Thursday, December 31, 2009
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
The Best Gardening Trends of the 2000s Decade
Gardening Ideas that Changed the Way we Garden
By Marie Iannotti, About.com Guide
All gardens are a work in progress, constantly evolving and, hopefully, growing. As gardeners, we're very influenced by gardening trends, whether we mean to be or not. Gardening trends effect the plants the nurseries sell and products we're permitted to use on them. Gardening bloomed as a hobby in the 1990s. In the 2000s, we started to refine our tastes and techniques. Here are my choices for the Top 10 Gardening Trends of the past decade. I hope you'll share your thoughts about what your choices would be.
If you still think roses are fussy and time consuming, you’re growing the wrong roses. Series like Flower Carpet® and the Knock Out® are pretty much fail safe, but many recent landscape roses have been bred in answer to our despair. Don’t overlook the luscious, scented David Austin roses. These look much more high maintenance than they are.
4. Walk-On Plants
8. Low Mow Lawns
9. Rain Gardens
10. Anything Goes
The full Moon casts its glow across the end-of-year sky the next couple of nights. And it's a special one: a Blue Moon -- the second full Moon in a calendar month.
There are actually lots of definitions for Blue Moon. The most common is just "a long time;" something that happens "once in a blue moon" is a rare event.
Another definition -- one that dates to the 19th century or earlier -- is the fourth full Moon in a three-month period. And another is more literal -- when the Moon actually looks blue. That can happen under certain atmospheric conditions, like when there's a lot of ash from fires or volcanic eruptions in the air.
The "second-full-moon-in-a-month" definition is more recent -- it's only been around since the 1980s, and in common usage since the '90s.
Like all the others, this type of Blue Moon is rare. The Moon's cycle of phases lasts about 29 and a half days. That means that most months have just one full Moon. In a 31-day month like December, a Blue Moon occurs if you have a full Moon on the 1st or 2nd, and another on the 30th or 31st. This month the Moon was full on the 2nd, and it'll be full again tomorrow at 1:13 p.m. Central Time.
And for skywatchers in Alaska, there'll be a partial lunar eclipse early tomorrow, as part of the lunar disk just dips into Earth's shadow. The rest of the United States will miss out on the eclipse. We'll just have to settle for another astronomical rarity: a Blue Moon.
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Have you ever wondered who first uttered the phrase..."You Gotta Be Shittin' Me''?
Finally, grabbed Corporal Peters (remember this name) and stationed him at the front of the boat with a lantern. He ordered him to keep swinging it, so they could see where they were heading.
Corporal Peters, through driving rain and cold, continued swinging the lantern back and forth, back and forth. Then a big gust of wind and a wave hit and threw Corporal Peters and his lantern into the Delaware. Washington and his troops searched for nearly an hour trying to find Corporal Peters, but to no avail. All of them felt terrible, for the Corporal had been one of their good friends.
Sometime later, Washington and his troops landed on the other side, wet and totally exhausted. He rallied the troops and told them that they must go on.
Another hour later, one of his men said, "General, I see lights ahead." They trudged toward the lights and came upon a huge house.
Again, the Madam looked at all the men standing there, and with a broad smile on her face, said, "Well, General, you have come to the right place. We can surely give you warmth and comfort ...How many men do you have?"
and these are my men. We are tired, wet, exhausted, and desperately need warmth and comfort."
And the Madam said, "You Gotta Be Shittin Me."
Monday, December 28, 2009
StumbleUpon helps you discover and share great websites. As you click Stumble!, we deliver high-quality pages matched to your personal preferences. These pages have been explicitly recommended by your friends or one of 8 million+ other websurfers with interests similar to you. Rating these sites you like () automatically shares them with like-minded people – and helps you discover great sites your friends recommend.
You can spend HOURS stumbling upon websites you never knew existed.
Uh, two rules, however....
Don't believe everything you read, and
Everything in moderation, mm'kay?
Ladies and germs, start your stumbling.
Here's a snippet from Political Animal, in yet another example of our somewhat absurd "news media."
THE MOST POPULAR 'MTP' GUEST OF THE YEAR.... In the previous post, I mentioned what disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said on "Meet the Press" yesterday. I neglected to ask a relevant question: why on earth was Newt Gingrich on "Meet the Press" yesterday?
Yesterday was Gingrich's fifth appearance on "MTP" just this year. In fact, Newt Gingrich, despite not having held any position in government for over a decade, was the single most frequent guest on "Meet the Press" in 2009 of any political figure in the United States. Literally.
From March to December, Gingrich appeared on "MTP," on average, every other month. No one else in American politics was on the show this often.
I'm reminded of something Eric Boehlert wrote recently:
[A]s often happens when I read breaking, this-is-what-Newt-said dispatches, I couldn't help thinking, 'Who cares what Newt Gingrich thinks?' And I don't mean that in the partisan sense. I mean it in the journalistic sense: How do Gingrich's daily pronouncements about the fundamental dishonesty of Democrats (Newt's favorite phrase) translate into news? Why does the press, 10 years after Gingrich was forced out of office, still treat his every partisan utterance as a newsworthy occurrence? In other words, why does the press still treat him like he's speaker of the House? It's unprecedented.
