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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, October 18, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
As the day begins, there will be signs that you're making all the right moves.
A huge influence in your life is pushing you in an incredibly positive direction -- although they aren't being too subtle about it.
As a rule, pretense is useless and a waste of time, so be grateful for people who respect you enough to be up-front and honest.
Incorporate obviousness into your life -- make big, loud moves instead of the quiet ones you hope no one will notice.
Make some noise!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Cairo, Al Qahirah, Egypt
London, England, United Kingdom
Montpellier, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Prague, Hlavni Mesto Praha, Czech Republic
Kiev, Kyyiv, Ukraine
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Vantaa, Southern Finland, Finland
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia

as well as New Zealand, Italy, Germany, India and in cities across the United States such as Bradenton, Birmingham, Brookings, Billings and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, October 18, the 291st day of 2010.
There are 74 days left in the year.
The moon is waxing.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Chocolate Cupcake Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

President Obama to appear on episode of 'Mythbusters'

President Barack Obama will appear on an episode of "Mythbusters," a television show that uses science to determine the truth behind urban legends.

Pursuing an Islamic metamorphosis

The Muslim world faces a decline similar to that of medieval Europe; a potential rebirth requires a new consensus.

By: Mohamed El-Moctar El-Shinqiti

Reformists should focus on the rule of law, rather than the legal tradition from which law is drawn [EPA]
In his book, The Autumn of the Middle Ages, Dutch historian Johan Huizinga describes the decline of the medieval world as a process of ”dying and rigidifying of a previously valid store of thought”.
The main thesis of Huizinga’s book is that, by the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the cultural forms and norms on which medieval Europe was based became overused and exhausted. When any ideal becomes exhausted, it fails to be a source of inspiration; rather it becomes an artificial burden.

From Huizinga’s perspective, the European world of the late middle ages was a world of artificial vanity and self-deception, a ruin of a world that had died a long time before.
I think that the abstract aspect of Huizinga’s thesis on cultural forms is enlightening, and can be extended to explain transitional moments in other cultures, including contemporary Islamic culture. The cultural legacy modern Muslims inherited from their ancestors is exhausted, and - with lack of self-criticism - much of this legacy is becoming a burden rather than a source of inspiration.
The Islamic world is going through a deep metamorphosis. The lessons of history from the American and French revolutions show that these kinds of transitive moments are sometimes bloody and painful. At this moment, Muslims need new ideas and ideals that transcend their divisions and heel their wounds.
One of these deep wounds is the conflict between secularists and Islamists, and that is what we will explore here.

State and religion
At the heart of the crisis of Muslim societies today is the lack of consensus about the social contract on which society should be based, especially in terms of an agreed understanding for the relation between religion and state.
Secularism can be seen from an institutional, legal or ideological angle. In the western experience, it is also important to distinguish between the Anglo-Saxon ‘soft’ secularism which basically means positive neutrality of the state towards religion, and the French ‘hard’ laïcité that goes beyond neutrality to negative intervention against religion.
Institutional separation between religious and political organizations is not difficult to accept in the Islamic world. It is indeed in compatibility with the Islamic historical experience, where religion was never institutionalized as a political competitor with the state, the way it was in medieval Christianity.
But ideological secularism the French way, and legal secularism that excludes Islam as a source of legislation, will never take root in Islamic culture.

Historical potential
Muslims cannot, however, continue ignoring new developments in the morality of all humanity regarding the religion-state relations. First, the foundation of the modern state is geographical, not faith-based.
Second, the equality of all citizens in political rights is, theoretically at least, unquestionable in any respected modern state. Third, every nation needs to consider the laws and legislation of other nations.
Fortunately for modern Muslims who are deeply rooted in their cultural heritage, there are potentials in their inherited culture that might help. First, Muslim societies have always been open to religious diversity.
The unbroken existence of Christian minorities in the Middle East from the birth of Islam until today is a good illustration of this potential. Second, Islamic law is very flexible and open to perpetual interpretation and adaptation, and it is easy to incorporate most modern laws within the Islamic legal vision.

Three players
A closer look at the conflict over religion and state in the Islamic world reveals the existence of three players who have a stake in the outcome of this conflict. These players are the Muslim majorities, the non-Muslim minorities, and the non-practicing Muslims. Each one of these players has its own set of concerns.
The Muslim majorities see Islam as an essential part of inspiration in public life, and they don’t want their value system to be compromised. They are also afraid of foreign manipulation of the minority’s case.
Some people among these majorities believe that the issue of secularism is irrelevant. We have no church, they argue, and secularism, by definition, is “the separation between the state and the church”.
Some would even go as far as saying that Islam is a secular religion, and we are already secular, because we have no clergy who have a claim on being God’s legate on earth.
The non-Muslim minorities don’t want to be treated as second class citizens, and they don’t want their religious freedom restricted. They are not willing to accept less than equal rights and responsibilities in their land of birth.
As for non-practicing Muslims, Islam is acceptable as an individualistic observance, but not a social or political system. They believe the state should avoid legislation of morality, especially religious morality.

