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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 29, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Well, get a load of you!
Today you're quite the superstar, making people stand up and take notice.
You have the world on a string right now -- why don't you realize that?
If you feel held back or limited in any way, it is no one else's fault -- there's no point in blaming anyone.
You're in control of your own life, whether you feel like it right now or not.
Get out there and strut your stuff, because you're one hot rock star today (and every day).

Some of our readers today have been in:
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Milan, Lombardia, Italy
London, England, United Kingdom
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Birmingham, England, United Kindom
Moscow, Moskva, Russia

as well as Malta, 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, Maldives, 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, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Norway, Finland and in cities across the United States such as Chicago, Huntsville, New York, San Diego and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, January 29, the 29th day of 2011.
There are 336 days left in the year.


Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are: 
Curmudgeons Day
Freethinkers Day
National Puzzle Day
National Seed Swap Day
Seeing Eye Dog Day
and
Thomas Paine Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

President Obama's Weekly Address


Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Manitowoc, Wisconsin
January 29, 2011

I’m speaking to you today from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, where I’m at an innovative company called Orion Energy Systems.

Just a few years ago, this was an empty warehouse. A major employer had shut down this factory, moved its operations abroad, and took a lot of jobs away from this town.

But today, as you can see behind me, this is a thriving enterprise once more. You are looking at a factory where 250 workers are building advanced clean energy systems – state-of-the-art technologies that use solar power and energy efficiency to save farms and businesses thousands of dollars on their utility bills.

I’m here because this business and others like it are showing us the way forward. And in the coming days, I’ll be shining a spotlight on innovators across America who are relying on new technologies to create new jobs and opportunities in new industries.

That’s what companies like Orion are doing. And that’s how America will win the future – by out-innovating, out-educating, and out-building our competitors. We’ll win the future by being the best place on Earth to do business. That is what we are called to do at this moment. And in my state of the union, I talked about how we get there.

It starts by making sure that every single child can get a good education and every American can afford college or career training. Because that’s what will help light the spark in the minds of innovators – and ensure that our people have the skills to work for innovative companies.

We also need to make sure that America can move goods and information as fast as any of our competitors, whether on the road or online. Because good infrastructure helps our businesses sell their products and services faster and cheaper.

We have to reform our government and cut wasteful spending, so that we eliminate what we don’t need to pay for the investments we need to grow, like education and medical research.

And as we can see here in Manitowoc, we need to ensure that we are promoting innovation – especially in promising areas like clean energy. This is going to be key to growing our economy and helping businesses create jobs. Orion, for example, was able to open with the help of small business loans and incentives that are creating demand for clean energy technologies like wind power and solar panels.

That’s why I’ve proposed a bigger tax credit for the research that companies do. And to give these companies the certainty of knowing there will be a market for what they sell, I’ve set this goal for America: by 2035, 80 percent of electricity should come from clean energy.

This is going to help spark innovation at businesses across America. This is going to spur new products and technologies. This is going to lead to good, new jobs. And that’s how we win the future – by unleashing the talent and ingenuity of American businesses and American workers in every corner of this country.

So to those who say that America’s best days are behind us, let them come here, to Manitowoc. Let them come to this once-shuttered factory that is now bustling with workers building new technologies for the world. Let them come here to see the incredible promise of our country.

This is the future. And it’s bright.

Thank you.

Walk Like An Egyptian

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Egyptians defy curfew

Despite warnings to stay home, thousands take to the streets to demand that Mubarak resign.  
Also: 

Mubarak digs in as 25 protesters die during protests

Note to Mubarak: it's not necessarily the team around you that people want to remove. It's you they're fed up with the most.

The Guardian:
Tanks moved on to the streets of Cairo and Alexandria as protesters in Egypt defied a nationwide curfew ordered by President Hosni Mubarak in an effort to quell the fourth and most violent day of demonstrations against his 30-year rule.

In a late-night TV address, Mubarak refused to relinquish power, but dismissed his government, promising a new administration to tackle unemployment and promote democracy.

But his call for stability appeared to cut little ice with many protesters, who surged on to the streets as soon as he finished speaking, defying a curfew. Protesters who had earlier been forced into nearby side streets by the military could be heard chanting "People want to change the regime" immediately after Mubarak's broadcast to the nation finished.
The US is warning Mubarak to address the legitimate protest issues or else risk $1.5 billion in financial aid.

