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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.

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You have terrific insights, particularly when pondering your relationships, so dig deeply instead of wondering why this keeps happening to you.
Don't lay blame -- look at the choices you've made and decide to take more responsibility for your actions.
Your energy is pushing you to forgive, move on and have fun with the exciting new possibilities at work and at home.

Today is:
Today is Friday, August 13, the 225th day of 2010.
There are 140 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
Blame Someone Else Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Why we fret so much about Friday the 13th

Although 21 million Americans say they dread this day, it's actually not that unlucky. 


Friday the 13th is widely considered the unluckiest day of the year.
But why?

We all have a dose of friggatriskaidekaphobia - or the fear of Friday the 13th. People have for centuries. In fact, the original thought behind why the date is so unlucky can be traced back to 1700 B.C. The number 13 has always been regarded as doomed. The ancient Babylon's Code of Hammurabi omits the number 13 in its list of laws. Many tall buildings still to this day do not have a 13th floor.

The number is not the only thing with a negative connotation. Fridays, in general, have had a heavy cloud hanging over them for decades. Friday has been considered an unlucky day at least since the 14th century's The Canterbury Tales, and many other professions have regarded Friday as an unlucky day to undertake journeys or begin new projects. Black Friday has been associated with stock market crashes and other disasters since the 1800s.

What about the tie to Friday specifically?

Another theory given by author Charles Panati, one of the leading authorities on the subject of "Origins," maintains that the superstition can be traced back to ancient myth. In Norse mythology, Friday is named for Frigga, the free-spirited goddess of love and fertility. When Norse and Germanic tribes converted to Christianity, Frigga was banished in shame to a mountaintop and labeled a witch. It was believed that every Friday, the spiteful goddess convened a meeting with eleven other witches, plus the devil — a gathering of thirteen — and plotted ill turns of fate for the coming week. For many centuries in Scandinavia, Friday was known as "Witches' Sabbath."

Another theory as to why Friday the 13th has a bad rap is due to a monastic military order in Jerusalem in 1307. The Knights Templar became extraordinarily powerful and wealthy with their order to protect Christian pilgrims during the Crusades. According to one expert, King Philip was threatened by that power and eager to acquire their wealth, so he secretly ordered the mass arrest of all the Knights Templar in France on Friday, October 13, 1307 - Friday the 13th.

Jesus also died on a Friday and there were 13 people at the Last Supper. That is not the only calamitous event in the Bible that occurred on a Friday. Eve offered a devilish apple to Adam on a Friday. The Great Flood started on a Friday. The confusion at the Tower of Babel also happened on a Friday.

A further theory goes back to a combination of Paganism, Christianity, and the Battle of Hastings. For many, the number 13 was considered a lucky number (such as 13 lunar cycles each year), but with the efforts of Christianity attempting to degrade all things Pagan, they promoted 13 as an unlucky number, with Friday thus also being considered a bad day of the week. However, on Friday the 13th of October 1066, the decision was made by King Harold II to go to battle on Saturday Oct. 14, rather than allow his troops a day of rest (despite his army having made a long and arduous march from a battle near York just 3 weeks earlier).

Thirteen is so unlucky, in fact, that in 1881 an organization called the Thirteen Club attempted to improve the number's reputation. At the first meeting, the members (all 13 of them) walked under ladders to enter a room covered with spilled salt. The club lasted for many years and grew to more than 400 members, including five U.S. Presidents: Chester Arthur, Grover Cleveland, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt.

Here are other superstitions that many people observe:
  • Don't walk under a ladder
  • Don't let a black cat cross your path
  • If you break a mirror, you'll have seven years bad luck
  • Don't open an umbrella indoors
  • Step on a crack and you'll break your mother's back
  • It's bad luck to sing or sleep at the table
  • A bird that comes in through a window is bad luck
  • Don't refuse a kiss under mistletoe
  • Don't chase someone with a broom
  • Don't drop a dishcloth
  • Only get out of bed on the same side that you got in bed
  • Don't rock an empty rocking chair
  • Don't wear an opal unless it's your birthstone
  • Don't smell dandelions, otherwise you'll wet the bed
  • Don't give someone a wallet without money in it

Friday the 13th Odd Photo


Art Star

Just three years after picking up pencils and paper, Britain's "mini Monet" has a waiting list 3,000 long.  

Perseids putting on a show

Sky-watchers from around the globe offer stunning glimpses of the Perseids.  

