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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, August 4, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Romance can be an awful lot of fun -- unless the rules keep changing.
In that case, it's no fun at all for any of the players.
Don't let yourself get caught up in emotional messes or manipulation by making your moral code clear and sticking to it.
This should keep you aimed in the right direction, as it helps you get around some freaky, combative obstacles you don't have time for.

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, August 4, the 216th day of 2010.
There are 149 days left in the year.

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

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Northern Lights' unusual southern move

Usually only seen by those far north, the Aurora Borealis is visible in some of the U.S. this week.

The Blob isn't just a Hollywood movie

Ancient blob-like creature of the deep revealed by scientists

Most romantic cities in the U.S.

Las Vegas makes the top 10, and San Francisco ranks even higher in this annual survey. 

Dog Bite Saved Owner's Life

Usually dog owners frown upon dog biting people, but in this case, the dog bite may very well have saved his owner’s life:
Kiko apparently sensed an infection festering in his master’s right big toe — and chewed most of it off after Douthett passed out in a drunken stupor.
A trip to the hospital confirmed Douthett’s digit required amputation, and Kiko is being heralded by his owner for helping him realize he has been suffering from Type 2 diabetes.

Beach art that goes beyond sand castles

Pro sculptors have tricks that allow their works to appear to defy gravity and have colors.  

Human Brain Can't Cope with Modern Classical Music

Why don’t people like modern classical music? Blame the human brain: it can’t comprehend it as music!
For decades critics of modern classical music have been derided as philistines for failing to grasp the subtleties of the chaotic sounding compositions, but there may now be an explanation for why many audiences find them so difficult to listen to.
A new book on how the human brain interprets music has revealed that listeners rely upon finding patterns within the sounds they receive in order to make sense of it and interpret it as a musical composition.
While traditional classical music follows strict patterns and formula that allow the brain to make sense of the sound, modern symphonies by composers such as Arnold Schoenberg and Anton Webern simply confuse listeners’ brains.

How thrifty shoppers hurt the recovery

The national savings rate has tripled since the recession began, but that's not necessarily a good thing.  

Smoky haze engulfs swath of Russia

Forest fires wipe out villages, choke people in and around Moscow, and still rage out of control.  

Iran denies attack on Ahmadinejad

A reported blast near the president's convoy stirs up conflicting accounts in the media.  

It's Only The Environment After All

It's Only The Environment After All
The company says its mud plug works as the government reports much of the spilled oil is gone.  
It's Not Like We Don't Have Another One

Bad Cops

Bad Cops

FBI's fight with Internet encyclopedians

The agency has threatened to prosecute the popular Wikipedia site over use of its trademark seal.  

Things college students don't need

Learn how to save on books, meal plans, and other hidden costs of a college education. 

Non Sequitur


Six arrested for greasing elderly at California nursing home

Six former Northern California nursing home employees are under arrest on charges they covered several elderly patients with cream to make them slippery as part of a prank against their co-workers.

Pennsylvania woman's stripper job leads to fraud charges

A Pennsylvania woman is accused of illegally accepting workers' compensation payments while working as a stripper.

Outcry over Malaysian child marriages

A Malaysian state's decision to allow child marriages caused an outcry on Wednesday, with rights groups condemning new rules that allow Muslim girls below 16 years to wed.

Union Hired Non-Union Workers to Protest Hiring Non-Union Workers!

Need picketers to goose up your protest? You can hire picketers – yes, demonstrators-for-hire that march wherever you want them to march and chant whatever you want them to chant.
That in itself may be a smart solution, but when you’re a labor union protesting the hiring of non-union workers, then that’s just a whole ‘nother level of irony:
Billy Raye, a 51-year-old unemployed bike courier, is looking for work.
Fortunately for him, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council of Carpenters is seeking paid demonstrators to march and chant in its current picket line outside the McPherson Building, an office complex here where the council says work is being done with nonunion labor.
"For a lot of our members, it’s really difficult to have them come out, either because of parking or something else," explains Vincente Garcia, a union representative who is supervising the picketing.
So instead, the union hires unemployed people at the minimum wage—$8.25 an hour—to walk picket lines. Mr. Raye says he’s grateful for the work, even though he’s not sure why he’s doing it. "I could care less," he says. "I am being paid to march around and sound off."



