October 12, 2016 in 4,008 words

Miguel and I went for a walk yesterday

And today it’s raining and cold, so we’re inside.

You may recall my September 26th post where I walked across the stones in one of the ponds at Golden Ponds Nature Area.  Yesterday I thought it’d be fun to see how Miguel reacted to walking across with me.

He squealed in delight.

We got photographed while crossing by a number of people who were on the main trail.

We only walked 4.8 miles yesterday because I was still pooped from The Floor Show.  In fact, I’m still pooped today, so I guess our imaginary friend, Mother Nature, is reminding me that sometimes I need to play inside and rest.

So I paid bills.

Looking at this picture, I realize two things:

1. I really need a new jacket for walking with Miguel,
2. Miguel really needs to stop scratching out all his chest feathers.

Dry Colorado air and a bird whose people come from the rainforest is not a good mix.

If you feel the need, click the image to embiggen in a new tab.

Onto today’s shenanigans…


This Day In History: October 12, 1915

Edith Cavell was born on December 4, 1865, in Norwich, Norfolk, England. After returning to England from a stint as a governess in Brussels, Edith took up nursing after caring for her seriously ill father. She held several positions at home before being offered a job as head matron of the Berkendael Medical Institute in Brussels in 1907.

When she was home in England visiting her mother during the summer of 1914, Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated. While nobody really cared at the time, it did in a very roundabout way result in WWI. (In fact, Emperor Franz Josef himself expressed relief over the assassination because it rid him of an heir whom he deeply disliked. The Emperor commented that “God will not be mocked. A higher power had put back the order I couldn’t maintain.” And it wasn’t just the Emperor who was relieved; it was reported by an Austrian newspaper that the general consensus among the various political circles was that the assassination, though a tragedy, was for the best. As far as the Austrian people were concerned, it was noted “The event almost failed to make any impression whatever. On Sunday and Monday, the crowds in Vienna listened to music and drank wine as if nothing had happened.” Indeed, it took the government itself a full three weeks to react. For more on all this, see: What Really Started WWI) …

Trump rails against ‘disloyal’ Republicans as support collapses

The Republican candidate described his party as disloyal and unable to win and labeled Paul Ryan as ‘very weak’ in a Twitter outburst on Tuesday

Donald Trump railed against his fellow Republicans on Twitter on Tuesday morning, after a week in which many in the party have deserted him following the release of a tape of him boasting about groping women.

The move came as prominent Republicans Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz both reaffirmed that they were standing by the nominee.

Trump described his party – which he first joined in 1987 before several years as a Democrat and an independent – as disloyal and unable to win, while labeling the House speaker, Paul Ryan, the most senior Republican in Congress, “very weak and ineffective”. Ryan has been a vocal critic of Trump’s and this week announced he would no longer defend Trump or campaign with him, although he stopped short of formally unendorsing him.

Trump’s outburst marked yet another sign of the growing divisions between the candidate and the rest of his party, and the candidate’s willingness to throw political prudence to the wind to attack any dissenter. “It is so nice that the shackles have been taken off me and I can now fight for America the way I want to,” he tweeted. …


As GOP House Speaker Paul Ryan distances himself from Donald Trump, the scandal-plagued presidential hopeful vows to become even less restrained.

THANKS to Comedy Central and The Daily Show with Trevor Noah for making this program available to embed.

Trump’s border wall would become a lot more unpopular if he tried to build it

When Donald Trump launched his presidential campaign, he promised to build “a great, great wall on our Southern border.” Since then, pundits and scholars have pointed out the wall would be extremely expensive, ineffective, and harmful to the local ecosystem and economy. Even so, Trump has doubled down on his promise to build an “impenetrable” border wall.

But if Trump is elected and tries to build a wall along the Southern border, support is likely to plummet once people see that to do so would require taking hundreds, if not thousands, of properties from ordinary homeowners and small businesses.

How much private land would the federal government need to take to build a wall with Mexico?

