Welcome to ...

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.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You'd always rather keep your mouth shut and look like a fool than open it and remove all doubt -- that's why you've never been a fan of emotional chatter.
Lately, though, you've been spouting off, and you may be starting to get used to it.
While today may not be all that surprising to you, expect your actions to shock others, especially those close to you.
It's only right to warn them before you get going!

Today is:
Today is Monday, July 12, the 193rd day of 2010.
There are 172 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
International Town Criers Day

Thought for the Day

I can please only one person per day. 

Today is not your day. 

Tomorrow isn't looking good either.

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
Grilled kabobs with steak, potatoes, and onions make for a fun, quick meal.

Hot in the Arctic

Wenk's Yellow Hots, Pico de Gallos and the unpredictably hot San Juan "Tsiles" chili peppers have safely arrived at a "doomsday" vault in the Arctic.

Swimming 'should stop in Ramadan'

More reason why religion is for idiots!
Swimming 'should stop in Ramadan'
The swimming guidelines are aimed at "removing barriers to full participation".
Swimming lessons in some Staffordshire schools should stop during Ramadan to ensure Muslim pupils "do not swallow water", a council has suggested.
This is going too far to appease idiots!
First they want to stop teaching Sex Ed, now they want to end Phys Ed!
Because it may offend.
Well, prepare to be offended!

Calling Daddy

Anna Chapman's KGB veteran father had a key role in the espionage caper, sources say.  

Footsteps of the 'Barefoot Bandit'

Washington teen Colton Harris-Moore's alleged two-year crime spree ends in the Bahamas.  

Devastation haunts Haiti quake victims

Six months after the disaster, recovery is still being choked by rubble and violence.  

Blasts rock World Cup parties in Uganda

At least 64 die, including an American, in attacks linked to suspected Somali Islamists.  
There are few details now but authorities believe there is an al-Qaeda link.
Police Chief Kale Kaihura originally said at least 30 people had been killed, though the toll could be higher.

Later, a senior police official at the scene said that 64 people had been killed 49 from the rugby club and 15 at the Ethiopian restaurant. The official said he could not be identified.

Kaihura said he suspected al-Shabab, that country's most hardline militant group. Its fighters, including two recruited from the Somali communities in the United States, have carried out multiple suicide bombings in Somalia. If al-Shabab was responsible, it would be the first time the group has carried out attacks outside of Somalia.

Simultaneous attacks are also one of al-Qaida's hallmarks. In Mogadishu, Somalia, Sheik Yusuf Sheik Issa, an al-Shabab commander, told The Associated Press that he was happy with the attacks in Uganda. Issa refused to confirm or deny that al-Shabab was responsible for the bombings.

World Cup Soccer

While Landon Donovan proved himself, other stars crumbled in South Africa, a writer says.  
The legend of Paul the Oracle Octopus takes one last amazing step in Sunday's World Cup final. 
A less annoying fan craze is one change a writer would like to see when Brazil plays host in 2014.  

World Cup interview derailed by a kiss

Things don't go according to plan when reporter Sara Carbonero interviews her boyfriend, Spain's Iker Casillas.

World Cup hero's touching T-shirt tribute

Spain's Andres Iniesta celebrates his winning goal by saluting a player who recently died.

The stark reality for American soccer

The U.S. won't seriously contend for the World Cup until kids want to be like Landon Donovan.  

Consumer Reports won't recommend the iPhone 4

Despite the huge publicity around the iPhone 4's antenna design issue, people are still rushing to by the device in droves. While the public loves the device, Consumer Reports however, said that it can't recommend the device based on the reception issue, which it reproduced itself.

Chicago's tough new gun ordinance goes into effect

A new gun ordinance in Chicago that officials say is the strictest of its kind in the country went into effect on Monday.
And the gun nuts are fuming, too.

Best places to live in America

Money magazine names the top small cities in the U.S. to raise a family.  

Huge Banyan Tree Shades Historic Hawaiian Market

photo international marketplace hawaii
Shopping at the International Marketplace in Honolulu, Hawaii, is like shopping under a Pandora hometree from the movie "Avatar." You don't need 3-D glasses. You don't even need sunglasses. This marketplace, across from Waikiki Beach, is shaded by a huge banyan tree that forms a natural awning over about 130 local vendors who sell their wares to visitors.

