July 2013 Archives
A new carnivore shaped like a candelabra has been spotted in deep ocean waters off California's Monterey Bay.
The meat-eating species was dubbed the "harp sponge," so-called because its structure resembles a harp or lyre turned on its side.
A team from the Monterey Bay Research Aquarium Institute in Moss Landing, Calif., discovered the sponge in 2000 while exploring with a remotely operated vehicle. The sponges live nearly 2 miles (3.5 kilometers) beneath the ocean's surface.
"We were just amazed. No one had ever seen this animal with their own eyes before," said Lonny Lundsten, an invertebrate biologist at the research institute and one of the first to see the harp sponge. [The World's Freakiest Looking Animals]
Researchers later collected two sponges and made video observations of 10 more. Comparison with other carnivorous sponges confirmed that Chondrocladia lyra, the sponge's scientific name, was a new species and revealed some interesting insights into the sponge's life cycle.
Thoba Sithole and Tshepo Modisane
On a continent where homosexuality is often seen as foreign and unnatural Tshepo Cameron Modisane and Thoba Calvin Sithole are loudly proclaiming their love for each other. Meet this proudly gay and engaged-to-marry couple who're determined to live and love freely.
By Roberto Igual
The now 27-year-old men first met and became friends while studying in Durban but lost touch after Tshepo returned to Joburg. Thoba, who is originally from KZN, later moved to Gauteng in 2011.
They then bumped into each other at the Sunninghill Virgin Active gym, reigniting their friendship and becoming gym partners; supporting and motivating each other in their workouts. "We were helping each other with weights, training exercises and eating health plans," explains Tshepo.
The chemistry between them grew and they soon realised that they were becoming much more than friends. "We finally made it official and were an item," says Tshepo.
"The great step that we took in our relationship as a gay couple was introducing each other to our families. We are so blessed to have supportive families who care about us. Even though we are gay they still love us."
The relationship strengthened and, one Friday evening at home in June last year, Tshepo proposed to Thoba. He accepted and the couple decided to do things the African way; respecting the traditions and customs associated with marriage.
"We communicated our intentions to get married to both our families as we wanted to have a traditional African ceremony and also have a traditional Western 'fairytale white wedding,'" explains Thoba.
With their families' support, the couple have set the date of 6 April to have the African ceremony in Thoba's hometown of Stanger. They expect over 200 guests and the guys will dress in their respective traditional clothing (Tshepo is Tswana and Thoba is Zulu).
"Since we are both men we have decided that neither of us will pay lobolo. The most that we will do is to buy gifts for our parents as a sign of appreciation for raising us," says Thoba. They plan to have their white wedding later in the year in Johannesburg as a more intimate ceremony and are determined to have children through a surrogate.
"Family is important to us and that is the number one reason why we want to have children. We also want our children to grow up in an environment where they are loved greatly by both parents who appreciate them," says Thoba.
The relationship has become something of a cause célèbre in KZN, with a local newspaper celebrating their upcoming nuptials as the area's first legal gay marriage with a front page feature.
Tshepo says that one of the reasons they've chosen to be so open is that they "hope to inspire people out there who are still struggling to come to terms with their sexuality".
"We see no reason to hide in darkness as if there is something to be ashamed about. Our marriage is largely symbolic and a sign that black gay men can commit and build family through a happy and loving marriage," he says.
Thoba chimes in that "This is who we are and we are just tired of people judging with no understanding. We are people and entitled to live life to the fullest".
He adds that as a couple, "we have never felt any negative reaction that was blatant to our face. Most people have largely been supportive and excited about our union".
They both agree, however, that there is a lack of openly gay role models in South Africa, especially among people of colour. "People are still ashamed because the vast majority of the black community is not accepting of being a homosexual. They see it as largely being a 'Western trend' that is in fashion lately," says Tshepo.
He goes on to add that he has no problem being seen as a role model. "If our action of getting married and being bold and proud about it is emulated by more members of the LGBTI community who are black, then so be it. If people are inspired by our love and actions and want to do the same to follow in our footsteps then we don't mind being labelled as 'role models' in the LGBTI community."
