World’s oldest recorded joke traced back to 1900 BC

The world’s oldest recorded joke has been traced back to 1900 BC and suggests toilet humor was as popular with the ancients as it is today.

It is a saying of the Sumerians, who lived in what is now southern Iraq and goes: “Something which has never occurred since time immemorial; a young woman did not fart in her husband’s lap.”

It heads the world’s oldest top 10 joke list published by the University of Wolverhampton…

The oldest British joke dates back to the 10th Century and reveals the bawdy face of the Anglo-Saxons — “What hangs at a man’s thigh and wants to poke the hole that it’s often poked before? Answer: A key.”

“What jokes all share however, is a willingness to deal with taboos and a degree of rebellion.”

I agree.

Drilling in Afghanistan

Sometimes in politics, particularly in campaigns, parties get wedded to slogans — so wedded that no one stops to think about what they’re saying, whether the reality has changed and what the implications would be if their bumper stickers really guided policy when they took office. Today, we have two examples of that: “Democrats for Afghanistan” and “Republicans for offshore drilling.”

Anyone who looks at the growth of middle classes around the world and their rising demands for natural resources, plus the dangers of climate change driven by our addiction to fossil fuels, can see that clean renewable energy — wind, solar, nuclear and stuff we haven’t yet invented — is going to be the next great global industry. It has to be if we are going to grow in a stable way.

Therefore, the country that most owns the clean power industry is going to most own the next great technology breakthrough — the E.T. revolution, the energy technology revolution — and create millions of jobs and thousands of new businesses, just like the I.T. revolution did.

Republicans, by mindlessly repeating their offshore-drilling mantra, focusing on a 19th-century fuel, remind me of someone back in 1980 arguing that we should be putting all our money into making more and cheaper IBM Selectric typewriters — and forget about these things called the “PC” and “the Internet.” It is a strategy for making America a second-rate power and economy.
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Email is gonna get you!

According to a growing number of academics, “technologists” and psychologists, our dependence on e-mail — the need to attend to a constantly beeping in-box — is creating anxiety in the workplace, adversely affecting the ability to focus, diminishing productivity and threatening family bonds. The problem has become so severe that a new crop of entrepreneurs has sprung up with antidotes — which sometimes involve creating more e-mail…

Tony Wright, a software developer in Seattle who recently launched (in beta form) RescueTime, a program that tracks how users spend their time on the computer, has found that 38% of office workers’ time is spent on communication applications such as e-mail…

E-mail backlash started in earnest last year with “no e-mail” Fridays at companies such as Intel, U.S. Cellular and Deloitte & Touche. But popular opinion has it that this turned out to be not much more than a Band-Aid…

Lately, a mini-industry has sprung up around finding solutions to e-mail overload.

Then there are those who are just throwing up their hands. Case in point: Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford University Law School professor. Four years ago, Lessig reportedly declared “e-mail bankruptcy.” After spending 80 hours going through his in-box, he simply gave up and sent out an apologetic note to all his unanswered correspondents explaining that he could not respond. If they answered that note, he’d pay special attention.

Lessig could not be reached for comment on this article — not even by e-mail.

Bugs for breakfast, lunch and supper – saves lost prospector

When a former pest-control officer lost his bearings in Australia’s Outback he thought he would die, until he stumbled on a termites’ nest and “got stuck in”.

Theo Rosmulder, 52, managed to survive for four days by feasting on termites and other insects before local Aborigines rescued him. “Termites don’t taste too bad,” he told reporters in the mining town of Laverton in Western Australia.

Mr Rosmulder was prospecting for gold last Friday when he got lost…Believing he would never be rescued, he said he sought out somewhere to “crawl into a hole and just call it quits”.

But the next day a chance discovery of a termite mound changed his luck…”I just hit the top of the termite nest off and got stuck into them,” he said.

If it’s alive, it has some food value. Aborigines already know that, of course.

Turkey ruling party escapes ban – barely

Turkey’s highest court has announced that it will not close down the governing Justice and Development party on charges of undermining the country’s secular system.

Most of the “Don’t dare offend” newspapers in the West offered headlines like the Wall Street Journal: Turkey’s Constitutional Court Votes to Support Government. Which is a lie. A majority of the judges voted against the AK Party.

Six of the court’s 11 judges voted in favour of closing down the party, just one short of the seven required to impose a ban, Hasim Kilic, the head of the constitutional court, said.

But the court, he stressed, was still sending the AK party, a “serious warning” by cutting half of the treasury funds it was entitled to this year…

Fadi Hakura, a Turkish analyst with the London-based Royal Institute of International Affairs, said that the government could face a crisis again if it continued pursuing what he said was their previous agenda of more religion…

Turkey is one of the oldest and strongest secular governments in the Middle East. Unlike, Iran, for example, they’ve never had a democratically-elected government overthrown by the CIA and replaced with a monarchy. They have less motivation to march backwards towards theocracy as any kind of solution.

Shortages are the excuse for high prices – but, FUEL EXPORTS are up!

The White House has made a new push for expanded offshore drilling to help lower fuel prices, days after new government data showed American petroleum product exports hit record levels.

