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The place where the world comes together in honesty and mirth.
Windmills Tilted, Scared Cows Butchered, Lies Skewered on the Lance of Reality ... or something to that effect.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
Your old habits have grown to become like a worn, fuzzy blanket -- something that gives you comfort even though it might not be very good for you.
You need to make sure that the blanket you cling to won't actually end up suffocating you.
So today, take a passive look at the things you do in your life, and ask yourself whether they are necessary or productive.
If they are neither, then it's time to get rid of them!
Refocus on improving your health.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
London, England, United Kingdom
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Rio De Janeiro, Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Helsinki, Southern Finland, Finland
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Budapest, Budapest, Hungary
Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom
Mumbai, Maharashtra, India
San Salvador, San Salvador, El Salvador
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Lille, Nord-Pas-De-Calais, France

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 Beaverton, Kirkland, Portland, Salem and more.

Today is:
Today is Tuesday, March 1, the 60th day of 2011.
There are 305 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are: 
Pig Day
Re-fired, Not Retired Day.
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Big quake puts state on edge

The strongest in a swarm of more than 800 unexplained quakes sparks new fears among locals.
Preliminary magnitude 4.7 earthquake in Arkansas

Four earthquakes have been recorded near Greenbrier in central Arkansas- including one with a preliminary magnitude of 4.7 that was reported felt on four other states.

Frank and Ernest


Amazing amateur photos

An image from one of the world's most colorful festivals is among a magazine's top reader submissions.

    The Way


    US House passes bill to avert shutdown

    The House passed emergency short-term legislation Tuesday to cut federal spending by $4 billion and avert a government shutdown.

    Pretty much says it all


    Government watchdog IDs billions in federal waste

    A new study by a federal watchdog agency finds that overlapping and duplicative federal programs waste billions of taxpayer dollars each year, adding fresh targets as lawmakers in both parties seek opportunities to cut spending.

    Non Sequitur


    A public union employee, a teabagging agitator and a CEO are sitting at a table ...

    A public union employee, a teabagging agitator and a CEO are sitting at a table with a plate of a dozen cookies in the middle of it.
    The CEO takes 11 of the cookies, turns to the teabagger and says, "Watch out for that union guy he wants a piece of your cookie."

    Anti-American (pardon, anti-union) vote moves to Ohio

    This anti-union attack looks even worse than the repugican-proposed legislation in Wisconsin. Once again, why are repugicans blaming the unions for what we know was a Wall Street economic crisis?
    The Ohio Senate is expected on Thursday to consider a revised version of a bill to end collective bargaining for public-sector workers, and union members gathering outside the Statehouse here Tuesday morning said they were bracing for the worst.

    “This is going to get passed and people will sit back and say, ‘What happened?’ ” said Mark Horton, a retired firefighter who is treasurer of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters. “Once it’s done, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle.”

    Unlike similar legislation in Wisconsin, which exempts police officers and firefighters, the Ohio bill includes them — and is controversial for that reason.

    In Wisconsin, police now blocking entrance into State House

    The AFL-CIO claims there have been windows welded shut (where is the fire marshal?) to block supplies being handed over to protesters. There have been a few photos floating around online showing what looks like bolted shut windows rather than welded, but bolted windows sound as dangerous as well. Blocking access to the state capital is a violation of state law, if the law means anything. More from David Dayen at FireDogLake.
    As you can see, they are really cracking down on access, and particularly what can be brought into the building. They have tried to make it very uncomfortable for people to stay, forcing them to sleep on jackets or the bare floor. They have restricted medical supplies and slowed the supply of food. But according to the CCLC, they are going well beyond these rules and basically blocking access to the building. And this comes after the police told protesters that they would be allowed back in at 8am.

    Blocking access to the Capitol building is illegal under the Wisconsin state Constitution:

    Article I, §4 – ANNOT.
    The legislature cannot prohibit an individual from entering the capitol or its grounds. 59 Atty. Gen. 8.