Eric wrote that seven months ago. It's still true.
Keep in mind, "Meet the Press" didn't have the actual Speaker of the House on at all this year. It also featured zero appearances from all of the other living former House Speakers (Hastert, Wright, Foley) combined.
There's just no reasonable explanation for this. Gingrich was forced from office in disgrace -- by his own caucus -- 11 years ago. What's more, he's kind of a nut -- we're talking about a former office holder who speculated, just last week, about hidden messages from God in snowstorms.And yet, no other political figure was on "Meet the Press" more this year than crazy ol' Newt Gingrich. If someone can explain why, I'm all ears.
Announcing the 2009 P.U.-Litzer Prizes
FAIR. Posted December 28, 2009.
WASHINGTON - December 22 - For 17 years our colleagues Jeff Cohen and Norman Solomon have worked with FAIR to present the P.U.-Litzers, a year-end review of some of the stinkiest examples of corporate media malfeasance, spin and just plain outrageousness.
Starting this year, FAIR has the somewhat dubious honor of reviewing the nominees and selecting the winners. It's a dirty job, but someone has to do it. So, without further ado, we present the 2009 P.U.-Litzers.
--The Remembering Reagan Award WINNER: Joe Klein, Time
Time columnist Joe Klein (12/3/09), not altogether impressed by Obama's announcement of a troop escalation in Afghanistan, wrote that a president "must lead the charge--passionately and, yes, with a touch of anger."
He described the better way to do this:
Ronald Reagan would have done it differently. He would have told a story. It might not have been a true story, but it would have had resonance. He might have found, or created, a grieving spouse--a young investment banker whose wife had died in the World Trade Center--who enlisted immediately after the attacks...and then gave his life, heroically, defending a school for girls in Kandahar. Reagan would have inspired tears, outrage, passion, a rush to recruiting centers across the nation.
Ah, Reagan--now there was a president who could inspire people to fight and die based on lies.
--The Cheney 2012 Award WINNER: Jon Meacham, Newsweek
Newsweek editor Jon Meacham declared (12/7/09) that Dick Cheney running for president in 2012 would be "good for the Republicans and good for the country." He explained that "Cheney is a man of conviction, has a record on which he can be judged, and whatever the result, there could be no ambiguity about the will of the people.... A campaign would also give us an occasion that history denied us in 2008: an opportunity to adjudicate the George W. Bush years in a direct way."
While the 2008 election might have seemed a sufficient judgment of the Bush years, it's worth pointing out that at beginning of the year (1/19/09), Meacham was adamantly opposed to re-hashing Cheney's record, calling it "the rough equivalent of pornography--briefly engaging, perhaps, but utterly predictable and finally repetitive." The difference? That was in response to the idea that Cheney should be held accountable for lawbreaking. Apparently a few months later, the same record is grounds for a White House run.
--The Them Not Us Award WINNER: Martin Fackler, New York Times
The New York Times (11/21/09) describes the severe problems with Japan's elite media--a horror show where "reporters from major news media outlets are stationed inside government offices and enjoy close, constant access to officials. The system has long been criticized as antidemocratic by both foreign and Japanese analysts, who charge that it has produced a relatively spineless press that feels more accountable to its official sources than to the public. In their apparent reluctance to criticize the government, the critics say, the news media fail to serve as an effective check on authority."
The mind reels.
--Thin-Skinned Pundits Award WINNER: Dana Milbank, Washington Post
Washington Post reporters Dana Milbank and Chris Cilizza got into trouble when, in an episode of their "Mouthpiece Theater" web video series, they suggested brands of beer that would be appropriate for various politicians. What would Hillary Clinton drink? Apparently something called "Mad Bitch." The video, unsurprisingly, was roundly criticized, and was pulled from the Post site. So what lesson was learned? Milbank complained (8/6/09) that "it's a brutal world out there in the blogosphere.... I'm often surprised by the ferocity out there, but I probably shouldn't be."
--The Sheer O'Reillyness Award WINNER: Bill O'Reilly, Fox News Channel--TWICE!
1) Asked by a Canadian viewer, "Has anyone noticed that life expectancy in Canada under our health system is higher than the USA?," Fox's O'Reilly (7/27/09) responded: "Well, that's to be expected, Peter, because we have 10 times as many people as you do. That translates to 10 times as many accidents, crimes, down the line."
2) Drumming up fear of Democrats' tax plans: "Nancy Pelosi and her far-left crew want to raise the top federal tax rate to 45 percent. That's not capitalism. That's Fidel Castro stuff, confiscating wages that people honestly earn."
Perhaps Castro was president of the United States in 1982-86, when the top rate was 50 percent. Or maybe all of the 1970s, when it was 70 percent. Or from 1950-63, when it was 91 percent.
