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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.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You figured out long ago that the best way to bring your dreams (the good ones, anyway) to life is to tackle them as realistically as you can.
You've got to work extra hard now to make your current fantasies come true.
Even though you are ready, willing and able, you may not be entirely confident that you can bring it about. Remember that doubt is fatal to dreams.
Get a move on!  
Some of our readers today have been in:
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Karlskrona, Blekinge Lan, Sweden
Gatineau, Quebec, Canada
London, England, United Kingdom
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia

as well as Qatar, and the United States in such cities such as Paso Robles, Ocala, Beaverton, Merrillville, Asheville and more

Today is Friday, May 7, the 127th day of 2010.
There are 238 days left in the year
Today's unusual holiday or celebrations is:
Tuba Day

Today is ...


As The World Turns

As The World Turns
Burmese junta finally destroys Aung San Suu Kyi's political party

 Burmese junta finally destroys Aung San Suu Kyi's political 

Burmese democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi's party, for two decades the symbol of resistance against the ruling junta, is to be dissolved at today under laws laid down ahead of elections.

The National League for Democracy (NLD) refused to meet a May 6 deadline to re-register as a political party - a move that would have forced it to expel its own leader - and boycotted the vote scheduled for later this year.

At the party's ramshackle headquarters in Burma's former capital Rangoon, the "fighting peacock" flag was still flying but party workers were packing up files and mulling new plans to focus on social and development work.

Fuckers. She won the election but instead of being made a democraticly elected president. They put her under house arrest for the last fourteen years.

A bitter deadlock after Tuesday's vote sparks confusion and market jitters.
Saudi king's photo brings women's rights into focus
King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is not normally associated with radical moves but the 85-year-old monarch is making waves with signals encouraging greater tolerance of women's rights.

In recent days Abdullah's appearance in an unusual group photograph has become a talking point across his realm and the wider Arab world. The king and his brother Crown Prince Sultan were flanked by 40 women dressed in modest abayas but mostly with their faces bare, a novelty that is seen as evidence of rare liberalism at the top.

The king's pose, at a conference in the southern city of Najran last month, is big news because it appears to challenge the norm in a country where unrelated men and women are kept strictly apart, women are covered from head to toe and alcohol and women's driving are banned. Under Saudi law a woman must not leave home without a male "guardian" (her father, husband or brother) to whom she is legally subordinated.

"I think this is a great picture and everyone is talking about it," said Dr Maha Muneef, a prominent physician and government adviser. "This is a picture that sent a message that it is OK to work with women ... and that there's nothing wrong with that."

New figure sought in NYC bomb plot

Investigators have the name of a courier who they believe helped Faisal Shahzad pay for the attack.

Rebel Dog

A canine seemingly spotted at nearly every riot in Greece becomes a source of fascination.

Public bathroom turned into dream home

Public bathroom turned into dream home

A couple picks up an unlikely property for a steal — and turns it into something completely new.  

Babylon ruins: Preserve or profit?

Local officials want swift work done to restore the crumbling ruins and start building restaurants and gift shops to draw in tourists, while antiquities officials in Baghdad favor a more painstaking approach to avoid the gaudy restoration mistakes of the past.

New York City Wildlife

Coyotes, raccoon, deer and other forms of urban wildlife are popping up across Manhattan.

Not what you were expecting?

Scientific Minds Want To Know

Scientific Minds Want To Know
The creation of new stars in galaxies like the Milky Way has seen a five-fold drop.
Many people alive today possess some Neanderthal ancestry, according to the results of a landmark genetic study.
A series of images released by the Met Office clearly show Iceland's volcanic eruption intensifying.

British and US accused of poppy plague warfare in Afghanistan

Britain and the US have been accused of launching secret biological warfare on Afghanistan's poppy fields in a bid to blight the opium crop. Poppy plants have been suffering from a mysterious disease which leaves them yellow and withered and slashes the yield of opium resin which is sold on and processed into heroin.

