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 29, 2010

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
From time to time, the awful truth arises: Not everyone has your best interests at heart.
Believe the rumors or whispers you're hearing, but don't alter who you are or what you're about.
Jealousy is driving this malevolence.
Relationship issues come to the fore and it feels like someone may be holding you back.
As long as you're happy with who you are and where you're going, you're okay; but if you wish things were different, you must talk to them about it.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Palmerston North, Manawatu-Wanganui, New Zealand
Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
Copenhagen, Kobenhavn, Denmark
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam
Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv, Israel
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Reus, Catalonia, Spain

as well as Bulgaria, Israel, Finland, 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, Sudan, Vietnam, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, France, Estonia, Puerto Rico, Qatar, Brazil, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Slovenia, China, Iraq, Ecuador, Nigeria, Colombia, Chile, Honduras, Paupa New Guinea, Moldova, Venezuela, Germany, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Ireland, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Norway, Finland and in cities across the United States such as Independence, Strongsville, Norwalk, Harrison and more.

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, December 29, the 363rd day of 2010.
There are 2 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 
Tick Tock Day.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Woman of the year

A protestor confronts Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad during a protest of election results earlier this year.  I wonder if she’s still alive.
Woman of the year

Ten Things Web Users Should Fear In 2011

As in the real world, cyberspace has bad neighborhoods. But unlike the real world, risks in cyberspace are not easy to spot - and the location of those digital bad neighborhoods can change all the time. When security experts look back at 2010, they will see a major turning point in the world of cyberscares. The virtual and the real collided in new, dramatic ways and the Internet will never be the same.
Gone for good is the glamor of annoying outages caused by hackers sending e-mail attachments and launching Web page attacks. Now, computer criminals are being credited with stalling a rogue nuclear power plant program, and with bringing world diplomacy to its knees. Things are getting serious.



Five brands coming back

Pert Plus, Chevrolet, and Infusium 23 may get a new lease on life next year. 

Repugican Senator Shelby includes $500 million for canceled NASA project in budget

But remember, the repugicans are really concerned about the budget. They're extremely serious, you know, and won't let any frivolous spending or "porkulus" money into the budget because they stay awake at night worrying about federal spending.

Repugicans to America: Go to Hell, America.
Thanks to congressional inaction, NASA must continue to fund its defunct Ares I rocket program until March — a requirement that will cost the agency nearly $500 million at a time when NASA is struggling with the expensive task of replacing the space shuttle.

About one-third that money — $165 million — will go to Alliant Techsystems, or ATK, which has a $2 billion contract to build the solid-rocket first stage for the Ares I, the rocket that was supposed to fill the shuttle's role of transporting astronauts to the International Space Station.

But under a new NASA plan signed into law by President Barack Obama in October, there's no guarantee that the new rocket required by that plan will use solid-fuel propulsion. And, in fact, many in the agency say a liquid-fueled rocket would be cheaper, more powerful — and safer.

On The Job

Writing personal messages on Facebook or Twitter during work hours makes you a slacker.  
Learn the signs of when a new position is opening up and get a jump-start on the competition.  

Who will struggle in 2011

For millions of Americans, the painfully long recession won't end with the new year.  

Just for the record ...

America's homeless population grows as tent cities proliferate.

Ten retirement myths debunked

You don't need a big income to become wealthy if you know how to plan for the long term.  

How you rank as a taxpayer

Find out how you compare with other Americans by using one number from your '09 return.  

Happy ending to debt nightmare

By renegotiating loans totaling almost $250,000, the Ahlemans turned their lives around.  

No Worries, Mate

Abe and Esther are flying to Australia for a two-week vacation to celebrate their 40th anniversary. Suddenly, over the public address system, the Captain announces, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am afraid I have some very bad news. Our engines have ceased functioning and we will attempt an emergency landing. Luckily, I see an uncharted island below us and we should be able to land on the beach. However, the odds are that we may never be rescued and will have to live on the island for the rest of our lives!"

Thanks to the skill of the flight crew, the plane lands safely on the island. An hour later Abe turns to his wife and asks,

"Esther, did we pay our $5,000 PBS pledge check yet?"

"No, sweetheart," she responds.

Abe, still shaken from the crash landing, then asks, "Esther, did we pay our American Express card yet?"

