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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, November 22, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Ready for the pace of life to pick up -- considerably?
Good, because opportunities for growth are going to come your way in fast and furious style, and you, of all signs, won't want to miss out on a single one.
Of course, opportunities won't get you anywhere if you don't know what you're doing -- but you do.
It's called being in the right place at the right time -- with the right qualifications.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Prague, Hlavni Mesto Praha, Czech Republic
Hanau, Hessen, Germany
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
London, England, United Kingdom
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Kassel, Hessen, Germany
Schwerin, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Germany
Augsburg, Bayern, Germany
Derby, England, United Kingdom

as well as Singapore, Philippines, Romania, Japan, Sweden, Brazil and in cities across the United States such as Hopewell Junction, Monessen, Ephrata, Covina and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, November 22, the 326th day of 2010.
There are 39 days left in the year.

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

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

U.S. boy stages protest in China

A Miss. teen barely had time to unfurl his banner before Tiananmen Square police sprang into action.  

Paris Rising

paris-champs-elysees photo
One of the striking things about Paris is that, for a major city whose metropolitan area includes nearly 12 million people, there are very few buildings more than five or six stories tall. Since 1977, soon after the construction of the 689 foot tall Tour Montparnasse, a building that sticks out like a sore thumb and is widely disliked by Parisians, there has been a height limit of 121 feet on all new buildings. (The Eiffel Tower, at 1,063 feet, is by far the tallest structure in the city.) But on Tuesday, Le Monde reported, the Paris City Council voted to raise the height limit to a revolutionary 590 feet, meaning that in the next few years, the Paris skyline will have a growth spurt.
Article continues: Newly Freed from Height Limits, Paris Skyline Ready to Rise

Twelve Abandoned Skyscrapers

Skyscrapers are a huge investment to build, are placed on pricey urban real estate, and contain lots of rental space, so you might be surprised that any are completely unused. Some are victims of poor planning; others are abandoned when the area suffers financial decline. Some of the older towers are unsafe due to age or toxic materials. The building shown here is Michigan Central Station in Detroit, built in 1913.

See twelve such empty buildings at Web Urbanist.

What guests won't tell you

If a neighbor has a blinking light display, put up blackout shades so guests can sleep.  

How to save $100 a month

Two frugal experts reveal how to shave 15 percent off your monthly utility bills.

World's best places to retire

Some locales off the beaten path — like Nicaragua — are scenic and ultra-affordable.  

Best jobs for working alone

If you prefer working alone, these seven fields offer the best opportunities. 

Most dangerous U.S. cities

A controversial study names America's most crime-ridden areas, leading locals to cry foul.  

America's priciest suburbs

Families often flee the city in search of cheaper housing, but that's not the case here.  

'Salad Spinner' house for sale

A Beverly Hills mansion turns heads for its unique architecture — and its whopping price tag.

Culinary DeLites

Cooking with Thermite

Oh no! The family will be here anytime and you forgot to cook the turkey! What to do? I don’t think the Butterball hotline has the solution you’re looking for. What heats up faster than a microwave? Thermite! No, we don’t advocate trying this, but you can watch the magic of thermite cook a turkey in under thirty seconds in this video.
And yes, they eat it.

If your turkey is still frozen, you'll defrost the bird faster by soaking it in a cold bath.



Rate My Backscatter

You had to know this was coming.

Bad Cops

New York cop arrested for trying to purchase huge quantities of illegal drug

Oregon mom sues police and school district after her third-grade son is allegedly knocked to the ground and handcuffed by cops

Georgia police officer charged with felony theft by taking

Kansas city to pay $925,000 to man injured during 2006 arrest

Fired Indiana cop gets 15-year sentence on child porn charge

Colorado police officer gets probation in road rage incident

The farce that is the TSA

It would help if TSA's "fact vs myth" didn't include a myth of its own
From TSA's blog (it's not entirely clear to me why the TSA has a "blog," but whatever):
Myth: Pat downs for certain individuals are limited to the head and neck.

Fact(Myth): No one is exempt. Everyone is subject to the same screening. TSA is sensitive to religious and cultural needs, but everyone must be screened effectively. Administrator Pistole echoed those sentiments on MSNBC’s Hardball recently.
Well that's utterly and completely untrue.  And even more untrue.