Juror says 'Zimmerman got away with murder'
The only non-white member of the jury in the George Zimmerman trial spoke to ABC and said that Zimmerman "got away with murder," but she had to find him not guilty under the law. Chris Hayes talks with MSNBC contributor Michael Eric Dyson, who testified along with Trayvon Martin's father before Congress on Wednesday.
There is no substitute for irony.
Alex Fraser July 13 at 10:57pm ·
Dear George Zimmerman,
For the rest of your life you are now going to feel what its like to be a black man in America.
You will feel people stare at you. Judging you for what you think are unfair reasons. You will lose out on getting jobs for something you feel is outside of your control. You will believe yourself to be an upstanding citizen and wonder why people choose to not see that.
People will cross the street when they see you coming. They will call you hurtful names. It will drive you so insane some days that you'll want to scream at the top of your lungs. But you will have to wake up the next day, put on firm look and push through life.
I bet you never thought that by shooting a black male you'd end up inheriting all of his struggles.
Enjoy your "freedom."
A black male who could've been Trayvon Martin
Arguing with the racists online all weekend has left me with a sort of spiritual exhaustion and an amazement at the degree of denial about the Black reality.
On the self-fulfilling prophecies and about how My Skin Is My Sin :
I think you're all missing the point of RS cover which is to show that evil can look like the handsome kids next door as easily as anything else...and that even nice normal kids can be led into extremist and murderous acts. They clearly label him as a monster right under the cover photo. I think people are uncomfortable being both attracted and disgusted at the same time...they hate the cognitive dissonance.
I definitely don't see how RS was glorifying the guy, especially in comnjuction with the article. Did anyone actually bother to read it?
Well said culheath.
culheath: great points again.
It seems that it is difficult for many people NOT to dehumanize terrorists... which is the same thing the terrorists do when they carry out attacks against any citizen. It is only opposite sides of the same coin, isn't it? I can understand why people are upset: this was the boy next door and an American citizen. But they do need to check their emotions a little.
I can handle that some people might be offended emotionally by what they see as glorifying the guy, what annoys me is the hysteria level of that emotion. RS did nothing wrong by publishing the image they did since was an already published stock photo, not one they doctored to make him more attractive or something, it would be a different matter if they had.
Sometimes there is just no way to rationalize the irrational except by uncensored exposure. The article was great by the way and reading it made the decision by RS to use the cover photo they did sensible.Unfortunately a lot of people will never get that far. It seems that people are all too ready these days to have their hair on fire over not much at all.
The police photographer was more in the wrong because he breached department policy and that's where that line is clear. Though I think he will regret his rashness later, I'm glad he did publish them because they are great photos and are historically informative.
I'll definitely give it a read (it is on their website, isn't it?) I hear what you're saying, and I agree with the hysteria.
I used to think that if you gave terrorists any 'airtime' or attention that it would enhance their desire to act, to affect the West. Lately I've come to understand that this is the SAME argument as saying "if kids get sex education, then they will be out there doing it". It doesn't make any sense (as kids are out there 'doing it' anyway). It's actually a false argument: that somehow, if you just ignore it, it will go away. This false argument is usually reinforced by the "glamorization theory": that, by scrutinizing something, you could be 'glamorizing it' and this is further followed by the 'fearful wisdom' that states that "others will want to do it in order to be famous" (if it is 'glamorized').
But they should be asking "Is that how this happened?" The stated reasons in this case were due to "hits on Muslims and US policies overseas" - there wasn't anything about 'fame' or 'glamour'. Ergo, the so-called "glamorizing" argument really doesn't exist: if people AREN'T doing it just to be famous in the first place, then it weakens even further the 'logical wisdom' that terrorists should be ignored and not given any attention. The cold, harsh reality is this: refusing to give terrorists any attention will NOT stop terroristic acts from occurring.
We need to figure this out because there HAS to be a way - but hysteria and knee-jerk anger isn't going to find it, either.
