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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 29, 2011

The Daily Drift

The Daily Drift
Today's horoscope says:
This is not a very good time for you to be starting something new, especially if the new venture involves a great deal of risk.
 So be wary of new schemes or opportunities that arrive on your doorstep or in your email inbox today.
In fact, even invitations to hot new social events could be misleading.
Look to the fine print to make sure your obligations are no greater than to attend and enjoy yourself.
Watch for people who assume a greater commitment than you are ready to give.

Some of our readers today have been in:
Perth, Western Australia, Australia
Doha, Ad Dawhah, Qatar
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
London, England, United Kingdom
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Mississauga, Ontario, Canada
Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Paris, Ile-De-France, France
Dublin, Dublin, Ireland
Kuala Lumpur, Wilayah Persekutuan, Malaysia
Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
Madrid, Madrid, Spain
London, Ontario, Canada
Bucharest, Bucuresti, Romania
Prague, Hlavni Mesto Praha, Czech Republic
Dar Es Salaam, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania
Semarang, Jawa Tengah, Indonesia
Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia
Linz, Oberosterreich, Austria
Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil
Berlin, Berlin, Germany
Annecy, Rhone-Alpes, France
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
Geneva, Geneve, Switzerland
Frankfurt, Hessen, Germany
Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands

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 Voorheesville, North Highlands, Phillipsburg, Minneapolis and more.

Today is:
Today is Tuesday, March 29, the 89th day of 2011.
There are 276 days left in the year.

Today's unusual holiday or celebration is:
National Mom and Pop Business Owner's Day. 
Don't forget to visit our sister blog!

Non Sequitur


Wal-Mart suit in Supreme Court

The Supreme Court will decide if women like Christine Kwapnoski can sue the retailer for discrimination. 

In The News

Austerity? Pennsylvania paper asks where's the shared sacrifice from Pennsylvania's most powerful people?

Meanwhile, corporate profits were at an all-time high in 2010

The Koch brothers: billionaire self-pity

Wisconsin supreme court justice, gov. walker ally, loses hometown paper endorsement

ThinkProgress has a short history of voter suppression

Governors face serious budget blowback

Are Rick Scott's educational cuts unconstitutional?

Largest prison corporation in America basically wrote the Arizona anti-immigration bill

Help the FBI solve murder mystery

Two encrypted codes found at a murder scene may hold the key to a 1999 cold case.  

And the Mother-Of-The-Year award goes to ...

A Marin County mother is under arrest for allegedly hosting a drunken party for her 15-year-old son and his friends.

Dumb Crooks

From the "Oh, NO - She Didn't" Department"
A California woman facing nearly five years in prison for forging drug prescriptions showed up for sentencing with a phony doctor's note seeking a delay in the proceedings.

A Corny Concerto

A Merrie Melodies parody of Disney's Fantasia, released in 1943.

Oh, What a Knight

Oswald the Lucky Rabbit ... Disney working for someone else in 1929

Best big-city hospitals

U.S. News ranked the top centers in cities with 1 million or more residents.  

Zumba dancers banned from community center for being 'too fat'

Members of a fitness class have hit back after being kicked out of a community center because some of them are ‘too fat’. Those attending the Zumba lessons at the Addison Center in Kempston on a Monday night have been told they can no longer have them because of damage to the floor. But Rosa Cristini, who has been running the classes for up to 130 people for the last nine months, said she hasn’t had any concrete evidence to say it was caused by her Zumba classes.

She said: “I got a phone call from a member of the committee who runs the center on March 14 to say that I couldn’t run the class that evening. Apparently the floor has shifted and they said they had experts in although they haven’t given me a copy of the report.” Zumba – a Latin inspired dance/fitness program has become popular recently with people who want to keep fit and tone up. On Monday, she met with three members of the committee and claims one of them said that the reason for the floor moving was because some individuals were ‘overweight’.

She added: “There’s probably only a handful of people who are overweight and the thing is some people come to lose a bit of weight. I did say to the committee that it’s for a dance/fitness class.” Kathryn Martin-Harris, 34, from Kempston, has been going for around a month to try to lose a bit of baby weight after having two children.

She said: “We were told it was because we were too fat. I could do with losing a bit of weight but I’m not obese. That’s why I was going to Zumba in the first place, though. I’m probably about a size 16 but there are women bigger and smaller and even some children there. Everyone was so shocked and unhappy about it. I cannot believe that a community center could come up with something like that.”

