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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.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
A friend's tale of woe may have you taking out the tissues and formulating a revenge plan, but hold off on moving forward, because there are three sides to every story.
What you know right now is only part of the picture and new information will be coming tomorrow that will change how you feel today.
Unless you want to get left with egg on your face, you need to avoid making any moves on behalf of this other person.
Let them fight their own battles and learn their own lessons.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Espoo, Southern Finland, Finland
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland

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 Canton, Toledo, Norwalk, Cincinnati and more.

Today is:
Today is Sunday, January 2, the 2nd day of 2011.
There are 363 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 
There isn't one.
 
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

As the fortune cookie crumbles ...

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Man Found his Double on Facebook

Graham Comrie of Aberdeen thought someone was impersonating him when he heard of a Facebook account of a Graham Cormie of Ellon, Aberdeenshire. Friends even thought Cormie was using Comrie’s photos, since they looked so much alike! But it was no imitation -just a eerie set of coincidences.
The Grahams soon realized they were both professional photographers.
And as the two men chatted online, they found out they both had red-headed wives and were both set to celebrate their silver wedding anniversaries next year.
Other striking similarities included that they both had two daughters and both owned Lhasa Apso dogs.
When they saw each other’s pictures, they realized they were the absolute spitting image of each other, too.
The Grahams are only two years apart in age -and live only ten miles from each other. They checked and found that they are not related, just new friends.

Brand New Pair Of Roller Skates


Melanie

NHL game played in rain

The Capitals and Penguins make NHL history in less than ideal weather conditions.  
Also: 

Australia's 'biblical' flooding

Thousands more homes are threatened by record-setting waters in Queensland. 
Also: 

Visitors snap up 100 trillion Zimbabwe bank notes

Western visitors to Zimbabwe are looking for zeros.
They're snapping up old, defunct Zimbabwe bank notes, most notably the one hundred trillion Zimbabwe dollar bill, as an economic souvenir.

Cyber War Now Being Waged on Iran?

The first serious infowar is now engaged. The field of battle is WikiLeaks. You are the troops."

So tweeted John Perry Barlow, one of the founders of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and cyberlibertarian activist, as attacks began on the websites of businesses that had spurned Wikileaks after it published cables of American diplomacy.

Websites of MasterCard and Visa, which had withdrawn services allowing donations to Wikileaks; the Swedish government, which charged Wikileaks founder Julian Assange with sex-related crimes; and a Swiss bank that froze Mr. Assange's account were among those attacked. None of the commercial sites was seriously prevented from conducting business. The attacks ended up being more like painting slogans on a wall than war.

But cyberwar actually has begun, and it has nothing to do with Wikileaks.

The Jerusalem Post reported recently that the Stuxnet computer virus may have caused the decommissioning of as many as 1,000 centrifuges at Iran's Natanz uranium enrichment facility. The virus caused the speed of the motors in the centrifuges to vary, creating vibrations that damaged the machines, the Post deduced from interviews with experts on the attack.

The Post cited speculation that Israel's military defense unit was behind the attack, possibly aided by the United States.

Taking out a tenth of the centrifuges at the Iranian facility is comparable to an air strike. Now that is war.

But even if the Wikileaks version of cyberwar was underwhelming, there are some lessons to be learned from it.

The attacks launched by a loose confederation of Web activists calling themselves Anonoymous aren't new or uncommon or even especially sophisticated.

The attacks on perceived enemies of Wikileaks and of Mr. Assange were of a type called Distributed Denial of Service attacks, in which computers controlled by the assailants flood a website with so many requests that the servers seize up under the onslaught.

Often DDoS attacks are launched by criminals using botnets, networks of compromised computers assembled by a worm. The owners of the computers in the botnet are unaware that their machines are being used to send spam or bring down a website.

But the implementation by Anonymous had an interesting twist not used by spammers or run-of-the-mill malware spreaders.

Riva Richmond, blogging for the New York Times, explained it this way:

The tool of choice is a new open-source software program named Low Orbit Ion Cannon, or L.O.I.C. Once a hacktivist downloads the tool, he can operate it manually or connect to "Hivemind," a control system that makes their computers part of a "voluntary botnet" that Anonymous commands.

