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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.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You'll be most successful with an outgoing, even aggressive approach to things.
You know what you want, so go get it.
Politely but firmly ask anybody standing in your way to step aside.
If they don't comply, then tell them to.
With that determined look in your eye, they're bound to do what you say.
Then pick up whatever you want and take it where you want to go.
You'll feel mighty powerful by the time this is all over.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
London, England, United Kingdom
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutua, Malaysia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Perth, Western Australia, Australia

as well as Bulgaria, Austria, Georgia, Mexico, Japan, Peru, Kuwait, Serbia, Bangladesh, Latvia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Wales, Iran, Singapore, Poland, Taiwan, Sweden, Afghanistan, Belgium, India, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Finland, Paraguay,  Argentina, Vietnam, Egypt, Russia, Indonesia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, China, Iraq, Ecuador, Nigeria, Morocco, Chile, Honduras, Paupa New Guinea, Moldova  and in cities across the United States such as Manteca, Tucson, Wheaton, Oakland and more.

Today is:
Today is Tuesday, December 14, the 348th day of 2010.
There are 17 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 

Monkey Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

And I Quote

"The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant.
We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift."
— Albert Einstein

Celtic Fling


Good Question


Random Celebrity Photo

Evita Peron
Evita Peron

World-record dive at sea

With just one breath, William Trubridge reaches a depth long considered impossible for humans.  

Most popular among Gawker Media hacked passwords '123456'

The massive hack of Gawker Media's commenter database shows that the more things change, the more they remain them same.

Despite warnings about strong passwords, end users continue to use the simplest passwords possible.

Talking to your aging parents

A holiday get-together may be a good time to discuss whether they need more care.  

Cut down on too much paper

To remove your name from junk-mail lists, you may want to enlist the help of others.



Italian hospital asks doctors not to snort cocaine at work

An Italian hospital director sent a memo to doctors and nurses asking them not to snort cocaine while on duty.

Giuseppe Di Maria now faces possible disciplinary action following the memo sent to medical staff at the Santa Catarina Novella di Galatina Hospital near Lecce in southern Italy. The memo was sent after Di Maria received anonymous tip-offs about the practice at the hospital.

Social services chiefs have opened an internal inquiry into the affair and also referred it to the local prosecutor's office. Director of social affairs Guido Scoditti said he had no choice but to pass the matter on to the authorities.

"The director of the hospital has certainly made an error, he should not have sent this memo, he should have informed me directly. The alleged consumption of cocaine in a hospital environment should certainly not be dealt with in this way," he said.

Bad Cops

Florida police officer puts minor in choke hold and charges two with felony battery after being hit ... by an air kiss

Georgia police officer accused of hitting wife

Ohio police officer charged with aggravated trafficking in drugs

Former Florida sheriff's major sentenced for embezzling money from county

Fired Texas deputy faces new charges

Texas cops ask that no one posts a picture of Officer Daniel Lopez because of other victims he may have sexually assaulted

London police drag student fee protester from wheelchair, twice

There never seems to be any progress with the Metropolitan police and problems such as this. During the G20, someone died as they innocently passed through and this year there has already been a report of a brain injury allegedly from a police baton. You can see the video here where the student who suffers from cerebal palsy was dragged across the road, including an interview with the BBC. The student protester is unable to move his wheelchair by himself due to his condition and his brother was pushing the chair.

Decide for yourself if this looks like they are dragging him to a curb "for his own safety" or not. The Guardian:
Police launched an internal investigation last night after footage emerged of a man allegedly being pulled out of his wheelchair and dragged across the road by an officer during Thursday's demonstration.

The grainy video, which was posted on YouTube, does not show the moment Jody McIntyre leaves his wheelchair but appears to show the 21-year-old being dragged to the side of the road by an officer as onlookers voice their concerns.

McIntyre said it was the second time police had pulled him from his wheelchair during the protest. He said in the first incident several officers lifted him from his chair and carried him 100 yards "for his own safety".

Cab driver tries to run down man who complained about his driving

A Seattle cab driver has been charged with felony second-degree assault after he tried to run down a man who complained about his driving.