I agree with everything you said.
When Socrates asserted that "The unexamined life is not worth living", he meant that to his mind the entire purpose of being human was to pursue intellectual, philosophical and spiritual growth and it is only through examining and reflecting on the nature of our world, our own habits of thoughts and behaviors that we can hope to approach a realization of our true natures and eventually gain some semblance of captaincy over our lives.
Those who choose to ignore such examinations are also likely to ignore the instructions of history. Enter Santayana with his famous, "He who does not remember the past is condemned to repeat it."
What's really being talked about by both of these guys is that without a concerted attempt to be more conscious of the human condition tomorrow than we are today or were yesterday, we are mere flotsam being carried along by currents we neither control or even recognize.
That's what I see about a good deal of this knee jerk hysteria to the idea that RS is glorifying a terrorist. I see that the RS crew are attempting to understand the nature of the process that got a normal kid to evolve into a sociopathic monster and the complainers are reacting in a superficial way to something that instead needs deep inspection.
So it goes.
The article is online here:
Listen to the kids..."they're better than us", he said.
By Michael O'Brien
President Barack Obama made a surprise appearance at the White House Friday to discuss African-Americans' reaction to last weekend's verdict in the George Zimmerman case, saying that "Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago."
"You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there's a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it's important to recognize that the African- American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that -- that doesn't go away," he said.
Obama addressed the issue personally as well, saying, "There are very few African-American men in this country who haven't had the experience of being followed when they are shopping at a department store. And that includes me."
He recalled his own experiences before becoming a nationally-recognized politician, noting, "There are very few African- American men who haven't had the experience of walking across the street and hearing the locks click on the doors of cars. That happens to me, at least before I was a senator. There are very few African-Americans who haven't had the experience of getting on an elevator and a woman clutching her purse nervously and holding her breath until she had a chance to get off."
And he contended that these attitudes often shape perceptions in the United States.
"I don't want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida and it's inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear," he said.
Asked if the president had thoroughly contemplated his remarks, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, "I don't think there's any question, and you can judge by what he just said and how he said it, he knows what he thinks and he knows what he feels, and he had not just in the past week but for a good portion of his life given a lot of thought to these issues."
Obama also suggested that the outcome of the case could have been different if Martin were white. "If a white male teen would have been involved in this scenario," he said, "both the outcome and the aftermath might have been different."
The president also nodded to the Justice Department investigation which is probing whether or not to bring federal civil rights charges against Zimmerman. But Obama also urged state and local officials to review their own procedures to see how to improve their law enforcement practices.
He also called for a review of so-called "Stand Your Ground" laws, a central issue in the case.
"If Trayvon Martin was of age and was armed, could he have stood his ground on that sidewalk?" Obama asked. "If the answer to that question is at least ambiguous, then it seems to me that we should examine those laws."
Obama said he wanted to "reiterate what I said on Sunday, which is there are going to be a lot of arguments about the legal issues in the case. I'll let all the legal analysts and talking heads address those issues."
The justice system is not just.
You see a strange dog and chase it. You corner it and it bites you. You shoot it and blame the dog.
That's Zimmerman's negligence...the fact that he is an asshole cannot be explained.
Basically the male Black body is still perceived as dangerous and an automatic threat. Racism is still so systemic and woven into the social fabric of the US that many people don't even realize they perceive through its lens.
I am disappointed but not especially surprised that Zimmerman wasn't found guilty of even the negligent manslaughter charge. Black mothers and fathers, guard your children because they got away with it again
Terrance Smith, Jr., 7, protests the verdict with his dad in Sanford, Fla.
I love his energy and enthusiasm.
What happened to the freedom to say stupid, heartless stuff?
Sarah Slamen is a hero.
Very funny. Only the Republicans to blame for everything in the history of the world. Obstructionist? The Dems control the presidency and the Senate. Spare us. But notice there are mostly just Liberals on this board making comments since they have no invites to BBQ's because their whining drives everyone crazy. I'm off to work. Something Liberals despise as well.
