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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 18, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Your focus is currently on one-to-one relationships, and it will stay there for the next few days -- much to your lucky sweetheart's delight.
You'll enjoy this time with them for obvious reasons, but be careful that you don't let a disagreement over something petty or irrelevant come between you.
That goes for everything from which wine to order to which candidate to vote for.
Concentrate on what you've got in common.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Kuala Lumpr, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Beziers, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
Sorel, Quebec, Canada
Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
London, England, United Kingdom
Bristol, England, United Kingdom
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Lille, Nord-Pas-De-Calais, France
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Napoli, Campania, Italy
Delhi, Delhi, India
Vasteras, Vastmanlands Lan, Sweden

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 North Royalton, Latrobe, Inman, Phoenix and more.

Today is:
Today is Tuesday, January 18, the 18th day of 2011.
There are 347 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 
Thesaurus Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Welcome New Readers

We would like to welcome our newest readers from Madagascar.

Newest Country


Random Celebrity Photo

Tina Louise
Tina Louise
The reason anybody watched Gilligan's Island.

Buzz over China state dinner

The White House looks to make up for past snubs and gaffes with an opulent black-tie affair. 

Paris 26 Gigapixels Picture

Dive into the 26 billion pixels of the world's largest image with incredible detail if you zoom in. 
See Paris like never before!

Twenty Untranslatable Words from Around the World

7. Tartle
Scottish – The act of hesitating while introducing someone because you’ve forgotten their name.

Auction block for historic scotch

Some people brag about serving scotch whiskey that's 15 years old. But three bottles of Mackinlay's scotch flown to Scotland by private jet Monday date back to the late 19th Century.

Threat of California 'superstorm'

Scientists warn the state could face a disaster up to five times worse than a major earthquake.  

    The Oronteus Fineus map of an "ice-free Antarctica"

    Reading of what some would term "fringe archaeology" articles and books - material that advocates viewpoints not in line with mainstream historical archaeology and history:  Vikings in America (the Kensington Runestone),  ancient astronauts (the Chariots of the Gods, the Nazca lines), lost continents, "unexplainable" artifacts, Zheng He's voyages to the Americas can be quite interesting ...

    Occasionally one encounters references to an "ice-free Antarctica" and maps depicting it, including one at Ancient Destructions -
    In 1959, however, in the Library of Congress, Hapgood noticed a presumably authentic map that instantly wiped out his doubts: a map of what was almost certainly Antarctica, done in 1531 by the French cartographer Oronce Fine, also known as Oronteus Finaeus... Admittedly it is too close to the tip of South America, and it is incorrectly oriented, yet the proportions seem similar, the coastal mountains, found in the 1957 geophysical study are in roughly the right places and so are many bays and rivers. Furthermore, the shape of South America itself seems right, and the close resemblance between a modern, scientifically exact map of the Ross Sea and Finaeus' unnamed gulf is striking.

    What is different, however, is that the Oronteus Finaeus map does not seem to show the great shelves of ice that, today, surround the continent, nor the great glaciers that fringe the coastal regions. Instead there seem to be estuaries and inlets, suggesting great rivers... It also suggested to Hapgood that since the Antarctic was certainly ice-bound in 1531 - when Oronteus Finaeus made his map - Finaeus must have had access to very ancient maps indeed: maps made when Antarctica was largely free of the mile-thick ice cap that buries it today, and presumably has covered it for millennia.
    The map above, is a quite striking for a document from the early 1500s.  It took a bit of searching, but here is a well-written (and extensively illustrated) site that addresses these questions from a "mainstream" point-of-view.
    Some of the land depicted to the south of South America may be Antarctica, but the map also conflates that land mass with Tierra do Fuego itself and, more significantly, the continent of Australia (see the screencap above). 

    So much for an ice-free Australia within recorded human history.  But the Kensington Runesone and Zheng He's voyages are still intriguing possibilities ... 