The worst affected farmers have said the scale of the infection is unprecedented. Yields have dropped by up to 90 per cent in some fields they complained. Farmers are claiming that the British and Americans are responsible for the outbreak of the poppy plague but officials have strongly denied involvement. Samples of diseased plants are awaiting tests in Kabul and the cause remains unclear.

The blight was first noticed a month ago with reports it was linked to an infestation of aphids in wheat and fruit trees. It has since been found in four provinces across the south. Early surveys suggest half the crop in northern Helmand is affected and a fifth of fields in the province's south. Symptoms have been spotted in Kandahar, Zabul and Uruzgan. The United Nations said the disease would contribute to a significant drop in the opium harvest from last year's total of nearly 7,000 tonnes.

The country grows about 90 per cent of the world's opium. Tithes and protection money from the drug trade are estimated to give up to £60m a year to the Taliban-led insurgency. The allies have spent billions of pounds trying to cut opium cultivation, but have rejected crop spraying, fearing that robbing farmers of their livelihood will push them to the militants. The British-led anti-drugs strategy has instead tried to wean farmers from opium on to wheat, saffron and fruit.

First non-Latin web addresses go live


 non-latin web addresses go live</a>
Net regulator Icann has switched on a system that allows full web addresses that contain no Latin characters. Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are the first countries to have so-called "country codes" written in Arabic scripts.
The move is the first step to allow web addresses in many scripts including Chinese, Thai and Tamil.
More than 20 countries have requested approval for international domains from the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

First women to serve on submarines chosen

These Midshipmen never expected to get the chance to serve as officers on a submarine.  

Skepticism after Russia says pirates freed

Russia's claim that a legal glitch forced it to release pirates seized near Somalia is met with doubts.  

And I Quote

The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible.
~ Albert Einstein

Its Only The Environment After All

Its Only The Environment After All
The dome being lowered to the Gulf seabed is meant to capture 85 percent of the spilling oil.  

BP Was Drilling In A Mine Field! Gulf of Mexico Is Major Dumping Ground For Unexploded Bombs.

Susie Madrak posted this over at Crooks and Liars:

You learn the darnedest things on the internets. For example, I just found out that the Gulf of Mexico is the primary disposal site for unexploded military munitions - over 30 million pounds of bombs, projectiles and chemical ordnance.
And because records are spotty and incomplete, we don't know exactly where these dumps are.
(Are you following me?)
Many of these bombs are unstable. Just about anything could detonate them - say, an oil rig that's digging deeper than what owners noted on their permit application. So we're leasing offshore drilling rights to oil companies IN A FRICKIN' MINE FIELD. (You'll notice this NY Times piece on the problems of offshore drilling doesn't even mention it.)
Drill, baby, drill!
There is technology available to carefully map underwater hazards like UXO but so far, I haven't found anything that indicates offshore drilling lessees are required to do so. I have to assume that a company will try to protect their investment, but you never know.
But it seems prudent that this fact be part of the public debate on offshore drilling.
Here's some of this information from a paper presented at the 2007 Offshore Technology Conference in Houston.
In June of 2006, the MMS (Editor's note: Minerals Management Service) released its Notice to Lessees NTL 2006-G12, which outlined regulations for conducting Ancillary Activities in the Gulf of Mexico OCS Region.
Within this Notice, the MMS states a requirement to comply with protective measures when conducting activities within Ordnance Dumping Zones, as well as Military Warning Zones (“Water Test Areas”) 1 through 5. Figure 1 displays the areas delineated by the MMS as Ordnance Disposal and Military Warning Areas in the Gulf of Mexico.
Additionally, during the writing of this paper, the MMS released NTL 2007-G01, which updated the Shallow Hazards Program requirements. This notice also recognizes ordnance as a manmade hazard that may have an adverse effect on proposed well operations. Although the standard Gulf of Mexico geohazard survey and assessment does not currently involve a specifically defined unexploded ordnance
assessment, prudent owners, operators, and service vendors
should consider it on top of the To-Do list when planning projects in those sensitive areas
. This paper presents such an assessment as well as provides additional insights into the problem of unexploded ordnance encountered in deepwater.
Three fundamental problems exist that the standard geohazard assessor faces in dealing with the UXO problem. These are simply limitations in technology, awareness, and expertise.
The solution lies in the utilization of innovative technology,
well thought out and appropriately planned geohazard survey specifications, and most importantly the utilization of unconventional industry experts with the ability to perform adequate and thorough ordnance risk assessments
Historically, incidents involving ordnance discovered off the
coasts of the United States have been limited primarily to
fishing boats dragging ordnance up in their nets. It is very rare
that a detonation occurs during one of these events although it
has happened. In the early 1980s off the coast of New Jersey,
a fishing boat attempted to haul a WWII torpedo warhead in to
harbor. While at anchor, outside the harbor, and awaiting
Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) responders, a storm emerged. The increased wave and wind activity rattled the warhead against the fishing boat, accidentally detonating it and sinking the fishing boat. Due to instances like these, survey, transportation, and exploration companies venturing into deep waters are becoming more susceptible to encountering UXOs and the distinct possibility of an
accidental detonation.