--The Less Talk, More Bombs Award WINNER: David Broder, Washington Post
Post columnist Broder expressed the conventional wisdom on Barack Obama's deliberations on the Afghanistan War, writing under the headline "Enough Afghan Debate" (11/15/09):
It is evident from the length of this deliberative process and from the flood of leaks that have emerged from Kabul and Washington that the perfect course of action does not exist. Given that reality, the urgent necessity is to make a decision--whether or not it is right.
--The Racism Is Dead Award WINNER: Richard Cohen, Washington Post
Post columnist Richard Cohen wrote (5/5/09): "The justification for affirmative action gets weaker and weaker. Maybe once it was possible to argue that some innocent people had to suffer in the name of progress, but a glance at the White House strongly suggests that things have changed. For most Americans, race has become supremely irrelevant. Everyone knows this. Every poll shows this."
For the record, "every poll" does not actually show this; the vast majority of Americans continues to recognize that racism is still a problem. Cohen went on to write months later--still presumably living in his racism-free world--that he did not believe Iran's claims about its nuclear program, because "these Persians lie like a rug."
--The When in Doubt, Talk to the Boss Award WINNER: Matt Lauer, NBC News
Today show host Lauer announced a special guest on April 15: "If you really want to know how the economy is affecting the average American, he's the guy to talk to." Who was Lauer talking about? Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke. The ensuing interview touched on the Employee Free Choice Act, which Lauer noted was supported by many unions but opposed by some large corporations--leading him to ask Duke, "What's the truth?" Yes, look for "the truth" about a proposed pro-labor bill from the new CEO of an adamantly anti-labor corporation.
--The Socialist Menace Award WINNER: Michael Freedman, Newsweek
Newsweek's "We Are All Socialists Now" cover (2/16/09) certainly turned heads, but one of the stories inside explained in more detail the real threat. As senior editor Michael Freedman asked: "Have you noticed that Barack Obama sounds more like the president of France every day?"
The real problem, though, is what that's going to do to us Americans, says Freedman: "If job numbers continue to look dismal, or get even worse, an ever-greater number of people will start looking to the government for support.... It's very easy to imagine a chorus of former American individualists demanding cushy French-style pensions and free British-style healthcare if their private stock funds fail to recover and unemployment inches upward toward 10 percent and remains there."
Pensions and healthcare for all--this is worse than we thought!
--The Iraq All Over Again Award WINNER: Too Many to Name
After the invasion of Iraq, countless journalists who had treated allegations about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction as facts were embarrassed when there were no such weapons to be found. So you'd think they'd be more careful about thinly sourced claims that Iran is seeking nuclear weapons. But in 2009, many journalists are still willing to treat such allegations as facts.
-NBC's Chris Matthews (10/4/09): "As if Afghanistan were not enough, now there's Iran's move to get nuclear weapons."
-NBC's David Gregory (10/4/09). "Iran--will talks push that country to give up its nuclear weapons program?"
-Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (9/25/09): "All hell breaking loose as a new nuclear weapons facility is discovered in Iran, proving the mullahs have been lying for years.... Iran's nuclear weapons program has now reached critical mass. And worldwide conflict is very possible. Friday, President Obama, British Prime Minister Brown and French President Sarkozy revealed a secret nuclear weapons facility located inside Iran."
Some even went further, turning allegations of a nuclear weapons program into the discovery of actual nuclear weapons:
-ABC's Good Morning America host Bill Weir (9/26/09): "President Obama and a united front of world leaders charge Iran with secretly building nuclear weapons."
--The Talking Like a Terrorist Award WINNER: Thomas Friedman, New York Times
In a January 14 column, New York Times superstar pundit Tom Friedman explained Israel's war on Lebanon as an attempt to "educate" the enemy by killing civilians: The Israeli strategy was to "inflict substantial property damage and collateral casualties on Lebanon at large. It was not pretty, but it was logical." Friedman added, "The only long-term source of deterrence was to exact enough pain on the civilians--the families and employers of the militants--to restrain Hezbollah in the future." That strategy of targeting civilians to advance a political agenda is usually known as terrorism; Osama bin Laden couldn't have explained it much better.
--The It Only Bothers Us Now Award WINNER: Wall Street Journal editorial page
When Barack Obama only called on journalists from a list during a press conference, the Wall Street Journal did not like the new protocol (2/12/09):"We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors."
Actually, Bush was famous for calling only on reporters on an approved list; as he joked at a press conference on the eve of the Iraq War (3/6/03), "This is scripted."
--The No Comment Award WINNERS: MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski and Rush Limbaugh
When asked by Politico (10/16/09) to name her favorite guest, MSNBC host Mika Brzezinski named arch-conservative Pat Buchanan "because he says what we are all thinking."
Rush Limbaugh on Obama (Fox News Channel, 1/21/09): "We are being told that we have to hope he succeeds, that we have to bend over, grab the ankles...because his father was black."
