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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, April 30, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
When you see someone who needs help today, do what you can to lend a hand (even if you don't get any credit for it).
Let your compassionate side come out for a while, and you'll soon feel how empowering it can be to sacrifice your time and energy for someone else's sake.
Your selfless side needs to get in better balance with your more self-oriented side.
Let it remind you of the value of connecting with people who aren't as fortunate as you.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kuatan, Pahang, Malaysia
London, England, United Kingdom
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Athens, Attiki, Greece
London, Ontario, Canada
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand

Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia

as well as Slovakia, Malta, 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, Maldives, 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, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Norway, Finland

and in cities across the United States such as Rockford, Kalamazoo, Sommerville, Syracuse and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, April 30, the 121st day of 2011.
There are 234 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are:
Bugs Bunny Day
National Honesty Day
Penguin Day
Pinhole Photography Day
Sense of Smell Day.

It is also the Beltane Festival!
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

President Obama's Weekly Address

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Washington, DC
After the worst recession since the Great Depression, our economy is growing again, and we’ve gained almost 2 million private sector jobs over the last 13 months. But I also know that a lot of folks aren’t feeling as positive as some of those statistics might suggest. It’s still too hard to find a job. And even if you have a job, chances are you’re having a tougher time paying the rising costs of everything from groceries to gas. In some places, gas is now more than $4 a gallon, meaning that you could be paying upwards of $50 or $60 to fill up your tank.
Of course, while rising gas prices mean real pain for our families at the pump, they also mean bigger profits for oil companies. This week, the largest oil companies announced that they’d made more than $25 billion in the first few months of 2011 – up about 30 percent from last year.
Now, I don’t have a problem with any company or industry being rewarded for their success. The incentive of healthy profits is what fuels entrepreneurialism and helps drives our economy forward. But I do have a problem with the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies we’ve been handing out to oil and gas companies – to the tune of $4 billion a year. When oil companies are making huge profits and you’re struggling at the pump, and we’re scouring the federal budget for spending we can afford to do without, these tax giveaways aren’t right. They aren’t smart. And we need to end them.
That’s why, earlier this week, I renewed my call to Congress to stop subsidizing the oil and gas industries.  Understand, I’m not opposed to producing oil. I believe that if we’re serious about meeting our energy challenge, we need to operate on all cylinders, and that means pursuing a broad range of energy policies, including safe and responsible oil production here at home. In fact, last year, America’s oil production reached its highest level since 2003.
But I also believe that instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, we should invest in tomorrow’s – and that’s what we’ve been doing. Already, we’ve seen how the investments we’re making in clean energy can lead to new jobs and new businesses. I’ve seen some of them myself – small businesses that are making the most of solar and wind power, and energy-efficient technologies; big companies that are making fuel-efficient cars and trucks part of their vehicle fleets. And to promote these kinds of vehicles, we implemented historic new fuel-economy standards, which could save you as much as $3,000 at the pump.
Now, I know that in this tough fiscal environment, it’s tempting for some in Washington to want to cut our investments in clean energy. And I absolutely agree that the only way we’ll be able to afford the things we need is if we cut the things we don’t, and live within our means. But I refuse to cut things like clean energy that will help America win the future by growing our economy and creating good-paying jobs; that will help make America more secure; and that will help clean up our planet in the process. An investment in clean energy today is an investment in a better tomorrow. And I think that’s an investment worth making. Thanks for listening, and have a great weekend.

Today is Beltane

April 30th / May 1 - Beltane
Also known as Roodmas or May Day
Many Wiccans and Pagans celebrate Beltane.  It is one of eight solar Sabbats.  This holiday incorporates traditions from the Gaelic Bealtaine, such as the bonfire,but it bears more relation to the Germanic May Day festival, both in its significance (focusing on fertility) and its rituals (such as May pole dancing).  Some traditions celebrate this holiday on May 1 or May day, whiles others begin their celebration the eve before or April 30th. Beltane has long been celebrated with feasts and rituals. The name means fire of Bel; Belinos being one name for the Sun God, whose coronation feast we now celebrate. As summer begins, weather becomes warmer, and the plant world blossoms, an exuberant mood prevails. In old Celtic traditions it was a time of unabashed sexuality and promiscuity where marriages of a year and a day could be undertaken but it is rarely observed in that manner in modern times.

