Welcome to ...

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.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Still feeling solid, practical and responsible?
Not to mention grounded?
Good, because with what tumbles out of your mouth today, you're going to need to be feeling confident.
Well, it's tough to say what it's going to be, but it won't be something that you or anyone around you could ever have predicted.
Almost sounds like fun, doesn't it?

Some of our readers today have been in:
Bologne-Billancourt, Ile-De-France, France
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan
Quezon City, Manila, Philippines
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Pune, Maharashtra, India
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Rome, Lazio, Italy
London, England, United Kingdom
Caboolture, Queensland, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Alliston, Ontario, Canada
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Jeddah, Makkah, Saudi Arabia

as well as Serbia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, New Zealand, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Korea, Brazil, Vietnam, Egypt, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Puerto Rico and in cities across the United States such as Cheyenne, Ames, Berwyn, Kill Devil Hills and more.

Today is:
Today is Sunday, November 28, the 332nd day of 2010.
There are 33 days left in the year.

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

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Molecular biologist on the dangers of pornoscanners

Jason Bell, "a molecular biologist and biophysicist... a Ph.D. candidate in Steve Kowalczykowski's lab at UC Davis," has posted a detailed critique of the research on the safety of airport backscatter radiation scanners. His specialty is the "molecular mechanism of how mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility gene, BRCA2, result in cancer," and he's posted a detailed, lay-friendly explanation of the scientific concerns expressed by the UCSF team that believes that they are unsafe for use.
Which brings me to how the scanner works. Essentially, it appears that an X-ray beam is rastered across the body, which highlights the importance of one of the specific concerns raised by the UCSF scientists... what happens if the machine fails, or gets stuck, during a raster. How much radiation would a person's eye, hand, testicle, stomach, etc be exposed to during such a failure. What is the failure rate of these machines? What is the failure rate in an operational environment? Who services the machine? What is the decay rate of the filter? What is the decay rate of the shielding material? What is the variability in the power of the X-ray source during the manufacturing process? This last question may seem trivial; however, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory noted significant differences in their test models, which were supposed to be precisely up to spec. Its also interesting to note that the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory criticized other reports from NIST (the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and a group called Medical and Health Physics Consulting for testing the machine while one of the two X-ray sources was disabled (citations at the bottom of the page). These questions have not been answered to any satisfaction and the UCSF scientists, all esteemed in their fields and members of the National Academy of Sciences have been dismissed based on a couple of reports seemingly hastily put together by mid-level government lab technicians. The documents that I have reviewed thus far either have NO AUTHOR CREDITS or are NOT authored by anyone with either a Ph.D. or a M.D., raising serious concerns of the extent of the expertise of the individuals and organizations evaluating these machines. Yet, the FDA and TSA continue to dismiss some of the most talented scientists in the country...
Furthermore, when making this comparison, the TSA and FDA are calculating that the dose is absorbed throughout the body. According the simulations performed by NIST, the relative absorption of the radiation is ~20-35-fold higher in the skin, breast, testes and thymus than the brain, or 7-12-fold higher than bone marrow. So a total body dose is misleading, because there is differential absorption in some tissues. Of particular concern is radiation exposure to the testes, which could result in infertility or birth defects, and breasts for women who might carry a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation. Even more alarming is that because the radiation energy is the same for all adults, children or infants, the relative absorbed dose is twice as high for small children and infants because they have a smaller body mass (both total and tissue specific) to distribute the dose. Alarmingly, the radiation dose to an infant's testes and skeleton is 60-fold higher than the absorbed dose to an adult brain!

TSA's own guidelines allow photographs to be taken

In practice, this has not always been the case. It really wouldn't be the TSA though if they decided that they can do pretty much whatever they want to do, regulations be damned. (It's hard to imagine private security who operate at some airports would be much different. Even worse, they're even less accountable.) If the country is going to be subjected to this silly security theater, people should at least have the right to photograph these ridiculous actions. After all, if the TSA guidelines say it's OK, then it should be OK. Maybe it's time the full guidelines are printed and clearly posted at every TSA site, just in case there's another debate. An available hotline that is available on the spot isn't such a bad idea either.

My wife and I arrived at the airport for our annual Thanksgiving pilgrimage Tuesday evening, and like millions of others, came face-to-face with the TSA’s upgraded security measures. I breezed through; My wife, who apparently looks far more dangerous than I do, was pulled aside for a pat-down.

