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Vintage Comic Cover Art of the Day

lonesome-octopus“Lonesome Octopus” by Bob Bellem and Mel Millar, 1946

Written and produced by Bob Bellem with art by Mel Millar. Comic is full-color, 20-pages in standard-size comic format. From the “Talking Komics” series published by Belda Record & Publishing Co., Pasadena, Ca.

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Archie McPhee’s Endless Geyser of AWESOME!

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40.7% of Babies Born to Unmarried Women

BABY-AP

(CNSNews.com) –  Terence P. Jeffrey  writes:   The fertility rate of women in the United States fell to a record low for the second year in a row in 2012, according to data released last week by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Also for the second year in a row, 40.7 percent of the babies born in the United States were born to unmarried mothers.

The fertility rate is the number of births per 1,000 women aged 15-44. In 2012–according to the Dec. 30, 2013 CDC report “Births: Final Data for 2012“–the U.S. fertility rate was 63.0. That was down from 63.2 in 2011, the previous all-time low.

“The 2012 general fertility rate (GFR) for the U.S. was 63.0 births per 1,000 women aged 15–44, down slightly (less than 1%) from the record low rate reported for the nation in 2011 (63.2),” said the CDC report.

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Machine Envy: Science is Becoming a Cult of Hi-Tech Instruments

Impressive hardware at Pacific Biosciences, a genome sequencing company. Photo by Gregg Segal/Gallery Stock

Impressive hardware at Pacific Biosciences, a genome sequencing company. Photo by Gregg Segal/Gallery Stock

Giant instruments are giving us a sea of data. Can science find its way without any big ideas at the helm?

Philip Ball  writes:  Whenever I visit scientists to discuss their research, there comes a moment when they say, with barely concealed pride: ‘Do you want a tour of the lab?’ It is invariably slightly touching — like Willy Wonka dying to show off his chocolate factory. I’m glad to accept, knowing what lies in store: shelves lined with bottles or reagents; gleaming, quartz-windowed cryogenic chambers; slabs of perforated steel holding lasers and lenses.

It’s rarely less than impressive. Even if the kit is off-the-shelf, it is wired into a makeshift salmagundi of wires, tubes, cladding, computer-controlled valves and rotors and components with more mysterious functions. Much of the gear, however, is likely to be homemade: custom-built for the research at hand. Whatever else it might accomplish, the typical modern lab set-up is a masterpiece of impromptu engineering — you’d need degrees in electronics and mechanics just to put it all together, never mind making sense of the graphs and numbers it produces. And like the best engineering, these set-ups tend to be kept out of sight. Headlines announcing ‘Scientists have found…’ rarely bother to tell you how the discoveries were made.

Would you care? The tools of science are so specialised that we accept them as a kind of occult machinery for producing knowledge. We figure that they must know how it all works. Likewise, histories of science focus on ideas rather than methods — for the most part, readers just want to know what the discoveries were. Even so, most historians these days recognise that the relationship between scientists and their instruments is an essential part of the story. It isn’t simply that the science is dependent on the devices; the devices actually determine what is known. You explore the things that you have the means to explore, planning your questions accordingly.

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What “Monster Porn” Says about Science and Sexuality

John Horgan  writes:  “What does woman want?Freud once whined. Turns out quite a few women want fantasy sex with T. rex, Sasquatch or a boar-headed god. That, at any rate, is the implication of “monster porn,” which serves up X-rated versions of such demure classics as Leda and the SwanKing Kong or Beauty and the Beast.

Evolutionary psychology and other gene-oriented modern paradigms cannot explain why many women enjoy reading "monster porn."

Evolutionary psychology and other gene-oriented modern paradigms cannot explain why many women enjoy reading “monster porn.”

Also known as “cryptozoological erotica” or “erotic horror,” monster porn has flourished in the Internet era, which offers abundant platforms for self-publication. According to a report in Business Insider, some authors—most apparently female–are making serious moola peddling tales of humans—most apparently female—coupling with “creatures of every possible variety, from minotaurs to mermen, cthulhus to leprechauns, extraterrestrials to cyclops.”

