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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.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You need to make a big decision regarding someone special, but you're not quite sure what to do yet.
On the one hand, you're totally ready to get closer to them.
On the other hand, you may be thinking about how much time you already spend at work, and how your constant overtime isn't exactly beneficial to a relationship.
You may not realize yet just how beneficial a relationship can be helping you put off that overtime entirely.

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, July 28, the 209th day of 2010.
There are 156 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Chocolate Milk Day

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Local Hospitality

Local Hospitality
Time: This Weekend
Place: Downtown - Madison, North Carolina

Best secluded beaches in the U.S.

At these off-the-beaten-path spots you'll get not only sun and sea but solitude, too.

Westward Ho

The thriving Amish community is being forced to scout for farmland in far-flung locations.  

Riot-plagued capital named world's top city

Fortunate timing helps a spot rocked by violence collect a travel magazine's top honor.

Human Bones Found In Forest May Be 7,000 Years Old

A University of Florida archaeologist says he discovered centuries old bones in a Central Florida forest.

Cheating at the FBI

A test to keep surveillance skills sharp instead leads to a Justice Department investigation. 

Why sellers shouldn't mention new paint

What sounds like an attractive upgrade can set off alarm bells in potential home buyers.  

What $1,000,000,000,000 would buy you

12 zeros is a Trillion, folks
The national deficit is so colossal, it's almost impossible to visualize it.

Man spends $200K to park in his own driveway

A.J. Vizzi's years-long battle with his homeowners association proves to be costly. 

Why some teachers are worth $320,000

New research suggests that kids who do well in kindergarten earn much more later in life. 

How to turn $45 unto $200Million

Photos snapped up for $45 may be the lost — and extremely lucrative — work of Ansel Adams. 



Things You Didn't Know About Viruses

The one with its own satellite, the ones that made you, and the Mama of them all.


The flattened city of Warsaw is brought to life in a collaboration by historians and graphics experts.

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
This spicy chicken burger, with Cajun seasoning and chickpeas, is a snap to make.  
The grill may be the world's healthiest cooking method and it's also one of the most flavorful.
Take advantage of the season's bounty of fruits and veggies to add a healthy charge to your diet. 

Chinese restaurant shut after mouse is found swimming in the sweet and sour sauce

Health inspectors saw a mouse swimming in a portion of sweet and sour sauce about to be served to customers during an inspection of a Chinese restaurant. They photographed the rodent as it jumped out of the bowl and scampered along a draining pipe in the kitchen of the Kam Tong restaurant.

But there were more shocks in store for them in the Kam Tong and two other restaurants, the Hung Tao and Kiasu, all owned by Ronald Lim in Queensway, Bayswater. They were crawling with cockroaches whose eggs were found in the dim sum and baskets of prawn crackers. Mice droppings were found all over the kitchens including inside the fridges and on crockery, soy sauce containers and a chopping board next to some meat.

The hygiene was so appalling that the ventilation canopy in one of the restaurants was “oozing with grease”, Southwark crown court heard. Lim was arrested and admitted 17 counts of breaching food hygiene regulations. Judge Geoffrey Rivlin, QC, said the conditions that environmental officers from Westminster council found were “disgraceful” and branded them an “appalling risk” to the safety of customers.

He said: “Thankfully there is no evidence before me of actual illness being suffered by your customers.” Lim, of Barnet, was given an eight-month jail term suspended for two years. He was also ordered to pay fines totaling £30,000 plus £18,131 costs. The judge said if he had not pleaded guilty he would have gone to prison immediately.

Broom Hilda

Broom Hilda

Limbo for Haitians

Months after being airlifted to the U.S., the children are at the center of a bureaucratic tug of war.

'Sanctuary cities' for immigrants

Critics see a blind spot in the Justice Department's case against Arizona's immigration law.  

Ruling limits Arizona immigration law

A federal judge delivers a last-minute victory to opponents of the state's controversial legislation.  