Finally you admit the truth....except you should replace the word Republicans with Conservatives (since Republicans used to be progressives until the anti-commie/religious right whackos took over the party and emasculated and perverted the party core principles).
Conservatism is anti-life and resists the most fundamental aspect of the entire universe itself : change.
Here's a simple test...Name us one purely conservative policy that ever has proven to be of benefit to the common man or mankind in general. Just one.
I could list hundreds of liberal/progressive policies that benefited millions...yet not one conservative one. Why is that?
America itself is not a conservative idea, it is a liberal one. The founders were men who were in transition and products of the Age of Enlightenment which was an era of casting off the old orders of conservative thought and control by powerful and entrenched elites. They were setting out to change the old manner in which men were ruled, eschewing the old world of rule by divine right or religion. They weren't particularly conservatives trying to preserve the status quo, they were progressives aiming at a greater liberty for individuals and for the way in which those individuals would rule themselves.
The conservatives among them who resisted such change and wanted to preserve their fealty to the king and the old order eventually were sacked and set packing back to England or Canada.
So tell us, what good have conservatives ever performed for the country and its citizens really?
(NOTE: No conservative answered that question.)
by Bob Sullivan
A mystery gunman who allegedly fired 700 road-rage-inspired bullets at German drivers during the past five years was finally arrested in late June. Digital sleuthing was credited with ending the reign of driving terror.
Germany's E-ZPass-like system is off-limits to law enforcement, so police set up a temporary network that tracked license plates on the road and used the data to catch the suspect.
While the arrest has been celebrated, civil rights advocates have complained that thousands of innocent drivers were also caught up in the police dragnet, and have questioned its legality. The argument might sound absurd to American ears -- would Germans really rather be shot at than have their license plates recorded? -- but Germans are more sensitive to government overreach than Americans. A rabid debate about security and privacy has begun.
As the Edward Snowden affair enters its second month, Americans don't seem to have much appetite for the subtlety of such a debate. The Prism leak discussion has been framed repeatedly as a zero-sum game, pitting privacy on one side and security on the other.
"You can't have 100 percent security and also have 100 percent privacy," President Obama said on June 7, in his principal public statement in the issue, suggesting there is some dial which forces government officials to pick one over the other.
It's a false choice, say many security experts.
Liberty vs. control
"I've never liked the idea of security vs. privacy, because no one feels more secure in a surveillance state," said Bruce Schneier, security expert and author of Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Insecure World. "There's plenty of examples of security that doesn't infringe on privacy. They are all around. Door locks. Fences ... Firewalls. People are forgetting that quite a lot of security doesn't affect privacy. The real dichotomy is liberty vs. control."
Dan Solove, a privacy law expert at George Washington University Law School, said the privacy vs. security framing has interfered with what could be a healthy national debate about using high-tech tools to fight terror.
"You have pollsters and pundits and (National Intelligence Director James) Clapper saying, 'Do you want us to catch the terrorists or do you want privacy?' But that's a false choice. It's like asking, 'Do you want the police to exist or not?'" he said. "We already have the most invasive investigative techniques permissible with the right oversight. With probable cause you can search my home. ... People want limitations and transparency, so they can make a choice about how much surveillance (they) are willing to tolerate."
By creating an either/or tension between privacy and security, government officials have invented a heavy weapon to wield against those who raise civil liberties concerns, he said. It's easy to cast the choice in stark terms: Who wouldn't trade a little personal data to save even one American life?
When George Washington became President of the United States in 1789, there were no political parties.
Political parties first emerged during Washington's first term in office with the Alexander Hamilton's Federalist Party in 1791 and in the following year, the formation of the Anti-Federalist Party or Democratic-Republicans under the leadership of Thomas Jefferson.
The two political parties formulated their views of how government ought to operate in the new republic.
At the end of Washington's first term, as he was preparing to retire and go back to Mt. Vernon to just be a farmer again, the leaders of the opposing parties both wanted him to reconsider with Hamilton and Jefferson pleading with Washington to stay on for a second term.
