Welcome to ...

The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

And I Quote

It is inaccurate to say that I hate everything.
I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty, and common decency.
This makes me forever ineligible for public office.

~ H. L. Mencken

Fight over Davy Crockett's marriage license

Fight over Davy Crockett's marriage license

A historic paper that was never put to use sparks a tug of war between a state and an elderly lady.

Senegal's Renaissance Woman Statue May Have To Cover Her Legs

The giant group of man, woman and infant perched on a hill overlooking the capital Dakar is bigger than New York's Statue of Liberty and is due to be inaugurated in April.

But the pet project of President Abdoulaye Wade has been mired in controversy and condemned by religious leaders in the overwhelmingly Muslim country as un-Islamic for presenting the human form as an object of worship.

Naked Naga saints to use Kumbha Mela to campaign against global warming

Naga Sadhus are using the upcoming gathering of Hindus in India as a means to promoting a campaign against global warming.
Naga Sadhus are using the upcoming gathering of Hindus in India as a means to promoting a campaign against global warming.

When thousands of naked Hindus speak, will the world listen?

That's what the Naga Sadhus hope will happen starting later this month, when they spread their anti-global warming message during Kumbha Mela, the largest gathering of Hindus in the world.

Debt collection capital of the U.S.

Debt collection capital of the U.S.

One of the poorest cities in the country is now home to thousands of debt collectors.

Obama's Oval Office makeover

Obama's Oval Office makeover

With subtle additions, the president has made the space uniquely his own.

Are people really stupid enough to joke about terrorism at the airport?

A German man was temporarily detained at Stuttgart airport on Tuesday after he repeatedly told security personnel that he had explosives in his underwear, police said.

The 42-year-old man apparently was joking about the failed attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up a jetliner bound for Detroit on Christmas Day by igniting explosives concealed in his underwear.

Damn, He's good

Beware Who Fixes Your Broken Laptop

From the "Duh" Department:

A new study highlights privacy breaches that happen when PCs are sent to data-recovery and repair firms.

Beware Who Fixes Your Broken Laptop

Vegas shooter had 'lengthy' criminal history

Authorities say a gunman shot dead in a gun-battle after killing a courthouse security guard and wounding a federal marshal in Las Vegas had a "lengthy" criminal history in Tennessee and California.

Full Story

Profiling terrorists ...

Behavior, not religion or ethnicity, should be the focus

Luckily, alleged terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab failed in his attempt to set off a bomb aboard Northwest Flight 253 on Christmas Day.
But the 23-year-old Nigerian with reputed ties to al-Qaeda did succeed at doing one thing.
He restarted the debate in this country over whether U.S. efforts to improve airline security should include racial, ethnic or religious profiling of passengers.
Even when we come this close to tragedy, the answer is clear: No. It shouldn’t.
It’s wrong to single out whole groups of people based on some arbitrary characteristic.
For instance, just because a majority of terror suspects arrested or killed by U.S. officials since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, were Muslim males, it does not logically follow that all or most Muslim males are terrorists.
But aside from the moral objections, as we’ve seen, profiling by characteristic isn’t very efficient.

Full Story

A couple of funnies

One rainy Sunday afternoon, a young couple were on their way to their Church to get married. On the way there, their car lost control and slammed into a telephone pole - killing them both instantly.
The couple soon found themselves standing in front of St. Peter at the Pearly Gates, welcoming them to Heaven. The young woman asks Peter if they could get married in Heaven, since their time on Earth was cut short. He replies that he'll get back with them on that request.
A month later, St. Peter finds them and announces that they can - in fact - get married in Heaven. To his surprise, the woman asks "Just wondering, if things don't work out will we be able to get a divorce?"
With a stern look in his eye, Peter blurts out "Look lady, it took me a month to find a preacher up here... you really think I'm gonna find a lawyer?"


