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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.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
An elder relative or authority figure who's had their eye on you for a while now is just about ready to let you know how well you've done -- especially based on recent stressful situations that you've passed through with flying colors.
In the meantime, don't ignore someone new and interesting who's due to come along early today, courtesy of the heavens, which are in a charming, sociable mood.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Oldenburg, Nierdersachsen, Germany
Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Rome, Lazio, Italy
London, England, United Kingdom
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Lisbon, Lisboa, Portugal

as well as Sweden, Finland and in cities across the United States such as O'Fallon, San Antonio, Houston, Tucson and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, September 13, the 256th day of 2010.
There are 109 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
International Chocolate Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

The Last Dance

Brett Marie Christian, 15, had leukemia and the prognosis wasn’t good. She was dying, but before she died, she wanted one last dance but she was too sick to go to the Homecoming Dance. So her classmates made her last wish come true and brought the dance to her:
Palmyra High’s homecoming came early this year. The dance traveled to the Monarch in Lincoln, where people go to die.
And where Brett Marie Christian, 15, crowned homecoming queen Saturday night, died, too, early Thursday with her family all around.
The girl who loved horses and softball and Facebook and cartoons and peanut butter on a spoon had leukemia. The kind that hits mostly adults and is the most dangerous, with only a 30 percent survival rate.
She was tired of fighting, her mom, Leah Buckbee, said Thursday.
There were lots of things the high school sophomore knew she’d miss. Getting married, having kids, growing old.
But she wanted one last dance.

Top 10 foliage destinations in North America

See golden aspens in Colorado, fiery oaks in the Catskills, or scarlet maples in Texas.

Pony used for sporrans after seal ban

It was hailed as a victory for animal lovers, but the EU ban on the sale of seal skin means pony hide and rabbit skin are now filling a gap created in the sporran market. The majority of the traditional Highland accessories are seal skin but the sale and manufacture of anything made from it has been prohibited since 20 August. The ban was aimed at ending the cruel slaughter of the mammals and was welcomed by campaigners, but some businesses say it will lead to a part of Scottish culture being consigned to history.

Kiltmakers say pony skin will replace seal skin as a realistic alternative. Thousands of ponies and horses are slaughtered annually at two abattoirs in Britain and their meat sold in France. Many are unwanted children's riding ponies or former racehorses. Iain Jackson, a partner in the Aberfeldy-based Kilt Sporran Company, said: "Pony skin and cowhide are the closest and will likely replace seal skin, while rabbit offers an alternative, albeit with a different look and feel. We have made sporran sales this month but it's been much slower. We do expect an impact on the business with the quality of alternatives falling short of that of the seal skin product."

However, for the committed animal-lover, "vegan" sporrans made from mock leather and faux fur have gone on the market. The manufacturers are attracting orders from around the globe and kilt chain Slanj, which has kitted out Sir Sean Connery and Billy Connolly, plans to stock a selection. Retailers can continue to sell existing seal skin stock, but many fear that when in runs out in a few weeks seal skin sporrans will start to become a thing of the past.

Duncan Chisholm, an Inverness kiltmaker and chairman of the Kiltmakers Association of Scotland, said: "It has affected sales as a lot of customers like the more traditional sporran. What will be on offer now a lot of the time are synthetic materials. They don't look the part, they are not the same quality. A lot of the traditionalists will perhaps be put off wearing the kilt as they just don't like the synthetic options available. The seal skin sporran looks nice, it's good quality, has got good wearing and is an adornment to the kilt outfit." He added: "Our stock of seal skin sporrans is fairly low now, it will last just a matter of weeks. The makers cut down knowing this ban was coming. However, I haven't heard of any black market yet.



Multiple efforts to reach Chile miners

Officials hope a giant oil drill will be the best method to reach 33 miners trapped since Aug. 5. 

India Cancels Third Hydropower Project on Ganges Tributary on Environmental & Religious Concerns

bhagirathi & alaknanda confluence photo
The Bhagirathi (left) joins with the Alaknanda (right) in Devprayag and is known as the Ganga from this point onwards. Photo: Wikipedia
Good news for the River Ganga! India has cancelled a 600 MW hydropower project on the Bhagirathi River, one of the main tributaries that come together to form the sacred river, citing environmental and religious concerns. Though the Loharinag Pala hydroelectric project would not have involved building a huge dam, as Circle of Blue reports, the run-of-river project still would have diverted a 16 kilometer stretch of the river through pipes to generate electricity.
Article continues: India Cancels Third Hydropower Project on Ganges Tributary on Environmental & Religious Concerns

Castro backs off his 'system doesn't work' remark

Did we expect anything less?

