Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Election 2016: The Funnies


by Luke Choice, velvetspectrum (instagram)

CINCINNATI (The Borowitz Report)—Republican front-runner Donald Trump was crying foul on Monday after Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders allegedly dispatched an army of vegan thugs to attack a rally of peace-loving Nazis in Cincinnati. According to Trump, he had begun to address a group of “orderly and civil Nazis” at a downtown arena when his audience was suddenly set upon by an unruly mob of angry vegans, many menacingly clad in Birkenstocks and sustainable garments.

The Sanders supporters, singing an alarmingly militant version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “America,” marched into the arena and began “intimidating and threatening” the Nazis, Trump said. “Make no mistake about who is starting the violence at these rallies,” Trump said. “It’s the vegans.”

Carol Foyler, a Nazi from suburban Cincinnati, said that she feared for her life when one of the vegans “ripped a Trump sign” from her hands and “tried to recycle it.” Harland Dorrinson, a Kentucky Nazi who drove to Ohio to hear Trump speak, said he would never have attended the rally if he had known “there would be troublemaking vegans there. One of them tried to swing an NPR tote bag at my head,” the terrified Nazi said.

Vermin Supreme Says He 'Paved The Way For Donald Trump'
Who is Vermin Supreme and why does he say he "paved the way for Donald Trump"? newsy.com/56839
Posted by Newsy on Sunday, February 7, 2016

"Donald Trump on Thursday retweeted an insult to Iowa voters, just hours after a poll showed him behind retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson in the state.

"@mygreenhippo #BenCarson is now leading in the #polls in #Iowa. Too much #Monsanto in the #corn creates issues in the brain? #Trump #GOP"
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 22, 2015

"'@mygreenhippo #BenCarson is now leading in the #polls in #Iowa. Too much #Monsanto in the #corn creates issues in the brain? #Trump #GOP,'" Trump's retweet states."

"More than anyone I knew, Ted seemed to have arrived in college with a fully formed worldview,” Butler College colleague Erik Leitch said. “And what strikes me now, looking at him as an adult and hearing the things he's saying, it seems like nothing has changed. Four years of an Ivy League education, Harvard Law, and years of life experience have altered nothing."

Craig Mazin said he knew some people might be afraid to speak in the press about a senator, but added of Cruz, “We should be afraid that someone like that has power.”

And the idea that his freshman roommate could someday be the leader of the free world? “I would rather have anybody else be the president of the United States. Anyone,” Mazin said. “I would rather pick somebody from the phone book."

Republican consultant Rick Wilson denigrated supporters of Donald Trump on Tuesday, painting them as anti-Semitic lacking ambition, Crooks and Liars reported.

“The fact of the matter is, most of them are childless single men who masturbate to anime,” Wilson told MSNBC host Chris Hayes. “They’re not real political players. These are not people who matter in the overall course of humanity.”

The GOP, Wilson insisted, is still being driven by the belief in a limited-government platform.

“I don’t think that this other stuff that Trump is toying with is part of the mainstream conservative movement by any stretch of the imagination,” he added.

» 7 Ways Hillary Clinton Is Just Like Your Abuela (Because we all love #hispandering right?)

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Monday said he plans to introduce legislation banning all Muslim refugees from Syria from entering America. Christian refugees from Syria, however, would be allowed.

“There is no meaningful risk of Christians committing acts of terror,” he said. “If there were a group of radical Christians pledging to murder anyone who had a different religious view than they, we would have a different national security situation.”

Fellow candidate Jeb Bush had just finished answering the question, bragging that he's 7-0 in his fantasy football league before saying that “there should be some regulation” with fantasy sports betting.

"Are we really talking about fantasy football," an incredulous Chris Christie yelled after the question was asked. "Wait a second, we have $19 trillion in debt, people out of work, ISIS and Al Qaeda attacking us and we're talking about fantasy football?"

"Amid his outburst, however, Christie may forgotten an email his own campaign sent supporters just weeks ago, equating the 2016 presidential race with fantasy football. 'Have you set your lineup this week,' Christie campaign Digital Director Lauren Fritts wrote in the Sept. 24 email. 'This is a friendly reminder to double check and submit your lineup before the start of the Giants ... game tonight at 8:25 p.m.'"

