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.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Some of your coworkers and friends seem to be kind of stumbling through the day, looking as if they can't quite figure out what to do to make things right.
Try your very best to be sympathetic, but don't go overboard.
In your world, things don't look too shabby -- and by tomorrow, they should be even better.
The least you can do is help them out with some advice and the benefit of your experience.  
Some of our readers today have been in:
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Bremen, Bremen, Germany
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Chatswood, New South Wales, Australia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
London, England, United Kingdom
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Seoul, Kyonggi-Do, Korea
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Doncaster, England, United Kingdom
Milano, Lombardia, Italy
Hannover, Niedersachsen, Germany
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Tranbjerg, Arhus, Denmark

as well as Scotland, and the United States in such cities such as Honolulu, Warrens, Summit, Phoenix, Sapupla and more

Today is Thursday, April 22, the 112th day of 2010.
There are 253 days left in the year.
Today In History April 22

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Jelly Bean Day
Today is Earth Day

The State Of The Nation

The State Of The Nation

Postal worker charged with gift-card theft

A supervisor is accused of stealing gift cards sent through the mail to victims as young as 3.  

President's 184-year-old letter discovered

President's 184-year-old letter discovered

The document gives a rare insight into the feelings between two early American leaders. 

Big changes for one 'Shrek' character

Big changes for one 'Shrek' character

A friend of the green ogre's looks very different in a scene from "Shrek Forever After."  

Shrek Trailer

Little-known island paradises

Little-known island paradises

You may find your dream beach vacation without the crowds on one of these island gems. 

A glitch in the system

Mistake makes computers go berserk

A popular antivirus program's glitch causes snags for companies, hospitals, and schools around the world.

UK, France, Germany reviewing legal action against Goldman

It's "pile on" time for Goldman. 
It may not be completely fair since they hardly stood alone on their behavior leading up to the crisis but who really wants to defend them in any way? 
The European governments could see this as an opportunity to knock down the firm and move a home grown favorite into the middle of lucrative business. 
Goldman's close relations with government are standing in the way of an election cycle so it could get ugly.

The Real America

The Real America

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic Fringe

I don't think the baggers are racist. 
I think they just hate Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Muslims and all other non-white people ... wait an minute!!!
Ok never mind.

But they sure are tolerant ... they just hate gays and lesbians ...
Oh, forget it! 

Also, if you're a racist-pig, dumbass douchebagger, you should probably learn to spell "nigger." 

Repugican Budget Control

More funds for cronies, less for schools:
There are nearly twice as many people making $100,000 or more per year in Gov. Chris Christie's administration than under his predecessor, according to an analysis by The Associated Press, which the governor's office disputed Monday.

The AP analysis found that while Christie, a Republican, is proposing laying off 1,300 state workers, he is spending nearly $2 million more on annual salaries than his predecessor, former Gov. Jon S. Corzine, a Democrat.

Gun pried from Heston's cold, dead hands

A little more than two years after his death, vandals broke into Charlton Heston's mausoleum last night and pried the gun from his cold, dead hands. police speculate that it wasn't very hard to do since his bones had become fairly brittle even before he died.
Karma's a bitch!

And to show that wingnuts are everywhere:
(they are all the same - and for a tiny fringe element they make a lot of noise)
Southpark Creators Receive Muslim Death Threat; Comedy Central, As a Result, Censors the Show
A radical Islamic website warned the creators of "South Park" that they could face violent retribution for depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.

RevolutionMuslim.com posted a warning following the 200th episode of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "South Park," which included a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad disguised in a bear suit.

Comedy Central bleeped out all references to the Prophet Muhammad in Wednesday night's episode of the animated show "South Park."

The episode was a continuation of last week's episode which depicted the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit.

A radical Muslim website threatened the show's creators following that episode.

Comedy Central confirmed to FoxNews.com that it had censored the show, and that the episode was not available on its website.

In addition to bleeping the words "Prophet Muhammad," the show also covered the character with a large block labeled "Censored."