And I Quote

"The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum - even encourage the more critical and dissident views. That gives people the sense that there’s free thinking going on, while all the time the presuppositions of the system are being reinforced by the limits put on the range of the debate."

Foods that boost your mood

Certain carbs can trigger production of serotonin, which affects both mood and sleep.  
Also: 

Shoe

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NJ repugican Governor Chris Christie is 'done with soaring rhetoric' from others, but not himself

The last time we checked, austerity wasn't exactly a booming success in the UK where the UK's wingnuts are trying their luck with a program that has a history of failing.

For Christie, it's not rhetoric when he repeats nonsense, but it is when others talk about economic models that have actually produced results, such as the stimulus.

He's "talking tough" now (whatever that's supposed to mean) but so far there have been no positive results in New Jersey. Shouldn't he at least back down himself until he has something to show?

CNN:
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appeared to set his sights on President Obama Thursday night at a dinner sponsored by the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, saying, "We're done with soaring rhetoric."

The repugican governor with a tough-guy reputation never mentioned the president by name but added, "Soaring rhetoric feels good for a little while, but if there's no follow-through, all that's left is the same problems except bigger because we put them off."

Pleasant Valley Sunday


The Monkees

Reservist fights foreclosure

Sgt. James Hurley takes on the bank that forced out his wife and two kids while he was in Iraq.  
Also: 

Pundits Lie

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And they keep on lying and lying and lying and ...

The truth be told

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The truth be told (Part Deux)

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Bad Cops

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Fired Georgia deputy gets six years in federal prison on corruption and drug charges

Supreme Court reinstates $625,000 judgment against Ohio prison officials who did nothing to prevent a guard's sexual assault of an inmate and then punished the victim

South Carolina cop is arrested for criminal domestic violence

Indiana jailkeeper gets probation for filing a false report that connected a bag of drugs found at the jail to the wrong inmate

Virginia police officer arrested, accused of bringing cell phone to prisoner

Probe of North Carolina trooper under wraps after woman alleges sexual misconduct during a traffic stop

Police won't patrol kids playground after 8pm because it's too dark and dangerous

A police chief has come under fire for banning his officers from a playground when it is dark - because it might be too dangerous. Inspector Andy Sullivan warned them to steer clear of the vandalism hotspot after 8pm because of health and safety fears. Residents in Cambridgeshire have complained that drunks and other troublemakers hanging around in the area have made it off-limits for years.

But the senior officer told councilors in market town Wisbech it was too risky for them to deal with them the problem at night because the plot was still like a building site, with no lighting. He said they would only visit the £1m Waterlees adventure playground if a crime was being committed but refused to eject people otherwise. David Wheeler, a town councilor, described the inspector’s stance as "potty".


He said: "The anti-social behavior that's being talked about has been going on for many years. Policing is policing – it should be 24-7, wherever it is." A police spokesman said: "During the evenings there's no lighting so it's effectively pitch black. It's not a police officer's job to ensure the area's kept clear. However, if a crime's committed or there's a risk to life, officers would take appropriate action."

Floodlights have not been put up at the request of residents. Asked if it was the council's failure for not having security staff in the area, Mr Wheeler said there were guards at the weekends and added: "It's the fact that it was policed in the past and not now." Councilors have suggested the force invests in some torches.

Wizard of Id

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Ayn Rand took government assistance while decrying others who did the same

Noted speed freak, serial-killer fangirl, and Tea Party hero Ayn Rand was also a kleptoparasite, sneakily gobbling up taxpayer funds under an assumed name to pay for her medical treatments after she got lung cancer.
tea-party-john-galt.jpgAn interview with Evva Pryror, a social worker and consultant to Miss Rand's law firm of Ernst, Cane, Gitlin and Winick verified that on Miss Rand's behalf she secured Rand's Social Security and Medicare payments which Ayn received under the name of Ann O'Connor (husband Frank O'Connor). As Pryor said, "Doctors cost a lot more money than books earn and she could be totally wiped out" without the aid of these two government programs. Ayn took the bail out even though Ayn "despised government interference and felt that people should and could live independently... She didn't feel that an individual should take help."
But alas she did and said it was wrong for everyone else to do so.