Prudes have attacked monster porn for promoting sexual violence and bestiality. In response, Amazon and other purveyors have at least temporarily blocked access to some e-books, like a popular series featuring Bigfoot. Defenders of monster porn accuse Amazon of inconsistency, noting that the company still offers works of the Marquis de Sade, who extolled the joys of sexual torture and murder.

Trying to explain monster porn’s appeal, freelance writer Bonny Burton, host of the “Vaginal Fantasy Book Club,” writes: “Regular male characters in romance books tend to be over-the-top perfect glistening warriors and knights, but I want an imperfect monster who needs love to show that he can be just as sweet as his human competition… Why deprive the imagination of a great romance just because the protagonist happens to live for 600 years or has the occasional bout with fleas?”

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Tainted Tea: Obama Donor to Head IRS Tea Party Targeting Investigation

teacup

Frances Martel reports:  The attorney heading the internal investigation into potential unfair targeting of conservative groups by the IRS is a frequent and significant donor to both the Democratic National Commission and President Obama, Rep. Darrell Issa revealed today, in what he calls a “startling conflict of interest” that jeopardizes the investigation.

Rep. Issa, Chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, sent a letter today to Attorney General Eric Holder revealing new information that reached the committee on who is conducting the internal investigations at the IRS regarding the inappropriate targeting of conservative groups. Seeking an explanation as to why the FBI has been unresponsive to the committee, Rep. Issa noted that current and former IRS officials revealed Barbara Bosserman, a trial attorney within the IRS’s Civil Rights Commission, is leading the internal investigation.

Bosserman’s leadership raises all sorts of questions about the investigation’s fairness. Rep. Issa’s investigations revealed that she has been a loyal financial backer of the DNC since 2004 and has donated multiple times personally to President Obama’s two campaigns. Her personal donation total reaches $6,750 to both the party and President Obama.

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3D Printed Metal Gun Hitting the Market

3d-printed-metal-gun-solid-concepts-e1389119951920

Elwood Shelton of Gun Digest writes:  Solid Concepts has been on a meteoric rise when it comes to cutting-edge firearms manufacturing.

Around two months ago the multi-state based manufacturer announced it had produced the world’s first 3D printed metal gun. Now the company has plans on putting its take on the M1911 on the market.

Solid Concepts announced it will sell 100 limited editions of the handgun, manufactured using the same process as the prototype. But being one of the first to own a piece of the future won’t come cheap.

The company has the 1911’s priced at $11,900. Spendy, but history always demands top dollar.

The guns are made of Inconel 625 (a nickel-chromium alloy) and stainless steel through a process known as Direct Metal Laser Sintering. The procedure fuses layers of metal onto each other, until the end product comes to fruition.

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[VIDEO] MASHUP: Dennis Rodman and Marylin Monroe Sing Happy Birthday to North Korean Ruler Kim Jong-Un

Mashup: Pundit Planet Media – YouTube

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Science: Mending Damaged Hearts with Surgical Glue

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From MIT Technology ReviewKatherine Bourzac  writes:  Many infants born with heart defects have to undergo repeated surgeries as they grow. Replacing the sutures and staples used in surgery today with fast-acting, biodegradable glues could help make these cardiac procedures faster and safer. Researchers at the Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston have developed a surgical glue with promising properties: it doesn’t dissolve in blood, and it’s rubbery enough to hold a seal inside a beating heart.

The cardiac adhesive has been tested in mice and pigs and is being developed as a commercial product by French startup Gecko Biomedical. The Paris-based company, founded by biomaterials researchers in the Boston area, has $11 million in series-A funding, and the company plans to bring the surgical adhesive to patients in Europe in one to two years. The cardiac adhesive is described in a paper published today in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

Flemish heart - TrinitySutures and staples have major drawbacks, says Jeffrey Karp, a biomaterials researcher at Brigham and Women’s and one of Gecko Biomedical’s founders. Staples, which work by piercing tissue, can cause damage, and putting in sutures is time consuming. Replacing these tools with rubbery, fast-acting adhesives could help make surgeries faster and less invasive, and potentially prevent complications.

