October 11, 2016 in 3,759 words

Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

There has to be a reasonable explanation

Blue Ridge Parkway


This Day In History: October 11, 2002

On this day in history, 2002, ex-United States President Jimmy Carter was the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for his decades of effort through his Carter Center to “wage peace” using peaceful negotiations to resolve conflict.

The Peace Prize has often been used through the years to make political statements, and in 2002 the message was particularly pointed. Gunnar Berge, the Nobel committee chairman, stated the prize was to honor the former President, but he added it was also “criticism of the line that the current administration has taken.”

The former president had almost won the Nobel Prize in 1978 when he was still in office for mediating the Camp David peace accords between Israel and Egypt. The Nobel committee wanted to nominate him that year with Anwar Sadat and Menachim Begin, but could not because it was passed the official nomination deadline. …

Independents and Women Bail on Trump, Giving Clinton a Double-Digit Lead

The latest PRRI/The Atlantic poll shows Hillary Clinton building a double-digit advantage—after being locked in a dead heat two weeks ago.

With less than a month to go until Election Day, Donald Trump’s standing has plummeted with likely voters, falling from a dead heat just two weeks ago to a double-digit deficit behind Hillary Clinton, according to a PRRI/The Atlantic poll released Tuesday.

Clinton holds a 49-38 lead over the Republican. Two weeks ago, a previous PRRI/Atlantic poll found Trump and Clinton tied at 43-43. Following the first presidential debate in Hempstead, New York, the Democrat broke out to a 47-41 lead. She has now built on that lead.

Trump marches on amid spiraling disaster of Republican party desertion

At rally on Monday, Republican nominee praises WikiLeaks and repeats Russian propaganda site’s attack on Hillary Clinton

What kind of parents would allow this monster to handle their child?

A pumped-up Donald Trump strutted in front of a crowd of die-hard supporters in Pennsylvania on Monday night, throwing aside a spiraling disaster of the groping tape, Republican defections and his plummeting poll ratings.

The Republican presidential nominee made no reference at a rally in the old coalmining town of Wilkes-Barre to the catastrophic 72 hours his campaign has endured since an 11-year old recording was released in which he bragged about using his celebrity status to sexually assault women.

Nor did he refer to the many members of his party who abandoned him publicly over the weekend in protest at his offensive comments, or to the dramatic headway made by his Democratic rival in the polls. …

Top 10 Creepiest-Looking Fungi

Fungi are misfit organisms. Although they are much closer genetically to animals than plants, they were considered to be plants for centuries. Their cell structure is unique, as is their manner of living. They belong to a world entirely of their own.

Evolution has driven them into bizarre shapes. Here are 10 of the weirdest, creepiest fungi that you might not want to find if you go down to the woods today.

10. Dead Man’s Fingers

Many fungi live unseen beneath the soil for most of the year. The only time you see them is when they poke up their spore-producing structures. Mushrooms are just the way that fungi spread their descendants. Not all fungi produce mushrooms, however.

Xylaria polymorpha, commonly known as dead man’s fingers, sends up branches of gnarled-looking black structures. Their common name is apt because they look as if they could well be the fingers of some dead man trying to scratch his way out of the earth. The black surface is the spore-producing part of the fungus, which lives on the decaying matter of plants beneath the surface. …

Hillary Clinton urges voters to resist cynicism during Detroit campaign stop

Democratic nominee attacks Donald Trump in first rally since leaked video that showed him bragging about sexual assault sent his campaign into freefall

It only took a few moments for Hillary Clinton to bring up her contentious encounter with Donald Trump the night before.

“Did anyone see that debate last night?” the Democratic presidential nominee asked a crowd gathered at Wayne State University in Detroit on Monday. “Well, you never saw anything like that before!”

The 3,500 people who had packed into a gymnasium cheered in approval, only to erupt into boos at the first mention of Trump’s name. Clinton, in her first appearance since an ugly showdown with Trump that saw the Republican nominee threaten to jail her if elected president, sought to pacify the crowd.

“Donald Trump spent his time attacking when he should have been apologizing,” she said, referring to his response the night before to a leaked 2005 video showing him bragging about sexual assault. …

Hell Freezes Over? Glenn Beck Says Electing Hillary Clinton Could Be A ‘Moral, Ethical Choice’

“If one helps to elect an immoral man to the highest office, then one is merely validating his immorality, lewdness and depravity.”

Despite reports on social media, Glenn Beck is not endorsing Hillary Clinton. But some of the things the right-wing talker said about the potential for a Clinton presidency has many wondering if Hell just froze over.

