Welcome to ...

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.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
It's not like you to talk a lot.
You pride yourself on using only as many words as necessary to get your point across.
No more and no less.
So when your dear ones ask you what's up, don't be offended.
They're just wondering who you are and what you've done with their friend.
Oh, enjoy it.
It's good to keep 'em guessing.
Blame it on the coffee.

Some of our readers today have been in:
London, England, United Kingdom
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Oldenburg, Niedersachsen, Germany
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Osijek, Osjecko-Baranjska, Croatia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Bonn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Izmir, Izmir, Turkey
Prague, Hlavni Mesto Praha, Czech Republic
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia

as well as Thailand and in cities across the United States such as Liberty, Washburn, Richmond, Forest Hills and more.

Today is:
Today is Sunday, September 26, the 269th day of 2010.
There are 96 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
Johnny Appleseed Day
Walk Like A Zombie Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Two girls, One passport, and a ticket to a new life

A Holocaust survivor reunites with a woman whose family helped her decades ago.  

Who said math was hard

Multiplication Tip

To multiply 1,639,344,262,295,081,967,213,114,754,098,360,655,737,704,918,032,787 by 71, all you have to do is to place another 1 at the beginning and another 7 at the end.
It was discovered by Samuel Isaac Jones, back in the 1920s.

Three ways for women to prepare for retirement

Many fear a destitute old age, but saving just $50 a month makes a difference.  

They banned what?!

People have tried to limit access to a dictionary and a book about censorship.  

Culinary DeLites

Culinary DeLites
Wood-smoked tri-tip is even tastier with a simple herb, lemon, and garlic sauce.  
Some restaurants offer an annual freebie day for treats like pancakes, ice cream, and pretzels. 

Something you don't see everyday


And the poll says ... Health care reform not enough

Opponents are outnumbered by those who say Washington should have done more. 

In Matters Of Health

In Matters Of Health
If your child is up and about, even with a runny nose and congestion, it may be a cold.

Small doses of aspirin may be as effective as higher doses at preventing bowel cancer, with less risk of side effects



Masterpiece Theater

John William Waterhouse, English
Christine O'Donnell in her High School Days, 1886

Americans prefer socialism over current US system

92% of them do anyway ...

With numbers like that, it's no wonder Democrats are cautious about being labeled "anti business" or "socialist."

Wait, what?
More interesting than that, the report says, is that the respondents (a randomly selected 5,522-person sample, reflecting the country's ideological, economic and gender demographics, surveyed in December 2005) believed the top 20 percent should own only 32 percent of the wealth. Respondents with incomes over $100,000 per year had similar answers to those making less than $50,000. (The report has helpful, multi-colored charts.)

The respondents were presented with unlabeled pie charts representing the wealth distributions of the U.S., where the richest 20 percent controlled about 84 percent of wealth, and Sweden, where the top 20 percent only controlled 36 percent of wealth. Without knowing which country they were picking, 92 percent of respondents said they'd rather live in a country with Sweden's wealth distribution.
As a reminder, in the US today, 1% of the population owns 24% of the wealth. This is considerably higher than during the Robber Barron years of the late 19th and early 20th centuries when the richest 1% owned 18% of the wealth.

Citibank hands out pay raises to executives

Why? Again, because they can get away with it.

Let's not even bother rolling out the "so they can keep good talent" argument because that's nonsense. These are the same idiots who got the world into this recession. There can be absolutely no justification for paying bonuses at a time like this. So will anyone decide to take a hard line against this or will the corporatist machinery in Washington roll over, as they tend to do?
The announcement Friday by Citi, which remains weaker than most of the large American banks two years after the meltdown, raised questions among experts on corporate governance.

By paying the raises in company stock, not cash, Citi has decided to follow previously issued guidelines that limited salaries to $500,000 for the top 25 executives at financial institutions still receiving large amounts of federal help.

"The question is do they deserve higher salaries, and are they evading rules to avoid losing talent?" asked Charles Elson, director of the Weinberg Center for corporate governance at the University of Delaware.

