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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.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You need to strike a balance between your cravings and your fears -- and it might not be easy.
Wake up from your dream life and try to figure out what's actually necessary, as opposed to what is merely desired.
No amount of money can purchase inner security, so try to ensure that your purchases become more sensible.
Any financial tidal waves should smooth out and become mere ripples.
Some of our readers today have been in:
Graz, Steiermark, Austria
Trondheim, Trondelag, Norway
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Vienna, Wien, Austria
Oldenburg, Niedersachsen, Germany
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Bremen, Bremen, Germany
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Varese, Lombardia, Italy
Bad Vilbel, Hessen, Germany
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
London, England, United Kingdom
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Antwerp, Antwerpen, Belgium
Herlev, Kobenhavn, Denmark

as well as Scotland, Wales, and the United States in such cities as Turlock, New Bern, Texarkana, Gloucester and more

Today is Thursday, May 27, the 147th day of 2010.
There are 218 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
Cellophane Tape Day

Damn Fine Words

"The only dream worth having is to dream that you will live while you are alive, and die when you are dead.
To love, to be loved.
To never forget your own insignificance.
To never get used to the unspeakable violence and vulgar disparity around you.
To seek joy in the saddest places.
To pursue beauty to it's lair.
To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple.
To respect strength, never power.
Above all, to watch.
To try and understand.
To never look away.
And, never, never forget."
~ Arundhati Roy

Damn those are some fine words!
And from such a young person!
Just wished I'd said them first.

Non Sequitur


Scientific Minds Want To Know

Scientific Minds Want To Know
Stunning artifacts knocked into the sea off Alexandria 1,600 years ago are now being retrieved.  

Click to reveal

A famous half-billion-year-old fossil, one of the "weird wonders" from Canada's Burgess Shale, may be a cephalopod


Mystery spirals on Mars explained

Researchers discover what carved a pinwheel pattern into the planet's polar ice caps.

'Ardi' sparks renewed ancestry debate

The ancient creature may not belong in the human evolutionary tree, a new study suggests.

Art Linkletter dies at 97

Art Linkletter, the genial host who parlayed his talent for the ad-libbed interview into two of television’s longest-running shows, “People Are Funny” and “House Party,” in the 1950s and 1960s, died on Wednesday at his home in the Bel Air section of Los Angeles.
He was 97.

Full Story

As The World Turns

As The World Turns
Though experts say it is unlikely, they consider scenarios that could result in combat.  

Mexico Arrests Cancun Mayor on Drug Charges
Mexican federal police have arrested the mayor of the resort city of Cancun on drug trafficking, money laundering and organized crime charges, a new blow to an election season already marred by violence and allegations of drug cartel involvement.

Europe's burqa rage

The State Of The Nation

The State Of The Nation
Deadly, ultra-pure heroin arrives in US
Mexican drug smugglers are increasingly peddling a form of ultra-potent heroin  
Mexican drug smugglers are increasingly peddling a form of ultra-potent heroin that sells for as little as $10 a bag and is so pure it can kill unsuspecting users instantly, sometimes before they even remove the syringe from their veins.

Arizona immigration law will boost crime in U.S. cities, police chiefs say
Arizona's new crackdown on illegal immigration will increase crime in U.S. cities, not reduce it, by driving a wedge between police and immigrant communities, police chiefs from several of the state's and the nation's largest cities said Tuesday.
The new Arizona law will intimidate crime victims and witnesses who are illegal immigrants and divert police from investigating more serious crimes, chiefs from Los Angeles, Houston and Philadelphia said. They will join their counterparts from Montgomery County, Md., and a half-dozen other U.S. cities in meeting Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. on Wednesday morning to discuss the measure.

As immigration tensions mount, the president makes a move at the Mexico line.  

Local Hospitality

Local Hospitality

Witnesses says the spirit rock outside a Lincoln County high school was painted to look like the hood of a Klansman.

Bald Eagle Born In Captivity In Huntersville, NC May Be A Mom

A bald eagle born at the Carolina Raptor Center in North Carolina has been spotted in Alabama.

On the Blue Ridge Parkway near mile post 316, the Linville River offers up a little bit of everything.

