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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Friday, July 9, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Cut the excess today.
Some believe that nothing exceeds like excess, but you're definitely not in the opposite camp, and especially now.
You're much hardier, and you know that those with the lightest baggage move at the quickest pace.
Whatever you find excessive, heavy or just plain unnecessary you need to leave behind.
If it turns out you need it later, you can always improvise.
Some of our readers today have been in:
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

as well as France, and the United States in such cities as West Columbia, Los Angeles, New York, Durham and more.

For some reason yet to be explained the service we use to track our visitors ceased functioning properly at 4AM on July 8th so the tracking is off for the moment.

Today is Thursday, July 9, the 190th day of 2010.
There are 175 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
Martyrdom of the Bab Day

Wizard of Id

Wizard of Id

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
Learn how pro chefs salvage salty soup, sticky noodles, charred steak, and more.
These drive-through calorie bombs can contain up to two days' worth of fat.

Quick, simple things to grill.

101 quick, simple things to grill.

Are Facebook and Twitter Blog Killers?

Just like video killed the radio star, are Facebook and Twitter killing blogs? Here’s an interesting article over at The Economist about how the growth of blogging has slowed down and, in some countries, even stalled:
ONLINE archaeology can yield surprising results. When John Kelly of Morningside Analytics, a market-research firm, recently pored over data from websites in Indonesia he discovered a “vast field of dead blogs”. Numbering several thousand, they had not been updated since May 2009. Like hastily abandoned cities, they mark the arrival of the Indonesian version of Facebook, the online social network. [...]
Blogs are a confection of several things that do not necessarily have to go together: easy-to-use publishing tools, reverse-chronological ordering, a breezy writing style and the ability to comment. But for maintaining an online journal or sharing links and photos with friends, services such as Facebook and Twitter (which broadcasts short messages) are quicker and simpler.
Charting the impact of these newcomers is difficult. Solid data about the blogosphere are hard to come by. Such signs as there are, however, all point in the same direction. Earlier in the decade, rates of growth for both the numbers of blogs and those visiting them approached the vertical. Now traffic to two of the most popular blog-hosting sites, Blogger and WordPress, is stagnating, according to Nielsen, a media-research firm. By contrast, Facebook’s traffic grew by 66% last year and Twitter’s by 47%. Growth in advertisements is slowing, too. Blogads, which sells them, says media buyers’ inquiries increased nearly tenfold between 2004 and 2008, but have grown by only 17% since then. Search engines show declining interest, too.

Amateur finds hoard of ancient coins

A "funny signal" from his metal detector leads Dave Crisp to a historic discovery.  

World Cup Soccer

Mani, a 13-year-old parakeet, picks up a card with the flag of the Netherlands
A crowd of soccer fans leans forward as Mani, Singapore's World Cup-forecasting parakeet, creeps out of his small wooden cage and chooses between two white cards - one hiding the flag of the Netherlands, the other Spain.If the bird's many new believers are right, Holland will win its first World Cup championship Sunday.
Eyes around the world were on Germany's octopus oracle Paul on Friday as he made his biggest prediction yet in the World Cup: Spain will beat the Netherlands in the final.

This should be interesting both the bird and the octopus are batting 100% so far.
But sorry Paul I got to go with the bird on this one.
Both Spain and the Netherlands will be looking for their first World Cup title Sunday.
Players upset with the World Cup ball now have scientific proof to back up their claims.  
A goalie in Ireland is caught by surprise after a ball caroms off a teammate's head from 30 yards out. 
The five highest paid players aren't on any of the remaining World Cup teams.
"Paul" goes from German hero to pariah after a correct World Cup semifinal pick. 

Officer defies orders, saves sergeant's life

James Atkins and Grevirlene Kersellius were racing to a call when a serious danger arose.

Things They Won't Tell You

Things They Won't Tell You
Learn how to get the best deal on a bed and breakfast stay and what to ask before you book.  

Double-rainbow fanatic wins over Web

Paul Vasquez's emotional reaction to a rare sighting makes him a viral video star.

The Hottest

Saheed Dillard has to drink 15 quarts of water a day to make it through his shift.  
East Coast temperatures are stifling, but they aren't close to what Africa felt in 1922.  

Cities transform into 'heat islands'

When temps rise to extremes, buildings and paved roads turn hazardous for urban areas.

Missiles deployed near China draw notice

A new class of super weapon surfaces in the Pacific, signaling a change in U.S. priorities.  

Typical Corporate Boondoggle

Wal-Mart spends $2M to avoid paying $7,000 fine over employee who was trampled to death.

Wal-Mart CEO Michael T. Duke makes average workers' annual salary every hour.

