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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, July 11, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
It may feel as if you're speeding along every which way but loose for the time being.
How should you make the most of this energy?
Just try not to force it, or you may end up feeling pouty and resentful instead of focused.
First, observe that you're feeling a little extra-dorky -- then, break down any action item into tiny, manageable steps, and work from there.
Some of our readers today have been in:
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 Sunday, July 11, the 192nd day of 2010.
There are 173 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
Bowdler's Day

Rare Wolf Species Faces Growing Threat In NC

It's been 20 years since the nearly extinct red wolf was reintroduced to North Carolina and still the animals number just about 120, making them some of the rarest mammals on the planet.
The biggest inhibitor to the species' population growth is humans with shotguns and a disdain for the animals that can prey on domestic animals.
Between 1999 and 2006, gunshots accounted for 32 percent of the deaths among breeding wolves and six to eight have been gunned down yearly since 2007.
Illegally killing a red wolf can cost up to a year in prison and a $100,000 fine.
North Carolina's red wolves are largely confined to the Albemarle peninsula and officials hope to reduce shootings with a new management plan.
 More red wolves here.

Implanted telescope lets her see again

Following clinical trial that included Charlottean, FDA approves device to combat macular degeneration.
People suffering from severe age-related macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of blindness in older adults, will soon have a way to see again -- with a tiny telescope implanted in their eye.
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved VisionCare's CentraSight telescope for people 75 and older who have not had their cataracts taken out and have end-stage macular degeneration, the most advanced form of the disease where there is permanent scarring in the eye.
The FDA based its approval of the telescope on results of a clinical trial that included Marian Orr of Charlotte.
Orr was one of 19 patients to receive the telescope seven years ago at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat Associates. The Charlotte practice was the only one in North Carolina to participate in the clinical trial in 2003.
Medicare still has to review and approve the device for coverage, which could take a few months. The cost for screening, surgery, rehabilitation and the device is about $20,000.
Orr, now 80, was diagnosed with macular degeneration in 2001, when the center of her vision became progressively blurrier and darker until much of her eyesight was blocked out.
"My dad and his brother were blind in their later years and I didn't want to be like that," Orr said. With the implanted telescope, she can watch TV and read books.
Age-related macular degeneration affects about 8 million Americans and occurs most commonly in people 60 and older.
The eye telescope is the only implantable device to improve vision for those with end-stage macular degeneration. Laser surgery, light-activated medicine and eye injections can also be used to treat advanced macular degeneration.
The telescope, smaller than a pea, works by allowing light to be focused on working parts of the retina. That helps restore the ability to see what had been previously lost, said Dr. Don Stewart, Orr's ophthalmologist at Charlotte Eye Ear Nose & Throat. He implanted Orr's telescope.
Though the telescope doesn't heal anything, it partially restores central vision -- the ability to see fine detail.
"Anyone can walk around with an external hand-held telescope, but that's not very convenient," he said. "But if it's inside the eye, it's really life-changing for people."
Once implanted, the telescope is unnoticeable. There are two models: One magnifies vision by 2.2 times, the other magnifies by 2.7 times.
To implant the device, doctors remove the cataract from the eye. Then the telescope is put into the support structure of the eye's lens, called the lens capsule, so it sits where the cataract was, said Dr. Kathryn Colby, an ophthalmic surgeon in Boston. She was one of the principal investigators for the clinical study that Orr participated in.
"Someone with end-stage macular degeneration might have a hole in their vision," Colby said, "but with the telescope, we enlarge the image of the face so maybe you're just missing the nose or part of the mouth."
People who receive the implants have to go through rehabilitation to train one eye -- the one with the implant -- to see centrally and the other eye to see peripherally, Colby said.
Because of the telescope, Orr can see the most important things in her life -- her family.
"My grandson once came to me and said, 'Grandma, feel my face so you know who I am,'" she said. "And I said, 'Now I don't have to anymore.'"