Scalping School

Kansas officials respond to an embarrassing report alleging a lucrative ticket-scalping scam.  

Facebook reverses privacy policy

CEO Mark Zuckerberg announces a simplified version of its privacy control features.  

And I Quote

The United States stands at the pinnacle of world power. 
This is a solemn moment for the American democracy. 
For with primacy in power is joined an awe-inspiring accountability for the future.

~ Winston Churchill

The repugicans have forgotten the third sentence of the quote above.

Interesting In General

Interesting In General
An experimental Air Force plane zooms through the sky at six times the speed of sound.
One two-lane roadway over shallow blue water reflects blinding sunlight that distracts drivers.  

Planet Earth

Planet Earth
American cities rank poorly on a new survey of global places with the highest quality of life. 
Oregon has one of the highest recycling rates in America, at almost 50 percent. 

Now that's just Bizarre

Now that's just Bizarre
Visitors are encouraged to tour the century-old structure in New York while it still stands.
A green horde causes accidents and forces the closure of a major Greek highway for hours.

The Fool On The Hill

The Fool On The Hill

In Matters Of Health

In Matters Of Health
Marinating can reduce the formation of one compound linked to cancer by more than 90 percent.  
There could be another factor at work in studies that link good rest to working out.  
Cut through the confusing advice with these easy-to-follow tips from an expert.
Nearly all dietary herbal supplements have trace amounts of heavy metals, a congressional probe finds.  

Things They Won't Tell You

Things They Won't Tell You
FDA: J&J knew of problems with Motrin in 2008
Johnson & Johnson learned of potency problems with its Motrin formula in 2008, but instead of issuing a recall, hired an outside contractor which began buying up the defective products, according to congressional investigators.

Undying confidence in the Dollar


On The Job

On The Job
The average salary for college grads fell to $47,673, but one major did even worse.  
Companies are bracing for the expected flood of employees itching for new jobs.  
One field known for high starting salaries is expected to see the fastest growth, too.  

It's The Economy Stupid

It's The Economy Stupid
In these 10 metros, jobs are projected to grow, and the housing market is getting stable.
These common factors are forcing many Americans to fall behind on building their nest eggs.
These metro areas should prosper during the next 10 years, with plenty of jobs in sight.  

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic Fringe
When dealing with wingnuts ... Remember the rule: 
If they accuse someone of something, then they're already guilty of it.
A candidate accused of lifting whole lines from an Obama speech is just one of several headaches.
The next step for Arizona's wingnuts: Ignore 14th Amendment, deny children of illegal immigrants birthright citizenship

What does it say about Sarah Palin that she can't speak even one sentence of correct English?
Maybe we should pass a law that in order to become President you need to be able to utter an entire sentence in correct English.

Ruth Marcus on Sarah Palin:
Three unattractive Palin traits have, if anything, been amplified since the election: her unwillingness to buckle down and do the necessary preparation; her tendency to adopt what McCain adviser Steve Schmidt described as a "down is up and up is down" version of reality; and her enhanced sense of injury at the hands of what she oh so cleverly refers to as the "lamestream media."
Palin's appearance on "Fox News Sunday" pushed me over the edge.

First, there was Palin on Republican Senate nominee Rand Paul, whose candidacy she had championed. Anchor Chris Wallace asked straightforward questions: Was Paul right or wrong in his view that the 1964 Civil Rights Act went too far in banning discrimination in private establishments? What did Palin make of the controversy? He got typically Palinesque answers, rambling and aggrieved:

"I think there is certainly a double standard at play here. When Rand Paul had anticipated that he'd be able to engage in a discussion, he being a libertarian-leaning constitutional conservative, being able to engage in a discussion with a TV character, a media personality, who perhaps had an agenda in asking the question and then interpreting his answer the way that she did, he wanted to talk about, evidently, some hypotheticals as it applies to impacts on the Civil Rights Act, as it impacts our Constitution. So he was given the opportunity finally to clarify, and unequivocally he has stated that he supports the Civil Rights Act."

Actually, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow and other interviewers did not ask Paul about "hypotheticals." They asked whether he supported prohibiting private business owners from keeping blacks off their premises.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure blacks being kicked out of businesses wasn't a hypothetical. It was American History 101.
Is there a Sarah Palin vileness/absurdity threshold?
The very fact that Sarah Palin, an unaccomplished, inexperienced, idiot was chosen to be the vice presidential candidate of a rather old man, means that if there is a threshold, it's pretty high.