Towards a compromise
The three players in this Islamic metamorphosis need to come to a historical compromise that will save much time and energy, and help produce a swift transition of the Muslim societies to democracy and modernity.
Non-Muslim minorities and non-practicing Muslims need to accept the fact that Islamic law is too rich and too important to be discarded. The historical analogy with Western experience is misleading, since there was never a universally subscribed to ”Christian law” that governed societies and states. Unlike the Islamic law that has been the law of many Muslim states and empires throughout the last 1400 years, the medieval Canon law was to govern the Church, not the state or the society at large.
Muslim majorities need to accept that faith is no longer the basis for a social contract; geography is the new basis.
They must also guarantee the political and legal equality of their non-Muslim and non-religious citizens. Any legalization of discrimination against non-Muslim citizens in terms of constitutional and political rights is absurd. Unfortunately that is what we still have today in many Arab countries—including the very secular ones, where constitutions deprive non-Muslim citizens from running in presidential elections (good for them anyway, since the elections are never fair or transparent).
Institutional secularism that prevents rulers from misusing religion, and guarantees freedom of conscience for all, should be accepted by all. Ideological secularism that chases religion away from public life should be rejected by all, because it is pure coercion.
Legal secularism that ignores the centrality of Islamic laws is meaningless. However, a great reinterpretation and adaptation of Islamic laws is necessary to help this compromise take place. These laws are flexible, and there has never been a monopoly in interpreting them.

Rule of law
Those who complain about Islamic laws need to shift their discourse to a more positive and practical formula: what should matter for them should be equality before the law, more than the source of the law.
As I told my friends at a Texas church a few years ago, I don’t care if US law is drawn from a biblical source or a Roman source; what I care about is that the law does not discriminate against me as a Muslim.
The three players in the debate over religion and politics in the Islamic world need to be focusing on the rule of law instead of fighting over what kind of law should rule.
The Islamic world has suffered a lot from the lack of consensus on the social contract within Muslim societies.
It is time to explore new roads towards this necessary consensus. Both Islamists and secularists share the responsibility to achieve common ground through mutual respect and compromise.
A creative synthesis that is seen by Islamists as ‘Islamic’, and by secularists as ‘secular’, is very possible. After all Islam never accepted splitting the human personality into spiritual and material parts, and the Islamic ideal was never the self-absorbed asceticism, but the practical ethicality.

Saudis warn of new threat in Europe

In theory, this is supposed to be something different from the previous warnings from the US.

BBC News:
Saudi Arabia has warned France it is the target of an imminent al-Qaeda attack, French Interior Minister Brice Hortefeux has said.

He said Saudi intelligence agencies spoke of a threat to Europe, and "France in particular", from al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

France is already on high alert following warnings of possible attacks aimed at France, Germany and the UK.

Advice from a farmer

Old-Farmer“Your fences need to be horse-high, pig-tight and bull-strong.”
“Keep skunks and bankers at a distance.”
“Life is simpler when you plow around the stump.”
“A bumble bee is considerably faster than a John Deere tractor.”
“Words that soak into your ears are whispered…….not yelled.”
“Meanness don’t just happen overnight.”
“Forgive your enemies; it messes up their heads.”
“Do not corner something that you know is meaner than you.”
“It don’t take a very big person to carry a grudge.”
“You cannot unsay a cruel word.”
“Every path has a few puddles.”
“When you wallow with pigs, expect to get dirty.”
“The best sermons are lived, not preached.”
“Most of the stuff people worry about, ain’t never gonna happen anyway.”
“Don ‘t judge folks by their relatives.
“Remember that silence is sometimes the best answer.”
“Live a good and honorable life, then when you get older and think back, you’ll enjoy it a second time.”
“Don‘t interfere with somethin’ that ain’t bothering you none.”
“Timing has a lot to do with the outcome of a rain dance.”
“If you find yourself in a hole, the first thing to do is stop diggin’.”
“Sometimes you get, and sometimes you get got.
“The biggest troublemaker you’ll probably ever have to deal with, watches you from the mirror every mornin’.”
“Always drink upstream from the herd.”
“Good judgment comes from experience, and a lotta that comes from bad judgment.”
“Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back in.”
“If you get to thinkin’ you’re a person of some influence, try orderin’ somebody else’s dog around.”
“Live simply, love generously, care deeply, speak kindly, and leave the rest to god.” 

