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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, January 22, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You've been thinking about how to better yourself -- thinking very seriously about it.
Of course, that's not an easy thing for you to do.
You're famous for taking advantage of every opportunity that comes along, and of doing a darned fine job of it, too.
Still, there is one more venue that you'd like to explore, and it will definitely make you more 'marketable.'
Why not get going on it now?
All the cosmic lights are green.

Some of our readers today have been in:
London, England, United Kingdom
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Prague, Hlavni Mesto Praha, Czech Republic
Newport, Wales, United Kingdom
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Zwolle, Overijssel, Netherlands
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Baghdad, Baghdad, Iraq
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain
Canberra, Australian, Capital Territory, Australia
Sydney, New South wales, Australia
Smith Falls, Ontario, Canada
Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan
Caracas, Distrito Federal, Venezuela
Inverness, Scotland, United Kingdom

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, 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 La Crosse, Fond Du Lac, Elk Grove Village, Henrico and more.

Today is:
Today is Saturday, January 22, the 22th day of 2011.
There are 343 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are: 
ARFMA Fancy Rat and Mouse Day
Answer Your Cat's Questions Day
Celebration of Life Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

World's happiest countries

People in the top-ranked country are generally well-off — and 74% say they trust others. 

    Go ahead take yours


    A plan to help strapped states

    The controversial move could help cash-strapped states, but hurt retirees and investors.  

      Non Sequitur


      On The Job

      Don't wait to schedule your appointment and make sure to ask some interesting questions.  

        Worst work email mistakes

        There’s never a reason to send this kind of email — even though plenty of people do, a writer says.  

          What's In A Surname?

          America is a nation of Smiths, Johnsons, and Sullivans - but also of Garcias and Nguyens. Here's a new view of the United States based on the distribution of common last names. The map shows centuries of history and echoes some of America's great immigration sagas.

          To compile this data, geographers at University College London used phone directories to find the predominant surnames in each state. Software then identified the probable provenances of the 181 names that emerged.

          What's the Longest Word in the English Language?

          Pictured above is the longest word in the English language. It’s a slang term for a disease incurred by inhaling silicone dioxide. Sam Kean has a story at NPR’s website describing the difficult task of defining a “word” so that one may determine which is the longest.

          For example, do the names for chemical chains count? Does a word have to be published to qualify? Should words intentionally created to be the longest be considered real words? Kean lists the six words that qualify under various criteria. Which do you think is the best case for the longest word?



          Keith Olbermann leaves MSNBC

          The commentator hosted MSNBC's most popular show but was often a target of critics.

          Massive rocket's secret mission

          The force generated by the largest-ever rocket to launch from the West Coast prompts warnings.

            Navy seizes ship from pirates

            Commandos tackle hijackers in cabin-to-cabin battles to seize control of South Korean ship.

              San Francisco Bus Shelters Now Come Equipped with Video Games

              Are you getting bored waiting for the bus? If you live in San Francisco, you may get to play video games while you wait. Yahoo! has installed large touch screens in twenty bus shelters in that city:
              As part of the promotion, transit passengers from 20 specified neighborhoods will get the chance to compete against each other in different video games — and the community that wins the two-month contest will host a block party featuring the rock band OK Go.
              To compete, passengers need only to tap the screen and choose one of four games, which range from visual puzzles to sports trivia competitions. Once a rider has selected which neighborhood they want to represent, they can challenge any other waiting passenger to a live competition. Also, for anyone curious about duping the system, Yahoo has set up barriers to prevent any sort of automated competition.

              Culinary DeLites

              "Bottomless" breadsticks, salads, pancakes, and fries are true diet disasters.  
                American appetites are leaning toward lower-priced and higher-quality burger joints.

                Surprising expiration dates

                Before you clean out your cupboards and medicine cabinet, check this list.  

                  Wizard of Id


                  Never ignore these pains

                  When pain comes on suddenly, lingers a long time, or just seems different, pay attention.  

                    What Are the Energy Costs of an All-Nighter?

                    All NighterAlthough staying awake can burn extra calories, the body will later try to make up the deficit.  

                    Chinese government's internet map brings a little bit of Poland to Britain

                    Polish now forms part of the rich cultural hodgepodge that has given Britain its peculiar place names, according to an erratic Chinese government internet map that places a town called Ostrow Wielkopolski just south of Watford. The Polish town is just one of several mysterious additions to the map of Britain by Map World, a service launched this week to help Chinese internet surfers navigate their way around the globe in English.