Where's the money?

http://www.drsputnik.com/sputnik/img/16/sput-80182.jpgOf the billions of dollars the US Defense Department has spent allegedly reconstructing Iraq, 96% of the money can't be accounted for ...

Southwest Airlines Kicks Skinny Woman off Plane to Make Room for Larger Passenger

In a first ...
A woman flying on standby on a Southwest Airlines flight was removed from the plane because one passenger needed two seats:
A petite Sacramento woman was bumped from a Southwest Airlines flight to make room for an extra-large 14-year-old child who required two seats.
The 5-foot-4, 110-pound woman, who was flying standby from Las Vegas to Sacramento, was buckled up and ready to go when the teen arrived late to the gate, reported the Sacramento Bee.[...]
Southwest generally requires large passengers to buy two tickets. But in this case, the child’s parents had purchased only one.

Doomsday shelters making a comeback

Builders discover that the underground facilities are becoming a hot commodity.  

Investing myths that just won't die

Many investors have been told that stocks average a 10 percent return over the long run.  

Bank's stop-payment fees questioned

A Bank of America customer learns the hard way when he tries to stop a check.

The rich screwing the poor

People paying cash end up subsidizing credit card rewards programs for the rich.  

Police raid greenhouse on drugs tip and find tomato plants

Terrified father-of-two James Diamond awoke to find police swarming all over his home in Bream after mistakenly believing it was a cannabis factory. Around 15 officers armed with a search warrant burst into his house yesterday morning but all they found were three tomato plants. James and his three-year-old son Syrus were asleep upstairs, having just returned from a family holiday in Turkey, when police raided the house. James, 34, said: "It was very frightening. I woke up to see a huge policeman standing in my bedroom and he said: 'We are here to take your cannabis factory apart.'

"There were officers all over the house and in the back garden and they said that no one was allowed to leave the house. It was scary for Syrus, who got quite upset when he saw police everywhere. " The officers were let into James' house at around 10.30am by electricians who were carrying out re-wiring.

James said he has never been in trouble with the police and his only crime was being a keen gardener. James lives at Maple Stone House with his fiancee Debbie Baker, who is an NHS chiropodist, Syrus and their daughter Amiena. He said he could not believe officers were able to raid his home without any evidence. He said: "It's shocking to me that someone can just ring up the police and that justifies them getting a warrant and searching your home."

James said he is concerned at what the neighbors will think after seeing police swarm all over the house. Forest Inspector Chris Thorley said: "We executed a search warrant at an address in Bream as a result of information received from the local neighborhood. We are happy to report that no drugs were found but would like to stress that we take such action because we know that concerns about drug crime is something people like us to address swiftly."

Bad Cops

Bad Cops

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic Fringe
When dealing with wingnuts ... Remember the rule: 
If they accuse someone of something, then they're already guilty of it.

These idiots are so predictably stupid no commentary is needed ...
Liars and Fools

Faux's Glenn Beck claims that 1960s era violent Weather Underground manifesto "sure sounds an awful lot like the things that we're doing".

WingNutDaily 'explains' that President Obama is "a vengeful, spoiled little man-child" who "derives perverse pleasure by seeing America on her knees" and whose "entire Cabinet are a veritable Who's Who of political radicals, social engineers, Marxists, feminists, socialists, communists, fascists".

Faux's Glenn Beck suggests that the Obama administration is governing from the Weathermen manifesto.

Faux's Glenn Beck claims We have "really nasty communist Hispanic groups that are sowing the seeds of discontent".

Faux News 'demands' to know, When will American Blacks stop oppressing white people?

Ted Nugent lies: "Those currently in charge want to destroy America and turn us into a Third World nation".

Faux News reports, over and over again, that black people are coming to wreak havok on white people.

Faux's Glenn Beck somehow links "this Sherrod thing" to imagined Obama administration plot to "take over the media".

Faux's Glenn Beck compares nearly-toothless financial reform to "Big Brother," an "unprecedented assault on our economy".

