Starting The Countdown

The New Year is beginning to creep across the globe, maybe hoping that nobody will notice.

East Asia first –

Kim Jong Un will also give a speech.

And some not-so-happy greetings –

Not quite to Europe yet, but here’s an old German postcard from Tallinn that doesn’t look too different from the Town Hall Square now.

From more recent years past –

What are you doing in the countdown? What good things happened to you this year? How can we make 2019 better?

Open thread!



Greetings From The Other Side Of The Country

It was seven degrees here when I woke up. Now it’s twenty.

Yesterday’s storm cleared overnight and left sparkling frost crystals on the trees.  I managed to download the photos from my new camera.

We had a storm that left about six inches on Wednesday. Thursday we had enough sun to clear the roads. Then another six inches yesterday, with wind, so it’s drifted.

Here is what Zooey thinks about it.

The kitties did go out for a bit into a protected area on the deck. Ric tried walking in the snow. He didn’t like it.


Late Night “What The F*ck Was That?!?” Open Thread

Of course, some thirsty young Repub has to rush in & beclown himself, again…

Tuesday Morning Open Thread: Merry Xmas, Earthlings

From the Washington Post:

The astronauts had spun around the moon a few times already, their gaze pointed down on the gray, pockmarked lunar surface. But now as they completed another orbit of the moon on Christmas Eve 1968, Frank Borman, the commander of the Apollo 8 mission, rolled the spacecraft, and, soon, there it was.

Earth, this bright, beautiful sphere, alone in the inky vastness of space, a soloist at the edge of the stage suspended in the spotlight.

“Oh, my God,” exclaimed Bill Anders, the lunar module pilot. “Look at that picture over there! There’s the Earth coming up. Wow, is that pretty!”

Anders knew black and white film wouldn’t do it justice. But he also knew he didn’t have a lot of time if he was going to get the shot.

“Hand me a roll of color quick, will you,” he said.

“Oh, man, that’s great,” said Jim Lovell, the command module pilot and navigator.

“Hurry,” Anders pleaded. “Quick!”

Anders loaded the color film into his Hasselblad camera and started firing away while his anxious crewmates remained transfixed by the blue and white vision outside their windows…

Two days later, the film was processed, and NASA released photo number 68-H-1401 to the public with a news release that said: “This view of the rising earth greeted the Apollo 8 astronauts as they came from behind the moon after the lunar orbit insertion burn.”…

“As I looked down at the Earth, which is about the size of your fist at arm’s length, I’m thinking this is not a very big place. Why can’t we get along?” Anders said during a video played during a ceremony at Washington National Cathedral recently celebrating the 50th anniversary of the mission. “To me it was strange that we had worked and had come all the way to the moon to study the moon, and what we really discovered was the Earth.”

Intriguing Science Discovery: Just in Time for the Winter Solstice!

Oh, look, the opening to a plague movie that actually involves The Plague!:

The finding suggests that the germ may have devastated settlements across Europe at the end of the Stone Age in what may have been the first major pandemic of human history. It could also rewrite some of what we know of ancient European history.

The finding came about as the researchers were analyzing publicly available databases of ancient DNA for cases in which infections might have claimed prehistoric victims. They focused on the previously excavated site of Frälsegården in Sweden. Previous analysis of a limestone tomb at the site found that an estimated 78 people were buried there, and they all had died within a 200-year period. The fact that many people died in a relatively short time in one place suggested they might have perished together in an epidemic, lead study author Nicolás Rascovan, a biologist at Aix-Marseille University in Marseille, France, told Live Science. The limestone tomb was dated to the Neolithic, or New Stone Age, the period when farming began.

The researchers discovered the previously unknown strain of plague in the remains of a woman at the Frälsegården site. Carbon dating suggested she died about 4,900 years ago during a period known as the Neolithic Decline, when Neolithic cultures throughout Europe mysteriously dwindled.

Based on her hip bones and other skeletal features, they estimated the woman was about 20 years old when she died. The plague strain found with her had a genetic mutation that can trigger pneumonic plague — the deadliest form of historic and modern plague — suggesting the woman likely died of the disease…
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