Welcome to ...

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.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Today the little luxuries of life take on a more important role than the biggest bling ever could.
You'll gain new contentment with nature, simplicity and modest means.
Living large is always tempting, but right now the road to excess is paved with tension, pressure and hefty bills.
It's more important than ever to focus on value.
Pare down your list of 'must haves' to the essentials, and you'll see just how easy it is to make your life a lot less stressful.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Bergen, Hordaland, Norway
Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Prague, Hlavni Mesto Praha, Czech Republic
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Pinneberg, Schleswig-Holstein, Germany
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
London, England, United Kingdom
Moscow, Moskva, Russia
Manila, Manila, Philippines
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Bucharest, Bucuresti, Hungary
Asti, Piedmonte, Italy
Birmingham, England, United Kingdom
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Lille, Nord-Pas-De-Calais, France
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Dartford, England, United Kingdom
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Bilbao, Pais Vasco, Spain

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 Astoria, Cornvallis, Bastrop, Minong and more.

Today is:
Today is Wednesday, January 26, the 26th day of 2011.
There are 339 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are: 
Toad Hollow Day of Encouragement

Cockroach Race Day
National Peanut Brittle Day
Lotus 1-2-3 Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Yellowstone's supervolcano

A simmering powerhouse stronger than Mount St. Helens causes several miles of earth to rise.

Funny Pictues


The Great Escape


Random Celebrity Photo

Rare Marilyn
Rare Marilyn Monroe

Protesters clash with Egyptian police, vow more protests

The police apparatus in Egypt is much stronger than in Tunisia though the frustration level among the people can't be that much different. For those fed up with the extended rule of Hosni Mubarak, they know that when he passes, his son is waiting in the wings.

The Guardian:
Egyptian police used teargas and rubber bullets and beat protesters in a bid to clear thousands of demonstrators from a central Cairo square late last night after people had taken to the streets earlier today demanding the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule in mass demonstrations inspired by the toppling of the government in Tunisia.

Cairo was the scene of violent clashes as thousands of protesters from separate demonstrations converged on Tahrir Square, the central plaza. Demonstrators waved Egyptian and Tunisian flags, hauled down a billboard for the ruling NDP party and chanted "depart Mubarak" at the 82-year-old leader, who will face elections later this year. One policeman died in the Cairo violence.

Two protesters were killed in Suez, east of Cairo, as other demonstrations took place around the country.

Police attacks stir concern

A bloody 24 hours that saw 11 officers shot in 5 states adds to an unsettling toll.

Did you know ...

The "wild west" of the 19th century had more effective gun control than Arizona in 2011.

Bad Cops

A Utah Highway Patrol trooper is on paid administrative leave pending an investigation of an August traffic stop in which he punched a woman several times.

NYPD gins up cops with anti-Muslim training video

Kentucky cop is suspended for giving a 7-year-old a ticket

Man falls to ground as instructed, cop then kicks him in the face

Judge calls Illinois sheriff "the worst of humanity" and sentences him to life in prison for trafficking marijuana on the job and a foiled plot to have potential witnesses killed

Detroit women get no help from police in arrest of alleged car thief

Tennessee cop drives off after hitting parked car, under investigation

Florida cops make illegal arrests for photographing cops

The Dumbest Criminals Ever

We have all heard tons of stories and seen many news accounts regarding criminals that don't seem to have a clue when it comes to following laws, and even worse off as they break them.

These types of criminals seem to have zero sense as they make ridiculous choices - some humorous and some harmful, but still very, very dumb.

Here are some of the dumbest criminals of all time.

The truth be told


Reality is ...


The State of the Union

91% of americans approve of Obama's 'State of the Union' address

The trouble is the repugicans will pander to that insane 9%.

The United States of Shame

Jeff Wysaski of Pleated Jeans wrote "Whether it’s a fat population, high rate of STDs or excessive tax rate, it turns out that every state ranks dead last in at least one unsavory category." So he compiled a most unusual "worst of" list, featuring your favorite home state (Oh, poor, poor North Dakotans!)

Hailing from North Carolina, the state with the worst teacher salaries, I give you The United States of Shame: 

Another Time-traveller caught on Charlie Chaplin film

Oh, my!

Egypt Wants Nefertiti Bust Back

Germany currently houses the limestone bust which helped make the ancient Queen's beauty legendary. 

Odds and Sods

Threats keep restaurant's lion tacos off menu

An Arizona restaurant has decided to scrap plans to offer African lion meat in its tacos.

Grand piano found on sandbar in Miami bay
A grand piano recently showed up on a sandbar in Miami's Biscayne Bay, about 200 yards from condominiums on the shore.

Cultural Touchstones of the ’90s That Should Never Come Back


Big shakeup for Fantastic Four

Oh, No!
Marvel Comics hopes a controversial plot twist will boost fans' interest.  


