Huge Lightning Bolt!

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The longest single flash of lightning has been captured by satellites of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, recorded and announced by the U.N.’s World Meteorological Organization on Tuesday.

The “megaflash” stretched 768 kilometres (give or take 8 kilometres) or 477.2 miles (give or take 5 miles) across parts of the southern U.S. including Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi on April 29, 2020…

The flash in question measures as long as the distance between New York City and Columbus Ohio. Or if you want another, between London and Hamburg.

We’re number one, we’re number one! Or something like that.

Former White House Counsel says, Trump’s promise to rioters is “the stuff of dictators”

Donald Trump’s promise to pardon supporters who attacked the US Capitol on January 6 2021 was “the stuff of dictators”, Richard Nixon’s White House counsel warned.

Trump made the promise at a rally in Conroe, Texas, on Saturday.

More than 700 people have been charged in connection with the Capitol attack, around which seven people died as Trump supporters tried to stop certification of his election defeat, in service of his lie that it was caused by electoral fraud. More than 100 police officers were hurt…

John Dean, 83, was White House counsel from 1970 to 1973 before being disbarred and detained as a result of the Watergate scandal, which led to Nixon’s resignation in 1974. Dean responded to Trump on Twitter.

“This is beyond being a demagogue to the stuff of dictators,” he wrote. “He is defying the rule of law. Failure to confront a tyrant only encourages bad behaviour. If thinking Americans don’t understand what Trump is doing and what the criminal justice system must do we are all in big trouble!”

I hope more than half the voting Americans turn out to be “thinking” Americans, John.

Will Medieval Sleeping Habits End Your Insomnia?

By Derek Thompson

I was researching my nocturnal issues when I discovered a cottage industry of writers and sleep hackers who claim that sleep is a nightmare because of the industrial revolution, of all things. Essays in The Guardian, CNN, The New York Times, and The New York Times Magazine recommended an old fix for restlessness called “segmented sleep.” In premodern Europe, and perhaps centuries earlier, people routinely went to sleep around nightfall and woke up around midnight—only to go back to sleep a few hours later, until morning. They slept sort of like I do, but they were Zen about it. Then, the hackers claim, modernity came along and ruined everything by pressuring everybody to sleep in one big chunk.

The romanticization of preindustrial sleep fascinated me…I reached out to Roger Ekirch, the historian whose work broke open the field of segmented sleep more than 20 years ago…

When sleep was divided into a two-act play, people were creative with how they spent the intermission. They didn’t have anxious conversations with imaginary doctors; they actually did something. During this dorveille, or “wake-sleep,” people got up to pee, hung out by the fire, had sex, or prayed. They reflected on their dreams and commingled with the spiritual realm, both the divine and the diabolical. In the 1540s, Martin Luther wrote of his strategies to ward off the devil: “Almost every night when I wake up … I instantly chase him away with a fart.”

Today’s sleep writers often wield Ekirch’s research to suggest that segmented sleep (or, as Ekirch calls it, biphasic—two-phase—sleep) is old, and one-sleep is new, and therefore today’s sleepers are doing it wrong. But that’s not the full story, he told me…

Preindustrial sleep was nothing to romanticize. Death stalked our slumber for centuries. Late-night crime was rampant, and the home itself was a death trap, as slapdash construction left houses vulnerable to fire, leaking roofs, terrible heat or cold, and what Ekirch calls “the trifecta of early modern entomology: fleas, lice, and bedbugs.” As for that romantic French dorveille, it was functionally a second workday for many women, who rose at midnight to finish domestic chores. And ancient soporifics—such as poisonous leaves and various opiate concoctions—were roughly as likely to kill you as they were to induce REM.

Earlier years in my life, this would have prompted experimentation on my part. Especially when unwed and not bothering anyone else while screwing around radically with sleep patterns. Living together as retirees has already introduced a few qualitative adjustments to maintain more or less smooth sailing. I doubt we could accomplish something positive from attempting to wrench our placid and mutually-guided household into a science experiment.

But, read on into the experience of Mr. Thompson. His conclusions, albeit brief, are positive and may be useful to your own regimen.