Latest rant from Faux's Glenn Beck: "What is wrong with us, America? Why are people not in the streets? Your republic is over."

Obama orders an ice cream cone, and would-be pundits across the right-wing blogosphere see the sign over the ice cream shop as Obama's endorsement of "Black power".

Lush Dimbulb lies: Obama "regime" is "tribalizing this country" into "different racial tribes".


50c robbery cracks up bank staff in New Zealand

Hamilton bank staff were left laughing after a bare-chested man demanded 50 cents from them, before crouching down then running away yesterday.

TSB manager Sandra Makein said it was definitely one of the more unusual attempted robberies she had heard of. "If you can call it a robbery," she said.

Police said the man, in his early 20s, entered the Victoria St bank with a bandanna over his lower face and demanded $10. When the teller said she didn't have any money he asked for 50c before crouching into the starting race position and running out of the bank.

A passing policeman gave chase and the man was caught in Ward St. He was later assessed by medical and mental health staff.

Mystery as 'ghost' appears in two separate photos

The staff at one of Edinburgh’s spookiest tourist attractions have been left mystified after a ghostly figure showed up in the photographs of two separate tourists. Bosses at Mary King’s Close say the blond haired woman who appeared in images from two different tours was definitely not a customer.

Both photos appear to show one person more than expected and staff believe that on close inspection, the ghostly figure appears to be the same woman. Staff were first alerted to their unexpected visitor last October, when a member of the public queried their souvenir photograph. A few weeks later, the same thing happened with a different tourist, and staff say they have been trying to figure out what is going on ever since. They have now introduced later night tours for the month of August in a bid to get to the bottom of the mystery. And they have asked anyone who sees a strange apparition in their pictures to allow them to be examined.

Lisa Robshaw, spokesperson for The Real Mary King’s Close, insisted the images had not been doctored by staff, adding: “We have spent a long time studying these photographs and cannot come to a satisfactory conclusion. In both these images there appears to be a blurry ghostly image of a blond haired lady which we cannot explain, and we hope that by making the images public that someone might be able to help.

“If there are people in the images who can explain who the lady is we would love to hear from them. We’ve tested the static camera that we use and it appears to be working normally so we really do not have an explanation. We just want to try and understand what has happened.”

Australian drags policeman 200m at high speed after claiming Earth laws don't apply

A self-proclaimed Geelong witch told a traffic cop she was not subject to earthly laws as she was "a being from another world". "Your laws and penalties don't apply to me. I'm not accepting them, I'm sorry, I must go, thank you," Eilish De Avalon said, driving off with the officer's arm caught in her driver's side door. The alien defense was played out in Geelong Magistrates' Court yesterday when De Avalon, who had also told police she "had a universal name that is not recognized here", pleaded guilty to recklessly causing serious injury, dangerous driving and driving while suspended, using a mobile phone while driving and failing to stop on police request on February 23. "De Avalon was a suspended driver and that is why she took off," Leading Senior Constable Geoff Lamb said.

The court heard that the policeman had feared for his life when De Avalon drove off with his right arm pinned in her car window. Senior Constable Geoff Lamb said De Avalon ignored repeated calls to stop and instead accelerated, reaching up to 60km/h as she dragged Leading Senior Constable Andrew Logan 190m along busy Moorabool St. De Avalon had only stopped after being forced to slow in traffic and the officer grabbed the keys from her ignition. De Avalon, 40, a marriage celebrant, of Victory Way, Highton, had initially been stopped after she was seen using a mobile phone while driving about 10.40am.

"When asked to produce her driver's license, De Avalon replied that she did not have one," Sen-Constable Lamb said. "When asked why not, she said, 'I'm a being from another world and don't require one.' When asked to state her name and address De Avalon replied, 'I have a universal name that is not recognised here'." Sen-Constable Lamb said that when asked for ID, De Avalon said, "Your laws and penalties don't apply to me. I'm not accepting them, I'm sorry, I must go, thank you."
De Avalon began to wind her window up and Sen-Const Logan reached through in an attempt to remove the keys from her ignition. She continued to wind the window up pinning the officer's right arm to the door frame. "She then drove off dragging him along with her."