Care Bears On Fire

Hefty price tag to get into Davos

The World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, attracts CEOs, prime minsters, and Bono.

Top retirement planning rules

When figuring out how much you'll have available to live on, do the math and avoid intuition.  

Best times to do almost anything

Ask your doctor for the first appointment after lunch, when she's less likely to be running late.  

Quantum Computing

Will It Be A Leap In Human Evolution?
Quantum computing is an experimental method of computing that makes use of quantum-mechanical phenomena. Quantum computers would allow a bit to store a value of 0 and 1 simultaneously. They have the potential to solve problems that would take a classical computer longer than the age of the universe.

Quantum computing sounds like science fiction but the age of computing is not even at the end of the beginning. Traditional computing will soon reach a final barrier: Moore's law, which dictates that the amount of computing power you can squeeze into the same space will double every 18 months, is on course to run smack into a silicon wall by 2015, due to overheating, caused by electrical charges running through ever more tightly packed circuits.

Justice Department seeks mandatory data retention

Criminal investigations "are being frustrated" because no law currently exists to force Internet providers to keep track of what their customers are doing, the U.S. Department of Justice will announce tomorrow.

CNET obtained a copy of the department's position on mandatory data retention--saying Congress should strike a "more appropriate balance" between privacy and police concerns--that will be announced at a House of Representatives hearing tomorrow.

"Data retention is fundamental to the department's work in investigating and prosecuting almost every type of crime," Jason Weinstein [pictured], deputy assistant attorney general for the criminal division, will say, according to his written testimony. "The problem of investigations being stymied by a lack of data retention is growing worse."

The Bush Justice Department endorsed such proposals under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Tomorrow's announcement demonstrates that the Obama Justice Department is following suit and appears to be its first public statement embracing mandatory data retention.

That aligns the Justice Department with data retention's more aggressive supporters among House Republicans and places it at odds with privacy advocates, civil libertarians, and the Internet industry. Those groups have questioned the privacy, liability, cost, and scope, including whether businesses such as coffee shops would be required to identify and monitor whoever uses their wireless connections.

Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wisc.), who is convening tomorrow's House crime subcommittee hearing, is a longtime supporter of forcing Internet providers to store additional data about their users. So is the new chairman of the full House Judiciary committee, Lamar Smith (R-Texas), who introduced a data retention bill in an earlier session of Congress.

As a Justice Department official in the 1990s, Attorney General Eric Holder touted the idea of mandatory data retention. In 1999, Holder said "certain data must be retained by ISPs for reasonable periods of time so that it can be accessible to law enforcement."

Weinstein, who has previously testified (PDF) on intellectual property infringement and was chief of the violent crime section of the U.S. Attorney's office in Baltimore, stopped short of offering a specific proposal in his prepared remarks. While the lack of forced data retention can be "extremely harmful," he didn't provide details on duration or scope, including whether Web sites and social networking sites should be swept into any requirements.

Other excerpts from Weinstein's written testimony before the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security:

• In one ongoing investigation involving social networking sites allegedly being used to share child porn images, the FBI and other agencies sent 172 requests to Internet service providers to learn the identities behind Internet Protocol (IP) addresses. Nineteen percent of the requests could not be fulfilled. (It's not clear, however, whether police simply moved too slowly and didn't send the requests in time.)

• Larger providers have "established policies about how long they retain this data." But smaller providers may not: one unnamed mid-size cell phone company reportedly does not retain any records, and another unnamed cable Internet provider does not keep track of the IP addresses it assigns to customers.

• Internet and cell phone companies' records are vital not just to federal police and prosecutors, but also their state and local counterparts. Those records can aid in investigations of a "wide array of crimes, including child exploitation, violent crime, fraud, terrorism, public corruption, drug trafficking, online piracy, computer hacking."

Also testifying tomorrow is John Douglass, the chief of police for Overland Park, Kansas, on behalf of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. In 2006, the IACP adopted a resolution (PDF) calling for a "uniform data retention mandate" for "customer subscriber information and source and destination information," which apparently means keeping track of what Web sites every Internet user visits. A representative of the IACP said today it continues to support the resolution.

Douglass will ask Congress for "clear guidance and regulations on data retention," according to a source familiar with the IACP's testimony. Like the Justice Department, the IACP will not offer specifics but instead will recount how criminal investigations have been hindered to date.

For now, the scope of any mandatory data retention law remains hazy. It could mean forcing companies to store data for two years about what Internet addresses are assigned to which customers. (Comcast said in 2006 that it would be retaining those records for six months.)

Or it could be more intrusive, sweeping in online service providers, and involve keeping track of e-mail and instant-messaging correspondence and what Web pages users visit. Some Democratic politicians have previously called for data retention laws to extend to domain name registries and Web hosting companies and even social-networking sites. An FBI attorney said last year that the bureau supports storing Internet users' "origin and destination information," meaning logs of which Web sites are visited.