Female bank robbers hid tracking device in their car

When novice criminals Brittney Sykes and Emma Westhusing found a tracking device in the loot from a bank robbery they switched on their computer. The decision to investigate and hide the device in their car, led them to keep the proceeds from their robbery of a credit union in Oregon - $1370 - for a paltry 20 minutes.

The tracking device was placed among the 48 bills a female bank teller handed over. The duo found the suspicious device when they returned to Sykes’ Portland house to count the loot.

Sykes told investigators that she “went to a computer and searched the Internet to figure out what the device might be.” Panicking and assuming that the pair would be busted, Sykes “ran out to her car and hid the device" underneath the driver's side floor mat in her purple Hyundai Accent.

For her part, Westhusing said that when the tracking device was discovered, Sykes thought it was a dye bomb, “so she threw it against the wall.” Her cohort, she added, “then stomped on it, and then looked up what it was on the Internet.” While the pair was busy Googling, Oregon police were following the GPS signal to Sykes’s Portland residence. The women were arrested on a federal bank robbery charge.

Wizard of Id


On The Job

You can earn big bucks in these fields and may not need an advanced degree. 

A quick one

A businessman tells his friend that his company is looking for a new accountant,

His friend asks, “Didn’t your company hire a new accountant a few weeks ago?”

The businessman replies, “That’s the accountant we’re looking for.”

Tax changes on your next 1040

Don't miss these four new write-off rules that will be on your next 1040 form.  

Worst real estate markets

Home values reversed course in a few places and one city saw a 3% drop in one month alone.  

U.S. segregation at new low

Decades after the civil rights movement, census data shows a drop in black segregation.

How America will collapse by 2025

...despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.

Future historians are likely to identify the shrub and the cabal's rash invasion of Iraq in that year as the start of America's downfall. However, instead of the bloodshed that marked the end of so many past empires, with cities burning and civilians slaughtered, this twenty-first century imperial collapse could come relatively quietly through the invisible tendrils of economic collapse or cyberwarfare.

How can the budget be cut?

If government is going to spend less, as most Americans want, politicians must take risks. 

Ireland to failed bank: pay bonuses and you won't get bailed out

Finally, someone is standing up to the overvalued banking goons. Let the bankers fight this in court and see what happens. The alternative if they win is that they will wipe out the bonus money in taxes. It took a desperate situation to help a government find some spine but there's no reason to think other banks in other countries won't be seeking help again in the future.

If the money isn't there to stay afloat, it sure isn't there to pay out bonus money. How ignorant does one have to be to miss this point?
Ireland's finance minister has forced one of the country's debt-ridden banks not to pay a controversial €40m (£34m) bonus to its top staff.

Allied Irish Bank (AIB) announced this evening that it would no longer pay out the money, news of which had caused widespread outrage across the Republic at the weekend. Opposition politicians had threatened to introduce emergency legislation to the Dáil to take more than 90% of the bonus had the bank gone ahead.

In a letter to AIB, minister Brian Lenihan warned the bank that state support to shore it up was conditional on the non-payment of the bonus fund. Lenihan told AIB that "no matter when they have been earned" there would be no bonus payments to around 2,500 staff.

Odds and Sods

A swarm of 549 earthquakes hits tiny Arkansas town.

Just Thinking About Christianity Makes People More Racist

pure white
According to a study in Social Psychological and Personality Science:
Participants subliminally primed with christian words displayed more covert racial prejudice against African-Americans (Study 1) and more general negative affect toward African-Americans (Study 2) than did persons primed with neutral words. The effects of priming on racial prejudice remained even when statistically controlling for pre-existing levels of religiousness and spirituality. Possible mechanisms for the observed effect of christian religion on racial prejudice are discussed.

Krampus - Santa Claus' Secret Weapon


The song lyrics have never been truer. Oh You better watch out, You better not cry, You better not pout, I'm telling you why. Yet it isn't Santa Claus that you have to watch out for - it is his sinister sidekick - Krampus. He has a whip, and he is going to use it.

But where did the legend of the Krampus originate? The word itself comes from 'krampen' and is from Old High German. It means claw. Krampus is an incubus who accompanies Santa Claus, but does not follow the old man's prerogative of present giving.