TSA removes shirt of young boy during 'pat down'
You will notice the TSA wearing the blue shirts (the current uniform) so this is recent enough. If the purpose of this "enhanced pat down" is to make people feel safer during their travels, maybe stripping down a young boy in front of others is not going to help.

Post-9/11 public goodwill has vanished as increasingly invasive airport searches enrage travelers. 
Amputee forced to remove prosthesis, expose residual limb, be separated from 4yo son

These stories just keep getting worse and worse. And this incident apparently took place earlier this year, before the "enhanced" procedures went into place:
"I had just been put in the Plexiglas screening booth," said Peggy. "My 4-year-old son was made to sit across from me, crying because they would not let him touch me. Everyone was looking at us. Then the TSA agent asked for my prosthetic leg. I knew they could wand my leg, but he insisted on taking it from me. And if that wasn't humiliating enough, he asked for the liner sock that covers my residual limb, saying I had to give it to him. I felt pressured to give him my liner even though it is critical to keep it sanitary. I was embarrassed to have my residual limb exposed in public."

2 million mile air traveler says TSA pat downs are 'blatant sexual harassment'
Isn't it surprising that she doesn't want to sacrifice her privacy so someone who never flies can have the illusion of air safety? As someone who has flown to fifty countries and six continents, I'm with her.
"This past weekend I was in Phoenix, the weekend before I was in Las Vegas, the weekend before I was in Vancouver," she said. "I do not fly for pleasure at all, pleasure is staying home."

Briles has two double knee implants, so she always "rings" at the metal detector. After a few recent trips, the TSA, she feels, is intimately familiar with her. She has been checked several times recently by the TSA, and one of those times was a private session.

"I really don't know who marked the box and said, 'Yes, now let's really touch them.' Let's turn from feeling where they would go on the back of their hand and going down - now they're doing full frontal, where they run their hands over your breasts, they will cup your breast, they're going inside your collar," Briles said. "If anyone pulled what TSA is doing, they would be sued and fired for just blatant sexual harassment."
And credit should be also given to Senator George LeMieux who said he would never want his wife to be touched the way the TSA is touching people. It's about time everyone in Congress and the White House (including the Cabinet) goes through both procedures.

The truth be told


Teabaggers and and other repugicans now claiming Thanksgiving is a lesson in socialism

You know who else used to rewrite history to their own political advantage?
The Soviets.
These guys are amazing.
And of course, as always, the historians say they're completely wrong.
And it's not just the Teabaggers, it's Dick Armey, their patron, and Lush Dimbulb.
It's modern wingnuttery that passing this lie.
From the NYT:
In the Tea Party view of the holiday, the first settlers were actually early socialists. They realized the error of their collectivist ways and embraced capitalism, producing a bumper year, upon which they decided that it was only right to celebrate the glory of the free market and private property.

Historians quibble with this interpretation.
Bradford did get rid of the common course — but it was in 1623, after the first Thanksgiving, and not because the system wasn’t working. The Pilgrims just didn’t like it. In the accounts of colonists, Mr. Pickering said, “there was griping and groaning.”

“Bachelors didn’t want to feed the wives of married men, and women don’t want to do the laundry of the bachelors,” he said.

The real reason agriculture became more profitable over the years, Mr. Pickering said, is that the Pilgrims were getting better at farming crops like corn that had been unknown to them in England.

As for Jamestown, there was famine. But historians dispute the characterization of the colony as a collectivist society. “To call it socialism is wildly inaccurate,” said Karen Ordahl Kupperman, a historian at New York University and the author of “The Jamestown Project.” “It was a contracted company, and everybody worked for the company. I mean, is Halliburton a socialist scheme?”
They're not just idiots. These people are dangerous.

Faux has donated $40 million in air time to repugican presidential candidates

As always, fair and balanced for the repugican side.
More from Media Matters:
Between January 1 and October 31 of this year, five potential repugican presidential candidates -- Newt Gingrich, Mike Huckabee, Sarah Palin, John Bolton, and Rick Santorum -- who also serve as Faux News contributors or hosts have appeared on the network for a combined total of nearly 66 hours. Media Matters for America estimates this time to be worth at least $40 million in advertising costs.