    Article I, §4
    Right to assemble and petition. Section 4. The right of the people peaceably to assemble, to consult for the common good, and to petition the government, or any department thereof, shall never be abridged.
    Support for Scott Walker has eroded as his fight with public unions has dragged on. 

    Bad Cops

    Kentucky cop allegedly assaults, points gun at wife

    Louisiana cop convicted of attempted aggravated rape and second-degree kidnapping

    Kansas police chief gets life in prison for bad-touching children

    17 Baltimore police officers arrested in corruption probe

    Massachusetts city pulls plug on police legal bills

    What's next for disgraced Seattle Police officer Ian Birk?

    School employees tried to poison coworker

    Police say two South Stanly High School employees tried to poison a coworker.
    Eileen Hallamore, 64, and Angela Johnson, 38, are charged with distributing food containing poison.

    Driver Who Hit Cyclists Indicted for Attempted Murder

    ricardo neis photo  
    Photo: Tarlo Schneider via Terra
    As Ricardo Neis, a bank official from Porto Alegre, Brazil, was driving with his teenage son early last Friday evening, he found himself having to share the street at the pace of a group of cyclists -- everyday folks of all ages and walks of life who gather together once a month for a leisurely group ride, presumably safe enough in numbers to enjoy the public roads normally dominated by cars. But Ricardo Neis didn't want to 'share' the road at all. Instead, he placed his foot on the gas and proceeded to run over the sea of humanity before him, nearly killing dozens of innocent cyclists whose only fault was getting in his way.
    Now Ricardo Neis is facing charges of attempted murder.



    End of real estate crash?

    Analysts see two hopeful signs of an impending real estate turnaround in 2011.  
      For that price, you can buy a new 2,257-square-foot home with a pool.  

      On The Job

      Put your brainpower to use in one of these great-paying and challenging fields.
      Jobs that pay $50,000 or more are scarce in these metropolitan areas.  
      David Kostman traded a high-powered financial job to open a chain of hummus restaurants.

      Income Growth Chart

      Here's a pretty good interactive chart: When income grows, who gains?Use the two sliders to select a beginning point and an ending point. Then, find out what happened during that period.

      For example, between 2002 and 2007:
      Average incomes in the U.S. grew by $8,358. The richest 10% got 87% of that growth. The bottom 90% shared 13%.
      income chart

      It's all about the Benjamins

      Paying off certain types of debt can lift your score much more than others. 
      Trying to avoid tax gains today can bring higher long-term costs down the road.  

      No-itemize tax deductions

      Even if you only claim the standard deduction, there are other ways to reduce your tax burden.

      It's all about the right attitude

      What’s the best way to deal with a rejection letter? Crumple it up and throw it in the trash? No, that’s too pedestrian. What you really need to do is tear it into tiny pieces all while making your baby laugh hysterically.
      McArthur says he’s finishing up his doctorate at SLU and applying for professor jobs.  When he received yet another rejection letter he ripped it in half and baby Micah started laughing uncontrollably, so he started ripping credit card statements and the sweet sounds of laughter continued.

      Russian doctor believes in healing by laughter

      Andrei Skutin is to set up a clinic where laughter really will be the best medicine. Skutin - from Chelyabinsk, Russia - has just completed a year-long study of how humor affects illnesses and says a good chuckle can work wonders on everything from high blood pressure to cancer.

      "Laughter can cure many serious diseases. Ten minutes laughing can reduce blood pressure, strengthen immunity, reduce asthma attacks and so on," claims the 38-year-old doctor who always has his patients in stitches.

      Skutin - whose group therapy patients spend an hour telling each other jokes - is now to set up a full time laughter clinic at the South Ural State University.

      "The only people who cannot attend are pregnant women as they may laugh too much and give birth prematurely, or those who have recently had major surgery or stitches as laughing could undo the stitches," Skutin said.