Robert Reich on the Super Rich Getting Richer While Everyone Else Gets Poorer

 More from Robert Reich.
The super-rich got even wealthier this year, and yet most of them are paying even fewer taxes to support the eduction, job training, and job creation of the rest of us. According to Forbes magazine’s annual survey, just released, the combined net worth of the 400 richest Americans climbed 8% this year, to $1.37 trillion. Wealth rose for 217 members of the list, while 85 saw a decline.

For example, Charles and David Koch, the energy magnates who are pouring vast sums of money into Republican coffers and sponsoring tea partiers all over America, each gained $5.5 billion of wealth over the past year. Each is now worth $21.5 billion.

Wall Street continued to dominate the list; 109 of the richest 400 are in finance or investments.

From another survey we learn that the 25 top hedge-fund managers got an average of $1 billion each, but paid an average of 17 percent in taxes (because so much of their income is considered capital gains, taxed at 15 percent thanks to the Bush tax cuts).

The truth be told


That's one way to get out of doing math

Cookie Jill posted this over at Skippy the Bush Kangaroo yesterday:

That's one way to get out of doing math

Object to algebra as being "Muslim" so therefore "icky"
Basically a failed fundamentalist candidate for the state educational authority in Texas is claiming that social studies textbooks are pro-Islam and anti-christian, and the state must not buy any more of these texts. this guy won’t be satisfied until the only book in public schools is the bible.

...if the wacko is looking for “pro-Islam” textbooks, he is in the wrong courses. he should be demanding the state cancel all math and science classes, because much of the basic work in those fields was done by Muslims during Europe's so-called “dark ages”. He apparently missed the clue that we use “Arabic” numerals in math and science, and al gebra is obviously not something he knows about.- Why now?
The word algebra is derived from the Arabic word al-jabr, and this comes from the treatise written in 820 by the Muslim Persian mathematician, Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī, entitled, in Arabic, كتاب الجبر والمقابلة or Kitāb al-Muḫtaṣar fī Hisāb al-ğabr wa-l-Muqābala, which can be translated as the compendious book on calculation by completion and balancing. - wikipedia
We are so the laughing stock of the world.

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.

How can the wingnuts be so wrong? 
(we know why that was a rhetorical question)

Need we say more?

How the wingnut lunatic fringe is perverting the judicial system

The wingnut lunatic fringe that now controls the repugican party can't stand our system of government. They claim to love the Constitution, but they detest the bill of rights (other than the part dealing with guns). They have no respect whatsoever for the judicial branch, and if a judge ever tried to actually enforce the Constitution in court, repugicans brand that judge an activist who simply must be stopped.

The latest move by repugicans is supremely un-American, and ought to scare the hell out everyone. They're trying to get rid of judges who they simply disagree with. But it's really more than that, and they admit it. They're trying to scare judges into not siding with the Constitution. If the judges fear for their careers, the activists think, maybe they won't decide certain cases certain ways, even if they think the law requires it.

Now think about that again. The repugican party wants judges to decide court cases not based on the law, but rather based on a well-founded fear of retribution should they decide in a manner that Republicans don't like.

What part of this is any different than the Soviet Union or any other two-bit dictatorship?  And why aren't Democrats going ballistic over this?

From the NYT:
After the State Supreme Court here stunned the nation by making this the first state in the heartland to allow same-sex marriage, Iowa braced for its sleepy judicial elections to turn into referendums on gay marriage.
Enlarge This Image

The three Supreme Court justices on the ballot this year are indeed the targets of a well-financed campaign to oust them. But the effort has less to do with undoing same-sex marriage — which will remain even if the judges do not — than sending a broader message far beyond this state’s borders: voters can remove judges whose opinions they dislike.
Brian S. Brown, executive director of the National Organization for Marriage, which has spent $230,000 on television ads criticizing the Iowa judges, said he understood that removing the three judges would not change the same-sex marriage ruling. (It was a unanimous ruling by the state’s seven justices.) But Mr. Brown said he hoped the judges’ ouster would help prevent similar rulings elsewhere by making judges around the nation aware that their jobs are on the line.

