Dave Stancliff 2011-01-02 blogarama.com

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Woman Dances 123 Hours to Set Guinness World Record

woman dances 123 hours guinness,Mohiniyattam,Kalamandalam Hemalatha,Kalamandalam Hemalatha practiced 10 hours a day,Mohiniyattam eight classical dance forms

When a woman dances for 123 hours, it's going to be news.

Especially when it turns out to be a Guinness-worthy world record. And if you've never heard of the Indian dance called the Mohiniyattam before, that's why she did it.

Hemalatha trained harder than a lot of pro athletes. She practiced the Mohiniyattam for 10 hours a day and ran 28 miles to work on her stamina, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

A lesson for humans on working together and acting responsibly

This level of social organization is described as eusocial. As well as benefitting the colony, the researchers believe that this ability to change jobs may also lead to longer life spans in social insects compared to their solitary cousins…

BBC Animal ScienceCentral American leaf-cutter ants “retire” from their cutting role when they grow old, switching to carrying when their jaws blunt with age. Leaf-cutter ants start their lives with razor-like jaws, or mandibles, to cut through the leaves they harvest. But as these “wear out”, the insects tend to carry the leaves cut by their younger counterparts.

The findings suggest that individual ants can extend their useful lifespan as their skills decline. They are reported in the journal Behaviour Ecology and Sociobiology. The US-based scientists discovered that older ants were significantly less efficient at cutting leaves. They estimated these older colony members’ “worn-out teeth” halved the speed at which the entire colony was able to harvest leaves. Story here.

Holiday drive traded free pot for food donations at dispensary

20101007_34654

I figure this was one for the books when it came to food drives. I’ve never heard of, or seen, one that rewarded the donors with doobies!

SOQUEL, Calif. (AP) — A California medical marijuana dispensary has raked in food donations with a unique offer: free pot.

The Granny Purps dispensary in Soquel, about 60 miles southeast of San Francisco, offered a complimentary marijuana cigarette for every four cans of food a patient brought in this holiday season. Each patient was limited to a maximum of three cigarettes a day.

The Santa Cruz Sentinel reports that the dispensary took in 11,000 pounds of food and handed out 2,000 marijuana cigarettes between November and Christmas Eve, when the promotion ended.

The food was donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank.

Democratic Congresswoman Giffords, others shot in Arizona

UPDATE Below

This is a breaking news story that just came minutes ago…

A Victim of political rage?

Gunman hits Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., in the head; sprays bullets into crowd

“Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head and an unknown number of others were wounded Saturday when an assailant sprayed bullets into an area where the lawmaker was meeting with constituents, congressional officials said.

Officials said one of the victims died soon after the attack, and others were taken to a nearby hospital.

There were conflicting reports on whether the congresswoman had died.”

UPDATE: 12:14 PST

According to Talking Points Memo

While NPR and CNN initially reported that Giffords and at least six others were killed in the shooting, local news confirmed with the hospital at 2:30 ET that she remains in surgery. We are expecting a news conference at 3:30 ET.

Related News – Why did this happen? Was it because Sarah Palin put her on a “target list?” The following provides clues…

Giffords has dealt with several violent incidents in the last year, mostly related to the health care reform vote. In August 2009 at another "Congress on Your Corner" event at a Douglas, AZ Safeway, one attendee dropped a gun.

Her office was vandalized in March 2010 after the health care vote. That same month, former Alaska governor Sarah Palin (R) put Giffords on SarahPAC's "target" list with a gun site over her district.

Giffords' opponent in a tough reelection campaign last fall, tea partier Jesse Kelly (R), reportedly held an event in June 2010 in which supporters were invited to shoot an M-16 with him to "Get On Target For Victory."

On at least two previous occasions, staff were concerned about violence. At one town hall event event, aides contacted police after an attendee left a gun, according to an account in the Huffington Post. And in March, 2010, a few hours after her vote in favor of the Affordable Care Act, somebody smashed in the window of her district office.

