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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.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Just because you're extra skilled at making extra-excellent decisions at the moment doesn't mean you should be saddled with every decision there is to be made.
Luckily, you're also good at organizing groups and letting them handle things on their own with just a wee bit of direction.
Don't bite off more than you can possibly chew, and don't be afraid to delegate, whether it's in a work situation or a personal one.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Cairo, Al Qahirah, Egypt
Tranberg, Arhus, Denmark
Izmir, Izmir, Turkey
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Brantford, Ontario, Canada
Flekkefjord, Vest-Agder, Norway
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
Bremen, Bremen, Germany
London, England, United Kingdom
Klang, Selangor, Malaysia
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Swindon, England, United Kingdom

as well as Belgium and in cities across the United States such as Silver Springs, Troy, Spring Grove, Chatanooga and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, September 11, the 254th day of 2010.
There are 111 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Lace-making Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

President Obama's Weekly Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As prepared for delivery
Saturday, September 11, 2010
Washington, DC
Today, we pause to remember a day that tested our country.  On September 11, 2001, nearly 3,000 lives were lost in the deadliest attack on American soil in our history.  We will never forget the images of planes vanishing into buildings; of photos hung by the families of the missing.  We will never forget the anger and sadness we felt.  And while nine years have come and gone since that September morning, the passage of time will never diminish the pain and loss forever seared in the consciousness of our nation.

That is why, on this day, we pray with the families of those who died.  We mourn with husbands and wives, children and parents, friends and loved ones.  We think about the milestones that have passed over the course of nine years – births and christenings, weddings and graduations – all with an empty chair. 

On this day, we also honor those who died so that others might live: the firefighters and first responders who climbed the stairs of two burning towers; the passengers who stormed a cockpit; and the men and women who have, in the years since, borne the uniform of this country and given their lives so that our children could grow up in a safer world.  In acts of courage and decency, they defended a simple precept: I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper.

And on this day, we recall that at our darkest moment, we summoned a sense of unity and common purpose.  We responded to the worst kind of depravity with the best of our humanity.

So, each year at this time, we renew our resolve against those who perpetrated this barbaric act of terror and who continue to plot against us – for we will never waver in defense of this nation.  We renew our commitment to our troops and all who serve to protect this country, and to their families. But we also renew the true spirit of that day.  Not the human capacity for evil, but the human capacity for good.  Not the desire to destroy, but the impulse to save.

That is why we mark September 11th as a National Day of Service and Remembrance.  For if there is a lesson to be drawn on this anniversary, it is this: we are one nation – one people – bound not only by grief, but by a set of common ideals.  And that by giving back to our communities, by serving people in need, we reaffirm our ideals – in defiance of those who would do us grave harm.  We prove that the sense of responsibility that we felt for one another was not a fleeting passion – but a lasting virtue.

This is a time of difficulty for our country.  And it is often in such moments that some try to stoke bitterness – to divide us based on our differences, to blind us to what we have in common.  But on this day, we are reminded that at our best, we do not give in to this temptation. We stand with one another. We fight alongside one another.  We do not allow ourselves to be defined by fear, but by the hopes we have for our families, for our nation, and for a brighter future.  So let us grieve for those we’ve lost, honor those who have sacrificed, and do our best to live up to the values we share – on this day, and every day that follows.

Thank you.

Allen Dale June, original Navajo Code Talker and code developer, dies at 91

Allen Dale June, one of the 29 original Navajo Code Talkers who encrypted American military communications during World War II using principles of indigenous language, died Wednesday night in Prescott, Arizona, at age 91.
The Code Talkers took part in every assault the Marines conducted in the Pacific from 1942 to 1945. They sent thousands of messages without error on Japanese troop movements, battlefield tactics and other communications critical to the war's ultimate outcome. Several hundred Navajos served as Code Talkers during the war, but a group of 29 that included June developed the code based on their native language. Their role in the war wasn't declassified until 1968.

Rupert Murdoch under fire in UK over phone hacking of politicians

And it couldn't be happening to a 'nicer' guy

British politicians are now also wondering, was illegal phone hacking done elsewhere within Murdoch's News Corp? Promoting someone involved in tapping phones makes you wonder what's going through the mind of Rupert Murdoch.

The Guardian:
Labor MPs used parliamentary privilege in the commons debate to criticize the chairman and CEO of News Corporation, which owns the newspaper publisher, and his senior executives, who are battling claims that the NoW endorsed the illegal hacking of mobile phones.

