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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.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

President Obama's Weekly Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
The White House
October 30, 2010
Tuesday is Election Day, and here in Washington, the talk is all about who will win and who will lose – about parties and politics.

But around kitchen tables, I’m pretty sure you’re talking about other things: about your family finances, or maybe the state of the economy in your hometown; about your kids, and what their futures will bring.  And your hope is that once this election is over, the folks you choose to represent you will put the politics aside for a while, and work together to solve problems.

That’s my hope, too.

Whatever the outcome on Tuesday, we need to come together to help put people who are still looking for jobs back to work.  And there are some practical steps we can take right away to promote growth and encourage businesses to hire and expand.  These are steps we all should be able to agree on – not Democratic or Republican ideas, but proposals that have traditionally been supported by both parties.

We ought to provide continued tax relief for middle class families who have borne the brunt of the recession.  We ought to allow businesses to defer taxes on the equipment they buy next year.  And we ought to make the research and experimentation tax credit bigger and permanent – to spur innovation and foster new products and technologies.

Beyond these near-term steps, we should work together to tackle the broader challenges facing our country – so that we remain competitive and prosperous in a global economy.  That means ensuring that our young people have the skills and education to fill the jobs of a new age.  That means building new infrastructure – from high-speed trains to high-speed internet – so that our economy has room to grow.  And that means fostering a climate of innovation and entrepreneurship that will allow American businesses and American workers to lead in growth industries like clean energy.

On these issues – issues that will determine our success or failure in this new century – I believe it’s the fundamental responsibility of all who hold elective office to seek out common ground.  It may not always be easy to find agreement; at times we’ll have legitimate philosophical differences.  And it may not always be the best politics.  But it is the right thing to do for our country.

That’s why I found the recent comments by the top two Republican in Congress so troubling.  The Republican leader of the House actually said that “this is not the time for compromise.”  And the Republican leader of the Senate said his main goal after this election is simply to win the next one.

I know that we’re in the final days of a campaign.  So it’s not surprising that we’re seeing this heated rhetoric.  That’s politics.  But when the ballots are cast and the voting is done, we need to put this kind of partisanship aside – win, lose, or draw.

In the end, it comes down to a simple choice.  We can spend the next two years arguing with one another, trapped in stale debates, mired in gridlock, unable to make progress in solving the serious problems facing our country.  We can stand still while our competitors – like China and others around the world – try to pass us by, making the critical decisions that will allow them to gain an edge in new industries.

Or we can do what the American people are demanding that we do.  We can move forward.  We can promote new jobs and businesses by harnessing the talents and ingenuity of our people.  We can take the necessary steps to help the next generation – instead of just worrying about the next election. We can live up to an allegiance far stronger than our membership in any political party.  And that’s the allegiance we hold to our country.

Thank you.

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Better get your chores done now, because in a couple of days, a certain someone will make it their business to completely monopolize all your attention.
If it happens to be your current partner, you can expect that the bond between you two will deepen and intensify.
If it's someone new, don't be surprised if you feel like you've known them forever.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Swindon, England, United Kingdom
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Groningen, Groningen, Netherlands
Eidthvale, Victoria, Australia
Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden
Oldenburg, Niedersachsen, Germany
London, England, United kingdom

as well as Italy, Poland, Moldova, Vietnam, Russia, Switzerland, Brazil and in cities across the United States such as Milwaukee, Chippewa Falls, Arvada, Waterloo and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, October 30, the 303rd day of 2010.
There are 62 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
International Bandanna Day.

It is also:
Haunted Refrigerator Night
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Costume Mishaps Put The 'Ow!' In Halloween

Attaching an eye patch with super glue could have turned out so much worse. One 45-year-old man was gluing the final touches for his pirate costume, which included a fake beard and moustache as well as the patch, a couple of Halloweens ago.

What's Samhain?

The origin of Halloween is a far cry from modern tradition's vampires, trick-or-treating and candy corn. Dating back about 2,000 years, Halloween was originally called Samhain, and marked the beginning of the Celtic New Year.