Mexican salamander helps uncover mysteries of stem cells and evolution

Dr Andrew Johnson is speaking today (July, 12) at the UK National Stem Cell Network annual conference. He and his team from the University of Nottingham have been using a Mexican aquatic salamander called an axolotl to study the evolution …

I've Got A Feeling

The Beatles

Historians Locate King Arthur's Round Table

Historians, who have longed to find the iconic "round table" used by King Arthur as he ruled and waged war during the medieval ages, may have finally gotten their wish!
Researchers now believe his stronghold of Camelot was built on the site of a recently discovered Roman amphitheatre in Chester, and it may have seated 1000 people.

The World's Most Stunning Lighthouses

Before the development of clearly defined ports mariners were guided by fires built on hilltops. Since raising the fire would improve the visibility, placing the fire on a platform became a practice that led to the development of the lighthouse.

In antiquity, the lighthouse functioned more as an entrance marker to ports than as a warning signal for reefs and promontories, unlike many modern lighthouses.

Here are 43 of the world's most stunning lighthouses.

World Cup Soccer

Well, looks like the Parrot and I were wrong and Paul the Octopus was correct.
Spain took the World Cup 1 - 0 in a rough and decidedly non-pretty match

Something you don't see everyday


They say that living well is the best revenge

Well, that and holding war crimes trials.

Context really is everything.

If you or I decided to disco dance in front of a Nazi death camp, we would deserve all the criticism that could be thrown at us, but this is a survivor of the Holocaust and his family, dancing to celebrate surviving Auschwitz. Some may see it as disrespectful, but if the people who died there could choose, I think they would prefer to be dancing. Further, I think it is entirely valid and appropriate to celebrate life in the face of so much death.

Obviously, grief, sadness and repugnance will always be a part of any visit to such a place of epic horror, but I don't think it is wrong for this man and his family to celebrate his survival. Some of the commentators accuse them of dancing on the graves of millions of dead Jews, but I would look at it as dancing on the grave of the "Thousand Year Reich" that killed so many and tried, unsuccessfully, to kill him.

Remember, every time a Holocaust survivor or one of their descendants smiles, Hitler and his pals are forced to smoke another turd in Hell.

(via The Galloping Beaver)

Battle of Britain

Farmer carves out battle tribute
A farmer has paid a unique tribute to the Battle of Britain by designing a fighter pilot battle against a 10-acre cornfield.

Gray whale swims free from Washington beach

An incoming tide helped a young gray whale swim free off a beach along the Washington coast where it had been stranded in shallow water on a hot summer day.

High Jump Fail

Yep, she's a blond.

And I Quote

“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

~ George Bernard Shaw

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
The most popular theory on the condiment's origin is that it has Chinese roots. 
To steer clear of high-cal dishes while dining out, watch for these menu clues.  

What a lot of money can really buy you

Beyond a certain income level, wealth doesn't buy much more happiness, researchers say. 

Getting into your dream college

Offering too much or too little information can kill your chances at many top schools.

Just the News

Just the News
Does a 25-foot-tall, 122-foot-long dinosaur need a permit to avoid extinction? That's the unlikely dilemma posed by "Vermontasaurus," a whimsical sculpture thrown together with scrap wood by a Vermont man.

German police seized a 3 meter crocodile called Ali after the 65-year-old reptile gave minders the slip and went roaming around Frankfurt.

Police in the Bahamas say they have caught the teenage U.S. fugitive known as the "Barefoot Bandit."A police official says 19-year-old Colton Harris-Moore was arrested Sunday morning on the northern island of Eleuthera.

News of Note

Science News

Scientific Minds Want To Know

Scientific Minds Want To Know

The terrible lizards were happy to scavenge easy meat if it came their way, tooth marks on a Mongolian fossil reveal.

With carbon dioxide levels near our own, the Pliocene Arctic may have warmed much more than we thought – and today's Arctic could go the same way.

The intensity of hurricanes follows a simple mathematical law – a finding that could help us predict how they will respond to climate change.

Crystal Meth by any other name ...

Selections from a list of slang, jargon, and nickname words for methamphetamine, compiled by the Utah Attorney General's Office:
Albino Poo
Buzzard Dust
Chalk Dust
Devil's Dandruff
Eraser Dust
Gonzales (cf. "Speedy")
Haiwaiian Salt
High Speed Chicken Feed
Hillbilly Crack
Laundry Detergent
Redneck Heroin
Smurf Dope
Spun Ducky Woo
The White House

Hundreds more at the Utah webpage.