      'Wolf Girl' Happy To Be World's Hairiest

      'Wolf Girl' Supatra Sasuphan
      "Nat" suffers from a rare condition called Ambras Syndrome
      But the Bangkok schoolgirl has not let that stand in her way, forming close friendships with other children and being embraced by her local community.

      Higher Education Linked to Lower Blood Pressure

      blood pressure
      The finding could help explain the often observed association among people in developed countries.  

      Humanity’s Next Evolution May Be Mental, Not Biological

      Mark Changizi, author of the upcoming book Harnessed: How Language and Music Mimicked Nature and Transformed Man, writes:
      Where are we humans going, as a species? If science fiction is any guide, we will genetically evolve like in X-Men, become genetically engineered as in Gattaca, or become cybernetically enhanced like General Grievous in Star Wars. [...]
      Simply put, none of these scenarios are plausible for the immediate future. [...]
      We have already been transformed via harnessing beyond what we once were. We’re already Human 2.0, not the Human 1.0, or Homo sapiens, that natural selection made us. We Human 2.0’s have, among many powers, three that are central to who we take ourselves to be today: writing, speech, and music (the latter perhaps being the pinnacle of the arts). Yet these three capabilities, despite having all the hallmarks of design, were not a result of natural selection, nor were they the result of genetic engineering or cybernetic enhancement to our brains. Instead, and as I argue in both The Vision Revolution and my forthcoming Harnessed, these are powers we acquired by virtue of harnessing, or neuronal recycling.
      In this transition from Human 1.0 to 2.0, we didn’t directly do the harnessing. Rather, it was an emergent, evolutionary property of our behavior, our nascent culture, that bent and shaped writing to be right for our visual system, speech just so for our auditory system, and music a match for our auditory and evocative mechanisms. [...]
      The road to Human 3.0 and beyond will, I believe, be largely due to ever more instances of this kind of harnessing. And although we cannot easily anticipate the new powers we will thereby gain, we should not underestimate the potential magnitude of the possible changes. After all, the change from Human 1.0 to 2.0 is nothing short of universe-rattling: It transformed a clever ape into a world-ruling technological philosopher.

      Culinary DeLites

      Five-spice powder gives these beef, slaw, and vegetable wraps a sweet and savory flavor.
      It's easy to turn this hearty whole-grain breakfast into a high-calorie meal. 
      A chain's pasta-and-chicken dish saves nearly 700 calories over spaghetti and meatballs.

      Black Caviar May Become Less Expensive

      Scientists in Russia have developed techniques for successfully farming “bester” (a hybrid of beluga and sterlet) and successfully harvesting the roe without killing the sturgeon.
      Rather than being culled, like elsewhere in the world, the female fish is what can best be called “milked”, gently and harmlessly. Each time a fish is milked it can produce up to a quarter of its weight in caviar. This approach not only makes caviar more accessible but also helps preserve this increasingly scarce and beautiful fish… Russia halted commercial harvesting in 2002. Five years later, the sale of sturgeon and black caviar were banned altogether. Poaching escalated, and so did the prices. Now, the country is trying to return to the heady days of Soviet caviar abundance.
      A video at the link illustrates the process, which appears to be similar to that used in this country at state-sanctioned fisheries and trout farms.  The photo comes from English Russia, which has a photoessay with several recipes utilizing caviar.

      How can you tell if an orange is ripe?

      According to the staff at QI, you can't go by its color:
      You can’t tell the ripeness of an orange by its color, no matter where it’s from. If an orange is unpicked, it can stay on the tree until the next season, during which time fluctuations in temperature can make it turn from green to orange and back to green again without the quality or flavor being affected
      Another interesting fact is that Alexander the Great artificially colored his hair:
      Alexander the Great washed his hair in saffron to keep it a lovely shiny orange color. During his time saffron was as rare as diamonds and more expensive than gold. 

      Helpful Hints

      Your PC or Mac can become painfully slow for many reasons — even after just a few months.  

        Henry Morgan's cannons found in Panama?