The border between the U.S. and Mexico is 1,954 miles long. Large chunks of land along that border — especially in Texas — are privately owned. Building the wall would require the federal government to take property from hundreds of American citizens living along the border. …

10 Horrifying True Stories From The Lost Roanoke Colony

The first English colony in America was abandoned without a word or a trace. When a ship arrived with supplies, they found it deserted with no signs of a struggle. Only one clue was left behind—the word “Croatoan” etched in a tree.

The story of the lost Roanoke Colony has lived on as one of the greatest American mysteries, but the disappearance is far from where the story begins. That story is full of some absolutely horrible atrocities; it’s also one that just might hold some strong clues about the colonists’ fate.

10. The Colonists Burned Down a Native Village Because Someone Stole A Cup

The Roanoke settlers weren’t good people. They viewed the natives as savages, and they treated them like savages, too.

From the moment the colony was established, they built bad blood with the people around them. Shortly before their fort was built, a colonist discovered that one of their silver cups had gone missing. They quickly became convinced that a native man had taken it—and they weren’t going to let him get away with it. …

Obama savages Trump’s groping boast and urges party to abandon him

Campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton in North Carolina, Obama criticises those Republicans who continue to support their candidate

Barack Obama assailed the Republican nominee, Donald Trump, on Tuesday over remarks about groping women, also criticizing Republicans who continued to support the candidate.

“You don’t have to be a husband or a father to hear what we heard just a few days ago and say that’s not right,” the president said in Greensboro, North Carolina, in his first public remarks since the release of a 2005 tape showing Trump bragging about groping and kissing women without their consent.

“You just have to be a decent human being to say that’s not right.”

Campaigning on behalf of Hillary Clinton in North Carolina, Obama said the Republican presidential nominee is unfit “for a job at 7-Eleven”, let alone the presidency. …

In the Democratic Echo Chamber, Inconvenient Truths Are Recast as Putin Plots

Donald Trump, for reasons I’ve repeatedly pointed out, is an extremist, despicable, and dangerous candidate, and his almost-certain humiliating defeat is less than a month away. So I realize there is little appetite in certain circles for critiques of any of the tawdry and sometimes fraudulent journalistic claims and tactics being deployed to further that goal. In the face of an abusive, misogynistic, bigoted, scary, lawless authoritarian, what’s a little journalistic fraud or constant fearmongering about subversive Kremlin agents between friends if it helps to stop him?

But come January, Democrats will continue to be the dominant political faction in the U.S. — more so than ever — and the tactics they are now embracing will endure past the election, making them worthy of scrutiny. Those tactics now most prominently include dismissing away any facts or documents that reflect negatively on their leaders as fake, and strongly insinuating that anyone who questions or opposes those leaders is a stooge or agent of the Kremlin, tasked with a subversive and dangerously un-American mission on behalf of hostile actors in Moscow.

To see how extreme and damaging this behavior has become, let’s just quickly examine two utterly false claims that Democrats over the past four days — led by party-loyal journalists — have disseminated and induced thousands of people, if not more, to believe. …

10 Eye-Opening Facts About Space Junk

Imagine you’re in a car, speeding along with no brakes or any ability to turn. Now imagine tons of other drivers in the same circumstances. It’s only a matter of time before a collision happens. That’s essentially what awaits us if we do not combat the ever-growing amount of junk floating in orbit of our planet. Here are ten rather sobering facts about space junk.

10. The US Air Force Catalogues And Tracks Space Junk

Since the early 1980s, the US Air Force has maintained a dedicated team that logs and tracks as much space debris as possible. Over 20,000 individual items at least the size of a small ball are being tracked as well as about 500,000 marble-sized pieces of debris—and that number looks likely to increase.

Each of these items is traveling around the Earth at around 28,000 kilometers per hour (17,500 mph). Should any of them strike another item—be it more space debris, a “live” satellite, or even the International Space Station—the consequences would be tragic. Even a single speck of paint (which is too small to track) hurtling around the planet can cause considerable damage to spacecraft or kill an astronaut during a space walk. …

The Anger of Samantha Bee

Her latest Full Frontal episode is a reminder of how deeply the election’s outrage has permeated American culture.

