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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.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Everyone who knows and loves hard-working you expects to be without you every now and then, even when you've made plans, if and when duty calls.
So when it calls now, your job will be to do the right thing and make a call of your own -- an apologetic, polite call to the person you'll be disappointing, letting them know that you're just as sad about all this.
A rain check that's set in stone wouldn't hurt either, of course.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Elizabeth, South Australia, Australia
Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand
Warsaw, Mazowieckie, Poland
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
London, England, United Kingdom
London, Ontario, Canada
Maastricht, Limburg, Netherlands
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Burlington, Ontario, Canada
Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico
Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia
La Paz, Baja California, Mexico
Chon Buri, Chon Buri, Thailand
Cebu, Cebu City, Philippines
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Rotterdam, Zuid-Holland, Netherlands
San Luis Potosi, San Luis Potosi, Mexico
Stavanger, Rogaland, Norway
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Sevastopol, Sevastopol, Ukraine

as well as Slovakia, 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 Antioch, Jasper, Simpsonville, Lodi and more.

Today is:
Today is Sunday, February 20, the 51st day of 2011.
There are 314 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are: 
Clam Chowder Day
Love Your Dog Day
Northern Hemisphere Hoodie Hoo Day

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

It’s OK To Read This

An OK article: How 'OK' took over the world.
It crops up in our speech dozens of times every day, although it apparently means little. So how did the word "OK" conquer the world, asks Allan Metcalf.
okOK, I'll tell you.
On 23 March 1839, OK was introduced to the world on the second page of the Boston Morning Post, in the midst of a long paragraph, as "o.k. (all correct)".
How this weak joke survived at all, instead of vanishing like its counterparts, is a matter of lucky coincidence involving the American presidential election of 1840.
One candidate was nicknamed Old Kinderhook, and there was a false tale that a previous American president couldn't spell properly and thus would approve documents with an "OK", thinking it was the abbreviation for "all correct".
Within a decade, people began actually marking OK on documents and using OK on the telegraph to signal that all was well. So OK had found its niche, being easy to say or write and also distinctive enough to be clear.

It wasn't twitter or facebook ...

... that started the flash point to the revolt in Tunisia....it was one man with a food cart (along with Wikileaks...)

The proximate spark was an unemployed college graduate who was assaulted by the police for selling fruits and vegetables without having paid the proper protection money. They confiscated his fruit cart and stock, the one and only thing he had in order to struggle to support his family and try to preserve some shred of human dignity. That’s the exact kind of extortion and confiscation the US government’s recently passed food tyranny bill intends to impose on every kind of fruit cart here. In despair, he publicly burned himself alive.
This sparked escalating demonstrations. At first the police responded with violence and repression. They shot protesters and carried out mass arrests. As the protests and street fighting escalated, the now frightened thug Ali promised reforms.

... Wikileaks may have played a role in bringing anger to a flash point. Tunisians were outraged to read cynical US state department cables which frankly discussed the Tunisian regime as a vile tinpot despotism the US must nevertheless prop up. (so remember that the next time you see some corporate liberal scoffing at how Wikileaks can’t make any difference anyway.) - volitility

The rebellion, referred to by the media as the Jasmine Revolution, was sparked by a single, unemployed, university graduate Mohammad Bouazizi. The 22-year-old Bouazizi made his living with an unlicensed vending cart on a market street in the town of Sidi Bouzid, a place described as "hard scrabble," and is 190 miles south of the country's capital of Tunis.

Bouazizi was roughed up by the police and his cart was confiscated. Angry and upset, the young man did a dramatic protest. With a message that he "can't live without food anyway," Bouazizi set himself on fire and died. Self-immolation has been used throughout many countries as a form of protest.
bouazizi's dramatic action sparked mass protests throughout the country. tunisians were fed-up with the mass unemployment and government corruption. - people's world

Bahrain protesters hold steady, spend night in square

This group is tough as nails.
When you think about the extreme violence visited upon this group by the king, they know what may likely be ahead today or tomorrow.
Even so, they continue.
A landmark junction in the heart of Bahrain's capital, Manama, continues to be occupied by opposition protesters, hundreds of whom spent the night there after another day of anti-government demonstrations in the tiny Gulf state.

Some woke early on Sunday morning in the Pearl Roundabout area and staged a noisy protest, chanting "Get out Hamad" as they pressed their demand that the king, Sheikh Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, should step down.