Non Sequitur


The 411 on Area Codes

212 is New York, while the relatively close Boston got 617.  213?  Across the country, to Los Angeles.   How’s this happen?
Rotary phoneThe answer is pictured at the right.  It’s all because of the rotary phone.
Before 1951, long distance phone calls required an operator’s assistance.  On November 10, 1951, that ended, as the mayor of Englewood, New Jersey dialed, directly, the major of Alameda, California.  (The call took 18 seconds to connect.)  In order to get to that point, however, the phone system infrastructure required overhaul; specifically, the addition of a routing system.  Enter area codes.
Until recently, all area codes had either a “1″ or a “0″ as the middle number.  This allowed for local calls to be dialed without the area code, as the switching software would recognize a long distance call by the second digit — local exchanges never had a 0 or 1 in that spot — and avoid confusion.  But the etymology of specific area codes is more complicated.  While ZIP codes are roughly geographic (there’s a map for that) though, area codes clearly aren’t, as New York (originally only 212) isn’t near Los Angeles (213) and Detroit (313) abuts neither Chicago (312) nor St. Louis (314).

Cookie Monster’s nightmare

Cookie Monster’s nightmare…

Astute Observation




Real-life Da Vinci Code

High magnification techniques have recently revealed tiny letters and numbers in the eyes of the Mona Lisa that were not visible to the naked eye. The symbols were likely placed there by  LeonardoDa Vinci. Investigators were drawn to the figures by information discovered in a book in an antique shop. After 500 years the symbols are not as clear as they once were and deciphering their meaning presents a real challenge for the experts.

Archaeological Find: 2,400-year-old Soup

You’d think soup would completely dry up after a couple of thousand years, but a pot of still-liquid soup was found by a team of archaeologists in China. It was sealed inside a bronze cooking pot at a dig near Xian.
The soup and bones were discovered in a small, sealed bronze vessel in a tomb being excavated to make way for the extension of the airport in Xian, home to the country’s famed ancient terracotta warriors, the report said.
The liquid and bones in the vessel had turned green due to the oxidation of the bronze, it said. Scientists were expected to conduct further tests to confirm the liquid was indeed soup and to identify the ingredients.
Another liquid discovery at the same site is believed to be wine.

Nutcracker History

We consider a nutcracker shaped like a human to be a Christmas symbol because of Peter Tchaikovsky’s 1892 ballet The Nutcracker. That’s about all that most of us know about nutcrackers. The wooden icon we recognize traces its beginnings to the German mining town of Seiffen.
By the mid 1800s many mines had played out and shut down, and the unemployed miners had to find another means of support. Their woodworking skills, and the increasing use of water-powered lathes, saved their schnitzel. The men began to produce items in quantity—tops and dolls, farm scenes with barns and livestock, Noah’s arks with lines of paired animals, angels and pyramids bearing candles, miners carrying lamps, and the nutcrackers that they had once created only for their own families. The finished pieces were transported by horse cart to markets in Dresden, Leipzig, and Nuremberg, where they sold well and gained a reputation for quality as well as charming simplicity.
According to local legend, Seiffen woodworker Friedrich Wilhelm Füchtner created the prototype of the modern nutcracker in about 1870—a king wearing cavalry dress and a crown reminiscent of a miner’s hat. This inspired other caricatures such as soldiers, forest rangers, and policemen. The nut-cracking function of these ersatz officials symbolized the unpleasantness with which real authority figures often treated the townspeople.
The popularity of those nutcrackers really took off during World War II.

Bamboo Keyboard

Are you looking for a keyboard that absorbs sweat? Me neither but this bamboo keyboard and mouse combo does that as well as “evoking in the users a deep feeling of peace, calm and tranquility.” Clearly this unique, easy-to-use product is one you’ll want to own.

Voyager near Solar System's edge

Voyager One, Nasa  
Voyager is approaching the edge of the bubble of charged particles the Sun has thrown out into space

Voyager 1, the most distant spacecraft from Earth, has reached a new milestone in its quest to leave the Solar System.
Now 17.4bn km (10.8bn miles) from home, the veteran probe has detected a distinct change in the flow of particles that surround it.
These particles, which emanate from the Sun, are no longer travelling outwards but are moving sideways.
It means Voyager must be very close to making the jump to interstellar space - the space between the stars.