    Awesome Pictures


    Artificial Reefs

    In May of 2009, the missile-tracking ship General Hoyt S. Vandenberg was hauled out in the Gulf of Mexico. Planted explosives blew holes in the ship’s hull, and she sank to the bottom in just a couple of minutes. You can see the process in a time-lapse video. Deliberately sinking a ship sounds like an environmental crime on the surface, but the Vandenberg was carefully prepared: ten tons of asbestos and over 800,000 feet of electrical wiring was removed before she was sunk. The sinking was part of an environmental program to create artificial reefs where sea life -from coral and plankton to game fish- can live and reproduce.
    The Vandenberg is certainly not the first ship to be deliberately sunk to create an artificial reef. The waters off the Florida Keys have become the grave site of the Coast Guard cutters Duane and Bibb and the U.S. Navy landing ship Spiegel Grove, and on the sandy bottom 20 or so miles out to sea from Pensacola lies an entire aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Oriskany—the largest ship in the world intentionally sunk as an artificial reef. Dozens of World War II cargo vessels known as Liberty ships have been submerged, or to use the proper jargon, deployed, all along the Gulf, Atlantic, and Pacific coasts.
    National Geographic tells us the history of artificial reef programs and how they are used to encourage marine life to flourish.

    Ten Recycled Ship Houses


    Old ships are far too beautiful and far too useful to send them to the junkyard. In fact, recycled ships can make for some stunning homes! Ships can be floating houses and houses sometimes can be ships. But, if you mix the two and recycle ships into houses, you can expect some unusual and beautiful results.

    City considers putting DUI mug shots on Facebook

    Police in a city ranked top in the state for alcohol-related traffic fatalities might soon be trying a new tactic to keep drunken drivers off the road: Electronic shaming on Facebook.

    It's a Blond World

    Returning home from work, a blond was shocked to find her house ransacked and burglarized. She telephoned the police at once and reported the crime. The police dispatcher broadcast the call on the radio, and a K-9 unit, patrolling nearby, was the first to respond.

    As the K-9 officer approached the house with his dog on a leash, the blond ran out on the porch, shuddered at the sight of the cop and his dog, then sat down on the steps.

    Putting her face in her hands, she moaned, 'I come home to find all my possessions stolen. I call the police for help, and what do they do? They send me a BLIND policeman!'

    Man killed wife for 'lucky' lotto fetus

    A man told police he murdered his pregnant wife with an axe because he wanted the fetus to make a lucky charm which might help him win the lottery.



    Arizona legislators want to expand gun rights after assassination attempt

    Man, what a fucked up state!

    We ought to just put a fence around the state and let them have all the guns they want.

    Tragedy proves tricky for media

    The unsettling mugshot of Ariz. suspect Jared Loughner complicates tough calls. 

      Pilot's bold act of kindness

      A bold gesture for a grieving passenger bucks a trend of miserable air travel stories.  

        Flying safely with electronics

        Using phones, iPods, e-books, and tablets may be riskier on certain planes.

          Non Sequitur


          For Fiscal Year 2010, teabaggers 'requested more than $1 billion in earmarks'

          Change teabaggers can believe in!
          Influenced largely by the tea party, repugicans in Congress this year have taken a 'firm' stance against earmarks to show their commitment to cutting back government spending.

          It turns out, however, that members of the House tea party cabal requested more than $1 billion in earmarks in the 2010 fiscal year, the National Journal reports.

          After reviewing data compiled by Citizens Against Government Waste, the National Journal found that several of the 52 tea party cabal cultists made requests for earmarks -- federal funds that go to specific districts for specific companies or projects. In all, tea party cabal cultists requested a total of 764 earmarks valued at $1,049,783,150.

          Financial Advice from a Man Who's Been Retired Since 1969

          Leonard McCracken worked for a steel company until he retired in 1969. He’s now 107 and has been living on savings, Social Security, and an annuity payment ever since. Bankrate.com’s Jennie L. Phipps asked McCracken to share his wisdom about managing personal finances that permitted him to remain retired for 41 years. Among his suggestions was to always get a job, even if it’s for much lower pay than you’re used to:
          McCracken was unemployed about 45 years ago after his previous employer went bankrupt. He had to take a job driving a truck that paid $5 per day. It was a low point in his life, but between that and a commission sales job that he took at night, he and his family muddled through until he got back on his feet.