How to make health-care cheaper by spending more on patients who need it

Atul Gawande's New Yorker feature "The Hot Spotters" is a fascinating look at a small group of doctors and medical practitioners who are working on reducing systemic health care costs by doing data-analysis to locate the tiny numbers of chronically ill patients who consume vastly disproportionate resources because they aren't getting the care they need and so have to visit the emergency room very often (some go to the ER more than once a day!) and often end up with long ICU stays.
The approach is marvelous because it is both data-driven (data-mining is used to identify which patients aren't getting the care they need) and extremely compassionate ("super-utilizers" are voluntarily enrolled in programs where they get 24/7 guaranteed access to doctors, nurses and social workers).
The programs are successful, and even though they cost a lot to administer, they still generate system-wide savings -- one patient helped with this sort of care had previously cost $3.5 million a year because of heavy ER and ICU use.
In other words, providing excellent, personalized care to the small number of patients who don't fit the system's model saves far more money than making the system more stringent, with more paperwork, higher co-pays and other punitive measures.
It's a win-win.
Except that it's not really catching on. Some of the doctors pioneering this approach are frustrated because they can save Medicare or an insurer millions, but they can't get funded by Medicare or the insurers -- instead, they have to fundraise from private foundations.
As he sorts through such stories, Gunn usually finds larger patterns, too. He told me about an analysis he had recently done for a big information-technology company on the East Coast. It provided health benefits to seven thousand employees and family members, and had forty million dollars in "spend." The firm had already raised the employees' insurance co-payments considerably, hoping to give employees a reason to think twice about unnecessary medical visits, tests, and procedures--make them have some "skin in the game," as they say. Indeed, almost every category of costly medical care went down: doctor visits, emergency-room and hospital visits, drug prescriptions. Yet employee health costs continued to rise--climbing almost ten per cent each year. The company was baffled. Gunn's team took a look at the hot spots. The outliers, it turned out, were predominantly early retirees. Most had multiple chronic conditions--in particular, coronary-artery disease, asthma, and complex mental illness. One had badly worsening heart disease and diabetes, and medical bills over two years in excess of eighty thousand dollars. The man, dealing with higher co-payments on a fixed income, had cut back to filling only half his medication prescriptions for his high cholesterol and diabetes. He made few doctor visits. He avoided the E.R.--until a heart attack necessitated emergency surgery and left him disabled with chronic heart failure.
The higher co-payments had backfired, Gunn said. While medical costs for most employees flattened out, those for early retirees jumped seventeen per cent. The sickest patients became much more expensive because they put off care and prevention until it was too late.

Ever done something you regret?

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He has!

Interstellar Spam

If experience with our own communications is any guide, then the first interstellar message we’ll receive from aliens is undoubtedly going to be this:
RE: YOUR COSMIC ASSISTANCE MOST URGENTLY NEEDED.
Hello. I am Young Prince Yirjgun Betel from the Huxdurg-6 system and I wish to interstellar radio with astronomical objects in the Orion Arm in search of an honest and trustworthy life form to partner for most exciting business opportunity this galactic year. I decided to contact Earth because you are a very reputable planet that can assist in a confidential matter of immense benefit for us both.
I want you and I to make a fortune out of a situation that I am obviously left with no better option. The issue I am presenting is that my sun was recently destroyed in a supernova that obliterated most life on my planet, but please do not weep for me: I believe everything happens for a reason. Before my father the Emperor was reduced to cinders he told me of mineral reserves in our solar system he deposited amounting to fifty billion (50.000.000.000) barrels of oil and one hundred thousand (100.000) tons of gold.
Read more of Zachary Martin’s excellent piece about interstellar spam over at McSweeney’s: here.

Crabby Road

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Caution Genius A Work

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Man towing truck without tires blamed for sparking fires

ne man has been arrested after several fires were sparked in McClain County on Thursday afternoon, according to the McClain County Sheriff's Office. McClain County Sheriff officials said Gary Lee Albertson, 35, was towing a truck without any tyres behind his vehicle. The metal on the road then sparked at least four fires within a couple miles of each other near C.R. 1340 and MacArthur Boulevard about a mile south of Highway 74 B.

"We don't encounter this very often. As everybody knows, cigarettes are our biggest concern," said McClain County Sheriff's Lt. Dan Huff. Dibble police arrested Albertson for driving without an license and possession of a firearm, which as a convicted felon he cannot have.


At least one home was heavily damaged from one of the fires and several other homes were threatened. A few other structures were also damaged. "That makes me feel like he must have been kind of a dummy. You know, he shouldn't have been doing that. He should have knew you know with sparks flying out everywhere that something was going to catch on fire," said Rick Montgomery, whose home was damaged by one of the fires.

