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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.

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Life's been topsy-turvy for you lately, so it's understandable that you've wanted to stay at home in your own cozy nest.
However, now is a good time to poke your head outside again, because a very stable influence is making its way into your celestial sector, which is a very welcome respite.
Of course, just as things calm down, you might be asked to take on a new responsibility.
Say yes, and this challenge may set you on a great adventure.

Some of our readers today have been in:
London, England, United Kingdom
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Kristiansand, Vest-Adger, Norway
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Sorrento, Campania, Italy
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland

as well as Singapore and in cities across the United States such as Lodi, Dayton, Mesa, Durham and more.

Today is:
Today is Friday, October 1, the 274th day of 2010.
There are 91 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
National Lace Day

It is also:
International Day of Older Persons
World Smile Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Urne gedaeghwarnlican hlaf syle us todaeg

Faeder ure pu pe eart on heofonum
Si pin nama gehalgod
To becume pin rice
Gewurpe din willa
On eordan swa swa on heofonum
Urne gedaeghwarnlican hlaf syle us todaeg
And forgyf us ure gyltas
Swa swa we forgyfad urum gyltendum
Ac alys us of yfele

A few days ago we posted a piece about how Americans do not know their own religion - with Atheists knowing more than 'believers' about their own brand and other religions.

The citation above is from one of those religions (Atheists know what it is by the way) and it is written in English ... just not the English you can plug into Babelfish and translate.

How many can figure it out?

October is ...

Apple Month
National Chili Month
National Popcorn Poppin' Month
Sausage Month

It is also National Breast Cancer Awareness Month

And to be sure it is also National Sarcastic Awareness Month

Twenty mind-boggling optical illusions

These visual tricks will put a new spin on your sense of perspective and motion.

Breast Cancer Awareness


Breast Cancer

Learn how to cut through the confusion about recent research on mammography and self-exams.  

Random Celebrity Photo

Salma Hayek

A turn of a phrase

Augur well

To foreshadow a successful outcome, indicated by some circumstance or event.


As you might expect of someone who writes this stuff, I like crosswords. A clue that I came across recently was 'Soothsayer with a noisy implement'. Those of you who are familiar with the arcane rules of cryptic crosswords may have deduced that the answer to this is 'augur'. For those of you who aren't crossword aficionados, an augur is a fortune teller and an auger is a carpenter's tool - the 'noisy' keyword usually translates as 'sounds like' and clearly, 'augur' sounds like 'auger'.
Augur wellTo be more specific about augers and augurs, an auger is the 'bit' part of a carpenter's brace and bit, i.e. a drill. An augur was a Roman official with the job of predicting the future and advising on public policy. That might sound like a difficult task but, in practice, the augurs just had to look mysterious and feign the experience of receiving omens arising from the flight of birds or the appearance of the entrails of sacrificial victims, etc. - no doubt to the accompaniment of a good deal of toga flapping and rolling of eyes.
Of course, 'auguring well' has nothing to do with drilling neat holes but derives from the Roman augur's prediction of a good outcome as the consequence of some portent. Similarly, 'to augur badly' didn't mean 'to make an inaccurate prediction' but 'to predict a bad event'.
The phrase 'augur well' isn't a translation from Latin but originated, in the late 18th century, amongst the classically educated English elite. The first record of it that I have found is from a speech to the UK Parliament, given by the Duke of Richmond and published in the Parliamentary Register for 1778:
"I augur well from the readiness with which it [his request for papers about the movements of British forces] has been granted."
'Augur well' has much in common with 'bode well', which is also of ancient vintage and means much the same thing. A bode was a herald or messenger and was referred to thus as early as circa 888AD in King Alfred's Boethius De consolatione philosophiae. Like 'augur', 'bode' also had to wait until the 18th century to become absorbed into a common phrase. The first known use of 'bode well' comes from John Dryden's Works, circa 1700:
"Whatever now The omen proved, it boded well to you."

Where the Brainiacs are

The "brainiest" U.S. city is well-known for jobs that require all kinds of degrees.

