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I think hippies smell, and apparently it isn’t just my imagination.

And apparently I can say that literally because it’s been reported that what you belief influences how you smell:

Social scientists from Brown, Harvard and Penn State recently conducted an unusual study. Seeking to examine the biological cues that influence attraction, the researchers taped gauze pads to the skin of 20 subjects, retrieved them 24 hours later, and kept them in their lab. They asked 125 volunteers to smell each sample, rate how attractive they found each odor, and to guess at the political orientation of the person with whom it originated.

The researchers found evidence that people are instinctively attracted to the smell emitted by those with similar ideologies. In one memorable instance, a female participant asked the scholars if she could take one of the samples home, describing it as “the best perfume I ever smelled.” The scent came from a man who shared her political views. Just before, a different woman with the opposite views had smelled the exact same sample, declared it “rancid,” and urged the researchers to throw it out. Ideological like-mindedness exerts a biological pull on our attraction, it seems — and deep disagreements can really stink.

These results suggest that our beliefs have a strong biological component.

For the life of me, I can’t fathom the actual biological reason for this, but in the meantime you may be able to use your nose to your advantage and let it sort out who may be an ideological friend versus foe. “Eau du Small Government,” anyone?

Investigators conclude MH17 broke up in mid-flight after being hit with objects consistent with missile fragments

Not a whole lot of surprise here. We’ve all pretty much come to the conclusion the plane crashed after being shot down and not as a result of some kind of mechanical malfunction.  All that’s been  left to do is finger point at who might have done the shooting.

According to the report, that determination can eventually be made even though both sides (Ukraine on the one hand and Russian rebels on the other) use the same weapon:

Dutch experts say Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 broke up in mid-air after being hit by “objects” that “pierced the plane at high velocity” in July.

The new report also said there was “no evidence of technical or human error”.

Correspondents say this matches claims that MH17 was hit by missile shrapnel.

Both sides in this conflict use the same weapon, reports the BBC’s transport correspondent Richard Westcott, and to find out who was responsible investigators would need to determine where the missile was launched.

One expert said they should eventually be able to work that out with a combination of radar data and evidence from the scene, our correspondent reports.

A sobering fact highlighted in this report was that three other, very large commercial airliners flew over the same area at around the same time, he adds.

The report from Dutch experts says the plane “broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-velocity objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside”.

Note that investigators have come to this conclusion after reviewing “cockpit data, air traffic control and images” as the scene itself is too dangerous for investigators to visit in person.

There’s no mention on how long it might take to determine the origination point of the missile that took MH-17 down, but the bigger question is, of course, will anyone be held accountable when the findings finally do come out?

Maybe there is something to the “artists are crazy” meme

We’re all familiar with the perception that most artists, at least the really good ones, have a bit of crazy in them.  If that’s really the case, this guy’s art must rival the masters:

A Norwegian conceptual artist has described how he boiled up his own hip bone, stripped off the flesh, and then ate it with some potato gratin and a glass of wine.

Alexander Selvik Wengshoel, 25, told Norway’s Nordlys newspaper that hospital doctors had allowed him to film the hip replacement operation he underwent aged 21, after which he had taken the bone home as an artistic souvenir.

“When I got home I sat in my living room and suddenly I had a whim that I should cook the meat,” he told the newspaper.

He said that he had first boiled the bone to loosen the small handful of flesh attached to it, and then fried the meat which came off.

“First I just had a little taster, but since it tasted good, I made it a full dinner of it,” he told the paper. “It was a very exciting and stimulating. It was so personal.”

Asked how the meat had tasted, Wengshoel replied that it had tasted like “wild sheep”.

Wengshoel made his startling claim at the opening of his graduation exhibition from the Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art.

The hip bone, stripped of all its flesh, was also displayed as part of his work, which largely involved subjecting himself to extreme pain by piercing his flesh with hooks.


Two thoughts of why he might do this.

First, he truly is a “starving artist” and needed to eat.  I’d give the odds of this being the actually reason a big fat zero.

Second and more likely, this is a publicity stunt aimed at getting his name out into the art community and the general public as well as piquing curiosity about his art in hopes of selling some pieces.  Okay, mission accomplished.  I’m sure he’ll get his fifteen minutes of fame and perhaps enrich himself in the process.

But dude, you have to admit, even to come up with this idea requires more than a smidge of crazy.  And what will he do next in an effort to one-up himself?  Only the truly crazy can imagine.

