Useless information thread

Is our leather from China? It might be made of dog or cat skin
Difficulty of distinguishing from legal animal hide means US probably imports plenty, but pressure from activists and US Congress may be about to change that
Alanna Weissman


The dog leather trade is directly tied to the dog meat market; consumption is believed to be declining as pet ownership booms. Photograph: Kim Kyung-Hoon/Reuters

When American consumers shop for leather goods, it probably doesn’t enter their minds that their new belts, bags or shoes could be made not from cows or pigs but from cats and dogs. But not only is it a possibility, it’s hard for consumers to know what they have been sold.

Almost all that dog or cat leather comes from China. Now changes in Chinese culture, more pressure from the US and an upcoming trade agreement are combining to undermine this contraband trade.

The US banned the importation of dog and cat fur and skin, which is punishable by fines up to $10,000, as part of the Dog and Cat Protection Act of 2000. But distinguishing dog and cat leather from cow, sheep and pig leather is no easy matter, making it possible for unscrupulous manufacturers to pass off leather from dogs as leather from legal animals. A report by the Congressional Research Service shows that in 2014, the US imported $8.5bn in leather articles from China. It is unknown how much of each year’s total might be dog or cat leather.

“In American culture, dogs are cherished pets and are considered a member of the family,” the letter states. “Accordingly, Americans would not want to hold their four-legged companion’s leash with a dog-skin glove.”

“Pets are a part of people’s lives here and animal protection is something that’s a very emotional and serious issue. I think it should be an issue for animal lovers to kind of put pressure on the Customs [and Border Protection] commissioner [R Gil Kerlikowske] to be sure that they do everything they can to prevent this from happening, and I think there would be a public uproar about it,” Titus said. “It is possible [that Americans are inadvertently using dog leather], and I think they’d be horrified.”
https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jul/31/dog-cat-leather-china-us-congress-trade-peta
 
35 Dirty Christmas Jokes That Will Help You Get Through The Holidays

Why was the snowman smiling?
He could see the snowblower coming down the street.

Why doesn’t Santa have kids of his own?
He only comes once a year.

What’s the difference between Tiger Woods and Santa?
Santa was smart enough to stop at three hos.

How does Santa stay STD free?
He always wraps his package before shoving it down the chimney.

Why does Santa always land on your roof?
Because he likes it on top.
 
Today in 1958, the Baltimore Colts beat the New York Giants 23-17 in the first ever sudden-death overtime game in NFL history (17 future members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame were involved in the game). It's "The Greatest Game Ever Played."
One impressionable 6-year-old boy was watching that game on a B&W television set in the living room that day and has been an NFL fan ever since. The camera angle for the GW TD run by Colt RB Alan “The Horse” Ameche (surprisingly not one of the 17 HOFers!) made it feel like he was going to burst out of the TV into the young boy’s lap!
 
‘Will they forgive me? No’: ex-Soviet spy Viktor Suvorov speaks out
Defections from Moscow’s most powerful spy agency are so rare, there are believed to be just two living examples. One is Sergei Skripal, who almost died this year. The other talks
Luke Harding
Sat 29 Dec 2018 05.00 EST

Viktor Suvorov was at home when he heard the news. A former Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, had been found poisoned on a park bench in Salisbury. Skripal and his daughter Yulia were in a critical condition in hospital; it was unclear if they would live.

Suvorov heard what happened to the Skripals via “other channels”, not just the BBC news, he tells me. A puckish figure of 71, speaking to me in the London offices of his literary agent, a room stacked with dozens of books, he is a little coy about who he might mean, but there seems little doubt he is talking about British intelligence. “I would not like to discuss that,” he says with a good-humoured grin.

Suvorov spent eight years working for Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, Skripal’s old service. During the cold war, Suvorov was considered to be a brilliant officer, destined for great things inside this shadowy world. He spent four years undercover in Switzerland, where it was his job to seek out foreign agents on behalf of the GRU. He was very good at it. Then, one day in June 1978, he made a cryptic phone call to the British consulate in Geneva.

Suvorov met with a Russian-speaking British spook in a forest. He had brought with him his wife – also a GRU officer – and their two small children. Within hours, British intelligence magicked the Suvorovs out of the country. He found himself in the UK, a place he knew only from Ian Fleming thrillers and whose language he didn’t speak.

In communist times, there were regular defections from the KGB; it faced inward – its purpose was to crush internal threats and dissent. Meanwhile, the GRU, Moscow’s most powerful and secretive spy agency, looked for external enemies and was perpetually in the shadows. Defections from the GRU were extremely rare. There are believed to be just two living examples: Suvorov and Skripal.

Fear, he suggests, can be worse than the thing itself, like a patient waiting for a cancer diagnosis who feels better when they receive the bad news. “Suddenly there is a bloody shark coming towards you. When it’s unknown, it’s very frightening. When you get close, you suspect it’s made of rubber.”