Her frisker was very polite and the procedure was barely invasive, if a bit more aggressive than in the past. But while she was being systematically searched from head to toe, I pulled out my BlackBerry to take some pictures and record a souvenir of the Great Gropefest of 2010. Within seconds I was being shouted at sternly by another TSA agent, who told me that “either you stop taking pictures, or I take your camera.” When I asked him why I couldn’t take photos of my wife in a public place, he said that it was “against the rules.”

The right to photography at TSA checkpoints matters: I was mostly hoping to show my wife her ridiculous facial expressions as she received “love pats” from a stranger. Others might hope to document real TSA abuses, or point out dangerous vulnerabilities in its security measures.

Full Monty Scanner or Enhanced Pat-Down - the Only Options?

Hardy members of Germany's Pirate Party stripped down to their underwear and went to Berlin airport, their bodies marked with slogans in makeup or on paper signs: "Something to hide?", "Be a good citizen -- drop your pants."
One woman has the word diaper scrawled on her lower back with an arrow pointing to her underwear and the word prosthetic printed on her leg. The word piercing and an arrow point to one of her breasts. The full-body scanners use high-frequency radio waves to produce an image of a passengers naked body beneath clothes. Anything a passenger is carrying against the body -- weapons, drugs or explosives -- would be exposed. The scanners would also reveal the presence of prosthetic devices and breast implants.
As such, there have been privacy and legal concerns raised about the invasive equipment, particularly because its unclear if the scanners would be able to detect explosives hidden in body cavities and would therefore likely provide only minimal security.

Question for the TSA


The truth will always win

Copies of George W. Bush's new book "mysteriously" finding their way into the "true crime" section of bookstores all over the world.

The truth be told


Top winter destinations

Travelers to Italy will find deals, and can now also visit the Colosseum dungeons in Rome.  

Pledge of Allegiance on beer cans

From the "Now that's just tacky" Department:

An Oklahoma brewer has been given approval to include the Pledge of Allegiance on beer cans.

Rare Hitler pictures to go on sale

Hundreds of never-seen-before photographs of Adolf Hitler are expected to fetch a six-figure sum when they go under the hammer, an auctioneer has said.

Non Sequitur


Video Shows Daycare Worker Scrubbing Child's Face With Mr. Clean Magic Eraser

A Pitt County daycare is being investigated by the state after a worker is charged with child abuse for scrubbing a child's face with a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser.

Thieves in progress dial 911, get arrested

Some unlucky thieves in Stockton were trying to steal a bamboo plant out of someone's yard when one of them accidentally dialed 911.

Police Mistake Horror Movie Set for Real Crime Scene, Begin Investigating

Two years ago, the horror movie New Terminal Hotel was filmed at the George Washington Hotel in Washington, Pennsylvania. A recent fire there drew firefighters, who discovered what looked like a gory crime scene in one room. They summoned the police, who in turn called in crime scene investigators. Only later did the police realize that they were looking at leftovers from a horror movie set:
Washington Police Chief J.R. Blyth thought Sunday’s discovery was the most grisly murder scene in his 35 years in law enforcement. He committed several investigators to the “crime scene” — until they realized it had been set up that way for a horror movie.[...]
“I had no idea what was going on — blood on the floor, the mattress, the pillows, piece of a scalp with hair still attached in the center of the bed,” said Blythe.
The room is on the fourth floor of the 10-story hotel on South Main Street. Vulgar words were written on the walls, along with the fake blood.

Things that make you say ...

Man charged w/resisting arrest by covering his head while cops beat him.

Protect yourself from ATM fraud

Organized gangs are pulling off sophisticated attacks, including at many bank-owned ATMs.  

Moves that make you look cheap

Requesting a refill is fine, but don't bring the cup back hours later asking for more.  

Macau casino mogul Ho bids $330,000 for 2 white truffles at auction

A Macau casino mogul bid $330,000 for a pair of white truffles, including one weighing about two pounds, matching the record price he paid at the same event three years ago for one of the giant fungi.

Catch may be play of the year

Oklahoma State's Broderick Brown vaults far out of bounds to reach a ball, and then surprises everyone.

Attack Of The Vintage Toy Robots

Danger! Warning! Intruder Approaching! For recalling the fears and aspirations of the space-race 1950s, Japanese toy robots can't be beat. But how much do we really know about these tin creations, in hindsight one of Japan's greatest postwar exports?

Robot collector Justin Pinchot gives the backstory on Japanese tin toy robots and how they reflected the postwar psyche and values of both Japan and the U.S.

