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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.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Bet you've thought of nothing else for days but spending some quality time at home alone with yourself.
You're not antisocial, but the world and its inhabitants have definitely taken their toll on you.
When you least expect it, however, your mood may change.
So -- should you call everyone you turned down and say you changed your mind, or stay in because you said you would?
Is that question even worth asking?
Get dressed while you're dialing.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Reutlingen, Baden-Wurttemburg, Germany
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Espoo, Southern Finland, Finland
Martiques, Provence-Alpes-Cote D'Azur, France
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Tangier, Tanger, Morocco
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
New Delhi, Delhi, India
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada

as well as Bulgaria, Israel, Austria, Saudi Arabia, Georgia, Mexico, Peru, Kuwait, Serbia, Bangladesh, Latvia, Greece, Scotland, Hong Kong, Denmark, Wales, Iran, Singapore, Poland, Taiwan, Sweden, Afghanistan, Belgium, Tibet, Croatia, Pakistan, Romania, Paraguay, Vietnam, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, Italy, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, China, Iraq, Ecuador, Nigeria, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Paupa New Guinea, Moldova, Venezuela, England  and in cities across the United States such as Morehead, Seattle, Defuniak Springs, Charlotte and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, December 18, the 352nd day of 2010.
There are 13 days left in the year.

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

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

President Obama's Weekly Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
Weekly Address
The White House
December 18, 2010
This week, Congress passed – and I signed into law – an essential economic package that will help grow our economy, spur businesses, and jumpstart job creation.

Instead of a New Years Day tax hike on the vast majority of Americans, two million Americans who’ve lost their jobs through no fault of their own will now know with certainty that they won’t lose their emergency unemployment insurance at the end of the month. Eight million college students who’d otherwise face a tuition hike next semester will continue having access to the American Opportunity Tax Credit. Twelve million families with twenty-four million children will benefit from extensions of the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit. And millions of entrepreneurs who’ve been waiting to invest in their businesses will receive new tax incentives to help them expand, buy new equipment, or make upgrades, freeing up money to hire new workers.

This package, which is so important for our economy at this pivotal time, was the product of hard negotiations. Like any negotiations, there was give and take on both sides. But I’m heartened by our ability to come together to do what’s best for middle class families across this country, and our economy as a whole.

Before going away for the holiday break, I’m hopeful we can also come together on another urgent national priority – and that is, the new START treaty that will reduce the world’s nuclear arsenals and make America more secure. Twenty-five years ago, the Soviet Union and United States each had about 25,000 nuclear weapons. In the decades since, that number has been reduced by over 70 percent, and we have had on-site inspections of Russian nuclear facilities. That progress would not have been possible without strategic arms control treaties.

During the past year, however, our old treaty with Russia expired, and without a new one, we won’t be able to verify Russia’s nuclear arsenal, which would undercut President Reagan’s call to trust, but verify, when it comes to nuclear weapons. Without a new treaty, we’ll risk turning back the progress we’ve made in our relationship with Russia, which is essential to enforce strong sanctions against Iran, secure vulnerable nuclear materials from terrorists, and resupply our troops in Afghanistan. And we’ll risk undermining American leadership not only on nuclear proliferation, but a host of other challenges around the world.

Ratifying a treaty like START isn’t about winning a victory for an administration or a political party. It’s about the safety and security of the United States of America. That’s why this treaty is supported by both Presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. That’s why it’s supported by every living Republican Secretary of State, our NATO allies, and the leadership of the United States military. Indeed, the Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Hoss Cartwright, said this week that the military needs this treaty, and they need it badly. And that’s why every President since Ronald Reagan has pursued a treaty like START, and every one that has been reviewed by the Senate has passed with strong bipartisan support.

We have taken the time to get this right. The START treaty has now been under review by the Senate for over seven months.  It’s gone through 18 hearings.  Nearly 1,000 questions have been asked – and answered. Several Republican Senators have come out in support of ratification. Meanwhile, further delay comes at a cost. Every minute we drag our feet is a minute that we have no inspectors on the ground at those Russian nuclear sites.