Sen-Constable Lamb said Sen-Constable Logan clung to the window with his left hand to prevent his body being dragged along and his legs from going under the wheels. The policeman suffered serious injuries to his right arm, shoulder and chest and is expected to undergo further surgery to repair torn ligaments in his shoulder. David Hone, for De Avalon, told the court his client had panicked that day. He described her behavior as the result of an instinctive reaction and being in some sort of "metaphysical state". The prosecutor called for an immediate custodial sentence saying De Avalon was lucky not to be in a higher court or the Coroner's Court. Magistrate Stephen Myall adjourned the matter for sentencing on August 6.

Massive landslide in China

More than 20 people are missing after a rainstorm unleashes a mud flow that buries homes.  

Religion Kills ... plain and simple

Baby 'drowned by priest during baptism'
A priest in eastern Europe has been accused of drowning a baby boy as he baptized him. Police are investigating Father Valentin for accidental homicide after witnesses at the ceremony said the priest did not cover the baby's mouth during the ritual.

Father Valentin had denied being responsible for the baby's death during the baptism in Moldova. The six-week-old baby died on the way to hospital and an autopsy found he had drowned, the baby's dad Dumitru Gaidau said.

Mr Gaidau, 36, said his son was clearly in distress during the ceremony. "He couldn't inhale, his face turned blue and he was foaming at the mouth. He [the priest] said we should not interrupt this their ritual," he said.

"We couldn't believe it that he just put his hand over his belly and over the head and submerged him three times in the water." Water was found in the baby's lungs.

The baby's godmother, Aliona Vacarciuc, said the baby had been crying as the priest submerged him in the water. "We couldn't believe it but we thought the priest must know what he's doing, but he didn't. When we got him back there was nothing that could be done anymore," she said.

When the baby's angry relatives confronted the priest, he told them he knew what he was doing and was experienced at baptisms, Ms Vacarciuc said. If found guilty of accidental homicide, Father Valentin could spend three years in jail.
Accidental homicide my ass ... it was premeditated murder!

The devastation caused by bottom trawling

Detail from Landsat satellite image, Gulf of Mexico, taken on 10/24/99. Individual vessels can be seen as bright spots at end of sediment trails. Other bright spots are fixed oil and gas production platforms. One sediment trail can be traced for 27 km. Credit: SkyTruth
For over two years I've been meaning to write a post decrying the use of "bottom trawling" as a fishing technique.  In 2008 I bookmarked an article at LiveScience (via), which included the photo above showing the effects visible from satellite imaging:
As nets are dragged across the seafloor, they can crush coral reefs, drag boulders across the bottom, and trap fish and animals not intended to be caught, called bycatch. All this activity stirs up sediments from the seafloor, which create the persistent plumes in the wake of the fishing ships.
Watling and his colleagues say that the plumes visible in satellite images are likely just the "tip of the iceberg" as most trawling is in waters that are deep enough that the plume remains hidden by the water above.
Tonight I discovered that the deleterious effects of bottom trawling were first noted (and first protested) in... 1376!  This text comes from a petition to King Edward III:
“The commons petition the King, complaining that where in creeks and havens of the sea there used to be plenteous fishing, to the profit of the Kingdom, certain fishermen, for several years past have subtily contrived an instrument called the “wondyrechaun” made in the manner of an oyster dredge, but which is considerably longer, upon which instrument is attached a net so close meshed that no fish, be it ever so small which enters therein can escape, but must stay and be taken.

And that the great and long iron of the wondyrechaun runs so heavily and hardly over the ground when fishing that it destroys the flowers of the land below water there, and also the spat of oysters, mussels and other fish upon which the great fish are accustomed to be fed and nourished. By which instrument in many places, the fishermen take such quantity of small fish that they do not know what to do with them; and that they feed and fat their pigs with them, to the great damage of the commons of the realm and the destruction of the fisheries, and they pray for a remedy.”

