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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.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Inspiration comes in many forms today, so try to keep your mind open -- and get rid of any (and all) expectations you may have for this day.
There's nothing to worry about right now, so if you've been eyeing this date on your calendar with some trepidation, there's no reason to continue.
Your feelings of anxiety are not helping you avoid danger or stress.
In fact, they may be holding you back.
Run into life without hesitation, and you'll escape the extra stress.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Rome, Lazo, Italy
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Bergen, Op Zoom, Noord-Brabant, Netherlands
Adelaide, South Australia, Australia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Copenhagen, Kobenhavn, Denmark
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands
Leverkusen, Nordrhein-Westfalen, Germany
Accra, Greater Accra, Ghana
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Athens, Attiki, Greece
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Caracas, Distrito Federal, Venezuela
Colombo, Colombo, Sri Lanka

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 Bessemer, Kailua, Lockport, Burlington and more.

Today is:
Today is Tuesday, January 4, the 4th day of 2011.
There are 361 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 
Tom Thumb Day
Trivia Day
World Hypnotism Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Anonymous brings down Tunisian government websites

It will be interesting to see if hackers will pursue other closed governments as well.
Openness is a good thing.

Online activists have attacked and at least momentarily disabled several Tunisian government websites in the latest act of protest against the country's embattled leadership.

As of Monday afternoon, local time, at least eight websites had been affected, including those for the president, prime minister, ministry of industry, ministry of foreign affairs, and the stock exchange.

The attack, which began on Sunday night, coincided with a national strike, planned to take place on Monday, that organizers said would be the biggest popular event of its size since Zine El Abidine Ben Ali assumed the presidency.

US partnering with Japan to remove Sea Shepherd tax exempt status

Are you kidding me?

The US government is claiming that Sea Shepherd's tactics are dangerous yet the Japanese whaling fleets who slaughter weak whale populations is somehow fine? You really have to wonder about the fights this administration likes to take on. Whether it's this or the Michael Vick story, there's a complete lack of common sense. Americans really aren't in favor of the brutal Japanese whale hunts so move on. Besides, haven't we see enough caving to last a lifetime?
Japanese and American officials discussed taking action to weaken a prominent anti-whaling group, with Tokyo insisting that Sea Shepherd's confrontations on the high seas actually hurt efforts to reduce whaling, U.S. diplomatic cables show.

The U.S. representative to the International Whaling Commission, Monica Medina, discussed revoking the U.S.-based conservation group's tax exempt status during a meeting with senior officials from the Fisheries Agency of Japan in November 2009, according to the documents released by WikiLeaks on Monday.

Sea Shepherd Conservation Society's yearly protest campaigns — which chase Japan's whaling fleet in boats trying to disrupt the hunt by fouling fishing lines and throwing rancid butter at whalers — have drawn high-profile donors and volunteers, and spawned the popular Animal Planet series "Whale Wars." In Japan, the harassment is seen by some as foreign interference in national affairs, making politicians wary of getting involved.

Tainted water dumped in rivers

One state is allowing a nasty byproduct of natural gas production to be released into waterways.  

The Greatest Con Artists Of The Wild West

In the Wild West, it seemed that for every prospector or pioneer out to make it richer, there was a con artist that followed. From diamond fraud to miracle elixirs, these tricksters found easy pickings in the fertile ground of the Ol' West. Here are a few of the greatest con artists from that era.

Bad Cops

Wisconsin cop gets a year in jail for running crack house

Ohio cop is transferred, as punishment for having sex in a city vehicle on city property

Another diabetic sues cops for beating, this time in Alabama

Utah police chief pleads guilty in poaching incident

Florida police officer is arrested after video shows him punching inmate

Indiana cop charged with touching informant inappropriately

Massachusetts police officer charged with assault, placed on paid leave

Assistant police chief in Indiana pleads guilty to battery charge

How facial signs can nail crooks

Advisors who touch their faces or breathe irregularly may be scammers, say lie detector pros.  



Some banks help keep mortgage holders out of default

Bank of America isn't one of them.

While the nation’s foreclosure crisis has focused blame on bad loan practices by some lenders, new research shows how some banks may have actually reduced the default risk of their homebuyers.

CEOs rewarded for wrong kind of growth

Growth is good, right?
Not always.
But compensation committees still tend to reward CEOs when their companies grow due to investments — even though that has been found to hurt long-term shareholder value …

The truth be told


Repugicans support anti-American terrorist organization

On foreign soil no less.