The iconic images of 2010

The year has seen an unforgettable display of triumph and grief, success and failure. 

High-speed images amaze

It may look otherworldly, but this image captures the instant a water balloon bursts.  

The Top 14 Astronomy Pictures of 2010

Dr. Phil Plait has published his selections of the best astronomy pictures of 2010. Not only will you see awesome pictures, but each has an explanation, like the full version of the cropped picture you see here.
Whenever a new type of instrument is used to examine the skies, surprises are guaranteed. And when the Wide-Field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) started scanning the heavens in 2010, it returned one amazing view after another. My favorite by far is this one, showing NGC 1514, a dying star shedding material.
This image, in the far-infrared, is very different than optical shots of the nebula, which show it looking more like a disk. It’s not certain just why this object has these two rings, but it’s likely that dust ejected from the dying star is slamming into gas previously thrown off. That older gas is most likely in an hourglass shape, common in such objects. Perhaps the dust is hitting the inside of that hourglass figure, making the rings. Maybe it’s a different reason entirely. We don’t know!

Albino redwood trees

I had forgotten their existence, until I read a story at NPR...
Park rangers in the Northern California Redwood Forest are protecting a decades-old secret. Actually, eight of them: Albino redwood trees...

Kuty points to a white bush. It's about six feet tall and it's sprouted from the base of a normal redwood tree.

Mr. KUTY It's not particularly tall. It's not particularly big. And so it could look dead.

STANDEN: Until you get up close. Albino redwood trees lack chlorophyll. Their needles are limp and waxy. They're the exact color of a glow-in-the-dark star you might find in a kid's bedroom. And while no one really knows for sure, albino redwood trees may be extremely rare.

Mr. KUTY How rare? Some people say there's 25 in the world.

STANDEN: And yet, eight of them live here. This park has the largest known concentration of albino redwoods anywhere, and that makes it the epicenter for a scientific mystery...

Without chlorophyll, they can't photosynthesize, meaning they can't convert sunlight into energy. The only reason that albino redwoods survive at all is that they are connected at the root to a parent tree from which they will suck energy for their entire lives...

Random Photos




Dog gives a massage

I want/need that dog.

Indian villagers help tiger find new home

Villagers with the help of Indian forestry department officials have caught a tiger that had wandered into their village and released it back in an area less populated by humans.

The animal appeared out of a jungle, crossed paddy fields and then made its way to Kishorimohanpur Village in the Kultali area.

Frightened villagers informed the forestry department who sent a team to capture the big cat using tranquilizer guns.

After keeping the tiger at the Sunderban Forest Office for 12 hours, officials loaded the animal onto a boat and took it to an area not inhabited by humans. With a mighty leap, the tiger jumped off the boat and into the river and swam ashore.

Ants can solve maths problems

An ant colony is probably the last place one would expect to find a maths whiz, but a study has shown that they could solve complex, dynamic problems, and may even help computer experts develop better software.

Frog resistance gaining strength

Frogs across Australia and the US may be recovering from a fungal disease that has devastated populations around the world.

"It's happening across a number of species," says Michael Mahony at the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, who completed a 20-year study of frogs along the Great Dividing Range in Australia for the Earthwatch Institute. Between 1990 and 1998 the populations of several frog species crashed due to chytridiomycosis infection (chytrid) caused by the pathogen Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis, but Mahony's surveys suggest that the frogs are re-establishing...

Knapp says there is evidence that the frogs are evolving. Initial findings from his team show that frogs from recovered populations can survive when challenged with a fungal strain, unlike frogs with no previous exposure to the fungus, which died after it colonised their skin.
There's more at New Scientist.

Pitcher pays bills for injured dog

White Sox pitcher Mark Buehrle and his wife read a sad story online and pledge to help.

Rare swimming pygmy sloth

One of the rarest mammals on the planet the pygmy three-toed sloth goes for a swim in the waters around Isla Escudo des Veraguas, a tiny island off the coast of Panama.

This fantastically charismatic animal that looks like a teddy bear was described as a new species in 2001 and makes Chris Packham's top ten discoveries of the last decade from around the world.

Animal Pictures