Tom Watson, a Labor member of the Commons culture select committee, placed Murdoch in the line of fire by accusing him of appointing Brooks as chief executive of News International knowing that she had admitted that illegal payments had been made to police.

The former minister cited evidence by Brooks to the culture committee in 2003 in which she admitted that the News of the World had paid police officers in the past for stories. This was condemned by the committee and by the Met as illegal.

"When Murdoch appointed Brooks he did so in that knowledge," Watson said of the ruling from the Commons committee. Les Hinton, then chair of News International, later told the committee that Brooks subsequently told him she had "not authorized payments to policemen"; he said her evidence was meant to suggest "there had been payments in the past".

San Bruno Neighborhood Flattened by Gas Explosion

A massive explosion leveled a neighborhood in San Bruno (a suburb close to San Francisco), California, yesterday night:
After the initial blast, flames reached as high as 100 feet as the fire fueled itself on burning homes, leaving some in total ruins and reducing parked automobiles to burned out shells. At least 120 homes also suffered serious damage.
Witnesses heard the explosion miles away and said it shot a fireball more than 1,000 feet in the air, sending frightened residents fleeing for safety and rushing to get belongings out of burning homes.
"I thought a 747 had landed on us," Barringer told the Times. "It shook our station right to its foundation."
What could’ve caused such an explosion? 
A ruptured 30-inch steel gas pipeline is suspected. 

The human brain is shrinking

"Over the past 20,000 years, the average volume of the human male brain has decreased from 1,500 cubic centimeters to 1,350 cc, losing a chunk the size of a tennis ball.  The female brain has shrunk by about the same proportion... "This happened in China, Europe, Africa - everywhere we look."  If our brain keeps dwindling at that rate over the next 20,000 years, it will start to approach the size of that found in Homo erectus, a relative that lived half a million years ago..."

An excerpt from "The Incredible Shrinking Brain," by Kathleen McAuliffe, in the September 2010 issue of Discover Magazine.

Paul McCartney's son debuts own album

The star's son, James, is just the latest of the Beatles' kids to launch a music career.  

One-of-a-kind homes

This "earthship" sells for $265,000 and has a fishpond, a fireplace, and features for off-the-grid living.

World's most expensive book up for sale

A rare 3-foot-long tome that's the envy of every collector could fetch up to $9.2 million at auction.  

Rare vivid blue diamond up for sale

A two-stone ring with a stunning 10.95-carat triangular-shaped blue diamond is headed for the auction block in New York City.

Four worst ways to buy a new car

Heading into the dealership without first setting up financing is a major mistake.

Real Life Keystone Kop Pepper-Sprayed Self, Got Tased by Partner

A routine call turned out to be something straight out of Keystone Kops for two Cornwall policemen. It all started with a report of disturbance …
Police constable Jason Mepham was responding to a disturbance call in Redruth last month when things took a turn for the slapstick.
The officer, confronted by Jason King, whipped out his pepper spray and doused the suspect. Then a second blast blew back into the cop’s eyes, temporarily blinding him, according to The Independent. A second officer grabbed King, but another perp at the scene punched Mepham in the face, dislocating his jaw.
The other officer released King and fired his Taser at the new assailant. One of the electrodes hit the perp, but the other struck Mepham. Mepham collapsed and King allegedly kicked him in the face — strangely relocating the cop’s jaw.

Bad Cops

Bad Cops

Woman pulls gun after volleyball match

Police said a woman believed to be a suburban San Antonio middle school parent pulled a gun on members of an opposing volleyball team after her school lost a match.

Americans support tax increases for those making over $250,000

No matter how many times Boehner and Faux News hammer away at the issue it won't change the fact that Americans are fine with Obama's tax plan.

It's good to see the team holding firm.
A majority of Americans favor letting the tax cuts enacted during the Bush administration expire for the wealthy. While 37% support keeping the tax cuts for all Americans, 44% want them extended only for those making less than $250,000 and 15% think they should expire for all taxpayers.

What people forget about Reagan and taxes

Ronald Reagan may be the patron saint of lower taxes and smaller government.  
The LARGEST TAX INCREASE in US history until the shrub's that is.


Vernon joins a controversial list of California cities accused of extravagant payrolls.

Non Sequitur


Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
San Francisco's unique climate gives the city's signature bread its tangy bite. 
Sitting down for meals and eating from a real plate can help you feel satisfied.  
Try adding a nearly tasteless superfood to shakes, salads, or a bowl of cereal.
The World's Hottest Chili Pepper

Fire Foods of Lincolnshire, UK, has unleashed the world's hottest chili pepper, a fearsome beast clocking 1,176,182 on the Scoville scale. The company has created this weapon of culinary destruction on the form of its Infinity Chili Sauce.