Fort Jefferson

A military fort, out in the ocean, with a moat! Fort Jefferson is a part of Dry Tortugas National Park in the waters off of Key West, Florida. Construction on the “fort in the middle of nowhere” was started in 1846. It was originally meant for the defense of the US, but during the 30 years of construction, some design features became obsolete for that purpose.
During and after the Civil War the fort began to be used as a prison for deserters and other criminals. In 1874 the army completely abandoned the fort after several hurricanes and a yellow fever epidemic, and it wasn’t until 1898 that the military returned in the form of the navy, which used the facilities during the Spanish-American War. The fort was also used from 1888 through 1900 as a quarantine station, and was garrisoned again briefly during World War I.



Top 10 U.S. Cities For Green Job Seekers

photo via SOS Ministries
Recently, friends and new college graduates have been asking me how they can get into the field of sustainability. When the question has arisen, I have found myself wondering where the green jobs are sprouting. Then, yesterday, I came across a post in Mother Nature Network listing the top 10 cities for green jobs. California led the pack with three of its cities: San Francisco, Los Angeles and Sacramento in the top 10. Green jobs increased in California by 36% between 1995 and 2008, compared with an overall job growth of only 13%. The top ten list follows:

Coast Guard Selling 11 Lighthouses

The U.S. Coast Guard said it is seeking buyers for 11 no-longer-needed lighthouses, including three historic Great Lakes locations in Michigan.

Note: The Lighthouse image above is of one on Prince Edward Island, Canada and is not for sale - at least not by the U.S. Coast Guard anyway.

Tough to-do list greets returning Congress

After a weeklong break, lawmakers face a full agenda including a contentious financial reform battle.  

On The Job

On The Job
After years of advising workers, a career expert reveals her five very best tips.  

How 2 million lost jobless benefits

Keeping unemployment benefits flowing for millions of workers whose jobs were eaten by the recession should have been a slam dunk in an election year.

Non Sequitur

Non Sequitur

Mark Twain's Unexpurgated Autobiography

This is the first of a three volume set of Twain's autobiography, which includes many of Twain's observations that were filtered out in early editions.  I definitely plan to read all of them.  Twain is one of heroes.

Twain's opposition to incipient imperialism and American military intervention in Cuba and the Philippines, for example, were well known even in his own time. But the uncensored autobiography makes it clear that those feelings ran very deep and includes remarks that, if made today in the context of Iraq or Afghanistan, would probably lead the wingnuts to question the patriotism of this most American of American writers.

Mark Twain

American Creativity Declining

The Creativity Crisis
Great stuff on value of creativity, its neuroscience, and how it can be taught:
Kyung Hee Kim at the College of William & Mary discovered this in May, after analyzing almost 300,000 Torrance scores of children and adults. Kim found creativity scores had been steadily rising, just like IQ scores, until 1990. Since then, creativity scores have consistently inched downward. “It’s very clear, and the decrease is very significant,” Kim says. It is the scores of younger children in America—from kindergarten through sixth grade—for whom the decline is “most serious.” [...]
Overwhelmed by curriculum standards, American teachers warn there’s no room in the day for a creativity class. Kids are fortunate if they get an art class once or twice a week. But to scientists, this is a non sequitur, borne out of what University of Georgia’s Mark Runco calls “art bias.” The age-old belief that the arts have a special claim to creativity is unfounded. When scholars gave creativity tasks to both engineering majors and music majors, their scores laid down on an identical spectrum, with the same high averages and standard deviations. Inside their brains, the same thing was happening—ideas were being generated and evaluated on the fly.

