T   P   O
The Patient Ox (aka Hénock Gugsa)

G r e e t i n g s !

** TPO **
A personal blog with diverse topicality and multiple interests!

On the menu ... politics, music, poetry, and other good stuff.
There is humor, but there is blunt seriousness here as well!

Parfois, on parle français ici aussi. Je suis un francophile .... Bienvenue à tous!

* Your comments and evaluations are appreciated ! *

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Classifieds - by Anonymous in UK

Anonymous in UK

8 years old, Hateful little bastard.

1/2 Cocker-Spaniel, 1/2 sneaky neighbor's dog.

Mother is a Kennel Club registered German Shepherd.
Father is a Super Dog, able to leap tall fences in a single bound.

Never bred.
Also 1 gay bull for sale.

Must sell washer and dryer £100.

Worn once by mistake.
Call Stephanie.

**** And the WINNER is ... ****

Complete set of Encyclopedia Britannica, 45 volumes.
Excellent condition, £200 or best offer. No longer needed, got married, wife knows everything. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

To Rodeo Lovers - by TPO

* A rodeo poem by Rod Miller *

“Number 16” *
It happened in nineteen and seventy-three,
the twenty-third day of June.
It was a Saturday night, under the lights
and a quarter of the waning moon.

Nary a cloud was in the sky,
the stars burned clear and bright,
sixty-nine degrees, a hint of a breeze;
for rodeo, a near-perfect night.

Pawing the bottom of chute number three
stood a horse, fifteen hands two,
the number 16 read on his hip clean,
burned in hair a rich, roan blue.

A white star winked on his forehead
through a forelock tangled and long;
a mane of black, a stripe down his back,
dark bottoms on legs thick and strong.

He rattled the slide gate with a solid kick
when the flank man hooked the strap
and kept up the fight as the rigging pulled tight,
relieving chute boards of pineknots and sap.

Finally the cowboy nodded his face
and the gate cracked open, then wide.
Off flew his hat as 16 whipped out flat
and took a run with a choppy stride.

He planted his forefeet and sucked it back
after covering fifty-three feet.
The cowboy’s nose advanced past his toes,
but he managed to keep his seat.

Then that big blue roan jumped straight up,
must have been nine feet in the air,
he bellered and roared, lifted off twice more;
liked to bucked off all his white hair.

Next he spun to the left four turns and a half,
got that cowboy away from his hand,
down in the well where he hung for a spell
while looking for a place to land.

16 trotted off with his head in the air,
nostrils flared and tail flying straight;
followed the course of a bay pickup horse
out back through the catch pen gate.

It was as fine a display of the bucking art
as this fan ever has seen;
I’ve watched hundreds pitch, the best of which
was that blue roan, number 16.

The cowboy’s name? I can’t recall.
Wish I could, but memory fails.
That rodeo, you know, was a long time ago.
You can’t expect me to remember details.

* Rod Miller, 2004

Friday, October 26, 2012

Quick on Their Feet! - by Anonymous

Children Are Quick
by Anonymous

TEACHER: Why are you late?
STUDENT: Class started before I got here.

TEACHER: John, why are you doing your math multiplication on the floor?
JOHN: You told me to do it without using tables.

TEACHER: Glenn, how do you spell 'crocodile?'
TEACHER: No, that's wrong
GLENN: Maybe it is wrong, but you asked me how I spell it.

TEACHER: Donald, what is the chemical formula for water?
TEACHER: What are you talking about?
DONALD: Yesterday you said it's H to O.

TEACHER: Winnie, name one important thing we have today that we didn't have ten years ago.

TEACHER: Glen, why do you always get so dirty?
GLEN: Well, I'm a lot closer to the ground than you are.

TEACHER: Millie, give me a sentence starting with ' I. '
MILLIE: I is ...
TEACHER: No, Millie...Always say, 'I am.'
MILLIE: All right...I am the ninth letter of the alphabet.'

TEACHER: George Washington not only chopped down his father's cherry tree, but also admitted it. Now, Louie, do you know why his father didn't punish him?
LOUIS: Because George still had the axe in his hand.

TEACHER: Now, Simon , tell me frankly, do you say prayers before eating?
SIMON: No sir, I don't have to, my Mom is a good cook.

TEACHER: Clyde, your composition on 'My Dog' is exactly the same as your brother's. Did you copy his?
CLYDE : No, sir. It's the same dog.

TEACHER: Harold, what do you call a person who keeps on talking when people are no longer interested?
HAROLD: A teacher. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Les Mistrals Gagnants - Lara Fabian

Les Mistrals Gagnants


Lara Fabian ( 1970 -)

Lara Fabian

[On dit que les âmes attendent avant de revenir sur terre
On dit ça.
Parfois je pense à cet enfant de moi
qui n'est pas encore là
Et que j'attends
Et j'ai si peur pour lui.]

