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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Make sure you get your exercise in.
Whether you hike, bike, go for a jog at the lake, take a weight-training course or practice synchronized swimming, make sure you move your body.
Your body will thank you, and your mind will thank you, and your appetite will thank you, and your sleep will thank you and, in the end, you'll be thanking them all right back.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Swindon, England, United Kingdom
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Diyarbakir, Diyarbakir, Turkey
Puchong, Selangor, Malaysia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Perth, Western, Australia, Australia
Prague, Hlvani Mesto Praha, Czech Republic
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
London, England, United Kingdom

as well as Finland, Russia, Scotland and in cities across the United States such as Holmdel, Walla Walla, Warwick, Yankton and more.

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, September 22, the 265th day of 2010.
There are 100 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
Hobbit Day
Dear Diary Day
Elephant Appreciation Day
National White Chocolate Day

Today also happens to be:
The Autumn Equinox ... the first official day of Autumn/Fall.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

The Autumn Equinox

The first day of fall begins a two-month countdown to one city's 66 straight days of darkness.  

New Zealanders More Advanced than Previously Thought

For decades scientists believed New Zealanders developed `modern' tools and ornaments solely through contact with Homo sapiens, but new research from the University of Colorado Denver now shows these sturdy ancients could adapt, innovate and evolve technology on their own.

The findings by anthropologist Julien Riel-Salvatore challenge a half-century of conventional wisdom maintaining that New Zealanders were thick-skull, primitive `cavemen' overrun and out-competed by more advanced modern humans.

Most Incredible Cave Waterfalls on Earth

10 Most Incredible Cave Waterfalls on Earth

First-Ever Baby Snow Leopard Filmed in Wild

snow leopard cub bhutan image
A snow leopard cub caught on camera.  
Image via the BBC.
Curiosity, fortunately, didn't kill this cat, but it did bring a young endangered feline right up to a BBC camera trap in the mountains of Bhutan, allowing the news network to film what is likely the first-ever footage of a baby snow leopard -- the "highest living of all big cats and ... among the most rare and elusive of all animals," according to the BBC -- in the wild.

Purple and orange starfish

Apparently it's real, because after a search finds one other photo of a similar starfish, listed as Daytona Beach 2004.



Bad Cops

Bad Cops


Genetically modified salmon that grows twice as fast may be heading for your grocery store.  

'Phantom recall'

The maker of Motrin faces mounting accusations that it hired people to buy up faulty medicine.

Only the office photocopier knows

Most businesses' copy machines save digital images of documents.  

Profound and Peculiar Changes Caused by the Recession

The recession officially ended in June 2009, the National Bureau of Economic Research announced on Monday (Sept. 20). Yet the financial pain lingers for many, and the downturn caused profound shifts in everything from consumer habits to the rate of births. The recession affected the United States in some other, more peculiar ways, too.

Changes in poverty in the U.S., 1966–2009

Apropos to our latest national discussion, the mashup of tax cuts for the rich and  benefit decreases for the elderly, I found this recent data on changes  in the poverty rate illuminating.
Rachel Maddow explains:

The coming lame duck session is turning into a festival of opportunity — for Obama if he holds the line on no tax cuts for the +$250,000 crowd, and no benefit cuts for the catfood-eligible elderly.

It's also a festival of opportunity for the Angry Rich. They could get their twin goals in the same month — goodies for the Deserving We, and screwage for the Undeserving Thee.

Ways to save on prescription drugs

A newer, more expensive drug may not be better than what you're taking.  

One Hundred Thousand to Zero

Lynnette Khalfani-Cox changed her bad borrowing habits to banish her debt in three years. 

Irrational about money

These common habits can backfire even when you think you're saving your hard-earned cash.  

Health care law kicks in

As the first parts of the new law take effect, not everyone will feel the same impact. 




Snap-dragon (also known as Flap-dragon) was a parlor game popular from about the 16th to 19th centuries. It was played during the winter, particularly on Christmas Eve. Brandy was heated and placed in a wide shallow bowl; raisins were placed in the brandy which was then set alight. Typically, lights were extinguished or dimmed to increase the eerie effect of the blue flames playing across the liquor. The aim of the game was to pluck the raisins out of the burning brandy and eat them, at the risk of being burnt...

Other treats could also be used. Of these, almonds were the most common alternative or addition, but currants, candied fruit, figs, grapes, and plums also featured... The low bowl was typically placed in the middle of a table to prevent damage from the inevitable splashes of burning brandy. In one variation a Christmas pudding is placed in the centre of the bowl with raisins around it...

The first printed references to snap-dragons or flap-dragons are in Shakespeare's Love's Labour's Lost (1594): "Thou art easier swallowed than a flapdragon."