The Ten Weirdest Sharks Ever

We are in the midst of the Discovery Channel’s annual celebration known as Shark Week. In honor of the occasion, here’s a look at the strangest species of sharks, both living and extinct.

1. Sawshark

(Image credit: Flickr user Gore Fiendus/Jerry Frausto)
There are seven known species of sawsharks (Pristiophoriformes) that have long snouts with teeth, but they are not related to sawfish (although sawsharks are fish). They swim along the floor of the ocean and use their snouts exactly as you would imagine: they smack their prey sideways to disable them. Sawsharks eat squid, crustaceans, and small fish. They look much more dangerous than they are.

2. Basking Shark

The basking shark (Cetorhinus maximus) is the second-largest of all living shark species, with only the whale shark growing larger. They normally grow to 20-26 feet long, with the biggest confirmed specimen measuring over 40 feet long! They have mouths up to three feet wide, which they hold open while swimming. That’s because they are filter feeders that scoop up plankton, crustaceans, and small fish as they swim.

3. Hammerheads

(Image credit: Flickr user David Biesack)
There are eight or nine different species of hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna), named for their unusual shape. The reason behind the peculiar shape of the shark’s head was debated for many years. Scientists speculated that the distance between the shark’s eye gave it some kind of advantage. Recent research confirms this. Hammerhead sharks can see a range of 360 degrees vertically. They can easy see behind them with a slight turn of the head, and most importantly, their two eyes have a huge overlap of field compared to other sharks, indicating they have excellent binocular vision. Hammerhead sharks are able to judge distances well by sight alone. They also differ from other sharks in that they tend to swim in schools and they can develop a tan when exposed to sunlight.

4. Megamouth Shark

Is there a more descriptive name for any animal than a megamouth shark? The megamouth (Megachasma pelagios) was first discovered in 1976. It is a filter feeder with very small teeth, but swims with its huge mouth open to scoop up jellyfish and plankton. The megamouth shark is a rare creature and is rarely seen. There have been only 41 confirmed sightings, including one last year in which a megamouth was caught and eaten by fishermen in the Philippines. See a video of a live megamouth at YouTube.

5. Thresher Shark

The thresher shark (Alopiidae) is most notable because of its long upper caudal (tail) fin which may account for half the shark’s total length. The thresher shark eats small fish, and will sometimes tap the water with its tail to herd schools of fish into tight spots, making them easier to eat. They can also use their tails to stun their prey which a good smack. Thresher sharks are usually 10-15 feet long, and can grow up to 20 feet long -but remember, about half of that length is tail fin.

6. Frilled Shark

The frilled shark (Chlamydoselachus anguineus) comes very close to our image of a sea serpent from ancient lore. These sharks are not particularly large at about six feet long with a slender body, but they are very flexible and can move in a rather un-sharklike way. When the shark flares its neck frill, it can look quite menacing. However, they are rarely seen by humans as they prefer to hunt in deep ocean depths.

7. Cookie Cutter Shark

The cookie cutter shark (Isistius brasiliensis) got that strange name from its habit of biting chunks of flesh from its prey by wrenching its body around in a circular motion after sinking its teeth into a fish too big to eat whole. Ouch! The cookie cutter shark reaches only around twenty inches in length, but has been known to bite into whales, submarines, and people. It has a small bioluminescent patch that fools other creatures into thinking it is a much smaller fish than it really is while the rest of the cookie cutter fish waits in the dark.

8. Goblin Shark

The goblin shark (Mitsukurina owstoni) is a deep water species that is rarely seen by humans. It is believed to be an ancient species even by shark standards. It has an unusually long snout, which you’d think would make it hard for this shark to eat, except that the goblin shark has one strange feature to compensate. It has jaws that can protrude out of its face, like the alien in the move Alien.
If you think that may give you nightmares, just keep telling yourself that goblin sharks live way too deep to be a threat to humans.

