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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 25, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Not to worry.
The friends you have who are real friends won't be going anywhere -- not even after you tell them that you need new stimulation when it comes to socializing and conversation.
They may even sympathize -- and some might ask to go searching for new companions right along with you.
These are the people who count -- the ones who'll be there for the long haul.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
London, England, United Kingdom
Montevideo, Montevideo, Uruguay
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Paris, Ile-De-France. France
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Szeged, Csongrad, Hungary
Berlin, Berlin, Gemany
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India
Lisboa, Lisboa, Portugal
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

as well as Italy, Brazil, Malaysia, China, Indonesia, Pakistan, Guadeloupe, Russia and in cities across the United States such as Mableton, Woods Cross, Twin Falls, Boston and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, October 25, the 298th day of 2010.
There are 67 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
Sourest Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Ten of the country's coziest B&Bs

Nestle into an Oregon treehouse for a bird's-eye view of autumn leaves.  

Helpful Hints

Among the fruit's many talents outside the kitchen: It can lighten your hair or brighten your laundry.

Manish Boy

Muddy Waters

Discovery of taste receptors in the lungs could help people with asthma breathe easier

Taste receptors in the lungs?

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have discovered that bitter taste receptors are not just located in the mouth but also in human lungs.

What If the Leading Cause of Weight Gain Wasn't Food at All?

sleep deprivation fat america photo
A new study from the University of Chicago and the University of Wisconsin-Madison found that much of the reason that Americans are over weight is due to sleep deprivation. A lack of enough sleep causes the body to hold onto fat in a biological effort to slow us down.
Article continues: What If the Leading Cause of Weight Gain Wasn't Food at All?

How lighting affects diet

Food is not the only thing in your kitchen that may impact your diet.

Sorting fact from fiction about soy foods

First of all - they're not foods ...
Some say soy is a healthy superfood, while others claim it boosts cancer risks.  

A real groaner

Did you hear about the Buddhist who refused Novocain during a root canal?

His goal: transcend dental medication.

Touch-Screen Devices Can Harbor Flu Germs

I knew there was a reason I instinctively despised those things ...

A squeeze, a flick, a touch - but keep those grimy, germ-infested hands off that iPhone. Who knows where those fingers have been? Personal touch-screen devices - iPads, BlackBerrys and Droids - are now seemingly everywhere, potentially harboring the germs and viruses that turn voices raspy and send noses running.

Want to peek at a digital snapshot, a friend's Facebook status or to show off the latest YouTube video? Best to just look, not touch - or risk going viral yourself. British researchers provide some stomach-churning data: Mobile phones harbor 18 times more bacteria than a flush handle in a typical men's restroom.

According to a study, published by the Journal of Applied Microbiology, the risks of transmitting pathogens from glass surfaces to a person's skin are relatively high. If you put a virus on a surface, like an iPhone, about 30 percent of it will get on your fingertips and a fair amount of it may go from your fingers to your eyes, mouth or nose, the most likely routes of infection.

Six new scams aimed at shoppers

Protect yourself this holiday season against "smishing" and stripped gift cards.

Non Sequitur


Bad Cops

New Jersey cop gets probation for "scuffle" that left a man dead

Ohio cop is indicted for shooting fellow cop at shift change

Tennessee deputy is charged with federal civil rights violations, lying to federal investigators

Did an LAPD cover-up keep this man in prison for 26 years?

Georgia cop is charged after brandishing loaded assault rifle at restaurant

Georgia deputy quits after being accused of coercing a woman to take off her clothes

Louisiana police officer accused of having sex with juvenile


Relentless attacks on U.S. networks may force us to rethink notions of time and space, report says.

Robert Reich: 'We're losing our democracy'

Gaius Publius

While all the evidence has been in plain sight for months, Robert Reich does a good job of summing the pieces.

He says the danger facing our democracy is a "perfect storm." The first part of the storm is the income disparity, where "[a]lmost a quarter of total income generated in the United States is going to the top 1 percent of Americans" and "[t]he top one-tenth of one percent of Americans now earn as much as the bottom 120 million of us." It's worth memorizing those numbers.

The second part is our friend, the Citizens United decision (my emphasis):
Hundreds of millions of dollars are pouring into advertisements for and against candidates — without a trace of where the dollars are coming from. They’re laundered through a handful of groups. Fred Malek, whom you may remember as deputy director of Richard Nixon’s notorious Committee to Reelect the President (dubbed Creep in the Watergate scandal), is running one of them. Republican operative Karl Rove runs another. The U.S. [sic] Chamber of Commerce, a third.
More on Citizens United in a moment.