A burglar broke into a house one night. He shined his flashlight around, looking for valuables, and when he picked up a CD player to place in his sack, a strange, disembodied voice echoed from the dark saying, “Jesus is watching you.” He nearly jumped out of his skin, clicked his flashlight off, and froze. When he heard nothing more after a bit, he shook his head, promised himself a vacation after the next big score, then clicked the flashlight on and began searching for more valuables.
Just as he pulled the stereo out so he could disconnect the wires, clear as a bell he heard, “Jesus is watching you.”
Freaked out, he shined his light around frantically, looking for the source of the voice.
Finally, in the corner of the room, his flashlight beam came to rest on a parrot. “Did you say that?” the burglar hissed at the parrot.
“Yep,” the parrot confessed, and then squawked, “I’m just trying to warn you.” The burglar relaxed, “Warn me, huh?” Who in the world are you?
“Moses,” replied the bird. “Moses?” the burglar laughed. “What kind of people would name a bird Moses?”
“The kind of people that would name a Pit Bull Jesus!!!”

Three from Treehugger

monkeys at a temple photo
Image credit: mattspinner/Flickr

In South and Southeast Asia, monkeys and people are synanthropic. It sounds complicated, but all this means is that they share the same ecological niche.

Some species, like macaques, are very similar in behavior, diet, and even anatomical composition to their human neighbors. Now, some scientists are taking advantage of these similarities by using macaques as sentinels for urban toxicity.

Article continues: Monkeys in Nepal Provide New Data on Urban Toxicity

Photo via NY Times. A satellite image of East Siberian Sea

The US has revived a promising CIA data-sharing program that was shut down by the Bush administration. In it, the nation's top spies and best climate scientists are collaborating to study the effects of climate change on the environment, making use of some of the world's most cutting-edge intelligence gathering equipment. From spy satellites to state-of-the-art censors, the CIA has given the scientific community access to tools with which to uncover a veritable goldmine of climate and environmental data. More declassified satellite imagery after the jump.

Article continues: US Using CIA Spy Satellites to Study Ice Retreat in Arctic (Photos)

octopus on beach image
Screenshot via BBC video

Thousands of octopuses have washed up on the shore of northern Portugal and scientists are stumped about why. They're calling it an environmental disaster, and are issuing a rather strange warning.

Hot Pursuit


Chili peppers burn your butt

From the "No, Sh!t Sherlock" Department:

Making sense of "duh" discoveries

With a title like "Red Hot Chilli Consumption Is Harmful in Patients Operated for Anal Fissure—A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Study", you know you're in for a wild ride.

Yes, doctors in India really did take two groups of patients scheduled for a sphincterotomy and randomly assign one group to receive 1.5 grams of dried chili powder twice a day, while the other got a placebo. And—perhaps unsurprisingly—it turned out that ingesting 3 daily grams of chili powder makes an already painful anal area even more uncomfortable.

But why—aside from some sort of perverse sadistic streak—would anyone conduct such a study? (And, more importantly, why the hell would anyone sign up to be one of the research subjects?) What seems like a pointless waste of time and money makes a lot more sense when you consider culture.

Indian food, as you may have noticed, is generally on the spicy side. Cutting peppers out of your diet in Mumbai is more of a challenge than in, say, Peoria. So, even though everybody pretty much already agreed—anecdotally—that hot peppers were a bad thing for anal-fissure patients, the researchers wanted some hard cause-and-effect proof that the relatively big lifestyle change those patients were being told to make was actually worth making. Even the amount of chili powder the subjects received was modeled to mimic the amount eaten by an average Indian at lunch and dinner.

My point: Sometimes, "stupid" studies really do have a point—one that's easy to miss if you're too tightly focused on "common sense". Besides, if it weren't for research like this, we'd all miss out on such fabulously titled graphs as "Effect of chili consumption and placebo on anal burning in the first 7 days after sphincterotomy". Small price to pay, really.

Full text of paper from the journal Digestive Surgery

Best Buy Swindling Customers

In a huge sting operation targeting 18 stores, The Consumerist caught Best Buy swindling customers, charging $40 extra for 'pre-optimized' computers that perform no differently to normal ones, and refusing to sell them at advertised prices.