Negative attitudes toward fat bodies going global

The stigma against overweight people is becoming a cultural norm around the world, even in places where larger bodies have traditionally been valued.

That’s according to a cross-cultural study of attitudes [...]

Healthiest Nut In The Entire Universe

Scientists say: Walnuts are the healthiest nut.

A new scientific study positions walnuts in the No. 1 slot among a family of foods that lay claim to being among Mother Nature’s most nearly perfect packaged foods ...

Artist's funny food art

By giving household objects human qualities, Terry Border is able to add personality to the mundane.

Culinary DeLites

Oreo Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookies

What a brilliant idea! The preparation appears to be fairly straightforward, but you’ll need an ice cream scoop to cover the oreos in chocolate chip cookie batter. Or your fingers.



New research on self-control sheds light on areas like overeating

"Results suggest that "people have a diminishable supply of energy that the body and mind use to engage in self-control." - Researcher Kathleen Vohs People who overtax their self-control may find they have less in reserve for later, suggests an intriguing new study that may have implications for people trying to lose weight or make other behavioral ...

The Brain

2,500-Year Old Preserved Brain Discovered

Construction crews near York, UK, found the body of a man who died a violent death 2,500 years ago. Inside the skull was an almost completely intact brain, carefully preserved thanks to the soil in which the body was buried:
The Heslington remains, along with others O’Connor has discovered, appear to have been buried quickly after death in wet environments where the absence of oxygen prevented the brain tissue from putrefying. But while the oxygen-free environment seems key, it is not possible to rule out other factors like certain diseases or physiological changes, such as those that accompany starvation, that might predispose the brain to being preserved this way, according to O’Connor.
After being deposited in the water-logged pit, the Heslington brain began to change chemically, developing into a durable material and shrinking to a quarter of its size.
800 Year Old Brain with Intact Cells
An 800 year old fossilized brain from an infant was discovered in Northwestern France. Because brain matter usually decomposes rapidly, scientists are excited because this particular brain is well preserved, with many of its cells still visible:
The paper describing this extraordinary artifact, which is due to be published in the journal NeuroImage next month, reads somewhat like a medieval murder mystery, with elements of archaeology, forensic science and neuropathology. The child’s skeletonised remains were exhumed in 1998 from a burial site in the city of Quimper, north-western France, in a wooden coffin with the head wrapped in leather and resting on a pillow. The coffin was dated by dendrochronology (tree-ring dating) to the mid- to late 13th century (1250-1275 AD), and the age of the child determined by examination of the teeth. After the remains were discovered, the brain was removed and immersed in a preservative formalin solution. Several years later, Christina Papageorgopolou of the University of Zurich’s Institute of Anatomy and her colleagues began to re-examine it

Regrets Of The Typical American

A new study by Neal Roese, Kellogg professor of marketing, finds that romance is the most common source of regret among Americans. Other common sources of regret include family interactions, education, career, finances and parenting. For the study, Roese and Mike Morrison of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign analyzed data from a telephone survey of 370 adult Americans.

Subjects were asked to describe one regret in detail, including the time in which the regret happened and whether the regret was based on an action or inaction. We found that one's life circumstances, such as accomplishments or shortcomings, inject considerable fuel into the fires of regret, Roese said. Although regret is painful, it is an essential component of the human experience.

Corporate Japan passes on tax cuts to help national recovery


Can you imagine the selfish ones in the US ever dreaming of helping the country like this? Think about how the bankers had their entire lifestyle rescued and maintained and how they investing heavily in blocking all reform of their irresponsible activities. The Chamber of Commerce would rather be dead than help America like this.
Japan's top business lobby gave the government the green light to scrap a planned cut in the corporate tax rate and urged firms to look at shifting production to western Japan as the nation grapples with its worst crisis since World War Two.

Hiromasa Yonekura, chairman of the Japan Business Federation, said the influential lobby would not fight the government if it decided to shelve a plan to lower the corporate tax rate, which at around 40 percent is among the highest in the industrialized world.

Economics Minister Kaoru Yosano suggested last week the government should reconsider the planned tax cut of 5 percentage points from April to prioritize spending on reconstruction and prevent the country's already massive debt pile from growing.

Who cheats on taxes most

Many people who fudge their returns say they are “special and deserve to be treated that way.”  

Dangers of 0% interest deals

You’ll want to think twice before grabbing a store's offer to finance an item interest-free.  

