30 July 2023

Brief but spectacular

More on Judy Heumann's career as a disability rights activist at the BBC.

As a young girl she was a participant at Camp Jered, which is the subject of the film "Crip Camp."  The link has a trailer for the full-length movie, which is excellent.

29 July 2023

Miscellaneous humor

Selections from an assemblage at Bored Panda.

Addendum:  An expanded version of the Venn diagram, found by reader Mike Z:

28 July 2023

The problems with American political parties

An excellent longread article by Andrew Cockburn in Harper's Magazine reviews the writings of Walter Karp, "a passionate scholar of American political history who offered a bracing antidote to the popular beliefs of his own era."  Here are some salient excerpts:
Karp firmly believed that the actions of party leaders can be explained only if one understands that they are primarily motivated by the pursuit and retention of power; any suggestion that national interest, or even ideology, drives their decisions he considered delusional. Karp once wrote that “we can judge the character of public men only by what they actually do,” which all too often involved betraying the platform that got them elected, almost always to further their own political fortunes. In his estimation, Democrats and Republicans therefore had much in common; by prioritizing their own rule, the two parties operated on a principle of collusion—“for without it neither party organization could long survive.”..

Overall, Karp argued, the enduring goal of our dominant political institutions is to maintain control of the parties, a goal that can supersede even their supposed objective of winning elections. “The whole purpose of party organizations at every political level,” he wrote in his 1973 book Indispensable Enemies, “is to sift out, sidetrack and eliminate men of independent political ambition, men whom the party bosses cannot trust.”.. Those who argued the contrary were suggesting that, regardless of their actions, those in high office are essentially “men of goodwill,” which he deemed a “farfetched theory indeed.”..

On the “left,” one need look no further than the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the body that oversees election efforts for the House of Representatives. ...Its chair, always a Democratic House member chosen by party leadership, selects the DCCC’s executive director and other senior staff. This little-known group exercises immense power in deciding which campaigns receive the party’s blessing...

While the Democrats regularly provide textbook confirmation of Karp’s relevance, the Republicans’ record appears more complicated, given that their insurgency has seemingly triumphed. Mitch McConnell and the establishment he represents have long struggled to quell the mutiny that flowered in the 2010 election and continued through Donald Trump’s presidency. The effort continues to falter, partly thanks to the Democratic establishment’s failure to convict Trump, no matter the production value of the January 6 hearings... Part of the insurgents’ success may be attributed to a factor that Karp did not anticipate: the enabling of dark-money mega-donors, such as the Koch brothers and tech entrepreneur Peter Thiel, thereby loosening party control over finances, a vital tool for enforcing discipline. Nevertheless, the beleaguered leadership has done its best to combat what former house speaker John Boehner derides in his memoir On the House as a “freak show” of “lunatics” overly endowed with independent political ambition and difficult to control. ..

The year before, disaffected Republican voters in central Virginia defeated the House majority leader Eric Cantor, an oligarch if ever there was one, in a primary upset. The victor, the conservative college professor David Brat, outspent forty times over by his well-heeled opponent according to some calculations, ran a populist grassroots campaign focused on the federal deficit, opposition to “crony capitalists” in politics, and immigration. Few outside the district had paid much attention. One who did was Donald Trump, who arrived via helicopter at a Brat fundraiser around six weeks before he himself unveiled his presidential run. “Dave Brat is onto something,” he told organizers.

The Republican establishment reacted with fury to the defeat of one of its favorite sons. “They really hated Brat,” recalls a former Republican staffer who requested anonymity, “especially after he was a ringleader in overthrowing Boehner.” In 2016, Brat’s constituency was redistricted, losing Hanover, a Republican county...

Lately, however, a threat to the machine has emerged. In recent elections, Philadelphians have been voting for progressives in both city and state races... To fight the challenge, he garnered hefty financial support not only from his Democratic colleagues, but also from Republican mega-donor Jeffrey Yass...  “Think about that,” Holbrook said. “The Democratic machine was willing to go to Republican PACs to hold off a progressive challenger.”..