9. Whorl Shark

Shark fossils show that weird sharks are not just a modern development. Although we know little about it, the whorl shark (Helicoprion) is a truly strange fish that lived 280-225 million years ago. The whorl shark’s distinction is a spiral of teeth it left behind. Modern sharks continue to grow teeth throughout their lives and shed old teeth. Ancient sharks grew new teeth, but kept the old teeth as well. In some species, old teeth migrated to the face to make room for teeth in the jaw. In the whorl shark, old teeth were just rotated around. But where in the shark were these teeth? Full fossils have not yet been found, so some scientists believe the spiral teeth were in the front of lower jaw as shown here. Others believe the spirals were in the shark’s throat like an internal circular saw, as you can see in this recreation.

10. Megalodon

(Image credit: Flickr user Steve Flamingo)
As far as we know, megalodon (Carcharocles megalodon) was the biggest shark that ever existed. It grew up to 60 feet long and consumed over a ton of food every day. The word megalodon means “big tooth”, appropriate as the megalodon had a bite more powerful than a T. rex, which it used to eat whales. Megalodon lived 25 to one million years ago, although it survives today in film and in our nightmares.
These weird sharks are listed in no particular order. Which do you think is the weirdest?

Shark falls in love with diver's metal arm

Blackpool man Martin Sutcliffe has a certain animal magnetism when it comes to attracting the ladies. The trouble is, the lady he's attracting is a seven-foot shark who likes to nibble his head. Martin, who works at Blackpool Sea Life Centre, has been singled out from the four regular divers by Betty the bowmouth shark.

He loves diving with the sharks so much though, that he's willing to put up with Betty's enthusiastic attention. "She only nibbles rather than bites," he says. "But her teeth are so strong it feels like hard scratching, and it's impossible to ignore." Colleagues think they've worked out why Betty is so attracted to Martin, and it's not because he looks good in a wetsuit.

Sharks are sensitive to the tiniest bit of magnetism and Martin has a metal pin in his arm. "Sharks have pores dotted around their snouts called 'ampullae of Lorenzini' that can detect an electric impulse as tiny as one billionth of a volt," explains displays supervisor Carey Duckhouse. "Bowmouth sharks home in on such impulses to find prey hidden beneath the seabed, so are probably more sensitive to them than most other species.

"We're convinced that magnetic particles in the pin in Martin's arm are causing little electrical discharges that only Betty can detect, and which she finds irresistible. Martin tries his best to get through a demonstration of diving gear and techniques, but has to constantly fend off Betty who swims up and nibbles his head." A native of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, Betty looks like a cross between a shark and a ray and could reach nearly nine feet long when fully grown. And it's not surprising Martin is wary of her affection, she has 47 rows of teeth in her upper jaw and 50 in the lower.

Demand for shark fin soup in Asia has been blamed for the illegal killing of nearly 300,000 sharks off Brazil

From the BBC:
The Environmental Justice Institute in Brazil has accused a seafood exporter (Siglo do Brasil Comercio) of illegally killing nearly 300,000 sharks.

It is suing for what it says is massive damage to the marine ecosystem.

It alleges that many of the sharks were thrown back into the sea after their fins were taken for clandestine export.



Westerners' gut microbes make them sick

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Researchers compared the intestinal microbes of healthy children in Burkina Faso with those of healthy Italian children and found that the African kids had significantly more bacteria associated with lean people and less bacteria associated with obese people.
Additionally, the researchers detected bacterial strains of Prevotella, Xylanibacter, and Treponema only in the children from Burkina Faso. These bacteria are excellent at breaking down fibrous foods and producing short-chain fatty acids that provide added energy. Studies have also shown that those same fatty acids help protect the intestines from inflammation, which could explain why inflammatory bowel disease is almost unheard of in African communities that eat high-fiber diets, Lionetti says. The increased diversity of microbes in the gut also makes the body more resistant to intestinal pathogens while tempering the immune system's response to harmless molecules, leading to fewer allergies, Lionetti says. The group reports its findings online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Photo: Grubs for Sale by Adam Jones, Ph.D.

New York’s sordid underground grilled cheese sandwich trade

Even though his product is available at every diner, deli and corner bodega, one New Yorker has found success selling grilled cheese on the black market. The underground chef takes orders by text message, cooks his sandwiches on the stove in his brother's East Village apartment, and then meets his customers on street corners. (He does have a Facebook page.) "I feel like a drug dealer because I'm handing people a paper bag and they're handing me cash," the unlicensed cheese pusher, who, fearing reprisals from the Health Department, asked to be identified only as "Ronnie," said. The sandwiches go for between $5 to $7 depending on the type of cheese and bread or the addition of extras like bacon or jalapeƱos.