How Great Entrepreneurs Think

In the world of business, there are great corporate executives, then there are great entrepreneurs. What sets them apart from each other?
University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business professor Saras Sarasvathy tested some of America’s best minds in business and found that entrepreneurs think differently than corporate execs:
Sarasvathy concluded that master entrepreneurs rely on what she calls effectual reasoning. Brilliant improvisers, the entrepreneurs don’t start out with concrete goals. Instead, they constantly assess how to use their personal strengths and whatever resources they have at hand to develop goals on the fly, while creatively reacting to contingencies.
By contrast, corporate executives—those in the study group were also enormously successful in their chosen field—use causal reasoning. They set a goal and diligently seek the best ways to achieve it. Early indications suggest the rookie company founders are spread all across the effectual-to-causal scale. But those who grew up around family businesses will more likely swing effectual, while those with M.B.A.’s display a causal bent. Not surprisingly, angels and seasoned VCs think much more like expert entrepreneurs than do novice investors.

Investments you can enjoy

Gemstones and collectibles offer solid returns if you know how to buy wisely.  

Bargain beach getaways

Stay on an island along Florida's west coast for as little as $65 per night.

The Room Under the Lake

The estate at Witley Park in Britain has been a private home and a public facility at different times. What is visible above ground is nice enough, but the secret underground and underwater construction is a treasure. Deep passages lead to the rumored “ballroom under the lake”, which, as it turns out, was originally built as a billiard room, but it wasn’t the only glassed-in room. Guests can watch fish swim around them -or they could at one time or another.
Also see: more pictures here.

Apartment with a slide inside

A New York City bachelor comes up with a unique way to combine his $3 million penthouses.

Weird, wild and wacky

The so-called 'Crazy House' , a single-family house upside down can be seen in the northern German town of Bispingen on March 27, 2011.

Odds and Sods

No one wants a lemon when they buy a car. But Brazilian researchers say it's possible your next vehicle could be made from pineapple or banana.

Britain's Ministry of Defense has put an aircraft carrier up for sale on an official used equipment website.

Small town's UFO mystery

Residents of Lafayette, Colo., are buzzing about an eerie formation caught on video.  

First image from Mercury orbit


Awesome Pictures

Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming

Grand Prismatic Spring and Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone Park, Wyoming: photo by Mila Zinkova, 2008

Scientists To Drill Into the Earth's Mantle, What Could Go Wrong?

Having ignored dozens of dire warnings from Hollywood and science-fiction novels about the dangers of doing so, scientists are forging ahead with plans to drill all the way through Earth’s thick crust and sample its hot mantle.
"That has been a long-term ambition of earth scientists," geologist Damon Teagle told National Geographic News.
But a lack of suitable technology and insufficient understanding of the crust have long tempered that ambition. [...]
Now, better knowledge of the Earth’s shell and technological advances—for example, a Japanese drill ship equipped with six miles (ten kilometers) of drilling pipe—have put the goal within reach, according to a commentary in this week’s issue of the journal Nature, co-written by Teagle, a geologist at the U.K.’s University of Southampton.
Even so, drilling into the mantle would be "very expensive" and would require new drillbit and lubricant designs, among other things, according to the paper.
But if all goes as planned, drilling could begin by 2020, Teagle said. As soon as next month, the team will begin exploratory missions in the Pacific, where crews will "bore further into the oceanic crust than ever before," the paper says.
I mean, really, what could go wrong?

Moratorium on Uranium Mining in Grand Canyon About to Expire

grand canyon.png
It is approaching time for the Bureau of Land Management to once again consider whether or not to allow bids for uranium mining on more than one million acres of land near the Grand Canyon. The two-year moratorium that is now set to expire was a challenge to win in the first place, and lobbyists are putting the pressure on to let the mining begin.
Article continues: Moratorium on Uranium Mining in Grand Canyon About to Expire - Will BLM Cave to Lobbyists?

Koreas Agree On Need For Joint Volcano Research

North and South Korean experts have agreed on the need for joint research into an active volcano amid worries over natural disasters after Japan's earthquake and tsunami.



Russian Boreal Forests Undergoing Vegetation Change

Russia’s boreal forest — the largest continuous expanse of forest in the world, found in the country’s cold northern regions — is undergoing an accelerating large-scale shift in vegetation types [...]

Why Ancient Civilization Was ‘Livin’ on the Edge’

University of Cincinnati research is investigating why a highly sophisticated civilization decided to build large, bustling cities next to what is essentially swampland.