Meanwhile, in this year’s Senate Democratic primary, the [Pittsburgh] city machine endorsed Conor Lamb, a corporate-friendly congressman beloved by the national party. Lamb ran unsuccessfully against John Fetterman, the state’s lieutenant governor. Fetterman, a Sanders supporter, ran on a progressive social platform, supporting government-funded health care, legalized cannabis, and a reformed immigration system. (Fetterman has dodged attacks from pro-Israel PACs, having promised to “lean in” and strengthen relations with Israel.) His success, as well as Lee’s, surely gives the lie to the mantra that “progressives can’t win.”
I always feel badly about excerpting too much from a source, but there is lots more at the Harper's article.

FWIW, in my view the article is spot-on about the intentions and powers of the major political parties in this country.

A sweet memorial

Park bench in Brighton, via Bored Panda.

A butterfly field trip in Wisconsin

To be clear, this is not how a "typical" afternoon of butterflying goes.  This was filmed at a prime location by an experienced butterfly enthusiast.  But it does give the newbie a sense of what butterflyers do, and might serve as a stimulus for someone to locate and visit their local club, because field trips are great recreational and social experiences.

One more video to share for citizen scientists eager to learn about the subject matter:

26 July 2023

Butterflies of Wisconsin and the upper Midwest

Modern social life

Should boys be routinely "redshirted" in grade school ?

Excerpts from an interesting article in The Atlantic:
The idea of a delayed school start—often referred to as “redshirting,” a term borrowed from athletics—got a burst of popular attention in 2008, when Malcolm Gladwell presented evidence in his book Outliers that children older than their classmates do better on academic tests and in life generally.

The value of a later start, which many teachers and administrators call “the gift of time,” is an open secret in elite circles. And it’s a gift overwhelmingly given to boys. In the past few months, I’ve interviewed dozens of private-school teachers, parents, educational consultants, and admissions officers, largely in the D.C. metro area. I learned that a delayed school entry is now close to the norm for boys who would otherwise be on the young side. One former head of an elite private school who now consults with parents on school choice and admissions told me, “There are effectively two different cutoff dates for school entry: one for boys and one for girls.”..

The reason little boys wear almost all of the red shirts is not mysterious; the fact that boys mature later than girls is one known to every parent, and certainly to every teacher. According to a Rand survey, teachers are three times more likely to delay entry for their own sons than their own daughters. The maturity gap is now demonstrated conclusively by neuroscience: Brain development follows a different trajectory for boys than it does for girls. But this fact is entirely ignored in broader education policy, even as boys fall further behind girls in the classroom.

On almost every measure of educational success from pre-K to postgrad, boys and young men now lag well behind their female classmates. The trend is so pronounced that it can result only from structural problems. Affluent parents and elite schools are tackling the issue by giving boys more time. But in fact it is boys from poorer backgrounds who struggle the most in the classroom, and these boys, who could benefit most from the gift of time, are the ones least likely to receive it. Public schools usually follow an industrial model, enrolling children automatically based on their birth date. Administrators in the public system rarely have the luxury of conversations with parents about school readiness...

Once boys begin school, they almost immediately start falling behind girls. A 6-percentage-point gender gap in reading proficiency in fourth grade widens to an 11-percentage-point gap by the end of eighth grade. In a study drawing on scores across the country, Sean Reardon, a sociologist and education professor at Stanford, found no overall gender difference in math in grades three through eight, but a big one in English. “In virtually every school district in the U.S., female students outperformed male students on ELA [English Language Arts] tests,” he writes. “In the average district, the gap is … roughly two-thirds of a grade level.”..

But I believe the biggest reason for boys’ classroom struggles is simply that male brains develop more slowly than female brains—or at least those parts of the brain that enable success in the classroom. The gaps in brain development are clearly visible around the age of 5, and they persist through elementary and middle school. (As Margaret Mead wrote of a classroom of middle schoolers: “You’d think you were in a group of very young women and little boys.”)..

