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Home country: USA
Current location: Georgia
Member since: Tue Feb 10, 2004, 12:08 PM
Number of posts: 38,801

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Environmental Scientist

Journal Archives

Tom the Dancing Bug TOON: "I sacrifice thee in the name of The Second Amendment"

Divers Find Giant Floating Blob, Have No Idea What It Is

While underwater off the coast of Turkey, a group of divers encountered a translucent blob about the size of a car.

The blob felt “very soft,” divers said, and appeared “gelatinous.” From afar, the mass looked almost invisible, but up close, the group spotted countless little dots floating in the 13-foot sphere.

Diver Lutfu Tanriover, who captured the blob (which he called “the thing”) on video, told the blog Deep Sea News that the group felt both “excitement and fear” as they approached the mysterious mass.

Even after close inspection, the divers say they couldn’t figure out what the blob was.

Christopher Mah of The Echinoblog ended up being the first to the plate. Mah said in a tweet that Dr. Michael Vecchione, a squid expert and scientist at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, had come up with a possible answer.

The blob, Vecchione said, was likely an enormous squid egg mass -- the “largest” he’s ever seen.


How Medicaid forces families to stay poor

by Andrea Louise Campbell

On a crisp California morning in February 2012, my sister-in-law, Marcella Wagner, was driving down the interstate toward Chico State University, where she had just entered the nursing program. She was thinking about the day ahead when suddenly another driver swerved in front of her. To avoid a collision, she jerked the wheel hard, and her car veered off the freeway. It rolled over, crushing the roof. The other driver sped off, never to be found. Marcella was seven and a half months pregnant. Miraculously, the baby survived and was not harmed. But Marcella was left a quadriplegic, paralyzed from the chest down and with little use of her hands. She will need a wheelchair and round-the-clock personal care assistance indefinitely.

The accident caused more than the physical and emotional devastation that upended Marcella's career plans. It also brought about an economic tragedy that hurtled her young family into the world of means-tested social assistance programs, the "safety net" of public programs for the poor. My brother, Dave Campbell, works for a small company that doesn't offer employee benefits. Nonetheless, before the accident Marcella had managed to secure health insurance for both her and the baby. Her pregnancy and 60 days' postpartum care was being covered by Access for Infants and Mothers, California's health insurance program for middle-income pregnant women. After the birth, Marcella would have been able to join the university's student health plan. The baby would be covered by the Children's Health Insurance Program, the federal-state plan for lower-income children. Marcella and Dave thought they were all set. And then, with the accident, they fell down the social assistance rabbit hole.

At first I thought I would be a great help to Marcella and Dave as they negotiated this web of programs. After all, I'd been teaching and writing about social policy for years, first at Harvard and then at MIT. But I was soon humbled by how immensely complicated the programs are on the ground, and shocked by how penurious. The programs that Marcella now needs as a quadriplegic have helped her in many ways, but have also thrust her, my brother, and their young son into poverty, with little hope of escape. Until this accident, I did not realize the depth of the trap.

And this is not just the story of one family hit by tragedy. Millions suffer under such program strictures and limitations. Between ages 25 and 65, two-thirds of Americans will live in a household receiving means-tested benefits, according to sociologists Mark Rank and Thomas Hirschl. And even if we avoid these programs during our working years, most of us will be disabled at some point in old age, and Medicaid — a means-tested social assistance program — is the most likely source of the help we'll need. This is an American story, the product of the uncertain and incomplete system of social protections in the United States.


This mesmerizing video shows how incredibly vast space really is


Light travels at about 186,000 miles per second. That's an incomprehensibly fast speed — faster than any other object in the universe.

But the video above shows how huge just our corner of the galaxy is, even for a photon of light traveling at that remarkable speed. The film, by artist Alphonse Swinehart, gives you the view you'd see if you were a particle of light traveling from the sun across the solar system — even though it's 45 minutes long, you still don't even reach Saturn.


Wednesday Toon Roundup 3- The Rest



The South


Health Care



Lion Killer



Wednesday Toon Roundup 2- The Rights of the Insane to buy Guns Shall Not be Infringed...

Wednesday Toon Roundup 1- Race to the Bottom

Baby Orca Squee!!!!

Inigo del CastilloCONTRIBUTOR
by Inigo del Castillo

In the Salish Sea near British Columbia, Canada, naturalist Clint Rivers photographed a baby orca who perfectly captures that happy feeling we get on Fridays.
The 6-month-old calf, named J50, put on a show for whale watchers by doing belly flops and extremely enthusiastic breaches. At times, she even looks like she’s about to fly!

‘I’ve never seen a baby whale breach like J50’s been doing’, said Michael Harris, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watching Association. ‘Her energy is astounding – I guess not unlike my small kids. She’s constantly leaping into the air, and often curling up and doing belly flops’.

J50 is part of a local pod that has recently seen a surge in their population numbers. No wonder this little girl’s so happy!

more pics

Tobacco giant sues Australia (ISDS Court)

More than $50 million of taxpayer money is expected to go up in smoke defending cigarette plain packaging in a secretive international tribunal in Singapore.

But costs will pile much higher if Australia loses on its first defence that Philip Morris indulged in cynical “venue shopping” by shifting its headquarters to Hong Kong to sue Australia.

The West Australian can reveal the Attorney-General’s Department, which is running the case in defence of plain packaging, called former Labor treasurer Wayne Swan as a witness before a special tribunal sitting in Singapore back in February.

Philip Morris, which is claiming the plain packaging regime harms its intellectual property in such famous brands as Marlboro, Peter Jackson and Longbeach, called its own high-profile witnesses, also at considerable cost.

Among Philip Morris’ witnesses have been former High Court judge Ian Callinan who gave evidence on administrative law.



Jamestown excavation unearths four bodies — and a mystery in a small box

JAMESTOWN, Va. — When his friends buried Capt. Gabriel Archer here about 1609, they dug his grave inside a church, lowered his coffin into the ground and placed a sealed silver box on the lid.

This English outpost was then a desperate place. The “starving time,” they called it. Dozens had died of hunger and disease. Survivors were walking skeletons, besieged by Indians, and reduced to eating snakes, dogs and one another.

The tiny, hexagonal box, etched with the letter “M,” contained seven bone fragments and a small lead vial, and probably was an object of veneration, cherished as disaster closed in on the colony.

On Tuesday, more than 400 years after the mysterious box was buried, Jamestown Rediscovery and the Smithsonian Institution announced that archaeologists have found it, as well as the graves of Archer and three other VIPs.


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