In the old Celtic times, young people would spend the entire night in the woods "A-Maying," and then dance around the phallic Maypole the next morning. Older married couples were allowed to remove their wedding rings (and the restrictions they imply) for this one night. May morning is a magickal time for wild water (dew, flowing streams, and springs) which is collected and used to bathe in for beauty, or to drink for health.

The Christian religion had only a poor substitute for the life-affirming Maypole -- namely, the death-affirming cross. Hence, in the Christian calendar, this was celebrated as 'Roodmas'. In Germany, it was the feast of Saint Walpurga, or 'Walpurgisnacht'. An alternative date around May 5 (Old Beltane), when the sun reaches 15 degrees Taurus, is sometimes employed by Covens. (Both 'Lady Day' and 'Ostara' are names incorrectly assigned to this holiday by some modern traditions of Wicca.)

The May pole was a focal point of the old English village rituals. Many people would rise at the first light of dawn to go outdoors and gather flowers and branches to decorate their homes. Women traditionally would braid flowers into their hair. Men and women alike would decorate their bodies. Beltane marks the return of vitality, of passion. Ancient Pagan traditions say that Beltane marks the emergence of the young God into manhood. Stirred by the energies at work in nature, he desires the Goddess. They fall in love, lie among the grasses and blossoms, and unite. The Goddess becomes pregnant of the God. To celebrate, a wedding feast, for the God and Goddess must be prepared. Let Them guide you! Breads and cereals are popular. Try oatmeal cakes or cookies sweetened with a dab of honey. Dairy foods are again appropriate...just make a lovely wedding feast and you are sure to enjoy yourself! An early morning walk through a local park or forest could be fun for everyone. Gather up some plants or flowers to display in your home. Mom and daughter could braid their hair, and weave in a few tender blossoms.

Blessed Be!

The Gael


Non Sequitur


Gaddafi forces cross into Tunisia

It was limited, but not a very good sign.
The Libyan civil war briefly spilled into Tunisia yesterday as the west of the country saw heavy fighting on two fronts and NATO reported that Muammar Gaddafi's forces were laying anti-shipping mines in the sea off Misrata.

Pro-Gaddafi troops made incursions over the border into Tunisia in a battle to retake a key crossing from rebel hands, drawing condemnation from Tunis.

Libyan soldiers were captured by Tunisian forces after firing indiscriminately in clashes that lasted about 90 minutes, according to reports. Witnesses said three Tunisians were injured.

Protests continue in Syria as government violence escalates

If the reports are true, it is at least good news that the number of protesters is at least holding steady and possibly increasing. Violence by Assad's security forces continues as well.

The Guardian:
Thousands of Syrians defied their government's bloody attempts to suppress protests, braving gunfire from security forces to demonstrate in Damascus and across the country.

At least 42 people were killed, most of them in the opposition stronghold of Deraa, where villagers tried to break through the security cordon to relieve its besieged population.

Further deaths were reported in Latakia and Homs after the security forces opened fire on demonstrators. There was news of protests in 50 towns and villages including Hama, Aleppo, the coastal cities of Latakia and Banias, Deir Ezzor in the east, and Qamishli in the north-east. Unrest was also reported on the Syria-Jordan border, which is straddled by the Haurani tribes.

Uganda anti-government protests put dictator at risk

Oh deary me. The repugicans must be worried since their poster child for loony christian beliefs is in trouble. The wingnut christian cabal always loved referencing various nutty policies from Uganda. What loon will they turn to next?