Roughly translated from Irish Gaelic, Samhain means "summer's end," according to "Creating Circles & Ceremonies: Rituals for All Seasons And Reasons" (Career Press, 2006). In ancient times, the holiday marked the transition from the "light" part of the year to the "dark" portion, as daylight hours became shorter and the weather grew colder. For this reason, the holiday is also known as "harvest's end" and "winter's beginning."

The day was celebrated starting at sundown on October 31 and through the day on November 1. It was believed — and is still believed by Pagans and Wiccans — that Samhain is when the veil between this world and the spirit world is thinnest, and departed spirits can return to mingle with the living.

"In the European traditions, Samhain is the night when the old God dies, and the Crone Goddess mourns him deeply for the next six weeks," according to "The Sabbats: A New Approach to Living the Old Ways" (Llewellyn Worldwide, 1994). "The popular image of her as the old Halloween hag menacingly stirring her cauldron comes from the Celtic belief that all dead souls return to her cauldron of life, death and rebirth to await reincarnation."

All Saints Day began to take the place of the Celtic Samhain holiday when the Christian Church began to spread throughout Ireland, around 700 A.D., according to "Ireland" (Random House, Inc., 2007). The night before All Saints Day, October 31, came to be called All-Hallows Eve, Hallowmas, or Hallowe'en, according to "Creating Circles & Ceremonies."

"Like many other pagan festivals, the Christians adapted Samhain and made it a Christian event," said Joan HanniganVogt, a spokesperson for the Tara Circle, an Irish cultural organization in Yonkers, N.Y. "The Celtic people used to celebrate the event by wearing costumes, which represented various Celtic deities."

The ancient Celtics also lit bonfires to guide the souls of the deceased to "the other side," played funeral games and kept hearths burning all night for protection from evil spirits. The custom of handing out candy on Halloween stems from the Celtic tradition of giving food and money to costumed celebrants, just in case they were the physical incarnations of lost souls.

"The modern trick or treat is obviously a mimic of the custom of doing things to please the spirits or risk some evil," HanniganVogt told Life's Little Mysteries.

The jack-o'-lantern, a Halloween staple, also has its roots deep in Celtic soil. Based on a folklore tale about a forlorn ghost named Jack, jack-o'-lanterns were originally made using a hollowed-out turnip with a small candle inside, and were set out during Samhain to guide lost souls — and scare away evil ones.

When the Irish potato famine of 1846 forced Irish families to flee to North America, the jack-o'-lantern came with them. But turnips were hard to come by in the states, and pumpkins proved to be the perfect substitute, according to "Halloween and Commemorations of the Dead" (Infobase Publishing, 2009).

Americans embraced Irish Halloween festivities, and the jack-o'-lantern tradition carries on to this day.

Wizard of Id


Oregon man goes 3 miles in wheelchair to help sister

A 73-year-old Oregon man traveled three miles in his wheelchair before hunters found him and helped rescue his sister after their car got stuck for two nights in the snow.

Girl fakes out would-be kidnapper ...

... pretends iPod touch is an iPhone
A 12-year-old girl used some quick thinking and an iPod touch to scare off a potential kidnapper.
Full Story

Awesome Pictures


Humor, activism at Stewart rally

A festive blend of humor and political activism surrounds the crowd gathered for the Washington event.  

Park Service says 'well over 200,000' attended Stewart/Colbert rally

Publicly, Parks Service doesn't estimate crowds. 
Privately, it has told Viacom there are "well over 200,000" people at the rally, exec says.

It should be noted that despite outrageous claims to astronomical numbers by the wingnuts for their 'rally' last August, the Parks Service puts them at 50,000 and under (and they were being generous with that number) - so more than FOUR TIMES as many people showed up to say NO MORE to the wingnuts in the numbers as the Parks Service sees them ... and they should know - they have to clean up after them. Although you can bet they won't have as much trash to pick up after this rally ...

'Sanity' rally's top moments

Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart delivered a mix of easy comedy and serious commentary.

Welcome to Crazytown

Vote Sanity

Charges of political corruption have little impact on voter opinion

Repugican claims of political corruption in North Carolina’s Democratic Party have made little impact on public opinion among potential voters in the state, according to new polling data analyzed by North Carolina State University researchers.
Well, seeing has how the most corrupt (i.e. the repugicans) are making the claims it is no wonder that they are being ignored.