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Dawes - "When the Tequila Runs Out"

Along with Dawes' album announcement comes the official video for “When The Tequila Runs Out,” the California folk-rockers' fuzzed-out, boozed-up lead single. The Kevin Hayes-directed visual captures a wild party in slow-motion, as if the camera itself tossed back one too many. The track itself sounds a little slicker than your average Dawes song, with heavy emphasis on its fun-loving hook: “When the tequila runs out, we’ll be drinking champagne.” Works for us.

We’re All Gonna Die was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Grammy-nominee Blake Mills, who was actually a member of an earlier iteration of the band alongside Goldsmith. The ten-track album includes contributions from Brittany Howard of Alabama Shakes, Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Holly Laessig and Jess Wolfe of Lucius, Mandy Moore (who appears in the “When The Tequila Runs Out” video) and Will Oldham.

“The record sounds so fresh—yet fills me with a strange nostalgia for things that haven’t happened yet,” James said in a press release. “I hear it at the beach and blasting out of car windows on future summer nights … easily having become a natural part of people’s lives.”

Monday, August 15, 2016

Spotlight: Woodstock Music & Art Fair (August 15-18, 1969)

Billed as "An Aquarian Exposition: 3 Days of Peace & Music", it was held at Max Yasgur's 600-acre (240 ha; 0.94 sq mi) dairy farm in the Catskills near the hamlet of White Lake in the town of Bethel. Bethel, in Sullivan County, is 43 miles (69 km) southwest of the town of Woodstock, New York, in adjoining Ulster County.

During the sometimes rainy weekend, 32 acts performed outdoors before an audience of 400,000 people. It is widely regarded as a pivotal moment in popular music history, as well as the definitive nexus for the larger counterculture generation.

The event was captured in the Academy Award winning 1970 documentary movie Woodstock, an accompanying soundtrack album, and Joni Mitchell's song "Woodstock", which commemorated the event and became a major hit for both Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young and Matthews Southern Comfort.

Very few reporters from outside the immediate area were on the scene. During the first few days of the festival, national media coverage emphasized the problems. Front page headlines in the Daily News read "Traffic Uptight at Hippiefest" and "Hippies Mired in a Sea of Mud". Coverage became more positive by the end of the festival, in part because the parents of concertgoers called the media and told them, based on their children's phone calls, that their reporting was misleading.

Max Yasgur refused to rent out his farm for a 1970 revival of the festival, saying, "As far as I know, I'm going back to running a dairy farm." Yasgur died in 1973. Bethel voters tossed out their supervisor in an election held in November 1969 because of his role in bringing the festival to the town. New York State and the town of Bethel passed mass gathering laws designed to prevent any more festivals from occurring.

In 1984, at the original festival site, land owners Louis Nicky and June Gelish put up a monument marker with plaques called "Peace and Music" by a local sculptor from nearby Bloomingburg, Wayne C. Saward (1957–2009).

Attempts were made to prevent people from visiting the site, its owners spread chicken manure, and during one anniversary, tractors and state police cars formed roadblocks. Twenty thousand people gathered at the site in 1989 during an impromptu 20th anniversary celebration. In 1997 a community group put up a welcoming sign for visitors. Unlike Bethel, the town of Woodstock made several efforts to cash in on its notoriety. Bethel's stance changed in recent years, and the town now embraces the festival. Efforts have begun to forge a link between Bethel and Woodstock.

Approximately 80 lawsuits were filed against Woodstock Ventures, primarily by farmers in the area. The movie financed settlements and paid off the $1.4 million of debt Woodstock Ventures had incurred from the festival.

The ashes of the late Richie Havens were scattered across the site on August 18, 2013.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

2016 Summer Olympics: The Recap


In all, Team USA earned 121 medals over two weeks, finishing off on Sunday with yet another gold in men's basketball, an Olympic sport the U.S. practically owns. The performance was so dominant that the U.S. has more gold medals, 46, than all but three other countries managed to win total. Team USA’s 121 medals are the most ever for a U.S. team in a non-boycotted Games, topping the previous high of 110 from Beijing in 2008.