Odin's Castle

 Odin's Castle. It is far and away the best organized and most extensive accumulation of links about history that you can find anywhere. Recipient of many, many awards - richly deserved. If you have any interest in anything related to history, bookmark this site.

Caucasian mummy in China - had 28 oz. of marijuana

The Caucasian mummies of central China are a fascinating story in their own right, and probably worth some additional blog posts in the future.
Cherchen Man, for example is obviously caucasoid, 6'6" tall (and Cherchen woman also over 6' in height), wearing brightly colored and expertly woven woolens; they were living in this area north of Tibet in about 1000 B.C. Many Chinese living in this area today have blond or red hair and blue eyes.
This is the first I've heard about psychoactive agents being found with mummies in that region, although it's not at all surprising that the material would have traveled along the Silk Road.
The cache of cannabis is about 2,700 years old and was clearly ``cultivated for psychoactive purposes," rather than as fibre for clothing or as food, says a research paper in the Journal of Experimental Botany.

The 789 grams of dried cannabis was buried alongside a light-haired, blue-eyed Caucasian man, likely a shaman of the Gushi culture, near Turpan in northwestern China...

Remnants of cannabis have been found in ancient Egypt and other sites, and the substance has been referred to by authors such as the Greek historian Herodotus. But the tomb stash is the oldest so far that could be thoroughly tested for its properties...
The marijuana was found to have a relatively high content of THC, the main active ingredient in cannabis, but the sample was too old to determine a precise percentage.
Researchers also could not determine whether the cannabis was smoked or ingested, as there were no pipes or other clues in the tomb of the shaman, who was about 45 years old...
The region of China where the tomb is located, Xinjiang, is considered an original source of many cannabis strains worldwide.

Jeita Grotto

"The Jeita Grotto of Lebanon is a compound of crystallized caves located 20 km north of Beirut, Lebanon in the Valley of Nahr al-Kalb or Dog River. This grotto complex is composed of two caves - the upper galleries and lower cave... Carved from the limestone by water are cathedral-like vaults with various sizes, colors and shapes. The cave is more than 9000 meters in length and 108 meters in height from the ceiling to the water level."

World's Sixth-Largest River Discovered Under the Black Sea

black sea underwater river image
This color-augmented 3-D radar image shows where the undersea channel enters the Black Sea from the Bosphorus. 
Photo by University of Leeds via the Daily Mail
The broad and powerful Bosphorus defines Istanbul, splitting the city into two continents and solidifying its importance over centuries as a transit and trading route. Anyone who's been out on its waters knows the strength of the strait and has likely noticed the two treacherous currents flowing in opposite directions, one of which, it has recently been discovered, is strong enough to have carved out a massive undersea river -- believed to be the only one of its kind still flowing.

Trees dead for 500 years - but not decayed

“We were gathering samples of dead trees to reconstruct summer temperatures in western Norway, when our dendrochronological dating showed the wood to be much older than expected”, says Terje Thun, an associate professor at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology’s (NTNU) Museum of Natural History and Archaeology...

Thun says that when a pine tree dies, it secretes a great deal of resin, which deters the microorganisms needed for decomposition. “Nevertheless, preventing the natural breakdown of the wood for centuries is quite a feat”, he says...
Resin was one of the ingredients used in Ancient Egypt for mummification, so its conservation abilities have been known for millennia. However, that trees could “self-mummify” in such a humid climate for centuries was new to the NTNU scientists.
“Many of the trunks we dated turned out to have seeded in the early 1200s, and had lived for more than 100 years at the time of the Black Death around 1350”, Thun says. “That means that the dead wood has ‘survived’ in nature for more 800 years without breaking down.”
The tree in the photo grew began growing in 1334, and died in 1513!

The dark side of "fairy tales"

"The Disneyfication of fairy stories over the past 70-odd years since Uncle Walt released his animated take on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs has put into most people's minds a primary-coloured world of beautiful people facing dastardly villains and apparently insurmountable obstacles on their path to a life of happiness alongside Mr or Ms (or, more likely, HRH) Right; a world where good always triumphs and there's no better relationship than one built upon the size of a kingdom. A world, largely, for children. But the picture painted by the Grimms was of a vast, dark, world-encompassing forest in which still darker deeds were committed – and went unpunished. Lopping off heads with axes was de rigueur; the story of The Robber Bridegroom, to cite one particularly bloody example, contained a horrifying passage in which the robbers
"dragged with them another young girl. They were drunk, and paid no heed to her screams and lamentations. They gave her wine to drink, three glasses full, one glass of white wine, one glass of red, and a glass of yellow, and with this her heart burst in twain. Thereupon they tore off her delicate raiment, laid her on a table, cut her beautiful body in pieces and strewed salt thereon."
But all this x-rated brutality isn't as out of place as it might at first appear. The folk tales that have, over the years, become sanitised and cutesy, originally started life as stories for grown-ups...