AOL said today that "we are waiting to see the proposed legislation to understand what data needs to be retained and for what time period."

These concepts are not exactly new. In June 2005, CNET was the first to report that the Justice Department was quietly shopping around the idea, reversing the department's previous position that it had "serious reservations about broad mandatory data retention regimes." Despite support from FBI director Robert Mueller and the Bush Justice Department, however, the proposals languished amid worries about privacy and the cost of compliance.

"Retention" versus "preservation"
At the moment, Internet service providers typically discard any log file that's no longer required for business reasons such as network monitoring, fraud prevention or billing disputes. Companies do, however, alter that general rule when contacted by police performing an investigation--a practice called data preservation.

A 1996 federal law called the Electronic Communication Transactional Records Act regulates data preservation. It requires Internet providers to retain any "record" in their possession for 90 days "upon the request of a governmental entity."

Because Internet addresses remain a relatively scarce commodity, ISPs tend to allocate them to customers from a pool based on whether a computer is in use at the time. (Two standard techniques used are the Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol and Point-to-Point Protocol over Ethernet.)

In addition, an existing law called the Protect Our Children Act of 2008 requires any Internet provider who "obtains actual knowledge" of possible child pornography transmissions to "make a report of such facts or circumstances." Companies that knowingly fail to comply can be fined up to $150,000 for the first offense and up to $300,000 for each subsequent offense.

Crisis of 2008 was avoidable

Greed, ineptitude, and government failings led to the global crisis, says a federal commission.  

Wikileaks handed discs of secret Swiss banking info

Many are awaiting a Wikileaks release regarding a major U.S. bank, widely is believed to be Bank of America.

In the meantime, however, former Swiss banking employee Rudolf Elmer has handed over two discs worth of data to Wikileaks, containing information about bank accounts of more than 2,000 "prominent individuals."

How to hide info on Facebook

You can tweak your settings to keep outside companies from accessing your information.  



Housing and Renovation

Home prices across the country are back to their lowest point in years.  
What possesses owners to choose awful colors and run pipes through living rooms?  

Five American castles

Connecticut's Gillette Castle is full of oddities, like a movable table on tracks.  

Addams Mansion


I ♥ ♥ ♥ This ! 

This gives me a STIFFY…

And I Quote

Cheney says he may need a heart transplant. 
The doctors discovered the problem during Cheney’s annual autopsy.
  ~ David Letterman

Japanese 'monsters' barge into rooms to scare 'naughty' children shitless straight

People dressed as a traditional local monster scared naughty children in Akita and told them to listen to their parents at an event held by the city tourism association. The costumes depicted the monster of the local "namahage" tradition, where people dressed as the monsters visit houses and admonish naughty children.

Keeping with the tradition, the event was also meant for parents struggling with children who constantly fight each other, watch TV and won't study, or otherwise cause child-rearing headaches.

Three families totaling 11 people participated in the event. Parents took their children to a hot spring inn to stay the night without telling them about the surprise to come. Suddenly, a namahage monster burst into the room, growling and thrashing around.

"Will you listen to your father?" asked a namahage monster of one child. Amidst sobs, and with all the power the child could muster, came the response: "Yes!" The event is also designed to let families experience the traditional namahage culture and to deepen familial bonds by letting parents "protect" their children from the monster.

Engineer Designs His Own Heart Valve

Tal Golesworthy has the typical engineer’s mindset: he saw one solution to a problem and figured that he could do a better job. Specifically, his aortic root was growing so large that it would soon split. Golesworthy looked what the doctors were doing and knew that he could come up with a superior means of measuring a replacement:
What excited him was the use of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computer-aided design (CAD). He believed that by combining these technologies with rapid prototyping (RP) techniques he could manufacture a tailor-made support that would act as an internal bandage to keep his aorta in place.[...]
’It seemed to me to be pretty obvious that you could scan the heart structure, model it with a CAD routine, then use RP to create a former on which to manufacture a device,’ explained Golesworthy. ’In a sense, conceptually, it was very simple to do. Actually engineering that was significantly more complex.’
The process of developing a scanning protocol proved to be difficult as the movement of the heart complicated the images and made their positions unclear. The engineers, working alongside medical radiographers, found that they had different perspectives. ’They wanted pictures that showed the structures in a way that their colleagues could understand. What we wanted were images with which we could take dimensions,’ said Golesworthy.
So Golesworthy and his colleagues developed a means of scanning the heart consistently at the same point in the cardiac cycle so that they could take accurate measurements of the component that they would need to synthesize. Once they had a computer model of what they needed, they made a functional one from polyethylene terephthalate, which is a common medical polymer.