Lastly, they found that the younger classmates of redshirted children suffered no negative consequences. If anything, they wrote, there were modestly positive spillover effects. That’s one reason to believe that girls would only be helped by this shift—having more mature boys in classrooms would likely improve the learning environment. In schools with high rates of delayed school entry for boys, such as the private schools in the D.C. area that I examined, the girls appear to be doing very well...

There is one major drawback: Delaying school entry would put pressure on parents to provide child care for another year. This is no doubt one reason low-income parents are less likely to redshirt their children now. In my view, any large-scale redshirting program would need to be paired with public investments in child care and pre-K. 
That's a long excerpt, but there is lots more info at The Atlantic.

25 July 2023

Clearly drinks

Clearly Drinks is a soft drink manufacturer in the U.K.  Via Bored Panda.

What time do Americans eat their evening meal?

Methodology and discussion of results at FlowingData.

Addendum:  data for Europe found by reader Bicycle Rider:

Highly recommended

Via Le Cafe Wittypoots.  DVD requested from our library.  Has any reader seen it?  Care to offer comments?

Addendum Aug 21:  Just watched it tonight.  Absolutely superb acting all around - especially by the young boy (BAFTA-nominated as Best Actor in a Supporting Role for this performance).  Thought-provoking content.  I rated it 4+

Reposted from 2022 to accompany the post on Beau is Afraid.

Watch this even if you don't like soccer

Via my old favorite Le Café Wittypoots.

24 July 2023

The Curious Case of the Egg on the Sidewalk

For the past 3-4 years we have had a robin's nest in a small crabapple tree that I walk past every day on the way to the mailbox.  This year I was surprised one morning to find on the sidewalk a perfectly-formed and fully intact baby blue robin's egg. The oddness of the situation lay in the fact that this location was not underneath or even near the nest; it was a good 20-30 feet up the sidewalk.  How did it get to this location?

A few days later when I looked at the nest, I saw not a robin looking back at me, but rather a female cardinal:

Did she evict the egg from the nest?  I can't believe that beak fashioned for cracking seeds could grasp an intact egg.  Some days later I held my cell phone over her empty nest to see what was in it...

I can't identify unfledged baby birds, but suspect that is a young cardinal, since the mother continued to visit that nest.  Meanwhile, the robin (or at least a robin) is now nesting over the security light by the garage door.

And the egg on the sidewalk remains a mystery.  Could it have been laid on the sidewalk in desperation because the nest had been taken by a cardinal?  It sat there for 4-5 days and then disappeared as mysteriously as it had arrived.  I'd be glad to hear informed opinions.

"Beau is Afraid"

This is a very unusual and interesting movie - a three-hour-long immersion in someone else's anxieties.  There were a half-dozen scenes during which I laughed out loud (literally) at the utterly outrageous surrealism.  Joaquin Phoenix was excellent, as was Patti LuPone in her movie-concluding maternal rant.  I found the ending to be unsatisfying, but overall watching it was a memorable experience.

This song was featured during the movie:

Bread was never one of my favorite bands, but anyone who lived through the 70s will remember hearing this over and over on the radio.

Twisted chimney

This home is located in the "Crocus Hill" neighborhood (near well-known Summit Avenue in St. Paul, Minnesota.)  The house is impressive, but what I really like is the fanciful chimney construction:

Credit for both photos to ColleeninHawaii, via her Flickr photostream.

Reposted from 2013 to add a photo of the famous crooked spire on the Parish Church of St Mary and All Saints, in Derbyshire, England:

- because reader Dr. Mieke's comment cracked me up...
"Legend has it the spire will straighten when a virgin gets married in the church..."
I suspect the spire will be that way for a long time.

19 July 2023

An introduction to butterflying

Created by a good friend in the Southern Wisconsin Butterfly Association.  There are some additional videos at this channel, which I'll plan to post later.