A radical Islamic website had warned the creators of "South Park" that they could face violent retribution for their depiction of Prophet Muhammad.

RevolutionMuslim.com posted the warning following the 200th episode of Trey Parker and Matt Stone's "South Park," which included a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad disguised in a bear suit. The web posting also included a graphic photo of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered in 2004 after making a documentary on violence against Muslim women.

"We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show," the posting reads. "This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them."

Abu Talhah al Amrikee, the author of the post, told Foxnews.com he wrote the entry to "raise awareness." He said the grisly photograph of van Gogh was meant to "explain the severity" of what Parker and Stone did by mocking Muhammad.

"It's not a threat, but it really is a likely outcome," al Amrikee said, referring to the possibility that Parker and Stone could be murdered for mocking Muhammad. "They're going to be basically on a list in the back of the minds of a large number of Muslims. It's just the reality."

Al Amrikee said the website is considering a protest against the "disgusting" show, which also depicted the Prophet Muhammad in an episode on July 4, 2001.

"This is not a small thing," he said. "We should do whatever we can to make sure it does not happen again."

The posting on RevolutionMuslim.com also includes audio of a sermon by Anwar al-Awlaki -- a radical U.S.-born preacher now believed to be hiding in Yemen -- who discusses assassinating individuals who defame the Prophet Muhammad. It also included a link to a 2009 story in the Huffington Post that gave details of Stone and Parker's mansion in Colorado.

A Comedy Central rep said that the network has no comment on the posting.
Liars and Fools
Oh, really? Tell that one to the Civil Rights marchers, the Equal Rights marchers, The Women's Sufferage marchers, the Environmental marchers, etc., etc. The 'teapartiers' are nothing more than mindless corporate drones.

OK, we can give you that one - they are both written down on paper ... other than that they both use black ink ... after that they have nothing in common, oh my bad - they are both written in proper English ... something Brick ol'boy you know nothing about.

Lush Dimbulb lies: financial reform proposals would "give Obama total unchecked oversight over American businesses". 
No, that is what the consumer has - all businesses must bow before the alter that is the consumer or they find themselves no longer in business.

Wingnut media distorts Clinton’s Oklahoma City speech to claim he wants to muzzle dissent
And this is news, how?

Howler monkeys respond to a repugican nearby.

Howler monkeys respond to a repugican nearby.

US Supreme Court Vs. The Animals; The Animals Lose; Torturing Animals Protected Speech They Say

        Let's see if we got this straight. 

You can go to jail  for making a  porn flick but it's alright to torture an animal and  videotape it.

Not bad enough that they forced property owners to sell out in the   interests of economic development or intervened in Bush vs. Gore to stop   the 2000 recount that might have found that Al Gore actually won.

Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided that the Constitution protects animal   abusers who torture dogs and record their violence for sale as videos   because a law Congress passed in 1999 against animal cruelty was  written  too vaguely, and could have been used to outlaw hunting videos.  In an  8-1 decision, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote:

The First Amendment's guarantee of free speech does not extend only  to  categories of speech that survive an ad hoc balancing of relative   social costs and benefits. The First Amendment itself reflects a   judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on   the government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any   attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is   not worth it.

And the lone hold-out? Might surprise you. It was Samuel Alito, one of   the arch conservatives on the court. Rebutting the majority's view that   the law was too broad, Alito argued it could still be used to stop  crush  videos, which apparently appeal to some people's sexual fetish by   showing women in stiletto heels crushing animals to death.

"The First Amendment protects freedom of speech, but it most certainly   does not protect violent criminal conduct, even if engaged in for   expressive purposes," he wrote.

Question to legal experts: does this mean the court would find   constitutionally permissible a crush video depicting people being   tortured to death on video on grounds the law was written too vaguely?

Now that President Obama has a new Supreme Court nomination to make,   maybe he can consider naming someone with more sensitivity to the souls   of animals. First Dog Bo would probably wag his tail at that.

