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"Let no freedom be allowed to novelty, because it is not fitting that any addition should be made to antiquity. Let not the clear faith and belief of our forefathers be fouled by any muddy admixture." -- Pope Sixtus III

Friday, July 06, 2012

Braggin' on Andrew McCutchen


From Saturday through Wednesday, center fielder Andrew McCutchen went 14 for 21 with 11 runs, two homers and six RBI. According to Elias, McCutchen is the first Pirates player since Honus Wagner in June 1904 to collect at least 14 hits and score 11 runs in a five-game span.

Dumbest Dumbass Sports Idea Of The Day

NASCAR races wouldn't be exciting even if you added a machine gunner in the back seat of every car.

From AP via Yahoo News:

NASCAR not interested in mandatory cautions

Bruton Smith has an idea how to create more excitement in NASCAR.

NASCAR President Mike Helton didn't sound very interested in the billionaire track promoter's suggestion to throw bogus cautions to bunch up the field. Smith argued last weekend at Kentucky that long green-flag runs are damaging NASCAR and floated his theory on creating mandatory cautions.

On Thursday, Helton said NASCAR fans don't want manufactured drama.
"NASCAR fans want the event to unfold unartificially," Helton said at Daytona International Speedway. "The racing that goes on on the racetrack under green is as exciting as any in motorsports. Sports is a true reality show as it unfolds ... you have to be careful when you think about artificially creating the outcome of that."

The current state of racing has been hotly debated this season because of the scarcity of caution-causing incidents. It's created a lot of green-flag racing that many fans have complained is boring to watch, and Smith seemed to agree with his mandatory caution proposal.

"You just can't sit there and nothing is happening," said Smith, owner of Speedway Motorsports Inc. "It ruins the event. It's damaging to our sport. Look at some of your other sports — they have a mandatory timeout, TV (commercial) time and all these things, and that creates things within the sport.

"If you have (cautions) every 20 laps, I don't care. It adds to the show. Someone once said we were in show business — if we're in show business, let's deliver. Let's deliver that show. Right now, we're not delivering."

Smith's suggestion was pretty much panned by several drivers asked about it Thursday, none more so than Carl Edwards, who warned mandatory cautions would send NASCAR down "a slippery slope."

"When we start using cautions to make the race 'more exciting,' I think that's going down a slippery slope," Edwards said. "I don't think that's good for the sport. The idea of a mandatory caution . is the next dimension of (being artificial). You can't fabricate sport. Leave sports alone and let the best man win."

He likened mandatory cautions to stopping and re-setting the score in a basketball game because one team had too big of a lead, and said a halftime break was the equivalent of making two races and the first one doesn't count.

Edwards even offered his own idea: drivers line up exactly how they were running when the yellow flag came out, with the exact same distance between the cars, and resume from a standing start.

But Edwards teammate Greg Biffle seemed to support the mandatory caution concept if the racing continues the way it's been this season because "we are somewhat in the entertainment business.

"I would not be against it if we see the races continue to run green the whole way with one or two cautions," Biffle said. "I think that that, over time, could lose the fans' interest. Sitting in the stands and watching on TV, I think they could lose interest, and that's not what we want."

Helton finds the entire caution-flag discussion amusing, particularly since NASCAR is often accused of calling bogus cautions for mysterious debris.

"We go through a cycle where the industry or fans or someone seems to think we throw too many cautions," Helton said. "Then we go through a cycle where maybe people think, 'What's happened to all the cautions?' . It's kind of interesting to be accused to not having enough cautions. Time will swing back-and-forth."

And, comparing NASCAR to other sports that have halftimes or timeouts isn't relevant, Helton said.'

"We always try to adapt to the current and the relevant culture, but racing is different and it can't really be compared to other sports that have, by their design and the way they unfold, built-in breaks," Helton said.

Four-time NASCAR champion Jeff Gordon didn't dismiss Smith's idea on cautions outright, but had his own suggestion on how to raise the excitement.

"I'd rather have (mandatory cautions) than some mysterious debris caution to be honest," Gordon said. "The integrity of racing, to me, what it's all about is letting the race play out. I'm not totally against it. But I'm more leaning more toward letting the race play out.

 "If you'd really like to know what I'd like to see, I'd like to see heat races and invert the field and have a 50-to-100-lap shootout. That's what I grew up racing. It's exciting. It's fun."

Now that's not a bad idea.

Speaking of the death of the West...

...the decades long Corporphilia Tour continues unabated.

ANI via Yahoo India News:
Madonna was reportedly reduced to tears while performing a hit song 'Like a Virgin' in Berlin...
 
BTW, why do we have to go to India to get news about what quasi-American blockheads are doing in Berlin?

Mermaids and zombies and minotaurs, oh my!

It's not the heat, kiddies. It's not even "bath salts". These are the death throes of what used to be known as Western Civilization.

From AFP via Yahoo News:
US Government: Mermaids don't exist
 
The United States government has assured its citizens that, much like zombies, mermaids probably do not exist, saying in an official post: "No evidence of aquatic humanoids has ever been found."

"Mermaids -- those half-human, half-fish sirens of the sea -- are legendary sea creatures," read the online statement from the National Ocean Service (NOS).

The agency, charged with responding to natural hazards, received letters inquiring about the existence of the sea maidens after the Discovery Channel's Animal Planet network broadcast "Mermaids: The Body Found" in May.

The show "paints a wildly convincing picture of the existence of mermaids, what they may look like, and why they've stayed hidden... until now," a Discovery Channel press release says.

Conversely, the US government declaration offered no conclusive proof to deny the existence of mermaids.

The statement comes after another government agency, this time the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), declared there was no conclusive evidence for the existence of zombies.

