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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, March 3, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
You don't have to be a poet, songwriter or novelist to know how to be creative with your words.
Creative writing is a gift everyone has -- and everyone should develop.
So today, try to do the unexpected in your written words.
Throw a rhyming scheme into your emails, achieve a lot of alliteration in an agenda, and see what happens if you begin a memo with 'Once upon a time.'
It might seem silly, but creativity is supposed to be fun!

Some of our readers today have been in:
Montreal, Quebec Canada
Hamburg, Hamburg, Germany
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
London, England, United Kingdom
Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, Netherlands
Bangkok, Krung Thep, Thailand
Milton Keynes, England, United Kingdom
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Santander, Cantabria, Spain
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
North Bay, Ontario, Canada

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 Rio Rico, Camp Pendelton, West Sacramento, Hickory and more.

Today is:
Today is Thursday, March 3, the 62nd day of 2011.
There are 303 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holidays or celebrations are: 
I Want You To Be Happy Day
What If Cats and Dogs Had Opposable Thumbs? Day.

Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Tucson park renamed for youngest shooting victim

A park has been named in honor of the youngest victim of the Tucson shootings. 
The Canada del Oro Christina-Taylor Green Memorial River Park was officially dedicated Monday.

The Smithsonian's photography contest

Credit: Charles Littlewood (Silver Springs, Florida). Photographed June 2009, Micanopy, Florida.

The 8th Annual Photo Contest has just closed.  That means you can view all the finalists, one of which is shown above.

It also means you can begin entering your own photos into the 9th Annual contest.

On The Job

These degrees can lead to work in seven growing fields where the pay is high and stress is low.

Why business cards won't die

To make a lasting impression, you'll still need more than email or social media.

They tried to deduct what?!

One couple tried to write off the cost of feeding and maintaining a pair of emus.

Free ways to save money

Check your credit card's features before paying for a pricey extended warranty.  

Generation Y may be too frugal

Fear of being in debt is holding many 20-somethings back, one expert says.  

It's all about the Benjamins

Most people hardly notice the little things that eat up their hard-earned cash.  
More than 1 million people are owed refunds for their 2007 taxes, and time's running out. 

    Family struggles with rough times

    Jobless for more than a year, this Nevada couple worries about foreclosure and their kids. 

    Non Sequitur


    Senate repugicans push to oust Medicare chief

    Unable to repeal the health care law, repugicans are trying to oust the official who is quarterbacking the overhaul of the nation's medical system.

    'Recall' effort grows in Wisconsin against repugican reps

    And add the governor as well (though a recall effort can't be launched until next January, after he's served a year in office - you can still raise money now).
    The Wisconsin Democratic Party has decided to throw its weight behind a nascent grassroots drive to recall a number of repugican state senators, a move that will considerably increase the pressure on them to break with Governor Scott Walker, the Democratic party chair confirms.

    "The proposals and the policies that repugicans are pushing right now are not what they campaigned on, and they're extreme," the party chair, Mike Tate, said in an interview. "Something needs to be done about it now. We're happy to stand with citizens who are filling papers to recall these senators."

    Previously, Wisconsin Democrats had not publicly supported talk about recalling repugican Senators, in hopes of privately reaching a negotiated solution to the crisis. The Wisconsin Democratic Party's decision to support the recall drives represents a significant ratcheting up of hostilities and in essence signals that all bets are off.

    Eight repugican Senators are eligible to be recalled right now, and various groups around Wisconsin are beginning to file papers to make it happen. Tate told me that the party would throw its organization behind such efforts.
    Those Wisconsin state Democrats appear to have balls that our national Democrats do not.  As we (and others) noted earlier, nearly half of Wisconsinites would like to see their new repugican governor recalled.

    Workers fucked in Ohio

    While Wisconsin steals the spotlight, a broader push three states away leaves public workers stunned.  

    Hatred in America

    Muslims hold a fundraiser to raise money for the homeless and for women's shelters. Repugicans show up to protest, chant "go back home!", and call what they're doing "unadulterated evil".