Michael Phelps has proven himself to be the greatest swimmer of all time — and perhaps the greatest athlete of all time. He’s broken so many records, including his own, in Rio that gold medal performances are expected.

With last night’s win he also became the first swimmer to earn four consecutive gold medals in a single event. He also became one of only three American athletes to win an individual event four times, along with track and field Olympians Al Oerter and Carl Lewis.

As if that wasn’t enough, Phelps also beat an ancient Olympic record, surpassing Leonidas of Rhodes’ 12 individual Olympic titles with a 13th individual gold medal. Leonidas won his title over four Olympics (Rio is Phelps’ fifth), earning his last three titles in the 152 BCE Olympics– a 200m race, a 400m race, and a shield-carrying race.

At 31 years old, Phelps says Rio will be his last Olympic performance, fair enough considering he’s already the first American man to make five Olympic swim teams. Last night he told reporters he was proud to have finished out his Olympic career this way, saying, “The biggest thing for me through the meet so far is I’ve been able to finish how I wanted to.” But who knows, Phelps might be back; after all, Leonidas won his 12th individual Olympic title at age 36.

Despite the familiarity with Phelps’ record-breaking performances, these Olympics have been anything but boring. Thursday night, in what may very well have been his last race against teammate and rival (or at least as close to a rival as the GOAT can have), Phelps beat Ryan Lochte soundly in the 200m individual medley. Once again Phelps penned his name in the history books, earning his 22nd career gold medal and fourth gold medal in Rio. Phelps time of 1:54.66 was the fastest in the world this year and only 0.66 seconds off Lochte's 5-year-old world record.

A photo posted by Ryanlochte (@ryanlochte) on

But lost in that perfect outcome is the work it took to get there. It wasn't always this way. When Phelps first returned to training in 2014, he lost sets to female teammates in training. He finished ninth in the 200 freestyle at a May 2014 Grand Prix meet in Charlotte, North Carolina. And just this past June in an Olympic trials tuneup meet in Austin, Texas, he finished fourth in the 200 free and second in the 100 butterfly.

"I feel like a kid again, and that's the difference," Phelps said. "I feel like I did when I was 18. That was the only way to get back and race at this level consistently."

Added Bob Bowman: "It isn't because of the talent; it's the work. The work is what did it -- particularly this time around."

Katie Ledecky earned her fifth medal in Rio when she defended her Olympic title in the 800m freestyle. Ledecky made a statement with each lap, pulling first half-a-body-length then a full body and finally, by the last lap, several lengths ahead. She wasn’t racing the field but the clock, spending most of the race more than a second-and-a-half under her own world record pace, set earlier this year. With two laps to go, she was nearly two seconds under that pace and in the final 50m, crushed it with a final time of 8:04.79–still nearly two seconds ahead of her own world record. The win gave Ledecky her fourth gold of these Olympics to go along with one silver.

Athletes with ties to Maryland have earned 11 gold medals in total, which means that in gold medal count, the state would be the third-ranked country behind the U.S. and China. So far, all of the Maryland’s medaling has come from the swimming: Katie Ledecky, Michael Phelps, Allison Schmitt, Cierra Runge, Jack Conger and Chase Kalisz are each Maryland-area athletes, and they’ve all won medals.

Ashton Eaton joins the USA’s Bob Mathias (1948 and 1952) and Great Britain’s Daley Thompson (1980 and 1984) as the only two-time decathlon winners in Olympic history.

“The decathlon is exclusive company,” Eaton said. “I’m just happy to be part of the family, the decathlon family. To be with the other two-time gold medalists is great, but it’s great to just be a decathlete.”

Add two golds to his growing collection of hardware, which includes two World Championships and three heptathlon titles in the Indoor Championships, the latest coming in his home state of Oregon in March. In doing so, Eaton has staked a strong claim for being the greatest decathlete of all time — and in turn, for being viewed among the greatest athletes to ever participate in the Olympic Games.

To his coach, Harry Marra, there’s no question. Eaton is the greatest, he said. And in a way, this gold was the most meaningful. It will be the final Olympic Games for Marra, who tutored not only Eaton but his wife, Canada’s Brianne Theisen-Eaton, who took bronze in the women’s heptathlon.