UXO (unexploded ordnance) dump zones also exist off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Although the Atlantic and Pacific oceans drop off very quickly and oil and gas exploration has been limited along those coasts, current technology for deepwater production is making the possibility of Atlantic and Pacific margin exploration more of a reality. This will only increase the need for UXO awareness and viable solutions to their existence in deepwater.

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic Fringe 
Teabaggers plan tea party on September 11

Liars and Fools
Faux's Glen Brick says again that the feds are going to kill him.
Calling all cars, calling all cars: the lunatic is on the loose again, that is all.

Former FEMA Director Michael Brown, who famously ignored Hurricane Katrina, says Obama let oil gusher get worse on purpose, for political reasons.
Nope, that was your shtick ... oh, and by the way how'd that turn out?

Jan Brewer (reptile-Arizona) decries "hysteria" over immigration law, then calls illegal immigration "terrorism".
Snake speak with forked tongue as the used to say in the old Western Serials.

Attendees at wingnut Heritage event applaud the idea that Obama is a "domestic enemy".
A group of NAZIs cheering about projecting themselves on others, now where have we heard that one before ... ah, yes, Nuremberg, Germany sometime between 1932 and 1945 if memory is correct. (then again after 1945 but that's a different story)

Faux's Glen Brick says "now might be a good time" for enemies to attack US because country is vulnerable.
Only in his deluded mind is the nation vulnerable.

Ultra-wingnut aggitators James Dobson and Franklin Graham warn that christians' rights are being eroded in America.
Nope, wrong again, special unwarranted privileges, maybe but not rights. 

CNBC's Stuart Varney says government handling of NYC bombing is "an attempt to demonize white males, tea party people ... wingnuts".
Wrong, they do a bang up job of it themselves, there is no need to assist them in the process.


Arizona governor rejects delay of immigration law

A prominent Senate Democrat asked repugican Arizona Governor Jan Brewer to put off her state's controversial immigration law to give Congress a chance to act.

Daily Comic Relief


Pew Survey: 70% Of Americans Have Financial Problems, Up 9% from 2009. Meanwhile, Congress Ignores Unemployment Crisis.

Susie Madrak had this to say over at Crooks and Liars:

If I had a dollar for every person I've met in the past few weeks who believes the Dems just added another tier of unemployment checks, we wouldn't even need a Tier 5. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it still astounds me that Democrats are saying there's "no political will" to add another tier of unemployment benefits, that they're not hearing "any popular support" for spending the money.
That's because people think that's what Congress just passed, you morans. Are the Congressional Dems really that stupid and out of touch? Yes, they are. And they'll pay for it dearly in the mid-terms. And you know what? They deserve whatever happens if they let all these despairing people fall off the unemployment rolls.
From The Pew Foundation:
Americans are united in the belief that the economy is in bad shape (92% give it a negative rating), and for many the repercussions are hitting close to home. Fully 70% of Americans say they have faced one or more job or financial-related problems in the past year, up from 59% in February 2009. Jobs have become difficult to find in local communities for 85% of Americans. A majority now says that someone in their household has been without a job or looking for work (54%); just 39% said this in February 2009. Only a quarter reports receiving a pay raise or a better job in the past year (24%), while almost an equal number say they have been laid off or lost a job (21%).
Read more:

Wall Street's Wild Ride

A suspected trading error sparks one of the most turbulent days in stock market history.