From Greg Sargent:
A question for fellow reporters and editors: At what point do Sarah Palin's attacks and smears become so vile and absurd that they no longer merit attention? Is there such a point?

Palin, who has broken the mold in so many ways, has defied the laws of political and media gravity in another fashion: Despite the ever-mounting ridiculousness of her claims, she continues to get attention. This isn't so with other figures. Frequently those who traffic in absurdity and smears to get media attention keep upping the ante until their assertions become so grotesque and self-parodic that they are no longer newsworthy.

It's kind of like inflation: Keep printing more money and the value of it keeps dropping. That hasn't happened with Palin.
As long as Palin isn't an actual candidate for public office, at what point do we stop rewarding every statement from Palin, no matter how vicious or mendacious, with attention? Should there be such a point?
Even structural steel as a tolerance level - at some point if will crack ... will we?

ABC dives into Gulf oil with Philippe Cousteau Jr

It raises the question of how valuable the chemical dispersants are in this process. They break the oil down but now small bits are everywhere which is decidedly much more harmful to fish.

BP CEO walks on oil covered beach, barks orders at the media

So who died and made Tony Hayward the king?
Yeah, that's the BP CEO  yelling "get 'em out of there, get 'em out of there" to the media who is  filming him as he "works" on the oil slick cleanup.
The last time I  checked, we don't live in the United States of BP.
Again, would someone  in the White House like to step up and take control of this situation?
This pompous ass thinks he owns the place.
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_-AQa73BIBuM/S_wzbT5ogfI/AAAAAAAAEcg/yBinfu0qSCU/s400/fuck-you.jpgHey Tony, you know what - Fuck you!

In a related story:

Semi-naked protesters descend on BP headquarters

About 50 protesters organized by women's activist group Code Pink were at BP headquarters Monday morning to protest the oil spill in the Gulf.

It's Only The Environment After All

It's Only The Environment After All
Fraternizing, Porn, Drugs at Minerals Management Service Office in Louisiana
Federal officials who oversaw drilling in the Gulf of Mexico accepted gifts from oil companies, viewed pornography at work and even considered themselves part of industry, the Interior Department inspector general says in a new report.

Those revelations, sure to intensify criticism of federal oversight of offshore drilling as the massive Gulf leak continues, will take a starring role at a congressional hearing tomorrow.

The investigation uncovered violations of federal regulations and ethics rules by employees of the Lake Charles, La., office of the Minerals Management Service, the federal agency that oversees offshore drilling.

Interior Acting Inspector General Mary Kendall said her greatest concern is "the environment in which these inspectors operate -- particularly the ease with which they move between industry and government."

She added: "We discovered that the individuals involved in the fraternizing and gift exchange -- both government and industry -- have often known one another since childhood."

MMS Lake Charles District Manager Larry Williamson told IG investigators that many of the MMS inspectors had worked for the oil and gas industry and continued to be friends with industry representatives.

"Obviously, we're all oil industry," he said. "Almost all of our inspectors have worked for oil companies out on these same platforms. They grew up in the same towns. Some of these people, they've been friends with all their life. They've been with these people since they were kids. They've hunted together. They fish together. They skeet shoot together. ... They do this all the time."

A source told IG investigators that oil and gas officials on the platforms had filled out inspection forms, which would then be completed or signed by an MMS inspector.

The IG also "found a culture where the acceptance of gifts from oil and gas companies were widespread throughout that office," although that has improved in recent years, the report says.

Two employees at the Lake Charles office also admitted to using illegal drugs during their employment at MMS. The IG found that many of the inspectors had e-mails that contained inappropriate humor and pornography on their government computers. And between June and July 2008, one MMS inspector conducted four inspections of offshore platforms while in the process of negotiating and later accepting employment with that company.

While the report was not due to be released yet, Kendall said in light of the Gulf disaster, she felt compelled to release it now. The investigation was sparked by an anonymous letter in October 2008 to the U.S. attorney's office in New Orleans alleging that a number of MMS employees had accepted gifts from companies.