FAIR, the national media watch group, has been offering well-documented criticism of media bias and censorship since 1986. We work to invigorate the First Amendment by advocating for greater diversity in the press and by scrutinizing media practices that marginalize public interest, minority and dissenting viewpoints.
What a media. What a country. What a joke. The original is here.
Sunday, December 27, 2009
France (2) - cologne and perfume
Bangladesh (1) - flannel pajamas
Vietnam (3) - mens wool dress pants; mens polyester dress pants; underwear
Mexico (1) - blue jeans
Pakistan (2) - white socks; dress socks
Honduras (2) - mens dress shirt; (different maker) mens dress shirt
Lesotho (1) - denim jeans (yes, Lesotho)
China (3) - flannel shirt; art sketch book; griddle
USA (5) - cologne; perfume; book; book; personal lube (say what?)
What? The USA produces more products than any other country on the list?! Yes, indeed. Granted, this is just an informal product listing, and most of the products listed above are clothing, but I thought it was interesting.
We will go to any corner of the planet to make products as cheaply as possible. It's a little bit disgusting, even if I, as an American, am the beneficiary of all of this outsourcing, in the form of cheaper prices of goods. In one example, my wife bought me a couple of dress shirts for less money than she paid for similar shirts over 20 years ago! Is that a success of capitalism? Globalization? Is it the same thing?
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Recent stories like:
The Most Dangerous Christmas Toys!
Tiger Woods: Philanderer and Christian Basher!
Jesus is Going to Kill My Son if You Don't Help Me!
The Devil Is In Your Chimney! Is Santa Claus, Satan?
Go see for yourself by clicking here.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Plethoric are the theories, the pop psychoanalysis, the dime store hypothesis. In the wake of Tiger's epic fail, we hereby present a quick rundown of the real reasons many men cheat, as compiled by the whims and vagaries of the baffled, needy male ego for the past, oh, about two million years.
Basically, men cheat* because:
- Their penis told them to.
- The penis is always right.
- Unless it's not. Unless it's totally, blindingly wrong. But that's really not possible. Just ask it. Wait a sec, it's busy with that Vegas waitress. OK, go ahead. See?
- The man's marriage is sexless and loveless and boring, and he has needs that must -- nay MUST -- be met. Just ask the penis.
- The wife has low/no libido, whereas the man has enough for nine teenagers and a box of rabbits.
- No, really. The male libido, generally speaking, far outpaces the female libido and is never really satisfied for more than a day or two, tops. This is why so many men choose to be gay. Gay sex is like, off the hook! It's true! I read that somewhere. Lesbians, on the other hand, often suffer a terrible fate known as "lesbian bed death." You can Google it.
- #6 is a totally unfair cliché that doesn't always hold true, and, by the way, all men are pigs. I mean, duh.
- The kids steal all the love/attention/energy from wife, leaving man with noth ing but XTube, golf and vodka.
- One word: Ego. Three more: ego, ego, ego. Nothing like nailing a beautiful female acolyte to boost self-image, over and over again, as she coos your name adoringly and feigns surprise that you just bought her a Mercedes.
- Or is it the other way around, and many women are shockingly predatory, often hunting for rich, powerful men who will buy them stuff and give them a shred of self worth by association, because the truth is, they have no identity of their own, and all they have is sex, which they wield like an ax made of lip gloss and open hip flexors and Cosa Bella thongs?
- Man is a rock star/golfer/politician/televangelist and women -- or gay prostitutes -- are knocking on his hotel-room door day an d night, and the penis is like, are you going to answer that?
- Man's marriage is basically a sham, held together only for the sake of kids and media and multimillion-dollar Nike endorsement deals, and to pay for mansions, guitar-shaped swimming pools and giant chrome rims for the Escalade.
- Se x is tasty and delicious and should not be denied to mere mortals like weak and meager little men.
- Man is insecure, and sex makes him feel wanted and powerful.
- Man is very secure, and sex makes him feel even more wanted and powerful.
- Man is impervious. He cannot possibly get caught.
- Man is impervious. He does not care if he gets caught.
- Wife won't do various kinky/perverted things man has taken a liking to from scouring Interweb at 3 a.m. whilst moderately drunk and naked. Wife has zero sex skills. Wife hates sex. Wife only grudgingly has it when she has to to shut up his whining. Wife is disgusted by his dirty suggestions for the new video camera. Wife has let herself go. Wife will only have sex if it leads to mo re babies. Wife is Sarah Palin. Mix and match.
- Sex is not love. Cheating is not really "cheating," per se, given how most men consider casual sex romps to be just slightly above "meatball sandwich and an ice cold beer" and just below "hitting 210 mph in Porsche Carrera Turbo while tripping on acid in a lake of fire" in the Male Desirables Index.
- Man has become convinced the human animal is not meant to really be monogamous, that fidelity is for Hallmark cards and Mormons and has no bearing on real life. Man is simply not wired to mate for life. Hey, it was on the Discovery Channel!
- Wife actually gave man permission that one time when she was really drunk after being handed keys to new Bentley and a house.
