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.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Get ready for an increase in responsibility.
Don't worry, this won't make you feel stressed out and overloaded.
On the contrary, more responsibility is just what you need to feel good.
Sure, it isn't easy, but you're really at your best when you're in charge and accountable.
So embrace your additional duties and celebrate your new responsibilities and then do your best to do a good job.
It shouldn't be too hard for you.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Reutlingen, Badin-Wurttemburg, Germany
Espoo, Southern Finland, Finland
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Tokyo, Tokyo, Japan
Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
London, England, United Kingdom
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Munich, Bayern, Germany
Budapest, Budapest, Hungary

as well as Bulgaria, Austria, Georgia, Mexico, Peru, Kuwait, Serbia, Bangladesh, Latvia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Wales, Iran, Singapore, Poland, Taiwan, Sweden, Afghanistan, Belgium, India, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, 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 Wednesday, December 15, the 349th day of 2010.
There are 16 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 

Cat Herder's Day.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Ever have one of those days ...

Screw Ball…
Screw Ball …

Non Sequitur


Secret Santa thrills strangers

People struggling to make ends meet get a big surprise from a man in a white beard.  

Twelve Christmas Traditions From Around The World

Not every country shares the same Christmas traditions. 
Learn how some other countries celebrate the festive season.

Wizard of Id



Everyone seems to be in such a hurry to scream ‘racism’ these days. 

A customer asked, “In what aisle could I find the Polish sausage?”  
The clerk asks, “Are you Polish?”

The guy, clearly offended, says, “Yes I am.  But let me ask you something.  
If I had asked for Italian sausage, would you ask me if I was Italian? 
Or if I had asked for German Bratwurst, would you ask me if I was German?
Or if I asked for a kosher hot dog would you ask me if I was Jewish? 
Or if I had asked for a Taco, would you ask if I was Mexican?
Or if I asked for some Irish whiskey, would you ask if I was Irish?”

The clerk says, “No, I probably wouldn’t.”

The guy says, “Well then, because I asked for Polish sausage, why did you  ask me if I’m Polish?”

The clerk replied, “Because you’re in Home Depot.”

Funny Pictures


Painting The Town

13 Unbelievable Urban Mural Projects

Muralists and street artists bring gallery-worthy art to the streets where they can be enjoyed by all. Sometimes the murals are commissioned and sometimes they're done guerrilla-style under cloak of night, but splashed across the surface of a bare concrete wall or the unadorned face of an abandoned building, they're a welcome touch of color and character.

Typewriter Art

British artist Keira Rathbone uses the letters and punctuation marks on typewriters to create landscapes and portraits:
The 27-year-old begins by selecting the image she wants to capture and then decides which of her 30 typewriters is best for the job.
By turning the knob attached to the platen – the roller onto which the paper is loaded – she can deftly move the page around and line up the type guide – where the typebars hit the paper and make the character mark in ink.
Because she uses old manual typewriters, she can control the shades by hitting the keys softer for lighter colours and harder for darker shades.

Jingle Bells in Space

The National Air and Space Museum, a part of the Smithsonian Institution, keeps these very special jingle bells as a part of history.
These bells are part of the harmonica and bell set carried by astronauts Walter “Wally” Schirra and Tom Stafford aboard Gemini 6 in December of 1965. The mission was to test the docking and maneuvering capability of the Gemini spacecraft.
Approximately five hours after the successful maneuvering of the the two spacecraft to within six inches of each other, astronauts Schirra and Stafford played “Jingle Bells” with these instruments and pretended to see a UFO called Santa Claus.
Forty-five years later, they are on display in Washington as part of the “Apollo to the Moon” exhibition. If you can’t go, you can see a lot of history at the Smithsonian Institution’s website.

And I Quote


The Birth of Cinema

This is quite interesting.