During an extended monologue on her TBS show Full Frontal on Monday evening, Samantha Bee described Donald Trump and Billy Bush as “two drooling hyenas” and “two leering dildos.” She referred to the vehicle that carried the pair, in that now iconically infamous Access Hollywood video, as “the adolescent boner bus” and, later, “Donny and Billy’s fun-time pussy wagon.” She compared Bush’s deference to Trump to George W. Bush’s deference to Dick Cheney, and then referred to both of the latter as “a bullying, cold-hearted alpha male who was completely in charge.”

Later, in response to the non-apology apology that Trump read dutifully off of a Teleprompter, Bee said, “I’m sorry, you were handing out words like a first-grader with a head injury.”

Evaluating Trevor Noah’s First Year Behind the ‘Daily Show’ Desk

It’s been a little over a year since Trevor Noah began the daunting task replacing Jon Stewart as host of The Daily Show. Noah had the unenviable job of succeeding one of the most beloved and important political satirists of all time. Sure enough, he got off to a rocky start, looking uncomfortable and unsure behind the desk. It didn’t take long for publications like Salon to write him off as a pretender to the throne, even though he had just started and it took a solid three years before Jon Stewart evolved into the essential voice we know him as today. So, how does Noah look with a full year under his belt? Well, he still has a long way to go to measure up to the champ, but his show has been gradually improving, and he’s been able to shake off most, if not all of his early jitters.

One of the more common critiques of Noah is that he’s too bland, and this is something of a half-truth. His personality can be perfectly charming, and it’s not like his jokes never land, but at times, it feels like anyone can be telling them, and he’s just the guy who happens to be behind the desk delivering the latest round of anti-Trump zingers. It can often feel like Noah is just there to tell jokes, and we don’t really learn anything about him. The only time he’s able to break out of this is when he discusses his South African upbringing. When Noah talks about his own experiences and relates them to American politics (like in a clever segment where compared Trump to an African strongman), he endears himself to the audience, as we finally get a piece of who he is. Too often, however, he tends to feel like the anonymous man in the chair, just here to a job. This is a problem because even when the material is strong, it can be hard to find the motivation to keep tuning in to watch someone you lack a personal connection to. …


Michael R. asks: How did Oktoberfest get started?

As we move past the summer and into the fall, we can count on certain things: the leaves changing color, the weather growing crisper, ghost stories being told, and the celebration of the Bavarian tradition of Oktoberfest. Even here in America, Oktoberfest is beloved as a time for dancing, dressing in lederhosen, eating sausages, and, of course, drinking beer.

But what are the origins of Oktoberfest? What are we joyously celebrating? And do you actually have to wear very unflattering lederhosen?

On October 12, 1810, the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig married Princess Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in a grand ceremony in the Bavarian city of Munich. In order to involve the “commoner,” the couple and their royal parents organized a giant wedding party for the entire city of Munich outside the city gates upon a piece of cattle grazing land. …

Australians Correctly Point Out The Best Reason For Self-Driving Cars

Reducing traffic? Fighting the scourge of private ownership? Nah man, there’s something better about autonomous cars, and you can leave it to the Aussies to get it so right.

The Australian Driverless Vehicle Initiative (I’d never heard of them before either) recently put out some initial findings of a 5,000-person survey on how people feel about impending driverless cars, popping up across Aussie news sites. Full results are expected early 2017, but Mashable got to have an early talk with Michael Regan, chief scientist at the Australian Road Research Board overseeing the survey, and came away with a number of expected conclusions about how drivers like the idea of having a car drive for them, but didn’t like the idea of a car driving in an inhuman manner.

