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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.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You're busy, as usual -- that, of course, is nothing new; it's something you've become used to.
Just for the moment, though, why not devote some time to pure, unadulterated fun?
That's after you're done with your work for the day, and this includes not just your usual duties, but also something someone else has managed to either forget to do or put off until tomorrow.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
London, England, United Kingdom
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Kota, Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Ferrara, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Sheffield, England, United Kingdom
Swindon, England, United Kingdom
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Rome, Lazio, Italy

as well as Scotland, China, Indonesia and in cities across the United States such as Pickerington, Montgomery, Temecula, Saratoga Springs and more.

Today is:
Today is Thursday, September 2, the 245th day of 2010.
There are 120 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
There are none.

It is however V-J Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

A purported YouTube apology from 'puppy thrower' as the web remains focused on search

The power of the Internet is still being shown in the efforts to track down the "puppy throwing girl," the one who threw a number of live puppies into a river, on camera, in a horrific video.

Missteps in Chilean miners' long rescue

Morale is improving for the trapped men, but critics say some of the government's moves aren't helping.

Bermuda in warnings as the GOES-13 Satellite catches Fiona approaching

Bermuda has warnings up as Tropical Storm Fiona approaches, and GOES-13 satellite imagery from today shows that Fiona, although packing a punch, is a much smaller system that her brother, the Category 4 Hurricane Earl.

Separated sisters reunite 50 years later

Betty Roberson's lifelong search for her siblings leads to a heartwarming reunion.  

Is it 'Independence' or 'Indepednence'?

Wordsmiths and spelling buffs are having a field day with this. A sign along Interstate 277 in Charlotte, N.C. has a glaring spelling error.

Labor Day road trips to remember

Pack up the car and head out on one of these gorgeous American highways. 

Great cities for raising a family

These locations offer good schools, low crime rates, and lots of recreation.  

Why owning a home is still a smart move

It's possible, as a homeowner, to make very little money but still buy plenty of happiness.

Sick man sells home for $10

The family of a mentally ill man says he was tricked into handing over the deed to his home for $10. Attorney calls deal valid.

Hi, Hi, Hi

Paul McCartney & Wings

Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints
Try baby oil to untangle a necklace and dental floss to hang lightweight artwork.  

Are you being over-charged

The sky-high price hikes on items like printer ink and bottled water may give you pause.  

FDA looks to curb abuse of cough medicine

Federal health regulators are weighing restrictions on Robitussin, NyQuil and other cough suppressants to curb cases of abuse that send thousands of people to the hospital each year.

What 'Grade A' label for eggs really means

Many shoppers have no idea what the USDA stamp on cartons stands for.

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
Perfect patties start with mixing cuts of beef and getting the burger-to-bun ratio right.  
Make Labor Day easy on yourself with these tips for cooking meat and veggies.  
A study reveals that many bottled teas aren't such a healthy alternative to soda.  
The iconic, black-studded wedge seems destined to become a slice of vanished Americana.  

Fixing Burger King

The struggling chain's new owners must offer more than its famous flame-broiled burgers, experts say. 



How Technology Made Us Humans

comingman How Technology Made Us Humans
The Man of Year Million
In his book, “The Artificial Ape,” anthropologist and archaeologist Timothy Taylor makes the startling claim that we did not make tools, tools made us.
He reminds us that the oldest stone tools we’ve found are 2.5 million years old. But the genus to which we belong, Homo, is only 2.2 million years old, at least according to the current fossil record. Our species, Homo sapiens, has been around for less time than the gap between tool creation and our genus.
In a fascinating interview with New Scientist, Taylor believes “earlier hominids called Australopithecines were responsible for the stone tools . . . The tools caused the genus Homo to emerge.”
How does that reverse the human-technology equation? Taylor believes that the creation of tools – in his example a sling to carry an infant – is “how encephalisation took place in the genus Homo.” The creation of technology to take care of infants allowed them to be born more helpless. In other words, the development of initial tech allowed evolutionary forces to shape us in a particular fashion. In fact, perhaps forced them to do so.

Ma and Pa Kettle do Math

Too Funny!

The Highest-Paid Athlete in Western History was a Roman Charioteer

A charioteer made a "staggering sum" that dwarfs even Tiger Woods's earnings. 