L.O.I.C. in its various forms was downloaded more than 100,000 times during period of the Wikileaks attacks Some people believe that manual launches of the attacks were coordinated by Twitter messages such as "fire, fire, fire." That is presumably why Twitter canceled the account of Anonymous.

The new wrinkle is that users volunteer their computers to be part of the attacks, rather than having them taken over without their knowledge.

Craig Labovitz, posting on the site of the security firm Arbor Networks, said the attacks orchestrated by Anonymous were small and low-level.

"Despite the thousands of tweets, press articles and endless hype, most of the attacks ... were both relatively small and unsophisticated. In short, other than intense media scrutiny, the attacks were unremarkable," Mr. Labovitz wrote.

Although the attacks by Anonymous amounted to little more than cybervandalism, Mr. Labovitz warned that the trend of using DDoS attacks for protest is troubling.

"Overall, DDoS fueled by the growth of professional adversaries, massive botnets and increasingly sophisticated attack tools poses a real danger to the network and our increasing dependence on the Internet," he wrote. So 2011 may be a year that sees cyberwar between nations and protest attacks by citizens.

Son of Iran stoning woman wants sentence commuted

The son of an Iranian woman, whose death sentence by stoning for adultery sparked world outrage, demanded Saturday that his mother's verdict be commuted.

Man says he committed burglaries to pay lawyer defending him on previous burglary charges

A man who police said has been in and out of jail several times since September is back in jail again, accused of committing half a dozen home burglaries. The arrest affidavits detail two of the cases against Michael Elias, 28, one of which dates back to June of this year. Both happened on the northwest side of the city.

The report shows Elias is a suspect in a June 18 break-in at a home in the 300 block of Cherry Ridge. The resident told police someone had ransacked his home, taking two laptop computers, two video game systems, jewelery and other items.
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On Nov. 8, another resident reported a burglary in the 11500 block of Huebner Road in which a 50-inch plasma TV was stolen. Police said they recovered fingerprints from both locations that later proved to be Elias's.

The affidavit shows that after his arrest, Elias told investigators how he had learned to commit burglaries using a crow bar to gain access to homes. Elias also told investigators he had to keep committing the burglaries so he could afford to pay his attorney a $150 weekly fee to keep him out of jail.

Hurry

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What not to buy in 2011

Tests find that a coffeemaker, air purifier, and beauty serum aren't worth the money.
Also: 

Gas prices to hit $4 this year

With oil poised to reach $100 a barrel, experts say drivers in 15 states face a big increase at the pump.  
Also: 

Expedia drops major airline

It's the second travel website that will no longer sell the carrier's tickets because of a pricing dispute.
Also: 

Fourteen words added to banished list

A college's annual list of oft-repeated, misused, and hackneyed terms is released. 
Also: 

Extremely Narrow Buildings in Japan


Real estate development in densely-populated Japan can be expensive, so some architects have made good use of very narrow lots. Pictured above is one such project in Nagasaki. You can view several other very narrow buildings at the link.

Ziggy

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Neanderthals Had a Sweet Tooth

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Food found stuck between their teeth reveals that Neanderthals enjoyed cereals and other carbs.  

Mona Lisa's Childhood Home Found

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The woman behind one of the world's most famous paintings lived in a humble house.
Mona Lisa's Childhood Home Found

Broken glass yields clues to climate change

Clues to future climate may be found in the way an ordinary drinking glass shatters.
Results of a study published this week in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences find that microscopic particles of dust can break apart …

Secrets of an ancient Tel Aviv fortress revealed

Tel Qudadi, an ancient fortress located in the heart of Tel Aviv at the mouth of the Yarkon River, was first excavated more than 70 years ago ― but the final results of neither the excavations nor the finds were ever published.

Pamukkale

Turkey's Cotton Castle
 

In Turkish the name literally means Cotton Castle and it is easy to see why it was given that name. Yet this geological wonder is also the site of the ancient city of Hierapolis and over the centuries the two have seemed to come together, merged almost, into one. In fact some of the old tombs in the city's necropolis have beome part of landscape.

