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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.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Whatever you're working on -- installing a new shower head, replacing your old kitchen towels with new ones, building a new back porch from driftwood without using any tools that the Pilgrims wouldn't have access to -- today is a day to start wrapping it up.
Sure, sometimes in the middle of a project you're tempted to expand to bigger and better things (The bathroom towels? A whole new driftwood wing?), but don't give in -- finish up.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Kiev, Kyyiv, Ukraine
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Venice, Veneto, Italy
Baden, Niederosterreich, Austria
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Edithvale, Victoria, Australia
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Cairo, Al Qahirah, Egypt
London, England, United Kingdom
Petaling jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
Espoo, Southern Finland, Finland
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada
Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey
Martigues, Provence-Alpes-Cote D'Azur, France
Jeddah, Makkah, Saudi Arabia
Harlow, England, United Kingdom
Parma, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan

as well as Bulgaria, Israel, Austria, Norway, 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, France, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, China, Iraq, Ecuador, Nigeria, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Paupa New Guinea, Moldova, Venezuela, Germany, Mexico  and in cities across the United States such as Jasper, Wakefield, Chesapeake, San Diego and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, December 20, the 354th day of 2010.
There are 11 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 
Mudd Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Dying teen's chance on love

Sabrina Parker was too young to marry Matt Scozzari — but before she died, they found an alternative.

Rare twist to lunar eclipse

For the first time in almost 400 years, two major celestial events will occur back to back. 

The 2010 Word of the Year

A term tied to spreading economic woes sent people flocking to the dictionary for answers. 

Snow wreaks havoc in Europe

A winter storm's icy wrath leaves thousands of holiday travelers stranded in bleak conditions.  

California rain shatters records

Relentless storms spawn mudslides and uproot trees — but forecasters warn the real impact may still lie ahead.

Non Sequitur


Odds and Sods

A 95cm-long replica of the ill-fated Lusitania owned by the late Malcolm Forbes and his sons sold for US$194,500 at Sotheby's , setting a record for a toy boat at auction.

An Ohio judge has joined attorneys in chipping in money to help clear a defendant's record.

Woman swallowed 1200 ecstasy pills to smuggle into Bali

A Thai woman swallowed more than 1200 ecstasy pills wrapped in plastic and tried to smuggle them into the Indonesian resort island of Bali, officials have revealed.

Sudanese woman publicly flogged

Some versions of the disturbing clip, which seems to have been filmed with the knowledge of the officers, were reportedly removed from YouTube, but dozens of copies remain on the video-sharing site. One copy, which has been viewed nearly half a million times, was edited to add English subtitles, and some music. (Warning: the images in the video are graphic and may upset many viewers.)

As the [Reuters] explained, “Floggings carried out under Islamic law are almost a daily punishment in Sudan for crimes ranging from drinking alcohol to adultery. But vague laws on women’s dress and behavior are implemented inconsistently.”

DADT repeal's ripple effect

The end of "don't ask, don't tell" will likely spark challenges to other key policies.  

On The Job

Many colleges start career training programs in January for these growth fields. 

Hard adjustment to temp worklife

Forced to take temp jobs, workers worry about their insurance, 401(k)s, and resumés. 

BP's other drilling crisis

A nearly unreported leak in the Caspian Sea bears uncanny similarities to the Gulf oil spill.  

Flashy new bills full of errors

Critics blast the Philippines for bungling basic geography and even inventing a new species.  

Companies that fell in 2010

Iconic car brands, a grocery chain, and a video-store giant led the casualty list.

Billions in Afghan aid lost

An inquiry finds that billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars may have been lost to fraud.  

Wall St. braces for no bonuses

Even after huge salary increases, many will be disappointed not to receive a bonus.  

When refinancing makes sense

More homeowners are looking to lock in historically low rates or shorten the loan term.  

How to wreck a credit score

Transferring your balance from a high-rate card to a low-rate one can be harmful. 

Out of the mouths of babes ...


Five products worth buying

The Withings WiFi Body Scale has features its competition lacks. 

Top 30 Biggest And Best Comedy Movies Of 2011

We've all laughed so hard over the last 12 months, but could it turn out that 2011 is the funniest year, ever?
Let's see if that's possible.
Here are the biggest and best comedy movies of 2011.