Rising Stock's reality check

Bullish investors will learn this week if they made the right move buying up stock.  

New Business in China Lets Women Vent Their Frustrations by Breaking Things

A shop in a mall in Shenyang, China, lets women vent their frustrations by smashing household items:
The venting store located in the fourth floor of a shopping mall has a sign “No Men” at the door.
The store is divided into several zones such as a living room and a bedroom. Wang Jingyu, the business manager of the shopping mall said they would like to open a kitchen-like zone later, and they have done this so “women can come here to feel like they are in their own homes but without any limitations, and they can break anything here.”
Customers wear protective helmets and gloves so that they don’t get hurt. They’re limited to 1 minute of mayhem, so they have to go somewhere else if they want to go totally psycho. 

Cash for Appliances program running dry

In some states, the cash rebates for swapping energy-efficient appliances are already gone.  

US income gap highest in 80 years

How can anyone in Washington possibly see this as a good thing? The repugican policies with a heavy dose of help from some Democrats have pushed us in the wrong direction.

More on the Huffington Post.
New data show that the gaps in after-tax income between the richest 1 percent of Americans and the middle and poorest parts of the population in 2007 was the highest it's been in 80 years, while the share of income going to the middle one-fifth of Americans shrank to its lowest level ever.

The CBPP report attributes the widening of this gap partly to Bush Administration tax cuts, which primarily benefited the wealthy. Of the $1.7 trillion in tax cuts taxpayers received through 2008, high-income households received by far the largest -- not only in amount but also as a percentage of income -- which shifted the concentration of after-tax income toward the top of the spectrum.

The average household in the top 1 percent earned $1.3 million after taxes in 2007, up $88,800 just from the prior year, while the income of the average middle-income household hovered around $55,300. While the nation's total income has grown sharply since 1979, according to the CBPP report, the wealthiest households have claimed an increasingly large share of the pie.



Philippe Cousteau dives into oil leak with CNN

The water used to be clear, folks.

The BP Spill and Why It’s Worse Than We All Think

alg oil 
spill The BP Spill and Why It’s Worse Than We All Think
Update: Another reason that it’s so incredibly horrible: The vast majority of the Exxon Valdez cleaners are now dead, with an average life expectancy of 51 years.

Why the BP oil spill is worse than we think:
Each point is expanded upon, with references.

BP repugicans

From the Hill:
Democrats launched a new website on Friday highlighting BP repugicans meant to highlight different GOP lawmakers' defenses of the oil company.

The Democratic National Committee (DNC) seized on Nevada repugican candidate for Senate Sharron Angle's criticism of a $20 billion fund BP created to pay damages to victims of the oil spill, and sought to tie other GOP lawmakers to BP.

The DNC set up a new site, BPRepublicans.com, which casts GOP lawmakers as representing the interests of the oil company in Washington, and not their constituents.

The first image on the site targets Angle, who called the $20 billion account a slush fund on Wednesday, before backing off those remarks later in the day.

What is it?

I know - do you?

Woman's name causes problems at border

Sylvie Nelson is repeatedly questioned at the U.S. border, sometimes even handcuffed.  

Iran halts woman's stoning 'for the time being'

The international condemnation of the execution has been and continues to be massive and intense.

Probe Sought Into Alcohol-Energy Drinks

New York Sen. Charles Schumer is urging the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the marketing of flavored alcoholic beverages with caffeine that appear to be explicitly designed to attract underage drinkers.

The Dark Side of Perfectionism Revealed

One might assume perfectionists are being models for physical well-being. 
But new research suggests this is not always the case — the trait seems to bring both perils and profits.

Flights diverted and delayed when a UFO was detected hovering over Chinese airport

An unidentified flying object (UFO) disrupted air traffic over Zhejiang's provincial capital Hangzhou late on Wednesday, the municipal government said on Thursday.

Xiaoshan Airport was closed after the UFO was detected at around 9 pm, and some flights were rerouted to airports in the cities of Ningbo and Wuxi , said an airport spokesman, who declined to be named. The airport had resumed operations, and more details will be released after an investigation, he said.

A source with knowledge of the matter, however, said that authorities had learned what the UFO was after an investigation. But it was not the proper time to publicly disclose the information because there was a military connection, he said, adding that an official explanation is expected to be given later.