Bump and Slide


Plot shows lax parcel security

Varying security protocols around the world leave air shipping open to potential threats, experts say.  

Arrest in Yemen in bomb plot

More suspects sought

Yemeni authorities arrested a woman Saturday and searched for other suspects linked to al-Qaida's Persian Gulf faction in the plot to mail bombs powerful enough to down a cargo plane.

Yemen warns of 26 more suspicious packages

Some may have already been sent out of the country.
After intercepting two mail bombs addressed to Chicago-area synagogues, investigators are searching for two dozen more suspect packages that terrorists in Yemen attempted to smuggle onto aircraft in a brazen al-Qaida terror plot.

Authorities on three continents thwarted the attacks when they seized explosives on cargo planes in the United Arab Emirates and England on Friday.

The plot sent tremors throughout the U.S., where after a frenzied day searching planes and parcel trucks for other explosives, officials temporarily banned all new cargo from Yemen.

Sri Lankan arrested in India with 2,060 diamonds in his stomach

Police in India have arrested a Sri Lankan man with 2,060 diamonds and other precious stones in his stomach. The man was arrested on arrival at the airport in the southern city of Madras (Chennai) on Tuesday, police said.

The stones - estimated to be worth between $337,000 (£211,747) and $674,000 (£423,485) - have been recovered, police said. Once doctors confirmed the presence of stones in his body, the man was fed laxatives and bananas to eject them.

Senior police officer in Madras SR Jangid told a press conference he received a call about the man on Tuesday morning from a "reliable informant". The man had successfully cleared the customs and immigration and a search of his bags did not yield anything, police said.

"Even during questioning, he could not sit comfortably and when questioned, he told the police that he was suffering from piles," Mr Jangid said. "The police grew suspicious and took him to Chromepet Government Hospital. When doctors examined him, they found the stones lodged in his gut." Mr Jangid said the stones were stored in 42 condoms and it took the police six hours to retrieve them.

Wonder Woman goes shopping


The eternal Rocky Horror

The 35-year-old film, honored on "Glee," still inspires fans to throw toast and shout at the screen. 

A love letter to a Digital Camera

This shooter has an unremarkable 10 megapixels, but another feature makes it a standout.  

What Are the Most Popular Books in a Prison Library?

Avi Steinberg, a former prison librarian, has written a memoir about his experience. In it, he recounted the books that were the most popular among prisoners, and why:
The prisoners’ book choices are suggestive: Anne Frank was effectively coping with incarceration in her Amsterdam attic, and Plath is an obvious choice for those less than contented with their lot. Participants in Steinberg’s women’s writing group insisted on checking out an author’s photo before they would read the book, with interesting reactions. Flannery O’Connor’s portrait got a positive verdict – “She looks kind of busted up, y’know? She ain’t too pretty. I trust her” – but the judgment on Gabriel García Márquez was blunt: “That man is a liar”.
Crime fiction was also very popular.

Non Sequitur


Get the most for your gold

Follow these four rules if you’re thinking about selling due to gold’s record prices.

The U.S.'s most affordable cities

Your money will go further in these low-cost, prosperous metro areas. 

The truth be told


Why is a dollar called a 'buck'?

Some think it was derived from bartering with buckskins, but there is a problem with that theory. 

Groom hires diggers to save cash

A Chinese groom who works for a heavy machinery company used a fleet of bulldozers instead of wedding cars to save money.

How a couple saved 70K

Jaime Tardy wanted to quit her job, so she and her husband got creative.  

Funny Pictures

There are too many 'jokes' to even begin here.

Bad Cops

Virginia cop is convicted of federal extortion charges

Missouri police officer charged with assault on prisoner

Video shows West Virginia deputy hitting and choking a suspect in the department's holding facility

Virginia cop is indicted for taking guns seized from criminals and reselling them on the street

Georgia cop faces charges in connection with double murder

Study shows widespread racial profiling by New York Police Dep't

Three New Orleans cops fired after pleading guilty or no contest to assorted crimes

Mississippi cop is indicted on nine counts of deprivation of rights under color of law

Thanks for the booty

Two suspects face multiple charges after North Carolina police said they left a note thanking the homeowners for the $5,000 worth of electronics gear and food they stole.