Book Burning Backdraft

A war memoir the military didn't want anyone to see becomes a hit — with key changes.  

Bad Cops

Bad Cops

If New York cop is convicted of illegally strip-searching 18 women, he might be fired

Federal lawsuit from 2008 settled against two former Missouri police officers

Florida deputy guilty in lending fraud case

Two Texas police officers resign during internal investigations

2 New Orleans police officers charged with perjury and obstruction in shooting death outside convention center after Hurricane Katrina

Texas police officer indicted on indecency charges

Fired California deputy found guilty of first-degree murder

Woman in California police sex scandal to file lawsuit

Leave it to the Irish

Paddy and Mick are walking down a street in London .
Paddy happens to look in one of the shop windows and sees a sign that catches his eye.

The sign said:

"Suits £5.00 each, Shirts £2.00 each, Trousers £2.50 per pair".

Paddy says to his pal, "Mick, look! We could buy a whole lot of dose, and when we get back to Ireland we could make a fortune.

Now when we go into the shop, you be quiet, OK? Just let me do all the talking, cause if they hear our accent, they might not be nice to us.

I'll speak in my best English accent."

"Roight y'are, Paddy, I'll keep me mouth shut, so I will," replies Mick.

They go in and Paddy says,

"I'll take 50 suits at £5.00 each, 100 shirts at £2.00 each and 50 pairs of trousers at £2.50 each. I'll back up my van and..."

The owner of the shop interrupts. "You're from Ireland , aren't you?"

"Well... Yes," says a surprised Paddy. "How der hell d' y' know dat?"

The owner replied,

"This is a dry cleaners".

How Israel was born ...

A high school's unauthorized history book offers a different view of how the Jewish state was born.

Sanchez canned

Rick Sanchez comes under fire for calling "Daily Show" host Jon Stewart a "bigot."  

Wingnut repugican Senate candidate, and anti-masturbation agitator, caught lying about a new lie

Absolutely incredible. Mind you, she's posing as some wingnut do-gooder, (I know there's no such thing but she's trying to pose as one anyway). And she's now a proven serial liar, in addition to a (former?) witch.

Greg Sargent over at the WashingtonPost.com even caught her today lying about a new lie.
This morning, the Democratic National Committee pointed out that O'Donnell is also described in a ZoomInfo entry as having achieved a "certificate" in "Post Modernism in the New Millennium" from the "University of Oxford." The Zoom Info entry was labeled, "user verified."

ZoomInfo, which has spent the day looking into this, has sent over a statement detailing what happened with this profile. According to the company, O'Donnell's profile was claimed in 2008 through something called a "double opt-in process."

The company says this process cannot function without "response to a verification e-mail message." ZoomInfo is not releasing that email address, citing privacy. But here's the rub: The company is confirming that they have identified the emailer:
We can say, however, that the email address was not of an anonymous nature -- that is, the address was not from a personal free email service and contained identifying information. ZoomInfo's Terms of Service require users to agree that they will not "impersonate any person or entity or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent" their affiliation with a person or entity.
The company is also confirming that O'Donnell -- or whoever claimed the profile -- would have had ample opportunity to change any wrong info, and that after it was claimed, it could not be changed any other way:
All persons who claim profiles on ZoomInfo have the opportunity to review, update, delete and change information that ZoomInfo has compiled from other sources. In addition, persons who claim their profiles may add information of their choosing, including employment and educational history. All employment history (titles and companies), educational background, etc. is "locked" when the registrant claims the profile. Our automated system does not add any new titles, companies or educational records to claimed profiles, even if we find new Web articles and update a profile with these references.
In other words, ZoomInfo knows who claimed this profile and verified the information. And in response to my questions, it's not disputing the idea that it was claimed by O'Donnell or someone apparently authorized by her to do so. Keep in mind: The company could say this wasn't done by O'Donnell or someone authorized by her without violating the poster's privacy.