"Yarn Bombing"

yarn bombing photo  
Photo via picocool
A new form of street art has been gaining popularity throughout the US -- and, while it may not be taking the world by storm just yet, it's certainly helping to keep things cozy just in case. Quite often, graffiti is cited as making neighborhoods seem rundown or unwelcoming, but it seems that some vigilante artisans have been putting down the spray-paint and picking up a needle and thread. "Yarn bombing" -- as its been dubbed -- isn't just about unbridled self-expression; it's about bringing a little warmth to a cold urban cityscape.

What not to do in five big cities

When in Los Angeles, pass up Venice Beach and maps of stars' homes.

Random Photos


Culinary DeLites

A Christmas rib roast with fruit and onions is a hearty alternative to ham or turkey. 

Food Safety Bill passes Senate

Not a bad surprise after years of failure in Washington on the issue of food safety.

ABC News:
In an unexpected move, the Senate today passed a sweeping food safety bill by unanimous consent, sending the bill back for a vote in the House before it will move on to President Obama’s desk.

“Very very important for our country,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said this evening on the Senate floor. “Perfect legislation? No. But a broad broad step in the right direction. We haven’t done anything in this regard for more than a hundred years for our country. With all the changes in processing food, it’s so very important. I’ve spoken to the Speaker tonight and this will pass the House when they come back Monday night or Tuesday.”

The surprising development is only the latest bizarre twist for the measure. Just a few days ago the food safety bill was seen as dead on Capitol Hill, but the Senate this weekend modified it to resolve a revenue technicality and managed to pass it.

Worst and Best

Can you live on Twinkies or baby food and watch the pounds melt away? Probably not.  
Resistance exercise breaks down muscle, so recharge with these protein-packed foods. 



Harmful chemical in tap water

Millions of Americans in 31 cities could be drinking tainted water, a study finds.  

Free Radicals Don't Cause Aging.

Dr. Siegfried Hekimi and his student Dr. Wen Yang, who are in the Montreal university's biology department, planned to test the so-called “free radical theory of aging” by genetically modifying wild worms in a lab to accelerate production of free radicals — toxic molecules generated as a byproduct of oxygen use.

Although the theory has long been held as conventional wisdom by some, Hekimi said he “stands the theory on its head” by showing in his experiment that increasing free radical production did not necessarily speed up aging.

The production of mitochondrial free radicals may actually protect organisms from the damage of cells associated with aging, he said.

“It also suggests that free radical generation and aging are correlated because free radical generation is a positive reaction. It’s an attempt to turn on stress responses to fight the damage that accumulates during aging.”

He suggested that taking antioxidants such as vitamin C, meanwhile, may actually be “misguided.” As far as it goes for attempting to prolong life, they may not be the answer. Such vitamins could actually be a factor of resistance as they soak up free radicals like a sponge.

So antioxidant food products and supplements are just bullshit marketing, and may actually accelerate the aging process? Who'd have ever guessed that?

Surprising facts about colds

Orange juice and echinacea are both touted as ways to stay healthy.  

Periodic Table Gets A Makeover

Remember memorizing the periodic table in high school? Well, forget it. Some information on the table is about to be reset. The world's top chemists and physicists have determined that the atomic weights of 10 elements need to be expressed as an interval rather than a static number, Science Daily reports.

The new atomic weights of hydrogen, lithium, boron, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, silicon, sulfur, chlorine and thallium will more accurately reflect how those elements occur in nature.

Amazing Automatons: Ancient Robots & Victorian Androids

Dark Roasted Blend does a roundup of wonderful, ingenious automata of ages past -- the early clockwork robots that boggled crowds with their ticktock liveliness: "As watch making developed in the Age of Enlightenment in the eighteenth century, so did the art of creating mechanical people and animals. Jacques Vaucason created numerous working figures, including a flute player, which actually played the instrument, in 1738, plus this duck from 1739. The gilded copper bird could sit, stand, splash around in water, quack and even give the impression of eating food and digesting it:"



Le Mont Saint Michel


The Hermitage Of San Colombano


As you drive over the Passo Pian delle Fugazze in Italy, between Vivenza and Rovereto for the first time, you are due for something of a surprise. The Leno valley of the Trento province is home to the Hermitage of San Colombano.

You would expect a hermitage to be somewhat off the beaten track but this takes isolation to a new height - literally.

Ten Of The Worst Natural Disasters Ever

A natural disaster is the effect of a natural hazard (e.g., flood, tornado, hurricane, volcanic eruption, earthquake, or landslide) that affects the environment, and leads to financial, environmental and human losses. The resulting loss depends on the capacity of the population to support or resist the disaster, and their resilience.