Troops protect chimps from volcano lava

UN peacekeepers use aircraft to monitor lava flow from erupting volcano and help endangered wildlife in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Troops protect chimps from volcano lava

Science News

From BBC-Science:
Killer whales off the coast of Scotland.
Scientists reveal there is not one but two types of killer whale living in UK waters.
Archeologists near the entrance to the tomb Ancient Egyptian necropolis yields its biggest tomb

Why you should be afraid of those airport scanners.

Why you should be afraid of those airport scanners.

Continental refuses to let Joan Rivers on flight, worried she might be security risk

Sometime the jokes just write themselves.

Joan Rivers deemed too suspicious to fly

The celeb is booted from a flight in Costa Rica when a gate agent finds her passport fishy.



Unusual college scholarships

10 unusual college scholarships

There's money for both beef lovers and outspoken vegetarians, the tall and the small.

The best time of year to sell your home

The best time of year to sell your home

Traditionally, the best time to sell has been spring, but experts say this year could be different.

Simple steps to trim your spending

4 simple steps to trim your spending

You can probably save more than you think just by reining in small expenses.

Hidden dangers of popular diets

Hidden dangers of popular diets

Despite their promises of weight loss, these five diets may actually threaten your health.

Warren Buffett warns a company

Warren Buffett warns a company

The billionaire investor finds himself in the middle of a merger battle between two food giants.

China Accused of Piracy by California Software Maker Seeking $2.2 Billion

China was accused of piracy in a lawsuit filed by a California software maker, which said that the Green Dam Youth Escort filtering software installed on personal computers in the country infringes its copyright.

China Accused of Piracy by California Software Maker Seeking $2.2 Billion

Survey shows declining job satisfaction

Fewer than half of American workers like their jobs and another 1 in 5 think they will not be with the same employer next year

Full Story


Why Americans are so unhappy at work

As the job satisfaction rate hits an all-time low, experts warn of serious flaws in the system.

Al-Qaeda's influence in Yemen

To get an idea of the state of mind of the men here in Yemen who run al-Qaeda in the Arabia peninsula, just take a look at what they said about the failed attack on the US airliner on Christmas Day.

Full Story

London Zoo keepers make annual animal head count

Keepers at London Zoo are counting more than sheep. Three giant Galapagos tortoises, a Komodo dragon, and a critically endangered baby mangabey monkey are among the new residents at the central London zoo to be included in this year's annual head count.

Full Story

Boy's Play-Doh Confiscated By TSA Agent

Better to be safe than sorry, they always say.

Thus, a Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agent confiscated a young boy's Play-Doh on a post-Christmas flight out of New Orleans last week.

Full Story

Frigid Temps Settle In; Cause Concerns For Schools & Homeless

Overnight temperatures in the teens and daytime highs that will struggle to get past the freezing mark are causing concerns for schools and the homeless community.

Frigid Temps Settle In; Cause Concerns For Schools & Homeless

The Big Wingnut Con Begins in 2010...."Don't Get Fooled Again"

From Crooks and Liars:

Now that we've begun a new decade, the right wing will begin their new con game, and their "mark' will be the American people. What's a mark?

A confidence trick or confidence game (also known as a bunko, con, flim flam, gaffle, grift, hustle, scam, scheme, swindle or bamboozle) is an attempt to defraud a person or group by gaining their confidence. The victim is known as the mark, the trickster is called a confidence man, con man, or con artist, and any accomplices are known as shills.

Typically con men feed on dishonest people, but in politics they focus on the unsuspecting. What we've learned from the previous decade is that conservatism is a total failure when it comes to governance. Under Bush and Cheney we've had a massive terrorist attack, two wars, torture and a global financial meltdown. We've had Hurricane Katrina expose how conservatives respond to Americans after a natural disaster hits two states. We've had government corruption at the highest order, which resulted in Cheney's chief of staff being convicted of multiple felonies. We had the horrendous Terry Schiavo affair. We had a news network actively become a propaganda arm of the GOP. We had Wall Street inflate a mortgage bubble that almost turned into another Great Depression.