ODD REACTION FROM LOCAL BLOGGER

Apparently Eric at So Hum Parlance decided to censor my comments regarding the Congresswoman’s death, and a link to TPM about Palin putting her on a “Target List.” I wonder what brought that about? He’s never censored anything I said before and it wasn’t like I was “off thread” or being troll-like in any way.

GUMAN WAS DESCRIBED AS “LEFT-WING LIBERAL” (3:25 PST)

A young woman in Arizona, Catie Parker, claimed on her Twitter feed that she went to high school and college with the gunman, and was in a band with him. She described his politics in the past as "left wing, quite liberal, & oddly obsessed with the 2012 prophecy." She also described him as having a lot of friends "until he got alcohol poisoning in '06" and dropped out of school. "Mainly loner very philosophical."

Friday, January 7, 2011

Friday flees with flowery memories…

image source unknown

Birds in trouble? Yes ... here's why

John Roach writes: Birds are indeed in trouble. But this trouble has nothing to do with freakish events such as the thousands of blackbirds that fell from the sky in Arkansas on New Year's Eve. Rather, experts say birds are falling prey to a laundry list of long-term threats ranging from pollution and habitat loss to climate change.

You think birds falling from the sky is weird? How about a meat shower?

One of the interesting theories that followed the “Kentucky Meat Shower” of 1876 was buzzards were suspected of vomiting up chunks of venison, and/or beef as they flew over Louisville. Apparently if the lead buzzard disgorges meat the rest of the flock will follow. That’s news to me.

This story was too fun to pass up sharing this morning:

Flocks of birds falling en masse from the sky in Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and even Sweden is strange, but these mysterious mass deaths don’t hold a candle to the “Kentucky Meat Shower” of 1876 when it comes to avian oddities.

“Flesh Descending in a Shower. An Astounding Phenomenon in Kentucky – Fresh Meat Like Mutton or Venison Falling  From A Clear Sky,” read the headline in the New York Times on March 10, 1876.

Read story here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Man with the golden voice reunites with his mother

Miracles can happen…ask Ted Williams, the man with the golden pipes!

I had to follow up this “feel good” story which I first posted yesterday.

It seems more like a movie than real life. Mr. Williams hit the jackpot without playing the lottery. I just hope the new found riches don’t lead him back to a life of drugs.

Former panhandler-turned-celebrity embraces mom for first time in 20 years

‘Study was a fraud’ - Doctor defends research tying vaccine to autism

Image: British doctor Andrew Wakefield, right, and his wife Carmel arriving at the General Medical Council (GMC) in central London

This is a troubling story for a lot of reasons. How many children, and adults, got sick, or died, because they weren’t vaccinated after reading that report?

I admit when I read the study I stopped getting vaccinations. Millions of parents nationwide did the same thing because of this one man. Now it’s almost impossible to calculate the damage he’s done. 

Excerpt:

New report shows Dr. Andrew Wakefield, colleagues altered facts about patients

The first study to link a childhood vaccine to autism was based on doctored information about the children involved, according to a new report on the widely discredited research.

The conclusions of the 1998 paper by Andrew Wakefield and colleagues were renounced by 10 of its 13 authors and later retracted by the medical journal Lancet, where it was published.

In an accompanying editorial, BMJ editor Fiona Godlee and colleagues called Wakefield's study "an elaborate fraud." They said Wakefield's work in other journals should be examined to see if it should be retracted.

Last May, Wakefield was stripped of his right to practice medicine in Britain. Many other published studies have shown no connection between the MMR vaccination and autism.”