Secret code in logo inspires many theories

The emblem of the newly formed U.S. Cyber Command has a code hidden in its inner ring. 
Well so much for it being a 'secret':
Someone cracks the code hidden in the U.S. Cyber Command's logo in just three hours.  

Intricate U.S.-Russia spy swap unfolds

Ten people plead guilty in the U.S. in exchange for the release of four spies by Russia.  

Post-9/11 checkpoints hampering city life

Barricades established after the terror attacks still restrict the travel of NYC residents.  

Trouble brewing for Curves gyms

The once fast-growing women's fitness centers seem to be running out of steam.  

The 'Big One's Coming'

Xaos fractal
Robert Prechter, who uses technical analysis, a theory that holds that there are mathematically computable patterns in the stock market, think’s we’re in for the “big one” in a big way:
Mr. Prechter is convinced that we have entered a market decline of staggering proportions — perhaps the biggest of the last 300 years. [...]
Originating in the writings of Ralph Nelson Elliott, an obscure accountant who found repetitive patterns, or “fractals,” in the stock market of the 1930s and ’40s, the theory suggests that an epic downswing is under way, Mr. Prechter said. But he argued that even skeptical investors should take his advice seriously. [...]
For a rough parallel, he said, go all the way back to England and the collapse of the South Sea Bubble in 1720, a crash that deterred people “from buying stocks for 100 years,” he said. This time, he said, “If I’m right, it will be such a shock that people will be telling their grandkids many years from now, ‘Don’t touch stocks.’ ”

Warren Buffett reveals 'best advice'

The billionaire investor's secret to success has nothing to do with stocks.

Big money mistakes young families make

Thinking there's "nothing wrong with a little debt" can be a huge blunder.  

Secrets of credit score perfectionists

There are two factors that account for fully two-thirds of your credit score.

TSA Backs Off Censoring "Controversial Opinion" Sites

I guess that means they'll still be reading this blog, then.
After intense media scrutiny, the Transportation Security Administration on Tuesday backed off a new policy that would have restricted employees from visiting "controversial opinion" sites at work.

Employees at the TSA were initially informed last Friday that five categories of websites would be blocked on internal computers. They included: chat/messaging, criminal activity, extreme violence and gruesome content, gaming and controversial opinion.

But following questions about how broadly the last category would be interpreted, the TSA sent around an e-mail to employees on Tuesday saying "controversial opinion" sites would not be blocked.

"After further review, TSA determined this category may contain some sites that do not violate TSA's policy and therefore has concluded that the category is no longer being considered for implementation," the e-mail said. "Our intent is not, and never has been, to limit your ability to access or share 'controversial opinions.'"

The TSA explained that the five categories had been defined by their "IT software" and were based on concerns that those kinds of sites could either pose an "increased security risk" or violate the agency's "acceptable use" policy.

The TSA said in a written statement earlier Tuesday, before the revised policy was announced, that the agency "routinely" improves its computer system to stay ahead of "cyber threats," and that the technology limiting website access is part of that. The TSA clarified that it would not block access to "critical commentary about the organization."

The statement said the agency created websites like The TSA Blog to "promote diverse opinions."

American dream eludes new generation

Scott Nicholson never thought his career prospects would be worse than anything his father or grandfather faced.  

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic Fringe
When dealing with wingnuts ... Remember the rule: 
If they accuse someone of something, then they're already guilty of it.
Liars and Fools
Jay Severin lies: President Obama is "demonstrably a racist".
No he is not, however talking into the mirror only provides proof you are.

Lush Dimbulb lies: President Obama is deliberately destroying the American economy, because he's Black.
So, the racist in your lard ass is coming out clearer and clearer, eh, Lush.

Lush Dimbulb lies: Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan disavows Declaration of Independence and "is throwing the Constitution down the toilet".
No, that was your idol the shrub and we stopped him and you don't like it ... you know what? Tough shit!

Lunatic Ted Nugent lies: the Obama administration is "spitting on the U.S. Constitution, the Bill Of Rights, the Ten Commandments".
No that was your idol the shrub and we stopped ... Oh, but I repeat myself. Ted you are and were never a good guitar player go back to your cave and practice some more.

Lush Dimbulb lies: "We are now governed by people who do not like the country"; "our greatest threat ... is internal".
No that was your idol ... Oh, hell here I go repeating myself again. Lush you're an idiot, an deluded, demented idiot.

Georgia repugican candidate for Congress Jody Hice attacks President Obama with communist hammer-and-sickle billboards.
OK, now which is going to be Nazi Swastikas or Soviet Hammer and Sickles? You can't have it both ways, especially when both ways are incorrect in the first place. 