The Guardian:
In Uganda there is an inchoate revolution struggling to be born. Protests have spread to several towns, leaving seven people dead and hundreds in jail. The riots, in which roads have been barricaded with burning tires and vehicles pelted with rocks, mark a new level of defiance. Facebook and Twitter, which the government unsuccessfully tried to block, are reverberating with dissent. Museveni's heavy-handed attempts to put out the fire only appear to be fanning its flames.

The subversion here began on 11 April with nothing so spectacular as an act of self-immolation: rather, a defeated politician and half a dozen allies walking down a street. The walk to work campaign is intended to highlight the soaring food and fuel prices, which leave many Ugandans unable to afford public transport.

If Besigye, who has lost three elections to Museveni, had been ignored the protest might have fizzled out. But instead riot police blocked the group, used teargas and arrested him. At a stroke this waning establishment figure was reborn as a hero of resistance.

Wizard of Id


Repugicans have a problem with Democracy

And this is surprising, how?

Donald "China is raping this country" Trump's line of hideously ugly clothes are made in China

"China is raping this country," Mr. Trump said, adding that the United States has fallen short on technology and innovation.

Tax, spending divisions laid bare in public forums

Peter Cass could stand it no longer as he listened to the repugican defend a plan to cut taxes and Medicare simultaneously.

Oil profits rise with prices

As oil companies report huge gains, President Obama renews his plan to end their tax breaks.  

Big Oil blames government for high oil prices

OK, for starters, let's scrap every last free handout for Big Oil tomorrow since taxpayers are supporting billions per year in tax breaks for that industry. Then let's have a deeper look at how Big Oil invests money to destroy climate change initiatives that might have an impact on how Americans view the oil industry. After that we can dig in deeper to look at how Big Oil does their best to eliminate any ideas that might move people away from oil and onto alternative energies.
It's a pity Congress and the White House are so afraid of taking this destructive industry on. Someone needs to step in and end this blamestorming Bull Shit.
Shortly after posting first-quarter earnings of nearly $11 billion Thursday, Exxon Mobil (XOM, Fortune 500) issued a defensive statement arguing that it's not to blame for $4 gas. The company put part of the blame for soaring oil and gas prices on the U.S. government.

"For every gallon of gasoline and other products we refined and sold in the United States, we earned about 7 cents," said a statement from Exxon vice president Ken Cohen. "Compare that to the 40 to 60 cents per cents per gallon that went to the government (state and federal) in gasoline taxes."

The industry's top lobbyist also went on the offensive, saying the earnings that these companies reported this week reflect a strong economy and are a boon for investors, including many pension funds.

"The U.S. oil and natural gas industry's strong earnings signal growing strength in our economy," said Jack Gerard, chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute. He said Americans "should be proud" of an industry that supports millions of jobs and provides income for retirees who have shares of profitable oil companies in their retirement accounts.
No, oil is expensive not because of the strength of the economy, but because of the weakness of the US dollar.

Crude Oil Chemical Linked to Heart Defect in Babies

baby nursery
For the first time, scientists have shown that exposure to a compound in crude oil is associated with congenital heart disease.  

And I Quote

"A new study found that Americans spend $1.2 trillion every year on stuff they don’t need. Or as Republicans call it: health care."
~ Jimmy Fallon

Did you know ...



Roman 'murder victim' unearthed

The body of a girl thought to have been murdered by Roman soldiers is discovered by archaeologists in southeast England.

Green moon

We've all heard about the green flash of the Sun, a phenomenon where, just for a moment, the light from a setting or rising Sun appears green, rather than the customary red, pink, or gold. It happens when Earth's atmosphere separates the wavelengths of light coming from the Sun in just the right way.
The image above is the one of the best known photographs of the green flash of the Moon. Yes, the Moon can flash green, too. But it's a lot harder to spot. Engineers at the European Southern Observatory in Chile took this series of photos.