He says the agency never forgives anyone who leaves it. That includes Skripal, who exited Russia clutching an official pardon signed by Putin. “The state may forgive. The GRU never will,” Suvorov says. In exile, Skripal had such a low profile that Suvorov confesses he hadn’t heard of him. But when he learned of Skripal’s fate, poisoned by a super-toxin, he had no doubt who was behind it. “Of course, the GRU,” he says, matter-of-factly.
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/29/ex-soviet-spy-viktor-suvorov#img-2
The British government has laid out a convincing account of how two Moscow assassins brought chemical horror to provincial Wiltshire. Both are career GRU men, identified by the investigative website Bellingcat as Anatoliy Chepiga and Alexander Mishkin. Mishkin is a medical doctor, Chepiga a special forces officer; both were decorated as heroes of Russia in 2014, possibly for undercover work in Ukraine. According to media reports, Mishkin’s grandmother showed neighbours a framed portrait of her son shaking hands with Putin.

The pair admit to having been in Salisbury – they were caught on CCTV – but say they were mere tourists. Suvorov believes that this was not their first assassination and that they belong to a “small club” of Russian state killers. He is scathing about their professionalism and competence. “In my time, this would not have been possible! Such idiots!” he says. He describes the operation as a clue-leaving “chain of stupidity”: flying in from Moscow, staying in a hotel and going to Salisbury twice.

He suggests that Kremlin murders function on a spectrum. There are the operations where the victim dies without any fuss, perhaps from a “heart attack”. And then there are the more exotic killings, deliberately crafted to create noise and scandal – the ice pick murder of Trotsky being a classic example. The Skripal operation was meant to be closer to the former, he thinks, although everyone in the GRU would get the message.

Of course, it didn’t quite work like that. The Skripals survived and the bungling plot was uncovered. Last month, the Kremlin announced that the man in charge of the GRU, Igor Korobov, had died after a “long illness”. Does Suvorov think this is true? “I don’t know, but my spy instinct tells me that Korobov was murdered,” he says. “Everyone sitting inside GRU would understand this, 125%.” He would have been killed, Suvorov adds, to rub out a witness who might prove a liability were he to skip over to next-door Estonia using a false GRU passport.

One intriguing question is whether the Russian embassy in London was looped in on the Salisbury operation. Would it have known about novichok, the poison left on Skripal’s front door, or would Moscow have kept it in the dark? Suvorov believes the embassy may have given logistical support, without being fully informed. Those in the know would have formed a small circle, he suspects. It would have included the killers, a technical expert and a handful of top Kremlin officials.

As a fast-track spy in 1970s Switzerland, Suvorov was sometimes asked to help “illegals” – deep-cover agents living abroad. He knew nothing of their activities. He was ordered to check for a red lipstick mark on a monument in Geneva’s Mon Repos park, close to his family apartment. Every day, his wife walked past with their children, his daughter and baby son in a pram. The lipstick meant an illegal wanted to make contact.

Viktor Suvorov is a literary pen-name: he was born Vladimir Bogdanovich Rezun in Soviet Ukraine; his father a military officer, his mother a nurse. (His Ukrainian roots are another reason the Kremlin might have it in for him, sources in Moscow tell me.) His father was a confirmed Bolshevik who believed the USSR could flourish were it not for the “bad guys at the top”, and Suvorov grew up a “fanatical communist”. He attended military school, joined the Red Army and took part in the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. An outstanding officer, he trained tactical reconnaissance sergeants and served in the intelligence division of the Volga military district headquarters – an experience Suvorov describes in Aquarium.

Despite our current political turmoil, he remains an admirer of Britain, describing it as a place of great “creative imagination”. And what about its spies? He declines to say much about MI6, the organisation that spirited him away to a new life, other than that it is full of “clever” and “professional” people.

I have met many Russians living in exile. They include KGB defectors wanting assistance with their memoirs, oligarchs who quarrelled with Putin, and political opponents of the regime in Moscow. Some adjust to exile; others don’t. Suvorov is undoubtedly the happiest I have encountered. He is still lovingly married. His grownup children are clever and successful, he says, and he has two grandchildren.

There is still every possibility the GRU will try to kill him, he says. This despite the fact that his books have – to some degree – flattered the GRU and served as an advertisement for its subterranean activities. “Will they forgive me? No. It’s not a question of whether they like me or dislike me. It’s an example for everyone else. Yes, you can escape. Yes, they like your books. But they will remember you, always.”

Before we shake hands and go our separate ways, I ask Suvorov one final, delicate question. I don’t want to reveal his home address – I don’t know it – but where should I say that he lives? Suvorov laughs again. “Say England. Or perhaps Wales. Or maybe Great Britain.”
https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/dec/29/ex-soviet-spy-viktor-suvorov
 
Cafuneing in Curitiba after a coffee at the cafe? Muito excitante!
Self-cafuné


Hair can be a weapon.


As I went out thru Berkeley City
At the hour of half past eight
Who do I see but the Spanish lady
Combing her hair so bristly below
First she brushed it
Then I roamed it
And on my eye was a surly hair
In all my life I never did see
As clearly since that bush I roamed
 
How to set a honey trap
Seductive spies aren’t simply James Bond fantasies – femmes fatales have been a key feature of espionage for centuries
Anna Chapman gained attention for her looks after she was deported for spying Photo: REX FEATURES

By Olivia Goldhill
4:11PM BST 17 Sep 2014


The best security and military training in the world is no match for the charms of a femme fatale. Using feminine wiles to access state secrets sounds like hackneyed fiction – surely anyone with a secret worth keeping would run at the sight of a beautiful lady in red lipstick? But the oldest trick in the book never stops working, and spy agencies continue to use seduction as an effective method of espionage.