                    Drivers using Map World to seek a route from north Wales to Chester, however, might be surprised to find themselves expected to go via a place called Bashmakova. And the road from Darlington to Middlesbrough goes by a mysterious new town called Chishmy. The latter name, when Googled, turns out to belong to a town with a pretty Orthodox-looking church in the Republic of Bashkortostan on the southern fringes of the Russian Federation. Chishmy lies 40 miles west of Bashkortostan's capital, Ufa.

                    The new places the Chinese have added to Britain are, in fact, foreign towns and cities that have somehow slipped across the globe. Bashmakova, for example, sits astride a main railway line 300 miles south-east of Moscow. The real Ostrow Wielkopolski lies south of Poznan and west of Lodz. More difficult to explain is the new London neighbourhood of Unk, which apparently lies on a bend in the river Thames beside Richmond Park. It does, at least, have some natural twin towns dotted around the world as Map World places another Unk in Spain, four in Australia, three in Africa and two in Latin America.

                    Google Maps registers only three Unks. Two lie just 30 miles apart in Iranian Kurdistan and in the Iraqi province of Suleiminya. The third is a cul-de-sac near the airport in the Liberian capital of Monrovia. These are not the only mistakes. Not far from Tyneside, you'll find the previously unknown English towns of Almenevo and Mar'yanovka. Map World launched on Tuesday after a three-month trial. About 30 million users had visited in that time, according to Min Yiren, the deputy director of China's State Bureau of Surveying and Mapping.

                    Camouflaged man brandishing sword punched in the face

                    An Evansville man who allegedly painted his face and tried to attack someone with a sword early on Wednesday was arrested. Ricky Lee Kalichun, 45, is in Vanderburgh County jail on a $50,000 cash bond. He has been preliminarily charged with intimidation with a weapon and public intoxication.

                    According to an affidavit, a man called police at about 12:24 a.m. and reported that Kalichun tried to attack him in the hallway of an apartment building at 315 SE King Blvd. Police said they found Kalichun on the fourth floor with a camouflage coat and black marker markings on his face and immediately arrested him. Police said Kalichun smelled strongly of alcohol and had a large sword on him.

                    The victim — who told police he and his wife were homeless and had been staying with someone at the apartment — said he got word that an intoxicated man was downstairs and needed his help. The victim told police he used to room with Kalichun and had him come up to the apartment. Kalichun then allegedly began unplugging a television and stated that a video game console and some games were his.

                    The occupants then got Kalichun in the hallway, the affidavit said, and he allegedly pulled out the sword and began swinging at the victim. The victim’s wife then grabbed Kalichun’s arm and the victim struck Kalichun in the mouth several times. The victim then said he went back into the apartment and called police. Kalichun will appear in Vanderburgh County Superior Court on Jan. 24.

                    Ex-spy's curious TV tagline

                    Anna Chapman makes a promise that will disappoint those curious about her undercover exploits.  

                    Bad Cops

                    Undercover sting ensnares ex-sheriff's deputy for theft, burglary in Missouri

                    California cop is arrested for trafficking steroids (pretty obvious; just look at the guy)

                    Former Minneapolis cop gets 20 years in prison for robbery string

                    Massachusetts police officer facing domestic violence charge returns to work after weeks of paid leave

                    After a spate of cases in which cops were prosecuted for lying, NYPD creates a handbook with tips for testifying under oath

                    New York corrections officer accused of trying to lure teenage girls into his car has been suspended without pay

                    Feds urge life sentence for Illinois ex-Sheriff

                    Florida deputy arrested for grand theft and official misconduct

                    Kentucky corrections officer indicted, charged after allegedly taking money from inmates

                    New York police officer is charged with sexual abuse

                    California deputy gets a year in prison for false report, firing gun toward children

                    Fired Missouri cop is charged in sex case

                    Curiously un-named Washington deputy is arrested after alleged assault

                    Florida police chief charged with thwarting rape case against friend

                    23-year veteran Michigan cop fired for being a general jackass

                    Video of the arrest shows man kneeling on the street when an officer wind ups and kicks him, leaving his face covered in blood

                    TSA makes "nominal" payment to settle lawsuit over exposing 24-year-old’s breasts

                    Florida cop is suspended for five days for unauthorized use of police helicopter

                    Conspiracy trial opens for Pennsylvania cops in immigrant's killing

                    The Murder Trial

                    A defendant was on trial for murder. There was very strong evidence indicating guilt, but no corpse had been found. In the defense's closing statement the lawyer, knowing that his client would probably be convicted, decided to try a trick.