How billions vanished in milliseconds

"High-frequency trading" on Wall Street means vast damage can be done in a blink.  

On The Job

On The Job
One of every five men 25 to 54 isn't working — and many of their jobs are never coming back.
A law degree was once a ticket to jobs starting at $160,000 and rising north of $1 million.  

It's The Economy Stupid

It's The Economy Stupid
290,000 new jobs added in April.
Unemployment rate up to 9.9%

More jobs in the U.S. economy, but higher unemployment:
The American economy added an unexpected strong 290,000 jobs in April, while the unemployment rate rose to 9.9 percent, the government said Friday.

Analysts had expected a gain of about 190,000 in the month.

With revisions on Friday, April was the fourth consecutive month that the economy added workers (a revised 230,000 jobs were added in March instead of 162,000), the job market still has a long way to go before it can be counted on to provide a base for a sustained economic recovery. More than 15.3 million were unemployed last month.
Despite the increase in jobs, the unemployment rate rose, mostly because the government said 195,000 workers re-entered the labor force after giving up on job hunting during the recession. When jobless people do not look for work, they are not counted in the official unemployment rate.

Bargain-minded buyers might consider these areas with affordable homes and robust economies.



A turn of a phrase

On the ball

Meaning: To be alert; in command of one's senses.
Origin: Some authorities have suggested that 'on the ball' originated in the sporting arena, and alludes to runners being on the balls of their feet, eagerly ready to run a race. This has some similarities with being 'up to scratch', which derives from boxers or runners being ready at the starting line. It is a plausible derivation, but has nothing to recommend it beyond that.
On the ballA more commonly advocated location for the source of 'on the ball' is the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. This is where the oldest surviving and best known time-ball is sited. The Greenwich time-ball was installed in 1833 to signal the accurate time to passing ships. It was, and still is, raised just before 1pm each day and falls as 1pm strikes on the observatory's clock. Captains needed to have their ships' chronometers set accurately in order to navigate correctly, hence they needed to be 'on the ball'. It's a nice story and there are any number of tour guides around the observatory who are all too happy to repeat it. Unfortunately...
Need I go on? It isn't true.
The phrase 'on the ball' did actually originate in the sporting arena, but relates to the eyes rather than the feet. It is a contraction of the earlier expression 'keep your eye on the ball', which advice has been given to participants in virtually every known ball game. For the source, we need to look to early ball games. The phrase is recorded in early records of cricket, golf, croquet and baseball and many people regard baseball as the origin. Well, that appears to be almost true - the earliest citation that I can find in print comes from the English game of rounders. The English novelist William Kingston wrote 'books for boys', and in 1864 published Ernest Bracebridge, or, Schoolboy Days, which includes this scene:
Ellis seized the bat with a convulsive clutch... Remembering Ernest's advice, he kept his eye on the ball, and hit it so fairly that he sent it flying away to a considerable distance. "Capital!" cried Ernest. "Run! run! - two bases at least."
American readers will recognise the similarity of the rounders terminology with that of baseball. For those not familiar with rounders and/or baseball, suffice it to say that they are essentially the same game, but that it is easier to imagine Sylvester Stallone playing baseball. There's no consensus on this but there's a strong case to be made that baseball is in fact an English game, being merely a beefed-up variation of rounders.
On the ballIn 1744, which is certainly before anyone is known to have played baseball in the USA, John Newbery, an English publisher and a man with a reasonable claim to be the originator of literature printed specifically for children, produced A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, intended for the Amusement of Little Master Tommy and Pretty Miss Polly. That title sounds entirely suitable as the source of the rules of the game of rounders, which is played nowadays by children. Nevertheless, the book includes a graphic labelled Base-Ball, which shows men playing the game and which is accompanied by a rhyme that pretty much sums up the basics of both rounders and baseball:
The ball, once stuck off,
Away flies the boy
To the next destin'd post,
And then home with joy.
Baseball may or may not have been the origin of 'keep your eye on the ball', but it did take over the use of the phrase. As well as as the batters 'keeping their eye on the ball', the pitchers were also said to 'put something on the ball', i.e. they imparted some spin or curve on it. This usage dates from the start of the 20th century, for example, this piece from The Indianapolis Star, April 1910:
Graham put something on the ball that fooled even Bowerman.
The figurative version of the phrase 'on the ball', i.e. with the meaning of being 'alert or apt' in a context where no actual ball is present, began later still. In 1989, W. C. Williams and J. Laughlin published Selected Letters, which contained an extract from a letter written Williams in 1939:
The novella by Quevedo... [is] right on the ball.
As to whether the phrase originated in the USA or the UK, on present evidence, I'd call it a 1-1 draw.

