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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.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Cleaning and organizing still has you completely captivated.
You can't think of anything you'd rather do than alphabetize your CDs.
Once everything is exactly where you want it to be, though, you might want to at least try to turn your attention toward one other activity, just briefly.
Isn't there someone out there who's been trying for days now to entice you into spending a few minutes alone with them?
You've got a wonderfully clean nest to show off.
Invite them over.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Porto Alegre, Rio Grande Du Sol, Brazil
Vicenza, Veneto, Italy
Winterthur, Sankt Gallen, Switzerland
Dusseldorf, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Edithvale,Victoria, Australia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
London, England, United Kingdom
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Quezon City, Manila, Philippines
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Isparta, Isparta, Turkey
Novara, Piemonte, Italy

as well as Serbia, Bangladesh, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Singapore, Sweden, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Korea, Netherlands,  Argentina, Vietnam, Egypt, Russia, Indonesia, Czech Republic, Puerto Rico, Belgium, India and in cities across the United States such as St Louis, Mt Laural, Twin Falls, Costa Mesa and more.

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, December 1, the 335th day of 2010.
There are 30 days left in the year.

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

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

December is ...

Root Vegetables and Exotic Fruits Month
Tomato and Winter Squash Month
Quince and Watermelon Month

(Is it just us or do we detect a food theme this month?)

Roadside Secret Santa at it again

An annual Christmas mystery is playing itself out again along a busy New Jersey highway.

Little Red in the woods


Odds and Sods

NYC bees turn red from cherry juice
A bunch of Brooklyn bees have been coming home looking flushed. New York City beekeeper Cerise Mayo was puzzled when her bees started showing up with mysterious red coloring.

The Northern Lights by their very nature put on dazzling displays of color, but I think they outdid themselves earlier this month.

Drunk-to-keep-warm defense works in DUI

A southeast Missouri man has been acquitted of drunk driving after claiming that he consumed alcohol to keep warm after - but not before - he lost control of his vehicle on an icy road.

Army deploys new weapon

A high-tech device that can seek out hidden targets finally lands in soldiers' hands in Afghanistan.  

Leaks reveal North Korea surprises

Among other surprises, leaks show the regime's ties to close ally China are not what the world thought.  

Rio's Drug War

An estimated 500 to 600 drug traffickers were hiding in the Complexo do Alemão area of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Over several days last week, shootouts between police and gang members left at least 42 people dead and residents terrified. The Big Picture Blog has 40 photographs from the raids. Some may be disturbing.

Mexico Now Top Source for U.S. Methamphetamines

Mexico has more bad news at its doorstep, its drug cartels are the number one importers of cold medicine chemicals used to manufacture methamphetamines consumed in the U.S. The drug cartels, always looking for businesses to expand into, quickly figured out the demand for black market flu, cold and allergy pills that eventually get turned into meth.

Non Sequitur


Kochsucker Juddins: Only Propertied Classes Should Vote


It wasn’t you were just a citizen and you got to vote. Some of the restrictions, you know, you obviously would not think about today. But one of those was you had to be a property owner. And that makes a lot of sense, because if you’re a property owner you actually have a vested stake in the community.

From the head of Tea Party Nation in his own words. Only the propertied get to vote. How long before it's only White Christian men?

Repugicans bring the Xmas spirit

2 million Americans lose unemployment benefits

Repugicans are upset that Wall Street bonuses will probably be down this year and who can really live on $400,000 - $500,000 per year? (An average range, of course, but how can one live on such chump change?) If Wall Street is prepared to cut back, everyone else should be ready to cut back, right? Just imagine how rough it's going to be for Wall Street traders to provide proper holiday gifts with so little? At least we know that we're all in this together and the repugicans in Washington understand the situation.

Let them eat cake.
Extended unemployment benefits for nearly 2 million Americans begin to run out Wednesday, cutting off a steady stream of income and guaranteeing a dismal holiday season for people already struggling with bills they cannot pay.

Unless Congress changes its mind, benefits that had been extended up to 99 weeks will end this month.

That means Christmas is out of the question for Wayne Pittman, 46, of Lawrenceville, Ga., and his wife and 9-year-old son. The carpenter was working up to 80 hours a week at the beginning of the decade, but saw that gradually drop to 15 hours before it dried up completely. His last $297 check will go to necessities, not presents.