“Don’t pick a fight with an old man. If he is too old to fight, he’ll just kill you.”

'Sleep-improving night milk' patented

A German company has patented "night milk" taken from cows at night - claiming it helps improve sleep.

Important refinance tips

One important thing to determine is your break-even point — how long it'll take to recoup your costs. 

Privacy Breach

Millions of the site's users, including those with the strictest privacy settings, are affected.  

College degree winners and losers

Avoid the careers that offer the fewest prospects for getting hired and high pay.  



Weak tea and Constitutional errors

Newsweek on how the tea baggers get the constitution wrong:

Over the years critics have lodged dozens of objections to originalism—the disagreements among the founders; the preservation of slavery in the final product; the inclusion of an amendment process—and they apply to the tea party’s interpretation of the constitution, too. but at least originalism is a rational, consistent philosophy.
The real problem with the tea party’s brand of Constitution worship isn’t that it’s too dogmatic. it’s that it isn’t dogmatic enough. in recent months, tea party candidates have behaved in ways that belie their public commitment to combating progressivism.
 They’ve backed measures that blatantly contradict their originalist mission. and they’ve frequently misunderstood or misrepresented the Constitution itself.
In May, for example, Paul told a Russian television station that America “should stop” automatically granting citizenship to the native-born children of illegal immigrants. 
Turns out his suggestion would be unconstitutional, at least according to the 14th amendment (1868) and a pair of subsequent supreme court decisions. 
A few weeks later, Paul said he’d like to prevent federal contractors from lobbying congress—a likely violation of their first amendment right to redress.
In July, Alaska’s Miller told ABC news that unemployment benefits are not “constitutionally authorized.” reports later revealed that his wife claimed unemployment in 2002.

The list goes on.
Most tea partiers claim that the 10th amendment, which says “the powers not delegated” to the federal government are “reserved to the states,” is proof that the framers would’ve balked at today’s bureaucracy. 
What they don’t mention is that James Madison refused a motion to add the word “expressly” before “delegated” because “there must necessarily be admitted powers by implication.”
In last week’s Delaware Senate debate, O’Donnell was asked to name a recent supreme court case she disagreed with. 
“Oh, gosh,” she stammered, unable to cite a single piece of evidence to support her Constitution in exile talking points. “I know that there are a lot, but, uh, I’ll put it up on my web site, I promise you.”
Angle has said that “government isn’t what our founding fathers put into the Constitution”—even though establishing a federal government with the “power to lay and collect taxes” to “provide for the common defense and general welfare” is one of the main reasons the founders created a Constitution to replace the weak, decentralized Articles of Confederation.
In 2008 Palin told Katie Couric that the Constitution does, in fact, guarantee “an inherent right to privacy,” à la Roe v. Wade, but added that “individual states…can handle an issue like that.” 
Unfortunately, Palin’s hypothesis would only be viable in a world without the Fourteenth Amendment, which gave Washington sole responsibility for safeguarding all Constitutional rights.
Then there are the proposed amendments.
In the current congress, conservatives like Michele Bachmann have suggested more than 40 additions to the constitution: a flag-desecration amendment; a balanced-budget amendment; a “parental rights” amendment; a supermajority-to-raise-taxes amendment; anti-abortion amendment; an anti-gay-marriage amendment; and so on.
None of these revisions has anything to do with the document’s original meaning.

'Decomposing corpse' wakes up

An elderly woman police found "dead" on the bathroom floor of her Maryland home woke up several hours later as an employee from the State Anatomy Board went to collect her remains. The woman, 89-year-old Ruth Shillinglaw Johnson, lay on the floor for three hours while officers notified her family, doctor and the medical examiner of her death.

According to the police report, they noticed an odor "similar to a decomposition smell" in the house on October 1 after being called by a neighbor who had not seen the woman for a few days.

When they found Ms Johnson she was reportedly blue and not breathing. The officers did not check for a pulse because they believed she had been dead for a number of days.

Police learned from her son that Ms Johnson had made arrangements with the State Anatomy Board to donate her body for science - and it was when the board's employee came to collect her that she woke up. Ms Johnson was taken to the Baltimore Washington Medical Center for medical treatment and was discharged on Wednesday.

Iranian chocolate thief faces hand amputation

An Iranian judge has sentenced a man convicted of robbing a confectionery shop to have one of his hands cut off, Iranian media report.

The judge also sentenced the man to one year in prison.