Interesting In General

Interesting In General
Some big names in the corporate world are more practical than you may think.
The Henderson Waves looks snakelike as it connects two parks in Singapore.  

Helpful Hints

One project you can do yourself saves up to 20 percent on your energy costs.  

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
Even tiny tweaks to your eating habits can prevent overindulging and add up to a slimmer you.
The flavor of lettuce can improve remarkably when you change the way you store it.
It's no coincidence that eating out has become such a deafening experience.
Picking one of these options instead of a combo meal will save you hundreds of calories.  

In Matters Of Health

In Matters Of Health

Easy ways to double your calorie burn

Get ready for bikini season by making your next workout twice as efficient.

Brain's master switch

The protein that has long been suspected by scientists of being the master switch allowing brains to function has now been verified by an Iowa State University researcher.
Yeon-Kyun Shin, professor of biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology at ISU, has shown that the protein called synaptotagmin1 (Syt1) is the sole trigger for the release of neurotransmitters in the brain

Diabetic News

More than half a century after researchers identified a promising way to treat diabetes based on blocking the breakdown of insulin in the body, a research team led by a scientist at the Mayo Clinic campus in Florida have developed potent molecules that can do just that.

If you expect to see well, you will?

Research suggests that if you think you can see well, your eyesight will improve. In one of several fascinating experiments, Harvard psychologist Ellen Langer showed a group of normal-sighted subjects a reversed eye chart, with the letters at the bottom increasingly larger. The subjects read the smallest letters better than they did on a regular eye chart. Why? According to Science News, "These results reflect people’s expectation, based on experience with standard eye charts, that letters are easy to see at the top and become increasingly difficult to distinguish on lower lines, the researchers suggest."
From Science News:
Wikipedia Commons Thumb 9 9F Snellen Chart.Svg 481Px-Snellen 
Chart.Svg Eyesight markedly improved when people were experimentally induced to believe that they could see especially well, Langer and her colleagues report in the April Psychological Science. Such expectations actually enhanced visual clarity, rather than simply making volunteers more alert or motivated to focus on objects, they assert.

Langer’s new findings build on long-standing evidence that visual perception depends not just on relaying information from the eyes to the brain but on experience-based assumptions about what can be seen in particular situations. Those expectations lead people to devote limited attention to familiar scenes and, as a result, to ignore unusual objects and events.
"Vision gets better with the right mind-set"

Best new automobiles for 2011

Most people have never seen these highly anticipated models, but some are already on dealer lots.  

This is why you can't trust those rent-a-cops with the full body scanners


 is why you can't trust those rent-a-cops with the full body 
Perhaps the new airport body scanners are a bit too revealing.

A TSA worker in Miami was arrested for aggravated battery after police say he attacked a colleague who'd made fun of his small genitalia after he walked through one of the new high-tech security scanners during a recent training session.

Rolando Negrin, 44, was busted for assault after things got ugly at Miami International Airport between Negrin and some of his fellow Transportation Security Administration workers on Tuesday.

Sources say Negrin stepped into the machine during the training session and became embarrassed and angry when a supervisor started cracking jokes about his manhood, made visible by the new machine.

Yessireebob, machines that strip you naked just to get on a plane and the low IQ people who operate them. Sure, I am going to trust them.

Terrorists win.

Odds and Sods

Odds and Sods
In Cop News