                    "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I have a surprise for you all," the lawyer said as he looked at his watch. "Within one minute, the person presumed dead in this case will walk into this courtroom!"

                    He looked toward the courtroom door. The jurors, somewhat stunned, all looked, eagerly. A minute passed. Nothing happened.

                    Finally, the lawyer said, "Actually, I made up the previous statement. But you all looked on with anticipation. I therefore put it to you that there is reasonable doubt in this case as to whether anyone was killed and insist that you return a verdict of not guilty."

                    With that, the jury retired to deliberate. But after only a few minutes, they came back and pronounced a verdict of guilty.

                    "But how?" the lawyer asked. "You must have had some doubt. I saw all of you stare at the door."

                    "Oh, yes," the jury foreman replied. "We all looked - but your client didn't!"

                    Surfer rides big waves at night

                    Mark Visser is the first to ride Hawaii's 30-foot "Jaws" reef break in complete darkness.  

                      'Rubbish hotel' opens in Madrid‎

                      A hotel made entirely of rubbish has opened in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The walls of the Beach Garbage Hotel are covered with detritus deposited by the tide in Europe, waste found at dumps and items bought at flea markets.

                      German artist Ha Schult built the five-bedroom hotel in the central Plaza de Callao as part of the city's hosting of the International Tourism Fair (Fitur). Schult said he hoped to draw attention to the massive amount of waste generated by mass tourism in Europe.

                      "I created the Beach Garbage Hotel because the oceans of our planet are the biggest garbage dump," he said. About 30% to 40% of the objects found in the temporary guesthouse were found on beaches in the UK, France, Germany, Italy and Spain.

                      Rose Piqueras, a spokeswoman for the project, said the aim was to show something contrasting with the pictures painted by the tourism industry. "We wanted to show what our holidays could become if we don't clean our beaches," she said, adding that the beaches of southern Italy were worst.

                      Fifteen Mind Blowing Model Railway Layouts


                      These are not your standard, out-of-the-box railway layouts that little boys ask for. These are recreations so colorful, so detailed, so true-to-life that you might think they were real if there wasn't men towering over buildings in some of the photos.

                      Awesome Pictures


                      Pedal-Powered Snowplow

                      Craig Smith of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, made a snowplow that he can drive with a modified bicycle:
                      A lever pulls up or lets down the plow with a rope and pulley. Pulling the lever all the way back cantilevers the rope and pivot point so it locks in place. The plow blade is hinged with a bungee cord, so hitting a discrepancy in the road allows the blade to flop and give like a real plow. The bike can turn on a dime so raising the plow and returning up the adjacent path is quick and easy. I can do ‘reverse’ by pushing down on the front wheel with my foot to roll it backwards.Totally useless with larger snow falls, but the light ones make snow removal fun.

                      The 1886 Benz Motorwagen

                      Footage of the world's first car's engine igniting and running. The car,  developed by Karl Benz, is widely regarded as the first purpose-built  automobile. Benz unveiled it officially on July 3, 1886 in Mannheim,  Germany.

                      The Inflatable Airplane and 25 Other Bizarre Aircraft That Actually Flew

                      DVICE has a slideshow of 26 strange aircraft that, although oddly designed, actually flew. Among them is the Inflatoplane developed by Goodyear in 1956. This plane had an inflatable rubber body. It was small and light enough to be moved in a wheelbarrow. The engineers hoped that this plane could be dropped behind enemy lines for downed pilots to use to escape:
                      The Inflatoplane’s performance was comparable to that of a a J3 Cub. The airplane was wheeled out like a wheelbarrow and inflated in about 5 minutes using less air pressure than a car tire. The two-cycle 40-hp Nelson engine had to be hand-started and held 20 gallons of fuel.
                      The Inflatoplane carried a maximum weight of 240 lb., had a range of 390 mi., and an endurance of 6.5 hr.s. Its cruise speed was 60 mph. Take off distance on sod was 250 ft with 575 ft needed to clear a 50-foot obstacle. It landed in 350 ft on sod. Rate of climb was 550 ft per min. Its service ceiling was estimated at 10,000 ft.

                      A Museum for Inventions That Nobody Needs

                      In 1983, Fritz Gall and Friedl Umscheid opened the Nonseum in Herrnbaumgarten, Austria. The Nonseum is a home for inventions that never took off -many of which never made any sense in the first place.
                      Now, the Nonmuseum has hundreds of useless items on display, and has just celebrated its 100,000th visitor. Among the many eccentric inventions of this unusual museum, you can find a Portable Anonymizer that’s supposed to keep your identity a secret in real life, a fold-able  snow sled, a guillotine for finger nails, and even a Champagne Cork Catcher – a device that keeps the cork from flying away when you pop open the bottle.
                      The object shown, housed at the Nonseum, is the fold-able sled. 



