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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, January 3, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
If you want this day to be a successful one, you will need to be prepared to ask for help (if you need it).
Chances are you'll be fine on your own, but this day does have some potential roadblocks waiting for you.
If you get stuck, don't sit on the sidelines and worry -- flag down some help!
Pride or embarrassment aren't going to help you get where you need to go ... it's all about doing what you need to do to make things work.
This is a great day for your creativity to shine.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Lodz, Lodzkie, Poland
Stuttgart, Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany
Klanf, Selangor, Malaysia
Jakarta, Jakarta Raya, Indonesia
Naestved, Storstrom, Denmark
London, England, United Kingdom
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands

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 Pana, San Antonio, Iowa City, Durham and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, January 3, the 3rd day of 2011.
There are 362 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 
Drinking Straw Day
J.R.R. Tolkien Day
Momento Mori "Remember you die" Day
National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day.

Also today the earth is at Perihelion

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Twins born in different years

One minute made a big difference in the birthdays of little Madisen and Aiden. 

Non Sequitur


New Congress's 2011 agenda

The repugicans may have their eyes on something other than the day-to-day life of most Americans. 

Bad Cops

Missouri deputy is arrested for raping 15-year-old

Iowa cop is fired "due to an incident which occurred while the officer was on duty," and that's all you're allowed to know

Video shows Nebraska police arresting man for firing crossbow at target in backyard

New Mexico deputy faces stalking charge

In Spite of state law, Maryland cops still arresting, charging people for recording police

Kansas cop and Cub Scout leader charged in internet pedo sex sting

Oregon police officers who hospitalized college student have controversial history

One month truce in Mexico drug war

A letter claims one of the nation's most powerful gangs will halt all criminal activity.  

Awesome Pictures


A staircase of fields on a hillside, Madeira, 1959
A staircase of fields on a hillside, Madeira, 1959

Culinary DeLites

This Mediterranean pizza skillet meal combines feta, chicken, tomatoes, and artichokes.  

A Non-Prank Use for Banana Peels

banana peel photo  
Photo: sandman_kk / CC
Like a yellow jumpsuit that every banana must shed before going skinny-dipping in our tummies -- those infamous peels have eluded any further purpose for centuries. But, just when you thought that banana peels were destined merely to be the tormentor of cartoon characters and video-game go-kart racers, science has finally found a use to nature's most slippery litter. It turns out that peels can do more than clean the clock of some unobservant pedestrian -- they can clean dirty water, too.

Sixties Seventies

This Italian photo site documents the fashions of the 1960s and ’70s -miniskirts, bellbottoms, platform shoes, hot pants, go-go boots, and that hair! You’ll see some famous faces among the models. Elements of these styles come back every once in a while, but the total look of those days of fashion will never be duplicated. Full Story

An Illustrated Guide To Bluffing In Poker And Life In General

It's a Blond World

A blond was recently hired at an office. Her first task was to go out for coffee. Eager to do well her first day on the job, she grabbed a large thermos and hurried to a nearby coffee shop.
She held up the thermos and the coffee shop worker quickly came over to take her order.

"Is this big enough to hold six cups of coffee?" the blond asked.

The coffee shop worker looked at the thermos, hesitated a few seconds, then finally replied, "Yeah. It looks like about six cups to me."

"Oh good!" the blond sighed in relief. "Then give me two black, two with cream.”

On The Job

Economists cite a few reasons why the number of new jobs could triple this year.

Work-life balance jobs

You can telecommute, freelance, or just avoid taking work home in these six fields.  

Poor credit scores can hurt

You'll be penalized with higher interest rates if you don't maintain an excellent score. 

How Gen Y will shape economy

The 77 million members of the Millennial generation are well educated and tech-savvy. 

Seven red flags for your pension

These red flags could mean your plan won't be able to meet its obligations.

How to get your taxes organized

The sooner you pull your records together, the sooner you’ll get any refunds due.  

Boost your finances in 2011

Just set a single, manageable money goal each month and then hit it.  

How to sell your home fast

Take these crucial steps to pique the interest of prospective buyers.  

Ride the rainbow

Make of it what you will ...

Yoga instructor doesn't let broken legs keep her from teaching

As you make your New Year's resolutions, if they include going to the gym, losing weight and getting fit, don't make excuses. A Utah woman is proving that even in a wheelchair, you can get to the gym. Yoga poses involve the use of the upper and lower body, and while upper body movements aren't a problem for Amy Keller-Bill, the use of her legs is a little tricky. "I have rods in both sides and a plate on the left because they were dislocated," Keller-Bill said.

