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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.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You're good at making rules, and even better at following them.
That goes double for rules that have already been tried and found true --like 'honesty is the best policy,' for example.
Still, every now and then, it might be better to keep things under wraps, and you know it.
This just might be one of those times.
A secretive energy permeates your house of undercover encounters, suggesting just that tactic.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Caen, Basse-Normandie, France
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
London, England, United Kingdom
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Lyon, Rhone-Alpes, France
Caracas, Distrito Federal, Venezuela
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Rio De Janeiro, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
Cologne, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Aylmar, Ontario, Canada
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Schlieren, Zurich, Switzerland

as well as Korea, Spain, Hong Kong, Italy, Denmark, Israel, India, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, Philippines, Malaysia, Romania, Indonesia and in cities across the United States such as Ithaca, Athens, Sparta, Thebes and more.

Today is:
Today is Thursday, November 18, the 322nd day of 2010.
There are 43 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
There isn't one.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Touch the junk and you WILL be prosecuted

The San Mateo district attorney's office has a warning for all TSA personnel at SFO -- anyone inappropriately touching a passenger during a security pat down will be prosecuted.

The charge -- sexual battery.

Nobel panel may not give prize

The prestigious $1.4 million award is expected to go unclaimed for the first time since 1936.  

Non Sequitur


Five charming small towns

Stockbridge, Massachusetts, was an inspiration to painter Norman Rockwell.  

Most remote place on Earth

More than 1,500 miles from its nearest neighbor, one destination is the ideal way to get away from it all. 

Odds and Sods

Get ready for 47% increase in food prices thanks to climate change.

Scientists at Idaho State University have mapped a previously unknown and active seismic fault in the northern Rockies capable of unleashing an earthquake with a magnitude as high as 7.5.

Dumb Crooks

Police in South Carolina say a man attempted a slow getaway by lawnmower after robbing a convenience store.

Police didn't have a hard time finding a burglary suspect they say broke into a central Florida home.

Bad Cops


Un-named Illinois police officers are investigated for theft from state agency

California cop guilty of sending sexually explicit text messages to a 16-year-old

Connecticut cop is suspended for actions against married state trooper

South Carolina cop is charged with assault

New Mexico family awarded $1M after suspect dies in custody

Oklahoma ass't police chief is arrested for assault, public intoxication

Video shows alleged excessive use of Tasers in Ohio jail
Virginia police officers charged in drug, cigarettes, alcohol scheme

Kentucky sheriff pleads not guilty to charges of theft and abuse of public trust

New Jersey patrolman charged with shoplifting from Home Depot

Fired Florida cop gets 2+-4 years for boinking inmate

New York City correction officer has been charged with trying to sell tobacco and prescription pills to inmates

Cop investigated for having sex in patrol car with 2-way radio on
A Washington police officer was placed on paid administrative leave after he allegedly had sex in his patrol car with his two-way radio on.

New cyberthreat warning

The malicious Stuxnet worm is capable of disruptions worldwide and our defense is weak, say experts.  

Fewer than half (46%) of Americans know the repugicans have a majority in the House next session

So much for that mandate.

Some of the questions are a bit esoteric for the average citizen.

But come on...
Fewer than half (46%) know that the repugicans will have a majority only in the House of Representatives when the new Congress convenes in January.

They stole our government by demonizing government subsidized healthcare

So, Democrats are calling those repugicans out and asking them to give up their congressional (government) subsidized healthcare
"If your conference wants to deny millions of Americans affordable health care, your members should walk that walk," four Democrats write in the letter, which is addressed to Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. "You cannot enroll in the very kind of coverage that you want for yourselves, and then turn around and deny it to Americans who don't happen to be members of congress." 
Yeah, like that is going to happen.
Hypocrisy all the way - The repugican way!

How economy could tank

Political gridlock and government actions could destabilize the economy.  

On The Job

Many hiring managers view terms like "team player" and "detail-oriented" as empty clichés.  
Most people think they need a law degree or at least a bachelor’s to work in the courtroom.  

Make more money at work

Most companies plan average raises of 3% and double that for top employees. 

Lesson from GM turnaround

The automaker's huge stock offering is a testimony to what American firms do best.  