          How long to keep tax records

          You should hold onto old tax returns, but some receipts can get tossed.  

          Degrees that pay you back

          These diplomas lead to good salaries, job satisfaction, and promotions.

          The good news about economy

          Consumer spending is leading big firms like Target to expand in big ways.

            Wizard of Id


            New report finds 129 million Americans under 65 have a 'pre-existing condition'

            The insurance companies invented the whole pre-existing condition to prevent having to pay for coverage. And, a lot of Americans now fall into that category:
            As many as 129 million Americans under age 65 have medical problems that are red flags for health insurers, according to an analysis that marks the government's first attempt to quantify the number of people at risk of being rejected by insurance companies or paying more for coverage.

            The secretary of health and human services released the study on Tuesday, hours before the House plans to begin considering a repugican bill that would repeal the new law to overhaul the health-care system.

            A vote is expected on Wednesday. But while repugicans may muscle through a repeal bill in the House, its prospects are slimmer in the Senate, where Democrats and independents will enjoy a 53-47 majority.
            I have to imagine that a lot of members of Congress have some kind of pre-existing condition. They're not the healthiest group of Americans. But, I doubt members of Congress get much of a run around from insurance companies.

            The insurance industry's lobbyist, of course, disparaged the report. But, as the article notes, it's based on that industry's definitions:
            The study found that one-fifth to one-half of non-elderly people in the United States have ailments that trigger rejection or higher prices in the individual insurance market. They range from cancer to chronic illnesses such as heart disease, asthma and high blood pressure.

            The smaller estimate, by Health and Human Services Department researchers, is based on the number of Americans whose medical problems would make them eligible for states' high-risk pools - special coverage for people denied insurance because of their medical history. The researchers arrived at the larger figure by adding in other ailments that major insurers consider a basis to charge customers higher prices or to exclude coverage for some of the care they need.
            So, this week, the repugicans are taking on 129 million Americans under 65 and their families. That sounds like it should be, using repugican terminology, a political job-killer.

            Fear Of Dentists And Needles Needs Sympathetic Ear

            Nobody enjoys going to the dentist.
            But for some people their feelings of anxiety can turn into fear and even a fully-blown phobia.
            Dentophobia is an extremely common affliction.
            Around 12% of us suffer from extreme dental anxiety and 25% suffer from some sort of anxiety before visiting the dentist.

            Fox Hunting - the New "Most Dangerous Game" ?

            The title refers not to the report earlier this week of a fox shooting a hunter, but to an announcement that some hunting clubs in England have replaced the traditional quarry with… humans.
            And although he started the day nursing a sore knee, 54-year-old Andy Kay and his fellow runners are putting up a fine chase, it has to be said, pausing occasionally to listen for the hounds in pursuit or to pull brambles from their hair. Despite the suction of the mud and the slight rasp that comes from inhaling frigid air, this fit crew of three men and two women, given a half-hour head start, is maintaining an exhilarating lead over the hounds….
            There are several advantages to hunting men rather than hunting fox:
            Hunting foxes can be a dangerous pastime, and not just for the fox. That’s because foxes show so little concern for the welfare of their pursuers: They’ll dart across major roads and leap over train tracks, with unwitting members of the pack following doggedly along behind. Sometimes to their doom…
            Men, Budd argued, can be instructed to stay away from roads and railway tracks. They also avoid disturbing farmers’ livestock. And they can choose to lead the hounds and horsemen on a challenging chase over the highest hedges and the triangular wooden fences known as tiger traps.
            The Washington Post article at the link goes on to explain how the club overcomes the problem of the humans not being sufficiently malodorous, the pleasures derived from the humans by the sensation of being hunted, and what happens when the hounds catch the humans

            Female Drug Addicts in Afghanistan

            Photographer Rafaela Persson has lived in Afghanistan since 2008, and spends time getting to know her subjects.
            I had an idea to photograph female drug addicts. Afghanistan is the world’s biggest producer of opium, from which heroin is derived. According to a study made by U.N. Drugs and Crimes Office in 2010, the rate of drug addiction in Afghanistan is twice the global average; Afghans have become the leading consumers of their own opium.  Approximately one million Afghans, or eight percent of the war-shattered country’s total population is suffering from drug addiction, a 75 percent increase since 2005. What is even more alarming is that studies show that 50 percent of Afghanistan’s opium-using parents give the drug to their own children.
            Persson shares her photographs and stories in an essay at Camera Obscura.