- Except she wasn't drunk at all and knew exactly what she was doing.
- And so did he.
- Quit making excuses. Man is a pathetic, sexist jackass and always has been, basically.
- Which makes you wonder why she married him at all.
- Maybe she thought she could fix him. That's pretty common.
- Or maybe he was very, very convincing when he said he'd changed, that his playa days were over, that he loved her and needed her and never wanted to have sex with anyone else, ever -- no really, I mean it this time.
- Which was probably true.
- When he said it.
- And she wanted to believe it so badly. "Maybe marriage would change him? Or a couple kids? He's ready to settle down, I can feel it."
- Even though everyone around them was like, "Oh my God, that's a disaster waiting to happen, right there. He's such a letch. Why doesn't she see it? Should someone tell her? Is she just not very bright?
- "I mean, he just totally hit on me at their Christmas party. And she was like, 10 feet away! Of course, I slept with him. But never mind that now!"
- Let's flip it over. Maybe wife is a ruthless, nightmare harridan, relentlessly negative and mean. He can do no right. He is lonely and starved for attention. But they have kids, a home. Divorce is ugly, expensive, public. So...
- Oh, stop it. There is never any valid reason for cheating, even if she's an abusive monster. There are only excuses.
- Thank you, Elle magazine. You are childish and wrong and do not live in the real world. Go back to your pink pedi and "Twilight."
- Bite me.
- Man is entitled. "I deserve lots of casual sex. After all, I didn't work this hard on my business/golf game/these abs not to have them licked by a wide variety of giggly TGI Friday's hostesses. Wait, did I? No. No I did not."
- Porn made him do it.
- Sex addiction. He's a victim.
- And a sinner! We are all sinners. Who are you to judge? Sinner! You! Now take off your pants and get in the goddamn hot tub already.
- Man fears mortality.
- Man fears erectile dysfunction.
- Man fears fear.
- Man fears deranged fan will beat him/kill herself/post photos on Facebook if he doesn't have more sex with her. What's he supposed to do?
- Man is getting back at his mother.
- Invisible friend.
- Invisible friend's priest's mother.
- Wife has tacitly agreed to don't-ask, don't-tell policy WRT his fooling around, and is not at all unhappy with having $20 million in her checking account while she never has to have sex with her husband. Hello, American dream!
- Organized religions and entire conservative platform essentially say that women are lesser, lower, should be kept in their place, and that place usually involves denial and alcoholism and blind acceptance of your man's wanton indiscretions, because he's the man and that's all there is to it, so shut up and take another Zoloft and keep your crying to yourself. Yay, GOP!
- Didn't Jesus fool around? Is that written somewhere? The lost Gospel of Hey Baby, Nice Rack? All those prostitutes and magic and hocus-pocus? I bet he did. Dude could walk on water. Chicks love that.
- And by the way, isn't cheating sort of God's will? I mean, He's omniscient and everything, right? That means He knows it all before it happens, it's all predetermined and fated and a priori, and therefore he knows we're gonna cheat, right? So it must be OK.
- Hey, temptation is irresistible. Who can say no to a secret illicit romp on the office conference-room table?
- ... or on the boss's desk?
- ... or in the principal's office?
- ... Wal-Mart parking lot?
- ... iHop walk-in freezer?
- ... 1995 Chevy Caravan third row fold-down seating?
- Men don't cheat, actually, at least not nearly as much as the culture/feminist theory thinks.
- They actually value and cherish emotional connection just as much as women. It's true. Media blows it all out of proportion. So not fair.
- So essentially, we're talking about the classic, time-honored breakdown in communication and gender understanding, exacerbated by horrible sex education and Dr. Phil's BS and endless lies from fashion magazines and Oprah and porn.
- Actually, the headline of this column is sort of misleading. Men don't cheat. Some men do, and some women do, for all sort of reasons, some of which are actually sort of valid, if you will, and to insist on some ironclad universal rule of absolute unquestioning fidelity is to presume a ridiculous, impossible level of perfection in the human animal and to dismiss the million messy, complicated variants a human love relationship can take.
- Oh, just shut the hell up, #63. No one wants to hear your tepid, permissive psychoanalysis. Cheating is wrong. Always and forever. Now let's talk more about drunk jerks and skanks!
- Hey, I'm just trying to provide a little perspective, rein it all back in. This is getting out of hand.
- Whatevs. This entire column is built around a totally ludicrous and unanswerable question, anyway. Sure, there are as many reasons for infidelity as there are human emotions. Life is messy. Love is messier. But mostly it's about the penis.
- Yes, but ...
- Just stop it.
69-100. Something to do with monkeys.
101. Love is not your bitch.
* NOTE: Many of these also apply to women who cheat. So don't kid yourself, sister.The original is here. Go and see the ads.
Friday, December 18, 2009
Deepest volcano caught on Pacific Ocean video
Amazing video has been obtained in the Pacific Ocean of the deepest undersea eruption ever recorded.