Maximize your Social Security

Here are a few clever and perfectly legal ways to grow your income by thousands of dollars a year.

Social Security warning

Raising the retirement age would harshly affect the poor and, ironically, the program itself.  



Mandalas: Stunningly Colored Images Made From Sand


Known to be at least 2,500 years old, a mandala is a ritualistic geometric design symbolic of the universe, used in Hinduism and Buddhism as an aid to meditation. By mentally 'entering; the mandala and moving toward its center, one is guided through the cosmic processes of disintegration and reintegration.

Tiny House Built in Single Parking Space

Fuyuhito Moriya, 39, lives with his mother in a custom-built home set on a lot that’s only 30 square meters. It used to be a parking space. Moriya spent $500,000 constructing a compact three-story house on the site:
South-facing, large windows create the illusion of space. Minimal furniture and clutter keep the small home tidy. Hideaway cabinets for kitchen appliances and half size sinks shrink expected space.
Even the spiral staircase shaves inches, drawn as a triangle instead of a circle, slashing the space’s diameter. The corners of the staircase become small closets, to stash shoes.
“Every single corner is used,” says Moriya.

Russia Wants to Be a Toilet Superpower Again

According to Vladimir Moksunov, the leader of Russia’s toilet manufacturing association, his nation had the best public restrooms in the world until the Communist Revolution of 1917. Now it’s time for Russia to return to the top:
He recalled that on April 9, 1699, Peter the Great published a trailblazing decree which made it a punishable offence to throw sewage into the street.
“But now we do not even have official regulations for the quality of public lavatories except a document from 1972 that talks about cesspits,” he said, adding that Moscow had a “crying need for modern lavatories”.
The state of public lavatories is generally seen as a disgrace in Moscow, with citizens having to endure stinking and ageing facilities even though they usually have to pay for the privilege of using them.

The History of TV in Catchphrases

One video contains 60 years of television catch phrases.
You probably know most of them, but if you don’t, scroll down for a list of all 71 clips at Gawker.

You Only Try This Once

China clamors for U.S. candy

A candy billed as a luxury item helped a welterweight state export $5.8 billion last year.  

Most Expensive Decanter of Whiskey in the World

This Lalique decanter holds 1.5 liters of Macallan whisky. This rare combination recently sold at auction for about $460,000:
The Macallan, founded in 1824, is produced at a distillery near Easter Elchies House in north east Scotland’s Speyside whisky region.
The Lalique decanter was created using the “cire perdue” or “lost wax” method.
Before the auction, the whisky was taken on a 12-city “tour du monde” to build up interest and raise funds for charity: water, an organization that provides access to clean, safe drinking water for people in developing nations.

A bottle of 200-year-old Champagne keeps its flavor

Lime blossom, coffee, chanterelles.
That's what sommeliers detected sampling two centuries-old Champagne salvaged from the wreckage of a schooner at the bottom of the Baltic Sea.



Scientists in a Bar

A Whole Bunch of Scientists walk into a bar...
Rene Descartes was sitting at a bar. The bartender came over and asked if he would like another drink. He replied, "I think not." And he vanished.

Heisenburg was also sitting at the bar. After Descartes vanished in a puff of smoke, the bartender walked over to him and asked, "Did you see that?"
To which Heisenberg replied, "I can't be certain."

The bartender then noticed Einstein was there. So he asked him if he could believe what had happened. Einstein replied, "It's all relative."

Then the bartender noticed that Carl Sagan was there. He walked over to him and asked, "Can you believe that all these famous people are here in THIS bar?"

Sagan replied, "No. Why, there must be BILLIONS and BILLIONS of bars out there."

Meanwhile, Gustav Hertz was having such a great time, that he promised to return in the future at a much greater frequency.

Robert Boyle commented that he thought everyone was under too much pressure to come up with an answer to what was happening.

Erwin Schroedinger tried to explain that in the absence of an observer, Decartes left but at the same time did not leave.

But Alexander Volta disagreed stating there was a potential difference between his staying or going.

James Watt had had a bad day and said he had come in just to let off a little steam.

Charles Darwin refused to take a stand on the days events as he was waiting to see what would evolve.

Thomas Edison stated that he found the whole thing illuminating.