    Just who is doing what 'unadulterated evil' here? Any sane person could answer that. However, those who are committing the 'unadulterated evil' in the video above aren't sane.
    There is a discussion thread at Reddit.

    The teabagger and the terrorist


    Tough choices for U.S. in Libya

    Even options like the no-fly zone would require a military operation, American brass warns.

      Coke caught in Gadhafi feud

      A sibling spat that blew up into a violent showdown offers clues to clan frictions.

      TV crew's near miss with bomb

      A news team is shaken but unhurt after a military aircraft bombs an area close by. 

      World's most 'typical' face

      A composite image captures the most common age, gender, and ethnicity in the world today.  

      Bertucci Family Feud

      Vito and Giuseppe Bertucci, father and son, living at 3,103, South Twelfth Street, Tacoma, Washington, were equal owners of their house. The son was married. A short time ago the house caught fire and, as a result, became in need of repairs. But here a hitch arose. Father and son could not agree upon just what should be done.

      Most of us have had disagreements with family at one time or another but would we go to this extreme?
      In 1906 the Bertuccis hired a carpenter to cut their house in two and literally became a divided family.

      World's beautiful buildings

      A Dutch museum for media is covered in a giant mural of television images. 

      Russian police targeted by 'mass kissing' stunt

      Members of renegade Russian art group Voina showered Russian policewomen with passionate kisses in their latest stunt shown in a video released on Tuesday as a new police law came into effect. The short video shows a string of clips of young women approaching female police officers on duty and kissing them on the mouth.

      The footage is shown to a fast-paced Yiddish song "Down With the Police" that dates from early 20th century. "Voina, in the face of activists of its militant-feminist wing, has initiated the rite of kissing cops and their cop abuse. They chose the grey women as the objects of carrying out the rite," a Voina statement said, as written on the blog wisegizmo.livejournal.com.

      Группа Война зацеловывает ментов

      Russian police, including women officers, wear ill-fitting grey uniforms during winter months accompanied with grey traditional 'ushanka' hats. Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev initiated a new police law in an attempt to reform the force known for rampant corruption. Since the Bolshevik revolution, it has been called "militsia", but the reform rebrands it back to "politsia".

      The Voina activists are shown in clips filmed mostly in the Moscow metro, where they approach officers with a question that is quickly followed by an aggressive kiss on the mouth. In one of the clips they nearly fall off the station platform as the officer tries to break free of the embrace. On its Twitter blog the group claimed to have kissed "several hundred" policewomen.

      Uzbekistan Of 1956 As A Frenchman Saw It

      A French scientist and historian went to the USSR three times during the 1950s-70s.
      In 1956 he visited Uzbekistan and took many pictures. 

      Science News

      A discovery has been made with respect to the possible inventory of molecules available to the early Earth. Scientists found large amounts of ammonia in a primitive Antarctic asteroid.

      Solved - The Mystery Of  Missing Sunspots
      Sunspots are dark spots on the sun, at least as we see them, caused by magnetic activity in the plasma on the surface of Sol.

      The trouble with self-help books

      After poring through 300 manuals, an expert says readers should watch out for these flaws.  

      What to eat for flawless skin

      Salmon and other fish are great sources of essential fatty acids, which calm inflammation.  

      Pulmonary embolism 101

      The very serious lung problem that struck tennis star Serena Williams can happen to anyone.  

      Most Ironic Deaths In History

      Death is a normal part of life. While most people die with predictable reasons, some people die rather ironic deaths. The world has seen numerous deaths in which the universe seemed to have conspired with fates to make an ironic statement.

      Some of these deaths include historical figures, royalties, celebrities and inventors. Remembering these various accounts of ironic deaths never fail to bring an eerie kind of sense.