A m'asseoir sur un banc
Cinq minutes avec toi
Et regarder les gens
Tant qu'y en a

 Te parler du bon temps
Qu'est mort ou qui r'viendra
En serrant dans ma main
Tes p'tits doigts

 Puis donner à bouffer
à des pigeons idiots
Leur filer des coups d'pieds
Pour de faux

 Et entendre ton rire
Qui lézarde les murs
Qui sait surtout guérir
Mes blessures

 Te raconter un peu
Comment j'étais Miño 
Les bonbecs fabuleux
Qu'on piquait chez l'marchand
Car-en-sac et Minto,
Caramel à un franc
Et les mistrals gagnants

 A marcher sous la pluie
Cinq minutes avec toi
Et regarder la vie
Tant qu'y en a

 Te raconter la Terre
En te bouffant des yeux
Te parler de ta mère
Un p'tit peu

 Puis sauter dans les flaques
Pour la faire râler
Bousiller nos godasses
Et s'marrer

 Et entendre ton rire
Comme on entend la mer
S'arrêter, repartir
En arrière

 Te raconter surtout
Les carambars d'antan
Et les cocos bohères
Et les vrais roudoudous
Qui nous coupaient les lèvres
Et nous niquaient les dents
Et les mistrals gagnants

 A m'asseoir sur un banc
Cinq minutes avec toi
Et regarder l'soleil
Qui s'en va

 Te parler du bon temps
Qu'est mort et puis je m'en fou
Te dire que les méchants
C'est pas nous

 Que si moi je suis barge,
Ce n'est que de tes yeux
Car ils ont l'avantage
D'être deux

 Et entendre ton rire
S'envoler aussi haut
Que s'envolent les cris
Des oiseaux

 Te raconter enfin
Qu'il faut aimer la vie
Et l'aimer même si
le temps est assassin
Et emporte avec lui
le rire des enfants
Et les mistrals gagnants
Les mistrals gagnants

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Hercules and His Contribution ! - by HCQ


Hercules and His Contribution !
by The Hastings Crazy Quilter *

The weather on Sunday afternoon was so wonderful, I decided to work outside on our open porch, washing windows. I would spritz on cleaner, swish it around and squeegee the window clean. I was having good success, stopping occasionally to admire the blizzard of golden maple leaves floating down. I got to the last window and ran into a problem.

There was a large patch of a sticky substance in the lower left corner that would just not clean off. I spritzed and scrubbed seven times! Finally I got some rubbing alcohol and got it off with that. I couldn't figure out what it was -- pine tar? Some aerosol sprayed from the nearby garage?

I decided to take a break and went inside. As I was sitting at the dining room table, I looked up and, there was Herc, our Labrador, with his nose pressed against the glass. He knows he's not supposed to jump up against the bow windows, so he stares in at us until we let him in. His nose was firmly pressed just in that formerly sticky spot.

I think 3M should look into this. I foresee a new product: Dog Snot Adhesive.
* Pioneer Press Bulletin Board (posted 10/23/12)

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

A Bush-Gore Repeat Scenario?! - by CC

A Bush-Gore Repeat Scenario?!
by Charlie Cook *
The Atlantic Monthly / October 19, 2012 
[Bush-Gore Redux? An Electoral-Popular Vote Split Is a Real Possibility]

Romney holds the national lead in polls. Obama still has the edge in many swing states. And the final result will be down to the wire.

Partisans still hoping that their candidate will build a clear lead in the presidential contest are likely to be disappointed. The race seems destined to be a close one, with the outcome remaining in doubt to the very end. President Obama won the second debate, but not by nearly enough to make up for his devastating loss in the first one. Obama was on the verge of putting the race away heading into the first debate, but his weak performance and Mitt Romney's commanding effort effectively changed the race's trajectory. Although Obama's poll numbers are no longer dropping, he is locked in a tight contest: He trails Romney by 1 to 4 percentage points in national polling, yet he still holds a fragile lead in the Electoral College.

Romney entered the first debate with an edge arguably in only one battleground state: North Carolina. Going into the second debate, the former Massachusetts governor also led narrowly in Florida and Virginia, putting him ahead in three of 11 battleground states. Obama now holds small leads in Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, and Wisconsin, with a slightly wider advantage in Nevada. He still leads, in my judgment, in Ohio by about 4 points (although going into the second debate, one senior Romney strategist claimed that the two men were essentially tied at 47 percent in the Buckeye State). Romney is polling far back in Michigan and Pennsylvania, states that are effectively noncompetitive.