Andre Ampere helped the bartender ascertain that all the statements were kept current.

Eli Whitney said, "I believe I will have another gin."

Sir Isaac Newton pondered the gravity of the situation.

Robert Goddard said the situation was not rocket science.

Archimedes didn't participate. He was out having a screw.

Georg Ohm, though he resisted answering, did provide a tasty treat for the crowd. Everyone loved Ohm's slaw.

Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck thought it a constant drain of energy to contemplate the disappearance.

Gaston Plante thought Descartes should be put in a cell for battery.

William Sturgeon and Joseph Henry made a good gauss at where Descartes had gone.

Johann Salomo, Christoph Schweigger, and Jacques Arsene d'Arsonval were galvanized into instant action.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Curie thought that Descartes had a radiating personality, even after his disappearance.

Nicola Tesla re-coiled at the sight.

Simple ways to beat the blues

Switch to full-spectrum light bulbs to ensure you're getting as much light as possible. 

Using hallucinogenic ibogaine to treat drug addicts

LA Weekly reports on Pangea Biomedics, a rehab clinic in Tijuana that gives hallucinogenic ibogaine to drug addicts.
201011181015Ron Price needs his milkshake. It's 10 o'clock on a Monday morning and the bald, barrel-chested former bodybuilder is shuffling around the kitchen of a posh rehab clinic in Tijuana, wearing slippers and a blue Gold's Gym T-shirt. Price had been employed as stockbroker in New Mexico, until his training regimen left him with debilitating injuries that forced him to undergo 33 surgeries in less than a decade. His doctor prescribed OxyContin, and Price quickly became dependent on the potent painkiller. More recently he started snorting cocaine and chugging booze to numb the pain. Now, 53 years old and three weeks into rehab, all he wants is a milkshake and to crawl back into bed. Clare Wilkins, the vivacious 40-year-old director of Pangea Biomedics, pops the lid of the blender to check the consistency of the concoction Price craves: peanut butter, soymilk, agave syrup, hemp protein powder and a few scoops of chocolate-flavored Green SuperFood.
Oh, and a half-teaspoon of root bark from the tabernanthe iboga plant.
Shock the Junkie: A hallucinogen called ibogaine has helped addicts kick heroin, meth and everything in between. Is it the trip that does the trick?

One Human Brain Has More Switches Than All Computers on Earth

Researchers at the Stanford School of Medicine attempted to measure the computational power of the combined synapses in the typical human brain. Lead researcher Stephen Smith wrote:
One synapse, by itself, is more like a microprocessor–with both memory-storage and information-processing elements–than a mere on/off switch. In fact, one synapse may contain on the order of 1,000 molecular-scale switches. A single human brain has more switches than all the computers and routers and Internet connections on Earth.

Scientists capture, hold antimatter atoms

Well, at least they didn't blow up the earth, or connect to some other universe. Scientists at CERN have confirmed that they have not just managed to produce antimatter atoms (specifically antihydrogen), they have trapped and held them for long enough to experiment on them. 

Scientists crack huge riddle

For the first time, experts create and hold a substance that all but vanished from the universe.  

Astonishing close-up photos

Prize-winning microscopic photos offer up a startling new view of the world around us.

Vikings Possibly Carried Native American to Europe

Medieval texts suggest the Vikings arrived in the New World more than 1,000 years ago.  

The "Hoxne hoard"

"Clipped" Roman coins
To be familiar with "coin-clipping," it helps to be as old as dirt and able to remember a time when coins were made of precious metals like gold and silver.  In that setting it was possible to shave a little metal from the rim of the coin to refashion into another coin (or to sell as bullion).  It was the practice of coin-clipping that led coin manufacturers to introduce "milled" edges, so that clipping could be detected without weighing the coins.

Things you find reading a piece about the "Hoxne hoard," which included almost 15 THOUSAND Roman gold, silver, and bronze coins.  Apparently clipping was rampant in that era; almost every silver siliqua in the hoard has been clipped.  I found it interesting that a second reason was given for coin clipping: "a deliberate attempt to maintain a stable ratio between gold and silver coins."