The CDC had published instructional materials on how to survive a "zombie apocalypse," in what the agency now calls "a tongue in cheek campaign to engage new audiences with messages of preparedness messages."

The campaign was followed by a series of cannibalistic attacks in North America.
In one such attack on May 26, a 31-year-old Miami man stripped naked and chewed off most of a homeless man's face.

The Twittersphere was suddenly alive with people talking about the real and present danger of a zombie apocalypse.

The CDC was quick to respond to allegations of corpses rising from the dead to eat the living.

"CDC does not know of a virus or condition that would reanimate the dead," a government spokesperson wrote in an email to The Huffington Post.

While zombies would be a big problem, popular folklore holds that mermaids are relatively benign creatures.

But the NOS statement associated the finned friends with more threatening mythological beasts.

"Half-human creatures, called chimeras, also abound in mythology -- in addition to mermaids, there were wise centaurs, wild satyrs, and frightful minotaurs, to name but a few," it said.

Cent' Anni!

From ABC via Yahoo News:

Man finds 100-year-old surprise in attic

Nope, not a zombie.

To save money on the installation of central air-conditioning in his St. Joseph, Mo., home, Bryan Fite began replacing the wires in his attic, prying up the floor boards on the rafters. Along with possible savings, he found a treasure beneath the floorboards: 13 bottles of century-old whiskey.

Fite, 40, grew up in St. Joseph, and after working in Kansas City for several years, he returned to settle in his hometown in September 2011. The house he and his wife Emily Fite chose was built in the 1850s and needed work, Fite said. 

The cost of installing central A/C and heat was prohibitive, he said, so he got to work in his attic. What first appeared to Fite as a set of strangely shaped insulated pipes turned out to be the secret whiskey stash of one of the house's former owners — or so goes Fite's main theory of how the liquor ended up there. 

When they purchased the house, the Fites received a paper abstract detailing the history of its ownership. One of the owners, Fite said, had to give up the house when he was consigned to a sanitarium "for alcohol reasons." Fite hypothesizes that this alcoholic hid the bottles in the attic for some future occasion. 

"Unfortunately, he never got the chance," Fite said. 


All the whiskey in Fite's attic was bottled in 1917 and distilled between 1912 and 1913. Fite, a self-proclaimed history buff, said the four bottles of Hellman's Celebrated Old Crow whiskey he found may have been among the last of their kind. In 1918, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of Edson Bradley, the maker of the still-popular Old Crow whiskey bottled by the makers of Jim Beam, allowing him exclusive rights to the "Old Crow" label. 

In addition to the Old Crow bottles, Fite's attic was keeping cool a few bottles of Guckenheimer, the erstwhile Pennsylvania rye whiskey, and W. H. McBrayer's Cedar Brook whiskey. 

In 2017, when the bottles turn 100, Fite and his friends will pop them open, he said. But for now, they are simply antiques. 

"Part of the allure for me is having them in their original state," said Fite, who identified bourbon as his drink of choice. "I have high expectations of what they'll taste like, and I'm afraid if I open them I'll be disappointed." 

The quality of Fite's findings depend largely on the liquid level of the whiskey in the bottles, said Lew Bryson, managing editor of WhiskyAdvocate.com. If enough whiskey has evaporated, oxygen will enter the bottle and begin rusting the whiskey, and its "off flavors" will be concentrated in what remains, according to Bryson. 

"Unfortunately, the good stuff leaves first," he said. 

But unlike wine, in which yeast continues fermenting in the bottle, whiskey's alcohol content is too high to support any organisms. As long as the cap or cork is secure enough not to let in much oxygen, the age of the bottle will not affect the quality or taste of its contents. 

Bryson said Fite could likely sell the bottles for several hundred dollars apiece. Pre-prohibition whiskeys are of historical interest, he said, adding that as a Pennsylvania rye enthusiast, he would be interested in buying one of Fite's Guckenheimers. 

The value of antique whiskey is influenced by factors such as rarity and the reputation of the brand, he said, but it is not easy to predict, he said. An extremely rare single-malt whiskey from the 1930s recently sold for $100,000. 

"You don't know until you try to sell it," he said.

At least they weren't chopped up and thrown in the trash!

I guess the phrase "human rights abuses" is relative. Look what our ruling elite does to their enemies' babies [one might be inclined to think the babies themselves are the enemy] and Argentina looks positively civilized.

From AP via Yahoo News:
Former Argentine dictators convicted in baby thefts

Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla was convicted and sentenced to 50 years Thursday for a systematic program to steal babies from prisoners who were kidnapped, tortured and killed during the military junta's war on leftist dissidents three decades ago.

Argentina's last dictator, Reynaldo Bignone, also was convicted and got 15 years. Both men already were in prison for other human rights abuses.

"This is an historic day. Today legal justice has been made real — never again the justice of one's own hands, which the repressors were known for," prominent rights activist Tati Almeida said outside the courthouse, where a jubilant crowd watched on a big screen and cheered each sentence.

The baby thefts set Argentina's 1976-1983 regime apart from all the other juntas that ruled in Latin America at the time. Videla other military and police officials were determined to remove any trace of the armed leftist guerrilla movement they said threatened the country's future.

The "dirty war" eventually claimed 13,000 victims according to official records. Many were pregnant women who were "disappeared" shortly after giving birth in clandestine maternity wards.

Videla denied in his testimony that there was any systematic plan to remove the babies, and said prisoners used their unborn children as "human shields" in their fight against the state.

Nine others, mostly former military and police officials, also were accused in the trial, which focused on 34 baby thefts. Seven were convicted and two were found not guilty.

Witnesses included former U.S. diplomat Elliot Abrams. He was called to testify after a long-classified memo describing his secret meeting with Argentina's ambassador was made public at the request of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights group whose evidence-gathering efforts were key to the trial.