Entertainment Industry Admits Suing Pirates Not a “Solution”

Years and Tons of Legal Fees

A conglomeration of ten entertainment industry trade groups, the RIAA and MPAA among them, recently replied to a “Notice of Inquiry” on “Copyright Policy, Creativity, and Innovation in the Internet Economy” sent out by the Dept of Commerce, and in it they admit that their sue-em-all strategy has had mixed results at best.

“The lawsuits in which we have engaged have had some positive impacts – they have increased public understanding about the consequences of copyright infringement, acted to deter future infringements, and helped shape consumer decision making about seeking legitimate alternatives for the consumption of music,” reads their reply.

“However, for a number of reasons, the role of lawsuits in solving the online theft problem is clearly limited. For instance, bringing clear-cut claims against major commercial infringers is not by itself a solution in the long run. These cases take years to litigate and are an enormous resource drain.”

It points to the LimeWire case as an example of how lawsuits have failed to really have an impact on illegal file-sharing. It spent 4 years and tens of millions of dollars in legal fees for a verdict that will likely have minimal, if any impact on P2P, especially after developers released LimeWire Pirate Edition that removed the program’s dependency on LimeWire LLC’s servers

“Such massive civil cases do not provide a scalable solution to the full scope of the problem,” it continues.

So what’s their solution? Enacting the controversial Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act so that they can seek to block sites and services accused of copyright infringement at the ISP level since “copyright thieves are adept at jumping across borders and assuming alternate identities to evade the long arm of the law.”

They also believe that “meaningful sanctions” should be taken against “repeat infringers” in order to send a “powerful message” that the practice will no longer be tolerated.

Stay tuned.

Houston TSA in diplomatic row with Indian’s UN envoy

Doesn't this envoy know that the TSA is above the law? It's also interesting to see that despite what the TSA says, there are many exceptions to the TSA rules.

More from ThinkProgress:
The paranoid environment created by the 9/11 attacks has allowed for a myriad of civil rights infringements under the guise of national security. Airport security especially ratcheted up racial profiling, marking any Middle Eastern sign or symbol a suspicious target, particularly the turban. Even turbaned individuals with no affiliation with Islam or the Middle East, such as Sikh men, have become “a superficial and accessible proxy for the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks” and a “target of discriminatory conduct,” including employment discrimination, harassment, and violence.

But now, this long-permitted prejudice is creating diplomatic tension between the U.S. and India. Today, the Indian press reported on an incident last month in which Houston, Texas airport security officials detained Indian’s UN envoy Hardeep Puri in a holding room for 30 minutes because he was wearing a turban. As a Sikh, Puri is obliged to keep all hair intact and his head covered in public at all times. The turban symbolizes self-respect and piety — “touching of the head dress in public is not allowed” and can only be removed “in the most intimate of circumstances.”

Sudanese woman whipped in public for wearing trousers

Footage has emerged of a woman  being publicly whipped in Sudan for wearing trousers. The video offers a  rare glimpse of the type of punishment inflicted on women who break the  country's strict morality code.

The victim was punished under Sharia law for  wearing trousers under her Islamic clothing. The footage shows her  crawling on the ground, raising her arm to try to ward off the attacks  and screaming as the whip strikes. The public punishment sparked  protests among females against laws they said humiliated women. Dozens  of them were arrested.

The governor of Khartoum said there had  been a mistake in the way the victim's punishment had been carried out. A  journalist said: "It is a frequent occurrence but very rarely filmed.  The punishment is under laws brought in 1991 for indecent behaviour - it  is justice under those laws."

As well as pain and humiliation, the video also shows, how for some, it  is entertainment, as a man is shown laughing at the woman after she is  whipped.

Gladiator Stabbed, Tossed as Trash?

The bones of a Roman man, who was stabbed to death and left to rot 1,600 years ago, reveal what may be the gruesome treatment of a gladiator.  