"Oh, no! I'm sorry. I forgot to send the check," she says.

"One last thing, Esther. Did you remember to send checks for the Visa and MasterCard this month?" he asks.

"Oy, forgive me, Abie," begged Esther. "I didn't send that one, either."

Abe grabs her and gives her the biggest kiss in 40 years. Esther pulls away and asks him, "What was that for?"

Abe answers, "They'll find us!"

Kentucky couple sues Bengals, stadium over drunk fans

A woman says two increasingly intoxicated fans at a Cincinnati Bengals game fell on her, breaking her nose and finger and causing other injuries.

Bad Cops

Arkansas police chief charged with domestic battery

Second-in-command of Ohio State Highway Patrol retires amidst an investigation of former patrol officer's relationship with a teenage girl

No life-saving medicine for you, while you're in Cook County Jail

Fired Washington police chief is charged with theft

Pennsylvania police officer accused of attacking woman

SWAT team breaks into Missouri home, fires seven rounds at family’s dogs as a seven-year-old looks on

Despite man's alibi on videotape establishing he was elsewhere,NYPD officers still believe he shot at cops

Ohio cops investigate Ohio cops after videotaped beating of restaurant patron by Ohio cops

Spanish woman arrested for faking her own kidnapping to test whether husband would pay ransom

Spanish police have detained a woman who faked her own kidnapping to test whether her husband would pay ranson, sending him a photograph of herself with bound hands and feet, police said on Monday.

The man received the photo on his mobile phone from someone claiming to be one of the kidnappers along with a text message demanding a ransom of 20,000 euros (26,000 dollars) for her release, they said in a statement.

The ransom request was repeated in later text messages as well as warnings that the man not go to police, which he ignored. Police launched a search and spotted her car, which they followed to a shopping mall in the town of Gandia on the Mediterranean coast.

"The woman, who was travelling alone and was in perfect health, was the supposed victim of the kidnapping," the police statement said. At first she told police that she had been released that morning but later confessed to faking her abduction "to find out what her husband would be willing to do for her".

Five teenagers found dead inside Florida motel room of suspected carbon monoxide poisoning

Carbon monoxide might be to blame for the deaths of five people at a Hialeah hotel on Monday afternoon, according to investigators. "Apparently they all died peacefully, but it seems to lead to carbon monoxide poisoning," said Hialeah Police spokesman Carl Zogby. A maid found the bodies inside one of the hotel rooms at the Hotel Presidente, 1395 S.E. Eighth Court off Okeechobee Road, at around 2 p.m. on Monday and called 911.

Investigators discovered a vehicle parked in the adjoining garage was still running and a door leading inside the hotel room wasn't completely closed. "The car was giving them problems," a friend of the victims said. "I jumped the car last night before they came here - like an hour before they came here. That's why they left the car running."

Investigators said the five victims checked in on Sunday night. Friends said that 19-year-old Evan Charles, 19-year-old Junchen Martial, 17-year-old Peterson Nazon, 18-year-old Jonas Antenor and 16-year-old Jean Pierr Ferdinand were inseparable. They said the friends went up to room 112 to celebrate Martial's 19th birthday.


A crowd gathered, and emotions ran high, as news spread about what happened to these teens, who according to investigators, appeared to be doing nothing wrong. "There was no drug paraphernalia found in the room, no signs of alcohol, and no signs of trauma on any of the victims," according to Caesar Espinosa with Hialeah Fire Rescue. "All that was found in the room were bags of food from a fast food restaurant. The medical examiner will determine exact cause of death," Espinosa said.

Awesome Pictures


How a sewing machine works

Sewing machine

The Forty Elephants All-Girl Gang

Did you think Victorian women were meek and demure? Some of them may have been but others could hold their own in London’s rough and tumble underworld. The Forty Elephants were a kind of ladies’ auxiliary to the Elephant and Castle Gang, a villainous group of male thieves.
“Many a husband lounged at home while his missus was out at work, and many an old lag was propped up by a tireless shoplifting spouse. Some of these terrors were as tough as the men they worked for and protected,” said Brian McDonald, who uncovered details of the criminals when researching for his new book, Gangs of London.
The all-female Forty Elephants ran a large shoplifting operation in London and environs in the 1870s through the 1950s although they may have been organized as early as the 1700s. Their clothes were equipped with specially made pockets in which they could secret stolen goods. They were clever, well organized, devious and daring. They outran the police in high powered cars and partied hard.