Repugican member of Congress says it's too soon to support Boehner for speaker

'Tax Cuts for the rich create jobs outside the US'

This is a drive-by, and it won't be news to some of you. But it's not a connection that many have made, since it's a series of dots, where the endpoints aren't obviously related.

Ian Welsh says it simply: Tax cuts for the rich create jobs outside the US. And he's right. If you sweeten the purse of the rich, they put money where it will earn. At this point, that's not the U.S. So if you want jobs here, make investment attractive here, or unattractive abroad. Or both.

Yes, that's managed capitalism (but so are bailouts). And yes, that's contra what Bush defined as "freedom" — meaning freedom for capital to move wherever (you didn't think the Bush definition of "freedom" involved real people, did you?).

But so what. You want jobs here, keep money here. Ian Welsh:
If you can build a factory overseas which produces the same goods for less, meaning more profit for you, why would you build it in the US?

Until that question is adequately answered, by which I mean “until it’s worth investing in the US”, most of the discretionary money of the rich will either go into useless speculative activities like the housing and credit bubbles, which don’t create real growth in the US, or they will go overseas.

There are a number of ways this question can be answered.
Then he lists the ways. A good read, highly recommended.

If when you're done reading, the details float away, just remember — every dollar you hand to the rich in this post-Reagan fever to serve them, means fewer Wheaties for Americans.

If we don't stand up for us, who will?

Non Sequitur


On The Job

Playing it safe won't guarantee a smooth ride at work, and may end up hurting you.  

Nudging Stocks

Stocks started October with moderate gains after some encouraging signs on manufacturing.

Jobs - 650K of them ...

For desperate job seekers, the holiday hiring picture is looking a bit merrier this year.  

One Hundred Thousand Dollars Off

Fannie and Freddie are unloading homes that cost much less than comparable properties just blocks away.  

What the 'yuppie dream home' costs today

The price of a four-bedroom house in a good neighborhood can vary wildly.  

Lacking that wealthy feeling

When luxuries turn into necessities, even a quarter of a million dollars doesn't seem like enough.

Computer Virus Used to Steal Bank Accounts

More than 60 people have been charged in international schemes that used computer viruses to steal millions of dollars from bank accounts throughout America, state and federal prosecutors said Thursday in New York.

"The modern, high-tech bank heist does not require a gun, a mask, a note or a getaway car," U.S. Atty. Preet Bharara said.

"It requires only the Internet and ingenuity. And it can be accomplished in the blink of an eye, with just a click of the mouse."

The cyber attacks began in Eastern Europe and included malware known as the Zeus Trojan, which was typically sent in an e-mail to computers at homes, businesses and government offices in the United States. Once the e-mail was opened, the virus embedded itself in the victims' computers, recording their keystrokes and capturing user names and passwords as they logged in to online bank accounts.

Almost $4 million was stolen from victims throughout the United States, according to Bharara and Manhattan Dist. Atty. Cyrus R. Vance Jr. Federal law enforcement officers arrested 20 suspects in the U.S.; 17 others were still being sought Thursday. Since July, New York state has charged 55 people in the scheme.

Thursday's U.S. crackdown was related to the arrests Tuesday in London of 19 people suspected of stealing more than $9 million from bank accounts in England, authorities said. The arrests are the culmination of a one-year investigation by multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the U.S. attorney's office in New York, the Manhattan district attorney's office, the New York Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service and the Office of Homeland Security.

The hackers used the stolen account information to take over victims' bank accounts and then transfer thousands of dollars at a time to bank accounts controlled by other participants in the schemes, federal and New York state authorities said.

The schemes relied on "mules" who set up U.S. bank accounts to receive wire transfers and then make cash withdrawals, law enforcement officials said. These mules, typically in their early 20s, came to the U.S. on student visas from Russia, the Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus. Some set out to steal. Others needed a job and were recruited by Russian ringleaders through online social networking and newspaper sites.

"This advanced cyber crime ring is a disturbing example of organized crime in the 21st century — high tech and widespread," Vance said.