Firefighters said they were having a difficult time getting a handle on the fires after they moved into open areas, spreading quickly. Dunn said the winds were about 17-20 mph and conditions were very dry. About 60 acres were burned. No injuries were reported.

Non Sequitur

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Even Babies Know That Size Matters

Regardless of what those hippie parents try to tell you, size matters and even babies know it. According to this intriguing study, psychologists found that infants less than one year old understand social dominance and how size factors into it:
"Traditional kings and chieftains sit on large, elevated thrones and wear elaborate crowns or robes that make them look bigger than they really are, and subordinates often bow or kneel to show respect to superior humans and gods," says Thomsen, a research fellow in Harvard’s Department of Psychology and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Copenhagen. "Many animals, like birds and cats, will puff themselves up to look physically larger to an adversary, and prostrate themselves to demonstrate submission, like dogs do. Our work suggests that even with limited socialization, preverbal human infants may understand such displays."

Daily Comic Relief

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Humans Left Trees 4.2 Million Years Ago

Wrist bones of human ancestors reveal when humans switched from living in trees to on the ground.   Read more
  Lucy

Ancient Remains Of What The Giants Left Behind

 

They were here once, the Giants. Majestic and mysterious were their ways. Yet, despite their mystery, somehow they left us clues as to what their life must have been like back then.

During the time of the Giants, Earth must have been like their one country, their one vast playground. On mornings, they would probably gather to watch the sun rise and thank the heavens for another day. This must have been why they left images of themselves showing us their early morning ritual.

Out the window

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Big Buck Bunny


Watch to the very end.

B.C.

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Suicidal woman drives car off cliff with three dogs, two cats, two tortoises and pet parrot

A suicidal woman drove her car off a cliff – with three dogs, two cats, two tortoises and her pet parrot on board.

The driver, 60, suffered broken bones and internal ­injuries, but her pets escaped unscathed when the car landed on rocks.

She was seen ­accelerating towards the 30ft drop into the sea in Marseille, Southern France.

A police spokesman said: “We are treating this as attempted suicide. The pets have been handed to an animal charity.”

You Say Rat I Say Wombat

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This wombat has a sweet tooth.

Iron Age Dog Unearthed Guarding Ancient Treasure

He has lain underground for 2,000 years, loyally doing his duty. But now, archaeologists have unearthed the skeleton of what is believed to be Britain's oldest guard dog, which was sacrificed to protect a hoard of buried treasure.

The skeleton of the dog, which is about the same size as a retriever or Alsatian, was discovered at the site of one of Britain's most important Iron Age excavations.

The Smart Penguin


That and he's one lucky one.

Strange Beastfellows


Let’s just come out and admit it, shall we? The Internet is used to bridge geographical divides, to democratize the spread of information, to create and innovate new ways of entertaining ourselves – and to restore our faith in love by staring for hours at images of cute animals. In that spirit, then, I hereby declare that these twenty unlikely animal pals win at the Internet.
In the Animal Kingdom, friendship often cross the lines of genus and species and results in some oddball inter-special relationships like this.
Defying the laws of nature itself, animal odd couples forge friendships under the most peculiar circumstances. But in the process, they show us that humans aren’t the only members of the animal kingdom to demonstrate complex emotions and traits.

Woman returned rescue dog 'because it clashed with curtains'

A woman returned a rescue dog to a kennels, saying that it clashed with her curtains. The woman, who has not been named, picked up the Jack Russell called Harvey from the Jasmil Kennels and Cattery in Lower Halstow, near Sittingbourne, in Kent - but brought the pooch back 48 hours later.

Barry Shuttleworth, who runs the kennels, said was 'horrified' when the woman, in her late 40s, gave such a trivial reason for returning the three-year-old ginger and white dog. Mr Shuttleworth, 42, said: "In one instance we had a woman come to see us a number of times, who loved a little Jack Russell we had called Harvey. It was perfect for her and she took it home.


"But she brought it back two days later saying it clashed with her curtains and thats why she didn't want it." Mr Shuttleworth's, wife Corrina, 38, said there had been a spate of dogs returned for 'ridiculous reasons'. She said: "In Harvey's case the woman was in the kennels looking for a dog when Harvey was brought in as a stray.

"She fell in love with him straight away and visited him for seven days before being allowed to take him home. The same day she took him home she called us up and said there was a problem with Harvey as his coloring clashed with her lounge curtains. We told her to put him in another room, but two days later she brought him back and said she had spent a lot of money on her curtains and that she didn't want Harvey any more."

Animal Pictures

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