Manic Monday

The Bangles

World's First Rock-and-Roll Song Identified

"That’s All Right Mama" by Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup is the song that launched a genre, according to one historian.  

Ice Fishing

Canadian Ice Fishing

Lady in New Zealand sells her depression for $155

A depression sufferer has sold her illness for $155 on Trade Me. In the listing Emma, 29, said she suffered from depression since age 14. "My depression won't let you down. It will rear its ugly head at regular intervals. You can call it the Black Dog if you like," the listing said. "At its severest, you won't be able to get out of bed to shower, change your underwear or clean your teeth."

She estimates the monthly cost of keeping depression "under wraps" was around $500, not including taking time off work. Acquiring depression isn't guaranteed, but the winning bidder did get a transfer of ownership form, with the $155 going to the Movember Foundation. The listing had more than 10,700 page views and a long tail of comments, some commending her and others sharing similar stories about depression. "I tried chucking mine out the window but it didn't work," one post said.

Clinical psychologist Duncan Thomson says the auction shows the value in being open, and even humorous, about mental health, and the impact it can have on people's lives. "The concept that you can sell your depression is pure irony," he says. "She is actually making the really useful point that depression is something that is often managed - rather than cured in the medical sense - in all kinds of different ways, often with a combination of therapy, drugs and things that are generally positive for wellbeing like exercise, diet and meditation."

Thomson says there is a trend toward being more open about depression and that can only be good. "It reduces the stigma associated with the mental illness, makes people feel less alone and helps people seek help," he says. Movember Foundation country manager Jim Slattery says the foundation fully supported Emma's auction. "I hope whoever bought it casts it out to sea."



Woman accused in pizza shop video pleads guilty

A North Carolina woman accused of appearing in a gross video at a Domino's Pizza kitchen that was posted on the Internet last year has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from the video.

You think you're up to it


Would You Travel One-Way to Mars?

This week two scientists, Dirk Schulze-Makuch and Paul Davies, suggested in the Journal of Cosmology that it is time for humans to start colonizing Mars. Humanity needs some intrepid explorers to "boldly go" on a one-way mission to the red planet in order to ensure the conservation of our species in the event of the catastrophic devastation of our blue planet. The risks would be high, and the likelihood of return to Mother Earth would be low to nil. But the way would be laid, promising a growing colony of humans on Mars. Would you volunteer to leave Earth and join the first colonists to settle on another planet?

Reasons Geeks Can't Sleep

11. Not because of caffeine. Just can't stop thinking about coffee.

10. Converting MP3 collection to OGG taking longer than you thought.

9. Dorito crumbs on sheets cause unbearable itching.

8. Borg costume needed redesigning because it just wasn't realistic enough.

7. Had to keep checking the torrent to make sure it was still downloading.

6. Too scared to sleep after watching "Hackers" and knowing they can make more movies like it.

5. MMORPG withdrawal causing uncontrolable shaking.

4. Removed your bed to make room for the server rack.

3. Years of living underground have made your eyelids translucent.

2. Watched special edition of Star Wars and still pissed off over Greedo shooting first.

1. Had to sell bed to buy new graphics card.

A Computer Chip the Size of a Molecule

The governments of Singapore and the European Union are trying to develop a computer chip the size of a single molecule. From Singapore’s press release on the subject:
A*STAR’s IMRE and 10 EU research organizations are working together to build what is essentially a single molecule processor chip. As a comparison, a thousand of such molecular chips could fit into one of today’s microchips, the core device that determines computational speed. The ambitious project, termed Atomic Scale and Single Molecule Logic Gate Technologies (ATMOL), will establish a new process for making a complete molecular chip. This means that computing power can be increased significantly but take up only a small fraction of the space that is required by today’s standards.
The fabrication process involves the use of three unique ultra high vacuum (UHV) atomic scale interconnection machines which build the chip atom-by-atom. These machines physically move atoms into place one at a time at cryogenic temperatures. One of these machines is located in A*STAR’s IMRE.

