What Lies Beneath Stonehenge?

via The Smithsonian:

We walked the Avenue, the ancient route along which the stones were first dragged from the River Avon. For centuries, this was the formal path to the great henge, but now the only hint of its existence was an indentation or two in the tall grass. It was a fine English summer’s day, with thin, fast clouds above, and as we passed through fields dotted with buttercups and daisies, cows and sheep, we could have been hikers anywhere, were it not for the ghostly monument in the near distance.

Faint as the Avenue was, Vince Gaffney hustled along as if it were illuminated by runway lights. A short, sprightly archaeologist of 56, from Newcastle upon Tyne in northeast England, he knows this landscape as well as anyone alive: has walked it, breathed it, studied it for uncounted hours. He has not lost his sense of wonder.

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Solved: Death Valley’s Sliding Rocks

Another mystery solved!

via Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego:

Racetrack Playa is home to an enduring Death Valley mystery. Littered across the surface of this dry lake, also called a “playa,” are hundreds of rocks – some weighing as much as 320 kilograms (700 pounds) – that seem to have been dragged across the ground, leaving synchronized trails that can stretch for hundreds of meters.

What powerful force could be moving them? Researchers have investigated this question since the 1940s, but no one has seen the process in action – until now.

In a paper published in the journal PLOS ONE on Aug. 27, a team led by Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego, paleobiologist Richard Norris reports on first-hand observations of the phenomenon.

Because the stones can sit for a decade or more without moving, the researchers did not originally expect to see motion in person.

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What the Hell Is a Little Girl Doing With an Uzi?

OK Second Amendment defenders, what do you say to this question (posed by Cliff Schecter at Daily Beast) in the wake of the now notorious gun range death of a 9-year-old girl’s instructor: “What the Hell Is a Little Girl Doing With an Uzi?”

Yesterday afternoon, the “NRA Women” Twitter account sent out a simple and yet ghoulish message to its followers. With an embedded link to an article on their website, it reminded its adherents of “7 ways children can have fun at the shooting range.”

No matter that merely two days earlier, at the Bullets & Burgers Gun Range in the Las Vegas area, a 9-year old girl had been handed an Uzi, lost control while firing it in fully automatic mode, and accidentally shot the instructor standing next to her in the head (he later died after being airlifted to hospital).

Uzi of the israeli armed forces.jpg

Photo by Uziel Galishto (CC)

Hell, the gun range didn’t even shut down.

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Simulation Theory and the Nature of Reality with NASA Physicist and Author, Tom Campbell

Via Midwest Real

IMG_5913“When the original founding fathers of quantum mechanics were doing these experiments they were really excited… making statements like- ‘if quantum mechanics doesn’t blow your mind, that’s because you don’t understand quantum mechanics.’ They realized this was a really big deal philosophically, (and) scientifically… Then they tried to come up with a good explanation. They couldn’t find one… Now they just blow it off as ‘nobody will ever know… it’s just weird science.’ This My Big Toe theory though, explains it.”  -Tom Campbell

If that chopped up quote sounds vague, pseudo science-y, or confusing (especially if you’re not familiar with some of the basic ideas behind quantum mechanics) I get that. But, when you’re grappling with huge issues like the very nature of our reality and you’re trying to take a broad stroke across the top, things tend to get foggy, so bear with me.

(You should know about the infamous, hotly-debated double-slit experiment covered above for this talk.)

Actually, don’t bear with me, or take anything from me, because our guest, Tom Campbell has an impressive career in applied physics.… Read the rest

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An Anatomy of Paranoia

"Sister Anna," by Carl Fredrik Hill (1887)

“Sister Anna,” by Carl Fredrik Hill (1887)

We all agree that it’s important to question conventional wisdom, and that ideas which are too bizarre for most people to accept may, nonetheless, turn out to be true. Some people, however, seem to reach a tipping point where scores of obsessive strange beliefs feed upon one another to such a degree that they impair the individual’s ability to maintain relationships or function in society. By searching mental health forums, one can find countless posts by concerned individuals who worry that they are losing a loved one to the world of conspiracy. Here is a typical example:

My husband and I have been married for over 3 years (been together 5 years).  For the last two years of our marriage, my husband has become obsessed with conspiracy theories.  Initially, I chalked it up as a new hobby/interest.  But lately (over the past year) his obsession has progressed and has me alarmed.  He spends countless hours on the internet researching conspiracy theories, mostly political (i.e.Read the rest

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Is Congress Really Being Proactive in Regards to Ferguson?