I can go on and on, but because of a timid media, they will be allowed to perpetrate their newest con. "Only conservatism can save America," will be their motto. If the media actually acted like an independent monitor of the news, we might stand a chance against the new scam, but we know better. Drudge rules their world.

The GOP is brilliant at one thing, and that is tearing people down. Because they left this country in such tatters it's an easy scam to pull off, because hard-working Americans are vulnerable pickings. They have to try and survive in a world destroyed by conservative values. The con is easy. Just blame everything on President Barack Obama. All your job woes, all your fears about how your life will recover and the future that it holds for your children. If we had a real media that would expose the Bush regime for the manifest failure it was, it would be a much harder task, but we don't, and instead news programming has turned more into endless right/left opinion discussions.

"Don't Get Fooled Again" should be our national slogan, because even if we disagree as liberals in the way our president has handled the situation he was elected into, we are engaged enough to know what conservatism has done to this country.

Devilstower at DailyKos reminisces about the previous decade also:

Don't forget the naughts, because this decade, no matter what anyone on the right might say, was conservatism on trial. You want less taxes? You got less taxes. You want less regulation? You got less regulation. Open markets? Wide open. An illusuion of security in place of rights? Hey, presto. Think we should privatize war by handing unlimited power given to military contractors so they can kick butt and take names? Kiddo, we passed out boots and pencils by the thousands. Everything, everything, that ever showed up on a drooled-over right wing wish list got implemented -- with a side order of Freedom Fries.

They will try to disown it, and God knows if I was responsible for this mess I'd be disowning it, too. But the truth is that the conservatives got everything they wanted in the decade just past, everything that they've claimed for forty years would make America "great again". They didn't fart around with any "red dog Republicans." They rolled over their moderates and implemented a conservative dream.

What did we get for it? We got an economy in ruins, a government in massive debt, unending war, and the repudiation of the world. There's no doubt that Republicans want you to forget the last decade, because if you remember... if you remember when you went down to the water hole and were jumped by every lunacy that ever emerged from the wet dreams of Grover Norquist and Dick Cheney, well, it's not likely that you'd give them a chance to do it again.

And they will. Given half a chance -- less than half -- they'll do it again, only worse. Because that's the way conservatism works. Remember when the only answer to every economic problem was "cut taxes?" We have a surplus. Good, let's cut taxes. We have a deficit. Hey, cut taxes even more! That little motto was unchanging even when was clear that the tax cuts were increasing the burden on everyone but a wealthy few. That's just a subset of the great conservative battle whine which is now and forever "we didn't go far enough." If deregulation led to a crash, it's because we didn't deregulate enough. If the wars aren't won, it's because we haven't started enough wars. If there are people still clinging to their rights, it's because we haven't done enough to make them afraid.

Forget the naughts, and you'll forget that conservatives had another chance to prove all their ideas, and that their ideas utterly and completely failed. Again.

The point of remembering bad events is to stop them from repeating. So remember, and remind others if they start to forget. Because really, this is one trip to the water hole we can't afford to repeat.

And as Digby points out:

I don't deny that the corporate Democrats are screwed up too. But they didn't invent this political world. As I quipped before, they just learned to stop worrying and love the money. This world of graft and corruption and unfettered greed was the conservative movement's idea of utopia. And they got it.


We won't get fooled again!
Actually some of us weren't fooled the last time.

McInerney Calls for All 18-28 Year Old Muslim Men to Be Strip Searched

From Crooks and Liars:

This guy is a fucking idiot!

Former Lt. General "Goes There": Calls for all Muslim men between 18-28 to be strip searched:

A recent FAUX News Saturday guest, retired Lt. General Thomas McInerney offered a solution to terrorism on American airliners, religious profiling: "If you are an 18-28-year-old Muslim man then you should be strip searched. And if we don't do that there's a very high probability we're going to lose an airline." McInerney's solution is many things (swift and decisive, for instance), but is primarily ignorant of two portions of the US Constitution, The first and fourth amendments.