Jefferson is credited as stating: "North and South will hang together if they have you to hang on."
Washington finally consented to such sentiments and was again the obvious choice of the Electoral College as they re-elected him in February of 1793.
During Washington's second term, the divisions between the two political parties became defined. A good part of the underlying differences between the two factions centered on the French Revolution (1789-1799).
Jefferson had been in France as the U.S. Minister where he was witness to the beginning of the end of the French monarchy. France's King Louis XVI was eventually guillotined in March of 1793 and Jefferson, as Washington's Secretary of State, favored U.S. support of the new French Republic and the revolutionaries.
Being more cautious, Washington issued the Neutrality Proclamation in May and Jefferson, disgusted with having to tolerate Washington's policies, resigned his Secretarial post at the end of that year.
As war broke out in Europe between the new French Republic and the European monarchs, Washington resisted taking sides even though the Federalists were inclined to ally with Great Britain during this widespread European conflict.
By refusing to come to the aide of France, Washington earned the wrath of the Democratic-Republican Party members, several of whom were newspaper editors.
Despite the attempt to remain neutral, American merchants still traded with both countries, to the ire of the British who started confiscating American ships and cargo that were destined to France or French territories.
The British captured nearly 300 ships near the West Indies alone, and the concept of neutrality became a feeble cause.
In 1795 Washington sent Supreme Court Chief Justice John Jay to negotiate a treaty with the British regarding restitution of the lost ships and a number of outstanding issues with the motherland leftover from the revolution.
Neither the Democratic or Republican party were pleased by The Jay Treaty and it fell short of Washington's objectives.
However, the greatest opposition to Washington was the appearance that he had taken sides in the securing of a trade agreement with Great Britain.
Congress had to debate the treaty behind closed doors due to the controversy, and when the public learned of the terms, Washington's decision was attacked throughout all the states.
Popular graffiti (yes it even existed in the 1700s) in Massachusetts reflected some of the anti-Federalist sentiment: "Damn John Jay! Damn everyone who won't damn John Jay! Damn everyone who won't stay up all night damning John Jay!"
When Alexander Hamilton appeared at a meeting in his home state of New York to explain the benefits of the treaty, crowds hissed and booed and some even threw stones at the Secretary of the Treasury.
Party lines and loyalty were drawn to the point of personal bitterness and public destructiveness. Such division along party lines represented the most severe split between the two political factions since the inception of the republic. It made a deep impact upon Washington and the memory must have been in his mind as he wrote about the very real capacity of political parties to destroy the fragile unity holding the nation together.
It is not that Washington failed to understand the contribution of parties, but he was greatly concerned that they had previously, and would again, grow seeking more power than other groups to the detriment of the whole.
Washington was aware that other governments viewed political parties as destructive because of the temptation to manifest and retain power, but also because they would often seek to extract revenge on political opponents.
He viewed this to be detrimental to the young country as an entire nation.
He also saw the dangers in sectionalism (North vs. South) and warned that political factions gaining enough power could seek to obstruct the execution of the laws that were created by Congress and could prevent the three branches from properly performing their duties as outlined in the Constitution.
President Washington expresses genuine concern in that "the alternate domination" of one political party over another, thereby allowing one party to enjoy temporary power over the government that would use it to obtain revenge on the other.
He felt that this tendency toward atrocities directed at the party out of power "...is itself a frightful despotism. But this leads at length to a more formal and permanent despotism."
Reading the words of his Farewell Address, an adept reader may be astounded at how remarkably prophetic they are:
The disorders and miseries which result gradually incline the minds of men to seek security and repose in the absolute power of an individual; and sooner or later the chief of some prevailing faction, more able or more fortunate than his competitors, turns this disposition to the purposes of his own elevation, on the ruins of public liberty.
Without looking forward to an extremity of this kind (which nevertheless ought not to be entirely out of sight), the common and continual mischiefs of the spirit of party are sufficient to make it the interest and duty of a wise people to discourage and restrain it.