It’s time to get this done. It’s time to show the same spirit of common purpose on our security that we showed this week on our economy. It’s time to remember the old saying that politics stops at the water’s edge. That saying was coined by a Republican Senator, Arthur Vandenberg, who partnered with a Democratic President, Harry Truman, to pass landmark national security measures at the dawn of the Cold War. Today, over sixty years later, when we’re threatened not only by nuclear weapons, but an array of other dangers, that’s a principle we must continue to uphold. Thank you, and have a nice weekend.

F.Y.I - Just so you know ...


Assange: WikiLeaks being 'attacked' by banks in US, UK, Switzerland and Dubai

Surely the upstanding members of the international banking community would never do anything illegal, would they? Don't they know that they can be indicted by Interpol? Sounds like one industry is getting nervous about the reports due out in 2011.

“We have been attacked, primarily, not by government, primarily, in fact, not by the US government, but by banks—banks from Dubai, banks from Switzerland, banks from the United States, banks from the UK, so, yes, of course, we are continuing to release material about banks,” said Assange, who is out on bail from a Swedish court in relation to sexual assault charges.

In October of 2009, when Assange announced that WikiLeaks had copious documents about the Bank of America, the stock took a hit.

Repugicans hate 9/11 first responders

Jon Stewart has a few things to say about the repugicans hating 9/11 first responders.

and...unlike Faux news, Comedy Central actually has someone sitting down  with first responders to talk about their thoughts on why the repugicans wants  them to die and the hell they are going through due to fighting for  their healthcare.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire Blog</a>The Daily Show on Facebook

I think we found the problem ...


Profit from the new tax law

Most people will see bigger paychecks and a few popular tax breaks are back.  

Brazilian TV clown elected to high office, passes literacy test

Brazilian TV clown Francisco Oliveira (AKA Tiririca) has been elected to the Brazilian government, running on such slogans as "What does a federal deputy do? I have no idea -- but vote for me and I'll let you know." He was required to take a literacy test (which he narrowly passed) before taking office.

He ran a humorous television campaign dressed as a clown with a blond wig and colorful costume, and spouting riffs like "What does a federal deputy do? I have no idea -- but vote for me and I'll let you know." Detractors, including several longtime lawmakers, said Oliveira was bringing Brazil's congress -- known for its many corruption scandals -- into disrepute, and challenged his candidacy on literacy grounds.
President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a former shoeshine boy and metalworker, called the demand for the test an "idiocy" disrespecting those who voted for Oliveira.

Belarus opposition troubled by dirty tricks ahead of presidential election

An opposition activist depicted as a bikini-clad gay on national TV.
Leaflets telling lies about a presidential hopeful.

CIA chief pulled from Pakistan; drones kill 54

Map locates the Kyhber tribal region of Pakistan, where three U.S. missile attacks killed more than 50 alleged militants Friday.

The CIA yanked its top spy out of Pakistan after his cover was blown and his life threatened, and 54 suspected militants were killed in a U.S. drone missile attack Friday in stark new signs of the troubled relationship ...

Myth of kids' sugary cereals

Many parents figure children's super-sweet breakfasts are unavoidable.

Schoolchildren, 14, become Britain's youngest mother and father ... and vow 'We'll be good parents'

Two 14-year-old schoolchildren have become Britain's youngest ever parents, it was revealed last night.

Teenage girl charged with murder

A teenage girl has been charged with murder following the death of a young mother, police have said.

Non Sequitur


Boutique hotels under $150

These spots offer touches you won't find in chain resorts, and they won't break the bank.  


A little Marilyn to warm you on a cold day…
A little Marilyn to warm you on a cold day …

Melt With You

Modern English

Random Celebrity Photo

Dorothy Lamour



Where the bright lights of Vegas go to die

The stack of giant neon letters just beyond the gates of the Neon Boneyard in Las Vegas are unlit.

Oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ

Oṃ maṇipadme hūṃ

Benjamin Franklin's 200+ Synonyms for "Drunk"

Noted founding father Benjamin Franklin published a list of different ways we refer to someone as drunk in the Pennsylvania Gazette on January 6, 1737. Franklin said he collected these phrases at -what else- a tavern.

Here are just a few:
Got the Indian Vapours,
Topsy Turvey,
As Drunk as David’s Sow,
He’s got his Top Gallant Sails out,
Seen the yellow Star,
As Stiff as a Ring-bolt,
The King is his Cousin,
Got Kib’d Heels,
As Dizzy as a Goose,
Had a Kick in the Guts,
Spoke with his Friend,
He’s kiss’d black Betty,
He’s had a Thump over the Head with Sampson’s Jawbone
Of course, that’s not 200. 
See the rest here.

Treasure hoard of Roman coins

... What he found that afternoon is now stacked in a waist-high pile of shoe box-sized cardboard boxes, in a corner of an office in the coins department of the British Museum – a Diagon Alley place of mysteries, on two floors, protected by a three-inch-thick strongroom door.

The boxes hold the contents of a giant potbellied jar which lay in the clay of that sloping Somerset field for almost 2,000 years, filled to overflowing with the largest coin hoard ever found in a single container in Britain. "You can see what a job it's going to be to clean the horrors," Sam Moorhead, a Roman coins specialist, says fondly, running through his fingers a handful of disgusting bits of metal, green with corrosion, ragged with welded-on bits of other broken coins. Studying the 52,503 of them that are legible will occupy the experts for the rest of their careers...

... an expert committee met at the British Museum, and after hours of debate and three widely varying outside opinions on the value of the hoard, finally set a price of £320,250 on the coins, to be shared between Crisp and the landowners, Geoff and Anne Sheppard...

The conventional explanation is that these hoards are either underground piggy banks, or stashed in times of danger to be recovered when normal life resumes – or never, if the feared catastrophe overwhelms the owner... But the Frome hoard doesn't match that picture at all...

Moorhead is convinced the Frome hoard represents a stupendous offering of as much cash as the community could raise. The swords and bronze shields their ancestors threw into rivers and springs were gone, and coins were the easiest way of assembling a massive quantity of metal...
The rest of the story is at The Guardian.

Awesome Pictures


Next question

Einstein E=NBC 2
Einstein E=NBC 2

Photographer Series

A photograph  by  John @ Digitalpict Photography, who lives in Scotland.

Daisy Road

Windowfarms Project Hydroponic Garden

This farm hangs in a window and uses plastic bottles, a pump and irrigation system. A nutrient solution feeds the plants. Urban apartment dwellers can grow almost anything in a Windowfarm, as long as it is not a root vegetable. Herbs, tomatoes, lettuce and squash are all good candidates.  Prices run from $140 to $240.



Winter Solstice and Lunar Eclipse

The only total lunar eclipse of 2010 will be visible from all of North America on Monday night/Tuesday morning. That won’t happen again until 2014.
The entire 72 minutes of the total lunar eclipse will be visible from all of North and South America, the northern and western part of Europe, and a small part of northeast Asia including Korea and much of Japan. Totality will also be visible in its entirety from the North Island of New Zealand and Hawaii.
In all, an estimated 1.5 billion people will have an opportunity to enjoy the best part of this lunar show.
In other parts of the world, either only the partial stages of the eclipse will be visible or the eclipse will occur when it’s daytime and the moon is not above their local horizon.
The moon might take on some odd colors during the eclipse. This is the first lunar eclipse during the winter solstice in almost 500 years.


NASA's Cassini spacecraft is returning awesome photos of Saturn, its rings, and its moons, many of them assembled at Boston.com's Big Picture.

Especially interesting to see was a closeup of Iapetus, the eighth moon, which has a circumferential ridge around its equator. The top photo is from NASA in 2007. The photo below that comes from what I'm sure everyone would consider a "wacko" website that suggests that Iapetus is an artificial (i.e. manufactured) moon. Certainly the comparison with a Deathstar is striking.

