Comet ISON, Presumed Dead, Shows New Life (New York Times link): Astronomers are marveling at the death and apparent resurrection of a comet that dove close to the sun on Thanksgiving.
NASA posted on Twitter, “It’s likely it didn’t survive.”
ISON, which spent several billion years at the frigid edge of the solar system before starting a long journey toward the sun, had been billed as a possible “comet of the century.” Its demise seemed to be an anticlimactic ending to the story.
But “then it appears again,” said Karl Battams, an astrophysicist at the Naval Research Laboratory who has been observing the comet from Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. “We see something come out.”
Images taken by spacecraft showed an increasingly bright point at the head of the comet. Dr. Battams said that current data could not offer a definitive answer, but it appeared Friday that part of ISON’s nucleus was still holding together.
“It’s definitely maybe alive,” Dr. Battams said. “There’s a strong definite chance it might be, may be alive.”
(Mod: Late Thanksgiving evening, while everyone in the house was sleeping off their turkey dinners, I sat at my computer watching videos of Comet ISON apparently being melted into vapor by the sun. Almost every expert declared its demise was certain, and that this 4 billion year old lump of ice and rocks had met its end. But now it is back, alive and kicking. There is hope for us all.)
Four out of five people stop breathing correctly when typing an email (Natural News link): Four out of five people regularly stop breathing while typing emails, according to studies conducted by former Apple executive Linda Stone. The condition, which health professionals are calling "email apnea," may lead to serious health consequences.
"If people are in a stressful situation, perhaps having to deal with some stressful communication, they might end up holding their breath," said Edward Grandi, executive director of the American Sleep Apnea Association. "It's not just email, it's email and texting."
Gizmodo blogger Adam Clark Estes wrote that he had noticed the condition in himself, whenever he was concentrating on writing an especially difficult paragraph.
"I must've slipped a little too deeply into the zone," he said. "A head shake and a couple breaths later, and I was back at it."
But the pattern is hard to break, Estes noted. "Within minutes, the same light-headed feeling was back. I'd stopped breathing, again."
(Mod: Email apnea could be one of the key reasons why the comments Steve posts here on The Tattler read the way they do.)
Black Friday Death Count (link)
(Mod: Not an article so much as a tally of Thanksgiving weekend shopping fatalities. Don't leave home without it.)
Walmart officials comfortable with security after Rialto ‘Black Friday’ brawl sends police officer to hospital (The San Bernardino Sun link): Walmart officials say they are comfortable with the security in place Thursday night, despite three fights at a store here Thursday night.
“The fight at the Rialto store was an unfortunate and isolated incident to an otherwise very safe event,” corporate spokeswoman Betsy Harden said. “Providing our customers with the best and safest shopping experience is always our top priority.”
Police officers descended on Walmart in Rialto after a brawl between two men injured a police officer who tried to break up the fight Thursday night.
The injured officer was transported to St. Bernardine Medical Center in San Bernardino with a broken wrist, police officials said. He was treated and released late Thursday night.
(Mod: There are a number of articles up about Black Friday shopping melees at Wal-Marts right now. Including this video - link. They'll need to add these to the Black Friday stats chart.)
Santa Claus got himself arrested at Wal-Mart (The Trentonian link): Santa Claus came to a California Wal-Mart on Friday — not to hand out presents or spread cheer — but to protest what company employees are calling unfair wages and working hours.
His plan was to leave in handcuffs.
“I’m going to get arrested for civil disobedience,” said Karl Hilgert of Claremont, who came dressed as Santa to support Wal-Mart workers.
Hilgert got his wish, along with nine others, who sat on the ground in a circle and refused to leave despite warnings from police.
More than 100 warehouse workers and other Wal-Mart employees from various Southern California stores gathered at the location in Ontario, Calif. at 6 a.m. for the protest.
They marched in front of the store, chanting in English and Spanish and carrying signs with messages such as “Livable Wages Over Greed.”
The group then marched to the nearby intersection and waited for police to arrive. After three loud-speaker announcements for participating in an unlawful assembly, officers in riot gear approached, read participants their Miranda rights and then arrested them. They were taken to the police department, issued citations and then released.
(Mod: At least Santa didn't become a Black Friday retail violence statistic. Sometimes being arrested is better than shopping.)
Gunman found dead inside cell phone store after standoff in La Crescenta (Pasadena Star News link): An armed robbery suspect was found dead from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound after barricading himself inside a Foothill Boulevard cell phone store Friday, officials said.
The incident began shortly after 4 p.m. at a shopping center in the 2600 block of Foothill Boulevard, just east of Raymond Avenue.
A man in his 30s showed up at the Rite-Aid Pharmacy and asked for pills, Los Angeles County sheriff’s Sgt. Burton Brink said. When employees refused, he pulled out a handgun and demanded pills.
The gunman fled the pharmacy with the pills, Brink said. It was not immediately clear what type of pills were taken, or how many.
But instead of attempting a getaway, the armed man ran into a nearby cell phone store, ordered everyone out and a standoff began, Brink said.
The cell phone store is labeled with “Verizon Wireless” signage, but Verizon officials said it is an affiliated retailer operating under the name “Connect Wireless.”
The standoff lasted for more than four hours.
(Mod: Can you hear me now?)
Thanksgiving In Jail For World's Most Busted Man (The Smoking Gun link): The World’s Most Arrested Man, a Kentuckian who has been busted more than 1500 times over the past four decades, will spend another Thanksgiving in jail, records show.