                      The fifth face of Mount Rushmore

                      Very well could be ...

                      Newly discovered group of algae live in both fresh water and ocean

                      A team of biologists has discovered an entirely new group of algae living in a variety of marine and freshwater environments.
                      This group of algae, which the researchers dubbed “rappemonads,” have DNA that is distinctly different from that of ot…

                      King Tut's Tomb to Remain Open

                      Despite reports to the contrary, visitors will still be able to see the elaborately decorated tomb of the boy king, according to Zahi Hawass, chief of Egypt's Supreme Council of Antiquities.

                      Cave film stirs web intrigue

                      Werner Herzog's "Cave of Forgotten Dreams" explores an unusual French treasure.  



                        Pterodactyl Egg Found Alongside Mother

                        The pterodactyl mother was killed in an accident resulting from some kind of natural disaster.

                        Were pygmy mammoths present in ancient Egypt?

                        Excerpts from a piece at Tetrapod Zoology -
                        ...here's the image, as it appears on the beautifully decorated tomb wall of Rekhmire, 'Governor of the Town' of Thebes, and vizier of Egypt during the reigns of Tuthmose III and Amenhotep II (c. 1479 to 1401 BCE) during the XVIII dynasty...

                        ... drew attention to the small, tusked, hairy elephant in the painting, shown as being waist-high to the accompanying people... Its apparent hairiness, convex back and domed head make it look like a juvenile Asian elephant, but then why it is shown with huge tusks?

                        Inspired by the then-new discovery that a dwarfed population of Woolly mammoths Mammuthus primigenius were still living as recently as 3700 years ago (albeit on Wrangel Island in the Siberian Arctic: Vartanyan et al. (1993), Guthrie (2004)), Rosen (1994) made the tentative suggestion that the elephant shown in Rekhmire's tomb might actually be a dwarf Woolly mammoth. If true, this would have radical implications. It would mean that the ancient Egyptians had a trading link of sorts with far eastern Siberia, and also that mammoths were captured and then transported alive to Africa!..

                        ... there is then a third possibility: this being that Rekhmire's elephant is neither a Siberian mammoth nor a wrongly-scaled 'symbolic' elephant, but perhaps a depiction of one of the pygmy Mediterranean island-dwelling species. Most of the dwarf Mediterranean elephants were Pleistocene animals that were long gone by the time of the Pharoahs, but Masseti (2001) noted that a population of dwarfed elephants seem to have lingered on in isolation on the Greek island of Tilos (located between Rhodes and Kos)...
                        More here.

                        The Dog is a Genius

                        A butcher watching over his shop is really surprised when he sees a dog coming inside the shop. He shoos him away. But later, the dog is back again. So, he goes over to the dog and notices it has a note in its mouth. He takes the note and it reads “Can I have 12 sausages and a leg of lamb, please”. The dog has money in its mouth, as well. The butcher looks inside and, lo and behold, there is a ten dollar note there. So he takes the money and puts the sausages and lamb in a bag, placing it in the dog’s mouth.

                        The butcher is so impressed, and since it’s about closing time, he decides to shut the shop and follow the dog. So off he goes. The dog is walking down the street, when it comes to a level crossing; the dog puts down the bag, jumps up and presses the button. Then it waits patiently, bag in mouth, for the lights to turn.They do, and it walks across the road, with he butcher following him all the way. The dog then comes to a bus stop, and starts looking at the timetable. The butcher is in awe as the dog stops a bus by pulling its left leg up and gets in it.

                        Then, without waiting for the bus to stop completely, it jumps out of the bus and runs to a house very close to the stop. It opens the big Iron Gate and rushes inside towards the door.

                        As it approaches the wooden door, the dog suddenly changes its mind and heads towards the garden. It goes to the window, and beats its head against it several times, walks back, jumps off, and waits at the door. The butcher watches as a big guy opens the door, and starts shouting and swearing at the dog.

                        The butcher surprised with this, runs up, and stops the guy. “What in heaven’s name are you doing? The dog is a genius. He could be on TV, for the life of me!”

                        The guy responds: “You call this clever? This is the second time this week that this stupid dog’s forgotten his key.”