Beck said that not voting for Donald Trump ― even if it leads to Clinton winning the Oval Office ― could be “a moral, ethical choice.” Demanding that Republicans blindly vote for Trump, on the other hand, would be just the opposite.

“It is not acceptable to ask a moral, dignified man to cast his vote to help elect an immoral man who is absent decency or dignity,” Beck wrote on Facebook.

If she is elected, the world does not end…. Once elected, Hillary can be fought. Her tactics are blatant and juvenile, and battling her by means of political and procedural maneuvering or through the media , through public marches and online articles, all of that will be moral, worthy of man of principal.

Her nominees can be blocked, her proposed laws voted down.

The alternative does not offer a moral person the same opportunity. If one helps to elect an immoral man to the highest office, then one is merely validating his immorality, lewdness, and depravity.

Beck even told Vice that he considered voting for Clinton. …

Top 10 Holy Hoaxes

Religion is based on faith, not reason. Con artists are quick to take advantage. Some do it for money; others do it for publicity or even out of genuine conviction. As long as people continue to believe in miracles and divine revelation, others will exploit it.

10. The Book Of Veles

Banned in Russia and celebrated in Ukraine, the Book of Veles is an enigma. Discovered by a Russian colonel in a ruined Ukrainian castle, the work consists of 42 birchwood planks with inscriptions in a mysterious language dubbed “proto-Slavic.” The book is dedicated to Veles, the Slavic god of agriculture and cattle. It goes into great detail about the ancient pantheon, rituals, and astronomy. The remainder is a chronicle of the Slavic people, tracing their journey from a mysterious homeland in the East, through Syria, and into the Carpathian Mountains.

Many consider the work to be a forgery. They argue that “proto-Slavic” is not a language but rather a mishmash of modern tongues with no regard for grammar or punctuation. This would be ironic, given that the fifth plank demands “we tell only the truth.” Regardless, The Book of Veles remains the central text for Slavic neopagans. …

War Goes Viral

How social media is being weaponized across the world

Like most everything today, the campaign was launched with a hashtag. But instead of promoting a new album or a movie release, #AllEyesOnISIS announced the 2014 invasion of northern Iraq—a bloody takeover that still haunts global politics two years later.

Revealing a military operation via Twitter would seem a strange strategy, but it should not be surprising given the source. The self-styled Islamic State owes its existence to what the internet has become with the rise of social media—a vast chamber of online sharing and conversation and argumentation and indoctrination, echoing with billions of voices.

Social media has empowered isis recruiting, helping the group draw at least 30,000 foreign fighters, from some 100 countries, to the battlefields of Syria and Iraq. It has aided the seeding of new franchises in places ranging from Libya and Afghanistan to Nigeria and Bangladesh. It was the vehicle isis used to declare war on the United States: The execution of the American journalist James Foley was deliberately choreographed for viral distribution. And it is how the group has inspired acts of terror on five continents. …

Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster

We increasingly let computers fly planes and carry out security checks. Driverless cars are next. But is our reliance on automation dangerously diminishing our skills?

When a sleepy Marc Dubois walked into the cockpit of his own aeroplane, he was confronted with a scene of confusion. The plane was shaking so violently that it was hard to read the instruments. An alarm was alternating between a chirruping trill and an automated voice: “STALL STALL STALL.” His junior co-pilots were at the controls. In a calm tone, Captain Dubois asked: “What’s happening?”

Co-pilot David Robert’s answer was less calm. “We completely lost control of the aeroplane, and we don’t understand anything! We tried everything!”

The crew were, in fact, in control of the aeroplane. One simple course of action could have ended the crisis they were facing, and they had not tried it. But David Robert was right on one count: he didn’t understand what was happening. …


Eric J. asks: I know it’s an old joke, but seriously, why do we drive on parkways but park on our driveways? There has to be a good reason we say it this way, right?

To most people the fact that we drive on parkways and park on driveways is rarely pondered upon. This only comes to mind when pointed out by particularly cringe-worthy comedians, who no doubt are also likely to muse on why the Royal Mail service delivers “post” while the U.S. Postal Service delivers “mail”. But once pointed out, it does all make you wonder…

As it turns out, there’s a perfectly valid explanation for why we drive on parkways and park on driveways- the majority of words have been around longer than cars and many have seen their definitions evolve over time, as parkways and driveways have likewise evolved. …

Marijuana’s Moment

As many as five states could approve its recreational use this November, potentially signaling a point of no return for legalized pot.

Recreational marijuana users can now legally light up a joint in states representing about 5 percent of the U.S. population. By the time Americans wake up on November 9, that percentage could be swelling to more than one-quarter.