See also:

A turn of a phrase

Harbinger of doom
A sign, warning of bad things to come.
We now use 'harbinger' in a metaphorical sense, meaning 'forerunner; announcer'. With that meaning, almost anything can be harbingered - not exactly an everyday word that, but one that has been in occasional use since the 17th century. We sometimes hear of 'harbingers of Spring', or 'harbingers of day', but it is the 'harbingers of doom' that are the busiest in our present-day language.
The original meaning of harbinger was quite specific and had nothing to do with any of the above. In the 12th century, a harbinger was a lodging-house keeper. The word derives from 'harbourer' or, as they spelled it then, 'herberer' or 'herberger' , i.e. one who harbours people for the night. 'Herberer' derives from the French word for 'inn' - 'auberge'. 'Ye herbergers' are referred to (as common lodging-house keepers) in the Old English text The Lambeth Homilies, circa 1175.
By the 13th century, 'harbinger' had migrated from its original meaning of lodging keeper, to refer to a scout who went ahead of a military force or royal court to book lodgings for the oncoming horde. This is the source of the 'advance messenger' meaning that we understand now. Geoffrey Chaucer was the first to record this meaning of 'harbinger', in The Man of Law's Tale, circa 1386:
The fame anon thurgh toun is born
How Alla kyng shal comen on pilgrymage,
By herbergeours that wenten hym biforn
[The news through all the town was carried,
How King Alla would come on pilgrimage,
By harbingers that went before him
It was some centuries until the figurative usage, when people began to speak of harbingers of things other than approaching royalty or house guests. The first suggestion of 'doom', or 'ruin' as the Edinburgh Advertiser had it, came in September 1772:
"The spirit of migration [from Scotland] is the infant harbinger of devoted ruin."
We're all 
doomedIt is rather appropriate to find that early usage coming from Scotland. The character of Private Frazer, in Dad's Army, a well-known (in the UK at least) BBC television series, was based on the perceived gloomy attitude of his race. John Laurie, who played the lugubrious Frazer, was the archetypal stage Scotsman and the show's line "We're all doomed, doomed I tell ye" became something of a catchphrase for him.
The end 
of the world is nighThose pessimistic harbingers of doom who first decided that 'the end of the world is nigh' lived in the 19th century. The earliest printed example of that phrase that I have found is from James Emerson Tennent's Letters from the Aegean, 1829:
"Achmet, our janissary, calculating from the decay of their empire and the daily fulfilment of the predictions of Mahomet with regard to the final resurrection, have come to a conclusion that the end of the world is nigh at hand."

Is Time Disappearing From The Universe?

New evidence is suggesting that time is slowly disappearing from our universe, and will one day vanish completely. The radical idea that time itself could cease to be in billions of years - and everything will grind to a halt - has been proposed by Professor José Senovilla, Marc Mars and Raul Vera of the University of the Basque Country, Bilbao, and University of Salamanca, Spain.

The corollary to this radical end to time itself is an alternative explanation for 'dark energy' - the mysterious antigravitational force that has been suggested to explain a cosmic phenomenon that has baffled scientists.

Salmon Saved From Epidemic Thanks to Virus Discovery

atlantic salmon in norway photo
Farmed Atlantic salmon make up a popular portion of the more than 110 million ton-farmed fish industry—but a deadly and, until now, mysterious affliction threatens the commercial future of the fish.
New research, however, may help researchers save Atlantic salmon on farms and in the wild.

Scientists map towering, undersea volcano off Indonesia's coast

Scientists on a deep-sea expedition off Indonesia have discovered a towering volcano: It rises 10,000 feet from the ocean floor, yet remains far from sight at the water's surface.

Africa’s national parks hit by mammal declines

African national parks like Masai Mara and the Serengeti have seen populations of large mammals decline by up to 59 per cent, according to a study published in Biological Conservation.
The parks are each visited by thousands of tourists each year.

Total eclipse creates dazzling show

Thousands who flocked to remote Pacific islands are treated to a rare event with ancient symbolism.  

Venezuela's Everlasting Storm

The Catatumbo Lightning is an atmospheric phenomenon in Venezuela. It occurs strictly in an area located over the mouth of the Catatumbo River where it empties into Lake Maracaibo.

The phenomenon is a cloud-to-cloud lightning that forms a voltage arc more than 5 km (3.1 miles high during 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours a night, and as many as 280 times an hour.

Bolivia wildfire threatens world's largest wetland.

A huge wildfire in Bolivia threatened parts of the Pantanal, the world's largest wetland which is a popular tourist attraction and home to thousands of species of plants and animal.

Water: act now to conserve the new oil.

Water is the new oil. In the same way that the 1973 oil crisis forced Americans to scrutinize their reliance on fossil fuels, today's water shortages and rising occurrence of contaminated water supplies are shining a spotlight on our seemingly ubiquitous supply of h20.