More than 25 percent of teenagers have suffered cyber bullying in the past year

Cyber bullying is an emerging phenomenon that is becoming increasingly common among teenagers. Research by the University of Valencia (UV), based on a study carried out in the region, shows that between 25% and 29% of all teenagers have been bullied …

Group Blasts Media Blackout on Child Abuse

A child protection group finds a virtual "news blackout" on America's epidemic of child abuse.  
While we find that the prevalence of child abuse is not as omnipresent as some want you to believe, neither is it as infrequent as it appears to be based solely on reports one finds in the 'media' so to some extent a "news blackout" is a fair description.

Speaking of  a 'news blackout' - that only applies to American 'news' outlets.
Here is one from Reuters: lawsuits accuse Knights of Columbus of child abuse

Daily Comic Relief


Culinary DeLites

The color of your baking sheet might cause your cookies to brown too much on the bottom.

Healthiest grocery stores

Whole Foods is the "Rolls-Royce" of healthy eating, but others are making strides.  

A Review: 2010's diet & fitness trends

From the Shake Weight to P90X, there was no shortage of new products this year. 

When memory loss isn't serious

Don't worry if you have occasional lapses in recall or you're forgetful when stressed. 

A quick one

A preacher was having a heart-to-heart talk with a backslider of his flock whose drinking of moonshine invariably led to quarreling with his neighbors, and occasional shotgun blasts at some of them.

“Can’t you see, Ben,” intoned the parson, “that not one good thing comes out of this drinking?”

“Well, I sort of disagree there,” replied the backslider. “It makes me miss the folks I shoot at.”

Awesome Pictures


Five dangers of debit cards

You could find a $75 hold on your bank account after using a debit card at the pump.  

Prevent identity theft online

Your personal and financial data could be at risk if you use free Wi-Fi at cafés. 

Home appraisals confusion

The Stiners found a house for $295,000, until another appraisal put it at $275,000 and then $290,000.  

Airlines nickle-and-dime consumers for billions

At the top of the baggage fee revenue list is Delta Air Lines, followed by American Airlines and US Airways.

In three quarters, Delta already has surpassed its total baggage fee revenue from 2009. Delta has made $733 million so far this year. In all of 2009, it made $481 million.

Revenue from baggage fees has been skyrocketing since 2007, when the total revenue was $464 million, one-fifth of what's been made in three quarters in 2010.

Similarly, revenue from cancellation and change fees has nearly doubled since 2007, adding up to about $1.7 billion in three quarters this year, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. In 2007, fees totaled $915 million, though 2010's numbers actually fell 3.8 percent in the third quarter from the same time last year.

Wisconsin Tea Party governor scares away business already

The new repugican governors are destroying tens of thousands of jobs and they haven't even started. You have to be a fool to run that many jobs out of your state during such an economic crisis. The Spanish high speed train manufacturer Talgo is the first to pull out of the states that are rejecting federal money, but with such attitudes, they won't be the last.

Talgo currently employs 40 people in Milwaukee, WI and “was hoping to grow their staff to as many as 125 to fulfill the orders” that current Gov. Jim Doyle (D) and his administration had made in preparation for the project. Those orders would’ve spurred some 13,000 badly-needed jobs in a state facing a 7.8 percent unemployment rate. (Ohio will lose 16,000 jobs.) Instead, Talgo plans to take that business to three of the states that will share in the federal money taken away from Wisconsin and Ohio, most notably Florida.

Florida’s Gov.-elect Rick Scott (r) also sounded off against high-speed rail during his campaign but, unlike Walker and Kasich, has waffled on whether he’d actually kill the project. With over $2 billion in stimulus money and the prospect of new business flocking to the state, Scott isn’t as willing to shun such potential economic development as his Tea Party brethren.

But Wisconsinites should not be fooled by the flight of business. As he said on election night, Walker’s victory means “Wisconsin is open again for business” — regardless of what actually happens.