Although history and this column have argued that the popular vote and the electoral vote usually go in the same direction (that's what happened in 53 of 56 presidential elections), today, Romney's national popular-vote situation is different than his Electoral College challenge. Romney's scar tissue in swing states -- the damage inflicted on him by negative ads funded by the Obama campaign and Priorities USA, targeting Bain Capital, plant closings, layoffs, outsourcing, income taxes, and bank accounts in Bermuda, the Caymans, and Switzerland -- is still a huge problem. This is compounded by the fact that before the ads aired, voters knew very little about Romney; because of that, they had no positive feelings or perceptions to help him weather the assault. As a result, the attacks stuck as if he were covered in Velcro. Hence, the swing states, many of which have endured saturation advertising since June (73,000 ads in Las Vegas alone), behave differently than the fortysomething other states that have seen little advertising.

With a race this close, small but important factors will likely be key. 
About 4 million more Latinos are registered to vote this year than in 2008, and Obama has the support of 69 to 70 percent of them, according to the polls -- a finding that tops his 67 percent showing in 2008. But to what extent will lower enthusiasm levels among Latinos this year offset that support? Substantially more 18-to-29-year-olds are registered voters today than were four years ago. However, in a just-released national survey conducted by Harvard University's Institute of Politics, Obama is leading by only 19 points, 55 percent to 36 percent, among likely voters in that age cohort, well behind the 66 percent he won four years ago. The Obama campaign is moving heaven and earth in the social-media sphere to try to boost his performance and the turnout among this key group, but will it work?

Although most observers expect that the Obama campaign will have an even better voter-identification and get-out-the-vote operation in 2012 than in 2008, hardly anyone has a clue about what kind of ground game the Romney campaign will mount. The remarkably effective Republican field operation in President Bush's 2004 reelection campaign was allowed to grow flaccid in intervening years; how much of it the Romney campaign has been able to replace or replicate since he nailed down the nomination in April is anyone's guess.

No doubt Republicans were kicking themselves on Wednesday morning after the second debate over how badly Romney muffed the Libya question. Obama, in one of the few selected questions of the evening that seemed designed to help Romney, had been asked about security mistakes that led to the deaths of Chris Stevens, the U.S. ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans in Benghazi. Obama ignored the question and launched into a discussion of the loss and the administration's efforts to bring to justice those who killed the four Americans. All Romney had to do was to suggest to the man who asked the question to repeat it again because apparently the president had not heard it, as he certainly didn't answer the question. Although admittedly snarky, such a move would have been devastating for the president, because he has few available answers at his disposal. Instead, Romney went off talking about what Obama said in the Rose Garden the day after the attack.

I am now reconciled to the fact that this will be a race to the wire. I am watching Ohio and a handful of other swing states that are right at, or near, the 270-

electoral-vote tipping point. In the end, the odds still favor the popular and electoral vote heading in the same direction, but the chances of a split like the one in 2000 are very real, along with the distinct possibility of ambiguity and vote-counting issues once again putting the outcome in question. Ugh.

* http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2012/10 

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Hero (Christopher Columbus) - by Flip Wilson

Flip Wilson
My hero (Christopher Columbus)
by Flip Wilson (1933-1998)

**More Flip Wilson ... ==> Ugly Baby



Thursday, October 18, 2012

Her Thoughtful Sons - by Anonymous

Her Thoughtful Sons
by Anonymous

Mama's four sons left home for college, and they became successful doctors and lawyers.

One evening, the four brothers got together for dinner and chatted about the things they have done since they last saw each other. They talked about the 95th birthday gifts they were able to give their elderly mother who now lived in Florida.

The first son said, "You know I had a big house built for Mama."

The second son said, " And I had a large theater built in the house."

The third said, "And I had my Mercedes dealer deliver an SL600 to her."

The fourth said, "You know how Mama loved reading the Bible and you know she can't read anymore because she can't see very well. I met the preacher who told me about a parrot who could recite the entire Bible. It took ten preachers almost 8 years to teach him. I had to pledge to contribute $50,000 a year for five years to the church, but it was worth it. Mama only has to name the chapter and verse, and the parrot will recite it." The other brothers were impressed. 

A few days later, the brothers received "Thank You" notes from their mama.

She wrote: "Milton , the house you built is so huge. And you know that I live in only one room, but I have to clean the whole house. Thanks anyway."

"Michael, you gave me an expensive theater with Dolby sound. You say it can hold 50 people, but all of my friends are dead, I've lost my hearing, and I'm nearly blind. I'll never use it. Thank you for the gesture just the same."

"Marvin, I am too old to drive or to travel. I stay home; I have my groceries delivered, so I never use the Mercedes. The thought was good. Thanks." 

"Dearest Melvin, you were the only son to have the good sense to give a little thought to your gift. The chicken was delicious! Thank you so much."