Gulf spill hasn't impacted public policy or public opinion

That's what the Washington Post is reporting:
Traditionally, American environmentalism wins its biggest victories after some important piece of American environment is poisoned, exterminated or set on fire. An oil spill and a burning river in 1969 led to new anti-pollution laws in the 1970s. The Exxon Valdez disaster helped create an Earth Day revival in 1990 and sparked a landmark clean-air law.

But this year, the worst oil spill in U.S. history -- and, before that, the worst coal-mining disaster in 40 years -- haven't put the same kind of drive into the debate over climate change and fossil-fuel energy.

The Senate is still gridlocked. Opinion polls haven't budged much. Gasoline demand is going up, not down.
One has to hope this isn't a reflection of the idea that our leaders can't solve problems. Repugican leaders do seem determined to instill that mindset in the American people by refusing to help solve any of the problems the U.S. is facing. The worst part is that the repugicans created a lot of the problems (i.e. the economy and the weak regulations that led to the oil spill, the list goes on and on) that they won't help solve.

Also, we've heard mixed messages from elected officials from Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. On one hand, they want more federal aid. On the other hand, they want more drilling, even though we know that it's not safe.

Texas woman sentenced in Illinois to federal prison in illegal immigrant case

A Texas woman has been ordered to spend one year and four months in federal prison on charges that she transported seven illegal immigrants in southwestern Illinois.

Repugican yammering points: BP and Obama worked together to cause oil spill

Whatever they're smoking at the repugican party headquarters - they need to pass it around because these people are stark raving mad and delusionally demented.
Does everything have to be a conspiracy?
Not necessarily ... but with the repugicans that is what you get.
Oh, and by the way it was the repugicans and BP that worked together to cause the oil spill ... not the other way around.
(Deregulation - Disregard for safety - No contingency plan in the event of a spill of any size - profit before all - etc., ... the corporate/repugican mantra to a 'T'.)
But here again, that is how repugicans operate - blame everyone else for their own foibles.

Credit scores drop to new lows in US

Millions of U.S. consumers see their scores fall into the "poor risk" category.  
Borrowers may have been guilty of taking loans that were impossible to pay back but why are they being so heavily penalized compared to those who created this funny-money scheme? The banks have received an easy ride in this story and it's not likely to change. The administration has to understand that these differences have not gone unnoticed by the public. How is it that the banks are emerging so strong, so quickly yet everyone else is suffering with little chance of bouncing back soon?
The credit scores of millions more Americans are sinking to new lows.

Figures provided by FICO Inc. show that 25.5 percent of consumers — nearly 43.4 million people — now have a credit score of 599 or below, marking them as poor risks for lenders. It's unlikely they will be able to get credit cards, auto loans or mortgages under the tighter lending standards banks now use.

Because consumers relied so heavily on debt to fuel their spending in recent years, their restricted access to credit is one reason for the slow economic recovery.

Discovery points to new approach for diabetes therapy

Nutrition experts at Oregon State University have essentially “cured” laboratory mice of mild, diet-induced diabetes by stimulating the production of a particular enzyme.
The findings could offer a new approach to diabetes therapy, experts say, especially if a drug could be identified that would do the same thing, which in this case was accomplished with genetic manipulation.

How prostate cancer packs a punch

Some types of prostate tumors are more aggressive and more likely to metastasize than others. Nearly one-third of these aggressive tumors contain a small nest of especially dangerous cells known as neuroendocrine-type cells.

Being a goof

Always up for having fun she flips up her skirt as we go into the mall.

Teen steals bus then picks up passengers during joyride

Metro Transit Police say 19-year-old William Jackson, of Washington, D.C., wearing a bus operator's uniform, walked into the bus storage area on Bladensburg Road, and drove away with bus number 9318.

Investigators believe the youth began running the B-2 route toward Anacostia, and stopped for passengers. The accused thief is apparently cooperating with investigators. "According to Mr. Jackson, all eight passengers that he picked up did pay their fare," Transit Police Captain Ronald Pavlik explained to reporters. "He simply had a fascination with buses."