As Greenwald mentions at the bottom of his article, this may be a violation of US law.
Imagine if a group of leading American liberals met on foreign soil with -- and expressed vocal support for -- supporters of a terrorist group that had (a) a long history of hateful anti-American rhetoric, (b) an active role in both the takeover of a U.S. embassy and Saddam Hussein's brutal 1991 repression of Iraqi Shiites, (c) extensive financial and military support from Saddam, (d) multiple acts of violence aimed at civilians, and (e) years of being designated a "Terrorist organization" by the U.S. under Presidents of both parties, a designation which is ongoing? The ensuing uproar and orgies of denunciation would be deafening.

But on December 23, a group of leading conservatives -- including Rudy Giuliani and former Bush officials Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Fran Townsend -- did exactly that. In Paris, of all places, they appeared at a forum organized by supporters of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK) -- a group declared by the U.S. since 1997 to be "terrorist organization" -- and expressed wholesale support for that group. Worse -- on foreign soil -- they vehemently criticized their own country's opposition to these Terrorists and specifically "demanded that Obama instead take the [] group off the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations and incorporate it into efforts to overturn the mullah-led government in Tehran." In other words, they are calling on the U.S. to embrace this Saddam-supported, U.S.-hating Terrorist group and recruit them to help overthrow the government of Iran. To a foreign audience, Mukasey denounced his own country's opposition to these Terrorists as "nothing less than an embarrassment."

Wingnuts are stupid

In yet, another example of wingnut stupidity:
You remember their clamoring for a fence on the Mexican border to stop illegal immigration, right?
Some fencing was built at an average cost of $4million Dollars per mile.
How does it work ... well ...

The Danged Fence proves to be no barrier to a couple of girls.

Further proof of the stupidity of wingnuts

At least 14 states support a bill denying citizenship to children born to illegal immigrants.  

Women Don't Have Constitutional Protection Against Discrimination

http://i.huffpost.com/gen/154152/thumbs/s-SCALIA-large.jpg The equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution does not protect against discrimination on the basis of gender or sexual orientation, according to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
And you wonder why wingnuts are viewed as idiots?
Because they are.
Case proven.

Reality and wingnuts - never the twain shall meet.

Reality and wingnuts - never the twain shall meet.

Bank of America pays $3 billion to settle on 12,000 mortgages

These are interesting numbers since everyone knows that between BofA and Countrywide (now owned by BofA) there were many more than 12,000 bad mortgages. As much as many are trying to put this mortgage scam problem in the past, this should confirm that there's much more remaining to be addressed. It's still hard to drill down to the culprits in this national (and international) scam because too many in Washington have too much skin in the game. The GOP is now the party of Wall Street after years of Democratic rule in that arena. The problem remains deeply embedded in the political system so it's difficult to imagine many tough questions being asked. Meanwhile we are likely to see more settlements and then hope that it will all magically disappear. Either that or that fewer and fewer questions will be asked as the public moves on to the next event.
Shares in Bank of America climbed 4 percent in pre-market trading. Investors were worried that the bank, like other large mortgage sellers, may have to buy back billions in mortgages it sold with faulty paperwork and other problems.

The bank made a $1.28 billion cash payment to Freddie Mac, as part of the agreement to end all claims related to mortgages sold by Countrywide, a mortgage company bought by Bank of America, through 2008.

The bank paid Fannie Mae $1.34 billion in a similar agreement that settles claims on 12,045 Countrywide loans.

Anti-gay bigots 'accidentally' strip health benefits from retired cops & firemen in El Paso

Americans prefer tax increases for rich or defense cuts to balance the budget

You don't say?
Sixty-one percent of Americans polled would rather see taxes for the wealthy increased as a first step to tackling the deficit, the poll showed.

The next most popular way -- chosen by 20 percent -- was to cut defense spending.

Battle over the 'debt ceiling'

The repugicans and Democrats have very different views on whether the borrowing limit should be raised.  

iPod's Predatory Pricing

A Naperville girl racks up more than $400 in charges on a popular iPod application.  

After Delaying Payments, Borders Will Meet With Publishers

The book chain Borders entered 2011 on an unsteady note, telling major publishers last week that it would delay payments owed to them, and stoking fears that it would not be able to recover from declining sales.

On Monday, Borders executives said they would discuss the company’s plans with publishers at hastily arranged meetings in New York later this week. Mike Edwards, the chief executive of Borders, will attend the meetings, said Mary Davis, a spokeswoman for Borders.

“We value our relationships with them, which is why we’re engaging in discussions with them,” Ms. Davis said. “We’re committed to working with our vendors as part of our overall effort to refinance.”

They will enter the talks without two high-ranking Borders executives who resigned on Monday: Thomas D. Carney, the company’s general counsel, and Scott Laverty, the chief information officer.

Ms. Davis added that the company was not in a liquidity crisis and that its stores were well inventoried. Borders executives are in discussions regarding potential refinancing, she said.