A small tent village has sprung up complete with stalls selling hot milk, scrambled eggs and tomatoes - catering to the hundreds who decided to stay overnight in the public square.

The protesters reclaimed on Saturday the junction that they had previously used as a focal point for pro-reform protests, but which was then violently taken back by security forces.

China cracks down on call for 'Jasmine Revolution'

Chinese authorities cracked down on activists as a call circulated for people to gather in more than a dozen cities Sunday for a "Jasmine Revolution" apparently inspired by the wave of pro-democracy protests sweeping the Middle East.

Libyan forces strike back

Police fire shots into crowds of protesters in Libya's second-largest city.



Citing A Better 'Environment' For Business, House repugicans Go After the Environment

House repugicans are making good on their campaign promises to attack the EPA and make life easier for heavy polluters but harder for actual life. Last night, the House passed its short-term government funding measure, which funds the government until March 4 and takes a hatchet to funding for environmental protection. Speaker Boehner, seemingly overlooking the irony, said, "Cutting federal spending is critical to reducing economic uncertainty, encouraging private-sector investment, and creating a better environment for job creation in our country."
Article continues: Citing A Better 'Environment' For Business, House repugicans Go After the Environment

An Attack on the Existence of Labor Unions

Ezra Klein cuts through the noise and tells you what is actually being proposed in Wisconsin - and the bottom line is simple.

CBO: Health care repeal would add $210 billion to deficit

But we all know the repugicans couldn't care less about the deficit.
They proved that during the shrub years when government and spending (and the deficit) soared -- remember, Clinton handed the shrub a budget surplus.
For the repugicans, it's all about their protection of business and their odd fixation on social wedge issues.
If they were serious about the deficit they would have been much more serious about job creation instead of abortion.

The New Republic:
The Congressional Budget Office has delivered an official estimate of what repealing the Affordable Care Act would do to the federal budget. According to CBO's estimates, the deficit would rise by $210 billion in the first decade:

H.R. 2 would, on net, increase federal deficits over the next decade because the net savings from eliminating the coverage provisions would be more than offset by the combination of other spending increases and revenue reductions.

In total, CBO and JCT estimate that H.R. 2 would reduce outlays by about $604 billion and reduce revenues by about $813 billion over the 2012-2021

This is twice the estimate the CBO made last year, when it projected the effects of a similar repeal bill. Why the difference? Because it's a year later and the projection period extends through 2021 rather than 2011. Remember, the law is designed to save more money as time goes on.

Debate over online gambling

Legislators from both sides of the aisle support legalizing — and taxing — online gambling.   

Hot destinations to visit solo

These 10 spots have everything from big-city excitement to beaches and incredible landscapes.

Eleven problem-solving products

Olay facial cloths, Brooks Brothers no-iron shirts, and Oxo measuring cups have made life easier.

NC Cotton Farmers Planting More As Prices Rise

Farmers in North Carolina are expected to plant more cotton this year because global demand is up, supply is down and the potential for profit has eclipsed some other crops.

Coffee Prices Hit 14 Yrs High due to Brazil, Mexico and Others Weak Harvests

Next time you go to get your favorite cup of Joe in the morning and are startled at the price, you can thank Brazil, Mexico, Colombia and other coffee producing nations "disappointing" crops for that.

Hacker group Anonymous gives Westboro Baptist Church an ultimatum

The hackers of Anonymous have targeted causes they felt were wrong before, and not just anti-P2P ones, either. A prime example is their campaign against Scientology, and now they've targeted what is an extremely small, but what some would say is an extremely hateful, church: Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) of Topeka, KS.

Westboro Baptist Church challenges hacker group Anonymous to 'Bring It'
The Westboro Baptist Church appears to have sealed the fate of all of its Web properties. You don't mock or challenge Anonymous, and that is what the Church has done in response to a threat by the hacker group, with challenges sent back to the group on Saturday, Feb. 19. 
Well, we won't be seeing or hearing from the sick perverts at Westboro on the web for a while now.
Fucking morons.
Of course this is a very, very, very good thing - less hate being spewed.

Mexican Mother Sells Newborn to American to Pay for Other Child's Cancer Treatment

Morelos legal authorities are disclosing the arrest of a Mexican national, a midwife and a U.S. citizen for human trafficking of a new born.