The FAUX anchor implied that such violations would, and rightfully so, cause unrest: "That's just not going to go over, not in this country," she told McInerney, who simply declared that religious freedom and protection from such profiling through illegal searches were "part of the problem".

As Bob Cesca noted... what could possibly go wrong? Even the Faux newsmodel Julie Banderas was freaked out by the suggestion. I would like to know how the general would determine just who is a Muslim and who is not?


Cause 'unrest' - that is not the term that would apply here.

Smells Like Teen Spirit

Tori Amos does Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit

Census to count ethnic group for first time

Census to count ethnic group for first time

The 2010 tally goes beyond categories such as black, white, American Indian, or even multiracial.

Super telescope discovers hot mysteries

Super telescope discovers hot mysteries

NASA finds two mystery objects that are too hot to be planets and too small to be stars.

Deep freeze sweeps through East, South

Deep freeze sweeps through East, South

Arctic winds push down into Mississippi and Florida, wreaking havoc for residents and farmers.

Advocate uses texting to warn of Arizona crime sweeps

An advocate for immigrant and civil rights has started using text messages to warn residents about crime sweeps by a high-profile wingnut Arizona sheriff.

Advocate uses texting to warn of AZ crime sweeps

Staff quits after Alabama congressman switches to repugicans

The Washington staffers for Parker Griffith resigned on Monday in protest of the Alabama congressman's decision to switch from the Democratic Party to the repugican party.

Staff quits after Alabama congressman switches to repugicans

1,000 people homeless on Solomons after tsunami

Landslides and a tsunami unleashed by a major earthquake destroyed some 200 houses on one Solomon island, leaving about one-third of the population homeless, a disaster management official said Tuesday.

Full story

Man Used Baby As Shield From Taser

A Deltona man is facing child neglect charges after sheriff's deputies said he used an infant to shield himself from a police Taser gun.

Full Story

He should be facing a firing squad!

Obesity Squashes Quality of Life

Obesity has matched and perhaps exceeded smoking as the No. 1 cause of preventable poor health in the United States, a new study finds.

Obesity Squashes Quality of Life

Endangered Bluefin Tuna Fetches Record Price at Tokyo Auction

From Treehugger:

bluefin tuna tokyo fish market photo
photo: Stewart Butterfield via flickr.

One more quick one on the tragedy of bluefin tuna's trajectory towards extinction: BBC News reports that a single bluefin tuna has been sold for the highest price in the past nine years at a Tokyo fish auction. The 232 kilogram (511 pound) fish fetched 16.28 million yen, or a bit over $175,000:

Exotic stars may mimic big bang

Instead of collapsing into black holes, some stars may become as dense as the universe was less than a billionth of a second after the big bang.

Exotic stars may mimic big bang

Hey Jude Chorus in Newark on January 3, 2010

What do you do when your terminal is on security lockdown and no one can come or go?
Well, you burst out in song, of course!
You can find more stuff at joshwilsonmusic.com.

Champion couch potato shatters record

Champion couch potato shatters record

Jorge Cruz tops the previous Ultimate Couch Potato contest record-holder by 19 hours.

Reasons why you're not getting hired

Reasons why you're not getting hired

Employers share the top 10 things that job seekers do to disqualify themselves.

TeaParty.org owner used n-word

Somebody's going to need a hearty teabagging.
And that is the 'real' meaning of teabagging, folks, not these morons 'idea' of what teabagging is.

Rep. Alan Grayson: I'm wondering who's doing the introduction to Cheney's new book, maybe it's Satan

Tea Strike

From the "This is too funny" Department:

On January 20, this country will come to a standstill: Tea Party Planning National Strike.

As President Barack Obama's first year in office draws to a close, Tea Party groups are planning to mark the occasion with a national strike - something local leaders say could demonstrate the conservative groups' burgeoning strength.