Abrams testified from Washington that he secretly urged that Bignone reveal the stolen babies' identities as a way to smooth Argentina's return to democracy.

"We knew that it wasn't just one or two children," Abrams testified, suggesting that there must have been some sort of directive from a high level official — "a plan, because there were many people who were being murdered or jailed."

No reconciliation effort was made. Instead, Bignone ordered the military to destroy evidence of "dirty war" activities, and the junta denied any knowledge of baby thefts, let alone responsibility for the disappearances of political prisoners.

The U.S. government also revealed little of what it knew as the junta's death squads were eliminating opponents.

The Grandmothers group has since used DNA evidence to help 106 people who were stolen from prisoners as babies recover their true identities, and 26 of these cases were part of this trial. Many were raised by military officials or their allies, who falsified their birth names, trying to remove any hint of their leftist origins.

The rights group estimates as many as 500 babies could have been stolen in all, but the destruction of documents and passage of time make it impossible to know for sure.

The trial featured gut-wrenching testimony from grandmothers and other relatives who searched inconsolably for their missing relatives, and from people who learned as young adults that they were raised by the very people involved in the disappearance of their birth parents.

Prosecutors had asked for 50 years for Videla and four others. Almeida, the rights activist, said that "in some cases we would have preferred longer sentences, but since they're such old men now, it's almost like a perpetual sentence."

Videla, 86, received the maximum sentence as the man criminally responsible for 20 of the thefts.

He and Bignone, 84, already have life sentences for other crimes against humanity, and are serving time behind bars despite an Argentine law that usually permits criminals over 70 to stay at home.

Seven others were convicted and sentenced by the three-judge panel on Thursday: former Adm. Antonio Vanek, 40 years; former marine Jorge "Tigre" Acosta, 30; former Gen. Santiago Omar Riveros, 20; former navy prefect Juan Antonio Azic, 14; and Dr. Jorge Magnacco, who witnesses said handled some of the births, 10.

Former Capt. Victor Gallo and his ex-wife Susana Colombo, were sentenced to 15 and five years in jail, respectively. Their adopted son, Francisco Madariaga, testified against them and said he hoped their sentences would set an example.

Retired Adm. Ruben Omar Franco and a former intelligence agent, Eduardo Ruffo, were absolved.

According to Argentine judicial procedure, the basis for the convictions and sentences won't be revealed until Sept. 17, said the president of the judicial tribunal, Maria del Carmen Roqueta.

The Catholic crackup continues apace...

A California jury goes old testament against a homosexual pedophile predator masquerading as a Catholic priest.

From ABC via Yahoo News:
Man acquitted in beating of priest he said sexually abused him


William Lynch, the 44-year-old California man who admitted he pummeled a Jesuit priest who he said abused him as a boy, has been found not guilty of felony assault and elder abuse charges. 

The jury of nine men and three women could not reach a verdict on a lesser charge of misdemeanor assault for the 2010 attack at a retirement home, deadlocking 8-4 to convict him. 

Lynch could have faced four years in jail if convicted on all the charges.
"I honestly thought I was going to jail," Lynch said after the verdicts were read, according to The Associated Press. "It turned our better than I expected." 

The jurors began deliberations late Monday after hearing impassioned closing arguments from both sides. 

The defense's strategy had been to argue to the jury that the wrong man was on trial -- that Lynch, not the priest, was the real victim. However, prosecutor Vicki Gemetti urged jurors to focus on the assault. 

"Two wrongs don't make a right," she said in her closing arguments on Monday.
Lynch's crusade for his own form of personal justice against the priest, Jerry Lindner, drew supporters to the courthouse in San Jose, Calif., during his nearly three-week trial. They carried signs that read "stop clergy sex abuse" and condemned the "pedophile playground" retirement community that is home to Lindner, who has had previous allegations against him. 

Lynch testified last Friday that he visited Lindner with the intention of having the aging Lindner sign a confession, but when the priest "looked up and leered" at him in much the same way he did more than 35 years ago when he sexually abused him, Lynch said he ordered the priest to take off his glasses and hit him. 

Lynch passed up a plea deal of one year in jail and instead chose to go to trial to shame the man who he said had haunted his memories since his childhood. 

"I don't want to go to jail, but I've come to realize that this whole thing is really bigger than me and the way that I've chosen to handle this is to make a statement," Lynch told The Associated Press before the start of his trial. "I'm prepared to take responsibility for anything I've been involved in. I'm willing to do it. I think it's a small sacrifice to get Father Jerry into court." 

On a family camping trip 35 years ago, when Lynch was 7, he said he was brutally raped by Lindner and was then forced to perform sex acts on his 4-year-old brother. The alleged attack occurred in the Santa Cruz Mountains in 1974. 
 
The boys kept their painful secret for years, long past the six-year statute of limitations California had in place at the time of the alleged crimes. 

Lynch got his wish to see the priest in court, even if Lindner was not the defendant. Lindner was forced to testify, but soon invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. The judge struck his testimony from the record. 

During his short time on the stand, Lindner, now 67, told the court he remembered Lynch, but only as the man who attacked him at a Los Gatos, Calif., Jesuit retirement community where Lindner has lived since 2001. 

Lindner denied molesting Lynch and his younger brother. 

Lynch's attorney declared the priest had perjured himself and even prosecutor Vicki Gemetti said in her opening statement that she expected Lindner to lie on the stand or say he didn't remember certain events

"The evidence will show [Lindner] molested the defendant all those years ago," she said, but urged the jury to focus on Lynch's attack. 

Lynch's case of alleged vigilante justice has attracted support from around the world and has shed light on a justice system many view as flawed. 