If you think that modern athletes make a lot of money, they’ve got nothing on the ancients. Peter Struck, a classics professor at the University of Pennsylvania, states that a particular Roman chariot driver far exceeded the earnings of today’s top athletes:
The very best paid of these—in fact, the best paid athlete of all time—was a Lusitanian Spaniard named Gaius Appuleius Diocles, who had short stints with the Whites and Greens, before settling in for a long career with the Reds. Twenty-four years of winnings brought Diocles—likely an illiterate man whose signature move was the strong final dash—the staggering sum of 35,863,120 sesterces in prize money. The figure is recorded in a monumental inscription erected in Rome by his fellow charioteers and admirers in 146, which hails him fulsomely on his retirement at the age of “42 years, 7 months, and 23 days” as “champion of all charioteers.”
His total take home amounted to five times the earnings of the highest paid provincial governors over a similar period—enough to provide grain for the entire city of Rome for one year, or to pay all the ordinary soldiers of the Roman Army at the height of its imperial reach for a fifth of a year. By today’s standards that last figure, assuming the apt comparison is what it takes to pay the wages of the American armed forces for the same period, would cash out to about $15 billion. Even without his dalliances, it is doubtful Tiger could have matched it.

Evolution in Action

Lizard Lays Egg and Births Babies

Photo: Rebecca A. Pyles
Scientists studying a species of Australian lizard called the yellow-bellied three-toed skink discovered that they’re seeing evolution in action: the lizard lays eggs on coasts but birth babies in mountains.
Evolutionary records shows that nearly a hundred reptile lineages have independently made the transition from egg-laying to live birth in the past, and today about 20 percent of all living snakes and lizards give birth to live young only.
But modern reptiles that have live young provide only a single snapshot on a long evolutionary time line, said study co-author James Stewart, a biologist at East Tennessee State University. The dual behavior of the yellow-bellied three-toed skink therefore offers scientists a rare opportunity.
"By studying differences among populations that are in different stages of this process, you can begin to put together what looks like the transition from one [birth style] to the other."



More than you want to know about bedbugs

Excerpts from an article in the New York Times this week:
[V]ery little is known about the creature whose Latin name [Cimex lectularius] means “bug of the bed.”

Ask any expert why the bugs disappeared for 40 years, why they came roaring back in the late 1990s, even why they do not spread disease, and you hear one answer: “Good question.”

...bedbugs, despite the ick factor, are clean... South African researchers have fed them blood with the AIDS virus, but the virus died. They have shown that bugs can retain hepatitis B virus for weeks, but when they bite chimpanzees, the infection does not take...

Why the bugs disappeared for so long and exploded so fast after they reappeared is another question. The conventional answer — that DDT was banned — is inadequate. After all, mosquitoes, roaches and other insects rebounded long ago... Before central heating arrived in the early 1900s, they died back in winter...

Early remedies were risky: igniting gunpowder on mattresses or soaking them with gasoline, fumigating buildings with burning sulfur or cyanide gas. (The best-known brand was Zyklon B, which later became infamous at Auschwitz.)

Success finally arrived in the 1950s as the bugs were hit first with DDT and then with malathion, diazinon, lindane, chlordane and dichlorovos, as resistance to each developed. In those days, mattresses were sprayed, DDT dust was sprinkled into the sheets, nurseries were lined with DDT-impregnated wallpaper...

One theory is that domestic bedbugs surged after pest control companies stopped spraying for cockroaches in the 1980s and switched to poisoned baits, which bedbugs do not eat.

But the prevailing theory is that new bugs were introduced from overseas, because the ones found in cities now are resistant to different insecticides from those used on poultry or cockroaches...

Many pesticides don’t work, and some that do are banned — though whether people should fear the bug or the bug-killer more is open to debate.

“I’d like to take some of these groups and lock them in an apartment building full of bugs and see what they say then,” Dr. Potter said of environmentalists...