The pictures show lavas bursting into the water at the West Mata submarine volcano, which is sited about 200km (125 miles) south-west of the Samoas.
The West Mata expedition was funded by the US National Science Foundation and the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Go here. Imagine. The US doing science! Hallelujah!
Human-like fossil find is breakthrough of the year
By Victoria Gill
Science reporter, BBC News
The discovery of a fossilised skeleton that has become a "central character in the story of human evolution" has been named the science breakthrough of 2009.
The 4.4 million year old creature, that may be a human ancestor, was first described in a series of papers in the journal Science in October.
It has now been recognised by the journal's editors as the most important scientific accomplishment of this year.
It is part of a scientific top 10 that ranges from space science to genetics.
The first fossils of the species, Ardipithecus ramidus, were unearthed in 1994. Scientists recognised their importance immediately.
But the very poor condition of the ancient bones meant that it took researchers 15 years to excavate and analyse them.
An artist's impression of Ardipithecus ramidus. Scientists say the creature is a central character in the story of human evolution
The most important thing to emerge from that excavation was the partial skeleton of a female creature, which has now been nicknamed "Ardi".
An international team of scientists unveiled the skeleton in a series of scientific papers published in Science in October.
Their careful examination of its skull, teeth, pelvis, hands and feet revealed that Ardi shared a mixture of "primitive" traits shared with its predecessors, and "derived" features, which it shared with later hominids, or human-like creatures.
It shared some of these derived features with humans.
Professor Tim White from the University of California, Berkeley in the US, was one of the lead scientists working on the project.
"This is not an ordinary fossil. It's not a chimp. It's not a human. It shows us what we used to be," he told Science Magazine at the time the research was published.
One of his team's key conclusions was that Ardi walked upright. This was based on the painstaking reassembly of its very badly crushed pelvis, which the scientists said had a shape that would have allowed Ardi to balance on one leg at a time.
Professor White said that some researchers had been sceptical about these conclusions.
"Some people have looked at the pelvis and said, 'my gosh, that's fairly squashed. Are you sure you knew how to put it together correctly?' So we're responding to that," he told Science magazine.
Ardipithecus was even more primitive than the famous "Lucy" fossil - a 3.2 million year old Australopithecus skeleton that was discovered in 1974.
Professor Chris Stringer, a palaeontologist from the Natural History Museum in London said that Ardi was likely "a remnant of a more ancient stage of human evolution" than Lucy.
"[It was] closer in many ways to the ancestor we shared with our closest living relatives, the chimpanzees, more than six million years ago," he said.
Earlier this year, Nasa deliberately crashed a rocket into its surface and discovered water vapour in the debris
Nasa's discovery of water on the Moon was one of the runners up
The editor-in-chief of Science said that the Ardipithecus research represented a "culmination of 15 years of painstaking, highly collaborative research by 47 scientists of diverse expertise from nine nations."
The nine runners up in Science's list of this year's most important breakthroughs were published in a number of scientific journals, including Science, Nature and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The first runner up was Nasa's discovery of magnetised, rapidly rotating neutron stars called pulsars.
Others included the discovery that a compound called rapamycin boosted longevity in mice - the first time any drug has stretched a mammal's life span - and advances in gene therapy that could help treat a fatal brain disease.
The nine runners up were:
* Pulsar mystery: Nasa's Fermi gamma-Ray Space Telescope helped identify previously unknown pulsars - highly magnetised and rapidly rotating neutron stars.
* Extending life: Researchers found the compound rapamycin extends the life span of mice. The discovery was particularly remarkable because the treatment did not start until the mice were middle-aged.
* Supreme conduction: Materials scientists probed the properties of graphene - highly conductive single-layer sheets of carbon atoms - and started fashioning the material into experimental electronic devices.
* Plant survival: Scientists discovered the structure of a critical molecule that helps plants survive during droughts. This could help in the design of new ways to protect crops against prolonged dry periods.
* Laser tool: The SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in California unveiled the world's first X-ray laser, a powerful research tool capable of taking snapshots of chemical reactions as they happen and studying materials in unprecedented detail.
* Gene Therapy: European and US researchers made progress in treating a fatal brain disease, inherited blindness, and a severe immune disorder by developing new strategies involving gene therapy.
* Magnetic monopoly: Physicists working with strange crystalline materials called spin ices created magnetic ripples that behaved like "magnetic monopoles" - fundamental particles with only one magnetic pole.
* Watery Moon: Nasa discovered water vapour in the debris when it deliberately crashed a rocket near the south pole of the Moon. The experiment was part of the space agency's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission.
* Hubble Repair: A final repair mission by space shuttle astronauts gave the Hubble telescope sharper vision, enabling it to produce some of its most spectacular images yet.
The original story is here.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
Senate Unveils CompromiseCare™
WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report) - The United States Senate today unveiled details of its health care plan, tentatively called CompromiseCare™:
- Under CompromiseCare™, people with no coverage will be allowed to keep their current plan.