Lynch and his brother were awarded $625,000 after filing a civil suit against Lindner in 1997. The priest was removed from active ministry and was moved to the Jesuit retirement community in 2001. 

Lindner was named in two other abuse lawsuits, according to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Imagine how bad things would look if the AmericaLasters in the government and the media didn't fudge the numbers.

From AP via Yahoo Finance:


Job report: Hiring rises, but not enough [to get the jug-eared commie re-elected]

U.S. employers added only 80,000 jobs in June, a third straight month of weak hiring that shows the economy is still struggling three years after the recession ended. 

The unemployment rate was unchanged at 8.2 percent, the Labor Department said in its report Friday. 

The economy added an average of just 75,000 jobs a month in the April-June quarter. That's one-third of the 226,000 a month created in the first quarter. 

For the first six months of the year, U.S. employers added an average of 150,000 jobs a month. That's fewer than the 161,000 a month for the first half of 2011. And it shows that the job market is weakening. 

"It's a disappointing report," said George Mokrzan, director of economics at Huntington National Bank in Columbus, Ohio. He said the job gains are consistent with sluggish economic growth. 

The stock market opened sharply lower. The Dow Jones industrial average dropped 146 points in the first hour of trading, and the Standard & Poor's 500 index fell 15 points, or 1.1 percent. 

Money flowed into government bonds, perceived by investors as safer. The yield on the benchmark 10-year U.S. Treasury note, which moves in the opposite direction from its price, fell to 1.55 percent, from 1.59 percent on Thursday. 

A weaker job market has made consumers less confident. They have pulled back on spending, even though gas prices have plunged since early spring. 

Europe's debt crisis is weighing on U.S. exports, which has slowed growth at U.S. factories. And the scheduled expiration of several big tax cuts at the end of this year has increased uncertainty for many U.S. companies, making many hesitant to hire. 

High unemployment could shift momentum to Mitt Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee. An Associated Press-GfK poll released last month found that more than half of those surveyed disapproved of President Barack Obama's handling of the economy. 

Obama is expected to face voters with the highest unemployment rate of any president since the Great Depression, and the economy is the top issue for many voters. 

The June job figures could also prompt the Federal Reserve to take further action to try to boost the economy. The Fed last month downgraded its economic outlook for 2012. It predicted growth of just 1.9 percent to 2.4 percent. And it doesn't expect the unemployment rate to fall much further this year. 

John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo, said he didn't think Friday's report would prod the Fed to launch a new effort to boost growth after its next policy meeting at the end of this month. 

But Silvia said if the job market doesn't improve over the next couple of months, the Fed might launch a third round of bond buying at its September meeting. Bond buying by the Fed is intended to lower long-term interest rates to encourage borrowing and spending. 

"Most firms can achieve their output target with their existing labor force, so they are just not hiring," Silvia said. 

Silvia said the June job growth is consistent with annual economic growth below 2 percent. Wells Fargo is forecasting growth in the April-June quarter at 1.5 percent, weaker than the 1.9 percent growth in the first quarter. 

Such growth is too weak to lower the unemployment rate...

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Heat Nazis are like zombies...they think the world began the day they started killing and eating their fellow man.

Noted left-fascist zombie Eugene Robinson of Washington's other newspaper leads off with a cranky piece obviously written while trying to defecate without the benefit of air conditioning:

Still Don't Believe In Climate Change?


Still don’t believe in climate change? Then you’re either deep in denial or delirious from the heat.

 Have you noticed how the bogeyman has changed from "global warming" to "climate change"?
 
Heck, the climate here at my dacha changes every time the sun goes down. Or when the seasons change.


As I write this, the nation’s capital and its suburbs are in post-apocalypse mode. [Post-apocalyptic zombie mode is more like it. Eric Holder is killing and eating Border Patrol agents and then blaming The Vast Right Wing You-Know-What. - F.G.] About one-fourth of all households have no electricity, the legacy of an unprecedented assault by violent thunderstorms Friday night. Things are improving: At the height of the power outage, nearly half the region was dark.

The line of storms, which killed at least 18 people as it raced from the Midwest to the sea, culminated a punishing day when the official temperature here reached 104 degrees, a record for June. Hurricane-force winds wreaked havoc with the lush tree canopy that is perhaps Washington’s most glorious amenity. One of my neighbors was lucky when a huge branch, headed for his roof, got snagged by a power line. Another neighbor lost a tree that fell into another tree that smashed an adjacent house, demolishing the second floor.


Yes, it’s always hot here in the summer — but not this hot. Yes, we always have thunderstorms — but never like these. (The cliche is true: It did sound like a freight train.)

According to scientists, climate change means not only that we will see higher temperatures but that there will be more extreme weather events like the one we just experienced. Welcome to the rest of our lives.

This is the point in the column where I’m obliged to insert the disclaimer that no one event — no heat wave, no hurricane, no outbreak of tornadoes or freakish storms — can be definitively blamed on climate change. Any one data point can be an anomaly; any cluster of data points can be mere noise.

Now watch as Geenie Weenie disregards the only reasonable paragraph [albeit a short one] he has ever typed...

The problem for those who dismiss climate change as a figment of scientists’ imagination, or even as a crypto-socialist one-worldish plot to take away our God-given SUVs, is that the data are beginning to add up.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says the past winter was the fourth-warmest on record in the United States. To top that, spring — which meteorologists define as the months of March, April and May — was the warmest since recordkeeping began in 1895. If you don’t believe me or the scientists, ask a farmer whose planting seasons have gone awry.

NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which monitors global surface temperatures, reports that nine of the warmest 10 years on record have occurred since 2000. The warmest of all was 2010; last year was only the ninth-warmest, but global temperatures were still almost a full degree warmer than they were during the middle of the 20th century.