Inbound flights were diverted to the nearby airports in Zhejiang province's Ningbo and Jiangsu province's Wuxi. Outbound flights were delayed for three to four hours. A staff member at the airport's information desk said the airport had "no idea" how many flights were affected by the closure.

Just curious

Just curious, you know

Custard-Like Liquid Armor Solidifies Instantly

Four years ago the US Army was developing body armor that is normally a liquid, but turns into a solid when it’s hit. Britain’s military researchers have come up with something similar, but now there’s clear evidence that it can withstand the impact of a bullet:
The BAE scientists describe it as “bullet-proof custard”.
“It’s very similar to custard in the sense that the molecules lock together when it’s struck,” explained Stewart Penny, business development manager in charge of materials development at the company.[...]
“In standard bullet-proof vests, we use thick, heavy, layered plates of Kevlar that restrict movement and contribute to fatigue,” said Mr Penny.
In the tests, scientists used a large gas gun to fire ball bearing-shaped metal bullets at over 300 metres per second into two test materials – 31 layers of untreated kevlar and 10 layers of kevlar combined with the shear-thickening liquid.
“The Kevlar with the liquid works much faster and the impact isn’t anything like as deep,” he explained.

Monkeys trained as battlefield killers in Afghanistan

Afghanistan's Taliban warlords have developed a bizarre way to deal with foreign forces: they have trained monkeys who love to eat bananas and peanuts to be killers. Taliban forces have taught monkeys how to use the Kalashnikov, Bren light machine gun and trench mortars. They also teach them how to identify and attack soldiers wearing U.S. military uniforms.

Ironically, the idea of training monkeys to fight was first invented by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. The CIA in the Vietnam War initiated a program that used the peanuts and bananas as prizes to train some "monkey soldiers" to kill Vietnamese in the jungle.

It is reported that these monkey soldiers are mainly composed of macaques and baboons hunted at an early age in the jungle and sold to the Taliban. These monkey babies who lost their mothers are sent to a secret Taliban training base to become killer monkeys. Taliban militants use a series of rewards and punishments to gradually teach them how to use the lethal weapons.

Recently, a British journalist went to Pakistan and Afghanistan border of Waziristan’s tribal region where he witnessed a few of the monkey soldiers armed with an AK-47 rifle and Bren light machine gun. Taliban militants in the past have strictly kept the program secret.

However, Taliban leaders have recently taken the initiative show monkey soldiers to tourists of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border area. Apparently, the Taliban look on monkeys as "propaganda tools."

"If a person who loves animals knows the monkeys may be injured in the war, they might pressure the government to force the withdrawal of western forces in Afghanistan," said one Taliban insider. A senior U.S. military source confirmed the existence of the Taliban monkey soldiers, military experts call armed monkeys "monkey terrorists."

Why religion is a bad thing

It makes stupidity a virtue and reason a 'sin'.

People Who Turned a Life of Crime Into Legitimate Careers

People can pick up skills in the strangest places. Georgia Durante learned evasive driving techniques when she was married to a mobster and drove a getaway car.
Years of evading the police had taught Georgia how to drive like an action hero, so she formed Performance Two, a stunt and precision driving company and wrote a book about her life as a model and mafia wife. Her company has done stunts for over 100 movies and commercials, and she’s personally doubled for both Cindy Crawford and Priscilla Presley.
Durante is just one of 6 People Who Turned a Life of Crime Into Legitimate Careers that you can read about at Cracked.

Woman jailed for making threats to herself

A 25-year-old Santa Ana woman was sentenced to a year in jail on Friday for sending hundreds of threatening text messages – to herself. Jeanne Mundango Manunga's criminal problem was that she blamed the harassing text messages on an ex-boyfriend and his sister-in-law, and reported them to the police. They were arrested on false charges of making criminal threats and required to post thousands of dollars in bail. The sister-in-law was arrested three times, and spent some time in custody before she could gather enough funds to pay the bail on her third arrest.