Thursday, October 11, 2012

"Poll" Mania in America - by Jon Stuart (T D S)

"Poll" Mania in America
by Jon Stewart
The Daily Show

A Game of Spoons? - by HCQ

"Spoons" card game

A Game of Spoons?
The Hastings Crazy Quilter
Pioneer Press BB, updated 09/28/12

Merlyn of St. Paul ended his [Bulletin Board notes: or, of course, her!] contribution on Sept. 21, 2012, with these words: 'I also mourn the passing of a selfless generation of parents who would do anything (provided it didn't cost much) to make their kids' lives happy.' It reminded me of some of the games we would play as a family around the dining room table. As the years went by, our family compiled quite a collection of board games -- but when I was young, we played games with what was on hand.

My favorite game was SPOONS. SPOONS is like Musical Chairs, only it is a card game using spoons (not knives or forks; no substitutions, please). Select out of your deck of cards several sets of four of a kind; you need one more set than the number of players. Center on the table in front of all the players a bunch of spoons -- one less spoon than the number of players. Shuffle your cards, and deal them all out. The object is to get four of a kind in your hand, so you select out a card you don't want, put it face down on the table, and simultaneously everyone slides a card over to the player on their right. You keep passing cards around the table until (hopefully) you get four of a kind in your hand. When you do get four of a kind, you grab a spoon.

This results in everyone scrabbling for a spoon. Whoever doesn't end up with a spoon gets a letter. When you spell out SPOONS, you are out of the game. The really good SPOONS players will get four of a kind and stealthily steal a spoon, and continue passing cards until someone else notices. Sometimes a smart-aleck will smuggle in an extra spoon.

If you are a beginner SPOONS player, you will soon learn to place the spoons bowl side down (yep, those spoons can get quite airborne if they are hit just right). You will also learn the benefits of various spoon arrangements on the table. A slippery table can greatly add to the excitement.

In our family, my two sisters were the ones to watch out for -- not because they were such good players, but because they had NAILS. Blood was shed when they were playing. They had to sit next to each other, because no one was dumb enough to sit between them. And no one tried to wrestle a spoon away from them.

Over the years, we have introduced SPOONS to our nieces and nephews and to my husband's Boy Scout troop. Haven't found a group yet that doesn't get into the spirit of the game.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Les Yeux" - Sully Prudhomme

René François Armand (Sully) Prudhomme

Sully Prudhomme

Les yeux
Bleus ou noirs, tous aimés, tous beaux,
Des yeux sans nombre ont vu l'aurore;
Ils dorment au fond des tombeaux,
Et le soleil se lève encore.
Les nuits plus douces que les jours,
Ont enchanté des yeux sans nombre ;
Les étoiles brillent toujours,
Et les yeux se sont remplis d'ombre.
Oh ! qu'ils aient perdu le regard,
Non, non, cela n'est pas possible
Ils se sont tournés quelque part,
Vers ce qu'on nomme l'invisible.
Et comme les astres penchants
Nous quittent, mais au ciel demeurent,
Les prunelles ont leurs couchants,
Mais il n'est pas vrai qu'elles meurent;
Bleus ou noirs, tous aimés, tous beaux,
Ouverts à quelque immense aurore,
De l'autre côté des tombeaux
Les yeux qu'on ferme voient encore.

New Ideas on Sleep - by David K. Randall

Rethinking Sleep

by David K. Randall *

New York Times / September 22, 2012

SOMETIME in the dark stretch of the night it happens. Perhaps it’s the chime of an incoming text message. Or your iPhone screen lights up to alert you to a new e-mail. Or you find yourself staring at the ceiling, replaying the day in your head. Next thing you know, you’re out of bed and engaged with the world, once again ignoring the often quoted fact that eight straight hours of sleep is essential. 

Sound familiar? You’re not alone. Thanks in part to technology and its constant pinging and chiming, roughly 41 million people in the United States — nearly a third of all working adults — get six hours or fewer of sleep a night, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. And sleep deprivation is an affliction that crosses economic lines. About 42 percent of workers in the mining industry are sleep-deprived, while about 27 percent of financial or insurance industry workers share the same complaint. 

Typically, mention of our ever increasing sleeplessness is followed by calls for earlier bedtimes and a longer night’s sleep. But this directive may be part of the problem. Rather than helping us to get more rest, the tyranny of the eight-hour block reinforces a narrow conception of sleep and how we should approach it. Some of the time we spend tossing and turning may even result from misconceptions about sleep and our bodily needs: in fact neither our bodies nor our brains are built for the roughly one-third of our lives that we spend in bed. 

The idea that we should sleep in eight-hour chunks is relatively recent. The world’s population sleeps in various and surprising ways. Millions of Chinese workers continue to put their heads on their desks for a nap of an hour or so after lunch, for example, and daytime napping is common from India to Spain. 