Graph of jobs lost in recessions since 1948


Kelsey C., a master’s student at the University of Colorado-Boulder, sent in this image from Calculated Risk showing the percent of jobs lost in each recession since 1948, relative to the peak of the pre-recession job market. In terms of the percent of jobs lost, the current recession is by far the worst we’ve seen since World War II

Wealth and Inequality in America


Why Gold Is the Ideal Metal for Currency

Of all of the elements on the periodic table, why did gold become the standard of economic value for so much of human history? NPR asked Sanat Kumar, a professor of chemical engineering at Columbia University. He explained that, ideally, the material used in currency should not be reactive, corrosive, radioactive, too common, or too rare. It also needed to have a low melting point so that it could be shaped into coins. Gold is the element that best matches these criteria:
So we ask Sanat: If we could run the clock back and start history again, could things go a different way, or would gold emerge again as the element of choice?
“For the earth, with every parameter we have, gold is the sweet spot,” he says. “It would come out no other way.”

Homes Made From Plastic Bottles

Steps to saving $1 million

Building that stash is easier than you may think, if you follow these rules.  

Cut your property taxes

Up to 60 percent of real estate is assessed too high, so make sure you're not overpaying.  

Towns where land is free

Rural communities are offering the lots to lure newcomers and boost local economies.  

Weird excuses for sick days

One in four employers reports a rise in bogus excuses, like mouth burns from pumpkin pie.  

Diabetic News

Researchers find link between sugar, diabetes and aggression
A spoonful of sugar may be enough to cool a hot temper, at least for a short time, according to new research.
A study found that people who drank a glass of lemonade sweetened with sugar acted less aggressively toward a stranger a…
Full story

Diabetes may clamp down on cholesterol the brain needs
The brain contains more cholesterol than any other organ in the body, has to produce its own cholesterol and won’t function normally if it doesn’t churn out enough. Defects in cholesterol metabolism have been linked …
Full story

During National Diabetes Awareness month, new report ties disease to shortened life expectancy
Despite medical advances enabling those with diabetes to live longer today than in the past, a 50-year-old with the disease still can expect to live 8.5 years fewer years, on average, than a 50-year-old without the disease.
Full story

Landmark food-safety bill's impact

The most important U.S. food legislation in decades may mean higher costs for consumers.  

Natural sleep remedies

If you have trouble falling asleep but want to avoid medication, a well-timed bath can work wonders.  

More vitamin D not needed

A new Institute of Medicine report finds that most people get enough vitamin D and calcium from food.

Culinary DeLites

Plant-based foods usually lack one or more essential amino acids.  
15 Sandwiches From Around the World
Putting your meal between slices of bread is a trick people do all over the world -with slight differences from country to country. In Australia you may have a chance to try the yeast paste Vegemite. In Japan you can have your noodles in your sandwich. In Vietnam you might encounter the spicy Vietnamese bahn mi.
A baguette stuffed to the brim with meat and pickled veggies, the banh mi is fusion food at its best. But be warned: it’s usually sprinkled with cilantro, so don’t be surprised by an herby kick when you take a bite.
Find more sandwich styles from around the world at National Geographic Traveler.



Animal Camouflage

Nature is fascinating, and some of nature's best work is illustrated by a group of animals that have adapted to mimic leaves. Leaf mimics employ a heightened form of camouflage to evade detection from predators or prey.

These animals make use of extraordinary color patterns, in addition to modified exoskeletons, skin, scales, and behavior to take camouflage to another level.

Venus holds warning for Earth

A mysterious high-altitude layer of sulphur dioxide discovered by ESA’s Venus Express has been explained. As well as telling us more about Venus, it could be a warning against injecting our atmosphere with sulphur droplets to mitigate climate change …

Dramatic storm cloud images

Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are the subject of amazing images taken around the world.  

Natural Disaster Hot Zones

Hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions – it seems there’s no end to the hazards that threaten to befall us. What areas are most at risk of experiencing a natural disaster? By looking at a region’s history of disasters,  fault lines and underground magma the io9 team has compiled a map of the world’s hot zones. Much to my relief the area that I call home around the Great Lakes in Canada looks relatively risk-free.