Both Mr. Cooper and Dr. Goddard said they routinely pull apart beds and even headboards when they check into hotels. Dr. Goddard keeps his luggage in the bathroom. Mr. Cooper heat-treats his when he gets home...
 Photo credit Allen Brisson-Smith for The New York Times

'Stonehenges' Made From Recycled Materials

Stonehenge, the prehistoric monument made of massive standing stones in the heart of England, has inspired many an artist. For decades, people have been making their own reconstructions of the ancient site of worship, with whatever materials are at hand.

The craze, however, hit a new pace in the summer of 1986, when Stonehenge became a world heritage site and was fenced off. Since then, various Henges have cropped up all around the world, their spirit unbroken - and some of the greatest take the druid's credo as their own, reusing and recycling materials to create truly green creations.

Most Dangerous Mountain Peaks In The World

Before you go hiking, backpacking, mountaineering, rock climbing, ice climbing, downhill skiing, snowboarding or any other activity enjoyed on mountains, you better prepare yourself. Here are the 20 most dangerous mountain peaks in the world.

Recovering bubbly, divers find beer

Divers who found what's believed to be the world's oldest drinkable champagne say they have also discovered two-centuries-old bottles of beer at a shipwreck in the Baltic Sea.
Bottles of what are claimed to be the world's oldest surviving beer are displayed

In this image released Thursday Sept 2 2010 by the Aalands Provincial Government, bottles of what are claimed to be the world's oldest surviving beer are displayed at an unknown location.
(AP Photo/Alands landskapsregering/Marcus Lindholm)

Canadian Rockies Yields Fossil Trove

One of paleontology's most revered fossil sites now has a baby brother.       
Canadian Rockies

World's First Feast: Beef, Turtles and a Dead Shaman

It may be too late to RSVP for the world's first feast, which took place around 12,000 years ago. But take a look what's on the menu here.
First Feast

Ancient pre-Inca royals uncovered

Archaeologists in Peru discover a burial site from an ancient civilization that predates the Inca.

Charles Darwin's secret 200 year old experiment

Or ...
How Charles Darwin Terraformed a Barren Rock

A lonely island in the middle of the South Atlantic conceals Charles Darwin's best-kept secret. Two hundred years ago, Ascension Island was a barren volcanic edifice. Today, its peaks are covered by lush tropical "cloud forest". What happened in the interim is the amazing story of how the architect of evolution, Kew Gardens and the Royal Navy conspired to build a fully functioning, but totally artificial ecosystem.

By a bizarre twist, this great imperial experiment may hold the key to the future colonization of Mars.

Ascension Island, a British overseas territory in the south Atlantic, was originally a nearly-lifeless, uninhabited rock. It had no freshwater except for rainfall which quickly evaporated. But in an experiment, Charles Darwin and his friend Joseph Hooker introduced non-native plants that they hoped would encourage water retention. The result is that today Ascension Island has lush, vibrant forests:
Egged on by Darwin, in 1847 Hooker advised the Royal Navy to set in motion an elaborate plan. With the help of Kew Gardens – where Hooker’s father was director – shipments of trees were to be sent to Ascension.
The idea was breathtakingly simple. Trees would capture more rain, reduce evaporation and create rich, loamy soils. The “cinder” would become a garden.
So, beginning in 1850 and continuing year after year, ships started to come. Each deposited a motley assortment of plants from botanical gardens in Europe, South Africa and Argentina.
Soon, on the highest peak at 859m (2,817ft), great changes were afoot. By the late 1870s, eucalyptus, Norfolk Island pine, bamboo, and banana had all run riot.

Does Language Shape the Way You Think?

In the New York Times, Guy Deutscher has a lengthy article about the speculations of some linguists that the language that we first learn strongly shapes and limits how we think. One interesting example that he cites is an Australian aboriginal language that has no personal spatial descriptors, such as the English phrases “to my right” or “behind me”. Instead, it uses cardinal directions in everyday conversation:
But then a remote Australian aboriginal tongue, Guugu Yimithirr, from north Queensland, turned up, and with it came the astounding realization that not all languages conform to what we have always taken as simply “natural.” In fact, Guugu Yimithirr doesn’t make any use of egocentric coordinates at all. The anthropologist John Haviland and later the linguist Stephen Levinson have shown that Guugu Yimithirr does not use words like “left” or “right,” “in front of” or “behind,” to describe the position of objects. Whenever we would use the egocentric system, the Guugu Yimithirr rely on cardinal directions. If they want you to move over on the car seat to make room, they’ll say “move a bit to the east.” To tell you where exactly they left something in your house, they’ll say, “I left it on the southern edge of the western table.” Or they would warn you to “look out for that big ant just north of your foot.” Even when shown a film on television, they gave descriptions of it based on the orientation of the screen. If the television was facing north, and a man on the screen was approaching, they said that he was “coming northward.”

