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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 18, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Your bosses probably seem difficult now, but that may not be exactly so.
Weirdly, the one person who seems to be giving you the worst of it is most likely an angel in disguise.
Before you just let fly with whatever you feel like saying or doing, take time to think things through.
You don't want to alienate someone that influential, right?

Today is:
Today is Sunday, July 18, the 199th day of 2010.
There are 166 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Ice Cream Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Tiny house transforms man's life

Jay Shafer went from 4,000 square feet to just 89 — and his downsized utility bill isn't the only perk.  

Un-paving Rural America "Back To The Stone Age"

dustry road photo
Dusty road.
Image credit:ModelAColumbus.com
Until the 1950's, gravel roads were the norm outside the core developed zones of American towns and cities. Guess what? Gravel roads are back in vogue. Tax revenues are so far down and asphalt prices rising so far that State and local governments can no longer afford to repair and repave. So they are un-paving, which means changes to the modern lifestyle. Forget texting and coffee drinking on a gravel road. Gravel roads are forbidding to sleek low riders, road bikes, and convertibles.
Wall Street Journal has covered the new trend in the story: Roads to Ruin: Towns Rip Up the Pavement .

Article continues: Trend Watch: Un-paving Rural America "Back To The Stone Age"

Poor, Poor, Pitiful Me

Linda Ronstadt

Unknown waitress's overnight music hit

With no record company behind it, the Christina Perri song "Jar of Hearts" shoots up the charts.  

Wanna 'Cup-O-Joe'?

The phrase was coined after a U.S. Cabinet member issued an order a century ago.

Ten Most Scary And Weird Tourist Attractions In The World

There are some wicked places in the world. 
Places from which normal tourists hastily run away.
Here is a list of some of the weirdest and scariest tourist attractions in the world.

Mona Lisa secrets cracked

X-ray technology shows how Leonardo da Vinci achieved a mystifying quality in his paintings.  



Dozens Arrested in Medicare Fraud Totaling $251 Million

Federal authorities said Friday that they had arrested dozens of suspects in five states on charges of defrauding Medicare of a total of $251 million.

U.S. Authorities Shut Down WordPress Host With 73,000 Blogs

Anger Awareness

We all have those days in which anger can get the best of us. 
What we won't admit, however, is when this anger becomes a problem in our daily lives.

68% of Americans say political class doesn't care about what they think

The frustration that voters are expressing in 2010 goes much deeper than specific policies. At a more fundamental level, voters just don’t believe politicians are interested in the opinions of ordinary Americans.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 68% believe the nation’s Political Class doesn’t “care what most Americans think.” Only 15% believe the Political Class is interested in the views of those they are supposed to serve. Another 17% are not sure.

Skepticism about the Political Class interest in voters is found across just about all demographic and partisan groups. However, self-identified liberals are evenly divided on the question. Eighty-eight percent (88%) of conservatives and 64% of moderates reject the notion that the Political Class cares.

Adults over 40 are more skeptical than younger adults about the Political Class. But even among voters under 30, nearly half (47%) don’t think the Political Class cares what most Americans think. Only 18% of these younger voters think the Political Class does care, while 35% are not sure.

Gulf fishermen furious over oil claims

Following a controversial ruling, some workers argue that it's pointless to help BP clean up the spill.  

Beyond the Gulf Oil Spill: Five Ongoing Ecological Disasters With No End In Sight

oil pipeline burning niger delta nigeria 
A burning oil spill in the Niger Delta.
Living some 6,000 miles away from the Gulf of Mexico, I'm a bit embarrassed to admit that the oil spill often seems like an abstraction to me. A big, big abstraction, but still. Pictures of oil-covered pelicans and other heart-tugging images occasionally appear in the Turkish press, but generally, people here -- like people anywhere -- are more concerned about domestic issues, of which we have plenty. And I know that when I was living in the United States, the Turkish mining disasters that so compel me now would have seemed equally remote.
That's why an article on "The World's Ongoing Ecological Disasters" -- some of which make the BP spill pale in comparison -- offered an especially striking reminder that there are ecosystems and people suffering outside the eye of the nightly news.
Article continues: Beyond the Gulf Oil Spill: Five Ongoing Ecological Disasters With No End In Sight

"Getting away from it all" at Yosemite

Just your average day with your average family getting away from the crowds: circa early 1960s.

Science Can Tell What You're Dreaming

In Leonardo DiCaprio’s latest movie Inception, characters can enter other people’s dreams – in reality, science isn’t that far behind:
In one experiment, for example, researchers wired up a sleeper and connected him to a robot that was programmed to act out the motions of the dreamer. For example, the robot used data about the dreamer’s eye position to know in which direction to look.
Brain waves can be studied and translated into actions – for example, brain imaging technology can tell whether a person is having a nightmare or dreaming about flying, Barrett said.