17 July 2023

"A Handful of Water"

This is an excellent movie.  Here is an abbreviated précis that accompanies the trailer:
"Jürgen Prochnow stars as Konrad, a cantankerous old man still mourning his wife’s death, living alone in a large house with little but a tropical fish tank for company. At the other end of town, 11-year-old Thurba (Milena Pribek) has other problems: the police are at the door and want to deport and resettle her Yemeni family to Bulgaria. But that only works if all the children are there, so the resourceful young girl jumps from the second floor and runs away to seek shelter and food in Konrad’s basement... the unlikely pair strikes up a tender friendship that will change both of their lives forever."
One interesting (and presumably intentional) item is that the model ship on the bottom of Jürgen Prochnow's aquarium appears to be a U-boat.

Jumping over babies

"Jumpers dressed as the Colacho, a character representing the Devil, bounded over clusters of bemused infants laid out on mattresses. Nobody appeared to get hurt in this year's festive event.

Castrillo, near Burgos, has been holding the event since 1620 to mark the Catholic feast of Corpus Christi. The feast is widely celebrated in Spain, often with processions and mystery plays..."

(Image from Arbroath) [rest in peace, Kevin Norman Gray.  I'm still citing you 6 years later]

Reposted from 2008 to add a better image...

... and a link to a Guardian article about the festival (with lots of good photos).
No one seems to know precisely when the local people began El Colacho, a traditional ceremony that involves not only the aforementioned running and whipping but, most famously, a section in which the “devils” leap over tiny babies laid out on mattresses in the streets. The stone building under the village’s church proudly bears the date 1621, but this was only the year in which Pope Gregory XV gave the controversial ritual his papal blessing; it’s likely the residents had been doing it for some time already. Because of a two-year Covid hiatus, this year’s is the 400th official ceremony...

In truth, the baby-jumping is just one element in a day that has been about so much more – an excuse to bring people from different continents together, to share food and drink, to laugh and to keep alive a link between generations. Believing in the literal truth of the ritual never feels compulsory. The jumping is probably no more dangerous than baptism, and if parents believe that the ceremony has blessed their children, then it has to have been worthwhile.

What's more rare in baseball than a perfect game?

 Lots of things, according to an analysis at Sportico:

For example Fernando Tatís hit two grand slams in the same inning off of the same pitcher in 1999, and he remains the only player to ever do so. 

Lots of material in that listing that will win you bar bets.  Via Kottke.

Interesting rocks

Posted at the What's This Rock subreddit, with relevant discussion of septarian nodules, turtle stones etc scattered in the comment thread. See also here.  

This is an often-interesting subreddit, BTW.  Here's another recent offering, of a rock found in the UK, with a serrate-edged hole through it. 

See if you can figure it out the morphogenesis before seeing the answer in the discussion here

How to build an autocracy

Donald J. Trump and his allies are planning a sweeping expansion of presidential power over the machinery of government if voters return him to the White House in 2025, reshaping the structure of the executive branch to concentrate far greater authority directly in his hands...

Mr. Trump and his associates have a broader goal: to alter the balance of power by increasing the president’s authority over every part of the federal government that now operates, by either law or tradition, with any measure of independence from political interference by the White House, according to a review of his campaign policy proposals and interviews with people close to him.

Mr. Trump intends to bring independent agencies — like the Federal Communications Commission, which makes and enforces rules for television and internet companies, and the Federal Trade Commission, which enforces various antitrust and other consumer protection rules against businesses — under direct presidential control.

He wants to revive the practice of “impounding” funds, refusing to spend money Congress has appropriated for programs a president doesn’t like — a tactic that lawmakers banned under President Richard Nixon.

He intends to strip employment protections from tens of thousands of career civil servants, making it easier to replace them if they are deemed obstacles to his agenda. And he plans to scour the intelligence agencies, the State Department and the defense bureaucracies to remove officials he has vilified as “the sick political class that hates our country.”..
“Our current executive branch,” Mr. McEntee added, “was conceived of by liberals for the purpose of promulgating liberal policies. There is no way to make the existing structure function in a conservative manner. It’s not enough to get the personnel right. What’s necessary is a complete system overhaul.”
The strategy in talking openly about such “paradigm-shifting ideas” before the election, Mr. Vought said, is to “plant a flag” — both to shift the debate and to later be able to claim a mandate.
More information at The New York Times. Image credit Anna Moneymaker.