Stefan Wolff, professor of international security at Birmingham University, says that few governments would consider seduction an off-limit technique. “If you’re in the spying business, any opportunity that you have to get information, you will use,” he says. “Especially given what we’ve learnt from Wikileaks and Snowden, not much is considered to be beyond the pale when it comes to key issues of national security. I would argue, maybe that’s the right approach. If you want to save lives then a honey trap is a much more palatable approach than waterboarding.”

National Archives have revealed that special agent “Fifi”, a stunning blonde woman, was used to test the trustworthiness of young British spies during the Second World War. And there's no signs that the technique has gone out of fashion. But how do you set a honey trap? Here are some of the secrets of seduction gleaned from the great femme fatales of history.

Choose your target

Before the act of seduction begins, extensive research and meticulous planning goes into selecting the target. Paul Cornish, professor at the Strategy and Security Institute at the University of Exeter, says that preparation work is “worth the effort”, as the intelligence procured can be “very significant”. Professor Cornish says that two main psychological profiles are likely to be the targets of a honey trap: those in need of affection, and dominant characters who believe that rules don’t apply to them. He describes the beta characters as “those who lack confidence, feel insecure, harbour grievances and need affection”, while a controlling alpha type might be a dominant player who thinks “he can calculate and manage risks better than anyone else”. Although beta characters might be a more obvious target, the decidedly alpha President John Kennedy is believed to have slept with two spies, a suspected **** sympathiser and an East German agent, which suggests that even the most confident politicians are susceptible.

Be exceptionally beautiful

It’s no coincidence that many of the most dangerous female spies had naturally stunning looks. Suspected World War One spy Mata Hari was an exotic dancer and courtesan, who had no trouble attracting the attention of powerful government officials. More recently, Anna Chapman spiced up US-Russian relations when she was deported for the United States. But although she allegedly came close to the highest levels of US government, vice president Joe Biden said he was sorry to see her go. “Let me be clear. It wasn’t my idea to send her back,” joked Biden on US television. He did not answer comedian Jay Leno’s question about whether the US has any spies who are “that hot”.

Don’t make the first approach

Despite what you see on James Bond, most femme fatales don’t approach an espionage target and start fluttering their eyelashes wildly. As Professor Wolff says, “You can’t just deliver a flood of very attractive Russian females – somebody will of course notice". Instead, many engineer a chance meeting. During the Cold War, a security guard at the US embassy in Moscow bumped into a 25-year-old KGB officer Violetta Seina at a metro station. Sergeant Lonetree said he coincidentally ran into her again one month later and the pair were so engrossed in conversation that Seina missed her train stop as the two talked about American films and Lonetree’s life in Moscow. He eventually leaked information about life in the US embassy and was convicted of espionage.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t flirt

Nancy Wake, a British agent during the Second World War, said she would carefully dress, powder her face and have a sip of Dutch courage before cathing the eye of German soldiers. "I'd see a German officer on the train or somewhere, sometimes dressed in civvies, but you could pick 'em. So, instead of raising suspicions I'd flirt with them, ask for a light and say my lighter was out of fuel," she said. “I'd pass their (German) posts and wink and say, 'Do you want to search me?' God, what a flirtatious little ******* I was.” All’s fair in love and war, so they say.

It’s not just about sex

The most successful acts of seduction aren’t quick flings but long-term emotional manipulations, where the target often believes that they’ve fallen in love. After World War Two, there were far more women than men in West Germany, and so the East German government sent “Romeo” spies to entrap lonely secretaries. In some instances, the spy married his target and admitted that he was a double agent – but working for a friendly country. “Romeo” would tell his wife that his government was worried that West Germany wasn’t being completely honest – could she provide a few details to keep his boss happy? These marriages could last for decades.

Life is stranger than fiction

In the ‘60s, a communist mole who had infiltrated the CIA gained his colleague’s trust through wife swapping. Free love helped Karl and Hana Koecher get to know important CIA officials, and they then passed information onto the KGB. Meanwhile a French diplomat, Bernard Boursicot, was seduced by Chinese secret agent Shei Pei Pu – whom Boursciot thought was a woman, but was in fact a man. The pair were together for 18 years, and Shei Pei Pu even convinced Boursciot that he was pregnant and had given birth to their son.

Having sex for your country may not sound like the most patriotic act, but spy agencies believe that seductive espionage can be a valuable way of ensuring national security. As Oleg Kalugin, a former KGB general, once said: "In America, in the West, occasionally you ask your men to stand up for their country. In Russia, we just ask our young women to lay down.”
https://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-life/11102237/How-to-set-a-honey-trap.html
 
Last edited:
The Scots claim to have the oldest tennis court in the world. It is The Royal Tennis Court which is situated on the grounds of the Falkland Palace. It was built in 1539, completed two years later, and has only undergone two major renovations since then. I don't know if it's in the movie, but Mary Queen of Scots played there! However, what was played there is known as "real tennis" or "Royal Tennis," differing from today's modern game in some ways. Perhaps I'll read more about that later!
 
The Scots claim to have the oldest tennis court in the world. It is The Royal Tennis Court which is situated on the grounds of the Falkland Palace. It was built in 1539, completed two years later, and has only undergone two major renovations since then. I don't know if it's in the movie, but Mary Queen of Scots played there! However, what was played there is known as "real tennis" or "Royal Tennis," differing from today's modern game in some ways. Perhaps I'll read more about that later!
This poast will excite @Dedans Penthouse !
 