Downhill slide with the repugicans

"Once upon a time, a Latin American political party promised to help motorists save money on gasoline.


By building highways that ran only downhill." 

Sound familiar?

Wizard of Id


Major in Adventure Recreation in College!

Forget sitting in a stuffy classroom – here’s the college major for outdoor enthusiasts and fun-lovers everywhere: Adventure Recreation.

Yes, that’s right:
Adventure sports like scuba diving, snowboarding, white water rafting, and bungee jumping are big business. People are wanting controlled ways to break out of their normal nine-to-five office life and these sports on fun mini-breaks and vacations are the perfect release. Who is going to supply these cubicle monkeys with their fun though?
If you have a passion for adventure sports and enough experience to train others, you might want to look in the undergraduate programs at Green Mountain College in Vermont that aim at helping people like you in establishing their own businesses in the area of adventure recreation where they can train newcomers to the sports and just show people a fun, exciting time that is a bit out of the norm.
Read more about weird college majors over at Road Tickle.

Bicycle Monorail

Shweeb Monorail Technology, a compant from New Zealand, has an idea for a bicycle monorail. Riding above the traffic jams on multi-level rails people could move around the city quickly and safely.

By integrating the unique properties of monorail and recumbent cycle technologies, Shweeb delivers a personal, efficient, and cost-effective transport solution with applications for urban commuting, recreational and fitness markets.

Fastest Fastball Ever

Cincinnati rookie Aroldis Chapman makes baseball history with one incredible fastball.  

Blast from the past

It's time to think about what your Souwen/Samhain costume is going to be this year.

Navy pilots grounded after video shows them dunking $33m helicopters in lake

The Navy has launched an investigation after video showing two pilots dunking a pair of $33million MH-60 Romeo helicopters into a lake was posted online. The video - taken by a stunned tourist at Lake Tahoe- shows the two helicopters skimming the surface of the water. One appears to lose control, spinning and crashing into the water in a near-disaster. But the pilot quickly regains control, pulling the aircraft from the water back into the air.

They were forced to land at a nearby airport to be repaired. The damage to the state-of-the-art machines - the Navy's newest helicopter - is estimated at between $50,000 and $500,000, according to local reports. The Navy has confirmed that the footage is genuine. The helicopters were from North Island's Helicopter Maritime Strike 41 squadron. Navy spokesman Lieutenant Aaron Kakiel said that though the footage only captures one helicopter crashing, both actually hit the water as they did not have enough hovering power to hold their position.

Now an investigation has been launched into the entire September 13th flight. The Navy would not identify the pilots or say whether they were supposed to be hovering over Lake Tahoe. A spokesman did say that the lake is not a normal training area for Navy pilots. They have been grounded until the investigation is concluded. Depending on the outcome, they could lose their flying qualifications.

Retired Navy jet pilot Steve Diamond said that there may have been more to the incident than meets the eye. 'Somebody has to be a total moron to do it in total view of tourists and in a recreational area, when everyone has a camera these days,' Diamond, who retired in 2002, he said. 'We don’t really have morons flying naval aircraft, it’s possible they were troubleshooting a problem, you don’t know... It’s easy to make a snap judgment, but there are other possibilities.'

'Blues Brothers' mall to be demolished

Illinois officials announced plans to demolish a suburban Chicago mall that served as a set for a famous scene in the 1980 film "The Blues Brothers."

Gov. Pat Quinn said Thursday the state is receiving a $4 million federal grant to demolish Dixie Square Mall in Harvey to make way for redevelopment to revitalize the area. The mall, which has been vacant for more than 30 years, served as a filming location for the mall car chase scene.

"Dixie Square has been a place that we know has to change fundamentally," Quinn said. "I look forward to the day real soon when we will have this site cleaned and available for development. This is a huge investment in cleaning up Dixie Square. For years and years it has been an eyesore," he said.

Local officials have expressed hopes of replacing the Dixie Square Mall with a new shopping center, but no plans have been finalized. Officials said the demolition is scheduled to begin in November and will last for about four months.

The origin of the dollar sign

Two popular theories — including one from Mexico — involve superimposed letters.  