“It’s historic. I wish the rest of the world understood that. Repeating in the decathlon? Repeating in the decathlon? When so many things can go wrong? That’s impressive.”

The 4x400m relay featured another close battle between Jamaica and the United States before the baton fell into the hands of the most decorated female in American track and field history. Allyson Felix anchored the women’s 4x400-meter relay to a gold medal in 3:19.06, which brings her career count to six Olympic gold medals and nine total. She ties Jamaica’s Merlene Ottey for the most Olympic medals all-time by a female track and field athlete. Jamaica took silver in 3:20.34. Great Britain crossed the finish line five seconds later for bronze.

The men’s race was close until the final leg when 400-meter bronze medalist LaShawn Merritt pulled away from the field to put the United States back atop the podium in the 4x400-meter relay. The Americans lost to the Bahamas in 2012 and settled for silver. Botswana was the main challenger for the first three legs of the race before anchor Goane Leaname Maotoanong tied up and was passed by Jamaica and the Bahamas for silver and bronze.

Matthew Centrowitz used his closing speed to hold onto the lead before becoming the first American gold medalist in the metric mile (1,500 meters) since Mel Sheppard’s win at the 1908 Olympics in London.

Since winning the NCAA title in 2011 and a world championship bronze medal at the world championships later that summer, Centrowitz has emerged as one of the best American middle distance runners ever. At just 26, he also became the first American to win gold at any distance longer than 800 meters since Dave Wottle’s gold medal at the 1972 Olympics. Centrowitz is also the third-fastest American at the distance.

But Phelps’ performance wasn’t the only record-breaking swim of the night. American swimmer Simone Manuel broke the Olympic record in the women’s 100m freestyle race and became the first African-American woman to win an individual event in Olympic swimming.

She told reporters that the win was bigger than herself: "It's for a whole bunch of people that came before me and have been an inspiration to me,” she said. “It's for all the people after me, who believe they can't do it. And I just want to be inspiration to others that you can do it."

Additionally, Simone Biles and the American women’s gymnastics team continued to assert their dominance. Biles took gold in the individual all-around competition and teammate Aly Raisman took silver. Biles became the fourth straight American female to win gold in the individual-all around, winning by 2.1 points, a larger margin of victory than in the past nine Olympics combined.

Last night Biles also became the first woman in twenty years– and the first American woman ever– to hold the World Championship and Olympic all-around titles simultaneously. (The last was Lilia Podkopayeva of Ukraine).

Aly Raisman entered the final rotation of the women's individual gymnastics all-around in third place Thursday, but a marvelous floor exercise flipped the 22-year-old gymnast to a silver medal. With a look of confidence and determination, Raisman entered her final tumbling pass and landed with precision. She wouldn't bow to pressure or gravity on this day.

With that final routine, Raisman secured a medal and found both success and redemption. In 2012 at the London Olympics, Raisman finished third in the women's all-around, but lost out on the bronze based on tie-breaker scoring. But 2016 was Raisman's year and she earned her spot on the podium.


Brazil's captain and star player Neymar scored the winning penalty, booting the ball into right corner as the German goalkeeper dove the wrong way. He broke into tears as his teammates swarmed him in a rapturous Maracana Stadium in Rio.

The gold medal he won for Brazil fills the empty space in the country's trophy case. Brazil has won five world cups, most recently in 2002, when they defeated Germany in the final thanks to two goals from striker Ronaldo, a legend in his own right.

Brazil had won the silver medal three times and the bronze twice. Four years ago, it lost to Mexico in the final in London. Germany was playing in the Olympics for the first time since 1988, when it won bronze competing as West Germany. It had never won the gold, either.

The bronze medal went to Nigeria earlier Saturday, as Sadiq Umar scored a pair of goals in a 3-2 victory over Honduras in Belo Horizonte. It was Nigeria's third overall Olympic medal in soccer. The West African nation won gold at the 1996 Olympics with a 3-2 victory over Argentina, and won the silver in 2008, falling to Argentina 1-0 in the final. Honduras, which challenged with a pair of late goals, heads home from Brazil empty-handed but the team's appearance in the medal round was its best-ever finish at the Olympics.


