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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 17, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You're really looking forward to tonight, aren't you?
Well, you have every right to -- especially since the morning and afternoon look to be quite busy.
Do what you have to do to take care of your responsibilities to others, then be sure to save some energy to take care of your responsibility to yourself.
You know what they say about all work and no play?
It's true.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Rome, Lazio, Italy
Haderslev, Sonderjylland, Denmark
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
London, England, United Kingdom
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Lille, Nord-Pas-De Calais, France

as well as 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, 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 Zionsville, Great Mills, San Francisco, New York and more.

Today is:
Today is Monday, January 17, the 17th day of 2011.
There are 348 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 
Hot Heads Chili Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Truly unique places to travel

See places unlike any other, from the Blue Lagoon's stark beauty to a dizzying underwater museum.  

A Housewife's 1956 Acid Trip

Culinary DeLites

Refrigerated corn bread twists make it easy to whip up this version of chicken and dumplings.  

Mandatory menu labeling didn’t change behavior at one fast food chain

An effort in King County, Washington, to add nutrition facts labeling to fast food menus had no effect on consumer behavior in its first year.

Hamburgers in North Korea

The first hamburger franchise opened in Pyongyang, North Korea last summer. The unfamiliar hamburgers have become such a hit that customers must make reservations, and the lines are still long. Samtaesung (Food) and Cool Beverages calls their sandwiches “minced meat and bread” to avoid using the American word “hamburger”.
According to rates displayed on the restaurant’s menu, the cost of a hamburger is 228 North Korean won, or more than U.S. $2 according to the official exchange rate, putting it outside of the budget of the average citizen.
According to the Pyongyang resident, customers can pay in North Korean won, U.S. dollars, euros, or Chinese yuan.
Initially, the resident said, Samtaesung was frequented only by people who had traveled overseas or those who wanted to try the food out of curiosity, but the hamburger joint soon became very popular.
He said that many Pyongyang residents are now fond of hamburgers, though the greasier taste of the food takes some getting used to.
“The third time you eat a hamburger, you really get to appreciate it. By the time you’ve had your fifth, you’re already addicted to the taste,” he said.
The restaurant is owned by  Kim Jong Il’s sister.

Boston Debuts Ambulance for Obese Patients

Boston’s emergency medical services department unveiled a new ambulance designed to help transport obese patients without injuring EMTs:
Boston emergency services debuted a specialized ambulance designed to carry obese patients on Tuesday, and the retrofitted vehicle was promptly needed on two calls, authorities said.
The ambulance is equipped with a special stretcher that can hold 850 pounds and a hydraulic lift with a 1,000 pound capacity, said Captain Jose Archila of Boston’s Emergency Medical Services fleet.
The ambulance is likely to be needed two to four times a week, he said.
“We have seen a huge increase in the last six months,” said Archila about the number of calls by obese patients.[...]
Back injuries among crews are common due to strain from lifting extremely heavy patients, he said. The ambulance makes the patients more comfortable as well.
In appearance, the ambulance looks like any other. The hydraulic lift is folded and stowed underneath the bed, and a gas tank was repositioned to accommodate it, Archila said.

What don't you like


Real Americans Agree

Eric Fuller, victim of Tucson shooting, says Palin should be incarcerated for her incendiary speech.
And Real Americans agree with him.

Giffords's health improves

Officials announce that Rep. Giffords's condition is improving and she is now breathing on her own.

Arizona shooting victim's gift

The father of Christina Taylor Green, 9, says her organs have been donated to a child across the country.

The crock that is our healthcare system

The "world's best health care system" rolls on: emergency room waits now average six hours, an inconvenience that's occasionally fatal, but not for rich folks.



Researchers unzip MRSA and discover route for vaccine

University of Rochester Medical Center orthopedic scientists are a step closer to developing a vaccine to prevent life-threatening methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections following bone and joint surgery.

Smoking Causes Gene Damage in Minutes

SmokingNew findings should serve as a "stark warning" to those considering taking up cigarette smoking, say scientists.  

Earth’s hot past: Prologue to future climate?

The magnitude of climate change during Earth’s deep past suggests that future temperatures may eventually rise far more than projected if society continues its pace of emitting greenhouse gases, a new analysis concludes.

Awesome Pictures


Gen Y's unique taste in homes

Home builders are finding that young buyers have very different tastes from their parents.  