Pistol Bayonets

James R. Rummel of Hell in a Handbasket has a post about early handgun bayonets. The Elgin Pistol Cutlass (above) was a single-shot pistol available in the U.S. in various calibers starting in the 1830s. It’s basically a built-in machete that served to clear away brush while tramping out in the wilderness:
Instead the guns were designed to be used as brush cutters in dangerous territory. The heavy knife would clear away the jungle, while the pistol would be ready if enraged animals or hostile natives suddenly sprang from the bracken.
At the link, you can view pictures of a bayonet that could be fitted onto World War I-era British revolvers.



Chinese foreign aid?!

The economic powerhouse says it's still a developing country in need of financial assistance.  

Iranian nuclear facilities under "massive attack" by Stuxnet worm

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad inspects centrifuges at a uranium enrichment plant.

The Iranian government agency that oversees the country's nuclear facilities reported today that engineers are attempting to defend against "Stuxnet," a Windows-specific worm attacking industrial plants throughout the nation. The malware seeks out industrial systems made by Siemens. It has also been spotted in other countries, but Iran appears to be most heavily impacted country, by far. Affected nuclear sites in Iran include those the US believes are part of a nuclear weapons program.
But the announcement raised suspicions, and new questions, about the origins and target of the worm, Stuxnet, which computer experts say is a far cry from common computer malware that has affected the Internet for years. A worm is a self-replicating malware computer program. A virus is malware that infects its target by attaching itself to programs or documents. Stuxnet, which was first publicly identified several months ago, is aimed solely at industrial equipment made by Siemens that controls oil pipelines, electric utilities, nuclear facilities and other large industrial sites. While it is not clear that Iran was the main target -- the infection has also been reported in Indonesia, Pakistan, India and elsewhere -- a disproportionate number of computers inside Iran appear to have been struck, according to reports by computer security monitors.
More: New York Times, BBC, NYT Bits Blog, Al Jazeera. Stuxnet was discovered this June and has been the topic of discussion in security circles since; a Symantec advisory is here. Symantec plans to release more technical analysis of Stuxnet in a paper to be released at the Virus Bulletin Conference on September 29th.
Not a word about this on the English-language website for Iran's official news agency, not yet anyway.

In Turkey, some see culture clash in gang's assault on art galleries on opening night

The gang of several dozen men with sticks and pepper spray moved methodically from one art gallery to the next, assaulting overflow crowds that had spilled into the streets during the joint opening of several exhibitions in the center of Istanbul.

Row over 'untouchable' Indian dog

Police in India are investigating claims that a Dalit woman has been ordered to pay compensation to the high-caste owners of a dog she fed. The woman says the village council wants her to pay a fine of 15,000 rupees ($330) for feeding the dog, which the owners have now kicked out. They are reported to have said the dog is "untouchable", but deny being motivated by caste considerations. Although widespread, discrimination against Dalits is an offense in India.

The incident took place in Malikpur village in Morena district in central Madhya Pradesh state. "I made some roti [Indian bread] and took it to my husband who works in a farm. After I had fed him, we had some leftovers which I gave to the dog," the Dalit woman, Sunita Jatav, said. She said the owner of the dog, Amrutlal Kirari, saw her feeding him. "He got very angry and said 'You've fed my dog, it has become an untouchable now'."

Mrs Jatav said Mr Kirari left the dog, a black mongrel called Sheru, tied to a pole outside her house. On Monday, the village council met and decided that Sheru had been defiled and hence Mr Kirari should be paid 15,000 rupees as compensation, Mrs Jatav alleged. On Tuesday, she approached the district collector of Morena who ordered an inquiry into the incident. Senior police officer in the area, Baldev Singh, said that he was investigating the matter. He said Mr Kirari had alleged that after eating the bread, Sheru fell ill.

Mr Kirari said he abandoned the dog at Mrs Jatav's house so she could look after it and nurse it back to health, Mr Singh added. Dalits - formerly untouchables - are considered at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. Dalits, who make up nearly 20% of the Indian population, say little has changed despite the government enacting various laws banning caste-based discrimination. Any discrimination against them is an offense and punishable by law.