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Fingers crossed that this is implemented.

Senator Claire McCaskill is calling for body cams for all police departments that receive federal funding.

via Policy.Mic:

The news: After weeks of clashes between protesters and heavily armed riot police in Ferguson, Mo., following the police killing of unarmed black teenager Mike Brown, one senator has a simple solution to help prevent future law enforcement excesses: mandatory body cameras for all uniformed officers whose departments receive federal funding.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) told the Springfield News-Leader that such a program requirement would constitute a “great legacy” stemming from Brown’s death. She condemned the heavy-handed police crackdown on protesters, particularly officers who threatened reporters, and said that the body cams would protect police officers following legal guidelines for use of force, while reassuring community members that their rights would be respected.

Currently, video evidence usually only covers the tail end of a police incident, McCaskill told the News-Leader: “It gives the impression the police officer has overreacted when they haven’t.

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Mark Bittman’s ‘Drinker’s Manifesto’

The conclusion of Mark Bittman’s “Drinker’s Manifesto” (in the New York Times) is really the best part: “…when it comes to public health we fail to prioritize correctly. The C.D.C. says that excessive alcohol consumption causes 88,000 deaths a year and ‘costs the economy about $224 billion.’ Obesity-related illnesses cause somewhere around 112,000 deaths, and cost maybe a trillion dollars. You don’t see the C.D.C. saying that people under 21 years of age ‘drink too much’ if they consume a can of soda. But it should.” Bittman has a pretty good rationalization for boozing:

Across my desk recently came a reissue of the 1964 classic “The Drinking Man’s Diet,” a cute little volume that maintains that if you drink a bit you’ll lose weight. Counterintuitive, since one of the things we think we know about alcohol is that it provides truly empty calories, which generally speaking cause weight gain (see, for example, soda).

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LISTEN: Leaked Audio Reveals Republican Candidates Cozying Up to the Kochs

Again, I can feel your surprise.

via Policy.Mic:

While Republican candidates have benefitted greatly from the financial assistance of the Koch brothers and their network of mega-donors, it’s unlikely you’ll ever see them owning up to that on the campaign trail.

Behind closed doors, though, is another story. That’s why we get regular leaks from Koch conferences and meetings featuring conservative candidates seemingly kowtowing to a room full of billionaires. It’s what makes the Koch empire the Left’s biggest boogeyman.

But while these leaks make for good campaign soundbites, the real problem isn’t politicians heading to these conferences and retreats. It’s the lax campaign finance rules that make buddying up to donors so damn profitable.

Meanwhile, the Nation got a clip of Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) speaking frankly at a secret Koch-organized meeting. “I assure you that in the spending bill, we will be pushing back against this bureaucracy by doing what’s called placing riders in the bill,” he told those in attendance.

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Just What We Need: Another War

Sound the bugle! Get the press to march along; we are going to war.

Again!

Enemies R ‘Us, and for a long time with the killing of bin Laden, a Jihadi fatigue had set in. With the apparent shriveling up of the Al Qaeda menace, America’s threat-defining and refining machinery was somewhat adrift. What had been so simple, turned too complex to fuse into one soundbite.

Former Intelligence official Thomas Fingar, now of Stanford University, describes his own frustration in finding out what US policy priorities should be in national intelligence. He asked his colleagues to share the threats they worried about. He was soon inundated.

“When I was given responsibility for the process known as the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, almost 2300 issues had been assigned priorities higher than zero, “ he explained. “My first instruction was, “Reduce the number.”

He knew they needed only one bad-ass enemy to focus fears and attract appropriations to fight.… Read the rest

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