The Supreme Court, with only one   dissenting vote, on Tuesday struck down a federal ban on videos that   show graphic violence against animals. The ruling cheered free speech   advocates, but it raised concerns that more animals will be harmed.

The justices threw out the criminal conviction of Robert Stevens of   Pittsville, Va., who was sentenced to three years in prison for videos   he made about pit bull fights.

The law was enacted in 1999 to limit Internet sales of so-called crush   videos, which appeal to a certain sexual fetish by showing women   crushing to death small animals with their bare feet or high-heeled   shoes.

The videos virtually disappeared once the measure became law, the   government argued. The Bush administration used the law for the first   time when it indicted Stevens in 2004.

All 50 states have laws against animal cruelty, but the federal statute   targeted the videos because it has been difficult to prosecute people   who take part in violence against animals with a camera rolling, but not   showing their faces.

Chief Justice John Roberts, writing for the majority, said the law goes   too far. He suggested that a measure limited to crush videos might be   valid.

A lawmaker said he was moving immediately on Roberts' suggestion. Rep.   Elton Gallegly, R-Calif., said he is introducing legislation as early as   Tuesday that would focus narrowly on crush videos. He said the bill   would have bipartisan support and noted that the 1999 law passed both   houses of Congress overwhelmingly and quickly worked.

"There aren't too many thing you pass around here that actually work as   well as this has," Gallegly said.

In dissent, Justice Samuel Alito, a dog owner himself, said the harm   animals suffer in dogfights is enough to sustain the law. Alito's dog,   Zeus, a springer spaniel, is sometimes seen around the court being   walked by Alito's wife, Martha-Ann.

Alito also said the ruling probably will spur new crush videos because   it has "the practical effect of legalizing the sale of such videos."

Wayne Pacelle, president of the Humane Society of the United States,   said hundreds of crush videos appeared on the Internet after a federal   appeals court ruled in Stevens' favor in 2008. "This court ruling is   going to accelerate that trend. That's why it's critical that the   Congress take action," he said.

Other animal rights groups, including the American Society for the   Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and 26 states also joined the Obama   administration in support of the law. The government sought a ruling   that treated videos showing animal cruelty like child pornography — that   is, not entitled to constitutional protection.

But Roberts said the law could be read to allow the prosecution of the   producers of films about hunting. And he scoffed at the administration's   assurances that it would only apply the law to depictions of extreme   cruelty.

"But the First Amendment protects against the government," Roberts said.   "We would not uphold an unconstitutional statute merely because the   government promised to use it responsibly."

Free speech advocates praised Tuesday's ruling.

"Speech is protected whether it's popular or unpopular, harmful or   unharmful," said David Horowitz, executive director of the Media   Coalition. The group submitted a brief siding with Stevens on behalf of   booksellers, documentary film makers, theater owners, writers groups  and  others.

Stevens ran a business and Web site that sold videos of pit bull fights.   He is among a handful of people prosecuted under the animal cruelty   law, none of them for making crush videos. He noted in court papers that   his sentence was 14 months longer than professional football player   Michael Vick's prison term for running a dogfighting ring.

A federal judge rejected Stevens' First Amendment claims, but the 3rd   U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia ruled in his favor.

The administration persuaded the high court to intervene, but for the   second time this year, the justices struck down a federal law on free   speech grounds. In January, the court invalidated parts of a 63-year-old   law aimed at limiting corporate and union involvement in political   campaigns.

The case is U.S. v. Stevens, 08-769.
More on the Supreme Court's  "Crush  Videos" Decision
        I still have a problem with how Michael Vick goes to  jail for  dogfighting as well he should and a guy videotaping those kinds of events and  selling them  for profit gets off the hook. The again Vick is black the sleazeball is white.

Robert Stevens  [pictured to the right], a producer of dogfight videos, may have  joined the ranks of  Jay Near, the anti-Semitic journalist; Larry Flynt,  the flamboyant  pornographer; and Clarence Brandenburg, the Ku Klux Klan  rabble rouser —  all of whose highly unpopular expressions led to major  pro-First  Amendment decisions by the Supreme Court.