EXCERPT

The Secret History of Diplomats and Invisible Weapons
The alleged use of a “sound weapon” against U.S. Embassy officials in Cuba harks back to a Cold War medical mystery.BY SHARON WEINBERGER | AUGUST 25, 2017, 3:27 PM

This month, the State Department revealed that American diplomats based in Cuba have suffered from possible hearing damage. Since then, hysteria over “sonic weapons” has exploded, and the number of diplomats said to be experiencing health effects, which may include brain damage, has also now increased. “We hold the Cuban authorities responsible for finding out who is carrying out these health attacks,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said. The device, or possible weapon, that was used to cause these effects apparently made no sound. Yet there is no credible evidence that such a non-audible device could cause the damage described. It turns out, this isn’t the first time the U.S. government suspected a foreign country of targeting its diplomats with a secret, invisible weapon.
* * *
In 1965, medical workers began showing up at the American embassy in Moscow, drawing blood from the employees inside. The American diplomats were told that doctors were looking for possible exposure to a new type of virus, something not unexpected in a country known for its frigid winters.

It was all a lie. The Moscow Viral Study, as it was called, was the cover story for the American government’s top secret investigation into the effects of microwave radiation on humans. The Soviets, it turned out, were bombarding the embassy in Moscow with low-level microwaves. The “Moscow Signal,” as officials in Washington called the radiation, was too low to do any obvious harm to the people in the building. At five microwatts per square centimeter, the signal was well below the threshold needed to heat things, as a microwave oven does. Yet it was also a hundred times more powerful than the Soviets’ maximum exposure standards, which were much more stringent than those of the United States. That was cause for alarm.

The intelligence community was worried that the Soviets knew something about non-ionizing radiation that the United States did not. With research into the effects of low-level radiation still in its infancy, one of the first theories forwarded by the CIA was that the Soviets were trying to influence the behavior or mental state of American diplomats, or even control their minds. The United States wanted to figure out what was going on without tipping off the Soviets that they knew about the irradiation, and so the diplomats working in the embassy—and being exposed daily to the radiation—were kept in the dark. The State Department was responsible for looking at biological changes associated with microwaves, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects, a division of the Pentagon, was assigned to look at the possible behavioral effects of microwaves.

In October 1965, Richard Cesaro, the DARPA official in charge of the project, addressed a secret memo to the agency’s director, Charles Herzfeld, explaining the justification for this new research effort. The White House had charged the State Department, the CIA, and the Pentagon to investigate the microwave assault in secret. The State Department was the lead on the program, code-named TUMS, and DARPA’s responsibility, Cesaro explained, was “to initiate a selective portion of the overall program concerned with one of the potential threats, that of radiation effects on man.”

Thus was born DARPA Program Plan 562, better known by its code name, Project Pandora, an exploration of the behavioral effects of microwaves and one of the more bizarre episodes in the history of Cold War science.

With the passage of time, the government’s concerns about microwave-induced mind control might sound like something born of the worst sort of Cold War paranoia—the sort of thing easily parodied as a tin-foil-hat conspiracy—but set in the landscape of the 1960s, it seemed a plausible concern. The discovery of the Moscow Signal came amid a flurry of American and Soviet research reports on the possible biological effects of low-level microwave radiation. Anecdotal reports of fatigue and confusion fueled theories that microwaves could be used as a weapon for behavior modification, or even mind control.

One theory that officials floated was the Soviet Union might be using microwaves to influence the behavior of embassy workers, perhaps to induce clerks to make mistakes on encrypted messages, allowing Soviet cryptographers to crack American codes. In fact, DARPA-sponsored translations of Russian-language research at the time indicated that the neurological effects of microwaves fascinated the Soviets, which American officials took as possible evidence that the Moscow Signal was some sort of weapon.​

To see if the Moscow Signal really affected human behavior, DARPA first started by testing microwave radiation on monkeys. Because Pandora was top secret, the primary research had to be run at government laboratories rather than at universities. The air force was assigned to provide electromagnetic equipment needed to generate the microwaves, and the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research was responsible for selecting the monkeys and running the experiments. The initial tests were designed to see how primates performed work-related tasks when exposed to radiation that matched the Moscow Signal, which was beaming every day at the men and women inside the American embassy in Moscow.

The committee was aware of the potential for a conflict of interest involved in classified human testing; the idea of informed consent becomes hazy when the subjects are not even aware of the true purpose of the test. To address this problematic issue, the committee recommended having medical personnel on hand to assure the “medical well being” of the subjects. Yet even those medical personnel would not be told the reason for the testing and would instead be given a cover story. Humanely, at least, the committee did recommend “gonadal protection be provided” to the male test subjects.
Fortunately for the would-be recruits and their gonads, the human tests were never pursued.
https://foreignpolicy.com/2017/08/2...-diplomats-and-invisible-weapons-russia-cuba/
 
The Quakers generally receive credit for inventing lemon custard in the late 1700s. Philadelphian Elizabeth Coane Goodfellow, a pastry chef, businesswoman, and cooking school founder, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1806, expanded on lemon custard and invented lemon meringue pie.
 