She broke her tibia and fibula in both legs after she was hit by a truck. It happened while she was at the BYU-Utah game on Thanksgiving weekend. She was leaving the tailgating lot where a lot of people were yelling and shoving as they were leaving the stadium. She said was forced off the sidewalk, right into the path of a truck. "The truck was going like 5 miles an hour, it wasn't his fault," she said. "I ran into him, really. There's nothing he could have done."

The wheel of the truck caught her and pulled her under, breaking both her legs. She's been in a wheelchair ever since. "The hardest thing is feeling useless," she said. A few weeks ago, she said she couldn't take sitting around, doing nothing. "I was going insane," Keller-Bill said. "The human body is not meant to be sedentary, it's not good for you." So she started teaching again, careful not to put any weight on her legs.

"You think of little things that keep you from coming and working out, and they seem like minor things compared to two broken legs," said yoga student Tracy Campbell. "There's no excuse," said Rick Ortenburger, another yoga student. "I had the flu yesterday, I wasn't feeling good, and I thought, 'Nah, I'm coming to Amy's class today.'" Keller-Bill will be in a wheelchair for another couple of weeks. By February she hopes to start walking again, and her doctor anticipates a full recovery. She can't wait to get moving again and hopes her story might motivate people to get moving.

Don't Panic and Take a Deep Breath?

Bad Idea!
Keep calm, don’t panic and take a deep breath … you’re about to learn that the age-old advice to stop yourself from panicking, namely taking deep breaths, is actually wrong.
Turns out, taking a deep breath for people people who are prone to panic attacks is actually a bad idea. Oops!
Panicking people are often told to calm down and "take a deep breath," Meuret said. But for someone hyperventilating during a panic attack, deep breathing is a bad idea. That’s because hyperventilation happens when people breathe so quickly and deeply that they expel an unusually high amount of carbon dioxide, which in turn causes symptoms like dizziness and numbness. Those symptoms tend to make people feel like they’re suffocating, so they breathe quicker and deeper, further exacerbating the problem.
"It’s not because they have a lack of oxygen, it’s because they’re exhaling too much air," Meuret said, adding, "’Take a deep breath’ is not a helpful instruction."

Five expert tips for better sleep

Sleep-aid products do big business, but they're a good buy only for certain people.  

'Revolutionary' cancer test

A test that can spot a single cancer cell lurking in a billion healthy ones could revolutionize care. 

Europe by night

Photo taken by Douglas H. Wheelock, astronaut aboard the International Space Station above England. 
The Aurora borealis in the distance.

Celebrity Chef Gordan Ramsay Assaulted While Investigating Shark Fin Trade

photo via bfeedme.com
Being a muckraking celebrity chef can be dangerous to your health. Just ask Brit Gordon Ramsay, who was showered with gasoline and held at gunpoint after he confronted a gang trafficking in illegal shark fins in Costa Rica. The segment was intended for his new program Big Fish Fight, but ended with Ramsay begin told by local authorities to flee the country for his own safety.
Article continues: Celebrity Chef Gordan Ramsay Assaulted While Investigating Shark Fin Trade

Hi-Tech Japanese Vending Machine Uses 47-Inch Touchscreen Panel to Sell Drinks

In a land of high-tech toilet and strange robots, a regular ol’ vending machine just won’t do. So behold, the vending machine in subway stations in Tokyo that uses 47-inch touchscreen panel to sell you drinks:
A 47-inch touchscreen panel dominates the front of this beast,
which shows two tall eyes when in sleep mode and switches to the storefront mode, which displays available drinks (and hides ones that are sold out, so that no ugly red “Sold out” buttons appear). Payment can be made in the traditional hard money method, as well as with a Suica or a FeliCa on a cell phone.

What makes this vending machine even more interesting is that there is a camera above the screen that determines the age and gender of a person standing in front of it, which the machine uses to “subtly” offer demographically-targeted drink selections, as well as collect marketing data based on customer’s actual choices – no identifiable images or information are stored.
Akihabara News has the story (and video clip): here.

Japan's population drops

The rapidly aging country saw deaths climb to an all-time high in 2010, while births stayed flat.  

Nation drops its colonial name

Decades after winning independence, Sri Lanka still hasn't shaken its British label. 