The site itself is a series of travertines and hot springs. The travertines here have a concentric appearance and are almost sheer white giving the area an ethereal, other worldly appearance. The hot springs precipitate calcium carbonate at their mouths and produce the strange almost organic looking structures.

Shingles

Have you noticed that more doctors are running their practices like an assembly line?

One fella walked into a doctor's office and the receptionist asked him what he had. He said, "Shingles."

So she took down his name, address, medical insurance number and told him to have a seat.

Fifteen minutes later a nurse's aide came out and asked him what he had. He said, "Shingles."

So she took down his height, weight, a complete medical history, and told him to wait in an examining room.

A half hour later a nurse came in and asked him what he had. He said "Shingles."

So she gave him a blood test, a blood pressure test, an electrocardiogram, told him to take off all his clothes and wait for the doctor.

An hour later the doctor came in and asked him what he had. He said, "Shingles."

The doctor said, "Where?"

He said, "Outside in the truck. Where do you want them?"

Universal Truths

1) Triangular sandwiches taste better than square ones.
2) At the end of every party there is always a girl crying.
3) One of the most awkward things that can happen in a pub is when your pint-to-toilet cycle gets synchronized with a complete stranger.
4) You've never quite sure whether it's OK to eat green crisps.
5) Everyone who grew up in the 80's has entered the digits 55378008 into a calculator.
6) Reading when you're drunk is horrible.
7) Sharpening a pencil with a knife makes you feel really manly.
8) You're never quite sure whether it's against the law or not to have a fire in your back garden.
10) Nobody ever dares make cup-a-soup in a bowl.
11) You never know where to look when eating a banana.
12) Its impossible to describe the smell of a wet cat.
13) Prodding a fire with a stick makes you feel manly.
14) Rummaging in an overgrown garden will always turn up a bouncy ball.
15) You always feel a bit scared when stroking horses.
16) Everyone always remembers the day a dog ran into your school.
17) The most embarrassing thing you can do as schoolchild is to call your teacher mum or dad.
18) The smaller the monkey the more it looks like it would kill you at the
first given opportunity.
19) Some days you see lots of people on crutches.
20) Every bloke has at some stage while taking a pee flushed half way through and then raced against the flush.
21) Old women with mobile phones look wrong!
22) Its impossible to look cool whilst picking up a Frisbee.
23) Driving through a tunnel makes you feel excited.
24) You never ever run out of salt.
25) Old ladies can eat more than you think.
26) You can't respect a man who carries a dog.
27) There's no panic like the panic you momentarily feel when you've got your hand or head stuck in something.
28) No one knows the origins of their metal coat hangers.
29) Despite constant warning, you have never met anybody who has had their arm broken by a swan.
30) The most painful household incident is wearing socks and stepping on an upturned plug.
31) People who don't drive slam car doors too hard
32) You've turned into your dad the day you put aside a thin piece of wood specifically to stir paint with.
33) Everyone had an uncle who tried to steal their nose.
34) Bricks are horrible to carry.
35) In every plate of chips there is a bad chip.

Non Sequitur

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False Hope Syndrome

Why New Year Resolutions Fail
Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? Many people did, but – here’s the bad news – despite their best effort, most will utterly fail. Why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to keep? You can blame the False Hope Syndrome, the unrealistic expectation of self-change:
As many as 90 percent of attempts at change fail, yet New Year’s resolvers are undeterred. In a 2002 report in the journal American Psychologist, University of Toronto researcher Janet Polivy and a colleague came up with a name for this "cycle of failure and renewed effort": the False Hope syndrome.
The False Hope syndrome may be particularly common among those who resolve to lose weight, Polivy said. And the chief cause is a combination of unrealistic goals and a misunderstanding of our own behavior.
For example, take the perenial New Year’s resolution for millions, dieting. Instead of resolving to lose weight this year, perhaps the trick is to keep a food journal instead:
For example, dieters may chastise themselves for eating a few Oreos and feel sad about it. But this only increases their likelihood of emotional overeating. Jotting down a few notes about the sweet snack, however, allows you to be more realistic. By writing, "A couple of cookies isn’t so bad," you can prevent feelings of failure and the desire to give up, Mosunic said.
Caitlin Mason, an exercise and health researcher at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said a food journal also reinforces what you’re doing right.
"It can help you see the positive changes you’ve made," Mason said, "and help you identify what triggers might be holding you back from your goals."