      Drug Patents Expiring

      pills Bad news for drug companies: Top-Selling Drugs Are About to Lose Patent Protection.
      The imminent arrival of the dreaded "patent cliff" has been haunting the pharmaceutical industry for years, and it's finally here. With patents on many blockbuster drugs about to expire, an estimated $250 billion in sales are at risk between now and 2015.
      Once drugs lose patent protection, lower-price generics quickly siphon off as much as 90% of their sales. For consumers, the savings from generics can be substantial.
      Drugs expiring this year are Lipitor, Zyprexa, Gorpinark, Levaquin, Pantritos, Concerta, Balifecnia, Protonix, Zyritropin, and Francsinatra.
      Ask your doctor if any of these drugs are right for you.

      Gentlemen, Prepare To Be Depressed

      It will happen any day now: Male depression 'set to increase'
      Psychiatrists have warned that the number of men with depression could rise because of changes in Western society.
      An article in the British Journal of Psychiatry suggests economic and social changes will erode traditional sources of male self-esteem.
      depressedThe authors say men will struggle with the shift away from traditional male and female roles.
      The Men's Health Forum said male identity was bound up in employment.
      the article states that as women are now more likely to go to university than men so the number of households where the main breadwinner is female will increase. "Men's failure to fulfill the role of breadwinner is associated with greater depression and martial conflict," the article states.
      How will men handle their depression?
      Mr Baker said men do not seek help when they have depression and were "more likely to self medicate in the pub" than seek professional care.



      Carved monument from Mesoamerica

      Monolito de Ojo de Agua INAH foto.jpg
      In real life, this stone carving—found in an irrigation ditch in the Mexican state of Chiapas—stands 3 ft. tall and weighs 130 pounds. From photos, it can be hard to catch all the detail going on in these type of carvings. Luckily, we also have a line drawing of the artwork, made by Kisslan Chan and John Clark, of the New World Archaeological Foundation.
      olmec.jpg So what's it mean? Well, that's a mystery. Because of information collected from radiocarbon dating, careful study of the monument's context—the layers of earth it was buried in and other artifacts found nearby— and comparison with other, similar, artistic styles, University of Wisconsin-Madison archaeologist John Hodgson believes this monument was made by a pre-Maya culture called the Olmec.
      The Olmec had a writing system—possibly the oldest in the Americas. It looks similar to Mayan written language, which probably evolved from it. But there doesn't appear to be any writing on this particular monument. In fact, Hodgson thinks it was made before the Olmec developed their writing system.
      Without writing, archaeologists are left with little information other than what they can interpret from symbols and iconography in the drawing. That is, as you might imagine, a pretty subjective exercise. Most archaeologists (including Hodgson) acknowledge that, in these situations, any guesses they can make about what the art means are really just that—guesses.
      But that doesn't mean the monument is just a pretty stone. The monument was found on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, but on the opposite side of the Isthmus, compared to where the largest Olmec settlements have been uncovered. The monument also seems to be part of a planned settlement that included plazas and pyramids, but which dates to a time earlier than most other, similar, settlements in the region. So, while we don't know what the carvings on this monument mean, we can put it into context with other artifacts to build a more complete picture of Olmec history.

      An incredible 10th century shipwreck treasure

      China has shown strong interest in buying a massive haul of shipwreck treasures ... salvaged in 2004 off Cirebon, West Java.
      "We held talks with the Chinese government and our plan is to keep these treasures in museums in China and Indonesia," Kabul told AFP. "I think it will the best solution so that this rich treasure will be preserved properly by museum experts," he said adding that both countries had not reached any agreement yet as details were still being discussed.

      The collection comprises some 271,000 pieces including rubies, pearls, gold jewellery, Fatimid rock-crystal, Persian glassware and exquisite Chinese imperial porcelain dating back to the late 10th century.

      Belgian treasure hunter Luc Heymans who conducted the salvage operation said it was one of the biggest shipwreck treasures ever found in Asian waters.
      A quick Google search for Cirebon + treasure yielded a lot of hits, including this New York Times story from 2006.

