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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, November 13, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Your latest wish is a big one, but it could come one giant step closer to becoming a reality.
Give it some nudges here and there and see what develops.
If you've done the proper groundwork, things could finally start happening.
The littlest efforts you make can create a major result, so write off any suggestions that get thrown your way.
You're known for keeping an open mind in tough situations, so live up to your reputation and consider all input equally.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Rio De Janeiro, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Campbelltown, New South Wales, Australia
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Oxford, England, United Kingdom
Genoa, Liguria, Italy
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Malmo, Skane Lan, Sweden
Zagreb, Grad Zagreb, Croatia
Bangalore, Karnataka, India
London, England, United Kingdom
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Paderborn, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Penang, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

as well as Singapore, Colombia, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and in cities across the United States such as Bear, Katy, Sandy, Kalamazoo and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, November 13, the 317th day of 2010.
There are 48 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
World Kindness Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

For all our daily readers: Yesterday was a very busy day - opening a new business and spending the night in the ER ... all in all just a typical day around here - but we missed updating this blog yesterday mainly due to the night at the hospital.

President Obama's Weekly Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
November 13, 2010
This weekend, I’m concluding a trip to Asia whose purpose was to open new markets for American products in this fast-growing part of the world. The economic battle for these markets is fierce, and we’re up against strong competitors. But as I’ve said many times, America doesn’t play for second place. The future we’re fighting for isn’t as the world’s largest importer, consuming products made elsewhere, but as the world’s largest manufacturer of ideas and goods sold around the world.

Opening new markets will not only help America’s businesses create new jobs for American workers. It will also help us reduce our deficits – because the single greatest tool for getting our fiscal house in order is robust economic growth. That kind of growth will require ensuring that our students are getting the best education possible; that we’re on the cutting edge of research and development; and that we’re rebuilding our roads and railways, runways and ports – so our infrastructure is up to the challenges of the 21st century.

Given the deficits that have mounted up over the past decade, we can’t afford to make these investments unless we’re also willing to cut what we don’t need. That’s why I’ve submitted to Congress a plan for a three-year budget freeze, and I’m prepared to offer additional savings.  But as we work to reform our budget, Congress should also put some skin in the game. I agree with those Republican and Democratic members of Congress who’ve recently said that in these challenging days, we can’t afford what are called earmarks. These are items inserted into spending bills by members of Congress without adequate review.

Now, some of these earmarks support worthy projects in our local communities. But many others do not. We can’t afford Bridges to Nowhere like the one that was planned a few years back in Alaska. Earmarks like these represent a relatively small part of overall federal spending. But when it comes to signaling our commitment to fiscal responsibility, addressing them would have an important impact.

As a Senator, I helped eliminate anonymous earmarks and created new measures of transparency so Americans can better follow how their tax dollars are being spent. As President, time and again, I’ve called for new limitations on earmarks. We’ve reduced the cost of earmarks by over $3 billion. And we’ve put in place higher standards of transparency by putting as much information as possible on earmarks.gov. In fact, this week, we updated the site with more information about where last year’s earmarks were actually spent, and made it easier to look up Members of Congress and the earmarks they fought for.

Today, we have a chance to go further. We have a chance to not only shine a light on a bad Washington habit that wastes billions of taxpayer dollars, but take a step towards restoring public trust. We have a chance to advance the interests not of Republicans or Democrats, but of the American people; to put our country on the path of fiscal discipline and responsibility that will lead to a brighter economic future for all. And that’s a future I hope we can reach across party lines to build together.

Thanks everybody, and have a great weekend.

U.S. World Cup bid in doubt

A surge of support may have a small Middle Eastern country in line to host the 2022 World Cup. 

Extravaganza for Asian Games

More than 10,000 athletes gather in China for the world's second-biggest multisports event.

Hotel built in just 6 days

A soundproofed, thermal-insulated building is constructed in a remarkable feat of speed.  

Revolt against the TSA looms as full-body scanners, 'grope-downs' earn disdain

As we expected a while ago, things are coming to a head over the new full-body scanners that show just about everything to viewers of the scan. The idea of a revolt against the TSA, including an "opt out" day, is circulating, with a Facebook group and a webpage.