Authorities said it was likely that the criminals targeted municipalities and businesses because they had large payrolls and hefty bank accounts with plenty of available cash to plunder. They probably weren't concerned as much about whether the withdrawals would be detected.

Bosses directed "the mules to open up bank accounts after providing them fraudulent passports and to withdraw money from ATM machines utilizing stolen account information," said Austin Berglas, a top agent in the New York office of the FBI.

"These bank accounts are used to launder stolen funds and transfer money back to other members of the organization in Eastern Europe.… Individual mules and mule bosses may or may not know each other."

Berglas said victims often have no idea that their computers are infected with the virus until it's too late, after their personal information has been harvested and their bank accounts drained.

He said the overseas hackers were adept not only at developing viruses that would work with individual systems but at adapting them to withstand new anti-virus programs.

"By the time software companies identify the threat and patch their systems, the hackers are already working on new, undetectable malware," he said.

The Zeus malware is a product of a widely available "crimeware kit" that can be purchased from underground developers of hacking tools for as little as $700, said Derek Manky, a security analyst at Fortinet Inc., a cyber security research firm.

According to Fortinet's research, Zeus-based attacks are the most common type of hack the company sees every month.

"There are so many people who are able to reach out to these hacking forums and get a copy of this and then fairly easily infect someone," Manky said, adding that the New York prosecutions are "definitely just a drop in the bucket compared to what is happening out there."

BofA stops foreclosures

A bank official admits she signed — but didn't read — up to 8,000 foreclosure papers a month.

The truth be told


Ultracheap razor you can't get in the U.S.

Gillette is famous for pricey, elaborate shaving gear, but it's taking the opposite approach overseas.

Dancing Stewardesses

Airline workers find a unique way to deliver dull safety instructions with help from Lady Gaga.  

Gotta change'em all

A new law mandates that the city must change the lettering on all signs by 2018.  

Drink More Tea

Image via Arun Katiyar [Flickr]
Water’s not the only thing you should be drinking. A Tufts University study has shown that drinking three cups of green tea a day can help you lose twice as much weight as you would otherwise. White tea is also beneficial and a German study found that it can help decrease the number of new fat cells you develop while helping you burn off the existing fat cells in your body.

French thieves steal entire Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard

Thieves in France have broken into a vineyard and stolen an entire crop of Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, say police. They struck in Villeneuve-les-Beziers on Sunday night, taking advantage of a full moon and using a harvesting machine to seize 30 tonnes of the crop.

Farmer Roland Cavaille said similar crimes had taken place before in the Languedoc-Roussillon, one of France's best-known wine growing regions. He said the theft amounted to a year's work and about 15,000 euro (£12,900). "They used a harvesting machine to gather grapes. This means there was no need to have lots of people, two people would have been enough," Mr Cavaille said.

"The area was quite isolated, it is a a few kilometers from the village and near a river. So the thieves were able to work safely." One witness reported hearing engine noises in the early hours of the morning and police have been examining footprints left at the scene, said the newspaper. But Mr Cavaille said the thieves were clearly professionals who could easily sell on the grapes.

He said there had been a similar grape theft had been reported in the area four years ago and that another complaint had also been filed this year. While his vineyard was insured, it did not cover the loss of the grapes themselves. Mr Cavaille said he had no idea who had taken the grapes but that he was angered and surprised by the theft, as he believed there was a "degree of solidarity" between winemakers.



U.S. balloonists likely dead

Two missing American balloonists plunged toward the Adriatic Sea at 50 mph and likely didn't survive, race organizers said Friday.

Alone through the Northwest Passage

Graeme Kendall is the first to sail solo through the nightmarish and frigid Northwest Passage.  

Incredible Volcano Footage

Film maker, storm chaser, and volcano hunter Geoff Mackley and his team repelled 500 vertical meters (1,640 feet) into the Marum Volcano on Ambrym Island in Vanuatu to the very edge of a huge lake of violently boiling lava.