It's Only The Environment After All

It's Only The Environment After All
photo via AP
Just as BP is finally getting the Deepwater somewhat under control, a tugboat named the Pere Ana C. collided today with a well near a Louisiana marsh, causing oil to leak into the Gulf. The collision caused fire to shoot up into the air, and officials said it resulted in a mile-long oil slick. Spill czar Thad Allen said over 6,000 feet of boom have been placed around the site.
Article continues: You've Got To Be Kidding: Tugboat Collides With Oil Well In Louisiana
kalamazoo river map
Kalamazoo River map via Wikipedia.
Here we go again... Not too much on this one yet, but Detroit News reports that Environmental Protection Agency officials have said that as much as one million gallons of oil has leaked from a pipeline owned by Enbridge Liquid Pipelines into a creek flowing into the Kalamazoo River near Battle Creek, Michigan. This would make it the largest oil spill in the history of the Midwest. Here's what we know:
Article continues: One Million Gallons of Oil Leak Into Michigan River From Pipeline - Largest in Midwest History
The slicks that once spread across thousands of miles have rapidly begun to shrink. 
It's Not Like We Don't Have Another One

A Warming World Will Still See Severe Snowstorms

washington dc blizzard photo
photo: Woodley Wonderworks via flickr
Still think last year's heavy snows in parts of the eastern United States were a sign that the world isn't warming? A new study in Geophysical Research Letters by scientists from Columbia University's Earth Institute show that it was converging weather patterns dumping all that snow; but the researchers also pointedly comment that a warming world will still see severe storms, noting that if journalists had been based in the Arctic they might not be so smug about announcing global warming's demise.
Article continues: A Warming World Will Still See Severe Snowstorms - Columbia University Scientists Remind Us

Using Endangered Species To Toughen Climate Change Legislation

endangered american pika photo
Photo by Donald Q
The American Pika was denied status as an endangered species as of February, but despite its lack of protection by the Endangered Species Act, it could serve as a perfect example for how endangered species can be used as a tool for stronger regulations around greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. The pika is one of the many animals who rely on particular temperatures in its habitat for survival. As the globe warms, the Pika has been moving higher up in elevation to escape warmer temperatures. But it only has so high it can go before it runs out of room and is faced with either a rapid (and unlikely) evolution or extinction. This is a plight faced by many species, and requiring acknowledgment of this factor when determining the endangered status of species could change the way climate legislation is viewed.
Article continues: Using Endangered Species To Toughen Climate Change Legislation

Avatar Trees Found on Earth

From Treehugger:
avatar movie photo
Image credit: AP Photo/Matt Sayles
The visually stunning movie Avatar dominated the box office earlier this year and sparked conversations about everything from the environmental movement to climate change to conspiracies. But the real stars of the film were the trees—specifically the shimmering "Tree of Souls."
The forests of Pandora were spectacular, but intergalactic travel is not necessary to find incredible trees that look like they grew on another planet. Indeed, there are plenty right here on earth.
Avatar Trees Found on Earth slideshow

Couple are reunited with beloved dog after discovering picture pinned to pet shop noticeboard four years later

A couple have been reunited with their dog four-and-a-half years after she went missing. Dennis and Kath Tyler, of Eagle, had never given up hope of finding Labrador cross Holly. They scoured fields and posted messages on the internet in a long-running and exhaustive search. Now, after seeing a picture of their beloved pooch on a notice board in a pet shop, their dreams have come true.

It turns out Holly, now 14, became a stray and ended up in the Doncaster dog pound. She was on death row until she was taken in by Halfway Home Dog Rescue in Collingham, fostered and then claimed by the Tylers. Apart from Holly's slightly patchy fur and her back legs being a little wobbly, she is in good health. And on her first night back home in Harby Lane, it was as if she had never left. "We brought her home and she went straight to her room where she used to sleep," said Mr Tyler, 53, a farm manager.