Chris Christie taunts Donald Trump

"A group supporting Chris Christie is out with a television ad trying to goad Donald Trump into a debate, signaling the former New Jersey governor is betting on a prime-time televised takedown to deny the ex-president the Republican nomination.

“If you don’t go, you’ll be called a coward, a chicken — reduced to throwing spitballs from the sidelines,” the ad’s narrator says. “So, Donald, you need to decide, are you a chicken or just a loser?”

The 60-second spot adopts Trumpian taunts but also previews issues Christie would likely confront Trump on in a debate: His impeachments and indictments, his 2020 election loss, and his failure to complete the Mexican border wall, repeal the Affordable Care Act or balance the budget...

On ABC News, Christie said Sunday he thinks Trump will show up in Milwaukee.

“His ego, I think, will not permit him to have a big TV show that he’s not on,” Christie said onThis Week. “And I think he’d be enormously frustrated sitting back in Bedminster and watching what I’m going to do to him on that stage in absentia.”
More details at Bloomberg.

15 July 2023

En suite carpeted bathroom

Found at the Awful Taste But Great Execution subreddit.
"For everything that displays quality craftsmanship in the least elegant way possible. All things gaudy, tacky, overdone, and otherwise tasteless. Work done so well, you won't know whether to love it or hate it."

Commentary at the link. 

If you like basketball...

12 July 2023

Awesome treasure found in Kentucky

A Kentucky man got the surprise of his life while digging in his field earlier this year: a cache of over 700 coins from the American Civil War era.

The "Great Kentucky Hoard" includes hundreds of U.S. gold pieces dating to between 1840 and 1863, in addition to a handful of silver coins...

According to the Numismatic Guaranty Co. (NGC), which certified the coins' authenticity, and GovMint, where the coins were sold, 95% of the hoard is composed of gold dollars, along with 20 $10 Liberty coins and eight $20 Liberty coins. The rarest is the 1863-P $20 1-ounce gold Liberty coin. Just one of these coins can go for six figures at auction, and the Great Kentucky Hoard boasts 18 of them...

Ryan McNutt, a conflict archaeologist at Georgia Southern University who has heard about but not seen the hoard, told Live Science in an email that "given the time period and the location in Kentucky, which was neutral at the time, it is entirely possible this was buried in advance of Confederate John Hunt Morgan's June to July 1863 raid." 

Many wealthy Kentuckians are rumored to have buried huge sums of money to prevent it from being stolen by the Confederacy. James Langstaff left a letter saying he had buried $20,000 in coins on his property in Paducah, William Pettit buried $80,000 worth of gold coins near Lexington, and Confederate soldiers quarantined for measles reportedly stole payroll and hid it in a cave in Cumberland Gap. None of these caches has ever been recovered...
There is an "unboxing" video here, reportedly filmed as the trove was being unearthed.  I love treasure stories, but if this hoard was found on the farm in Kentucky where I lived in the 1970s, I'm going to be distraught.

There is no refuge from global climate change

Casual conversations about climate change often focus on "global warming," with comments about how northern states like Minnesota might "benefit" from population influx and milder winters, ignoring the other effects of a changing climate.

The (silent) drone video embedded above shows the widespread damage caused this week in Vermont from unprecedented rainfall.  As that standing water subsides, it leaves behind silt and mud several inches deep, devastating those flooded homes and businesses.  