Purple Tulips


Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!

Have you ever heard of a town with the fascinating name Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha!? Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is a small town in the regional county municipality of Témiscouata, Quebec, near the south shore of the Saint Lawrence River in Canada. The parish began in 1860 as the site of a Roman Catholic mission; it was named in 1874. The population of Saint-Louis-du-Ha! Ha! is 1,471.

The commission de toponymie asserts that the parish's name refers to nearby Lake Témiscouata, the sense of haha here being an archaic French word for an unexpected obstacle or abruptly ending path. The exclamation marks were added colloquially and have since gained recognized status among Canadian federal institutions such as Canada Post.

Who Invented the First Shovel?

Bjorn Carey of Life’s Little Mysteries did the detective work:
Like many East Coasters, I spent just a little bit of time digging out from this past weekend’s snow storm. As I stabbed my wood and aluminum shovel at a hip-high snow bank, I couldn’t help but marvel at the tool I was using. So simple, yet so useful.
The first known shovels, I found out in the Concise Oxford Dictionary of Archaeology, were discarded ox scapula (shoulder blades) that folks in Neolithic and Early Bronze Age Britain used to move soil and rocks. 5,000 years ago, people probably didn’t need to clear a path through snow drifts to get to their car, but I’d bet that they used these tools to push around snow, too.

The Ancient Underground Cave Cities of Turkey

Cappadocia is an amazing place - see why here.

Hang Ken

The "mountain river cave" is big enough to hold a skyscraper and contains a jungle.  

Monstrance axe

A ritual axe from Berlin's Ethnologisches Museum, which I found posted at A London Salamagundi.  Made in New Caledonia (?when), of hair, jadeite, shell, stone, and textile (source).

I found more explanation re the name of the object at Tribal Art:
Admiral Bruny d’Entrecasteaux and his sailors were the first in the West to encounter an unusual object... in what we now know as New Caledonia from April 17–May 3, 1793. His stay was longer than Captain Cook’s in 1774, and he was able to observe objects other than the spears and clubs that his illustrious predecessor had seen. While there, he was presented with an object that he had difficulty describing. He thought that it slightly resembled the monstrance used in Catholic ritual in connection with the Host, and to this day the term remains part of the French name for the object, which is called hache ostensoir, or “monstrance axe.” 
Additional information at Tribal Art and at the Ngilong Art Gallery.

Why Humans Are Getting Dumber

Our Brains Are Shrinking!
Got a crotchety old guy who kept telling you that youngsters today are getting dumber by the minute (right before he told you to get off his lawn)?
Well, he may be onto something: scientists discovered that our brains are actually shrinking!
The downsizing of human brains is an evolutionary fact that took science writer Kathleen McAuliffe by surprise.
"I said, ‘What? I thought it was getting bigger!’" she tells NPR’s Jacki Lyden. That was the story up to 20,000 years ago, she learned. Then, the brains of our ancestors reversed course and started getting smaller — and they’ve been shrinking ever since.
Cro-Magnon man, who lived in Europe 20,000 to 30,000 years ago, had the biggest brains of any human species. In comparison, today’s human brain is about 10 percent smaller. It’s a chunk of brain matter "roughly equivalent to a tennis ball in size," McAuliffe says.
The experts aren’t sure about the implications of this evolutionary trend. Some think it might be a dumbing-down process. One cognitive scientist, David Geary, argues that as human society grows increasingly complex, individuals don’t need to be as intelligent in order to survive and reproduce.
I don’t know about the science, but it sure explains Jersey Shore!

Was Israel The Birthplace Of Modern Humans?

It has long been believed that modern humans emerged from the continent of Africa 200,000 years ago. Now Tel Aviv University archaeologists have uncovered evidence that Homo sapiens roamed the land now called Israel as early as 400,000 years ago - the earliest evidence for the existence of modern humans anywhere in the world.

The findings were discovered in the Qesem Cave, a pre-historic site located near Rosh Ha'ayin that was first excavated in 2000. Scientists performed a morphological analysis on eight human teeth found in the Qesem Cave. According to researchers, the discoveries made in the Qesem Cave may overturn the theory that modern humans originated on the continent of Africa.



The Top Dinosaur Discoveries of 2010

The biggest dinosaur discoveries of the year include dinosauromorphs, or dinosaur precursors, plus dinosaur diets, dino nurseries, and dinosaur colors. Shown is the feathered dinosaur Anchiornis, whose colors were determined by feather fossils. Check out the entire list, with links to further reading, at Smithsonian.

