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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 23, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Ever since you declared yourself 'off duty' from being responsible for others, it's been eerily quiet around your place.
The good news is that you're starting to relax.
Now how about taking it a step further and planning some actual recreation?
This stands every chance of being a great day, but only if you decide to make it happen.
Call the one person you're sure will be happy to work tirelessly on that project with you.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Bremen, Bremen, Germany
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Swindon, England, United kingdom
Coffs Harbor, New South Wales, Australia
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Berlin, Berlin, Germany

as well as in cities across the United States such as Wenatchee, Santa Fe, Woodbridge, Irvine and more.

Today is:
Today is Thursday, September 23, the 266th day of 2010.
There are 99 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
Innergize Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

One Special Game

A high school goes to great lengths to give Carl Defoe and his family a night they won't forget.  

Mistakes everyone should make

Successful people share their blunders — and why they'd make them again. 

Gapped Teeth Are Becoming Fashionable

Diastema (a gap between teeth) has often been viewed as a cosmetic defect, but there are indications that modeling agencies, fashion designers, and casting directors have changed their point of view.
At model casting calls for New York’s fashion week, which begins today, one of the most coveted attributes is an affront to modern orthodontics: gapped teeth.
The look is a bold departure from recent standards of idealized beauty that have rewarded curvaceous and perfect-smile models… In editorial spreads in Vogue and W, as well as ads for high-end brands like Chanel and Marc Jacobs, gaptoothed gals are having a moment…
“It’s a love for the imperfect, and the authentic,” says Stefano Tonchi, editor-in-chief of W magazine. “These are values that are more and more important for younger generations. Originality, authenticity…in a world that is more and more digitally enhanced.”
Don’t have a gap between your teeth?  Don’t despair.  You can have one created: “…fashion designer David Delfin asked an orthodontist to insert a bracket to open a space between his two front teeth.”



The Republic of West Florida

A "sharp and bloody firefight" 200 years ago carved out a tiny, independent republic in Louisiana. 

The truth about the sinking of the Titanic

An officer who survived the tragedy covered up its real cause out of fear, his granddaughter claims.  

America's True History of Religious Tolerance

You might think that modern America is losing ground on one of its founding principles: religious freedom. But the concept was never universal. Since the first settlers, people are all for the freedom of their own religion, but not so much for other people’s religions.
In newly independent America, there was a crazy quilt of state laws regarding religion. In Massachusetts, only Christians were allowed to hold public office, and Catholics were allowed to do so only after renouncing papal authority. In 1777, New York State’s constitution banned Catholics from public office (and would do so until 1806). In Maryland, Catholics had full civil rights, but Jews did not. Delaware required an oath affirming belief in the Trinity. Several states, including Massachusetts and South Carolina, had official, state-supported churches.
Smithsonian magazine looks at how religious intolerance reared its head over the course of American history. Full Story

"I Dabbled into Teabaggery"


The most popular costumes for Halloween

Top online searches include the cast of "Jersey Shore" and an adorable poodle.  

Be a King

England's 900-year-old Amberley Castle has a drawbridge, lush gardens, and a resident peacock. 

Vacation destination for thrill seekers

Tourists flock to the Midwest for an up-close look at one of nature's most destructive forces.

Montana woman fends off bear attack with zucchini

Police say a Montana woman used an unlikely weapon to fend off a charging bear - a zucchini.

I don't blame the bear for running away I'm terrified of zucchini as well - vegetables will kill you.

Australia's original 'crocodile hunter' dies

Malcolm Douglas braved the outback's dangers before Steve Irwin and Paul Hogan were famous.

Largest HD TV

Charlotte Motor Speedway's new video board will be much larger than the one at Cowboys Stadium.

World's longest tongue

Puggy achieves a kind of worldwide fame usually reserved for larger pooches.

Ten Funny Food Names

While menus aren't usually considered works of comedy, a particular dish's name - like 'bubble and squeak' or 'burgoo' - occasionally will elicit belly laughs.

Thanks to their unusual origins or mangled etymology, here are some food names that are a humorous change from the standard fare.

Ten Fascinating Phobias

While the majority of phobias are relatively commonplace - a fear of heights, spiders, public speaking - there are those rare folks with more unusual, specific frights.