One of the first signs that the emphasis on a straight eight-hour sleep had outlived its usefulness arose in the early 1990s, thanks to a history professor at Virginia Tech named A. Roger Ekirch, who spent hours investigating the history of the night and began to notice strange references to sleep. A character in the “Canterbury Tales,” for instance, decides to go back to bed after her “first sleep.” A doctor in England wrote that the time between the “first sleep” and the “second sleep” was the best time for study and reflection. And one 16th-century French physician concluded that laborers were able to conceive more children because they waited until after their “first sleep” to make love. Professor Ekirch soon learned that he wasn’t the only one who was on to the historical existence of alternate sleep cycles. In a fluke of history, Thomas A. Wehr, a psychiatrist then working at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md., was conducting an experiment in which subjects were deprived of artificial light. Without the illumination and distraction from light bulbs, televisions or computers, the subjects slept through the night, at least at first. But, after a while, Dr. Wehr noticed that subjects began to wake up a little after midnight, lie awake for a couple of hours, and then drift back to sleep again, in the same pattern of segmented sleep that Professor Ekirch saw referenced in historical records and early works of literature.

It seemed that, given a chance to be free of modern life, the body would naturally settle into a split sleep schedule. Subjects grew to like experiencing nighttime in a new way. Once they broke their conception of what form sleep should come in, they looked forward to the time in the middle of the night as a chance for deep thinking of all kinds, whether in the form of self-reflection, getting a jump on the next day or amorous activity. Most of us, however, do not treat middle-of-the-night awakenings as a sign of a normal, functioning brain. 

Doctors who peddle sleep aid products and call for more sleep may unintentionally reinforce the idea that there is something wrong or off-kilter about interrupted sleep cycles. Sleep anxiety is a common result: we know we should be getting a good night’s rest but imagine we are doing something wrong if we awaken in the middle of the night. Related worries turn many of us into insomniacs and incite many to reach for sleeping pills or sleep aids, which reinforces a cycle that the Harvard psychologist Daniel M. Wegner has called “the ironic processes of mental control.” 

As we lie in our beds thinking about the sleep we’re not getting, we diminish the chances of enjoying a peaceful night’s rest. 

This, despite the fact that a number of recent studies suggest that any deep sleep — whether in an eight-hour block or a 30-minute nap — primes our brains to function at a higher level, letting us come up with better ideas, find solutions to puzzles more quickly, identify patterns faster and recall information more accurately. In a NASA-financed study, for example, a team of researchers led by David F. Dinges, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, found that letting subjects nap for as little as 24 minutes improved their cognitive performance. 

In another study conducted by Simon Durrant, a professor at the University of Lincoln, in England, the amount of time a subject spent in deep sleep during a nap predicted his or her later performance at recalling a short burst of melodic tones. And researchers at the City University of New York found that short naps helped subjects identify more literal and figurative connections between objects than those who simply stayed awake. 

Robert Stickgold, a professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, proposes that sleep — including short naps that include deep sleep — offers our brains the chance to decide what new information to keep and what to toss. That could be one reason our dreams are laden with strange plots and characters, a result of the brain’s trying to find connections between what it’s recently learned and what is stored in our long-term memory. Rapid eye movement sleep — so named because researchers who discovered this sleep stage were astonished to see the fluttering eyelids of sleeping subjects — is the only phase of sleep during which the brain is as active as it is when we are fully conscious, and seems to offer our brains the best chance to come up with new ideas and hone recently acquired skills. When we awaken, our minds are often better able to make connections that were hidden in the jumble of information. 

Gradual acceptance of the notion that sequential sleep hours are not essential for high-level job performance has led to increased workplace tolerance for napping and other alternate daily schedules. 

Employees at Google, for instance, are offered the chance to nap at work because the company believes it may increase productivity. Thomas Balkin, the head of the department of behavioral biology at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, imagines a near future in which military commanders can know how much total sleep an individual soldier has had over a 24-hour time frame thanks to wristwatch-size sleep monitors. After consulting computer models that predict how decision-making abilities decline with fatigue, a soldier could then be ordered to take a nap to prepare for an approaching mission. The cognitive benefit of a nap could last anywhere from one to three hours, depending on what stage of sleep a person reaches before awakening. 

Most of us are not fortunate enough to work in office environments that permit, much less smile upon, on-the-job napping. But there are increasing suggestions that greater tolerance for altered sleep schedules might be in our collective interest. Researchers have observed, for example, that long-haul pilots who sleep during flights perform better when maneuvering aircraft through the critical stages of descent and landing. 

Several Major League Baseball teams have adapted to the demands of a long season by changing their sleep patterns. Fernando Montes, the former strength and conditioning coach for the Texas Rangers, counseled his players to fall asleep with the curtains in their hotel rooms open so that they would naturally wake up at sunrise no matter what time zone they were in — even if it meant cutting into an eight-hour sleeping block. Once they arrived at the ballpark, Montes would set up a quiet area where they could sleep before the game. Players said that, thanks to this schedule, they felt great both physically and mentally over the long haul. 