Usain Bolt produced a moment of human ultimacy in Rio on Sunday night, pulling himself up to his full thrilling height in the final few strides of the 100m to claim an unprecedented third Olympic gold medal in his final Games. This was in many ways Peak Bolt, the last Olympic appearance in the ultimate event for the human race’s ultimate speed freak.

As the 100m men emerged for the final act of the night, the air seemed to disappear out of this grand concrete bowl. The American Justin Gatlin, billed without nuance or sympathy as a kind of anti-Bolt, a convenient super-villain for the wider audience, drew some graceless boos from the crowd.

There remains a basic spasm of accommodation in absorbing and processing such exceptionalism in a sport where history assures us even touching greatness – one or two fine exceptions aside – is to emerge somewhere down the line as tainted, boosted, chemical-fed. Of the 30 fastest 100m times ever, nine – including the top three – are by Bolt. The other 21 were run by athletes who have tested positive at some point for doping. In terms of clean speed the order goes: Bolt fresh air, more fresh air, the rest of the human race. What are we supposed to make of this surplus brilliance?

Something else stood out in Bolt’s moment of crowning glory in Rio.

This was an old man’s race. Bolt turns 30 in a week. Gatlin, who took the silver is 34, the oldest man ever to get Olympic 100m gold or silver. Bolt and Gatlin together are the oldest top two in Olympic 100m podium history, and by some way on the overall spread. The bronze medalist Andre De Grasse of Canada is 13 years younger than Gatlin, but he finished a 10th of a second off the front. Beyond this there have been 55 sub-9.81 second runs in 100m history, but only Bolt and Gatlin have done it in the last four years.


Simone Manuel tied with Penny Oleksiak of Canada who won her fourth medal of the Games, the most medals won by a Canadian at a single Summer Olympics. At just 16 years old, Oleksiak also became the youngest Canadian gold medalist in Olympic history (Winter or Summer Olympics).


Mo Farah became the first man to defend his Olympic titles in the 5,000 and 10,000 since Finland’s Lasse Viren accomplished the feat at the 1972 and 1976 Summer Games.



Joseph Schooling of Singapore met Michael Phelps in the summer of 2008, before Phelps' historic eight gold medals in that Olympics. In 2016, Schooling beat Phelps for gold in the 100m butterfly, and Phelps took silver in a three-way tie with Laszlo Cseh of Hungary and South Africa's Chad le Clos.

With the victory, Schooling won Singapore’s first Olympic gold and became just the third person to beat Phelps in an individual Olympic race. “It’s all kind of a blank really,” Schooling said after beating his idol, whom he met in 2008. “I need time for all of this to sink in. Just being beside [Phelps], walking alongside him and celebrating — I’ll cherish that for the rest of my life.”

Schooling said of his win: "I'm just ecstatic. I don't think it has set in yet. It's just crazy. I hope that Michael can stay around long enough for me to race him again. I'd love that."

Phelps on #Schooling: "What he is able to achieve is up to him. It's as big as he wants to dream."



Fiji's men's rugby 7s team has made history by defeating Great Britain and claiming the country's first-ever medal — a gold. The men from the former British colony dominated their opponents, towering over them with a 43-7 victory at the final whistle. Fiji's first ever medal happened to be in a sport that hasn't been in the Olympics for 92 years.

Fiji have been competing at the Olympics since the Melbourne games of 1956 but have not claimed gold until now. It's the first year rugby, popular in Fiji, has been included in Olympic competition since 1924. The moral to the story? If at first you don't succeed, keep trying and maybe 60 years later you'll absolutely wipe the floor with your competition.

'E Da Sa Qaqa' is a gospel song, translated as 'We Are Winners Because Of This World.'

The team often sings it, along with other hymns like 'Oqo Noqu Masu' (This Is My Prayer) during training camps and games.


The tiny, nutmeg-producing island nation in the Lesser Antilles — population 106,825, or about the same size as Green Bay, Wis. — took home all of one medal: Kirani James’s silver in the men’s 400-meter dash. But that was good enough to take home the per-capital medal title for the second straight Summer Olympics (James won gold in the 400 in London four years ago, as well). The Grenadians edged out the Bahamas, which won two medals, one for every 194,009 people.