                        Weaver bird nests

                        Sociable weaver (Philetairus socius) nest in a quiver tree (Aloe dichotoma), Fish River Canyon, Namibia. Sociable weavers construct the largest nests of any bird, housing hundreds of individuals spanning many generations.
                        More here.

                        Norwegian boy fends off wolf pack with heavy metal

                        While walking home from the bus stop this week, a 13-year-old Norwegian school boy stumbled upon four wolves. In the end, it may have been his love of heavy-metal music by the band Creed that saved his life.

                        Walter Eikrem listened to music on his mobile phone as he often does as he made his way home from school in the southern Norwegian town of Rakkestad. The path leading from the stop where he catches the school bus to his family's farmhouse traverses a gently sloping hillside. All of a sudden, he made out something grey on the hillside. "At first, I thought it might have been the neighbor's dogs," he later said. What he actually encountered, though, were four wolves.

                        "I was afraid they would attack me," Walter said describing the incident, which took place on Monday. But he didn't let his fear show. Remembering his parents' advice, Walter pulled the earphones out of his mobile phone, turned the volume all the way up and blasted heavy metal music over its miniature speakers. At the same time, he yelled as loud as he could while flailing his arms about wildly to scare off the pack of wild animals.

                        "The worst thing you can do is run away because doing so just invites the wolves to chase you down," Walter said. "But I was so afraid that I couldn't even run away if I'd wanted to." The plan worked. Eikrem said he was able to drive away the wolves by playing the song "Overcome" by the American hard-rock band Creed. "They didn't really get scared," Walter said. "They just turned around and simply trotted away."

                        Gorilla Walks Like A Man


                        Endangered Baby Monk Seals Recuperating in Turkey

                        endangered baby mediterranean monk seals photo
                        Two seal pups at the Mediterranean Monk Seal Rehabilitation Center in Foça. 
                        Photo: SAD-AFAG / Cem Orkun Kıraç
                        Two injured young Mediterranean monk seals are recuperating successfully at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Foça, a town on Turkey's northern Aegean coast. The pups, who belong to a rapidly dwindling population of just 100 seals in Turkey, were rescued on the same December day after becoming separated from their mothers in a heavy storm and carried out to sea. But while things look good for these two fortunate seals, the fate of their species depends on stemming the development so rampant along Turkey's coasts.

                        Crawfish discovery

                        Barbicambarus simmonsi lives in Tennessee and somehow went unnoticed until 2009.

                        Camel racing thrown into disrepute

                        The popular Arab sport of camel racing has been thrown into disrepute by the revelation that the animals have been artificially whipped with electric stun-guns to make them run faster. Racing camels is popular throughout the Gulf, where owning a herd of beasts specially bred for the sport has become a fashion accoutrement. The most prized animals can sell for more than $1 million. But Dubai police have confirmed they uncovered a gang of dealers who were selling electric stun gun kits, for up to £5,000, across the region.

                        These were then being fitted inside the robot jockeys, which cost between £130-£200, that in recent years have largely replaced child jockeys, traditionally used in camel racing, due to humanitarian concerns. The electric shocks could be administered by remote control to encourage the camel to run faster. Details of the case are sketchy and the gang, said to be led by two men from an unnamed Asian country, have not yet been brought to court.

                        Brigadier General Khaleel Ibrahim al-Mansouri, head of Dubai CID, said that police had received a tip-off about the practice. An undercover officer made contact with the gang during a race at Al Lehbab racecourse outside the city, and offered to buy a machine. When the two men supplied it, they were arrested. "They put stun guns inside the jockey that sits on the camel so it could send electric shocks," he said. "They made them to order and sold them in several countries.

                        "They confessed and said some other suspects helped them to modify the jockey. It is inhumane to use such machines in camel races. It is also against animal protection laws and against our traditions." The world's most expensive camel, a breeding female, was bought in Abu Dhabi for £1.6 million last February.

                        Croc swallows mobile phone, becomes constipated and burps ringtones

                        Gena, a 14-year-old crocodile at an aquarium in Ukraine, "has been refusing food and acting listless after eating a cell phone dropped by a woman as she tried to photograph him."
                        The phone keeps ringing.
                        The woman "is resigned to losing her phone, but still wants its SIM card back since that has her precious photos and contacts." And the crocodile has bigger problems: he "has not eaten or had a bowel movement in four weeks and appears depressed and in pain."

                        (It should be noted that the photo above - while a Croc it is not the Croc in question)

                        Wild bison's historic migration

                        Although the herding operation saves the animals' lives, some say it puts others at risk.  

                          Animal Pictures

                          Someone's getting a free ride!