Calamari bigger than your mouth? How about bigger than you?

Giant squid, the huge tentacled creatures that live in the dark ocean depths, were probably the inspiration for the legend the kraken and have remaind largely elusive for most of human history. The first images of a live giant squid were captured in 2004 and another became the first to swim into view on film in 2013. Even so, most specimens spotted have died, tangled in fishing nets. Last week, a giant squid made gentle mockery of decades of efforts to spot them when it swam into a harbor northwest of Tokyo.

A fisherman noticed the 12-foot-long giant squid swimming beneath fishing boats at the Mizuhashi Fisherina in Toyama prefecture…“Whereas the ones caught in fishing nets are mostly dead and their colors have already turned white, the body of the giant squid swimming inside the marina was red,” says Tatsuya Wakasugi, the marina’s manager.

The squid visited long enough for a diver to arrive and accompany the tentacled beast as it swam. The diver, Akinobu Kimura, filmed the encounter before ushering the squid back out toward the open ocean, reports Euan McKirdy and Junko Ogura for CNN.

Another camera person captured the diver and the squid interacting from the surface…

RTFA and watch the second video, too. You don’t see the size comparison until you’re almost halfway into the video.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

“Affluenza” teen and momma busted in Mexico

A Texas woman and her son, a teen known for invoking an “affluenza” defense after a deadly drunken driving wreck, held a sort of farewell party before fleeing his probation, driving to the Mexican border and trying to disguise themselves…

Tarrant County Sheriff Dee Anderson said 18-year-old Ethan Couch and his mother, who were detained Monday in the Pacific Coast resort city of Puerto Vallarta, planned their disappearance.

“They even had something that was almost akin to a going-away party before leaving town,” he said.

Couch was on juvenile probation for the wreck that killed four people when he was 16. During the sentencing phase of his trial, a defense expert argued that his wealthy parents coddled him into a sense of irresponsibility — a condition the expert termed “affluenza.” The condition is not recognized as a medical diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association, and its invocation drew widespread ridicule.

Anderson said an arrest warrant would be issued for Couch’s mother, Tonya Couch, on charges of hindering an apprehension. A prosecutor says that during a hearing next month they plan to ask a judge to transfer Ethan Couch’s case to adult court…

Ricardo Ariel Vera, the representative of Mexico’s immigration institute in the western state of Jalisco, said the mother and son were being held at immigration offices in the state capital, Guadalajara, and would be returned to the United States aboard a commercial flight to Houston sometime Tuesday…

Couch was apparently trying to lie low; a photo distributed by the Jalisco state prosecutor’s office show him in detention with his blond hair dyed black and his normally blondish beard a light brown.

Anderson has said he believes the two fled in late November after a video surfaced that appears to show Couch at a party where people were drinking. If found to be drinking, Couch’s probation could be revoked and he could be sentenced to up to 10 years in prison.

Couch was driving drunk and speeding on a dark two-lane road south of Fort Worth in June 2013 when he crashed into a disabled SUV off to the side, killing four people and injuring several others, including passengers in Couch’s pickup truck.

Throw the key away. Put mom in a cell down the hall. Sentence their lawyers to work at honest jobs.

Graduation rates rise, knowledge skills decline – what’s wrong with this picture?


Click to enlarge

A sign in a classroom here at Berea High School, northwest of downtown in the largest urban district in the state, sends this powerful message: “Failure Is Not an Option. You Will Pass. You Will Learn. You Will Succeed.”

By one measure, Berea, with more than 1,000 pupils, is helping more students succeed than ever: The graduation rate, below 65 percent just four years ago, has jumped to more than 80 percent.

But that does not necessarily mean that all of Berea’s graduates, many of whom come from poor families, are ready for college — or even for the working world. According to college entrance exams administered to every 11th grader in the state last spring, only one in 10 Berea students were ready for college-level work in reading, and about one in 14 were ready for entry-level college math. And on a separate test of skills needed to succeed in most jobs, little more than half of the students demonstrated that they could handle the math they would need.

It is a pattern repeated in other school districts across the state and country — urban, suburban and rural — where the number of students earning high school diplomas has risen to historic peaks, yet measures of academic readiness for college or jobs are much lower. This has led educators to question the real value of a high school diploma and whether graduation requirements are too easy…

The most recent evaluation of 12th graders on a national test of reading and math found that fewer than 40 percent were ready for college level work. College remediation and dropout rates remain stubbornly high, particularly at two-year institutions, where fewer than a third who enroll complete a degree even within three years…

RTFA for all the usual excuses, all the rationales consistent with a society run by beancounters. The value of what you get in return is rarely considered. Not only by the politicians. Parents and teachers get – and deserve – their share of stick.

“Social pass” is a beloved pair of words here in New Mexico. Purportedly liberal politicians say students should be moved along even if they can’t pass tests demonstrating basic skills. You shouldn’t harm their tender little souls – with standards. Nothing new about that. I first ran into students graduating from good schools in wealthy communities who were functional illiterates – over 50 years ago. Now, it’s everywhere.

Beancounters are even more in control. That includes some local teachers unions run strictly for job protection instead of contributing to standards that aid children in learning how to learn. Get past all of that and you have to deal with the current crop of fools calling themselves conservatives who believe education was best before we had public schools.