- Medicare will be extended to 55-year-olds as soon as they turn 65.
- You will have access to cheap Canadian drugs if you live in Canada.
- States whose names contain vowels will be allowed to opt out of the plan.
- You get to choose which doctor you cannot afford to see.
- You will not have to be pre-certified to qualify for cremation.
- A patient will be considered "pre-existing" if he or she already exists.
- You'll be free to choose between medications and heating fuel.
- Patients can access quality health care if they can prove their name is "Lieberman."
- You will be entitled to natural remedies, such as death. More here.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Free Shipping Day is Thursday, December 17, 2009
713 participating merchants will be offering free shipping with delivery by Christmas Eve.
The Free Shipping Day promotions for participating merchants will be revealed on Thursday, December 17 at 12:00AM EST. Some merchants may have minimum order restrictions. More than half will have free shipping on all orders.
Click here to see a list of the retailers that will offer free shipping.
Last night, we attended her company holiday party at a local Mexican food restaurant. As we were walking up to the restaurant, I groaned, because I could see inside the restaurant to where our party was going to be (the Party Room), and there most everyone was, standing around chatting. So, what's the big deal about that? My feet. Thanks to my two foot surgeries, my new and improved f&2!ng! neuroma in my right foot, tarsal tunnel in both feet and the osteoarthritis in my left foot, I simply cannot stand in one place very long. I have to sit. A lot.
Fortunately, my job allows me to sit quite frequently. So, I knew my feet were not going to be happy, and sure enough, after just a few minutes of visiting, they - my feet - began screaming me at and I had to sit down. The only one to sit. I tried to explain that I was not being socially aloof or anything, that it was my feet that caused me to sit, and they believe me, but it still sucks.
And so, oh wait, oh yeah, this post isn't about ME, it's about my wonderful wife.
The food was served buffet-style, with several warming trays full of rice and beans, fajita meat and sliced chicken, tortillas, shish-ka-bobs, and a fish dish. It all seemed fine at the time...
After one margarita, the wife was feeling no pain and spread her social butterfly wings, flitting about the room chatting up her co-workers. Meanwhile, I sat, practically in a corner. Poor pitiful me.
She was feeling quite frisky and fine when we got home and eventually hit the sack before 10:00pm.
About 4:00am, she awoke with severe stomach pain, stumbled to the bathroom and got sick (ok - vomited). Back to bed, fell asleep, awoke to more pain, more vomiting. This went on for a few hours. In no time, she was having the dry heaves. Nothing left in her stomach, but her stomach insists on violently convulsing just the same. You've probably been there. It's hell. And it's scary for a caregiver to watch. You're just powerless to do anything to relieve the pain and suffering.
She told me she had some violent chills, the type where your body just shivers out of control and you can't stop it. That's a symptom of the flu.
I called my job to explain my absence from work. It's rather hard for me to just go to work and leave her to her own devices. I just can't do it.
She told me she had a splitting headache, another flu symptom.
Her temperature measured 97.1. Hmmm...the H1N1 is hitting but without the fever.
So, at this point, we thought maybe she was getting the flu. Or, at best, a severe case of food poisoning. She could not hold down any liquids. Didn't want to even THINK about eating. Even a tiny sip of water would be violently rejected within minutes. No doubt she was getting dehydrated.
I called up our General Practitioner about her symptoms and they phoned me in a Rx of promethegan in suppository form, at least to stop the vomiting. It's a bit harder to throw those up. We gave her that medicine about 9:30am and she was able to go to sleep. She hasn't thrown up since that time. No more chills. No fever - it vacillates between 97 and 99, pretty normal.
One of the main missing symptoms is chest pain, so that was good. With the flu, it can feel like you've been hit in your chest by a bowling ball traveling at a high rate of speed.
When she woke around 11am, she tells me she is aching all over. This is new and not good. That's a major symptom of flu, so I call up the doc again and ask for a Tamiflu Rx. His assistant says that the doc will call me back soon, and he will probably want to see her. (Take her to the doc in this condition? If we must...)
Fortunately, she's sleeping pretty well, perhaps thanks to the Rx. I brought her a little soup and crackers for lunch, just to put something in her stomach, and she has kept it down.
Thank goodness the vomiting has stopped. She has had a mild case of asthma for awhile, and vomiting of any kind can kick that asthma into overdrive. The flu has been known to kill a lot of asthma patients. It was scary as hell to hear her vomiting and gasping for breath at the same time. Fortunately she hasn't hurled in a few hours now.
Eventually, about 2pm, the doc calls back and talks to her on the phone for several minutes. We love this doctor, even if he is "out of the network." By this time, no more aching. No fever. No chills. No headache. No chest pain. Just very tired, and a sore stomach, from the multiple vomits, most likely.
He's leaning towards either a stomach bug or food poisoning. No need to come in at this time, unless the symptoms get worse. We'll give her her next suppository soon, and we'll call the doc Thursday morning.