Police seize cocaine embedded in bologna

A Massachusetts man has been arrested after a kilogram of cocaine hidden inside a hollowed-out chunk of bologna was delivered to his home.

Judge tells McDonald's to pay $17,500 for making employee fat

A former manager of a McDonald’s franchise in Porto Allegre, Brazil, sued the hamburger chain for making him gain 65 pounds while he worked with them for over a dozen years. McDonald’s must pay him $17,500 as recompense for his weight gain, a Brazilian court ruled on Tuesday. The 32-year-old man, whose identity wasn’t disclosed, complained that the company's policy of mandatory food sampling caused him to balloon from about 155 lbs. to 231 lbs. while working at their restaurant in southern Brazil.

The man said that he felt forced to taste everything on the menu to ensure the quality of the food because McDonald's hired undercover customers to randomly visit restaurants and report back on quality. Also, he blamed the free lunches consisting of burgers, fries and ice cream, which contributed to his excessive weight gain during the course of employment.

Judge Joao Filho agreed with the man, and issued a ruling against the company, ordering them to pay $17,500 to the ex-employee. "We're disappointed with this preliminary court ruling, as it's not an accurate representation of our highly regarded work environment and culture." said a McDonald’s spokesman.

McDonald’s countered the manager’s claims, noting that several healthy options are available for the employees. “The chain offers a large variety of options and balanced menus to cater (to) the daily dietary needs of its employees,” it said. “We're disappointed with this preliminary court ruling, as it's not an accurate representation of our highly regarded work environment and culture,” McDonald's said in a statement. “This case is still a pending legal matter and it would be premature to draw conclusions at this time.”

Culinary DeLites

Stuffed olives or a small chunk of wasabi add bold flavors to simple scrambled eggs.  



Daylight savings may be bad for our health and the environment

I'm not much of a morning person anyway and would much rather have the sunlight later in the day.
Countries across Europe, the United States, Canada and parts of the Middle East mark the start of winter by ending Daylight Saving Time (DST) and putting their clocks back by an hour -- often in late October or early November -- a move that means it is lighter by the time most people get up to start their day.

But this also robs afternoons of an hour of daylight, and some experts argue that in more northern regions, the energy needed to brighten this darkness, and the limits it puts on outdoor activities are harming our health and the environment.

Leaving clocks alone as winter approaches would allow an extra hour of daylight in the afternoon and could boost levels of vitamin D as well as encourage people to exercise more.

Death by Caffeine

Can you die from taking too much caffeine? The answer is yes – all it takes to kill you is the equivalent of 70 cans of energy drinks:
Apparently, the pack of [powder] caffeine suggested taking no more than 1/16 of a teaspoon, but Bedford reportedly took spoonfuls of the stuff, so I wouldn’t start worrying that your morning coffee addiction might help you end up on the wrong side of living. Bedford reportedly took the dosage of caffeine at a party, and one friend recounts seeing him profusely sweating and throwing up blood only about 15 minutes after the dosage was taken. Pretty horrifying.

The Most Disgusting Jobs in Science

Annalee Newitz of io9 compiled a list of some of the grossest jobs in scientific research, like Fart Statistician:
How do you know when you fart too much? Because Gastroenterologists have studied human fart production, figured out what the average number of daily farts should be, and determined that levels above that might indicate a medical problem. All hail the fart counters, who are keeping our gastrointestinal tracts healthy. And because I know you want to know: The mean number of farts in humans is “13.6 episodes per day,” according to one expert.
Other featured jobs include Testicle Crusher and Corpse Grinder.