Kids trying to figure out 80′s technology

If you’ve grown up with  nothing but iPods and cellphones, you’re probably not gonna know what  the hell someone’s talking about if they mention ColecoVision or the A:  drive.

To test that theory, reporter Jean-Christophe Laurence decided to  sit some Canadian kids down and show them a few technological artifacts  to see if they could figure out what they were looking at, or if we’ve  actually evolved to a point where a 1989 Game Boy isn’t recognizable.

Department of Labor investigation

The North Dakota Department of Labor claimed a small Bismarck farmer was not paying proper wages to his help and sent an agent out to investigate him.
Department of Labor employee: I need a list of your employees and how much you pay them.

Farmer: Well, there’s my farm hand who’s been with me for 3 years. I pay him $200 a week plus free room and board.

Then there’s the mentally challenged worker. He works about 18 hours every day and does about 90% of all the work around here. He makes about $10 per week, pays his own room and board, and I buy him a bottle of bourbon every Saturday night so he can cope with life. He also sleeps with my wife occasionally.

Department of Labor employee: That’s the guy I want to talk to… the mentally challenged one.

Farmer: That would be me.

UBS Changing Its Much-Mocked Dress Code


Swiss bank UBS AG is revising its dress code after getting roundly mocked for suggesting employees wear skin-colored underwear and avoid garlic breath.
The bank said Monday it is whittling down its 44-page style guide to a more modest booklet that will concentrate on how to impress customers with a polished presence and sense of Swiss precision and decorum.

Social Security winners, losers

Women may get a better return than men on the taxes they pay into the system.  

Get a perfect credit score

Consumers who nail an 850 typically use less than 10% of their available credit.  

Bad Cops

Missouri police officer resigns after firing gunshots at car with a baby inside

Kentucky cops ruin six kids lives with terror charges over sixth-graders' doodles

Tennessee police chief is back at work after one-month paid suspension for repeatedly accessing criminal database for fun

Eight Massachusetts police officers named in police brutality lawsuit

Nashville Police Dept admits lying about rape statistics

Texas school police ticketing students as young as 6

Fired Missouri cop pleads guilty to detaining women at traffic stops for shakedowns

Nowhere Man

The Beatles: Live in Japan 1966

An 84-year-old adventurer set to launch Atlantic raft

Four English adventurers led by 84-year-old Anthony Smith are to sail 2,800 miles across the Atlantic on a raft made from plastic gas pipes. It is a journey that would test the mettle of any seafarer – a 2,800-mile Atlantic crossing powered only by sail. But when four Englishmen set off on the trip, two things will make their expedition remarkable. Their vessel will be a raft made from plastic gas pipes. And the crew will be led by an octogenarian who relies on a stick to walk. With a combined age of 259, the sailors on board the "An-Tiki" will not be lacking in experience. Anthony Smith, 84, will be joined by Don Russell, 61, David Hildred, 57, and Andrew Bainbridge, 57, for a ten-week voyage from the Canary Islands to the Bahamas. The raft is expected to begin the epic journey this week.

All the materials have been either donated or purchased by Mr Smith, who is spending compensation he received after he was run over by a van two years ago – an accident that has left the adventurer, writer and grandfather with metal pins in his leg. What would normally be regarded as a devastating setback has been turned into a positive. "I had some luck two years ago – I was run over," Mr Smith said. "That's what inspired the whole thing and that's provided the basis for the money. "The whole point it to prove that elderly people can do something interesting. Well, I am 84 and disabled, so I'm well qualified on that score." The inspiration for the unusual trip comes from a desire to show that rafts, although a primitive form of transport, are no more dangerous than hollow-hulled vessels. The crew are also raising money for WaterAid, a charity that provides clean water for the world's poorest people.

"People ask me 'Am I frightened?' But I say I don't know enough to be frightened," Mr Smith explains. "I don't know how we will get on, as we don't know each other very well. I don't know how tiring it will be, living on something that goes up and down all the time. I don't know what it will be like living on a bunk. Nobody knows what a storm will do to us, or how well we will be able to steer." But Mr Smith, of west London, insists the adventure is no foolhardy indulgence. Two of the crew – Mr Hildred and Mr Bainbridge – are experienced sailors, and the raft has been kitted out with all the necessary communications in case they get into trouble. All the pieces – including gas pipes, electronics, wood, and two telegraph poles that would became the mast – were assembled and shipped in a container from Felixstowe, Suffolk, to La Gomera in the Canary Islands. The crew will be sheltered by a wooden hut, 20ft by 7ft (6m by 2m), where they will take turns to sleep on two bunk beds. Cooking, from gas stoves, chart-reading and all-important communications will be also be carried out there.

