May 18, 2016

Dead Sycamore Removal


This Day In History: May 18, 1989

On May 18, 1989, an estimated one million Chinese protestors swarmed Tiananmen Square and the surrounding streets of Beijing demanding a democratic system of government. It was the largest popular demonstration in the 40-year history of communist China.

Student-driven protests calling for democracy had begun in China a month before but ramped up considerably when Soviet leader Mikhail S. Gorbachev arrived in the country for an official visit. Many of the protestors were on a hunger strike, and when they had to be hospitalized, new recruits stepped in to take their place. …

Next cyberattack front could be your car

Click image to embiggen

For the many folks concerned about cyberthieves hacking emails and stealing personal information from online accounts, here comes another worry:

A cyberattack on your car – while you’re driving.

That’s one of the threats outlined in a report on “Vehicle Cybersecurity” by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The computerized gadgets that make late-model cars safer and more fun to drive also provide an entry for thieves, terrorists and thrill seeking geeks. GAO knows of no cyberattacks resulting in injury yet, but the report warns that remote “attacks could involve multiple vehicles and cause widespread impacts including passenger injuries or fatalities…cyber attackers could theoretically achieve massive attacks of multiple vehicles simultaneously.” …

Socialism is still really unpopular in the United States

It has long struck me as puzzling that Bernie Sanders refers to his ideology — which I would characterize as social democracy or even just welfare state liberalism — as democratic socialism, a politically loaded term that seems to imply policy commitments Sanders hasn’t made to things like government ownership of major industries.

In the context of the Democratic primary, the socialist branding seems to have offered Sanders some upside — both branding him as more than just another politician and earning him enthusiastic support from a number of politically engaged people who seem to really be socialists and who have poured their scorn for liberals and liberalism into a drumbeat of criticisms of Hillary Clinton.

Against this, though, one has to weigh the reality that socialism is really unpopular in the United States. …

10 Recent Discoveries Concerning Ancient Europe

Not very long ago, the common consensus was that “civilization” developed slowly in Europe. Outside of the Mediterranean civilizations of Greece and Italy, ancient Europe was a backwater full of barbaric tribesmen who mostly lived in hut-like dwellings. Most laymen and many historians would say that compared to Sumer, Babylon, China, Egypt, and the Indus River Valley, Europe was far behind the curve.

This attitude is undergoing a transformation. Thanks to recent archaeological discoveries, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that ancient Europe, especially prehistoric Europe, was far more developed than previously thought. This development wasn’t just in the Mediterranean basin, either. Archaeologists have not only unearthed evidence of professional armies, advanced technologies, and elaborate social structures in the mountains of Northern Europe and the Balkans, but they’ve even decoded some of the continent’s oldest mysteries.

10. The Origins Of The Celts

In 2006, Bertie Currie, the owner of McCuaig’s Bar in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, made a curious discovery while clearing land for a driveway. Underneath a large stone, Currie found several bones. Once the police concluded that McCuaig’s Bar wasn’t sitting on top of a crime scene, archeologists moved in. What they found was revolutionary—three skeletons that predate the arrival of the Celts in Ireland by 1,000 years or more.

Although recent radiocarbon dating put the origins of the skeletons at about 2000 BC, scientists at Oxford, the University of Wales, Queen’s University Belfast, and Trinity College Dublin found that DNA recovered from the ancient bones closely resembled that of modern-day individuals from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Such a find calls into question the presiding belief that Celts from mainland Europe migrated to the British Isles sometime between 1000 and 500 BC.

As a result, many theories have been put forward that rewrite common wisdom about the British Isles. …

Everybody Is Constipated, Nobody Is Constipated

Shit happens, except when it doesn’t. And when it doesn’t, we get worried. Over the centuries, constipation has gone by many delicate euphemisms, but the problem itself refuses to budge.

The Egyptian Ebers Papyrus, one of the oldest books in the world, promoted a theory of disease that begins with toxic, undigested food poisoning the body from the gut outward. Doctors no longer believe that, but we’re still worried about constipation. Even though most people who feel constipated never seek a doctor’s opinion on it, it still accounts for 8 million physician visits every year in the United States. The connections between the Ebers Papyrus and the modern health care industry are about culture as much as they are about the gut. Constipation is a social disease. It exists in your head and your heart, as well as in your colon. …

What Your Poop Says About You

On poop’s long, hairpin journey through our bowels, it picks up all kinds of microbes. When we defecate, we are not only getting rid of the remnants of what we’ve consumed, we’re also releasing a time-stamped capsule containing up to 1,000 species that assist us in the daily, dirty, life-abetting work of digestion.