A Geography Puzzle

Computer scientist Haym Hirsh wrote this puzzle. See if you can figure it out:
I am in one of the great capitals of Europe. I just learned that Bob, Carl, and I are in countries that share physical borders with each other. The official language of Bob’s country is Dutch, and Carl’s is Portuguese. It is 9:00am local time for both Bob and Carl.
Now: What is Hirsh’s local time?
You can view eight other good puzzles by Hirsh at the link.

Ruth Law, an early aviatrix

Bought her first airplane from Orville Wright in 1912 at age 21. 
First woman to do a loop-de-loop.   
First woman authorized to wear a uniform by the U.S. Military.

Ten Natural Wonders To See Before They Disappear

You've heard the grim timelines: if warming continues, the Great Barrier Reef will be bleached by 2030; glaciers in the Swiss Alps, on Mt. Kilimanjaro, and in Glacier National Park will disappear in under 40 years; and Arctic ice melt will send polar bears into extinction. The immediacy of these timelines prompts flocks of curious eco-tourists to travel to environmentally fragile areas.
Here are 10 areas under threat - some lesser known than others - that can still be visited responsibly.





Bonobos 'chat' about good foods

Upping the cute factor


Little chimp proves smarter than human baby after 1 year

Back in 1931, Gua the chimpanzee was raised as though she were a human child by scientists Winthrop N. Kellogg and Luella A. Kellogg alongside their son Donald. Gua and Donald were raised as brother and sister. In tests Gua often tested ahead of Donald in reading and understanding.

Slight differences in their placement included people recognition. Gua recognized people from their clothes and their smell while Donald recognized them by their faces.

The parting difference came with language. Donald was about 16 months and Gua was a little over a year old when they had language testing. Gua could not speak, but Donald could form words.

When Donald began to copy Gua's sounds the experiment ended. On March 28, 1932, nine months into it the Kelloggs officially ended the experiment. Gua was returned to the primate center with Dr. Robert Mearns Yerkes in Florida.

There's a longer video here.

Pigs have 'evolved to love mud'

Pig in mud (Image: Science Photo Library)Pigs have 'evolved to love mud'

A scientist is suggesting that a pig's love of mud is more than just a way to keep cool.

Animal Pictures

The Three Graces

Friday, April 29, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Did you know that you can be good without being perfect?
It's true -- so give up on your perfectionist goals.
Who cares if everything isn't 'just so' all the time?
The little imperfections in life are what make life so interesting.
A smooth veneer over everything isn't impressive or emotionally real.
It's intimidating, and it could be a sign that you're putting up walls between yourself and other people.
Break the walls down -- and leave a little mess behind!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
London, England, United Kingdom
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Pakanbaru, Riau, Indonesia
Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Arhensburg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Auckland, Auckland, Germany
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, Australia
Bremen, Bremen, Germany
London, Ontario, Canada
Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India

as well as Slovakia, Malta, 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, Maldives, 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, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Norway, Finland

and in cities across the United States such as American Fork, Ventnor City, Twin Falls, Sioux City and more.

Today is:
Today is Friday, April 29, the 120th day of 2011.
There are 235 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
Arbor Day
National Hairball Awareness Day
Save The Frogs Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Storm survivors' stories

Those who escaped the deadly twisters hid in bathrooms, closets, and even a tanning bed.  

Tornado death toll tops 300

As rescue workers keep searching for survivors, the breadth of the destruction becomes clear.

Tornadoes leave historic losses

Even basics like flashlights are scarce after the nation's worst tornado outburst since 1932.  

Factors behind tornado damage

Even with advance warning, hundreds of lives were lost in the deadliest tornadoes since 1932.  

Rock On

David Essex

Wanna Bet?


Popular new superfoods

An Icelandic yogurt and an ancient grain are among the hot items that pack a nutritious punch.

Chance encounter on Hawaiian beach unites half-brothers who had never met

Waikiki Beach wasn’t part of Rick Hill’s vacation plans last Monday, but the Lunenburg resident and his family decided to make a quick stop. Joe Parker, who grew up in Leominster but moved to Hawaii to escape a troubled upbringing and a failed relationship, wasn’t supposed to be on the beach that day, either. An event planner for a resort, he had hustled down to secure a last-minute surfing lesson for a client.