"When we got inside the house she went through the kitchen and the lounge and was at the door of the room where she used to sleep in a basket on a bed. We never stopped looking. If we saw a black Labrador on our travels we'd always ask ourselves if it was her. I cannot go anywhere on my own now – she just sticks to me. We are delighted to have her back, but it was a real surprise.

"We were in Pets At Home getting something for our ferrets and our other dogs and I saw a poster on the wall from Halfway Home Dog Rescue. I said to the wife: 'Who's that?' and she said: 'Holly'." Mrs Tyler said: "We're over the moon to have her back. We don't know what happened to her during the time when she was missing, but it's great to have her back."

Famous Sea Monsters And Their Real Life Equivalents

If you look hard enough, even the most outlandish legends have a grain of truth somewhere. Reports from antiquity of sea monsters may be fantastic, but they describe what someone at least thought they saw at one time.
Consider the sea monk, described in 1546 (left). It sure looks like someone drew it from their imagination.
But then look at the sea creature called a Jenny Haniver (right). Read about this and other monsters that may now be explained scientifically.  

Picture of a baby stingray 

Animal News

A mutt who stopped a bomb attack will live with one of the soldiers he saved.  
zedonk photo  
Photo via the Gainesville Times
They may be an unlikely pair, but just five days ago a zebra and donkey in Georgia welcomed into the world one very unique-looking baby girl -- a zedonk. Officials at the Chestatee Wildlife Preserve, where the cute little crossbred was born, are as surprised as anyone by the very rare coupling. It turns out, the zebra/donkey romance has been many years in the making, but somehow the duo managed to keep it a secret. "The animals have been running (in the fields) together for more than 40 years, but this is the first time that this has happened here," says the preserve's founder. "We never suspected that they (had mated), so it was quite a surprise when the zedonk was born."
Article continues: Rare Zebra/Donkey Hybrid Born at Wildlife Preserve
Pet tiger escapes in South Africa on trip to vet
A tiger which was being kept as a pet in South Africa has escaped from the back of a truck and is running loose. A search is on to find the animal, called Panjo, after it escaped on the trip between Johannesburg, its home, and Springs, where it was being taken to a vet clinic for a check-up.

The authorities urged people to stay away from the animal. But its owner said was it was used to humans and told anyone who came across Panjo to treat it "like a dog".

Owner Rose Fernandes told local radio that all people had to do was pick up a stick and say "No" in a loud voice.

Brenda Santon, national wildlife manager for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said SPCA teams were working to locate the escaped tiger and warned people not approach it. "We believe it is wrong to keep tigers as pets. The animal must be left to live in the jungle. They remain dangerous," she said.

Chinese zoo accidentally gasses giant panda to death
A Chinese zoo accidentally killed one of its giant pandas after a faulty ventilation system pumped toxic gas into its enclosure. Quan Quan, a 21-year-old panda at Jinan Zoo in Shandong province, in eastern China, died after inhaling a mixture of chlorine, chlorine hydride and carbon monoxide, according to a spokesman.

The panda, which had given birth to seven cubs, arrived on loan at the zoo in 2007 from the Wolong panda reserve in Sichuan province. Quan Quan was one of the zoo's star attractions, helping to boost visitor numbers to around 30,000 a day. Workers had been disinfecting an air raid shelter inside the zoo when the gases leaked through the ventilation system into the panda house.

"The ventilation system was built in 1995," said a spokesman. "It was used to keep the panda house cool, but it fed large amounts of smoke into the panda enclosure." At 21, Quan Quan was the equivalent of more than 70-years-old in human terms, according to Chen Lihua, the head of the animal-breeding department at Shanghai zoo. Most pandas live to between 20 years and 25 years.

"The zoo must give a full explanation for the death of the panda on Thursday as soon as possible. Without the panda, the zoo will lose the top attraction for its visitors," said Wang Jingjing, a 27-year-old interior designer in Jinan. "She was quite healthy when I visited her last time," she added.