One fulltext online version of The Robber Bridegroom is at Project Gutenberg.

Family Tree of the Greek Gods


Inside looking out

Amid a media blackout, an anonymous twentysomething pulls the lid off raging violence in Mexico.  

Malaysia mulls hanging parents for baby dumping

Malaysian parents who abandon their newborns and leave them to die could face the gallows, as authorities step up their response to a series of gruesome cases of abandoned babies.

Amazing James Bond Gadgets That Are Real

Ten of the greatest James Bond gadgets that have somehow made their way from the silver screen to the real world.

An act of trust

When Jay Valentine asked for change, he didn't expect to be handed a platinum card. 

To Build More Muscle, Pump Lighter Iron

Lots of people use free weights and weight machines as part of staying fit and trying to build muscle, but a new study finds that contrary to popular belief, it's not really the heaviness of the weights that build the most muscle.
Rather, you can build more muscle mass by using something much lighter but just keep lifting until you reach fatigue and can't lift it anymore.

I've been doing this from the beginning.
So, now I am bigger and stronger than the 'heavy-weight' crowd and on average 35 years older than they are to boot.
Being 6'3" tall with a 58" chest and 22" biceps at my age (My great-granddaughter loves to play 'swing' on poppy's arm) I love to show the 'serious lifters' a thing or two when they start laughing about my twenty pound curls (not to mention the gray beard).
After about an hour of just curling twenty pounds and talking to the person (s) next to me I go to the bench and press over 400 pounds and return to my twenty pound curls as they are silent and remain so as they struggle to maybe press a couple hundred pounds.
The moral here is don't laugh at we old graybeards, we will prove you wrong every time.

Trusting people make better lie detectors

Trusting others may not make you a fool or a Pollyanna, according to a study in the current Social Psychological and Personality Science (published by SAGE).

Instead it can be a sign that you’re smart.



Best places to camp in the U.S.

Pitch your tent close to bizarre rock formations, sea caves, or wild horses.  

Sam, I am

Fifty years ago, Dr. Seuss accepted a $50 bet that resulted in an endearing children's classic.

Pecos Bill eat your heart out ...

Marshall Labiak describes how a waterspout gave him a short but wild ride.  

Tacky by law

Buildings around New York's famous crossroads are actually required to have all that glitz.  

Russian man jailed for assaulting fortune teller who predicted he would go to jail

A court in the Kemerovo region has sentenced a man to more than 20 years in prison for stabbing two people to death following a fortune teller's prediction that he was destined for jail.

Last fall, on Oct. 8, Gennady Osipovich met with a Gypsy woman to have his future told. He became enraged when the self-proclaimed clairvoyant informed him that he was bound for a "kazyonny dom," or "state-sponsored house," a Russian slang term for prison, regional prosecutors said in a statement on Thursday.

Osipovich proceeded to employ dubious logic, according to the prosecutors. In order to prevent this fortune from coming true, Osipovich tried to kill the woman. He pulled out a knife and stabbed her, though she managed to escape.

Tragically, two witnesses were unable to flee in time. Osipovich stabbed each of them repeatedly, and the victims died of the knife wounds, investigators said. Prosecutors said Osipovich was sentenced to 22 years in a maximum security prison.



Boycotting Target

A $150,000 donation that outraged liberals could jeopardize the retail giant's expansion plans.  

On The Job

On The Job
48% Of Those Planning To Quit Once The Economy Improves Say It's Because They No Longer Trust Their Bosses
1/3 of working Americans say they're going to try to find a new job once the recession is over, and 48% of that group cited losing trust in their employer as being the primary factory, according to a new study.
46% said a dearth of clear and transparent communication from company leadership, as being their reasons for planning to look start job hunting after the recovery.
The abstract of the report says, "During challenging economic times, the relationship between employees and employers is often tested. Frequently, executives are forced to make decisions that broadly affect their workforces and alter what matters in the workplace. Today's business environment is no exception; it appears that the recession has diminished two important forms of business currency: trust and ethics."
What do you think? Are you going to try to look for new work after the economy rebounds? Has the downturn strained your relationship with your employer, resulting in a you not trusting them and do you feel adversely affected by a lack of clear communication from up top? Sound off in the comments.