Hill’s fiancee was about to take a snapshot of Hill and their three children when Parker offered to take a picture of the entire family. Parker immediately detected Hill’s accent; instead of asking the family to say “cheese’’ he asked them to say “Leominster.’’ “When he said that, it took us by shock because we live in the next town over, and what are the chances of a stranger in Hawaii saying that,’’ Maureen Howe, Hill’s fiancee, said.

And then the name game began. Parker threw out several, including Dickie Halligan. Hill responded, “That’s my father!’’ Standing in the glistening white sand, Parker lowered his sunglasses, squinted at Hill, and declared, “That’s my dad, too!’’ A flood of emotion hit everyone they said. Tears flowed down Howe’s cheeks as the two men studied each other’s face and hugged.

“I can’t really put it into words,’’ Parker said, describing the feeling of meeting his half-brother for the first time, some 6,000 miles from where they grew up. “If I had to, I would say it was chilling, paralyzing, and an out-of-body experience all at once.’’ Hill, who had just returned from the trip, said: “To find a brother midway through life is weird. We spent the last week together, just getting acquainted.’’

US Appeals Court opens federal funding for stem cell research

The U.S. Federal Court of Appeals has overturned an August 2010 ban on federal funding of embryonic stem cell research, paving the way for broader exploration of how stem cells function and how they can be harnessed to treat a wide range of currentl…
US Appeals Court opens federal funding for stem cell research



And I Quote

"Donald Trump ( Mr Chapter 11) is a mean spirited BAD ACTOR who couldn't find his ass with both hands & a map!
~ Cher (in a tweet)

Mitt Romney's father was born in Mexico, how did he run for President?

Yes, George Romney was born in the Mormon colonies in Mexico (colonies originally set up to get around those pesky American polygamy laws).

So how is it Mr. Romney got to run for president in 1964, not being born in America and all?
Good Question, that.

Repugicans worried birtherism hurting their 2012 prospects

Maybe Obama was right to hold "long form" until now

It's an interesting point. And could even suggesting that by NOT releasing his long form birth certificate until now, the President actually HELPED fuel the crazies by stringing them alone, which only helps convince independent voters that the repugicans are nuts.

Not being one to give much credit for 11th dimensional chess - meaning, every apparent mis-step is really part of the super secret master plan for victory - but on the birther thing, he might be right.

Roll Call:
The question of whether President Barack Obama was born on U.S. soil will have zero impact on the 2012 campaign but could significantly damage repugicans’ prospects for retaking the White House if it lingers. That was the consensus analysis of more than a dozen experienced repugican political strategists, consultants and operatives who were interviewed Wednesday within an hour of Obama going on national television to publicly release the long-form version of his birth certificate.

These repugicans were nearly unanimous in their desire to see the issue permanently put to rest because they fear it could make the party seem too extreme.

The truth be told


Boehner now against ending Big Oil handouts

In other words, he received the call and knew where his bread was buttered. Only the repugicans could defend the indefensible like this.
What a spineless coward.
As the country's largest oil companies report near-record profits, the office of House Speaker John Boehner (reptile-Ohio) rejected on Thursday Democratic calls to consider legislation eliminating billions of dollars in tax breaks for the same corporations.

“The Speaker wants to increase the supply of American energy to lower gas prices and create millions of American jobs," Boehner spokesman Michael Steel said in an email. "Raising taxes will not do that."

Boehner said on Monday that oil companies should pay their fair share of taxes and that the industry did not need at least one of the subsidies Democrats want to terminate. But he started walking those comments back in the same interview, and his spokesman’s statement continued the rearguard action.

Hackers claim to have 2.2 million credit card numbers from PSN hack

Sony has previously said it wasn't sure if credit card information was stolen in the recent PlayStation Network and Qriocity hack, and thus, it has not offered any free credit monitoring service for customers.