Helpful Hints

Helpful Hints
You probably don't need a washer that claims to stop odors or reduce vibration.  

False Waistlines

Some companies are knowingly selling jeans with waist sizes larger than the label describes.  

Rock Lobster

The B52s party anthem played by a robot

Italian Mudslide

Dramatic amateur video captures the destruction of a picturesque coastal town.  

Martian lake has water-ice

"This is a giant patch of frozen water inside an unnamed impact crater on Mars. The existence of this water-ice patch on Mars makes life a more likely possibility and raises the prospect that past or present life will one day be detected.

The crater with ice disc is on the Vastitas Borealis, a broad plain that covers much of Mars’s far northern latitudes. The crater is 35 km wide, with a maximum depth of about 2 km. The image was taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on ESA’s Mars Express.

Scientists believe the water-ice is present all year round because the temperature and pressure are not sufficient to allow it to change states and vaporize into the atmosphere. It is not frozen carbon dioxide, because this type of ice had already disappeared from the north polar cap by the time this image was taken.'

From 2005, so I must have missed it when it was first reported. I don't understand why this doesn't sublimate, like the frozen CO2 did.  If the crater is 35 km wide, then the ice is about 12 km (7.5 miles) across.  Fascinating.

Text and photo from the Flickr photostream of the European Space Agency. More information at the ESA website.

Agents seize 14 giant snails at airport

During a busy Labor Day weekend at Washington Dulles International Airport, one package arriving from Ghana raised some eyebrows.



Leopard born without spots

An extremely rare Amur black leopard cub is on display at the Serengeti Park in Hodenhagen, Germany.

It weighs nearly 9 pounds and is 24 inches long. The cub was born on June 13 together with a twin sister.

Park keepers said the cub was being hand reared after being rejected by his spotted siblings.

Amur leopards are critically endangered with just over 200 in captivity worldwide and only around 30 left in the wild. Black Amur leopards are even rarer.

You can see video of the cub making friends with a rabbit here.

Ten Parasites That Turn Their Hosts Into Zombies

If you want to catch Mother Nature at her best (and if by best you mean bizarre or darned scary), then look no further than how parasites hijack the biology of their hosts.
Take, for instance, the pseudacteon:
Though related to the harmless fruit flies breeding in the world’s neglected fruit bowls, Pseudacteon flies have a far more sinister appetite. The female lays her egg in the body of a living ant, and the tiny maggot will eventually move into the ant’s head to devour its brain. This won’t kill the victim, but will cause the ant’s (technically dead) body to wander aimlessly for days on end, until the ant’s head simply drops off from its body. The maggot will use the severed head as a pupation chamber, transforming into a new fly and finding itself a mate.
Gruesome, eh? Here are 9 more zombie parasites over at Top Tenz.

Walden Pond's mysterious new residents

Thousands of tiny creatures crop up in the iconic lake, puzzling scientists.  

One Third Of Freshwater Turtle Species Now Face Extinction

Conservation International has released a new report that spells out a bleak future for the world's freshwater turtles: A full 1/3 of the 280 known species currently face extinction. Evidently, a lucrative pet trade, hunting of turtles for food, and habitat loss are the key contributors to turtles' "catastrophic decline". The good news --what little there is, anyway -- is that the rapid decline can yet be turned around with some key action.
Article continues: 1/3 of Freshwater Turtle Species Now Face Extinction

Wizard of Id


Five Important Fifties Events Nobody Noticed in the Fifties

Some of the most important events can slip past us because we don’t know how important they are until much later. You know about Sputnik, Elvis, and Rosa Parks, but did you know that The Pill was developed in the ’50s?
You probably think that – along with Twister and concept albums – the oral contraceptive pill was one of the great inventions of the swinging sixties. In fact, it was a product of the more famously staid and conservative fifties. Developed by a team of biologists led by Gregory Pincus, it was first tested in Puerto Rico April 1956. The Food and Drug Administration did not approve the marketing of the pill until 1960, just in time for it to be a symbol of sixties freedom.
Read about four other events that also turned out to be very newsworthy …much later.

Eight things you don't know about dreams

Your first dream each night lasts about 5 minutes; the final one can take an hour.

Team Claims Record-breaking Pumpkin Launch in Utah

A team that shoots pumpkins from a giant air cannon says it achieved the holy grail of the 'sport' - chucking a pumpkin a distance of more than one mile.
While I'd not call this a sport personally ... their ability to hurl a gourd over a mile is not too shabby.