The World's Biggest and Deadliest Hailstorms

Imagine being hit in the head by a heavy object falling at around 100 miles per hour. Hailstones kill, and sometimes they kill many people at a time.
In 1942 a British forest guard in Roopkund, India made an alarming discovery. Some 16,000 feet above sea level, at the bottom of a small valley, was a frozen lake absolutely full of skeletons.  That summer, ice melt revealed even more skeletal remains, floating in the water and lying haphazardly around the lake’s edges. Something horrible had happened here.
A National Geographic team set out to examine the bones in 2004. Besides dating the remains to around 850 AD, the team realized that everyone at the “Skeleton Lake” had died from blows to the head and shoulders caused by “blunt, round objects about the size of cricket balls.”
This eventually led the team to one conclusion: In 850 AD this group of 200 some travelers was crossing this valley when they were caught in a sudden and severe hailstorm.
Arlas Obscura has more stories of killer hailstorms from ancient times to the 21st century.

Famous Hoaxes

Remember the six year old boy who was swept away by a home-made balloon? Or the Hitler diaries, the fake Bigfoot, or the stories of the death of Paul McCartney?

Here are 21 famous hoaxes.



Why Do Men and Women Stress Out So Differently?

Add my laid-back personality to the list of items …

DNA Drama

Newly found letters illuminate the fierce competition among the scientists who unraveled the genetic code.

How warm was it this summer?

An unparalleled heat wave in eastern Europe, coupled with intense droughts and fires around Moscow, put Earth’s temperatures in the headlines this summer. Likewise, a string of exceptionally warm days in July in the eastern United States strained power grids, forced nursing home evacuations, and slowed transit systems.

Strong link between diabetes and air pollution

A national epidemiologic study finds a strong, consistent correlation between adult diabetes and particulate air pollution that persists after adjustment for other risk factors like obesity and ethnicity, report researchers from Children’s Hospital Boston. The relationship was seen even at exposure levels below the current EPA safety limit.

Study finds longevity means getting just enough sleep

A new study, derived from novel sleep research conducted by University of California, San Diego researchers 14 years earlier, suggests that the secret to a long life may come with just enough sleep. Less than five hours a night is probably not enough; eight hours is probably too much.
Full story

Tea leaves identified using neural networks

A team of chemists from the University of Seville (US) has managed to distinguish between different kinds of tea leaves on the basis of their mineral content and by using artificial neural networks. This technique makes it possible to differentiate between the five main varieties of tea – white, green black, Oolong and red tea. [...]

No evidence for Clovis comet catastrophe, archaeologists say

New research challenges the controversial theory that an ancient comet impact devastated the Clovis people, one of the earliest known cultures to inhabit North America. Writing in the October issue of Current Anthropology, archaeologists Vance Holliday (University of Arizona) and David Meltzer (Southern Methodist University) argue that there is nothing in the archaeological record to [...]

Scientists genetically engineer silkworms to produce artificial spider silk

A research and development effort by the University of Notre Dame, the University of Wyoming, and Kraig Biocraft Laboratories, Inc. has succeeded in producing transgenic silkworms capable of spinning artificial spider silks. “This research represents a significant breakthrough in the development of superior silk fibers for both medical and non-medical applications,” said Malcolm J. Fraser [...]

The Impact of Wolf Hunting Much Greater than Commonly Assumed

gray wolf pair photo
Image credit: jurvetson/Flickr
Wolf culls, the logic goes, are acceptable because they have a compensatory impact on the population. Thus, when a hunter takes a wolf in season, he or she is simply exchanging a natural death for death at the hands of humans. Those that remain, the argument then goes, benefit from being part of a smaller population with the same number of resources.
The only problem, new research suggests, is that this isn't how it works.
Article continues: The Impact of Wolf Hunting Much Greater than Commonly Assumed

Denver firefighters battle flames, fleeing bedbugs

Denver firefighters ran into more than the normal hazards at a house fire. Crews responding to the blaze Wednesday also had to battle bedbugs, the bloodsucking insects quickly becoming the scourge of households and businesses across the country.

Believe it or not