Gold body chain of the Roman era
The most important gold item in the [Hoxne] hoard is the body chain, which consists of four finely looped gold chains, made using the "loop-in-loop" method called "fox tail" in modern jewellery, and attached at front and back to plaques.  At the front, the chains have terminals in the shape of lions' heads and the plaque has jewels mounted in gold cells, with a large amethyst surrounded by four smaller garnets alternating with four empty cells, which probably held pearls that have decayed. At the back, the chains meet at a mount centred on a gold solidus of Gratian (r. 375–383), which has been converted from an earlier use, probably as a pendant, and which may have been a family heirloom.  Body chains of this type appear in Roman art, sometimes on the goddess Venus or nymphs; some examples have erotic contexts, but they are also worn by respectable high-ranking ladies. They may have been regarded as a suitable gift for a bride.  The Hoxne body chain, worn tightly, would fit a woman with a bust-size of 76–81 cm (30–32 inches).

Ancient temples designed for tripping

Acoustic archaeologists are exploring how the Chavin culture in Peru may have designed underground temples to blow worshipers' minds using low-tech sound and light shows. Of course, this thread continued in cathedrals with massive stained glass windows and organs all the way to today's high-end multimedia megachurches. According to Miriam Kolar of Stanford's Center for Computer Research and Acoustics, the temple's maze of tunnels "could be physically disorienting and the acoustic environment is very different than the natural world," and might be especially freaky for folks who were tripping balls.
 Archaeology 2010 11 16 Chavin-Head-Zoom "The iconography (of ancient Chavin drawings) shows people mixed with animal features in altered states of being," said Kolar, who is presenting her recent work at a conference in Cancun, Mexico this week. "There is peyote and mucus trails out of the nose indicative of people using psychoactive plant substances. They were taking drugs and having a hallucinogenic experience." If that wasn't enough, the mazes at Chavin de Huantar also include air ducts that use sunlight to produce distorted shadows of the maze's human participants. And sound waves from giant marine shells found in the maze in 2001 may have produced a frequency that actually rattled the eyeballs of those peyote-using ancients, Kolar said...
The Chavin de Huantar site in Peru isn't the only place where sound played an important role. The Mayan rulers at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan also figured out how to use sound for crowd control. David Lubman, an acoustic engineer who has spent the past 12 years studying the Mayan site, says a strange bird-like echo from the Kukulkan temple was actually constructed on purpose.
"It's sort of spooky," Lubman said from Irvine, Calif. "It's not an ordinary echo."
Lubman's analysis compared the acoustic soundprint of the quetzal bird, which was revered by Mayans, to the sound of the echo at Chichen Itza. The two sounds matched. Lublin said the secret is in the acoustic properties of the steep staircase on the temple's front.

The "clan towers" of Ingushetia

Three selections from an interesting photo gallery, discussed in English at Poemas del rio Wang: 
Clan towers – родовые башни – or, named after the people building them, Vainakh towers, combined multiple functions. They were living towers, impregnable fortifications, watchtowers dominating the valley controlled by the clan. And last but not least sacred asylums where blood-revenge was forbidden. Ismail Kadare in his Broken April tangibly describes the asylum towers that once stood all over the Albanian mountains and where men sometimes lived for years without ever coming out.

The towers have generally three to four floors. The first level – or, in four-storey towers, the first two levels – are the stall, in the latter case the second level is for the goats and sheep. The next floor is the living room, here’s the stove. The top floor serves for larder, treasure-house and armory as well as for guest accommodation, with projecting balconies for the ease of control...

The oldest surviving towers were built dry, but since the 16th and 17th century, the golden age of tower building – which was a period of turbulent external and internal wars in the Caucasus – they were reinforced with mortar. The internal structures, gates and shutters were made of oak, while the floors of pine wood. Beginning with the 16th century, loopholes became more and more frequent, which helps the researchers to reconstruct the spreading of firearms in the Caucasus...

Nowadays, most towers are uninhabited. The clan wars and external threats being over, the Ingushes went down to live in the more fertile river valleys. There are only a few old people sticking to their dwelling place or some shepherds left around to take care of them.
More information at the link.  And more photos.  I find the landscape almost as fascinating as the architecture.