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Anguish Among the Wicked, Feasting on Thine Own Flesh: Democrats Cannibalize Each Other over Health Care, Tribal Chaos Erupts

cannibals2

Wynton Hall writes:  Republicans are not the only ones looking to wield Obamacare as a political bludgeon come election time; Democratic primary challengers are using Obamacare to attack their own for the failed implementation of the controversial and unpopular health care program.

Cannibal-Scene_de_cannibalisme

On Tuesday, Maryland Democratic gubernatorial primary challenger Attorney General Doug Gansler blasted his Democratic rival, Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, for overseeing the state’s failed Obamacare exchange.

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Unable to Withstand the Cold Temperatures, Escaped Inmate Turned Himself In

'What are you looking' at? Hey. It's really f$*@&!!n COLD out there'

‘What are you looking’ at? Hey. It’s really f$*@&!!n COLD out there’

This item, from FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP), demonstrates that even hardened criminals aren’t as tough as they used to be. 

Authorities said the inmate escaped from a minimum security facility in Lexington on Sunday. As temperatures dropped into the low single digits Monday, officials say the man walked into a motel and asked the clerk to call police.

Robert Vick, 42, of Hartford told the clerk he wanted to turn himself in and escape the arctic air, Lexington police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

Vick was checked out by paramedics and returned to Blackburn Correctional Complex, Roberts said.

“This was definitely of his own volition,” she said. “It’s cold out there, too cold to run around. I can understand why the suspect would turn himself in.”

Vick would have been dressed in prison-issued khaki pants, a shirt and a jacket when he escaped, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said. Wind chill readings were 20 below zero Monday in Lexington.

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The Fifty-Year War

NRO has a feature on the ‘War on Poverty‘, reviewing a taxpayer-funded big-budget blockbuster that took 50 years to make, only cost 15 trillion dollars, and is still in production…

LBJ-BW

This year marks the 50th anniversary of President Lyndon Baines Johnson’s proclamation of a “war on poverty,” and the progress in this theater has not been encouraging. Trillions of dollars have been spent, and the number of Americans living in poverty is higher today than it was in 1964, while the poverty rate has held steady at just under one in five. That contrasts unpleasantly with the trend before President Johnson declared his war: The poverty rate had been dropping since the end of World War II. That progress came to a halt as President Johnson’s expensive and expansive vision began to be implemented in earnest, which coincided with the tapering of the postwar boom. By the 1970s, the poverty rate was headed upward. It declined a bit during the Reagan years, crested and receded again in the 1990s, and resumed its melancholy ascent around the turn of the century.

To understand the failure of the war on poverty requires understanding its structure, which itself is bound up in the idiosyncrasies of Lyndon Johnson’s politics. President Johnson played many parts in his political career: Southern ballast to John Kennedy’s buoyant Yankee idealism; an enemy of civil-rights reform and anti-lynching laws who reversed himself in 1964; a sometimes reluctant but in the end unshakeable Cold Warrior. But at heart President Johnson was a New Deal man, and his Great Society, of which the war on poverty was a critical component, was his attempt to resuscitate the spirit and the political success of Franklin Roosevelt’s program.

It was the New Deal that made Johnson’s Texas a fiercely Democratic state, as the older residents of New Deal, Texas, no doubt remember. Johnson’s House district was energetically anti-Communist, not especially segregationist, but above all wild about the New Deal. Johnson ran for the House as a New Dealer, and it was his association with FDR’s domestic agenda (and, according to biographer Robert Caro, a few thousand fraudulent ballots) that made him a senator and a force.

