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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.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
More than ever before, today you will notice the fabric of the community around you -- and your place in it.
Everyone around you has an effect on your day, and this could be either good or bad.
One car cutting you off might make you a few minutes late for work, but one person holding the elevator door could put you face to face with the person of your dreams for seven floors.
Enjoy the unpredictable nature of how strangers and friends can sway the path of your day.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Rodovre, Kobenhavn, Denmark
London, England, United Kingdom
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Helsinki, Southern Finland, Finland
Turku, Western Finland, Finland
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Firenze, Toscana, Italy
Berne, Bern, Switzerland

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 O Fallon, Oyster Bay, Eden Prairie, Carol Stream, Soddy Daisy and more.

Today is:
Today is Thursday, February 3, the 34th day of 2011.
There are 331 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is: 
Chinese New Year.
(Happy Lunar New Year! 
Xin Nian Kuai Le!)

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

The Year of the Rabbit

Colorful and extravagant festivities worldwide honor one of the luckiest astrological signs.  
The Chinese New Year presents fresh possibilities for work, love, wealth, and health.  

WikiLeaks Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize

Typically nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize as well as the selection process is very hush hush, but a Norwegian lawmaker wants everyone to know that he has submitted a nomination for WikiLeaks to receive the prestigious award.

Non Sequitur


Awesome Pictures


Brazil wants constitutional 'happiness'

In a nation known for its jubilant spirit, massive parties and seemingly intrinsic ability to celebrate anything under the sun, is a constitutional amendment really required to protect the pursuit of happiness? Several lawmakers think so, and a bill to amend Brazil's Constitution to make the search for happiness an inalienable right is widely embraced ...

Yemen's 'day of rage'

20,000 march in Yemen against president in 'day of rage'
Dictators throughout the region have to be having trouble sleeping these days.

BBC News:
More than 20,000 anti-government protesters have gathered in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, for a "day of rage" against President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The demonstrators called for a change in government and said Mr Saleh's offer to step down in 2013, after more than 30 years in power, was not enough.

The gathering is the largest in two weeks of protests inspired by the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Obama to ask Mubarak to step down in favor of Suleiman

 Breaking News:
This just in from MSNBC.

Lawrence O'Donnell has just reported on-air that Obama will ask Mubarak to step down "immediately" in favor of a "transitional government" headed by Omar Suleiman.

Here's the same from the New York Times
And here's the report from Huffington Post.

Vintage Photo


Understanding Egypt's chaos

The intensifying clashes in Cairo raise questions about what the U.S. can do to influence the crisis. 

Journalists attacked on-air

High-profile reporters are making headlines of their own as victims of Egypt clashes.
And if you thought the dictator wasn't behind the attacks on journalists yesterday - today the government began 'arresting' ALL the journalists ... even threatening to behead at least one ABC journalist.


The turmoil has already impacted America's economy, and that may be only the beginning.

Egyptian protests threaten Al Qaeda
Shhhh, don't tell Faux News. They think anyone who opposes Mubarak must be al Qaeda. A very interesting analysis on why the protests are good for the war on terror and how Mubarak played a role in promoting extremists.

"Curfew" explained

Anyone who has listened at any length to coverage of the developments in Egypt has heard numerous references to "curfew" being imposed (and ignored).  It's quite an interesting word; we begin with the etymology from the OED:
Etymology: < Anglo-Norman coeverfu, = Old French cuevre-fu, quevre-feu, covre-feu (13th cent.), < couvre, imperative of couvrir to cover + feu fire...
and the definitions:
1a. A regulation in force in mediæval Europe by which at a fixed hour in the evening, indicated by the ringing of a bell, fires were to be covered over or extinguished; also, the hour of evening when this signal was given, and the bell rung for the purpose.

1b. Hence, the practice of ringing a bell at a fixed hour in the evening, usually eight or nine o'clock, continued after the original purpose was obsolete, and often used as a signal in connection with various municipal or communal regulations; the practice of ringing the evening bell still survives in many towns. In extended use: a restriction imposed upon the movements of the inhabitants of an area for a specified period. The primary purpose of the curfew appears to have been the prevention of conflagrations arising from domestic fires left unextinguished at night. The earliest English quotations make no reference to the original sense of the word; the curfew being already in 13th c. merely a name for the ringing of the evening bell, and the time so marked. 
More details (and the image above) from Chambers' Book of Days, via Scribal Terror:
In those old times, people, in general, possessed nothing like clocks or watches; they learned, by the practice of observation, to judge roughly of the time of the day, but in cases where it was necessary to know the exact hour, they were entirely at a loss. Any implement for measuring time was rare, and belonged only to a public body, or institution, or to some very remarkable individual, and the only means of imparting to the public the know-ledge gained from it, was by ringing a bell, or blowing a horn, at certain hours of the day. This practice was first introduced in the monastic establishments..