Upping the cute factor

Who, Dat?

Invasive Species May Trigger Next Mass Extinction

animal dominoes biodiversity photo
Throughout the history of the Earth, there have been five great extinction events—periods in which there was a sharp decrease in both the diversity and abundance of life. With estimates indicating that currently one animal species is lost every 20 minutes, some have begun calling the present period the "sixth great extinction."
The loss of species alone, however, does not tell the entire story of an extinction event. According to new research, the lack of new species is also important—and the spread of invasive species may be the greatest hindrance to the process of speciation.


Even the animals know repugicans are stupid.

Sandfish lizard "swims" through sand

A team at Georgia Tech has been studying the biomechanics that allow the "sandfish lizard" to propel itself so quickly through sand.
"Goldman described the sandfish as a little lizard that lives in the desert in North Africa. When startled, it can burrow 10 cm beneath the surface in less than half a second. Its wedge-shaped head, which biologists believe gives the critter its lightning-quick burrowing ability, was the project's inspiration..."
A cylinder pulled through sand generated lift, but the lizard's head generated "negative lift," keeping it submerged.
"On an earlier research project, Goldman's CRAB Lab used high-speed x-ray imaging to observe the lizard's movement when submerged. They found that it doesn't use its legs when swimming through sand, instead tucking them by its side and slithering like a snake."
Additional information at Physics Buzz.

'Magic pythons' married in Cambodia to bring luck

Hundreds of villagers flocked to a wedding ceremony Monday between a 16-foot , 200-pound female python and her slightly smaller mate - both believed to be magic snakes that bring prosperity and peace.The two-hour ceremony in Svay Rolum village, 12 miles south of the capital Phnom Penh, ended with two Buddhist monks blessing the pair and villagers ...


Limbs virtually transparent except for that remarkable purple vasculature. 
Found at Pixdaus.

Newborn miniature panda cow one of only 24 worldwide

It is safe to say that Ben is the last miniature panda cow born anywhere in 2010. In fact, he has few peers, being a calf and one of only 24 of the scarce breed in the world. At just after 8 a.m. on Friday, on a farm east of Campion, Ben entered the world after mother Bella, a lowline Angus cow, spent a zero-degree night in labor in her stall.

Two hours later, still wet and shivering, the tiny calf snuggled against his diminutive mother. The miniature panda cow is the result of 44 years of genetic manipulation by Richard Gradwohl, a farmer in Covington, Wash., about 20 miles southeast of Seattle.

A white belt encircling the animal’s midsection, and the white face with black ovals around the eyes, give the cow an appearance that is very much panda-like. “We had a Chinese delegation visit our farm, and they were fascinated,” Gradwohl said. “They want them in China, so we’re going to be exporting.”


He describes the breed that he has trademarked as an eight-breed composite, drawing on previous strains of miniature cattle that he also developed. “There are 26 breeds of miniature cattle in the world, and we developed 18 of them,” said Gradwohl who has seven of the existing 24 panda cows on his Happy Mountain Farm. Miniature panda calves sell for as much as $30,000 from Gradwohl’s online clearinghouse for mini-cow aficionados. While Chris Jessen said he’ll likely sell Ben, his price has not been set.

Snails Use Light To Defend Themselves

Animals use a lot of things to defend themselves: skunks use bad odor, armadillos use their tough leathery armor shell, and porcupines use their sharp quills.
But scientists studying the clusterwink snail have discovered what could be the strangest defensive weapon used by an animal: light.
Dimitri Deheyn and Nerida Wilson of Scripps Oceanography (Wilson is now at the Australian Museum in Sydney) studied a species of "clusterwink snail," a small marine snail typically found in tight clusters or groups at rocky shorelines. These snails were known to produce light, but the researchers discovered that rather than emitting a focused beam of light, the animal uses its shell to scatter and spread bright green bioluminescent light in all directions.
The researchers, who describe their findings in the Dec. 15 online version of Proceedings of the Royal Society B (Biological Sciences), say the luminous displays of Hinea brasiliana could be a deterrent to ward off potential predators by using diffused bioluminescent light to create an illusion of a larger animal.

Pair of eerie wildlife die-offs

A massive fish kill turns up just 125 miles from where 5,000 birds dropped out of the sky.  

Animal Pictures