09 July 2023

Musical instruments as weapons of war

Illustrated above is the carnyx, a Celtic instrument.
The carnyx (plural: carnyces)... was a Celtic-Dacian variant of the Etruscan-Roman lituus and belongs to the family of brass instruments.  It was an ſ-shaped valveless horn made of beaten bronze and consisted of a tube between one and two meters in length, whereas the diameter of the tube is unknown.  Archaeological finds date back to the Bronze Age, and the instrument itself is attested for in contemporary sources between ca. 300 BC and 200 AD. The carnyx was in widespread use in Britain, France, parts of Germany, eastward to Romania and beyond, even as far as India, where bands of Celtic mercenaries took it on their travels...

The sound of the carnyx was described as lugubrious and harsh, perhaps due to the loosened tongue of the bell...  The carnyx was held vertically so that the sound would travel from more than three meters above the ground...

In addition the bronze jaw of the animal head may have been loosened as well in order to produce a jarring sound that would surely have been most dreadful when combined with the sound of a few dozen more carnyces in battle.  The demoralizing effect of the Gallic battle music must have been enormous: When the Celts advanced on Delphi under Brennus in 279 BC, the unusual echoing effects of the blaring horns completely overawed the Greeks, before even a single fight could commence...

Brass instruments were regularly used as a means of communication during battle, relaying orders for troop positioning, movement and tactics...
Text from Ancient Celtic Music at Citizendium, via Uncertain TimesImage credit.

Reposted from 2010 to add this absolutely fascinating explanatory video:

- and this one to show what effects this war horn might have produced on a dark battlefield.

Another video here (and there must be many more).

Related:  Aztec death whistle (demonstrated here) (how to make one)

Introducing the Keeling Curve

If you are like me you will have good friends or colleagues who in all sincerity believe that recent changes in the climate are part of a "normal cycle" of such events.  They might reconsider if you show them the Keeling Curve.
Embedded above is a graph of atmospheric CO2 concentrations measured at an observatory at the top of Mauna Loa in Hawaii - about as far from industrial sources of CO2 as one can reasonably expect.

My knee-jerk reaction is to not like a graph where the y-axis doesn't include a referential zero, but in this case what they are showing is the life history of such measurements from the first time they were measured. The home page for the Keeling Curve is maintained by the Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego.

Now, here's the curve of atmospheric CO2 since the 1700s -

- clearly showing the onset of the industrial revolution and the modern acceleration of the process.  Still looking for that "cyclic" phenomenon?  Here's the curve for the past 10,000 years:

But there are cycles - absolutely.  Our friends are quite correct in that regard.  To see the cycles you need to expand the x-axis to accommodate an 800,000 year range:

Now consider whether the data points for our lifetimes are part of a "normal cycle."

You can read more at Big Island Video News.

So you believe in the germ theory of disease?

All of us were told (or read) as we were growing up that infectious diseases are caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, worms, and other living things?   This is the germ theory of disease.

Yet we all understand that each of us have staphylococci everywhere on our skin, enough e. coli in our guts to wipe out a city population, pneumococci and other respiratory pathogens continually colonized at the back of our throats, and a parade of viruses that enter and leave our bodies seasonally - and that we have established a symbiotic or commensal relationship with all these creatures.

So... it follows logically that there must be another theory of infectious disease - one that identifies failures of the defenses of the host (us) for the appearance of an "infection."
"Collectively, these two lines of evidence support a host theory of infectious diseases, with inherited and acquired immunodeficiencies as the key determinants of severe infection outcome, relegating the germ to an environmental trigger that reveals an underlying and preexisting cause of disease and death."
Continue reading the essay at the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.

Earliest evidence of humans in North America

The video above is from several years ago, by the Bureau of Land Mangement, describing Rimrock Draw Rockshelter and why it is important.  

The content below is from an announcement this week by the same organization of new discoveries in the rockshelter:
"Oregon archaeologists have found evidence suggesting humans occupied the Rimrock Draw Rockshelter outside of Riley, Oregon more than 18,000 years ago... 