As e-books have risen in popularity, brick-and-mortar bookstores have appeared increasingly vulnerable, and many publishing executives believe the number of stores will decrease in the coming years. For months, publishers have been especially worried about the health of Borders, which has suffered from losses in revenue for years and reported dismal third-quarter earnings in December.

If the bookseller goes out of business, publishers could lose tens of millions of dollars, miles of shelf space and the selling power of more than 675 retail stores.

Industry analysts said a bankruptcy filing from Borders seemed more likely than ever.

Some book chains have broadened their merchandise to go even further beyond books than before, devoting significant space to toys and games for children and a selection of electronic readers like the Nook and the Kobo.

Borders lagged behind Barnes & Noble in establishing its digital book business and has been threatened by competition from Amazon.com and big-box discount stores. Peter Wahlstrom, a retail analyst for Morningstar Equity Research, said Borders had been badly hurt by a decline in print bookselling.

“Book sales have been either flat or down in the last several years,” he said. “It’s a difficult environment over all. And looking at Borders versus Barnes & Noble, Barnes & Noble has done a good job, relatively speaking.”

Barnes & Noble, sounding cheery, said on Monday that it achieved “record-setting” sales this holiday season, an increase of 9.7 percent in the nine-week period ended Jan. 1. The boom was partly created by demand for the chain’s dedicated e-readers, the Nook and Nook Color. The company will release more detailed holiday sales information on Thursday.

Borders has not yet released holiday sales data.

A spokesman for Ingram Book Company, a major book wholesaler, said on Monday the company was still shipping books to Borders, despite the bookseller’s troubles, but at least one other supplier has said that it has halted shipments to Borders.

“Most every publisher and distributor wants Borders to survive and thrive, and we are no exception,” said Skip Prichard, the president and chief executive of Ingram Content Group.

Borders, based in Ann Arbor, Mich., has 19,500 employees.

Why 2011 will cost more

Gasoline and health care are among the expenses expected to rise this year.  

Baby boomers are bummed

Many are unprepared for retirement, but one cause of gloom is partly their own fault.

Five resolution saboteurs & 5 hot new fitness crazes

Don't commit to going to the gym from now until the end of the year.  
Kettlebells, Power Plates, and Zumba may be the keys to getting in shape in 2011.  

Dishwasher secrets

An appliance expert suggests doing one task after every load — but most people never bother. 

Wizard of Id


A toast to history

500 years of wine-drinking cups mark social shifts in ancient Greece
How commonly used items — like wine drinking cups — change through time can tell us a lot about those times, according to University of Cincinnati research to be presented Jan. 7 by Kathleen Lynch, UC associate professor of classics ...

The Portonaccio Sarchophagus

An Amazing Relic Of Rome

It is strange to think that this sarcophagus is eighteen hundred years old so vivid are the carvings on its sides. Who was buried inside is not known for sure, but there are facts that can be gleaned from the study of the ornate sculpting.

It was discovered in 1931 near Via Tiburtina, in the eastern suburbs of the Rome. Housed in the National Museum of Rome, the Portonaccio Sarcophagus is displayed in a darkened room under spotlights which show its decorative figures beautifully.

Twelve-year-old Indian boy publishes handwritten weekly newspaper for his community

He is all of 12 years but Utkarsh Tripathi painstakingly brings out a handwritten newspaper every week to spread awareness among his peers on issues like the environment and female foeticide. And all this to satisfy his urge to "serve the country". A Class 8 student of the Brij Bihari Sahai (BBS) Inter College in Allahabad, Utkarsh has been bringing out the newspaper Jagriti for the last one year. And for the four-page, black-and-white newspaper, Utkarsh not only dons the role of a reporter, editor and publisher, but also turns hawker for circulating the weekly. Unlike other papers, readers of Jagriti don't have to spend a single penny - Utkarsh distributes it free of cost. "Yes, I manage it all alone. Right from gathering the content, its editing, publishing and ultimately distributing the copies to readers," Utkarsh, a resident of Khatju colony in Allahabad, said.

"I know, you would like to know how I publish the newspaper. First I prepare a handwritten copy of Jagriti and later take out copies at a photocopy shop in my locality ... It's simple," he explained. Jagriti has about 150 readers belonging to varied age groups in Allahabad, some 200 km from the state capital Lucknow. "Children comprise the major chunk of Jagriti readers ... my school friends, my seniors in school, teachers and also my neighbours," he said. According to Utkarsh's father Hari Prasad, who runs a coaching institute, his son has a flair for writing and wanted to serve the country in some way. "More than a year ago, he read an article on Indo-China relations in a Hindi daily. I don't know what came into his mind ... After reading the article, he came to me and asked me to suggest a way he could serve the country," Prasad said.