Paul Ryan's budget isn't class warfare, it's class genocide

The thirty year long subterranean class warfare of rich and the super-rich against the middle class is entering its final phase – Class Genocide.
Until now, the top 1% has appropriated to itself the benefits of the country’s economic growth, while the middle class stagnated.  While making the tax code more regressive, they wealthy have also cut programs that helped people out of poverty and into the middle class.  In part the rich were enabled by the American middle classes’ dreams of moving up.  Particularly during the booms, entering the top 10% seemed just one stock pick or house flip away for many people, so with a little luck that low-upper bracket could soon be theirs.  Since the first government programs cut  helped move poor people into the middle class, cutting them did not hurt already middle class Americans.  There was always a racial and ethnic component to shutting down entry into the middle class that the politicians subtly played off of.

That was the old class warfare.  It unfolded so slowly that for years it just seemed coincidence that the rich always won and the middle class always lost.  Even then, the middle class was at least running in place and not losing ground, it just wasn’t gaining.  The rich were getting more, but the middle class remained stable and reasonably secure in their ability to remain in the middle class, and they had reasonable confidence that their children and grandchildren would also enjoy middle class status.  That is what made it a class – a status that could be maintained for your lifetime and passed along to your descendants.

Now everything that defined the middle class is being dismantled.  In America, you are middle class if you have a white collar job requiring a college education, or a union blue collar job, own your own home, are secure in retirement and able to pass along at least a little something to your kids.  It’s pretty much what most of us grew up expecting.

With the Ryan budget, and the radical actions repugican governors are taking in the various states, the repugicans are destroying the foundations of middle class security and its ability to ensure that middle class children can become middle class adults.  Starting with the land grant colleges of the nineteenth century, public schools, the GI Bills and student aid, the state and federal governments have built the middle class through access to education.  When I attended the University of California, a world class education cost $750 a quarter in in-state tuition.  My father was the first in his family to attend college and the GI Bill paid for it.  I hesitate to think of the state of education and student aid in ten years, when my kids are ready for college, if Paul Ryan has his way.

The Ryan budget put a fear into me, for the very first time in my life, that in retirement I could go broke from medical bills.  This is a real fear for those of us on the downside of the baby boom who are not grandfathered into Medicare as we know it.  It is also a fear for those in Medicare, or soon to be, because they would be one line of legislation away from being swept into fending for themselves in the insurance market – where insurers will not fall all over themselves to offer good coverage at reasonable prices to eighty-year old diabetic cardiac patients.

It is so much more than the “safety net” that is currently being lost.  The continued fallout from the housing bubble/mortgage crisis is going to end the 30 year mortgage for good.  Along with the bottomless cup of coffee, the 30 year mortgage is one of America’s great contributions to civilization.  The 30 year mortgage exists because of Federal support and regulation.  The 30 year mortgage turned America into a nation of homeowners.  It also turned every home into a piggy bank where each mortgage payment represented a deposit, and this increasing equity provided an emergency fund, a college fund, retirement savings and the ability to pass something along to the next generation.  Think what losing all of that will mean to what we now think of as the middle class.

Without home-ownership, retirement security and college education, what then is left of the middle class?

The effect of all these changes cumulatively ending the middle class as we know it is not an accident.  As they say about software – this is not a bug, but a feature.  In some of my next posts I will look at why changing the nature of America’s class structure (what we lulled ourselves into thinking was a practically classless society because the middle class seemed to embrace almost everyone) is not a byproduct of what is happening, but the purpose of what they are doing.

The cumulative effect of all of these changes is not simply that millions will be moved out of the middle class, it is the end of the middle class as we have known it all of our lives.  There simply will not be a middle class – there will be haves and have not’s.   It will not be the America we want or knew.