Measures to legalize and regulate the sale of cannabis are on the ballot in California, Arizona, Massachusetts, Maine, and Nevada, and recent polls show the “yes” vote is winning in all five states. Approval would mark the biggest advance yet for advocates in the decades-long fight over legalizing marijuana—one that they believe could ultimately force the federal government to end its prohibition of the drug.

“On November 8, you can safely say we’ve reached the tipping point if these go our way,” said Tom Angell, founder of the group Marijuana Majority. The most important battleground is California, where advocates expect voters to approve personal use of pot six years after they defeated a similar measure. Support for Proposition 64 is polling at nearly 60 percent, and the measure has drawn support from leading politicians and newspapers that opposed it in 2010, including Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom. The leading candidate for California’s open Senate seat, Kamala Harris, predicted Wednesday that voters would approve the law, although as the state’s attorney general she can’t formally take a position. …

Google Artificial Intelligence Guru Says A.I. Won’t Kill Jobs

A.I. will help humans with their jobs, not replace them.

Computers can more easily recognize cats in photos and translate text because of advances in artificial intelligence. But we’re still decades away from that technology replacing humans at work on a large scale, according to a top Google artificial intelligence executive.

Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of artificial intelligence startup DeepMind, later acquired by Google, said on Monday that has seen no evidence that advances in A.I. technologies are impacting the workforce. Nevertheless, it’s something that people “should definitely pay attention to” as the technologies continue to mature.

Suleyman predicated that humanity is still “many decades away from encountering that sort of labor replacement at scale.” Instead, the technology is best used to help humans with work-related tasks rather than replace them outright. …

4 Ways Emergency Rooms Are Even Grosser Than You Thought

You’ve been to the emergency room. You know what it’s like: A crowded lobby that smells like blood and feces, lit by depressing fluorescents, full of unhappy people nursing a variety of untreated wounds. It’s like the DMV, only the line moves a bit faster. We wanted to know what it was like to spend all day, every day in that terrible place, so our interview options were limited to “emergency room employees” and “drunken amateur daredevils.” We wound up with Ben and Paul, two nurses who work in two different Chicago ERs. They told us that …

#4. Being An ER Worker Is Like Running The Special Effects Department For A Horror Flick

ER nurses are taught to emotionally detach themselves from patients so that they don’t freak out if part of one of said patients physically detaches and falls on their shoes. That’s not a hypothetical scenario, as Ben told us: “One of the first trauma cases I ever had was a high-speed motorcycle crash. When I lifted away the rider’s hat, pieces of bone and brain fell across the back of the stretcher. The patient passed away shortly after reaching us.” Later, when Ben was leaving the hospital, he “caught sight of a little blob on top of my white sneakers. I’d forgotten to wear shoe covers, and a bit of that patient’s brain tissue had fallen onto the shoe and stuck. [I’ll] never forget that dark red blob stuck to the clean, white leather.”

And now, neither will we.

Whereas we would’ve stripped naked and walked straight to the psych ward and/or liquor store, Ben calmly walked back into the hospital and disposed of the brain shrapnel in a biohazard container. And if you think we’re trying to shock you by starting with the worst anecdote, oh boy are you in for a treat. …

Misused Words That Make Smart People Look Stupid

We’re all tempted to use words that we’re not too familiar with. We throw them around in meetings, e-mails and important documents (such as resumes and client proposals), and they land, like fingernails across a chalkboard, on everyone who has to hear or read them.

No matter how talented you are or what you’ve accomplished, using words incorrectly can change the way people see you and forever cast you in a negative light. You may not think it’s a big deal, but if your language is driving people up the wall you need to do something about it.

It’s the words that we think we’re using correctly that wreak the most havoc, because we don’t even realize how poorly we’re coming across. After all, TalentSmart has tested the emotional intelligence of more than a million people and found that self-awareness is the area where most people score the lowest. …

This wacky Twitter bot uses AI to make crappy melodies for you

Artificial intelligence is quickly making its way into music. We’ve previously seen an app that uses AI to produce original music in real-time and now there’s a Twitter bot that will crank out tunes for you anytime you tweet at it.

LnH AI is a smart music Twitter bot that makes original instrumentals based on your requests. So far, the AI-powered ‘band’ has been trained to play heavy metal, blues and jazz, which means you can request a song in any of these three styles.

Its compositions are based on your chosen genre, as well as the tempo and title you set. There’s also an option to allow LnH AI to be more creative by amping up its level of randomness.

All you have to do to put in a request is tweet the bot with the following line:

@lnh_ai Dancing robots /compose /g heavy-metal /t 160 /r 0.2

10 Influential Astrologers That Shaped History

Today, astrology is largely the stuff of superstition and poorly thought-out tattoos. That was not always the case, and for much of history, looking to the stars was an absolutely legitimate method of decision-making. That was true for everyone from the common man to the highest ranks of nobility, making some astrologers incredibly influential.

