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Ivy Mike, National Vinegar Day, Swedish Fish and Candy  Corn, the end of Star Trek?, genetically modified, bomb-sniffing spinach
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Published Tuesday, November 01, 2016 @ 3:38 AM EDT
Nov 01 2016

Today is Tuesday, November 1, 2016. There are seven days remaining until the United States Presidential Election, and 60 days remaining in this year.

On this date in 1952, the first full-scale thermonuclear test occurred when the United States detonated the Ivy Mike device on Elugelab Island in Enewetak Atoll which was located in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The past tense is appropriate here, because the 10.4 megaton blast created a crater 6,240 feet in diameter and 164 feet deep in the place where the island had been.

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Among other things, today is National Vinegar Day. Vinegar has been around for a long time; traces of it have been found in Egyptian urns from around 3000 BC. The active ingredient in vinegar and the substance responsible for its odor is acetic acid, which makes up from three to nine percent of its content by volume. Aside from its use in cooking, baking, and pickling, the acetic acid in vinegar makes it useful for cleaning, softening water-applied decals, cleaning epoxy resin and hardener, polishing brass or bronze, and of course, its most important use, as a major component of science fair volcanoes.

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This is the kind of thing that makes you doubt what you read on the Internet. According to the web site Influenster, the favorite Halloween candy in Pennsylvania is Swedish Fish. This is pure nonsense. I am 62 years old, and I have never received nor given out Swedish Fish for Trick or Treat. The inaccuracy of this report saddens me, because it prevents me from noting that, unsurprisingly, the favorite candy of Oregon, Wyoming, Tennessee, Texas, and South Carolina is that confectionery scourge, candy corn. Here's a link to comedian Lewis Black's candy corn routine, in which he makes several disturbing revelations, including that all of the candy corn that was ever made was made in 1911.

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We need to review something from yesterday's KGB Report, where I cited a snopes.com study that said police have never documented actual cases of people randomly distributing poisoned goodies to children on Halloween. Well, according to a report in today's treehugger.com, in 2000 there was a confirmed report of needles being found in Snickers bars. Who could possibly do such a thing? A Florida man, of course...

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As of this writing, The KGB Quotations Database contains 40,957 entries. Check it out.

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Some persons born on November 1 who said memorable things:
Tim Cook, American business executive, industrial engineer and developer. Cook is the current and seventh Chief Executive Officer of Apple Inc.; Stephen Crane, American author best known for his civil war novel The Red Badge of Courage; Kinky Friedman, American Texas Country singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist, politician ; Larry Flynt, American publisher of sexually explicit magazine and First Amendment advocate; Mitch Kapor, entrepreneur best known for promoting the first spreadsheet VisiCalc, and later founding Lotus, where he was instrumental in developing the Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet; and Grantland Rice, American sports writer.

Today's quote of the day is from Kinky Friedman: "Elected officials should be limited to two terms: one in office and one in prison."

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Ok, Star Trek fans, a little philosophical diversion... after the final episode of Star Trek Voyager, when the destruction of the Borg's transwarp hub essentially eliminated the only threat to the other species of the galaxy, all of the Trek entries since then- Enterprise, J.J. Abram's reboot films, the upcoming Star Trek: Discovery, all take place at the same time as the original series or before it. What happened in the year 2379, when Voyager dispatched the Borg threat and returned from the Delta Quadrant, that has effectively ended forward movement in the Star Trek universe? Nicole Borland, a doctoral student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, examines the situation in a fascinating article on popmatters.com. The comments section has some rather, pardon the expression, down-to-earth explanations, my favorite being "You must find Star Trek writers who, 1) understand Star Trek, 2) LIKE Star Trek, and 3) can write actual stories."

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I've always been ambivalent about using dogs in dangerous situations, like police K-9 duty or sniffing out explosives. The dogs are trained as if they're just playing games, which always seemed to me to be a horrible betrayal of trust. Well, good news. Scientists can now genetically engineer spinach to detect explosives, which should make everyone happy except, maybe, Popeye.

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Thanks to Microsoft's Profile Guided Optimization (PGO) technology on Windows, Google says its Chrome web browser runs 15% faster on Windows. Swell, but Chrome still uses a lot more memory than all the other typically open applications on my system:

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NASA has a new system that appears to be pretty good at spotting asteroids heading our way.

NASA and the European Space Agency are developing a mission to test the kinetic impact technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space.

Which is good, but I'd rather have one of these bad boys:


(From "The Paradise Syndrome" episode of "Star Trek"
Episode #58, originally broadcast October 4, 1968.
Copyright © 1967 Paramount Pictures Corporation and Morway Corporation)

NASA and ESA will test a kinetic impactor, consisting of maneuvering one or more large, high-speed spacecraft into the path of an approaching near-earth object. This could deflect the asteroid into a different trajectory, steering it away from the Earth’s orbital path.

Star Trek dealt with this with deflectors and phasers. In the clip below, Mr. Spock explains to Dr. McCoy how a small change in the trajectory of an asteroid, even one as large as our moon, could alter its path enough to miss the planet. This is where NASA probably got the idea:


Copyright © 1967 Paramount Pictures Corporation
and Morway Corporation)

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Last Friday, the FBI released the final batch of what amount to nearly 250 pages of interview notes and reports collected during the course of its investigation into Hillary Clinton's private e-mail server. Instead of some evil conspiracy, the reports sound like what you probably had to go through trying to teach your grandmother how to use a smartphone.

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The New York Times is reporting in an exclusive story that in the 1990s, Donald Trump avoided paying taxes on hundreds of millions of dollars on a special class of income by using a dodgy tax law loophole. If you owe someone money, and they forgive the debt, the outstanding loan has to be declared to the IRS as income. Trump managed to avoid paying taxes on the forgiven debt by getting his debtors to accept partnership equity in his businesses. It didn't matter that the actual market value of the equity was less than the forgiven debt; equity in an insolvent partnership could easily be next to worthless. The maneuver gave him a way to avoid reporting the canceled debt to the IRS as income. This type of swap was made illegal for partnerships in 2004. It also explains how he was able to claim a loss of $916 million on his 1995 tax returns. The whole thing is fascinating and very complicated. Check out the Times' story here.

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Clinton continues to slip slightly in FiveThirtyEight's election forecast, but her chance of winning is still high- 75.3%. That figure was posted before the latest Trump tax revelation.

Speaking of revelations, FiveThirtyEight's Nate Silver advised Clinton to to drop an opposition research bomb on Trump, something it appears the New York Times did with the tax loophole story. The problem is, it's a rather complicated issue that's difficult to understand, and undoubtedly some Trump followers will rejoice in him beating the IRS at its own game.

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Cracked has provided a great public service by assembling, in one article, "All the dumb sh!t Trump has done as nominee in one mega-list. I recommend bookmarking it, and sending the URL in response to the next all-cap email you get from that crazy relative or acquaintance who "wants to make America great again."

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Remember 2012's Halloween Superstorm Sandy, that wreaked havoc on New York City? Trump made his 'Apprentice' staff work through the chaos. While he made his staffers brave the destruction to report to Trump Tower, he also tweeted "The Trump Tower atrium is such a great place & kept thousands of people warm & safe during the storm—thanks, staff!" The Trump Tower's atrium can hold 350 persons, maximum, and there is no evidence supporting Trump's claim.

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