Henry Earl, 64, is locked up in the Fayette County Detention Center -- which one day should bear his name -- following his arrest last month for public intoxication. Earl was collared outside a fast food joint by Lexington cops, according to jail records.
Earl is due in court for a December 5 pretrial conference and a probation revocation hearing.
Earl, whose arrests almost uniformly have involved alcohol, was first nabbed in Fayette County in July 1970, when he was 20, for carrying a concealed weapon. He would rack up 33 more arrests that decade, while adding 230 collars during the 1980s (most of which involved public drunkenness and/or disorderly conduct).
Remarkably, Earl’s arrest rate increased in the following decades, in part because he rarely spent more than a couple of days in custody before being released (to offend again). Over the past year, however, Kentucky judges have been less lenient on Earl, who has begun spending two to three month stretches in custody per conviction.
(Mod: A warm place to sleep and a good meal can motivate a man sometimes. And who knows, maybe jail is preferable to Earl than his life on the street.)
California lawmakers set for 5.3% pay hike (Los Angeles Times link): California lawmakers are set to receive a 5.3% pay raise Monday, but a dozen say they won't accept it in the wake of a tax hike approved last November and while many residents are still struggling to recover from the recent recession.
The raises were approved by the citizen panel that determines state officials' compensation. The base salary for most legislators will go from $90,526 to $95,291 — still below the $116,208 that lawmakers received in 2007, before their pay was cut during California's budget crises.
"I didn't think taking a raise … when we had just raised taxes on all Californians with Prop. 30, really made sense," said Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach), one of a dozen legislators who said they were turning down the increase.
Many rank-and-file state workers will receive pay hikes of 4.5% phased in through July 2015, but some lawmakers note that many in the private sector are hurting.
"Since California's economy continues to struggle, with many Californians unemployed or underemployed, I do not believe it is appropriate for me to accept a pay raise," state Sen. Mark Wyland (R-Escondido) wrote to the state controller, asking that no raise be included in his paycheck. Senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) and Assembly Speaker John Pérez (D-Los Angeles) are taking their pay increases.
"I have accepted previous decisions by the independent Citizens Compensation Commission to adjust legislative pay and benefits," Steinberg said in a statement. "I will continue to accept their decisions now."
(Mod: It's always Christmas in Sacramento.)
Poverty in California Not so golden - America’s biggest state has America’s biggest poverty problem (The Economist link): As director of development at the Second Harvest food bank in Riverside, California, Tracylyn Sherrit is used to fielding tales of hardship. But these days they sometimes come from unexpected quarters. An elderly woman in Palm Springs, a reasonably prosperous tourist town in eastern Riverside County, recently called, desperate for help: her family were visiting for Thanksgiving and she could not afford to feed them.
Riverside County is part of the Inland Empire, a vast sprawl east of Los Angeles that was whacked by the housing bust. California’s inland areas, such as the Inland Empire and, to its north, the agricultural lands of the San Joaquin Valley, have long lagged the coast on indicators such as employment, income and education.
At the California Economic Summit, a recent gathering of state worthies, all the talk was of “two Californias”: the wealthy coastal part and the struggling inland bit. Cities like San Bernardino and Fresno reek of poverty and sadness.
But two recent reports suggest that poverty in California’s coastal areas may have been significantly understated, thanks largely to high housing costs. The US Census Bureau’s traditional measure, which pegs the poverty line at $23,492 for a family of four, ignores geographical variations in the cost of living, as well as non-cash benefits such as tax credits.
Include these and the poverty rate in Los Angeles County (America’s largest by far by population) climbs from 18% to 27%, according to a recent report from the Stanford Centre on Poverty and Inequality and the Public Policy Institute of California, a think-tank. Most other cities also see big jumps; San Francisco’s rate nearly doubles.
(Mod: I don't imagine that there will be much in the way of raises for these folks this year.)
California water woes hit hard in driest year on record (Reuters link): To nurture his acres of pistachio trees, Tom Coleman has long relied on water from California's mountain-ringed reservoirs, fed by Sierra streams and water pumped from the massive Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
But the driest year on record has left the reservoirs so depleted - and the delta so fragile - that state water officials say they may be able to provide just 5 percent of the water he and others were expecting for next year.
Other sources of water, including resources from a federal project that also pumps from the delta, are also drying up, prompting cities to dip into reserves and forcing farmers to scramble.
"It's scary, because you don't know how you're going to come up with the balance of your water," Coleman said. Last week, he agreed to pay $160,000 for water from other sources - about three times the amount he usually spends.
The water districts that supply Coleman and farmers like him in the state's San Joaquin Valley were told last week that barring an unexpectedly wet winter, the state would be able to provide 5 percent of the water that districts had contracted to buy for next year.
A federal project that also controls water in the state has not yet said how much will be available in 2014, but its allocations are also expected to be low.
"We hope things improve with this winter's storms," said Mark Cowin, director of the California Department of Water Resources, "but there is no guarantee that 2014 won't be our third consecutive dry year. Today's allocation is a stark reminder that California's fickle weather demands that we make year-round conservation a way of life."
This year is shaping up to be the driest on record in California, officials said, and urban areas are also feeling the pinch. The Metropolitan Water District, which serves about half of heavily populated Southern California, has been using reserves to meet residents' needs, and plans to do the same next year, said spokesman Bob Muir. If 2015 is also dry, rationing may be required, he said.
(Mod: So what if Sierra Madre needed water from MWD and there wasn't any to buy?)
On that happy note, we will end it here.