Some scientists believe that these microbes can be the key to understanding certain diseases and conditions, such as inflammatory bowel disease, obesity and diabetes. The methods used to gather this data are an important consideration for microbiome research and yet, according to Deanna Gibson, director of the Center for Microbiome and Inflammatory Research at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, there is no across-the-board standard for how poop is prepared, handled and stored in the lab. More importantly, a small portion of the poop, or subsample, is often all that is tested. …

Is Gut Science Biased?

In 2007, the National Institutes of Health began the Human Microbiome Project, an effort to energize the fledgling field of microbiome research; the first step would be cataloging some of the millions billions trillions of microbes that inhabit the human body.

Although we’ve long known that microbes live in our guts, skin, armpits and various other locations, it wasn’t until the last decade or so that researchers have started to understand the vastness and diversity of these microbial communities (largely because they had shiny new tools to study them). The NIH had a grand plan: It would build a reference, “healthy” microbiome, one that researchers could use as a baseline for their future work. They found 300 volunteers from Houston and St. Louis, had doctors confirm that the volunteers were free of disease and then pulled microbes from various locations on their bodies.

What they eventually found “in this now famous or infamous” phase of the project, as project coordinator Lita Proctor calls it, was that the types and quantities of microbes in each participant were very different. “There was no signature or characteristic microbiome,” Proctor said. But when the researchers zoomed out they saw patterns among the microbial communities as a whole — patterns that have gone on to suggest potential links between the microbiome and inflammatory bowel syndrome, diabetes, preterm birth and mental health concerns.

The name of the Human Microbiome Project is a little misleading: These “humans” are just a fraction of the people on the planet. …

10 Bizarre Realities Of Life At The End Of The Universe

Our universe is going to die, no doubt about it. One of the most accepted models of the end of the universe is eternal expansion and eventual death by entropy. As the universe continues to expand, entropy increases until everything we know is gone. But what does life look like as the end approaches? That question has given rise to fascinating ideas about the universe and life itself.

10. No Stars Visible From Earth

In 150 billion years, the night sky from Earth will look very different. As the universe races to its heat death, space itself will start to expand faster than the speed of light. Many of us are aware of the idea that light speed is a hard limit on the speed of an object in the universe. However, that only applies to objects that are in space, not the fabric of space-time itself. This is a hard concept to wrap our minds around, but the fabric of space-time is already expanding faster than light. And in the far future, it will have strange implications.

As space itself is expanding faster than light, a cosmological horizon exists. Any object past the horizon would require us to have the ability to observe and record by detecting particles traveling faster than light. But no such particle exists. Once objects pass beyond our cosmological horizon, they are inaccessible to us. Any attempt to contact or interact with distant galaxies past the horizon requires us to have technology capable of traveling faster than the expansion of space itself. Right now, only a few objects are outside of our cosmological horizon. But as dark energy accelerates the expansion, everything will fall beyond this observational limit.

What does that mean for Earth? …

Donald Trump pleads ignorance to Megyn Kelly over ‘bimbo’ tweets: ‘Did I say that?’

The Republican frontrunner sat down with Kelly on Fox Tuesday night shortly before winning the Oregon primary and admitted to regrets over his behavior

Donald Trump admitted to regrets over his behavior in a highly publicized interview with Fox’s Megyn Kelly on Tuesday, but in characteristic form the presumptive Republican nominee stopped short of apologizing for incidents ranging from mocking former opponent Carly Fiorina’s face to retweeting someone who called Kelly a “bimbo”.

The broadcast came shortly before Trump was declared the winner in Oregon over rivals Ted Cruz and John Kasich, who remained on the ballot despite having dropped out of the race earlier this month. With nearly 20% of the vote counted, Trump had 64.3% of the vote, to Ohio governor Kasich’s 20.2% and Texas senator Cruz’s 15.5%. …

Note to self: Consider placing this article with the last block of articles discussing human shit.

James Deen takes on MMA, saying porn faces ‘unfair’ government scrutiny

Deen, who was punished for his production company’s alleged violations of condom and workplace regulations, says MMA company violated same HIV rules

James Deen, the porn star accused of exposing performers to sexually transmitted infections, has filed a complaint against mixed martial arts company Bellator MMA in an effort to draw attention to what he described as the “unfair persecution of the adult industry”.

Deen, who also recently faced numerous accusations of sexual assault, was issued California state citations and fines in March for his production company’s alleged violations of condom and workplace regulations, with state officials claiming that his firm exposed performers to STIs.

