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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.


Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
After a nice long slumber, some of your biggest insecurities are starting to wake up and look around -- don't be surprised if you suddenly feel a twinge of doubt about an upcoming meeting, confrontation or date.
But this is a clear case of letting your fear drive the rest of your brain in the wrong direction.
This is your best chance at turning this stinking thinking around, so keep chugging along in a brighter direction, and remind yourself that you totally rock (because you do).

Some of our readers today have been in:
Madrid, Madrid,
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Basel, Basel Stadt, Switzerland
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Seoul, Kyonggi-Do, Korea
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
London, England, United Kingdom
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Copenhagen, Kobenhavn, Denmark
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Modena, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

as well as Bulgaria, Israel, Finland, Austria, Norway, Georgia, Mexico, Peru, Kuwait, Serbia, Bangladesh, Latvia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Wales, Iran, Singapore, Poland, Taiwan, Sweden, Afghanistan, Belgium, Tibet, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Paraguay, Sudan, Vietnam, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, France, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Brazil, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Slovenia, China, Iraq, Ecuador, Nigeria, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Paupa New Guinea, Moldova, Venezuela, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Norway, Finland and in cities across the United States such as Jefferson, City, Scarsdale, Markham, Las Vegas and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, January 1, the 1st day of 2011.
There are 364 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 
"Z" Day.


Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

President Obama's Weekly Address

 
Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
The White House
January 1, 2011
Hello, everybody.  As we close the books on one year and begin another, I wanted to take a moment today to wish you a very Happy New Year and talk a little bit about the year that lies ahead.
At the start of 2011, we’re still just emerging from a once-in-a-lifetime recession that’s taken a terrible toll on millions of families.  We all have friends and neighbors trying to get their lives back on track.
We are, however, riding a few months of economic news that suggests our recovery is gaining traction.  And our most important task now is to keep that recovery going.  As President, that’s my commitment to you: to do everything I can to make sure our economy is growing, creating jobs, and strengthening our middle class.  That’s my resolution for the coming year.
Still, even as we work to boost our economy in the short-term, it’s time to make some serious decisions about how to keep our economy strong, growing, and competitive in the long run.  We have to look ahead – not just to this year, but to the next 10 years, and the next 20 years.  Where will new innovations come from?  How will we attract the companies of tomorrow to set up shop and create jobs in our communities?  What will it take to get those jobs?  What will it take to out-compete other countries around the world?  What will it take to see the American Dream come true for our children and grandchildren?
Our parents and grandparents asked themselves those questions.  And because they had the courage to answer them, we’ve had the good fortune to grow up in the greatest nation on Earth.
Now it’s our turn to think about the future.  In a few days, a new Congress will form, with one house controlled by Democrats, and one house controlled by Republicans – who now have a shared responsibility to move this country forward.  And here’s what I want you to know: I’m willing to work with anyone of either party who’s got a good idea and the commitment to see it through.  And we should all expect you to hold us accountable for our progress or our failure to deliver.
As I’ve said since I first ran for this office, solving our challenges won’t be quick or easy.  We have come through a difficult decade; one of new threats and new trials we didn’t expect when it began.  But a new year and a new decade stretch out before us.  And if we just remember what America is capable of, and live up to that legacy, then I’m confident that we are poised for a period of progress – one in which our economy is growing, our standing in the world is rising, and we do what it takes to make sure America remains in the 21st century what it was in the 20th: the greatest country in the world.
Thanks for listening.  And Happy New Year.

Awesome Pictures

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January is ...

National Hot Tea Month
Oatmeal Month
Tubers and Dried Fruit Month
Apple and Apricots Month
Artichoke and Asparagus Month
Soup Month
as well as
Skating Month
and 
Book Blitz Month

More and More Farmers' Markets Set to Go Year Round

farmers market winter small farms local food photo
More and more of us have committed to hitting the farmers' market each and every week to pick up produce, dairy, bread, meats, etc. But once the farmers' market ends for the year, then what? Do we switch back over to the grocery store and settle for perfectly round albeit tasteless produce? Not so fast. It seems farmers' markets across the country are going year round.