Lunatic Mark Levin lies that Obama has "taken our health care away".
No, he hasn't, but Congress has expanded it for us anyway.

Demented moron Michael Savage lies: Obama is "more aptly" compared to Mussolini than to Hitler".
Yep, it was past due - the erroneous comparisons continue - moving on to the Fascists (which were the 'repugican' party on Italy)  Nazis-Soviets-Fascists they've covered them all next will be the Huns, Vandals, Mongols, etc.


On The Job

On The Job

Fierce debate over jobless benefits
Experts are asking: Do unemployment benefits discourage people from looking for work?
» 99 weeks in some states 

Representing yourself and acting like you're crazy isn't a defense

Two mortgage refinance con-artists tried to get out of jail by representing themselves in court, then acting like total idiots, and finally appealing on the grounds that they were bad lawyers for themselves. The court wasn't amused: "The record clearly shows that the defendants are fools, but that is not the same as being incompetent. . . . [T]hey had the right to represent themselves and go down in flames if they wished, a right the district court was required to respect."
According to the court, the two set out to sabotage their own case, filing "meaningless and nonsensical documents," wearing prison garb in front of the jury, and making bizarre comments such as asking the jury to "enter a guilty plea for us." The defendants also advanced a "peculiar theory" that "they were 'sentient human beings' distinct from the abstract titles 'Defendants KURT F. JOHNSON AND DALE SCOTT HEINEMAN' as they were referred to in the indictment and court documents." That sounds a lot like the thoroughly dumb "personal sovereignty" arguments that we have seen before, and although you have to wonder whether people making these arguments are not entirely in touch with reality, the trial judge had these guys were evaluated by a doctor who found neither one was suffering from a mental disorder. But on appeal - after an unsurprising conviction - they argued that the district court should not have let them represent themselves, as they had demanded, because "their own courtroom behavior rendered their trial unfair."

Missed opportunity in kidnap case

Parole agents spoke with Jaycee Dugard while she was still being held captive, a report reveals.  

Man finds weed in his weeds

That's after he told police in this northcentral Idaho university town that he discovered a tray of some 28 marijuana seedlings in an overgrown portion of the backyard near his Moscow home.

Bad Cops

Bad Cops

Man with 'hot smoked sausages' in pants arrested

A man accused of sticking "hot smoked sausages" down his pants at a Hess station got a trip to lockup for his alleged afternoon absconding, according to a recently released arrest affidavit.

The man with the meat in his trousers - 62-year-old John Henry Brown - faces a misdemeanor petty theft charge following the reported July 3 sausage swiping at a Hess in the 4100 block of U.S. 1 in Vero Beach.

The victim told an Indian River County Sheriff's deputy that Brown walked in, took a pack of Gilchrist Brand hot smoked sausages and put them "down the back of his pants."

The "signature line" of the decades old Gilchrist Brand includes a variety of mild and hot smoked sausages in short and long lengths as well as bacon and souse. The corporate office is in Ocala.

Brown exited the store and as he got to the car he was riding in he looked back. He saw the victim on the phone "causing him to bend down and toss the sausages under the vehicle."

Investigators spied the shoplifted smoked sausage, valued at $4.99, under the vehicle's passenger side. Brown declined to speak with investigators. It wasn't immediately clear what happened to the smoked sausages.



Scientific Minds Want To Know

Scientific Minds Want To Know
What Would Happen if the Earth's Rotation Stopped?
Scientists used geographic modeling software to come up with a realistic answer to an unrealistic question: what would happen if the earth ceased its rotation?
If earth ceased rotating about its axis but continued revolving around the sun and its axis of rotation maintained the same inclination, the length of a year would remain the same, but a day would last as long as a year. In this fictitious scenario, the sequential disappearance of centrifugal force would cause a catastrophic change in climate and disastrous geologic adjustments (expressed as devastating earthquakes) to the transforming equipotential gravitational state.
The lack of the centrifugal effect would result in the gravity of the earth being the only significant force controlling the extent of the oceans. Prominent celestial bodies such as the moon and sun would also play a role, but because of their distance from the earth, their impact on the extent of global oceans would be negligible.
If the earth’s gravity alone was responsible for creating a new geography, the huge bulge of oceanic water—which is now about 8 km high at the equator—would migrate to where a stationary earth’s gravity would be the strongest. This bulge is attributed to the centrifugal effect of earth’s spinning with a linear speed of 1,667 km/hour at the equator. The existing equatorial water bulge also inflates the ellipsoidal shape of the globe itself.