TV Con Artist (excuse me, 'Preacher') In Trouble

A TV preacher’s diabetic husband and 92-year-old mother were taken to the hospital when authorities found them sick and lying in filth in an apartment at the back of a Bluff City church.
bviarsThe Tennessee Department of Human Services received an anonymous tip last week that an elderly woman was living in wretched conditions in the All for Jesus Church of God on Beaver Creek Drive.
Brenda Viars, the church pastor and host of a Sunday evening televised ministry, told the Bristol Herald Courier Thursday that she’d been trying to get rid of the mice, roaches and gnats. She said she “got behind on things.”
On Tuesday evening, she preached to her congregation of 10 to 20 people. She fed her mother Cheerios and milk for dinner, she said.
Pascu had to put on a mask and boots just to walk inside, she said. She called it “an overwhelming amount of trash and stink.
“I’ve been trying to do my best,” Viars said. “I am sorry that things got the way they are. I don’t want to bring a reproach on our lord and savior.”
“They tell me I can get paid for keeping my mom,” Viars said. “But I love my mommy so much. I’d feel so guilty taking money to keep her.”
The family lives on 85 percent of the church’s tithes and her fees from hosting the King’s Servants TV Program, which airs on Sunday evenings on the Living Faith Ministries television channel, Viars said.

Bungling burglars lose money

 From the "They walk among us" Department:

Two men attempted to rob a Kansas City, Missouri, gun store Thursday and ended up leaving with less money than they had when they came in, the Kansas City Star reported Saturday.

Exercise, therapy best for chronic fatigue

The biggest ever study of chronic fatigue syndrome treatments has challenged the strategy championed by patient groups - taking it easy is not the best treatment, exercise and behavior therapy are.

Odds and Sods

'Sister Internet' forced to leave her order over too much Facebook activity
A nun dubbed "Sister Internet" by her fellow nuns is a nun no longer. She has been forced to leave her order, the Santo Domingo el Real convent in Toledo, Spain, after disagreements over her online activities. The incident was first reported by the Telegraph on Feb. 18.

Chips taste better when you eat them using your fingers - and at the seaside, claim psychologists.

Could Rooftop Gardens Help Ease Unrest in Mideast?

urfa turkey rooftops photo
These roofs are made for gardening?  
Photo: Jennifer Hattam.
Residents of Cairo have celebrated and cleaned up following the historic protests in the country. Now, the hard work of, as one sign put it, "building Egypt" begins. Though the factors that have created the ongoing unrest across the Middle East and North Africa are numerous, both peak oil and high food prices seem to have played a role. Could environmental measures help create solutions as well?

Food Prices

Why Americans haven't noticed rising food prices. 
What I've noticed has been package-shrinking, so that you get less product for a similar apparent price. But a Slate article notes that another factor is insulating the U.S. from the effects now being noted (and protested) in the third world:
One way or another, it's clear the food price bubble has reached crisis levels. But why hasn't it reached America? For one, Americans and residents of other industrialized nations consume higher proportions of processed foods—Doritos, hot dogs, and the like. A large part of the price of these foods comes from labor, packaging, and marketing, making them less sensitive to changes in food costs. They're less food than food-based products. Economist Mark Perry produced a chart that helps demonstrate the phenomenon. Food prices for raw goods (like wheat) fluctuate wildly, while prices for processed goods (like breakfast cereal) are far less volatile.
The graph referred to in the paragraph is embedded above, and comes from this Carpe Diem article.

The ten dirtiest fruits and veggies

When buying produce, sometimes you're better off choosing organic or locally grown.  

On The Job

Want a job? 
Hand over your Facebook password, please
Officer Robert Collins had a recertification interview with the Maryland Department of Corrections late last year.
During that interview, he was asked to give up his Facebook login information as part of the background check and also to watch as they went through not just his posts, but his friends' and family's as well.

Ways to get tax-free income

The IRS can't touch some of the money that you earn by moonlighting.

Save on prescriptions

Some consumers still pay about $50 a month for a cholesterol drug that can cost $4. 

Some $5 products that made a mint

Slinky lovers have bought more than 300 million of the springy sensations since 1945.

Money rules you should break

The conventional wisdom may be wrong about credit cards, loans, and saving for retirement.  