They didn’t want a self-driving car to follow other cars closer than a human would; they didn’t want a self-driving car to rive their kids around without another adult in the car; they didn’t want a self-driving car to have no steering wheel. This is all good to hear this from Australians, who have a similar set of driving conditions to what we have here in the United States. …

A Flint, MI university turned vacant land into autonomous vehicle proving grounds

Kettering University unveiled this week an automotive proving grounds in a bid to lure companies and students to the Flint, MI area. The test track is on the school’s grounds, housed on land that once contained a massive General Motors’ manufacturing facility that was torn down and left abandoned.

The Kettering University GM Mobility Research Center (or MRC) features outdoor lab space and a test track for use in developing and researching autonomous vehicles, safety standards and, soon, performance technologies. The university says the track is unique in that it features Kettering’s own, private 4G LTE wireless network for use in testing vehicle-to-vehicle technologies.

Next spring the university will start construction on additional test tracks and buildings that will include automotive bays, conference rooms and indoor lab spaces. …

5 Shady Things The USSR Did That You Can’t Even Exaggerate

The Cold War was basically the U.S. and Russia playing a long game of chicken, only instead of cars, they were driving entire continents. It’s a miracle we lived through it at all, considering how aggressively anti-communist the U.S. was, and how aggressively hardcore Russia is, and always has been. For example …

#5. Stalin Sent 6,000 People To “Cannibal Island.” Oh Yeah, He Also Created “Cannibal Island”

Can you believe that both poor people and petty criminals had the unbelievable gall to exist in 1930s Russia? If people were to see all those undesirables, why, they might think that communism wasn’t actually a perfect utopia. Something had to be done, and seeing as Soylent Green hadn’t yet been invented, Stalin decided on the next best thing: Cannibal Island.

“Let them eat cake each other.”

In 1933, 6,114 people classified as “outdated elements,” which is both a strangely innocuous name for people so unwelcome they were sentenced to death, as well as a pretty sweet title for our ’80s techno band. The outdated elements were sent to Nazino Island in Siberia. 27 of them died on the journey. …

Did Plant-Eating Dinosaurs Really Only Eat Plants?

A newly discovered ankylosaur fossil with fish in its belly provides ancient evidence that herbivore diets are more flexible than they’re assumed to be.

Ankylosaurs commonly are depicted as prey to larger, carnivorous dinosaurs. But one species may have been the hunter, not the hunted,

Ask a non-biologist about the differences between an herbivore and a carnivore, and they’ll tell you that it’s written like destiny in an animal’s bones. Carnivores have sharp fangs and claws; herbivores blunt teeth and hooves or pads. There are some animals that dabble on both sides of the line, of course, but the categories of “predator” and “prey” are usually seen as inviolate.

When it comes to dinosaurs, known only from bare bones, the line between the two modes seems especially concrete. Take ankylosaurs: few herbivorous dinosaurs seem as dedicated to their role as plant eaters as these armored, stubby-legged, broad-bellied creatures. Their teeth were tiny; their beaks blunt; they were unable to chew. With their spike-adorned backs, they have traditionally been depicted as hunkering down in the face of ravening predators. Like modern livestock, their place in Mesozoic ecosystems seems set: Always the hunted, never the hunter. …

How Sharing Leads to Death

If you’re a spider, that is.

The colonial spiders of Ecuador spin homes for themselves the size of houses, wrapping cobwebs around the jungle trees where they live in groups of tens of thousands. The diminutive creatures raise young together, eat together, and die together. An apparently thriving colony can disappear almost instantly, with few or no survivors, for reasons that are still mysterious.

Biologists who study these creatures and their cousins have spun many theories about what the risk factors for collapse are, and it seems that the larger the colonies are, the greater the danger of collapse. A recent paper from researchers at University of British Columbia investigates whether a particular behavior common in large colonies—sharing prey among many colony members—might contribute to their downfall.