How not to ruin appliances

Even a small nick on a dishwasher's vinyl-coated rack can start rusting your dishes.

Ford Mustang Station Wagon

Ford never offered the Mustang as a station wagon, but that didn’t stop car modders from creating their own:
The story goes that in 1966 Italian coach builder Intermeccanica built a Mustang station wagon for advertiser Barney Clark and designer Bob Cumberford which showed up in many car magazines of the day. Supposedly Ford had a Mustang wagon in design stages around the same time but scrapped the program shortly after the Intermeccania cars appeared. The Intermeccania cars are often mistaken for a factory concept.
Pictured above is a non-Intermaccania conversion, currently on sale on eBay. You can view several more pictures here.


The Valley of the Moon

Ischigualasto, meaning “the place where you put the moon” is a remote valley in Argentina. It is studded with geological formations left by wind erosion, amazing standing stones and boulders that are so rounded they look like enormous marbles. The valley’s once-fertile ground is now arid and contains so many plant and animal fossils that paleontologists come from all over the world to study them.

The Science Of Color Theory

Color theory is a vast and complicated sphere of knowledge. It consists of different scientific elements, such as: optics, spectroscopy, human anatomy and physiology, psychology, art history and theory, philosophy, ethics, architecture theory, design and many other applied sciences.

This article shows the schemes of harmonic color combinations and the examples of their usage by a bunch of talented vector artists.

Fourteen Most Beautiful Jellyfish On Earth


Jellyfish have always drawn gasps at their beauty - and at times their venom, which range from mild to enough to kill a man. Found in every ocean and in some freshwater lakes and rivers, the jellyfish is one of the wonders of marine life.



The Top 10 Daily Consequences of Having Evolved

Sure, we’ve got opposable thumbs and larger brains, but was the path of human evolution all that it’s cracked up to be? At Smithsonian magazine, Rob Dunn points out ten problems that we face today as a result of the evolution of our species.

Here’s one:
4. Unsupported intestines
Once we stood upright, our intestines hung down instead of being cradled by our stomach muscles. In this new position, our innards were not as well supported as they had been in our quadrupedal ancestors. The guts sat atop a hodgepodge of internal parts, including, in men, the cavities in the body wall through which the scrotum and its nerves descend during the first year of life. Every so often, our intestines find their way through these holes—in the way that noodles sneak out of a sieve—forming an inguinal hernia.

Hunters May Have Delivered Fatal Blow to Mammoths

The eternal debate ...

During the last Ice Age, shaggy mammoths, woolly rhinos and bison lumbered across northern Siberia.

Scientist's odd ice age hobby

Hairy beasts like Yakutian horses return to Siberia in a one-of-a-kind ecosystem experiment.  



Animal Picture

A Javelina via J-Walk

Pegasus flies in for a quick visit

This bizarre beast looks like it's stepped out of a Greek myth. But the extraordinary mutation of antelope and bird is actually a one-off optical illusion. The amusing picture was snapped as the animal was being chased by the tallest flying bird in the world — the Indian sarus crane.

The antelope had stumbled upon the bird's nest and had quickly been shooed away by the protective mum at Keoladeo National Park in Rajasthan, India. The spectacle was caught on camera by photographer Jagdeep Rajput, who said people had compared the mutation to Pegasus, a mythical winged horse.

The 49-year-old, from Delhi, added: "The crane had laid a single egg and when the bull got close she chased it away. I was hoping to get a picture of the interaction between the two animals but I never expected I'd get anything like this.

"When I show people the photograph their first reaction is that it must be photoshopped. Others say it looks like some new species of mammal or a bovine version of Pegasus." Pegasus is a mystical horse-god creature from Greek mythology.

Dog bowl sells at auction for $27,450

A California auction house said a sale featuring designer dog bowls was topped by a $27,450 doggie dish created by Los Angeles artist Ed Ruscha.

Bonhams auction house said the sale, on Tuesday, in Los Angeles and San Francisco, featured Ruscha's "Untitled (Fido) 2010" as the top bid-getter.

David Hockney's bowl sold for $6,710, a bowl by artist Kenny Scharf sold for $4,575, a dish made by Ross Bleckner sold for $2,074 and a Chuck Arnoldi work sold for $1,220.

The dog bowls were sold to benefit PAWS/LA, a non-profit aimed at benefiting low-income and elderly pet owners.

You can see the other dog bowls here.