California REALLY doesn’t want any businesses located in the state

If they did, why would they consider legislation like this?:

SACRAMENTO (CBS / AP) — A California effort to lead a national debate over the growing wage gap between CEOs and average workers took its first step in the state Legislature on Thursday with support from Democratic lawmakers, organized labor and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich.

Reich, who served in the Clinton administration during the 1990s, said the bill would reward “responsible” companies with lower tax rates and help the middle class while countering a trend that he said endangers the underpinnings of the American economy.

SB1372 would punish companies that pay CEOs more than 100 times the median wage of their workers by imposing a higher corporate tax rate. Companies with less of a wage gap would be rewarded with a lower rate. (emphasis mine)

Yeah, punishing companies with a large wage discrepancy is going to draw more business in to the state. If you believe that, I have a pocketful of carbon credits I’d be willing to sell you, cheap.

Even if a company doesn’t have a large wage gap as outlined in the bill, what business owner wants to set up shop in a state so willing to insert itself into the day to day management of one of the most personal aspects of private sector business?  Why would an owner even think the state would stop there and not continue to nit pick on other perceived “injustices” it might find and then legislate even more changes to which  companies would have to comply.  Pretty soon, the government WOULD BE running your business.


Rewarding bad behavior: Government edition

First the I.R.S. gives out millions in bonuses to their employees who hadn’t bothered to pay their taxes and now this:

The director of the Phoenix VA hospital where at least 40 military veterans died from delays received more than $9,000 in bonus pay in 2013, public records show.

Last year, Sharon Helman, the director of the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System, got a $9,345 bonus, in addition to her annual base salary of $169,900. Overall, leadership at the hospital was paid more than $700,000 in taxpayer money, according to publicly available salary data.

CNN reported Wednesday that at least 40 patients have died at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care System because of delays in treatment, and many of them were placed on a secret list to hide the wait times from officials in Washington.

According to internal emails obtained by CNN, top management at the Phoenix hospital, including Helman, was aware of the practice and defended it.


Another day, another irritating McCain quote

Between Boehner’s shot across the bow at the conservative base and the most recent America shaming from McCain, could “comprehensive immigration reform” including a “path to citizenship be far behind?”

“Here’s Johnny..…”:

“They’re not going home. And so why don’t we give them a path to citizenship,” McCain asked at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy Jr. forum.

“There are not enough buses to deport them,” he added. “It’s de facto amnesty.”

“It’s really tough,” he said, adding it would take years for people’s status to change. “If you keep these people in the shadows, it is a stain on America’s honor.”

A “stain on America’s honor?” Really?

The masses of illegal immigrants currently residing in the US chose to come to here and remain here, “in the shadows,” yet somehow it’s America’s shame to bear if these millions of people aren’t given an eventual citizenship?  How is America to blame for its own laws being broken? Usually the shame is on those who’ve committed the wrong. Isn’t the dishonor here on those who broke the law when they crossed over illegally into the country in the first place?

Tangentially, isn’t this kind of blame America thinking exactly opposite of the “personal responsibility” message the GOP is supposed to embrace? What about holding those who broke the law personally accountable for their actions?

McCain seems to have the victim and perpetrator roles backwards in this case.

Of course his motivation for supporting the “pathway to citizenship” is the same misguided meme:

McCain also repeated his previous prediction that “the Republican Party will never win another nationwide election unless we enact comprehensive immigration reform.” 


#NewsFlash: The Republican party won’t win another nationwide election if it DOES  enact comprehensive immigration reform which includes a pathway to citizenship and the ability of those new citizens to vote.  The data points to illegal immigrants largely identifying more with Democrats than Republicans.  There’s no reason to think that if Republicans sign on to some kind of immigration reform which includes citizenship and a right to vote that that identification will change.


Outrage du jour…

This just leaves me shaking my head:

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service handed out $2.8 million in bonuses to employees with disciplinary issues — including more than $1 million to employees who didn’t pay their federal taxes, a watchdog report says.

The report by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said 1,146 IRS employees received bonuses within a year of substantiated federal tax compliance problems.

And the bonuses weren’t just monetary. Employees with tax problems received a total of 10,582 hours of paid time off — valued at about $250,000 — and 69 received permanent raises through a step increase, the report said. The report looked at bonuses in 2011 and 2012.

Employees’ tax problems included “willful understatement of tax liabilities over multiple tax years, late payment of tax liabilities, and underreporting of income,” the report said.

Here’s a question. If these IRS employees are known to have “willfully understated” their tax liabilities or under reported their income (how can they do that when they WORK for the IRS?), why, oh why are they STILL employed by the IRS?

Oh, that’s right. They’re represented by a union….


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