"Skin Printer" Generates Skin to Cover Injuries

Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are developing a printer that they hope can create skin to help injured soldiers immediately after they’re hurt:
The system, which lays down cells with the same fluid-based inkjet technology used in many printers, could print large swathes of living tissue directly onto the injuries of soldiers wounded on the battlefield. Covering burns and related wounds is of critical importance because, the scientists note, “any loss of full-thickness skin of more than 4 cm in diameter will not heal by itself.”
Tests on mice revealed advanced healing by both the second and third week of recovery, with complete closure and formation of scar tissue by week three in treated (but not untreated) subjects. The printer has two heads, one of which ejects skin cells mixed with fibrinogen (a blood coagulant) and type I collagen (the main component of the connective tissue in scars). The other head ejects thrombin (another coagulant).

New Suits May Help Astronauts Retain Bone Mass

Astronauts can lose 1-2% of their skeletal mass for each month that they spend in very low gravity. After a several months, this loss can become a serious health problem. But a new MIT-designed outfit called the Gravity Loading Countermeasure Skinsuit may help counteract this problem:
With stirrups that loop around the feet, the elastic gravity skinsuit is purposely cut too short for the astronaut so that it stretches when put on—pulling the wearer’s shoulders towards the feet. In normal gravity conditions on Earth, a human’s legs bear more weight than the torso. Because the suit’s legs stretch more than the torso section, the wearer’s legs are subjected to a greater force—replicating gravity effects on Earth.
The prototype suit testing took place on parabolic flights that created brief periods of weightlessness. Results showed that the suit successfully imitated the pull of gravity on the torso and thighs, but it did not exert enough force on the lower legs. Researchers are now refining the suit’s design to address this; they also plan to test the suit to see how it performs when worn overnight.

The Garden of the Monsters

Pier Francesco Orsini, a 16th-century mercenary and nobleman, built a garden of huge sculpted monsters and other fantasy figures at his estate in Bomarzo, Italy. You’ll find the story of this remarkable project and more pictures at Kuriositas.

Pangolins threatened

Smugglers' seized logbooks show the extent of the illegal trade in pangolins, with Chinese traditional medicine the main destination.

Aggressive gator chases man near South Carolina mall

An alligator is making his home near a popular mall in South Carolina.
The gator was spotted in a pond right across the street from the mall in Myrtle Beach.

Scientists Make Progress in Growing Giant Insects

John VandenBrooks of Arizona State University in Tempe examined how changing levels of oxygen in the atmosphere may effect the size that insects grow:
The team raised cockroaches, dragonflies, grasshoppers, meal worms, beetles and other insects in atmospheres containing different amounts of oxygen to see if there were any effects.
One result was that dragonflies grew faster into bigger adults in hyperoxia.
Experimenting with giant insects — what could possibly go wrong?

Enraged woman bites and scratches veterinary clinic worker

A Lee County woman is under arrest for allegedly biting a worker at a clinic. Ironically, the attack happened at a veterinary care clinic. Officials at the Affordable Animal Care Clinic on Palm Beach Boulevard in Fort Myers said it was quite the bizarre brawl. They say Kathleen Minneker dropped off her dogs almost an hour late and was mad when they weren't ready in time. So, deputies say, she started biting. The owner of the clinic, Gina Brashear, is covered in bites, bruises and scratches. She just got out of the hospital Wednesday morning.

"She bit me, clawed me and was on top of me just biting me," Brashear described. "She's a biter." Lee County deputies say it all began when Minneker dropped of her two shitzus at the clinic to be groomed. Brashear says she came in late and that it was already close to closing time. "It takes an hour and 15 minutes per dog, so she knew we weren't going to be done until 6," she said. She also explained that dogs' fur was matted, so it took a little longer. And Brashear says Minneker, who showed up early, was not happy they weren't finished.

"We hear this bang, bang, bang on the door and I'm like, ‘Oh god,'" she said. Deputies say Minneker began screaming, ‘Where are my dogs?' That's when they say she attacked the groomer. Brashear said she got in the way to stop the attack. "I ran down the hall, opened my arms up and got between them," she said. She says Minneker pushed her to the ground, cracking her tail bone and biting her everywhere.

"A chunk is gone off my finger and a chunk off my toe - a chunk here," she said. Deputies rushed to the scene and arrested Minneker. Brashear is on seven different medications to stop the infection from human bites. Even though she runs a veterinarian clinic, she says she never expected to be bitten this bad - at least not by a customer. "No, never a human - this is a first," she said. Brashear added that the clinic has had problems with Minneker in the past, but nothing like this.