It was attempted, in towns especially, to meet this evil [nocturnal lawlessness], by making it criminal to be found out of doors after a certain hour; and, as otherwise offenders might plead ignorance, it was ordered that the hour should be publicly sounded, generally by the town-bell, and when that was heard, all people were compelled to shut the doors of their houses, put out their fires, and retire to bed, those who were out of bed after the sounding of the bell being liable to severe punishment. It was an efficacious way of clearing the streets. The bell sounded for this purpose was, in France, called popularly the couvre-feu, or cover-fire...

The curfew is still rung in many towns and parishes in England, in some at eight o'clock, and in others at nine. At the end of the last century, as we learn from the Gentleman's Magazine for 1790, the curfew was announced at the latter hour at Ripon, in Yorkshire, by a man with a horn, which he blew, first at the market-cross, and then at the mayor's door...

It is quite a mistake to suppose that the curfew-bell was peculiar to this island—it was a natural expedient for serving a generally useful purpose, and was adopted in France, Italy, and Spain, and probably in all parts of continental Europe. More-over, a corresponding bell was rung in the morning, to inform people of the hour at which it was customary to rise...
And  finally, some tidbits from Elfinspell: the Curfew Bell, from Old Church Lore:
In England, the curfew law is said to have been made an established institution by King Alfred. When that monarch restored the University which had been founded at Oxford by St. Frideswide, he ordained, among other thoughtful regulations, that a bell should be rung every night at eight, when all the inhabitants of Oxford should cover up their fires and go to bed. The intention was not that the fires should be put out, but merely deadened. As Mr. Lomax observes, “The old fires were made in the centre of a large hearth, and the accumulated ashes were swept to the back and sides. At the curfew, the large logs were removed, and the cold ashes raked over the fire so as to cover it. A fire so covered will often keep smouldering for days, and can be re-lighted by adding fuel and admitting air, a most important consideration in the days of tinder-boxes. The same custom is still pursued in the backwoods of America, in the Australian bush, and in our own ‘black country,’ where the great coal fires are ‘raked’ in the old fashion nightly.”..

“The curfew tolls the knell of parting day...” [Thomas Gray's Elegy written in a Country Churchyard].

Wizard of Id


Immigration officer put wife on no-fly list

An immigration officer in the U.K. found a novel way to end his relationship with his wife. His cunning plan was to wait until she went abroad to visit family, then add her to name to the terrorist no-fly list. Unable to return from Pakistan for three years, with officials refusing to tell her why, it took three years for the truth to emerge.

According to the Daily Mail, his act was only discovered during a background check required for a promotion.
He got fired. Furthermore, his wife is now able to return home.

Murphy’s Lesser Known Laws

1.  Light travels faster than sound, which is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
2.  He who laughs last, thinks slowest.
3.  Change is inevitable…except from a vending machine.
4.  Those who live by the sword, get shot by those who don’t.
5.  Nothing is foolproof to a sufficiently talented fool.
6.  The 50-50-90 rule: Anytime you have a 50-50 chance of getting something right, there’s a 90% probability you’ll get it  wrong.
7.  If you lined up all the cars in the world end to end, someone would be stupid enough to try to pass them, 5-6 at a time, on a hill, in the fog.
8. If the shoe fits, get another one just like it.
9.  The things that come to those who wait will be the things left by those who got there first.
10.  Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he will sit in a boat all day, drinking beer.
11.  Flashlight: A metal tube used to store dead batteries.
12.  Definition: The shin bone is a device for finding furniture in a dark room.
13.  A fine is a tax for doing wrong. A tax is a fine for doing well.
14. When you go into court, you are putting yourself in the hands of twelve people who weren’t smart enough to get out of  jury duty.

Ten winter health myths

You might think depression spikes in the cold months, but it actually doesn't. 

Snow closes Lake Shore Drive

Intense snow traps more than 1,500 vehicles on the city's most famous street.

Bad weather's culprit

The extreme conditions worldwide can be traced to a phenomenon called La Niña.  

How to spot ATM skimmers

Before swiping your card, you should check one part of the machine every time.  