Police arrested the man in May after finding $900 (£560), three pairs of gloves and a large amount of chocolate in his car.

Under Iran's Islamic law, amputations are usually reserved for habitual thieves.

Bad Cops

Probation for Iowa cop who stole meth from evidence room and crashed squad car while high

Tennessee cop is arrested for assault, a year and a day later

Washington cop is arrested for taking bribes, allowing contraband in jail

Arizona police officer is charged with murder

New Mexico cop is charged with off-duty bar brawling

New Jersey cop is charged with filing false report

Ohio cop steals thousands of bullets from police department, isn't charged

Toronto's 'Officer Bubbles' sues YouTube

The Toronto policeman dubbed "Officer Bubbles" over an incident during the G20 summit has launched a million-dollar lawsuit against website YouTube. Const. Adam Josephs filed a $1.2-million lawsuit over cartoons that have surfaced since the incident.

Josephs received the nickname after a video showed him telling a young female protester that she could be arrested for blowing bubbles. “If the bubble touches me, you're going to be arrested for assault," he told her. “It's a deliberate act on your behalf, I'm going to arrest you.”

The officer is suing the website over cartoons which he claims depict an officer resembling him abusing police power. Cartoons have surfaced showing a policeman arresting such people as Santa Claus and Barack Obama. Josephs said in a statement of claim the cartoons have subjected him to ridicule and resulted in threats against him and his family.

"This level of ridicule goes beyond what is reasonable," James Zibarras, the officer's lawyer, said. "The reason we brought the lawsuit is that people have the right to protect themselves against this kind of harassment." Josephs also wants YouTube to reveal the identity of the person behind the account where the cartoons originated. The cartoons no longer appear on the site.
So, let me get this straight - you can abuse your position and not be called for it ... is that correct, then?

Three Sisters

Three sisters ages 92, 94 and 96 live in a house together. One night the 96 year old draws a bath. She puts her foot in and pauses. She yells to the other sisters, "Was I getting in or out of the bath?"

The 94 year old yells back, "I don't know. I'll come up and see."

She starts up the stairs and pauses. "Was I going up the stairs or down?"

The 92 year old is sitting at the kitchen table having tea listening to her sisters. She shakes her head and says," I sure hope I never get that forgetful," as she knocked on her wooden table for good measure.

She then yells, "I'll come up and help both of you as soon as I see who's at the door."

Who's Not Washing Their Hands?

Everyone claims they do, but do they really? A recent study found that although most people claim to wash their hands after dirty activities, when you observe them in person, the story (especially for men) is a little different.

New CPR first-aid guideline

The American Heart Association updates its long-standing "ABC" first-aid method.  



How Many Big Mac Sandwiches Does It Take To Win In McDonald's 2010 Monopoly Game?

Every year McDonald's runs its Monopoly game where you get a Monopoly property sticker/game piece with selected items. If you get all the properties in a color group, you get to win that cash prize. In addition to these properties, you can get instant win stickers as well for free Wi-Fi time, Wal-Mart gift cards, McDonald's food, and even a 2011 Shelby.

Now you can find out how much money you'd have to spend and what you'd have to do to your body to instantly win the prize of your dreams in 2010. I wanted the 2011 Shelby GT 500.

In your quest to win 2011 Shelby GT500 you: ingested 5,400,000,000 calories, consumed 290,000,000 grams of fat, inhaled 10,400,000,000 milligrams of sodium, took in 450,000,000 grams of carbohydrates, packed on 1,542,857.14 pounds, and you spent $37,300,000.00 trying to win a $48,645 prize.

Why Boomerangs Come Back

A boomerang is a flat, curved, usually wooden missile configured so that when hurled it returns to the thrower.
Physics say that it's all due to those two rotating arms.
They're joined at an angle of 105-110 degrees, and one side of them is slightly rounded like an airplane's wing.

The Astonishing City Of Sciences And Arts

There are not many places you can visit on Earth that enable you to imagine that you have been transported to a city of the future or, indeed, to an alien culture many light years away from our third rock from the sun. However, the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, Spain, is just that sort of place.

The Science Of Optical Illusions

Optical illusions are more than just a bit of fun. Scientist Beau Lotto is finding out what tricking the brain reveals about how our minds work. Sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. We believe what our senses tell us but most of all we trust our eyes. But our brains are extraordinarily powerful organs.

Without us realizing it, they are instantly processing the information they receive to make sense of the world around us. And that has been crucial to our evolution.