Why might this be happening? Well, the level of heat-trapping carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is more than 35 percent greater than in 1880, NASA scientists report, with most of the increase coming since 1960. And why might carbon dioxide levels be rising? Because since the Industrial Revolution, humankind has been burning fossil fuels — and spewing carbon dioxide into the atmosphere — at what could turn out to be a catastrophic rate.

 Scientists’ predictions about how quickly temperatures would rise — and how rapidly assorted phenomena, such as melting polar ice and rising sea levels, would proceed — have turned out, thus far, to be conservative.

There comes a point where anomalies can start looking like a trend. What much of the country has seen the past few days is no ordinary heat wave. Temperatures reached 105 in Raleigh; 106 in Atlanta; 108 in Columbia, S.C., and Macon, Ga.; 109 in Nashville — all-time highs.

Meanwhile, the most destructive wildfires in Colorado history were destroying hundreds of homes — a legacy of drought that left forests as dry as tinder. Changes in rainfall and snowfall patterns in the West cannot, of course, be blamed on climate change with any certainty. But they are consistent with scientists’ predictions.

It becomes harder to ignore those predictions when a toppled tree is blocking your driveway and the power is out.

One other observation: As repair crews struggle to get the lights back on, it happens to be another sunny day. Critics have blasted the Obama administration’s unfruitful investment in solar energy. But if government-funded research had managed to lower the price of solar panels to the point where it became economical to install them on residential roofs, all you global-warming skeptics would have air conditioning right now. I’m just sayin’. 

Right on, homey.


Photobucket

Heat Miser. He's neither Heat Nazi nor zombie.


More zombie cum Nazi blather:


Only 18% of Americans consider climate change world's biggest environmental threat 

- ANI via Yahoo India News

 

West's wildfires a preview of changed climate: scientists

- Roto-Reuters

 

 

The Long Hot Zombie Summer continues apace...

 From Yahoo News via Yahoo UK & Ireland News:

Zombie bullets sold following cannibal attacks

An American ammunition manufacturer has released a special line of ‘zombie bullets’ after three high-profile flesh-eating attacks...
  

From Roto-Reuters comes another excuse for The Jug-Eared One's economic failure:

Zombie borrowers threaten bailed-out Spanish banks

Hey, you kids! Get your zombie worms off of my whale carcass!

From LiveScience via Yahoo [I'm unilaterally dropping the exclamation point indefinitely. Yahoo simply isn't that exciting.] News:

Bizarre 'Zombie' Worms Use Acid to Eat Whale Bones

Deep in oceans around the world lurks a type of worm without a mouth, anus or gut [At least that means they can't be homosexual zombie worms. - F.G.] that makes its living by eating the bones of whales and other deceased sea creatures. But how does an animal without a mouth penetrate bone? That's just what a group of researchers aimed to find out.

The so-called zombie worms break down bone by excreting acid, according to research just presented at the Society for Experimental Biology's meeting in Salzburg, Austria.

It was previously unclear how the worms did it, since they lack any organs for "drilling," said researcher Sigrid Katz of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, Calif.

The researchers found two different types of acid-secreting enzymes in the animal, Katz told OurAmazingPlanet. One of the enzymes, a proton pump, was abundant in the roots, the part of the worm that penetrates the bone.

The animals produce acid using the same basic mechanism as the human cells called osteoclasts involved in bone resorption, necessary for the continual turnover and reformation of bone.

Symbiotic bacteria allow the worms to digest fats and other materials within bones.

The worm's closest relatives, which also lack guts and mouths, live in deep-sea hydrothermal vents and rely on a different set of bacteria to allow them to survive in these hot and acidic conditions.

The worms, whose official genus name is Osedax, are about 1 inch (3 centimeters) long and were discovered on a whale carcass in 2002. But that's just the females. The males never make it past the larval stage and are about 1/20th of an inch (1 millimeter) long; hundreds of them may live inside a gelatinous tube covering part of the female. The male's sole purpose seems to be fertilizing the female's eggs, Katz said.

Ack! Zombie reproduction!

Okay, here's one little bit of Pirates fun...




From Pittsburgh's other newspaper via The Tribune-Democrass of Johnstown:

Dude, what's with the Pirates Z?

There are plenty of new names connected with the Pirates' resurgence this season. Burnett, Barajas, Barmes, Bedard, McGehee, Sutton. And Zoltan.

Amid all the excitement of having a competitive baseball team -- and perhaps ending a record-setting string of 19 losing seasons -- the 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates have embraced a wacky bit from a goofy movie to celebrate their success. Whenever a player slaps an extra-base hit, his teammates put their hands together -- the left one on top of the right one with the thumbs extended and touching -- to form a sort of "Z."

For Zoltan.

"It all started in Atlanta when we were watching [television] in the clubhouse, and there was nothing we wanted to watch," said second baseman Neil Walker, recalling the last weekend in April. "We saw 'Dude, Where's My Car?' And guys were like 'Oh, we haven't seen this in a while.' So we watched it. "It was just so terrible and stupid. We just pulled that from it. It's just kind of our team way of bonding, I guess."

The 2000 comedy features a scene in which the stars, Ashton Kutcher and Seann William Scott, join a group of losers who are wearing Bubble Wrap and celebrating the pending arrival of the cult leader Zoltan.

"I think you've got to just find ways to lighten the mood at times," Walker said. "This game is so difficult that when times are going good, you have to celebrate. When times are going bad, you have to forget about it and move on. It's a way for all of us to come together a little bit more and have fun with it."

Carole Kunkle-Miller was in the stands at PNC Park recently when she noticed the players and fans making the strange hand gestures.