The # of repugican House bills introduced to create jobs: 0

Eighteen job seekers killed riding on top of Indian train

Eighteen young job seekers riding on the roof of an overcrowded train were killed today when it hit a low overhead bridge in northern India, police said. They were among about 200,000 people who had attempted to apply for 461 jobs offered by an Indian paramilitary force.

The unexpected turnout forced the Indo-Tibetan Border Force to postpone the recruitment drive yesterday in Bareilly, a town about 115 miles south-west of Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.

Infuriated by the decision, protesters burned five buses and a petrol station in the town, said Brij Lal, a senior police officer.

They later crammed into trains to return home, and those who could not get into the coaches climbed onto the roofs. Fourteen people died on the spot when they hit the bridge and were thrown to the ground, while four others died overnight in hospital. Nine others remain in hospital.

On The Job

You can train for work in the booming health care industry in just six months.
Times are good for job seekers with experience developing mobile and Web applications.  

Keys for families with one income

A big change in your finances doesn't necessarily mean you need major spending cuts.  

Hiring To Offload My Worries

Fresh out of business school, a young man answered a want ad for an accountant. Now he was being interviewed by a very nervous man who ran a small business that he had started himself.

“I need someone with an accounting degree,” the man said. “But mainly, I’m looking for someone to do my worrying for me.”

“Excuse me?” the accountant said.

“I worry about a lot of things,” the man said. “But I don’t want to have to worry about money. Your job will be to take all the money worries off my back.”

“I see,” the accountant said. “And how much does the job pay?”
“I’ll start you at eighty thousand.”

“Eighty thousand dollars!” the accountant exclaimed.
“How can such a small business afford a sum like that?”

“That,” the owner said, “is your first worry.”

Steps to earlier retirement

If you can handle measures such as cutting out your creature comforts, there may be hope.  

How to avoid a tax audit

If you donated clothes to a charity, don’t try to claim more than their “fair market value.” 



Experts share design secrets

Rachel Roy's colorful Jamaican hammock helps her "chill in seconds."  

Million-dollar dream cars

A few vintage rides are so desirable and rare that they fetch seven-figure prices.

You might want to check your attic for a vase that looks like this

A retired chocolate factory worker who took an old vase to a provincial auction house in a cardboard box is in line for a million-pound bonanza after being told it was a Ming moonflask. Experts at Duke's in Dorchester, Dorset, were stunned when the 79-year-old man, who used to work for Cadbury, showed them the 29cm-tall vase, thought to date from between 1403 and 1424 ...

"It is the largest recorded example from a rarefied group of early Ming moonflasks dating from the Yongle period."..

Last year, Duke's sold a Chinese vase from the Qianlong period for £765,000. It had been used as an umbrella stand by its owners.

A single snowdrop bulb has sold for £357

North London Today provides these details:
The flower, named EA Bowles after the horticulturalist Edward Augustus Bowles who used to own Myddleton House, has had gardeners scrambling to buy it because its six petals are all exactly the same length and are pure white on both sides ...

Andrew Turvey, Myddleton House head gardener, said: “We have a number of
snowdrops and this one grew through natural cross-pollination. It has taken us to this point to get a saleable bulb. One was produced in 2008 that sold for £265, then we managed to produce 19 this year ...
The Telegraph offers some context:
The lust for snowdrops, however, speaks to something rather more obsessive. Soldiers returning from the Crimean war brought home the first G plicatus, and the Victorians rapidly fell in love, seeing them as emblems of purity. The first snowdrop conference was held in 1891, the forerunner of an annual gala ...

Joe Sharman, who sold the £357 “E. A. Bowles”, dates it to 2008, when a single bulb of Galanthus “Flocon de Neige” made £265 at auction. (It’s a double version of the ordinary snowdrop that grows wild in woods and churchyards – such variants can crop up anywhere, but you need to be tremendously knowledgeable to spot them.)

Amazing Woodcarving

Kronid Gogolev is a Russian woodcarver. His works have been displayed in his native Sortovala town since 1988. Nowadays they can be found not only in the collections of Moscow and St. Petersburg museums but also in some private collections in the USA, Japan, Germany, Finland and Sweden.

Sunrise over Liechtenstein

Village lights under Mittlerspitz

Photographer David Kaplan took this stunning and mesmerizing photograph of the moon and Venus over Trübbach, Switzerland. It shows a cloudbank over the Rhine with Liechtenstein in the background. The Moon and Venus can be seen in the upper right corner.