Old People Enjoy Hearing about Young People Being Stupid

Researchers in Germany examined what news stories older people like to read. They found that grandma and grandpa tend to prefer stories that cast younger people in a negative light:
“Living in a youth centered culture, they may appreciate a boost in self-esteem. That’s why they prefer the negative stories about younger people, who are seen as having a higher status in our society,” said Dr. Silvia Knobloch-Westerwick, of Ohio State University.[...]
All the adults in the study were shown what they were led to believe was a test version of a new online news magazine. They were also given a limited time to look over either a negative and positive version of 10 pre-selected articles.
Each story was also paired with a photograph depicting someone of either the younger or the older age group.
The researchers found that older people were more likely to choose to read negative articles about those younger than themselves

Sarcopenia explained

Why muscles wither with age is captivating a growing number of scientists [and] drug and food companies...

With interest high among the aging, the market potential for maintaining and rebuilding muscle mass seems boundless. Drug companies already are trying to develop drugs that can build muscles or forestall their weakening without the notoriety of anabolic steroids. Food giants like Nestlé and Danone are exploring nutritional products with the same objective.

In addition, geriatric specialists, in particular, are now trying to establish the age-related loss of muscles as a medical condition under the name sarcopenia, from the Greek for loss of flesh. Simply put, sarcopenia is to muscle what osteoporosis is to bone...

Researchers involved in the effort say doctors and patients need to be more aware that muscle deterioration is a major reason the elderly lose mobility and cannot live independently...

A task force of academic and industry scientists met in Rome last November and in Albuquerque last month and has submitted a proposed definition of sarcopenia for publication in a medical journal. The meeting received financial support from several drug companies and food companies...

Causes of the loss of muscle mass or strength might include hormonal changes, sedentary lifestyles, oxidative damage, infiltration of fat into muscles, inflammation and resistance to insulin. Some problems stem from the brain and nervous system, which activate the muscles.

Experts say the best approach to restoring or maintaining muscle mass and strength is exercise, particularly resistance training...

“There’s a lot more to the story than simply having a lot of muscle tissue,” said Brian C. Clark, an expert at Ohio University. “Most of the drug stuff has been targeting muscle mass.”

So the definition is shifting to include muscle strength and function. The academic-industry task force recommends testing whether a person can walk four meters, or about 13 feet, in four seconds...

Demonstrating such benefits and cost savings would help counter criticism that doctors and drug companies are trying to turn a natural consequence of aging into a disease.

Bang the Drum

girlswholikegirls: cuteboyishlesbiangirls: happy-phantom: suicidewatch: Bikini Kill

Bad Cops

Bad Cops

Lunatic Fringe

Lunatic Fringe
Otherwise known 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 News military analyst and retired three-star US General Thomas McInerney encourages American soldiers to disobey lawful orders until he sees Obama's birth certificate.
That's treason, Thomas.

Faux's Glenn Beck explains that his new website, The Blaze, is inspired by the writings of a slavery supporter.
And we are surprised, how?

Lush Dimbulb lies that President Obama is like "some" African-Americans who say "Fourth of July ain't no big deal to me, yo".
So, what is he bitching about - it means nothing to him except a long weekend in the Dominican Republic with the 'boys'.

Batshit crazy wingnut Pamela Geller says she supports — and wants to bring to America — a violent UK English-only group.
Haven't we got more than enough wingnuts here as it is, bitch?

Hate radio squawking head Michael Medved explains in writing that God would vote repugican.
Then 'god' is an idiot just like he is.

Hate radio polls listeners on whether the US should "register" Muslims in a "national database" during "a time of war".
And you know what the results were? Neither does the real American people either. But we can be safe in postulating that the percentage was extremely high in favor (darn near 100%).
Need we say more?