The crock that is our healthcare system

Doctors who seriously care about patients in pain are risking prison.

Why Our Body Temperature is 98.6 °F

The Perfect Balance Between Fighting Fungal Infections and Eating All The Time
Ever wonder why our body temperature is 98.6 °F (37 °C)? Scientists at Yeshiva University discovered the answer.
Turns out that our normal body temperature is the perfect balance of being warm enough to ward off fungal infection but not so hot that we need to eat all the time to maintain metabolism:
"One of the mysteries about humans and other advanced mammals has been why they are so hot compared with other animals," said study co-author Arturo Casadevall, [...] "This study helps to explain why mammalian temperatures are all around 37° C."
The research builds upon earlier work by Dr. Casadevall showing that the number of fungal species that can thrive and therefore infect an animal declines by 6 percent for every 1° C rise in temperature. This means that tens of thousands of fungal species infect reptiles, amphibians and other cold-blooded animals, but only a few hundred harm mammals. Such protection against fungal infection, Dr. Casadevall has speculated, could have been crucial for the triumph of mammals following the age of dinosaurs.

Extreme Close-Ups of the Human Eye


Suren Manvelyan is a photographer and physics teacher. He’s created a series of detailed images of the human eye called “Your Beautiful Eyes”:
The 34-year-old from Yerevan, Armenia, explains: ‘It is quite natural when you shoot macro shots of insects and plants, but to try to make a picture of the eye? I did not expect these results.
‘I was not aware they are of such complicated appearance. Everyday we see hundreds of eyes but do not even suspect they have such beautiful structure, like surfaces of unknown planets.’

B.C.

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Who's the boss?

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Now, who do you think is boss here?

Wikimedia Commons Pictures Of The Year

 

Wikimedia Commons is an online repository of free-use images, sound and other media files. It's a project of the Wikimedia Foundation, from which uploaded files can be used across all Wikimedia projects. The repository contains over seven million media files.

According to Wikimedia Commons, 'The Commons Picture of the Year' is a competition that was first run in 2006. It aims to identify the best freely-licensed images from those that during the year have been awarded Featured picture status. Here are 23 of the best winners from the Creative Commons Pictures of the Year competition.

Secret to birds' first flights

Scientists believe they've uncovered a link to why some creatures were able to take to the air.
Also: 

Rare 'panda cow' born in northern Colorado


A rare miniature cow with markings similar to a panda bear was born on a farm in northern Colorado.

Bull Escapes While Being Transported to Slaughter

highland bull animals livestock photo
A 900 pound bull just disappeared according to a story in the Daily Item. The bull was being transported to slaughter when the massive creature escaped and led authorities on an hour long chase along a highway near Danville, Va.

More Than 1,000 Dead Birds Fall From Sky In Arkansas

Wildlife officials are trying to determine what caused more than 1,000 blackbirds to die and fall from the sky over an Arkansas town.

Scientists Created Singing Mouse.

No, Seriously, Folks.
Having cured cancer and other serious ailments, a team of Japanese scientists from the University of Osaka turned to the next most vexing scientific problem facing the world today, the lack of singing mice, and licked that problem too. No seriously. Singing mouse.
A team of researchers at the University of Osaka created the animal in their "Evolved Mouse Project", in which they use genetically modified mice that are prone to miscopying DNA and thus to mutations.
"Mutations are the driving force of evolution. We have cross-bred the genetically modified mice for generations to see what would happen," lead researcher Arikuni Uchimura told AFP.
"We checked the newly born mice one by one… One day we found a mouse that was singing like a bird," he said, noting that the "singing mouse" was born by chance but that the trait will be passed on to future generations.
"I was surprised because I had been expecting mice that are different in physical shape," he said by telephone, adding that in fact the project had also produced "a mouse with short limbs and a tail like a dachshund".
Disney, understandably, should be worried:
Uchimura dreams of further "evolution" of mice through genetic engineering.
"I know it’s a long shot and people would say it’s ‘too absurd’… but I’m doing this with hopes of making a Mickey Mouse some day," he said.