A jury convicted Manunga of three felony counts of false imprisonment by fraud or deceit and two misdemeanor counts of making a false police report in May. On Friday, Superior Court Judge Patrick H. Donahue sentenced Manunga to a year in jail, placed her on three years probation, told her to stay away from her ex-boyfriend and his sister-in-law, and ordered her to repay the victims about $50,000 in restitution.

Deputy District Attorney Mena Guirguis said that after Manunga and her former boyfriend stopped dating in 2008, she took out a pre-paid cell phone in his sister-in-law's name, and started sending the threatening text messages to her regular cell phone. Manunga then went to three different police departments on at least 19 occasions and claimed that the ex-boyfriend and the sister-in-law were behind the threats. Her scheme was uncovered when the victims went to the phone store, talked with the salesman and learned that Manunga had bought the pre-paid phone under the sister-in-law's name, Guirguis said.

They reported that information to a Costa Mesa police detective, but by then a third arrest warrant had been issued for the sister-in-law. During a follow-up investigation, the detective discovered that most of the threatening text messages were sent when the pre-paid cell phone was in close proximity to Manjunga's home or work, Guirguis said. At the sentencing hearing on Friday, the two victims said they were devastated about being arrested on false charges, and worried about clearing their names.

Woman gets 30 days in jail for taping dog to fridge

Abby Toll cried as she told a judge she was sorry for taping an 11-pound Shiba Inu to a boyfriend's refrigerator. Minutes later, a Boulder judge sentenced 21-year-old Toll to 30 days in jail and three years of probation. It was less than the 90 days prosecutors had sought, but more than her defense attorney felt was appropriate.

Judge Maria Berkenkotter called Toll's actions "bizarre, senseless and cruel" before sentencing the former University of Colorado student to jail. "This wasn't an act that occurred in a flash," she said. "Ms. Toll had to have thought it through."

Boulder investigators believe Toll bound the little dog's snout and legs before using packing tape to tie "Rex" upside down on her then-boyfriend's fridge in April of last year. Earlier this year, a Boulder jury found Toll guilty of aggravated animal cruelty. Technically Toll faced up to 18 months in jail, but the judge decided that wasn't appropriate considering, at least in part, that Toll had no previous criminal history.

Prosecutors had sought to bring "Rex" into the courtroom for Friday's sentencing hearing. The judge denied the request. Toll appeared shaken in front of the judge. "There has not been one day that I haven't thought of Rex and the pain he went though," Toll explained to the judge. "It's now my duty to prove to society that I am not the monster they claim me to be."

Toll's mother explained that her daughter actually grew up loving animals. "Her history with animals is extraordinary," Sherry Toll said. "Her real true love are dogs," she added as she held up a collage of images of Abby Toll and various animals.

Rex is now known as "Yoshi." Yoshi's new owner attended Friday's sentencing hearing as well. "Sadness is what I feel for [Toll]. What she did was reprehensible. It's terrible and to think that she chose to do this, that she did this to herself, it's depressing," Shannon Park said.



Explanation of how our coroprations work

The Americans and the Japanese decided to engage in a competitive boat race. Both teams practiced hard and long to reach their peak performance. On the big day the Japanese won by a mile.

The American team was discouraged by the loss. Morale sagged. Corporate management decided that the reason for the crushing defeat had to be found, so a consulting firm was hired to investigate the problem and recommend corrective action.

The consultant's finding: The Japanese team had eight people rowing and one person steering; the American team had one person rowing and eight people steering.
After a year of study and millions spent analyzing the problem, the American team's management structure was completely reorganized.

The new structure: four steering managers, three area steering managers, and a new performance review system for the person rowing the boat to provide work incentive.
The next year, the Japanese won by two miles!

Humiliated, the American corporation laid off the rower for poor performance and gave the managers a bonus for discovering the problem.

Snoop Dogg Tried to Rent the Entire Nation of Liechtenstein to Shoot a Music Video

Rapper Snoop Dogg tried to rent the entire Principality of Liechtenstein — all 62 square miles of it — in order to record a music video:
Snoop was reportedly trying to shoot a music video in the tiny Western European country, but was rebuffed … and not because trying to rent an entire country is a crazy thing to do. Says Liechtenstein property agent Karl Schwaerzler, “We’ve had requests for places and villages but never one to hire the whole country before. It would have been possible, but Snoop Dogg’s management did not give us enough time.”