The Bearer of Bad News

A man goes on a two month business trip to Europe and leaves his cat, to whom he’s very attached, with his brother. Three days before his return he calls his brother.

Brother 1: So how is my cat doing?

Brother 2: She's Dead

Brother 1: OMG she's dead? What do you mean she's dead! I loved that cat. Couldn't you think of a nicer way to tell me! I'm leaving in 3 days. You could have broken it to me a little more gently. You could have told me today that she got out of the house or something. Then when I called before I left you could have told me, well, we found her but she got up on the roof and we're having trouble getting her down. Then when I called you from the airport you could have told me the fire department was there with a net and scared her off the roof but she missed the net and unfortunately died instantly when she hit the ground.

Brother 2: I'm sorry...you're right...that was insensitive I won't let it happen again.

Brother 1: Alright, alright, forget about it. Anyway, how is Mom doing?

Brother 2: Well, Mom got up on the roof…

Offbeat Motorcycle Gangs

Want to join a motorcycle gang, but not sure where to look? Afraid that all gangs are violent and exclusive? Looking for a way to leverage your unique qualities into a patch of honor?

Are you a proud Jewish biker? Got a mean streak and hail from the great island nation of New Zealand? Love to do good deeds and can rattle off every entrée at The Olive Garden? Here are some motorcycle gangs you might want to join.

Socialite's gems make a splash

The American who wooed King Edward VIII from his throne left behind a trove of intriguing gems.

The Seven Sutherland Sisters

The story of "The Amazing Sisters Sutherland" is detailed at Sideshow World.
They were America's first celebrity models. In the 1880s, fashion's era of bustles and puffs, they became one of the sexiest, most popular performing attractions in The Greatest Show on Earth... They came from the poverty of Cambria, New York, a rural farm community, and rode their dynamic singing talent and exotic looks to wealth and international fame, becoming global trendsetters, and even marrying into royalty.

As Gilded Age divas, they sang, played piano, modeled, and offered hair care and beauty advice to millions... They had hair magnetism; hair was their art, their source of power and eventual wealth. In the days when few people trusted physicians, when secret home-made remedies, quackery, and self-doctoring flourished, they helped set the standards by which models and celebrities would endorse and sell namesake beauty products...

Man fined for offending Muslims by yodelling

From the "Get over yourself why don't you" Department:

An Austrian man has been fined for yodeling while mowing his lawn. Helmut G. was told by a court in Graz, Styria, that his yodeling offended his next-door Muslim neighbors.

The men reportedly accused the 63-year-old of having tried to mock and imitate the call of the Muezzin. The man was fined 800 Euros after judges ruled he could have tried to offend them and ridicule their belief.

The Muslims, whose nationalities were not revealed, were right in the middle of a prayer when the Austrian started to yodel.

"It was not my intention to imitate or insult them. I simply started to yodel a few tunes because I was in such a good mood" he said.

72-year-old Ghanaian grandmother burned to death for being a 'witch'

A grandmother has allegedly been tortured and burned to death by a five-strong group - one of whom is believed to be an evangelical pastor - who accused her of being a witch. Ama Hemmah, 72, suffered the horrific injuries when she was set upon by the mob, who claimed that she admitted to being a witch before drenching her in kerosene and setting her alight. Mrs Hemmah, who was from the port city of Tema, near the Ghanaian capital, Accra, was burned alive in nearby Tema Site 15.

She was rushed to Tema General Hospital but died within 24 hours and five people have been arrested in connection with her death. Newspaper pictures showing the woman's injuries have caused revulsion in Ghana, and the incident has been condemned by human rights and women's activists. The suspects deny the crime and claim that they were praying to exorcise the evil spirit from the dying woman, when the anointing oil they had applied to her body caught fire.

The suspects are Samuel Ghunney, a 50-year-old photographer, Pastor Samuel Fletcher Sagoe, 55, and Emelia Opoku, 37, Nancy Nana Ama Akrofie, 46, and Mary Sagoe, 52, who are all unemployed. According to the police commander, Mr Augustine Gyening, the suspects claimed that Mrs Hemmah was a known witch in the area and subjected her to severe torture, compelling her to confess to being a witch. He said after extracting the confession, Mr Ghunney asked Emelia for a gallon of kerosene and with the help of his accomplices, poured it all over the woman and set her ablaze.