By the mid-19th century Snap-dragon was firmly entrenched as a Christmas parlour game, and it is in this sense that it is referenced in 1836, in Charles Dickens' The Pickwick Papers and in 1861, in Anthony Trollope's novel Orley Farm.  Lewis Carroll, in Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871) describes "A snap-dragon-fly. Its body is made of plum pudding, its wings of holly-leaves, and its head is a raisin burning in brandy."

Agatha Christie's book Hallowe'en Party describes a children's party )during which a child's murder causes Hercule Poirot to be brought in to solve the case) at which Snap-dragon is played at the end of the evening...

Michael Faraday, in his essay The Chemical History of a Candle (1860), suggested that the raisins in Snap-dragon act like miniature wicks. The concept is similar to that of burning brandy on top of Christmas puddings – the brandy is burning, but is not burning at a high enough temperature to consume the raisins.  Nevertheless, children often burnt their hands or mouths playing this game, which may have led to the practice mostly dying out in the early 20th century.

Hellish Venus Atmosphere May Have Had Cooling Effect

It may seem downright bizarre, but a new model of Venus' super-hot atmosphere suggests its greenhouse gases may actually be cooling the planet's interior. These gases initially cause Venus' temperature to rise, but at a certain threshold, they can trigger dynamic processes – which researchers call "mobilization" – in the planet's crust that cool the mantle and overall surface temperature, researchers found.

Venus surface temperature, on average, is a scorching 860 degrees Fahrenheit (460 degrees Celsius).
[10 Extreme Planet Facts]

Chainless Bicycle

A Hungarian company called Skyex has invented the StringBike — a bicycle that uses wires and pulleys instead of a chain. Here’s how it works:
The “Stringbike” uses two steel cables attached to pulleys, which move on swinging kidney-shaped discs as you pedal. The discs replace a traditional round gear system, and you can install different discs depending on your needs, according to the Web site Hungarian Ambiance.
The position of the pedals determines the position of the discs, so that they swing in opposition — one is always pulling the bike forward, and the other lags behind. This allows a continuous transmission change, which could help a rider navigate winding streets, because you can more easily control the transmission without having to shift gears.
At the link, you can watch a video demonstrating the technology in slow motion.

Origin of the term "flapper"

“A young worker mends army uniforms in America. Her sailor suit-style is typical of childrenswear at the time. Boys would have worn a similar top, but with trousers. The bows which girls wore in their hair became known as ‘flappers’ because of the way they fell onto the head. The name would stick with this generation, as they grew up in the Twenties.”



Charlie making waves

The British prince's unusual habits and a papal visit put the royal family in the spotlight.  

Russian art pranksters upset St Petersburg police

Art provocateurs Voina (War) have been raising hell again in St Petersburg. In a carefully coordinated campaign of carnage they ran around the city last week overturning police cars and locking officers safely out of reach.

Emboldened by colourful slogans including “help the child – help the country!” and “F*ck the police!” a child’s ball rolled under a police car and a band of helpful artists went to retrieve it, tipping the car on its roof. This was not before they had distracted nearby police officers and locked them behind the main gate of St Michael’s with bicycle locks. They then moved on to other parts of town and other police cars.

In an obscenity laced account on his Livejournal page, Alexei Plucer lays out a brief ideology for his group’s antics, “This is where it was decided to make a final attack on werewolves in uniforms as per the ‘palace revolt.’ Peter I was killed as a result of this in 1801 … Today there is a monument to the murdered Peter by Mikhail Shemyakin surrounded by cameras and rubbish [police].”

The group won notoriety after painting an enormous penis onto one of St Petersburg’s opening bridges on the eve of the St Petersburg International Economic Forum. The idea was apparently to highlight the lax security surrounding the event, group leader Lyonya Y*****y (Lyonya F****d-Up) said in a statement.

Romanian woman breaks back in flying piano mishap

A Romanian woman broke her back in a freak accident at the Red Bull Flugtag competition in Bucharest on Sunday.

The 26-year-old was part of a team who made a piano-like flying machine which was pushed off a six-metre drop above the Dambovita River running through the Romanian capital. Her back was fractured after the object failed to fly but plunged straight into the water

It was the third time a Red Bull Flugtag has taken place in the city. Its goal is to fly as far as possible with home-made machines. More than 40 teams participated in Vienna two years ago. A jury of celebrities pick the winner after rating creativity as well as the distance the self-created object covers.

Every flying object - whatever it looks like - has to be lighter than 120 kilograms without the pilot who is supported by up to four "ground staff" team members who push it over the edge of the starting ramp. The event series has been created and organised by Salzburg-based energy drinks producer Red Bull.