Mother charged with child abuse after video shows her cheering daughter as she fights another girl

A mother has been charged with child abuse after encouraging her teenager daughter to fight another girl as dozens of classmates videotaped the incident. April Newcomb could be heard encouraging her 16-year-old daughter to trade punches with the other girl. And when her daughter appears to ease up from the exertion of grappling on the ground she yells:" Don't f****** stop!". The video of the fight in a field in Palmetto, Florida, was posted online and led to a police investigation and Newcomb's arrest.

Newcomb, 39, admitted to police that she had been wrong to encourage her daughter, but said the fight was going to take place no matter what she said. 'Of course, we're both wrong and I understand that, and I understand where y'all are coming from,' she told police. 'I think unfortunately it was going to happen, no matter what.' The fight took place a week ago after Newcomb's daughter, who has not been named, and another girl agreed to settle their differences after school. Video footage showed the two girls throwing punches, pulling hair and knocking each other to the ground.

As the two brawled, dozens of students can be seen gathered around, many recording the incident on their phones. Newcomb can be heard on the video shouting words of encouragement as the fight went on. A person videotaping the fight can also be heard to shout, 'Go for the headshot. The headshot.' The fight, which lasted for five minutes, ends when police arrive and the teenagers scatter.

Contains extreme violence and NSFW language.

'The entire incident is disturbing, especially because the parent did not intervene,' said police spokesman Dave Bristow. Newcomb was being held in jail after failing to raise the £10,000 bond to secure her release. She claimed the fight had already started when she arrived and she wanted to make sure her daughter was not seriously hurt.




The Biggest Swamp In The States

Atchafalaya - the name itself is something of a mystery. When exactly the swamp got its name is unknown, though it means long river in one of the local languages.

What is known about this place of splendor and inscrutability is that it is the largest swamp in the United States and is the spiritual home of Cajun culture.

Bad News for Coral Reefs: Global Warming Causes Bleaching & Death

coral-reef-fish photo
Image Credit: mattk1979 via Flickr
Global warming has done a lot of damage this summer, from deadly flooding in Pakistan to the heat wave of the millennium in Russia. Now, the New York Times reports, there's another victim to add to the list: coral reefs.
Article continues: Bad News for Coral Reefs: Global Warming Causes Bleaching & Death

Bejeweled Falconry Hoods

For this year Abu Dhabi International Hunting and Equestrian Exhibition ( Adihex ), the Italian Jewelry house Tiroler Goldschmied is launching a collection of 5 unique diamond studded falcon hoods.
Falconry hoods are used to keep raptors calm when in the presence of humans and can be very ornate. At prices ranging from $6,500 to $53,000 these designer hoods are mighty pricey birdie bling.

MRI of Snake Digesting a Rat

Thanks to modern medical science, we now can see the process of a Burmese Python ingesting a rat in all its gory details:
Using a combination of computer tomography (CT) and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), scientists Kasper Hansen and Henrik Lauridsen of Aarhus University in Denmark were able to visualize the entire internal organ structures and vascular systems (aka "guts") of a Burmese Python digesting a rat.
By choosing the right settings for contrast and light intensity during the scanning process, the scientists were able to highlight specific organs and make them appear in different colors. The non-invasive CT and MRI scans could let scientists look at animal anatomy without the need for other invasive methods such as dissections.

Cute Animals - Where to see'em

Here’s a roundup of sixteen animals and how you can see them in their natural habitats. Some of these expeditions involve a lot of travel, depending on where you are already.

Want to see a booby?

Head to the Galapagos Islands!
A little more than 500 miles west of Ecuador lie the Galápagos Islands, a veritable treasure-trove of endemic wildlife. One of the islands’ most famous residents is the blue-footed booby, a seabird with distinctive turquoise-blue feet. While those colorful toes certainly catch the eyes of human fans, the birds are more concerned with impressing each other: Male blue-footed boobies show off their blue feet while “dancing” during courtship.