"We've also got a small library so it won't all be hard work," says Mr Smith. The lights and electronics will be powered by four solar cells on top of the hut, a wind generator – and a pedalling machine. Meanwhile, the crew will be sustained by 16 boxes of food, containing dry stuffs like cornflakes and perishables such as eggs, oranges and bananas. A small bread maker will add homely comfort to their ordeal. "We also have a hook and line to catch fish, and a plankton net to eat plankton. Plankton is good enough for the blue whale, the biggest creature on earth, to eat, so it's good enough for us." Drinking water will be carried in five pipes, each 18ft long. "We'll have so much water I think we will be able to sell it to passing yachts." Asked what treats he's brought along to keep the crew's spirits up for the long days and nights ahead, Mr Smith's answer is short and simple. "Alcohol," he says. "Everyone's quite keen on a drink, so it's not so much beer as rum and whiskey." The crew has had to wait for the weather to calm down before launching the raft. A support vessel will tow the raft out to sea for a few miles – "in case anyone forgets their toothbrush". "We have to wait for the wind. I don't want to be released and then blown back to shore. But the current is there to do the job. It took Columbus across in 1492 so it should take us across too." The crew's destination is the small island of Eleuthera in the Bahamas.

Notorious Russian prison to get tanning beds

A centuries-old Russian prison notorious for its primitive conditions will soon offer inmates a new perk - tanning beds.

MI6 spy death could be bizarre art course accident

MI6 spy Gareth Williams - whose body was found naked in a padlocked bag - may have died while taking part in a bizarre experiment for an art project.

How To Win Rock Paper Scissors Every Time

Many believe Rock, Paper, Scissors is simply a game of chance and luck. However, like chess or Mario Super Kart, Rock, Paper, Scissors is a game of strategy, observation and intelligence.
Here are eight easy steps to winning every game.

Gifting in Today's Economic Climate


Rock Bottom


Accident Reports

These are statements from insurance forms where car drivers tried to summarize accident details in as few words as possible. Such instances of faulty writing serve to confirm that incompetency can be highly entertaining.

1. Coming home I drove into the wrong house and collided with a tree I don't have.

2. The other car collided with mine without giving warning of its intent.

3. I collided with a stationary truck coming the other way.

4. In my attempt to kill a fly, I drove into a telephone pole.

5. I had been shopping for plants all day and was on my way home. As I reached an intersection, a hedge sprang up, obscuring my vision and I did not see the other car.

6. I had been driving for forty years when I fell asleep at the wheel and had an accident.

7. I was on my way to the doctor with rear end trouble when my universal joint gave way causing me to have an accident.

8. My car was legally parked as it backed into the other vehicle.

9. As I approached the intersection a sign suddenly appeared in a place where no sign had ever appeared before, making me unable to avoid the accident.

10. I told the police I was not injured, but upon removing my hair, I found that I had a fractured skull.

11. I was sure the old fellow would never make it to the other side of the road when I struck him.

12. I saw a slow-moving, sad-faced old gentleman as he bounced off the hood of my car.

13. The indirect cause of the accident was a little guy in a small car with a big mouth.

14. I was thrown from my car as it left the road, and was later found in a ditch by some stray cows.

15. A pedestrian hit me and went under my car.

16. I thought my window was down, but I found out it was up when I put my head through it.

17. To avoid hitting the bumper of the car in front, I struck the pedestrian.

18. The guy was all over the road. I had to swerve a number of times before I hit him.

19. The pedestrian had no idea which way to run, so I ran over him.

20. An invisible car came out of nowhere, struck my car and vanished.

21. A truck backed through my windshield into my wife's face.

22. I pulled away from the side of the road, glanced at my mother-in-law, and headed over the embankment.

Active WWII grenades used as bookends blown up

The bomb squad were called early on Tuesday morning to DeLand in Florida after a man pulled the pin on a World War II-era grenade, according to Volusia County sheriff's deputies. The man was given the pineapple-style grenade by a neighbor, who used the explosive as a bookend, deputies said.

When deputies arrived in the DeLand neighborhood, they found the man, who told them he had pulled the pin on the grenade, put the pin back and placed the grenade outside. The man told deputies his neighbor had a second grenade.

That woman said the grenades belonged to her deceased husband, who fought in World War II, and were used as bookends for several years. Deputies called in the bomb squad, who took both grenades to a nearby field and detonated the explosives.