      Got a spare $5,000,000,000,000,000?

      earth valued photo  
      Original photo via Walking Planet
      Sure, it may be a little hot and crowded around here, but our planetary home is still easily the nicest on the block -- with a hefty a price-tag to boot. In fact, according to one astrophysicist who came up with a calculation for valuing planets, Earth is worth a bank-breaking $5 quadrillion dollars, unsurprisingly the priciest in the solar-system. Based on this special formula, however, whether or not our cosmic abode retains its value depends on how well we, the tenants, keep it.

      How salt gets in the oceans

      There's enough salt to cover all the land on Earth, but it's not the only mineral in the sea.  

        People with Full Bladders Make Wiser Decisions

        Researchers at the University of Twente in the Netherlands found a positive correlation between the need to pee and impulse control:
        Their findings contradict previous research which found people who are forced to “restrain themselves” put more pressure on their brain and found it difficult exerting self-control.
        Dr Mirjam Tuk, who led the study, said that the brain’s “control signals” were not task specific but result in an “unintentional increase” in control over other tasks.
        “People are more able to control their impulses for short term pleasures and choose more often an option which is more beneficial in the long run,” she said.
        “The brain area sending this signal, is activated not only for bladder control, but for all sorts of control.
        The psychologists tested their hypothesis by asking two groups of people — one consisting of people who had just drank a large amount of water and one that hadn’t — to make decisions about the future:
        They were asked to make eight choices ranging from small, and immediate, rewards to larger, but delayed, ones including choosing to receive either $16 (£10) tomorrow or $30 (£18) in 35 days.
        They concluded that people with full bladders were better at holding out for the larger rewards later.

        The Human Visual Cortex Can Do Language, Too

        Brain scanning technology is teaching us how very versatile or brains are. For example, what is happening in the visual cortices of people who have been blind since birth? A series of experiments in which blind subjects were monitored while performing different linguistic exercises show that those parts of our brains are put to work for other tasks!
        In the brains of people blind from birth, structures used in sight are still put to work — but for a very different purpose. Rather than processing visual information, they appear to handle language.
        Linguistic processing is a task utterly unrelated to sight, yet the visual cortex performs it well.
        “It suggests a kind of plasticity that’s even broader than the kinds observed before,” said Marina Bedny, a cognitive neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “It’s a really drastic change. It suggests there isn’t a predetermined function an area can serve. It can take a wide range of possible functions.”
        Brains: use ‘em if you got ‘em!

        Earliest First American found in underwater cave ?

        Explorers cave-diving in the Yucatan have found a human skull and the remains of a mastodon. 

        Excerpts from the National Geographic report:
        Hoyo Negro was reached by the PET team after the divers travelled more than 4,000 feet [1,200 meters] through underwater passages using underwater propulsion vehicles, or scooters, which enabled them to cover long distances in the flooded cave system...

        While the team of explorers conducted various dives for the purpose of mapping and surveying of this newly discovered pit, they noticed some peculiar bones sitting on the bottom. They first came across several megafauna remains and what was clearly a mastodon bone, while subsequent dives proved even more exciting when they spotted a human skull resting upside down with other nearby remains at about 140 feet [43 meters] depth...

        Approximately 12,000 years ago, at the end of the Pleistocene epoch, Earth experienced great climatic changes. The melting of the ice caps caused a dramatic rise in global sea levels, which flooded low lying coastal landscapes and cave systems. Many of the subterranean spaces that once provided people and animals with water and shelter became inundated and lost until the advent of cave diving...

        Radiometric dating of the human bones from Hoyo Negro will have to wait for now, but its location within the cave, and its position relative to the mastodon remains, are suggestive of its antiquity.
        The results of this finding should definitively establish the existence of pre-Clovix humans in the New World.  I have always felt that Tom Dillehay's excavations at Monte Verde (Chile) had established a pre-Clovis timeline, but others have questioned his data.  The fact that Hoyo Negro has a skull - not just artifacts - should be definitive.