Earlier this week, Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic reported that Castro made a passing comment over lunch that "The Cuban model doesn't even work for us anymore." Obviously it received a lot of attention. He's taken notice of that story and has updated his position, though his response was hardly detailed or convincing.
Fidel Castro said today that his comment to a US journalist about Cuba's system not working had been misinterpreted.

The former president told a meeting at the University of Havana that the remark, which caused a sensation when reported earlier this week, did not reflect his view. He meant "the exact opposite", he said.

IMF on US stimulus: 'The fact that the stimulus was absolutely useful is not challenged by anyone now'

Well, besides the repugicans and teabaggers at least. The sane part of the country agrees it was beneficial.

The US has taken the correct approach in dealing with the economic slowdown and making sure the recovery is sustainable, Strauss-Kahn added.

"It's not our baseline. We don't believe that the double dip will take place," he said.

Fears of a double dip have increased recently, with some analysts saying austerity in Europe could sink the world into a second recession

Stimulus spending was the key for containing the crisis, according to Strauss-Kahn.
(For those unfamiliar with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, he is also one of the leading possible candidates to run for president in France against Sarkozy in 2012.)

The Bankers Manifesto Of 1892

I doubt whether many people have seen or heard of this. This was revealed by Charles Lindbergh sometime between 1900 and 1917 in a speech before Congress.

"We (the bankers) must proceed with caution and guard every move made, for the lower order of people are already showing signs of restless commotion. Prudence will therefore show a policy of apparently yielding to the popular will until our plans are so far consummated that we can declare our designs without fear of any organized resistance.

The Farmers Alliance and Knights of Labor organizations in the United States should be carefully watched by our trusted men, and we must take immediate steps to control these organizations in our interest or disrupt them.

At the coming Omaha Convention to be held July 4th (1892), our men must attend and direct its movement, or else there will be set on foot such antagonism to our designs as may require force to overcome. This at the present time would be premature. We are not yet ready for such a crisis. Capital must protect itself in every possible manner through combination (conspiracy) and legislation.

The courts must be called to our aid, debts must be collected, bonds and mortgages foreclosed as rapidly as possible.
When through the process of the law, the common people have lost their homes, they will be more tractable and easily governed through the influence of the strong arm of the government applied to a central power of imperial wealth under the control of the leading financiers.

People without homes will not quarrel with their leaders.

History repeats itself in regular cycles. This truth is well known among our principal men who are engaged in forming an imperialism of the world. While they are doing this, the people must be kept in a state of political antagonism.

The question of tariff reform must be urged through the organization known as the Democratic Party, and the question of protection with the reciprocity must be forced to view through the Republican Party.

By thus dividing voters, we can get them to expand their energies in fighting over questions of no importance to us, except as teachers to the common herd. Thus, by discrete action, we can secure all that has been so generously planned and successfully accomplished."

So just in case you think conspiracies don't exist, YOU'RE WRONG. They do exist and they have existed for a very long time. You are a wage slave being farmed on a human resource plantation known as the United States. The elite, right now, are laughing at you over Scotch and Soda on a veranda over-looking the Golf Course.

Suspicions frustrate American Muslims

Images of violence in the name of Islam often define the religion for many non-Muslims.

American flag burqas for sale

201009121507 The burqas at Zarinas.com are reasonably priced. This one, decorated in American flag colors, costs just $49.99.
A couple of happy customers wore them to a Tea Party rally recently.

Bad Cops

Bad Cops

Russia Uses Microsoft to Suppress Dissent

Russian police use the pretense of enforcing Microsoft's copyrights as an excuse to raid the offices of human rights, environmental and dissident NGOs, and Microsoft has not intervened to stop it, even when the groups are using legitimate, licensed copies of Microsoft software. Police often claim to have discovered pirated software on seized computers even before examining them, and claim that the investigations come at Microsoft's requests. Microsoft lawyers have cooperated with raids on opposition newspapers, whose editors say that the raids would not have taken place without Microsoft's complicity. During raids, police have been spotted removing Microsoft "Certificate of Authenticity" stickers on confiscated PCs. Microsoft's lawyers testified in support of police claims that pirated software was found on PCs, even though the court later found that the PCs were never examined.
Interviews and a review of law enforcement documents show that in recent cases, Microsoft lawyers made statements describing the company as a victim and arguing that criminal charges should be pursued. The lawyers rebuffed pleas by accused journalists and advocacy groups, including Baikal Wave, to refrain from working with the authorities. Baikal Wave, in fact, said it had purchased and installed legal Microsoft software specifically to deny the authorities an excuse to raid them. The group later asked Microsoft for help in fending off the police. "Microsoft did not want to help us, which would have been the right thing to do," said Marina Rikhvanova, a Baikal Environmental Wave co-chairwoman and one of Russia's best-known environmentalists. "They said these issues had to be handled by the security services."
Microsoft executives in Moscow and at the company's headquarters in Redmond, Wash., asserted that they did not initiate the inquiries and that they took part in them only because they were required to do so under Russian law.