More Brits Die from Cold Than Siberians

fuel poverty cold window photo
Image credit: Liz (perspicatious.org), used under Creative Commons license.
The British government has already faced court action over fuel poverty and the number of poor and elderly dying for lack of warm home. With much of the public debate around green housing now focusing on whether or not new homes will be zero carbon, you'd be forgiven for thinking that the issue was fixed. But it is not. In fact, more Brits die per capita each year from the cold than Siberians and, if George Monbiot is to be believed, it's the government and the utility companies that are to blame.
Article continues: More Brits Die from Cold Than Siberians - Utilities and Government to Blame?

Prime Time

Animation by Tom Dor

Oldest human remains found?

Teeth found in a cave in Israel could change "the whole picture of evolution," experts say. 

How to name a dinosaur

David Orr knows how to come up with a good name, as his blog, Love in the Time of Chasmosaurs, demonstrates. Now, in a guest blog at Scientific American, he turns his attention to the naming of dinosaurs. What inspires all those italicized monikers? How do you properly convert non-Latin words to (at least, vaguely) Latin-ish ones? Orr has the answers. In this excerpt, he talks about the name of a new theropod—a suborder of dinos that includes the T. rex and its bipedal, tiny-armed cousins ...
One of the most inspired members of this class of dinosaur names comes from Romania. When I first read about it, it sounded like some beast out of Tolkein's Middle-Earth. But the island-dwelling theropod Balaur bondoc refers to actual mythology with a decidedly local flavor. It's standard for descriptions of dinosaurs to include sections on the etymology of their names, but Balaur's is exceptional, exploring the twisting roots of the word's various meanings that approach the evolutionary tree of life for richness and complexity. Lead author Zoltan Csiki writes that Balaur's name is "motivated both by the classical association between dinosaurs (especially theropods) and dragon-like creatures, as well as by the fact that balaur is a mythological creature with links to both reptiles (snakes) and birds (wings)..." Who knew that reading the description of a dinosaur could also be a lesson in Romanian mythology?

Tree wasteland in Texas

Swaths of dying trees are being reported in Texas, home to more coal-fired power plants than any other state. Denial 

Creepy sand sculptures

Sand sculpture artists from around the world convene in Australia for a unique competition.

Ancient Egyptian Priests' Names Preserved in Pottery

These ancient Egyptian holy men served at the temple of the crocodile god Soknopaios. 

World's youngest yoga teacher, six, hailed as a miracle at Indian ashram

At just six, Shruti Pandey is the youngest yoga trainer in the world. The bendy youngster has been teaching adults at an ashram, in northern India, for the last two years. Her trainer, Hari Chetan, 67, set up the ashram 35 years ago and as soon as little Shruti became one of his students, as a tiny four-year old, he spotted her talents. Now she starts her classes at 5.30am every morning, at Brahmanand Saraswati Dham, in the Jhunsi town, dressed in white leggings and a red t-shirt surrounded by 30 eager pupils ranging from businessmen, teachers, housewives to pensioners.

Shruti said: 'It feels good when people follow my instructions, I feel like a real teacher. I got interested in yoga after seeing my brother do it. I tried picking it up myself but it was too hard. So I asked my parents to send me to yoga classes.' Her brother, Harsh Kumar, now 11-years-old, made the Limca Book of Records at the tender age of five by learning all 84 yoga positions - but he's never been interested in being a teacher like his sister. Hari, who Shruti also calls her grandfather, think she's a miracle. 'She's a fast learner and a perfectionist.

'She grasps techniques quickly unlike kids her own age, who get bored with something as patience consuming as yoga. Within just six months of her training, she surprised everyone by doing the toughest positions with ease and perfection. She's a natural.' Shruti can manage some of yoga's most challenging positions. She can easily hold her entire body on the strength of her little arms and hang her legs right over her head backwards.

One of Shruti's fans, 90-year-old Swami Bhanu, a retired teacher, said: 'The best thing about Shruti is she tries to provide an alternative position for the complicated ones that are difficult for an older person like me to do. She's very patient.' Businessman Lokendra Pal Singh, 48, has been attending Shruti's classes for three months and said, 'I have noticed a positive change in my life. I used to be short-tempered, but now I'm able to control my anger to quite an extent and it's all thanks to a little six-year old.'