Upping the cute factor

Well, actually we're upping the 'spooky' factor with these pups for Souwen (Halloween).

Pre-Dino Toothy Marine Animals Revealed

New research is shedding light on toothy marine animals that lived before dinosaurs and, according to scientists, ate like the creature did in the movie "Alien."  

Grizzly bear cub can't sleep without company from keeper

Having a sleeping companion is a bare necessity for this grizzly cub.
The juvenile brown bear, which lives at a predator center in Finland, can't go to sleep without his keeper.

In order for Juuso to hibernate during the winter, the keeper beds down in a small hut nearby.

In the wild, a cub would normally have his mother around to hibernate with.

The Blind Can 'See'

Dog with no eyes learns echolocation to find his way round

A dog born without eyes is finding his way in life after teaching himself to ‘see’ like a bat – using echolocation. Rowan, a German Spitz, barks and then listens to the echoes to help him tell where he is in relation to his surroundings. Owner Sam Orchard, 41, was shocked when a congenital defect caused Rowan to be born without eyes. But the 18-month-old is now almost indistinguishable from a sighted dog after learning to navigate using his barks.

Sam, who breeds dogs and runs a boarding kennel at her home in Potton, near Biggleswade, Beds., was stunned when she realized that Rowan was using echolocation. She said: ”When he first started going out there were no leaves on the trees but when the leaves grew there was the rustling and we noticed the change in his behavior. ”He barks to judge the lay of the land and then when I call his name he knows exactly where I am and comes running.

”People who meet Rowan can’t tell that he’s blind at first – they usually just ask why he’s got his eyes shut. He’s just amazing. He’s so independent and he has a really good life. He’s just like one of the other dogs.” Rowan was born in a litter of two in April last year and Sam became concerned when he had not opened his eyes after ten days. She took him to a vet who told her that the meeting of Rowan’s father’s bloodline with his mother’s had created a polygene which meant he was born with no eyes.

Sam added: ”It was a real surprise when he told me that not only would they not be opening, they didn’t exist – he was born without eyes. People told me that I should think about putting him to sleep but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I was shocked but I decided that I would just do the best I could for him and now he is just like the others. He an incredible chap.” Rowan has even completed a Good Citizen Bronze award for obedience, although he cannot compete in dog shows because of his appearance.

Also in dog news:

Jack the sheepdog was so good no one knew he was blind

It's only fair to make allowances for a newcomer. So when their new sheepdog missed rounding up the occasional ewe, farmers Barry and Liz Edwards put it down to inexperience and gave him a bit of extra training. After all, their new recruit was a willing learner, had settled well into the farm and won the hearts of the family.

Unknown to them, it was amazing that Jack was doing any work at all. The four-year-old sheepdog was blind – a fact the Edwards only discovered when he ran straight into a wooden peg sticking out of the ground. A check-up with the vet confirmed Jack had lost vision in both eyes. It changed their view of him from a trainee with a few teething problems to undisputed superdog. ‘He is such an inspiration,’ said Mrs Edwards, who has 150 breeding ewes and 100 cows on the family’s farm at Warmington, Cheshire.

‘This dog goes blind and yet he has carried on as if nothing has happened. He must have had our farm mapped out in his head. He knows exactly where everything is.’ The Edwards bought Jack for £1,250 from a farmer and sheepdog trainer in March last year. In hindsight, they believe he was probably going blind when he was being trained. Certainly the trainer had no idea he had problems with his vision. Jack is believed to have lost his eyesight because of a disease he picked up from something he ate. When he arrived on the farm at lambing time he wasn’t required to herd sheep immediately and was ‘given time to settle in’.

There were a few incidents, such as when he failed to move out the way of a flailing cow and injured his back leg. But the family thought nothing of them. Now Jack, who is taking part in the Drontal pet competition, has been retired and is being kept simply as a pet. ‘He has a great quality of life,’ Mrs Edwards said. ‘He can chase and fetch a ball, as long as it makes a noise and he still occasionally rounds the sheep up. He really is incredible.’