Deen denied the allegations of labor violations, arguing that his performers have tested negative for infections and have voluntarily chosen not to wear condoms. He further accused California regulators of enacting a “political and moral agenda” against pornography and “sexual free-expression”. …


Doing these types of articles always make me really hungry.

Today I found out the history of Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.

A popular chocolate cup filled with delicious peanut butter, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups were created by a man named Harry Burnett (H.B.) Reese. Reese was born May 24, 1879 in Pennsylvania to a farming family. He married in 1900 and went on to have sixteen children. (Yes, 16!) By 1903, not surprisingly, he was struggling to support his growing family, so took on all manner of jobs from butcher to factory worker.

In 1917, Reese found an advertisement to work on a dairy farm owned by Milton S. Hershey, owner of the Hershey Chocolate Company, in Hershey, Pennsylvania. Though he didn’t know it at the time, taking the job would shape the rest of Reese’s future. He worked on the farm for several years and later began working in the company’s chocolate factory, where he became inspired by Hershey and set out to make his own chocolates. …

IN OTHER NEWS: May 18 is the official “I Love Reese’s” Day.

The Counterproductive Politicization of Transgender Rights

It’s possible to get the right policies the wrong way.

The United States’ two major political parties don’t know how to balance a budget. They can’t seem to curb economic anxiety, modernize the social safety net, or restore the public’s faith in government. But they do one thing really, really well: The Democratic and Republican parties pit people against each other.

They stoke animus in America.

The latest example is the fight over transgender people in public restrooms. While protecting the rights of transgender Americans is a cause I support—from cradle to grave, including public toilets—much of the outrage strikes me as being manufactured by politicians who’d rather create a wedge issue than solve a problem. …

Ted Cruz’s Stupid Face Punchable Even When He’s Crying

Do you want to watch an interminable bye-bye video from Ted Cruz about how his campaign was just the most honorable thing ever, which features white wingnuts crying salty jizz tears at each other about how it’s so sad Ted Cruz didn’t get elected as our new Jesus? No, you would not be into watching that? We hear you saying you want Wonkette to watch that video for you and find the funny parts, and post pictures of them, so we can all punch Ted Cruz in his dumb face for no reason on this lovely Tuesday morning, is that accurate?

As always, we are at your motherfuckin’ service!

So here is Ted Cruz mimicking human emotion, as he Monday morning quarterbacks how awesome his losing campaign was. It’s almost like there are tears in his eyes or something, but that might just be liquid poutine bits or eye boogers. The guy behind Ted is somebody else, we dunno. He narrates the video, and says they have No Regrets about what fucking losers they are. …

Irreplaceable Cultural Marvels Wrecked By Hilarious Idiocy

As we have previously discussed on more than one occasion, the Universe has a habit of allowing irreplaceable examples of human creativity to be destroyed by Mr. Bean levels of bumbling stupidity. Whether it’s priceless works of art getting cooked in an oven or historical landmarks being demolished by angry homeowners, people always find a way to undercut our greatest achievements with pettiness, vanity, or downright idiocy.

#5. A Guy Risked Death On D-Day To Get Combat Photos, And An Intern Ruined Them

Anyone who’s seen the opening battle scene of Saving Private Ryan knows it’s a miracle that we have any pictures of the D-Day invasion at all, because a beach full of trained soldiers getting straight-up blown away is not a safe place for unarmed photographers. But against all conceivable odds (and in direct opposition to the innate human will to survive), we do in fact have photos from right in the thick of that battle — 11 of them, to be precise. And it’s all thanks to preeminent wartime photographer Robert Capa, whose personal mantra was “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.”

Also, we’d have way more than 11 D-Day photographs if it weren’t for a single, bumbling intern.

To be fair, said intern was about as experienced as
most of the boys being tossed at the beach that day.

The Power Of Genes, And The Line Between Biology And Destiny

As researchers work to understand the human genome, many questions remain, including, perhaps, the most fundamental: Just how much of the human experience is determined before we are already born, by our genes, and how much is dependent upon external environmental factors?

Oncologist Siddhartha Mukherjee tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross the answer to that question is complicated. “Biology is not destiny,” Mukherjee explains. “But some aspects of biology — and in fact some aspects of destiny — are commanded very strongly by genes.”