Mr Gyening said a student-nurse, Deborah Pearl Adumoah, who chanced upon the barbaric act, rescued Mr Hemmah and sent her to the Community One Police Station, from where she was transferred to the Tema General Hospital, but she died the following day. In their caution statement, the suspects denied the offense and explained that they poured anointing oil on the old woman which caught fire when they offered prayers to exorcise the demon from her.



Egyptian Archaeologist Says Pyramids Contain UFO Technology

The head of the Cairo University Archeology Department, Dr Ala Shaheen, has told an audience that there might be truth to the theory that aliens helped the ancient Egyptians build the oldest of pyramids, the Pyramids of Giza.

On being further questioned as to whether the pyramid might still contain alien technology or even a UFO within its structure, Dr Shaheen was vague and replied I can not confirm or deny this, but there is something inside the pyramid that is 'not of this world'.

Delegates to the conference on ancient Egyptian architecture were left shocked, however Dr Shaheen has refused to comment further or elaborate on his UFO and alien related statements.

Roman Chariot Racing

Chariot racing was one of the most popular ancient Roman sports. Chariot racing was often dangerous to both driver and horse as they frequently suffered serious injury and even death, but generated strong spectator enthusiasm.

In Roman chariot racing, teams represented different groups of financial backers and sometimes competed for the services of particularly skilled drivers. These teams became the focus of intense support among spectators, and occasional disturbances broke out between followers of different factions.

North American Indian Photographs By Edward Curtis

In 1906, American photographer Edward Curtis was offered $75,000 to document North American Indians. Curtis set out to photograph the North American Indian way of life at a time when Native Americans were being forced from their land and stripped of their rights.

Curtis' photographs depicted a romantic version of the culture which ran contrary to the popular view of Native Americans as savages.

Neanderthal art

"A woman views what is claimed to be the oldest known art work at the Neanderthal Museum in Mettmann, Germany. The ivory carving of a mammoth, 35,000 years old, was found in southern Germany."

Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century

Anonymous, nineteenth century. Photograph by Eszter Blahak/Semmelweis Museum. 

Historically, the primary concern of neuroscience has been location. In the mass of flesh that is the human body, where is the mind? Towards the end of the eighteenth century, Franz Joseph Gall built an influential theory that posited that distinct areas of the cerebrum serve distinct faculties such as emotions, moral impulses and the intellect. He also thought that these different brain areas grow and shrink according to their use, pushing out and creating bumps on the skull that betray the makeup an individual's mind. It is easy today to chalk up Gall's reasoning to quackery, and its service to subsequent commercial and ideological uses (such as racism) certainly does not help his case. But Gall ushered in the first modern theory ascribing different mental functions to different parts of the cerebrum. While he was entirely off the mark on the details, his paradigm guides us to this day -- only the coordinate system has shifted to indicate positions within the brain rather than on the skull.
Portraits of the Mind: Visualizing the Brain from Antiquity to the 21st Century, by Carl Schoonover, foreword by Jonah Lehrer, is published by Abrams

Wizard of Id


Agoraphobic hare scared to leave house

Once upon a time, there was a hare called Frances who was afraid to go out. Only this is no fairy tale - Frances really is an agoraphobic hare. Ever since she had a run-in at a few days old with a plow, she has been scared of the outside.

Now Frances spends her days lazing round the home of her adoptive parents, the Naylor family, watching TV, drinking puppy milk and playing. ‘I have tried to get her to go into a run in the garden outside but she gets spooked,’ said John Naylor, who took Frances off the farmer who almost hit her.

The wildlife artist, 50, from Langtoft, East Yorkshire, added: ‘Maybe one day she will get over her fear. She has the run of the house and is very intelligent, she’s an amazing creature.’ Now three months old, the leveret is friends with the family dog, a terrier called Mouse, and adored by children, Eve, six, and four-year-old George.

Mother Suzy said the hare could be naughty and has chewed through many wires and nibbled on the carpets. ‘You can’t get angry with her because she is so cute and is now a much-loved member of the family,’ she added.