Man to Travel 200 Miles in Solar-Powered Wheelchair

solar-powered wheelchair photo  
Photo via The National
Chances are, you haven't heard of Haidar Taleb yet, but he's on a mission to inspire the world. On Monday, the disabled 47-year-old from the UAE is set to embark on a record-breaking 200 mile voyage across the desert in a solar-powered wheelchair he designed and built himself. "With this journey I hope to raise awareness of disability and sustainability as well as what we can achieve as individuals if we have the courage and determination to try," he says.
Article continues: Man to Travel 200 Miles in Solar-Powered Wheelchair

New Airplane Design Mimics a Seagull

Airplanes took off when humans stopped trying to mimic birds, but a new design unintentionally evoked a seagull.

Non Sequitur


Collar necklace, Afghanistan, first century

"From a tomb in Tillia Tepe, Afghanistan."

The Pride Of The Valley Sculpture Park


Churt is a tiny village in the English county of Surrey and has most of the features you would expect from a centuries long established village in this part of the country - as well as something entirely unexpected.

Just outside the village boundaries lies the Pride of the Valley Sculpture Park, a place of unanticipated arty pleasure.

The Ellora Caves In India


The Ellora Caves are an impressive complex of Buddhist, Hindu and Jain cave temples near the ancient Indian village of Ellora. The caves have a slightly less dramatic setting than those at Ajanta, but more exquisite sculptures. Ellora is a World Heritage Site and the most visited ancient monument in Maharashtra State.

The 34 Ellora caves - actually structures excavated out of the vertical face of the Charanandri hills - were built between the 6th and the 10th century. The 12 Buddhist, 17 Hindu, and 5 Jain caves, built in proximity, demonstrate the religious harmony prevalent during this period of Indian history.

Secret chamber in National Library

The the Archaeological Survey of India discovered a mysterious hidden room while restoring the Indian National Library in Alipore. They know the room is large, around 1000 square feet, but can't find a way in. What's inside? Theories so far include skeletons (it was common practice among the British to 'wall up' offenders in 'death chambers' - lovely) or hidden treasures (the British were known to hide treasures in so called 'blind chambers').
"We've searched every inch of the first floor area that forms the ceiling of this enclosure for a possible trap door. But found nothing. Restoration of the building will remain incomplete if we are not able to assess what lies inside this enclosure," said deputy superintending archaeologist of ASI, Tapan Bhattacharya. "We've come across an arch on one side of the enclosure that had been walled up. Naturally speculations are rife," said another archaeologist. Was it used as a punishment room by Hastings or one of the Lt Governors who succeeded him? It was common practice among the British to "wall up" offenders in "death chambers". Some sources say this enclosure has exactly the same look and feel. The British were also known to hide riches in blind chambers as this.
"It could be just about anything. Skeletons and treasure chests are the two things that top our speculations because it is not natural for a building to have such a huge enclosure that has no opening. We cannot break down a wall, considering the importance of the building. So we have decided to bore a hole through the wall to peer inside with a searchlight," said D V Sharma, regional director, ASI.

Five Famous Scientists Dismissed as Morons in Their Time

Anthony Jurado and Nessa B. Wilson of Cracked wrote an article about five scientists who are respected today, but were considered fools in their own time. These include the physician Ignaz Semmelweis, who suggested that doctors should wash their hands after handling dead bodies in order to resist spreading infections:
Semmelweis didn’t just have the disregard of his contemporaries, he had their flat-out scorn. Maybe it was because he didn’t get around to explaining himself on paper right away, so no one understood what hand-washing had to do with keeping people alive. Some doctors were actually insulted that he was accusing Viennese medical students being dirty enough to kill people.
Within 14 years of his groundbreaking discovery, Semmelweis just stopped giving a [redacted -- ed.]. He got drunk all the time and called all his detractors “ignoramuses” and “murderers.” He started chilling with prostitutes and lashing out at family. That last part proved to be a bad move, because in 1865 they had him committed to an insane asylum, where he was promptly beat up and stuck in a dark cellar.
He died two weeks later. It took another 20 years and Louis Pasteur’s germ theory for the rest of the world to come around to the concept of washing your hands to keep from getting sick.



Extinction date for tigers

Experts announce a startlingly imminent year for when they think the big cats will disappear from the wild.