White Rabbit

Jefferson Airplane

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Recall Alice
When she was just small

When men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's "off with her head!"
Remember what the dormouse said:

Attention All Heads

A California medical marijuana dispensary has raked in food donations with a unique offer: free pot.

Six foods making Americans fat

Some premade guacamole dips contain little avocado but plenty of chemicals. 

Head-scratching optical illusions

If you look closely, these images will play tricks on your eyes and your brain.  

Non Sequitur


The 3D Food Printer

A team at Cornell University's Computational Synthesis Lab are building a 3D food printer which they hope one day will be as commonplace as the microwave oven or blender. Just pop the raw food 'inks' in the top, load the recipe - or 'FabApp' - and the machine would do the rest.

'FabApps' would allow you to tweak your foods taste, texture and other properties. Maybe you really love biscuits, but want them extra flaky. You would change the slider and the recipe and the instructions would adjust accordingly. The goal is to blow the lid off cooking as we know it and change the future of food production.

Kids Are What Their Dads Eat


It's already been established that a woman's diet can affect a baby's health, but it now appears that mothers aren't the only ones: what a father eats can have an impact on his children's heatlh as well. A new study details how paternal diet can increase production of cholesterol synthesis genes in first-generation offspring.

The study shows that environmental cues, including diet, influence genes in mammals from one generation to the next, suggesting paternal environmental effects may play a more important role in complex diseases such as diabetes and heart disease than previously believed.

Neanderthals Cooked Their Vegetables

Research by the Department of Anthropology at the Smithsonian natural history museum shows us that Neanderthals were not all that different from modern humans in their eating habits. They ate grains and vegetables as well as meat, and they cooked their dinners, too!
Researchers found grains from numerous plants, including a type of wild grass, as well as traces of roots and tubers, trapped in plaque buildup on fossilized Neanderthal teeth unearthed in northern Europe and Iraq.
Many of the particles “had undergone physical changes that matched experimentally-cooked starch grains, suggesting that Neanderthals controlled fire much like early modern humans,” PNAS said in a statement.
Stone artifacts have not provided evidence that Neanderthals used tools to grind plants, suggesting they did not practice agriculture, but the new research indicates they cooked and prepared plants for eating, it said.

Chocolate Genome Sequenced

Choco-holics are ecstatic!
A French-led research team has sequenced the DNA of Theobroma cacao, a tree used in making chocolate. Specifically, they ascertained the genetic code of one type that is used to make gourmet chocolate. This development may allow scientists to genetically engineer these chocolate-producing trees to resist diseases and parasites, thus increasing the availability of top quality chocolate:
Currently, most cacao farmers earn about $2 per day, but producers of fine cacao earn more. Increasing the productivity and ease of growing cacao can help to develop a sustainable cacao economy. The trees are now also seen as an environmentally beneficial crop because they grow best under forest shade, allowing for land rehabilitation and enriched biodiversity.
The team’s work identified a variety of gene families that may have future impact on improving cacao trees and fruit either by enhancing their attributes or providing protection from fungal diseases and insects that effect cacao trees.

The secret names of plants and herbs

Many people do not realize that when the witches in Macbeth prepare their brew...
Fillet of a fenny snake,
In the cauldron boil and bake;
Eye of newt and toe of frog,
Wool of bat and tongue of dog,
Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting,
Lizard's leg and howlet's wing,
For a charm of powerful trouble,
Like a hell-broth boil and bubble...

Scale of dragon, tooth of wolf,
Witch's mummy, maw and gulf
Of the ravin'd salt-sea shark,
Root of hemlock digg'd i’ the dark,
Liver of blaspheming Jew,
Gall of goat and slips of yew
Sliver'd in the moon's eclipse,
Nose of Turk and Tartar's lips,
Finger of birth-strangled babe
Ditch-deliver'd by a drab,
Make the gruel thick and slab.
Add thereto a tiger's chaudron,
For the ingredients of our cauldron...
... the recipe they are reciting should not be taken literally.  In that era plants typically had "secret names" which constituted part of the arcane knowledge base of the herbalist and alchemist. "Eye of newt" was mustard seed, "Serpent's tongue" was the violet, many of the "fingers" were digitalis (foxglove) blossoms.