Dig unearths prehistoric sabre-toothed 'badger'
Palaeontologists think they have unearthed a rare fossil of a sabre-toothed carnivore which may have roamed Australia millions of years ago.

A star-sized black hole is observed blowing a vast bubble of hot gas 1,000 light-years across.

New Deep-Sea Life Forms in the Atlantic Ocean

Purple-winged enteropneust. Photo: David Shale
Scientists first thought that the deep valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, a massive undersea mountain in the Atlantic Ocean, was too harsh a climate for life. But when they explored the region down to the depths of 12,000 feet, they discovered a myriad of intriguing species, including this strange purple worm:
Blind, purple, and peculiar, this primitive, deep-sea life-form may be akin to the common ancestor of humans and all other backboned animals, according to scientists.
One of three new species of enteropneust acorn worm discovered during the mid-Atlantic survey, the creature has no eyes, no obvious sense organs, and no brain. "This is about as primitive as you can go," team member Monty Priede said.
But, he added, "they’ve got a head end and a tail end—the basic body plan of vertebrates." Such living fossils "represent the first mobile animals."
National Geographic has the gallery of new species: Full Story

Battle against oil faces 2 pivotal moments

A pair of upcoming maneuvers could affect how the Gulf catastrophe ends.

Weekend total solar eclipse visible to lucky few

A total eclipse of the sun occurs Sunday, but don't be so quick to take out your special viewing glasses.

Solar plane's historic Alpine flight

A project seven years in the making aims to prove planes can fly day and night without fuel.  

Scientists Discover New Fish, Unfortunately it's Covered By the Gulf Spill

halieutichthys intermedius batfish photo
The newly-described Halieutichthys intermedius batfish. 
Image credit: Ho, Chakrabarty & Sparks
Though the Gulf of Mexico is one of the most intensely studied marine environments on the planet, there is still room for discovery. Scientists have managed to discover and describe three new species of fish—all of which live in areas partially or completely covered by the Gulf oil spill.
The three fish are members of the Ogcocephalidae, a group of bottom-dwelling anglers sometimes known as "pancake batfish." The fish may not be attractive—some have described their movements as "grotesque"—but the finding underscores the potential vastness of biodiversity still waiting to be uncovered in the world's oceans.
John Sparks, curator of Ichthyology at the American Museum of Natural History, commented that:
If we are still finding new species of fishes in the Gulf, imagine how much diversity—especially microdiversity—is out there that we do not know about.
While two of the species live in the northeastern Gulf coast, the third occupies a range that roughly mirrors that of the oil spill.
"These discoveries," Sparks said, "underscore the potential loss of undocumented biodiversity that a disaster of this scale may portend."
Read more about animals and the oil spill:
Gulf Spill Exclusive: Shocking Marine Life Destruction and Angry Locals (Slideshow)
BP Bans Workers From Sharing Photos of Animals Killed by the Oil Spill
How Will the BP Oil Spill Affect Critically Endangered Bluefin Tuna?

British shrimp 'getting high on Prozac'

Shrimp around the coasts of Britain are getting high on antidepressants. Sea life is being exposed to potentially damaging amounts of chemicals found in the drug Prozac, researchers at the University of Portsmouth, in southern England, discovered. In tests, the small crustaceans were exposed to the same levels of fluoxetine as found in British waste waters.

Scientists found that the test shrimp were five times more likely to swim toward the light instead of away from it, making the creatures more likely to be eaten by fish or birds. The change in behavior could potentially devastate the shrimp population.

“Crustaceans are crucial to the food chain and if shrimps’ natural behavior is being changed because of antidepressant levels in the sea this could seriously upset the natural balance of the ecosystem,” said Dr Alex Ford. “It’s no surprise that what we get from the pharmacy will also be contaminating the country’s waterways.”

He said that some shrimps were taking on the excreted prescription drugs of whole towns. Prescriptions for antidepressants have risen rapidly in recent years, according to offical statistics. In 2002, there were 26.3 million antidepressant prescriptions handed out by doctors in England and Wales, yet the environmental effect of pharmaceuticals in sewage was largely unexplored.

There's an audio interview with Dr Ford here.

Stem Cells From Human Blood Can Be Reprogrammed

blood donation
Blood drawn with a simple needle stick can be coaxed into producing stem cells that may have the ability to form any type of tissue in the body, three independent papers report in the July 2 Cell Stem Cell. The new technique will allow scientists to tap a large, readily available source of personalized stem cells.
Because taking blood is safe, fast and efficient compared to current stem cell harvesting methods, some of which include biopsies and pretreatments with drugs, researchers hope that blood-derived stem cells could one day be used to study and treat diseases — though major safety hurdles remain.