What eases a hangover

Nothing can cure a hangover, but some things will help reduce the effects.  
Also: 

Horror Stories

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The truth be told

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Yeah, Right

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Bad Cops

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Ohio police officer admits exposing himself

South Carolina deputies caught "clubbing on the clock"

Pennsylvania police chief, officers named in lawsuit stemming from pub brawl

Fired Georgia deputy is arrested for impersonating an officer

Wisconsin businessman sues over police harassment

Nebraska cop is charged with three counts of intimidation by phone and three counts of disturbing the peace

One of Chicago’s torture cops awaits his sentence

Bank of America screws up ... again

They're not throwing out the ashes of a deceased husband this time, but they were trying to foreclose on a couple on Christmas Eve. Even worse, the couple never missed a payment!

Disgraceful, but that's Bank of America.
“In one of the more bizarre foreclosure cases, Bank of America is threatening to throw a West Hartford family out of their home even though the couple never missed a mortgage payment.

The largest bank in the United States earlier this month notified Shock Baitch and his wife Lisa (Friedman) Baitch that foreclosure action will start today – Christmas eve – unless the couple agrees to put their home up for a forced sale.

Why? Because another unit of Bank of America erroneously reported to credit agencies that the family was seeking a loan modification, ruining their credit rating and as the result putting their mortgage into default.

Odds and Sods

Clairvoyants and astrologers can legally practice in Romania on Saturday after fortune-telling was officially recognized by the government as a profession.


In Japan, some people live with the feeling that their facial expression is offending all those who see it.

Seven career comebacks

After being laid off, Patti Schuler turned cake baking into a thriving business.  
Also: 

Get out of debt in 2011

A "financial accountability partner" can be a great way to rein in spending.  
Also: 

Double your savings rate

Printing out your monthly credit card and bank statements is among experts' top tips for meeting financial goals.  
Also: 

Put your tax holiday to work

The biggest present that many people will get this year comes from the federal government.  
Also: 

Solve 6 common money blunders

Many people are essentially leaving free money on the table by not being smart with their 401(k)s.  
Also: 

Non Sequitur

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Reveling in Idiocy

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Illogic

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Croatian daily runs only good news for a day

A huge smiley face is on the front page, and politics and crime are banished. The leading daily in Croatia is publishing only good news for a day.

Man steals GameBoy out of dead teen's casket

A 17-year-old's life is snuffed out, and that's a tragedy. Someone steals a GameBoy and cartridges from that 17-year-old's casket: that's just low.

State police are trying to find a Pennsylvania man who they say stole a handheld video game system and accessories from the casket of a teen who had been killed in an SUV crash on Christmas Day.

Update: They found him.

A 37-year-old man has been charged with desecrating the casket of an 11th-grader by reaching in and stealing two handheld video systems and three games.

Jody Lynn Bennett of Mentcle was arrested and jailed Wednesday.

State police in Indiana said Bennett stole the goods about 9:30 p.m. Monday at the Rairigh Funeral Home. Viewing for Bradley D. McCombs Jr. of Clymer had been scheduled to conclude at 9.

McCombs died Christmas morning in Cherryhill Township when he lost control of the SUV he was driving on a snowy road and struck a utility pole.

The boy’s uncle, Robert McCombs Jr., approached Bennett after Bennett got in his vehicle and was about to drive away.

He asked Bennett about a missing Game Boy.

“The defendant told the uncle that he did not have the Game Boy,” according to the affidavit of probable cause.

“The uncle then told the defendant that he could see the Game Boy inside the vehicle. The defendant then produced the Game Boy and returned it to the uncle.”

As that video system was being returned to the casket, family members noticed that a Game Boy Light and three games were missing.

Upon returning home, the boy’s father, Bradley D. McCombs, called Bennett on the phone but Bennett told him not to call again.

Neither Bradley nor Robert McCombs returned a call for comment Wednesday.

The value of the stolen goods was placed at $46.90.

Bennett faces misdemeanor counts of desecration, theft or sale of venerated objects; abuse of a corpse; institutional vandalism; theft; receiving stolen property; disorderly conduct and harassment.

A criminal records check indicates Bennett has a history of drinking and drug offenses dating to 2000.

Dianna Bennett said her nephew has caused embarrassment to the family.

Her family is close friends with the parents of the deceased 17-year-old.