Whether or not the Iapetus stuff interests you, the rest of the photos from Cassini are truly impressive.

Update: When I originally posted this is May of 2009, that equatorial ridge around Iapetus was unexplained.  A new hypothesis suggests that this ridge comes not from deformational stresses within the moon, as previously postulated, but rather that it is the remnant of a collapsed ring of debris:
...we propose intact capture or accretion from a debris disk of a "sub-satellite" (possibly more than one) around Iapetus... Such a sub-satellite would be tidally drawn towards Iapetus, once Iapetus is sufficiently despun by tidal interaction with Saturn... Once deep inside the Roche limit, tides would then tear the sub-satellite apart. The resulting debris would collisionally evolve to the equatorial plane, dissipating orbital energy and ultimately raining down on the equator (deorbiting) at subsonic speeds... Assuming the density of ice and a high porosity, rubble-pile structure, all the mass in the ridge can be supplied by a sub-satellite ~100 km in radius, a size relative to Iapetus far smaller than the relative sizes of the Moon to the Earth or Charon to Pluto...
That's from the abstract at the American Geophysical Union meeting.  A BBC summary is here.



Neunundneunzig Luftballons


At the army hospital

An army Major is visiting sick soldiers.

He goes up to one private and asks:
“What’s your problem, soldier?”
“Chronic syphilis, sir”
“What treatment are you getting?”
“Five minutes with the wire brush each day.”
“What’s your ambition?”
“To get back to the front sir”
“Good man,” says the Major..

He goes to the next bed.
What’s your problem, soldier?”
“Chronic piles, sir”
“What treatment are you getting?”
“Five minutes with the wire brush each day.”
“What’s your ambition?”
“To get back to the front sir”
“Good man,” says the Major..

He goes to the next bed.
What’s your problem, soldier?”
“Chronic gum disease, sir”
“What treatment are you getting?”
“Five minutes with the wire brush each day.”
“What’s your ambition?”
“To get the wire brush before the other two sir!!”…..

US Army Evaluating Solar Powered Tents

Advances in photovoltaic technology have led to the development of thin, flexible solar cells. It’s possible to build a tent out of them, and the US Army is considering acquiring and using such portable structures:
The TEMPER Fly is a roughly 16-by-20-foot tent structure able to generate 800 watts of electricity. A QUADrant is a smaller variant of the TEMPER Fly, able to generate 200 watts of power, and the Power Shades range in size and are capable of generating up to 3 kilowatts of exportable electrical power, Tucker said. The PV integrated military shelter items use a lamination process to combine the PV materials into the textile substrate, Tucker explained. The US Army News Service spoke with Steven Tucker, an engineer working on the project:
“Alternative energy sources are really going to shine in mission scenarios where you don’t want to use a generator because you don’t want the noise or heat signature that goes along with it, or where re-supplying that generator with fuel doesn’t make sense,” said Tucker.



Upping the cute factor


Bizarre Hairy Fly Is Rediscovered

Scientists have rediscovered a bizarre insect in Kenya, collecting the first Terrible Hairy Fly specimen since 1948. Since then, at least half a dozen expeditions have visited its only known habitat - a rock cleft in an area east of Nairobi - in search of the fly.

Two insect specialists recently spotted the insect, known as Mormotomyia hirsuta. They point out that it looks more like a spider with hairy legs. The rediscovery of the species, which has been collected on only two occasions before, in 1933 and 1948, has caused excitement in insect museums world-wide.

Eagles Flourish in Sanctuary

bald eagles alaska photo
On a ridgetop preserve in Pennsylvania, conservationists and bird watchers gathered for the annual count of migrating bald eagles. It's a tradition that has persisted for 76 years—since the founding of the Hawk Mountain Sanctuary.
This year, however, was a little different: Participates were treated to a record number of sightings—a reassuring sign of the incredible success of bald eagle conservation programs across the country.

Animal Pictures