The Quakers generally receive credit for inventing lemon custard in the late 1700s. Philadelphian Elizabeth Coane Goodfellow, a pastry chef, businesswoman, and cooking school founder, who arrived in Philadelphia in 1806, expanded on lemon custard and invented lemon meringue pie.
I often wondered why pie is round when I was being taught that pi r squared. It was only much later that pie became triangular to me and I became quite happy mastering triangulation.
 
I've met three different young women in Denmark who had credible stories of precognitive visions and dreams, as well as episodes of clairvoyance, especially when they were girls, and two practicing "witches" from Northern Sweden.


TECHNOLOGY
Why Do Witches Ride Brooms? (NSFW)
You're never going to look at sweeping the same way again.
MEGAN GARBEROCT 31, 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK/GWOEII

In the Europe of the Middle Ages and into the Renaissance, bread was made, in large part, with rye. And rye and rye-like plants can host fungus—ergot*—that can, when consumed in high doses, be lethal. In smaller doses, however, ergot can be a powerful hallucinogen. Records from the 14th to the 17th century mention Europeans' affliction with "dancing mania," which found groups of people dancing through streets—often speaking nonsense and foaming at the mouth as they did so—until they collapsed from exhaustion. Those who experienced the "mania" would later describe the wild visions that accompanied it. (In the 20th century, Albert Hofmann would realize the psychedelic effects of LSD while studying ergot.)

So people, as people are wont to do, adapted this knowledge, figuring out ways to tame ergot, essentially, for hallucinatory purposes. And they experimented with other plants, as well. Forbes's David Kroll notes that there are also hallucinogenic chemicals in Atropa belladonna (deadly nightshade), Hyoscyamus niger (henbane), Mandragora officinarum (mandrake), and Datura stramonium (jimsonweed). Writing in the 16th century, the Spanish court physician Andrés de Laguna claimed to have taken "a pot full of a certain green ointment … composed of herbs such as hemlock, nightshade, henbane, and mandrake" from the home of a couple accused of witchcraft

So why do the brooms fit into this? Because to achieve their hallucinations, these early drug users needed a distribution method that was a little more complicated than simple ingestion. When consumed, those old-school hallucinogens could cause assorted unpleasantnesses—including nausea, vomiting, and skin irritation. What people realized, though, was that absorbing them through the skin could lead to hallucinations that arrived without the unsavory side effects. And the most receptive areas of the body for that absorption were the sweat glands of the armpits ... and the mucus membranes of the genitals.

So people used their developing pharmacological knowledge to produce drug-laden balms—or, yep, "witch's brews." And to distribute those salves with maximum effectiveness, these crafty hallucinators borrowed a technology from the home: a broom. Specifically, the handle of the broom. And then ... you get the idea.

FROM M. J. HARNER'S HALLUCINOGENS AND SHAMANISM, VIA ALASTAIR MCINTOSH
According to an investigation into witchcraft from 1324:
In rifleing the closet of the ladie, they found a pipe of oyntment, wherewith she greased a staffe, upon which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin.​
And here's Jordanes de Bergamo, writing in the 15th century:
The vulgar believe, and the witches confess, that on certain days or nights they anoint a staff and ride on it to the appointed place or anoint themselves under the arms and in other hairy places.​
So that explains the brooms. And what about the flying?

Part of the connection may have to do with brooms' place in pagan rituals. As a tool, the broom is seen to balance both "masculine energies (the phallic handle) and female energies (the bristles)"—which explains why it was often used, symbolically, in marriage ceremonies. But the more likely connection has to do with the fact that users of "witch's brew" were, in a very practical sense, using their ointment-laden broomsticks to get high. They were using their brooms, basically, to "fly."

Indeed. Here's how Gustav Schenk described the effects of tropane alkaloid intoxication, in 1966:
My teeth were clenched, and a dizzied rage took possession of me … but I also know that I was permeated by a peculiar sense of well-being connected with the crazy sensation that my feet were growing lighter, expanding and breaking loose from my own body. Each part of my body seemed to be going off on its own, and I was seized with the fear that I was falling apart. At the same time I experienced an intoxicating sensation of flying …. I soared where my hallucinations—the clouds, the lowering sky, herds of beasts, falling leaves … billowing streamers of steam and rivers of molten metal—were swirling along.​
So there you have it, rye to flying brooms. But "witches" in the cultural imagination, of course, don't necessarily need re-purposed cleaning supplies to be accused of sorcery. In 1976, Linnda Caporael presented work suggesting that the Massachusetts of the late 17th century had been the unknowing victim of an outbreak of rye ergot. Her work is the subject of continued debate, but has been substantiated by later scholars: The Massachusetts of 1692 likely did see an outbreak of the fungus that had contributed, in other contexts, to "witch's brew." The epicenter of the outbreak? Salem.
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/why-do-witches-ride-brooms-nsfw/281037/
 
In rifleing the closet of the ladie, they found a pipe of oyntment, wherewith she greased a staffe, upon which she ambled and galloped through thick and thin.​
And here's Jordanes de Bergamo, writing in the 15th century:
The vulgar believe, and the witches confess, that on certain days or nights​
they anoint a staff and ride on it to the appointed place or anoint themselves under the arms and in other hairy places.​
So that explains the brooms. And what about the flying?