        Civil war will endanger Libya's archaeology

        From a report at Nature News:
        Libya has an extraordinary archaeological heritage, says Paul Bennett, head of mission at the Society for Libyan Studies in London.. He explains that the country has been a "melting pot" of cultures throughout history, and has sites of Punic and Roman remains to the west, Greek and Egyptian to the east and Berber to the south. There are also important prehistoric sites, including some of the world's earliest rock and cave art, and underwater archaeological sites along the Mediterranean coast.

        Libya is home to five World Heritage sites, designated by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO): the ancient Greek archaeological sites of Cyrene; the Roman ruins of Leptis Magna; the Phoenician port of Sabratha; the rock-art sites of the Acacus Mountains in the Sahara Desert; and the old town of Ghadamès, an oasis city that has been home to Romans, Berbers and the Byzantine civilization. Security is good in these areas, says di Lernia, but may be "problematic" elsewhere...

        Tripoli itself is home to two major museums, both reportedly safe at present. The national Jamahiriya Museum holds important prehistoric collections, including the oldest known African mummy, from Uan Muhuggiag in the Libyan Sahara. The museum is also housed in the ancient Red Castle of Asaraya al-Hamra, itself a heritage site. The Museum of Libya, meanwhile, contains noteworthy Greek and Roman collections...

        The conflict has brought joint international–Libyan archaeological work to a standstill, and uncertainty surrounds future missions. There are thought to have been around 20 international missions in Libya, each comprising around a dozen or so archaeologists. All are now thought to be safely outside the country, having taken commercial transport home, been evacuated or taken refuge in nearby countries...

        'Ghost cat' declared extinct

        Officials say native populations of the "ghost cat" have been wiped out in the eastern U.S. 
          Humans on Verge of 6th Great Mass Extinction, Experts Say
          Will 75 percent of Earth's species go the way of the dodo? Are humans causing a mass extinction on the magnitude of the one that killed the dinosaurs? The answer is yes, according to a new analysis - but we still have some time to stop it.

          The First Dinosaur Ever Discovered Was Called "Scrotum Humanum"

          The photo above shows a drawing of a specimen retrieved from a quarry near Oxford in 1676.  It is the end of the femur, and was named by British naturalist Richard Brookes after what he thought it looked like.
          It was given the name Scrotum humanum in 1763 but it didn’t catch on; it was renamed Megalosaurus by Reverand Buckland in 1824. The word dinosaur wasn’t coined until sixteen years later.
          Found in the “Nutty Nomenclature” subsection of the link at Null Hypothesis, which also includes a small brown moth whose official scientific name is “Eubetia bigaulae.”
          It’s pronounced “you betcha, by golly.”  Honest it is.



          Guide dog died days after blind Spaniel he looked after recovered her sight

          A blind King Charles Spaniel who had her own guide dog has recovered her sight – but tragically lost her best pal. One-year-old Ellie’s vision has been restored after she underwent a cataracts operation. Ellie had relied on her big friend Leo the German Shepherd after he took to guiding her around and making sure other dogs didn’t get too close for comfort. But just a week after getting her sight back, her pal Leo had to be put down after he was found to have a tumor.

          Owner Julie Lander said: "I’m absolutely over the moon that Ellie got her sight back, but I’m devastated that I have lost Leo. There was nothing anyone could do. He was one in a million." She said: "I felt so sorry for her when she arrived and knew she’d need a special home. But I also knew she would be all right with Leo, as he just loved little dogs and they took to one another straight away."

          Leo became Ellie's eyes and she would follow him around before snuggling up to him. The RSPCA raised funds for her eye operation, which was carried out at the Animal Medical Center in Chorlton by vet Pip Boydell. But just a week after the successful operation, Julie discovered that 14-year-old Leo had a tumor and he had to be put to sleep. Julie said: "Ellie always went to Leo when she was nervous and he would always protect her.

          "Their relationship didn’t change when she got her sight back. They touched noses when Ellie came home and just curled up together. It was quite touching." She added: "I’ve still got Ellie and I’ll give her all the love and devotion that I gave to Leo. It was almost as if he was here to make sure she was okay before he bowed out."

          Animal Pictures