In its decision yesterday in United States v. Stevens, the Court by an   8-1 vote reversed the conviction of Stevens and struck down the law used   to prosecute him — a federal law that criminalized creating, selling  or  owning certain depictions of animal cruelty. Writing for the  majority,  Chief Justice John Roberts called the law a “criminal  prohibition of  alarming breadth.”

Whether the decision has the lasting resonance of Near v. Minnesota   (1931), Hustler v. Falwell (1988) or Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969), won’t   be clear for years.

But for now, it stands as a remarkably strong 21st-century embrace of   traditional First Amendment legal principles, replete with statements   that may be invoked in a range of future cases. One of those cases may   come as soon as this fall, when the Court will hear Snyder v. Phelps,   involving speech that may, if possible, be even less popular than videos   depicting animal cruelty: namely, offensive protests at funerals of   U.S. soldiers.

“Our decisions … cannot be taken as establishing a freewheeling   authority to declare new categories of speech outside the scope of the   First Amendment,” wrote Chief Justice John Roberts for the majority.

Another key quote from Roberts: “The First Amendment itself reflects a   judgment by the American people that the benefits of its restrictions on   the Government outweigh the costs. Our Constitution forecloses any   attempt to revise that judgment simply on the basis that some speech is   not worth it.”

The 10-year-old federal law at issue in the case was aimed at the   growing market, especially on the Internet, of so-called “crush videos,”   showing the killing of helpless animals in ways that appeal to the   prurient interests of purchasers. But the law defined its target   broadly, outlawing depictions of intentional killing or maiming of   animals if the conduct violated laws of jurisdictions where they were   sold, created or possessed. It exempted depictions with serious   religious, scientific, educational, journalistic, historical or artistic   value.

Stevens was indicted in Pennsylvania under the statute for his videos of   pit bulls and dog fights that he claimed had educational value. A   federal judge upheld the law and Stevens was found guilty, but the 3rd   U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the statute was unconstitutional.

The high court agreed with the appeals court, and sharply criticized the   government's defense of the law. In its brief, the Obama  administration  had said that a balancing test assessing “the value of  the speech  against its societal costs” could be used to determine if a  category of  speech belongs inside or outside the protection of the  First Amendment.

“That sentence is startling and dangerous,” Roberts wrote. The First   Amendment, he said, does not protect only speech “that can survive an ad   hoc balancing of relative social costs and benefits.”

Roberts embraced traditional overbreadth doctrine and offered examples   of just how broadly the statute sweeps. He asserted that owning hunting   videos or magazines made for entertainment would be a crime nationwide   because hunting is illegal in Washington, D.C. The law, he said, would   also ban the depiction of the humane — not cruel — killing of certain   animals because that, too, can be illegal, such as in the case of   killing endangered species.

The Court also dismissed as irrelevant the government’s pledge to apply   the law narrowly to depictions of extreme cruelty. “This Court will not   uphold an unconstitutional statute merely because the Government   promises to use it responsibly,” Roberts wrote.

The decision won quick praise from First Amendment advocates. “It’s   great to hear from the chief justice that speech is protected whether it   has great value, or not so great value,” said David Horowitz,  executive  director of the Media Coalition, which filed a brief on  behalf of  filmmakers, photographers, booksellers and others worried  about the  scope of the law.

Roberts, Horowitz said, “hasn’t written many opinions implicating the   First Amendment,” so the fact that the chief justice assigned the   decision to himself and endorsed long-standing First Amendment doctrine   was gratifying.

Patricia Millett, Stevens’ lawyer before the Supreme Court, said, “It   was quite telling that eight members of the Court found the law   alarming.”

“We should all push harder” to combat animal cruelty, she said, “but we   should target the act itself, not the act of talking about it.”

Gene Schaerr, who wrote a brief for the Cato Institute also siding with   Stevens, said, “Although one may debate the importance of public   expression with regard to cruelty to animals ... the government's effort   to remove any area of public expression from the First Amendment's   protection would have been highly troubling.”