The IG presented the findings to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana, which declined prosecution, the report says.

The report is a follow-up to a blockbuster IG report released in 2008 that detailed a sex, drugs and illegal gifts scandal at MMS.

A former MMS inspector sent an e-mail with pictures of the company plane on which he, an oil company official and others flew to Atlanta for the 2005 Peach Bowl game.

"E-mails for MMS inspectors from the Lake Charles office revealed that in 2005, 2006, and 2007, various offshore companies invited MMS personnel to events such as skeet-shooting contests, hunting and fishing trips, golf tournaments, crawfish boils, and Christmas parties," the report says.

One former MMS official wrote an e-mail saying he had "good friends" in the industry that he "wouldn't write up."

The gift culture declined after Don Howard, the former regional supervisor at the MMS office in New Orleans, was fired in 2007 for accepting a gift, the report says.

"Prior to our investigation of Howard, receiving gifts such as hunting trips, fishing trips, and meals from oil companies appears to have been a generally accepted practice by MMS inspectors and supervisors in the Gulf of Mexico region," it says.

The IG found numerous instances of pornography and other inappropriate material on the e-mail accounts of 13 employees, six of whom have resigned. There were 314 instances in which the seven remaining employees received or forwarded pornographic images and links from their government e-mail.

An MMS clerical employee told investigators that she began using cocaine and methamphetamine with an inspector when she started working at the agency about two years ago. The MMS inspector admitted that while he did not use the drug at work, he might have been under the influence of crystal methamphetamine at work after using it the night before.

A source told IG inspectors that company personnel completed inspection forms using pencils, and MMS inspectors would write on top of the pencil in ink and turn in the completed form. While IG inspectors reviewed a total of 556 files to look for any alteration of pencil and ink markings, notations or signatures and found a small number with pencil and ink variations, they could not discern if any fraudulent alterations were present on these forms.
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Interior response

Kendall will testify tomorrow before the House Natural Resources Committee at an oversight hearing on the oil spill, the panel announced today. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar had already been scheduled to appear before the committee.

"The Inspector General report describes reprehensible activities of employees of MMS between 2000 and 2008," Salazar said in a statement. "This deeply disturbing report is further evidence of the cozy relationship between some elements of MMS and the oil and gas industry."

"I appreciate and fully support the Inspector General's strong work to root out the bad apples in MMS, and we will follow through on her recommendations, including taking any and all appropriate personnel actions," he added. "In addition, I have asked the Inspector General to expand her investigation to determine whether any of this reprehensible behavior persisted after the new ethics rules I implemented in 2009."

Salazar noted that within 10 days of becoming Interior secretary, he asked the Justice Department to reopen criminal investigations of employees involved in the 2008 report and promised to update departmental ethics policies and overhaul MMS's royalty collection system (E&ENews PM, Jan. 29, 2009).

Several of the employees mentioned in the new report have resigned, been fired or been referred for prosecution, Interior said. Those who are still working at MMS will be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of a personnel review, the department added.

Salazar also has asked the inspector general to investigate whether there was a failure of MMS personnel to adequately enforce standards or inspect the Deepwater Horizon offshore facility and whether there are deficiencies in MMS policies or practices that need to be addressed to ensure offshore operations are conducted in a safe and environmentally sensitive manner, Interior said.

Salazar has signed a secretarial order splitting MMS into three agencies to separate its energy development, enforcement and revenue collecting functions. The three jobs currently performed by MMS, which collects $13 billion in revenue every year, "are conflicting missions and must be separated," he said last week (E&ENews PM, May 19).


The report drew swift rebukes from lawmakers.

"As if catching MMS employees literally in bed with industry officials wasn't enough, MMS safety inspectors were flying high in private jets taking bribes while allowing oil and gas companies to fill out their own safety inspection forms," said House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Nick Rahall (D-W.Va.). "It's past time for MMS to stop acting as a farm team for the industry -- the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion is proof that this isn't just a game."

Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein said her panel will hold a hearing on the administration's proposed restructuring of MMS on June 16.