Jody Bennett “has been into drugs, he’s into alcohol,” she told The Associated Press.

“He’s just messed up.”

He was being held in the Indiana County Jail in lieu of $15,000 straight cash bail set by District Judge Susanne Steffee of Homer City.

Bradley McCombs Jr. – who also was known by the nicknames “Boog” and “Ham” – was remembered as a football player and a member of Future Farmers of America. His hobbies included playing video games, collecting mythical creatures, drawing and hunting.

Twelve Tips From The Stupidest Criminals Of 2010

If you're robbing a pizza joint asking for 'dough' and pointing to a bag behind the counter, don't look surprised when you end up with a bag full of pizza ingredients.

Most lawbreakers aren't exactly geniuses, but these troublemakers cross the line between foolishness and downright ineptitude. To at least help prevent any more crimes of this level of stupidity, here are a few tips for aspiring criminals without any level of common sense.

Shoe

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Ruling in Billy the Kid pardon

New Mexico's governor denies a petition brought 130 years after the gunslinger's death.  
Also: 

Court rules that casino floor is not a weapon

The state Supreme Court has thrown out a felony assault conviction against a mixed martial arts fighter accused of slamming a drunk amputee into a casino floor. At issue, according to the opinion released on Thursday, was the prosecution's contention that the floor of Mason County's Little Creek Casino was a weapon. In a unanimous decision, the high court found that it was not. James Michael Marohl, described in court documents as a mixed martial arts fighter, was convicted of third-degree assault in the June 2007 incident, in which he forced an intoxicated man to the floor, according to the Supreme Court opinion. The other man suffered scrapes and bruises, and a broken prosthetic arm.

Writing for the unanimous court, Justice Richard Sanders noted that the alleged victim had been cut off from the bar after imbibing to excess. The man was walking to his seat when he knocked over a chair, nearly striking the wife of a friend of Marohl's. Confronted by the woman's husband, the alleged victim repeatedly put his arm around the man while attempting to apologize. Marohl then grabbed the alleged victim from behind and was forcing him toward the exit, when the amputee dropped to the floor. Sanders noted that conflicting descriptions of the incident were offered at trial. Witnesses for the prosecution described Marohl choking the victim until he lost consciousness and forcing him to the floor. Defense witnesses said Marohl was simply trying to guide him out of the bar when he tripped and fell.


In either case, both men fell to the casino floor, Sanders said. Either the choke hold or the impact caused the alleged victim to lose consciousness for several minutes. "The impact with the casino floor caused (the victim) to suffer bruises and scrapes on his face, and his prosthetic arm broke off above the elbow joint," Sanders said in the opinion. "Marohl got to his feet and walked away but then returned to try to help (the victim) off the ground." Charged with second-degree assault, a Mason County jury convicted Marohl of a lesser offence, third-degree assault. But the high court found jurors were misinformed when the prosecution suggested the casino floor could qualify and be considered as a weapon in determining whether Marohl committed third-degree assault.

"Accepting Marohl forced (the victim) to the ground, there is no evidence his use of the ground transformed it into an object similar to a weapon," Sanders noted. "The issue in this case is whether a floor is an instrument or thing likely to produce harm when the defendant causes the victim to impact the ground. The plain meaning of the statute is unambiguous - under these circumstances, the casino floor was not similar to a weapon, nor was it likely to produce bodily harm.'" Reversing a Court of Appeals decision affirming the conviction, the high court dismissed the jury's finding.

Lost Springs

A small town in Wyoming named Lost Springs. Photo taken in August, 2000:
lostsprings1
The sign was changed after the 2000 census:
lost springs2
A report from May, 2010:
There were a few buildings, including the post office/general store, a municipal building, and a small town park.
When we are about to leave, we see a woman drive into town. We find out that it is the postmaster. She doesn't live in the town. A few minutes later, two other people show up. We find out that they are in the town because it is a convenient place for one to give the other a kitten. They don't live there either. So there are five people in this town with a census population of '1' and none of them live there!
The postmaster was able to tell us a little bit about the town. It turns out that the population is actually three. The mayor runs a catering business. One of the other residents is on the town council, but the other is not.