“Whatever one might think of Mr. Stevens and his films, the threat to   filmmakers had to be removed,” said Michael Donaldson, lawyer for   independent filmmakers who joined a brief in the case. “Many an   important documentary would be foreclosed. Others would not even be made   because of filmmakers’ fear of prosecution.”

Justice Samuel Alito was the sole dissenter, arguing that the law had a   “substantial core of constitutionally permissible applications,” namely   crush videos and dogfighting videos.

The majority did leave open the possibility that a much narrower law   targeting crush videos might pass constitutional muster.

Humane Society vice president and chief counsel Jonathan Lovvorn seized   on that possibility in reacting to the high court decision.

Congress would be on safe ground if it redrafted the law to cover   specifically “staged animal cruelty that is actually connected to a   crime,” Lovvorn said. “I expect something to be introduced in Congress   in short order.”

The world is turned upside down - I'm agreeing with Alito!

In Matters Of Health

In Matters Of Health
  A repugican's take on how to pay for healthcare

Pay them in chickens!

Call  her and ask if you can donate some chickens to her campaign (since they  are just the same as dollars.)  Toll free number:  (800) 983-6896

Growing industry with many job options

Health care careers can suit many priorities, including high pay and telecommuting.  

Insurer targets breast cancer patients

A major insurer used computer files to identify and then drop some ailing female members, feds say.  
Want to know what evil is - it's name is Wellpoint!

Naps Boost Memory - But Only If You Dream
Sleep has long been known to improve performance on memory tests. Now, a new study suggests that an afternoon power nap may boost your ability to process and store information tenfold — but only if you dream while you’re asleep.
“When you dream, your brain is trying to look at connections that you might not think of or notice when [you're] awake,” says the lead author of the study, Robert Stickgold, the director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in Boston, Massachusetts. “In the dream…the brain tries to figure out what’s important and what it should keep or dump because it’s of no value.” [...]
“If you’re not good at something, and you dream about it, you seem to get better at it — especially if the information can be used in different situations,” says Michael Breus, the clinical director of the sleep division for Arrowhead Health, in Glendale, Arizona, who was not involved in the study.

Scientific Minds Want To Know

Scientific Minds Want To Know

Stunning new footage of Sun unveiled

High-def images from a new observatory show "connections that we have never seen before."

The world's longest insect and a colour-changing frog feature among species recently found on Borneo.


Earth, Wind and Fire

Astronomical News

Huge solar prominence (Nasa)
Stunning new images are released of huge explosions and looping gases on the Sun, captured by Nasa's new solar mission.

The New Solar System
As far as we know, life needs water to survive — and lots of it to thrive. Ceres is the closest large celestial body to Earth which is thought to have an abundance of fresh water. It is also closest to the sun of any large icy body, which along with possible interior heat might warm it enough for subsurface liquid water to exist.
Important criteria for a human outpost in space are available resources. Dozens of probes have been tasked with finding water deposits on the Moon and Mars. Ceres may in fact have more water than we would ever need.
Thus, Ceres would not only be a great place to search for life, but a possible future destination for manned missions and outposts as well.
Ceres is also interesting historically. First it was a Planet, then it was an Asteroid, and now it is a Dwarf Planet. The one mission to Ceres, NASA’s Dawn Mission, was canceled, reinstated, told to “Stand Down”, “Indefinitely Postponed”, publicly canceled, placed under review, and finally reinstated and given a go for launch in June 2007. While Ceres may be one of the gems of our solar system, its nomenclature and single planned mission have had a turbulent past.

The largest volcano eruption in history

Lightning from the volcano in Iceland 

The largest volcano eruption in history

In 1815, an Indonesian volcano spewed so much ash that it affected the weather worldwide.
Devastating chain reaction 

And I Quote

I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.

~ Mark Twain

Extremely rare rhino caught on camera

Extremely rare rhino caught on camera

A picture snagged by a camera trap has experts excited for a near-extinct species. 