Strategic napping in the Rangers style could benefit us all. No one argues that sleep is not essential. But freeing ourselves from needlessly rigid and quite possibly outdated ideas about what constitutes a good night’s sleep might help put many of us to rest, in a healthy and productive, if not eight-hour long, block.
* David K. Randall is a senior reporter at Reuters and the author of “Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep.”

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

"Home on the Range" - Bryn Terfel

Bryn Terfel

Bryn Terfel (1965 - )


"Home on the Range"

Are you in charge? - David P Barash

an alien monarch in "Men In Black"

Who’s in Charge Inside Your Head?
New York Times / Opinion / October 6, 2012

ZOMBIE bees?

That’s right: zombie bees. First reported in California in 2008, these stranger-than-fiction creatures have spread to North Dakota and, just recently, to my home in Washington State.

Of course, they’re not really zombies, although they act disquietingly like them, showing abnormal behavior like flying at night (almost unheard-of in healthy bees), moving erratically and then dying. These “zombees” are victims of a parasitic fly, Apocephalus borealis. The fly lays eggs within honeybees, inducing their hosts to make a nocturnal “flight of the living dead,” after which the larval flies emerge, having consumed the bee from the inside out.

These events, although bizarre, aren’t all that unusual in the animal world. Many fly and wasp species lay their eggs inside hosts. What is especially interesting, and a bit more unusual, is the way an internal parasite not only feeds on its host, but also frequently alters its behavior, in a way that favors the continued survival and reproduction of the parasite.

Not all internal parasites kill their hosts, of course: pretty much every multicellular animal is home to numerous fellow travelers, each of which has its own agenda, which in some cases involves influencing, or taking control of, part or all of the body in which they temporarily reside.

And this, in turn, leads to the question: who’s in charge of your own mind? Think of the morgue scene in the movie “Men in Black,” when a human corpse is revealed to be a robot, its skull inhabited by a little green man from outer space. Science fiction, but less bizarre than you might expect, or want to believe.

Providing room and board to other life-forms doesn’t only compromise one’s nutritional status (not to mention peace of mind), it often reduces freedom of action, too. The technical phrase is “host manipulation.”

Take the tapeworm Echinococcus multilocularis, which causes its mouse host to become obese and sluggish, making it easy pickings for predators, notably foxes, which — not coincidentally — provide an optimal environment for the tapeworm to move into the next phase in its life cycle.

Sometimes the process is truly strange. For example, a kind of fluke known as Dicrocoelium dentriticum does time inside a snail, then an ant, followed by a sheep. Ensconced within an ant, some of the resourceful worms migrate to their host’s brain, where they manage to rewire its neurons, essentially hijacking its body.

The manipulated ant, in response to Dicrocoelium’s demands, then climbs to the top of a blade of grass and waits patiently and conspicuously until it is consumed by a grazing sheep. Once in its desired happy breeding ground, the worm releases its eggs, which depart with a healthy helping of sheep poop, only to be consumed once more by snails, which eventually excrete the immature worms for another generation of unlucky ants to consume.

It may be distressing to those committed to “autonomy,” but such manipulators have inherited the earth. Including us.

Take coughing, or sneezing. It may be beneficial for an infected person to cough up or sneeze out some of her tiny organismic invaders, although it isn’t so healthful for others nearby. But what if coughing and sneezing aren’t merely symptoms but also, even primarily, a manipulation of us, the “host,” by influenza viruses? Shades of zombie bees, fattened mice and grass-blade-besotted ants.

Just as Lenin urged us to ask “who, whom?” with regard to social interactions — who benefits at the expense of whom? — the new science of evolutionary medicine urges a similar question: who benefits when people show symptoms of a disease? Often, it’s the critters that are causing the disease in the first place.

But what about the daily, undiseased lives most of us experience? Voluntary actions are, we like to insist, ours and ours alone, not for the benefit of some parasitic or pathogenic occupying army. When we fall in love, we do so for ourselves, not at the behest of a romance-addled tapeworm. When we help a friend, we aren’t being manipulated by an altruistic bacterium. If we eat when hungry, sleep when tired, scratch an itch or write a poem, we aren’t knuckling under to the vices of our viruses.

But it isn’t that simple.

Think about having a child, and ask who — or rather, what — benefits from reproduction? It’s the genes. As modern biologists recognize, babies are our genes’ way of projecting themselves into the future.

Unlike the cases of parasites or pathogens, when genes manipulate “their” bodies, the situation seems less dire, if only because instead of foreign occupation it’s our genes, our selves. But those presumably personal genes aren’t any more hesitant about manipulating our bodies, and by extension our actions, than is a parasitic fly hijacking a honeybee.

Here, then, is heresy: maybe there is no one in charge — no independent, self-serving, order-issuing homunculus. Buddhists note that our skin doesn’t separate us from the environment, but joins us, just as biologists know that “we” are manipulated by, no less than manipulators of, the rest of life. Who is left after “you” are separated from your genes? Where does the rest of the world end, and each of us begin?