This understanding is concentrated in the formulation: 'disasters occur when hazards meet vulnerability.' The term natural has consequently been disputed because the events simply are not hazards or disasters without human involvement.

Colorful Geyser

This geothermal geyser is somewhere near Gerlach, Nevada. The colors are due to different mineral deposits as well as algae growing on it. Read about how this strange formation came about at Kuriositas. Link

They look as if they were taken on another planet, or at least on the set of a new and very expensive science fiction movie. Yet these pictures are of the Fly Geyser which is very much of planet earth even though - and herein lies the surprise - it is effectively man made.

What Can This 300 Year Old French Fortress Tell Us About Green Architecture?

besancon-citadel-1 photo
These days it seems that every new building is being billed as green: LEED certifications and new technologies that limit the environmental impact of lighting, water use, heating and air conditioning abound. But on a trip last weekend to Besançon, in eastern France, I visited a building that isn't LEED certified or equipped with any fancy technology, but that nonetheless showcases important principles of green architecture. The building: the Citadel of Besançon. The architect: Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban. The client: King Louis XIV of France.
Article continues: What Can This 300 Year Old French Fortress Tell Us About Green Architecture?

Erosion Eating Up South Carolina Beaches

folly beach erosion charleston harbor photo
Photo: Jack Duval
Folly Beach, a South Carolina Beach just outside of Charleston, needs another re-nourishment project just five years after the last one, according to a recent article in The State.

Iran's Lake Urmia Is Drying Up Fast

lake urmia iran salt crystals photo
Salt crystals in Lake Urmia. 
About 100 years ago, my grandfather emigrated to the United States from a village near Lake Urmia, in what is now northwestern Iran. He died long before I was born, leaving me with little connection to my ancestors in the region, but a strong desire to someday visit the place -- tantalizing close to Turkey, where I now live, though difficult to reach due to visa restrictions -- where they apparently once tended vineyards. If I don't manage to get there soon, though, there may not be much left to see of the lake itself.



The Most Heroic Animals of 2010

The Daily Beast collected stories of animal heroism from the past year that might make you a bit teary-eyed. The story of Angel the golden retriever is an example.
Eleven-year-old Austin Foreman was gathering firewood near his home in Boston Bar, British Columbia, when he came face to face with a cougar. When the wild cat lunged at him, his Golden Retriever, Angel, stepped in. She put herself between Austin and the cougar, giving him time to escape to the house. The cougar viciously attacked Angel, carrying her around by the neck while Austin’s mother called 911. Police arrived just in time to shoot the cougar, and after a few moments of suspense, Angel coughed back to life. She had several puncture wounds and a punctured sinus cavity, but she made a full recovery.
See a video report about Angel and read about the other heroic animals in a slide show.

Ohio zoo names snake Hanna, after celebrity zookeeper

An Ohio zoo has settled on a familiar name for its new snake that has replaced her record-breaking mother.
The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium says its new reticulated python will be called Hanna - which happens to be the last name of the zoo's celebrity zookeeper, Jack Hanna.Hanna the snake was acquired last month from the same private breeder ...

Giant Yummy Eggs Killed Off the Elephant Bird

Photo: De Agostini Picture Library/BBC
Scientists have put forth various theories to explain the extinction of the giant Elephant Bird, the largest bird to ever live on Earth, including climate change and hunting by humans. The truth, it turns out, can be summed up in two words: yummy eggs.
Sir David Attenborough explains:
Recent archaeological evidence has revealed the fragments of elephant bird egg shells among the remains of human fires, suggesting that the eggs, which are 180 times bigger than a chicken egg, regularly provided food for entire families.
Sir David says: "I doubt it was hunted to extinction – anyone who has seen an ostrich in a zoo knows that it has a kick which can open a man’s stomach and an enraged elephant bird, many times the size of an ostrich, must have been a truly formidable opponent.
"I suspect it was its egg. They may not have been able to tackle an adult bird, but they could have taken its eggs which would have been a huge source of food.
"Even if the bird itself was held in awe or fear by the people here, it’s unlikely the eggs were – and that would have meant the gradual disappearance of this unique giant."

Dog gives birth to 17 puppies

A dog in Germany has given birth to 17 puppies, leaving their owner thrilled but fatigued after having to feed them with a bottle for several weeks because their mother couldn't cope with the demand.

Brahmin moth

Adult and caterpillar.  
Photo credit to Igor Siwanowicz (gallery at the Telegraph).

Truths for mature humans