Should I Patronize A Company That Treated Me Unprofessionally As A Job Applicant?

If you've applied for a job with a company and been turned down, how does that affect how you feel about that company? What if you feel that the company treated you poorly as a job applicant? Joe writes that he wonders just that. He feels that a company of which he was a customer treated his girlfriend unprofessionally after interviewing for a job there, and wonders whether he's justified in taking his business away from them.
About a month ago, my girlfriend interviewed for an IT position at [redacted]. She did two phone interviews and then was invited to corporate HQ for a face-to-face interview. She met with four people, including the hiring manager, for several hours during the course of one day. Now at least a month later, she has not heard back from the company: not a word. She has contacted the HR person who set up the interview(s) but she also will not respond. Now, we are smart people and know what this means. We don't think anything illegal has taken place or that [the company] should be "punished" or anything like that. But we do feel wronged. It shatters everything we know about professionalism. So much so, in fact, that it is affecting our decision to [patronize this business.] So my questions to Consumerist.com are...are you hearing about this type of unprofessional treatment from others? Is there anything we can do other than tell anyone and everyone who will listen? Why would a company do this? To save costs?
Should I consume good and services from a company that wouldn't have me as an employee? If companies are inundated with resumes then have they realized that these hundreds or thousands of applicants might carry a grudge later on?
There are really two parts to Joe's question. There's his main question about continuing to be a customer of a company that you feel has treated you unprofessionally.
At the same time, there's another question: was the company's behavior unusual? I've been on a lot of job interviews in the last ten years, and I can probably count on one hand the number of actual rejection letters or phone calls I've received. I may just be forgettable, but this seems to be a wider trend. Are the people in charge of hiring so busy that they simply don't have time to notify the rejects?
From napping to snooping, millions of people commit these workplace no-no's.

The word today is ... "monger"

A dealer or trader in a commodity. The Random House Dictionary states the ultimate origin is from the Latin "mango", meaning .... salesman! ["Death of a mango?"] [I wonder if Brother Cadfael ever encountered "mango" during his explorations of the language].

"Monger" was once used as a verb, but it now is typically only employed as the second element of compound words. My OED says examples of such formations are "unlimited", with examples beginning in the 13th century: hay-mongers, holy-water mongers, insect-mongers (?) etc. The most familiar would likely be cheese-monger, coster-monger (fruit/veggies), fishmonger, ironmonger, and whore-monger.

As the last-named example suggests, the OED notes that from the 16th century onward, the term nearly always carries the implication of a petty, disreputable, or contemptible trade in the material - as in the modern "rumor-monger" "gossip-monger" and "scandal-monger."

Here is a coster-monger:

Non Sequitur


Muslim calendar creates 9/11 dilemma

A holiday's awkward timing could spur misunderstandings or worse as Muslims face growing hostility in U.S. 'Scary' 

More illegal immigrants deported than ever

But don't tell the wingnuts ... they cannot handle the truth
A top U.S. official says the new data shows "we're going to get this right."  

Bad Cops

Bad Cops

Lunatic Fringe

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

Liars and Fools

Faux's Glenn Beck declares a "season for awakening" and begs Americans to "do the hard things" and let "the system" "come down".
Sedition 101

WingNutDaily columnist accuses President Obama of treason.
Don't you just love it when the traitors accuse others of their treason - Typical Nazi behavior.

Faux's Glenn Beck lies: America is "worshipping" a "golden calf," and "this is the moment that Moses comes back".
Deluded as usual.

Why is it that the standard right-wing response to votes in Congress or court decisions that they don't like is to threaten revolution against the US?.
That one is an easy question to answer ... it has been their goal since the inception of the repugican party in the mid 19th century - the overthrow of the United States.

Faux's Glenn Beck is trying to "scare the bejeezus" out of people with "absurd" references to Weimar Germany, civil unrest.
Of, course he is - that is what fear-mongers do.


And just who are the 'big spenders' again?


Where to retire for $1,500 a month or less

Jason and Elizabeth Pearce found a place to live on Social Security income alone.  

There is no such thing as 'good debt'

Don't prolong your state of debt by thinking some liabilities are smart to hold.  