The third part of the storm is the deep hole most Americans are in. Yet at a time when people are looking to government to tide them through a horrible rough patch, Washington tells them there's no money:
No money? The marginal income tax rate on the very rich is the lowest it’s been in more than 80 years. Under President Dwight Eisenhower (who no one would have accused of being a radical) it was 91 percent. Now it’s 36 percent. Congress is even fighting over whether to end the temporary Bush tax cut for the rich and return them to the Clinton top tax of 39 percent.
There's money all right, Reich is saying; just none for us. His conclusion is spot on:
The perfect storm: An unprecedented concentration of income and wealth at the top; a record amount of secret money flooding our democracy; and a public becoming increasingly angry and cynical about a government that’s raising its taxes, reducing its services, and unable to get it back to work.

We’re losing our democracy to a different system. It’s called plutocracy.
About that Citizens United decision: It has occurred to many that perhaps the reason the case was brought had less to do with defending the airing of a Movement Conservative attack film than something else — a Movement Conservative attempt to bring just such a challenge to election funding before the Supreme Court.

If so, the Court certainly responded, and in spectacular fashion: Instead of issuing a ruling on the film's airing, as expected in June of 2009, it called for the case to be re-argued with an expanded set of questions, including the constitutionality of limiting any corporate political donations at all. In other words, the Court took a case about whether the airing of a film counted as an independently-produced campaign ad, and turned it into a "radical" expansion of the concept of corporate personhood.

And now, according to Think Progress, we have many of the elements of Reich's trifecta in coordinated planning meetings. The billionaires who have benefited from the income disparity are, thanks to Citizens United (a Antonin Scalia–Clarence Thomas special, I might add), meeting to figure out how to further leverage their advantage over the rest of us. And then there's this:
Past Koch meetings have included various Republican lawmakers, including DeMint, and Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia as speakers.
Let's not forget Ginni Thomas (yes, that Mrs. Clarence Thomas), of Liberty Central, a secretly-funded Tea Party organization, who may be bringing their own challenges to the Supreme Court. If you were David Koch, would you fund Liberty Central?

Are really we "losing our democracy" to a revolutionary force?



Probe launched into U.S. swimmer's death

The open-water race in which U.S. team swimmer Fran Crippen died comes under fire from its winner.  

Backlash grows against full-body airport scanners

Worldwide, a backlash is growing against the push to install full-body scanners at airports.

Cholera outbreak spreads in Haiti

Five cases of cholera have been detected in Haiti's capital, Port-au-Prince, the UN says, amid an outbreak that has killed more than 200 people.

UN spokeswoman Imogen Wall told the Reuters news agency the patients had been quickly diagnosed and isolated.

She said they had been infected in the main outbreak zone - the Artibonite region - and had subsequently travelled to the capital, where they fell ill.

This meant Port-au-Prince was "not a new location of infection", she noted.

'Western' social sciences restricted in Iran

The country places limits on university subjects deemed incompatible with Islamic teaching.  

India Plans to Build the World's Largest Magnet

The largest magnet in the world, located at CERN in Switzerland, weighs 12,500 tonnes. Scientists in India plan to build one weighing 50,000 tonnes in order to do neutrino research:
Neutrinos will interact with the iron – which will be layered in sheets – and spew out charged particles, whose paths will be bent by the iron’s magnetic field. About 30,000 detectors sandwiched between the sheets of iron will track these charged particles, providing information about the incident neutrinos.
INO will initially study atmospheric neutrinos, which are produced when cosmic rays smash into the upper atmosphere.
Unlike most neutrino detectors, such as the Super-Kamiokande in Japan or the Sudbury Neutrino Observatory in Canada, INO will be sensitive to both neutrinos and anti-neutrinos, which interact with matter in different ways.

Diamond-Studded Saucepan

This past weekend, Moscow hosted the Millionaire Fair. It’s an exhibition of the world’s most luxurious products, including a diamond-encrusted saucepan:
Its handle and lid were encrusted with nearly 300 diamonds and was decorated with 18-carat gold. It’s made by German cookware brand Fissler. But wealthy cooks might be disappointed: the pan isn’t suitable for cooking.
“It is for serving food beautifully,” brand manager Natalya Oreshkina said.


What do you know about Belgium? The country was inhabited in ancient times by the Belgae, the region was part of the Roman and Carolingian empires before breaking up into a number of feudal states during the Middle Ages. Following the defeat of Napoleon in 1815, Belgium was given to the kingdom of the Netherlands, from which it gained independence as a separate kingdom in 1830.
Now you know a little bit more about Belgium. But what you may not know is that Belgium is a very complicated country.