From the fear of opinions to the fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of one's mouth, learn about some of the most unconventional phobias on the books.

Cher Leaving Vegas

The singer bids farewell to her $75 million gig at Caesars Palace, and says hello to a new project.

Equinox marked with global celebrations

People around the world ring in the change of seasons with the help of symbolic traditions.  

Canadian student makes history with first human-powered ‘flapping-wing’ plane

Leonardo da Vinci, of Florence, dreamed of doing it. Todd Reichert, of the University of Toronto, actually did. On Wednesday, Reichert, a PhD student at the U of T Institute for Aerospace Studies, announced he had completed the first continuous flight of a human-powered aircraft with birdlike flapping wings, a device known as an ornithopter. The creation of a craft that would allow humans to fly like birds has captured the imagination of inventors for centuries, but few working models have been built. Da Vinci drew up sketches for a flying machine in 1485, but never made one. “Some people just dream about flying, at night in their dreams. I do,” said David Greatrix, a professor of aerospace engineering at Ryerson University. “Even though we have flying airplanes, it’s not the same.”

Reichert’s ornithopter flight, which lasted 19.3 seconds and covered 145 metres, is the first entirely powered by a human being. “This is the last first in aviation, and in many ways the most significant one,” said James DeLaurier, who oversaw the project. “It was unreal,” Reichert, 28, said in an interview. The flying craft, named the Snowbird, weighs just under 43 kilograms and has a wing span of 32 meters, comparable to a Boeing 737, though its weight amounts to approximately that of the pillows on-board a commercial jet. The Snowbird is made of carbon fibre, foam and balsa wood. It took Reichert and another graduate student, Cameron Robertson, over four years to make the craft, and cost $200,000.

DeLaurier, a retired Institute for Aerospace Studies professor who is one of the world’s leading experts on ornithopters, devoted his career to birdlike flight. In 2006, he built and flew a motorized ornithopter called the Flapper, another aviation first. But a purely human-powered craft was his life’s ambition. “(Reichert’s) ornithopter has since landed, but I’m still hovering a couple feet off the ground. It was a moment that’s difficult to describe,” DeLaurier said. Over the summer, Reichert lost eight kilograms, went on a special diet and trained daily, especially his leg muscles. He took 65 test runs before the Aug. 2 flight date in Tottenham, Ont. “I didn’t sleep the night before the flight,” Reichert said. “My mind was just racing.”

A representative from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, the world body governing aeronautical records, was present to witness the event. A tow line tugged the craft into the air and then released it, and the Snowbird was off to its history-making flight. “It was such a neat feeling . . . you kept pushing and it kept maintaining altitude,” Reichert said. “All of a sudden, it clicked and we were able to stay up there.” The Snowbird works by pumping a set of pedals attached to pulleys and lines that bring down the wings in an elegant flapping motion, a feat that requires both engineering and physical prowess. “He combined brilliance with athleticism,” DeLaurier said. Part of the team’s goal was to promote sustainable and efficient transportation.

Largest offshore wind farm starts spinning

The massive project represents a huge step forward for one country.  

The Plaque

One Sunday morning, the pastor noticed little Alex was staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. It was covered with names, and small American flags were mounted on either side of it.

The seven year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the little boy, and said quietly, "Good morning, Alex."

"Good morning, Pastor," replied the young man, still focused on the plaque. "Pastor, what is this?"

"Well, son, it's a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service."

Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque.

Little Alex's voice was barely audible, trembling with fear, when he asked, "Which service, the 8:30 or the 10:45?"

Cambridge motorists not calmed by yoga citations

The city of Cambridge, Massachusetts. is trying to calm down residents if they get a parking ticket by handing out envelopes with pictures of yoga moves on them. Many are intrigued by the idea, but some drivers think it's a waste. "It's absolutely absurd. There is no reason in the world we need this," said a man.

Even parking control officers are baffled by the series of yoga poses printed on the front and back of some 40,000 citation envelopes. “I still don't really understand what it's for," said a parking control officer. The calming images are courtesy of Daniel Peltz, an artist-in-residence with the Traffic and Parking Department. "Daniel was interested in the human interaction that takes place. The human interaction when you get a ticket or a citation," said Jason Weeks, from the Cambridge Arts Council.