In Search of the Dawn of Beer

One place they certainly were making beer is Mesopotamia, where cuneiform tablets record the trade of beer around 4000 BC. The Sumerians were so enthralled with beer that around 1800 BC, someone inscribed an ode to Ninkasi, the goddess of beer, on a tablet that survives today. The Hymn to Ninkasi features verses such as "Ninkasi, you are the one who pours out the filtered beer of the collector vat / It is [like] the onrush of Tigris and Euphrates," according to Ian S. Hornsey's 2003 A History of Beer and Brewing.
"Who has a goddess of beer who doesn't care about beer?" Hastorf asked rhetorically. "I think it's fair to say that beer was important in Mesopotamian life." Perhaps because Ninkasi was a female deity, Sumerian brewing was the realm of women.

See... that's where organized religion lost its way... when it stopped being about beer goddesses.

A source dear to most of our hearts.

Researchers Find Earliest People to Inhabit the Americas

Baylor University geology researchers, along with scientists from Texas A&M University and around the country, have found the oldest archaeological evidence of human occupation in the Americas at a Central [...]

Sanxi's cavemen

AsiaObscura has a short piece on the "cave dwellings" (窑洞) of rural Sanxi province, China. An older generation of local farmers have reared their families in these caves, which they praise for their natural temperature-moderation.
"All of the young people have left," this old man said. "They've moved to the city, and to normal houses. But I like it here. It's warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. I've lived here for 60 years." 60 years? As a farmer, he only looked about 60 years old. He'd probably lived in this cave his whole life. He kept two goats tied up outside his door, and had an incredible collection of corn ears in his yard.



A day at the beach

Some chimp's have all the luck!

Marine Microbes Found Feasting On Plastic

plastic octopus on sand photo
Photo by Wonderlane via Flickr Creative Commons
Plastics have officially entered the food chain, as seen in the deadly effect things like Styrofoam and bottle caps have on sea turtles and albatross, and even whales. However, how far into the food chain is plastic going? It seems even microbes are eating their fill, though whether or not they're actually digesting the plastic or just passing it up the chain to larger life forms is still a big question. Regardless, researchers including Tracy Mincer of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and colleagues have found bacteria that is feasting on plastics found in the ocean.

The Art Collector

A famous art collector is walking through the city when he notices a mangy cat lapping milk from a saucer in the doorway of a store. He does a double take, as he notices that the saucer is extremely old and very valuable. He walks casually into the store and offers to buy the cat for two dollars.

The store owner replies, "I'm sorry, but the cat isn't for sale."

The collector says, "Please, I need a hungry cat around the house to catch mice. I'll pay you twenty dollars for that cat.

And the owner says "Sold," and hands over the cat.

"Hey, for the twenty bucks I wonder if you could throw in that old saucer. The cat's used to it and it'll save me having to get a dish."

And the owner says, "Sorry buddy, but that's my lucky saucer. So far this week I've sold sixty-eight cats."

Ruby-Eyed Green Pit Viper

This snake takes a pretty picture! The Ruby-Eyed Green Pit Viper (Cryptelytrops rubeus) is a newly-discovered species that lives near Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and in Cambodia. National Geographic has more picture of the snake, including its attempt to eat an entire frog that’s as big as the snake.

Leap lands 375-pound shark in fishing boat

It's the catch of a lifetime, but it's not clear whether a Texas fisherman landed an 8-foot shark or it landed him.

Human disease and our animal cousins

We hear a lot about animal diseases that make the jump to humans—swine flu, for instance. But this transfer goes the other way, too.
There are 786 mountain gorillas left in the wild, and three quarters of those animals are used to being around people. Partially, that's an OK thing. The tourism industry has played a key role in keeping these gorillas protected. On the other hand, though, tourism also means that a small, previously isolated population of primates is regularly being brought into contact with diverse primates from all over the world. It's the perfect set-up for us jet-setting humans to pass on diseases that are completely novel to the gorilla's immune system.
Human metapneumovirus is very common in people, and not terribly dangerous. Most kids have been exposed by the time they're 5. The only people who usually develop complications are elderly, very young, or have compromised immune systems. In gorillas, however, this virus can be deadly. During a 2009 outbreak among one group of gorillas, an adult female and an infant died
This issue is interesting to me, because of the dilemma it poses. As the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases notes: "Human proximity to mountain gorillas is essential for their conservation, also crucial is minimizing the risk for human-to-great ape transmission of respiratory pathogens." How to cover both concerns, at the same time, will be a real dilemma.

France and Lap Dogs Go Way Back

Most other prehistoric pooches were much larger, which raises questions about the French dogs' origins. 

Animal Pictures