Okay, that's enough fun. Let's hear from a sports psychologist.

"I thought they were just being funny, and then I realized there was a meaning behind it," said Kunkle-Miller, a certified sports psychologist who has been practicing in Mt. Lebanon for 12 years.

It means the Pirates are winning and the players and their fans are having fun. It became prominent among the players in May after catcher Rod Barajas belted a game-winning home run against the Washington Nationals at PNC Park. As he rounded third, he found his teammates waiting for him at home plate, each one displaying the "Z."

"We just started doing it, we've been raking ever since," said starter A.J. Burnett. "That was my favorite part of the night, seeing 20 guys behind home plate doing that. It shows you what a group we have."
 
"It gives them a sense of shared goal and that positive message of winning. It unifies them," said Kunkle-Miller. "I remember when the Pirates were in the World Series (in 1979), they would play 'We Are Family' to rally the fans and get everybody going. This is a variation on that."

Like playoff beards, the Green Weenie and the Terrible Towel.

Oh, man. I wish I still had my Green Weenie...

"Athletes in general like to be part of a team," said Aimee Kimball, director of mental training at UPMC Sports Medicine on Pittsburgh's South Side. "So something that they all have in common, like an inside joke, bonds them a little more. And the fans then take it to another level."

Brilliant! Guys who play games for a living behave like boys!

"I love it because it's specific to them," said Pirates fan James Hans, 30, of Delmar, who attended Tuesday night's game at PNC Park. "They're a band of brothers sticking together."

"It's great," said his friend, Joey Morris, 29, of Plum. "It means they're having fun, and if they're not having fun, they're probably not winning."

Such would be the diagnosis of George Pappas, a sports psychologist who has been practicing in Squirrel Hill since 1985.

"It's important for athletes to have something to help them to tap into their full resources," said Pappas, who has worked with professional athletes across the country. "It helps in improving concentration, getting rid of unnecessary tension, substituting negative thoughts with positive thoughts. "It creates a positive image and it takes on like a self-fulfilling prophecy. When you're negative, a player strikes out, and he might dwell on what he's been doing wrong. Now he has something positive to think, and he's changed for the better."
 
Players always have been ritualistic, Pappas said.

"They wear a certain shirt, a certain sock. Superstitions. It's nothing new. This goes back decades."

Like tugging on your shirt, the way Pirates third baseman Richie Hebner did in the 1970s.

"I can see this working, this Zoltan, because now they believe they have something that's going to lead them to getting more hits," Pappas said. "And the fans form the association with it because they like to emulate their favorite players. They want part of the team."

As do the merchants. Dan Rock, general manager at Common Wealth Press on the South Side, said he and his co-workers were quick to seize on the symbol and have been selling T-shirts depicting the "Z" for a couple of weeks.

"We don't try to find T-shirt opportunities, but they seem to happen quite a bit with our sports teams," Rock said. "It's pretty popular right now, even though they don't have any words on them. Just the hands. "That's what a lot of our stuff is. If you're not from Pittsburgh, you won't get it. We get people who come in our shop all the time and say, 'I don't understand what these shirts mean.' We're definitely Pittsburghers making shirts for Pittsburghers."

Kunkle-Miller said she doesn't see anything wrong with rallying around something such as Zoltan.

"I don't think there's a downside," she said. "But the big picture is that the reason why they're doing so well is not because of Zoltan. It's what Clint Hurdle has done as manager, keeping them focused with a positive attitude. It's definitely more than luck. But it's fun."

Who cares? The Mayan calendar runs out December 21.

From AP via Yahoo! News:

Eureka! Physicists celebrate evidence of particle

Scientists at the world's biggest atom smasher hailed the discovery of "the missing cornerstone of physics" Wednesday, cheering the apparent end of a decades-long quest for a new subatomic particle called the Higgs boson, or "God particle," which could help explain why all matter has mass and crack open a new realm of subatomic science.

First proposed as a theory in the 1960s, the maddeningly elusive Higgs had been hunted by at least two generations of physicists who believed it would help shape our understanding of how the universe began and how its most elemental pieces fit together.

As the highly technical findings were announced by two independent teams involving more than 5,000 researchers, the usually sedate corridors of the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, erupted in frequent applause and standing ovations. Physicists who spent their careers in pursuit of the particle shed tears.

The new particle appears to share many of the same qualities as the one predicted by Scottish physicist Peter Higgs and others and is perhaps the biggest accomplishment at CERN since its founding in 1954 outside Geneva along the Swiss-French border.

Rolf Heuer, director of CERN, said the newly discovered particle is a boson, but he stopped just shy of claiming outright that it is the Higgs boson itself — an extremely fine distinction.

"As a layman, I think we did it," he told the elated crowd. "We have a discovery. We have observed a new particle that is consistent with a Higgs boson."

The Higgs, which until now had been purely theoretical, is regarded as key to understanding why matter has mass, which combines with gravity to give all objects weight.

The idea is much like gravity and Isaac Newton's early theories. Gravity was there all the time before Newton explained it. The Higgs boson was believed to be there, too. And now that scientists have actually seen something much like it, they can put that knowledge to further use.

The center's atom smasher, the $10 billion Large Hadron Collider, sends protons whizzing around a circular 27-kilometer (17-mile) underground tunnel at nearly the speed of light to create high-energy collisions. The aftermath of those impacts can offer clues about dark matter, antimatter and the creation of the universe, which many theorize occurred in a massive explosion known as the Big Bang.

Most of the particles that result from the collisions exist for only the smallest fractions of a second. But finding a Higgs-like boson was one of the biggest challenges in physics: Out of some 500 trillion collisions, just several dozen produced "events" with significant data, said Joe Incandela of the University of California at Santa Barbara, leader of the team known as CMS, with 2,100 scientists.