Bad Cops

Ohio deputy gets 3 years for having sex with 13-year-old

Former New York City police officer arrested for phony 911 calls

New Jersey cop is arrested for stalking his ex-wife

Kentucky sheriff arrested for abusing public trust and evidence tampering

Newly hired Tennessee sheriff’s deputy arrested on drug charges

Oregon police pay $4K to settle lawsuit over bogus arrest of man who flipped off cops

Woman sentenced to death for blasphemy

A Pakistani court has sentenced to death a Christian mother of five for blasphemy, the first such conviction of a woman and sparking protests from rights groups overnight.

Asia Bibi, 45, was sentenced on Tuesday by a local court in Nankana district in Pakistan's central province Punjab, about 75km west of the country's cultural capital of Lahore.

Pakistan has yet to execute anyone for blasphemy, but the case spotlights the Muslim country's controversial laws on the subject which rights activists say encourages Islamist extremism in a nation wracked by Taliban attacks.

Asia's case dates back to June 2009 when she was asked to fetch water while out working in the fields.

But a group of Muslim women laborers objected, saying that as a non-Muslim, she should not touch the water bowl.

The only 'Blasphemy' here is the kangaroo court and the ridiculous farce this is - just another example of why religion is a bad, a very, very bad thing.

Chinese man's shackles have grown into his skin

Astonished doctors are trying to save the hands of tormented Zhang Chuanqiu who was chained so tightly in an illegal prison that his flesh grew over his shackles.

Zhang, 27, had been chained to a cowshed in Hunan, southern China, in 2005 after falling out with village officials over a loan to build his house. But his chains had been so agonizingly tight that Zhang's own flesh began to absorb them.

"The only person who did not give up on me was my mother who waited for her time and rescued me," he explained. Now Zhang is trying to raise the £1,000 surgeons have told him he needs for an operation to remove the chains and save his hands from further infection.

"They cause me a lot of pain. They are always inflamed and ooze pus all the time. But we have no money so I have to rely on charity or the good heart of a hospital or doctor to save my hands," he said.

Wizard of Id


When bargains are bonanzas

At garage sales and flea markets, one person's junk can become another's treasure.
$4 purchase led to $2.4 million 

Vase fetches record sum

The 18th-century Chinese artifact is valued at $1.9 million but sells for many times that amount.  

Find your top place to retire

Before making a move, consider areas with the strongest economies and job growth.  

Where jobs are returning

These businesses are growing confident about the economy and hiring again.  



Life-size Gingerbread House

For the third year in a row, the Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls, Canada is putting together 600 pounds of gingerbread, 1,000 pounds of icing, 2,000 chocolate wafers, 750 cookies, and 4,900 pretzels to make a gingerbread house you can stand up in! It will take about two weeks to complete, and then patrons will be invited to dine inside -but you’ll have to make reservations in advance, as it will have only one table. The $20 reservation charge will go to help abused children through a local charity. Manager Keith Simmonds says the structure is extremely popular -and yes, people do occasionally snag a bite of it.
He said it happens about every five minutes.
“We do a lot of repairs on the fly and overnight. We try to keep people off as much as we can, but it’s part of the fun. I mean, it is a totally edible structure.”
Once the house is finished in early December, it will accept reservations for one table of six. Families will be able to order off the same menus offered in other restaurants inside the lodge, including breakfast, lunch and dinner buffets. And of course, there’s a dessert menu — separate from what’s seen on the surrounding walls.
The gingerbread house will remain up until January.

Turkey price hits a record

You'll probably pay 20% more than last year, due to rising costs for raising the birds.

Healthiest U.S. frozen treats

These treats are nutritionally superior — plus they taste great and are widely available.  

Eight ways to stay full longer

Healthy fats, like those in avocados and olive oil, help stave off the munchies.  

The truth be told


HMO Doctor Job Application Form

1. Are you an MD or DO?
(if not, do you look a lot like one?)

2. Your annual salary should be based on which factor?
A. Age
B. Experience
C. Number of privately insured patients referred to hospital in calendar year
D. Quality of care
(if you answered A, C, or D do not complete the rest of this form)

3. Did you receive a grade higher than C+ in your biomedical Ethics class?
(if yes, do not complete the rest of this form)

4. How many patients can you see in your office in one hour?
(if number is less than sixty, do not complete the rest of this form)

5. Which factor do you consider more heavily in deciding whether to admit a patient to your hospital:
A. Vital signs
B. Clinical condition
C. Credit rating
D. Insurance status
(if you answered either A or B, do not complete the rest of this form)