"This new Inspector General report is yet another black eye for the Minerals Management Service," Feinstein said. "Once again, MMS employees have been found culpable of performing shoddy oversight of offshore drilling. The report reveals an overly cozy culture between MMS regulators and the oil industry. ... The agency clearly falls short of providing effective oversight of the safety of deepwater drilling or the ethical collection of drilling royalties."

Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said there have been 10 IG reports and nine Government Accountability Office reports on MMS, but it took a "massive catastrophe to get anyone to read these reports and agree on the need for a massive bureaucratic overhaul."

"In typical Washington fashion, it takes something going horribly wrong, yet entirely avoidable before anyone pays attention to the long-standing need for reform," Issa added in a statement. "The report released today echoes the same problems that have been exhaustively reported on for years. From Toyota to Tylenol to BP, we are seeing the consequences of what can happen when the Congress and the Administration abdicate their obligations to scrutinize the bureaucracy and conduct ongoing and vigilant oversight."

Paranoia Strikes Deep

Paranoia Strikes Deep 
Fence isn't a cure-all for America's porous border
The fence rises from the rock and hardscrabble of the desert floor, a formidable 15-foot-high curtain of corrugated metal that stretches into the mirage of heat and distance.

Canadian teenager fights to graduate in kilt

A Canadian teenager with Scottish roots said he is fighting school officials for the right to wear a kilt while walking in his late June graduation.

Hamish Jacobs, 19, of Lethbridge, Alberta, whose family moved to Canada from Scotland in 1965, said he found his uncle's blue-and-green tartan kilt, representing the Forbes clan, fits him perfectly and decided to wear the item as a tribute to his family history during his graduation from Raymond High School.

"I want to wear it out of respect for my ancestors, and because it's just what Scottish people wear to formal things," Jacobs said.

However, he said principal Mark Beazer denied his request to wear the kilt during the ceremony.

"I find it funny. The school teaches you to respect your heritage, be different, be yourself. And so I am going to be different, being myself. And they don't like that," he said.

Jacobs said Westwind School Division superintendent Doug Bennett sided with the principal and he is now considering appealing to the school board in early June.

A triple-play of humorous endeavors

Play Number One
A man was leaving a convenience store with his morning coffee when he noticed a most unusual funeral procession approaching the nearby cemetery.
A long black hearse was followed by a second long black hearse about 50 feet behind the first one. Behind the second hearse was a solitary man walking a dog on a leash.
Behind him, a short distance back, were about 200 men walking single file.
The man couldn't stand the curiosity. He respectfully approached the man walking the dog and said, "I am so sorry for your loss, and I know now is a bad time to disturb you, but I've never seen a funeral like this. Whose funeral is it?"
"My wife's."
"What happened to her?"
The man replied, "My dog attacked and killed her."
He inquired further, "But, who is in the second hearse?"
The man answered, "My mother-in-law. She was trying to help my wife when the dog turned on her."
A poignant and thoughtful moment of silence passed between the two men.
"Can I borrow the dog?"
"Get in line."

Play Number Two
One Sunday, a minister played hooky from church so he could shoot a round of golf.
Saint Peter, looking down from Heaven, seethed.
"You're going to let him get away with this, god?"
The lord shook his head.
The minister took his shot.
The ball soared through the air 420 yards and dropped into the cup for a hole in one.
Saint Peter was outraged.
"I thought you were going to punish him!"
The Lord shrugged.
"Who's he going to tell?"

Play Number Three
During the lunchtime rush at a local cafe a woman sudenly called out, "My daughter is choking! She swallowed a nickel! Please, anyone, help!"
Immediately a man at a nearby table rushed up to her and said he was experienced in these situations.
He calmly stepped over to the girl, then with no look of concern, wrapped his arms around her and squeezed.
Out popped the nickel.
The man returned to his table as if nothing had happened.
"Thank you!", The mother cried.
"Tell me, are you a doctor?"
"No," the man relied.
"I work for the IRS."

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
kid grilling vegetables photo
Is it really true that kid's don't like vegetables? 
Image credit: woodleywonderworks/Flickr
"Might as well say it straight up," Ed Bruske says in Grist, "Kids don't like vegetables." Does it make sense, then, for school systems to mandate more of the healthy stuff makes it into the cafeterias?
Only two out of the 22 store-bought brands impressed the judges.