Spectacular sky show coming

Spectacular sky show coming

The oldest meteor shower known to man will peak before dawn on Thursday.  

Ash cloud's unexpected effect

Ash cloud's unexpected effect: Blue skies

City dwellers experience the clearest skies in memory as a result of grounded flights.

Dangers to planet now largely invisible

Dangers to planet now largely invisible

The thick smog and oil-choked rivers of the 1970s have given way to trickier challenges.  

How to make yourself happier in just a few seconds

The authors hypothesized that thinking about the absence of a positive event from one’s life would improve affective states more than thinking about the presence of a positive event but that people would not predict this when making affective forecasts. In Studies 1 and 2, college students wrote about the ways in which a positive event might never have happened and was surprising or how it became part of their life and was unsurprising. As predicted, people in the former condition reported more positive affective states. In Study 3, college student forecasters failed to anticipate this effect. In Study 4, Internet respondents and university staff members who wrote about how they might never have met their romantic partner were more satisfied with their relationship than were those who wrote about how they did meet their partner. The authors discuss the implications of these findings for the literature's on gratitude induction and counter-factual reasoning.
Source: “It’s a wonderful life: Mentally subtracting positive events improves people’s affective states, contrary to their affective forecasts.” from Journal of Personality and Social Psychology

It's The Economy Stupid

It's The Economy Stupid

Currency portraits given face-lifts

In a society entranced by beauty, even images on our money appear nipped and tucked. 

U.S. home sales surge from 2009 low

The housing market is stabilizing after a devastating bust, but the true test remains.  

7 key things to say in a job interview

Saying "I want to be an expert in my field" strongly signals that you're an asset, not a liability. 

Most popular franchises in the U.S.

Most popular franchises in the U.S.

While these chains are big brands, many owners don't do well enough to survive.  

Keys to a good real-estate location

5 keys to a good real-estate location

"Location, location, location" is the mantra, but many people don't really understand it. 

Politicians hungry for tax revenue have become very puritanical about cigarettes, soda and supermarket bags.

The late senator Russell Long (D--La.) famously described the American view of tax policy as "Don't tax you, don't tax me, tax that fellow behind the tree." Facing huge deficits and rebellious taxpayers, state, local and national pols are looking to tax the sinner behind the tree. Sin taxes--as in excises imposed on alcohol and tobacco--are quite the rage these days.

How to know when it's smarter to rent

How to know when it's smarter to rent

People who buy a home in these areas will face higher monthly costs than if they rented.  

Boredom is a Killer

Please, readers! If you experience disinterest, apathy, ennui, malaise, dysthymia, lassitude, or neurasthenia as you peruse this essay… click away to safety! If you sense your cognition tumbling towards a fetid swamp of brain-paralyzing boredom — abandon me! I don’t want your death on my conscience.
Boredom is a killer, suggests an essay in the April 2010 International Journal of Epidemiology. Researchers Annie Britton and Martin Shipley at University College London examined questionnaires completed by 7,524 civil workers in 1985-1988 that queried the bureaucrats on their interest level regarding work. Multiple-choice options ranged from experiencing boredom “not at all” to “all the time.” In 2009, the surveyors reconnected with their subjects. They discovered that those who expressed severe job boredom were 2.5 times more likely to be dead of cardiovascular disease. Their conclusion: “those who report being bored are more likely to die younger than those who are not bored.”
 Why Boredom is exhausting.
By now you’ve probably seen this story floating around about how doodling may improve concentration, but I’m particularly interested in this part of the story:
When people are bored they have high levels of brain activity, Andrade says. “When you’re bored, you think nothing much is going on, but actually your brain is looking for something to do.”
So we daydream. But daydreaming takes considerable mental effort, particularly when we get stuck in a daydream. “So that sucks mental resources and energy away from the other task we’re meant to be doing,” Andrade says.
Which explains why we can feel so tired and burned out after a long, boring but easy day at work or school – or many successive days of boredom.