6. Do you understand the concept of Omerta and agree to this as a condition of employment?

7. A patient complains about being left in the hallway for 9 hours. As his physician, the proper response is:
A. Complain to administration
B. Refer the matter to the nurse
C. Direct patient accounts to invoice Medicare or private insurance for an extra-wide semiprivate room.
(if you answered A, do not complete the rest of this form)

8. An elderly man visiting his wife trips in the hallway and you catch him, preventing him from injuring himself. You ask him if he is okay, and he says yes. The proper thing to do is now:
A. Bill for preventative orthopedic consult
B. Bill for psychiatric consult (He did say he was okay)
C. Hospitalize the patient as a danger to himself and others
D. Go on your way
(if you answered D do not complete the rest of this form)

9. A patient who was previously reported to be insured has now been discovered to lack insurance. He is on the ventilator with an assist control rate of 22 and an oxygen percentage of 90%, PEEP of 10. The proper course of action is now to:
A. Reduce his to IMV
B. Reduce the oxygen percentage
C. Extubate and discharge very very quickly
(if you answered A or B do not complete the rest of this form)

Are daydreams bad for you?

Aided by an iPhone app, researchers uncover a surprising side effect of daydreaming.

The Insanity Virus

Is schizophrenia caused by genetics or environment? The answer may be both, but in a way you’d never imagine. The culprit may be a virus! The good news is that you don’t have to worry about catching this virus. The bad news is that we all carry it in every cell of our bodies.
Sixty million years ago, a lemurlike animal—an early ancestor of humans and monkeys—contracted an infection. It may not have made the lemur ill, but the retrovirus spread into the animal’s testes (or perhaps its ovaries), and once there, it struck the jackpot: It slipped inside one of the rare germ line cells that produce sperm and eggs. When the lemur reproduced, that retrovirus rode into the next generation aboard the lucky sperm and then moved on from generation to generation, nestled in the DNA. “It’s a rare, random event,” says Robert Belshaw, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Oxford in England. “Over the last 100 million years, there have been only maybe 50 times when a retrovirus has gotten into our genome and proliferated.”
But such genetic intrusions stick around a very long time, so humans are chockablock full of these embedded, or endogenous, retroviruses. Our DNA carries dozens of copies of Perron’s virus, now called human endogenous retrovirus W, or HERV-W, at specific addresses on chromosomes 6 and 7.
This virus was long thought to be “junk DNA”, which makes up a fair amount of our genetic material, but doesn’t affect us. The new line of research says that this virus, if it is activated at a certain age under the right conditions, may cause changes to human immune systems that lead to the development of not only schizophrenia, but multiple sclerosis and possibly other diseases. The story of how this discovery came about is a fascinating read at Discover magazine.

Eris: One weird little dwarf planet

Earlier this week, we learned that the dwarf planet Eris is probably smaller, in diameter, than Pluto, but is simultaneously 27% more massive. That's pretty nifty. But it's also pretty strange. The going theory, prior to this, was that Pluto and Eris were basically twins—similar size, similar composition. Imagine you had a pair of identical twin children, and one was 100 pounds heavier than the other.

Both Pluto and Eris are Kuiper belt objects, masses of rock and ice that coagulated together on the outskirts of our solar system. The ice-to-rock ratio—and, with it, mass—varies a lot from one Kuiper belt object to another, says astronomer Mike Brown.

But, it was previously assumed that, by the time smaller objects had coalesced into something as large as Pluto or Eris, their composition would be about the same as any other Kuiper object in the same size category. Instead, this new data suggests that Eris contains a lot more rock, or Pluto contains a lot more ice, or a little bit of both. And it throws our entire understanding of Kuiper belt objects out of whack.
No answer is immediately obvious, but it is immediately obvious that one or more of the assumptions of the standard scenario are going to have to be discarded. Earlier this summer I had constructed a new hypothesis that did an adequate (though, frustratingly not great) job of explaining some of the crazy variability in the Kuiper belt as being due to a random series of giant collisions which knocked the ice off of some objects, leaving just the rocky cores. I gave a couple of talks on the hypothesis, and even wrote the first draft of a scientific paper describing the details. But I fear now that the draft is going to have to go to the recycle bin. Even in my hypothesis once things grow to a certain size they should be more or less the same. Eris and Pluto are just too big to be different.
So what happened instead? Did they form in different places? In different solar systems? Did Eris spend time close to the sun? None of these hypotheses is immediately appealing, but somewhere in there there must be a kernel of what really happened. Pluto and Eris and all of the rest of the dwarf planets must have a widely divergent set of histories of formation or evolution or interaction or all of the above.
Mike Brown's Planets: Dwarf Planets are Crazy