If conservatives act like morons on camera, why does it matter if a liberal is holding the camera?

The Daily Caller has a post up about our good friends at New Left Media who do all the great video documentaries of Sarah Palin's book signings, Glenn Beck's rallies, and the Teabagger conferences. Putting aside the fact, for a moment, that the Daily Caller can't even be bothered to get its facts straight - for instance, Erick and Chase at New Left never tell people they're working on a school project, they identify themselves as journalists, albeit college students who are journalists.

Somehow, that's very very sneaky to conservatives, actually telling people who you are when asked. So sneaky in fact, that the two guys who are just barely old enough to drink have now bamboozled the Teabaggers, the Beck fans, and the Palin fans with their young whipper-snapper tomfoolery.

An example the Daily Caller gives of just how sneaky Erick and Chase are when exposing what utter morons conservatives are at these rallies: Erick and Chase tell people that they attend Wright State, a college in Dayton, Ohio. Put aside for a moment the fact that the guys actually do go to school at Wright State. It seems that some of the people attending these rallies, and being interviewed by the guys, thought that Wright State was spelled Right State, and therefore the guys worked for RightState.com, a non-existent conservative Web site.

And this is the Daily Caller's smoking gun that Erick and Chase are sneaky, and that conservatives attending these rallies aren't morons?

Favorite quote from the Daily Caller piece:
Whiteside said it’s not his or Stoll’s fault if an interviewee confuses Wright State with Right State.
No, it's not his fault that he told people the name of his university, when asked, and the people were simply morons.

But putting even all of that aside, is the Daily Caller really trying to tell us that the attendees at all these rallies are willing to be total idiots on camera for Chase and Erick because they thought the guys were conservatives? So you mean, they'd act smarter, or less crazy, if they knew the guys were liberals? How about they just act normal, and tell the truth, regardless of who's doing the interview.

One in Five

Wanna hazard a guess as to which one in five?

And yet another mosque attack that involved a gun

Are we really surprised considering the constant stream of attacks by the Teabaggers?
A group of teenagers in western New York has been accused of harassing members of a mosque by yelling obscenities and insults during evening prayers for Ramadan, sideswiping a worshiper with a vehicle and firing a shotgun outside, the authorities said Tuesday.

The teenagers were cornered by members of the mosque, who held them for the police. They were charged with disrupting a religious service, a misdemeanor.

The obscenities episode occurred Monday and the shooting last Friday, both outside the World Sufi Foundation mosque in Carlton, N.Y., the authorities said. They said a 17-year-old fired the shotgun; no one was hit.
And they just keep coming ...
Seattle shop clerk attacked and called a terrorist

The Teabagger call to violence continues.
Writing the court, a Seattle detective said Stainbrook entered the 7-11 store in at 362 Denny Way. The clerk was standing near a coffee machine when Stainbrook accosted him.

"For unknown reasons a person threw change on the floor near the victim's feet then punched the victim on the left side of the head," the detective said.

"After the suspect struck (the clerk) with his fist he said, 'You're not even American, you're Al-Qaeda. Go back to your country.'"

United Airlines and Dulles security treat Pakistani military officers as terrorists

United Airlines threw nine high-ranking Pakistani military officers off a Washington-Tampa flight on Sunday and turned them over to Dulles security, who detained and grilled the men. The officers were on a junket in the USA, and had been traveling extensively; one of them said words to the effect of, "I hope this is my last flight." This was interpreted as a terrorist threat by a flight attendant. Dulles security did not let the men contact their embassy or the US military officials who were hosting them.
The Pakistanis were finally released after police at Dulles determined they did not pose a threat. But instead of proceeding to Tampa, the delegation was ordered to return to Pakistan by their military superiors in Islamabad, in protest of their treatment, the Pakistani official said, adding that they were "verbally abused." The group of officers spent the next 48 hours in Washington, waiting for the next available flight home, and were scheduled to depart the United States on Tuesday evening. The Pakistani officers were originally en route to U.S. Central Command headquarters in Tampa to attend the annual conference of the U.S.-Pakistan Military Consultative Committee, said Maj. David Nevers, a Central Command spokesman. He said Centcom officials hoped to reschedule the conference.