In other words, it's designed to calm the anger that comes with this envelope. “I think it's a waste of an envelopment because if I got this as a ticket I am not looking at the poses to relax, believe me,” said one woman. "It wouldn't relax me, it would just tick me off more, to know my money is being wasted again," said one man.

The Traffic and Parking Department said they didn't commission the artist's work. It was his vision after spending all winter following parking officers. The city is, however, paying to print the unique envelopes. "The tickets cost a small amount more," said Susan Clippinger, the city's transportation chief. They're just hoping to now bring a little peace to people who get a parking ticket.

Candidate's JFK ad sparks public spat

She's a douchebag
A 30-second clip of the late president gets Republican Linda McMahon in hot water with his relatives.
Her response  - Who cares?

Targeting minorities and college students

... and challenging their right to vote. Yep ... that's the repugican's political game plan on winning ... or rather, stealing ... the upcoming elections.
A coordinated plot by the repugican party of Wisconsin, Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin and organizations in the so-called tea party movement targeting minority voters and college students in a possibly illegal “voter caging” effort for voter suppression has been uncovered in evidence obtained by One Wisconsin Now, a statewide advocacy organization in madison, Wisconsin. - One Wisconsin Now
Again, Wisconsin has same-day registration, so these challenged voters could provide proof of residency and just register at a new address. But these voters would have no idea going into the polls that they would be challenged. So the goal is to force voters into provisional ballots, which can be challenged later, or possibly to intimidate them from voting altogether. Roughly 35% of provisional ballots are never counted, many times because they require some kind of follow-up information on the part of the voter - firedoglake

Bad Cops

Wizard of Id


The Panic of 2008

Risky lending on Wall Street nearly led to a global meltdown, but two firms made out quite nicely.

Dollar stores grabbing thrifty customers

Shoppers like the smaller, cheaper packages, so Wal-Mart is selling more under $1, too.

Massive infant formula recall

Up to 5 million Similac-brand powders may contain insect parts, the company says.  

Most expensive cities to buy a home

A new report confirms a long-standing truth in real estate: The costliest homes are on the coasts. 

Bentleys Recalled

Bentley recalls hundreds of luxury cars worldwide, but not because of how they drive.  

Man who sued McDonald's after claiming burns from exploding chicken sandwich settles

A Florida man has settled his $2 million lawsuit against a McDonald's restaurant in southwest Virginia that allegedly served him a chicken sandwich that exploded with hot grease.

Bank of America forecloses on a man who has no mortgage

Jason Grodensky, a Fort Lauderdale man who bought his house with cash last December was surprised to discover that Bank of America had foreclosed on him, though he has no mortgage. Florida's foreclosure mills being what they are, the checks and balances against erroneous foreclosure have eroded to the point where banks can seize and sell homes they have no interest in.
Grodensky's story and other tales of foreclosure mistakes started popping up recently across South Florida. This week, GMAC Mortgage -- one of the nation's largest mortgage servicers and a major mortgage lender -- told real estate agents to stop evicting residents and suspend sales of properties that had been taken from homeowners in foreclosure. The company said it might have to "correct" some of its foreclosures, but was not halting those in process. In Florida courts, which have been swamped with foreclosure cases for several years, mistakes "happen all the time," said foreclosure defense attorney Matt Weidner in St. Petersburg. "It's just not getting reported."
And the legal efforts required to resolve a foreclosure mistake are complicated. "Unwrapping it is like unwrapping Fort Knox," said Carol Asbury, a Fort Lauderdale foreclosure attorney. "It's very difficult."



'Monster' lake

A lake that has already quadrupled in size poses a dilemma like no other spot in America.

Global map of air pollution

NASA's satellite-derived map of air pollution, throughout planet earth, between 2001-2006.
Specifically, the "warmer" areas of the color map (yellow, orange, red) indicate higher densities of problematic particles known as fine particulate matter, or PM2.5. These are 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter, roughly 1/10 the width of a strand of human hair. They're small enough to sneak past your body's defenses, and lodge inside your lungs.

Tropical Storm Matthew forms in Caribbean

The National Hurricane Center says tropical storm Matthew has formed in the southwestern Caribbean.