Do you want to know more about Belgium? (subtitled NL/FR) from Jerome de Gerlache on Vimeo.

We Make Carpets

We Make Carpets is an art collective consisting of Stijn van der Vleuten, Marcia Nolte, and Bob Waardenburg. They make temporary structures that resemble carpets from a distance, such as the one pictured above. It’s actually made out of bricks, not fabric. They’ve also made carpets out of medical tape, cotton balls, balloons, and pasta.

The hidden dangers of savings accounts

Stashing your cash is a smart move, until you're socked with penalties and low returns.  

Can foreigners buy U.S. citizenship?

A little-known program provides green cards for investing $500,000 in the U.S.  

Insurance not?

Employer plans have provided most people in the U.S. with coverage for generations.  

Biggest mistakes to make with mortgages

The dream of homeownership can easily become a nightmare if you fall into any of these traps.

How much eight popular degrees pay

Mid-career employees with these diplomas earn as much as $91,500.  



Baby dies as family jumps from apartment to escape naked 'devil'

A baby was killed and several more people seriously injured when a family of 11 threw itself from a third-floor apartment to flee a man they mistook for the devil, French investigators have said. The bizarre tragedy came to light on Saturday when firefighters were called to the village of La Verriere on the outskirts of Paris following reports that several people jumped from a balcony in a social housing block.

Among the injured, they found an entirely naked man of African origin with a knife wound in his hand and two children, a baby and a two-year-old girl. The baby died despite receiving hospital treatment in Paris. Odile Faivre, the assistant prosecutor from Versailles, said the incident began in the early hours when a group of 13 people were watching television in an apartment, and the naked man heard the baby cry.

"The man got up to prepare a bottle for the baby when his wife, seeing him, screamed 'It's the devil. It's the devil,'" she said. In the confusion following the apparent case of mistaken identity, the naked man's sister-in-law stabbed him in the hand, and he was ejected through the front door of the apartment. When he attempted to get back in, panic erupted.

"The other occupants of the flat fled by jumping out of the window," Ms Faivre said. According to police, one man jumped with the two-year-old in his arms and crawled two blocks away to hide in bushes, screaming, "I had to defend myself." Investigators found no trace of hallucinogenic substances in the apartment and no evidence that any occult ritual took place. Seven of those who jumped were taken to the hospital, some with multiple injuries. "A number of points remain to be cleared up," Ms Faivre said

Another Strange Pyramid UFO Spotted in Russia

Famous Trials: The Witches of Salem

Here’s a bit of American history we’re all familiar with… but know almost nothing about.

(Image credit: Flickr user Lexie Rydberg)
The trouble at Salem, Massachusetts, began with two young girls acting oddly. It explodes into one of the strangest cases of mass hysteria in American history. In the six-month period between March and September 1692, 27 people were convicted on witchcraft changes; 20 were executed, and more than 100 people were in prison awaiting trial.

In March 1692, nine-year-old Betty Parris and her cousin Abigail Williams, 12, were experimenting with a fortune-telling trick they’d learned from Tituba, the Parris family’s West Indian slave. To find out what kind of men they’d marry when they grew up, they put an egg white in a glass… and then studied the shape it made in the glass.

But instead of glimpsing their future husbands, the girls saw an image that appeared to be “in the likeness of a coffin.” The apparition shocked them… and over the next few days they exhibited behavior that witnesses described as “foolish, ridiculous speeches,” “odd postures,” “distempers,” and “fits.”

Reverend Samuel Parris was startled by his daughter’s condition and took her to see William Griggs, the family doctor. Griggs couldn’t find out what was wrong with the girl, but he suspected the problem had supernatural origins. He told Rev Parris that he thought the girl had fallen victim to “the Evil Hand” -witchcraft.
The family tried to keep Betty’s condition a secret, but rumors began spreading almost immediately -and within two months at least eight other girls began exhibiting similar forms of bizarre behavior.

The citizens of Salem Village demanded that the authorities take action. The local officials subjected the young girls to intense questioning, and soon the girls began naming names. The first three women they accused of witchcraft were Tituba and two other women from Salem Village, Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne.

The three women were arrested and held for questioning. A few weeks later two more suspects, Martha Cory and Rebecca Nurse, were arrested on similar charges. And at the end of April a sixth person -the Reverend George Burroughs, a minister that Abigail Williams identified as the leader of the witches- was arrested and imprisoned. The girls continued to name names. By the middle of May, more than 100 people had been arrested for witchcraft.