School suspends boy for having bloodshot eyes

Administrators at Byron Nelson High School in Trophy Club, Texas, suspended a 16-year-old boy on Tuesday because his eyes were bloodshot and they thought he might have been smoking marijuana. The teen said he was not high. Instead his eyes were red because he had been grieving the loss of his murdered father. Kyler Robertson’s father was stabbed to death on Sunday. His mother honored his wishes and let him go to school on Tuesday to be with his friends.

“I am sure he had a lot on his mind going to school. I had asked him not to go to school,” said Cristy Fritz. Before returning to class Kyler had to go to the office to get a tardy slip. That’s when school employees accused him of being high because he had red and watery eyes. Fritz said she got a call from administrators who told her Kyler would be suspended for three days.

“I was pleading with her to understand the severity of the situation, his emotional well being. How could they do this to him at this time? What are the alternatives?” she said. District spokeswoman Lesley Weaver would not discuss the case, but said when administrators suspect a student is under the influence, a school nurse will observe symptoms like their behavior, odor and their eyes. The district does not actually test students, though. That’s left to the parents.

Fritz said she was told by the assistant principal that she could have Kyler tested for drugs within two hours and if it was negative he could return to school. She did just that. Kyler was allowed to return to class after he showed school administrators a copy of his negative test results. The teen’s mother still wants an apology from administrators and she wants the district to remove the suspension from his permanent record. She is in the process of appealing it. “We had other things to do this week than worry about a three day window for an appeal, a two hour window for a drug test and my son’s reputation and high school career,” she said.

British troops in Afghanistan face heroin smuggling probe

Military police are investigating claims that British soldiers may have trafficked heroin from Afghanistan. The Ministry of Defense said they were aware of "unsubstantiated" claims that troops were using military aircraft to ship the drug out of the country. The inquiry is focusing on service personnel at airports in Camp Bastion and Kandahar.

Security has been tightened, with additional sniffer dogs being used as part of the crackdown at the bases. An MoD spokeswoman said: "We are aware of these allegations. Although they are unsubstantiated, we take any such reports very seriously and we have already tightened our existing procedures both in Afghanistan and in the UK, including through increasing the use of trained sniffer dogs.

"We regret any inconvenience this causes to our service personnel. Any of our people found to be engaged in trafficking of illegal narcotics will feel the full weight of the law." Afghanistan is the source of 90% of the world's opium. The multimillion dollar trade in poppy production is used to fuel the insurgency.

It allow militants to purchase weapons with which they then attack the Afghan government and international forces, destabilizing the region. According to a 2008 UN report, 98% of the country's opium is grown in just seven provinces where there are permanent Taliban settlements and where organized crime profits from the instability.

Man kills six after 'rage at wife's breakfast eggs'

A man enraged over how his wife cooked his eggs in rural eastern Kentucky shot five people dead with a shotgun before killing himself, a relative of the victims said. Stanley Neace killed the five people in two mobile homes including his wife, his stepdaughter and three neighbors before shooting himself on Saturday. Trooper Jody Sims of the Kentucky State Police said the 47-year-old, who was facing eviction, stormed across the lawns of about seven homes in his pajamas and fired dozens of shots from a 12-gauge shotgun.

Miss Sims said that when state police arrived about an hour after the gunfire began, they heard a single gunshot and found Neace's body on the porch. Sherri Anne Robinson, a relative of two of the victims, said witnesses to the shootings told her that Neace became enraged when his wife did not cook his breakfast to his liking. Robinson said that when his wife fled to a neighbor's trailer, Neace followed and shot her and the others. Miss Robinson says he allowed a young girl to flee.