Oceans divide over 1970s warming

The oceans went through a short period of rapid temperature change 40 years ago, scientists find, with no cause identified.

Volcanoes May Have Killed Off Neanderthals

A new theory says that volcanic activity in Europe’s past may have contributed to the extinction of Neanderthals. Several volcanos erupted in a short period of time along the Caucasus Mountains about 40,000 years ago. Populations of Neanderthals, who lived mainly in Europe, may have been reduced to the point they couldn’t compete with modern humans who lived in several continents. University of Texas, Arlington anthropologist Naomi Cleghorn, a member of the research team, explained what they found.
The researchers examined sediments layer from around 40,000 years ago in Russia’s Mezmaiskaya Cave and found that the more volcanic ash a layer had, the less plant pollen it contained.
“We tested all the layers for this volcanic ash signature. The most volcanic-ash-rich layer”—likely corresponding to the so-called Campanian Ignimbrite eruption, which occurred near Naples (map)—”had no [tree] pollen and very little pollen from other types of plants,” Cleghorn said. “It’s just a sterile layer.”
The loss of plants would have led to a decline in plant-eating mammals, which in turn would have affected the Neanderthals, who hunted large mammals for food.
Modern humans would have also been affected, but they had “backup populations” in Africa and Asia.

Neanderthals More Intelligent Than Thought

New research shows Neanderthals are more similar to humans than we previously thought.

Clues to Child Sacrifices Found in Inca Building

The remains of sacrificed children suggest they were escorted from distant parts of the Inca realm.   Full Story 


An American man leaves a whopping $8 million to an unusual recipient halfway across the world. 

The 9 Most Mind-blowing Disguises in the Animal Kingdom

We are all familiar with animals that use camouflage, but some take it to an extreme level. Cracked found examples of animals that totally take on a different persona. What kind of creature do think this picture shows?
When they become frightened, they retract their heads backward into themselves, causing that bulge that looks like the head of a snake. The snake “eyes” are just spots on the caterpillar’s sides.
Yes, it’s a caterpillar. There are several species of caterpillar that can make themselves look like snakes (although small ones).

Titanium foam builds Wolverine bones

Implants made from titanium foam fuse with the human skeleton, offering a better way to repair and strengthen broken bones.

New Dinosaurs

Fossils found in the Utah desert include the most ornate-headed dinosaur known to man.  

Scientists said Wednesday they've discovered fossils in the southern Utah desert of two new dinosaur species closely related to the Triceratops, including one with 15 horns on its large head.
The Kosmoceratops dinosaur, which roamed Utah 76 million years ago, may have had more horns on its head than any other dinosaur discovered. The Guardian talked with Scott Sampson, a paleontologist:
The animal, named Kosmoceratops, had an enormous two metre-long skull, was five metres from snout to tail and weighed an estimated 2.5 tonnes.[...]
Kosmoceratops, a relative of the more familiar Triceratops, had one horn over its nose, one over each eye, one protruding from each cheek bone and a row of ten across the frill at the back of its head.
“As far as we know it’s the most ornate-headed dinosaur ever found, with so many well-developed horns on its head,” Sampson told the Guardian.

Fossil corals in Indiana

Oh, those fabulous Midwestern tropical seas!

For those of you not in the know, the middle of the United States spent a lot of deep time underwater as various inland seas rose and drained over millions of years. Today, you can see the result in a tendency toward decidedly marine fossils throughout the region. Kansas is full of great, little rice grain fusulinids and hunks of chambered, tubular shell broken off the bodies of long-dead baculites.

These lovely shots of fossilized corals, taken by paleo-blogger David Orr at Indiana's Falls of the Ohio state park, where it's just a short walk through a shallow patch of river to reach an outcropping of exposed 380 million-year-old limestone.

The picture above is a horn coral, but Orr took a lot more shots of several different kinds of coral—some of which are even home to living animals today. You can check out some more photos and his descriptions at the Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs site.

Why are there no hyenas in Europe?

A team from the National Museum of Natural Sciences (CSIC) has analyzed the impact of climate change on spotted hyena survival in Europe over 10,000 years ago. These changes played an important role, but the scientists say studies are still needed to look at the influence of human expansion and changes in herbivorous fauna ...