PHOTO - British doctor Andrew Wakefield, right, and his wife Carmel arriving at the General Medical Council (GMC) in central London, Jan. 28, 2010 Shaun Curry  /  AFP - Getty Images file

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Weird Festivals: Empire Asparagus Festival is Artsy Fun

Empire Asparagus Festival, Empire, Mich. (courtesy of Paul & Heidi Skinner)

The Empire Asparagus Festival in Empire, Mich., is dedicated entirely to this perennial vegetable. Michigan is one of the top asparagus producers in the U.S., but since Empire is known more for its artsy side than its agricultural one, the festival includes many touches of whimsy. Each May, revelers gather to celebrate with a parade, a 5K fun run, asparagus hat-making and even an "ode to asparagus" poetry contest. The food at the festival is hardly your typical fair fare: You can dine on everything from deep-fried asparagus to asparagus bratwurst, and wash it all down with asparagus beer. To see more weird festivals go here.

‘Golden-voiced’ homeless man lands dream job, house

YouTube video sensation draws attention of Cleveland Cavaliers

Here’s a feel-good story to perk up your day: 

“An Internet video of a homeless man showing off his self-described “God-given gift of a great voice” has landed him a spot on a local radio show, a dream job with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a house. “The Cleveland Cavaliers just offered me a full-time job and a house! A house! A house!” Ted Williams said while appearing on a morning radio show in Columbus called “ Dave and Jimmy.”

The plot thickens? More dead birds found in Sweden

Image: Rescue chief Christer Olofsson poses with a dead bird in Falkoping

I’m starting to think these mass bird, and fish deaths, are Twilight Zone material. See posts below.

Veterinarian refuses to speculate on cause of death but is investigating

“First, New Year's Eve fireworks were blamed in central Arkansas for making thousands of blackbirds confused, crashing into homes, cars and each other. Then 300 miles to the south in Louisiana, power lines likely killed about 450 birds, littering a highway near Baton Rouge.”

AND…

“To add to the mystery, 50-100 jackdaws, a bird species in the crow family, fell dead in central Sweden late Tuesday night, English-language Swedish news website The Local reported Wednesday.”

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Okay…this is weird – more dead birds drop out of sky!

Image: Dead birds

The birds are dropping out of the skies in Arkansas and now Louisiana, and officials are playing it off like it’s no big deal.

I don’t think Americans are as dumb as these officials would like to think. Someone knows something about what’s going on. If I had to guess, I’s say it’s some biological agent in the upper atmosphere. It kills what passes through it. Perhaps whatever deadly agent is there comes down to the ground for whatever reasons and that would account for the 100,000 dead fish that are littering the banks of the Arkansas River not far from the first dead bird occurrence. There’s more than meets the eye here…

Excerpt:  

“Some 500 dead and dying birds fell onto a Louisiana highway on Monday, just three days after a similar incident in Arkansas.

The events have led to speculation running from poisonings to "End of Days" scenarios, but a key federal agency emphasized that mass bird die-offs are not that rare.”

Most of the birds found on Louisiana Highway 1 near Point Coupee were red-winged blackbirds, as was the case in Beebe, Ark., some 360 miles away. The species is one of the most common in the United States, with a population estimated at up to 200 million.

United Nations Human Rights Council Exposes US Secret Detention Facilities

image source

New study claims Depression gene really exists

Analysis of research finds link between gene variant and susceptibility to stress

“The 2003 discovery of a gene variant that seems to predispose people to depression when stressed out created great excitement — and a flood of research — in the field of psychiatry. In 2009, however, an analysis of research on the gene threw cold water on that enthusiasm by finding no consistent link between the gene variant and depression.”

Monday, January 3, 2011

Thoughts on two random images found in cyberspace…

Two random Images

One with a baby,

 the very personification of innocence;

compare that with

Madison Avenue 

advertising claims

 Then

Look at this paint

portrait that looks like it was randomly

splashed on the wall

with a miraculous

result: perfection and serenity! 

Up to 100,000 fish found dead along Arkansas River

Image: Dead fish

Okay…what the hell is going on in Arkansas? First it’s birds dropping out of the sky (SEE POST BELOW) and now it’s fish dying for unknown reasons!

Notice how in both cases authorities are quick to deny the problem is because of pollutants.