Additional information about Ingushetia is contained in another post at the same blog:
Ingushetia broke away from the Chechen-Ingush Republic in 1992. This is how the Russian government wanted to isolate the more pacific part of the republic from the Chechens, at that time in war against the Russians...
During WWII the Ingush and Chechen people, following the tradition of several centuries of wars of independence, rose up against the Soviet power. This is why after the war Stalin deported both nations to Kazakstan, and settled Russians on their place. The survivors of the cruel deportation were permitted to return to their native land only by Khrushchev in the late 1950s. However, in the meantime a part of Ingushetia, including their former capital Vladikavkaz, and even the town of Ongush (in Russian Tarskoye) which had given name to the whole republic, were annexed by the Soviet authorities following the old policy of divide to the western neighbor, Northern Ossetia: this is the egg-shaped hole on the map of the republic.
More at the link, including some photos of, and observations about, Ingush weddings.

Polynesian "stick charts"

An excellent post at The Nonist discusses and illustrates the "stick charts" used by early Polynesian navigators.
The Polynesians, scattered as they were over 1,000 islands across the central and southern Pacific Ocean, were master navigators who tracked their way over a huge expanses of ocean without any of the complex mechanical aids we associate with sea fairing. They didn’t have the astrolabe or the sextant, the compass or the chronometer. They did however have aids of a sort, which though seemingly humble, were in fact the repositories of an extremely complex kind of knowledge. Called Rebbelibs, Medos. and Mattangs, today we call them simply “Stick Charts.” 
The three basic types of stick charts are shown, followed by addtional explanation:
The charts were made by men from thin strips of coconut frond midribs or pandanus root. They were then bound together with coconut sennit in geometric patterns depicting sea currents around the low lying atolls. Small money cowrie shells or coral pebbles indicated islands and curved sticks represent wave patterns.
Via Uncertain Times.  Those interested in early navigation and diffusion of knowledge through the prehistoric world should also read my post from two years ago about the Lapita people:
And how could a Neolithic people with simple canoes and no navigation gear manage to find, let alone colonize, hundreds of far-flung island specks scattered across an ocean that spans nearly a third of the globe?...

They were daring blue-water adventurers who roved the sea not just as explorers but also as pioneers, bringing along everything they would need to build new lives—their families and livestock, taro seedlings and stone tools. Within the span of a few centuries the Lapita stretched the boundaries of their world from the jungle-clad volcanoes of Papua New Guinea to the loneliest coral outliers of Tonga, at least 2,000 miles eastward in the Pacific. Along the way they explored millions of square miles of unknown sea...

Reaching Fiji, as they did a century or so later, meant crossing more than 500 miles of ocean, pressing on day after day into the great blue void of the Pacific... By the time Europeans came on the scene, virtually every speck of habitable land, hundreds of islands and atolls in all, had already been discovered by native seafarers—who ultimately made it all the way to South America...

Neanderthals Lived Fast, Died Young

Our slower development and longer lives could have given humans an evolutionary edge over Neanderthals.  



Whale Saved 10 Years Ago Reunites With Rescuers

rescued whale alive at sea photo  
Photo: Katya Kroch / IBJ
One morning in November 2000, a large humpback whale was found stranded on a beach near Ubatuba, Brazil, clinging to life in the crashing surf. It didn't take long before a team was assembled of nearly one hundred fishermen, firefighters, biologists, and locals who began working tirelessly to return the struggling animal back to sea -- and after twelve long hours, they were successful. Still, as that whale slipped beneath the waves and out of sight, those volunteers could only hope their efforts were not in vain, knowing full well that the whale's chances of survival were slim. But now, after ten years of guessing, rescuers are finally sure the whale is alive and well -- because they've seen it.
Article continues: Whale Saved 10 Years Ago Reunites With Rescuers

Mediterranean great whites from Australian seas

Great white sharks in the Mediterranean may have first arrived from the seas around Australia 450,000 years ago, genetic studies have suggested.

Researchers writing in Proceedings of the Royal Society B believe the arrival may have been simply a migratory "wrong turn" by a few pregnant females.

A tumultuous climate between ice ages may have been the cause.

The species - Carcharodon carcharias - would have remained in the Med because it returns to spawn where it was born.

In a parallel universe

One day while surfing through the many parallel universes out there I chanced upon this scene ...