10. Jean-Dominique Cassini

Cassini is most commonly associated with his advancements in astronomy, but his interest in the stars started with astrology. In his day—the mid-17th century—astrology and astronomy still went hand in hand. The Italian-born Giovanni Domenico Cassini would later give his name to the space probe, but when he first moved to France for college, it was astrology he was studying.

His studies led him to believe that there was absolutely no truth to what had been considered a science for centuries. While his teachers might have disagreed with him, he still got the attention of the Marquis Cornelio Malvasia in 1644. Malvasia later gave him an appointment at the newly established Panzano Observatory. There, Cassini’s studies turned to astronomy, and he would go on to make the initial calculations that would later lead to the discovery of the speed of light, find the gap in the rings of Saturn, and discover several new moons. …

Google Said to Hire Pixar, The Onion Writers to Bring Humour to Assistant

If Joaquin Phoenix-starring Hollywood movie ‘Her’ has taught us anything, it is that human beings might eventually fall in love with their virtual assistants in the future. Even though the movie took the concept a little too far, it does depict that humans can form an emotional bond with technology if it is made more personable and human-like. In order to make its voice assistant easier to relate to, Google has reportedly hired writers from Pixar and The Onion.

As per a report by the Wall Street Journal, the search giant has hired writers who have worked on movies from Pixar as well has created humour content for The Onion to provide a personality to its voice-based virtual assistant.

Till now, just like its name, Google Assistant has been extremely mechanical compared with other virtual assistants like Siri from Apple and Cortana from Microsoft. Even though the functionality provided by the voice assistant from Google is highly efficient, it lacked the human touch provided by other virtual assistants. …

A not-so-simple response: Messages beamed to aliens amid an international debate over perils

The European Space Agency’s Cebreros Station in Spain was due to transmit an 866-second encoded radio message in the direction of Polaris, 434 light-years away.

More than 3,000 messages were beamed toward the North Star today by a powerful radio telescope – and although the exercise was largely symbolic, it serves to revive a debate over whether we should be trying to contact aliens.

Today’s transmission by the European Space Agency’s Cebreros deep-space tracking station in Spain was the culmination of a yearlong effort known as “A Simple Response to an Elemental Message,” spearheaded by Irish-born artist Paul Quast.

With support from ESA and other organizations, Quast and his collaborators solicited 3,775 text-only messages from around the world in response to this question: How will our present environmental interactions shape the future? The 14-minute digital transmission with all those answers was beamed toward Polaris, the North Star, at 8 p.m. GMT (1 p.m. PT).

There’s no evidence that Polaris harbors a habitable planet. Even if the Polarians exist, they won’t get the message until around the year 2450. But if they’re able to pick up today’s message, they’ll already have known about us from a Beatles song that NASA had transmitted toward Polaris in 2008. …


Today I found out the Snickers candy bar was named after one of Frank Mars’ favorite horses.

Frank Mars was the creator of the Snickers candy bar and founder of Mars, Inc, originally called Mar-O-Bar Co., which is currently the 6th largest privately held company in the world with annual sales of around 21 billion dollars. The company is still 100% owned by the Mars family, producing such popular products as 3 Musketeers, Mars bars, Combos, Skittles, Dove Chocolate, M&Ms, Milky Way, Starburst, Twix, and Whiskas cat food, among other product.

The Snickers candy bar was the second candy bar sold by Mars, Inc. The first was the Milky Way, which was originally thought up by Frank Mars’ son, Forrest Mars, who had the idea of trying to create a candy that was to be “chocolate Malted Milk in a candy bar”. …

Video Goodnesses
and not-so-goodnesses

Stephen has the day off, but he just can’t resist the urge to comment on Sunday night’s presidential debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Welcome to “The Late Show’s We’re Not Working Post-Debate Spectacular: Home Edition!” (Special thanks to North Shore Animal League for supplying Stephen’s co-host, who just so happens to be adoptable. Visit animalleague.org for more info.)

THANKS to CBS and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert for making this program available on YouTube.

This was not the October Surprise Trump expected, but it is the one he deserves.

A known hateful, alt-right, racist demagogue said something awful about women and we are reeling from the surprise!!!

Debates really get into every nook and cranny.

THANKS to TBS and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee for making this program available on YouTube.

Seth reviews the head-on collision of the Trump train with the Access Hollywood bus, resulting in severe injuries to one major political party.

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

“Clown sighting pranks have happened since the 1980s — but never quite like this.”