"He just got mad at his wife for not making his breakfast right and he shot her," Robinson said. "She tried to run to tell my family and he shot them too because they found out about it." The victims were identified as the gunman's wife, Sandra Neace, 54; her daughter Sandra Strong, 28; and neighbors Dennis Turner, 31; Teresa Fugate, 30; and Tammy Kilborn, 40. Landlord Ray Rastegar said Neace received monthly disability checks from the Social Security Administration, though he didn't know what his disability was. Rastegar said he had begun the process of evicting Neace, who had lived in the trailer park for about seven years, because he had become increasingly hostile toward neighbors in recent months.

The names of the victims were provided by Kentucky State Police, while Robinson described their relationships. Fugate is Robinson's sister, Turner is her cousin and Kilborn was a witness who happened to step onto the porch of another trailer when she heard the commotion. Miss Robinson said Mrs Fugate, her sister, was shot in front of her 7-year-old daughter. "Her daughter said, 'Please, please don't shoot me,' and he said, 'All right, you can leave,' and she ran out," said Robinson, who spoke to her niece after the shootings. "She went and told her neighbors, and the neighbors called the law."

Wizard of Id


On The Job

On The Job
You can avoid the fluorescent lights and endless conference calls and still make good money.
Not talking about your salary helps your boss more than you, asserts one writer. 

Helpful Hints

You can save as much as 60% on some products if you avoid the expensive name brands.  

Child-care workers sue to break from union

The state of Michigan is defending an arrangement that gives two unions more than $1 million a year. 

When Popeye and Olive Oyl Got Married

In the old 1930s Fleischer Studios Popeye theatrical shorts, Jack Mercer was the voice of Popeye and Margie Hines the voice of Olive Oyl. They lived out the romance of the characters they played by getting married in 1939. The couple had spinach for their wedding breakfast. This information is making the rounds now because a rare publicity photo from the event is currently up for sale on eBay.

Odds and Sods

Odds and Sods
Nothing makes a drink taste better than sitting in an alien's lap while you have it, right? Come with us on a global tour of the world's trippiest bars.



Ten Strange New Frog Species

isolated toad photo
Image credit: Paul Hamilton / RAEI
Around the world, frogs are in peril. Threatened by pollution and habitat loss, changing climates and epidemic disease, the outlook for many species is dire—with conservationists locked in a fatal race to uncover the key to frog survival.
Every year, however, new species are discovered and frogs long thought to be extinct are found again.
10 Strange New Frog Species Slideshow

Beached Whale Defies Death From 'Lethal Injection'

beached whale in brazil photo  
Photo via Globo
For the last six days, a 50-foot-long right whale has been stranded on a beach in Brazil, still alive but too weak to return to the sea - and for the last six days, authorities have been puzzled with what to do with it. Teams of biologists and volunteers have worked tirelessly, bucketing water over the 40-ton animal to keep it comfortable, although animal rights activists say the endangered whale ¨can´t be saved.¨ But even after receiving a powerful 'lethal injection', the whale still clings to life.
Article continues: Beached Whale Defies Death From 'Lethal Injection'

Ant Death Spiral

The vortex of ants, called the ant death spiral by some, is a circular mill where a group of ants (sometimes hundreds to millions of ants) get separated from the main swarm and ended up following each other’s scent in a circle. It’s called the death spiral because they continue to go in circles until they’re exhausted and die.

Ghost of Stonehenge

An amateur photographer captures video of a transparent being disappearing into the mysterious, ancient stones at Stonehenge.

What, Me Worry?

Mad magazine has a place in American pop culture as one of the most successful humor magazines ever published. It’s also great bathroom reading. Here’s a brief history.

In 1947 Max Gaines, owner of Educational Comics (which published biblical, scientific, and historical comic books), was killed in a boating accident. He left the business to his 25-year-old son, William, a university student.
The younger Gaines renamed the company Entertainment Comics (EC) and got rid of the stodgy educational stuff. Instead, he started publishing more profitable crime, suspense, and horror comics like Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horrors, and House of Fear.

Gaines paid his writers and artists by the page. Most of his employees preferred this-but not Harvey Kurtzman. Kurtzman was a freelancer who worked on Frontline Combat, a true-to-life battle comic that portrayed the negative aspects of war. He enjoyed writing it, but it took so long to research and write that he couldn’t make a living doing it. So he went to Gaines and asked for a raise. Gaines refused, but suggested an alternative-in addition to his current work, Kurtzman could produce a satirical comic, which would be easier and more profitable to write. Kurtzman liked the idea and immediately started creating it.
The first issue of Tales Calculated to Drive You Mad: Humor in a Jugular Vein debuted in August 1952. It was a flop…and so were the next two issues. But Gaines didn’t know it; back then, it took so long to get sales reports that the fourth issue-which featured a Superman spoof called Superduperman-was already in the works before Gaines realized he was losing money. By then, Mad had started to sell.