Divers Find 200 Year Old Bottles of Champagne in Shipwreck

Divers exploring a shipwreck near the Ă…land Islands in the Baltic Sea found bottles of what is thought to be the world’s oldest drinkable champagne. They probably date back to the 1780s and have an estimated value of $65,000 each:
They tasted the one bottle they’ve brought up so far before they even got back to shore.
Diving instructor Christian Ekstrom said the bottles are believed to be from the 1780s and likely were part of a cargo destined for Russia. The nationality of the sunken ship has not yet been determined.
“We brought up the bottle to be able to establish how old the wreck was,” he said. “We didn’t know it would be champagne. We thought it was wine or something.”
Ekstrom said the divers were overjoyed when they popped the cork on their boat after hauling the bubbly from a depth of 60 metres.
“It tasted fantastic. It was a very sweet champagne, with a tobacco taste and oak,” Ekstrom said.
The oldest known champagne currently on record is from 1825.

10,000-year-old Atlatl Dart Found Near Yellowstone

For several years, shrinking icefields in arctic and mountain regions have been revealing rare artifacts that had been covered by snow and ice for millennia.  Most of these reports have come from Canada and Alaska, but recently Craig Lee, a Research Associate from the University of Colorado at Boulder discovered an atlatl dart near Yellowstone Park.
As glaciers and ice fields continue to melt at an unprecedented rate, increasingly older and significant artifacts — as well as plant material, animal carcasses and ancient feces — are being released from the ice that has gripped them for thousands of years, he said.
The dart Lee found was from a birch sapling and still has personal markings on it from the ancient hunter, according to Lee. When it was shot, the 3-foot-long dart had a projectile point on one end, and a cup or dimple on the other end that would have attached to a hook on the atlatl. The hunter used the atlatl, a throwing tool about two feet long, for leverage to achieve greater velocity.
Later this summer Lee and CU-Boulder student researchers will travel to Glacier National Park to work with the Salish, Kootenai and Blackfeet tribes and researchers from the University of Wyoming to recover and protect artifacts that may have recently melted out of similar locations.

Mayan king's tomb discovered in Guatemala

Archeologists in Guatemala have discovered a Mayan king's tomb packed with a well-preserved hoard of carvings, ceramics and children's bones that cast fresh light on the vanished civilization.

Researchers uncovered the burial chamber in Guatemala's the jungle-covered Peten region in May, but the discovery has only just been made public.
The tomb is thought to date from 300 – 600AD and is located beneath the El Diablo pyramid in the city of El Zotz.

Por-Bazhyn - ancient island stronghold

Also spelled "Por-Bajin," this structure is located on an island in a lake in Tuva, in southern Siberia at the border with Mongolia.
The structure is believed to have been built sometime in the 8th century CE based upon the dating of several objects found in the ruin. According to Istvan Fodor of the National Museum in Hungary, identification of the structure's purpose is obscured because of the scant amount of evidence of daily human activity at the site. The theories include a fortress, a palace, a monastery, and an astronomical observatory. It is possible, according to Dmitriy Subetto, from the Department of Physical Geography RGPU, that the structure was abandoned prior to completion due to the builders' lack of familiarity with permafrost.
Here it is on Google Maps.  There are two articles about it at Tuva Online.  The images above come from a group of 25 in a photoessay at English Russia.



At three-years-old child prodigy reads and gives medical tips

A three-year-old Italian boy has amazed his family and doctors with his prodigious talents that include reading the newspaper and giving medical advice. The boy, Ettore, has also mastered use of the television remote control so he can flick through the TV guide on teletext and make viewing suggestions.

What makes the story even more remarkable is that his parents from the town of Perignano near Pisa say the boy taught himself almost all these skills, just by observing adults. ''We started teaching him the alphabet for fun. We would never have imagined his abilities would develop like this,'' said Ettore's father Francesco Grillo, a 44-year-old artist specialized in portraits and reproductions of famous works. ''Then when he was about two he started to read newspapers and TV guides. Initially we thought he memorized phrases and repeated them parrot-like. But then we realized he was reading for real''.

Experts from the local hospital at the Tuscan town of Pontedera are impressed. ''Usually learning to read is a process that takes place at a much later stage, at school age, and it's a gradual process'' said Dr. Amerigo Celandroni, the head of the hospital's pediatric clinic. ''In Ettore's case though, he had not been taught, and yet he reads fluently''. His parents said they have to be very careful about what they say around Ettore because of his powers of comprehension way beyond his years, as shown in his mysteriously acquired know-how of medical matters.

''One day I was talking to my wife about a health problem I had,'' Francesco said. ''Ettore heard and recommended a medicine. I checked up and saw that it was right for my case''. His parents said they were concerned about whether the three-year-old's abilities would continue to flourish when he starts pre-school in September. ''Let's hope it's a good thing, although we are worried'' the father said. ''What if he loses this gift there? ''I don't know what he'll do with these qualities when he's grown up. The important thing is that it's the right thing for him. Maybe one day this fame he's having will come in handy''.