When those grenades exploded a 2-foot crater was left in the ground. No one was hurt in the incident.

There's a news video here.

Leaning Tower of Pisa's Kaleidoscope Effect to Be Restored

Restorers are removing wooden doors within the Leaning Tower of Pisa to restore a patterned light feature near the monument's top.  

Kizhi Pogost

The oldest fully wooden churches in the world are also architectural wonders. These are “multi-story, multi-cupola, single-block masterpieces.” Built 300 years ago on the Russian Kizhi island, they are called the Church of the Transfiguration and the Church of the Intercession.
Read about them and see lots more pictures at Kuriositas.

Deepest part of ocean gets probed

Researchers launch submersible in Pacific Ocean (Image: Anni Glud) The climate secrets of the ocean's deepest spot - the Marianas Trench in the western Pacific Ocean - begin to be unlocked by scientists.

The Ring of Fire

I fell into a burning ring of fire
I went down, down, down
And the flames went higher
And it burns, burns, burns
The ring of fire
The ring of fire
Japan’s Hinode x-ray telescope satellite captured this image of a January 4 eclipse. This satellite is primarily tasked with examining the Sun’s magnetic fields.

"Sudden oak death"

The phrase refers to a disease caused by Phytophthora ramoru, a fungus that affects oaks and other plants.  The Guardian had an article today about the devastation occurring in parts of the U.K. -
In woodlands around the UK, just as here in Afan Valley, south Wales, the race is on to fell thousands of trees in a desperate effort to contain a new disease which poses a threat to British forests on a scale not seen since Dutch elm disease wiped out millions of trees, changing the landscape of the country for ever.

Already 3,000 hectares of larch forest – one hectare is about the size of a football pitch – in Wales, Devon, Cornwall, Somerset and Northern Ireland are known to be infected by Phytophthora ramorum – sudden oak death – which comes from the same family as the potato blight organism that caused the Irish famines in the 19th century...

In 2003, it turned up in a handful of oaks, but they seemed to have resistance and the outbreak did not seem to be too worrying. Then last year, taking everyone by surprise, the phytophthora jumped species and rapidly began infecting and killing the commercially important Japanese and European larch trees. It has also been found in several conifer species, including Douglas fir...

"I think we can forget eradicating it; we have to work with nature and we're going to have to live with it. The question is whether or not we're lucky and have a fighting chance at containing it," he added. "Unfortunately we are very fond of exotic plants from other parts of the world, and that leaves the door wide open to risk."..
The disease may have arrived in the U.K. from the U.S., where it has been present for years.  This map shows areas in this country at risk for the disease:
Those interested (or potentially affected) can read more here, and at this resource page for the Northeast Plant Diagnostic Network.

Invasive Plant Feeds Invasive Stink Bug

Since kudzu was imported from Japan, it has grown the cover the southern United States. Now another Asian import is flourishing by eating kudzu. The globular stink bug (Megacopta cribraria), native to China and India, has spread across Georgia and has now been found in Alabama. They also come inside during cold weather, and they emit a foul odor when threatened.
University of Georgia entomology Professor Wayne A. Gardner said he’s found them 30 stories high, coating the window sills of Atlanta condo high rises, and he has seen them swarming in roadside kudzu patches.
“You smell them when you get out of the truck,” he said.
More seriously, the bug likes to munch on plants other than kudzu, including soybeans. It also could be a threat to other legume crops such as peanuts, Gardner said.
In November, Auburn University researchers collected two individual specimens in east Alabama border counties, Cleburne and Cherokee. They now expect them to spread quickly across our kudzu-rich state.



Chickens Modified to Not Spread Bird Flu

roosterThese genetically modified birds can get bird flu, but can't pass it on to other chickens.  

Praying Mantis Sunset and More

praying mantis sunset intro photo
Photo: Constant Couteille
Can animals enjoy the sunset? It seems so with the November winners and finalists from Wild Wonders of Europe's amateur photo competition -- but there's nothing amateur about these shots.
Here you'll find stunning silhouettes of both a praying mantis and a butterfly caught against the sun, an owl reflecting on an orange horizon, a dolphin leaping in the soft light of the last minutes of day, and more.
Winners of European Amateur Photo Competition: Praying Mantis Sunset and More slideshow
Article continues: Winners of European Amateur Photo Competition: Praying Mantis Sunset and More 

Animal Pictures