The strike, planned for Jan. 20, the first anniversary of Obama's inauguration, is being promoted online through Facebook and Web sites run by various national Tea Party groups.

"What's proposed is a nationwide strike by all Tea Party members, no matter where they are," said Lloyd Rekstad, an organizer of the Yucaipa Tea Party. "The idea is to strike where we are, in our communities, at our employment, to make an impact that will be diverse and spread out."

That would mean, Rekstad said, not going to work, not buying groceries, not going to restaurants or movie theaters.

"You just stay home," he said, "so that the person participating would become, for that one day, a nonentity - that they would give no support to the economy."

The strike even has a Web site: National Strike - January 20, 2010.

These morons are so hilarious. One has severe pains in one's side from the gales of laughter they cause. You can't just make this stuff up even if they paid you to.

Second teen charged in Concord shooting

Authorities have charged a second teen in the shooting death of a 14-year-old Concord boy shot on New Year's Day.

Ceabastian Rojas Hernandez, 18, was arrested Monday and charged with accessory after the fact to first-degree murder in the killing of Oscar Martinez, 14.

The teens lived several houses apart on Melrose Drive, police said.

A 15-year-old was arrested and charged with shooting Martinez on Saturday. Because the suspect is under 16, Concord Police declined to release the alleged shooter's name.

Martinez was shot and killed shortly before 4 p.m. Friday in the parking lot of Dover's Supermarket on Cabarrus Avenue West.

Police have not said what they think led to the shooting.

New Strawberry Crab Discovered Off Coast of Taiwan

From Treehugger:

strawberry crab photo

A newly discovered species of crab gives the expression 'fruit of the sea' a whole new meaning. Photos via AFP/Getty

Marine biologists from the National Taiwan Ocean University discovered a new species of crab off the southern Taiwanese coast. With a bright red shell covered with small white spots, the crab resembles a large strawberry. Scientists at the University say that the newly discovered species is similar to the previously discovered Neoliomera pubescens, which is native to the waters near Hawaii, Polynesia and Mauritius--but has a broader (1 inch), clam-shaped shell that makes it a distinct new species.

5 Modern Abandoned Cities

abandoned city Hashima Island Japan

5. Prypiat, Ukraine
4. Humberstone and Santa Laura, Chile
3. (Parts of) Detroit, Mich.
2. Hashima Island, Japan
1. Centralia, Penn.

5 Modern Abandoned Cities

Mouse nest found on policeman's filthy desk

Pest controllers were called to an office in Kennington, south London, used by weapons and technology experts at the Metropolitan Police after reports of 'mice everywhere'. According to internal police reports, a family of mice even set up home in one police worker's desk - burying themselves in his paperwork.

Full Story

U.S. court upholds Moussaoui conviction

A federal appeals court Monday upheld the conviction and life prison term of Zacarias Moussaoui, the only person convicted in the United States in connection with the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit in Richmond rejected an effort by Moussaoui's attorneys to send the case back to federal court in Alexandria, where he pleaded guilty in 2005 to an al-Qaeda conspiracy that led to the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Full Story

Today is ...

Today is Tuesday, January 5, the 5th day of 2010.

There are 360 days left in the year.

Today In History January 5

Today's unusual holidays and celebrations are:

Bean Day


Bird Day

Our Readers

Some of our readers today have been in:

Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain
Liverpool, England, United Kingdom
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
Lahore, Punjab, Pakistan
Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada
Prague, Hlavni Mesto Praha, Czech Republic
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina
Ankara, Ankara, Turkey

as well as Singapore, and the United States

Daily Horoscope

Today's horoscope says:

An elder relative or authority figure who's had their eye on you for a while now is just about ready to let you know how well you've done -- especially based on recent stressful situations that you've passed through with flying colors.
In the meantime, don't ignore someone new and interesting who's due to come along early today, sent by the charming stars to take your mind off of this situation and anything that's even remotely unpleasant.

Cool Beans!