At his website, there are dozens like it: foggy valleys under clear night skies, painterly European cityscapes, and simple, numinous natural scenes

Swarovski's Crystal Museum

Swarovski, a manufacturer of glass crystal, has a museum and garden in Wattens, Austria. This enormous fountain stands in front of it.

Science Education in the US is Startlingly Bad

Image: Telegraph
The apparently sagging quality of the American education system is a topic of much debate. Most of us are aware that our place as one of the world's preeminent educators is slipping -- but the decline is especially sharp in the subjects of math and science. Miller-McCune has a piece on why this may be. It contains nuggets like this: "Only 28 percent of teachers consistently present the evidence for evolution as a unifying theme in biology, as the National Research Council recommends". Wooops.
Read the whole piece over at Miller-McCune.

How To Make Your Own Iron Age Viking Shoes

Engineering Wonders Of The Modern World


Ten Common Phenomena Explained


Do you know what a hypnagogic myoclonic twitch is? Where does the noise come from when you crack your joints? What are goose bumps? Why do humans have eyebrows? Why does a song keep stuck in your head?
Here are ten explanations of common, everyday things.

New planets found in strange solar system

Astronomers have spotted a strange new solar system with small "puffy" planets packed in close orbit to their sun.

UFO spotted hanging over Jerusalem shrine

A UFO has been spotted hovering over one of the holiest sites in Islam, the Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

It is the place where the prophet Muhammad is said to have ascended to heaven, built on top of a site sacred to Judaism.

The event was captured on camera by an American tourist and posted on YouTube. It could easily be dismissed as a hoax, but someone else filmed what appears to be same event from a different angle.

The glowing ball of light dropping until it hangs just over the Dome of the Rock, before suddenly shooting off as if disturbed.

Archaeology News

Tomb of Prophet Zechariah Found?
Underneath the intricate mosaic floors of a Byzantine-era church lies a cave complex that may house an Old Testament prophet.
 Zechariah Tomb
1,500-year-old church found in Israel
Israeli archaeologists presented a newly uncovered 1,500-year-old church in the Judean hills on Wednesday, including an unusually well-preserved mosaic floor with images of lions, foxes, fish and peacocks.

US Archaeology

Archaeologists have unearthed a few pieces of history at former president James Madison's country estate: portions of two pawns from his chess set.



Official Kansas state smackdown

Pteranodon vs. Xiphactius audax
DWMiller X-Fish.jpg
Finally, a science debate in the Kansas state legislature that doesn't make me want to beat my head against the wall.

So, Kansas is apparently in the process of picking a state fossil.

The original candidate, named in the House bill introduced on the 24th of January, was Xiphactius audax—best known for being the big fish of the famous little-fish-inside-a-big-fish fossil that resides at the Sternberg Museum of Natural History in Hays.

Since the bill was introduced, however, there have been rumblings favoring a completely different fossil, the flying reptile Pteranodon.

Two fossils enter the statehouse. One leaves. But it's not entirely clear yet which will be the victor.

Pteranodon has a much bigger public profile—it was in Jurassic Park, after all, and has featured prominently in many children's books about dinosaurs. Plus, according to the adjunct curator of paleontology at the Sternberg Museum, high-quality pteranodon fossils are almost exclusive to Kansas.

But, Kansas  was underwater for much of its pre-history and, thus, Xiphactius audax stands a chance.

'Tree octopus' dupes students

A bizarre hoax assignment that easily fooled kids prompts researchers to raise a red flag.  

Polish hunter sues after failing to find elephant to kill

A Polish hunter who dreamed of shooting an elephant has sued a German-based travel company after it sent him to a part of Africa where he said there were no elephants to be found.

The company, Jaworski Jagdreisen, which organizes hunting expeditions, insists there are elephants in the area of Zimbabwe it sent the hunter, identified only as Waldemar I.

"From what I know, (the hunter) should have seen elephant excrement there," the company owner said.

Even though the company organized a second trip for the luckless hunter during which he managed to kill a male elephant, the man still filed for damages worth $130,000 over his first expedition. A court is due to rule on his claim on February 15.

Sharks by the thousands off Florida's coast

Viewed from a helicopter, as reported by WPTV in West Palm Beach.
Want to bet that the Florida Tourist industry is not all that thrilled with this being reported.

Notorious cow cheats fate

A wild slaughterhouse escape made "Unsinkable Molly B" a global sensation.

Animal Pictures