A Medieval Castle In Cowboy Country

Bishop Castle

Colorado, San Isabel National Forest - the heart of what many call Cowboy Country. Yet stray of the beaten path and you come across Bishop castle - a 160-foot high structure that weighs in at an estimated 50 thousand tons.

Incredibly, it is the work of a single man - Jim Bishop. Strangely though, if you are a tourist to the state, you will not find a mention of Bishop Castle on any official brochure.

Minnesota Moose Population Crash Possibly Correlated With Climate Change

aerial view minnesota moose photo
The end is near. Image credit:Mark Lenarz. (excerpted from slide show)
I recently was chided a bit for suggesting (without having provided a link to supporting scientific evidence) that the behavior of a central-Wisconsin black bear emerging from its den in early February might well be attributed to climate change. (See Black Bear, Bummed Out By Climate Change, Falls Asleep In Backyard ....)
Today I feel lucky, having stumbled onto some related science. The population density of northern Minnesota moose has been falling for years and bull moose are decreasing in proportion to cow moose. No, it's definitely not a poaching problem; nor is it a human hunting or wolf-predation caused fall off (see below for some data). There is, however, a potential correlation of the long term Minnesota moose population collapse with climate change.
Article continues: Minnesota Moose Population Crash Possibly Correlated With Climate Change

Woman Has Lion Carved Into Tree

What do you do when your beautiful old oak tree is struck by lightning? Have it carved into a ten-foot  lion of course.  At least that’s what Sandy River’s of Alabama has decided to do.
Four years ago, Rivers’ 100-year-old red oak tree was struck by lightning. But she couldn’t bear to let it die.
“They came out and they removed the limbs and everything. And they wanted to grind the tree down. But I couldn’t do that. Because this tree, it belongs here. And I feel a connection with this tree. And I’m all about nature. I guess that’s just the hippee in me,” joked Rivers.
A few years later, Rivers came across the wood work of Andy Cummings, a local artist known for his chainsaw artworks. The idea finally came to her like a roar in the night. The ten-foot stump would be transformed into a lion.
So far her neighbors seem excited about the rather large art piece in her front yard.

Earthquake strikes Alabama gulf coast

Authorities say a 3.5-magnitude earthquake has shaken southern Alabama, and people have reported feeling the quake as far away as Birmingham.

The Saga of Biôrn

The Saga Of Biorn from The Animation Workshop on Vimeo.

Biôrn, an old Viking, is determined to reach Valhalla, the warrior's  afterlife full of excessive drinking and debauchery. To gain entry he  has to die honorably in battle, but he discovers that the right death  isn't so easy.

Archaeology News

One of the finest examples of a medieval fish trap in Europe is going to be washed away before its secrets can be recorded, scientists have claimed.

The time-frame of that original battle of Jericho has always been a matter of controversy but a more recent puzzle has been a 28-foot-high, 1100-year-old stone tower on the edge of the town.

Man's First Best Friend Might Have Been A Fox

Some 16,000 years ago, people may have been curling up next to the fire with red foxes.

Witwatersrand Basin - The World's Oldest Water?

A new study accepted for publication in Chemical Geology says deep saline groundwaters in South Africa'

Cosmic census finds 50 billion planets in our galaxy

Scientists have estimated the first cosmic census of planets in our galaxy and the numbers are astronomical: at least 50 billion planets in the Milky Way.



Mitchell's Satyr, One of World's Most Endangered Butterflies, Gets Wing Up

photo mitchells satyr butterfly michigan
Photos courtesy of John B.1, Flickr.
Beautiful, chocolate-brown Mitchell's Satyr butterflies used to frequent up to five U.S. states. Today, this species of butterfly can only be found in 19 "fens," a type of unique, low-nutrient wetland area, in southern Michigan and northern Indiana. It's not over yet for the Mitchell's Satyr, however, despite the destruction of habitat areas for urban and agricultural development; contamination from pesticides, fertilizers and nutrient runoff; and threats from invasive species and even butterfly collectors. Not all of us humans are bad.
Article continues: Mitchell's Satyr, One of World's Most Endangered Butterflies, Gets Wing Up

Animal Pictures


Surfer rides monster wave

Europe isn't well known for surfing, but its reputation should get a boost after this cool moment.  

Lake 'monster' caught on film?

Tourists detail a "petrifying" encounter with a rippling beast known in England as "Bow-Nessie."