Meanwhile, I missed my company's holiday lunch and White Elephant gift exchange today. It would have been a little hard to be sociable and have a good time when I was worried about how my sweetie was doing, so I had to skip it. Sorry, friends.
Believe me, I tossed out all the leftovers we brought home from the restaurant last night.
This seems like a good time to list Flu vs Cold symptoms again. Woulda been handy to have a third column for food poisoning.
|Fever||Fever is rare with a cold.||Fever is usually present with the flu in up to 80% of all flu cases. A temperature of 100°F or higher for 3 to 4 days is associated with the flu.|
|Coughing||A hacking, productive (mucus- producing) cough is often present with a cold.||A non-productive (non-mucus producing) cough is usually present with the flu (sometimes referred to as dry cough).|
|Aches||Slight body aches and pains can be part of a cold.||Severe aches and pains are common with the flu.|
|Stuffy Nose||Stuffy nose is commonly present with a cold and typically resolves spontaneously within a week.||Stuffy nose is not commonly present with the flu.|
|Chills||Chills are uncommon with a cold.||60% of people who have the flu experience chills.|
|Tiredness||Tiredness is fairly mild with a cold.||Tiredness is moderate to severe with the flu.|
|Sneezing||Sneezing is commonly present with a cold.||Sneezing is not common with the flu.|
|Sudden Symptoms||Cold symptoms tend to develop over a few days.||The flu has a rapid onset within 3-6 hours. The flu hits hard and includes sudden symptoms like high fever, aches and pains.|
|Headache||A headache is fairly uncommon with a cold.||A headache is very common with the flu, present in 80% of flu cases.|
|Sore Throat||Sore throat is commonly present with a cold.||Sore throat is not commonly present with the flu.|
|Chest Discomfort||Chest discomfort is mild to moderate with a cold.||Chest discomfort is often severe with the flu.|
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A volcanic Q&A.
The following questions were answered by expert volcanologist Dr. Stanley WilliamsHow long does it take for a volcano to cool?
Volcanoes usually have a life of many thousands of years. Once a volcano has begun to erupt, it usually takes about ten years before that particular eruption comes to an end. Sometimes the eruption lasts for hundreds of years.
How does a volcano build up the pressure to erupt?
The magma (molten rock) which is erupted from a volcano comes from deep inside the earth — usually from about 150 kilometers deep. The pressure there is enormous. The pressure forces the magma to rise through the crust of solid rocks, creating a volcanic eruption.
Do volcanoes spew ash or lava first?
Volcanoes release ash at the beginning of an eruption because the amount of gas is very high and it drives the explosions. After that time, the lava may come out but it usually has very little energy, so it is not very dangerous.
How can you tell if a volcanic eruption might occur?
Volcanoes that are approaching an eruption will usually have unusual earthquakes and emit very different gases. Some of the volcanoes even change shape — like the "bulge" of Mount St. Helens that moved toward Seattle at about four meters per day. Forecasting volcanoes is still very hard because we don't usually have the right measurements before it happens. In Mexico in 1993, we measured a really high release of sulfur dioxide, one of the volcanic gases, and warned the Mexican government of the possibility of an eruption. It finally erupted just before Christmas. Forecasting an eruption is the main reason for our research and it is really very difficult. What we need, as scientists, is more eruptions! We need more chances to test our ideas or hypotheses.
How many volcanoes erupt every day?
The Smithsonian Institution has the Global Volcanism Network and a monthly bulletin about eruptions. About 50 to 60 eruptions happen each month. Some volcanoes are in constant activity — Stromboli, Kilauea, or Sakurajima, for example. There are many examples of volcanoes which show some sign of renewed danger and then erupt within an hour, though more commonly, within one day. Most eruptions last hours but some continue for weeks and months.
How many times does the average volcano erupt each century?
I would say that the average volcano erupts about one time every 100 years, but that varies from one volcano to the next. My favorite, Masaya, has been very active every 25 years, but has not had any important eruptions for about 200 years.
At what speed does a volcano erupt?
There are many different speeds that we try to measure or estimate with erupting volcanoes. When volcanoes erupt explosively, they throw rocks at velocities of 200300 m/sec. After the initial eruption, the volcanoes may release a lava flow. The lava flow usually goes slowly — a few m/hour.
Can volcanoes blow up out the sides, rather than top?
Mount St. Helens is a good example of a volcano blowing out of the side. That is not an unusual thing.
What was the largest volcanic eruption?
Approximately 75,000 years ago, the volcano Toba, in Indonesia, had the largest volcanic eruption ever known.
What was the worst explosion in modern times?
The worst eruption was that of Tambora, in Indonesia. In 1815, this eruption killed about 90,000 people.
Where and when did the first volcano erupt?
The first volcanic eruption happened before the first human existed. The earth has had erupting volcanoes since just about the first years that it existed — about four and a half billion years ago. In fact, some of the best places for finding the fossils of ancient humans are in east Africa because they are buried in ashes of ancient volcanoes that erupted around them. Of course, the other planets in our solar system have erupting volcanoes on them, as well.