Let’s leave the last words to a modern icon of organic, oceanic wisdom: SpongeBob SquarePants. Mr. SquarePants, a cheerful, talkative — although admittedly, somewhat cartoonish — fellow of the phylum Porifera, “lives in a pineapple under the sea... Absorbent and yellow and porous is he.” I don’t know about the pineapple or the yellow, but absorbent and porous are we, too.
* David P. Barash is an evolutionary biologist and professor of psychology at the University of Washington and the author, most recently, of “Homo Mysterious: Evolutionary Puzzles of Human Nature.”

Friday, October 5, 2012

Reacting to Krauthammer - by TPO

Romney: " Bend over America,you will feel a little discomfort. "
In response to Charles  Krauthammer's piece titled, "Romney by two touchdowns"
(Washington Post / Opinions/ October 4, 2012)

by FormerET ( a.k.a. TPO)

2:07 AM CDT
Yes, Mr. Romney was from the looks of things the dominant debater this time, if you can even call this a debate. It was just two gentlemen out there talking to some vacuum, and neither person was particularly giving out specifics of their plans for the country. And that was the fault mostly of the moderator. Jim Lehrer was for the most part not in control of either candidate or the topics. He let both men ramrod their messages-disguised-as-answers without holding the gentlemen's feet to the fire.

As for the candidates ... Mr. Romney looked super-charged (as if he was on speed) while Mr. Obama displayed detachment or maybe too much caution. It is quite possible he was ceding this debate to Mr. Romney in order to actually get a real sense or feel of the man up close. Mr. Obama is known to be a decent chess player and tends to strategize his moves very carefully. Therefore, it is not unlikely that for him, everything is going pretty close to plan.

I give a win to Mr. Romney on this round but it is not by two touch-downs for sure. He still has a lot of explaining to do about his total reversal of past positions, and the specifics to his current "plan" which is vague and flim-flammy. I suspect Mr. Romney will be making a few more gaffes between now and the next debate, and Mr. Obama will be ready for him with new surprise punches of his own. Then, of-course, Mr. Krauthammer will probably call for a flag on the play (maybe for unnecessary roughness to Mr. Romney).
FormerET responds to comments by fellow readers of the Krauthammer article ...
1:42 PM CDT
So, how's all that Hope and Change stuff working out?
Obama was less than honest - to be sure. 
You vote for the man. All politicians tell you whatever you want to hear - the nature of the beast.

2:15 PM CDT
"All politicians tell you whatever you want to hear ..." This is a true statement for 99.99% of politicians.
I am presuming that you are including your candidate here and thereby absolving him of all sins. In effect, what you just did was akin to self-negation or to posing an utterly self-defeating argument. 
It is always wise to take a breath and analyze what you are going to say before you say it if you want to make a valid point.
1:35 PM CDT
The overwhelming liberal meme on this thread is that Romney lied during the debate. Obama's been lying to you for decades. Prove that what Romney said during the debate is untrue. Convince me.

1:44 PM CDT
Why bother?. We'll let you wallow in your ignorance for eternity. Your comment about Obama being in the political arena for decades (and lying?!) shows that you are beyond redemption.
1:10 PM CDT
When Romney finished his lie fest on Wednsday night why were so many saying he won the debate? Is lying debating? The President nailed Romney on his tax plan, Romney lied and said that wasn't his plan. The President followed up and correctly summed up Ryan/Romney economics, The President's remarks were unanimously confirmed by fact checkers as accurate. Romney's comments were unanimously fact checked as evasive or inaccurate. So lying and bullying in the great fascist tradition now passes for debate? 
The world woke up on Friday morning and the first thing they saw was Romney calling his condemnation of 47% of Americans a "big mistake" and realizing both statements are lies.....then realoizing the whole debate performance (and that's what it was--Wall Street Goes Broadway) was a lie. 
Romney's "aggressive stand of October 5, 2012" will be remembered as much as his "debate facts of October 3." 
Remember: While saying he would kill PBS, Romney said he liked Big Bird. Think about it.

2:30 PM CDT
And at the end of all that lying, there was a small telling moment when Mr. Romney took out a white kerchief and dabbed the perspiration from above the rim of his mouth.  

Sort of reminded me of old Richard Nixon (or "Tricky Dick" as he is forever known).  
I am now wondering if Romney's hands were sweating and his heart palpitating with adrenalin while the lie factory inside him was in overdrive mode.
3:03 AM CDT
Leftists, admit it: your candidate is unsure of himself, not in control, not in command of the facts. He has been a disaster as president. Please join the rest of America and do what is right. Let's make a change here.

3:18 AM CDT
Is the "rest of America" the 47% that your man dismissed casual-like?
3:08 AM CDT
Are you one of those Obamatons who gets upset when somebody calls the President "Hussein", but it's okay if you make fun of Romney's name? There are many such hypocrites.