Witches Lore has a compilation of several hundred of these, which I can't seem to transcribe here because of the columnar formatting.  Those interested can browse the list here.

Solanum mammosum

For an explanation go to Kuriositas.



Karate Chimp

And remember folks a chimp is stronger than a human.

Solar-Powered Hornet

The exoskeleton of the oriental hornet is a solar collector and generator that converts sunlight into electricity! A team led by Marian Plotkin of Tel-Aviv University discovered the wasp’s power plant properties, but don’t know why the insects produce electricity.
Their research revealed that pigments in the hornet’s yellow tissues trap light, while its brown tissues generate electricity. Exactly how the hornets use this electricity is still not entirely understood, Plotkin noted.
“When I was running my experiment, people told me it was never going to work,” she said. “I’m so happy at the results.”
While solar cells using human-made substances are usually 10 to 11 percent efficient at generating electricity, the hornet’s cells are only 0.335 percent efficient. For instance, the hornet still gets the vast majority of its energy from food.

Hawaiian Caterpillar With 'Claw Of Death'

Eupithecia is a large, worldwide genus of inchworms (moths in the family Geometridae).
The Eupithecia in Hawaii are unique because of the particular ecological niche they fill - they are predators, while nearly all other known caterpillars are plant feeders only.

Do Pterosaurs Still Exist on Papua New Guinea?

In Papua New Guinea, natives describe huge flying animals with long beaks, bat-like wings, and razor-sharp teeth and claws. Evidence of gigantic nesting sites have been found in the mountains. Remember, this is the area where previously-unknown species of animals are found almost constantly. Could these creatures be living pterosaurs?
The Ropen or ‘demon flyer’ is a monstrous animal that is said to have terrified the natives of Papua New Guinea for thousands of years. Another smaller animal, known as the Duah, is possibly related to the Ropen, a cryptid creature said to haunts some of the far-flung outlying islands.
The flying animals described are said to “glow” in the dark, as reported both by locals and researchers. It has been hypothesized that the bio-luminescent glow assists the animals’ effort to hunt and catch food in the deep darkness of the tropical night. One of the researchers, David Woetzel, has said that he recorded images of the animals while studying them.

Nine Species That Returned From Extinction in 2010

sierra nevada red fox photo
According to some estimates, a species is lost every 20 minutes. This shocking number considers factors like habitat loss but also includes approximations of the planet's total number of species, known and unknown.
Actually declaring a species extinct, however, is a long and laborious process that requires evidence beyond a reasonable doubt the plant or animal has disappeared from the face of the earth. The difficulty of this process is highlighted by the fact that only 875 extinctions have been officially documented since 1500.
And a few of those 875 have made miraculous reappearances.
9 Species That Returned From Extinction in 2010 (Slideshow)

In Peru's Forests, New Discoveries Signal Encroaching Dangers

peru amazon forest lake photo
Peru is home to more than 200,000 square miles of forest land. 
Peru is famous for the Andes Mountains, but more than 60 percent of the country is covered by the Amazon rainforest—making the country a hotbed of biodiversity and the site of frequent species discoveries. Indeed, every year, a new bird is discovered in Peru and every four years a new mammal is discovered.
These species—both recently discovered and still unknown—are at risk, however, by the rapid development and resource extraction underway in the country. The problem, conservationists point out, is highlighted by the fact that many of these discoveries are not made by scientists, but by employees of oil, gas, and timber companies.
Article continues: In Peru's Forests, New Discoveries Signal Encroaching Dangers

Upping the cute factor


Dog's special dinner dance

This little dog has a unique way of showing his appreciation for good food. 

Florida Manatees Suffering in Unusually Frigid Waters

As intense winter storms are adding a chill to many cities around the world, some animals are having trouble coping with the cold as well. For the past few weeks, the well-being of aquatic animals in Florida has been concerning wildlife officials as hundreds of manatees have been found dead, having perished due to the unusually frigid conditions. Recently, manatees have been observed fleeing the cool waters in the Gulf of Mexico and seeking refuge from the dropping temps.

Article continues: Florida Manatees Suffering in Unusually Frigid Waters

Animal Pictures