Riding Public Transit Shown To Spread Respiratory Infections

sneeze photo
The sneeze.  
Image credit:Wikipedia
I generally think it odd for a public health research paper to have a hypothesis-questioning title, in the manner of a newspaper or blog. Imagine, for example, back in 1970, how people might react to (a fictional): "Do seat belts reduce severity of automobile related injury?" "Need more data," would have been my reaction.
Had the identical first thought about a (real) research publication recently encountered in BMC Infectious Diseases titled: "Is public transport a risk factor for acute respiratory infection?"
See below, for cited conclusions from the publication Abstract - and my bipartisan comments.
Article continues: Researching The (Not So) Obvious: Riding Public Transit Shown To Spread Respiratory Infections

Children's Self-Control Predicts Health, Wealth

Child Homework
Self-control is even a better indicator of future success than intelligence and social status.  

Wizard of Id


Culinary DeLites

If you decide to follow a vegan diet, you won't be giving up just meat, eggs, and dairy.  
Food makers won’t include some health information the Obama administration wanted to see.

Best advice for a healthy mouth

Many people do this occasionally, but dentists want you to do it twice a day.  

The Nine Most Toxic Plants For Humans

You may love flowers and plants but you should always bear in mind that not all pretty blooms are as innocent as they might appear.

Some plants which are regularly placed in gardens are anything but friendly, and that decorative bush might easily be the death of you, quite literally, if you happened to ingest it.

Poisonous plants, toxic to humans, are more common than you might think.

The Fact Is ...

Banana Fact:
The average banana has 27 grams of carbs.



The Jumping Flea

A prominent scientist conducted very important experiment. He trained a flea to jump upon giving her a verbal command ("Jump!").

In the first stage of experiment he removed flea's leg, told her to jump, and the flea jumped. So he wrote in his scientific notebook: "Upon removing one leg all flea organs function properly."

So, he removed the second leg, asked the flea to jump, she obeyed, so he wrote again: "Upon removing the second leg all flea organs function properly."

Thereafter he removed all the legs but one, the flea jumped when ordered, so he wrote again: "Upon removing the next leg all flea organs function properly."

Then he removed the last leg. Told flea to jump, and nothing happened. He did not want to take a chance, so he repeated the experiment several times, and the leg less flea never jumped. So he wrote the conclusion: "Upon removing the last leg the flea loses sense of hearing"

Woman hangs 'devil dog' before burning it after it chewed her bible

Methinks the Devil was not the dog ...

A SC woman has been charged with animal cruelty after allegedly hanging her nephew's pit bull from a tree with an electrical cord and burning its body after it chewed on her bible. Animal control officers said that 65-year-old Miriam Smith told them she killed a female dog named Diamond because it was a 'devil dog' and she worried it could harm neighborhood children.

Smith's nephew left the one-year-old animal at the home he shared with his aunt during the recent winter weather while he went away. When he returned, he could find no trace of the dog and assumed she had broken the chain where she was usually tied at the front porch of the house.

An environmental enforcement officer came across the dog's body under a mound of dried grass, stinking of kerosene. The dog had an orange extension cord wrapped tightly around its neck and its body was partially burned.

Authorities said bail was not immediately set for Smith, who remains jailed in Spartanburg County, South Carolina after her weekend arrest. Smith is charged with ill treatment of animals in general, torture, according to an arrest warrant. She faces 180 days to five years in prison if convicted.

Underground Animals

Or as Jill says 'Cool Cave Critters'

Cave animals just might be some of the strangest animals on Earth.
Adapted to living somewhere with little to no light and practically no vegetation, these animals have evolved to survive in extreme environments and the results are often unbelievable.
Jill Harness has more here.

The Seven Sleepiest Animals

Do you know which animals spend the most time sleeping? We all know house cats sleep all day long, but they only come in at number seven on this list from Environmental Graffiti.
Cats along with mice, pigs and cheetahs love to spend a lot of quality time snoozing. They can sleep for around 12 hours per day. Rats, gerbils and lions are a little ahead of them as they can sleep for about 13 hours a day. This means they essentially spend 2/3rd of their entire lives in dreamland.
As you can see, there are way more than seven animals in this article. You probably won’t be surprised to find out which one is the #1 sleepiest!

Polar Bear Observed to Swim Continuously for 9 Days Over 426 Miles

polar bear swimming to ice photo
Photo: Wikipedia, CC
Give that Bear a Gold Medal in Endurance Swimming
We've known for a while that the increasing melting of the Arctic sea ice cover during the summer was posing big problems to polar bears, forcing some to swim for extended distances, using up their precious reserves of energy and reducing their chances of surviving harsh winters and reproducing. A group of scientists has tracked on bear who swam continuously for 9 days over 426 miles of almost freezing water!

'Godzilla-like' lizard runs amok

A 5-foot Monitor lizard runs amok around a condo complex, scaring even animal control. 

Animal Pictures