Indian Police Tapped The Power of the Pyramids to Reduce Traffic Accidents

Tired of dealing with the rising number of accidents on the road, Indian police came upon a novel (and they say, surprisingly effective) approach: harnessing the positive-power of pyramids!
The stretch of the Mumbai-Kolkata National Highway near Nagpur city was among 12 spots identified as most accident-prone but now the stretch is considered safe. “No accidents have occurred in these accident-prone spots in the past six months,” Bernama quoted Nagpur Commissioner of Police (Rural) Yashasvi Yadav as saying.
“I am no great propagator of Vasthu Sastra but, in the public interest, we will try to adopt new ideas,” he said. If the experiment proved successful, police would install Vasthu pyramids in 30 to 40 “killer” stretches, he added.
This may sound illogical to some people but not for Nagpur police who are serious about saving lives on the roads. The number of accidents in the city, home to 2.5 million people, had been increasing since 2003, with about 500 human casualties on the road a year.
“Most accidents happen because of the negative energy surrounding these places. Suicides, accidents and murders happen when people are surrounded by negative energy. Using pyramids, we can try to correct the negative energy,” said Vasthu expert Sushil Fatehpuria, 50, who offered his service for free to Nagpur police.

No stocks for the gods

Indian court says Hindu gods can't trade in shares
An Indian court has ruled that Hindu gods cannot deal in stocks and shares after an application for trading accounts to be set up in their names. Two judges at the Bombay High Court on Friday rejected a petition from a private religious trust to open accounts in the names of five deities, including the revered elephant-headed god, Ganesha.

"Trading in shares on the stock market requires certain skills and expertise and to expect this from deities would not be proper," judges P.B. Majumdar and Rajendra Sawant said.

The trust, owned by the former royal family of Sangli, in western Maharashtra state, of which Mumbai is the capital, brought the case after successfully securing income tax cards and savings accounts for the deities. But National Securities Depository Limited (NDSL) rejected the trust's application for permission to open trading accounts, arguing that it would be difficult to take action against the gods in the event of irregularities.

"Gods and goddesses are meant to be worshipped in temples, not dragged into commercial activities like share trading," the judges said. Ganesha, also known as Lord Ganpati, is one of the most popular and well-known gods of the Hindu pantheon and is worshipped widely in Mumbai and Maharashtra.

Poachers kill last female white rhino in Kruger Park

What a pity.  The poachers are highly organized and selling to Asia for high margins. You have to wonder who in power is turning a blind eye to this problem. The poaching rates have increased enough where this should not be a problem that is suddenly an issue. As always, someone needs to follow the money.
Fears are growing for the survival of the rhinoceros as the last female in the popular Krugersdorp game reserve near Johannesburg was killed, bleeding to death after having its horn hacked off by poachers.

Wildlife officials say poaching for the prized horns has now reached an all-time high. "Last year, 129 rhinos were killed for their horns in South Africa. This year, we have already had 136 deaths," said chief game ranger Japie Mostert.

The gang used tranquillizer guns and a helicopter to bring down the nine-year-old rhino cow. Her distraught calf was moved to a nearby estate where it was introduced to two other orphaned white rhinos.

Andy Capp

Andy Capp

Inflatable Pub

An inflatable version of the traditional-looking English pub has gone on sale for people to install in their garden. The Hogshead Inflatable Pub is the first pub in the world to get the inflatable treatment.

Inside there's enough room for 50 drinkers with a fully stocked bar... though after spending £27,815 ($42,523) on the inflatable pub you might be on budget booze. Oh, and playing darts is not allowed.

Japanese airline first to offer draft beer

Japan's All Nippon Airways has announced it will become the first airline in the world to offer draft beer in-flight beginning on Tuesday.

The airline said the draft beer will cost 1000 Yen (£7.55, $11.30) per glass and 20 cups will be available on each domestic flight, except Tokyo to Okinawa flights, which will have 40 glasses.

Officials said the beer will be served using keg technology designed to compensate for air pressure problems that previously made draft beer problematic on flights.

Skin-lightening Facebook app causes stir

A new ad campaign encourages men in India to whiten their profile photos.

Atheist "De-Baptizes" Non-Believers with Hair Dryer

ABC’s Nightline has a fascinating story about Edward Kagin, an atheist and provocateur, who conducted a mass "de-baptism" of fellow non-believers to symbolically dry off the baptism waters:
Standing at a podium wearing a long brown monk’s robe, Kagin read with the oratorical skill of a preacher from a set of pages in his hand and invited participants to come forward to be de-baptized.
He recited a few mock-Latin syllables, to the audience’s amusement. An assistant produced a large hairdryer, labeled "Reason and Truth," and handed it to Kagin. The man who’d elected himself to be de-baptized stood before him. Kagin turned on the hairdryer, blowing the hot air in his face in an attempt to symbolically dry up his baptismal waters.
"Come forward now and receive the spirit of hot air that taketh away the stigma and taketh away the remnants of the stain of baptismal water," Kagin shouts.