 Officials suspect disease, not pollutants, as cause of death

“State officials on Monday were investigating why 80,000 to 100,000 fish washed up dead on the shores of the Arkansas River last week.

"The fish deaths will take about a month" to determine a cause, Keith Stephens, a spokesman for the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, told msnbc.com.”

Mystery in Arkansas: Why did 2,000 dead birds fall from sky?

'I've been to Iraq and back and not seen nothing like this,' resident of Ark. town says

This is a troubling story. I can’t imagine what is killing those birds.

Did some biological agent escape from a lab? Is that why the birds are falling out of the sky?

I wonder if we’ll ever know the reason?

Sunday, January 2, 2011

What Me Worry? Hail to the age of the spell/grammar checker

Editor’s Note: Someone at the Times-Standard dropped the ball on New Year’s and didn’t run my column (below). Not the greatest way to start the New Year. I can only hope it’ll get better. 

                       By Dave Stancliff
Who needs to worry
about spelling and grammar any more?
In the age of Twitter and cell-phone texting neither matters. Fractured spelling is necessary to save space. Besides, who judges your grammar when using them? There’s a good chance your English teacher does the same thing.

We live in the Age of the Spell-Checker and the Grammar-Checker. They’re available to us when we use our computers and our smart, internet connected, cell phones.

When was the last time you picked up a dictionary or thesaurus? Did you know the world in which printed encyclopedias were produced and consulted has vanished? How many of these books are in your house? So why spend needless hours in school learning how to spell or to recognize a dangling modifier? 
Did you know that a dangling modifier is a phrase or clause, which says something different from what is meant because words are left out? The meaning of the sentence, therefore, is left "dangling."

If you’re a novice at translating Twitter tweets and text talk then you’re may be left dangling and wondering what has been written. Perhaps we ought to see if there’s a way to codify the fractured ramblings of millions of cyber communicators?
Upon second thought, any attempt to put structure to the tortured sentences that keep evolving among the tweeters and texters would probably be a failure. It would be rejected as quickly as our traditional methods of spelling and grammar. And why not?

Everyone is in a hurry. There’s just not enough time to learn all the rules of the English language. It’s rapidly becoming an unnecessary burden. There are new ways of thinking in the 21st Century that encourage shortcuts and speed.
Nowhere is poor spelling more evident than in protest rallies by the political Left and  Right. You know the ones I’m talking about. It’s common to see people proudly holding up misspelled signs and waving flags while trying to deliver scrambled messages of dissatisfaction.
  I seldom see news about Scripps National Spelling Bee contests anymore. Maybe I’m not paying attention. Spelling Bee competitions are reportedly making a comeback (see http://educationnext.org/competition-makes-a-comeback/). Be that as it may, I wonder how many of these phenomenal spellers bother to use their talents while texting or tweeting?

I’ve talked with students of all ages who tell me they have to bring “clickers” to class. A multiple choice exam is projected via computer and students click their answers. There’s less emphasis on written tests in all levels of education, from what I see.
  Computer technology in the class room has been hailed as a great teaching aid. Kids from kindergarten level up are comfortably pounding away at key boards and effortlessly navigating web sites. I wonder what would happen if parents sat their children down and asked them to hand write a short essay about their day? Could they write complete sentences with no spelling errors? How would their grammar level compare to yours when you where a kid? Are they able to write in legible cursive?

Should we blame all the funding cutbacks in our schools for our children’s inability to correctly use our written language? Perhaps we ought to take a look at the SAT Reasoning Test (formerly Scholastic Aptitude Test and Scholastic Assessment Test)? 

 This standardized test for college admissions in the United States has a Writing section that includes multiple choice questions and a brief essay. The essay contributes about 28% towards the total writing score, while the multiple choice questions contribute 72%. You see my point. 
  Plenty of statistics show the national decline in writing and spelling skills. It’s a trend. Like all trends, it’ll play itself out one day, but the aftermath spells illiteracy for another generation.

  
 As It Stands, thnk U 4 redng this n lol!