He grills in a pan with unsalted butter, then wraps the sandwiches in tin foil and pops them into a 500-degree oven for a few minutes to achieve maximum crispiness -- a trick he learned from his father. It started with just a few friends, but now Ronnie is grilling 40 sandwiches a day, he said - a volume he can barely keep up with. "I'm worried that I'm getting too busy. I'm instituting a friends and friends-of-friends policy," he said. "I kind of want to quit, it's getting too big, but I want to feed these people." Mostly he's worried that if he gets too big, he's sure to draw the attention of health inspectors.

"It's not cool with the Department of Health," he said. "I don't know how much longer I want to do it because I'm living in fear. It would be such a stupid thing to get in trouble for." His customers said they never knew they needed a cheese dealer until they took the first bite. "This is my lunch break. I couldn't finish my day without one of these sandwiches," said Lia Strassler, 26, who ordered one on wheat bread with American cheese, tomato and ground pepper. "The sound the sandwich makes when you bite into it is incredible. There's a crispy buttered top, and then the bread is soft and the cheese strings out. It's better than any grilled cheese my mom ever made."

After making that sale, Ronnie rode his bike to Broadway and Bleecker for another drop. He met Jessica Daly, 23, who ordered jalapeƱo and cheddar. "We begged for a delivery," she recalled. "When I was in kindergarten, my dad used to make me grilled cheese every day." Afterward, Daly said she'd be a repeat customer. "There's a novelty and nostalgia to it: It comes in a paper bag and reminds me of a school lunch. It makes me think of a simpler time," she said.

Five of the most fattening kids' meals

One chain's children's fettuccine alfredo clocks in at 800 calories and 48 grams of saturated fat.  

Milk varieties confuse shoppers

Beverages made of rice, oats, or even hemp are challenging the definition of milk. 



Man thought dog was Satan

A Gulf Breeze man is charged with killing and skinning the family dog on Sunday because he believed it was possessed by the devil. Matthew O. Foote, 25, is being held without bond on a third-degree felony of cruelty to animals. Foote told investigators he believed the 7-year-old dachshund Chihuahua mix, named Sasha, was possessed by Satan, according to a Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office report.

He vividly described slitting the dog's throat and chest with a knife several times, then when she did not die, holding the dog's mouth shut to suffocate her. He then took the dog into the back yard and skinned her body. He dug a shallow grave, doused the body with gasoline and set it on fire. A bag with the dog's skin and entrails was found in a nearby wooded area.

In her report, Deputy Virginia Rush described Foote as "very matter-of-fact," calm, cooperative and showing no emotion as he discussed the dog's death. He said his parents were at Mass when he killed the dog. "He told me he did not really know why he killed his dog except that he thought the dog was Jesus," Rush wrote. "He then corrected himself and said Satan."

Foote also said he spent the preceding weekend in Louisiana where he met a lot of "evil people." He told the investigator that he also punched a girl on a bus and believed that "something was put in the water," the arrest report says. Sheriff's deputies learned of the death after Foote's father, Gerald Foote, called 911 from their Reservation Road home. The elder Foote told the dispatcher that his son had killed the dog.

There's a new video on this page
Looking at the picture one can tell who is 'possessed'.

Solar Cells

New inexpensive solar cell design

Over-the-top, gigantic dream garages

With vintage touches, hardwood floors, and chandeliers, some setups are more luxurious than many homes.

Harley-Davidson may ride out of Milwaukee

The motorcycle company considers a change that could deal a blow to the city's identity.  

The American Dream

George Carlin telling it like it is.

Comic book saves home

A family makes a life-changing find as they're packing ahead of a foreclosure.  

Classic first-time homebuying mistakes

New buyers often let small imperfections turn them away, failing to visualize a home's potential.

Money moves you didn't know were illegal

Some people routinely break the law by signing checks that belong to a spouse.  

Economics for everyday folks


The man behind 'Ground Zero' mosque

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, a primary mover for the controversial plan, belies many stereotypes.  

Billionaire charity club growing

Michael Bloomberg is among the 39 moguls joining Bill Gates to pledge half their wealth to charity.