Non Sequitur


Want a cheap Van Gogh ...

What about a inexpensive Monet?
60% of the world's oil paintings come from this village

Eight Foot Shark Caught in Potomac River

Don't believe him? He has the pictures to prove it. Dean put out a net Monday at Cornfield Harbor in the Potomac three miles north of Point Lookout with hopes of catching cow-nosed rays for a Solomons Island Marina biologist.

Beer Facts from Around the World

Yes, there are some countries in which the consumption of beer, along with other alcoholic beverages, is prohibited. Meanwhile, the rest of the world is brewing, selling, and imbibing the ancient drink.
Mesopotamia: Beer dates back to at least 4,000 BC. The earliest Sumerian writings mention it. The earliest recorded recipe for brewing beer found so far is from the ancient Babylonians. It is thought that the drink arose independently in several locations during the switch from hunting and gathering to agricultural communities, as stored crops fermented naturally and produced alcohol.
New Zealand: Beer was unknown in New Zealand until introduced by Europeans in the 1800s. The first beer brewed on the island was made from an indigenous evergreen tree and was intended as a cure for scurvy. Captain Cook brewed it himself in 1770, and it worked.
Mongolia: In the 2010 World Beverage Competition, the top beer prize went to the United States. However, Mongolia won both a gold medal and a silver medal for Fusion Beer and Borgio, both brewed by the Mongolian beverage company APU.

Peru: When drinking beer with a group in Peru, one person buys a bottle, pours a glass, passes the bottle on to the next person, drinks it, pours the dregs on the floor, then passes the glass to the next person, who repeats the process. The last person to get a drink from the bottle usually buys the next bottle. Sometimes shenanigans result as some try their best to avoid taking the last drink!
Ireland: In 1756, Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000 year lease on a building in Dublin that has been producing beer ever since. Guinness, still run by Arthur’s descendants, is now produced in more than forty countries.
South Africa: Umqombothi is an ancient South African beer made from corn and sorghum. It is also the title of a song about beer sung by South African singer Yvonne Chaka Chaka, that was featured in the 2004 movie Hotel Rwanda.
Czech Republic: According to global statistics for 2004 (the most recent year available), the Czech Republic leads the world in per capita beer consumption. Over 156 liters per year are consumed per person in that country. That’s 41.5 gallons for every man, woman, and child!
Australia: All the large breweries in Australia are owned by only three companies. The one most familiar to Americans is Foster’s, which is brewed mainly for export and isn’t all that popular in its home country!
China: The biggest beer market in the world is China, which consumes more beer than any other nation. However, that doesn’t mean the Chinese are big beer drinkers; only that there are more people in China than anywhere else. Beer companies are trying to take advantage of that market by making beer a popular social drink instead of “something you only drink to get drunk.”

Denmark: In April of 2010, workers at the Carlsberg brewery in Copenhagen went on strike to protest new rules limiting their workday beer consumption to lunchtime only. The strike ended a few days later when management promised to meet with the union.
USA: The US state with the highest per capita beer consumption is Nevada, at 44 gallons a year per person. However, you can imagine a lot of that is consumed by tourists. The next highest state is New Hampshire at 43 gallons per person per year.
Germany: The beer brewed in German homes for thousands of years was ale, until about 500 years ago when lager became popular. There is no written evidence of the earliest beer, but a Bavarian grave dating to about 800 BC contained beer made from bread. When the Roman Empire invaded Europe, soldiers found the residents of what would become Germany were already mass-producing beer.

(Image credit: Flickr user Eli Duke)
Antarctica: The McMurdo Research Station in Antarctica has three bars, although only one, Gallagher’s Pub, serves beer year-round. In December, as new supplies come in, old or spoiled beer is destroyed by driving nails into the cans. There are competitions to see who is the best nail-driver!