Elephants and impalas are both doing well in Uganda.

impalas elephants africa photo
Elephants and impalas are both doing well in Uganda. 
Photo by frederic.salein via Flickr.
In 1999, poaching had reduced the number of impalas, a type of grazing antelope, in Uganda to just 1,600 animals. Today, there are more than 35,000 -- and populations of many other species have soared as well, thanks to successful efforts to reduce the amount of poaching in the country's protected areas.
Article continues: Good News from Uganda: Animal Populations Soaring in National Parks Thanks to Anti-Poaching Efforts

Japanese Town Puts Bounty on Troublesome Monkey

Authorities in the city of Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture are offering a reward of 200,000 yen ($2,370) for help in apprehending an elusive suspect described as “hairy-armed and dangerous”.BadMonkey Japanese Town Puts Bounty on Troublesome Monkey picture

Contemplating the meaning of life

Contemplating the meaning of life

Poacher killed by great white shark

A poacher in South Africa has been eaten by a great white shark during an illegal fishing trip. Khanyisile Momoza, 29, was attacked as he harvested valuable perlemoen shells in the waters near Gansbaai in South Africa. The fisherman was among a group of 12 poachers who had tried to swim to safety after spotting the shark in shallow waters. A friend of Mr Momoza, who witnessed the attack, said: "There was screaming and crying. We just swam, we didn't look back. We were swimming in a group but he was a bit behind us.
"It jumped out of the water with him and then it took him down." The attack took place on Tuesday between Dyer Island and Pearly Beach, east of Cape Town. In an interview, the victim's friend told how the poaching group had left the beach at 6am and swum for two hours before reaching the island three miles offshore, where they began hunting for perlemoen shellfish. The men were swimming back to shore with their catch when the great white approached.

The survivors admitted they had been too scared for their own lives to help the stricken swimmer and raced back to dry land. Once ashore the group alerted authorities to the tragedy. Illegal harvesting of perlemoen is big business in South Africa, where the valuable shellfish are common along coastal areas. The molluscs' fleshy insides are considered a delicacy similar to oysters, and either served raw or cooked in seafood dishes.

But widespread farming of the shells has sparked fears the population could plummet. In 2007 South African authorities listed the species, also known as abalone, as endangered with the global wildlife protection body CITES. The restrictions were loosened in July this year, although it remains illegal to harvest perlemeon without a license. However hundreds of local fishermen are believed to continue to work in the illegal trade. Many poor workers risk arrest or injury to hunt for the wild shells, whose meat can be worth up to £25 a kilo.

Man almost killed when his rubbish truck hideaway starts to compact him

A shoplifting suspect is in hospital in a critical condition after he was crushed while hiding in a rubbish truck. James Brienzo fled from police after he was spotted leaving a Walmart store in Alliance, Ohio, through a fire exit with a trolley full of goods. The 37-year-old hid in a rubbish bin outside the shop, and waited for officers to leave the area.

But workers arrived to pick up the store's rubbish and the bin was emptied into a truck. Brienzo was crushed several times, as the lorry's metal jaws compacted the rubbish. He eventually managed to pull out a mobile phone from his pocket and call a friend. His pal phoned police, who used GPS (Global Positioning System) to track the truck.

The rubbish, which mainly consisted of cardboard boxes, had been crushed so much that police could not free him from the vehicle. The lorry was taken back to the depot, and Brienzo fell out of the truck head-first with the rubbish. "He was in a lot of pain," said a police spokesman at the scene.

"He had been compacted several times. He was just begging us to empty the truck." The spokesman said Brienzo suffered serious injuries and is being treated in the Metro Health Medical Centre in Cleveland. The suspect is expected to be charged with shoplifting after he recovers.

Pineapples around the world

The Pineapple Fountain, Waterfront Park, Charleston, United States
The Pineapple Fountain, Waterfront Park, Charleston, United States

Odds and Sods

Odds and Sods
Lady Liberty has been jilted at an auction of iconic items in New York City. A copper cast of the tip of the Statue of Liberty's nose that was up for sale on Friday went unsold.

A technician for an American telephone company has won the top prize of 1 million Russian dumplings in the Karaoke World Championships.