Each of the teams confirmed Wednesday that they had "observed" a new subatomic particle — a boson. Heuer said the discovery was "most probably a Higgs boson, but we have to find out what kind of Higgs boson it is." He referred to the discovery as a missing cornerstone of science.

As the leaders of the two teams presented their evidence, applause punctuated their talks.

"Thanks, nature!" joked Fabiola Gianotti, the Italian physicist who heads the team called ATLAS, with 3,000 scientists, drawing laughter from the crowd.

Later, she told reporters that the standard model of physics is still incomplete because "the dream is to find an ultimate theory that explains everything. We are far from that."

Incandela said it was too soon to say definitively whether the particle was exactly the same as envisioned by Higgs and others, who proposed the existence of an energy field where all particles interact with a key particle, the Higgs boson.

Higgs, who was invited to be in the audience, said Wednesday's discovery appears to be close to what he predicted.

"It is an incredible thing that it has happened in my lifetime," he said, calling the discovery a huge achievement for the proton-smashing collider.

Outside CERN, the announcement seemed to ricochet around the world with some of the speed and energy of the particle itself.

In an interview with the BBC, the world's most famous physicist, Stephen Hawking, said Higgs deserved the Nobel Prize. Hawking said he had placed a wager with another scientist that the Higgs boson would never be found.

"It seems I have just lost $100," he said.

Marc Sher, a professor of physics at William & Mary College, said most observers concluded in December that the Higgs boson would soon be discovered, but he was "still somewhat stunned by the results."

The phrase "God particle" was coined by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Leon Lederman, but it's used mostly by laymen as an easier way of explaining the theory.

Wednesday's celebration was mainly for researchers who explore the deepest, most esoteric levels of particle science. But the particle-hunting effort has paid off in other ways for non-scientists, including contributing to the development of the World Wide Web.
CERN scientists used the early Web to exchange information, and the vast computing power needed to crunch all of the data produced by the atom smasher also boosted development of cloud computing, which is now making its way into mainstream services.

Advances in solar energy, medical imaging and proton therapy used in the fight against cancer have also resulted from the work of particle physicists at CERN and elsewhere.

The last undiscovered piece of the standard model of physics could be a variant of the Higgs that was predicted or something else that entirely changes the way scientists think about how matter is formed, Incandela said.

"This boson is a very profound thing we have found," he said. "We're reaching into the fabric of the universe in a way we never have done before. We've kind of completed one particle's story. ... Now we're way out on the edge of exploration."

The discovery is so fundamental to the laws of nature, Incandela said, that it could spawn a new era of technology and development in the same way that Newton's laws of gravity led to basic equations of mechanics that made the industrial revolution possible.

"This is so far out on a limb, I have no idea where it will be applied," he added. "We're talking about something we have no idea what the implications are and may not be directly applied for centuries."

War and true love last forever.


From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

The emotional toll of losing a soldier

After Helen Wolfgang gave birth to her daughter on Aug. 1, 1944, she bought a pair of baby socks and mailed one to her G.I. husband in Europe to let him know he’d become a father. 

She didn’t know whether her husband, Army Pvt. William Welch of Masontown, received it. 

“I never heard from him. ... The mail was very spotty,” said Wolfgang of Greensburg. “You could go six weeks without mail.”

Welch was killed Dec. 19, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge. When the Army shipped his belongings home, she learned that he got her message. “He had the sock in his billfold, so I knew he got it,” she said, wiping away tears. 

Although 90 years old now, Wolfgang is among widows of World War II servicemen whose memories of the husbands they lost remain vivid. 

Some, like Wolfgang of Greensburg, continue decades after the war to try to find touchstones to the men they loved who died in warfare, such as the Battle of the Bugle, the largest land battle on the Western Front during World War II and the largest engagement ever fought by the Army.

It involved more than 1 million men, lasting from December 1944 to January 1945. 
And while no one disputes the contribution such battles made to America’s freedom, celebrated Wednesday on Independence Day, the emotional toll on the loved ones of victims of any war can become a lifelong scar and longing.

“When you love someone and they leave, like for the war, it’s just not final. You look for a final answer,” said Wolfgang. “You’re always searching for someone who might have known him.”

This week, Frank W. Towers, executive secretary-treasurer of the 30th Infantry Division Veterans of WWII sent Wolfgang a letter with the names of nine surviving members of William Welch’s unit.

Wolfgang, who had three children with her second husband, Robert Wolfgang of Salem, Ohio, has spent 68 years searching newspaper stories about the battle, hoping to find the name of someone, somewhere who served with her first husband. 

She hasn’t had any luck and worries she is running out of time. The Department of Veterans Affairs expects 250,000 World War II veterans will die this year. 

Grief is especially difficult for women who lose their husbands just after getting married, said Toni L. Bisconti, an associate professor at the University of Akron who has written extensively on the topic.

“They were in the part of their relationship where they didn’t even have time to get tired of each other,” she said. “When you lose someone at the beginning of a relationship, you’re always looking for answers.”

Widows of all ages face multiple losses when their spouses are killed, said Taryn Davis, 26, founder and executive director of the American Widow Project, a Buda, Texas-based nonprofit dedicated to the new generation of military widows, women who lost spouses in Iraq or Afghanistan. 

“I lost my best friend. I lost the potential father of my children. I lost myself. I lost grandchildren,” she said of the 2007 death of her husband, Army Cpl. Michael Davis, killed by a roadside bomb in Iraq after 18 months of marriage. 

Taryn Davis established an online memorial to her husband using technology not available in the 1940s. Today’s war widows reach out to each other using Facebook and other social media.

“But there is no right or wrong way to do this,” Davis said. “The rug got pulled out from underneath us.”