Ruth Sharpe, a UBC graduate student, finds her subjects by cruising along roads in Ecuador looking for clouds of bridal-veil webbing in the trees. Sharpe knew that large, spread-out colonies tend to catch larger prey than smaller ones. With a large catch, like a big wasp, it would be more difficult for a few spiders to monopolize it the way they might a small fly. A more likely scenario would be divvying it up amongst all comers. But that creates the possibility of there not being enough food to keep any of the spiders fit enough to reproduce. With small prey that can be kept amongst a few spiders, those individuals would get enough to keep the colony going, even if others eventually starve. Bad news, though, if one big wasp means only a mouthful for each member. …

10 Ancient Finds That Reveal Fascinating Mystical Beliefs

Throughout the majority of anthropological history, a council of gods and divine forces dictated the affairs of humankind. The following items capture life as it was when the world was mystical and magic still real.

10. Scrolls For Tortured Souls

Surveyors in the Serbian city of Kostolac have discovered a forgotten burial ground that harkens the former glory of Viminacium, a Roman outpost from the fourth century BC that at its peak boasted 40,000 inhabitants.

The site belched up a few 2,000-year-old skeletons and also two mystifying leaden amulets. Inside the amulets, they found adorably tiny scrolls of gold and silver. Commonly referred to as “curse tablets,” such spells generally invoke otherworldly powers to affect or afflict the caster’s friends, family, or foes.

The mere presence of magical scrolls suggests the amulet bearers died grisly deaths. Such arcana are buried with the violently murdered, as it’s believed that tortured souls are most likely to encounter the demon middle-men that pass messages on to higher after-worldly offices. …

Leaked Emails Reveal Former Astronaut Wanted To Meet With Obama Official About Alien Life

Apollo 14’s Edgar Mitchell was outspoken about his beliefs around extraterrestrial life forms.

What does the Vatican know about alien life? And is there a threat of a war in space?

These are among the issues that a former astronaut wanted to discuss with John Podesta, who was a top adviser to President Barack Obama and now serves as Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman, according to new emails published Friday by WikiLeaks.

The hacked emails have already drawn a great deal of attention because they contain excerpts of what appear to be Clinton’s paid speeches to Wall Street executives. But extraterrestrial enthusiasts are particularly interested in two documents that focus on UFOs, an alien presence around Earth and a belief that the Vatican has some knowledge about all of this. …

Weird light pulses spotted by telescope ‘could come from aliens’, scientists say

Scientists have detected something very strange – extremely rapid pulses in the light of 234 stars like our sun.

Could it be a beacon – a pattern of light superimposed over the stars, broadcast by an intelligent extraterrestrial civilisation?

Two French-Canadian scientists detected the stars in data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey – after predicting that aliens might broadcast this way, rather than by using radiowaves.

In a pre-print scientific paper, the researchers write, ‘We find that the detected signals have exactly the shape of an ETI (extra terrestrial intelligence) signal predicted in the previous publication and are therefore in agreement with this hypothesis.’ …


Today I found out what causes hiccups.

In medical terms, a hiccup can be called a hiccough, a synchronous diaphragmatic flutter, or singlutus. Hiccups are classified into three categories: normal, protracted or persistent, and intractable. Protracted are those hiccups that last over 48 hours, but not more than one month. Intractable hiccups continue for more than one month. If hiccups occur for less than 48 hours, they are considered ‘normal’.

In regards to the function of hiccuping, it was once thought that this act was just a twitch of the diaphragm (the muscle that separates the thorax from the abdominal cavity and is the main muscle involved in breathing). It has since been shown to be a much more complex process. It starts with a sudden, strong contraction of all muscles involved in inspiration. This is followed almost immediately by the glottis, or vocal cords, closing shut. This clamping of the chords is what causes the infamous ‘hic’ sound. The top of the mouth and back of the tongue then move up, making an occasional associated burp, as the diaphragm then contracts forcefully. The heart will also tend to slow down during this process. This is thought to be caused by the stimulation of the Vagus nerve, which slows a person’s heart rate. …

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Seth takes a closer look at Donald Trump’s free fall and Republicans distancing themselves from him.

THANKS to NBC and Late Night with Seth Meyers for making this program available on YouTube.



Daniel sits down with Tom, a man who’s willing to go to extremes to find a sex partner.

THANKS to Comedy Central and Tosh.0 for making this program available to embed.