On May 14, 1692, the newly appointed governor, Sir William Phips, arrived from England. He immediately set up a special court, the Court of Oyer and Terminer, to hear the witchcraft trials that were clogging the colonial legal system.
* The first case heard was that against Bridget Bishop. She was quickly found guilty of witchcraft, sentenced to death, and hung on June 10.
* On June 19 the court met a second time, and in a single day heard the cases of five accused women, found them all guilty, and sentenced them to death. They were hung on July 19.
* On August 5 the court heard six more cases, and sentenced all six women to death. One woman, Elizabeth Proctor, was spared because she was pregnant- and the authorities did not want to kill an innocent life along with a guilty one. The remaining five women were executed on August 19.
* Six more people were sentenced to death in early September. (Only four were executed: one person was reprieved, and another woman managed to escape from prison with the help of friends.) The remaining sentences were carried out on September 22.
*Two days later, the trials claimed their last victim when Giles Cory, an accused wizard, was executed by “pressing” (he was slowly crushed to death under heavy weights) after he refused to enter a plea.

By now the hysteria surrounding the witch trials was at its peak: 19 accused “witches” had been hung, about 50 had “confessed” in exchange for lenient treatment, more than 100 people accused of witchcraft were under arrest and awaiting trial -and another 200 people had been accused of witchcraft but had not yet been arrested. Despite all this, the afflicted girls were still exhibiting bizarre behavior. But public opinion began to turn against the trials. Community leaders began to publicly question the methods that the courts used to convict suspected witches. The accused were denied access to defense counsel, and were tried in chains before jurors who had been chosen from church membership lists.
The integrity of the girls then came into question. Some of the adults even charged that they were faking their illnesses and accusing innocent people for the fun of it. One colonist even testified later that one of the bewitched girls had bragged to him that “she did it for sport.”

As the number of accused persons grew into the hundreds, fears of falling victim to witchcraft were replaced by an even greater fear: that of being falsely accused of witchcraft. The growing opposition to the proceedings came from all segments of society: common people, ministers -even from the court itself.

Once the tide had turned against the Salem witchcraft trials, many of the participants themselves began having second thoughts. Many of the jurors admitted their errors, witnesses recanted their testimony, and one judge on the Court of Oyer and Terminer, Samuel Sewall, publicly admitted his error on the steps of the Old South Church in 1697. The Massachusetts legislature made amends as well: in 1711 it reversed all of the convictions issued by the Court of Oyer and Terminer (and did it a second time in 1957), and it made financial restitution to the relatives of the executed, “the whole amount unto five hundred seventy eight pounds and twelve shillings.”

Lillian La France

In the Roaring Twenties, Lillian La France made a living as a stunt rider in the Motordrome circuit, performing in cars and on motorcycles for crowds around the U.S.
In 1894, Agnes was the second of nine girls born into honest-livin’, hard-workin’ Catholic family standards. She christened herself  Lillian LaFrance and quickly shook the dust of her Kansas hometown from her boots sometime around 1916, and roared off to create the life she had always dreamt of, carving it raw as she went along.  She began Motordrome riding in 1924, and left a blurry, yet brilliant legacy behind that still haunts many who are taken by the images of her incredible spirit staring back through squinty eyes in a copy of a copy of old grainy photos.  Incredible.

The History of Roller Skating

Roller skating goes back about 300 years:
…the devices never really took off until London inventor Joseph Merlin created a more refined version that comprised of boots with metal wheels on them. He used them to crash a party in a grand display by skating into the crowd while playing the violin. He almost immediately crashed into a wall-length mirror, which brought him even more attention…although likely not what he was looking for.

Awesome Pictures


Ancient Romans Recycled Glass

Large quantities of glass were recycled in Britain under Roman rule during the 3rd and 4th centuries A.D.  



GPS Devices Installed in African Rhinos' Horns

rhino gps photo  
Original photo: Jim Epler / CC
In addition to their thick, leathery hide and imposing stature, now a group of African rhinos have one more tool to help protect them against poachers -- GPS locating devices embedded directly into their horns. Five such animals in South Africa's Mafikeng Game Reserve were recently equipped with the small tracking chips which will help park officials monitor their movements and alert them to any possible threats from illegal hunting. Conservationists hope that by upgrading the animals with technology of the 21st century it may help ensure this endangered species will still be around at the end of it.

New jellyfish tells tale of global warming

A new species of jellyfish found off Israel’s coast the summer poses no threat to bathers but should serve warning to the countries bordering the Mediterranean sea about the dangers posed by global warming and damage to the environment.