It serves always to distract the public councils and enfeeble the public administration. It agitates the community with ill-founded jealousies and false alarms, kindles the animosity of one part against another, foments occasionally riot and insurrection. It opens the door to foreign influence and corruption, which finds a facilitated access to the government itself through the channels of party passions. Thus the policy and the will of one country are subjected to the policy and will of another.
Washington argued that political parties needed to be restrained in a free country with a government empowered by the consent of the governed and established through popular elections. He warned of the possibility fearing they could distract the government from its required duty to the people and even lead to the eradication of the freedoms established by the founding.
Unfortunately, it is way too late to restrain the hunger for power in today's political parties; it has been enculturated.
America is at the mercy of two powerful political parties. If a strong candidate wants to get elected to office in this country, one usually needs some affiliation to the major parties.
We see from history that third party forays are limited in strength and often serve only to undermine one or another of the major parties in the capacity of a "spoiler."
If Washington could see America now, probably the only thing that he could say after getting over the shock, would be: "I told you so!"
There are people who have lived and died throughout history who have made fundamental contributions to the human experience and how we live our lives and understand the world. Many of them are completely unremembered or uncelebrated.
Who invented the first mud brick for buildings? Who first realized a spoken word could be represented by a design or symbol? Basic and fundamental things that nevertheless had gigantic impact on the course of human evolution often get lost in the mists of time.
In this case however we can celebrate the work of a pioneer who was instrumental in the development from scratch of the computer systems we take for granted and use without a second thought. The inordinate complexity and robust systems and code that allow us to blithely email, edit text and select objects and functions using mouse pointers moving around a screen had to be figured out at their most rudimentary levels by such pioneers as Engelbart and his team.
If you watch the technical youtube demo presentation below you will get a sense of how much effort, patience and intellectual skill went into creating the modern file system and internet. Consider that most people won't even be able to watch the whole thing without having their eyes glaze over and it gives us a hint at the tenacity such work requires.
In my opinion Engelbart and his fellow researchers deserve a standing ovation.
Douglas Engelbart, the thought leader and engineer who created, among many other things, the concept of the computer mouse, has passed away Tuesday at the age of 88. His legendary "Mother of All Demos" in 1968 anticipated the next several decades of computing and inspired all manner of other products and inventors.
Engelbart was born in Portland, Ore. in 1925, and after serving in the Navy in World War II, he pursued an education in electrical engineering. After finishing his doctorate at UC Berkeley in 1955, he migrated to Silicon Valley, where he took a position at Stanford Research Institute. He was inspired by the work of Vannevar Bush and other early computer scientists, whose inventions (and later, Engelbart's own) would fundamentally change the way people interacted with the world.
Over the next 15 years, he would work on dozens of projects which would help shape the future of computing, but his most memorable contribution for many must be the mouse. First sketched out in 1961, put to use in 1963, and shown off with many other transformative technologies at a 1968 demonstration, the mouse was a huge leap ahead in interface design.
You can watch the full demo below. The mouse, in use throughout the presentation, gets its own explanation at about the 30:55 mark.
That wasn't the only thing on display. Engelbart's revolutionary presentation touched on teleconferencing, hypertext, word processing techniques, file management and many other technologies that we take for granted today. Around the same time as this demo, Engelbart's team was working with DARPA on ARPANET, precursor to the modern Internet. Bear in mind, all of these these natural, powerful advances were demonstrated at a time when computers were room-sized objects operated with punchcards.
The uniting theme of Engelbart's life and work, as described by his daughter in this brief biography, was that of "augmenting human intellect," using computers as a way to "bootstrap" humanity and improve our collective capabilities.
Without Engelbart's contributions, computers and the Internet would likely look much different today, if they existed as we understand them at all.
His mission continues via his various research projects and the Doug Engelbart Institute
It's a standard assumption in the West: As a society progresses, it eventually becomes a capitalist, multi-party democracy. Right?
Eric X. Li, a Chinese investor and political scientist, begs to differ. In this provocative, boundary-pushing talk, he asks his audience to consider that there's more than one way to run a successful modern nation.