The Ice Caves of Mt. Erebus


A volcano in Antarctica called Erebus is home to a network of ice caves. Hot gasses from the volcano carves through the thick ice to leave channels where ice crystals then grow. Dr. Kayla Iacovino wrote about visiting one of them called Warren Cave, and included more photographs.

Wizard of Id

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Why Are the Western Ends of Cities Generally Wealthier than the Eastern Ends of Cities?

Dan Zambonini alleges that cities in the northern hemisphere tend to have poorer eastern rather than western sides. He then suggests that this is because wealthier people could afford to be upwind of air pollution:
Many older cities rapidly expanded during the Industrial Revolution, as workers flocked to the urban centers. As the towns and cities expanded, the residential areas for the workers tended to be in the east, with the middle and upper-classes in the west.
The reason for this is that in much of the northern hemisphere, the prevailing winds are westerlies – blowing from west to east. The massive, unchecked pollution from these early industries would therefore drift eastward, making the air quality much lower in the east end of cities, lowering the desirability (and price) of the housing. Middle classes preferred the cleaner west ends.
The issue was probably even pre-Industrial Revolution, as smoke from personal chimneys would still have caused problems to the east.

A room with a view

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On the upper west ... east side no doubt.

Cities running out of people

Harsh local economies and disasters made thousands flee these seven metro areas.  
Also: 

Crescent Lake - End of an Oasis?

 

For thousands of years traders on the Silk Road have used the Crescent Lake oasis as a last stop off before they face the hardships of the Gobi Desert. Six kilometers from the city of Dunhuang, the oasis has persevered throughout the millennia. However, it may now be reaching its Waterloo.

Medieval warfare

A mass grave of soldiers discovered in England is shedding new light on how medieval battles were fought. It's not a pretty picture.
In a letter sent nine days after the battle George Neville, the then chancellor of England, wrote that 28,000 men died that day, a figure in accord with a letter sent by Edward to his mother. England's total population at the time is thought not to have exceeded 3m people. George Goodwin, who has written a book on Towton to coincide with the battle's 550th anniversary in 2011, reckons as many as 75,000 men, perhaps 10% of the country's fighting-age population, took the field that day.

Ghostly Photos of Disappearing Species

ghostly cheetah britta jaschinski photo
"Ghostly Cheetah" by Britta Jaschinski
While runners-up came eye-to-eye with a baby sea turtle or captured a crystal-clear picture of a bird scooping up a fish for dinner, the winning image in the GDT European Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2010 contest was neither close-up or sharp. Instead, it was a dark, atmospheric portrait highlighting the vulnerability of the cheetah, an animal "endangered due to loss of habitat, reduced prey, and direct persecution," according to photographer Britta Jaschinski, who took the picture following a huge bush fire in Ndutu, Tanzania.
Article continues: European Wildlife Photographer of the Year's Ghostly Photos of Disappearing Species

Colombia Undertaker's Ghostly Census

A Medellin undertaker has taken his craft to the next level by launching a "ghostly census" in Colombia's second-largest city, where his workers have so far compiled 215 spirits, including 23 in pictures and video, AFP reported Thursday.

Sweden's ancient history


Top to bottom:
Rune stone, Herrstaberg, Östergötland, Sweden. Three girls beside a rune stone (Ög 46) in Herrstaberg. The inscription says: "Vibern raised this stone in memory of Solva, his brother."

Uppsala Mounds, Gamla Uppsala (Old Uppsala), Uppland, Sweden. Excavation in 1874 of one of Uppsala Mounds - the Western Mound. A shaft was dug down to the bottom of the mound and a burnt burial site was uncovered. The three burial mounds, dated to ca. 475-550 AD, are also called the Kings' Mounds.

One of two dolmens, Snarringe, Skåne, Sweden. Man beside one of two dolmens at Snarringe hamlet. It could be from about 3500 BC.
These and many more photos of ancient monuments are assembled in a Flickr photostream of the Swedish National Heritage Board.

B.C.

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Polar bears vs. spy cameras

Producers were wrong to think cleverly disguised cameras would outwit the curious beasts.
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Puppy needs home after surviving dog attack

The New Year is looking up for a puppy that was almost killed last week. 
Theodore, a German Shepherd puppy, was severely attacked by another dog.

Animal Pictures

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