Socioeconomic Status Influences Reactions in Brain

Activity in the brain increases in people while viewing individuals they perceived to be of similar status. Read more

What's hot in new homes

Gourmet kitchens with fancy oversized stoves are on their way out, says one expert.  

Non Sequitur


Did you know ...

Heart attacks 'worse in the morning'
"Heart attacks are far more dangerous in the mornings than at any other time of the day."

The Eyes Have It

As amazing as human eyes are, other species have developed ways of seeing that will astound you.
Scientists are discovering new structures and adaptations all the time. There are eyes with mirrors, eyes with optical fibres, and eyes with bifocal lenses. There are eyes that see in the dark, move around heads, or go into sleep mode. There are even eyes made of rock. This slideshow will take you on a tour of some of these recent eye-opening discoveries.
Pictured is a box jellyfish, which has 24 eyes of two different types.



Webcam catches tourists walking on Old Faithful

Warning signs in multiple languages and the risk of getting cooked like garbanzo beans in a pressure cooker didn't stop some 30 tourists from taking a way-too-close look at Yellowstone's famous Old Faithful Geyser.

The Stunning Tulip Fields Of The Netherlands

A vast patchwork of kaleidoscopic color, the tulip fields of the Netherlands are clearly nothing to be sneezed at. From the air it looks as though a giant toddler armed with a box of super-sized crayons has been let loose on the Dutch countryside... if the lines weren't quite so perfect. The vibrant blues, reds, pinks and yellows sprawl as far as the eye can see.

Tourists have flocked to catch a glimpse of these spectacular quilted farmlands in all their technicolor glory. But like a rainbow, this colourful landscape is a short-lived phenomenon. When the flowers are gone, the land will be cultivated for a rather more mundane crop of vegetables.

The 10 Most Polluted Cities In The World

Pollution is a problem for many cities in the world and has been a threat to the environment in developed countries. Efforts are being made to overcome the growing pollution in the world but for some cities it's too much and those are the ones where it hit the hardest.

Here are the 10 most polluted cities in the world.

United States of the Environment

See Full Story for full graphic.
As if we need more things to fight over in America these info graphics will be sure to help in the age old argument “my state is better than your state.”  These two maps of the USA have interesting environmental facts on “How does your state excel?” such as California has the most acres of organic farmland and “How does your state not excel?” revealing California also has the most smog.  I’m sure all that smog will make for some delicious organic California oranges.

Awesome Pictures


The "demon core"

The Demon Core was the nickname given to a 6.2-kilogram (14 lb) subcritical mass of plutonium that accidentally went critical in two separate accidents at the Los Alamos laboratory in 1945 and 1946. Both incidents resulted in the acute radiation poisoning and subsequent death of a scientist...

[the second incident]: On May 21, 1946, physicist Louis Slotin and seven other scientists were in a Los Alamos laboratory conducting an experiment to verify the exact point at which a subcritical mass (core) of fissile material could be made critical by the positioning of neutron reflectors. It required the operator to place two half-spheres of beryllium (a neutron reflector) around the core to be tested and manually lower the top reflector over the core via a thumb hole on the top. As the reflectors were manually moved closer and further away from each other, scintillation counters measured the relative activity from the core. Allowing them to close completely would result in the instantaneous formation of a critical mass and a lethal power excursion, and the only thing preventing this was the blade of a standard flathead screwdriver manipulated by the scientist's other hand. The test was known as "tickling the dragon's tail" for its extreme risk, and was notoriously unforgiving of even the smallest mistake; many scientists refused to perform the test, but Slotin (who was given to bravado) became the local expert, performing the test almost a dozen separate times, often in his trademark bluejeans and cowboy boots in front of a roomful of observers. Enrico Fermi reportedly told Slotin and others they would be "dead within a year" if they continued performing it.