The bus Jackson was driving hit some large tree limbs at the corner of 17th and Massachusetts Ave., SE. The bus kept going after the violent encounter with the tree, and that caused some witnesses to call 911. Jackson parked the bus a few blocks away, near the Potomac Avenue Metro station, and walked away. He was apprehended about a block away, wearing a bus operator's uniform and a high visibility safety vest, which are now standard issue for bus drivers.

It is unclear where the teen got the uniform. Police are also investigating how he managed to get into the bus yard where security officers are supposed to require everyone to produce a Metro ID badge. No one was apparently injured in the adventure, although the passengers on the bus had left by the time Transit Police found the vehicle. Jackson is charged with fleeing the scene of an accident and unauthorized use of a vehicle.


From the "No, thank you" Department:
Possibly appearing soon on grocery shelves is the Candwich, which the New York Times thinks might be "the next can't-miss billion-dollar idea."
Or not.

Dimbulb promised and delivered

I know ... but it did happen. But with his penchant for - well, compulsion is a more apt term - lying ... it was doubtful to say the least.
Lush Dimbulb sells his Manhattan apartment after complaining about "stupid tax increases."

Swiss refuse to extradite Polanski

Switzerland said on Monday it would not send Roman Polanski back to the United States to face sentencing for unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977, freeing the Oscar-winning director from 10 months arrest.

Pet tortoise returns 4 years after escaping

Imagine the shock a couple in Brentwood got after their 25-pound tortoise dug her way out of her pen only to arrive back on their street nearly four years later. The African Spur Thigh tortoise escaped from her pen at the Wellington Gardens in Brentwood. It was October and owners, Mike and Christine Wellington, had little hope that she would survive given that winter was drawing near.

However, Lucy's species is native to the Sahara Dessert and she knew exactly where to go to survive. "When it's really dry, those tortoises will dig a hole 20-80 feet deep and sit for a year and wait for it to rain," said Mike Wellington. "And when it rains they come out and eat grass, so she must have dug a hole and sat there through the winters."

On Friday night the Wellingtons got a call from a neighbour who lives a half mile up the road. Lucy was alive. Now about 35 pounds heaver than when she left, the Wellingtons are confident this is their escape artist. The protruding bumps on her back are the same. And in a sure sign that this is Lucy, her less adventurous sister, Lionel, isn't getting along with her.

Lucy was extremely hungry when she came home. The people who found her gave her two heads of lettuce. Then she ate a bunch of kale and summer squash. Lucy is 10 years old now, and if future adventures end safely like this one, she could live to be 80 years old.

Woman lived in a hospital parking lot for 4 months

Company boss Lynsey Church drove to a hospital parking lot and lived in her car for four months after being crippled by panic attacks. Too scared to move, she slept in the motor there so she'd be near medics at all times. She ran her cleaning business from it using a laptop and mobile. Lynsey even tucked in to Christmas dinner in the black Renault after a heart scare sparked the attacks.

Lynsey, 30, said: "The thought of driving home was too terrifying. I knew I had to stay as it was the only place I felt safe." Medics couldn't section her either because she wasn't actually a danger to herself. Lynsey, from Wishaw, Lanarks, had her first panic attack in October last year when she was driving home from work. She recalled: "My heart started hammering in my chest. I pulled over and called 999." An ECG revealed it had been triggered by an ectopic heartbeat, or irregular heart rate. She was prescribed beta blockers to slow her heart but the attacks didn't stop.

Terrified, Lynsey began stopping at all of the three hospitals she passed on her drive to and from work. Then one day in November last year she got to Wishaw General - three miles from home - and stayed put. Her boyfriend Scott Paterson couldn't get her to budge. And because she was awaiting therapy for her attacks, her GP could do no more. So Scott, 40, brought her a sleeping bag, food, money, and visited every day. Lynsey washed in the hospital and bought her grub in the canteen.

Even the winter couldn't shift her. "I'd wake up shivering," she said. "There was ice on the inside of the car. I was lonely but too frightened to go home." Lynsey's mum brought her Christmas dinner and Scott festooned his car with tinsel and brought her presents. The security guards and police checked on her but it wasn't until a worried paramedic got her a hospital appointment in March that she got treatment. Now back at home with retail manager Scott and undergoing weekly counselling sessions, Lynsey said: "I'm angry that I was ignored for so long. Mental illness is a real problem." An NHS Lanarkshire spokesman said: "An appropriate care plan is now in place."