        Archaeologists say six cannons recovered from a river in Panama that could have belonged to legendary pirate Henry Morgan are being studied and could eventually be displayed.
        The group of Panamanian and foreign archaeologists say the cannons were found at the mouth of Panama's Chagres River, the site where Morgan's flagship, the Satisfaction, ...

        A Trip Down Market Street Before The Fire

        Video archivist extraordinaire Rick Prelinger sez, "A TRIP DOWN MARKET STREET BEFORE THE FIRE is that charismatic archival film made by San Francisco's Miles Bros. several days before the April 18, 1906 quake/fire. Millions of people have seen the Air music video (made from a visually degraded version of the film), but until now nobody's had access to a editable DV file. Here it is (warning: 2.3GB). Please make of it what you will, and consider uploading your work to Internet Archive!"
        Miles BrothersTrip Down Market Street Before the Fire, A (DV25 version) (1906/04/15)

        Traveling Through Time To The Old Time Apothecary Shops


        The first mention of an apothecary actually dates back to the time of Moses. An apothecary is the historical name for the profession of individuals who used to formulate and dispense medicines, ointments and tinctures to doctors and patients.

        In the 19th century the old time apothecary started to fade away and became what we know of today as the pharmacist. Although we can still get medicines, ointments and various tinctures from our local pharmacist, there will always be something intriguing, mysterious and awe-inspiring about the apothecary. Just take a look at some of these old time apothecary shops.

        Polar Circle Markets

        Salekhard is the only town located right on the polar circle. In February the temperature is about -40C. Not caring about such weather condition local markets are working at a full swing.

        The beauty that is Armenia

        Armenia is a very ancient country, one of the earliest on the Earth. Even in the 9th-6th centuries BC there already was a powerful state called Urartu on its territory. And now Armenia, with its numerous historical monuments, can rightly be called one of the most interesting places in the Old World.

        Awesome Pictures


        Man finds E.T. in tree trunk

        A pensioner has told how he rushed to phone home after he discovered the face of E.T. in a tree trunk.

        Pete Burford was chopping wood when the face of the alien in Steven Spielberg’s hit 1980s blockbuster stared back at him. He quickly called shocked wife Sylvia after making the discovery in the trunk of a poplar tree at his yard in Elderfield, near Tewkesbury, Glos.

        Pete, 72, of Staunton, Glos., said he was completely stunned when the image stared right back at him.

        He said: ”It’s probably just one of those things in the tree, but it so looks like E.T. I couldn’t believe it.” Wife Sylvia, 73, quickly remembered seeing what looked like a UFO 40 years ago and now the couple believe extra-terrestrials are trying to get in contact.

        Space Shuttle Docking with Space Station as Seen from Earth

        Sure, we’ve all seen pictures of a space shuttle docking. But this one was taken from Earth using a fairly ordinary telescope guided by hand:
        This remarkable picture was taken by Rob Bullen on Saturday February 26 from the UK, using an 8.5? telescope. I’ll note that’s relatively small as telescopes go! But the ISS is now over 100 meters long, and if it’s directly overhead (that is, the closest it can be to an observer on the ground) it appears large enough to easily look elongated in binoculars — in fact, it would be big enough to look elongated to someone with good eyesight and no aid at all*! Still, images like this are difficult to obtain even with a carefully guided telescope equipped with a video camera.
        Oh — did I mention that Rob hand-guided his telescope for this shot?

        Pentagon's tiny spy planes

        The Pentagon spends millions to develop a line of pocket-sized drones inspired by biology.  

          Warren Buffet Loves Wind Power

          warren buffett wind power turbine photo
          Photos: Public domain and Flickr, CC
          Buffett Quietly Became King of Wind Power
          Warren Buffett has been in the news a lot lately for all kinds of things, but the media has mostly overlooked the fact that the uber-investor is also making big green moves. While T. Boone Pickens has been screaming about wind power from the rooftops, Buffett, through his MidAmerican utility (which he owns via his Berkshire Hathaway holding company), has been making big investments in wind power, enough to become the #1 utility in the U.S. when it comes to wind.
          Article continues: Warren Buffett <3 Wind Power (His Utility Company is #1 in USA)

          The Solowheel

          The wheel from the comic strip B.C. is now a real product! The Solowheel is sort of a minimalist Segway, consisting of only a wheel and foot platforms. It should be available sometime this month for $1,500.
          See more pictures and a video at Gizmodo.