Part of the connection may have to do with brooms' place in pagan rituals. As a tool, the broom is seen to balance both "masculine energies (the phallic handle) and female energies (the bristles)"—which explains why it was often used, symbolically, in marriage ceremonies. But the more likely connection has to do with the fact that users of "witch's brew" were, in a very practical sense, using their ointment-laden broomsticks to get high. They were using their brooms, basically, to "fly."

Indeed. Here's how Gustav Schenk described the effects of tropane alkaloid intoxication, in 1966:
My teeth were clenched, and a dizzied rage took possession of me … but I also know that I was permeated by a peculiar sense of well-being connected with the crazy sensation that my feet were growing lighter, expanding and breaking loose from my own body. Each part of my body seemed to be going off on its own, and I was seized with the fear that I was falling apart. At the same time I experienced an intoxicating sensation of flying …. I soared where my hallucinations—the clouds, the lowering sky, herds of beasts, falling leaves … billowing streamers of steam and rivers of molten metal—were swirling along.​
So there you have it, rye to flying brooms. But "witches" in the cultural imagination, of course, don't necessarily need re-purposed cleaning supplies to be accused of sorcery. In 1976, Linnda Caporael presented work suggesting that the Massachusetts of the late 17th century had been the unknowing victim of an outbreak of rye ergot. Her work is the subject of continued debate, but has been substantiated by later scholars: The Massachusetts of 1692 likely did see an outbreak of the fungus that had contributed, in other contexts, to "witch's brew." The epicenter of the outbreak? Salem.
https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2013/10/why-do-witches-ride-brooms-nsfw/281037/
So that's why they never rode sidesaddle.......good to know.

a tincture of titillation slathered onto a broom handle for the purpose of 'vestibule frottage' ? ..............awesome--15th century ruled !
.
 
$2 dollar bill

Most $2 Federal Reserve Notes from 1976 and 1995 are worth no more than face value. Original packs from the Bureau of Engraving and Printing carry a premium, as do Star Notes which typically sell for $10 to $20 in Uncirculated condition for the common district banks. Star Notes from the Kansas City and Minneapolis district banks (I-* and J-* notes) are very scarce, and sell for more than $100 in Uncirculated condition.

Source: https://currency.ha.com/worth/currency-value.s
 
According to Wikipedia, the New York City blackout of 1977 was an electricity blackout that affected most of New York City on July 13–14, 1977. The only neighborhoods in the city that were not affected were in southern Queens; neighborhoods of the Rockaways, which were part of the Long Island Lighting Company system; and the Pratt Institute campus in Brooklyn which operated its own historic power generator.

Here is the timeline:

The events leading up to the blackout began at 8:37 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 13 with a lightning strike at Buchanan South, a substation on the Hudson River, tripping two circuit breakers in Buchanan, New York. The Buchanan South substation converted the 345,000 volts of electricity from Indian Point to lower voltage for commercial use. A loose locking nut combined with a slow-acting upgrade cycle prevented the breaker from reclosing and allowing power to flow again.

A second lightning strike caused the loss of two 345 kV transmission lines, subsequent reclose of only one of the lines, and the loss of power from a 900MW nuclear plant at Indian Point. As a result of the strikes, two other major transmission lines became loaded over their normal limits. Per procedure, Consolidated Edison, the power provider for New York City and some of Westchester County, tried to start fast-start generation at 8:45 p.m. EDT; however, no one was manning the station, and the remote start failed.

At 8:55 p.m. EDT, there was another lightning strike at the Sprain Brook substation in Yonkers, which took out two additional critical transmission lines. As before, only one of the lines was automatically returned to service. This outage of lines from the substation caused the remaining lines to exceed the long-term operating limits of their capacity. After this last failure, Con Edison had to manually reduce the loading on another local generator at their East River facility, due to problems at the plant. This made an already dire situation even worse.

At 9:14 p.m. EDT, over 30 minutes from the initial event, New York Power Pool Operators in Guilderland called for Con Edison operators to "shed load." In response, Con Ed operators initiated first a 5% system-wide voltage reduction and then an 8% reduction. These steps had to be completed sequentially and took many minutes. These steps were done in accordance with Con Edison's use of the words "shed load" while the Power Pool operators had in mind opening feeders to immediately drop about 1500 MW of load, not reduce voltage to reduce load a few hundred MW.

At 9:19 p.m. EDT the final major interconnection to Upstate New York at Leeds substation tripped due to thermal overload which caused the 345kV conductors to sag excessively into an unidentified object. This trip caused the 138 kV links with Long Island to overload, and a major interconnection with PSEG in New Jersey began to load even higher than previously reported.

At 9:22 p.m. EDT, Long Island Lighting Company opened its 345 kV interconnection to Con Edison to reduce power that was flowing through its system and overloading 138 kV submarine cables between Long Island and Connecticut. While Long Island operators were securing permission from the Power Pool operators to open their 345 kV tie to New York City, phase shifters between New York City and New Jersey were being adjusted to correct heavy flows, and this reduced the loading on the 115 kV cables. The Long Island operators did not notice the drop in 115 kV cable loadings and went ahead with opening their 345 kV tie to New York City.

At 9:24 p.m. EDT, the Con Edison operator tried and failed to manually shed load by dropping customers. Five minutes later, at 9:29 p.m. EDT, the Goethals-Linden 230 kV interconnection with New Jersey tripped, and the Con Edison system automatically began to isolate itself from the outside world through the action of protective devices that remove overloaded lines, transformers, and cables from service.