In 2012, O’Grady’s team found camel teeth fragments under a layer of volcanic ash from an eruption of Mount St. Helens that was dated over 15,000 years ago.... Radiocarbon-dating analysis on the tooth enamel – first in 2018 and then again in 2023 – by Dr. Thomas W. Stafford, Jr. of Stafford Research and Dr. John Southon of University of California, Irvine, yielded exciting results: a date of 18,250 years before present (14,900 radiocarbon years).

That date, in association with stone tools, suggests that Rimrock Draw Rockshelter is one of the oldest human-occupation sites in North America..."

04 July 2023

Death from drinking coconut water

"We describe the fatal course of a patient with initial symptoms of vomiting and nausea who developed symptoms of dystonia, encephalopathy, and coma. The cause of death was poisoning with 3-nitropropionic acid from coconut water spoiled with the fungus Arthrinium saccharicola...

Approximately 4.5 hours before admission, the patient had consumed coconut water directly from a coconut using a straw. Because the water had a foul taste, he swallowed only a small amount. Afterward, he opened the nut and described to his wife that the interior was slimy and looked rotten.

The coconut was preshaved, with visible endosperm (coconut meat) at the top for easy access to the carpels (holes) and the coconut water. A straw was included and used for puncturing the coconut at the time of consumption (Figure). Recommended storage was at 4°C–5°C in the refrigerator, but the coconut had been kept on the kitchen table for 1 month after purchase...

Approximately 24 hours after admission, a new computed tomography scan of the cerebrum showed severe edema, especially in the infratentorial region, with impending signs of brain herniation. The pupils were dilated, brainstem reflexes were absent, and the patient had no spontaneous respiration.

Fungi of the Arthrinium genus produce the lipophilic and highly toxic 3-nitropropionic acid (3-NPA), which is involved in the etiology of moldy sugar cane poisoning with severe encephalopathy. 3-NPA irreversibly binds to and inhibits succinate dehydrogenase in the mitochondria, thereby blocking the citric acid cycle and ATP generation in cells, which would explain the observed severe lactate acidosis."
More details at the National Library of Medicine, which I hope is not behind a paywall.  This case is frankly scary as hell.

This case was recently discussed at a Reddit thread which I have lost.  One of the recommendations there was not to drink blindly from a straw; decant the water/milk to a clear container, then open the coconut to examine the core.

When Democrats control a state

"While Republican-led states have recently approved a bevy of laws advancing conservative priorities, Democratic-controlled states have mirrored that pattern with progressive policies. Perhaps no state has taken more dramatic action in that direction recently than Minnesota, which saw its Democratic governor and legislative majorities work in lockstep, passing several laws to transform the state’s social and economic landscape...

“Minnesota is an example of a full-on progressive gallop towards greater government activism and a willingness to spend just unimaginable amounts of money.”

Democrats unexpectedly flipped the state Senate in the 2022 midterm elections, granting the party a trifecta of power for the first time since 2013...

For the governor and his fellow state Democrats, Minnesota’s argument is embodied in strengthened abortion protections, in paid family and medical leave policy, and in a new child tax credit for low-income parents. The list of other new policies reads like a progressive priority manifesto: restoring voting rights for the formerly incarcerated, automatic voter registration and pre-registration for teenagersdriver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants, background checks for private gun transfers and implementation of a red-flag law, a $1 billion investment in affordable housing, legalizing recreational marijuanauniversal school mealsbanning so-called “conversion therapy” (the practice of trying to change a person’s sexuality or gender identity), and expanding protections for transgender citizens. The legislature also passed a bill mandating a carbon-free electric grid by 2040...

Minnesota’s new child tax credit provides up to $1,750 per child for couples earning up to $35,000 and single filers making up to $29,500, and then gradually phases out. There is no limit on the number of children who qualify, and the credit is refundable, meaning that it is accessible to families too poor to pay income taxes...

Despite vehement Republican objections to the bills passed in recent months, Jacobs predicted that Democrats would not face a significant backlash for their legislative actions—in part because the Minnesota state Senate and the governor’s office are not up for election again until 2026. But the Republican Party has also been struggling to gain ground in what Jacobs described as a state that was “polka-dotted,” rather than simply blue or red. During its time in the trifectaless wilderness, on the other hand, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party has built up its base of support.