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Real Life Breaking Bad? Banker Pleads Not Guilty to Fraud Charges

breaking-bad-real

Okay so Aubrey Lee Price isn’t a teacher-turned meth-cooking criminal mastermind bent on building an empire, leaving a trail of dead bodies in his murderous wake, like fictional character Walter White. But he is an example of a white-collar average joe who went dark. No longer content with middle-class aspirations and conventional morality, Price used his professional knowledge for criminal gain, embezzled a fortune, and tried to go off the grid. With millions stolen from investors, Price attempted to screw the system by pretending to be dead.

This meets punditfromanotherplanet’s standard, and serves as a working definition of a real life Breaking Bad scenario. Do you know of any Breaking Bad situations that happened in real life? Send them to editor@punditfromanotherplanet.com

Russ Bynum (AP) reports: A former Georgia banker accused of stealing millions from investors before vanishing for 18 months pleaded not guilty Wednesday to federal bank fraud charges and agreed to remain jailed without bond pending trial.

Aubrey Lee Price, 47, didn’t speak as he sat hunched between his court-appointed lawyer and an attorney who’s a family friend and has agreed to assist with his case for free. Though prosecutors say he misspent, embezzled and lost $21 million, Price was able to show the court that he doesn’t have enough money to hire a lawyer, said U.S. Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith.

Authorities say Price faked financial records in an attempt to cover his tracks before he disappeared in June 2012. He sent letters to his family and acquaintances saying he was “incapable of continuing in this life” and other strong hints that he planned to commit suicide. A Florida judge declared Price dead a year ago. Meanwhile, the Montgomery Bank & Trust, a rural bank near Vidalia at which Price served as a director since 2010, closed because its assets and reserves were depleted.

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Top Saudi Prince Alwaleed: New shale oil discoveries ‘are threats to any oil-producing country in the world’

Saudi prince Alwaleed bin TalalThomas Lifson  writes:  It is worthy paying close attention when a certain Saudi prince speaks his mind.  Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal is sometimes described as the most powerful Arab in the world, thanks to his enormous wealth, business acumen, and influence in the Saudi royal family, which runs the Kingdom as a family fiefdom.  Western-educated, he has shown himself to be an effective power broker, owning a 7% stake in News Corporation and donating $20 million each to Harvard and Georgetown Universities, arousing suspicions of undue influence.

The good prince let the world know what the real stakes are in the battle over fracking. Michael W. Chapman of CNS News reports:

 Saudi Arabia’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, a billionaire businessman and nephew of Saudi King Abdullah, said the production of shale oil and natural gas in the United States and other countries, primarily done through fracking, is a real competitive threat to “any oil-producing country in the world,” adding that Saudi Arabia must address the issue because it is a “matter of survival.”

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On Marijuana: Get Ahead of the Inevitable

shutterstock_143622214_largeRick Wilson  writes:  National Review’s “Sensible on Weed” piece yesterday got me thinking … not so much about marijuana, but about social movements.

Of late, conservatives are notoriously bad at understanding – to say nothing of exploiting – powerful social movements. Part of this is the essential and desirable nature of conservatism; we like to think of ourselves as grounded by deeper values than those who are susceptible to the faddish and fashionable.

The pessimistic strain of conservatism tends to believe all is lost, civilization has fallen, and the Overton Window opens only to the left. We often misunderstand even our emerging victories. On issues like attitudes toward government, guns, abortion, and education reform we’re in a better position than we’ve been in decades, even if the day-to-day political scrum sometimes distracts us from the upside.

On gay marriage, we were famously tone-deaf to the change in society that finally drove it to into the mainstream, particularly with younger voters. Society changed. It doesn’t matter how and why, and we’re not required to like it. What matters is that the change is real, and has real political implications. As I’ve said before, conservatives lost the gay marriage battle socially long before they lost it politically. The rear-guard action of trying to stop it legislatively is increasingly untenable politically.

Which is why Republicans need to get ahead of the marijuana question, and soon.

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