The U.S. nuclear "secret unlock code" was... 00000000

Those of you who are embarrassed to admit that your passwords for most sites are not robust enough may be able to take some comfort from this admission about events during the height of the Cold War. In the 1960s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara, concerned about nuclear security, had "technical locks" placed on the Minuteman intercontinental ballistic missiles to prevent unauthorized deployment.
The Strategic Air Command (SAC) in Omaha quietly decided to set the “locks” to all zeros in order to circumvent this safeguard. During the early to mid-1970s, during my stint as a Minuteman launch officer, they still had not been changed. Our launch checklist in fact instructed us, the firing crew, to double-check the locking panel in our underground launch bunker to ensure that no digits other than zero had been inadvertently dialed into the panel. SAC remained far less concerned about unauthorized launches than about the potential of these safeguards to interfere with the implementation of wartime launch orders. And so the “secret unlock code” during the height of the nuclear crises of the Cold War remained constant at 00000000.
To arm the weapons you just open a panel held by two captive screws - like a battery cover on a radio - using a thumbnail or a coin.

Inside are the arming switch and a series of dials which you can turn with an Allen key to select high yield or low yield, air burst or groundburst and other parameters.

The Bomb is actually armed by inserting a bicycle lock key into the arming switch and turning it through 90 degrees. There is no code which needs to be entered or dual key system to prevent a rogue individual from arming the Bomb.
The bomb in the photo is just a random Russian nuclear bomb being washed by some cleaning women.

World's Largest Tidal Turbine Unveiled in Scotland

ak1000 tidal turbine photo
photos: Atlantis Resources Corp.
There are some big tidal turbines out there, but none so massive as the one pictured above: The Atlantis Resources AK1000, just unveiled in Scotland and due to be installed at the European Marine Energy Centre in Orkney later this summer. Weighing in at 130 tons and standing nearly 74 feet tall, with rotors nearly 60 feet across, the 1MW turbine's manufacturers say it is capable of generating enough electricity for 1000 homes.

Power in Art or is it Art in Power

pylons sculptures over river photo  
Images via Choi + Shine
Who says that transmission towers need to be ugly? One of the biggest downsides of having easy access to energy has long been the unsightly way it's carried from place to place, but one US design firm hopes to revolutionize all that -- by giving electricity pylons a human touch. In a project entitled "The Land of Giants" those normally stark, utilitarian structures are transformed into more aesthetically pleasing sculptures that folks might not mind having in their backyards.

Tastes like chicken


Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
Eating out and snacking at the movies can add 400 extra calories — and tons of fat.  

Virginia considers banning energy drinks

Virginia high school sports officials are recommending their athletes avoid some popular beverages.  

Fast Food To Cut Heart Disease Risk?

Retro Photo


Dutch Olympian to teach orangutans how to swing

In an evolutionary twist, a Dutch zoo is calling on the services of an Olympic gymnast to teach orangutans how to swing through the trees. The zoo Ouwehands Dierenpark Rhenen, located in the centre of the country, said it had renovated its orangutan enclosure to allow the long-limbed, hairy, auburn-coloured primates to swing from tree to tree in an outdoor setting above the viewing public - but the animals appear to have lost the knack of it.

On Friday, Olympian Epke Zonderland hopes to re-teach them. "It is said that we can learn from apes how to climb, but this time they've asked me to get the apes back into the trees," Zonderland said. In the wild, orangutans rarely come down to the ground, the zoo said, and in the improved enclosure the primates will be able to climb up one tree screened from the public to an outdoor enclosure with seven other trees 10-metres (yards) high.

These seven trees provide no possibility for the orangutans to come back down to the ground. A special lift will bring fruit and other food to the apes at the top of the enclosure, while the public can watch them unseen from the ground. "This is a unique system in Europe in terms of improved surroundings," the zoo said on its website.

But Zonderland, who competed in the high bar event at the Beijing Olympics in 2008, said the apes are probably a little afraid of the new situation. "I hope on Friday they will be relaxed enough to copy me. I have no experience with apes ... hopefully they start swinging nicely from the trees," he said.

Chinchilla Poop Reveals How Much It Rained

Wild chinchillas tend to excrete their body wastes in personal piles called “middens”. In the dry climate of the Atacama Desert in South America, these piles can be preserved for thousands of years. Scientists have discovered that they can use these preserved middens to gather information about rainfall in the distant past:
By measuring pellet size in middens deposited in modern times when rainfall records exist, the team determined the relationship between chinchilla pellet size and amount of rain.
They then used this relationship to estimate how much rain fell at points throughout the past 14,000 years, by measuring and radiocarbon dating the animals’ poop.
The results show increases in rainfall at 11- to 13.8-thousand years ago, and again about one- to two-thousand years ago.

Pink katydid

Not a hoax. And not a breast cancer awareness item.

Drunkest Guy Ever

Nice touch adding the 'silent movie' style piano music