More information:
» NBC Olympics Video: "The World Records of the 2016 Rio Olympics"
» NBC Olympics Video: Team USA Basketball routs Serbia for third straight gold medal
» Twitter: "Photos capture athletes staring at their table tennis balls"
» CNN: "Record number of LGBT athletes at Rio 2016"

Friday, August 12, 2016

Perseid Meteor Shower/Outburst

"The Perseids show up every year in August when Earth ventures through trails of debris left behind by the ancient Comet Swift-Tuttle as it makes its 133-year orbit around the sun. This year, Earth may be in for a closer encounter than usual with the comet trails that result in meteor shower, setting the stage for a spectacular display. An outburst is a meteor shower with more meteors than usual. The last Perseid outburst occurred in 2009."
Some forecasts are predicting that during its peak, meteor rates could be double the traditional rate expected for this shower that occurs each year around this time. This means there could be as many as 200 shooting stars per hour.

According to NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke, forecasts are showing that Jupiter's gravity has pulled some extra debris from the comet into Earth's path this year, meaning that the planet will pass through a thicker stream than usual.

"This year, the models show that Jupiter’s gravity has tugged streams of particles ejected from Comet Swift-Tuttle back in 1862, 1479, and 1079 closer to Earth’s path, which will lead to us seeing more Perseids than usual, perhaps double the normal rates," Cooke said.

If early morning on Friday won't work, however, you should still be able to see some Perseids shooting through the skies all week, it's just that the best rates should happen on August 12.

“Forecasters are predicting a Perseid outburst this year with double normal rates on the night of Aug. 11-12,” NASA meteor expert Bill Cooke said in a statement. “Under perfect conditions, rates could soar to 200 meteors per hour.”

It should be noted that "perfect conditions" are difficult to achieve for most people in the United States or in populous areas around the world.

The highest rates of meteors will only be visible to people in deep darkness, far from artificial light.

Stellar Scintillation
Stars twinkle because… they’re so far away from Earth that, even through large telescopes, they appear only as pinpoints. And it’s easy for Earth’s atmosphere to disturb the pinpoint light of a star. As a star’s light pierces our atmosphere, each single stream of starlight is refracted – caused to change direction, slightly – by the various temperature and density layers in Earth’s atmosphere. You might think of it as the light traveling a zig-zag path to our eyes, instead of the straight path the light would travel if Earth didn’t have an atmosphere.

Planets don’t twinkle because they are closer, and thus appear larger in our sky, as tiny disks instead of pinpoints.

The Autokinetic Effect
The autokinetic effect (also referred to as autokinesis) is a phenomenon of visual perception in which a stationary, small point of light in an otherwise dark or featureless environment appears to move. It was first recorded by a Russian officer keeping watch who observed illusory movement of a star near the horizon. It presumably occurs because motion perception is always relative to some reference point. In darkness or in a featureless environment there is no reference point, so the movement of the single point is undefined.

The direction of the movements does not appear to be correlated with the involuntary eye movements, but may be determined by errors between eye position and that specified by efference copy of the movement signals sent to the extraocular muscles. Several researchers, including Richard Gregory, have shown that autokinesis occurs when no eye movements are recorded. Gregory has suggested that with lack of peripheral information correcting movements that prevent eye movements due to muscle fatigue are wrongly interpreted as movement of the light.

Alexander von Humboldt observed the phenomenon in 1799 while looking at stars with the naked eye, but thought it was a real movement of the stars. Thus he named them "Sternschwanken" i.e. "Swinging Stars". It was not until 1857 that G. Schweitzer (Schweitzer, 1857), an early German psychologist, discovered that it was a subjective phenomenon. The US Navy started studying this in 1945 in order to explain vertigo experiences related by pilots. Today this "kinetic illusion" is categorized as a vestibular-induced illusion, see vestibular system.

Many sightings of UFOs have also been attributed to the autokinetic effect's action on looking at stars or planets.

More information:
» Space: "Meteor Showers and Shooting Stars: Formation, Facts and Discovery"