Con Ed could not generate enough power within the city, and the three power lines that supplemented the city's power were overtaxed. Just after 9:27 p.m. EDT, the biggest generator in New York City, Ravenswood 3 (also known as "Big Allis"), shut down and with it went all of New York City.[2]

By 9:36 p.m. EDT, the entire Con Edison power system shut down, almost exactly an hour after the first lightning strike. By 10:26 p.m. EDT operators started a restoration procedure.

Power was not fully restored until late the following day. Among the outcomes of the blackout were detailed restoration procedures that are well documented and used in operator training to reduce restoration time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_blackout_of_1977
 
According to Wikipedia, the New York City blackout of 1977 was an electricity blackout that affected most of New York City on July 13–14, 1977. The only neighborhoods in the city that were not affected were in southern Queens; neighborhoods of the Rockaways, which were part of the Long Island Lighting Company system; and the Pratt Institute campus in Brooklyn which operated its own historic power generator.

Here is the timeline:

The events leading up to the blackout began at 8:37 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, July 13 with a lightning strike at Buchanan South, a substation on the Hudson River, tripping two circuit breakers in Buchanan, New York. The Buchanan South substation converted the 345,000 volts of electricity from Indian Point to lower voltage for commercial use. A loose locking nut combined with a slow-acting upgrade cycle prevented the breaker from reclosing and allowing power to flow again.

A second lightning strike caused the loss of two 345 kV transmission lines, subsequent reclose of only one of the lines, and the loss of power from a 900MW nuclear plant at Indian Point. As a result of the strikes, two other major transmission lines became loaded over their normal limits. Per procedure, Consolidated Edison, the power provider for New York City and some of Westchester County, tried to start fast-start generation at 8:45 p.m. EDT; however, no one was manning the station, and the remote start failed.

At 8:55 p.m. EDT, there was another lightning strike at the Sprain Brook substation in Yonkers, which took out two additional critical transmission lines. As before, only one of the lines was automatically returned to service. This outage of lines from the substation caused the remaining lines to exceed the long-term operating limits of their capacity. After this last failure, Con Edison had to manually reduce the loading on another local generator at their East River facility, due to problems at the plant. This made an already dire situation even worse.

At 9:14 p.m. EDT, over 30 minutes from the initial event, New York Power Pool Operators in Guilderland called for Con Edison operators to "shed load." In response, Con Ed operators initiated first a 5% system-wide voltage reduction and then an 8% reduction. These steps had to be completed sequentially and took many minutes. These steps were done in accordance with Con Edison's use of the words "shed load" while the Power Pool operators had in mind opening feeders to immediately drop about 1500 MW of load, not reduce voltage to reduce load a few hundred MW.

At 9:19 p.m. EDT the final major interconnection to Upstate New York at Leeds substation tripped due to thermal overload which caused the 345kV conductors to sag excessively into an unidentified object. This trip caused the 138 kV links with Long Island to overload, and a major interconnection with PSEG in New Jersey began to load even higher than previously reported.

At 9:22 p.m. EDT, Long Island Lighting Company opened its 345 kV interconnection to Con Edison to reduce power that was flowing through its system and overloading 138 kV submarine cables between Long Island and Connecticut. While Long Island operators were securing permission from the Power Pool operators to open their 345 kV tie to New York City, phase shifters between New York City and New Jersey were being adjusted to correct heavy flows, and this reduced the loading on the 115 kV cables. The Long Island operators did not notice the drop in 115 kV cable loadings and went ahead with opening their 345 kV tie to New York City.

At 9:24 p.m. EDT, the Con Edison operator tried and failed to manually shed load by dropping customers. Five minutes later, at 9:29 p.m. EDT, the Goethals-Linden 230 kV interconnection with New Jersey tripped, and the Con Edison system automatically began to isolate itself from the outside world through the action of protective devices that remove overloaded lines, transformers, and cables from service.

Con Ed could not generate enough power within the city, and the three power lines that supplemented the city's power were overtaxed. Just after 9:27 p.m. EDT, the biggest generator in New York City, Ravenswood 3 (also known as "Big Allis"), shut down and with it went all of New York City.[2]

By 9:36 p.m. EDT, the entire Con Edison power system shut down, almost exactly an hour after the first lightning strike. By 10:26 p.m. EDT operators started a restoration procedure.

Power was not fully restored until late the following day. Among the outcomes of the blackout were detailed restoration procedures that are well documented and used in operator training to reduce restoration time.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_York_City_blackout_of_1977
Big baby boom in mid-April 1978!

I lived in the Rockaways at the time. No outage for me.
 
Nastya Rybka: Russia seizes model who made Trump collusion claim
18 January 2019

Image copyrightREUTERS

Image captionRybka pleaded guilty to soliciting in Thailand
A Belarusian model who said she had evidence of Russian collusion with Donald Trump's election campaign is now in Russian police custody.
Nastya Rybka (real name Anastasia Vashukevich) was detained at Moscow's main airport after being deported from Thailand for soliciting.
Her lawyer posted a video on Instagram which, he says, shows her arrest.
A woman resembling her and looking sedated struggles as four men push her into a wheelchair, then carry her.
The video clip posted by lawyer Dmitry Zatsarinsky has now been tweeted by Russian broadcasters and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny.