"At that time I wasn't sure how serious he was about the question ... I said that joining the defence services was one of the best options to serve the country ... To this, he said that he wanted to start serving the society from his school life itself. I then suggested why not work like a journalist and make people aware of their rights," he added. Utkarsh took the suggestion seriously and came up with Jagriti. "I named the newspaper Jagriti, as my mission was to make people aware of various issues affecting them," the 12-year-old said. "I try to cover social issues pertaining to environment, female foeticide and others in the editorial section, and also information about public welfare schemes and important government policies for the betterment of the poor or children," Utkarsh added.

Jagriti also has success stories of scientists, political leaders and other prominent personalities. But how does he get time from his studies to bring out a weekly newspaper? "I believe if anyone is passionate about something, he or she can take out some time to pursue his passion, irrespective of the hectic schedule," Utkarsh replied. "I spend some time daily on researching topics and gathering public utility information from sources like magazines, news dailies and the internet. On Sunday I get more time to work on my project and make pictorial representations that could go along with the articles," he said. Nutan Devi, a local journalist and the boy's neighbour, said; "For me it's real journalism ... It has revived the decades-old objective of journalism that seems to have now have got lost somewhere.

Dazzling views of solar eclipse

An otherworldly glow in the morning sky captivates sky watchers from Sweden to Kashmir.

Japanese Scientist Produces an Artificial Alternative to Rare Earth Minerals

(Specifically Palladium)
The world–and particularly the Japanese–may be in a frenzy over China’s newly announced 35% cut in rare earth exports, those used to produce many high-tech devices, in the first half of this year. But a Japanese scientist has found one answer: Create the metals artificially.
Professor Hiroshi Kitagawa of Kyoto University has announced that he and his team of researchers have artificially produced a metal similar to palladium, a material commonly used in catalytic converters. In his lab, Kitagawa used a heating method to produce ultramicroscopic metal particles, ultimately mixing the usually resistant rhodium and silver to create the palladium-like metal.



Baby miniature panda cow

A farmer shows off a calf from a new breed that he says could be kept as a pet.  

Britain's 'biggest ever fox' eats cat, gets killed

A fox, believed to be the biggest ever found in Britain, has been caught and killed after it apparently ate a family's pet cat. The giant creature was twice the normal size of its species and weighed 26.5lb - or nearly two stone. It was 4ft long - the same length as an average seven-year-old child and about the size of a coyote, dingo or Iberian lynx.

The animal was caught on Boxing Day by vet Keith Talbot who had laid a trap with food, while he spent Christmas at his parents' home in Maidstone, Kent. The fox's capture raises fears such creatures are getting larger and bolder, as they have easy access to discarded food from suburban homes.

Mr Talbot spoke about the suspected attack by the fox on their cat. He said: "The cat was on the doormat when they (his parents) went to bed and heard some commotion. They saw a fox going up the drive later on that night, but didn't think anything of it.

"Later that morning, they came out and there was fur and bits of the cat everywhere." The vet ended up catching two foxes after setting the trap. Both animals were humanely destroyed.



Worst cities for bed bugs

Two leading extermination companies reveal where they field the most calls for the tiny critters. 

Bubba, the Ladder-Climbing Roof Dog

Bubba loves to be with his owner at work so much that he didn’t let a little thing called height keep them apart. Not when he taught itself to climb up a ladder!
Bubba is not unique in that he enjoys doing the unusual and he loves going to work with his owner, Levi Baker. Only problem is that Levi Baker is a roofing contractor. Bubba learned how to climb a ladder to be with her beloved Levi.
Bubba’s owner stated "One day we just tearing off a roof…next thing we know, we hear the dog at the edge of the roof scattering around. From that day on, it’s been a roof dog since."
Examiner has the story and the video clip: here.

Ten Smartest Animals In The World


Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to animals. Biologists have avoided the assumption that animals share any of the same mental, social, and emotional capacities of humans.

Nevertheless, many animals are much smarter than we assume and in ways we had never imagined. There is no doubt that some animals have amazing abilities.

Biologists Find Endangered Seals' Secret Island Getaway

hiding seals photo  
Photo: ingridtaylar / CC
It's never been easy being an endangered species -- particularly nowadays, what with all the people encroaching upon their native hangouts or clamoring for a peek at an uncommon sight. But despite all that, one group of highly endangered monk seals has managed to find some much needed solace on the beaches a remote island in Greece, far from the prying eyes of lookers-on. Biologists, however, have recently uncovered the seals' secret refuge -- though mum's the word on where exactly they're hiding.

Animal Pictures