Third largest gold nugget in the world discovered in Australia

201009010929Journalist Jeroen van Bergeijk, who profiled me for a Dutch magazine a few years ago, has been keeping me up to date on his new life to Australia. His wife is taking a winemaking class there, and to pass the time, Jeroen has been prospecting for gold. He told me, "after weeks of metal detecting, I only found about 2 grams of gold, but hey, it's a start."
Another local gold prospector has gotten a bit more lucky.
Says Jeroen:
A Perth-based goldbuyer bought and sold the worlds third largest nugget here recently. These things are EXTREMELY rare. This thing weighed 23 kg (gold value alone around 860.000 US dollars). There's only two in the world that are heavier. This particular nugget was sold privately to an undisclosed buyer in the US within 24 hrs. The nugget had been found a couple of weeks ago with a metal detector somewhere in the goldfields around here. Through various tests it had been established that the thing has a 92% purity.

Spontaneously combustive plant sets house on fire

After more than a month, the cause of a house fire in Greene County is now known. Fire investigators say a July 25th fire was caused by spontaneous combustion. When investigators started searching for an origin they say it started in the same spot where a plant was sitting.

"Spontaneous combustion is something where you have to have a lot of variables come together and it has to be just right," said Jonesboro Fire Department Fire Marshall Jason Wills. "It looked to me like someone had come up on my front porch and started a fire," said homeowner Brian Duncan. Wills said it's rare, but spontaneous combustion does happen. "It happens in organic material in the process of decomposition," said Wills.

That process lets off heat and with the help of the sun can get hot enough to catch fire. The heat of the fire caused some of the glass in the front door to break allowing the smoke to penetrate the house. "We basically had to have the whole house painted on the inside, floors repaired, carpet repaired," said Duncan.

$20,000 in damage later, Duncan is warning his friends and family members about spontaneous combustion. "It's something that does happen, but this is the first one in our area that I'm aware of," said Wills. Wills also said he doesn't want this to alarm people. For something like this to happen a lot of variables have to line up just right.

Cash pours out of burst pipe in Chennai

It had all the ingredients of an Indian comic thriller. Early in the morning, a lorry laden with wood rams a pipeline and it bursts. Then, along with water, currency notes come gushing out. Soon, rumours spread that money is pouring out of a pipeline and people rush in to collect the notes. There is chaos and traffic in the area is brought to a halt. The drama, that unfolded on the Vyasarpadi bridge early on Tuesday, lasted nearly 30 minutes. The police said later that some thieves had hidden the currency notes under the pipe that was hit by the lorry.

According to the police, a lorry from Andhra Pradesh was headed towards Choolai to unload its load of logs at a few companies there. Thanks to the ongoing construction work on the new four-lane Vyasarpadi bridge, the traffic moved slowly in both directions. The many potholes underneath the bridge also contributed to the slow movement.

The driver of the wood-laden lorry while trying to avoid hitting another vehicle moving ahead, turned left and hit a pipeline underneath the railway bridge. The pipeline burst and water gushed out. Also, all of a sudden, currency notes in the denominations of Rs 20, 50 and 100, totalling nearly Rs 5,000, came out. The notes scattered all over, around 6.30 am. Several two-wheeler riders stopped and collected the cash. The news then spread like wildfire and scores of people from areas like Sathyamurthy Nagar and Vyasarpadi made a beeline to the spot. They abandoned their vehicles by the roadside and began gathering the wet currency notes. The resultant traffic snarl lasted nearly half an hour.

"There was complete chaos as the air was full of sounds. Initially, everyone thought the pipeline was full of cash. When there were no more currency notes, some of them even tried to break the pipeline further. Later, it was found that some thieves had hidden the currency notes behind the pipeline which may then have gushed out with the water," a middle level police officer said. Since the incident happened underneath the railway bridge, the Korukkupet railway police took up the case and later took the wood-laden lorry and its driver to the police station for further inquiry.

F-22 Double Rainbow

Skill, timing, and the sun came together in this air show photograph by Bernardo Malfitano
An F-22 at Miramar at the top of a loop. He is pulling so many Gs, the low pressure air over the fuselage (that is “sucking” the airplane into the loop) gets cold enough for the water to condense… And the angle is just right for sunlight to undergo total internal refraction and make rainbow colors around the airplane (although I had to under-expose quite a bit for the effect to be visible).
The picture won second place in the Museum of Flight photo contest.

'Double rainbow' guy goes corporate

Paul "Bear" Vasquez pitches a way to capture a "full-on double rainbow, all the way across the sky."