The degree to which biology governs our lives is the subject of Mukherjee’s new book, The Gene. In it, he recounts the history of genetics and examines the roles genes play in such factors as identity, temperament, sexual orientation and disease risk. …

In India, Trained Parakeets Will Tell Your Future

Parrot fortune telling is a well-known form of Astrology in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. Fortune tellers, like Satya Keerthi—who is profiled in this short documentary—train parakeets to sift through stacks of cards with images and different meanings. Being a parrot astrologer is an occupation that’s been in Keerthi’s family for generations: “There is no official school to attend for training,” he says. “If you’re interested in the job, the elders of the house will train you as an apprentice.”

This video was filmed in Chennai, the capital of Tamil Nadu, by Andy Whitlatch. …

10 Hunters Who Became The Hunted

Hunting has been an American tradition since the settlers first arrived, with many carrying on the heritage from generation to generation. For some, it’s a favorite pastime where one can feel a sense of freedom and tranquility while alone in the wilderness. However, that serenity can be forever shattered when the hunter becomes the hunted. The following 10 cases involve men who unknowingly walked into the belly of the beast, never to return.

10. The Deer

In 2011, a 62-year-old Indiana man named Paul J. Smith was hunting deer at Chain O’Lakes State Park. Around 9:00 AM, he left a message on his son’s voice mail about a scuffle that he had just had with a deer. Smith described how he was coming down from his tree stand after shooting the deer, only to discover that the animal was still alive and willing to fight to the death.

According to Smith’s account, he and the deer physically fought before Smith pulled a knife and stabbed the animal to death. Following the voice mail, Smith called park officials because he needed help transporting the deer’s carcass to the park’s check-in station.

When park rangers arrived, they were horrified to discover Smith lying unconscious beside a tree. …

At the cost of security everywhere, Google dorking is still a thing

With a handful of Web searches, you too can be a hacker.

Some people never seem to learn. A recent investigation by security firm Compaas trawled Google Docs and Dropbox and found thousands of sensitive documents belonging to hospitals, schools, and corporations. In many cases, the spreadsheets caused the organizations to run afoul of consumer privacy laws.

“We found a couple hospitals that had breaches in HIPAA compliance,” Compaas COO Doran David said. “There was patient information, what types of surgeries they had, social security numbers. Anything that you would think of that you would consider personal is the type of thing we’ve come across.”

In most cases, the documents are uploaded by employees who don’t understand the privacy implications of what they’re doing. They simply know that Google Docs and similar services are a much easier way to exchange documents than official methods provided by their employer. In other cases, they use misconfigured third-party apps to swap documents with co-workers. The end result is documents that never should have been made public but can in fact be downloaded by anyone. …

Archaeology of the Undead

From decapitation to stakes in the chest, gruesome tricks to keep corpses in graves reveal an enduring fear of them rising.

Twenty-seven thousand years ago, in a stone-age village fenced in by mammoth bones, three young people were buried together, their bodies covered by burnt spruce logs and branches. A woman, disfigured perhaps by some congenital abnormality, was placed in the middle. To her left, a man was laid prone, his face in the dirt. To her right, another man had his hands angled awkwardly onto her groin, where red ochre, a pigment with ceremonial significance, was sprinkled. A thick wooden pole was driven through this man’s own groin and thigh, pinning him to the ground.

For archaeologists, including the researchers who exhumed this trio in the 1980s at Dolní Věstonice, a prominent excavation site in the Czech Republic, such burials are like prehistoric murder-mystery puzzles. The trio’s internment is one of the oldest examples of a “deviant burial”—a term in archaeology for graves that are atypical, unexpected, or just downright weird. Is the prone man’s position a mark of disrespect? Did the woman’s disfigurement change the way she was treated? And is the other man’s “staking” evidence (as some have suggested) of an ancient fear of the “dangerous dead”—the belief that corpses would rise from their graves to cause mayhem? …


When someone is “blowing smoke up your arse” today, it is a figure of speech that means that one person is complimenting another, insincerely most of the time, in order to inflate the ego of the individual being flattered.

Back in the late 1700s, however, doctors literally blew smoke up people’s rectums. Believe it or not, it was a general mainstream medical procedure used to, among many other things, resuscitate people who were otherwise presumed dead. In fact, it was such a commonly used resuscitation method for drowning victims particularly, that the equipment used in this procedure was hung alongside certain major waterways, such as along the River Thames (equipment courtesy of the Royal Humane Society). People frequenting waterways were expected to know the location of this equipment similar to modern times concerning the location of defibrillators. …

Video Goodnesses
(and not-so-goodnesses)

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.

Beans and the robocat eventually became friends…

CAUTION: Some language may not be appropriate for work or children.