          Read Dogs

          Nonjudgmental greyhounds that listen to kids reading
          Inspired by an American scheme, a primary school in Staffordshire, England is using "read dogs" -- specially trained greyhounds that listen patiently and non-judgmentally while small children read aloud to them.
          Danny received five months of training to become a Read dog. Greyhounds are particularly well-suited because they do not bark and their short coat is less likely to trigger allergies. Nevett hopes that the scheme, piloted in Kent, will spread. "We've had some success stories, including a girl with Down's Syndrome who really took to the dog and improved her reading," he says. "When Danny goes to sleep I tell the children that he's dreaming about their story."

          Fossil DNA Could Save Species

          Tasmanian Devil
          Ancient DNA may hold the key to saving endangered species such as the Tasmanian devil.  

          Prehistoric Dog Lived, Died Among Humans

          Remains of the Husky-like dog, buried 7,000 years ago in Siberia, suggest people saw it as a thinking, social being.

          How pet owners can cut costs

          One tip will save money and can make your cat or dog healthier and happier.  

          Mouse heart re-grows when cut

          The conditions are quite specific, but this could be significant.

          BBC News:
          The researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center surgically removed what is known as the left ventricular apex of the heart (about 15% of the heart muscle) from mice just a day after birth.

          The heart was then quickly seen to regenerate and was fully restored after 21 days. After two months, the organ still appeared to be functioning normally.

          But when the same procedure was tested on mice aged one week, the heart failed to regenerate, suggesting this power of self-repair is extremely short-lived in mice.

          Bull jumps into crowd at North Carolina rodeo

          Having front-row seats for a rodeo sounds like a pretty exciting time. But a North Carolina couple wasn't prepared for their experience. The husband and wife were charged by a high-jumping bull.

          It happened at the Old Ford Fire Department Rodeo in Williamston. Rodeo workers were trying to round up the bull after a rider fell off, but the bull had other ideas.

          Video shows the bull jumping over a five-foot fence and into the stands... and then back out again. Butch Trimnal pushed his wife out of the bull's way, but they both were injured. They were able to drive themselves to the hospital.

          Officials at the venue offered the couple assistance with their medical bills, and unlimited tickets to any future events. As for the bull, he wasn't injured and was used again later in the show.

          Dave the rottweiler plays mother to orphaned bunnies, birds and kittens

          You probably wouldn’t pick a ten-stone rottweiler to nursemaid orphaned bunnies and birds. But even kittens are in no danger from Dave the Dog. All he wants to do is look after them. Owner Amanda Collins discovered her six-year-old pet’s maternal nature when she brought home an unwanted French giant rabbit.

          ‘Dave just walked over to him and started licking him to clean him,’ said the 25-year-old, who runs a pet shop in Blackpool. ‘They bonded straight away. Now they sleep together, and I’ve even seen them sharing each other’s food.’ Miss Collins, who has looked after a menagerie of abandoned animals, soon found this wasn’t a one-off.

          'When I brought home the ducklings, I thought he might not be the same as with the rabbits, but he just went over to them and licked them on the head,' she said. 'I filled a paddling pool with water so they could learn to swim in it, and Dave went and laid down in the water so they could clamber over him. He even lifted them out if they got into trouble.'

          So far, Dave has helped bring up four ducks, three geese, five rabbits, 13 kittens and five puppies - not to mention countless new-born chicks. Dave had a traumatic upbringing – his first owner docked his tail with a cleaver – but has remained amazingly good-natured and has now been voted Britain’s most inspirational dog in a contest sponsored by worming specialists Drontal.

          Animal Pictures