“To reduce pressure on prices, we need to increase the supply of oil, especially here at home,” Bush told reporters…

Critics of the offshore drilling plan noted that the Energy Department released data this week showing that U.S. exports of finished petroleum products, including gasoline, diesel fuel and jet fuel, soared to 1.592 million barrels per day in May.

The exports set a record for the month and were up 31 percent from a year ago.

Exports were equal to about half the 3.204 million barrels a day in petroleum products that the United States imported during May.

In May, U.S. oil companies shipped 183,000 barrels of gasoline a day out of the country, even as Americans saw prices at the pump steadily rise.

Trying to drill our way out of trouble is absurd. No different from bigots who tried to convince us that “separate but equal” school systems didn’t equate to segregation and discrimination.

Liars and self-deluded hypocrites.

Finally – FDA finds the Salmonella source – at a Mexican farm

A salmonella outbreak in the United States and Canada has been linked to irrigation water and serrano peppers at a Mexican farm, says the FDA. Dr. David Acheson, the FDA’s food safety chief, said the farm is in Nuevo Leon, Mexico, and called the discovery “a key breakthrough.”

The salmonella outbreak, which has sickened more than 1,200 people since April, had been linked to raw Mexican jalapeños and serranos. Last week, the Mexican government had called an FDA advisory saying so “premature.”

The FDA now advises consumers to avoid raw jalapeño peppers grown in Mexico and any foods containing raw jalapeño peppers grown in Mexico. Likewise, no one should eat raw serrano peppers from Mexico.

It still remains that these bureaucrat flunkeys for the food distribution industry wasted months before they would even say the word “Mexican” publicly. So afraid of harming the revenue stream when people were obviously getting sick after eating in Mexican restaurants.

Half the population where I live is Mexican-American – and we all figured out what the problem was as soon as the FDA twerps admitted what was happening. Couldn’t they have said, “Hey – most of these folks ate at a Mexican restaurant before getting sick. Don’t eat anything uncooked when you go to your favorite Mexican restaurant till we track this down”?

NASA and Internet Archive launch centralized resource for images

Earth from the Moon – August, 1966

NASA and Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library based in San Francisco, are making available the most comprehensive compilation ever of NASA’s vast collection of photographs, historic film and video.

The Internet site combines for the first time 21 major NASA imagery collections into a single, searchable online resource. A link to the Web site will appear on the NASA home page.

The Web site launch is the first step in a five-year partnership that will add millions of images and thousands of hours of video and audio content, with enhanced search and viewing capabilities, and new user features on a continuing basis.

This resource enables the agency to digitize and preserve historical content now not available on the Internet for future generations.

Deaths from combining Rx drugs, street drugs, alcohol skyrocket

In the first large-scale study of home medication consumption, sociologists at the University of California, San Diego have found a 3,196 percent increase in fatal domestic medication errors involving alcohol and/or street drugs.

Their study examines nearly 50 million U.S. death certificates from 1983 to 2004, and focuses on a subset of 200,000 deaths from medication errors. “The decades-long shift in the location of medication consumption from clinical to domestic settings,” the authors say, “is linked to a dramatic increase in fatal medication errors.”

“Increasingly,” says principal author David P. Phillips, “people take their medications at home, away from hospitals and clinics. But most studies of fatal medication errors have focused on those clinical settings. We wanted to know three things: how many of these fatal errors happen at home; how many involve alcohol and/or street drugs; and are these numbers going up?”

They note that the increase in fatal errors varies by astonishing amounts based on where the errors occur and the particular combinations of drugs.

Type 1 errors – deaths at home from combining medications with alcohol and/or street drugs – skyrocketed by 3,196 percent.

In sharp contrast, type 4 errors – non-domestic fatal errors not involving alcohol or street drugs – show the smallest increase, just 5 percent.

I guess I’m not surprised about the combinations which include booze and street drugs. Folks with dependencies don’t often make the soundest health choices.

Some U.S. dermatologists cater to looks while skin patients wait

Donald Richey, a dermatologist in Chico, California, has two office telephone numbers: calls to the number for patients seeking an appointment for skin conditions like acne and psoriasis often go straight to voice mail, but a full-time staff member fields calls on the dedicated line for cosmetic patients seeking beauty treatments like Botox…

Like airlines that offer first-class and coach sections, dermatology is fast becoming a two-tier business in which higher-paying customers often receive greater pampering. In some dermatologists’ offices, freer-spending cosmetic patients are given appointments more quickly than medical patients for whom health insurance pays fixed reimbursement fees…

And dermatologists nationwide are increasingly hiring nurse practitioners and physicians’ assistants, called physician extenders, who primarily see medical patients, according to a study published earlier this year in the same journal.

“What are the physician extenders doing? Medical dermatology,” Allan Halpern, chief of dermatology at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, said in a melanoma lecture at a dermatology conference this year. “What are the dermatologists doing? Cosmetic dermatology.”

Personally, I follow the advice in the article. I consult with a medical dermatologist. Upscale beauty freaks start clogging up the parking lot in front of his practice, I’d go elsewhere.

Fortunately, I don’t think I need to worry about that. He’s a physician dedicated to medical needs.