“[Republicans] are facing a powerful and potent progressive ecosystem that has candidates, and it’s got allies with money, volunteers, voter lists,” Jacobs said.

Minnesota's ambitious plan to give lower-income residents free college has created a "crisis" in neighboring North Dakota, where higher education officials worry about a drop in enrollment from Minnesota students who can get a better deal at home... Minnesota this year passed the North Star Promise scholarship program, which will pay college tuition and fees for in-state residents whose families earn $80,000 a year or less. 

More than half of North Dakota State University's incoming class, and 45% of its undergraduate student body, consists of students from Minnesota... "Probably half our football team comes from Minnesota, so that's kind of a big deal to us," Rod Flanigan, president of the North Dakota State College of Science, said at the meeting. 
Addendum July 13: 
According to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission, the Republican Party of Minnesota has just $53.81 in the bank... By contrast, the party is reporting almost $334,000 in debts.

The Minnesota GOP is not alone in its financial woes — a number of Republican state committees face a dire cash shortfall, including states that could be decisive in the 2024 presidential election.

A report earlier this month revealed the Arizona Republican Party has less than $50,000 in the bank, as its longtime donors bail on the party over its embrace of election conspiracy theories. And Roger Hudson, the deputy chief of staff of the Colorado Republican Party, claims that they are bankrupt and being evicted from their office space over lack of funds — although the party's official social media account denies this and claims Hudson is "spreading lies" because he is disgruntled the party admonished him for supporting transgender rights.
How interesting.  Citation from RawStory.

Expensive vintage n.b.c. gum

“A fellow collector and I got a lead on a National Colgan’s Taffy Tolu gum vendor from a Chicago dealer who had found it in an old barn. We decided rather than try to outbid each other, we would make a fair bid and purchase the machine together. Pleased with our $2,000 purchase, I took it home and opened it up and cleaned it. I was pleasantly surprised to find seventeen sticks of Colgan’s Taffy Tolu Chewing Gum inside...

Each collector I called couldn’t wait to get their hands on a few sticks of this mystery gum, as none of them had this brand in their collection. In the end, my partner and I sold thirteen sticks of the gum for $300 to $350 each, making a $4,000 profit without even selling the machine!”
The rest of the story is at Collector's Weekly. (image cropped for size from the original)

Reposted from 2019 to add excerpts from an article suggesting that chewing gum is not cool anymore:
Grease arrived when gum was part of the image of a new kind of late-’70s teen rebel: a slick high schooler who dons leather jackets, smokes cigarettes, talks openly about sex, and masticates frequently. In the second half of the 20th century, gum also served as a prominent signifier for grit or sexuality in films like On the Waterfront and Pretty Woman, where its presence conveyed that Marlon Brando’s and Julia Roberts’s characters, respectively, didn’t conform to social standards. In recent times, however, people have been chewing less. From 2009 to 2015, store sales dropped about 4.7 percent a year in North America. The pandemic then intensified that trend: Today, overall gum sales are still down about 32 percent from 2018, according to data provided by the consumer-research firm Circana. Tellingly, Wrigley closed one of its gum factories in 2016, and late last year, Mondelez sold off its gum businesses (which included Trident and Dentyne) in the U.S., Canada, and Europe...

 In a sense, then, the decline of gum might be one side effect of the modern smorgasbord of identities. There is no one way to be; thus, there is no one way to rebel. In this culture, our old symbols of boundary-pushing simply don’t have the power they used to.

Wishing everyone a happy Fourth of July

that escalated quickly...
by u/Relative-Life98 in Damnthatsinteresting

From the nation’s capital to Fort Worth, Texas, from Florin, California, in the west to the Bronx, New York, in the east, the Fourth of July long weekend in the US was overshadowed by 16 mass shootings in which 15 people were killed and nearly 100 injured. 
What's wrong with people???
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...