Joanne Gump sympathizes with Wolfgang. 

“It’s a need to connect, a need to be a part of something you were once so deeply connected to,” said Gump, 65, of Canonsburg, the widow of Marine Sgt. Dennis L. Gump Sr. , who died in 2008 from cancer that might have been caused by exposure to the defoliant Agent Orange during the Vietnam War. 

Joanne Gump went to Vietnam last year and spent 10 days visiting places her husband was in the 1960s. 

“It was a lifelong dream of my husband (to return) and I felt he walked with me,” she said. “I can understand how (Wolfgang) feels ... that is love everlasting.”

Many bereaved people experience a strong connection with deceased loved ones, “something like an enduring bond,” researcher George A. Bonanno, wrote in “The Other Side of Sadness: What The New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss.” 

Wolfgang’s future husband caught her eye as he walked across the street in front of the American Laundry in Salem where she worked.

“I saw this good-looking guy,” she said. “It was love at first sight.” They married Oct. 4, 1941; he was drafted Feb. 3, 1942. 

She went from newlywed to new mom to grieving widow in about three years. She became a Gold Star widow, hanging the World War II symbol in the window of her home to signify the loss of a family member in battle. It was one of four Gold Stars on her block. 

Her continued search for information about the times and people her husband knew is not solitary.

“It happens all the time,” said Debra Kraus, spokeswoman for Gold Star Wives of America Inc. The Washington-based organization includes more than 10,000 members in 53 chapters in 26 states. 

Survivors want to learn more about the deaths of their spouses, said Ami Neiberger-Miller, public affairs officer for the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, in Washington.

“Today families get death investigation reports and autopsy reports if they want them — but they did not do those in World War II,” Neiberger-Miller said.
Experts said Wolfgang’s quest is probably healthy. 

“Searching keeps us young,” Bisconti said.

...Major League Baseball is still dead.

I posted the following almost exactly a year ago and absolutely nothing has changed. I haven't checked, but I'm sure all the websites represented below will have eerily similar stories posted soon, if they haven't done so by now.

I'll always love the Pirates, but it's more of a nostalgic thing for me. [Check out the Willie Stargell stamp available later this month from the USPS.] I wish them well, and if you're a fan, I wish you luck.

On dumbass baseball hypocrites and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

"Oooooh, look at the Pirates! Aren't they cute? See, this proves there's nothing wrong with baseball because the low-budget Buccos are contending."

Wrong, kiddies. As soon as these Pirates are eligible for free agency, they will be snatched up by the same big money dumbasses who are praising the Pittsburgh franchise today.

And that's not the only thing wrong with Major League Baseball. For instance, it's been dead for at least thirty years.


Commentary | Improved pitching, Hurdle lift Pirates back into contention

In recent years, the Pittsburgh Pirates ’ status as cellar dwellers is about as American as baseball and apple pie.
- Bradenton Herald

 The Pittsburgh Pirates Just Had Their Best Half-Season Of Baseball In 19 Years
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Paul Maholm and his Pirates teammates aren't looking at the National League Central standings or checking the out-of-town scores. Too early in the season, the lefty starter said. Funny, because it's been a long time since Pittsburgh's been this good this late.
- Business Insider

Pittsburgh Pirates: Bucs Finally Get Star Treatment They Deserve
(For complete Pirates coverage, see Piratesreport.com .) PITTSBURGH — The process took longer than it should have for a second-place team, but for the first time since the 1990 season, the Pirates will have as many as three players in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night. On Sunday, pitcher Kevin Correia joined pitcher Joel Hanrahan and outfielder Andrew McCutchen on the National League roster. He ...
- Bleacher Report

Pittsburgh Pirates: What Andrew McCutchen's All-Star Selection Means to the CityWhen the rosters for the 2011 MLB All-Star Game were announced, Pittsburgh fans couldn't help but feel robbed. Sure, Joel Hanrahan got in. He's been one of the game's best closers this year with 26 saves and zero blown saves. His ERA is phenomenal, and his fastball reaches blistering speeds. If the Bucs have a lead going into the 9th inning, we all know it's "Hammer Time." However, when the team ...
- Bleacher Report




Team success can spell marketing success

Funny thing started happening in the last several weeks. Google searches for terms such as "Pittsburgh Pirates tickets" and "Pirates schedule 2011" began spiking. "PNC Park hotels" searches were up 40 percent in June compared to the same time last year.
- Pittsburgh's other newspaper

Pittsburgh Pirates: 5 and a Half Moves That Can Get Them into the Playoffs
The MLB trade deadline is July 31, and the Pirates could be buyers. While I think the Pirates have a shot at finishing atop the NL Central without making any moves, any of these five moves would help. I'm no general manager, but it's easy to see that the Pirates have some soft spots in their lineup. A solid bat at shortstop or first base could work wonders for the Pirates. Not only would the ...
- Bleacher Report


Have the Pittsburgh Pirates Finally Seen the Light?
This has been an interesting season for the Pittsburgh Pirates . In fact, it has been an interesting season overall for the NL Central. The Pirates, one of the teams in the MLB considered a "lost cause" throughout the 1990's and 2000's, have emerged from a proverbial grave—at least at this point in the season—to put up favorable numbers and capitalize on the downfall of some of the other NL ...
- Bleacher Report
 

About Me

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First of all, the word is SEX, not GENDER. If you are ever tempted to use the word GENDER, don't. The word is SEX! SEX! SEX! SEX! For example: "My sex is male." is correct. "My gender is male." means nothing. Look it up. What kind of sick neo-Puritan nonsense is this? Idiot left-fascists, get your blood-soaked paws off the English language. Hence I am choosing "male" under protest.

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