            Your Brain Influences Itself with Its Own Electric Field

            Your brain is electric. Tiny impulses constantly race among billions of interconnected neurons, generating an electric field that surrounds the brain like an invisible cloud. A new study published online July 15 in Neuron suggests that the brain’s electric field is not a passive by-product of its neural activity, as scientists once thought. The field may actively help regulate how the brain functions, especially during deep sleep. Although scientists have long known that external sources of electricity (such as electroshock therapy) can alter brain function, this is the first direct evidence that the brain’s native electric field changes the way the brain behaves.

            Stolen laptop may contain cure for cancer

            Oklahoma City police officers probably never thought it would be their job to find the cure for cancer, but they're now working a case that has the potential to save millions of lives. That's because a crook in Oklahoma may have the cure for cancer, and not even know it. It's now a race against the clock to find it before it's erased forever. Sook Shin says, "I cannot eat and sleep since last Sunday."

            Last Sunday, Shin was carrying a possible cure for cancer in the back of her car. Years of data stored on a small iMac computer. She says, "I'm devastated. And I feel so guilty." Shin and her husband are leading cancer researchers in an OU research lab. The two have committed their lives, working long hours, seven days a week to find a cure for prostate cancer. She says, "It has been a long journey up to now."


            They stopped at a restaurant on North Western to grab a meal before heading back to the lab. When they finished, they found their car windows busted and the laptop gone. Shin says, "I just cannot eat, sleep. I feel enormous guilty feeling. Not backing up." Most of that data was never backed up, a mistake Shinn says could be a major setback in the fight against cancer. She says, "Please return the computer with the data saved. This would tremendously help us and you would do something for society."

            The couple says that computer has the power to save millions of lives, but they're afraid whoever took it will wipe its memory and sell it. They're posting a flier in pawn shops hoping someone can help in time. Some of that data can never be replicated, and other parts of that research could take up to 2 years to do over. That's earth shattering, considering 30,000 men die in the U.S. every year from prostate cancer. Meaning more than 60,000 people could lose their lives, all because of a stupid crime.

            Plan to resurrect mammoth

            And how could this go wrong?
            Japanese scientists will use cloning technology to resurrect the long-extinct animal.  



              Upping the cute factor


              Australian man charged after swordfish skeleton stabbing

              Police in Victoria have charged a man with attacking another man with a swordfish skeleton.

              The 50-year-old man who has been charged is alleged to have attacked the other man with the bill of the fish at Colac, in Victoria's south-west, in October last year.

              He has been charged with assault with a weapon, summary assault and possession of a weapon.

              The victim received minor injuries.

              People and their pets


              Solar-Powered Hornet Found; Turns Light Into Electricity

              solar powered oriental wasp 29886 600x450 Oriental Hornets Can Generate Electricity from Sunlight
              The oriental hornet has built-in “solar cells” that generate electricity from sunlight—a first in the animal kingdom, according to a new study.
              Scientists already knew that the hornet species, for unknown reasons, produced electricity inside its exoskeleton, according to study leader Marian Plotkin of Tel-Aviv University.
              Plotkin’s late mentor Jacob Ishay made the discovery after observing that the insect is active when the sun is most intense—unusual for hornets.
              Plotkin and colleagues recently went a step further by examining the structure of the hornet’s exoskeleton to find out how the electricity is produced.
              Their research revealed that pigments in the hornet’s yellow tissues trap light, while its brown tissues generate electricity. Exactly how the hornets use this electricity is still not entirely understood, Plotkin noted.

              Animal Pictures