to marry me off?” asks Nada Al-Ahdal.

In the nearly two-and-a-half-minute video, which was uploaded to YouTube and quickly went viral, Nada accuses her parents of trying to get her married off in exchange for money. She explains how she doesn’t want to be one of Yemen’s child brides.

“Death would be a better option for me,” she declares.

Nada also speaks on behalf of other Yemeni girls: “What about the innocence of childhood? What have the children done wrong so that you would marry them off like that?”

And finally, this is freaking scary…When one image is worth a thousand tweets – CNN.com

Meet the future. Her name is Maya Shaoolian. She is 2 years old.

Maya is just learning the basics of reading and writing, but she’s a veteran of technology. She’s been using an iPad since she was 1, says her father, Gabriel Shaoolian, the founder and CEO of marketing agency Blue Fountain Media. It’s fun for her, he says.

It’s also a window into how she’ll communicate: with apps and texts and instant images and video.

“She is part of a generation that will know nothing else but 140 characters and 16 seconds of video,” Shaoolian said. “She is part of a generation that will never know what a commercial is, because she consumes everything on demand. She wants content when she wants it, and without any interruptions. And it better be bite-size, because that is really all she has time for — and all her brain processes.”

This is not a lament, he hastens to add. Shaoolian says he draws his greatest lessons in technology usage from Maya. In fact, he thinks Maya and her friends will be better at making sense of those tweets and video snippets than, well, us.

“Her generation will be much more efficient communicating and grasping information,” he said. “I am certain that she will read between the lines and grasp every nuance, because she has not had to relearn how to communicate or digest information. This is the only way she knows.”

Uh…I am not sure about that. I have seen from my own kids, efficient communication in this new generation is not a strong skill…when everything is pared down to 140 characters or less.

I mean, to me efficient means getting the communication fast but also getting the information within the communication correct. And part of that is dealing with the emotional aspect of things…you don’t get that from 140 bits of words and a couple of smile faced emocon things.  Tell me Shaoolian, will these kids be effective communicators person to person? Will they be able to relate to each other on a face to face basis? My guess is no…

And that is all I can do for now. See you later on, until then please let us know what you are reading about this morning.