While lowering the top reflector, Slotin's screwdriver slipped a fraction of an inch, allowing the top reflector to fall into place around the core. Instantly there was a flash of blue light and a wave of heat across Slotin's skin; the core had become supercritical, releasing a massive burst of neutron radiation. He quickly knocked the two halves apart, stopping the chain reaction and likely saving the lives of the other men in the laboratory. Slotin's body positioning over the apparatus also shielded the others from much of the neutron radiation. He received a massively lethal dose in under a second and died nine days later from acute radiation poisoning. The nearest physicist to Slotin, Alvin C. Graves, was watching over Slotin's shoulder and was thus partially shielded by him, receiving a high but non-lethal radiation dose. Graves was hospitalized for several weeks with severe radiation poisoning, developed chronic neurological and vision problems as a result of the exposure, suffered a significant shortening of his lifespan and died of a radiation-induced heart attack 20 years later. The other six people in the room were far enough away from the assembly to avoid fatal injury, however they all suffered other complications as a result of the accident. Two people suffered severe shortening of their lives and died years later from radiation induced complications: leukemia (at age 42, 18 years after the accident) and clinical aplastic anemia.

Andromeda's Jewel in 'Invisible' Light

The European Space Agency has released a new animation compiling microwave, infrared, optical, ultraviolet, and x-ray observations of our nearest big galaxy, Andromeda.  

Ancient ship found near Rome

Archaeologists say they have found the upper side of an ancient ship near Rome. The wooden ship was about 11 meters long, making it one of the largest ancient vessels excavated near Ostia Antica, a port city founded some 2,500 years ago and Rome's first colony.

Peabody's Improbable History

Ponce De Leon

Ancient Royal Horse Unearthed in Iran

Remains of the oldest known Caspian horse, otherwise referred to as the "Kings' horse," date back to more than 3,000 years ago.  

Are Female Dogs Smarter Than Males?

Great Dane
When it comes to detecting the unexpected, female dogs might have a leg up.  

Ditch Your Old Couch for Your Dog's Sake

Chemical flame retardants used to make pre-2004 furniture and other items have entered the blood stream of dogs.  

Dusky Sharks Not Safe at Home

Dusky sharks return to breeding grounds - a trait that may put them in further jeopardy to finning and overfishing.  

Brainy Birds Live the High Life in Cities

Some birds avoid cities, but others purposefully move to them, seeking their own version of the big time.  

NASA to Launch Squids Into Space

bobtail squid photo  
Although NASA's shuttle launch may spell the end of an era for soon-to-be retired space shuttle Endeavor, it will be a major leap forward for aquatic invertebrates. Sure, classic illustrations of animal evolution typically depict species adjusting to life on land before going any higher -- but thanks to a NASA sponsored experiment designed by students, one group of baby squids will skip that step altogether. That's right, squids are heading to space.

Animal Pictures


Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
This day will be full of unique events that will inspire your creativity.
Write out your feelings -- in a letter to yourself, to someone you're trying to get to know better, or to someone who's getting on your last nerve.
You have a wonderful way with words, and an eloquent letter could be just what's needed to resolve a difficult situation.
Your message will help clarify a path forward -- and will illuminate the necessary next steps.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Metz, Lorraine, France
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Buenos Aires, Distrito Federal, Argentina
Stockholm, Stockholms Lan, Sweden
London, England, United Kingdom
Kiev, Kyyiv, Ukraine
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Yogyakarta, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Calcutta, West Bengal, India
Munich, Bayern, Germany
Madrid, Madrid, Spain

as well as Slovakia, Malta, 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, Maldives, 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, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Norway, Finland

and in cities across the United States such as Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, Wake Forest and more.

Today is:
Today is Thursday, April 28, the 119th day of 2011.
There are 236 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
Poem In Your Pocket Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Random Celebrity Photo

Care to guess who?

First pick in the NFL draft

The Carolina Panthers make Auburn's Heisman-winning quarterback the first player selected.

A 1-year-old signs pro contract

A viral video brings a precise-footed toddler to the attention of a top Dutch club.  

Secret to mini masterpieces

Simon Schubert uses a surprisingly simple method to create his amazingly intricate artworks.  

Awesome Pictures