3:32 AM CDT
C'mon, orange. You do realize you just did the very thing you are accusing others of doing. You are using the cover of quotation marks to get in your punches. Which name-calling is more pernicious, Obama's or Romney's? Really, now?!

Wayne-Duvall shootout in "True Grit"


A Moment of Levity - by TPO

A Moment of Levity *
by TPO
Real Men
Three guys talk in a bar. Two discuss how they are king in their castles and how much their wives respect them. The third guy remains quiet.
Finally, one guy turns to the quiet guy and asks, "What about you? Do you rule your roost?"
The quiet guy says, "Well, just the other night, my wife came to me on her hands and knees."
"What happened then?" they ask.
"She said, 'Get out from under the bed and fight like a man.'"
Where's the Husband?
Three women sit in a beauty parlor talking about their husbands. The first woman says, "Last night my husband said he was going to his office, but when I called they said he wasn't there!"
"I know!" the next woman says, "Last night my husband said he was going to his brother's house, but when I called he wasn't there."
The third woman says, "I always know where my husband is."
"Impossible!" both women exclaim, "He has you completely fooled!"
"Oh no," says the woman. "I'm a widow."
Frog Talk
A grandson runs up to his grandfather and asks him if he can talk like a frog. "Of course not," says the grandfather.
A few minutes later, his granddaughter asks him the same question.
"No, of course not. Why are you both asking me this?"
The granddaughter replies, "Dad said that when you croak, we can go to Disneyland."
Bill O'Reilly's Chauffeur
Bill O'Reilly and his chauffeur accidentally hit and kill a farmer's pig while driving through the country.
O'Reilly tells the chauffeur to apologize to the farmer. They drive up to the farm, and the chauffeur goes inside. He is gone for a long time.
When the driver returns, he explains his long absence, "Well, first the farmer shook my hand, then he offered me a beer, then his wife made me some cookies, and his daughter showered me with kisses."
"Why were they so grateful?" O'Reilly asks.
The chauffeur replies, "I don't know. All I told him was that I was Bill O'Reilly's driver and I'd just killed the pig."
Bar & Donkey
Fred and his brother, "Donkey", walk into a pub and Fred gets the first pint in and says, "I'll have a pint for me and a pint for Donkey."
The two guys drink their pints and Fred says, "Right, Donkey, your round; I'll have a pint of Guinness."
Donkey walks up to the bar and says, "2 p p p p pints of g g g g Guiness p p p please."
While Donkey gets the pints, Fred goes to the toilet and the barman says, "Say, you shouldn't let him call you that stupid nickname."
Donkey replies, "I know. He aw.. he aww... he awwwwww, he always calls me 'Donkey.'"

* Source: jokes.com

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Ross Perot Picks No One - Wendy Zachary

Ross Perot
 Ross Perot: Neither Obama nor Romney can save America
By Wendy Zachary*
Oct. 02, 2012

Ross Perot, a billionaire and 1992 presidential contender, has remained silent on the 2012 presidential campaigns. However, as he attempted to stir up interest in his upcoming autobiography recently, he said he will not endorse either of the candidates because he thinks none of them is capable of saving America in case of a "hostile takeover" by foreign forces.

Warning of the disaster due to the impending fiscal cliff, Perot said that our weak economy may invite invaders to come and take over America and we would not be able to do anything to stop them.

"If we are that weak, just think of who wants to come here first and take us over," the former CEO of info-tech company Perot Systems told USA Today on Monday. "The last thing I ever want to see is our country taken over because we're so financially weak, we can't do anything," Perot said.

“We’re on the edge of the cliff, and we have got to start fixing it now. Otherwise, we’re leaving a disaster to our children’s and our grand-children’s future,” he said.

When anchor Richard Wolf asked him about his possible endorsement this election season, Perot sounded unimpressed by either of the candidates when it comes to building a stronger economy. "Nobody that's running really talks about it, about what we have to do and why we have to do it. They would prefer not to have it discussed."

While not really very straight forward, Perot’s comments are his first ever since he withdrew from the political landscape after his Reform Party failed in the 2000 election. Perot also expressed optimism over Tea Party’s efforts to nudge and wake up both Washington and the electorate. “It’s had an interesting impact. … It’s not the solution, but I think it was a healthy thing to happen. … It wakes up everybody running for office.”

Perot further said that the three things that he wishes for his country are a “strong, moral ethical base,” a “strong family unit in every home” and a “better public school system.” He also briefly touched on the prosperous Clinton years calling it a "good luck" time.

“We were just lucky, going through a period where we had the money flowing. … It was just good luck that made it happen. Right now we’re going through a period of bad luck,” he said.
* Wendy Zachary is based in Texas, and is a Reporter for Allvoices.