Robo-Deer Protects Innocent Wildlife From Poachers

robo deer thumb photo  
Photo: Stephen Messenger
Wildlife in Florida have an unlikely new ally in the fight against poaching -- a remote-controlled buck lovingly known as Robo-deer. Although he can do little more than flick his tail and turn his head, Robo-deer is so convincingly lifelike that some illegal hunters can't help but take a shot at him. But when they do, those poachers end up getting served something a lot worse than steel veal -- that's because Robo-deer works for the cops.

Triceratops 'Never Existed'

Three-horned fossils are actually juvenile torosauruses

One of the best-known dinosaur species may not have really been a dinosaur species at all, according to new research. Scientists compared triceratops skulls to those of a lesser-known species, the torosaurus, and concluded that the triceratops were actually young torosauruses, New Scientist reports. They believe the three-horned dinosaur's skull changed shape as it aged.
Researchers say the bones of the horns and neck frill in the young dinosaurs remained spongy until they became full adults. "Even in the most mature specimens that we've examined, there is evidence that the skull was still undergoing dramatic changes at the time of death," one of the researchers says. Torosaurus and triceratops will now likely be reclassified as a single species—but don't shed a tear just yet: The name "triceratops" will be the one that stays, the scientists say.

Porpoises save Dick Van Dyke

Mary Poppins star Dick Van Dyke says porpoises saved his life - by pushing him back to shore after he fell asleep on his surfboard.

The veteran actor, 84, told reporters how his ordeal began during an ill-fated trip to his local beach.

"I woke up out of sight of land," he said. "I started paddling with the swells and I started seeing fins swimming around me and I thought 'I'm dead!' They turned out to be porpoises. And they pushed me all the way to shore."

As well as Mary Poppins, Van Dyke's film credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Dick Tracy. In recent years he has appeared on screen in Night at the Museum and its 2009 sequel.

Hungry Shark

An underwater photographer got the fright of his life when a shark snatched the camera from his hands.

The diver was left shaking while the tiger shark swam off with the camera between its teeth.

The 2m creature later dropped the camera several meters away on the sea bed off the Bahamas.

Squid May Alter Body Coloration to Communicate with Others

Many squid are able to change the appearance of their skin in order to camouflage themselves when they encounter predators. It’s been suggested that the polarization of light on the skin of squid may be a form of communication. Now, for the first time, researchers have uncovered evidence for this property among the longfin inshore squid:
While the notion that a few animals produce polarization signals and use them in communication is not new, Mäthger and Hanlon’s findings present the first anatomical evidence for a “hidden communication channel” that can remain masked by typical camouflage patterns. Their results suggest that it might be possible for squid to send concealed polarized signals to one another while staying camouflaged to fish or mammalian predators, most of which do not have polarization vision.
Mäthger notes that these messages could contain information regarding the whereabouts of other squid, for example. “Whether signals could also contain information regarding the presence of predators (i.e., a warning signal) is speculation, but it may be possible,” she adds.

Cats' amazing drinking skills

It took a team of researchers with high-speed video cameras to unlock the feline secret.  

Mountain lion trapped up tree by Jack Russell

A mountain lion found it was no match for a Jack Russell terrier which trapped it up a tree on a farm in the US state of South Dakota. The dog's owner, Chad Strenge, heard frantic barking near the family's farm in Colman, Moody County.

He discovered the 150lb (68kg) male lion, also known as a cougar, clinging to the top of a tree with 17lb (8kg) terrier Jack at the bottom. Mr Strenge, helped by his dog, chased the mountain lion and shot it dead. "He trees cats all the time," Mr Strenge said. "I suppose he figured it was just a cat."

Professor Jonathan Jenks, an expert on cougar migration, said hunters usually needed two or three hounds to chase a lion up a tree. He said the cougar was probably not hungry enough to attack Jack. "It very well could have lost a territory and decided to take off from the Black Hills and head this way," he said.

Arden Petersen, of the South Dakota Game, Fish and Parks department, told said that no charges would be filed for shooting the animal. People in South Dakota have the right to kill mountain lions which they feel are a threat to themselves, their livestock or their pets. The lion was taken to South Dakota State University, where it will be studied.