Top 20 Microscope Photos of the Year


This 90-Year-Old Newspaper House Still Standing Strong

paper house photo  
Photo: mikenan1
If you think that using creatively recycled materials to build a house is something new, think again. Almost 90 years ago, inventor and engineer Ellis Stenman of Rockport, Massachusetts set out to construct a summer home with thousands of recycled newspapers. Nowadays, his Paper House is not only a popular tourist attraction, but a monument to the eco-friendly lifestyle long before the term was even coined.
Article continues: 90-Year-Old Newspaper House Still Standing Strong

Understanding Alphanumeric Phone Numbers

Remember the Glenn Miller song “Pennsylvania 6-5000″? That was a phone number, using a system set up to help callers find and remember ever-longer strings of numbers as the newfangled “telephones” became popular.
The amount of letters at the start of the exchange-name which stood for the exchange’s ID-number, varied from country to country, and even from city to city within a country! The number of letters was usually the first two or first three in any given exchange-name. In the United Kingdom, three letters followed by four numbers (3L-4N) was the rule. So ‘Whitehall 1212? would be “WHItehall 1212?, or 944-1212.In the United States, by comparison, phone-numbers followed the 2L-5N (two letters, five numbers) rule. This meant that the first two letters of the exchange-name stood for numbers. Notable exceptions to this rule were cities of New York, Philidelphia, Boston and Chicago, which followed the British example of 3L-4N. This brought up exchange-names like ‘PENnsylvania’, ‘TREmont’ and ‘ELDorado’. Since the rest of the country did 2L-5N, this could create some understandable confusion to people who weren’t from the US. East Coast. Eventually, these cities conformed with the rest of the nation, altering their phone-numbers so that instead of the above, they had numbers like: ‘PEnnsylvania 65000? or ‘ELdorado 51234, to avoid confusion.
By the way, PEnnsylvania 65000 is STILL the phone number of the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York, as it has been for over 90 years!   



Why does a narwhal have such an immense and elaborate tusk?

To impress mates?  Acquire food?  Battle foes?  Fool unicorn believers?  Canadian dental researchers have discovered that the tusk is extensively innervated and is therefore probably utilized to detect gradients of temperature, pressure, and suspended particles in the seawater.  Isn't evolution amazing?

Ten killed after drunken fight over goats sparks stampede

An argument over sacrificing goats during a Hindu festival has triggered a stampede that killed 10 people in a packed temple in northern India, officials said. More than 40,000 people, many inebriated, had taken their goats to the Tildiha village temple in Bihar state to offer sacrifice and prayers to the goddess Durga on the last day of the Navratri festival.

As the worshipers lined up before the butcher, a scuffle broke out and some people were trampled, Banka district spokesman Gupdeshwar Kumar said. first"People were vying with each other to get their goats sacrificed , and they had a verbal duel with the butcher," Mr Kumar said.

Four women and six men died in the stampede, and another 11 were injured, three of them critically, a Banka district police spokesman said. The injured were being treated in hospitals. Villager Umesh Kumar, 35, said the temple was so full, "people didn't have any place to walk around ... and there was a commotion when people tried to have their goats sacrificed."

The district spokesman said some 30,000 goats were sacrificed at the temple on Saturday. The 10-day Navratri festival honors Durga, the Mother Goddess in the Hindu religion. The village in Banka district is about 120 miles south-east of Bihar's state capital, Patna.

Hiker gored to death by angry mountain goat

In a rare and gruesome attack, an angry mountain goat mauled a hiker to death this weekend in Olympic National Park in the US state of Washington. Robert Boardman, 63, had stopped for lunch during a day hike with his wife, Susan Chadd, and their friend, Pat Willits, when an aggressive mountain goat approached the group.

According to Jessica Baccus, a hiker and longtime friend of Willits who arrived on the scene shortly after the attack, Boardman had instructed the two women to get away from the goat while he tried to wave it off. But when Boardman himself tried to escape, the animal attacked, goring him in the thigh. "Nobody saw what actually happened. They heard Bob yell," Baccus said. The angry goat then stood guard over Boardman as he lay bleeding on the ground.

Jessica's husband Bill Baccus, an off-duty park ranger, tried to scare the goat away by throwing rocks and waving a blanket, and was finally able to get the animal to move a short distance, though it remained nearby. Jessica attempted cardiopulmonary resuscitation as the group waited for the Coast Guard, which arrived by helicopter and first tried administering electric shock to Boardman to revive him. He had no pulse.

Boardman was taken to a local hospital by helicopter, but his injuries proved fatal. "I am deeply saddened by this tragedy," Karen Gustin, Olympic National Park superintendent, said. "My thoughts are with his family and friends." Rangers have found and killed the animal, which will be studied by a veterinary pathologist. This is the only known fatal attack by a mountain goat in the park's history, according to officials.