Gaines didn’t expect Mad to be as successful as his other comics, but it turned out to be the only one that survived the wave of anti-comic hysteria that swept the country during the McCarthy era.
In 1953, Frederic Wertham, a noted psychologist and self-proclaimed “mental hygienist”, published a book called The Seduction of the Innocents, a scathing attack on the comic book industry. Few comics were left untouched-Wertham denounced Batman and Robin as homosexuals, branded Wonder Woman a lesbian, and claimed that such words as “arghh”, “blam”, “thunk”, and “kapow” were producing a generation of illiterates. The charges were outlandish, but the public believed it; churches across the country even held comic book burnings.
To defend themselves, big comic book publishers established the Comics Code Authority (CCA) to set standards of “decency” for the comic book industry and issue a seal of approval to comics that passed scrutiny. (Among the co-called reforms: only “classic” monsters such as vampires and werewolves could be shown; authority figures such as policemen, judges, and government officials could not be shown in any way that encouraged “disrespect for authority,” and the words “crime”, “horror”, and “weird” were banned from comic book titles.) Magazine distributors would no longer sell comics that didn’t adhere to CCA guidelines.
Gaines refused to submit his work the the CCA, but he couldn’t withstand public pressure. By 1954, only four EC titles were left. Amazingly, Mad was one of them.

Gaines knew Mad wouldn’t survive long unless he did something drastic to save it. So rather than fight the CCA, he avoided it: He dropped Mad’s comic book format and turned it into a full-fledged “slick” magazine. Thus, it was no longer subject to CCA censorship.
The first Mad magazine was published in the summer of 1955. “We really didn’t know how Mad, the slick edition, was going to come out,” one early Mad staffer later recalled, “but the people whop printed it were laughing and getting a big kick out of it, so we said ‘This has got to be good.’”
The first issue sold so many copies that it had to be sent back for a second printing. By 1960, sales hit 1 million copies, and Mad was being read by an estimated 58% of American college students and 43% of high school students.
In 1967, Warner Communications, which owned DC Comics, bought Mad, but it couldn’t affect sales or editorial content: as part of the deal, Warner had to leave Gaines alone. In 1973 sales hit an all-time high of 2.4 million copies; since then they’ve leveled off at 1 million annually in the United States. There are also 12 foreign editions. Gaines died in 1992, but Mad continues to thrive.

Alfred E. Neuman has been Mad magazine’s mascot for years. But his face and even his “What, me worry?” slogan predate the magazine by 50 years. They were adapted from advertising postcards issued by a turn-of-the-century dentist from Topeka, Kansas, who called himself “Painless Romine”.
Mad artists were able to rationalize their plagiarism, according to Harvey Kurtzman, after they discovered that Romaine himself had lifted the drawing from an illustration in a medical textbook showing a boy who had gotten too much iodine in his system.
Kurtzman first dubbed the boy “Melvin Koznowski”. But he was eventually renamed Alfred E. Neuman, after a nerdy fictional character on the “Henry Morgan Radio Show.” Strangely enough, that character had been named after a real-life Alfred Newman, who was the composer and arranger for more than 250 movies, including The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Grapes of Wrath.
*In 1965, Mad magazine was turned into an off-Broadway play called The Mad Show. Notices were sent out to New York theater critics in the form of ransom notes tied to bricks. The show gave performances at 3:00 p.m. and midnight, and sold painted rocks, Ex-Lax, Liquid Drano, and hair cream in the lobby. The play got great reviews from the press and ran two years, with bookings in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and other major cities. It was reportedly a major influence on the creators of “Laugh-In”.
*The Mad Movie, Gaines’ first attempt to adapt Mad for the silver screen, was dumped before production began, and Up The Academy, Mad’s second effort, was so bad that Gaines paid $50,000 to have all references to the magazine edited out of the film. An animated TV series in the early 1970s was pulled before it aired. In the mid-1990s, “Mad TV” debuted on the Fox network.

The Importance of Walking

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.
The only reason I would take up walking is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

I have to walk early in the morning, before my brain figures out what I'm doing.

I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound. Apparently you have to go there.

If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

I know I got a lot of exercise the last few years...... just getting over the hill.

We all get heavier as we get older, because there's a lot more information in our heads. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Ten Provocative Questions About Raising Chickens

Where do chickens come from? Is there really a pecking order? Is it difficult to catch chickens? How do I hypnotize a chicken? Are chickens magical?