Royal Bank of Scotland directors 'failed to live up to their duties'

From the WikiLeaks File:

Perfect timing since the UK's Financial Services Authority just closed the books and found no wrong-doing at RBS. The ongoing efforts to sweep everything under the rug instead of holding people accountable is ridiculous. When people complain about WikiLeaks, they're completely missing extremely important revelations like this. While it's easy to see how hiding this information benefits those in power (including the bankers) but for the taxpayers who had to bail out the banks and accept cuts, the case for secrecy is much less compelling. Shouldn't voters have a clear understanding of what happened when they are being asked to fund such enormous failures?

Society is much better off knowing these details.
Lord Turner, chairman of the Financial Services Authority, is likely to come under pressure to reopen the regulator's probe into Royal Bank of Scotland after leaked US cables show the bank's new chairman Sir Philip Hampton said the former bank directors had failed to live up to their duties.

The private remarks by Hampton that directors had breached their "fiduciary responsibilities" are disclosed barely a week after the City regulator controversially shut its investigation into what went wrong at RBS.

The FSA's decision, revealed by the Guardian, was greeted with astonishment in the financial community and means no action will be taken against the bank or any of its former directors, including former chief executive Sir Fred Goodwin.

Slow Sales Mean Goodbye Hawaii, Aloha Fargo

A candy company's employees are sent to a location that's 75 degrees chillier than Honolulu.  



Embryos Show All Animals Share Ancient Genes

The discovery helps to explain why human embryos resemble those of animals at the early stages of life. Read more 

The scenic route

Long way to get from A to B.
Long road

Fifteen Cute Animals That Will Cause You Horrible Harm

When we think of animals that will destroy us, rend us limb from limb, and leave us in a bloody mess, we usually think of the huge and horrifying. Which means we forget about the real threats: the tiny, the cute, the gorgeous. The animals at which we ooh and aaah over, but are deadly, poisonous and generally all around nasty.

Ancient forest to be destroyed

Activists fighting the destruction of the Khimki forest have ignited a debate on Russia's corruption.





News Nuisance

Tooter Turtle

'Extinct' fish found thriving

A species thought long gone turns up 310 miles away from its native habitat, researchers say.  

New Imaging Technology Shows Python Digesting A Rat

Using a combination of computer tomography and magnetic resonance imaging, scientists Kasper Hansen and Henrik Lauridsen of Aarhus University in Denmark were able to visualize the entire internal organ structures and vascular systems of a Burmese Python digesting a rat.

What's in a (species) name?

Meet Lepidocephalichthys zeppelini, a newly identified species of fish, named after Led Zeppelin. Why? An Auburn University graduate student thought the fish's pectoral fin looked like Jimmy Page's double neck guitar.
It's a quirky way to name a species, but Lepidocephalichthys zeppelini is certainly not the most flippant or goofy Latin name to come along. There are fungus beetles known as Gelae belae and Gelae donut. Adonnadonna primadonna is an extinct fossil algae named for a 1963 pop song by Dion and The Belmonts. And Volva volva volva probably gives you some clue as to how insistent Linnaeus was that a certain sea snail had a shell shaped like a part of a lady's anatomy.
Institutions have even auctioned off naming rights to the highest bidder, using the funds to pay for conservation efforts and further research. That's how we ended up with a monkey named after the Golden Palace online casino.
Has science no shame? Are there no rules to this naming system? Quite the contrary. There is, in fact, an entire book of binding codes and an international organization to enforce them. But here's the thing—those rules are mostly related to working out who gets naming rights, and making sure that everybody is using a standard style. At the same time, there are lots and lots of species that need unique names. Thus, a certain level of creative silliness gets through. That said, there are limits. Really obvious jokes are frowned upon these days. As are rude gestures. Back in the day, Linnaeus used species names to construct elaborate insults against his enemies (and, presumably, the species being named). You can't do that anymore. The International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature will also send you back to the drawing board if your proposed name is deemed too unpronounceable.

Animal Pictures