End of Instagram post by advokat_zatsarinsky
Mr Zatsarinsky said Rybka, 27, had planned to get a connecting flight to Minsk, the Belarusian capital, but had been seized and dragged from the transit zone on to Russian territory, then whisked away to a police station.
He called the Russian action "an international scandal".
A Russian interior ministry statement, quoted by Russian media, says Rybka and three others detained with her at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport are accused of "luring into prostitution and practising it". The crime can be punished with up to six years' jail.
Among the four held is Alexander Kirillov, a Belarusian self-styled sex guru, who was in custody with her in Thailand.
Image copyrightREUTERS

Image captionThai police arrested Rybka and Kirillov (R) in Pattaya beach resort
They spent nine months in custody before a Thai court handed them a suspended 18-month sentence for soliciting and running an illegal "sex training course". Thailand deported them on Thursday, taking account of their time spent in custody.
They and five others - both Belarusians and Russians - pleaded guilty, after which they were deported.
While in custody, Rybka and Kirillov sought help from the US embassy, fearing extradition to Russia.

Rybka said she had evidence of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election campaign, allegedly obtained through an acquaintance with Russian billionaire industrialist Oleg Deripaska.
Mr Deripaska denied the allegations and successfully sued both her and Kirillov.
Mr Deripaska is on the list of Russian oligarchs and politicians subject to US sanctions for alleged "malign activities" around the world.
http://tlo.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/105238691_nastyacloseupreut15jan19.jpg
http://instagr.am/p/Bfd0HSzjeFH/ http://instagr.am/p/BfY9owpjU3g/
 
Tsitsipas and Khachanov are my favorite new generation players. Tsitsipas seems really cool and I love his game: flowing groundstrokes, very fast and athletic for his height, smooth all-court game, charismatic, likes photography and making videos (often with drones!), and intellectually curious. Did I mention super cool? I haven't felt this strongly about a tennis player since Maria Kirilenko retired.
 

BY: BRYAN QUOC LE
The History of Mint

The ancient Greeks have a legend about mint. Mint, or Minthe, was once a beautiful nymph from the underworld river of Cocytus. She was said to be of nobler form and more beautiful than Persephone, queen of the underworld herself. Hades, the god of the underworld and husband to Persephone, became infatuated by the young river maid after she made an attempt to seduce him. The wife of Hades was enraged by the nymph, and intervened by trampling the girl under her heel into nothing more than dust. Sorrowful for the loss of the young girl, Hades brought her back to life with his power as a fragrant mint plant.




The association between mint and the underworld came about from ancient burial traditions that used mint to cover up the smell of the dead. The aromatic leaves have also been used historically to mask the odors of households and alleyways due to inadequate sanitation. On top of that, mint was greatly admired for its ability to freshen the breath and clear body odors in a time when bathing wasn’t widely practiced. The mint plant was so highly regarded for its power to cleanse that mint was commonly used as a form of currency in Egypt during Biblical times.





Mint Production
Mint plants are incredibly fast-growing herbaceous perennials, and are actually known to be rather invasive plants, which makes commercial cultivation relatively easy. Commercial production of mint began in England during the 1750s. Mint was quickly transplanted to New York after the revolution, and was readily grown in the United States. The cooling ability of mint leaves were especially important for Southern cuisine because of the high heat and humidity of the Southern states. Four varieties of mint are commonly cultivated today: peppermint, native spearmint, Scotch spearmint, and cornmint. A more recent variety, apple mint, has been introduced into commercial cultivation in Europe for its unique hint of apple flavor. The major producer of fresh mint is the United States, with a total output of 75% of the global supply, with Indiana, Wisconsin, Washington, and Oregon being important mint producing states [3]. While mints grow rapidly in the presence of cool pools of water, production output is easily affected by droughts. Seasonal high heat also reduces the mint oil output of cultivated crops.

Mint Flavor Chemistry
The major chemical constituents of mint oils are menthol a
nd its oxidized relative, menthone, with minor components that impart unique flavors to the different varieties of mint oils [4]. German chemist and physician Hieronymus David Gaubius isolated menthol from mint leaves in 1771 to identify the compound responsible for the cooling effect of mints. Only the enantiomer (-)-menthol is capable of triggering the cooling sensation commonly associated with mint flavor, and mint essential oils are highly prized in the chemical and food industry for their (-)-menthol content. Menthol can uniquely trigger the TRPM8 receptors in skin to induce the cooling experience when applied to the body or taken orally, in a similar mode of action as capsaicin, the compound responsible for the hotness of chilis. TRPM8 is an ion channel that allows the passage of sodium and calcium ions, which induces action potentials that lead to cold sensations through low temperatures and application of menthol [5].

Mint is used mostly in food and nutraceutical applications where there is a desire to impart a sense of cleanliness. For example, mint is widely used in gum, breath fresheners, mouthwash, antacids, and toothpaste. Of course, mint is also incorporated in foods to add that distinct minty fresh flavor as a secondary sensation, especially in chocolates, ice creams, confections, and beverages. Mint is the third most popular flavoring ingredient in the world, behind vanilla and citrus flavors, and continues to be one of the fastest growing flavor segment in the market driven by consumer demand for clean, fresh flavors. Other applications for mint are in cooling balms, essential oils, perfumes, pest control, and antimicrobial agents.
http://sciencemeetsfood.org/cool-flavors-mint/


 
Top